Friday, September 10, 2010

END OF THE LINUX EXPERIMENT

As I type this, on my trusty desktop loaded with SuseLinux, my new computer is riding around Huntsville in a big, brown truck.
It will be delivered today sometime after 5.
The new machine will mark the end of my Linux experiment.
It lasted three years and seven months.
But I am tired of bumping into software obstacles every few weeks.

I have mixed feelings about this move and the reasons for it.
I am happy to move to an established product that is almost universally recognized as well designed and of high quality and performance.
I am confident that it will perform all the tasks that I need (plus a few that I do not need but will enjoy).
That being said, the negative side of this move is its cost, variously estimated to be from 25% to 50% higher than other products of equal capability, features, etc.
Also, some techies have criticized this manufacturer for making products that are not as advanced or up to date, hardware-wise, as some others.
I am aware of both criticisms and have weighed them out carefully before arriving at my decision.
I have never been one to jump to the newest, latest, most technologically advanced toys.
Especially since I have seen the price vs age chart on technology product.
I struggled with the cost issue.
But in the end, I bit the monetary bullet because of the cost/hassle of the alternative.

That alternative is a security nightmare.
Loaded with lines of poorly written code and full of patches and software band-aids.
That operating system is made by a company that I distrust, dislike, and have no respect for.
I have used their products before, and could again, if forced to.
At this point I still have a choice.
So have exercised my choice in the direction that I have not taken before.

I liked several things about Linux.
I liked that it was free.
Who can argue with that?
But quite honestly, I would not have minded paying for it.
In fact, I did pay for at least two editions.

I liked its simplicity.
It did not have a lot of extra goo gaas in it.
But you could add a lot of nice little things to it, if you chose to.
It had everything that I needed. (with some exceptions, noted below)

It was rock solid and stable.
I do not recall ever having the system go nuts, give me the blue screen of death, or behave in other disagreeable manners.
That is not to say that all application software behaved similarly.
It is, in fact, the problems with application software that is at the core of my displeasure with Linux.
Almost every single application has, at one time or another, frozen, died, failed to respond, or otherwise misbehaved.
This even includes Firefox, my browser of choice.
Some applications are, at this present time, still non-functional in some small or large way.
I have worked through numerous problems that most of you would never even think about.

Once, upon loading an new update, the computer could not see my mouse.
I had to chase around on the internet message boards for a week to find the solution to the problem.
Once done it worked perfectly.
On another occasion my mouse wheel did not work.
The solution required that same internet chase.

None of the media applications come with the necessary plug-ins or codecs to process audio or video files, like mp3 or YouTube.
These have to be found and loaded separately.
No big deal, you say?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

Sometimes the newly-loaded files have to be manually moved to a particular file and/or folder for the application to see it and use it.
This is not unusual in computer software, but in more sophisticated systems this is done for you and you never know anything about it.
In Linux, you better know about it.

Anyway, a little over a week ago, I bumped into another need for a codec in order to view a DVD video, something snapped in me.
This is a simple, common task in home computers in the twenty-first century.
But not necessarily so in Linux.

I tried to find the needed codec and was unsuccessful in the first try.
And I began to seriously consider leaving Linux for something more sophisticated and less stressful.
So I began to look and study and compare, and price.
And I made a decision.
I looked for a used version of the newest model of my computer of choice (this time), and after four tries, bought it on eBay.

My "new" Apple Mini has just arrived and I am going to finish this and plug it in and see what happens.

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