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Re: Back to Windows??

Here are some concrete positives (in my experience) for why you would
*want* to run Linux as more than just a hobbyist.

(1) You control the interface.  You have a choice of window managers,
GNOME, KDE.  *You* get to decide how you want to interact with the
computer, not Bill Gates.

(2) Stability.  It is a pleasure knowing that I can leave my laptop
running for days/weeks at a time and it won't crash.  Even if there is a
misbehaving application, it can be killed without destabilizing everything

(3) Free.  As in beer.  I really like the fact that the next
kernel/GNOME/gnuplot/emacs upgrade won't cost me $90-$100.  It's free.
Yes it costs some time, but (2) makes up for that.

(4) Free.  As in speech.  The source code is open, which means no one has
control over your computer.  It also helps combat software obsolence and
forced upgrades by having file formats open.

(5) Unixisms: True multitasking, multiuser capabilities.  You don't have
to worry about nuking important files (as long as your not root!).  You
don't have to worry about being bit by the LOVE BUG.  You can lock down
services to hold script-kiddies at bay.  You can share your computer with
other users w/o them messing up your files and desktop.

It is difficult.  It seems everything involving setup and installation is
difficult the first time, but the time spent is an investment, not a loss.
The next time you do something it gets easier.  I would recommend you aim
low.  Set up a dual boot configuration so you can always use Windows.
Then install Linux and work on it a little bit at a time.  Get a command
line going, then X, then compile a kernel specific to your machine.  First
get your NIC going, then sound card, then ... Yes it may take awhile, but
you will find yourself being slowly won over to Linux.  Then the next
computer you get, things will go much faster.

Don't forget that a computer is just a tool.  If you need all your
hardware, use the preinstalled OS.  If you also need some of the GNU tools
(tar,awk, ...) install Cygwin, or dual boot.

My testimonial:  I got my laptop in Jan,1999 (an ARM TS759.  ARM is very
linux friendly and even offers preinstalled RedHat.  I specifically asked
about Linux before buying).  My NIC (a generic 10baseT) was supported off
the bat.  It took about 6 mos for the soundcard driver to make it into the
stable kernel.  I would still use Windows regularly.  Eventually my
windows use was only for games and all my work was done in Linux.  Finally
I got bored of the games.  The last time I booted into windows was 6 mos
ago, and last week I got rid of the last fat partition on my disk.

Craig Milling

PS.  If you made it down this far, thanks for reading my rambling missive.

Dr. Craig T. Milling
Dept. of Physics, Univ. of Illinois
Phone: 217/333-1930

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