And Because I’ll Be at a Linux Expo in Ten Days…

So.. I just confessed to replacing XP with a drive-scrubbing clean install of Windows 7. Why didn’t I move to Linux instead? 

Three things, really:

1) Text boxes in Microsoft Word 2003: These things have defined my process for creating scripts, and are now so integral that I can’t imagine life without them. I tried Open Office, and the boxes didn’t work right. No Open Office means no Linux.

2) Photoshop’s learning curve: I’ve figured out how to make Photoshop do what I want it to do. GIMP may do all those things, but I’d have to learn how to make it do that. I’m not interested in spending time learning how to do what I already know how to do. I’d rather spend that time learning something new that makes the comic better.

3) InDesign and my Print Broker: I have to use InDesign to make books. It’s not available on Linux. Books are my livelihood. End of argument.

We can shout about technological superiority, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, market forces, and disruptive innovation until we’re BSoD in the face. Ultimately everybody complaining about my choice of OS will realize with frustration that I quite amenably agree with most all of their points. 

What it comes down to, really, is that I love the idea of open-source software, but I don’t want to use it. Sure, sure, if everybody felt that way then open-source software would die, but everyone CAN’T feel that way. Humanity, even just the computer-using slice of it, is just too diverse. So I can choose freely without worrying that I’m somehow hurting the cause.

The open-source movement has gained enough momentum, Linux and Open Office have enough market penetration that Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, and others must compete aggressively for customers. They have to bring their ‘A’ game, and they have to play HARD. In that world I, the customer, win EVERY TIME. Even when I choose something too expensive and technologically inferior, I’m still choosing something that is worlds better than it would have been without the competitive marketplace.

When I worked at Novell I felt very passionate about what was on my computer. I loved certain software because my friends had helped to make it, and I was helping them sell more of it. These days I have no such connection with what I run, and that’s okay. It leaves me free to run what I believe will work best for me, and I’m pretty sure my friends at Novell, Apache, UTOSC, and Penguicon will understand. Though only indirectly, their excellent work makes my life better.

100 thoughts on “And Because I’ll Be at a Linux Expo in Ten Days…”

  1. the standard mistake

    is that people assume one is interested in what operating system one uses.
    Computerprogramms are tools.
    They should enable us to do what our real work is.
    If on a different OS there are better tools, enabling us to earn with less work, we switch. ( maybe )

    Possibly one could talk you into using Macs. Design and graphics have traditionally been strong points of the Mac.

  2. the standard mistake

    is that people assume one is interested in what operating system one uses.
    Computerprogramms are tools.
    They should enable us to do what our real work is.
    If on a different OS there are better tools, enabling us to earn with less work, we switch. ( maybe )

    Possibly one could talk you into using Macs. Design and graphics have traditionally been strong points of the Mac.

  3. The three major PC operating systems are so SIMILAR right now that they can be used interchangeably for a lot of things, with not one being dramatically better than the others for general usage. That did not use to be the case, but it is now.

    I’m a mostly Linux programmer, working at a mostly Apple shop, using mostly Windows on my work laptop. I can name quite a few strengths and weaknesses on all sides, but none that matter for you. For many purposes Windows is just great right now, and you don’t need to defend yourself for your choice.

    1. I’ll amend this to say that mostly they just act similar. Once you look beneath the surface, you start seeing fundamental differences. In particular, Windows’ internals are a tangled mess because of how it was designed; OS X’s internals are a tangled mess because they combined parts from a dozen Unix-like OSes; Linux’s internals are a tangled mess because every project has a different idea of how the Linux desktop should be.

      But it does come down to personal preference. If you’re willing to put in the effort to find the things you want, go with Linux, and if you’re willing to play by Apple’s rules, a Mac is a great choice. (Unless Linux doesn’t like your hardware and refuses to give you wireless, in which case you’re pretty much stuck with Windows.)

      1. You’re right, I should’ve mentioned that. I’m kind of an OS internals nerd so I do know how much they differ, but functionally from a personal computing perspective we have a pretty homogeneous OS world.

        And thank you for a polite and insightful reply, with no reheated half-understood arguments.

        1. Perhaps this means that desktop computing is finally maturing, in that there is now a sort of coherent shared notion of how computers should act.

          I mean, you can get in a Ford and then get in a Toyota and then get in a Purgeot and then get in a Hyundai and driving them isn’t terribly different.

          I look forward to the day when a similar statement can be said about computers.

          1. Standardization is good. Computers should be able to talk to each other, and a user shouldn’t be completely lost in an unfamiliar UI. But there’s a downside too, which is that once you standardize, innovation becomes actively discouraged. When was the last time you saw someone driving a car that didn’t look like a Ford or a Toyota? People don’t want to drive weird cars, so nobody sells them. They get shown off at concept shows and then vanish. A lot of what you see in a modern Linux desktop, in fact, from the window manager to the browser, is there because Microsoft (or some other conglomerate) “standardized” it and now people expect to see it. Some groups have had success fighting poor decisions that stuck, but many more are still around.

  4. The three major PC operating systems are so SIMILAR right now that they can be used interchangeably for a lot of things, with not one being dramatically better than the others for general usage. That did not use to be the case, but it is now.

    I’m a mostly Linux programmer, working at a mostly Apple shop, using mostly Windows on my work laptop. I can name quite a few strengths and weaknesses on all sides, but none that matter for you. For many purposes Windows is just great right now, and you don’t need to defend yourself for your choice.

    1. I’ll amend this to say that mostly they just act similar. Once you look beneath the surface, you start seeing fundamental differences. In particular, Windows’ internals are a tangled mess because of how it was designed; OS X’s internals are a tangled mess because they combined parts from a dozen Unix-like OSes; Linux’s internals are a tangled mess because every project has a different idea of how the Linux desktop should be.

      But it does come down to personal preference. If you’re willing to put in the effort to find the things you want, go with Linux, and if you’re willing to play by Apple’s rules, a Mac is a great choice. (Unless Linux doesn’t like your hardware and refuses to give you wireless, in which case you’re pretty much stuck with Windows.)

      1. You’re right, I should’ve mentioned that. I’m kind of an OS internals nerd so I do know how much they differ, but functionally from a personal computing perspective we have a pretty homogeneous OS world.

        And thank you for a polite and insightful reply, with no reheated half-understood arguments.

        1. Perhaps this means that desktop computing is finally maturing, in that there is now a sort of coherent shared notion of how computers should act.

          I mean, you can get in a Ford and then get in a Toyota and then get in a Purgeot and then get in a Hyundai and driving them isn’t terribly different.

          I look forward to the day when a similar statement can be said about computers.

          1. Standardization is good. Computers should be able to talk to each other, and a user shouldn’t be completely lost in an unfamiliar UI. But there’s a downside too, which is that once you standardize, innovation becomes actively discouraged. When was the last time you saw someone driving a car that didn’t look like a Ford or a Toyota? People don’t want to drive weird cars, so nobody sells them. They get shown off at concept shows and then vanish. A lot of what you see in a modern Linux desktop, in fact, from the window manager to the browser, is there because Microsoft (or some other conglomerate) “standardized” it and now people expect to see it. Some groups have had success fighting poor decisions that stuck, but many more are still around.

  5. Naturally….

    Each OS has its purpose and audience. I would never suggest anybody cold-turkey over to another system no matter what their demands. No operating environment is panacea, and even if it were there are always a couple of real-world things dragging you to ignoble compromise.

    I would strongly recommend that the next time you wipe/upgrade/repurchase your system you set up a dual boot to Linux and “dicker” with it. In the alternative get vmware or some such and run linux in that and do your other stuff (like posting to live journal etc 😎 in that sub environment. Think of it like becoming ambidextrous. For a small investment in space you can come down on either side of the trench at will.

    Example: My company-provided “work laptop” came with windows installed and locked to the company domain. The product my division sells, and which I support, largely runs linux, but some of the tools (firmware updater software and JTag hardware etc) is windows only. I needed the Linux to work with the gear, I needed the windows to Outlook and Word and update some firmware. I set the whole thing up so that Whichever environment I primarily boot (usually Linux) I can run the other native partition OS in a virtual machine.

    Anybody who pretends that their one solution is “it” is necessarily blind.

    Now for the boosterism: I moved to some Linux when all the tools were rather more inferior because it is Microsoft’s _stated_ goal that we all should _rent_ the ability to access our own work product. They _want_ a world where they could turn down or turn off all those tools if they decide or come to beleive you have wronged them. I write novels and short stories on the side (he said as if there was anybody on the internet who _didn’t_ think of themselves as a writer 8-). The idea that I might one day have to get out my credit card and send Microsoft a micropayment to submit one of my own manuscripts to a publisher just triggered my immune system something fierce.

    Given that Word 2000 couldn’t reliably open Word 95 documents, and that Word 2011 cannot flawlessly open Word 2000 documents; you must be aware that you are giving your own catalog of work a rather short shelf life. Don’t expect your kids (or you’re own self) to be able to profit from your “original manuscripts” etc, they won’t be able to access them.

    I ignore most of the fandom and idology out there. For me the question is more simply “what do I want to have to do/pay in 10 years to access the work I am doing today.

    None of the questions are truly about “technical inferiority”, at least not for the long game. Plain ASCII text built in a very primitive editor is nearly the definition of inferior. What it also is, is long lasting.

    In your medium, your color print outs will fade the way oil paints never do, and your premade masters for your books will only last until InDesign goes away as a program. And none of it will work if Microsoft’s APIs and rendering DLLs drift away.

    Yea, I am an old timer (I soloed [only operator on duty] on a IBM 370 3031 Mainframe in 1979 at 16 years of age) and I have seen bit rot steal away all sorts of our cultural, and my personal legacy.

    I have grown used to the view. I feel sorry for the people and companies that will discover in 20 years or so, that they sold “today” for “easy” once they look back.

    Beyond that, there is what I call the instantaneously self-punishing nature of life.

    IMHO deciding to go full-bore closed-source because you are reflexively good with the product is like deciding its okay to drive drunk because you are rich enough to pay the fine. Its making a decision that might profoundly circumscribe your entire future (earnings and legacy) based on a relatively short term and insignificant data point.

    But that’s just my $0.02.

      1. Re: Naturally….

        Other than his badly picked analogy (and one I was unware of, I don’t know if was), the rest of his comment is worth reading.

        Ultimately, it’s a personal choice, but by going Windows and Microsoft tools, you are risking being locked in – or out – of your older work. To some degree, this is solveable with some planning and foresight (Keeping old computers around, and the like), but it’s not what I consider to be a good solution, and one with some obvious drawbacks.

        I’ve spent far too long fighting MS lock-in and lock-out to, even if right now they’ve got a better tool, trust them. That tool won’t always be the best, and when it’s not, they’ll do everything they can to hamper and hinder the competition. You were at Novell, you know the sorts of things they pulled to mess with Novell, even before they were directly competing.

        But there’s a practicality here, you’re making a living, and if this helps you make a living more effectively, then in the short-term, use what makes you most efficient.

        There’s honestly not any sort of a one-sized-fits-all-answer. I think it’s a short-term versus long-term view and no matter what decision you make, the other side has an arguable point, based on what assumptions and givens you and the other people consider to be more important.

        1. Re: Naturally….

          I call bullshit on the lock-in. Seriously, is that the best argument you can come up with?

          I’ve never had trouble opening a document and not then been able to solve the problem with a quick Google search and a free download.

          Microsoft understands this, and they know that lock-in is not a strategy for success. The free market will always, always, ALWAYS drive for free movement of user-generated content. Lock-in, like the more egregious forms of DRM, will always, always, ALWAYS end up being unlocked.

          This is why I love the Open Source movement. But again, I don’t need to use Open Office or Linux for these things to happen. Market forces are already at work ensuring that the computing environment continues to offer future portability.

          1. Re: Naturally….

            On the one hand, it’s becoming much harder these days to lock people into software. Not impossible, but harder.

            On the other, Microsoft STILL will not disclose the actual full specification of MS Word document formats, and while they did publish a “complete” specification for their “open” OOXML document format, MS Word doesn’t actually comply with their own specification. Some of this is probably just sloppiness, but Microsoft has a rather shameful history of playing dirty pool to intentionally break compatibility with non-MS software, then trying to blame it on the other guy.

            Example: When Windows 3.0 came out, it contained code to check what it was running on top of. If it detected that it was running on DR-DOS 7.0 rather than on MS-DOS 5.0, it would refuse to start, claiming that DR-DOS was not compatible and would not properly support Windows.
            However… if you patched your copy of DR-DOS 7 by changing just the OS version string so that it reported itself to be MS-DOS 5.0 instead of DR-DOS 7.0, then fired up Windows 3, it would start right up and run. Perfectly. Many people reported it actually ran better on top of DR-DOS than on top of MS-DOS, because DR-DOS had better memory management.

            Another classic example was the way that early versions of Microsoft Frontpage would emit broken, non-compliant HTML that didn’t render properly in any non-MS browser. But, just by sheer coincidence, Internet Explorer knew exactly how to handle the broken HTML and display what you meant instead of what the HTML actually said. Funny about that.

            So, yeah. It is indeed becoming harder and harder to lock people in. But that doesn’t stop Microsoft — or Apple, or Adobe, or Symantec — from trying. (As witness the current kerfuffle over iPhone app development … Apple has the iPhone/iPad locked down tighter than a drum, won’t even allow you to develop for it except with the approved Apple tools, and can even remotely withdraw a third-party app that you already bought and installed any time they feel like it. No thanks.)

          2. Re: Naturally….

            I call bullshit on the lock-in. Seriously, is that the best argument you can come up with?

            It’s a pretty good one, when you’ve seen it happen and bring some serious businesses to crisis.

            I’ve never had trouble opening a document and not then been able to solve the problem with a quick Google search and a free download.

            That may be your experience, it hasn’t been mine, and those free downloads were from Microsoft? Otherwise you’re still supporting what I was saying about lock in/out.
            And I’ve got some Word files that will *not* open (correctly) in anything else. And Spreadsheets I have galore that won’t open right. Sure, simple ones will. Complex ones? Notsomuch. And I’ve worked in some places where the entire business revolved around spreadsheets.

            (Spreadsheet example deleted for space reasons)

            And that’s without mentioning Presentations…. The converters do not have PowerPoint figured out, and sales sorts start hyperventilating when you talk about them not having, or having to redo, their presentations….

            Yes, many times people will work around Microsoft – for now, notice unixronin’s point about “Trusted” computing for what Microsoft would *like* to do. They’ve tried to encrypt their files many times, and right now, the only real reason that Office converters exist is that a few companies spent a lot of time and money reverse-engineering the file formats (which Microsoft changes and tweaks to hinder that.)

            Microsoft understands this, and they know that lock-in is not a strategy for success.

            I think you’ve completely misread Microsoft as a company, as that’s the most defining feature of Microsoft as a company. Yes, occasionally a project doesn’t do that – by a upgrade or two later, it does. This has historically been the entire concept behind Microsoft’s moves, it’s easily plotted out, and only the fact that so many people are working to thwart it is why you have the options.

            Which is fine, just don’t insult the people working hard to thwart MS’s lockin, and insist that Microsoft doesn’t intentionally try for that. That’s what they do, and that’s why there’s so much work to be done. There’s a reason that during the antitrust trial, it was revealed that over 80% of all API calls in Word were undocumented outside Microsoft.

            80%+. That’s not a company revelling in openness, when they make the API, and then make another just for them.

            Lock-in, like the more egregious forms of DRM, will always, always, ALWAYS end up being unlocked.

            I agree – if there’s enough demand. And interest. And if there’s the ability. But yes, probably, DRM will be broken. But I’ve seen many, many, many upgrades because the lock-in was already pernicious, and it wasn’t worth to the decision makers the short-term pain to fix it then.

            http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=20080221184924826

            For one example of what happened when some state governments started demanding an open, defined format for state records – and MS had an offering. (Quick search on Groklaw, the rest of the articles are really interesting in that perspective.)

            Hey, I understand you can often convert – today.

            But postulating and extending that out to it always being an option, especially given the history of Microsoft – that I assumed you were familiar with – isn’t a given. Don’t rely on it as an absolute in your assumptions.

            It might not have affected you – yet. It might not ever. But that doesn’t make it true globally and for everyone.

            Which is what I was saying. You might can get by, work around, it might not affect you. But as unixronin notes below – there is a movement afoot to derail that Open Source which helps you out by pushing Microsoft to do better, and by unlocking you from their lockin to use other tools. That stands a decent chance of succeeding one day, I’d think it’s almost inevitable.

            So I don’t use Microsoft. I’m not telling you you’re wrong for doing so, my requirements are different, and as I said, it’s fully understandable that you’d choose to for many reasons. All I’m doing is pointing out the potential problems (which are historically endemic), so that you’re fully cognizant of them.

          3. Re: Naturally….

            You’ve got it right, Howard. Hooray Mutualism!

            The lock-in argument is old, tired and extreme, but easy to repeat over and over, which is why you see it so often. It’s also quite a bit insulting, as it assumes Windows or OS X users will always put themselves in a situation in which a platform switch would be impossible, and have not thought about all this.

          4. I never mentioned lock in…

            I spoke of bit rot and rental ware.

            The difference being that “lock in” presumes a requirement that you use the same software today, to make today’s work, as you used yesterday. You do not “roll your data forward”, it’s not like a database. If you were to decide to do each drawing and document in a different tool and platform you could do so. You are not “locked in”. But each individual drawing you make is frozen to the software you used to make it _or_ a completely bit-compatible piece of software.

            You make art, where presentation is content. When you have had to use google to work around previous bit rot was the result identical to the original or did you have to “fix it up” in some way after the extract?

            Like I said, you are selling future access to your portfolio for current ease of use and familiarity. Right now nobody can make the two guarantees you need to protect your portfolio: (1) the version of software you use now will be available when you need it in the future, or in the alternate (2) the future version will render your material identically at that time to the way it is rendered today.

            The same problems exist with open source, of course, but in that venue you have the option to preserve the software along with the original work, and nobody can take that software away from you. If photoshop just evaporated tomorrow, or they released a patch that buggered your favorite spline technique or something, all your “originals” would simply cease to exist. Same for some APIs (since, in windows, static image rendering for printing and display usually happens in the operating systems GDI context etc as opposed to an X/Xorg system where the rendering happens in purely application-space rendering planes which are then displayed as bit-copy “blit” operations) which you are dependent on. The operating system under the application matters more with windows. It’s an odd and obscure truth.

            With the open source alternatives you personally have 100% of the code and data that fully represents your original work. If you archive it correctly then 100 years from now someone could take those archives and “figure out” how to redisplay/reprint your work.

            With closed source you only have the data part. That future someone would have to be able to get access to Adobe and Microsoft code bases before they would have a real shot at accessing your work.

            In both cases tryign to find the 100 year old CD ROM player that still works might be a challenge as well. (e.g. the way we lost all those 9-track tapes from the 70s for want of a working player etc… 😎

            So conflating longevity of archived works with “lock in” is a mistake.

            Then again, all those people who couldn’t access their IRM protected Word 2003 documents in January because Microsoft didn’t renew their signing certificate might be ‘lock in’…

            But these risks are real. They are _stated_ goals of Microsoft and similar closed source companies, and they have bitten people recently. It can only get worse later.

    1. Re: Naturally….

      One key point you didn’t mention about Windows is “trusted computing”, which Microsoft is working towards. It should come as no surprise to anyone that “trusted computing” doesn’t mean that you should be able to trust your computer to be stable, or to work correctly, or to keep your data secure. “Trusted computing” doesn’t care about any of that. “Trusted computing” means the content industry — principally the RIAA and MPAA — can trust your computer not to let you do anything with copyrighted material that you have legally purchased rights to that they don’t want you to do, because they assume by default that you’re a thief who will try to steal it if your computer doesn’t actively prevent you from doing so. The one person in the world who your “trustworthy computer” actively does not trust is you, the owner.

      But someone hacking into your machine by exploiting a browser hole that Microsoft can’t be bothered to fix because it would be too much work, and stealing all your banking information? Oh, that’s not the content industry’s problem, so your “trustworthy computer” couldn’t care less.

  6. Naturally….

    Each OS has its purpose and audience. I would never suggest anybody cold-turkey over to another system no matter what their demands. No operating environment is panacea, and even if it were there are always a couple of real-world things dragging you to ignoble compromise.

    I would strongly recommend that the next time you wipe/upgrade/repurchase your system you set up a dual boot to Linux and “dicker” with it. In the alternative get vmware or some such and run linux in that and do your other stuff (like posting to live journal etc 😎 in that sub environment. Think of it like becoming ambidextrous. For a small investment in space you can come down on either side of the trench at will.

    Example: My company-provided “work laptop” came with windows installed and locked to the company domain. The product my division sells, and which I support, largely runs linux, but some of the tools (firmware updater software and JTag hardware etc) is windows only. I needed the Linux to work with the gear, I needed the windows to Outlook and Word and update some firmware. I set the whole thing up so that Whichever environment I primarily boot (usually Linux) I can run the other native partition OS in a virtual machine.

    Anybody who pretends that their one solution is “it” is necessarily blind.

    Now for the boosterism: I moved to some Linux when all the tools were rather more inferior because it is Microsoft’s _stated_ goal that we all should _rent_ the ability to access our own work product. They _want_ a world where they could turn down or turn off all those tools if they decide or come to beleive you have wronged them. I write novels and short stories on the side (he said as if there was anybody on the internet who _didn’t_ think of themselves as a writer 8-). The idea that I might one day have to get out my credit card and send Microsoft a micropayment to submit one of my own manuscripts to a publisher just triggered my immune system something fierce.

    Given that Word 2000 couldn’t reliably open Word 95 documents, and that Word 2011 cannot flawlessly open Word 2000 documents; you must be aware that you are giving your own catalog of work a rather short shelf life. Don’t expect your kids (or you’re own self) to be able to profit from your “original manuscripts” etc, they won’t be able to access them.

    I ignore most of the fandom and idology out there. For me the question is more simply “what do I want to have to do/pay in 10 years to access the work I am doing today.

    None of the questions are truly about “technical inferiority”, at least not for the long game. Plain ASCII text built in a very primitive editor is nearly the definition of inferior. What it also is, is long lasting.

    In your medium, your color print outs will fade the way oil paints never do, and your premade masters for your books will only last until InDesign goes away as a program. And none of it will work if Microsoft’s APIs and rendering DLLs drift away.

    Yea, I am an old timer (I soloed [only operator on duty] on a IBM 370 3031 Mainframe in 1979 at 16 years of age) and I have seen bit rot steal away all sorts of our cultural, and my personal legacy.

    I have grown used to the view. I feel sorry for the people and companies that will discover in 20 years or so, that they sold “today” for “easy” once they look back.

    Beyond that, there is what I call the instantaneously self-punishing nature of life.

    IMHO deciding to go full-bore closed-source because you are reflexively good with the product is like deciding its okay to drive drunk because you are rich enough to pay the fine. Its making a decision that might profoundly circumscribe your entire future (earnings and legacy) based on a relatively short term and insignificant data point.

    But that’s just my $0.02.

      1. Re: Naturally….

        Other than his badly picked analogy (and one I was unware of, I don’t know if was), the rest of his comment is worth reading.

        Ultimately, it’s a personal choice, but by going Windows and Microsoft tools, you are risking being locked in – or out – of your older work. To some degree, this is solveable with some planning and foresight (Keeping old computers around, and the like), but it’s not what I consider to be a good solution, and one with some obvious drawbacks.

        I’ve spent far too long fighting MS lock-in and lock-out to, even if right now they’ve got a better tool, trust them. That tool won’t always be the best, and when it’s not, they’ll do everything they can to hamper and hinder the competition. You were at Novell, you know the sorts of things they pulled to mess with Novell, even before they were directly competing.

        But there’s a practicality here, you’re making a living, and if this helps you make a living more effectively, then in the short-term, use what makes you most efficient.

        There’s honestly not any sort of a one-sized-fits-all-answer. I think it’s a short-term versus long-term view and no matter what decision you make, the other side has an arguable point, based on what assumptions and givens you and the other people consider to be more important.

        1. Re: Naturally….

          I call bullshit on the lock-in. Seriously, is that the best argument you can come up with?

          I’ve never had trouble opening a document and not then been able to solve the problem with a quick Google search and a free download.

          Microsoft understands this, and they know that lock-in is not a strategy for success. The free market will always, always, ALWAYS drive for free movement of user-generated content. Lock-in, like the more egregious forms of DRM, will always, always, ALWAYS end up being unlocked.

          This is why I love the Open Source movement. But again, I don’t need to use Open Office or Linux for these things to happen. Market forces are already at work ensuring that the computing environment continues to offer future portability.

          1. Re: Naturally….

            On the one hand, it’s becoming much harder these days to lock people into software. Not impossible, but harder.

            On the other, Microsoft STILL will not disclose the actual full specification of MS Word document formats, and while they did publish a “complete” specification for their “open” OOXML document format, MS Word doesn’t actually comply with their own specification. Some of this is probably just sloppiness, but Microsoft has a rather shameful history of playing dirty pool to intentionally break compatibility with non-MS software, then trying to blame it on the other guy.

            Example: When Windows 3.0 came out, it contained code to check what it was running on top of. If it detected that it was running on DR-DOS 7.0 rather than on MS-DOS 5.0, it would refuse to start, claiming that DR-DOS was not compatible and would not properly support Windows.
            However… if you patched your copy of DR-DOS 7 by changing just the OS version string so that it reported itself to be MS-DOS 5.0 instead of DR-DOS 7.0, then fired up Windows 3, it would start right up and run. Perfectly. Many people reported it actually ran better on top of DR-DOS than on top of MS-DOS, because DR-DOS had better memory management.

            Another classic example was the way that early versions of Microsoft Frontpage would emit broken, non-compliant HTML that didn’t render properly in any non-MS browser. But, just by sheer coincidence, Internet Explorer knew exactly how to handle the broken HTML and display what you meant instead of what the HTML actually said. Funny about that.

            So, yeah. It is indeed becoming harder and harder to lock people in. But that doesn’t stop Microsoft — or Apple, or Adobe, or Symantec — from trying. (As witness the current kerfuffle over iPhone app development … Apple has the iPhone/iPad locked down tighter than a drum, won’t even allow you to develop for it except with the approved Apple tools, and can even remotely withdraw a third-party app that you already bought and installed any time they feel like it. No thanks.)

          2. Re: Naturally….

            I call bullshit on the lock-in. Seriously, is that the best argument you can come up with?

            It’s a pretty good one, when you’ve seen it happen and bring some serious businesses to crisis.

            I’ve never had trouble opening a document and not then been able to solve the problem with a quick Google search and a free download.

            That may be your experience, it hasn’t been mine, and those free downloads were from Microsoft? Otherwise you’re still supporting what I was saying about lock in/out.
            And I’ve got some Word files that will *not* open (correctly) in anything else. And Spreadsheets I have galore that won’t open right. Sure, simple ones will. Complex ones? Notsomuch. And I’ve worked in some places where the entire business revolved around spreadsheets.

            (Spreadsheet example deleted for space reasons)

            And that’s without mentioning Presentations…. The converters do not have PowerPoint figured out, and sales sorts start hyperventilating when you talk about them not having, or having to redo, their presentations….

            Yes, many times people will work around Microsoft – for now, notice unixronin’s point about “Trusted” computing for what Microsoft would *like* to do. They’ve tried to encrypt their files many times, and right now, the only real reason that Office converters exist is that a few companies spent a lot of time and money reverse-engineering the file formats (which Microsoft changes and tweaks to hinder that.)

            Microsoft understands this, and they know that lock-in is not a strategy for success.

            I think you’ve completely misread Microsoft as a company, as that’s the most defining feature of Microsoft as a company. Yes, occasionally a project doesn’t do that – by a upgrade or two later, it does. This has historically been the entire concept behind Microsoft’s moves, it’s easily plotted out, and only the fact that so many people are working to thwart it is why you have the options.

            Which is fine, just don’t insult the people working hard to thwart MS’s lockin, and insist that Microsoft doesn’t intentionally try for that. That’s what they do, and that’s why there’s so much work to be done. There’s a reason that during the antitrust trial, it was revealed that over 80% of all API calls in Word were undocumented outside Microsoft.

            80%+. That’s not a company revelling in openness, when they make the API, and then make another just for them.

            Lock-in, like the more egregious forms of DRM, will always, always, ALWAYS end up being unlocked.

            I agree – if there’s enough demand. And interest. And if there’s the ability. But yes, probably, DRM will be broken. But I’ve seen many, many, many upgrades because the lock-in was already pernicious, and it wasn’t worth to the decision makers the short-term pain to fix it then.

            http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=20080221184924826

            For one example of what happened when some state governments started demanding an open, defined format for state records – and MS had an offering. (Quick search on Groklaw, the rest of the articles are really interesting in that perspective.)

            Hey, I understand you can often convert – today.

            But postulating and extending that out to it always being an option, especially given the history of Microsoft – that I assumed you were familiar with – isn’t a given. Don’t rely on it as an absolute in your assumptions.

            It might not have affected you – yet. It might not ever. But that doesn’t make it true globally and for everyone.

            Which is what I was saying. You might can get by, work around, it might not affect you. But as unixronin notes below – there is a movement afoot to derail that Open Source which helps you out by pushing Microsoft to do better, and by unlocking you from their lockin to use other tools. That stands a decent chance of succeeding one day, I’d think it’s almost inevitable.

            So I don’t use Microsoft. I’m not telling you you’re wrong for doing so, my requirements are different, and as I said, it’s fully understandable that you’d choose to for many reasons. All I’m doing is pointing out the potential problems (which are historically endemic), so that you’re fully cognizant of them.

          3. Re: Naturally….

            You’ve got it right, Howard. Hooray Mutualism!

            The lock-in argument is old, tired and extreme, but easy to repeat over and over, which is why you see it so often. It’s also quite a bit insulting, as it assumes Windows or OS X users will always put themselves in a situation in which a platform switch would be impossible, and have not thought about all this.

          4. I never mentioned lock in…

            I spoke of bit rot and rental ware.

            The difference being that “lock in” presumes a requirement that you use the same software today, to make today’s work, as you used yesterday. You do not “roll your data forward”, it’s not like a database. If you were to decide to do each drawing and document in a different tool and platform you could do so. You are not “locked in”. But each individual drawing you make is frozen to the software you used to make it _or_ a completely bit-compatible piece of software.

            You make art, where presentation is content. When you have had to use google to work around previous bit rot was the result identical to the original or did you have to “fix it up” in some way after the extract?

            Like I said, you are selling future access to your portfolio for current ease of use and familiarity. Right now nobody can make the two guarantees you need to protect your portfolio: (1) the version of software you use now will be available when you need it in the future, or in the alternate (2) the future version will render your material identically at that time to the way it is rendered today.

            The same problems exist with open source, of course, but in that venue you have the option to preserve the software along with the original work, and nobody can take that software away from you. If photoshop just evaporated tomorrow, or they released a patch that buggered your favorite spline technique or something, all your “originals” would simply cease to exist. Same for some APIs (since, in windows, static image rendering for printing and display usually happens in the operating systems GDI context etc as opposed to an X/Xorg system where the rendering happens in purely application-space rendering planes which are then displayed as bit-copy “blit” operations) which you are dependent on. The operating system under the application matters more with windows. It’s an odd and obscure truth.

            With the open source alternatives you personally have 100% of the code and data that fully represents your original work. If you archive it correctly then 100 years from now someone could take those archives and “figure out” how to redisplay/reprint your work.

            With closed source you only have the data part. That future someone would have to be able to get access to Adobe and Microsoft code bases before they would have a real shot at accessing your work.

            In both cases tryign to find the 100 year old CD ROM player that still works might be a challenge as well. (e.g. the way we lost all those 9-track tapes from the 70s for want of a working player etc… 😎

            So conflating longevity of archived works with “lock in” is a mistake.

            Then again, all those people who couldn’t access their IRM protected Word 2003 documents in January because Microsoft didn’t renew their signing certificate might be ‘lock in’…

            But these risks are real. They are _stated_ goals of Microsoft and similar closed source companies, and they have bitten people recently. It can only get worse later.

    1. Re: Naturally….

      One key point you didn’t mention about Windows is “trusted computing”, which Microsoft is working towards. It should come as no surprise to anyone that “trusted computing” doesn’t mean that you should be able to trust your computer to be stable, or to work correctly, or to keep your data secure. “Trusted computing” doesn’t care about any of that. “Trusted computing” means the content industry — principally the RIAA and MPAA — can trust your computer not to let you do anything with copyrighted material that you have legally purchased rights to that they don’t want you to do, because they assume by default that you’re a thief who will try to steal it if your computer doesn’t actively prevent you from doing so. The one person in the world who your “trustworthy computer” actively does not trust is you, the owner.

      But someone hacking into your machine by exploiting a browser hole that Microsoft can’t be bothered to fix because it would be too much work, and stealing all your banking information? Oh, that’s not the content industry’s problem, so your “trustworthy computer” couldn’t care less.

  7. I have used Linux in my work environment, for servers, since the days of installing Slackware 0.x from a stack of floppies. I’ve tried moving myself to move to Linux at home about 5 times now, each time using Linux exclusively for at least a month. I’ve always moved back to Windows. In the end it comes down to the fact that there’s really nothing that Linux does that I can’t do in Windows (though in many cases it’s not as easy under Windows, but it is possible) but there are always things that I simply can’t do under Linux. I always have one piece of hardware or another that there just aren’t drivers for, or there’s some software that either just doesn’t exist under Linux, or the Linux equivalent is a barely-started project that either has almost no features, the features require reading 30 pages of doc to find a command line switch that is equivalent of a checkbox in Windows, or there’s some major feature missing.

    I actually had Windows 7 on my new machine, a pretty nice quad-core Intel box. I tried that for a month, and enough little stuff drove me nuts about it that I eventually wiped it and put XP back on.

    I’m with you though. I’ve gotten over religious wars. I run the software that allows me to accomplish my tasks with as little time investment as possible. Proper tools should be as transparent as possible, and should simply facilitate accomplishing tasks. If you have to spend more time learning the peculiarities of a specific tool than doing your work, it’s a bad tool, IMO.

    1. Interestingly, I have almost the opposite experience. Everything important that I need to do, I can do as easily or more easily on a Unix platform, without the risk of Windows blue-screening on me in the middle of something crucial. In this house, Windows has become exclusively GameOS. All the real work happens on platforms I can trust.

      1. I haven’t had a Windows crash in close to 6 years now. The machine at work commonly has uptimes in the range of 100 days. It used to be longer but they force me to install updates that require reboots sometimes now.
        I’ve had Linux boxes go south on me in the past too. These days pretty much no modern OS in my experience bluescreens unless there’s a hardware fault or someone has allowed some piece of junkware to have rights it shouldn’t. This is more common on Windows boxes that are used by kids and for gaming, but it’s not necessarily the fault of the OS – I think if you let the kind of software in to your Linux box with the kind of admin rights that are granted to some of the crud installed on a Windows box, the Linux box would probably be pretty unstable too.

        1. The difference is, on Windows that kind of crud installs itself with a click – and not even that sometimes. On a UNIX-y system you’ll have to pretty much be a guru to ever get it installed.

          The platforms are designed from completely different mindsets, and that is the main difference. It takes a skilled hacker to break a typical UNIX box. It takes a website to break a typical Windows box. And that is the fault of the OS.

          1. Exactly. And nobody wants to become a guru just to get some damn software installed. Heck, I’m capable of doing it, and it’s just not worth my time.

            All it really takes to keep a Windows box safe is to be behind a hardware firewall, not run Internet Explorer, run a decent AV program and keep things updated (which everything will do automatically for you these days, no work required). And most importantly, don’t be stupid. I personally have never had a virus get near my machine except when i did it on purpose to see if my AV stuff was working.

          2. All it really takes to keep a Windows box safe is to be behind a hardware firewall, not run Internet Explorer, run a decent AV program and keep things updated (which everything will do automatically for you these days, no work required).

            And don’t run with administrator privileges all the time.

            (Though that can be hard because so much Windows software — older game software in particular — is so sloppily written that it won’t work UNLESS you either run with administrator privileges, or go into the install directory after the fact and manually grant full rights on it to yourself and anyone else who’s going to use it. There is just zero excuse for that.)

          3. True, installing software on Windows is much harder than on Linux these days. Excepting spyware and stuff which installs on its own. Nothing beats the well maintained, easy to use repository managers of modern Linux dostros when it comes to ease and convenience.

            Keeping Windows safe and sound takes being much more of a guru than keeping a UNIXy system safe, since you have to be ever vigilant of links, emails, sites you visit – and when you catch something, most people have the choice of living with it or reinstalling Windows since it takes major skills to get rid of nasty stuff.

            And no, I never get viruses on my Windows systems. Without using any AV malware. But I’m a guru. People I know who aren’t gurus get shit on their systems all the time.

          4. That works fine IF you happen to want to use only the software that’s got a fully supported version in the repository. If not, you’re in for hours of dependency hell. I’ve spent multiple hours trying to get a single piece of software installed, just in the last year, and eventually gave up.

            If you want to build a machine for gramma to browse the web and read email, Linux is a great solution. If you want to do programming or develop web stuff, Linux is a great solution. For a vast plane of existence in between, not so much.

        2. I’ll grant Windows has become a lot better since Microsoft started trying to clean out all the old cruft and actually pay attention to writing secure code and fixing bugs, instead of their old unofficial (but internally well known) attitude of “The customer will find the bugs for us.”

          As you note, the security model still needs work. Even the latest security features of Windows 7 have proven trivially easy to bypass, frequently due to basic underlying architectural design errors, and several of the most highly touted security features planned for Windows Vista were quietly dropped from the final release because there wasn’t time to finish both the important, but unseen, security measures and some trivial, but visible, piece of shiny desktop bling.

          The other side of the coin is, frankly, that these days Linux usually means Gnome, and Gnome is largely thrown together by a bunch of bleeding-edge junkies with no conception of good coding practices or sound architectural design. I am utterly gobsmacked at some of the places dependencies upon Gnome libraries have been turning up. People think nothing of linking a CLI utility against libgnome just to get a few convenient string-handling functions. So much for small, tight code…

          1. I can’t recall ever using Gnome. I’ve used KDE for many years on production systems and fluxbox with various random apps on my own systems for decades. Well, over one anyway.

          2. The UNIX security model is largely worthless:

            1) Weak technical reason – these days it’s SUDO, configured with the short-term password memory for convenience. So you run, say, Synaptic. Congratulations, for the next five minutes, any shortcut you click can now quietly gain root priviledges.

            2) Strong organisational reason – the root divide only protects the system. This pretty much only makes sense on shared computers, like University compute clusters. On your home box, as non-root, I can still delete all your files, I can still grab your browser password database, I can quite possibly effectively form a keylogger by listening to UI events even if I can’t hide it as a kernel driver. “The system” for home users is something you just reinstall if it breaks. It’s their documents that matter.

            You do not need to have root priviledges to do the real damage.

  8. I have used Linux in my work environment, for servers, since the days of installing Slackware 0.x from a stack of floppies. I’ve tried moving myself to move to Linux at home about 5 times now, each time using Linux exclusively for at least a month. I’ve always moved back to Windows. In the end it comes down to the fact that there’s really nothing that Linux does that I can’t do in Windows (though in many cases it’s not as easy under Windows, but it is possible) but there are always things that I simply can’t do under Linux. I always have one piece of hardware or another that there just aren’t drivers for, or there’s some software that either just doesn’t exist under Linux, or the Linux equivalent is a barely-started project that either has almost no features, the features require reading 30 pages of doc to find a command line switch that is equivalent of a checkbox in Windows, or there’s some major feature missing.

    I actually had Windows 7 on my new machine, a pretty nice quad-core Intel box. I tried that for a month, and enough little stuff drove me nuts about it that I eventually wiped it and put XP back on.

    I’m with you though. I’ve gotten over religious wars. I run the software that allows me to accomplish my tasks with as little time investment as possible. Proper tools should be as transparent as possible, and should simply facilitate accomplishing tasks. If you have to spend more time learning the peculiarities of a specific tool than doing your work, it’s a bad tool, IMO.

    1. Interestingly, I have almost the opposite experience. Everything important that I need to do, I can do as easily or more easily on a Unix platform, without the risk of Windows blue-screening on me in the middle of something crucial. In this house, Windows has become exclusively GameOS. All the real work happens on platforms I can trust.

      1. I haven’t had a Windows crash in close to 6 years now. The machine at work commonly has uptimes in the range of 100 days. It used to be longer but they force me to install updates that require reboots sometimes now.
        I’ve had Linux boxes go south on me in the past too. These days pretty much no modern OS in my experience bluescreens unless there’s a hardware fault or someone has allowed some piece of junkware to have rights it shouldn’t. This is more common on Windows boxes that are used by kids and for gaming, but it’s not necessarily the fault of the OS – I think if you let the kind of software in to your Linux box with the kind of admin rights that are granted to some of the crud installed on a Windows box, the Linux box would probably be pretty unstable too.

        1. The difference is, on Windows that kind of crud installs itself with a click – and not even that sometimes. On a UNIX-y system you’ll have to pretty much be a guru to ever get it installed.

          The platforms are designed from completely different mindsets, and that is the main difference. It takes a skilled hacker to break a typical UNIX box. It takes a website to break a typical Windows box. And that is the fault of the OS.

          1. Exactly. And nobody wants to become a guru just to get some damn software installed. Heck, I’m capable of doing it, and it’s just not worth my time.

            All it really takes to keep a Windows box safe is to be behind a hardware firewall, not run Internet Explorer, run a decent AV program and keep things updated (which everything will do automatically for you these days, no work required). And most importantly, don’t be stupid. I personally have never had a virus get near my machine except when i did it on purpose to see if my AV stuff was working.

          2. All it really takes to keep a Windows box safe is to be behind a hardware firewall, not run Internet Explorer, run a decent AV program and keep things updated (which everything will do automatically for you these days, no work required).

            And don’t run with administrator privileges all the time.

            (Though that can be hard because so much Windows software — older game software in particular — is so sloppily written that it won’t work UNLESS you either run with administrator privileges, or go into the install directory after the fact and manually grant full rights on it to yourself and anyone else who’s going to use it. There is just zero excuse for that.)

          3. True, installing software on Windows is much harder than on Linux these days. Excepting spyware and stuff which installs on its own. Nothing beats the well maintained, easy to use repository managers of modern Linux dostros when it comes to ease and convenience.

            Keeping Windows safe and sound takes being much more of a guru than keeping a UNIXy system safe, since you have to be ever vigilant of links, emails, sites you visit – and when you catch something, most people have the choice of living with it or reinstalling Windows since it takes major skills to get rid of nasty stuff.

            And no, I never get viruses on my Windows systems. Without using any AV malware. But I’m a guru. People I know who aren’t gurus get shit on their systems all the time.

          4. That works fine IF you happen to want to use only the software that’s got a fully supported version in the repository. If not, you’re in for hours of dependency hell. I’ve spent multiple hours trying to get a single piece of software installed, just in the last year, and eventually gave up.

            If you want to build a machine for gramma to browse the web and read email, Linux is a great solution. If you want to do programming or develop web stuff, Linux is a great solution. For a vast plane of existence in between, not so much.

        2. I’ll grant Windows has become a lot better since Microsoft started trying to clean out all the old cruft and actually pay attention to writing secure code and fixing bugs, instead of their old unofficial (but internally well known) attitude of “The customer will find the bugs for us.”

          As you note, the security model still needs work. Even the latest security features of Windows 7 have proven trivially easy to bypass, frequently due to basic underlying architectural design errors, and several of the most highly touted security features planned for Windows Vista were quietly dropped from the final release because there wasn’t time to finish both the important, but unseen, security measures and some trivial, but visible, piece of shiny desktop bling.

          The other side of the coin is, frankly, that these days Linux usually means Gnome, and Gnome is largely thrown together by a bunch of bleeding-edge junkies with no conception of good coding practices or sound architectural design. I am utterly gobsmacked at some of the places dependencies upon Gnome libraries have been turning up. People think nothing of linking a CLI utility against libgnome just to get a few convenient string-handling functions. So much for small, tight code…

          1. I can’t recall ever using Gnome. I’ve used KDE for many years on production systems and fluxbox with various random apps on my own systems for decades. Well, over one anyway.

          2. The UNIX security model is largely worthless:

            1) Weak technical reason – these days it’s SUDO, configured with the short-term password memory for convenience. So you run, say, Synaptic. Congratulations, for the next five minutes, any shortcut you click can now quietly gain root priviledges.

            2) Strong organisational reason – the root divide only protects the system. This pretty much only makes sense on shared computers, like University compute clusters. On your home box, as non-root, I can still delete all your files, I can still grab your browser password database, I can quite possibly effectively form a keylogger by listening to UI events even if I can’t hide it as a kernel driver. “The system” for home users is something you just reinstall if it breaks. It’s their documents that matter.

            You do not need to have root priviledges to do the real damage.

  9. I feel you’re overstating your case when you say you don’t *want* to use open source software. Your examples are cases where you *need* features or functionality not present in open source equivalents, or where your present skill set doesn’t translate. From what I read, you’re saying “I use what works for me, and right now open source software doesn’t”, not “I just don’t want to use open source software”. If I am wrong, and it is quite possible I am, it would be interesting to hear your specific points against open source software in general.

    1. Let me rephrase: I will concede that it is possible for my processes to be reforged around open source software, but I would rather spend my time and energy on something productive. Switching to Linux or to a Mac, for that matter — the same argument may apply for scripting, I haven’t tried it — would be a waste of time, and I’m paid quite well for the time I spend writing and illustrating.

      I’m not paid at all for dicking around with computers.

      So, “I don’t want to use Open Source software” translates into “I want to be paid for a larger percentage of the time I use.”

      1. You make your point well, and I agree with you. The problem I have is more with the ambiguity of the English language, where a simple quote from you could be used to make it seem like you’re against open source on some form of principle when I suspect that is not the case. Since you carry some prominence (whether you wish to or not) I just wanted to highlight that. I’m not at all saying you’re being deceptive or anything. Language, however, is.

        1. Oh yeah, language totally bites. If our vulgar (in the classical sense) tongues had checksums we’d all be much better off.

          This is why rephrasing is so useful, and why the works of Isaiah and the other Hebrew prophet-poets are so beautiful: sometimes when you say the same thing twice, and say it in two different ways, you create meaning that could not have been created in a single statement.

          1. Oh yeah, language totally bites. If our vulgar (in the classical sense) tongues had checksums we’d all be much better off.

            GRIN
            I am SO putting that in my quote file. 🙂

  10. I feel you’re overstating your case when you say you don’t *want* to use open source software. Your examples are cases where you *need* features or functionality not present in open source equivalents, or where your present skill set doesn’t translate. From what I read, you’re saying “I use what works for me, and right now open source software doesn’t”, not “I just don’t want to use open source software”. If I am wrong, and it is quite possible I am, it would be interesting to hear your specific points against open source software in general.

    1. Let me rephrase: I will concede that it is possible for my processes to be reforged around open source software, but I would rather spend my time and energy on something productive. Switching to Linux or to a Mac, for that matter — the same argument may apply for scripting, I haven’t tried it — would be a waste of time, and I’m paid quite well for the time I spend writing and illustrating.

      I’m not paid at all for dicking around with computers.

      So, “I don’t want to use Open Source software” translates into “I want to be paid for a larger percentage of the time I use.”

      1. You make your point well, and I agree with you. The problem I have is more with the ambiguity of the English language, where a simple quote from you could be used to make it seem like you’re against open source on some form of principle when I suspect that is not the case. Since you carry some prominence (whether you wish to or not) I just wanted to highlight that. I’m not at all saying you’re being deceptive or anything. Language, however, is.

        1. Oh yeah, language totally bites. If our vulgar (in the classical sense) tongues had checksums we’d all be much better off.

          This is why rephrasing is so useful, and why the works of Isaiah and the other Hebrew prophet-poets are so beautiful: sometimes when you say the same thing twice, and say it in two different ways, you create meaning that could not have been created in a single statement.

          1. Oh yeah, language totally bites. If our vulgar (in the classical sense) tongues had checksums we’d all be much better off.

            GRIN
            I am SO putting that in my quote file. 🙂

  11. I’m glad to see this post. The OS types keep forgetting their product has to be usable by someone other than the programmers, so we have to constantly remind them in hopes of getting something useful from them.

  12. I’m glad to see this post. The OS types keep forgetting their product has to be usable by someone other than the programmers, so we have to constantly remind them in hopes of getting something useful from them.

  13. Well, in reality if you’re an intelligent user I don’t think it’s really necessary. I run without it for months at a time, and as I said, I’ve never actually had a virus come anywhere near my system unless I put it there on purpose, so it’s not strictly necessary.
    The problem is that most people are quite sloppy about their use.

    OTOH, if you need A/V, so what? You install it, done. For that one step, you get to have an OS that people can actually use without becoming a guru. I say that speaking as someone who is at the level where I really COULD use Linux as my only OS – even where I am, I still choose not to, because my time is worth something to me, and I don’t give a damn about this OS or that, I just have work I need to get done, and my tools I use to do it should facilitate that as best as possible.

    I don’t complain that my car “needs airbags” because I might screw up and have an accident, I just pay for the airbags and they sit there in case something happens. In the case of A/V you don’t even have to pay for it, there are multiple good free options for personal use.

  14. Well, in reality if you’re an intelligent user I don’t think it’s really necessary. I run without it for months at a time, and as I said, I’ve never actually had a virus come anywhere near my system unless I put it there on purpose, so it’s not strictly necessary.
    The problem is that most people are quite sloppy about their use.

    OTOH, if you need A/V, so what? You install it, done. For that one step, you get to have an OS that people can actually use without becoming a guru. I say that speaking as someone who is at the level where I really COULD use Linux as my only OS – even where I am, I still choose not to, because my time is worth something to me, and I don’t give a damn about this OS or that, I just have work I need to get done, and my tools I use to do it should facilitate that as best as possible.

    I don’t complain that my car “needs airbags” because I might screw up and have an accident, I just pay for the airbags and they sit there in case something happens. In the case of A/V you don’t even have to pay for it, there are multiple good free options for personal use.

  15. Makes sense. And Gimp has quite a way to go before it is as usable as Photoshop, for sure. There’s still a shortage of good publishing software for Linux. I’d love to find a way to create a good comic scripting package for linux, but it’s probably too much effort. (My plans have been to make a setup that can automatically overlay the text into rendered comics, but it continually gets back-burnered because I have so many other things to finish.)

    This is why I have a fairly heterogeneous computing system in my house. I have 3 monitors, My left monitor is switchable between Windows and my PS3/Xbox360. My center monitor is switchable between PSP/Wii/PS2/Windows/Linux. My Right monitor runs solely Linux, though I’m looking into making it so I can use it as a third windows monitor. I have 3 windows systems and 3 linux systems running in my house, all of them serving different functions. Some things Linux does better, some things Windows does better. With my setup, I can shift my workspace to match whatever workload I have at the time.

    With Synergy, the windows and linux system can coexist with a single keyboard and mouse as well.

    1. gimp developers go out of their way to make it ‘not like photoshop’ to the point it’s unusable. I have yet to figure out why the UI cannot mimic Photoshop.

      1. 2.8, or whatever the new version is, is a travesty.

        I like the separate tool/document windows. It is a good model, and I hate the continual “buuut it’s not like this other tool I know!” whining. The one-window/MDI design is deeply, deeply flawed because it ties together the visible editing area and the space available for control panels—and I want my control panels down the screen edges so I can take advantage of Fitts’ law.

        But what they’ve done now is some kind of hideous compromise where there’s a fat wadge of space wasted on the tool window for a drop target, and document-context operations (like “save”) are no longer on the menu of the document window. I rolled back pretty damn fast.

  16. Makes sense. And Gimp has quite a way to go before it is as usable as Photoshop, for sure. There’s still a shortage of good publishing software for Linux. I’d love to find a way to create a good comic scripting package for linux, but it’s probably too much effort. (My plans have been to make a setup that can automatically overlay the text into rendered comics, but it continually gets back-burnered because I have so many other things to finish.)

    This is why I have a fairly heterogeneous computing system in my house. I have 3 monitors, My left monitor is switchable between Windows and my PS3/Xbox360. My center monitor is switchable between PSP/Wii/PS2/Windows/Linux. My Right monitor runs solely Linux, though I’m looking into making it so I can use it as a third windows monitor. I have 3 windows systems and 3 linux systems running in my house, all of them serving different functions. Some things Linux does better, some things Windows does better. With my setup, I can shift my workspace to match whatever workload I have at the time.

    With Synergy, the windows and linux system can coexist with a single keyboard and mouse as well.

    1. gimp developers go out of their way to make it ‘not like photoshop’ to the point it’s unusable. I have yet to figure out why the UI cannot mimic Photoshop.

      1. 2.8, or whatever the new version is, is a travesty.

        I like the separate tool/document windows. It is a good model, and I hate the continual “buuut it’s not like this other tool I know!” whining. The one-window/MDI design is deeply, deeply flawed because it ties together the visible editing area and the space available for control panels—and I want my control panels down the screen edges so I can take advantage of Fitts’ law.

        But what they’ve done now is some kind of hideous compromise where there’s a fat wadge of space wasted on the tool window for a drop target, and document-context operations (like “save”) are no longer on the menu of the document window. I rolled back pretty damn fast.

  17. What I find interesting is the number of OS fans that’ve shown up to tell you how awesome (their OS) is and terrible Windows is. That they’d be here was pretty much a given… but what is interesting is that the arguments presented are all years out of date. An out of date argument is tantamount to saying, “I haven’t actually checked on this in the past decade.”

    Which tells me that they use their own system for the same reason you or I do: Because it does what we are used to, when we are used to it.

    e.g. “Don’t use IE”- weeellll, recent studies say it’s currently more secure. Really, “don’t use browser X” changes on a monthly basis anyhow, and certainly should never be brought up in a discussion of operating system.

    Win7, which you say you’re using, hasn’t the flaws referred to by some of the other anti-MS posters, in regards to programs running themselves as admin, from your browser. (Particularly when combined with IE! hooray for an organization large enough to write complimentary products)

    I particularly like the bit about MS is going to take our rights away… weellllllll….. no. They’re the ones who commissioned the study that says DRM is useless, if anyone recalls that? Published in 2002?

    Even the bit about macs being better for graphics… Not really; they’re running Intel chipsets now. And currently they’re trying to start a war with Adobe- something that a company with single-digit market share probably ought not to do- which may result in future versions of Adobe’s software being brought later to Macs, if at all. That was the case when Apple rolled out OSX, it was the case when they switched to Intel’s chips, and probably will be again with whatever Adobe writes beyond CS5.

    These arguments. They have a shelf life! And it’s well past, now. Choosing a browser, OS, software package, or anything else… that is a thing that is chosen *in the now*, not because of how things were in the past, or might be in the future.

    1. out of date how?

      Not four months ago everyone who used the “IRM” feature of Word for Windows 2003 were barred from accessing their own data files for like three days because Microsoft let the core certificate for the IRM feature expire.

      I spoke not of OS boosterism but of the ability to access your own work in the future.

      How much more will you suffer when you have to pay monthy rent to Microsoft for them to keep renewing the individual key to your documents?

      Yea, microsoft “fixed that” pretty fast, but once it is their business model to charge that rent (where moving to a rental-ware model is a _stated_ goal in their SEC filings and business plans) “or else” what will you do with your entire personal and corporate legacy.

      With open source, there is no vendor who can come in and hold your work hostage.

      This is a real, and _future_ problem. Nothing out of date about it.

    2. Reference…

      Okay it was “not five months ago”… my bad…

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2009/dec/18/microsoft-drm-office-problems

      Interesting how you cite the 2002 writeup about DRM and here is the 2003 product misfiring. Plus Windows Vista (8 years later) was killed by its onw DRM-enforcing driver requirements for video and sound (which is why it needed different drivers for the same hardware etc).

      So your derisiveness is a little misplaced or just plain wrong, given the news of the day…

    3. People still make Windows BSoD and Mac single-mouse-button jokes. Welcome to the Internet.

      I’d almost bet money that, until a pretty solid reason for a panic came up (see how well any other OS handles its root filesystem being unmountable), Howard hadn’t seen one in years.

      1. Yup. No BSOD’s since my office was remodeled. I have no memory of seeing that screen in this corner of the room.

        The Kid PC has had several. Sandra has had a couple. My machine, however, was STABLE. On a precipice, apparently, but stable. Then it got pushed over the edge.

        Related note: the last four days of Win7 have been wonderful.

        1. Yeah, Windows 7 beats out Windows 2000 as my favorite release of windows so far. Windows 2000 is sadly too obsolete to use now.

          The only thing that bugs me about it so far is that snap-to-maximized feature, and the snap to tiled feature for two windows… It’s occasionally useful but it would be better if it didn’t happen accidentally so often.

          The only other issues? 64-bit windows is still poorly supported by most third party applications. I’m constantly fighting with older apps on it.

    4. They did a study saying DRM is useless, yet they continue to add it to their OS for the next two releases following that study. Someone forgot to tell them that they decided it was useless.

      Why do I use Linux? I have a whole bunch of computers in my house. I buy a new one every year and a half or so. I can’t afford to buy 6-10 licenses of Windows at $200-350 each every few years, especially now that they’re actually releasing new versions again. And don’t tell me about Upgrade versions. The new upgrades in windows 7 are awful and require that you install the prior OS first then upgrade to it, and for some of my systems that would have involved installing XP, then upgrading to Vista, then upgrading to Windows 7. Windows 7 can’t upgrade properly straight from XP, after all.

      Thus, systems older than about 4 years old get moved over to Linux. They can still serve useful functions and run at acceptable speeds, as opposed to Windows 7 where they crawl.

      So, do you consider these arguments out of date?

      1. Er. Windows all the way down to 2000 is still supported. And useful. Still gets security fixes, still can run latest Opera/Firefox.

        Why, exactly, does Microsoft releasing a new version mean you have to buy that new version for every machine, including ones that can’t handle their latest round of graphical frippery?

        1. But Windows2000 can’t run my laptop’s wireless drivers, and has any number of other problems that made it useless for really modern hardware. I pretty much gave up on windows before 7 on my laptop after that. (Vista is too slow on it, and I don’t have any XP licenses.) Thus, my laptop pretty much sticks to Ubuntu Netbook Remix.

          Partially because applications stop supporting older versions. And they stop supporting hardware properly. 2000 for example can’t use hard drives over a certain size unless you have a CD with the proper service pack already installed. Windows XP doesn’t properly support memory sizes over about 3.5 gigabytes. I upgrade my old computers in small ways and that ends up pushing them past the capabilities of the OS. Linux fortunately can handle all of those new things while still running fast enough on old systems. Plus maintenance of windows systems is a nightmare. I don’t think I want to keep more than 3 of them going at once…

          That said, I currently have 2 systems running Windows 7 (home premium) and 1 running Windows Vista (ultimate). Not much reason to upgrade the vista system yet. Maybe when I put a DirectX 11 card in it. It’s currently only on an Nvidia 9800gt.

          And there’s more to my using of linux than Opera and Firefox…

          1. Did I say anything about installing old Windows on new machines? No. Stopping here because I doubt Howard wants this nonsense on his lawn.

          2. But you did say something about continuing to run old windows on old machines. My old machines do not stay static and frequently get hand-me-down hardware which breaks the old OSes.

          3. As would you.

            Linux is GREAT for old machines. PERFECT, because the nigh-infinite customizability of the OS, and the demand for a way to keep old machines useful ensures you’ll be able to get (or code) what you need.

            Most of the time.

            (Now that I have the last word, you two can cut it out, right?)

  18. What I find interesting is the number of OS fans that’ve shown up to tell you how awesome (their OS) is and terrible Windows is. That they’d be here was pretty much a given… but what is interesting is that the arguments presented are all years out of date. An out of date argument is tantamount to saying, “I haven’t actually checked on this in the past decade.”

    Which tells me that they use their own system for the same reason you or I do: Because it does what we are used to, when we are used to it.

    e.g. “Don’t use IE”- weeellll, recent studies say it’s currently more secure. Really, “don’t use browser X” changes on a monthly basis anyhow, and certainly should never be brought up in a discussion of operating system.

    Win7, which you say you’re using, hasn’t the flaws referred to by some of the other anti-MS posters, in regards to programs running themselves as admin, from your browser. (Particularly when combined with IE! hooray for an organization large enough to write complimentary products)

    I particularly like the bit about MS is going to take our rights away… weellllllll….. no. They’re the ones who commissioned the study that says DRM is useless, if anyone recalls that? Published in 2002?

    Even the bit about macs being better for graphics… Not really; they’re running Intel chipsets now. And currently they’re trying to start a war with Adobe- something that a company with single-digit market share probably ought not to do- which may result in future versions of Adobe’s software being brought later to Macs, if at all. That was the case when Apple rolled out OSX, it was the case when they switched to Intel’s chips, and probably will be again with whatever Adobe writes beyond CS5.

    These arguments. They have a shelf life! And it’s well past, now. Choosing a browser, OS, software package, or anything else… that is a thing that is chosen *in the now*, not because of how things were in the past, or might be in the future.

    1. out of date how?

      Not four months ago everyone who used the “IRM” feature of Word for Windows 2003 were barred from accessing their own data files for like three days because Microsoft let the core certificate for the IRM feature expire.

      I spoke not of OS boosterism but of the ability to access your own work in the future.

      How much more will you suffer when you have to pay monthy rent to Microsoft for them to keep renewing the individual key to your documents?

      Yea, microsoft “fixed that” pretty fast, but once it is their business model to charge that rent (where moving to a rental-ware model is a _stated_ goal in their SEC filings and business plans) “or else” what will you do with your entire personal and corporate legacy.

      With open source, there is no vendor who can come in and hold your work hostage.

      This is a real, and _future_ problem. Nothing out of date about it.

    2. Reference…

      Okay it was “not five months ago”… my bad…

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2009/dec/18/microsoft-drm-office-problems

      Interesting how you cite the 2002 writeup about DRM and here is the 2003 product misfiring. Plus Windows Vista (8 years later) was killed by its onw DRM-enforcing driver requirements for video and sound (which is why it needed different drivers for the same hardware etc).

      So your derisiveness is a little misplaced or just plain wrong, given the news of the day…

    3. People still make Windows BSoD and Mac single-mouse-button jokes. Welcome to the Internet.

      I’d almost bet money that, until a pretty solid reason for a panic came up (see how well any other OS handles its root filesystem being unmountable), Howard hadn’t seen one in years.

      1. Yup. No BSOD’s since my office was remodeled. I have no memory of seeing that screen in this corner of the room.

        The Kid PC has had several. Sandra has had a couple. My machine, however, was STABLE. On a precipice, apparently, but stable. Then it got pushed over the edge.

        Related note: the last four days of Win7 have been wonderful.

        1. Yeah, Windows 7 beats out Windows 2000 as my favorite release of windows so far. Windows 2000 is sadly too obsolete to use now.

          The only thing that bugs me about it so far is that snap-to-maximized feature, and the snap to tiled feature for two windows… It’s occasionally useful but it would be better if it didn’t happen accidentally so often.

          The only other issues? 64-bit windows is still poorly supported by most third party applications. I’m constantly fighting with older apps on it.

    4. They did a study saying DRM is useless, yet they continue to add it to their OS for the next two releases following that study. Someone forgot to tell them that they decided it was useless.

      Why do I use Linux? I have a whole bunch of computers in my house. I buy a new one every year and a half or so. I can’t afford to buy 6-10 licenses of Windows at $200-350 each every few years, especially now that they’re actually releasing new versions again. And don’t tell me about Upgrade versions. The new upgrades in windows 7 are awful and require that you install the prior OS first then upgrade to it, and for some of my systems that would have involved installing XP, then upgrading to Vista, then upgrading to Windows 7. Windows 7 can’t upgrade properly straight from XP, after all.

      Thus, systems older than about 4 years old get moved over to Linux. They can still serve useful functions and run at acceptable speeds, as opposed to Windows 7 where they crawl.

      So, do you consider these arguments out of date?

      1. Er. Windows all the way down to 2000 is still supported. And useful. Still gets security fixes, still can run latest Opera/Firefox.

        Why, exactly, does Microsoft releasing a new version mean you have to buy that new version for every machine, including ones that can’t handle their latest round of graphical frippery?

        1. But Windows2000 can’t run my laptop’s wireless drivers, and has any number of other problems that made it useless for really modern hardware. I pretty much gave up on windows before 7 on my laptop after that. (Vista is too slow on it, and I don’t have any XP licenses.) Thus, my laptop pretty much sticks to Ubuntu Netbook Remix.

          Partially because applications stop supporting older versions. And they stop supporting hardware properly. 2000 for example can’t use hard drives over a certain size unless you have a CD with the proper service pack already installed. Windows XP doesn’t properly support memory sizes over about 3.5 gigabytes. I upgrade my old computers in small ways and that ends up pushing them past the capabilities of the OS. Linux fortunately can handle all of those new things while still running fast enough on old systems. Plus maintenance of windows systems is a nightmare. I don’t think I want to keep more than 3 of them going at once…

          That said, I currently have 2 systems running Windows 7 (home premium) and 1 running Windows Vista (ultimate). Not much reason to upgrade the vista system yet. Maybe when I put a DirectX 11 card in it. It’s currently only on an Nvidia 9800gt.

          And there’s more to my using of linux than Opera and Firefox…

          1. Did I say anything about installing old Windows on new machines? No. Stopping here because I doubt Howard wants this nonsense on his lawn.

          2. But you did say something about continuing to run old windows on old machines. My old machines do not stay static and frequently get hand-me-down hardware which breaks the old OSes.

          3. As would you.

            Linux is GREAT for old machines. PERFECT, because the nigh-infinite customizability of the OS, and the demand for a way to keep old machines useful ensures you’ll be able to get (or code) what you need.

            Most of the time.

            (Now that I have the last word, you two can cut it out, right?)

Comments are closed.