Tooting Our Own Horn

I don't think Linux users stand up for their OS enough.

Now, don't think that I'm advocating OS wars. I've had enough of that. However, I think Linux gets unfairly blasted in the face of propaganda that a lot of people just say, "Oh, I guess that's right."

Is Mac OSX better than, say, a Gnome desktop?

Your immediate answer to that question may be telling. Personally, I don't have an answer. But I will admit that I drank the Apple Kool-aid for a few months, fully giving in to the idea that, yeah, Mac OSX is better than desktop Linux, despite never having used OSX. This was one of the big indicators to me that something was wrong.

I just think that at times we need to remind ourselves of why we use a program. And with Linux, it makes such sweeping changes to the way we use computers that I think this gets swept under the rug in exchange of Windows and Apple fanboys decrying its origins and attacking its philosophy, calling it "not there yet."

I've discussed the nature of not good enough before. But I never really explained why Linux is more than good enough for me. I never really made that motion to stand my ground and say, "this is what I think is good about Linux" even though there are dozens of Apple blogs dedicated to making posts about why I'm wrong.

I've stopped caring about their voice. It's time for mine.

I've thought for a couple of days what I want Minimalinux to be. Is it a celebration of Minimal ideals? Is it a voice box for myself, allowing me to vocalize my feelings and trials? Is it a trumpet for Linux?

I have decided that it can be all of these things.

I would hope that my foray into Minimalism in Linux is valuable enough for other people to read about. There's certainly enough for the Apple side of things. Why not the rest of us?

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Linux is great because:

-It's customizable.

From the highest level of changing wallpapers to the lowest level of modifying the very kernel, everything in Linux is open to my hand. While I rarely take advantage of the low level stuff, it excites me that there's a whole world ready for me to explore. There's still unconquered territory.

-It's easy.

I have been using Linux for four years, and yet it took me a short afternoon to learn how to use its desktop. Mind you, this was back when it was still a pain.

I have taught my mother Gnome on my laptop to access her e-Mail in a pair of sentences. I taught my non-tech neighbour how to configure and work Ubuntu on a more fine-grained level in an afternoon (covering basic topics like package management). I helped a fellow Computer Science student migrate to Linux entirely in about a week of answering questions - excited, open, wide eyed questions that had the same eager interest that I had when I first booted up my Linux LiveCD.

Linux can be used by all sorts of people. Don't give a second glance to people who say Linux is "too hard" for the "common user" (a strawman if I ever saw one, by the way). Anyone can learn to use Linux, on the surface or deep within - whatever suits them, once their mind is open.

Closed minds stay on closed systems. If it does them well, then, I have no issues. It's their choice.

-It works now.

I first used Ubuntu at release 7.04. It was fun to play with. However, Wi-fi didn't work. My graphics card didn't work. One of my monitors was never detected properly. So I spent my time exploring, but never seriously considering my migration.

And then, over the years, something happened.

Linux started working.

Ubuntu 8.04 brought graphics card drivers that worked. 8.10 brought Wi-Fi for nearly every one of my computers and cards. 9.04 brought a monitor detection that worked out of the box.

The evolution was astounding, and at times I can barely believe the amazing distance Linux has crossed in such a short time. Three years. A step that has brought a change in the way the tech industry works, inventing a new category of computers (the netbook and nettop) and creating competition so fierce that even Apple has been forced to copy ideas from desktop Linux.

-It's home.

I've heard so many fanboys from every world of the computer lands tell me that my desktop of choice, Gnome, is not a good one, or that Linux is not ready for the desktop.

The Windows and Apple fanboys rant about how it's simply not there yet. The Apple fanboys in particular are quite vocal about how ugly it looks, and how "difficult" it is to use.

The KDE fans rant about how hard it is to use Gnome because you can't configure anything, and the settings are all hidden away. The command line junkies and fluxbox/openbox fans rant about how bloated it is. And so forth.

But none of that matters when I turn on my laptop and my Fedora desktop, with Gnome, greets me at the door.

None of that matters when Ubuntu boots in five seconds to show me Firefox's latest updates in Google Reader, or play some music in Rhythmbox with such ease that I cannot believe that anything is easier.

The greatest complement for a desktop is to call it an enabler. To enable me to experience my content, websites and create new words and code is simply enough. The mere fact that Gnome is able to look great doing it, well, that's just a perk.

You say Linux isn't here yet? That's like calling my house a dump. You can stomp your feet and complain about it all you want.

It's still my home. No stomping will ever change that.

2 comments:

Nathan R. Hale said...

Great post, keep it up. We do more reasonable, non-angry (but well-spoken)Linux defenders.

Caleb said...

We really do need more of these. In fact, (and maybe I am simply being over-enthusiastic) I feel as if now is the time. I check your blog (along with yours, Nathan!) on a daily basis and simply love it! Thank you so much.