If you read my last post, you know that - temporarily - I'm hosting Windows XP on one of the four computers plugged in here at the igloo, due to a donated computer. This post marks the 72 hour mark since I once again saw the Windows splash screen on a monitor in my home for the first time in seven years.
It hasn't been pretty.
So raging is it with viruses that the file system is in chaos; I have no choice but to keep it off line. It is crawling with stuff installed on it, over six kinds of anti-virus stuff, numerous other utilities that I don't know whether they are essential or not. Any file transfer with the outside world is done through a USB drive carrying files from a Slackware box where every byte of data is rigorously scrutinized both ways. The 'Doze box crashes randomly, pop-ups spawn on the desktop all by themselves, things don't work and after a reboot they do and then after some time they don't again.
Where's the documentation? God only knows: sometimes it's a "help" menu entry, sometimes it's a README file tucked away in a folder, sometimes it's just a hyperlink to a web page I can't access. Why didn't the sound work this time? Why do these files keep respawning every time I delete them? Why does the whole thing suddenly hang for a minute? How come this DLL file is bigger than the last I checked? How can I have all of these security programs on here and they all do nothing? What do you mean, you can't find the mouse now? Mystery, mystery, mystery.
It's like trying to find your way through somebody else's house in the dark. Even when you solve a problem, half of the time you just randomly stabbed at one thing after another until it went away. Because the whole system is closed. And - this needs to be emphasized - because it is designed to break down. You aren't supposed to fix it; you're supposed to buy more.
On Linux, when something is broken it stays broken until you figure out why and fix it, then it stays fixed and you are smarter about something. In Windows, you slash and flail and stab at it furiously, and at complete random for reasons which make no sense, the problem goes away after you do some series of illiterate mouse clicks that you can't remember and couldn't convey linguistically if you could. As opposed to fixing a Linux problem, fixing a Windows problem is absolutely guaranteed to leave you stupider than when you started. As you use it, you can hear the slurp as it sucks actual gray knowledge dendrites out of your brain.
And people complain because when they ask for help in a Linux chat, they get told "RTFM". You know what you get when you ask for help in a Windows chat? You get "Holy crap! How would anyone possibly know the answer to that?" That's why Windows-to-Linux users complain because they have to read the answer; they were used to a world with no answers at all.
The only reason I've made any progress at all is because I've been quick to boot it over to a Linux CD and delete files from there. From a Linux console, I can do what I want without having Windows argue with me every step of the way. No, really, Windows, when I delete that file, I want it DEAD. Not cached, not recycled, but DEAD.
And then I see a post like this at Raiden's Realm, with conventional wisdom such as:
Why does a common home user who has little knowledge of the technicalities of the Operating System he/she uses (for example Windows, Mac OS or in that matter any other operating system), have any reason to switch from the above Operating Systems to GNU/Linux?
Yes, yes, I know, Raiden is seeking answers in a survey. But this fantastically deluded notion that Windows is easier to use than Linux is just the kind of thing that reduces me to sputtering flabbergasted shock. How can a system that is built to treat you as an inferior, just barely worthy of telling it what to do, all the while blowing up in your face, be considered easier? I have no choice but to draw conclusions like: The world is crazy.
The world is crazy. I've seen the future coming, and it is Windows. In the future, cars will refuse to drive somewhere unless you enter a product key to access the automap, microwaves will insist on burning everything with hard-coded ten-minute increments, elevators will demand that you explain exactly why you're sure that you want to go to the mezzanine, umbrellas will only open when it's sunny out, and telephones will refuse to complete a call because the number you've dialed is incompatible with your service carrier package, unless you upgrade to a new package for $69.95 and that will delete all the numbers you have saved.
And everywhere, all of the users will be chirping "It's soooooo easy to use!"
It's like a Cornell Woolrich novel or like Hitchcock's "The Birds"; it isn't supposed to make sense or even have an ending. It's supposed to be never-ending horror. No point to the horror, the horror is the point.
Yes, a few evolutionary throwbacks will build and maintain Free and Open Source Software, but they're a dying breed. I see it now: we Linux users are relics from a bygone time when you OWNED the computer you paid for and were allowed to use it. People who believed in silly superstitions like freedom and inalienable human rights are the Neanderthals. Along with people who know anything at all, at all. Why is the source closed? Because otherwise you could see that it was coded by the exact same 15-year-old Elbonian Visual Basic monkeys who break it.
Who can blame the average user for giving up and joining the zombies sometimes? It's the only way to get left alone.
Update: To anybody out there thinking that *their* Windows box is safe and sound just because it hasn't been giving them any trouble, allow me to purloin this Daily Tech article:
"If you're making noisy, nuisance attacks, you're alerting people. And that's not the goal. If you want to make money you want to be quiet," said Dean Turner, Symantec's Global Intelligence Network director. ""We've seen a real sophistication and a real commercialization of professional attack tools."
Yeah, that's right, the most successful viruses are the ones you don't see.
Update 6/5/08: As this extremely true, dead-on post points out, Windows is specifically designed to drive you stark, raving mad while Linux lets you work. That's another reason why Windows users are insane.