Some Reasons I Prefer Linux

a.k.a “Linux is better than Windows” a.k.a “Linux will never beat Windows” a.k.a “Windows is so much easier than Linux” a.k.a “Why not just use OS X” a.k.a “20## - year of the Linux Desktop” etc.

Whatever you want to call it, this is another post in the sea of posts comparing operating systems. I happen to like Linux, so that is the perspective you can expect. I am not going to tell you that a switch is absolutely necessary, or that Linux is better than your current OS without qualification. To be honest, I generally do not care if you use Windows or OS X (or Linux). I do care what OS I am using, and I do care what OS I am maintaining (so if you call me and ask for tech support, and you are running Vista, you can expect to hear some Linux pushing).

So, at a high level, there are three things that I love about Linux. Specifically, I’m talking about Gnome here, and my real affinity is for the Linux Window Managers (all the major Window Managers have these features covered).

  1. GUI File Manager
  2. Virtual Desktops
  3. Native SCP/FTP

GUI File Manager

Windows Explorer and Finder are both terrible examples of file management applications. I am using Nautilus, and here are the features that stand out:

1. F3 - split pane. That’s right, it is built in, how difficult could this be? 2. Ctrl + T - Stop the presses! Tabbed file management.

Really, how is it that Finder and Windows Explorer do not have these features? Before you start yelling about xPlorer2 or Pathfinder or whatever third party file manager you prefer for Windows and OS X, I agree, there are better alternatives available. So why is that that Microsoft and Apple have not fired up their legal departments and stolen those ideas? File management is a basic staple on your computer. These functionalities should be available.

Virtual Desktops

Anyone who tells you that they do not like virtual desktops, or that they prefer a second monitor to virtual desktops, is doing it wrong. First of all, people who open 20 windows in a single desktop, and manage to fumble their way through those windows using grouping, pinning, and whatever else are lying to themselves if they think their solution is better than virtual desktops. Second, people who insist on closing applications when they are not being actively used are wasting a lot of time and CPU constantly launching applications that could have been dormant in the background.

Anyone using the second monitor argument does not understand the issue. It does not matter how large your desktop is; it is always true that nx > x (where x = area of screen real estate and n = number of desktops). Whether you are using a second monitor or not, having virtual desktops configured always provides you with additional screen real estate. I like to use a second monitor too. If it were practical to have three, four or five monitors, I would have more. But no matter what, I want virtual desktops to keep my multitude of windows and applications better organized.

I love the ability to quarantine my email/IM/etc. to a single desktop, keep my development work in another desktop, open files in another location, you get the picture.

OS X jumped on this, finally (was this in Leopard?). And in true Apple fashion, Jobs hyped it up when “Spaces” launched, and all the Apple fan boys cheered and shouted about how awesome and innovative “Spaces” were. And the Linux users in their dark basements smuggly clenched their fists and wondered why the world is the way it is.

Windows - get on this. There are third party options here too, but most of them are mediocre, and application developers tend to develop apps that break them.


Not much to say here. Why do I have to download an application to have graphical FTP and SCP connections on Windows and OS X?

There you have it

Those are my reasons. If you use your computer as more than a Facebook and email client, I think file management and window management are probably important to you. If you fall into that user base, it seems to me that Virtual Desktops and a reasonably capable File Manager would be appreciated. FTP/SCP - If you use these, and use Windows OS X, you are probably pretty used to downloading things like FileZilla, Fugu, CyberDuck, PuTTY, WinSCP, etc. While these are great utilities, they serve pretty fundamental purposes, and I wish they were integrated at an OS level.

When Windows and OS X have these features fully covered, I will think about using them as primary use operating systems. Until then, I will fire up the Windows/OS X machines only when I need to use OS-specific apps or troubleshoot someone else’s computer issues.

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