Let me start with a story from last November. I had just bought a nifty new 600 MHz Gateway performance PC. I
was gung-ho to allocate 4GB of that bad-boy's 20 GB hard drive to Linux so I could play around with Linux
firewall and IP masquerading features...
...so, what distribution should I appropriate for this task? Since I enjoy reading
Slashdot so much, I guess I'll follow the Slashdot "Favorite Linux Distribution" poll's winner to
Linux success on my new machine, of course, ignorantly unaware that the poll was--ahem--"weighted" by some
yahoo with a perl script. While waiting for my brand new copy of Linux to ship, I decided
to share my cable modem bandwidth with my wife and my dad (a couple apartments over) by setting up ICS on Windows 98 SE which
shipped with my Gateway. In 2 hours (most of which was consumed by cabling issues), 3 PC's had
cable modem access to the Internet. It was that simple.
A few days later, Linux arrived. Yessssss. I'll be a cool Linux geek now! Let's boot off the CD-ROM and get this
installed. 1 minute passes..."YaST cannot recognize your hard drive". As it turned out, the most
recent Linux kernels did not support my new Ultra 66 HD controller. SuSE support said: "This may be
because you have a system with an ATA66/UltraDMA66-EIDE-controller. SuSE Linux 6.2 cannot be
installed on such systems." Thanks for nothing.
Luckily, I rounded up an older Pentium and installed SuSE on it. So, after plodding through
un-inuitive installation menus with German words scattered here and there for a little extra
confusion, 2 hours later I have a standalone Linux box with a lovely #> prompt blinking at me. Now
the fun begins. Remember the 2 hours setting up Windows to perform Internet connection sharing?
Multiply anything you do in Windows by 6 when you want to do it in Linux. After sorting through
DHCP, Masquerading, and Firewall How-tos and various web sites, I finally got Linux to share that
Granted, by then I had more control of security and various IP services on my
Linux server, but who, besides people like me, cares?
Now, call me a masochist, but I rather enjoy spending my Sunday off getting Linux to
work. It's fun. It's powerful. It's education. However, would I want to have my Mom or Dad, or
even worse, my Grandma put through a configuration (or use) of Linux when I have quick, easy, and
fairly stable (for their purposes) Windows 98 to offer them?
Linux is not, and may never be, for everyone. Microsoft, after that disgusting travesty, Windows
3.x, created an intuitive, easy-to-learn OS, Windows 95. It's not "souped up", it's not
ultra-configurable, but you know what? It's functional and gets work done for millions of people.
Sometimes it appears that we computer-folk lose touch with reality. For example, Linux bigots would say (and have said to me): "If people can't understand how computers work, they
shouldn't use them." Isn't that a great attitude? Imagine if Tesla or Edison said, you have to
learn the principles of electricity before turning on a light bulb? Ludicrous.
Are there folks out here who actually believe that Linux could rule the desktop as is, but only evil Microsoft stands in the way?
Or, do some people agree that Linux kicks butt, but isn't for everyone? I use Linux more than Windows lately, but isn't Windows fine for the average John Doe?