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OS Fanatics April 30, 2005

Posted by rjdohnert in Software reviews.

Of all the fanatics in the computer industry, OS fanatics are the more raging. I have met them all, Linux, Mac and Windows. I used to be a Mac fanatic when growing up because that’s all I was around were Mac fanatics. Windows was bad back in those days and it was entrenched in my head that Microsoft was the enemy. When I finally got out on my own, I got a PC because that’s what I could afford. I still managed to dodge the Windows bullet because it came with a form of BSD Unix, Great OS. Sure it wasn’t as pretty as the Mac but at least it wasn’t Windows. One night around 1994, I was hooked up to the internet and I was on a BBS and I saw this thing about a UNIX clone that could be had for free called Linux. Linux in those days was a mess, it wasn’t very good but it was exciting, so I downloaded it. It was an ungodly amount of floppies; I forget how many but it was a lot. I grew to like Linux and once again it wasn’t Windows. I then got a hand me down DEC Alpha machine, and a hand me down NeXTCube. The DEC Alpha was my first Windows experience, it had Windows NT on it and one of the swappable drives I got had VMS on it. Windows NT Alpha was the better of the two so I started to use it, I also adored the NeXTCube and the NeXTStep OS and was completely in love, it was as functional as the Mac and I had the power of UNIX behind it. I still used Windows NT Alpha and my PC.

Microsoft wasn’t going to support NT 5.0 on the Alphas so I switched back to Linux on that Alpha until the damn thing just up and died on me. But I still had NeXTStep, which was okay because hey it wasn’t Windows. My thinking then started to change; I thought hey maybe MS does know how to do it on alternate platforms because I loved NT. In 1998 I switched back to the Mac, by this time I had more money and could afford it and I got very interested in Rhapsody. I stayed with the Mac until they released the final version of Mac OS X, which was just the bastard child of NeXTStep and while I thought hey they made it the best they could, I looked at the situation and just realized and still think so to this day, nothing impressive about Mac OS X. I switched completely and utterly over to Linux and became a raging Linux fanatic. If you said something bad about Linux I was ready to defend its honor no matter what. Then an interesting thing happened. My employer started moving to Microsoft products from what then I perceived as the perfect OS, so I had to learn VS and I had to learn C# and Visual Basic. One of my college instructors, a very smart lady, then told me one day that if there was a problem with Windows and Microsoft, I could find it. Don’t ask me why but that statement bothered me so much, to this day I still don’t understand why it bothered me so much. I have always loathed a Mac fanatic; I think they are moronic idiotic, religious zealots who basically destroyed the fun of the Mac community. Then I went to PDC 2003. I was pretty much forced to go but it was a real eye opener. The demos and stuff I saw were really cool and with .NET and then the early releases of Longhorn, I am convinced Microsoft may be onto something here, I then looked at the Java community and actually posted a message on the Java forum, how come we couldn’t do certain things ..NET and Longhorn could do on the Java and Linux platform. I got a total of 326 e-mails, not good, from that Java forum calling me all sorts of names, telling me I was a traitor to Java and Linux communities. Telling me the features I thought were so cool were actually stupid and blah blah blah. I then talked to a Microsoft employee and we had a long conversation, about an hour long to which we talked about technical and ethical issues around Microsoft and Linux and I asked the old ass question “Would you buy a car with the hood welded shut?” to which he responded ” Would you buy a car with no tires and no steering wheel?”, he then asked me to name one thing Linux could do that Windows XP and their new Server could not. I thought about it and I said clustering and supercomputing, he then pulled up on his laptop a site dedicated to running Windows in cluster and the Unisys site which sold Hardware that could run Windows. We talked about business models and after the conversation ended I thanked him and walked away with a new understanding of Microsoft and their way of thinking. I may add that in some of their thinking, I do believe it’s warped in some ways although I do understand it.

I had a bunch of conversations at PDC with a lot of Microsoft customers and when some told me what they do with Windows in their environment I was surprised some of the things that were being done, I thought were typically done with Netware and UNIX. I backed away from the Linux forums and Slashdot and Java forums and just read. I was actually surprised how silly a lot of the stuff I read was. By this time I was using Windows 200 and Windows XP and I realized half the “problems” they proclaimed to have were just stupid and fictitious and some of the stuff they proclaimed doesn’t exist on Windows anymore. I then started researching Open Source solutions on Windows to circumvent problems not with Windows but with Microsoft. My last pro-Linux statement came on Slashdot. Someone came up with the idea that Open Source software should not be allowed to run on Windows and other proprietary OS’s and that steps should be made to assure that it doesn’t run on Windows and other proprietary OS’s. This made my blood boil, screw that, it just plain pissed me off. I believe Open Source is for the computing public, for the better of the computing community at large and no one should be excluded. My response that I posted was that

“I think that is the stupidest Idea I have ever heard. If anyone in the Open Source community sabotages the software that it is unethical, WRONG and that I will not endorse any software product or developer that does this and that if OSS developers exclud any support for any OS because it doesn t meet their ideals I will walk away from the Open Source community and leave it as I found it”

of the replies only one person agreed with me and told me he agreed whole heartedly. Others told me that I was a Microsoft shill and that I should go to hell. Since then I have moved completely over to Windows XP and 2000 on all my machines and started implementing OSS solutions on top of Windows. I’m still a member of the local LUG, I’m also a member of the NTUG in my area and I haven’t been happier. But what gets me is that at Geek dinners I go to, you always have the zealot who shows up passing out free copies of Fedora Core, and at the NTUG we have one Linux guy who shows up and tries to convert everyone. I took him aside one day and I asked him what did he think he was doing?

He then went through the talk of how Microsoft was bad and that Bill Gates was a monster and that he was “rich enough” and Linux has no viruses and a bunch of shit. I have one question for people like that? Don’t you think it’s annoying? Why are you going to try to convert people who made their choice and are happy with the choices they made? To me it’s a stupid practice and very annoying. If some of these Linux users and zealots don’t change their ways they will wind up like the Mac user base, ignored, written off and they are slowly taking the fun out of Linux. As for me, I hang out with technologists. People who are passionate about all technology and who are not just interested in religious arguments. I have one question though. Do some of you realize these arguments made by Mac and Linux zealots are always the same thing, no new substance, nothing? Some of them have gotten pretty far by demonizing a company. Id rather hear technical arguments and not some blathering about how bad the company is and that’s where half the arguments have gone, all religion no technical discussions.



1. Boris - August 4, 2006

Awesome, I agree with every word. I hate Linux zealots with passion. These guys have nothing real to say. Windows, GNU/Linux, OS X, etc, etc are operating systems. Its just software. Its just a tool that people use to get work done. There is nothing to get emotional about it. This isn’t a religion. There are no ‘angels’ or ‘demons’ here. MS is not evil & GNU/Linux is not holy. Many Linux people (amongst others) look at this Linux/Windows conpetition thing as some great battle between good & evil. I tell you that these people belong in a mental institution & not in front of a PC. MS is just a company doing business. It makes software & sells it. There is absolutely NOTHING WRONG with that. If other companies like Red Hat, Novell, etc were in MS’s position, I wonder if their behaviour would be any different from Microsoft’s.

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