Tag Archives: Rant

Why I Like Linux

…. Or, Re: Mhd Badi Latest Mac Post.

Apple fanboys are annoying. This is a mouthful to say for a guy who really hates generalizing. Yes, I hate generalization and I hate blind prejudice, but I’ll talk about that in a later post.

This ranting post was triggered by Mohammad Badi‘s recent post, however it is directed at all Apple fanboys (and girls). I don’t mean to pick on Mohammad, he is a really nice guy and I enjoy his blog (he actually did say that an OS is a matter of personal choice, and I agree with him).

For the record, I have used Windows, Mac, and Linux. Right now, I use Linux. More specifically, I use openSuSE Linux and I have been using it as my main OS for the past 4.5 years. Also, to be more upfront about this, I am a computer science graduate student. That means that I write code and documents by profession. Before anybody accuses me of such, I am not a hacker. Repeat: I am not a hacker. Not by a long shot. I have not written kernel code and I do not plan to do that anytime in the near future (unless my advisor forces me to :-D). However, I am a power user. That is, I like (and prefer) to use the command line shell, I automate many things, I mess with and write configuration files, and I have repeatedly messed with drivers and configs to crash (and sometimes even recover) my machine. I also like nice aesthetics . I like my operating system to look good. Actually, I initially only switched to Linux because it looks good. I use a persona on my firefox, and a theme on my Google chrome.

Again, I am replying to Badi’s post here, but I think this applies in general.

Alright, done with the prelude. Onto the main event:

Mohammad,

Almost every time I open your blog you have a different theme. It has gotten to the point that today I opened your blog to find a theme different than yesterday’s, then when I left a comment the theme changed again! Pick a theme man! Every time I come to your blog I have to check if I am at the right site because it looks different. And these are not small or subtle changes, when you change theme you change big! All the power to you, I like change, it’s the spice of life. But everything within limits, create a distinct look for your blog that let’s people recognize it. However, for the record, I admire your passion for customization.

What does your blog theme have to do with Mac? For a man who really likes to continuously customize his theme, isn’t it a bit odd that you so madly love an operating system that does not even let you customize it beyond what saint Jobs has decreed? Tell me, how many options do you have for changing the windows decoration (title bar and such) in Mac? two? Even crummy old Win95 allowed you to choose any colors you want. What about that menu bar at the top, can you remove it? How many coloring options do you have for that? two? three? Praise Jebus! (and here).

You said that Windows is not that powerful. Excuse me, was there something you wanted to do there that it didn’t allow you to? Have you encountered the elusive “oops, that is beyond my power” error message? I already know what you are going to say next: freezes, crashes, bsod, blah blah blah. Here is the truth. Windows does crash (more specifically, the versions of Windows that i tried do crash). But more than 90% of the time it is not because of Windows but because of faulty (nay, shitty) drivers. Here is the thing, Windows runs on other people’s machines. Each of these machines will use a different set of drivers. Microsoft says, ok, if you want to run Windows on your machine, you should write a driver that tells Windows how to use your proprietary hardware. People write these drivers, but don’t write them well, and that causes the machine to crash. But why can a driver crash the machine? Easy! Because they have to run in kernel mode, so they can do pretty much whatever they want. Apple on the other hand controls everything. They sell you the machine and the software running on it. Thus they have a limited number of hardware vendors and drivers to deal with. As you can see, this allows them to centrally reject shitty drivers. Each approach has its advantages, but I personally prefer openness because I believe in choice & competition.

I don’t deny that Apple makes fine products. No doubt about that. They pay attention to details and the hardware is generally of great quality. But it is important here to distinguish between software and hardware. It is also important to distinguish between the Operating System, the hardware, and the rest of the software application stack that runs on your computer.

You say that Linux’s design is poor. I assume you are talking about the graphical aspects right? If so I challenge you to see one of the well polished distros. Check out KDE on openSuSE or Gnome one LinuxMint. Here is one the main things I love about Linux: It gives me choice. If I wake up today feeling like using KDE, I do that. If I feel like Gnome, that’s fine. If I want to geek-it-out and use Fluxbox or Rat-poison, that’s fine too. Not only that, but I love that it is highly customizable. It tries as much as it can to fit you rather than the other way around. In Linux there are a million ways to do anything. In Mac OS or Windows there is only one way. Their way or the high way. For example, on my machine I have at least 3 file managers. I use which ever I feel like. I can customize my system just the way I like it. I can have as many (or as little) panels floating on my desktop as I want. I can have my kickoff menu be where ever I want it to be. On my desktop I can show the files of any folder that I want, or any combination of folders (not just the files from the “Desktop” folder). On my Linux machine I can customize any shortcut for anything I want and I do mean anything. I bet when you switched to Mac you had to learn their shortcuts for doing things, right? For example, AFAIK, you have to use a different shortcut to switch between windows of different applications than that for the same application. What if I want a shortcut to maximize a window vertically only? or horizontally only? or move a window to a certain area with just key press? Can i do that? While we’re at it, If i want to truly customize my Mac and get rid of the menu bar on top, can i do that?  No!

Notice that all my examples above were only about superficial user interface issues. At the core, I think all three OSes are superb. However, here is the point Mohammad, I think machines have to adapt to us, and not us adapting to machines. I feel Linux has that mentality. The default settings in Linux are merely a suggestion, but everybody customizes it the way they want. That is why people race to post screenshots of their Linux desktops, and that is why you have so many linux distributions.

In this rant I have defended Microsoft, praised Apple, and explained why I love and use Linux. Personally, I think all 3 of these operating systems are fine, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. After all, (and this is something that I totally agree with you on), this is a matter of personal choice. You think Mac is superior, I respectfully disagree and think that Linux is a better option.

Update: Just to drive home the point that Linux has nice GUI, check out this video introducing KDE 4.3 (a Linux desktop environment):

Eat & Chew Quietly Please

God! I hate people who display a “big effort” while they are eating or chewing. I hate it when some people chew gum with open mouths or loudly. It is so freaking annoying! I hate it when people breathe heavily or make “internal grunting sounds” that you would associate with hard physical labour or terrible illness yet they have done nothing and are totally fine! And I specially hate it when the person right next to me does that for half an hour straight!

 

Pfft!

The Uberhype of Google Chrome OS

I am a Linux fan. A quick look at my site will tell you that. So naturally I was pleased when Google announced a new Linux distro (Google’s “Chrome OS”). It is good because it will hopefully encourage more OEMs to write better drivers for their hardware.

What I hated though is how some techies and all techy-wannabes had a spontaneous collective orgasm at the first sight of the news. I mean come on! I think some of the guys at TechCrunch had to go change their pants after they read the announcement. Heck, this guy at the “IT Portal” has already written 5 Reasons To Love Google Chrome OS and the product doesn’t even have a web page yet! I like how he explained “reason #3”:

Google has a blank canvas to work with and doesn’t need to rely on code that is 15 years old, nor does it have to deal with software compatibility issue

Oh really ? Somebody should tell that guy that Linux (what Chrome really is) was first written in 1991 and is thus 18 years old!

Finally, some common sense articles are popping up. I like this one (specially how he catches TechCrunch for calling an OS like Linux a mere “bag of drivers” .. anyone who knows anything about operating systems knows that is not true). This article is also nice.

There are reasonable predictions of what we can expect from Google Chrome OS, and I’ll try to talk more about this later.

P.S: I hate over-hyping. I REALLY REALLY HATE over-hyping. That is why I dislike Apple, they overhype everything, even basic features! In all fairness, Google didn’t overhype Chrome, but many of those “techies” did.