I’ve used machines running Linux for well over a decade for various things, and a few times I’ve tried to use it as my the operating system for my desktop, but I’ve always reverted back to Windows because of usability and hardware compatibility issues.
I’ve recently started to moved away from Linux as a server operating system for the same reason, but my main problem with Linux may now be addressed, and that’s making things just work.
Like most IT people I’m busy, if I have the choice of either hunting down, downloading, compiling, and configuring drivers, or installing drivers from a CD, I’ll do the latter every time. Linux may be a free to buy OS, but if you have a wireless LAN or some other complex technology you can lose days of your life trying to get the right combination of drivers, configuration files, and kernel, whereas with Windows I rarely have to do more than double click on an executable and follow a few steps in a wizard.
I know the open source philosophy is release early and release often which leaves things unpolished, but for most of the IT worldwhich just want things to work it’s a minefield. An example I have is that I have two machines, both using a D-Link DWL-G520 802.11g Wireless LAN PCI Card, one running Linux and MADWiFi, the other running Windows Server 2003. The connection to the Linux box from another machine is tempromental, the connection to the windows box is reliable. I’ve tried running only one box at a time, swapping their positions, and everything else, but the fact remains that the connection to the Linux box is unreliable to the point I’ve now migrated everything away from it.
So I was pleased to see that recently the Linux guys have offered to write drivers for hardware manufacturers for free. This will mean that hardware manufacturers will have a vested interest in making the drivers easier to install and use because if the driver comes on a disk from the manufacturer it’s going to be the manufacturer who gets the support calls, which, if the driver is poor in terms of usability or performance, is going to add a noticeable cost to the manufacturers support costs.
So who knows, maybe one day I’ll switch back to the Linux box, because at least the driver situation has taken a step in the right direction.