OpenLX Linux Workshop

ANDC and OpenLX organised this little workshop for the students and faculty of the college to promote Linux and FOSS, with the main aim of eradicating Windows. Today I can easily say Linux is ready for the masses but I personally will not be shifting from Leopard to Linux any time soon even though I’ll have a few Virtual Machines running side by side. The reason for this is quite clear. None of the productivity apps I use can be emulated on Linux and I need time to get used to the known alternatives. That is time I don’t have.

As far as security and reliability is concerned, I’m quite happy with Leopard on my MacBook Pro and Windows XP on my PC. Throughout the seminar, the organizers spoke of the cost involved in keeping Windows up and running well. My desktop has been up and running for the last two months on Windows XP with some hundred downloads taking place simultaneously. No virus or malware outbreaks, no Norton AntiVirus subscriptions. All I use is Windows XP(licensed copy/free for me) + Windows Defender(free download from Microsoft) + AVG AntiVirus Free Edition(free download from Grisoft).

According the OpenLX theory on hardware that isn’t compatible with Linux, Microsoft is culprit. They said that the hardware works with Windows but not on Linux because Microsoft has paid to remove important parts of hardware from devices and placed it’s software equivalent in Windows thus making it incompatible with any other OS. I’d like to talk about a standard Netgear WG311 wireless card that I purchased which has a chipset built by Texas Instruments. The card works perfectly with Mac OS X86 and Windows. On Mac OS it gets detected as Airport, and detects my WPA encrypted network immediately. No matter how many patches you apply, the dumb card doesn’t work on any flavour of Linux(not tried OpenLX yet).

When I raised a question about Flash development on Linux, I was asked to go and fight with Adobe for not offering support on Linux. That doesn’t really solve my problem, does it? I’d like to point out that Microsoft is an iceberg, and icebergs take time to melt. Till it melts, I don’t see Flash Professional being released for Linux.

The event should have been called an anti-Microsoft campaign rather than a pro-Linux initiative. Ubuntu with it’s latest release offers native support for MP3 playback using proprietary codecs(which no other Linux distribution can use) instead of gstreamer that you previously had to download. Open source is good, but closed source isn’t bad. Konqueror is one sucky browser, and even if Safari does use the KHTML engine it does a much better job of rendering websites. The source doesn’t matter to me, performance does.

“We aren’t following standards because we aren’t using Linux”. Bullshit. Windows Internet Explorer doesn’t follow standards, all other web browsers do. Firefox is a cross-platform browser that gives the highest importance to standards. You can use it irrespective of the operating system you have. Similarly for programmers, Eclipse is a cross platform development platform that sticks to all standards. Again, no requirement of Linux. Apache, again is available for download on all platforms. The list goes on. It is incorrect to confuse following standards with using Linux.

“Microsoft charges you for patches and fixes. The Linux community doesn’t. OpenLX charges only for help and support.” Firstly, Microsoft hasn’t charged me a penny for the service packs, patches and fixes. I’m not special, telephone support is free. We were continuously told that if we find a bug in Linux, users can fix it themselves(very unlikely, but yes it’s possible) or take help from the community(excuse me, but everybody doesn’t use the same configuration as I do, giving advice is something anybody can be good at anyway) or let the experts do it(and make my wallet feel a lot lighter?).

Microsoft may use Linux servers, but it still does a much better job promoting Windows Servers. Correct me if I am wrong, but Red Hat Enterprise Linux did lose some market share to Windows Servers last year.

For the average user and the programmer, Linux may be perfect. But it isn’t close to perfect for design and animation. Oh u’ll talk about Blender now, wont you?