I like linux - used it for 12 years or so. But I started making machines dance in high school and I'm way more stubborn than any computer system.
But if it's to be more than a hobby for John Doe Permie, it's got to be packaged in a way that makes it simple and reliable. Who wants, much less can justify or afford, breaking their cajones all day then staying up all night making the computer work? And the next night and the next... Generally speaking adding the complexity of virtual systems and machines doesn't fit the KISS principle. It's hard enough to justify Linux given the lack of readily available fix-it guys and fellow users to commiserate you (wonder what that transitive form really means? but you get the idea <g>) - you don't want to introduce esoteric and nerdy improvements before you have a basic system that most people can use w/out problems.
The requirements for a good tool are 1) Utterly consistent; 2) Utterly unbreakable. Otherwise it costs you far far more in time and money than any benefit it may offer. Far as I know we're not quite there yet with either basic Linux nor Windows. But Linux is something you can get blamed for while Windows is something you can CYA because everyone understands that it's a universal condition like death (and taxes for some of us). Sometimes CYA is pretty important to proper functioning of the group (read family, farm, non-profit, boy scout troop, whatever) organism as a whole - helps maintain trust and faith and reduces pointless conflict and such. Lets people stay focused on what really matters.
Linux is a great system but it requires a certain committed type of user. And that caveat is way more important to think about than any possible, future theoretical benefits. Truth in labeling. IMHO of course.
Gotta use it before you can abuse it (or get abused).
Linux isn't for the masses - not because it's not a world class system but because it doesn't generally have as much in-person support available (often none) and it definitely doesn't have the lemming factor going for it. The lemming factor is important because w/out it the person responsible for the "linux decision" catches heavy blame when anything troublesome happens. Heavy blame is definitely not something that helps a team carry on and thrive.
So in the absence of significant IT skills, Linux _may_ not be the best choice for people with a life full of commitment who seriously depend on their computer. A Windows failure would be like bad weather - you take it in stride like any other normal problem; something everybody else is going through too. A Linux failure causes upset and soul searching with the potential for internal strife, etc. because Somebody decided They had a better idea - and then _this_ happened and look where we are now...
And where do I come up with these far-fetched ideas and wild scenarios??? Been there. Three or four times out of about 10-12 Linux installs and that was when myself or other knowledgeable IT person could go by w/in 24 hours and (usually) solve the problem w/in an hour. The user was ALWAYS certain that they would never have had problems with Windows or Mac and was usually not happy with the person who led them to Linux. I still mention Linux and it's value but I won't install it anymore w/out a very serious discussion of the realities of computer systems and the pros and cons of a "free" system. Most people step back and go for Windows.
So hows this relate to your original post: Security, much less advanced heavy security which costs time and convenience, really doesn't make it to 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd priority when it comes to Joe RegularGuy's computer requirements - well maybe 3rd place. And when it needs an opsys that is not appropriate for most people... We're no longer talking about stuff that relates to real life, not even permie life. And I thought information (even drivel) here was pretty much about permie life. So I'm raising the "you'll probably be sorry" flag.
I think the desire for privacy may get a boost when the NSA opens there new data interception center up in Utah.
It is set on the only coast to coast landline in the west, and will be able to intercept every call and is tied into the data line.
But if it happens, gawd help the linux developers and the distros - because all a sudden they will become a real target (not just a tiny hard to hit, easy to ignore target) for the authority-knows-best types dependent for their jobs and funding on fabricating and maintaining high-cost control systems and harrassing evil conspirators. (Those systems don't have to actually work, mind, just be salable to the appropriations boss.) But there are a lot of boy geniuses out there who's only real purpose in life is doing amazing, great, fantastic impossible code... So some of those systems will likely be damn good. They'll do it for anybody who will pay them for pizza and coffee and provide the big sexy machines they want to play on.
Linux has grown thanks to the almost invisible political genius of one guy who has managed to essentially herd 10,000 cats for the last 15 years. It's a pretty high bar for the next shift but here's hoping somebody(s) can get close.
It is true that each individual person is capable of having a unique experience with anything that he or she might encounter in life, be it a restaurant, a brand of vehicle, a type of clothing, or a computer operating system. Your opinions are your own just as mine is my own, and that's ok, and our opinions are all valid. I used to be a professional photographer and I found it amusing that people would get so caught up in the flame wars related to cameras built by Nikon vs. Canon; one day after trying a Nikon, I realized that the menu system was laid out differently that what I was used to and that I just preferred the Canon menu layout - that's what it comes down to is level of comfort and ease of use.
I've been using Linux for the last 10 years (my first distribution was called Basilisk which was a flavor of FedoraCore-4) and I've witnessed the growth of Linux (growth as a whole - there are probably hundreds of distributions of Linux that are freely available) that has taken place over the years. Ten years ago, I would have said that Linux was really mostly for hobbyists, IT-people, programmers, and for those who wished to divert from the mainstream. That's just not true today. My 64 year old mother has been using various flavors of Linux now for the last four years and I provide very little support for her - she is no computer whiz, yet she is able to take care of software updates, check her email, print documents, and do whatever she needs to do.
In today's times, with most Linux distributions (especially the larger and more well known projects such as Ubuntu and Fedora), most everything on your computer should work "right out of the box". Sure, you'll need to know a bit about how to work with your computer in order to install the operating system, but most of the installers walk you through the process and make it really easy for you.
What about support? Long ago when I would have an issue with my Windows machine, I'd call up Microsoft and I'd have to pay for support. With Linux, there are thousands of people all over the world who regularly visit users forums and IRC channels and freely offer support to those who are having difficulties. Why? Because people have a love for open source software (especially Linux), and folks like to help others succeed. Most Linux distributions have a user's forum on their website where you can post requests for help, and someone will often times have an answer for you within a couple of hours, and certainly within less than 24 hours. IRC channels tend to give you faster assistance since it's a chat room filled with knowledgeable folks from all over the world.
What about software? Each Linux distribution is usually tied to a repository of software where you can freely download software and obtain regular software updates. The repository is basically a server (or series of servers) out on the Web that you download software from. Most Linux distributions also come with a package manager that will allow you to search for software (if you need a word processor, type "Word Processor" into the search box); it will then download the software for you and perform the installation - all you have to do is click a button and it does all the work for you. Pretty amazing. Last time I checked, there were over 36,000 software packages that were freely available for my system.
It sounds like Paul may have been concerned about video editing software (https://permies.com/t/19753/permaculture-podcast/Podcast-Mac-PC). It's true that video editing software in Linux has been lacking for some time, but in the last several years, there have been some new contenders that actually do a good job at editing video and offering various types of transitions. Check out OpenShot (http://www.openshot.org) and PiTiVi (http://www.pitivi.org). Some might say that "this" software or "that" software might not do the trick and that they can do more with Photoshop, or Dreamweaver, or whatever. Ok, great, it's wonderful that those folks have opinions. All the tools that I need to do my job as a web developer/designer and multimedia professional are right at my fingertips within Linux. And, I love that Linux gives me freedom to easily write shell scripts and integrate them into my system - these scripts automate any number of various processes and make my job easier in so many ways! Linux is a great platform for programming!
Why Linux? - It's free to use, and free to redistribute (unless it's someone's proprietary spin-off of Linux that they are selling)
- Linux gives you complete freedom over your computer - freedom to customize the appearance and functionality of your machine as far or as little as you like
- Freedom of choice on so many different levels
- Tons of great software that's freely available and is easily downloaded and installed (you don't need to purchase and insert any CD)
- Safe, virus free, and frequent software updates
- Great support, either free or paid
- Great community of people all over the world to collaborate with
- So much more that I have not mentioned!
Macs? I didn't really mention much about Macs - they're great in a lot of ways, and not so great in other ways. In short, I love that they come loaded with such great software, but they're expensive, and everything about them is so proprietary that it just doesn't work for me that I have to purchase products that are specifically Mac-friendly. Although Macs are not a good solution for me, a lot of other people really like them.
Which Windows? I do have a Windows 7 machine at work that I use for some tasks, and honestly, Windows 7 is pretty nice in my opinion. I've tried Win8 and don't really care for it, but I can see how it might work well for touch-screen users. If I were going to run Windows on a personal machine, I'd personally use Win7-Pro.
Back to Linux... I make a living with my computer - it's safe to say that I use a lot of types of software and I use a great deal of services and applications that are out on the Internet. About the only thing that I've had issues with in today's times is any web application that's built on Microsoft Silverlight. Fortunately with the arrival of HTML5, there is no need for developers to continue using MS-Silverlight, so hopefully that's an issue that's soon to go away. Otherwise there is very little out on the Web that I encounter that I am not able to interface with on my Linux machine.
Is Linux for you? Maybe, maybe not. Only you can decide that for yourself. Windows, Mac, Linux, BSD, AIX, Solaris.... it's not that one is better than another... it's that one might be better for you, depending on your knowledge, reasons for wanting to switch, and your computing needs.
Thank you for that nice reply Darrin Goodman!
I migrated away from Windows about 8 years ago, have tried various flavors of Linux, but finally settled with Linux Mint for stability and ease of use.
The biggest reply I seem get from people is that if it is free software, then it must be no good.
I gave just about given-up trying to dispel this myth!!!
The reason that I settled with the Mint distro was the way it only defaults to stable updates unless the user modifies the default settings.
Plus it is wonderful to be able to truly customize your device to what pleases you, not to mention no time wasted having to constantly do security checks and updates.
I have been able to get whatever software I have needed to do most of what I want do do in Linux, the only exception I find is in the games, not so good here.
Give it a few years and hopefully this will not be as big of an issue.
I will admit that I have run into a few Linux geeks that were not too nice to me as a newbie, but they were the exception as I have received enormous help from some very kind individuals when I did run into problems.
Just be aware that just like learning to ride a bicycle or rollerskating, there is always a learning curve.
I do keep a dual-boot Linux/Windows XP laptop and a Windows 7 desktop just for the stuff that I occasionally get that will only work with Windows.
(like the recent MRI disk which I discovered did not work with Linux!)
FYI - I did not start messing with computers until I was 45 years of age, and my 76 year old mother-in-law uses an old XP laptop that I converted over to Linux Mint just fine!
So, please people, keep an open mind before you start bashing Linux - it is not as bad as some would have you want to believe.
We come from the Earth, We return to the Earth, and in between we Garden...
I've played with Linux on and off for years, and overall it works well but lacked support for the games I played. Looks like that is coming along as well, so while I'm using Windows 10 on my laptop now, I think I will test Linux again in the next couple years and make the switch to Linux for good. I play fewer games anymore, and I expect that once I start working on some property I will rarely turn to computer games to spend my time.
I'm not quite a lumberjack, but that's OK, I sleep all night and I dream all day; I'll coppice trees, I'll grow my food, and compost poo and pee! With a well and off-grid solar, it's a permies life for me! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FshU58nI0Ts
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit