Despatches from the Great OS Wars…

…or: How I learned to stop Microsofting and love the Linux.

You may have noticed that I haven’t been making as many entries recently as I did originally. Part of the reason is that I decided to do the geeky thing and try out Linux.

I’ve used everything from DOS 2.11 (!) to Windows XP, as well as several versions of OS/2 and the unnamed OSes on a number of eighties console systems. I had a roommate in 1991 that was playing with some new thing he was very excited about, something called Linux, but I’d never gotten into that. (Well, almost never. I had a hit of Red Hat 6.2 in 2001, but I never inhaled.)

I’ve had a love/hate relationship going on with Microsoft for several decades. It mostly cancelled out to merely a mild dislike, until recently. I was very excited about the new security features of Windows Vista, starting early last year… until I got closer, and noticed that those “security features” had holes big enough to park a tractor-trailer in. Sideways. And third-party security vendors are now blocked from the internals of the OS, so no one else can patch Microsoft’s legendary and inevitable screw-ups, though criminals still have no difficulty getting in. That pretty much killed my excitement about it.

Then I heard how Hollywood now had veto rights over what I was “permitted” to do with the system… that the OS would deliberately disable or reduce some of my hardware when, in Microsoft’s sole and unchallengeable opinion, whatever I was looking at or listening to had “too high” of a resolution. And the hardware was now tasked with watching me for any signs of behavior that Microsoft and Hollywood might not like.

Sorry Microsoft, but my computer belongs to me. So long as I’m within the bounds of legality, nobody gets to dictate what I am and am not allowed to do with it. And since people who want Windows will soon be forced into Vista whether they like it or not… alternative OSes, here I come.

So late last year, in an effort to make the inevitable showdown as painless as possible, I started switching as much of my software as I could to packages that had both Linux and Windows versions, and weaning myself away from programs that only exist for Windows and are known not to run under WINE. This week, I finally got around to dipping my toes into the Linux waters by installing Ubuntu 7.04 in a VMware v5.5.4 virtual machine (yes, VMware v6 is available, but I already own a license for v5 and don’t want to upgrade yet).

Over the next few weeks, I hope to document the progress of learning Linux and making it at least my part-time home.


  1. Congradulations! You’ve finally left the dark side! Now to pull off that evilll-looking black mask of yours… 😉 (I’m that roomate who was such a *nix fanatic that he ran Linux when it was kernel version 0.95. 🙂 )

  2. Don’t congratulate me yet, I’m still spending a great deal of time in Windows. 🙂

  3. Another headline as a sequel: “dispatches from the spelling wars”. 😉

  4. I’ve been known to make spelling mistakes occasionally, but that isn’t one of them. Look it up. 🙂

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