WindowsXP Vs. Linux Mandrake: Some Aesthetic Observations
So XP is pretty much in circulation and all of the "gotta have it" folks have their Release Candidate copies.
Needless to say that there's plenty of previews, reviews and columns discussing how XP is built on a new engine, a protected kernel mode architecture, with redundant DLLs, built in software firewall, native dual head VGA support, native CDR support, built in remote accessibility, device driver rollback, auto insert notification for Zip, Jaz or compact flash, as well as a plethora of other changes and upgrades when compared to previous Win 9x or even NT based Operating Systems.
But I didn't come here to talk about this.
My main rig is a dual PIII 600. It typically runs Linux-Mandrake because 9x doesn't support dual processors and 2000 only pissed me off with it's vague, "You have a hardware error, contact your hardware vendor." errors. Sometimes dealing with 2000 was like dealing with a cross between Marvin the Paranoid Android, HAL and a VCR that always blinks 12:00.
Seeing how XP Professional is based on a new kernel and supports dual processors natively, I figured I'd give it a shot and set the PC up to also run XP.
The installation went amazingly smooth, but some things struck me so familiar, it was actually funny. There were some parallels with what makes Mandrake "cute and fuzzy" and "easy to work with", that I was running that AC/DC song "Who Made Who" over and over again in my head.
The first thing that popped up that made me think about this parallel during the set up was the Network Connection Wizard built into the tail end of the set up process. Of course, XP being as new as it is, has a very large database of native drivers for NICs, so odds are that XP is going to find your NIC while it's installing itself on the PC...much like Mandrake 8.0 currently does. Once it finds this NIC, a wizard pops up wanting to set up your network!
Just as in Mandrake, I tell the OS what the name of my Workgroup is, the name of this particular PC on that network, and I enable DHCP. BAM! I'm on the network.
I'm not knocking this. How could I know this? It's a NICE ADDITION that can seriously reduce the number of calls I get from people that have two PCs, bought two NICs and a crossover cable from me, but have no clue as to how to make the PCs see each other. I just find it funny that the first time I saw this type of "easy network setup" was in Mandrake.
So now you're asking, "why is this funny to Jon?" Microsoft is obviously implementing something that is known to work. Well, one of the biggest reasons why people are turned away from Linux is the greater learning curve that it used to have.
Used to have, I say.
The folks at Mandrake have made the act of installing and using Linux so idiot-proof, that the end product nearly defeats one of Linux's qualities by making the operating system so bloated that by comparison, the Goodyear blimp looks like a balsa wood airplane! Certainly, Windows XP is no Calista Flockhart. XP has so much pomp and circumstance that it's front-end weighs more than that of the cast of Baywatch.
Ok...I'm starting to sound like Dennis Miller. Knock it off.
But to touch base on this bloating of both of these operating systems; both XP and Mandrake allows the competent user to slim down the OS and make things a bit sleeker and a lot less "Maaco" (for those up North: "Earl Shieb's"). So all was never a lost cause to the person concerned with having a sleek, no-nonsense operating system.
Note I said, "the competent user". I'm coming from a background where twice a week at work at a computer store that sells the Davicom ISA NICs, Realtek PCI NICs, 3COM 95BTXs and Intel 100 Pros I get an email asking "which one of your NICs are supported by Linux-Mandrake 8.0?"
For those who don't know, the answer is: All of them. Of course, "why would you know this?" But it's jaded me and has made me feel that, "if you don't know what you're getting yourself into, why are you getting into it?" Unless you're into screwing up your computer for the shear fun of things and that's exactly where I am. :)
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