What an odd thing it is to find so many people still
questioning the merits of moving to a Linux Desktop. It’s
almost as though those of us who have been extensively using Windows
for years now have some sort of problematic memory issue.
Perhaps the proper psychology term is something like ST-PiT-MR also
known as Short term pain in the tush memory relapse syndrome.
We use Windows and the experience leaves us disappointed, or in some
cases distraught, like being slapped with a wet rag that smells of
rot. Then the next day we boot-up as if nothing happened.
As if it’s all new and all well and we should just get on with
Raise your hand if you’re sick and tired of this sadistic
self flagellation? I raise both of my arms and cheer.
Because it does not have to be so. The word is out. The
truth is said. The desktop we have used at home and in our
office is not the best option, nor the easiest tool.
Based on this fact I thought it important to consider the options.
Now that I’ve used Linux, it is utterly clear that Linux
desktops offer real alternatives that work and more importantly, stay
out of your way so you can work. Take your pick, choose your
way: KDE, Gnome, Xfce, etc. I don’t care which you
choose, because they are all offering me something Windows simply can
I want a desktop that works for me.
I want a desktop that conforms to my needs, rather than tries to
forcibly bend me down until I submit to its way because the
alternative is too painful. Am I being overly dramatic?
You be the judge as we look at how Windows handles a USER’S
NEEDS, then compare it with a popular Linux desktop like KDE.
Windows BOOT-UP PROCESS LIKE A DOG WITH THE RUNS
I was excited to pickup my new Toshiba laptop, preloaded with all
the wonders and power Microsoft had to offer – of course at a
hefty price. But it was worth it, I thought, as I hugged the
new machine lovingly. No I’m not lonely, but I enjoy
techy toys and this computer was one of them.
Then I started the boot up process. Oh no. Now I hit
two nasty hurdles. I experience the wonderfully kind and
innovative screens that require me to “tell us all about
yourself” and then move right into the warnings, with the big
letters WARNING that I must “connect to the Internet and
register” or this application I just paid over $400 for won’t
work. Lovely little customer service. I finally tell them
all they want without having to reveal my bra size or ovum count --
Does the idea that you as the consumer are presumed to be a
criminal and a scum not bother anyone else? Why, when I go
and pay full price for some seriously expensive software so I can
legally and totally own it -- do I have to put up with this
In any case I can now get started, but only after I wait another
two full minutes for every pre-loaded application to start up and
then to load on to my task bar. I wonder whether this process
is such a good idea as I notice McAfee firewall slowly appear on the
task bar almost two minutes from when the computer recognized the
“wireless network connection?”
I don’t have any idea what the code is doing behind the
scenes, but it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that it
is slow. Why do I care? I should be happy to pre-load so
many great applications. But I am not because for some stupid
reason this fantastic graphic user interface does not allow me to
move the mouse pointer and start up a program until it is finished
loading a number of apps to the toolbar. What’s the
reason for this?
This computer is capable of handling millions of instructions per
second and here I am waiting for icons to load up on my task bar?
Talk about an utter waste of computing power. If you really
want to get geeky and learn just how much a waste, read my article Blame the OS!
Boot up on a Windows with basic apps like networking pre-loaded is
slower than loading KDE or Gnome and especially Xfce on the exact
same laptop. Just getting to the point where I can start an application like OpenOffice takes
over half a minute longer on Windows than KDE.
APPS THAT RUN THEMSELVES
So I finish booting and I am grateful that step is over, when up
pops a message about my Outlook program.
The Windows solution to a problem is to "set it as the default"
Since when does an OS attempt to allow the opening of an
application like Outlook without the consent of the user? And
what “messaging request” is it talking about in the first
place? Don’t worry, as I describe later this kind of
desktop interface where the computer runs the user is not going to
happen with Linux.
Thankfully, when this same issue is observed on a Linux system you'll find no such deal. Instead, the only applications that EVER start
automatically are those I have explicitly defined to do so. Other applications are also available but when run, they operate nice and securely
within the local user mode, and can not affect the entire system. KDE gives me a lot more control over what application starts, and when I want
to kill an application I close it -- unlike Windows lovely ability to keep an application running even after I specify that it "end process."
TRULY STUPID MESSAGES
Up pops one of my favorite messages, and I don’t care which
anti-virus program you’re using the message is still idiotic.
Apparently in the one hour that my anti-virus software was installed
to the system it is now “at risk” and a “problem”
that needs to be tended to.
Even when playing a full screen game, again up pops a "reminder"... as if I forgot in the last 120 seconds!
I turned off automatic updates because I figure I don’t need
them today, the first day out of the box. But the balloon –
well, it just does not disappear no matter how often I tell it to
close. Another wonderful Windows interface addition is that a
pop-up balloon alerting me to a “serious problem” just
can’t be stopped.
This Windows desktop of mine is starting to look like a
Machiavellian monster intent on controlling the user. It should
simply be renamed HAL after the hellish computer system concocted by
Arthur C Clarke in 2001: A Space Odyssey and be given a few
optional weapons to kill me: the “bad and shameful user.”
Thankfully this is not the case yet -- so I live on to write this
article and to help others switch to Linux on the desktop… but
perhaps some day it may?
With Linux desktops, you are never going to have a balloon message pop-up over an application, or
repeat once it is closed. Period. End of story regarding this annoyance in the Linux world.
That’s the best way for me to describe the Windows desktop.
Now that I’ve used KDE on Linux, it’s almost impossible
for me to go back and use the barbaric design of the Windows start
menu. I can use shortcuts fine, but every now and then I go
back through the menu process and absolutely find it detestable that
someone designed Windows to perform a timed delay before opening each
subsequent menu list.
It’s almost as if the operating system needs to take a one
second breath between each rigorous action like opening a menu list.
Yeah let’s use that CPU processing power to open a menu list
As I use to work on my Windows system, I could almost hear the
ringing of that childhood song: “I think I can, I think I
can, I think I can...” There was a time when the
processing power in my laptop ran NASA, now it can barely act on a
few mouse movements. Ah, but that is the key isn’t it.
Windows was not designed for me, it was designed for them, or it, or
Thankfully, this is no longer a cause for concern. Instead,
I completely removed Windows and replaced it with the latest
Linux/KDE version. Now I enjoy not only being back in control
of my system and my work, but also the benefit of having some very
nice people to help me each step of the way. Besides, I think Linux loving
guys are much nicer.