Or: "The Futility of trying to fit square Windows users into round Linux holes."
Even the best of us blow it sometime, and some of us idiot bloggers blow it every day. My last post will have a place next anniversary as this year's "What Was I Thinking" award.
Let's start over, shall we? Here's my logic for this idea:
Linux started out 15 years ago as a free version of Unix. With me so far? OK.
Currently, the system with the biggest user share is Microsoft Windows. A lot of people want to leave it. This is a GOOD thing! A lot of people just want something that works without needing a Master's Degree in computer science. I AM PERFECTLY HAPPY WITH THAT! It is a *GOOD* thing that they are able to seek their own freedom, however they define it. I haven't messed up yet, have I?
Now, there's this project called "ReactOS", which is being built as a free replacement for Windows. Same license as Linux, same intentions, different system. I cheer it on every chance I get. I WANT Windows users to have a free system that works like Windows. After all, I got what I wanted (Linux, the free system that works like Unix.), so it's only fair that others get what they want. Are we still on the same page?
For reason/reasons unknown, ex-Windows users leaving Windows and seeking a free alternative somehow do not seem to be flocking to ReactOS. By all logic, the ReactOS project should be swimming in the cheering masses supporting it with donations and coding help. Surely, some of those ex-Windows users must have a hand in programming for the Windows environment? But anyway...
Instead, the Windows users are coming to Linux in general. I AM FINE WITH THAT TOO. But we hear a lot of complaints from the ex-Windows users that Linux is difficult for them to get used to. They want a free system that is Windows-like, and here they have a free system which is Unix-like.
I am not saying that they are right. I am not saying that they are wrong. I am saying "Look at these unhappy people; they are not getting what they want." THIS IS A BAD THING. Have I stepped on any land mines yet?
Now, I (and the rest of you Linux natives, feel free to chime in here any time...) have tried for years to explain why Linux is a Unix and not a Windows. I (and I know I'm not the Lone Ranger here!) have tried to explain that the ways in which Linux is different are also reasons why Linux doesn't have the same problems as Windows. But, of course, Windows users didn't come to Linux looking for a speech - they came here looking for a free replacement for Windows. Am I still wearing pants up here? OK.
The tension between the Linux natives and the influx of Linux immigrants produces a lot of flame wars. I'm not imagining that, am I? Is there not a lot of strife between tribes? Nobody's backing down, because they're both "right". I'm not typing too fast for you, am I? Take a break if you want to meditate on this before continuing.
OK, so as a next-best step - perhaps until a free Windows can be realized in full - we have these Linux distros that are trying to stretch themselves like taffy to fit Windows users. Half a dozen of these are trying to be a really close match to a Windows replacement. Then there's dozens more that are simply trying to be a beginner's Linux, which is different still, because it's a Unix system and not a Windows lookalike, but for beginners. The Linux distro which, by large consensus of votes, has won the Windows look-alike contest is Ubuntu. Is everybody still with the group?
I AM STILL COOL WITH THIS! It doesn't make any logical sense to me why the ex-Windows users keep coming to Linux looking for a Windows substitute. Just as it also wouldn't make any sense if all ??,???,??? of us Linux natives showed up on ReactOS's bulletin board crying that ReactOS doesn't work just like Unix. But it's happening anyway; crowds do not always reason the same way as an individual would, which duz makes economics such interestin' sciences. Is my nose growing yet?
So. Now. We have a new home for Windows users. They seem to be happy there. We have the rest of Linux for the Linux users. We're unbearable smug about it. Everybody has what they need, or at least close enough for now.
And in honor of that distinguishing and triumphant victory in the category of Most Outstanding Performance by a Windows Impersonator, I nominate that Ubuntu be crowned and knighted as the designated New Free Windows, that all Windows huddled masses yearning to breathe free be directed to it forthwith. Including these reformative measures:
1. That all complaints about other Linux distros not being more like Windows be responded-to with "Pardon me, you have the wrong distro. Ubuntu has what you want." Help the Windows users get what they want.
2. That Ubuntu be released from all obligation to remotely resemble Unix. Help the Windows users get what they want.
3. That we all continue to support ReactOS, because even as good a job as Ubuntu is doing wearing Windows drag, ReactOS is actually being built from the first line of code as a Windows substitute. Help the Windows users get what they want.
4. That we continue to welcome users who want to stop being Windows users and become Linux users. That's what websites like mine are for. But...
But maybe we Linux natives don't make this clear enough. Perhaps we could have some kind of baptismal ceremony, where you bust a window to signify your forsaking of Microsoft's ways, put on black-and-white penguin robes and get dunked in iceberg water and when you arise, you get a Linux name. "Joe Sixpack the Windows user is laid to rest. Arise, Poindexter, the newly born Linux geek." And if you change your mind, you can always have a reverse ritual to leave the Linux world and get re-united with the Windows way.
The only rule is that you can't sit in both pews at the same time. Not because of any silly taboo, but for the practical, pragmatic, efficient reason that when you do that, it confuses the hell out of everybody, especially yourself.
Can I get off time-out, now?