Thursday, May 17, 2007

Why Linux? - I

Why should I?


1. Windows is enough for me, never had any problems with it, why bother?
2. Stuff doesn't work on Linux, I won't be able to do the stuff that I do on windows.
3. Linux is not user-friendly/easy to use. I'll end up spending all my time fixing problems with it.
4. How can software made by people for free even begin to compare with software made by big corporations?
5. I'll have to use the console to do everything, how do you expect me to remember all those commands?
6. Everything will be too alien, there's too much of a learning curve.
7. The installation is too painful.

Why do people?


1. They are fascinated by the concept of "Open Source" and its philosophy.
2. They like hacking code, and like playing around with code. Hence they like Open Source.
3. They have to work on Linux/Unix (Yes, most academic work is done on Unix/Linux).
4. They run servers (Linux/Unix/BSD are perfect for servers. I'll come to this later)
There are two more reasons which I will introduce later.

We(Navya) recently held our semester-ly Lecture Series. The lecture was opened by Ankit Rohatgi, where he talked about the philosophy of open source, free software and choice. After ~1/2 hour, I was on stage. I began my lecture (no ppt :P) with

Okay. I'm an engineer. I don't care about the boring philosophy of Open Source, its intricacies and the hype around it. I'm a simple engineer who has to work on Linux, for whatever reason, and hence has to use Linux. And I'm here to show you how you can do all that. And more.


I then started off with the basic things people do on Windows; listen to music, watch movies, use GTalk or Yahoo!, check mail, surf the web, etc and showed them that it could be done with the same ease on Linux as well. I then asked them what else they do on Windows, and then proceeded to show them how it works on Linux as well (and in some cases, better than windows).

The height of the lecture was when one guy asked me if we could use usb keys/music players on Linux. I whipped out Naresh's mp3 player (which I had borrowed from him) and plugged it into the usb port of the laptop I was using to give the lecture. An icon showed up on the desktop showing the usb drive and a window popped up with its contents. I then opened Rhythmbox, which had detected it as an mp3 player and proceeded to play music from it. Sound any different from Windows?

Some people wanted to know if one can play games on Linux. Here's a list of open source games for Linux. For other games, there's Wine and Cedega. All in all, unless you're a hardcore gamer, you will be able to play 90% of the games you play on windows on Linux.
For completeness, lets list it all out[1] (for Ubuntu, the most popular flavour of Linux):

Daily Use:

  • Web Browsing ~ Firefox*#(default)

  • Music ~ Rhythmbox#(default), Exaile

  • Movies ~ Totem(default), MPlayer*#, VLC*

  • IM ~ Pidgin[2]*#(defacto standard), Gajim, Tapioca

  • E-mail ~ Evolution(default), Thunderbird*#(most popular)

  • Image editing ~ GIMP*#(default)

  • CD-Burning ~ Nautilus[3](default), Gnomebaker, Brasero#

  • Document Editing ~ OpenOffice*#(default, compatible with MS Office)

  • PDF Reader ~ Evince(default), Acrobat Reader*#

  • Photo Album management ~ Picasa*, F-Spot(default)

  • p2p Software ~ Azureus*#, Linuxdcpp#

  • Desktop Search ~ Beagle#, Tracker

  • Desktop Applets ~ Gdesklets



Advanced Use:

  • C/C++ Compiler ~ gcc#(default, the best in the world)

  • Java Compiler ~ Sun-JDK*#(most popular), gcj(default)

  • Integrated Desktop Environment ~ Eclipse*, Netbeans*, many more

  • Vector Graphics Editor ~ Inkscape*#

  • 3D-Modelling ~ Blender*#

  • Computer Algebra Systems ~ Matlab*, Octave*#

  • Non-Linear Video Editing ~ Avidemux*#, Cinelerra

  • Non-Linear Audio Editing ~ Audacity*#

  • Linear Video Editing ~ mencoder*#

  • Many, many, many more.



* Cross-Platform
# Used by me
"Default" means default in Ubuntu.

This obliterates Point no. 2 of "Why Should I?". I'll talk about Point no. 3 in my next post. About Point no. 4,

How many of you have used Firefox? Most of you probably use it everyday. Can you still say that Free Software is inferior to Proprietary Software? If you do, "Why Linux? - III" will elaborate how Free Software is superior to Proprietary Software.

1. I've listed this for Gnome, a desktop environment. Its not something an end-user needs to bother himself about, so I'll talk about desktop environments later.
2. Formerly called Gaim.
3. Nautilus isn't actually a CD-Burning software, its the file manager of Gnome. Similar to "Explorer" of Windows. You can use it to drag-drop and burn stuff.

7 comments:

Johnny Tent said...

No, not convincing enough. Windows rocks. Linux people spend half their justifying their decision. Hell to that. No, I love windows. Don't Ubuntufy us.

You cannot lecturefy we windows waale into linuxifying ourselves. They actually give us jobs. Yay!

bheekling said...

Don't expect you to, 'cause I'm not done yet.
4+ parts to come :P

Johnny Tent said...

Exactly what I was trying to say. You're probably be spending half your summers composing odes to Great Linux.

Abey, better write ballads for June Aunty or-whatever-her-name-was. I'll give her the link to this blog, and then you'll have a bandi! Consider the offer.

bheekling said...

It was "June Bug" :P
Maybe you're right, I already have the next two parts ready 8-|
This is gonna destroy me!
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Time for a break :}

nareshov said...

Why do people?

How about:

5. People might not want to use software that belongs to an evil empire from an evil country?

6. Countries such as Iran might have considered or already started using OSS because they don't get online updates because the US govt. has these countries on their black-lists and all US companies don't deal with them.

rohitkat said...

hi, i m too linux fan since my 12th. In my 10+2 i was taught computer science with linux and not with sucking windows. But you know now I use windows that damn cause I love gaming.is it possible to play HALF LIFE, counter strike on ubuntu using wine. And another querry, i work on flash and adobe photoshop. Is it comfortable for me to work on flash 8 and photoshop cs2 on linux. Please dont tell me to use GIMP cause there i hav to learn another new platform for photo editing. Oh i missed another problem "3ds max" is this also available on ubuntu. But whatever reasons be LINUX rocks man and it is growing. no sooner linux will kill Bill.
I am well pleased with stuffs on your blog.

bheekling said...

hi, i m too linux fan since my 12th. In my 10+2 i was taught computer science with linux and not with sucking windows.

Nice to know that not everyone was brainwashed when they were kids :)

But you know now I use windows that damn cause I love gaming.is it possible to play HALF LIFE, counter strike on ubuntu using wine.

Yes, its very much possible; I play games only on Linux and I've managed to get CS and HL working through wine. Just make sure you're playing them in OpenGL mode.


And another querry, i work on flash and adobe photoshop. Is it comfortable for me to work on flash 8 and photoshop cs2 on linux. Please dont tell me to use GIMP cause there i hav to learn another new platform for photo editing.

Well, they should work through wine, though I can't vouch for that. Never tried it myself.

Oh i missed another problem "3ds max" is this also available on ubuntu.

No, 3ds max doesn't work natively on Linux and it won't work through wine either. But if you haven't gotten attached to it too much, you can try Blender.

But whatever reasons be LINUX rocks man and it is growing. no sooner linux will kill Bill.

Whoa, don't be so hasty. Linux has a long way to go before it can gain wide acceptance. Not enough companies support Linux yet. Thats why my Dad's comp runs Windows and not Ubuntu. I only tell people with a certain level of technical skill to try out Ubuntu.

I am well pleased with stuffs on your blog.

Thats good to hear, perhaps now I'll have one regular reader :P