Science

Linux vs Windows

Microsoft is the most profitable corporation in the world because it controls the software for most of our computers, but now independent experts are warning consumers to avoid the new Vista operating system at all costs. Computer shops are used to people complaining about Vista, and many were forced to go back to XP because Vista doesn’t work. The up-market competitor to Windows is the Mac. Linux is the non-commercial alternative. Linux is an operating system engineered by volunteers who believe that “information wants to be free.” The open source software movement is already popular in places like Germany, Poland, Russia and America. Linux comes with other free software such as a media player, file-sharing, and the Open Office package.

Mateusz, the founder of the Nottingham Linux Group on facebook, presented a live demonstration of Linux at the NSPM Climate Change Solutions Symposium. Linux works on older computers with less memory that would be obsolete with commercial software. Linux is safe against viruses or other malicious programmes. Linux is available in a number of handy distributions. The best one, called Kubuntu, is easier to use than Windows XP once you get used to it.

But is it time to say f-off to Microsoft? I tried to install it myself without expert help, which is not advisable because the system’s terminal is unfamiliar to most users. I recommend backing up your data first. Watch out for the politics with the hardware.

Why not just ask in the shop for something compatible with Linux? “They would laugh at you.” Says Mateusz. “All computer shops support Microsoft”. Because Microsoft and their supporting computer shops are basically at war with Linux, there are some problems with incompatible hardware. The common brand of network card, Belkin, is problematic. To work with Linux, it needs a special “wrap-around”.

It is hard to say which I prefer, having a friend tap commands into my computer to get it to work for free, or paying £80 to Microsoft Corporation and then install 3 security programmes. If you do want to try Linux, I recommend taking up the offer of free one-to-one help from the Nottingham Linux Group.

In conclusion, Linux worked for a bit (with a cable) but I am going back to the commercial Mac and Windows XP until the open-source community can get more support from the manufacturers of computer parts.

Ben Samuel

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