“Superior to Windows or Mac” – New York Times


Check this out: The Next Leap for Linux from the New York Times

For the most part, the article is good.

The author, Larry Magid, rightly points out that all of Google’s servers run on Linux. Ubuntu is the most popular flavor of Linux by far.

Mr. Magid fails to point out that the vast majority of ALL internet servers are run on Linux — not on any version of Windows. This is because companies responsible for internet servers know that Linux is the best choice for reliability. Not to mention that the price is always right — free.

I have two major issues with his article though…

(1) He recommends Automatix. However, every Ubuntu insider knows that Automatix is a poor-quality package which is neither supported, nor recommended, by Ubuntu. See Automatix is not supported nor recommended by Ubuntu and Automatix is a poor quality package which fails to conform to Debian or Ubuntu policy.

(2) His concluding remark is just plain wrong.

“But since common tasks like watching a movie or syncing an iPod require hunting for and installing extra software, Linux is best for technically savvy users or for people whose needs are so basic that they will never need anything other than the bundled software.”

That statement is just so wrong — on so many levels.

He says that Ubuntu is only good for super technically savvy users… Or… for total novices with only basic needs… What!? Does that even make sense to you? Seems contradictory to me.

The last time I checked, Windows does not come with iTunes pre-installed either. Every new Windows user must “hunt for and install extra software” in order to sync with their iPod.

In fact, every new Windows user must go to the store and spend upwards of $679 to get Microsoft Office — an office suite of applications — like word processing, spreadsheet, presentation creator, and database. And that’s just the beginning. Every new application costs another $89.99… or more. Sometimes, much more.

On Ubuntu Linux, ALL software is free. Period. There is this list, called “Add/Remove…”, which is like a giant computer software super-store on your screen — where everything is free. Every program is listed there and shows the detailed description of what it is, along with a Star Rating (1 to 5 stars) given to it by the user community. And then, all software is installed, or unistalled, by the click of a checkbox next to the name of the program. Obtaining and installing new software is as simple as turning on a light switch. And then, it’s automatically updated with the latest updates from then on. You can easily see, from this List of Windows Software and it’s Ubuntu Linux Alternative Software, that for every one Windows program, there are between 4 and 8 Ubuntu Linux programs to choose from — and all are free — as in $0.00. There are many more lists of Windows software and their Ubuntu equivalents.

Syncing an iPod has nothing to do with Ubuntu, it has to do with Apple. Apple writes terribly sloppy software. The iTunes program crashes and flakes out all the time running on Windows. iTunes also uses proprietary DRM (Digital Rights Management) code designed to prevent you from playing your music if you don’t have what Apple considers the appropriate rights to it. It’s for this reason that iTunes does not run on Linux. However, there are several programs included with Ubuntu which DO synch your music to your iPod, and they seem to work a lot BETTER than iTunes does anyway.

As for watching commercial DVDs… It’s strictly a legal issue. There’s this little thing called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which is an extension to United States copyright law passed unanimously on May 14, 1998, which criminalizes the production and dissemination of technology that allows users to circumvent technical copy-restriction methods. In other words, it’s not legal for Ubuntu to include the program which decrypts commercial DVDs. You have to install that yourself. By clicking on one single checkmark, then clicking Apply. It’s really not that tough. (Then, if you go to jail… for watching a commercial DVD that you purchased or rented, on your own machine… it’s all on you. Although no one has ever gone to jail for such a thing, as far as I know. At least not yet.)

Actually, the simplest way to add all these proprietary programs you need — and the first thing you should do on any new Ubuntu install — is to go run this little utility program which does it all for you. It’s called QuickStart. A very smart user created it for his own use — and has shared it with the world — in the true spirit of Ubuntu. Click here for the simple instructions to download and run this automatic utility: How to Install the QuickStart Utility. Then, simply launch QuickStart and select from the Main Menu to: “Install DVD and Codecs Files”, Install Flash Plugin”, and “Install Java 6”. That’s it! Done.

So… The issues that Mr. Magid has with Ubuntu, are not Ubuntu issues at all. They are issues with Apple’s DRM and with the DMCA — both revolving around ridiculous copy-protection schemes created in order to prevent legitimate consumers from getting the full, fair, use out of the entertainment products they legitimately purchase.

Mr. Magid, as a technology writer for the prestigious New York Times, you should know better — or at least do your research — or have someone do it for you.


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Bruce Wagner


7 thoughts on ““Superior to Windows or Mac” – New York Times

  1. Bernard Swiss

    Your webpage/blog seems to have some wierd issues that can crash Firefox when trying to access your blog.

    I found that to successfully load your blog, I not only needed to turn javascript on, but also needed to install the Flashblock extension. IF javascript is turned on, AND Flashblock is installed, I am able to load your blog without crashing. Oddly enough, once the page is loaded, I can THEN click on the flashblocked element, (and use the cute little embeded IM client) without any problem.

    I don’t know whether this is a general problem or a Linux specific one (I am running Debian Etch/stable) as I have noticed that the latest linux-flash client from Adobe is somewhat flakey. Perhaps it would be worth your while to check this out further.

    Bernard Swiss

  2. Chris Collins

    Quote “It’s for this reason that iTunes does not run on Linux. However, there are several programs included with Ubuntu which DO synch your music to your iPod, and they seem to work a lot BETTER than iTunes does anyway.”

    Amarok is the BEST for the ipod. Very natural and intuitive.

  3. Bruce Post author

    Thanks, Bernard. It’s probably the Meebo.com IM widget I have in there. I’ll be removing it…

    Chris, I am trying to learn Amarok. Is there a version specifically for Ubuntu (GNOME)? I’m still trying to get the hang of it. They say it’s intuitive. I must be lacking intuition… It’s not so obvious to me how to use it…

  4. Chris Collins

    You can get amarok through apt-get install amarok.
    Once installed go to settings -> configure amarok -> media devices. to configure your Ipod. When I set my sons up, udev recognized it and amarok asked me if I wanted to manage it. So, there may be no need to go into the configuration. Just make sure that the plugin section is set to apple ipod.

    I used this link to get started.



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