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Nine Reasons Why the Linux Desktop is a Complete Blast!

Date/Time Permalink: 03/07/07 02:20:23 pm
Category: General

A follow-up to this comment.

You get to use it, instead of it using you. A Linux system immediately snaps to attention and does your bidding, with no hassle at all. Even when you tell it to do something impossible, it tries to make you happy and only reports back to you upon failure. If you're tired of the computer popping up an "Are you sure?" dialog box in your face, you'll love Linux. Stop and think about it: when the computer makes you tell it everything three and four times before you've convinced it that what you're trying to do is a good idea, isn't the computer really just arguing with you???

It trusts you. Never enter a serial number or an authentication code again! Because the software's free in the first place, it isn't full of booby traps to keep anybody from stealing it. Tired of feeling like a cop is watching you over your shoulder with every mouse click? A Linux system takes it for gospel that it is your computer to do whatever you please, and leaves the police work to the police.

You can have any kind of desktop you want! Go for a familiar interface with KDE, Gnome, and Xfce. Or get Enlightenment and gaze in awe at just how cool it looks. Or go for a performance desktop with a minimalist Blackbox or IceWM. Rid yourself of mouse-dependency with RatPoison, or be 'leet with the Spartan TWM. Get a flexible desktop designed to emulate almost anything with FVWM or go for the cutting edge of graphics capabilities with XGL. With over 50 window managers and desktop environments to choose from, there's a Linux experience that's just right for you.

If you liked tabbed browsing in Firefox, you'll love virtual desktops. Have you ever gotten tired of maximizing one window, doing something, minimizing it, and hunting for the button on the taskbar to bring the next window up? In Linux, you open a program on desktop one, maximize it, and hit a key to go to desktop two and keep another program maximized there, and so on - as many desktops as you want. Never settle for anything less than full screen. And as if that weren't enough, you can also hit another key combo to bring up the console - your desktops are still there, undisturbed - while you can flick back and forth between multiple consoles as well.

Linux gets the job done today! People are always shocked at my low hardware requirements - especially when they find out I work on the computer for a living. It is true that Linux will install and run on just about any kind of toaster you give it, and at that it runs at top efficiency. There is simply no comparison in speed. I can have Firefox with five tabs on desktop one, a word processor open on two, a graphics program on three, a manual open on console two, an Emacs buffer open for notes on console three, and a media player playing a CD on desktop four, and get the whole webpage designed in the time it takes other systems to finish opening a web page. Ram? 256MB. Processor? An AMD Athlon in a K-7 motherboard. Graphics card? Well, as long as I'm not running an OpenGL game like Tux Racer, who says I need one? No lag at all. This is what we mean when we say "a true multi-task system".

Linux is less work. It's really true! Anything is possible from a single mouse-click or a single key-press, if that's what you need. Even the most convoluted set of operations can be done from a typed-in command line, and if it can be done from a command, it can be done from a shell script, and if it can be scripted, the script can be called from a menu item. Everywhere in a Linux system, the effort is there to save you as much motion as possible. Custom key-bindings are everywhere. Menus and interfaces are easily changed. Single-clicks are favored over double-clicks. Even the mouse is programmable. If you're typing, you can hit the tab key in many places and it will complete the command for you. Or hit the up-arrow in a console to recall a previous command, so you don't have to type it again. And for the ultimate labor-free operation, you can tell the cron demon to automatically perform a job at any time you specify, even once an hour, once a week, or once a year on your birthday.

Linux never crashes. Currently, my uptime is 10 days, 4 hours. When I checked that, I had to think: what happened ten days ago? Oh, yes, a big storm here in Iowa which knocked out power. That is one of the only two ways Linux goes down: either a power outage or a hardware failure. The rest of the time, it keeps running no matter what. Even a program freezing isn't enough to take it down; just select 'kill' from the menu and the system will force it to close. Even the X desktop hanging doesn't crash Linux, just hit Ctrl-Alt-backspace to kill the desktop and be in a console, where you can fix the problem.

Package Management is the best way to install new software. If you go with a distro with a sophisticated packaging setup, installing new software is one of the easiest tasks you'll ever do. For instance, in synaptic you can tell it to search for 'editor' and it will pull up every package with 'editor' in the description. Read the package descriptions until you find one that you want to try and click the button next to it. When you're done, tell it to apply the changes and it will automatically find the package online for you, install it, automatically handle all the dependencies, and even enter it into the menu for you. No fuss, no hassle, and it doesn't expect you to pay for it.

Linux compliments your intelligence instead of insulting it. Linux has left behind the "geek-required" attribute years ago; your grandma can run Linux now with only a few pointers. But it will always be "geek-friendly". If you check under the hood, you'll find languages, engines, and tools just waiting to tinker with, and extensive documentation available. Not just worthless documentation on "click the 'save' button to save the file" that explains what you already know as if you were a complete idiot, but enlightening documentation that explains the nuts and bolts of how computers run. A Linux system is a college education in computer science every day you run it.

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