Nearly everyone is used to Windows as an operating system. Most of us, for work and often at home, have used Windows XP at some point in the last decade. Recently Windows Vista and Windows 7 have been released. Honestly, I wasn’t very happy with Vista but think that Windows 7 has fixed nearly all of my gripes. But Windows still lacks several amenities that UNIX and Linux users have gotten used to – things that make using a graphic interface much easier.
A couple of weeks ago, I put Windows back on my laptop. I did this for 2 reasons: First, my wife and I have a Netflix subscription and you just can’t use that on Linux, even in a Virtual Machine running Windows. Second, there are a few free mmorpgs which, although they run well on Linux, are easier to keep on a Windows section of a hard drive. I will be installing Linux back to this laptop in what is known as a “dual-boot” arrangement – the laptop will have two operating systems installed on it, and whenever I turn it on I can choose one or the other.
One of the other benefits of this is, I can now make direct reference to the features that Linux systems have that are still lacking in Windows, even today. Features such as virtual desktops, a much wider choice of “themes” for your desktop decorating, and more. In about a week, one of the best known versions of Linux (Ubuntu) will be radically changing its desktop appearance and user interface from the old way that most Linux people have been used to for years. The company behind this distribution plans to really try harder than before to reach out to computer users who haven’t tried Linux at all before, and win their conversion away from Windows. Only time will tell whether they will succeed.
This, by the way, is why many people have moved to using Linux full time; even if you do not care about the philosophy of free software that underlies the open nature of Linux’s program source code, the features offered compare extremely favorably to those on Windows. One obvious example is Windows “gadgets” – on Linux, one of the main desktop choices, KDE, offers a very similar set of applets (widgets or
“plasmoids”) that you can install onto your screen and use.
(Windows 7 gadget selection screen)
On Linux, you are not stuck with the themes that one company chooses to give you – there are three main graphic desktop interfaces that most people use, with another dozen or two dozen available to install.