Windows or Linux

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Windows or Linux

Postby Kappes Buur » Sun Jan 17, 2021 3:33 pm

There have been so many operating systems over the years, during the DOS era and now during the Windows era. As far as I can tell from my own experience, Windows has been very reliable. But there are some who have been driven to the Unix side, and I am wondering why. The same goes for Apple OS.

Installing any OS on a dedicated machine and never the twain will meet, well I can see that.

However, so many questions about how to make a Windows program behave properly in another OS have been asked here. When Unix first appeared on the scene it was heralded as the Windows slayer, unifying once and for all the programming community. But the opposite seems to have happened, there are so many Unix variants in circulation today that it makes my head spin.

My question is, What is it so attractive, so compelling, about using Unix when it creates so many compatibility problems?

edit: corrected the title
Last edited by Kappes Buur on Tue Jan 19, 2021 3:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Windows or Unix

Postby leileilol » Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:03 pm

There's usually two factors:

1. trust: proprietary closed source software suck, walled gardens suck, etc. (Linux Steam's Proton was a big pushback to Windows 10's old Windows Store walled garden ambitions)
2. security: most common os = target for security issues = security issues = data loss/ransom/worm/unsolicitedcoinmining etc.

Also i'm sure you mean Linux. When Unix first arrived, Windows wasn't yet a thing; heck. copying Xerox Alto was barely a thing by that point

There's also the whole opportunity to use linux on non-x86 architectures. Windows used to be that in the NT days...
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Re: Windows or Unix

Postby Caligari87 » Sun Jan 17, 2021 6:49 pm

Personally I switched to Linux because I was tired of dealing with Windows' idiosyncratic muck-ups¸ security holes, opaque development decisions, and increasing walled-garden behavior. Plus, I typically build my computers and the expectation of just swallowing a $200 software license for my new homegrown PC was anathema to me.

As far as variants go, there's a few major Linux "families" and most are descended from those. Arch Linux, for example, is part of a separate family tree and is more suitable for deep customization and staying on the cutting-edge code updates. Debian is the most popular stable (read: slowly developed) base for end-user-focused distributions (like Ubuntu) which provide nearly-windows-like out-of-the-box experiences with minimal configuration. The vast majority of 3rd-party support (like Steam's Proton project) targets Ubuntu simply because it and its children are so widespread.

Personally I use Linux Mint "Cinnamon Edition" (itself based on Ubuntu) because it's almost like OSX and Windows 7 had a beautiful baby. The installation is a breeze, out of the box experience is clean and user-friendly, and since it's largely Ubuntu under the hood, the vast majority of troubleshooting solutions available for Debian or Ubuntu can also apply to Mint with minimal adjustment. The main thing I gave up when I switched in 2014 was gaming, but Proton (integrated to Steam) now plays nearly 95% of my gaming library. I've found free / open-source alternative software for nearly everything else and Windows hasn't darkened the bootscreen of any device in my home for almost half a decade now.

Make the switch if you can. I highly recommend it.

8-)
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Re: Windows or Unix

Postby KynikossDragonn » Sun Jan 17, 2021 8:44 pm

I presently use Void Linux, primarily because they use a init system that's more down to earth and simple like "sysvinit". They also, like Arch Linux, will typically package the latest possible versions of software providing that it's a "release" version, with some exceptions for things such as Wine.

I've had to use Linux because Wine is the only way to play most of my older GOG games without issue. Windows "backwards compatibility" is a sham, and ever since the "Get Windows 10" debacle I never wanted to go back to Windows ever again.

As far as "compatibility problems". I have none, if you mean with "modern windows games" that require Windows 10 and Direct3D 12, I literally do not give a damn. All that stuff is irrelevant. If anything, most of what I make use of has compatibility problems with Windows!
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Re: Windows or Unix

Postby Enjay » Sun Jan 17, 2021 8:51 pm

Kappes Buur wrote:My question is, What is it so attractive, so compelling, about using Unix when it creates so many compatibility problems?

This is my biggest question about it too. I have tried Linux a few times and, I confess, I really didn't get very far with it but I tried it for long enough to get to a point where I had a clear "it's not for me" feeling. That was for several reasons*, but this thread is for finding out about the plusses, so I'll steer clear of it. The risk of starting an OS war is ever present in such discussions anyway.

However, what I see here and... well, pretty much everywhere are post from people trying to get something to run on Linux that, for most people, seems to run out of the box on Windows. I know that there will be several people on here alone who could say something like "just use it under Wine, I use it and it works flawlessly" but the sheer number of people posting difficulties indicates to me that there must be some issue (or several issues). Where that issue lies, I don't know. I don't know if Linux is inherently difficult to work with (it seemed straight forward enough to me), or if it's because the software in question is targetted elsewhere or 101 other possibilities (including, of course, the ever-present PBKAC) but clearly it often isn't plain sailing.

LeiLei and Cali both make good points and they are people whose opinions I trust but, for me, most of the positives they describe are marginal for how I use my machine and the downsides, in my circumstances, are so minimal that the ability to have something that works well almost all of the time, with all of the software that I use running very nicely on it massively outweighs the downsides.

So, for years, I have found myself with the same question as in the one I quoted from the original post.

*The one big plus I found with Linux was the ability to boot in Linux and then access a Windows partition and use Linux to nuke a file that Windows was preventing me deleting. :twisted:
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Re: Windows or Unix

Postby Caligari87 » Sun Jan 17, 2021 11:55 pm

80% of the problem, in my experience, is either A) expecting Linux to work like Windows, or B) trying to use Windows software on Linux.

A is a pretty common one, because Windows is so pervasive it's become just "the way you interact with computers". There's obvious design things like ""the close button is in the upper-right" but it's pervasive down to subconscious stuff like "you run programs by double-clicking the .exe file" which typically doesn't work in Linux because it's not designed that way. It's like learning a new language where you have to start thinking in terms of "object-noun-verb" instead of "noun-verb-object".

As for B, while WINE and Mono and virtual machines have come a long way they've never been a perfect replacement for Windows and never will be. Windows is simply too monolithic, too obscure, and too proprietary to ever fully fully "emulate" all its quirks and special cases, so software designed solely for Windows is always going to be a crapshoot to get working on Linux. The alternative is to find Linux-compatible software that fills your needs, which again can be a crapshoot since companies don't like to focus on Linux.

The last 20% typically covers the cases where Linux itself has "holes" in its user friendliness or even actual legitimate design flaws. This varies wildly by distribution and in my opinion is a shrinking factor for new-user-oriented distros like Mint. Things like "oh there's really no way to set up an audio loopback monitor without using console commands sorry!"

That said, I'm pretty evangelical about Linux but honestly use what you want. If Windows fills your needs, by all means keep using Windows. I tried switching many times, but it only "took" when I committed fully and burned my bridges, forcing myself to make it work because I had no other choice. Even then it took a couple years before I was fully comfortable in Linux. Not everyone has the time or luxury to do so, especially if everything already works the way you need. Hell, if you asked me to make a similar switch today, I'm not sure I'd have the mental fortitude to work through it again.

--------------------

Novel aside, my favorite part about Linux is that it's mine. If I don't like something about it, I can (usually) change it, often without writing code (thanks to incremental improvements in the end user experience). Sure there's quirks but I've learned the necessary "vocabulary" and "syntax" to address them and think in Linux terms, so what might have been a literally impossible task in Windows, is now reachable via a few google searches and some terminal commands. The ideological stuff (software should be open) is extra icing on the cake.

8-)
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Re: Windows or Unix

Postby Graf Zahl » Mon Jan 18, 2021 2:04 am

Enjay wrote:This is my biggest question about it too. I have tried Linux a few times and, I confess, I really didn't get very far with it but I tried it for long enough to get to a point where I had a clear "it's not for me" feeling. That was for several reasons*, but this thread is for finding out about the plusses, so I'll steer clear of it. The risk of starting an OS war is ever present in such discussions anyway.


Same here. I've had my share of issues with Linux - in the end, though, none of them have to do with the OS itself but with the ideology that comes along. I always said that Linux's biggest problem is its core users which have prevented it for over 20 years from becoming a really good system and prefer to stick to what has been proven not to work for the majority.

What's ironic here is that it isn't Windows that's the main benefactor of this attitude, but Apple, because most users in need of a POSIX compatible system will choose a Mac instead because unlike Linux it is an OS actually being built around a GUI and generally has been very deliberate about not copying the main issues common Linux paradigms present to its users.

Enjay wrote:However, what I see here and... well, pretty much everywhere are post from people trying to get something to run on Linux that, for most people, seems to run out of the box on Windows.


Yes, that's my impression as well - and in >90% of all cases it always comes down to the biggest problem of the Linux philosophy - "everything's a library", i.e. dependency hell where some "system components" (read: random third party libraries locked at a specific obsolete version) clash with some applications' needs. Currently the main culprit seems to be a broken version of FluidSynth in some distros, or CMake never being up to date, so all projects have to be written against ancient versions because updating it for real seems to go against everything Linux stands for.

So, to sum it up - I'd cheer along with the crowd if Linux managed to displace more of Windows's market share and I think it could if the Linux community really wanted - but in its current state these people are more of an obstacle than an asset.
Working in a company doing mostly web service programming by now I think the fact that not one single employee using Linux on their working system is very telling - those in need of POSIX tools use Macs, the rest uses Windows. Linux is solely relegated to driving the servers and the only way the admins access it is via remote shell and command line instructions.

Caligari87 wrote:80% of the problem, in my experience, is either A) expecting Linux to work like Windows, or B) trying to use Windows software on Linux.


I think it's 80% expecting for A) Linux to work in an intuitive fashion and B) not finding native software doing the job. :twisted:


Caligari87 wrote:A is a pretty common one, because Windows is so pervasive it's become just "the way you interact with computers". There's obvious design things like ""the close button is in the upper-right"


Macs have the 'close' button in the upper left and that does not pose a problem for most users. If there's a usability issue here it's a clear sign of something being wrong with UI design. But well, all Linux GUIs I ever checked out also have a close button somewhere so this entire point sounds like a made-up pretext.

Caligari87 wrote:but it's pervasive down to subconscious stuff like "you run programs by double-clicking the .exe file" which typically doesn't work in Linux because it's not designed that way. It's like learning a new language where you have to start thinking in terms of "object-noun-verb" instead of "noun-verb-object".


I'm not sure what you are hinting at here, it sounds like utter bullshit to me - but "clicking the EXE" is surely not how most Windows software is supposed to be launched. Yes, ultimately the links behind desktop icons perform this action, but that's not the point. In the end, even on Unix platforms "starting an application" boils down to "running the EXE", maybe with some additional parameters, maybe not. Same as Windows, no real difference. So if there *is* a difference in the UI - I'd attribute that to poor design.

Caligari87 wrote:As for B, while WINE and Mono and virtual machines have come a long way they've never been a perfect replacement for Windows and never will be. Windows is simply too monolithic, too obscure, and too proprietary to ever fully fully "emulate" all its quirks and special cases, so software designed solely for Windows is always going to be a crapshoot to get working on Linux. The alternative is to find Linux-compatible software that fills your needs, which again can be a crapshoot since companies don't like to focus on Linux.


Bingo! And let's be honest here: That "crapshoot" is what drives people away from Linux. And the main reason why that "crapshoot" even exists is that some of Linux's philosophies provide a constant barrier of entry for interested developers (see my points above.)

Caligari87 wrote:The last 20% typically covers the cases where Linux itself has "holes" in its user friendliness or even actual legitimate design flaws. This varies wildly by distribution and in my opinion is a shrinking factor for new-user-oriented distros like Mint. Things like "oh there's really no way to set up an audio loopback monitor without using console commands sorry!"


I doubt that these distros will actually fill the hole, i.e. that the GUI isn't part of the system but another third party library added to the whole mix. Both Windows and macOS are written around a system provided GUI API that provides all the functions a modern OS needs - but here again we face "everything's a library" syndrome, i.e. there is no unified way to do things, you cannot take features for granted, ever distro is doing their own thing, resulting in software working properly being a "crapshoot" (yeah, there's that word again)

Caligari87 wrote:but I've learned the necessary "vocabulary" and "syntax" to address them and think in Linux terms, so what might have been a literally impossible task in Windows, is now reachable via a few google searches and some terminal commands.


I guess this is also the point where it becomes clear what kind of people actually use Linux as their daily driver desktop OS - those who do not mind to tinker with the system and spend hours tuning it or searching for software to make it do what they need out of it.


Caligari87 wrote:The ideological stuff (software should be open) is extra icing on the cake.


Sorry, at this point I have to strongly disagree.
No, software should not be open by default, if that was the case the entire economy would break down and I'd be out of a job.
And you'd be out of Linux. That may be hard to stomach but without proprietary software there would not be any free software - because the only thing that makes free software exist is its ability to drive proprietary business models so that its developers can make a living. And without proprietary components such models cannot work.
Also it may be "free of charge", but that ultimately does not mean it is free of hassle - oftentimes the hassle involved is even more costly than the price of commercial software. In an enterprise environment this even justifies charging thousands of $$$ for some applications.

Here's also another problem with this: Since this "software should be free" attitude makes it very uneconomic do develop commercial software for Linux, there's a significant shortage in this sector which makes Linux a very unappealing desktop system for commercial use, which in return boosts the market share of mainly Apple. So you are shooting yourself in the foot. :P
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Re: Windows or Unix

Postby Rachael » Mon Jan 18, 2021 3:36 am

Kappes Buur wrote:There have been so many operating systems over the years, during the DOS era and now during the Windows era. As far as I can tell from my own experience, Windows has been very reliable. But there are some who have been driven to the Unix side, and I am wondering why. The same goes for Apple OS.

Installing any OS on a dedicated machine and never the twain will meet, well I can see that.

However, so many questions about how to make a Windows program behave properly in another OS have been asked here. When Unix first appeared on the scene it was heralded as the Windows slayer, unifying once and for all the programming community. But the opposite seems to have happened, there are so many Unix variants in circulation today that it makes my head spin.

My question is, What is it so attractive, so compelling, about using Unix when it creates so many compatibility problems?

I can only speak for myself here. Linux (or Unix, they are not the same thing) is not my daily driver. However, I do happen to use it on a daily basis, even if it's not my main system.

Most of the time though I simply don't touch any GUI's in Linux. If the work I am doing would be faster with one, though, then I'll use Xfce, and I have it set up in a very specific way that works for me (tm).

There's three things that make Linux appealing to me over Windows, though, when I do use it: First, as already mentioned previously, there's the "needle in a haystack" for being malware target. Linux is not immune to malware and certainly does have some malware exist for it - however - generally it's just not worth the time to write malware for it because the audience it will reach is just too small. So I do feel safer browsing the web on Linux than I do on Windows for this reason - very little malware actually even exists for Linux, the same cannot be said of Windows, which has scammers writing malware for it on a daily basis.

Aside - I still remember when Windows Vista first came out and it was a massive jump for users, a hard pill to swallow - because it took everything that had been "accepted" for Windows, both good and bad, and made a case-by-case evaluation of how better to handle this. And you know what they went with? They opted for a closer to Unix design for handling security issues. Requiring administrator approval, not allowing userland applications to access critical areas of the system. It broke a lot of things because applications at the time were usually so poorly written and could not handle the new way of doing things - still being stuck in a DOS era way of doing things.

Secondly: As Caligari87 mentioned, the system is really "mine". Linux respects my wants and needs and has tools for me to use the system any way I want - even as a single remote desktop service if I really wanted - I am not in violation of any terms of use when I launch multiple remote desktops on one system. With a few simple commands I can set the desktop to any arbitrary resolution I want, whether my display supports it or not - and it works. I can change the window borders and colors to look any way I like that pleases me, and I don't have to hack a theme file to do it. Windows sure does have a lot going for it - but when it comes to true desktop customization, nothing even comes close to Linux in that area. Not even Mac. I am also not at the mercy of whatever UI design decisions arbitrarily come out of Redmond that has no regard for the way I use my system and make very little sense to boot. (I'll forever miss Vista/7's glass window borders...)

Yeah, I do realize that too many options overwhelms users - which is why I see it as "to each their own".

Thirdly: Each Linux distribution comes with packages that are designed for and fit well with the distribution they come with. (Most of the time, anyway, it's far from perfect but most of the time it works well) - This alleviates a lot of compatibility problems with your system suddenly being screwed up because of a single program you installed. As I said, it's not perfect, but most of the time it does work, and it usually works well.

----

That being said, yes, there are a lot of drawbacks to using Linux, too, but this thread is about the positives.
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Re: Windows or Unix

Postby Dancso » Mon Jan 18, 2021 4:02 am

Linux doesn't respect your limited time on this earth.
(if you want it to be anything more than a means to a browser)

Some people are okay with that, and I'm sure it's great for those who spend the time to become an expert. Personally, I like to limit my "whole days spent googling stackoverflow" on programming.
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Re: Windows or Unix

Postby dpJudas » Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:06 am

Since this thread is about the pros of Linux, I'll focus on what I do like about Linux and when I actually use it. In general, though, I agree with Graf that Desktop Linux, by ideological design, is pretty crappy and IMHO actually regressed in usability over the last 20 years. Last time I used Linux on the desktop I couldn't ever get GZDoom to run properly (screen updating was just horribly out of sync with the monitor). At least in the past I did manage to eventually fix such basic problems on my systems. The war between Nvidia and the GPL (xorg and kernel) developers threw the user under the bus.

For me Unix/Linux's main strength is its command line and control over what actually runs. Whenever I have the choice the server choice is always Linux simply because then that server will only be running my software and nothing else.

The command line tooling is a large part of it too as Microsoft made a terrible choice in 1995 when some clueless people thought the graphical user interface would fully replace the console. Then for 11 years Microsoft's only answer to advanced admin work was to use cmd.exe (good joke), windows scripting host (lol), or use third party (install cygwin). When they finally did create a solution, it had to reinvent the console because that's what poorly managed developers do. Yep, they created powershell. Worst shell ever. Microsoft's value proposition for servers is essentially pay for lesser tooling the way I see it. That is why I use Linux.

I think it worth mentioning as well that for certain types of developer and admin tasks Linux is so far ahead of Windows it isn't even funny. Visual Studio generally is ten miles ahead of Linux text editors, but once you need to build something sufficiently advanced the entire MS system breaks down. You can already see this problem with GZDoom where the only reasonable solution was to use the unix tool CMake to manage its projects. That said, in these situations you can usually also just use a Mac instead as the console there is just as powerful and there you don't have to deal with the Desktop Linux cluster fuck.
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Re: Windows or Unix

Postby Graf Zahl » Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:27 am

dpJudas wrote:I think it worth mentioning as well that for certain types of developer and admin tasks Linux is so far ahead of Windows it isn't even funny. Visual Studio generally is ten miles ahead of Linux text editors, but once you need to build something sufficiently advanced the entire MS system breaks down. You can already see this problem with GZDoom where the only reasonable solution was to use the unix tool CMake to manage its projects.


The main reason we switched to CMake was not the sub-par-ness of Visual Studio (XCode's project handling is 10 times worse, actually) but the fact that it allows having one project instead of three. If GZDoom was Windows only there wouldn't be a CMake project.

These days the most aggravating issue with Windows development is that CMake is dead set on not providing Windows developers with an easy means to set up library search paths.
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Re: Windows or Unix

Postby dpJudas » Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:55 am

I agree on XCode's project handling behind mind boggling poor. It is like stepping into 1993 when you see how they handled project properties. Apple's UIs in general are so minimalist they don't really do their job. I have a feeling they don't use that UI for building their own stuff. :)

With Visual Studio surely you must admit that if you didn't have CMake to configure your external third party dependencies the instructions on how to build GZDoom would be quite horrible. Not to mention until very recently they'd have to have exactly the same version of Visual Studio. Even now you can barely make it use whatever Windows SDK that happens to be installed in your visual studio.

The hacks I had to do to make Ultimate Doom Builder compile on both my, boris and zzyzx's computers was quite esoteric and required me look at the most fugly xml I've ever seen. Whoever thought XML was a good format for build files should be shot! :)
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Re: Windows or Unix

Postby Graf Zahl » Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:44 am

You won't see me disagree there. It is always a problem if paths to subprojects need to be hard coded into the main project file - it's the epitome of being specific to one system. With GZDoom it wouldn't be too bad because all needed external dependencies are part of the Git repo so that it can be built out of the box without configuration, even though CMake's greatest advantage admittedly is that such things are being kept out of files that need to go into Git.

XML is not the problem here, it's just a container. Choose any other text based format and the same problems will come up. At least the files do not cause constant merge conflicts which are the norm with XCode's misbegotten project files.
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Re: Windows or Unix

Postby MartinHowe » Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:16 am

Graf Zahl wrote:You won't see me disagree there. It is always a problem if paths to subprojects need to be hard coded into the main project file - it's the epitome of being specific to one system.

Even when I still used Windows, this was my biggest gripe with all versions and variants of DoomBuilder; its per-map config files would not work with relative paths.

Back on Linux, I switched because I was fed up with Windows 10 deteriorating more and more, constantly pushing irrelevant notifications, replacing the control panel with that awful Settings app, heck, renaming programs 'apps', renaming directories 'folders' (since 95), nagging me to try Edge first and not meekly obeying the computer's holy sacred god (i.e., me) at once, changing file associations behind my back, the ugly flat UI, constant nagging about using a MICROS~1 account instead of a local count, installing OneDrive without my permission, limiting symlinks to admin permission and even then they often don't work anyway, blocking downloads or programs it thinks is unsafe without checking with me first (at least Google asks you if you want to keep a file, though there should be a way of turning this off), and generally treating me like a child. An OS should shut the heck up, keep out of my face, and quietly get on with the job until and unless I tell it otherwise. That's why I hate Windows. I had made 7 work fine and liked it, but for me 10 is an evolutionary dead-end, gasping along on its ticket into nowhere, just waiting passively for the asteroid to strike :twisted:

As to the positives of Linux (and some of this applies to BSD and UNIX in general), my main occupation at home is gaming and I need symlinks, a decent scripting language, free compilers and toolchains as part of or appendable to the OS, fine control over the system configuration, and a UI that doesn't look as it it were designed on drugs by someone who wants to marry a mobile phone and start a family with it :p Also several choices of UI built in.

Linux gives me those. The disadvantages do exist (e.g., having to self-compile stuff to make it work in some cases) but are by far outweighed by the advantages
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Re: Windows or Unix

Postby Graf Zahl » Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:27 am

MartinHowe wrote:Linux gives me those. The disadvantages do exist (e.g., having to self-compile stuff to make it work in some cases) but are by far outweighed by the advantages



That part is debatable. Funny that most of your gripes originated with Apple, and were just copied to Windows "to be up to date with security"...
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