blog entry: "Installation Face Off: Linux or Windows"

grethe at grethe at
Wed Dec 14 14:10:16 GMT 2005

> "Installation Face Off: Linux or Windows"
> The author installed both Ubuntu and WindowsXP, and did a photo
> gallery of the installation of each using flickr.
> His conclusions:
> "At the end of the day, I did not find one easier to install than the
> other. So all of you Linux zealots that say it is so much easier to
> install Linux than Windows XP are wrong and I will even go out on a
> limb and say that Windows Vista will be easier to install than any
> Linux distribution available today."
> --
> Daniel Robitaille

Dear list,

When it comes to hands on experience, I am pretty new in the field of
installations. But when it comes to the battles of this kind of software,
it all started in 1995 when my boyfriend could not stop talking about
"linux, GPL and the evil empire". In the end we split up, but in any
relationship you are stuck with some leftovers from your X, and I was left
with "the free software movement" in my head.

I ended up writing about this movement, doing a rhetoric analysis of how
the arguments were set forward from the different parts in the battle over
how software and thechnology shall be used and regulated. As I am
Norwegain, I did a case study of how people argued - both in public debate
and in court - when Jon Lech Johansen were set for a trial because of his
aquaintances with the code DeCSS. The thesis was handed in at Department
of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen, Norway,
this spring.[1] It is written in Norwegian, but it is of course all free
and open to everybody ;-)

One of my conclutions is that the arguments of economic gain and comsumer
rights where put forward, and that the more philantropic arguments oriented
towards civil rights such as free speach, freedom of information and equal
distribution of knowledge, was downplayed. This is one reason
the case was won in court, but lost in Norwegian politics. We later
implemented an EU-directive and Norwegian "copyright law" now forbids
reverse engineering in private homes.

Another important matter was the technical ones. In the Norwegian public
debate but also in early reports from the Department of justice, Linux was
described as a tool to hack (in the sense as a criminal act) and a threath
to businesses. Later Linux was proven to be a tool used in many
businesses - because of it is qualities.

When it comes to eastetics, aestetics was of course never an issue. At
least not among linux-people. My impression is that the Linux-community
hesitate against anything that might look like "eye-candy" or something
that simplify the uses of technology. This anti-didactic attitude is based
on an argument that it would direct the user and the user should have
total freedom. I know this is changing, but it still seems that grapical
design still is regarded as something one has to do to reach a general
audience - but that one would prefer all the world to have the simple
terminal window as their favourite.But here I my impression Ubuntu is an
exeption. I may be right. I may be wrong.

I find the comparisment done at TechRepublic interresting. It does not say
that Ubuntu is worse than Windows XP. It says that Windows XP is "just as
good".This is because the topos - or the starting point - of the argument
that "People claim linux is better".

But to begin at this point seems like a change to me. In my world the main
argument when the issue "Linux vs. Windows" is on the table, is that Linux
is for very skilled users, and that your grandmother will have problems.

So to me, the argument seems to be upsidedown. Maybe you have other
experiences than me, it would be nice to hear what you think of this.

In my opinion it is ok that Windows XP is just as good to install as
Ubuntu. There are so many other sides of Ubuntu (and free software in
general) that after a total evaluation, Ubuntu will come out as a stronger
choice anyway.

Right now my focus i divided between frelancing as an art critic/doing
interwiews with people working at the small electronic art centers in
Norway, and installing linux. I havent tried out Windows XP, but have
recently tried out several distributions - skolelinux - edubuntu, kubuntu,
ubuntu - mandriva, suse - vectorlinux.

This has of course made me think about"the act of installing", and how the
various distros communicate to its users.

The debian distros are of course the same, and Suse and Mandrake has also
some similarities with their graphical interface, while Vectorlinux (a
slackware-based distro) was something for itself.

The commercial distros do in my opinion a rhetorical mistake when having
the actual act of installing wrapped in their own graphical enviroment (with
logos, colors and all). The reason is that it gives me the feeling I am
"inside" the system when I am not. This is a problem for these distros
when the user has troubble, because you may blame the distros and get the
wrong assocations with the logo.

Here Ubuntu is very well created. I am  introduced to the
Ubuntu-logo, but only as a shadowlike vision - it is a goal to reach - but
I do not get the feeling I am there before I am.This also applies to
Kubuntu and Edubuntu. The installation process is of course also
graphical, but simple and "lo tech" and gives me the feeling that I am
"intimate with the machine" - or "under the graphical user interface". And
that give the newbee some self esteem and a sense of ability to handle
technology. And that again, is a nice feeling.

At the same time, everything is very easy. Simple qestions asking for
facta-based information. When something goes wrong, it all goes red. Then
I have a choice to go back on the safe track. The safe track is blue and I
must say I would rather have it in green. Why is it blue?

The same can be said about Skolelinux, which is also debian based. But
this distro  shows a lack in eastetic taste when it comes to the logo. The
Skolelinux -logo refers more to the aestics of tech-community - and when
it comes to entering the desktop, you enter KDE, and a version that looks
like Windows, but just a littlebit uglyer. I dont want that.
I want my desktop to look nice, like i want my livingroom to look nice.

Ok. I know I can change these grahpical visions to fit my own taste. And I
do. But what that is chosen as default tells me something about the people
that makes ths distro.

Here Ubuntu adresses me. I get the feeling that there is someone in the
Ubuntu system that actually knows a littlebit about graphical design and
visual communication - and that cares about it. I especially like
Edubuntu, with the little girl on the desktop. It is so neetly done,
giving the right associations. I would never like to remove her, even if I

And here I also have to admit something that might be a deadly sin: I am
happy to have this little girl instead of that annoing little Tux. Ok.
Penquins are nice. We have som nice ones at the Aquarium here in Bergen
where I live. But they seem to be everywhere. And they are carried by
people that often do not have a clue when it comes to contemporary art.
Like the nice people in BLUG (Bergen (and BSD) Linux User Group). I cannot
praise these folks enough, because of all the help they have given me and
all the beer we have been drinking together. But at the same time it makes
me so sad that they just don't get it, when I say that their projekt
rfc1149 done together with Alan Cox can be called a contribution to the
tradition of fluxus.[2]

I like to believe that the people in the Ubuntu-system do have a clue
about contemporary art - for instance - I like to imagine that that the
shuttledriver Mark sometimes swops into the Tate gallery when living in
London - and please - do not tell me,if I am wrong ;-) Because it is this
impression that gives me a little extra energy to insist on my neighbour
that Edubuntu definitely is something to install for the kids.

The only sad thing is that I can`t find no live-distro to give them, to
let them have a try. And, Edubuntu is to slow for the machines it might be
run on, anyway.

I am talking about Norway here, and PCs are quite common in homes. Many
people also keep their old PCs, running Windows 95 or 98, so that the kids
can play on it. Oh, how I wish there were a fast child-frendly goodlooking
linux-distro to install on those. (I know I wish for the moon).

This brings me to the Vector-linux distro. It is slacware-based and
efficient. The installation is non-graphical (or I should say -
low-grahical) in the installation process. And that is good. But the way I
am adressed in the installation process - i mean in the actual text - does
not appeal to me. The "hey, that wasn't so hard, was it?" or implications
that I am deadly afraid and totally stupid when installing, just felt very
patronising. It made me feel yhat I am in touch with some indoor ingnorant
young man that lookes down on me, and as a mother of two children and with
a lot of other interests than installing software, it just made me want to
say: "Get a life!"

So what is my conclutions after reading TechRepublic? ? Well, to focus on
being better than Windows XP in the installation process is not necessary.
By now Ubuntu is good enough because it is "just as good". The only
important matter is to keep up, and never end up in the "worse" category.

Instead I would like an Edubuntu live-cd (if I may ask) and maybe a
technical solution so that I can run Edubuntu on the old PC so that my
kids kan play with it without having it hanging and thinking too much.
(Its a wish, not a demand:-). And then I would like Ubuntu too keep on the
good track where it already is when it comes to design. Especially when it
comes to using unortodox colors as brown and orange. Using the "warm"
colors instead of the "cold" such as blue, green or even the cold red used
in the Novell distro, is a good idea for a philantropic project.

Some words about Kubuntu is necessary here. I actually decided to leave
Kubuntu. I know "they say" KDE better and even when I am unfamiliar to
Gnome. But I just felt that I have had enough of blue and green and all
associations towards cold and economic feelings. I really liked the warm
philantropic touch that the Ubuntu Gnome desktop gave me as default.

So when it comes to the KDE vs. Gnome debate, it is funny to see how my
arguments are "eye-candy" arguments, and that I am not so convinced by the
arguments that are "rational", such as those of Linus Torvalds. It may
just be that my uses of the machine makes the debate of KDE vs Gnome
irrelevant, because I use the machine for simple matters.

So there I am, prefering Gnome, and Ubuntu, mainly because of its
graphical design. Some would think this just makes me a dumb and stupid
woman. So be it. Persons with my preferences has to be convinced too.
Torvalds is a nice guy, but his arguments does not appeal to me ;-)

My very best,

Grethe Melby, Bergen, Norway


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