I can feel the intensity of the eyes of some of you as you peer over this page looking for an opportunity to decry the idea that the world could ever need something other than your favorite operating system. This is to be expected, and just as assuredly many of you are grinning because you only use Linux and are hoping for vindication.
I suppose the logical way to proceed is to explain that my intention here is not to change anyone’s mind about what they should be using necessarily. I’ll rather try to illuminate what having a Linux desktop operating system means for many of the users and admins, and then let the chips fall where they may.
If we gather a group of 100-500 people at random and ask them if they have ever done any programming, how many hands do you suppose would fly into the air? 2,3,4,10? If we asked the same group how many had developed an app? Similar numbers?
We could ask that group about 1000 questions about how they’ve used a computer. In most cases unless we ask about what they do through the browser, or what they do online, most of those hands aren’t going to fly into the air. Quite possibly you would be surprised how often the same hands go up though.
But of the hands that do go up you will find that many are already Linux desktop users, or are considering it for reasons related to the development of applications, software engineering, project managers who require design environments, open source software developers for big businesses, security related software devs, game designers, and this list goes on and on.
There are a few reasons for this outside of the whole GNU landscape, and it relates to software performance. Many people who use software that was developed for Windows on a Linux machine have noted that it can be difficult to configure it correctly. This is logical as it wasn’t really developed for the system they are using it on. Likewise there are Linux applications that run on Windows and can be equally difficult to load and use.
See how long it takes to open Gimp on both Linux and Windows, then time Mozilla Firefox on both, then to be fair try to get a game configured for Windows to run on Linux in less than 10 minutes. Ultimately the grass is always greener depending on the challenge presented at the time.
In either case what works natively on Linux is extraordinary software. Many of us take that for granted until we try to find a replacement. It is unlikely that someone who has never used Linux would get nearly as far trying to find environments suitable to learn programming, game development, or many of the other processes that seem to just naturally go with the territory on a Linux system.
Some of that is due to the availability of the programs in the software center like on Ubuntu or Linux Mint. But even before those systems were there, there was something similar that showed what you could quickly add.
If you wanted to find something to do on a Sunday and were thumbing through what was available on Windows, there were the programs and games that you had already installed, or the ones you could find on the internet, or that came preinstalled by the developers who had included it with the operating system.
Chances are you have had to remove a few toolbars and viruses that came along with freeware.
Even now in the Windows app store that is starting to change somewhat…
Sunday afternoon on a Linux desktop is very different however, as you are presented with all of these options that might make you want to try to actually develop something…
It is more likely that you would “suddenly install a development environment” to see what you could figure out how to do. This is because you were probably looking at that option every few days until it simply didn’t look as daunting.
Likewise the software is there and we use it. Many writers probably didn’t want to bother paying for office or adobe just to write what they wanted to write, we have Libre Office built in to not bother with stuff like that. Software freedom isn’t just there on Linux it is presented in a way that reminds you what is possible. The result is people using tools that they might never experience elsewhere.
Of course this isn’t to shoot down anyone’s preference…
People will always love their system of choice. I use a few different ones pretty much every day including: Windows 10, Linux Mint 17.1, Android. Many days I still use Crunchbang Linux, Puppy Linux, Windows XP <- Actually I just switched that machine over to dual boot Windows and Linux Mint so farewell XP.
The world needs the Linux desktop for these and many other reasons. It offers software that works on systems that would otherwise be abandoned, yet still it offers a scalability that is used in cluster computing, it offers development environments that can’t be replaced. It keeps software available that otherwise would become monopolized by greedy companies.
These desktop operating systems aren’t just tacked on to a server environment. Their compatibility allows you to run servers from the desktop with ease though & while you certainly might know how to do that on a different operating system, chances are pretty good that you weren’t presented that option simply while looking for games.
It’s all about the environment that allows you to do what you really want to do…
If we are a products of our environment, we need an environment that empowers us to do great things. Linux desktops are among the most empowering environments you’ll ever find and most of them are free.
So whether you love it or hate it doesn’t matter as much as whether you can appreciate the value of that point. Many of you do, many of you don’t, but make no mistake the internet doesn’t just run on Linux servers randomly for no reason. It is populated with minds, and many of those minds are engaged.
Thankfully the future of Linux desktops remain in the hands of their users. It amazes me how passionately people feel about their preferences, myself included. I’ll probably never make a penny for talking about Linux, but I’ll always be doing so.
What is currently available to create something amazing, on your operating system of choice? That is the best question to ask yourself. I say use them all, and learn to love the differences.
Thanks for reading this!