Shlomi Fish' "What Linux is for Me"

Posted 26 Oct 2001 at 07:56 UTC by shlomif Share This

I am a computer programmer and developer by trade, and I am accustomed with development on Linux (and UNIX in general) and on Windows. I prefer Linux and I'd like to tell you why.

I will not lie to you by telling you that all the tools you can find on Linux are completely unavailable on Windows. In fact, it would be possible to get a working Linux-like development environment on top of Windows. However, this solution is both not as integrated as a native Linux workstation and will require a lot of time and frustration to set up. This fact is partly due to the fact that free software traditionally originated from the UNIX world, and partly due to the fact that Microsoft does not make enough effort to change the situation. (Whether it desires that is a different matter, but I won't go into it)

After downloading and installing a Linux distribution, I already have most the tools that I need and use on my hard disk. What I don't have, I can download from the Internet for free. Linux has the property that almost everything compiles and installs with as little hassle as possible, due to the fact that it's the most popular UNIX variant and the one where most of the development of open-source software takes place.

Not only that, but I find the tools that are available on Linux, better (at least when taken as a whole) than their equivalent commercial counterparts. I developed a very delicate and complex C program that can run on both Linux and Windows, and I found the gdb debugger much more helpful in tracking obscure bugs, than Microsoft Visual Studio with all of its bells and whistles.

I also recently co-developed a simulator for Internet noise using Linux as its architecture. With the power that was given to us by the new Netfilter architecture, we were able to keep a lot of the development in Perl, which is a very common high-level language used on Linux. Later, we converted everything to C to gain speed, but we had the advantage of having a working Perl code, to base upon.

Aside from all that, I also developed countless web-based services on Linux. While using the Apache web-server in combination with Perl, I managed to develop them quickly and easily, and without paying or owing anybody a dime. It was sometimes done at the comfort of my own home. For the record, a comparable NT/2000 with the same pipeline would cost dozens of thousands of dollars (excluding the hardware).

With the advent of GUI environments such as KDE and GNOME, I found out that working on Linux, even for not developing stuff, has become much more comfortable than Windows. While I use the graphical user-interface a lot, I can always default on the command-line and Perl to perform and automate the tasks I have to do as a user. And in Linux, almost everything can be done on the command-line, and thus, it is, all, programmable.

Haifux Welcome to Linux Introductory Lecture, posted 26 Oct 2001 at 15:46 UTC by mulix » (Master)

Just like shlomi, I wrote a short essay on what linux means to me. As a matter of fact, we both wrote our essays as part of the introductory lecture in the Haifux Welcome to Linux lecture.

The format of that lecture will be six 10 minute "testimonials", given by various club members, as to the role Linux serves in our lives. We hope it will be a good introductory (read, marketing) lecture, convincing people to give linux a try, and attend our "Linux Day" and further lectures. The lecture is this monday (29 Oct), so we will see soon enough. Wish us luck!

Usability, posted 26 Oct 2001 at 17:27 UTC by achitnis » (Journeyer)

And to think that just a few months ago, I quit from my local "national" Linux list in sheer disqust on seeing the reactions to my suggestion that Linux is indeed ready for the desktop ("ready" as in "usable").

What really scared me was not the kind of nay-saying I experienced from the other side (you know, the guys who don't use an open OS) - what scared me was the fact the *maximum* opposition came from the *Linux* "community" populating that list!

Cygwin - GNU Environment for Windows, posted 26 Oct 2001 at 23:04 UTC by goingware » (Master)

While not too well known, and without the Linux kernel underlying it, most of what you can do on Linux is available on Windows, and with the same source code and licenses.

I'm talking about Cygwin, a free GNU shell environment for windows. It works through POSIX api facilities provided by Cygwin.dll, which allows Unix command line programs to be ported to windows with very little effort.

Notably, it is very simple to install and upgrade.

With some extra effort, you can also install XFree86 for Cygwin, which enables you to run X applications that have been ported to Cygwin under Windows.

I'm using it along with NT Emacs for my daily work now. It's just dandy. While my client requires code for visual c++, I find it much more enjoyable and trouble free to develop for g++ and then port to VC++ just before making a delivery. This makes more sense than it might sound, as testing under multiple compilers helps prevent hard to find bugs - I also use CodeWarrior.

Also let me mention another worthy project, ReactOS, which aims to create a free software environment that will be binary compatible with most NT, Windows 2000, and XP applications and drivers.

Re: Cygwin - GNU Environment for Windows, posted 28 Oct 2001 at 13:36 UTC by Netsabes » (Observer)

Cygwin is indeed really very usefull when you can't use Linux or a BSD OS. Its problem is that is need a lot of Mb. The full install (which everybody doesn't need, of course) takes around 1 Gb on my Hard Disk.

Also note that Apache, PHP 4 and PostreSQL are now running under Cygwin, as announced in this mail recently.

The URI for the Cygwin/XFree86 project is there. Some programs need changes to run under this environment, but there is no giant problem.

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