The Friday Letter – XP, Vista or Linux or Mac

My father-in-law is staying with us for a while. He decided to buy a laptop. After looking around he went for a Toshiba P300. A good big 17 inch laptop. It came with Vista, but he wanted XP on it. Why? Two reasons, firstly because he was going to run some heavy software and didn’t want Vista getting in the way, and secondly, familiarity. He knows XP and is happy with it.

One day, he might see the light and move over to Linux! The Mac didn’t have a look-in for several reasons. Its expensive for what it is. The Mac ties you into its brand, more so than Microsoft. And its unfamiliar. And the same with Linux for him is that it is unknown territory.

One thing that amazed me was when starting the machine (the P300) and booting into Vista, it had to reboot 8 times before we reached the usable desktop. Overall it took four and a half hours to back up Vista and then install XP and the extra standard applications like Firefox, Thunderbird, Openoffice3, AVG antivirus and Zonealarm firewall.

For me it is a different story. I came across Linux a few years back with a tripple cd pack on a magazine of Red Hat 7.3 and haven’t looked back. I can even run Linux in a window on XP from a USB stick. I now have a Lenovo R61 laptop. I do have XP on it but only because I am doing some studying and some of the software provided only runs on MS XP. I also have Linux on it. It is running Debian Lenny, which was so easy to install and get going. I had a full system up and running with the hour. Try that with XP or even Vista. I also have SimplyMepis8, which again was a dream to set up, and soon I’m going to try Puppy Linux. This is one I tried a while ago and just couldn’t get to grips with but now I feel it would be the best to get to know before I move on to LFS sometime next year. Why Linux? And why Debian Linux? I have tried a multitude of different distros (versions or flavours of Linux), Mandrake (now Mandriva), Fedora, Suse, Gentoo, Ubuntu (based on Debian) Slackware to name a few. There are a number that are based on one of the above like zenwalk and stax based on slackware and ubuntu and mepis based on debian which I have tried. I have come to enjoy using debian and mepis because they are stable as a rock and easy to install and straight forward to understand, and Mepis you can try without even installing. I haven’t had one crash. But obviously, where I have been tinkering with the system, normally on a test install, it has crashed a few times, but it is difficult to get it to crash. It is also secure. It runs smoother than windows, it runs quicker, it is more responsive, it is more configurable, and I can do everything that I want and need to do using it. One other thing I like about Linux is that it is free, and so is the software that you can use on it. And contrary to the MS advertising bandwagon, linux is easy to install and use. I think what holds people back is the unfamilularity with it, but if people would just give it a go, they would be so surprised as it is far more intuitive than MS. I am happy with my laptop running Deian Linux and confident in its ability to do what I want it to do, and that is to just work to allow me to do my work


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