Abandon All Fear

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Archive for January 26th, 2008

Why I’ve Left Vista for Ubuntu Linux

Posted by Lex Fear on January 26, 2008

I’ve finally made the full transition from Vista to Linux, and went with the easiest choice – Ubuntu, simply because of the support in the online forums.

I reformatted my hard drive (the only way I could reclaim space from Vista despite doing a fresh install over the top) and then installed Vista on a 30gb partition to duel boot with Ubuntu on 10gb. It took me a while to get the wireless stable and running on startup but I haven’t yet needed to boot back into Vista and I’m quite pleased so far.

I’ve managed to get Compiz running with my Nvidia driver which gives very cool desktop effects like making the windows appear bouncy and flexible when moving.

My Ubuntu

The only thing I’m worried about is working out how to get my TomTom Home configured in Wine, not sure yet whether I’ll just boot into Vista for that.

These aren’t my first reactions as I’ve been installing it and selling laptops on ebay, but I thought I’d give my own comparison of Linux and Vista and what has ultimately caused me to switch.

Security

I blogged about my first taste of Vista’s heavy handed UAC back in May when I first upgraded. This was Microsofts answer to Linux root user, but the difference is that root only has one dialog box and then let’s you in to do what you need. UAC on the other hand, was usually followed by another warning dialogue (if you were planning on installing something say) and even then it either didn’t let me do what I wanted to do (I did not have permission) or kept popping up for each and every action. Root just works.

Boot Time

A fresh install of Vista will boot pretty quickly, but like it’s predecessors, after time, once applications are installed it begins to slow down to a crawl. You know what I’m talking about, when the desktop has loaded, you click on the ‘Start’ button and wait 5 minutes for the menu to popup. I think Microsoft purposefully designed it this way so it would seem like the OS boots up fast. Ubuntu is a little slower booting up, but when the desktop loads that’s it, you can start, you’re not waiting for drivers or taskbar to load.

Applications

One the one hand, Microsoft has the edge over Linux in compatibility. When you plug a piece of hardware in it just works, installing software isn’t too difficult because you just have to look for the executable (‘.exe’) file. First of all, the reason Microsoft has so much of the market is they spend a large amount of time and money idiot-proofing it. They make sure every copy of Windows contains every driver that you’ll ever need (and thousands you won’t) so you don’t have to go through the hard part of trawling manuals and manufacturers websites looking for the right driver and installing it first. This is what turns Windows into bloatware and ensures easts all your disk space like a algae in a pond (currently my copy of Vista takes up 10gb and I’ve not installed applications yet).

It’s a shame they trashed this advantage with Vista. Not only is it not backwards compatible with all the products you’ve been using for years, many manufacturers still haven’t released full drivers or compatible products yet. Not only that, say goodbye to some of the free private-use software you were so used to using, if manufacturers haven’t updated the stuff they sell, they’re not going to be releasing any of the free versions soon.

Then they went and took the executable format that any idiot can use to launch a thousand viruses, trojans and spyware and replaced it with Windows Installer Package (‘.wmi’). Hey, I can figure it out, sure, but what about your idiots?

So this is the point where Ubuntu Linux beats Vista hands down, because not only has Microsoft simply created an installation environment similar to Linux – in which a bit more technical knowledge is needed – but Ubuntu has the Synaptic Package Manager, a database to tons of free and open source software for which 95% of Vista propriety applications, there is a Linux alternative.

Cost

Vista Ultimate: £300+
Linux: £0+

‘Nuff said.

Style

Admittedly Linux has a way to go before it gets to the visual prowess of Vista, oh there are distros out there that look stylish but if we’re talking about integration with third party applications, Vista wins in this department. I also miss the sidebar, but it’s not enough to keep me I’m afraid. Linux has a much more customisable and flexible desktop, with Compiz you get all the bells and whistles you need, and more importantly, with Compiz the bells and whistles are smooth and don’t distract from your main task. I’d rather have a less than glamouress desktop that works when I click on something, than a flashy one that I have to wait 2 seconds for the bell/whistle to engage.

Networking

Another one of Microsofts aces is admittedly its networking. Wireless works out of the box. Ubuntu is getting there but for every box I’ve had I’ve had to log onto the forums and look for solutions. It is possible, you just have to have some patience and get over your fear of the command line.

[Actually the command line interface (CLI) is what makes Linux easy. Support is easy since you don’t need to know which button to click, just type it into the terminal or cut-n-paste. You can see exactly what steps you took in solving a problem. You can see how things work rather than having to go through several different menus to get to any meaningful information.]

There are reasons for problems with wireless networking, the first being that some manufacturers won’t share their source code with Linux developers so work-arounds have to be developed. The other reason is Vista has introduced encrypted passwords for sharing which currently can’t be read by Linux. If you’re not using passwords for you network this is fine however.

I think this is an important issue in future as more and more users come to rely on a Wifi connection for their laptops.

Support

Last time I had to call Microsoft support line (at work) they charge £250 a pop. It’s true they do have the online Knowledgebase, I’m not sure but they might also have an email support too. Linux is free and has forum users all over the world and you get to learn something at the same time. The support for Linux is personal and open rather than communicating with someone who’s given a script.

Maybe the reason Linux developers have so much difficulty developing drivers for applications is that not enough people are calling the vendors for help with installing- all the support is provided by the community instead.

Your Soul

Contrary to accepted wisdom, your soul is not owned by Steve Balmer or Steve Jobs. Linux will give you your soul back and set you free from crippling DRM, lock-in and propriety software. It will set you free to see the world without corporate gloss and blood-sucking EULA’s written by the Dark Lord of the Sith (actually you still need to sign EULA’s for some things but not as many).

Things You Won’t Need In Ubuntu

Ctrl-Alt-Del
Defrag
Scandisk
Anti-virus (well, not much)
Disk Cleanup
Licence Keys
Original Installation disk
The latest top-of-the-range hardware

Things you may miss in Vista

Shiny GUI
Sidebar
Comfort

Posted in Technology | 2 Comments »

Ulterior Verse of the Day: Matthew 22:15-21

Posted by Lex Fear on January 26, 2008

Gayle writes…

Hi Alex – I thought I should send you an odd article I read in the “Missoulian” (Montana, USA) this morning:

Church of England motion arrives with number 666

London (AP) – The beast of the Book of Revelation intruded into the banter of the House of Commons on Thursday when a motion calling for the disestablishment of the Church of England was numbered 666.

The last book of the Bible says 666 is the number of a beast that “had two horns like a lamb, and . . . spake as a dragon,” and that “doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.”

It is incredible that a motion like this should have, by chance, acquired this significant number,” said Bob Russell, a Liberal Democrat lawmaker.

It looks as though God or the devil have been moving in mysterious ways,” he said.

The motion simply states: “That this house calls for the disestablishment of the Church of England” – in other words ending its status as the country’s legally established, official faith.”

Is this a story there – or just an obscure who-knows-why kind of story someone picked up over here?

I promised Gayle that I would respond in the blog, and thought this would be an excellent tie in with an old regular feature I had on DSotL – Ulterior Verse of the Day:

“Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Don’t you know that my ministry is global and impacts the lives of millions of people everyday?” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “Under Caesar the law states charities are tax-exempt, and I since my ministry forms part of a charity then that makes me tax-exempt.”
– Matthew 22:15-21

First of all, it’s true that a few MP’s have signed an early day motion (EDM) for the disestablishment of the Church of England and that whether by fate or by mischief that the motion is number 666. You can even view it online.

For my global hangers-on, in America where church and state are seperated (for the protection of the church) and the American government are prevented by the constitution from controlling and influencing the church. Here in the UK however, along with charity status the Church of England is in the enviable position of having a small but inconsequential measure of influence on politics as well as allowing its members to divorce. It has nothing to do with handouts (well not officially anyway) but as I say, the church has charity status.

In return for this highly esteemed position, the government has the right to dictate church policy and elect it’s highest leaders. It is illegal, for example, for an Anglican church to refuse to marry anyone (hetrosexual) who wants to be married (providing they live in the catchment area and attend for 6+ months). Similarly it is also illegal for the Church of England to refuse to baptise or bury anyone who requests it.

Thuto provides a better explanation of this.

This is why, when American anti-theists exult the constitutional “separation of church and state”, they may as well be cheering for the fact that 85-95% of Americans believe in God.

The IRS has recently begun auditing several prominent mega-church leaders. The reason? Not only should charities not be affiliated with any political party, but how many charities do you know where the CEO is driving a Bentley, living in a mansion yet not making any money from other sources of income outside of charity work (I consider writing books and recording videos part of the charity work if it involves the charity).

The truth is, this EDM 666 probably stands little chance of going through, but if it did it could only be good for the Church of England, a church that was established to allow a fat monarch to divorce without resigning as head of it. After all, it would give the Church of England the freedom it needs to be a Church, and not just an.. aging establishment.

Ironically, it is most likely the atheists and agnostics who would protest when they couldn’t get their infants baptised, their beautiful church wedding or their dead rellies buried.

Free from government influence and control, free from public scrutiny and able to self-govern, blunder of the beast more like…

Posted in Apologetics, Dark Side of the Light, Realpolitik, The Purpose Missing Church, Wealth Creation | 1 Comment »