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Howard Tayler - And Because I'll Be at a Linux Expo in Ten Days...
Ramblings of a Happy Cartoonist
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And Because I'll Be at a Linux Expo in Ten Days...
So.. I just confessed to replacing XP with a drive-scrubbing clean install of Windows 7. Why didn't I move to Linux instead? 

Three things, really:

1) Text boxes in Microsoft Word 2003: These things have defined my process for creating scripts, and are now so integral that I can't imagine life without them. I tried Open Office, and the boxes didn't work right. No Open Office means no Linux.

2) Photoshop's learning curve: I've figured out how to make Photoshop do what I want it to do. GIMP may do all those things, but I'd have to learn how to make it do that. I'm not interested in spending time learning how to do what I already know how to do. I'd rather spend that time learning something new that makes the comic better.

3) InDesign and my Print Broker: I have to use InDesign to make books. It's not available on Linux. Books are my livelihood. End of argument.

We can shout about technological superiority, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, market forces, and disruptive innovation until we're BSoD in the face. Ultimately everybody complaining about my choice of OS will realize with frustration that I quite amenably agree with most all of their points. 

What it comes down to, really, is that I love the idea of open-source software, but I don't want to use it. Sure, sure, if everybody felt that way then open-source software would die, but everyone CAN'T feel that way. Humanity, even just the computer-using slice of it, is just too diverse. So I can choose freely without worrying that I'm somehow hurting the cause.

The open-source movement has gained enough momentum, Linux and Open Office have enough market penetration that Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, and others must compete aggressively for customers. They have to bring their 'A' game, and they have to play HARD. In that world I, the customer, win EVERY TIME. Even when I choose something too expensive and technologically inferior, I'm still choosing something that is worlds better than it would have been without the competitive marketplace.

When I worked at Novell I felt very passionate about what was on my computer. I loved certain software because my friends had helped to make it, and I was helping them sell more of it. These days I have no such connection with what I run, and that's okay. It leaves me free to run what I believe will work best for me, and I'm pretty sure my friends at Novell, Apache, UTOSC, and Penguicon will understand. Though only indirectly, their excellent work makes my life better.

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Comments
From: gh4acws Date: April 22nd, 2010 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)

the standard mistake

is that people assume one is interested in what operating system one uses.
Computerprogramms are tools.
They should enable us to do what our real work is.
If on a different OS there are better tools, enabling us to earn with less work, we switch. ( maybe )

Possibly one could talk you into using Macs. Design and graphics have traditionally been strong points of the Mac.
alexis_thenull From: alexis_thenull Date: April 22nd, 2010 08:22 am (UTC) (Link)
The three major PC operating systems are so SIMILAR right now that they can be used interchangeably for a lot of things, with not one being dramatically better than the others for general usage. That did not use to be the case, but it is now.

I'm a mostly Linux programmer, working at a mostly Apple shop, using mostly Windows on my work laptop. I can name quite a few strengths and weaknesses on all sides, but none that matter for you. For many purposes Windows is just great right now, and you don't need to defend yourself for your choice.
cesium12 From: cesium12 Date: April 22nd, 2010 12:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll amend this to say that mostly they just act similar. Once you look beneath the surface, you start seeing fundamental differences. In particular, Windows' internals are a tangled mess because of how it was designed; OS X's internals are a tangled mess because they combined parts from a dozen Unix-like OSes; Linux's internals are a tangled mess because every project has a different idea of how the Linux desktop should be.

But it does come down to personal preference. If you're willing to put in the effort to find the things you want, go with Linux, and if you're willing to play by Apple's rules, a Mac is a great choice. (Unless Linux doesn't like your hardware and refuses to give you wireless, in which case you're pretty much stuck with Windows.)
alexis_thenull From: alexis_thenull Date: April 22nd, 2010 07:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're right, I should've mentioned that. I'm kind of an OS internals nerd so I do know how much they differ, but functionally from a personal computing perspective we have a pretty homogeneous OS world.

And thank you for a polite and insightful reply, with no reheated half-understood arguments.
bitobear From: bitobear Date: April 22nd, 2010 08:25 am (UTC) (Link)

Naturally....

Each OS has its purpose and audience. I would never suggest anybody cold-turkey over to another system no matter what their demands. No operating environment is panacea, and even if it were there are always a couple of real-world things dragging you to ignoble compromise.

I would strongly recommend that the next time you wipe/upgrade/repurchase your system you set up a dual boot to Linux and "dicker" with it. In the alternative get vmware or some such and run linux in that and do your other stuff (like posting to live journal etc 8-) in that sub environment. Think of it like becoming ambidextrous. For a small investment in space you can come down on either side of the trench at will.

Example: My company-provided "work laptop" came with windows installed and locked to the company domain. The product my division sells, and which I support, largely runs linux, but some of the tools (firmware updater software and JTag hardware etc) is windows only. I needed the Linux to work with the gear, I needed the windows to Outlook and Word and update some firmware. I set the whole thing up so that Whichever environment I primarily boot (usually Linux) I can run the other native partition OS in a virtual machine.

Anybody who pretends that their one solution is "it" is necessarily blind.

Now for the boosterism: I moved to some Linux when all the tools were rather more inferior because it is Microsoft's _stated_ goal that we all should _rent_ the ability to access our own work product. They _want_ a world where they could turn down or turn off all those tools if they decide or come to beleive you have wronged them. I write novels and short stories on the side (he said as if there was anybody on the internet who _didn't_ think of themselves as a writer 8-). The idea that I might one day have to get out my credit card and send Microsoft a micropayment to submit one of my own manuscripts to a publisher just triggered my immune system something fierce.

Given that Word 2000 couldn't reliably open Word 95 documents, and that Word 2011 cannot flawlessly open Word 2000 documents; you must be aware that you are giving your own catalog of work a rather short shelf life. Don't expect your kids (or you're own self) to be able to profit from your "original manuscripts" etc, they won't be able to access them.

I ignore most of the fandom and idology out there. For me the question is more simply "what do I want to have to do/pay in 10 years to access the work I am doing today.

None of the questions are truly about "technical inferiority", at least not for the long game. Plain ASCII text built in a very primitive editor is nearly the definition of inferior. What it also is, is long lasting.

In your medium, your color print outs will fade the way oil paints never do, and your premade masters for your books will only last until InDesign goes away as a program. And none of it will work if Microsoft's APIs and rendering DLLs drift away.

Yea, I am an old timer (I soloed [only operator on duty] on a IBM 370 3031 Mainframe in 1979 at 16 years of age) and I have seen bit rot steal away all sorts of our cultural, and my personal legacy.

I have grown used to the view. I feel sorry for the people and companies that will discover in 20 years or so, that they sold "today" for "easy" once they look back.

Beyond that, there is what I call the instantaneously self-punishing nature of life.

IMHO deciding to go full-bore closed-source because you are reflexively good with the product is like deciding its okay to drive drunk because you are rich enough to pay the fine. Its making a decision that might profoundly circumscribe your entire future (earnings and legacy) based on a relatively short term and insignificant data point.

But that's just my $0.02.
howardtayler From: howardtayler Date: April 22nd, 2010 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Naturally....

Telling someone whose mother was killed by a drunk driver that "doing X is like driving drunk" is abject asshattery.

#ignore
unix_jedi From: unix_jedi Date: April 22nd, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Naturally....

Other than his badly picked analogy (and one I was unware of, I don't know if was), the rest of his comment is worth reading.

Ultimately, it's a personal choice, but by going Windows and Microsoft tools, you are risking being locked in - or out - of your older work. To some degree, this is solveable with some planning and foresight (Keeping old computers around, and the like), but it's not what I consider to be a good solution, and one with some obvious drawbacks.

I've spent far too long fighting MS lock-in and lock-out to, even if right now they've got a better tool, trust them. That tool won't always be the best, and when it's not, they'll do everything they can to hamper and hinder the competition. You were at Novell, you know the sorts of things they pulled to mess with Novell, even before they were directly competing.

But there's a practicality here, you're making a living, and if this helps you make a living more effectively, then in the short-term, use what makes you most efficient.

There's honestly not any sort of a one-sized-fits-all-answer. I think it's a short-term versus long-term view and no matter what decision you make, the other side has an arguable point, based on what assumptions and givens you and the other people consider to be more important.
bitobear From: bitobear Date: April 23rd, 2010 01:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Sorry...

I had no idea about your mother. Sorry.

And my analogy wasn't "doing X is like driving drunk".
unixronin From: unixronin Date: April 22nd, 2010 01:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Naturally....

One key point you didn't mention about Windows is "trusted computing", which Microsoft is working towards. It should come as no surprise to anyone that "trusted computing" doesn't mean that you should be able to trust your computer to be stable, or to work correctly, or to keep your data secure. "Trusted computing" doesn't care about any of that. "Trusted computing" means the content industry — principally the RIAA and MPAA — can trust your computer not to let you do anything with copyrighted material that you have legally purchased rights to that they don't want you to do, because they assume by default that you're a thief who will try to steal it if your computer doesn't actively prevent you from doing so. The one person in the world who your "trustworthy computer" actively does not trust is you, the owner.

But someone hacking into your machine by exploiting a browser hole that Microsoft can't be bothered to fix because it would be too much work, and stealing all your banking information? Oh, that's not the content industry's problem, so your "trustworthy computer" couldn't care less.
johnridley From: johnridley Date: April 22nd, 2010 11:54 am (UTC) (Link)
I have used Linux in my work environment, for servers, since the days of installing Slackware 0.x from a stack of floppies. I've tried moving myself to move to Linux at home about 5 times now, each time using Linux exclusively for at least a month. I've always moved back to Windows. In the end it comes down to the fact that there's really nothing that Linux does that I can't do in Windows (though in many cases it's not as easy under Windows, but it is possible) but there are always things that I simply can't do under Linux. I always have one piece of hardware or another that there just aren't drivers for, or there's some software that either just doesn't exist under Linux, or the Linux equivalent is a barely-started project that either has almost no features, the features require reading 30 pages of doc to find a command line switch that is equivalent of a checkbox in Windows, or there's some major feature missing.

I actually had Windows 7 on my new machine, a pretty nice quad-core Intel box. I tried that for a month, and enough little stuff drove me nuts about it that I eventually wiped it and put XP back on.

I'm with you though. I've gotten over religious wars. I run the software that allows me to accomplish my tasks with as little time investment as possible. Proper tools should be as transparent as possible, and should simply facilitate accomplishing tasks. If you have to spend more time learning the peculiarities of a specific tool than doing your work, it's a bad tool, IMO.
unixronin From: unixronin Date: April 22nd, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interestingly, I have almost the opposite experience. Everything important that I need to do, I can do as easily or more easily on a Unix platform, without the risk of Windows blue-screening on me in the middle of something crucial. In this house, Windows has become exclusively GameOS. All the real work happens on platforms I can trust.
(Deleted comment)
theswede From: theswede Date: April 22nd, 2010 12:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I feel you're overstating your case when you say you don't *want* to use open source software. Your examples are cases where you *need* features or functionality not present in open source equivalents, or where your present skill set doesn't translate. From what I read, you're saying "I use what works for me, and right now open source software doesn't", not "I just don't want to use open source software". If I am wrong, and it is quite possible I am, it would be interesting to hear your specific points against open source software in general.
howardtayler From: howardtayler Date: April 22nd, 2010 01:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Let me rephrase: I will concede that it is possible for my processes to be reforged around open source software, but I would rather spend my time and energy on something productive. Switching to Linux or to a Mac, for that matter -- the same argument may apply for scripting, I haven't tried it -- would be a waste of time, and I'm paid quite well for the time I spend writing and illustrating.

I'm not paid at all for dicking around with computers.

So, "I don't want to use Open Source software" translates into "I want to be paid for a larger percentage of the time I use."
theswede From: theswede Date: April 22nd, 2010 01:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
You make your point well, and I agree with you. The problem I have is more with the ambiguity of the English language, where a simple quote from you could be used to make it seem like you're against open source on some form of principle when I suspect that is not the case. Since you carry some prominence (whether you wish to or not) I just wanted to highlight that. I'm not at all saying you're being deceptive or anything. Language, however, is.
selenite From: selenite Date: April 22nd, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad to see this post. The OS types keep forgetting their product has to be usable by someone other than the programmers, so we have to constantly remind them in hopes of getting something useful from them.
kazriko From: kazriko Date: April 22nd, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Makes sense. And Gimp has quite a way to go before it is as usable as Photoshop, for sure. There's still a shortage of good publishing software for Linux. I'd love to find a way to create a good comic scripting package for linux, but it's probably too much effort. (My plans have been to make a setup that can automatically overlay the text into rendered comics, but it continually gets back-burnered because I have so many other things to finish.)

This is why I have a fairly heterogeneous computing system in my house. I have 3 monitors, My left monitor is switchable between Windows and my PS3/Xbox360. My center monitor is switchable between PSP/Wii/PS2/Windows/Linux. My Right monitor runs solely Linux, though I'm looking into making it so I can use it as a third windows monitor. I have 3 windows systems and 3 linux systems running in my house, all of them serving different functions. Some things Linux does better, some things Windows does better. With my setup, I can shift my workspace to match whatever workload I have at the time.

With Synergy, the windows and linux system can coexist with a single keyboard and mouse as well.
mrmeval From: mrmeval Date: April 22nd, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
gimp developers go out of their way to make it 'not like photoshop' to the point it's unusable. I have yet to figure out why the UI cannot mimic Photoshop.
lionsphil From: lionsphil Date: April 23rd, 2010 01:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
2.8, or whatever the new version is, is a travesty.

I like the separate tool/document windows. It is a good model, and I hate the continual "buuut it's not like this other tool I know!" whining. The one-window/MDI design is deeply, deeply flawed because it ties together the visible editing area and the space available for control panels---and I want my control panels down the screen edges so I can take advantage of Fitts' law.

But what they've done now is some kind of hideous compromise where there's a fat wadge of space wasted on the tool window for a drop target, and document-context operations (like "save") are no longer on the menu of the document window. I rolled back pretty damn fast.
amunthri From: amunthri Date: April 22nd, 2010 07:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
What I find interesting is the number of OS fans that've shown up to tell you how awesome (their OS) is and terrible Windows is. That they'd be here was pretty much a given... but what is interesting is that the arguments presented are all years out of date. An out of date argument is tantamount to saying, "I haven't actually checked on this in the past decade."

Which tells me that they use their own system for the same reason you or I do: Because it does what we are used to, when we are used to it.

e.g. "Don't use IE"- weeellll, recent studies say it's currently more secure. Really, "don't use browser X" changes on a monthly basis anyhow, and certainly should never be brought up in a discussion of operating system.

Win7, which you say you're using, hasn't the flaws referred to by some of the other anti-MS posters, in regards to programs running themselves as admin, from your browser. (Particularly when combined with IE! hooray for an organization large enough to write complimentary products)

I particularly like the bit about MS is going to take our rights away... weellllllll..... no. They're the ones who commissioned the study that says DRM is useless, if anyone recalls that? Published in 2002?

Even the bit about macs being better for graphics... Not really; they're running Intel chipsets now. And currently they're trying to start a war with Adobe- something that a company with single-digit market share probably ought not to do- which may result in future versions of Adobe's software being brought later to Macs, if at all. That was the case when Apple rolled out OSX, it was the case when they switched to Intel's chips, and probably will be again with whatever Adobe writes beyond CS5.

These arguments. They have a shelf life! And it's well past, now. Choosing a browser, OS, software package, or anything else... that is a thing that is chosen *in the now*, not because of how things were in the past, or might be in the future.
bitobear From: bitobear Date: April 23rd, 2010 01:20 am (UTC) (Link)

out of date how?

Not four months ago everyone who used the "IRM" feature of Word for Windows 2003 were barred from accessing their own data files for like three days because Microsoft let the core certificate for the IRM feature expire.

I spoke not of OS boosterism but of the ability to access your own work in the future.

How much more will you suffer when you have to pay monthy rent to Microsoft for them to keep renewing the individual key to your documents?

Yea, microsoft "fixed that" pretty fast, but once it is their business model to charge that rent (where moving to a rental-ware model is a _stated_ goal in their SEC filings and business plans) "or else" what will you do with your entire personal and corporate legacy.

With open source, there is no vendor who can come in and hold your work hostage.

This is a real, and _future_ problem. Nothing out of date about it.
bitobear From: bitobear Date: April 23rd, 2010 01:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Reference...

Okay it was "not five months ago"... my bad...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2009/dec/18/microsoft-drm-office-problems

Interesting how you cite the 2002 writeup about DRM and here is the 2003 product misfiring. Plus Windows Vista (8 years later) was killed by its onw DRM-enforcing driver requirements for video and sound (which is why it needed different drivers for the same hardware etc).

So your derisiveness is a little misplaced or just plain wrong, given the news of the day...
lionsphil From: lionsphil Date: April 23rd, 2010 01:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
People still make Windows BSoD and Mac single-mouse-button jokes. Welcome to the Internet.

I'd almost bet money that, until a pretty solid reason for a panic came up (see how well any other OS handles its root filesystem being unmountable), Howard hadn't seen one in years.
howardtayler From: howardtayler Date: April 23rd, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yup. No BSOD's since my office was remodeled. I have no memory of seeing that screen in this corner of the room.

The Kid PC has had several. Sandra has had a couple. My machine, however, was STABLE. On a precipice, apparently, but stable. Then it got pushed over the edge.

Related note: the last four days of Win7 have been wonderful.

Edited at 2010-04-23 02:29 pm (UTC)
kazriko From: kazriko Date: April 23rd, 2010 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
They did a study saying DRM is useless, yet they continue to add it to their OS for the next two releases following that study. Someone forgot to tell them that they decided it was useless.

Why do I use Linux? I have a whole bunch of computers in my house. I buy a new one every year and a half or so. I can't afford to buy 6-10 licenses of Windows at $200-350 each every few years, especially now that they're actually releasing new versions again. And don't tell me about Upgrade versions. The new upgrades in windows 7 are awful and require that you install the prior OS first then upgrade to it, and for some of my systems that would have involved installing XP, then upgrading to Vista, then upgrading to Windows 7. Windows 7 can't upgrade properly straight from XP, after all.

Thus, systems older than about 4 years old get moved over to Linux. They can still serve useful functions and run at acceptable speeds, as opposed to Windows 7 where they crawl.

So, do you consider these arguments out of date?
lionsphil From: lionsphil Date: April 23rd, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Er. Windows all the way down to 2000 is still supported. And useful. Still gets security fixes, still can run latest Opera/Firefox.

Why, exactly, does Microsoft releasing a new version mean you have to buy that new version for every machine, including ones that can't handle their latest round of graphical frippery?
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