by Jinryu

During the exam period, I coordinated a fair amount of study group sessions. It’s kinda neat that at UNSW, the group study rooms have these giant 50 inch monitors on the wall, which you can hook up to your laptop. It has ports for HDMI and VGA cables, even RCA jacks (does anyone still use those…?)

Anyways, a classmate of mine, [Captain Diligent], was wondering how I did what I did. Which was basically just to plug my laptop into the mointor. Nothing fancy really… he also wondered what I was using as an operating system. The netbook I was using that day, my Samsung NC-210, runs Ubuntu (Linux). “Do people still use Linux nowadays?” he asked. Well, I do.

I’m not really a diehard advocate of it– as in, I’m not going to try and convert everyone to using it. It takes a bit of brains and time to get things running just the way you want it, so for most people, the cost of buying a system with MacOS on it is worth every penny. But I know that for me, it works great for my purposes, for a number of reasons. I don’t run Ubuntu on all my systems, I use some other distros on other machines I maintain for myself and my family, but across the board the advantages are similar.

First of all, it doesn’t require as much hardware to do the same thing as a windows computer. Linux OS tends to take up space on your hard disk, uses less CPU power to run, and takes up less of your RAM. That means that you can run it on older machines that wouldn’t survive too well under Windows 7. Linux tends to enjoy a further bonus, because you don’t need to run craploads of antiviral software in memory. I don’t have to worry about installing security fixes on a weekly basis (althoug h every now and then doesn’t hurt), and when I click “shutdown,” my computer actually SHUTS DOWN and doesn’t tell me that it’s updating and don’t hit the power just yet. That’s a real pain in the ass when you’re leaving a class and have to get moving, and there you are with automatic updates on so you can shove your netbook in your bag. I’m sure there’s a setting for it somewhere, but really– would you use a windows machine without the latest security fixes?

In many ways, a Linux machine works with the advantages of a Mac system– Mac is based on Linux I believe. The main difference is that you don’t need to pay the Mac price.

There’s also a pretty large repository of official software out there. While you can go out on the web and download applications, for most intensive purposes, you can get a hella lot of software for free from centralized sources. Keeps things clean of adware and malware.

So sometimes, I just don’t get why, unless you were playing games (which is one area where Linux does suck), you would use Windows. It’s more taxing on the system, it’s less secure, and I would argue it’s more difficult to use in many ways.

I’ve been running my netbook on an out-of-the-box install of Ubuntu since I got it a few months ago– everything just worked, except for an issue with the microphone. I didn’t have time to fix it until this morning, but it turned out to be relatively easy– just needed to upgrade the ALSA drivers. Now my system works pretty much exactly how I want it to.

I should point out also that running Windows 7, the most i could get out of the battery was something like 8 hours. On linux, the battery lasts 10.5 hours.

But like I said– I don’t really preach Linux to people, because people will just do what they’re comfortable with. I just don’t see why people get on my case about using Linux as if it’s some sorta disease. That’s like making fun of people for maintaining their own car instead of taking it to the shop all the time.

Edit: [Zanshin] informs me that MacOs is actually based on BSD, not Linux.