Why aren't you running Linux?

Why aren't you running Linux?

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It's a sincere question. I'm curious what I can do to help reduce dependence on closed operating systems.

And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with not running Linux, I understand it's not best for everybody. I'm just curious about making it best for more people.

Ubuntu is the most user friendly Linux distribution. It's also the one I use for both desktops and servers. You can download and burn a CD image, and boot into it off the CD without installing, to try it out without installing it. It is very slow that way, because CD drives are slower than hard drives, and everything in the image needs to be decompressed as it's read.

[info]cathijosephine did the install herself when Windows etc. got too slow on her computer.

http://www.ubuntu.com/ (CD image link is right at the top - download.)

Let me know if you would like me to burn an install CD for you or look over your shoulder while you install.

Freeing up hard drive space under Windows and then repartitioning it for Linux will probably be the hardest part.
  • http://xkcd.com/619/

    Edited at 2010-02-02 12:13 am (UTC)
  • I am running Windows for reasons I won't go into, but I am running it responsibly by not having a mail client installed.
    • Mail clients aren't the only way for a Windows machine to get infected.
      • But in the absence of a mail client, would those infections be dangerous to others?
        • If the virus installed on your system is a mail client you don't know about, yes.
        • Absolutely. I'm curious how you think it wouldn't.

          There could be a security bug in, for example, the Windows graphics libraries. Somebody could craft a malicious jpeg and put it on a web site. Maybe distributed as a free livejournal userpic. You load the web site (in any browser), your browser tells your operating system to display the jpeg in the page, the jpeg exploits (for example) a buffer overrun bug, and now has all the authority of whatever process was responsible for displaying the jpeg. Then it installs whatever it wants on your computer, including software to send spam, and to get information from anywhere on the internet on who to send what spam to.
          • Then it installs whatever it wants on your computer, including software

            This was the step I hadn't thought of. Thanks.
            • You are quite welcome.
              • With apologies for the month-long lag in returning to this (and apologies for my ignorance, which I'm sure is considerable), I realize I still don't quite get this:

                Then it installs whatever it wants on your computer, including software to send spam, and to get information from anywhere on the internet on who to send what spam to.

                So...the malicious bug installs a mail client on my machine. But before it can send mail from my machine, it needs to connect to a server, no? And since my machine doesn't know about any servers (because I run no mail software), it's going to need its own account on a server someplace---or an account it's hijacked from someone other than me. But once it's got that server account, what does it need my machine for?

                The perpetrator of the malicious software presumably owns a computer, on which he can install a mail client that connects to a server. Or he can install a client on *my* machine that connects to the same server. Any mail he sends will come from that server, and presumably will look the same no matter where the client was, no? So what advantage does he derive from installing a client on my machine instead of his own?
                • It just connects to the mail server of the recipient. The protocol was created when nobody had any reason to consider security.

                  I could connect to your mail server using the "telnet" command, type in an email to you, and tell it I'm anybody I want.

                  I'll try to remember to send you a demonstration later.

                  With a couple exceptions. I don't know how much detail you're interested in. Feel free to come back to this paragraph later. The only thing in an email that can't be forged is the sender's IP. Often receiving mail servers will verify that the sending IP has a valid hostname, and sometimes that that hostname has an IP that matches the sender's IP. Also, SPF was created specifically to address this issue, so if you're server is doing SPF validation and I try forging a From: address from a domain with an SPF record, it'll get rejected. There's also a cryptographic signature thing called DKIM, which I believe has a way of saying "reject all email from this domain that isn't signed."

                  I'm glad you asked. I should probably make a post about the subject.
                  • This was extremely informative and helpful. Thank you.
                    • You're welcome.

                      It may also help to think of your computer as an internet server as much as any other computer on the internet is an internet server.

                      The most relevant distinctions being that there's a decent chance your ISP has blocked some ports (like TCP port 25, for email) due to these spam problems, and your IP address is likely to be on a list of dynamic IPs that should not be sending email. Nobody can block port 80 (web) because everybody uses it, which is where web forum etc. spam comes from.

                      The fact that your computer isn't shaped like a pizza box and one of many in a rack somewhere isn't terribly relevant.

                      Oh, and that SPF thing that sounded potentially brilliant has a major flaw that breaks automatic email forwarding.
  • probably because i'm running OS X :)

  • use a virtualizer!

    Enthusiastic second for Ubuntu over here. I agree with all you said except one -- I think repartitioning the drive is a lose. I used to do it a lot and it was always a pain. Now I install Ubuntu native on the entire drive, then use VirtualBox to install Windoze on a virtual machine. Easier all around, no performance hit that I can see, and I have both at once instead of either/or. Wicked easy!
  • I am running Linux, but I am going to be a typical self-centered geek and answer for other people. :-)

    (1) Inertia. When you buy a computer, it probably comes with Windows on it. Installing Linux takes effort. Not many Intel Mac users have Windows or linux on their machines. (To be fair, that’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, gratuitious pun intended, since if you buy a Mac you are already venturing slightly outide the path of least resistance in order to have a Mac, but inertia is part of it, and I’m sure plenty of people who buy a Linux-based netbook thinking they were getting Windows and actively wanting Windows go ahead and leave it running Linux out of inertia.) If I had been the Department of Justice back in the era of the Microsoft antitrust trial, I might have argued against bundling OSes with computers, on the theory that there should be a level playing field and customers should be able/required to choose for themselves.

    (2) Network effects. If your mom, your accountant, your boss, and all the people in the online forum where you hang out are running Word and Excel on Windows, then you’ll have an easier time collaborating with them and getting help if you’re running Word and Excel on Windows, too. The extreme form of this is when you are required for some reason or another to use a specific piece of software which is not available for Linux. For instance, in the early days of ecommerce, lots of ecommerce sites (and banks and things like that) required Internet Explorer. (And for a year or so, the parent organization for my doctor wouldn’t let me send him email if I wasn’t using Internet Explorer — that was much more recent!)

    (And of course, Microsoft does its best to maximize both of these effects.)

    Edited at 2010-02-02 02:56 am (UTC)
  • This is interesting to me. I run Windows mainly for gaming. I've tried various Linux gaming solutions (Wine, Cedega, Crossover, etc) and haven't been particularly happy with any of them.

    I do have an old G4 Mac running PowerPC Ubuntu and that's quite nice. I'm trying to turn it into a router (more for the experience than actually having a good reason to do it) and packet forwarding is stubbornly refusing to work... other than that, though, I'm quite happy with Ubuntu every time I've used it.

    I'd imagine the majority of people, though, don't care what OS they run as long as they can access Facebook and YouTube. In fact, I'd even wager they'd be resistant to changing because they feel like they'd have to learn how to use the new OS. True for something like Slackware, not true for Ubuntu.
  • I'm in grad school, and when I'm done I'll be starting a new business. I don't have time or brain for another learning curve, thank you very much.
    • Spend an hour some time running Ubuntu off the CD? I wouldn't say there's a learning curve for a lot of stuff. Web, email, office apps. All just like windows. You click the obvious stuff and it goes.

      Once in a while it'll say you should upgrade, and you click the button to let it. And it works.

      What do you expect to involve a learning curve?
      • It's a new OS, therefore it has a learning curve. Even switching to a new Windows is a learning curve, one that I've avoided for as long as possible every time they've "updated" the damn thing (I took both Ubuntu and Windows 7 then-Beta off my lil' Acer when I got it for just that reason). I know the conceits, I know where everything is. Because the simple truth is "obvious" never is to someone who hasn't used it before. I'm entirely not interested in spending a hour swapping my OS, then several days figuring out how to run my games and make my speakers work and figure out how much battery life my lil' Acer has left and get my lil' Acer to talk to my Zune.

        I am not a computer geek, I don't give a flying fuck about knowing these things as some sort of personal edification, I just want to play games and listen to podcasts/music and futz around on the internet. I know I can do that with Windows; I have no assurance that I'll be able to do it with anything else without considerable output. I won't take your word for it because you are a computer geek, your perception of what's easy and obvious are unlikely to match mine, particularly not when you have an axe to grind.
        • Why was that so harsh?

          You're right, the Zune is probably enough reason for you to stick to Windows. That happens when you buy hardware made by a major operating system company that wants you dependant on their operating system. Non-standard undocumented interface that nobody else can support.

          Games you have under Windows are also unlikely to work. The games that are available are easy to find, and your sound will just work. And there's automatically a little icon in the top right corner that shows your remaining battery life.

          Playing games and listening to podcasts/music and futzing around on the internet is just as easy under Linux. As long as those games aren't only available for Windows.

          I never hoped you'd take my word for it. And I never suggested you install Ubuntu. I suggested you boot off the live CD without modifying your computer so you could see for yourself what it's like.
          • I've been thinking about why the approach in this post pissed me off, and I think I can sum it up in one word: evangelism. It wasn't "Hey, they made Ubuntu easy to try out! I highly recommend it." It was "Stop using your evil OS (here's evidence of how it's evil) and switch to the One True OS, you'll be happier and the world will be a better place!" That's going to work with some people, but most of the people you're reaching out to are allergic to evangelism (part of our immunity to marketing) and will break out in swear words.
            • Thanks. I did try to avoid evangelizing, because I'm aware of the long history of that not working. But I can see how it would have been better to just not mention my reasons. The fact that so much of the spam comes from people's Windows computers without their knowledge has just been freaking me out lately. Also, the likelihood of people assuming that it's not their computer.

              I also very recently learned why Microsoft's .NET programming language was created. Sun created the language Java. It is very popular, due partially to how portable it is - you write one program in Java, and it runs on everything everywhere: Windows, Mac, Linux, several you haven't heard of, and phones.

              So Microsoft released development libraries (to make it easier to write some programs) that only worked with Windows. So suddenly people are, without thinking about it, writing Java programs that only work under Windows. And their users are now dependant on Windows for those applications.

              Fortunately, this violated Microsoft's license with the creators of Java, and they put an end to that. And Microsoft stopped including Java in the default Windows install.

              So Microsoft created .NET. And it has become a popular language because it's easy, and now people are more dependant on Microsoft. In particular, companies writing their own in house software are now significantly more tied to this one operating system.

              The operating system most famous for instability and vulnerability to attack (viruses, etc.).

              Germany and France recently asked people to stop using Internet Explorer. Homeland Security did the same in 2004.

              Using Microsoft just because you haven't taken an hour to see how well the Ubuntu live CD works for you really seems irresponsible to me. And I think a lot of people do it. (I've acknowledged you have additional reasons.)

              I'm really curious how much of the above sounds like rational reasons to hate Microsoft to you. I'm aware my perspective... is not representative of Windows users.
            • I removed the Windows stuff from the post. Did I get everything that upset you?
              • No, no, you took out a word but you left in the underlying concept, that doesn't help. In particular that second sentence is still very problematic. You can tell by the use of the word "dependence" - that is a very negative term in our culture, which has "independence" as a core value. You try to backpedal after that second sentence, but if you just took it out altogether you wouldn't need to do that - if you don't tell someone they're broken then you don't need to explain that it's OK to be broken (which sounds patronizing as all hell - I am not a dog that needs to be fixed, I am a human being who deserves respect for her choices even when they're different from yours).

                I think part of what's going on is what you'd say amongst fellow Linux fanatics needs to be different than what you say when talking to others. Your original post was fine if everyone agrees that using an OS other than Linux is Wrong and Bad, but the moment someone who sees nothing wrong with Windows walks in (or rather, nothing wrong enough to stop using Windows - the very people you're trying to reach) you've got a problem. How would you feel if someone told you polyamory is Wrong and Bad and they've got a way to make monogamy easy and fun so why don't you try it? You want to avoid that issue altogether if possible, and the whole point of having an easy distro is you *can* avoid it - don't even mention Windows, especially if you can't do so without a sneer. Just sell Ubuntu on its own merits and call it a day.

                Oh, one more thing: I suggest putting the question at the end of the post rather than the beginning, if you want to put it in there at all. If you ask me a question I will be thinking about my answer which distracts me from what you're saying, especially if it's an essay question. Also, that question gets me thinking about the reason(s) I'm not doing something, when you want me to be thinking that I ought to be doing that something. Actually, thinking further, this should be two posts: the first is the question (and *don't* argue against any of the points people make in reply to their comments - you want to know what's going on it people's heads at this stage) and the second is about how awesome that distro is and how it addresses people's concerns (this is where you correct those misconceptions you wanted so hard to argue against in the first post ;).

                You know who is really good at this sort of thing? Marketers. It's sad that they're the ones paying attention to persuasive psychology, but they've gotten really good at it. Make friends with a few and ask *them* how to go about it.
  • Of course I'm not running Windows, but being in the position I'm in I do frequently hear reasons that people still do. Without even touching the "gaming" reason (which I don't actually see as major except among non-linux geeks) the top three reasons would have to be:

    1. Quickbooks. I spent about a year working on a F/OSS accounting application but the desire to develop in this area is not high in spite of demand for the product. "Accounting is boring" and many of the F/OSS solutions out there appeal to an international crowd, which is terribly tricky, you really need a tax and accounting expert in your country to be involved in development - and help update it every year.

    2. Can't use off-the-shelf software, like Turbotax. Looks like I haven't left the economics arena, but Turbotax is the best example of popular piece of software that there simply isn't a Linux version for. There are also people who still shop in stores for software and like that they can pick something off the shelf and go home with it.

    3. Work or school ties them to it. Frequently schools and workplaces have Windows-specific applications and so they require the students and employees to use Windows - even at home for the work VPN, or software requirements for homework.

    Aside from those things, most casual users would be perfectly happy using Ubuntu these days. Cheers to you for getting the word out :)
  • did install Ubuntu; now on WinXP

    I don't care that much about OSes. I want a machine that does what I want with a minimum of bother. That ranges from math stuff and image processing on the cheap, to multimedia.

    My laptop, a small guy, was purchased from Dell with Ubuntu preinstalled. I installed some backup software but when I tried to do the full cycle check (a full restore) a number of them failed. I tried upgrading to latest Ubuntu, and their system would not let me. I finally Googled around, figured out how to do it, but lost the little media support I had in the process. I struggled with that, trying to sift bad advice and recommendations from true on Web, then got fed up with hours I was spending simply getting to where I wanted to be.

    I bought WinXP, formatted the disk, and have what I want. It is slower, but it works and I know it.

    Frankly, I don't care if the OS is closed or not. I do find evangelists for MacOS and the Apple Grey Goo to be highly hypocritical, but basically I don't care.

  • Happily running Windows 7

    Because my time isn't worthless.
    I also enjoy direct X acceleration for my games.

    To many times I have had rude people call me ruder names for having not committed to memory obscure commands that wouldn't be necessary in the first place if any level of spit and polish was ever put on *nix.

    I'm sorry. it's twenty ten. I have no time for an Operating System that still requires me to hand specify modelines in a config file to be capable of using multiple resolutions, because the plug and play routines used successfully look up all the plug and play info for the display, THROW'S IT OUT and say no displays found.

    *Nix has never made me any money either. Windows has paid for my sports car, my apartment, and you guessed it, My computer.
    • Re: Happily running Windows 7

      When was the last time you tried Ubuntu?

      Your experiences sound entirely not recent.

      You don't need to use commands or edit modelines.
      • Re: Happily running Windows 7




        Don't need command line. Ooh that's a good one.

        I've tried numerous times over the past several years. X has always fallen flat on it's face, and technical support has generally consisted of "Well when everything works right this happens!
        • Re: Happily running Windows 7

          I haven't needed a command line to get an Ubuntu box working... possibly ever.

          Did you file a bug report?

          If you still lived in the area I'd want to come over with an Ubuntu live CD to get the output of "lspci" (video card), your monitor model, and details of the problem.

          Zeph's laptop's sound actually didn't work automatically. I was really surprised. I pretty easily found a button I needed to click. I submitted a bug against Ubuntu, with the output of lspci, and the sound card got added to the list of sound cards of its type with a glitch that requires some extra attention which had already been implimented. Fixed in the upstream kernel.

          I'm sorry your experiences have been so bad. I'm sure it's no consolation that the first time I got X to work took a year, of active use. That was around 1995. Now everything magically works, and it's great.

          I'm very curious what would happen if you tried to boot the current Live Ubuntu CD (the install CD). I honestly think it would work. And if it didn't I'd be very interested in getting a bug submitted.
          • Re: Happily running Windows 7

            I doubt it'd read my RAID array, and considering that contains over a terabyte of data, anything that won't play with it is a non starter.

            My experience is that ubuntu only works on Dell D600's, Lenovo T60's and other bone standard mass produced systems. My custom built rigs always encounter driver issues, and once you encounter driver issues with linux you're done for, unless you're a programmer and have the time and desire to dig through the code yourself.

            Other reasons for sticking with Windows: I'd have to use the Gimp for my photo editing if I was running *nix, and I'm just not that much of a sadist.
            • Re: Happily running Windows 7

              If your raid array is using a hardware controller then it'll show up as a regular single SCSI or IDE device, and will work. If it's software raid, I would expect it to be OS specific and not work.

              I have only ever had custom built machines.

              Photoshop might be a good reason not to use Linux. How many years has it been since you tried Gimp?
              • Re: Happily running Windows 7

                I use gimp when I end up on a machine that doesn't have Photoshop and I need to do something I can't manage with mspaint. I'd rather use mspaint then Gimp, but sometimes you just need to adjust levels or something.
                • Re: Happily running Windows 7

                  Hah, that's harsh.

                  What would it take to make you like Gimp as much as Photoshop?
                  • Re: Happily running Windows 7

                    It'd have to work the same for me to like it the same.

                    I don't really have brand loyalty beyond the fact that all my training is for photoshop not Gimp. It's difficult for me to re-learn some of that stuff, and easy to get Photoshop.

            • Re: Happily running Windows 7

              I'm happy with Gimp, but I never got very attached to Photoshop.
  • I run all three

    My Windows box is my primary UI because it's faster and smoother than any UI I've seen on any Linux box (except the Mac, but hold that thought). My windows box is mostly for playing games and work in Photoshop or Visio.

    I run a headless Linux box as an SSH-reachable host and mail server.

    I have a Mac OS laptop that's sort of a games machine and sort of a portable everything station, for playing movies and music and such.

    I use the command line on all of them. (Just to take a ferinstance, I've not found a GUI that lets me create and manage mailman lists and aliases in any reasonable way. Plus some tools like netstat have just the SUCK for UIs. Also, I still can't use a UI to string together things like taking a half-gig log file, grepping out a particular string, sorting and uniq'ing it and then counting how many lines I get. Find me a UI that does that and I might give up the xterm.
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