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Salon: Linux Does Windows

Mar 03, 2003, 19:00 (13 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Farhad Manjoo)

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"Sam Hiser, a technologist who spends much of his time promoting open-source alternatives to proprietary software, has an interesting way of describing the main difference between Microsoft's Windows operating system and Linux, its open-source competitor. 'It's something I call the 'Windows pucker,'' Hiser says. 'That's the feeling Windows users get when they're about to open a fifth program and they're so worried, they're clenching up their butt cheeks because they just don't want the system to lock.'

"Even if you haven't thought about it in such graphic terms, Windows pucker, or a sense of dread very much like it, is probably something you've come to expect from life. Computers--whether PCs or Macs--aren't perfect. Sometimes applications blow up. You'll try to do something complicated, like play an MP3 while you're opening a PDF document, and you'll inadvertently awaken some demon deep inside the machine, and you're screwed. The anxiety, Hiser says, is constant, a background stress that most of us don't ever quite notice and might think of as a necessary evil of the modern world, like a two-hour daily commute or PCBs in the drinking water.

"But life doesn't have to be that way. 'You don't have Windows pucker with Linux,' Hiser says, echoing one of the main arguments of people who prefer Linux to Windows--that the open-source system is more stable than the proprietary one, and that people who use it forget about such routine Windows occurrences as 'crashing' and 'rebooting.' Linux is, very simply, built to be solid..."

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