01-Jun-08

Wow, June already. So I did Christmas, 2 x Broken Arms, New Year and BrainShare ’08. Then I did the Great Manchester Run 10K in just under an hour, finally completed the master bedroom makeover (very sore now, all over).

Saw Joe Satriani at the Apollo and Mark Knopfler at the MEN, bought a new Dell laptop (more later) and um…well, I think that’s it. Doesn’t look like a lot when you cram it all into two paragraphs I suppose, but there you go, life is often more hectic than you give it credit for.

Now then, the laptop. The short story is that I bought a Dell with 3GB RAM, Dual Core, 250GB HDD, blah blah. It came with Windows Vista, which I was expecting, so I took the decision to stay with Vista and not downgrade to XP or even trash the beast and install openSUSE.

Why did I do this? I’ve been part of the vocal group that has criticised Vista from the day it shipped. There’s no doubt it’s carrying too much timber, but I have to say that I added SP1, and I’ve had no issues with it at ll so far. So much so that I don’t see me going to openSUSE11 any time soon. Why is that? Well, the devil is in the detail, and really for an OS to be workable, you need the applications. Whilst Linux can do wine and apps such as iTunes-alike Banshee, it doesn’t have the real things, and that is the killer. The apps drive the platform.

It’s something I argued at BrainShare 2007, it’s less about the underlying OS and more about the applications people need to do their jobs, coursework, novel writing, number crunching, accounting, designing, photo management, iPod manipulating etc.

Yes, we have Banshee and Amarok and F-Spot and GIMP and OpenOffice and others, but with possibly the latter’s exception, we don’t have the originals, the “real McCoys”. What gets me about something like iTunes for example, is that Mac OSX is a *nix variant, but Apple refuse to port it to Linux. Why not? Is it that much more difficult than getting it onto Windows? Theoretically, no.

Also, Linux still has issues with package management. I can’t speak for the other distros as I haven’t checked them out in some time,  but openSUSE has taken some steps in the right direction with 1-click-install. Great idea, well implemented. I also gather that openSUSE 11 has made huge strides with the speed of the package management and patching, which became a total millstone when you were plugged into several different repositories.

Finally, Linux, stop calling your software stupid names – call it something meaningful to it’s purpose. Yes, I know it’s cute in a geeky kind of way to give an app a silly name (Pratchett influenced no doubt), but look elsewhere – iTunes for um..tunes, PhotoShop for um..photos, Outlook for mail. Ahem, OK, bad example with the last one. For someone completely new to Linux, what is Banshee? What is GIMP? What is F-Spot? How do I know what these apps do just by looking at them? Do I need to install them?

This sounds a little negative on Linux, it isn’t. Open source has made amazing strides in the last couple of years alone, and now it’s making an impression on the market with the likes of the EeePC, it’s growth can only accelerate. That said, remember the cliche that “never let the facts get in the way of a good story”? I’ve been using Windows Vista for several days – no performance issues, no driver support issues, no BSOD, no limping along (granted, it’s a beefy laptop – it’s a pain on a Celeron, but wouldn’t anything be?).

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