Sunday, April 20, 2008

What Should I Use - PCLinuxOS or Windows XP or Mac OSX?

should i use windowsxp, pclinuxos or mac osxSome previous Windows users claim to have tried Linux and found it to be not suitable them. Even some long time Linux users tell that it's not good. However, some others are fanatic about Linux - they would go out of their way to help new linux users and love to create a propaganda for their pet OS.

So, what's the real thing, which OS is better, more advanced and powerful? Is linux preferrable to windows, or vice versa, or is Mac OS the best of all?

5 years back it was really tough for me to work on Linux, Red Hat 9. It was difficult for me to solve Linux annoyances by searching Google. I could not find something that directly applied to my problems. However, the past 5 year taught me enough, and during this period Linux has also advanced leaps and bounds in terms of usability, technology and performance.

In my initial years I had to work on Linux due to compulsion though and I could not find it to be prepackaged like Windows. Linux did not seem that straight forward thing. Terms like mount, fstab, su, chown and init seemed alien. Over the time I developed that "dig in and fix it" mentality and now that I got PCLinuxOS at home I have nothing to complain about Linux. Many of friends and almost 98% of PC users are working on Windows for long, they don't have that "dig in and fix it" mentality and they are happy with what they do.

These days using windows is not bad either, it is protective, it mostly works and does not crash that frequently it used to during those win98 days. As for protecting Windows from virus and spyware, there are lot of things one can do. So, that's not a problem. At home my wife loves working on XP, that's good for her.

In Windows, it's pretty easy to do simple things, but almost impossible to do complex things. Running Windows is like travelling in a public transport system such as bus. You don't have to worry about where to turn, how fast to go, what a particular traffic signal means and is there enough fuel in the bus. All you have to do is purchase a ticket and board in. A public transport is good if goes by everywhere you go. What's more, it's cheaper, safe and easier. Windows is like that.

Whereas working on Linux is driving a David Harley. You can control your speed, take turn wherever you like, make a shortcut to your destination, schedule your journey and even remodel it the way you like. But all the above things needs your care and labour. David Harley is thrilling and ecstatic, but there are chances of break down, traffic ticketing and costly repairs. Linux is that. (The cost factor in case of Linux is not money but time and research)

Winows is best for my wife, may be you will also find Windows really good if your computing is limited to web browsing, word processing and watching movies, but beyond that you should look for an alternative, most probably a UNIX variant, PC-BSD, Mac OS or Linux. In this case everybody will suggest you linux as it is freely available and the user group is comparatively larger than Mac OS or BSD.

I don't use Windows because it seems less powerful. I can't do unusual things in Windows such as I can't find all the files that end with ".htm" or ".php" and contain "src=object" somewhere in the fourth line, and then bunzip them all. For my wife Windows is like a Pet, she can browse the web, email, chat or churn a few documents with very less or no computing knowledge.

I was using Total DVD ripper and Virtualdub on Windows XP of my dual-booted notebook till I came to know the power of mencoder and ffmpeg. Though Total DVD ripper is damn easy it gives the preset results whereas I can twist and turn the mencoder or ffmpeg to the details and get the encoding done my way. I am sure some people will frown upon these CLI apps, but I love them anyways.

Some people complain about the thousands of Linux commands and millions of switches for Linux commands. But they do not know realize the power behind those commands and switches. The good thing is that Linux has been focussing a lot on the GUI counterparts of those commands. If you have checked any Linux way back in 1998 and dissatisfied, you should better check the latest desktop distros such as PCLinuxOS, Mepis or Mint. Any of them will provide you easiness comparable to Windows.

Mac OSX provides you a stable base (BSD) and a great desktop environment (Aqua). In Mac World you can get some really mature and productive applications (though the number will never exceed the number of linux packages available). Today, working on Mac OSX is like driving a Mercedes. You have a very comfortable and safe drive, but you still can't penetrate the regions, make shortcuts and park whenever you like. You can do all these with your Harley.

The bottomline is:

  • Linux is good for power-hungry people who would like to realize full power of their desktops/notebooks.
  • Windows is good for straight-forward easy computing though not as powerful as Mac OS or Linux.
  • Mac OS is good for really elite computing that combines the easiness of Windows and Power of Linux (UNIX).
The choice is yours.


Unknown said...

I personally believe that Debian Linux is the best of them all. With Debian you have the freedom to use your computer however you want. Which isn't the case with XP and defiantly not a Mac where you have to use what Apple says you can use and if you don't like it you have a nice paper weight.

manmath sahu said...

Hi Mike,
I have no doubt on the power of Debian. After pclinuxos my next choice is Mepis, a Debian based distro.
Keep posting comments on my blog.

Unknown said...

PCLOS is one of the great little distros. I have it installed on another partition, but seldom use it, mainly because it does not have all of the applications that I use.
It is the best of the RPM-based distros, IMO. But almost any deb-based distro is superior, due to the way deb's handle dependencies better.
I can break SUSE and Fedora without even trying in minutes. All I have to do is start installing lots of packages and I end up in dependency Hell in no time flat.
PCLOS's saving grace is that it uses Synaptic and it has far fewer packages available in the first place.
I use Kubuntu 8.04 with KDE4 because it is the most current distro, has lots of applications and is on the leading edge. I can't get Screenlets and Griffith, a movie database program, with PCLOS.
I recommend PCLOS to anyone who has hardware issues and wants a good stable, consistent OS. The Debian equivalent is SimplyMEPIS which has much in common with PCLOS, packaging nothwithstanding

wolfric said...

Hi, nice post, I like the Bus analogy very good.

I also like the power of debian. So much so that I am currently considering converting from Ubuntu to Debian testing.
I like the idea of a rolling distro as opposed to Ubuntu's 6 monthly upgrades.

Brendon said...

Do you have a Mac? How much time at home have you spent using it?

Your story is supposed to be about comparing the three os's, but you dont go into detail about mac. Buy one.

manmath sahu said...

Hi Brendon,
I have compared linux and windows here. As you said I did not compare Mac. The reason being, Mac is more like linux. Of course, it is much more polished.

Unknown said...

Mac is also much more proprietary as well.

manmath sahu said...

What's the problem if Mac is proprietary? They should fix a price tag for their research and development that went to merge the power of unix and usability of windows.

Unknown said...

There is nothing wrong with that if thats what they want to do or if you like it that way. I poersonally like having the choice of what I can put on my computer not having Steve Jobs tell me what I can and can't have on it.

manmath sahu said...


I respect your views. I am little leaned towards Mac OS for the polishness and maturity it gives. I just dream of when a linux distro will come up with that much maturity and usability.

Coming to the other point that of proprietary and open source software, proprietary software becomes sometimes necessary and I think it will take some time for open source software to replace all proprietary and non-free software.

I like some great desktop linux distros such as mepis, pclinux and mint. But to be honest, they still have some rough edges. The good thing is that linux and open source is improving very fast and hope we will see a linux distro as polished as mac very soon.

Thanks for your so thoughtful comments.

Unknown said...

Thanks, I am not saying everthing Apple does is bad. I do own an iPod and I think they are the best MP3 on the market. I haven't used a MAC in years so I don't know how polished they are. My Debian install does everything I need it to do so I don't have a need for any proprietary software, but I do agree it is still necessary to have it available.

manmath sahu said...


I have used Mac OS Leopard, SimplyMepis, RHEL Desktop 5, Ubuntu Gutsy, Windows XP and vista. I started with Windows 3.1 walked along windows till Windows 2000. Then started working on RedHat Linux 8, 9. After sometime I moved to Mandriva, Mepis and now I am happy with PCLinuxOS and whatever Texstar gives with this desktop Linux.

In the Debian front, I really appreciate the works by Warren Woodford. He has really spelled magic to Debian through his distribution Mepis. Warren had also contributed a lot to Mac OSX. The problem with Linux is that it still requires "dig it and fix it mentality". Of course, the problem make you learn various niceties of Linux. But many people want want to get the work done without searching for a fix.

Take for example a simple task of copying a VCD. In Mac OSX and any of the windows version you have to just push in the VCD, browse the files and copy to the desired location. But in Linux you simply can't do it. You have google a lot, install vcdimager and run vcdxrip command with suitable switches. Sometimes it does not work and you have to install a kernel module cdfs and copy the VCD.

Installing drivers is also like that. I have no problem in compiling a driver from source and installing. But it becomes a herculean task for many. For instance take Debian. The present Debian ships with xorg 1.1 which does not support intel gma 965 graphics drivers (this is the graphics driver that intel is promoting aggressively). One has to enable lenny repository and install the unstable xorg 1.3 plus the latest xorg-driver-intel. Then he has to search for opengl packages and install them all. After this tedious process is over one might need to reconfigure the x-server.

There are so many similar usability annoyances which are unheard of in Mac OSX or Windows. Everybody knows building driver for Linux and developing industry standard productive software for is difficult owing to the multiplicity and rapid release cycles. That's the reason why major software vendors don't build software for Linux. For example Adobe is not going to build pagemaker and photoshop in three different specifications - an rpm for redhat, a deb for Debian and a tgz for Slackware... Though the same company has no problem building photoshop for Mac OS (even though the userbase of Mac is far far less then Linux).

As I always told, these annoyances are not all. Various linux distributions are working to make Linux a better platform and the Debian spins such as Ubuntu and Mepis are leading their race. PCLinuxOS is also improving parellely. May be we will get a Mac OSX Leopard like linux distro in a year or two.

Thanks & Regards.

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