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Switching back

Perhaps it was a function of being distracted and depressed after reading The Road yesterday evening, but this morning I came to the conclusion that I should switch back to Windows.

I’ve been running Ubuntu for the past two years or so as my primary OS (dual booting XP, however). I don’t regret it; there’s a lot I like about Ubuntu and the Linux software ecosystem (there’s probably a better term for what I’m describing). A quick rundown:

1. Package management. Synaptic in particular. I can’t express how much I love repositories and package management. The ability to search for a piece of software and have the ability to install, uninstall, reinstall, etc with the click of a button is fantastic.

2. The shell environment. The Windows command line sucks. It’s almost completely useless to me. Linux’s shell environment is the opposite. That’s largely due to having used it daily for the last two and a half years (and often in the four years before that), but it allows me to do certain tasks quickly and efficiently and that’s what I want.

3. Amarok. There’s lots of Linux software I like and some that I like more than anything on Windows. Amarok is more than that. It’s far and away the best music application I’ve used on any platform. It does exactly what I want it to and it’s easy to use. There are good Windows music applications (like Foobar2k), but as far as I’m concerned Amarok beats them hands down.

4. Open source culture. Who doesn’t like free shit? More seriously, while there’s lots of open source software for Windows, it’s still a closed OS and doesn’t encourage as much open source development.

There are other little things, but that’s the gist of why I like using Ubuntu. I was tempted to put Gnome on there, but it’s honestly not a huge improvement over XP (and I wasn’t particularly impressed with KDE, when it was stable on my machine). So why am I switching?

Most of the problems Ben lists here, really. Multimedia is a huge to me. X is annoying and slow. Audio is a mess. Pulse-audio is supposed to fix that, but right now it’s caused several of the apps I use occasionally to not work and the stuttering audio problem in some programs has mysteriously returned after I messed with some configuration settings (ok, maybe that’s not so mysterious). I just don’t want to deal with it anymore. That said, the biggest reason for me is probably games. I’ve started gaming more in the past two and a half years and rebooting is annoying. It makes me less likely to play. I can’t be on Steam and jump into a game when one of my friends comes online. Wine is simply never going to be a good solution (it’s often passable, however) and if you want to play the latest and greatest and have them look like the latest and greatest you’re out of luck.

This is, of course, from the point of view of a home user. For software development, I prefer Linux without question. I just don’t do all that much development outside of work to justify it.

I will probably make the jump to Vista instead of going back to XP. Maybe it’ll suck, but it doesn’t seem too bad from what I’ve used of it. Plus, I want a 64 bit, DX 10 OS for gaming and I was thinking I’d take the plunge next year when I do a Core i7 build anyway. Maybe there’ll be a post here in a month or so ranting about Vista. You never know.

So there it is. I’m guessing this post will become search engine bait in the near future. Though it’ll be hard to touch my rolfing post in that department.

Categories: Personal, Tech
  1. December 1, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Vista isn’t as bad as some people make it out to be, but it does hide a lot of the “power geek” type stuff from you. The “allow/deny” stuff is kind of tedious at first, but every once in a while, it saves you from stupidity. There’s still some suck to it, to be sure, but then again, it’s an MS product, so what do you expect?

    I thought long and hard about going to Linux as my primary OS on this machine, but multimedia and games killed it for me.

    I’ve messed around some with PowerShell, and while it’s supposed to be powerful, I found it cumbersome and hard to use — at least compared to Bash.

  2. December 1, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    I don’t really blame MS for the allow/deny stuff. In theory, it doesn’t seem that different from Ubuntu popping up password prompts when it wants to run something as root. It’s just that Windows developers got used to being sloppy and writing data where they shouldn’t, so it pops up constantly. Then again, I haven’t seen the full extent of it, so maybe it’s more than that.

    I didn’t even think about shell programs for Windows. A former co-worker of mine had one and I can’t remember the name of it.

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