15 Reasons To Stay The Heck Away From Linux

by Jon Davis 1. February 2009 00:59

Linux folks have their own reasons why people should use Linux. I get sick of it sometimes. I’ve tinkered with many Linux distros, and no, not as a novice user. Combined, I’ve probably spent a couple years of nonstop time on Linux. I solved many problems like setting up services and writing apps. And so far I’ve reached my own conclusions.

  1. Linux is a religious cult. You remember the wacko in Waco? With the visions of heaven and the gun-wielding and unrealistic plans of taking over the world and all? ... People who swear by Linux for the most part only hate Windows for the sake of hating Microsoft; it has little to nothing to do with the overall quality of the Windows product. They just feel that they have the moral prerogative to spread hate of Microsoft throughout the world.
  2. The only people who swear by Linux are either broke (or just cheap), grew up in a religious cult, or tasted a really old and archaic version of Mac and Windows (like Mac OS 6 and NT 4.0), ran away, and never looked back. Typically all of the above.
  3. There really isn’t much available in Linux that you don’t get cross-compiled in either the latest version of Windows or the latest version of Mac OS X. No, not Apache, not Perl, not Python, not Java, not Eclipse, not Mono, not Blender 3D, not OpenOffice, not Pidgin, not BIND, not OpenSSH, not most business apps, not many network apps, not many libs, not most desktop apps. Whatever really is exclusive, between Windows SUA and Cygwin, almost everything that runs in Linux is available in Windows—with a few minor multimedia exceptions of which there are better-quality Windows or OS X commercial alternatives anyway. And because Mac OS X is built on other flavors of UNIX, the same is true of it as well.
  4. Windows and, to an extent, Mac OS, takes the audacious effort to keep user-exposed details sane and organized, with the regretful exception of Microsoft’s abuse of the Windows registry. The archaic, confusing organization of file structure (/var, /usr, etc) in Linux, and the lack of consistency with configurations on par with Windows’ registry abuse, reflect the decades-old history of *nix. None of that is even necessary to just run and/or write and debug your software unless you do choose *nix; code is code, and with proper software abstractions and clean organization it shouldn’t be necessary to retain filthy rotten legacy organization and patterns.
  5. With Linux, there is no single entity who is accountable to you as a user for the successful evolution of major design characteristics of the operating system, of OS APIs, or of the user-interfacing shells. No one Linux distro can take on significant scope, and even then unless you are a paying customer just like Microsoft’s paying customers the maintainers of a distro have no significant incentive to care.
  6. Linux is not an original OSS effort; it’s a freeware x86 port from a third party commercial OS that’s been “grown” and that has evolved with bubblegum and tape (as in like Windows 9x).
  7. Linux hasn’t ever enjoyed a serious architectural redesign and rework like the Mac has enjoyed once or twice (OS 1-8 to OS 9 to particularly OS X) and that Microsoft has enjoyed three times (DOS to Windows 1-3.x to Windows 9x to particularly Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista/7 .. and Singularity is a sign of what’s coming down the road).
  8. The claims that the latest versions of Linux are more stable than the latest versions of Windows or of OSX are just plain ignorant. Windows has come a LONG way, and if you’re going to go *nix, OS X is probably a safer bet. For that matter, Windows SUA (Subsystem for UNIX Application) is probably a fairly safe bet if you’re going UNIX for your apps as well.
  9. You don’t get Direct3D on Linux. (OpenGL, which is more broadly available but less powerful than Direct3D, is available on Windows, so Linux doesn’t have an exclusive counter-argument. Incidentally, because of hardware driver limitations, OpenGL on Linux is far less available than either OpenGL or Direct3D on Windows or on Mac OS.)
  10. You don’t get PowerShell on Linux. (Bash, Python, and the like, which are more broadly available but less powerful than PowerShell, are available on Windows, so Linux doesn’t have an exclusive counter-argument.)
  11. You don’t get IIS 7 on Linux. (Apache, which is more broadly available but less powerful than IIS 7, is available on Windows, so Linux doesn’t have an exclusive counter-argument.)
  12. Despite Mono, you don’t get full-blown .NET nor Visual Studio (the most popular IDE on the planet) on Linux. No WCF, no WPF, no LINQ. (Python, Java, GTK#, Qt, wxWidgets, et al, which are more broadly available but less powerful than the Windows-based offerings, are available on Windows, so Linux doesn’t have an exclusive counter-argument.)
  13. Comparatively speaking, unproductivity is almost guaranteed. Unless you like to judge yourself on the basis of geeky so-called “real programming” (also aka “bit-twiddling”, and likewise you find scientific apps intellectually stimulating), you won’t have nearly as much fun just getting stuff done and with high quality results as you get with the most versatile operating system and developer toolset available to computing: modern Visual Studio on modern Windows.
  14. While Linux has evolved over time, it has not evolved at the same rate as Mac OS and Windows as of late. Evolution of solutions built on Linux do little to enhance or place demands upon Linux growth; these changes of growth and improvements are mostly self-serving, or improve upon application components only, not Linux itself, except only adding to the add-on repo dogpiles, whereas Apple and Microsoft both strive hard to significantly re-tailor their operating systems to meet the demands of both the applications developer and the end-user via evolutions of the operating system, particularly in improvements to its core APIs, its well-integrated services, and its shells.
  15. Except to be cheap or to roll your own flavor (custom toppings), there’s really not much point to go Linux unless your systems are already built around it. Linux is great for nearly-free personal server hosting and for cheap and simple scaling out. But it’s quite a small wonder that, despite Red Hat, Ubuntu, SuSe, Mandriva, and other hopefuls, Linux has hardly made a splash in desktop space. If you’re looking for a solid server, while yes there is Cent OS, there are other options like OpenSolaris and Windows Server 2008, the latter of which should be taken very seriously by anyone who is serious about architecture flexibility and stability.

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About the author

Jon Davis (aka "stimpy77") has been a programmer, developer, and consultant for web and Windows software solutions professionally since 1997, with experience ranging from OS and hardware support to DHTML programming to IIS/ASP web apps to Java network programming to Visual Basic applications to C# desktop apps.
 
Software in all forms is also his sole hobby, whether playing PC games or tinkering with programming them. "I was playing Defender on the Commodore 64," he reminisces, "when I decided at the age of 12 or so that I want to be a computer programmer when I grow up."

Jon was previously employed as a senior .NET developer at a very well-known Internet services company whom you're more likely than not to have directly done business with. However, this blog and all of jondavis.net have no affiliation with, and are not representative of, his former employer in any way.

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