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I Feel So Clean

Week of September 6, 2002
A horror show of ads all over the desktop...

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I'm working on my Debian installation whenever I have time. I've made some progress. But damn, it's slow. Every device or service has to be configured, and then it doesn't work and I have to Google around and figure out why and fix it. I've built a firewall by hand, with lots of help from Robert Ziegler. And I haven't even touched X yet. It's going to be some time yet before I can sit my wife or kids down at the console and say, here, use this to do your work.

On the other hand, working in Linux I feel so clean. Nothing is hidden. Everything is laid bare; it's only up to me to find it and understand it. There's no more nasty, greasy worry about what my OS is really doing beneath its happy face. Has MS already installed one of its spyware components in a trojan security patch? No more. And when it's done, I'll know exactly what I have, and it will be what I want, no more or less, because I chose and configured every piece of it. And of course, I can leave it running for weeks at a time.

One of the things that makes me want to laugh or cry about Windows is how many different utilities the average user needs just to do things that the OS should be doing, but does badly or has never gotten around to at all. Memory 'freers', defraggers, decent text and registry editors, 'tweak' utilities, startup managers, a whole slew of tiny desktop enhancements - the list goes on. The most trivial improvements are sold to a willing public for $39.95 each. And then of course, they proceed to soak up disk and Registry space and run an extra process or two each, all started automatically at boot time for your convenience.

You know what it's like to sit down at the PC of an unsophisticated user? It's a horror show of ads all over the desktop, a dozen little icons sitting in the taskbar for who-knows-what processes, and some other processes that aren't so visible. My mother-in-law uses a national ISP. When she dials in, the ISP's software starts five - FIVE - new processes. The OS already handles DUN, so what exactly are those five processes doing? I don't think their tech support will tell us.

No more - goodbye to all that.


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