Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The future is...Linux?

I just finished reading this year old article entitled, "Windows Vista, The best thing that ever happened to Linux?". Like many other pro-Linux (read anti-Microsoft) papers, it offers compelling arguments that I find myself agreeing with. In fact, my specific Vista complaints were very similar to theirs (all the hardware intensive eye candy that OS X does better, dropping important announced features: WinFS (relational database based file system), PowerShell (advanced scripting), SecurID (authentication for network resources), and PC to PC synchronization). They continue to enumerate Microsoft attrocities and go on to how Linux will dominate the future - think OLPC "One Child Per Laptop", the $100 PC.

I can't say what the future holds. I do know that every time I install Linux on one of my laptops (for anything other than when I used to program school projects), it ends up being too pesky to reasonably use. I get wireless networking/printing, DVD playback, a word processor, and everything else that I "need" straight - then never end up using it. But Linux always wins the theoretical argument - what could be better? I also know that well written Linux "appliances" work well. My M0n0wall router served me so well up until I bought a QoS enabled "gaming" router. We've been tossing around the idea of a CD bootable, lightweight Linux image designed to run a FactoryPMI client. Like Knoppix - maybe based on it.

In the end I always find myself going back to Microsoft - it's disgusting! They ultimately steal, buy, or reinvent the better technology, and it works well for them. Remember when SQL Server used to suck? I do - but SQL Server 2005 is a great product, thanks Sybase! They're getting into virtualization. It sucks now, but mark my words, they'll be giving VMWare a run for their money in a couple of years. What about Microsoft Office - do you really ever want to use anything else?

So this gets me to the recent official release of FactoryPMI Linux support. My first reaction was, "Who cares? You can already run FactoryPMI clients on Linux - they're Java based"! After thinking about it - it's the direction and comittment that matter. I align much better with Linux ideology, and the community is rapidly growing. Who else is tired of problems with every new major Microsoft release? Also, the Open Source community has a lot of software developed to bring to the table that's very powerful, but still a little rough around the edges. Microsoft makes good products that I like to use, but would rather not be stuck with. The percentage of HMI/SCADA vendors in bed with them makes me sick. Entrapment, not standardization becomes a predicament for end users.

In the end will it be Linux? Microsoft? Who knows - let the greater community decide. For me, the most useful products win. I'd like to see Microsoft include the power features that they've been advertising since 2004, and Linux to get progressively easier to use for all levels of user. Kudos to the companies that let users decide on what platform they prefer.

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