A few days ago I pre-ordered Microsoft Windows v7. This was quite a milestone event for me as I’d decided that after the flop of Vista, my next desktop upgrade from XP would be to Debian Linux. Not only is Linux free, I’m also very familiar with it. All my machines except the desktop already run it. So why the change of direction?
Well for one thing, Microsoft offered it at an attractive 50% discount for those who pre-order. Paying £75 instead of £150 is quite a saving but it’s still £75 I could have kept in my pocket by going down the Linux route, so that’s not the real reason.
Linux for me still has a couple of issues when it comes to running it on a desktop. At this point I suspect thousands of people could insert thousands of different reasons. If we all shared the same small list of issues, they would no doubt get fixed.
The biggest issue of all for me is support for Graphics Cards. Whilst Linux will get a GUI up and running at a decent resolution, it all goes wrong when I want OpenGL support. As everyone in the house (except me) wants to play games, (or SecondLife) this is a major requirement that can’t be ignored. There are drivers out there but as a Linux purist, they’re horrible binary affairs that require black magic to merge them into a custom kernel. To add further pain, the black magic must be repeated every time the Kernel is recompiled. I think it’s safe to say that when this issue is resolved then my desktop will run Linux, or at the very least, VMware Workstation based on Linux with a Wintel Virtual Machine. If a single vendor of Graphics Cards actually released a proper Linux open-source driver they would get their hand bitten off.
My next issue is burning DVD’s. Linux can do this just fine but when it comes to backing up my DVD’s to a hard disk, it’s sadly lacking an alternative to the functionality that Slysoft offers with AnyDVD and CloneDVD.
No doubt I’d uncover other issues once I actually made the switch but with ticks against the above issues, the switch would be made and further problems would get worked around. If I’d carried out this exercise when upgrading from Win2000 to XP I’d have had a 20 item list. Linux has come a very long way and for me, it hasn’t got to reach much further.