A common misconception
Wednesday, December 16, 2009 7:49:52 AM
I can't believe this still is a "truth" out there. That Linux has to be managed from the command-line. Sure, Linux has a much more powerful command-line than Windows. (As you'll read, I don't know how powerful Mac's command-line is, or even if there IS one) But that isn't to say that a GNU/Linux distribution is hard to use, or just for programmers. Not anymore that is.
To start, I'll tell you a story from my own life: I was at a party with some friends of mine. I mentioned that I used Linux, and that was it. I couldn't get a word in for the next half-hour, because they had tried Red Hat 6.*-something a long time ago, and the thing they hated the most was that they had to mount the CD-drive before they could use the CD in the drive. They actually managed to whine about that to me for half an hour without letting me answer their question: Do you still have to mount the CD-drive to use it?
This is what I wish I could've told them then, and what I told gnesterenko at the ZDNet Talkback-thread:
A GNU/Linux distro CAN be entirely CLI-based, OR it can be a more powerful GUI than either Windows or Mac.
I have been running Ubuntu since version 6.06 (June 2006), and the only times I've had to go into CLI was when my wireless card wasn't given proper drivers by the manufacturer, and when I set up NFS-shares on my network. A network that actually works, as opposed to Windows that doesn't. I once had three computers with Windows side by side when setting up shares between them. Followed the Microsoft manual to A T on each in turn. When I was done, two of the computers could communicate ONE folder to eachother, the third couldn't even SEE the network. When I wanted to share folders in Ubuntu, I right-clicked the folder, clicked Share... , chose a share-name and connected to it from 4 computers. Linux-computers mind you. Windows, even though I used SMB/CIFS, Windows' own file-/foldersharing protocol, could still not see it. Since Windows can't recognise its own protocol, and NFS works better for GNU/Linux, I've chosen to use CLI to install it.
For me, working with Windows computers is some of the worst I can do. Especially Vista. No matter the version. I kinda like 7 actually.
Point is, Linux can be as user-friendly/GUI-fied as you like (Ubuntu, Linux Mint comes to mind), CLI-driven (Gentoo, Slackware), anything in between, or even completely from scratch: Linux From Scratch (LFS), meaning you design your system EXACTLY how you want it from the bottom up.
Think of Linux as Legos. You can start with just the basic blocks (LFS), you can start with some preassembled blocks (CLI-driven) or custom blocks (GUI). With Windows you get GI Joe for your Lego-set, and with Mac you get Barbie. (Now, no flames please. GI Joe and Barbie are also customisable, but not to the same degree that Legos is. We can agree on that, right? You can't change Barbie into Godzilla for example. Barbie will be Barbie no matter what. Legos can be anything you can imagine.)
And lastly, Linux can run Windows applications. WINE is one program that lets you do that. There are others too. I haven't heard of a program that lets you run Mac-applications on Linux, but that is quite possibly because I've never had a Mac and therefore no programs I wish to run in Linux, and as a result haven't looked for. Not to say that the world of Free Open Source Software hasn't got native applications of its own that are just as good, sometimes better than their Windows/Mac counterparts. Off course, some areas are less developed than others, so there are some areas where Windows/Mac are better than Linux.
Windows IS best at games. Linux is best for Multimedia, as shown by the prevalence of Linux computers in music and film studios, and the software in many HTPCs. (apx 90% of Hollywood is Linux) As I've never had a Mac, I don't know what it's best at, but it MUST be something to defend the high prices. Oh, wait, I got it... Everything for Mac/from Apple "just works" with other Apple-products!