Operating systems disconnect

This morning, I noticed something funny about how I approach various operating systems.

When Microsoft Windows Vista was released, I stayed way the hell away. I have a (nearly) perfectly functional Windows XP box, deliberately overbuilt when I bought it so it would last a while. The news reports about Vista were less than flattering, and ditto the blogs. Despite the occasional BSOD, which I now accept with mild grumbling, Windows XP is sufficient for my needs and the last thing I want to do is install an operating system (again) – and all the necessary build software – for building Mozilla. With Vista Service Pack 1 not too far off, I’m still convinced of the rightness of my decision.

Apple’s Macintosh OS X 10.5, code named Leopard, was released a few days ago. At first I was tempted to go get it, but then I noticed my laptop’s antivirus expires in a couple months. So again, I’m taking a wait-and-see approach, letting the AV program run out before upgrading. Again, the machine is adequate to my needs. I haven’t fired up my Mac Mini in a little while, probably because I don’t have a monitor dedicated for it or a desk big enough. (I’m lazy on that front.)

The Fedora Project will release the Fedora 8 edition of Linux in seven days. Yesterday, I pre-ordered a copy of it. Two USA dollars plus shipping and handling, from an online vendor. (When Fedora 7 was released, I set my box to downloading it – first by FTP, which died a couple times, and then by Bittorrent… but in deciding to be generous to others and allow for twice the upload amount as the download amount, it took three days to reach that 2.000 factor. Thanks a lot, Comcast.)

Here’s the part I don’t rationally grok. With Mac, and especially with Windows, I perceive a fair bit of pain with upgrading the operating system. With Linux, it’s not even a question – I like it, and I actually look forward to the latest & greatest.

I had some rough experiences with Kanotix, a Debian-based system, but primarily because I couldn’t get LILO to default to Windows at the time. I have had some good experiences with Fedora in the past, and I still do

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. Maybe it’s because I don’t hear nearly as much bad stuff about Linux in general that I’m willing to trust it more. Maybe it’s because I can get copies of a Linux-based OS dirt-cheap. (Legally, too. I don’t do pirated software.) Maybe it’s because building Mozilla has the lowest barrier to entry on Linux – almost everything comes with the default OS installation. (The debuggers are extremely painful to use, though.) Maybe it’s because the malware community fears offending the (very smart, very persistent, and very loud!) Linux-based developers community. Maybe it’s because of the frequent updates Fedora offers – average one set every week, I’ve noticed – far more often than the Two Titans.

I don’t know what it is, really. Ultimately, I don’t think I care. Fedora’s brand of Linux is one I simply don’t have any cause to question. With Windows or Mac, I’m 90-95% sure that I’m at fault when something unexpected happens. With Linux, it’s 99.9%, at least. I simply take for granted that Linux Really Does Work… and for a developer, that’s saying a lot.

(It’s not 100%… see http://sourceware.org/cgi-bin/gnatsweb.pl issue 2353. Granted, I reported it last night, but…)

One thought on “Operating systems disconnect”

  1. Building Mozilla has the lowest barrier to entry on Linux ? I lost full confidence in that after building Fx 2.0 on FC 5. Failed two time, first I had to get a newer version of the source, was missing a patch, and then I had to manually integrate a second patch that’s in trunk but not in the source. And to think I thought initially Fx 2 and FC 5 would more or less correctly match each other by not being the very last, not yet tested, but not too old either. That was after trying with a really old RHEL 3 that did not have the correct gnome 🙂 (but I lost some time already before seeing it)

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