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Testing the Faith of the Linux Masses

By Katherine Noyes
Jun 10, 2013 5:00 AM PT

In a world with sky-high divorce rates and inconsistent church attendance, it doesn't seem too big a stretch to say that fidelity is an increasingly rare virtue in the population at large.

Testing the Faith of the Linux Masses

Can the same be said of the Linux-using masses?

That, indeed, is just what the clever crew over at TuxRadar apparently set out to learn recently via a thought-provoking Open Ballot entitled, "Abandon ship?"

"Do you ever see yourself switching back to Windows or Mac OS X (or BSD, Solaris, MikeOS or any other OS) and leaving Linux behind?" TuxRadar's query read.

"Are there some problems that just don't get solved? Are the problems getting worse? Or is everything just peachy as you bask in the warm glow of software freedom?" they added.

'Such a Nice, Fast Ship'

Linux Girl Linux Girl was basking in the warm glow of a double Tequila Tux cocktail down at the blogosphere's Broken Windows Lounge when the news arrived. As the dishes began to rattle, she braced herself for the herds of Linux bloggers galloping forth to have their say.

"Some people say, 'never say never'; others say, 'I need to use what works for me -- my job depends on it,'" began Google+ blogger Gonzalo Velasco C., for example. "I respect that.

"However, may God allow me to stay 100 percent GNU/Linux for the rest of my life," he added. "I won't abandon such a nice, cooperative, fast and working ship. It is not perfect just because nothing is. Besides that, it's excellent."

'Abandon Ship? No Way!'

Similarly, "I am certainly not contemplating a return to Windows," Google+ blogger Kevin O'Brien agreed. "Linux keeps getting better, and I think it is more advanced than Windows now.

"I don't see any reason to give up my freedom to use a lesser OS," O'Brien told Linux Girl. "I might switch distros every now and then, but not drop Linux."

Blogger Robert Pogson had a like-minded reaction.

"Abandon ship? No way!" Pogson began. "An OS designed by people who care about freedom and performance beats an OS designed by salesmen any day."

Mac OS "does not convey the right to run on the hardware of my choice, so it's out," Pogson explained. Meanwhile, "'7' or '8' require agreeing to be a slave just to boot up the first time.

"Family and friends have no problem using GNU/Linux, even the youngsters," he added. "It works for us, and we have never needed to re-install because of malware, slowing down or re-re-reboots. GNU/Linux just works."

'I Will NEVER Go Back'

Consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack had a similar tale to tell.

"I can't imagine leaving right now," Mack told Linux Girl. "I have watched Linux improve a lot since I started using it in 1996, and my last few installs have been downright easy, with everything working right out of the installer without needing to tweak any settings.

"On top of that, we're finally starting to get applications," he added. "I have been using the steam for Linux client for the last month with no issues."

Indeed, "I will NEVER go back to Windows," Google+ blogger Rodolfo Saenz asserted. "It is true that GNU/Linux can sometimes be unfriendly when it comes to driver issues or software compatibility, but despite those facts, there are so many advantages: stability, openness and freedom, among others.

"I can definitely live with those minor issues," Saenz concluded. In fact, "I welcome those issues because they keep my neurons busy -- it's good exercise for mental heath!"

'Perhaps the GNU/Hurd'

Google+ blogger Alessandro Ebersol doesn't see himself abandoning ship, either. At the same time, however, "what I see from the two big brothers -- Canonical and Red Hat -- is disheartening.

"They forget about the communities and try to advance only things that are in their best interest," he explained.

"If I ever have to leave GNU/Linux, it would be for something with the same or better freedom to use, distribute, learn and copy -- perhaps the GNU/Hurd, if it ever comes out someday," Ebersol concluded.

"I could see myself switching to BSD," offered Chris Travers, a blogger who works on the LedgerSMB project.

"I have found hardware support remarkably unreliable on Linux, and by that I mean that things that used to work sometimes break going forward for no apparent reason," Travers told Linux Girl. "My current laptop lost ACPI support during an upgrade and I have had significant 3D graphics card issues over time of this sort."

'Software Freedom Is Indispensable'

That's "part and parcel of the constructive chaos that is Linux, but it also means that the stability and careful engineering of the BSD family of free operating systems is becoming more valuable to me," he explained. "At the point all my hardware undeniably works on BSD, I will probably move there.

"Don't get me wrong: That chaos is a good thing as it means that Linux is expanding into markets that the BSD OSes couldn't really attempt," he noted. "However, it can be annoying at times."

What Travers can't imagine, however, "is abandoning Free *nix operating systems," he said. "Software freedom is an economic good for me, and is indispensable in what I do."

'How Much Is Your Time Worth?'

Slashdot blogger hairyfeet, on the other hand, has already abandoned the Linux "ship," he told Linux Girl.

"To me it boils down to, 'How much is your time worth?'" he explained. "If it's not worth anything or if you find pleasure in spending your free time fiddling with an OS like gearheads fiddle with their cars? Then I'm sure the question never enters your mind."

Not so for those who want things to "just work," however.

"It doesn't take too many updates borking software or drivers requiring forum hunts and CLI fixes to just get sick of the whole mess," he said. "For me personally it was one time too many of my wireless getting trashed -- so the only way it would work was with ZERO security -- that made me go to Win 7, where I am happy to this very day."

'Heading Towards Exceptional'

Last but not least, Linux Rants blogger Mike Stone also said he'd abandon the Linux ship, but only hypothetically -- and for a very different set of reasons.

"Of course I'd abandon ship with regards to Linux," Stone told Linux Girl. "When I started in earnest with computers in general, it was mostly on Commodore and Apple systems, then I moved to DOS, and of course Windows from there. Since then I've gleefully moved to Linux."

Nevertheless, "I would absolutely move to something else if I felt that it would provide more of what I need and want," he explained. "That being said, I don't see anything approaching that in the near future, and I won't jump ship just to jump ship.

"The Linux market is just starting to take off, and I don't use it to look cool and unique to my friends," Stone concluded. "It was great before, but I think it's heading towards exceptional."

Is "too much screen time" really a problem?
Yes -- smartphone addiction is ruining relationships.
Yes -- but primarily due to parents' failure to regulate kids' use.
Possibly -- long-term effects on health are not yet known.
Not really -- lack of self-discipline and good judgement are the problems.
No -- angst over "screen time" is just the latest overreaction to technology.
No -- what matters is the quality of content, not the time spent viewing it.