Why I use Linux as a desktop

Written by klee on April 22nd, 2010

Penguins are cool!

I have two Macs, a high-end PC running Linux, my work laptop running Linux, three PCs running Windows XP, and one more laptop also running XP in my house. I have several PCs that are mostly used for parts. An upper end PC running Linux that is my main server that is my file server on the host level, and runs a web server, mail server, database server, test server all as virtual machines. Lastly, I have a left over PC that I am using as a special project database server for APEX applications that is also running Linux.

I have told the kids that as each of their PCs die, they will be replaced by a Mac Mini. The one that I currently have is about five years old, and the only thing I do is turn it off before leaving the house on vacations. I don’t think it has ever crashed. Ever!

So why not use a Mac as my primary platform. Cost for one. I can get much more horsepower for a lot less money with Linux. This year for my Christmas present to myself I built my own dream machine. I already had an LCD monitor, keyboard and mouse and was limited to about $500 dollars. It is amazing what you can purchase at Newegg! I was able to get a 3.2 GHz Quad core processor, 8 GB of high speed ram, and a fast SATA HD. I also replaced the stock fan, just in-case I ever decide to overclock the CPU to 4 GHz or higher. Sometimes just knowing you can is just as good as actually doing.

I still haven’t answered the question. I spend most of my time using ant to build java projects, JDeveloper as an IDE, and SQL Developer working with PL/SQL. Linux is simply so much faster, especially starting up SQL Developer or JDeveloper. Even on my work laptop (which is painfully slow to begin with), I can launch SQL Developer and have the IDE ready to go in 15 seconds, where my colleagues can wait more than a minute, sometimes two – just to see the IDE. I don’t even want to talk about my PPC Mac. Apple doesn’t have a version of Java that will run any of the current version of JDeveloper or SQL Server. Too bad, so sad!

If speed was the only issue, I probably would be running just about everything from the command line as well, but I do have my limits. I love the interface on the Mac. Plain and simple, it is just beautiful. A work of art! I just wish the delete key worked like the backspace key. Delete just doesn’t work right and is really my only complaint. If the Mac was faster and cheaper, I would replace all of my PC’s with them.

Windows. Well, besides re-imaging each PC yearly due to a variety of reasons, blue screens of death when playing games in my free time (ha ha), dealing with viruses that caused another round of re-imaging, etc… I like it. My dream includes buying Windows as a Windows manager that runs in X-Windows like Gnome or KDE. Yea, I would buy start buying Windows again if that happens.

I really don’t have any love for the Window managers in Linux. Just like I really don’t have any particular preference for a specific distribution. Typically, I run Fedora on my Desktops, and Ubuntu LTS for all of my servers and virtual machine servers. I have run Gentoo, and think that is a really great distribution. It just is a lot of work to setup, or at least I think it is. Don’t get upset, one of my favorite coffee mugs is my Gentoo Linux mug, and I don’t have any other Linux mugs.

And what’s wrong with Linux. I can’t run notepad++ or textpad natively. I really dislike vi and emacs even more so. Windows has the best text editors of all the platforms. That will hopefully be fixed one day! Until then, I’ll happily type away using gedit. And yes, I still use Windows running in VMWare for Visio and Microsoft Project. As long as these products run under XP, I will keep waiting for Windows as a Window Manager.


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