10 Linux features Windows should have by default

Discussion in 'all things UNIX' started by chronomatic, Dec 5, 2009.

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  1. chronomatic

    chronomatic Registered Member

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    http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/10things/?p=1194

    The biggest thing missing from Windows 7, for me, is virtual desktops. It is amazing that it's 2009 and M$ still has not implemented this very simple feature that KDE/Gnome have had for, what, 10 years? Without it, I find my desktop almost unusable. Yes, I know you can install bulky third-party add-ons and get it, but who wants to have to do that?

    Let the flame war begin! :D
     
  2. BlueZannetti

    BlueZannetti Administrator

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    Lest anyone take the suggestion seriously..., don't.

    Civil discussion - yes. Flaming - no. Very simple.

    Blue
     
  3. Eice

    Eice Registered Member

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    1. Compiz. Meh. Compiz is SLOW on my hardware (AMD Turion X2 2.1GHz, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3450 256MB). There are noticeable delays when maximizing/minimizing windows. Firefox and even Opera react so slowly its painful (I can finish typing more than half a URL before the display in the address bar "unfreezes" and catches up). Watching videos take up 30-40% CPU (but at least GNOME doesn't get chainsawed off at the knees now in Karmic, which is a huge improvement). Am I the only one experiencing this?

    2. Multi-user. Forgive a Linux noob, but I didn't understand this one. How do two users use a machine at the same time?

    3. Log files. No noticeable advantage over Windows as far as I can tell. In Windows you fire up the log file viewer, in Linux you open a text editor. Besides, I don't know how to turn off logging, or restrict log file sizes in Linux. :(

    4. Repos. Dear God, no. I for one despise the stepped-upgrade model. But I can see why this would be immensely useful for a lot of other people. Might as well take this opportunity to ask a question: where do the packages downloaded by Synaptic and apt-get go? Are they sitting around somewhere so I can copy and save them to a custom location of my choice?

    5. Cron. Windows has the Task Scheduler. Can't see any difference.

    6. Regular release cycle. I don't really mind either way, but only as long as Microsoft isn't thinking about forcing people to shell out $150-200 every six months if they adopt Ubuntu's release cycle.

    7. Root user. Mostly fixed since Vista. Or even since XP, if one takes the trouble to create a limited account. I like how I can right-click any shortcut or program and select 'Run as administrator' without having to fire up the command line and sudo it - is there a package for Ubuntu that can do this?

    8. Pricing. Can't beat Linux on this one.

    9. Pre-installed apps. Microsoft would get the pants sued off them for antitrust issues if they tried the Linux approach. It'd be nice if everyone got a free copy of MS Office with Windows, but sadly I don't see that happening.

    10. Hardware detection. I'm not so sure about Linux beating Microsoft out of the box anymore. If it was Vista, I'd agree hands down. But Win7, I'm kind of undecided. Win7 includes proprietary drivers for my wireless and video card, and enables them right off the bat, something Ubuntu can never do as long as it sticks to its "free software" philosophy. But other distros like Mint might, I don't know.
     
  4. wilbertnl

    wilbertnl Registered Member

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    Here is an example session with three users logged in at once, They can all start there own firefox session, for example.
    Some people find this feature useful.

    multi-user.png

    One thing that really upsets me about Microsoft OS is that when I buy a laptop, I don't have the option to install Windows XP and use all the hardware features, like display dimming, since drivers are not provided.
    With Linux, if I prefer KDE 3.5 over KDE 4.3, I'm able to do that without missing the support for hardware features.

    Also. attached is a text file with hardware info, generated in Linux. With the information you are able to find the driver that you need when not installed automagically.

    View attachment hwinfo.txt
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
  5. chronomatic

    chronomatic Registered Member

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    That's a fair critique, Eice, and I agree, amazingly, with some of what you said.
    I think it's mainly used for mainframe type scenarios or thin clients and the like; that is, where you have a host machine running Linux and a bunch of simultaneous users logged in via a client PC. You have to remember Linux is a Unix clone and Unix was designed in the 60's and 70's when mainframes with terminal clients were common. I agree this is not something most people will ever miss at home but it can be useful in business settings if you like to have strict control over what employees can do on their machine or if the employees need to access the same files while still having their own partitioned space.

    I can't say I have much experience at all with logfiles in Windows (my experience has been mainly on HOME versions of Windows where logfiles either aren't available or serve little purpose). However, you can restrict logfile size in Linux by installing a common app called "logrotate." It's a command line app that allows you to adjust how often you want each logfile to remain before it is compressed and stored. And then you decide how long you want the compressed file to remain before it is deleted. I *thought* Ubuntu had logrotate installed by default (in fact I am almost positive).

    Again, I don't have much experience with Windows logfiles, but if it is like most other things in Windows, it is not very configurable. I like the fact that with linux you can choose your own system logger (syslogd, syslog-ng, metalog, rsyslog, etc.) and most of these loggers allow great flexibility -- you can specify how and where to log, what to filter, you can make it alert you to certain things, mail logs to you, etc.. It is extremely flexible and I doubt Windows offers this kind of control.
    I love the package management paradigm. I like having EVERYTHING on my system be checked for updates. This is a huge advantage over Windows, and helps save a lot of time and is better for security.

    BTW, the downloaded pakcages are stored as .debs in /var/cache/apt/archives. /var means "varying" and is where log files and other constantly changing files are stored.

    I think M$ has finally gotten the message that running as root is bad for security, but they still haven't made creating a limited account the default. This means most will still run as admin. Sure, there is UAC, but most people turn it off. UAC is in fact designed for developers, not for end users; it is designed to nag developers so that they will make their software work under a limited account. That's another problem: even if you do create a user account, you still will find some software wont work at all because the developers were lazy.

    As for sudo, I never have to use it unless I am in the terminal and need root access for a certain command (sudo apt-get install for example). I never have to run software as root because Unix developers have been using the limited user paradigm for decades and have designed their software to work with the proper privileges. This means almost all software will work under a user account without the need to "run as admin." Sure, there is some software that is supposed to run as root (such as package managers, crons, etc.) but most of them are either command line programs or give you a pop-up window asking for sudo password.

    I agree that M$ cannot pre-install apps. I guess the author of this article forgets all the crap M$ was put through in Europe for including their OWN browser in their OWN operating system. I am no M$ fan, but I am with them 100% on this. This browser issue infuriates me on two fronts:

    1) It's nobodies business what M$ does, if you don't like it, don't buy it and

    2) The EU is essentially saying that since there is no M$ alternative that they must make it "fair" by including other browsers. This makes me angry because obviously they are not recognizing that Linux/BSD/Solaris (or even OS X) is out there as viable alternatives. Instead of simply switching OS's and making M$ feel the pain, they are still MS addicts.

    Imagine if M$ included Adobe products but not a competitor's. Or imagine if they included Norton virus scanner and not McAfee or others. Sadly, M$, being a proprietary system, will never be able to be like Linux in all facets, and default software is one of them. Linux has the advantage that the kernel as well as most third party apps are GPL'ed, which means that even though they were not developed by the same people, they integrate seamlessly.

    Package management also won't be possible with Windows. The reasons are the same. Imagine if M$ ran their own software repository much like Ubuntu does with its servers. How would they decide what software to include and what not to include? I can imagine that some software companies would be paying M$ big money to include their product vs. a competitor's (even if the product itself was free). It would be unfair and a big mess. There is no way Microsoft would put itself through that trouble. This is what you get with proprietary software with different licenses -- it's a big mess.

    So, while I agree with the author's premise that package management and default software would be a boon for Windows, it won't ever happen for practical and legal reasons. It's just the way it is.
     
  6. NGRhodes

    NGRhodes Registered Member

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    1. Here is an interesting fact. Aero is artificially disabled on my laptop. The beta of Vista ran Aero well, but Microsoft decided to limit compatibility artificially to force people to buy newer machines to run Aero.
    Compiz needs good 3d drivers, Ubuntu 8.10 my intel drivers were OK, Compiz was a touch slow, not perfectly smooth. Ubuntu 9.04 and the new intel drivers were slow. I could only run the minimal effects option smoothly. Ubuntu 9.10 and intel drivers fly, Compiz is flawless (even run youtube flash HD full screen without problem).
    Aero is a nice 3D engine and the version in Windows 7 is surprisingly mature and progressing far faster than Compiz ever did. It does lack the eye candy effects, but IMHO is more stable than Compiz, e.g 3d apps and games don't break.
    Aero can support multiple desktops, there is a 3rd party tool available from http://www.codeplex.com/vdm . I would assume its not built in because Windows history has never been designed to be used with multiple desktops.

    2. Also I'm pretty sure its not available on the Starter edition.
    It does seem daft that this is not a built in feature and just disabled by default.

    3. IMHO Linux does have the advantage of being able to easily analyse logs file even on a non-bootable machine much easier. One advantage of Windows logging that its a system API so is very easy to build logging into an app (as I have done for a service I made on our webserver).

    4. Agreed. Lacking in Windows. Software distributors can easily provide their own repositories so they don't even need to be centrally maintained, but would make keeping the machine up to date much easier.
    Also related is how much slower the software installation and upgrade of software on Windows. I have been building a new dev server and to install SQL Server plus the service packs has taken 3 hours ! Partly sheer bloated nature of Windows software and partly the installation process.
    It takes days rather than hours to install a web server, which in a business is costly, to clients is an unnecessary expense.
    Finally it is far easier remotely manage and upgrade Linux Machines and that is mostly due to package management tools.

    5. Should be edited out. Windows has both GUI and command line interfaces to the system scheduler and is about on par with the common cron daemons of Linux.

    6. It has its pros and cons. In the corporate environment, upgrading on a consistent schedule can be near impossible due to the need for supporting legacy systems and inertia caused by IT policies, especially when driven by money, why spend money on upgrading (time and money) when the existing systems are working.
    What is important is a proven upgrade process/release schedule that is flexible to meet the needs of those who are happy to upgrade frequently or need to wait. There are many Linux distro's that support this flexibility.

    7. I thought this was generally how Vista and Win 7 works now ?

    8. Yes Microsoft is bad at this. I spoke to a Rep about which would be the most appropriate licence for us for SQLServer, he could not give me a definite single answer, even worse was than the cost difference is that appeared to be too easy to buy a version that we could at some point in the future inadvertently break the licence agreement.
    The biggest flaw with the Windows pricing model is that it does not reflect common usage senarios. I am a new user, which version is best ? I want to buy a version for my small office, which is best ? I am a gamer which version is best ?
    What kinda answer do you think you will get from your average retail outlet like PCWorld ?

    9. Depends on needs/wants. A distro is a completely packaged system OS + set of apps. Windows is OS plus a few utilities.
    Just imagine how many versions of Windows there could be if bundled apps were allowed (they are not due to anti competition laws). Windows Home Basic with Office, Window Home Basic with Office, Expression etc etc :blink:

    10. Linux kernel supports more drivers than Windows distributes with Windows and I would say they are of similar quality generally in terms of stability, biggest weakness of Linux drivers is on GFX drivers, as lots of people know. Not even the devices without open specifications, look at how variable in quality Intel's drivers are.

    Cheers, Nick
     
  7. Eice

    Eice Registered Member

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    logrotate is default, and yes, I know about it. As far as I can tell, however, it only gives the option to purge log files based on age in weeks. Personally I prefer a max size for log files and then truncate old entries, but that's me. Many logs I turn off entirely as well, since I never even glance at them, and I have no idea how to do that in Ubuntu.

    UAC is essentially a limited account. The only difference is that in a limited account, some actions are automatically suppressed without an elevation prompt, whereas an admin account with UAC will allow with prompt.

    And if people turn it off, well, that's their problem...

    Er, sorry, but nope. And even if your arbitrary claim is true, they essentially function more or less identically, except that UAC allows for slightly flexibility.

    I use the gnome-schedule frontend instead of editing cron by hand. This is one of the instances where right-click sudo would be useful; currently if I want to edit scheduled tasks for the root user I'd need to sudo gnome-schedule from the command line. Editing config files is another, I could just right-click-sudo gedit and edit the grub config, for example, without having to sudo nano <type full path to config file here>.
     
  8. lodore

    lodore Registered Member

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    1. Im not sure why compiz is listed tbh. if i wrote that list i would of put virtual desktop. i love virtualdesktops. windows 7 has partly sorted out the issue with the new taskbar but virtualdesktops are still better. having a separate desktop for different tasks is great. for example full screen program on one desktop and another for web browsing music etc without having to having to buy two monitors.

    4.why dont you see the benefit of package management systems and repos?
    with windows and OSX you have like 50 updaters one for each program installed. with linux you have one updater that updates everything. It makes it easier,faster and also makes the OS safer for all. Most users only run windows update on windows. most of my clients dont update flash,java etc and have an older version of adobe reader because it was preinstalled by the oem. those older apps could be exploited and malware get on to the machine. if you want more updated apps you can use backports. linux uses less disc space than windows so its fine to install all apps on / partition.


    7. With windows xp using a limited user account is a major pain in the ass.
    you have to switch accounts to do any admin task. unix based systems have had sudo since the 90's i belive maybe earlier cant find a link on when it was created now. yet microsoft didnt have anything as good until 2006(vista uac),what the hell took them so long? btw you can get a package for ubuntu that allows sudo usage without commandline its called nautilus-gksu. you can right click any file with nautilus and right the file with root rights so you can edit config files etc. ive used it to backup xorg.conf before setting up proper nvidia drivers in debian lenny.

    10. windows 7 doesnt include drivers for my wireless card or soundcard on my dekstop and only installs part of the soundcard on my laptop. tookme awhile to work it out since the sound card was installed but the microphone wasnt. i had to install the drivers from dell for my laptop. linux has all the drivers for my hardware OOTB. If linux doesnt include free drivers for your hardware its just because the hardware manafacurer doesnt produce opensource drivers. I wish nvidia and ati would give in and give proper opensource drivers. they make money from hardware so why not produce opensource drivers that make use of the hardware? the opensource drivers are crap they dont have hardware acceleration. I do wish device detection utility. linux prefers the suck and see approch to hardware detection. opensolaris has a tool called device driver utility which is like windows device manager. if there are third party drivers are available it will point you to the website you can get them from. plus i found it easy to install a driver on solaris. its simply cd (location of extracted driver) then run sudo pkg_add (insert driver name here) then its done.
    one annoying thing about linux is that features are added regardless of if it breaks compatibilty with some hardware. with solaris you can run a driver that was created for original solaris 10 working with the lastest solaris 10 version and windows you can run a driver that is for windows 2000 on xp and a vista driver on 7.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
  9. Eice

    Eice Registered Member

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    The stepped-upgrade model is a very big reason. It annoys the ******* out of me that I have to wait for months after major software updates are released before I can get them.

    Second, I don't use all the programs that Ubuntu comes pre-installed with, and I don't want to be bugged by updates for them.

    Third, I guess I just dislike the concept of packages and dependencies in general. I like having my software installers saved at a custom location for future use, but too many packages have too many dependencies that installing them is a royal pain without a package manager.

    Fourth, TBH I'm not really sure. But there's this part of me that detests the whole infrastructure. :( Would be cool, for me personally at least, if there was an option to manage software updates in Linux like in Windows, separate self-updaters for each program.
     
  10. NGRhodes

    NGRhodes Registered Member

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    It can be very useful on occasions, for example I have a old desktop-come server.
    It has a user account that autologs into xbmc, my media centre. I use another login as a regular desktop user to burn CDs and manage my files, check backup etc, without the need to disturb xbmc and I can do this remotely from my Laptop as well.

    Windows is just as configurable as Linux in terms of what you want to log.
    By default it logs a lot less than Linux (due to its server heritage).

    The better organised distros allow you to download old packages.

    e.g. Firefox in Ubuntu, https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/karmic/ source/firefox-3.5
    Determining the correct dependencies of other packages can be a pain, but this is no different situation to Windows.

    Not as simple as that. Its more to do with the fact that Microsoft have been pulling the wool over customers eyes to the availability of alternatives, forcing vendor lockin with propitiate standards and systems, so even if you have Firefox you could still not use some server based products because MS built them for IE only.

    Repositories can be maintained by the software developers themselves without problems. VirtualBox is a common one.

    Package Managers like apt-get, synaptic can prompt for information, including additional licence agreements, essential configuration information, serial numbers .Adobe's flash player and Sun's Java runtime have additional licence agreements.

    Cheers, Nick
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
  11. lodore

    lodore Registered Member

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    why not just do what i do and uninstall the programs you dont use? unlike windows programs with linux genrally uninstall cleanly.

    With windows I hate having hundreads of different updaters.
    Outdated software is the only thing i dont like about repos tbh. i do like the lastest software when it comes out.

    on windows i do have a big folder of the installers of programs. but at some point i probaly will switch over to windows and simply write a list of the programs i use and then if i do a fresh install of a distro i can then simply open up package manager and install all programs in one go.
     
  12. Eice

    Eice Registered Member

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    Too many of them. Plus I'm not 100% familiar with which package is which. Plus some of the programs remove other critical components as well if you try to uninstall them. I tried to uninstall Empathy (Pidgin is so much better), and ended up nuking the indicator-applet package as well unknowingly. After that I learned to leave things alone. For now.
     
  13. YeOldeStonecat

    YeOldeStonecat Registered Member

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    I find the article incredibly inaccurate. And I'm a fan of *nix and have been running and enjoying several distros over time. So I'm certainly not flame waring this....I love both.

    BUT...

    1-Compiz...fair enough, I'd love to see multiple desktops, as I use that function frequently with OpenSUSE..spin my cube desktop.

    2-Multi-user. I guess whoever penned that list never heard of "Fast User Switching"..a feature Windows has had for the past several versions. You can "Switch users" while leaving prior users sessions still running with apps open. Some of you mention they're not talking about the home environment, but the corporate environment..IE UNIX and its roots. OK...well I'm sure some of you must have heard of Microsoft Terminal Server?

    3-Log Files. Uhm...Event Viewer is one of the key ones? The rest are simple log files...double click and notepad opens them up. Doesn't get much easier to get to stuff you need, he says you have to open up applications before even starting to read logs. Huh. Start==>Run==eventvwr.msc

    4-Centralized Application Installation. Windows, because of the commercial aspect of appliction, this can't happen by that design. If *nix were commercial and that big..they couldn't have it either.

    5-Cron...Windows has had task scheduler since what..the Win9X days? I've used it for many things...on servers too.

    6-Regular Release Cycle. Open source has advantages to release cycles and can allow it to happen fast. That's up to the distro and its team, some move fast, some move slow. This top 10 list can't begin to think all of the distros out there have fast release cycles. Also this is VERY flawed thinking. Windows has by far the largest market hold. Businesses, schools, enterprise industry, government, what kind of hit on the budget would there be if Windows did bi-annual new releasees? Not to mention the support needed in upgrading a whole network. This is simply ridiculous. And they're counting sub versions, not entire new releases.

    7-Root User, OK this has been a flaw in prior releases of Windows, but with Vista and 7, a very similar method has been implemented.

    But what really cracks me up on the authors point...he states the following: "Windows should separate the administrative user and the standard user by default. The first thing Windows users should have to do, upon starting up their new computer for the first time, is create an administrative password and a user password." :rolleyes:

    Uhm...I guess this person had someone setup all his computers for him. For the past many versions of Windows....upon unbuckling the OS for the first time, you're given the prompt of entering an Administrator password, and then creating your first user account..and selecting what type of user account it is. Nobody is holding a gun to your head making you leave the Administrator account empty and giving that first user account local admin privvies.

    8-Pricing...well, business is business.

    9-Installed Applications...see point 8.

    10-Hardware Detection...I strongly disagree here. With Windows, it will have native driver support for whatever mainstream hardware has been on the market at the rough time of the OS release. And over time, newer hardware gets driver support via Windows Update. This has been the same..the same..the same..since back in the Windows 9X days. And it's steadily improved since the XP days. Thousands and thousands and thousands of Windows installs over all this time, it's how it is. Standard Mainstream Hardware made before and roughly up to the OS release is supported by Windows. Extra features require the manufacturers drivers. Hardware installed after the OS has been releases requires drivers to be installed.

    It's the same with linux!!! And sorry..it's more difficult in linux!
    How many here have wrestled with some wireless cards for days on end?
    How many here have wrestled with getting compiz/hardware accel features enabled on laptops with ATI graphics cards?
     
  14. wilbertnl

    wilbertnl Registered Member

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    I think that's the big issue, have you tried to buy a system or laptop without Windows and how much choice did you have?
    The best way to go without Microsoft is to build a system yourself.

    And there is way more to this, Internet Explorer introduced proprietary features that makes other browsers incompatible. They refuse open standards and try to bend the market to their own standards. And then they get USA support to patent their own standards and avoid competition at all.
    If Americans embrace Free Market, why do they need a patent system?
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
  15. Eice

    Eice Registered Member

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    Depends on the distro. Ubuntu was easy. PCLOS made me hunt for XP drivers for ndiswrapper. openSUSE wanted me to recompile the kernel... er... no thanks...
     
  16. chronomatic

    chronomatic Registered Member

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    How is that the same? With Linux distros, the software updater updates *everything* on the system. A VirtualBox repository will only update VirtualBox. When I say "software repository" I am talking about a repository with all different types of software from different developers in one location ready to be seamlessly downloaded and installed with a simple mouse click. There is nothing like this on Windows (and never can be).

    And your point...?
     
  17. NGRhodes

    NGRhodes Registered Member

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    The system updater will be able to update from virtual box repository as well the distro supplied ones, all dependency checked... well atleast for Ubuntu/Debian.

    My point is that there is no issue over each company supplying their own repository and maintaining it (will show up in your package manager as part of all available package auto-magically) and there is support for difference licence models and agreeing to them as needed :).

    Cheers, Nick
     
  18. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

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    I've read through all the responses. Some of the answers obviously stem from the lack of knowledge in some areas, but that is understandable, especially logging stuff. So I won't respond to these and only focus on the desktop, because servers are a whole different story.

    1. Compiz, nice for showing off, but unnecessary.

    2. Multi-user, a big one. BTW, you don't need GUI to have multi-user. For those interested, create 3 accounts and then open a terminal and login into each one. There you go. Multi-user. Each one can run their owns apps and stuff, without interfering with one another. But most home users won't feel these, because home usage bottleneck is the network/monitors/keyboards and not system resources.

    3. Log files, not something home users would care.

    4. Repos, a good one. Good distros let you manage old and cached content smartly. Digitally signed content is also a bonus, security wise, for most new and clueless users. I would like to see a rollback feature, though. Something that copies old binaries away, or at least all the packages, installs the new ones, then lets you test and if you're dissatisfied, roll back. Not simple if your app touches 200 dependencies, including critical ones like glibc, but could be done with a bit of very hard work. Reboot content is the trickiest, but might be managed.

    5. Cron, not really interesting ...

    6. Regular release cycle, works in some distros, but it's annoying in most. Six months is a joke. I prefer annual upgrade releases like openSUSE and/or even long-term packaging with service packs. I hate upgrading, in all operating systems, ever. Fun is one thing, production is another. Support also needs to be much, much longer. 13 months for Fedora, 18 months for Ubuntu. That's impractical. Even LTS is not good enough. If Windows XP can do 13 years, then modern decent Linux can do 5-7 without breaking a sweat. Indeed, the 7-year cycle used by RH/CentOS is a very good one.

    7. Root, yes, a good one and makes a big difference for newbies. Experienced users don't care either way. But the whole security hype in Windows is soooo overrated. Such a money milking cow.

    8. Prices, well ... self-evident. Although corporate/enterprise support costs and quite a bit. But for home usage, yes, there's no beating the free price tag, although less experienced users would benefit from some support, even if it's paid, akin to SLED.

    9. Default package set, yes this is a very good one. You get a system pimped up properly, so it works out of the box. Very elegant.

    10. Hardware detection, yes, quite decent. And it works better than Windows, especially on older systems where you lost your mobo disc.

    Mrk
     
  19. JRViejo

    JRViejo Global Moderator

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    Removed Off Topic post. May I remind all Wilders members to keep on topic, or this thread will be closed. Thanks!

    JR
     
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