Monday, November 25, 2002

There's an interview with Ellen Feiss over at Brown U.'s web site. Here it is. I'm not a fan of hers, but I never link to anything on the Internet, and this was mildly amusing, especially the editor's comment again about Janie Porche. I find her ad particularly annoying, possibly for her hand gestures and enthusiasm about “saving Christmas.” Ye gods. It's great that she got the pictures into her PowerBook; I'm so happy for her. Now they've got one of these ads with Yo-Yo Ma, the world-famous cellist. This whole series of ads isn't quite as bad as the fellows at Penny-Arcade would have us believe, but I tend to agree with their sentiments.

I've been using Red Hat Linux on my laptop and a PC at my office for a few weeks now. I'd like to say that the experience has convinced me to give up Windows for good, but that's just not the case. Aside from the gaming (most of my newer games don't have Linux versions, so I'd have to run utilities like Wine to try to get them to work, which is way too much trouble), the desktop manager is so much like Windows that it's just as easy to use Windows as Linux. That's not a dig, really. I like the KDE interface, but when it's easier to boot to Windows to watch a DVD, check my office e-mail, or dial into my office network (the VPN dialer doesn't come in a Linux flavor), it's just easier to use Windows. I do appreciate the ability to compile programs on my own, and tweaking them is easier in Linux than Windows has ever been. I guess it comes down to this: most computing pundits predict one of two things for Linux: that it will gain ground on the server OS side, or that it will gain acceptance as a desktop replacement for Windows. So far, I'd have to come down on the server OS side of things. Windows is so entrenched in so many companies and homes that it would be financially and logistically impossible for businesses to switch from Windows to Linux (or to Mac, for that matter). No matter how many improvements and bundled programs Linux developers throw into their distributions, Windows will still be the dominant OS. Small companies might be able to start up with Linux everywhere (if you don't have much money, you can't beat a free OS), and maybe the odd school with older hardware, but for the most part, Windows has won the desktop OS battle.

However, on the server side, there are plenty of reasons to look at alternatives to Windows NT/2000/.Net. A virus or trojan on your desktops can be difficult to eliminate, but for most businesses, as long as your servers are up, you can still conduct your day-to-day transactions. But a virus outbreak on your servers can be catastrophic. I only have to remind people at my office of “Code Red Tuesday,” when a trojan brought down all of our servers (and some of our PCs, but that's a different matter). After that day, my boss suggested that we might be able to make better use of non-Microsoft OS choices on the server side whenever possible. So far, we've deployed one Linux web server instead of a Windows one. Considering that I've spent a lot more time with Linux lately than when we first rolled out this server, I'd feel more comfortable recommending this option in the future. And there's always NetWare, my old favorite.

OK, I'm done ranting now. I did write this whole blog entry in Linux, using OpenOffice and KDE. But I'm going to need to boot to Windows to post it; the Javascript controls in Blogger seem happier in Windows and IE than in Mozilla under Linux. And as it has turned out, the only things I lost in the Linux-to-Windows transition were the hyperlinks, which were easy to redo. Still, the whole thing would have been done faster had I just used Windows after all. Am I proving anything? Maybe. Am I rambling? Definitely. Signing off now....

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