Forgive me, folks, it's a bit of a geeky journal - taking a break from working on Astray to clear my head a bit.
Some months ago (yikes, time flies!), I started an IT course. This was the first time I had convinced myself I could GET anywhere in such a course. Long story short, I basically quit viewing IT as an avenue for myself a few years ago, when I was depressed in secondary school. It wasn't a very good move, honestly, but I wasn't thinking very well at the time. That's just high-school in a nutshell; it sucks.
So I decided to rectify that and see what I could teach myself, though I made sure to start with an easy course. To my surprise, the course introduced me to the GNU/Linux, which I honestly knew nothing about - when I experimented with (Mandrake) Linux as a kid, I wasn't really in the best position to be doing so. I was all about my games, on MS-DOS and Windows, and I couldn't see any benefits whatsoever to using a Linux system.
After my curiosity was piqued, I decided to look at the wide world of alternative desktop operating systems, and I was very shocked. Things have gotten much better. My perspective has shifted rather a lot too, so gaming is no longer my number one deciding factor on whether or not I can use an OS - though, that said, it's entirely possible for a Linux system now to be superior for gaming. So I decided to experiment.
I used virtual machines to test certain distros, and thanks to the advice I received, I finally settled on installing Linux Mint 13 Maya to my laptop - yes, laptop, that connects to my home router using wifi. Which works fine. Aside from Mint, I've used Ubuntu, Gentoo and CentOS; also, FreeBSD. Yes, I've also played around with BackTrack... very educational experience.*
After experimenting with some of the features Linux Mint offered, and actually making the effort to learn more about Linux and BSD, I found myself able to substitute it for Windows at almost every turn, and it eventually got preference at boot time. Finally, after several months practically using Linux Mint for everything, and after immediately installing it to my new laptop when I bought it, I think it's safe to say I'm a convert.
It ain't an experiment anymore. If I were to try and explain why this has happened, I'd be accused of being a fan-boy or attempting to "evangelize", so I won't bother.
Now that Steam is on Linux, and some developers are starting to realize that the lighter, modular Unix-like systems are probably better for gaming (frame-rate using Linux and OpenGL is usually higher than using Direct X and Windows, for one thing), it's safe to say that the gaming issue, which should be a non-issue to most, as you can always dual-boot and use Windows as a dedicated gaming OS anyway, is going to go away.
As a Linux Steam beta-tester, I can assure you this is going to rock some freakin' socks.
Sitting here at the moment, I'm currently using Linux Mint, and I have no regrets or issues with it whatsoever. This is a wonderful operating system. Windows is sometimes used for games, but, as testament to how much my priorities have changed, Windows is booted maybe 10% of the time.
I use Linux and Unix more often than the very people who got me to try them (outside of class). I'm very much happy with this.
However, I want to use this chance to say a few things. Just a two little things relevant to this topic that I want to get off my chest.
First: I am already sick of the sneering trolls who insult and besmirch Linux and BSD at every opportunity. Who smugly insist that Microsoft and its Windows platform is the be all and end all of computing, and that anyone who uses anything different is somehow inferior or stupid.
Do I need to explain what's wrong with this? You people are so small-minded and foolish that you think computing is literally defined by Microsoft, and that there is or should be only one operating system, in this vast world in which we live, for personal computers?
To those sneering imbeciles, I would like to pose a question: given that I actually do know rather a lot about Windows, and I bear Microsoft and Windows no irrational malice, I have to ask if you've even fucking tried to use anything else yourselves. Have you? Do you even know what you're talking about, and do you realize how god-awfully stupid your behavior makes you seem? What qualifications do you hold with regards to Windows, if any? None? Shut up, you monkeys.
Second: One thing that bothers me, from both Windows and Linux users, is the amount of effort they expend trying to slander one another. To be rather blunt about it, I see more intelligent arguments from the Linux side, usually, but that doesn't mean I haven't seen some utter snobby twats on the anti-Microsoft front.
To be clear, I'm not talking about Microsoft's ethics. Microsoft's ethics are a genuine anathema to many people, for many reasons, and they really have been underhanded cunts from time to time. But I'm talking specifically about Windows itself.
So I'm going to defend Windows for a moment. Windows has gotten much better in recent years. Let's take a common assertion to use as a starting point: that Windows is easily infected with viruses and malware. Now, that is true. Windows is much more easily infected than other operating systems, in part due to its popularity, but also due to the closed-source model and the fact it doesn't "encourage" proper security in lay-users.
But I've only received a virus in Windows twice, and both times I took the risk deliberately, then removed the malware within minutes without issue. When running fully updated virus scanners on my Windows file-system, I typically get zero results per year. If you're getting viruses on your home Windows box with frequency, then you're doing something wrong. I know many people who operate without virus protection and have had nothing go wrong for them in years of using Windows.
Windows has several flaws, but there are generally ways for you to limit the problems. Anti-virus software, disabling unnecessary services, removing bloatware... there are even installers out there that help you install Windows stripped down to only what you want and need.
These flaws still exist - Windows WILL be more resource hungry and less secure than Linux/BSD, simply because that's how it's designed. It's a fact of life. The point is, it's not necessarily true that a Windows machine is a crippled virus-magnet that can't function for ten seconds without being drowned in malware. It's not hard to keep your machine safe and running reasonably; it's just that a Unix-like system can be even more secure, safe and speedy. Windows also has its own benefits too.
Though I do admit it's nice to be totally unconcerned about viruses or defragmenting.
Third: The terminal is not the main reason to use a 'Nix system.
This really weirds me out. I've seen a lot of Microsoft supporters declare that "Linux is much better if you want to use the command line." However, these motherfuckers are being dishonest - they're taking an area they don't think is important (the command line/terminal) and trying to appear open-minded by saying that Linux is good in this area. They get to appear open-minded and fair without actually giving any ground where they think it matters! Yay!
Linux distros even commit the same mistake. They talk up the terminal/CLI as if it's hot-shit, and hint that beginner users will "learn" to use it. Problem being, of course, that most people are fuckwits and don't want to "learn" anything, since learning implies effort.
Truth be told, although Linux and BSD systems have excellent command-line shells, you rarely need to use them. In fact, in most cases, a Windows user will benefit from or need to use the CMD.EXE or Powershell just as much.
BASH or ZSH is significantly better than those, but that's just a weird thing to say, if one was trying to promote Unix-like systems. You can freakin' install BASH on a Windows machine!!
There are many reasons to use Linux/BSD. Not just the command-line. However, yes, it rules there. It rules there, in the realm of servers, and in many other areas. When someone "talks up" the Linux command line, they're actually backhandedly trying to scare you away from using it. Trying to imply that the only reason to use it is to use the "complex" and "geeky" text-only "programmer-y computer nerd" stuff that you, mister stupid layperson, won't understand. Don't fall for it.
Use whatever you want, based on whatever fits your personality and needs. The command line shell is always useful for quick typists, period.
So there you have it, for now.
I'm no longer experimenting with Linux/BSD. I'm actually using them, primarily, and I don't regret it in the least.
And you know what? That's crazy. If you went back in time and told me as of two years ago that I would be using Linux/Unix primarily, I'd have laughed in your face. It's really crazy... and I love it.
* -- this list is incomplete as of now.
Laptops: Win7/Linux Mint 13 (kernel version 3.5.4-030504)
Netbook: Ubuntu "Precise Pangolin" long-term service.
Desktop: FreeBSD 9.1.