Selling Linux to Windows Users
thezorch at gmail.com
Wed Dec 10 07:40:18 UTC 2008
It disturbs me to see such comments from Linux Advocates. It really
does and it worries me.
I like to think of myself as a "Linux Evangelist", spreading the truth
to the users of the world that Windows is not their PC and that there
is a better user experience out there. Also, using Windows supports a
company which has been known for and got into legal trouble in the
past and still does engage in illegal and unethical business practices
to maintain their monopoly. Getting users to switch to Linux or even
Mac lowers Microsoft's market share a little bit over time, but that
can add up as those new users spread the wonders of Linux to others
and get them to switch.
No OS is perfect, but some are better than others. The fact that
Ubuntu can't play MP3s and DVDs after being first installed isn't the
fault of Linux but is the fault of unethical business practices in
Hollywood and draconian approaches to intellectual Property Law which
was put into place after Hollywood lobbied Congress for such laws to
help prop up their failing business models. Laws which in my opinion
have helped contribute in some way to the downturn of our economy and
an increase in unethical (or criminal) abuses of IP law (ie; DMCA
Takedown notices to stifle competition, to quiet critics of a company,
etc). Saying that its a company's job to lock you into a product is
the wrong kind of mindset to have. Doing so under Anti-Trust laws is
illegal, and accepting such a practice as something that is "just how
things are" is unacceptable and a Defeatist attitude.
I've witnessed first hand many of Microsoft's business practices in
the corporate world. Their reps tell the higher ups in charge, execs
whose computer knowledge usually doesn't extend beyond turning the
machine on, thing in flowery language that just aren't entirely true.
They tell them that they'll save money with Windows and can do more
with Windows, but this isn't true. The saving money part is
definitely not true. Google shaved an estimated $100 million dollars
from their IT budget by switching to Linux from Windows, and
Amazon.com shaved an estimated $30-60 million from switching to Linux.
Some pundits will say switching to Linux will cost money. What they
don't tell you is switching to "any" new platform costs money.
Whether that platform is a free OS or something like Mac it is going
to cost a certain amount to migrate but the total cost of migration
can be kept to a minimum with free software.
I agree that saying "viruses aren't an issue in Linux" can be a double
edged sword, but there is truth behind that. Most viruses, Trojans,
Worms, etc. are designed to specifically target Windows or exploit
web pages can still effect Linux, but most of those download a Trojan
Downloader to infect a PC ... a Windows PC, thus 99% of the time they
aren't that big a deal for Linux users. Linux viruses are so rare in
the wild that the average Linux user has a greater chance of being hit
by lightning than they have of ever running into one on the Internet.
What is true is the fact that the number of Linux viruses will
increase as more and more people begin using it enough that the Script
Kiddies (Hackers don't create viruses) have an incentive to start
writing for that platform. Linux can be hacked, but unlike Windows
far more proactive measures can be implemented in Linux to make the OS
far more secure. Linux doesn't have perfect security, but because the
entire OS can be modified from the kernel level on up the options for
keeping it safe are infinitely more accessible. The same thing also
means that security patches and updates come more frequently and fewer
security holes get left behind like they do in Windows which have yet
to fixed. In all honesty the corporate world has much more to worry
about someone hacking into their Linux server than the average Linux
On the subject of drivers, this isn't the fault of Linux either but
the fault of companies that either don't write drivers for Linux or
write them as an afterthought. Thus, many projects to create open
source drivers for certain devices has emerged. Linux hardware
support has really improved in recent years, and the efforts of
companies like Dell is who sell PCs pre-installed with Ubuntu are a
good step in the right direction. The more large PC manufacturers
support Linux the more hardware manufacturers will have an incentive
to develop drivers for the OS. Ubuntu already has outstanding driver
support in many areas, some are better than others, and certain areas
could do with improvement. WiFi driver support is one area Linux is
getting better at.
It all ultimately comes down to what the average Jane/Joe PC user
wants to do with their computer. If all they want to do is chat
online, watch Youtube videos, do some word processing, play casual
Flash games online and browse the web than Linux is a better choice
for the better security and immunity to 99% of the most common viruses
& malware which only target Windows and specially Microsoft branded
software (ie; Internet Explorer, Outlook, Active X). If they are hard
core gamers then sticking to Windows is a better choice for them, but
they could benefit from dual-booting Windows and Linux, using a second
PC with Linux or running Linux in a virtual machine.
One area where this could be of great benefit is when the gamer is an
MMORPG player. Let me give you some background info to help you
undstand where I'm going with this. Recently RMT (Real Money
Transfer, aka Gold Sellers) has grown from a group of users in a game
farming virtual currency and items to sell on ebay for real money to a
multi-million dollar industry. IGE is the company that started it
all, but recently the company has become a shadow of its former self.
The bulk of RMT is done now in China and other parts of Southeast Asia
by several smaller companies were people play MMORPGs in large
sweatshops farming virtual currency and items to sell online. Game
companies have been taking proactive approaches to stop RMT, which
wreaks havock on in-game economies and diminishes the enjoyment of
game play due to the number of farmers monopolizing Notorious Monsters
or NMs, ordinary monsters called mobs, and the flooding of in-game
markets with excessively cheat to buy high-level items making it
nearly impossible for regular players to make money from crafting
items or selling items they collected from farming in the game for
virtual currency. Activision/Blizzard, SquareEnix, Sony Online
Entertainment and etc. have been working hard to stop RMT.
You now ask me, how can Linux possibly help?
In recently months, due to increased Anti-RMT activity by many MMO
operators some RMT groups have begun resorting to illegal activity to
gather virtual currency and items by hacking user's game accounts.
They steal personal information and credit card numbers (on rare
occasions) from accounts, steal virtual currency and items, and hijack
the accounts to use them for RMT activities. They do this by hacking
websites frequented by MMO gamers. These are forums and wikis devoted
to their specific game (World Warcraft, Final Fantasy XI, Everquest
II, etc.). These hacks install keyloggers which record user's account
login information allowing RMT hackers to break into their game
accounts and hijack them. These keyloggers ONLY run on Windows.
This is where Linux can come to the rescue. Gamers can either browse
their favorite game related sites in a virtual machine running Ubuntu
or any other Linux distro of their choice or have a second machine
they can use for that purpose running Linux. Not visiting these sites
with the computer they play the games with prevents this form of
hacking or at least can significantly minimize it.
Some could argue that they could easily use Windows in a virtual
machine or second PC, but they don't tell you that this can cost you.
Because of WGA and Windows Activation you cannot install Windows on a
second PC or run it in a virtual machine without buying the full
install which is upwards of $300. Yes, you could run it without
activating it but doing so runs a heavy risk of leaving many security
holes open that have since been patched. You're also limited to using
an unactivated install for a short period of time requiring you to
reinstall the virtual machine or second PC rather often. Linux
however is free to download and can be installed on as many PCs or
virtual machines as you like. Virtual machine software like Virtual
Box or the older VirtualPC is free, thus killing the argument that
virtual machine software costs money. A second machine could cost
money, but its also pretty easy to keep an eye out for a free used PC
and monitor on Craigslist or one of the Yahoo FreeCycle Groups for
your town or the town closest to you. This is a case were using Linux
for this purpose is far more practical than Windows.
This is just one example, and why I promote the user of Linux instead
of Windows with every opportunity I get. No, Linux isn't perfect, its
not the Jesus/Mohammad/Buddha of Operating Systems. Point me to an OS
that's 100% perfect and I'll switch to it. However, there is an OS
that is in many aspects better than Windows in many critical ways and
that OS is Linux.
Michael "TheZorch" Haney
thezorch at gmail.com
Free Your Computer from the Tyranny of Microsoft www.ubuntu.com
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