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Well-rounded, in mind and body

(Fri Oct 17 10:22:20 2008)

I'm a fairly well-rounded guy (hey, no fat jokes)

I'm a fairly well-rounded guy. I run Windows and Linux; I use Perl, Visual Basic, Assembly, and C, all fairly regularly; I like healthy food as well as junk food. I use top-of-the-line equipment and cheap-as-dirt equipment. I communicate well with children and adults, geeks and "normals", the computer literate and the computer inept.

And, beind a well-rounded guy, I enjoy having a well-rounded world view. Many people I know bash Windows for the unstable environment, the lack of adherance to standards, and the overbearing stomp-out-the-little-guys attitude. On the other hand, I also know a lot of people who dislike Linux because the interface feels clunky, the programs are an enormous confusing mish-mash, and none of the programs they want to use are available outside of Windows.

Not that either group is wrong - Windows is a bloated, overbearing monster with a complete disreguard for standards (even their own!), and Linux is a cobbled-together pile of self-righteous incompatibility. Note that I haven't mentioned the Mac OS; I've not used it much, and honestly, I've not heard a lot in defense of it, leading me to believe that either only a tiny group of Mac users actually care, or that Mac users are in a completely different crowd than the ones I communicate with. Which is possible.

Linux users like power. The ability to install anything you want, or even change things if you don't like them, is awesome. Getting a good install of Linux working the way you want is rather a heady feeling. However, unlike most people think, Linux forces you to fit in. You may be able to write anything you like, but to get it to work well, you have to follow the rules. That's the beauty of Linux - it has rules. System-wide settings files are all in /etc, while all the programs (aka binaries) are in /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin, and /usr/sbin. Everything has a place, and stays there. So, Linux has power, tempered with standards and sanity.

Windows, on the other hand, has very few rules. You can, eventually, do absolutely anything you want in Windows. You want to use a giant animated gif as a background? Go ahead. You want to make programs? Feel free; it's easy and fast. Where Linux is a sleek electric vehical, Windows is a tricked-out, pimped-up, nitro-ready, full-cab pickup. (As long as we're on cars, I guess Mac would be a Prius; pretty, but expensive). Windows will run all its programs - or at least try its hardest - no matter what. And since it has a huge market share, everyone wants to develop for it, which means that everything from games to drafting programs are built for it. Plus, Windows is quite mature; programs written for it have been around longer than Linux itself, and therefore can focus on becoming more useful, not just more useable.

It all boils down to your mindset. Linux is clean, fast, and pretty, but only if you invest some time and energy into it. You actually ahve to know what you're doing to do something. Windows, on the other hand, you don't need to know a thing to operate, and you can get along comfortably for years without even seeing a single line of code.

In the end, it depends what you want to invest. If you "pay" all your time up front, hours or even days to learn Linux, you only need invest a few minutes here and there to keep up to date. With Windows, you can get away with a ten-minute referesher to start out, but you'll be paying hours of frustration later.

It turns out that the Windows/Linux debate is just another way of looking at life in general. Do you want to be a rule-bound engineer, working from 8 to 5, and making a good wage, or would you rather be an artist, with days of glory and money falling from the sky, followed by months of starvation and shame? Would you rather live within your means now and retire in comfort later, or live extravigantly now and live wih your debts for the rest of your life?

Being a well-rounded kind of guy, I have a well-rounded worldview. I like Linux, but I'll use windows. I live cheap, but I still have nice things. I serve God, but I don't alienate the lost.
So what do you live?

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This blag is tagged: Computers, Linux, Me, Windows, All