Monday, October 30, 2006

Let me get off the theme I was on and ratchet the level up a bit. Lately, I've read too many blogs debating whether Linux is ready for the desktop, or not. Last week, I attended the FSOSS conference in Toronto and heard speakers addressing this same question. Strangely, no one is bloging or speaking about whether Windows is ready for the desktop. Why not?

For me, desktop experiences are personal. Everyone has different needs and expectations of their desktop. So how can there be a generalized debate about whether Linux is ready for the desktop. For some people it is and for some it isn't. I think the same applies to Windows. So, let me make some assumptions here. First, most of those who don't think windows is ready for the desktop demand specialized software that is either not available for Linux or, if it is, the Linux equivalents are not up to par.

Secondly, Linux requires a somewhat different user involvement than Windows. For Windows, it involves calling support lines when you're in trouble (and you do get into trouble with Windows). For Linux users, it involves accessing some self-help on line and then fixing it yourself. As someone who had been frustrated by the inability to diagnose and fix Windows problems, the Linux was is more satisfying. I can actually fix any problems I have. I can't do that in Windows. So, I have made a commitment to learn a little about things like the terminal and things have worked out well. My point is that some of the people who don't think Linux is ready for the desktop are those who think it's too much work.

So, if the desktop experience is personal, let me get personal. I'll state up front that I am not a technical professional or hacker. I am in the category of the above average user of a desktop. I use a desktop every day at home and at work. I surf the Web, do e-mail, chat, write, make presentations, do some graphics and download and play music. I print, I scan. I have to use Windows NT corporate system at work. I dual boot Windows XP and Ubuntu at home.

Let me tell you a bit about my experiences of just the past two weeks and let you judge which OS is "ready for the desktop." At work today, I opened IE and browsed to Immediately, a pop-up demanded to know if I was safe from viruses and asked if I wanted to download a program to protect my system. I clicked "Cancel," but the download went along its merry way. My work system is protected with hardware and software firewalls, as well as server and desktop virus, SPAM and spyware protection. But, the darn thing got through and froze my NT desktop. Our IT professionals took my machine away and are reformatting the hard drive because they cannot remove the little devil. So, I came home to continue work on my Ubuntu system, where I do not have an added firewall or virus protection (other the system's natural, built-in protection).

Yesterday, I booted up my Windows XP just to ensure I had all the latest updates. Microsoft kindly upgraded my IE6 to the new IE7. Now I cannot connect to my ISP. My ISP has no idea why. I could not reach anyone at MS for support after being on hold for 2 hours and 20 minutes. I searched the Web, but found nothing. So, now my Windows system at work is borked and my Windows system at home cannot go on line.

Meanwhile, my Ubuntu system (even though it's the newest "Edgy" version, is purring along fine. This is a personal experience. Not everyone has the same experience. But, I ask you... for me, personally, which OS is ready for the desktop?