Windows, Linux, or Mac?

Every year, all I hear is that next year will be the ‘Year of Linux’. This free operating system has a lot to commend it, not least that Apple has chosen to base it’s award winning operating system on it. So, is 2010 the Year of Linux, the year that Linux should start to be adopted by users around the world in place of that awful Windows operating system?

Well I’ve been installing Linux every six months, or so, to see whether I should have one machine running the operating system in the office and every year I come across the same problem – I can’t get my printer to work over the network, my network scanner doesn’t work and I find it difficult to get it working seemlessly. Now, as a Network Manager, if I can’t get it working easily, how is the man in the street ever going to do it – and if the man in the street can’t use it then it isn’t ready to be called the operating system of the year?

Now Windows has its problems, and Vista made no effort to endear the brand to its users. But when a user installs an application, they want it to appear on the Start menu so that they can access it easily. Sounds common sense and Vista, bad as it was, managed this. Why, then, do I install some applications on my Mac and then find it difficult to run that application; having to navigate to the program’s folder on the hard disk and double-click over the executable file to run it? You install a Windows application and you instinctively know where to go to run that program.

Recently, I installed the latest version of Ubuntu Linux, the only flavour I think the man in the street has a chance of being able to use (there are hundreds of version of Linux from different manufacturers and they aren’t all compatible), on my netbook and I have to say that I was impressed – my network printer worked, but not the scanner unfortunately. It was easy to use, somehwat easier than Windows to be truthful,  but I downloaded and installed an application.

What an operation! I had to access a command line and type a long instruction (that was very easy to mistype) to get the installation running. Once it was installed, I couldn’t find the link to get the program running. This is still the bugbear of Linux – it’s a technical operating system and not for the man in the street. A recent look at the Ubuntu magazine shows it peppered with command line instructions that users have to type in to get operations, that Windows executes with the click of a mouse button, working.

Nope, 2010 is not the year of Linux and I doubt 2011 will be either. It’s close, but if you’re running equipment more than a year old and have no concept of what a command line is – Linux is not for you.

As to the Mac, it’s still a gorgeous hardware platform, but massively expensive to purchase and maintain and somewhat difficult to operate at times.

As for Windows, familiarity is the key. We use Windows computers so much at work and home that we have become instinctively comfortable with it, just like breathing and eating. And now that Windows 7 actually works and is very reliable, it would be folly not to seriously consider it when purchasing your next computer.

2010 is the year of Windows 7 and long may it reign.

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