Closing the Windows on Microsoft
t has been a long time in coming, and certainly should have happened well before now. We've been dual-booting our mobile machines with Ubuntu for many years, but never stopped mouse-clicking in Windows long enough to fully embrace our Linux command line. I don't know why, really, I kept these darned Windows operating systems around. Finally though, we have closed our Windows on Microsoft's Operating Systems. Goodbye, you expensive, bloated, insecure, unstable hassle; a bad habit, finally broken.
Linux on the Laptop
Closing the Windows on Microsoft Operating Systems
Undertaking this whole process has me realizing that the change in thought and the perception of that switch are what is really the most difficult; the process of changing operating systems can be filled with false starts and frustrations. Even the decision to switch has its pros and cons. But I'm not going to take opportunity here to bash out Windows directly; I'll leave Microsoft to its own devices in succeeding at that (besides, I'm saving all my current online angst against the pangs of using LinkedIn). This will not be a piece on indicting proprietary software or a pro v. con positioning for everyone to argue over, either. Our switch exclusively to Linux is simply about our own specific needs and utility.
Necessity is still mothering invention; with the open sourced, highly virtualized and cloud-based work that we do, Windows just does not fit our organization anymore. Certainly not in our virtual labs. Not in our desktop workstations, anymore. And now, not on our mobile laptops, either. Windows arose to its current status in the days before the Internet and at a time when personal computers were simple machines without significant computing power. As computers gained power and resources, Windows grew more complex and functions were added. Functions like networking, file-sharing and Internet browsing were added to an operating system that was never designed to deal with the security issues that come along with this kind of exposure. In addition, the way in which major systems for dealing with networking are woven into the Windows operating system causes a range of other problems. This integration makes it more difficult to improve things except by major operating system upgrades, and makes security intrusions more dangerous when they do occur.
From a philosophical point, Linux should have been our operating system all along: Open Source; Network-centric; Secure; Stable; Vendor Lock-out. Perfect for Cloud. Linux has a rather sophisticated design that is built upon the principles that have evolved over decades of UNIX development. That design is modular, network-centric. Security, modularity and stability have been intrinsic design features from the beginning. Thousands of applications are available; Linux and most Linux-compatible applications are available as free software. It simply dominates the working realms of Open Source and Cloud; our work here and commitment to OpenStack private and public cloud building alone has us pimping Linux all day, every day, anyway. But let's be specific:
Open collaboration and GNU. If this needs expounding, you should be referencing other articles. Since its inception 20 years ago, the Linux operating system has become the most widely used software in the world. This ability to innovate with Linux has helped create companies like Google, who have taken that ability and converted it into big business (who says Linux isn't ready for the Enterprise?!). Linux is free, as in FREEDOM.
Although some distributions of Linux charge modest amounts for enhanced packages or subscriptions that include support options and early availability of upgrades, Linux is essentially free of licensing fees. The majority of these free distributions can simply be downloaded from the Internet. Virtually all of them come with hundreds of applications that are installed during the Linux installation process. While a basic setup of Windows, MSOffice, Photoshop and Adobe Acrobat will set cost you close to $2,000, the typical Linux distribution gives you this functionality and much more, for $0.00. In addition, you get advanced networking capabilities and far greater system stability and security.
Linux has evolved with robust ways to keep up with multiple, simultaneous processes and the resources devoted to them, separate; this is the foundation for its exceptional stability. Linux has become highly evolved for enterprise-level adoption on workstations and laptops. Multiple vendors now build and ship Linux specific machines (in our case, our chosen Alienware product line and its parent company, Dell, both offer Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux machines).
No operating system is 100 percent secure and Linux is no exception. But, Linux offers excellent security for its users (while Windows is intrinsically, notoriously insecure). It was originally designed to run on large, relatively powerful (for the day) multiuser systems that were networked; both of these attributes demanded attention to security from the ground up. From regular kernel updates to an almost daily list of security patches, Linux code maintainers keep Linux systems very secure.
The skills and mechanisms for working on Linux translate and transfer directly in a hand-to-hand manner with our open source, virtualized and cloud-based work. Everything we do, we now do it in Linux.
LINUX ON THE LAPTOP
Back in the day, UNIX operating systems were the 18-wheeler trucks of the computing world. They ran on big machines that most people had little contact with. Personal computers were different because they were the mini-bikes of the computing world. Things have changed; the rapid advance of computing power now puts computing power like those early truck-like computers onto every desktop. Today's powerful personal computers are fully capable of taking advantage of the power of UNIX-like systems.
Applications are the Key
An operating system is a platform for running applications. The key to the usefulness of Linux as a desktop operating system is the availability of thousands of desktop applications that run on Linux. Basically, nearly everything you can do in other desktop operating systems, you can also do in Linux.
For us, the choice was easy and obvious: Red Hat Enterprise Linux for Workstations and Laptops. This being a natural extension of our OpenStack, data center-driven, virtualization lab-focused work, Red Hat is an absolute no-brainer for enterprise linux. With Red Hat's new found dedication to CentOS, we've aligned a bevy of machines running that as primary OS as well. Needing an entirely separate post to divvy out the details, our laptops and desktops are now all running RHEL or CentOS, with VirtualBox VMs with those old Windows OS's thrown on for... historical reference? It will be fun to see if and when we ever have to crank up a Window's VM, but for the here and now it's -
(JUST LIKE) STARTING OVER
Rebooting after every patch, service pack, or driver change makes Windows an unstable and unreliable choice for those who need nonstop support for their critical applications and services. This choice is ultimately as much about how we are driving our OS's here at CONSULTED as the above explains, but moving away from Windows for any reason sure feels like the freedom of starting over! We will have some related posts forthcoming, but you can find information regarding switching from Windows to Linux through the Linux Foundation or any of its platinum members.
Linux continues its entry into the world's largest data centers, onto hundreds of thousands of individual desktops, and it represents a near 100 percent domination of the cloud services industry. When it comes to innovation, increasing your efficiency, saving money, and providing non-stop services to your business and its customers, how many reasons do you need?
This information is not an advertisement on ConsultED's part but merely alerts our Members to a potentially useful technology, website, company or idea.
If you’d like to give Linux a try, there are several distributions that are free to download and use without the need for any commercial support contract:
CentOS – Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based free distribution. Red Hat is really embracing CentOS now with development; we plan on keeping up with that by running it on quite a few machines.
Ubuntu – Free, enterprise Linux distribution (Commercial support available). The easiest Linux distribution for Windows users to migrate to, in our opinion.
Fedora – The Fedora Project is the free, community-supported version of Red Hat Linux.
OpenSUSE – The free, community-supported version of Novell’s SUSE Linux.
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