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A Voice in the Dark

In AD 2101 war was beginning. What happen? Someone set up us the bomb! We get signal. What? Main screen turn on. It's you. How are you gentlemen!! All your base are belong to us!! You are on the way to destruction. What you say? You have no chance to survive. Make your time. HA HA HA HA.... Take off every 'Zig' You know what you doing! Move 'Zig' For great justice.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Linux World Just Doesn't Get It

Linux Watch has written a parody article of sorts about Five reasons NOT to use Linux.

Three of the four reasons are really the same reason: "Linux is too complicated", "Linux is a pain to set up", and "Linux isn't secure". Let me illustrate.

When I installed Fedora Core 3, it installed a process that opened ports on my computer and sat there waiting for connections. It was some protocol I never use; I don't remember what it was. Might have been RIP or ARP or RPC. In any case, something was listening on my machine's ports, and I didn't ask for it or want it. That's insecure.

In order to even know I had the program, I had to portscan my system - which I do as a matter of course, because it's just what you do with a new system. You check to see whether it's running what you need, no more, no less. That's a pain to set up.

In order to get rid of it, I had to edit my SysV init configuration. This is hardly deep magic, but for a new user, it's incomprehensible. That's too complicated.

IOW, it's too complicated because it's a pain to set up because it's insecure. So just say it's too complicated and be done with it.

The insecurity of Linux comes from a different place than the insecurity of Windows. Windows is insecure because programmers have made mistakes, which happens in any system. Linux is insecure because it doesn't stop you from doing stupid things, and then provides every user with an endless stream of opportunities to do something stupid.

Furthermore, Linux does stupid things all by itself. When I say "don't install package X" but the installer happily ignores me and installs it anyway, it takes me extra time and effort to remove that package, and I don't get to spend that time and effort on something else. Most of the time I spend on this isn't actually removing the package, which only takes a few minutes, but figuring out WTF was going on and eventually realising that when I said "don't do this" the installer thought "I'm smarter than you" and did it anyway without telling me.

Example? Sure. When I think "there is a conflict between package X and package Y, so I don't want package X because I'm installing package Y later"... I actually mean it. When I go to install package Y and get a conflict, my troubleshooting starts with "it can't be a conflict with package X because I didn't install package X", since the installer in its infinite wisdom didn't think I needed to know it was ignoring my request and installing whatever the hell it felt like installing. So I go through everything else that might possibly have gone wrong, and I don't find anything because it's actually the conflict with package X... which can't happen.

Then I go to some public forum, tearing my hair out over this weird problem, and someone says "you have package X installed" and I say "no I don't". Eventually, I discover that I do in fact have package X installed, and it has not only cost me a lot of time and effort trying to fix it... it has made me look like an idiot in public. That's about as expensive as you can get.

And now, I can't trust anything I told the installer. I have to go through each and every thing I said to install, and make sure it really did get installed. Then I have to go searching around to make sure I don't have any of the stuff I *don't* want installed. How many hours do you suppose that will take? For every Linux installation I ever make, from now until I finally have some confidence that Linux doesn't install things behind my back?

That's really expensive. Not in terms of cash, which I actually seem to have in pretty good supply most of the time, but in terms of time and energy and reputation. I don't have enough of ANY of those.

Microsoft, on the other hand wants my money. I understand that. And what do you know, I can spare some of it. So I happily hand Microsoft my money, and dance around the projector at Microsoft's free seminars for Windows users, and over the years Microsoft have started to notice that I actually seem to genuinely like them. Well, not me personally, but just the general type of business owners who attend Microsoft seminars. As a result, we've been given a number of very favorable options to get boatloads of Microsoft software for very little money. It's the new Microsoft Partner Program. You can have the same options; all it takes is filling out a few forms and signing up for the Action Pack Subscription.

So take a break from the politics. Look at what Microsoft is *today*, and ask yourself who's more likely to be a solid and stable foundation for your business. I certainly wouldn't be building mine on Linux; I tried that for a few years, and damn near went bankrupt.

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