It’s ironic to me that D-Day for good old Windows XP is coming up on Monday, since for several months, I’ve been trying to motivate myself to dump it in favor of Ubuntu as the O/S on my work laptop.
Tracking Dan’s recent jump into the Mac pond chronicled over Twitter and in his blog has me motivated to think about it more seriously. Don’t laugh, inertia is strong.
I’ve had a Mac for years, since they moved to Intel, and I love it. I don’t consider myself a fanboy, though; that ethos doesn’t really fit me.
I tend to be O/S neutral. I’ve used XP happily for several years, and I actually like it best of all the Windows flavors I’ve ever used, which is a lot: 3.11, NT 3.51, Win 95, NT 4.0, Win 98, Win ME, Win 2K, and XP.
Still, I’ve found that any O/S tends to get slower and buggier the longer you run it, which makes sense. I’m reaching that point with my laptop, and the choice is whether to reimage it with the Oracle image for XP or go off the reservation with a brand new Ubuntu Hardy Heron installation.
Why, you ask? My reasons aren’t really good O/S vs. bad O/S. I’ve just run Windows as my primary O/S for more than a decade, and it seems like a good time to change.
When I started at Oracle back in 1996, Microsoft was the enemy, not that they aren’t now, but more so then. The problem was at the time, Windows and Office had no viable alternatives. So, we had to use them to do business.
Today, you can pick from a menu of great substitutes with equivalent functionality, in many cases for free. The deciding factor now is time and effort. It’s easy to reimage; all the software is included and configured for me. I’m likely to be back to normal operations in less than a day.
Not so with Linux, even Ubuntu, which hardcore sys admin friends of mine scoff at as “too easy”.
That’s more of a project that could eat an entire weekend and still not be operational. Plus, I know I’ll still need XP for a few work tasks like web conferencing, so I’ll need a virtual machine. I’m not sure how the hardware will tolerate running a virtual XP image and Hardy Heron at the same time.
Why run a VM of XP and not just XP natively? I’m lazy. Now you see the dilemma.
From my years in PC support, I know that most people are deeply superstitious about computers. They don’t want anything to change because if it’s working now, life is good. If it breaks and they can’t work, life is bad, and fixing a problem could keep them down for a long time.
This inertia is why IE 6 still makes up a huge percentage of browser traffic, and why web app developers continue to support it, despite it’s idiosyncrasies. If you want people to use your app, you can’t rely on them to install Firefox or Safari or Opera or even IE 7.
So, over the next few days/weeks/months, I’ll continue to vacilate about switching to Ubuntu. If I do eventually make the move, I’ll blog it.
In the meantime, sound off with your thoughts on O/S, computer inertia, etc. in comments.