Friday, December 29, 2006

Anything Vista does Linux does better

Back in October I attended a conference in Portcullis House where Microsoft were showing off about Vista. Basically it was a sales presentation pointing out how brilliant Vista was, and all the funky new eye candy features it had.

What struck me as I watched was how all the "new" features in Vista were things that Linux had been doing for years. For example, Vista allows you disable USB ports. Now, besides being able to do that in the BIOS of most systems anyway, the hot plug system under Linux as been able to do it for years with a simple line added to one config file.

Microsoft then showed off it 3D desktop features. Again I found myself thinking that Linux, and OSX for that matter, had been doing what it was doing for some time, and what's more, they were doing it better, and the demos didn't crash.

Thus I come to the compare and contrast between Microsoft Vista and Linux. The contrast between an expensive clunky proprietary operating system and a free, open source community driven operating system. Linux remains way ahead of the curve when it comes to eye candy (and incidentally I call it eye candy because that is all it is. No one is actually likely to use the features on either desktop for any functional reason).

Here is Vista.

Here is Linux

12 comments:

Ellee said...

Maybe that is why Microsoft is giving away its software with free laptops.

Anonymous said...

I hear what you are saying. But I am stil not 100% convinced.

I am seriously considernig switching from Microsoft to Linux, I'm just not sure though. My biggest concen is that not all software will work.

Chris Palmer said...

I think your post is a bit misleading. "Linux" includes many hundreds of different variations of OS; Mandrake, SUSE, Ubuntu, Fedora etc to name but a few. "Vista" on the other hand is one specific operating system.

Not every single Linux OS has every feature, or all the features another distribution has.

You say that "Anything that Vistas does Linux does better." I would disagree. Do most Linux distributions provide:

# Automatic detection of all new hardware?
# Easy accessibility for the new user?

These are just two points I thought of quickly off the cuff. While arguably Linux might exhibit some powerful features - Windows OS's have always been user friendly - and if you put a new piece of hardware into your system, Windows will almost always detect it and have it working. With most Linux distributions this is certainly not the case.

dizzy said...

err there is no variation at all Chris. Linux is the kernel. It is the same on all the distributions you have mentioned.

# Automatic detection of all new hardware?
Yes.. has done now for a few years.

# Easy accessibility for the new user?
Yes.

if you put a new piece of hardware into your system, Windows will almost always detect it and have it working.

That simply isn't true. Windows will detect it, but without valid drivers, especially Microsoft certifies ones it will not ncessarily work. Unlike Linux which will use a generic device driver if it doesnt have a proprietary one ready.

You may say my post is misleading, I say you clearly no very little about Linux to make such a judgement.

dizzy said...

Actually I'll give you a very recent example from last week. I got a Sony Z610i phone. Plug in the usb cable into Windows and XP detects the phone and that is it. It won't work without installing drivers from a Sony cd.

In comparison I plug it into Linux and it appears as a removable media device on my desktop instantly as well as being instantly available as a network device to connect to the Internet with over 3G. No work involved, just works.

Chris Palmer said...

Okay, if we are going to do sarcasm, err, yes there is a variation actually.

As you say, all the distributions I mentioned use the Linux kernel. However, your comparison between Linux and Vista is in my mind wrong and misleading since it is like comparing (for example) all Ferrari's to say just the latest TVR Tuscan. Undoubtedly across the whole range of Ferrari's, some of their cars will have better/more advanced features than the TVR - but they are not all grouped into one distribution. Just because an operating system uses the Linux kernel does not automatically mean that features of various Linux OS's are included.

Therefore, as I attempted to explain before, simply comparing "Linux" to Windows "Vista" is misleading in that sense. Can you not see what I am trying to explain? If for example you compared a specific distribution of Linux to Vista, then that would be fair.

Automatic detection of all hardware? Certainly no. I installed the new distribution of Unbuntu on my laptop the other day. It did not detect my wireless card, nor could I get it working. True that Windows needs specific rather than generic device drivers. However, Windows Vista (and predecessors) of course is not a perfect operating system, but the collaboration between Microsoft and manufactures means that over nine times out of ten - new hardware will be compatible and supported by Windows XP/Vista and will be detected even if it requires a few driver downloads from the internet. Not so for “Linux” in my experience (or indeed others from reading articles on the net.)

Easy accessibility for the new user? Again, most often not. Microsoft has purposefully made its operating systems (especially XP and now Vista) “user friendly.” I suppose part of this is down to user’s previous experience with a similar operating system Microsoft operating system resulting in a less steep learning curve. However, sit a user (who has never used either OS before) down in front of a Vista OS PC and then a “Linux” OS PC and ask them which they believe was more user friendly, helpful and easier to use then I would say that most would chose Vista. But there we go. You will possibly disagree.

One example. Does that in some way validate your entire statement? I think not. I plugged in my TV card a few days ago and it was not detected by Ubuntu but was by Windows. Touch̩ Рbut your point is taken though.

dizzy said...

Just because an operating system uses the Linux kernel does not automatically mean that features of various Linux OS's are included.

There is no such thing as a "Linux OS" Chris other than Linux. They all use the same code and all the features each distro exist because of the features of the kernel. What you;re referring to is different UI applications for interfacing with those features.

Therefore, as I attempted to explain before, simply comparing "Linux" to Windows "Vista" is misleading in that sense.

Except I wasn;t comparing in that sense Chris. It's rather obvious I was referring to the 3d desktop capabilities.

Certainly no. I installed the new distribution of Unbuntu on my laptop the other day. It did not detect my wireless card, nor could I get it working.

ndiswrapper and the Windows driver.

I plugged in my TV card a few days ago and it was not detected by Ubuntu


I bet it was but you didn't know where to check it.

Chris Palmer said...

Yes, there is such thing as a Linux OS Phil; all the distributions are referred to as Linux OS's. Further, they do not all the use the same code as you well know because there are various different forms of the Linux kernel - 2.6 I believe is the current version. Also, features of individual distributions are needed to harness the power of the Linux kernel. In the same way that Vista could be programmed to make use of equally good if not better graphical effects as you demonstrate in your second video.

Tried the ndiswrapper and Windows Driver I am afraid. I went through the central database, followed all the help instructions and it unfortunately still didn't work. However, yes, you are potentially correct. It is perhaps something that I did wrong when following the instructions - but then this goes back to my original point. Following lots of (often at times for the average user) complex instructions is not user friendly. Windows Vista on the other hand mainly uses friendly wizards.

I am sure you know much more about these systems than I do Phil, but all I am trying to point out is that it is not so clear cut as you make it sound that "Linux" can do anything better than "Vista". Also, you say that it was "rather obvious" that you were referring to its 3D capabilities. However, you mentioned earlier in your piece non-3D desktop things such as disabling USB ports. Therefore, with that in mind it was not completely obvious that you were only referring to 3D capabilities.

Myself, I do not like the new Vista GUI. It is horrible, and you are right, many of the graphically features in the video are gimmicky and won’t be used by the majority. It was a step down from Windows XP - which actually did have quite a nice look to it if you used the Royale Theme Microsoft released for Media Centre 2005. The new MacOSX OS (Panther?) is supposedly to have a really nice brushed glass effect, but I don't know what you think of that? Any thoughts?

dizzy said...

The mentioning of USB ports was anecdotal to make the point about how Linux is more than a few years ahead of what Microsoft considers bleeding edge.

OSX is just UNIX with a decent X server implementation. Personally I hate MACs though just because they take all the fun out of computing.

OSX is avilable for Intel you know, in fact if you have a laptop that you;re just playing with it's prolly worth grabbing a copy from wherever you can find it.

Chris Palmer said...

Yes, I had heard about something called PearOS and CherryOS which sought to emulate the pre-Intel MacOS system. Though one was a copyright theft of the other or something I seem to remember?

Yes, I will have to have a look at the new OSX if it can be used on a laptop. Thanks.

dizzy said...

oh yes the old emulations were not that good. But there are copies of the intel OSX floating around that are not hardware locked. Clearly they arr not legal though

Ron Knee's Rants and Raves said...

Sorry, I feel I have to break Chris and Dizzy's hold on this topic! allow me to quote one major flaw inherent in ALL MS OS's:

"Chris Palmer writes"
Easy accessibility for the new user? Again, most often not. Microsoft has purposefully made its operating systems (especially XP and now Vista) “user friendly.” End of quote

It is PRECISELY this "easy Accessibility which makes all versions of windows an unsecure OS. It is too easy to make major changes to the system, and running in user mode does not help the situation much as the dormant admin account can be hacked from the web without the user knowing.