Fanboi'ism Does Not Help

may 8, 2007

As much as I dislike Windows and wish that everyone would switch to Linux, I don't think fanboi-like "facts" like this posting help spread the word about Linux. It only goes to disappoint "switchers" who find out that not everything was entirely true. The premise of this blog posting, which got Dugg, is that there are a bunch of stuff that one can do in Linux that they can't in Windows. Yes, it's true. There are a bunch of stuff you can do in Linux that you can't do in Windows. But, the reverse is also true. That's not the point though, there are some bullet points that are bordering lying:

  1. "Update every single piece of software on my system with a single action." Almost true. But, not all true. The author writes, "Sure, Windows has Windows Update, but that only updates the operating system, Office, and a few other things. For every Linux distribution I've used (Gentoo, Red Hat, Suse, Ubuntu), updating is simple. When you update, you have every application, every library, every script - every single piece of software upgraded automatically for you. And on most of them, they will check for updates automatically and notify you. This is great for security, fixing bugs quickly, and getting the latest in features." Yes, true. But, only if you use software from the distro's repositories. Go out and download and build your own software? You're on your own. Say you're running CentOS5 and install the RPMs from VMware for VMware Server? You're on your own for keeping track of VMware updates.
  2. "Run an entire operating system for free without pirating software, and without breaking the law." Try watching a DVD in Linux without breaking the law. You can't. If you want to watch a DVD in Linux, you'll have to break the law.
  3. "Run thousands of great pieces of software that only run on Linux." As the author admits, this isn't really something that pertains to Linux since there are definitely pieces of software in Windows that have no counterpart in Linux (try TurboTax). Name me an application in Linux that doesn't have a counterpart in Windows. It'll be hard.
  4. "Learn about, support, and appreciate the value of free software." Yes, it is great to take the jump and go Linux so that you can become "involved in the community, I've contributed to free software, even if only in a small way." But, you know what? For most people, Windows is fine and if the only reason for doing Open Source is to join the community in a "small way", doing something like running OpenOffice.org in Windows is enough. No reason to do a big switch if it is only for small reasons.
Fanboi'ism doesn't help promote Linux or Open Source software.