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The Linux Rainbow

The Linux Rainbow

It's a little past 3 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, but I'm still wide awake (thanks to a cup of Orange Cappuccino). As the hot, misty drink invigorates me, my mind begins pondering the state of Linux as both an operating system and desktop environment for modern day computers.

Linux took the world by storm sometime in the late 1990s; of that, I am vaguely aware. Because I didn't officially migrate to Linux from Windows until 2003, you must excuse me for lacking a bit in its history.

Although Microsoft practically brainwashed me into buying a copy of Windows 95 during my early college years, I was still keenly aware of Unix (System V, to be exact). I knew about "pine," "elm," "tin," "pico," "chmod," and a host of other Unix commands and applications. In fact, I wrote my first ever homepage using the "vi" text editor from a Unix shell prompt. I found it easy to use, feature rich, and highly dependable.

In researching an article about computer storage called "Digital Rainbows," I began looking into the various differences between a modern Windows system and Linux. What shocked me, however, was how intelligent Linux was designed in relationship to Windows. XP broke almost daily, while my Fedora Core 3 installation seldom had so much as a digital hiccup.

With GNOME 2.10 on the horizon, I anxiously awaited Fedora Core 4 Test 3, which I plan to install this week (prior to installing Ubuntu 5.04 as a second Linux distribution on my hard drive). I fully expect Fedora Core 4 to set a solid standard for modern Linux desktop systems, one that will rival or even surpass my current Windows XP computer in both performance and security.

With regards to market share, any number can be thrown out and looked at, but all the number crunching in the world won't save Microsoft from continually losing market share to Linux. Windows is bloated, inefficient, and terribly insecure as an operating system. Even the Windows XP Service Pack 2 firewall is filled with security holes. Norton Personal Firewall was an obvious solution, but what about the malware mess that is Internet Explorer?

The still-new Firefox browser came to the rescue yet again, installed on both my Windows and Fedora Core partitions. Release 1.0.4 of Firefox is the most secure version of the up-and-coming Web browser yet. Internet Explorer 7 won't be ready for a while, but that's no big news where Microsoft is concerned.

The clear benefits of Linux as both a desktop environment and operating system become immediately clear when you examine GNOME/KDE compared to Windows XP. XP, while functional, is a mishmash of cobbled parts thrown together in a seemingly arcane method of integration and haphazard functionality.

Linux, as early as Kernel 2.4, achieved remarkable stability and customization on both GNOME and KDE desktop environments, something millions of Microsoft Windows users are still clamoring for. Yet this expression of widespread discontent has become a hallmark of what I refer to as the "Micro Sloth" - an arboreal mammal content with bloated products and equally fat coffers.

When Windows dominated the desktop market for several years in the 1990s, no one ever envisioned an open source, highly customizable operating system such as Linux stealing the thunder from the "Digital Zombies" of Redmond, Washington. And yet, many moons later, we are witnessing an explosion of Linux adoption, from governments and educational institutions, to entire corporations and software teams. Let's not forget about the individual user either: Linux is being downloaded and installed at a solar express clip.

There will come a day, very soon in fact, when Microsoft finally realizes the importance of Linux to the entire computing world. Unfortunately for them, Linux will be standing first in line in virtually every statistical category, including the most important line of all: consumers. Linux is akin to a digital rainbow, providing every possible hue and color of customization to a growing range of curious consumers. Microsoft, however, is not even a hue on a much larger rainbow. It's a forced system of adoption, slithered into by snake-like politics and company greed.

Linux is a digital rainbow for the new horizon of computing. With consumers as a priority, Linux-driven computing will provide them with highly customizable, open source software at a fraction of the cost of Windows XP. Windows is a digital dinosaur, awakening to the reality of a new Paleolithic Era, fully digital and fully secure.

That is why Linux will ultimately succeed. People need computers, but they need Linux even more.

More Stories By Paul Panks

Paul Panks is the author of "HLA Adventure," an adventure game written in Randall Hyde's HLA (High Level Assembly) language. His ultimate intention was for others to eventually contribute to this project, so in May 2003 he released it into public domain, including the source
code, so others could add to the game over time. Paul is a native of Phoenix, Arizona, an avid fan of pro football and creative writing, and became
interested in Linux programming through Red Hat Linux and Fedora Core.

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