Columnist dismissed Linux ignorantly

To the Editor:

Barrett Williams showed a remarkable lack of knowledge in his discussion of operating systems (OS) in “Apple wins operating system battle” (11/7).

The primary characteristics of an OS are speed, stability and security, not the cosmetic appearance of the desktop: For example, the Aero interface in Vista is entirely optional, and many versions of Vista don’t even support it.All the graphical enhancements are fine and good, but I do wish that startup wouldn’t take so long, system processes wouldn’t take so much RAM, deleting/moving/copying files wouldn’t take half a minute and the security paradigm didn’t rely on users repeatedly clicking “I agree” boxes.

The article also focused on specific software available for each OS: Software is, once again, not part of the operating system. For virtually any piece of proprietary software on a specific OS, there exists an open source substitute which can be run under every OS, so it really doesn’t matter.Barrett Williams mentioned two examples: browsers and IM clients. I would recommend Firefox and Pidgin respectively: Firefox blows IE7 out of the water, and Pidgin is well polished and allows you to connect to multiple IM networks simultaneously.

Finally, dismissing Linux as underdeveloped and hardware-incompatible is just wrong. Modern Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, are very easy to install and operate, and I suspect that Barrett Williams has never actually tried any form of Linux. I hope he tries Linux one day, he might like the sparkly desktop effects.

Ying Xiao

Nov. 8

Xiao is a senior in Berkeley College.

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