Posted by: reformedmusings | January 27, 2009

Will Windows 7 kill Linux?

This topic has been the subject of several posts over at the ZDNet blogs and around the Net. Windows apologist Michael Krigsman wrote Why I love Windows 7, hate Linux, and think the Mac is lame. Another apparent Windows apologist, Robin Harris, typed Windows kicks Linux to the curb. Christopher Dawson, on the other hand, wrote the insightful Linux dead at the hand of Windows 7? Horse puckey! Dawson, I should note, works for a school district where money IS an object.

So, what’s one to make of all this? One thing is that unless maybe Microsoft nukes the Peoples Republic of Kalifornia (Cupertino, maybe?), they won’t question or change their official Microsoft vassal status. Another is that those with tight budgets do have alternatives and should be open to them. Let’s explore the hard data.

The advertised hardware specs required for Windows 7 are:

  • 1 GHz CPU
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 16 GB hard drive space
  • DirectX 9 video card with 128 MB RAM
  • DVD-ROM

My installation of the Windows 7 beta 1 took 8.65 GB of hard drive space and 390 MB of RAM upon initial boot with nothing else loaded or running. That means no office software, no graphics programs, etc. The RAM usage will balloon as you install the required multiple anti-spyware and anti-virus software, and the disk space swell rapidly as you add the bloated MS Office Pro suite and huge graphic-editing programs. I will be loading some of this stuff shortly as I determine their Windows 7 compatibility. The 32-bit Windows 7 Ultimate installation DVD iso file runs 2.4 GB, so you definitely need that DVD-ROM on your box.

By way of contrast, Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Linux recommends the following hardware specs:

Bare minimum:

  • 300 MHz x86 processor
  • 64 MB of system memory (RAM)
  • At least 4 GB of disk space (for full installation and swap space)
  • VGA graphics card capable of 640×480 resolution
  • CD-ROM drive or network card

Recommended minimum:

  • 700 MHz x86 processor
  • 384 MB of system memory (RAM)
  • 8 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card capable of 1024×768 resolution
  • Sound card
  • A network or Internet connection

Recommended for 3D visual effects:

  • 1.2 GHz x86 processor
  • 384 MB of system memory (RAM)
  • Supported graphics card

I should note that there’s an ultra-low-requirement version of Ubuntu called Xubuntu that will run on:

  • 166 MHz processor
  • 64 MB of system memory (RAM)
  • At least 1.5 GB of disk space
  • VGA graphics card

In real life, a basic but fully office-ready Ubuntu setup (which includes a complete office suite, graphics manipulation software, etc.) fits in just 2.9 GB of hard disk space and 149 MB RAM.

From what I’ve seen so far in my testing of Windows 7, you don’t get any more performance or capability with Windows 7 than Linux with all that extra hardware. Ubuntu, in fact, runs crisper in a virtual machine in less 1/2 the RAM that Windows 7 requires for its virtual machine, and the latter does no useful work out of the box. And the Windows apologists think Windows 7 kicks Linux to the curb? Only on the way over the Redmond cliff with the rest of the lemmings…

One tech blogger showed a text screen that was supposedly a Ubuntu boot screen. I don’t know how he set up his Ubuntu, but the standard Ubuntu loading screen consists of an animated progress bar and their logo, not text:

ubuntu-boot-screen

Even the periodic disk checks appear on this graphics screen. I’m guessing that some people should stick to what they know.

On the other hand, here’s a Windows 7 screen I received early in my testing that you will never see in Ubuntu:

win7b1-errorbox

That the proverbial Windows Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) for those of you unfamiliar with Windows. This old “friend” still holds a place of honor in Windows 7 Ultimate. Backward compatibility?

Then there’s the price tag. Since Windows 7 prices won’t be announced until later this year, I used comparable Vista prices for my comparison in this post. As a reminder, a Vista Ultimate “upgrade” from XP runs about $225 (this price has been significantly reduced since Vista’s release), and a MS Office Professional upgrade from version 2003 to 2007 runs $329.95. Full versions run about $150 higher for each. Then you’ll need a graphics program like Adobe Photoshop for $699.99.

Even on an OEM system with the attendant discounts, an Office 2007 upgrade costs $399 from Dell, for instance. A Vista Ultimate upgrade from Vista Home Premium runs $150 bucks. Life ain’t cheap as a Microsoft vassal.

Oh, but there are several bonuses that come with Windows 7. The first is Windows Genuine Advantage (i.e., Microsoft’s advantage) – the official euphemism for total control over your computer which calls its master in Redmond frequently to see if you’re a good boy or girl. If you don’t “validate” your Windows, if Microsoft’s WGA servers go down, if you upgrade your hardware sufficiently, or are just attacked by invisible Windows gremlins, you then own a $1,000+ (not including MS Office) boat anchor for which you paid with the sweat of your brow. And if you have to revalidate because of computer upgrades or something else too many times, you get to personally beg Microsoft to let you use your upgraded computer. That’s the life of a vassal – total subjugation.

But wait, there’s more. Don’t forget Microsoft’s  Digital Rights Management, which prevents you from playing CDs or DVDs for which you’ve paid, and allows media industry moguls to disable your hardware (long document but worth reading) from afar. As I point out at the first link in this paragraph, some of these schemes have already been cracked to allow you to use your paid-for property. This game never ends, and the ultimate loser is you, the consumer. Wrong kind of monitor, sound card, or video card? Sorry, you can’t play that DVD you just bought. Too bad. That’s the life of a vassal.

What about Ubuntu Linux? Price = free. OpenOffice.org (MS Office-format compatible)? Free and included. Gimp image manipulation software? Free and included. Rhythmbox to sync your iPod (if enslaved by the Apple company store)? Free and included. Eclipse PIM software? Free and included. VirtualBox virtualization software? Free. No DRM, so you are free to play everything you own (avoiding BluRay and HD-DVD). What a concept!

So, Microsoft sycophants will continue to push slavery to Redmond to the vast mass of vassals who know no better. That’s their right in a free society. You, however, have the ability to break free from software slavery. You can reclaim your hardware and media for which you paid hard-earned money. Information is the first step in breaking free from the feudal systems of Microsoft and the even worse Apple. Read. Learn. Choose freedom. Linux isn’t a Windows killer, you are. Products don’t choose. Only people can choose freedom.

When I see issues like this, I recall the plight of the Jaffa in the Stargate SG-1 story. They were enslaved for thousands of years by the Goa’uld, a role which they accepted as the norm, faithfully serving their enslavers to the death. The SG-1 team enlisted and freed a senior Jaffa, Teal’c, who doubted his masters, took a big chance, and then tasted freedom for the first time. At one critical juncture after being recaptured and rebrainwashed by the Goa’uld, Teal’c must choose between his former masters and his prestigious position in slavedom, or the freedom offered by the Tau’ri. Teal’c lies at the point of death. As Gateworld recounts:

When it appears that it is too late for Teal’c, his eyes open. “I choose freedom,” he says.

So can you: Ubuntu. Linux. OpenOffice.org Office Suite. Gimp. Eclipse. VirtualBox. Rhythmbox. The world of Open Source. Free, as in free beer. Today. Tomorrow. Forever. Choose freedom.

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Responses

  1. I’m primarily a Linux user, so I’m a bit biased, but I have to laugh at the people proclaiming Windows 7 will “kill” Linux. Besides the obvious fact that most of Linux’s use is on servers — an area where Microsoft is still largely far behind — rather than desktops, I don’t think Windows will kill Linux desktop use any time soon.

    Anyway, I noticed you talked about minimum requirements and space/resource use. My personal experience backs this up.

    I admit that I like Vista. I think it’s a significant improvement over XP, and really a decent OS overall (though I still prefer Linux). However, after about 6 months of use, which (admittedly) goes far beyond what the average user would do with a PC but is still reasonable, my C:\Windows folder in my Vista install is over 30GBs in size. I’d reinstall it, but it would take days if not weeks to restore everything to the way it is now.

    My Ubuntu install, on the other hand, only has a few GBs of system files, and I can reinstall it and have everything back the way I like it (all software installed) in around an hour — maybe more, depending on download speeds.

  2. Thanks for stopping by! I’ve both updated existing setups and installed Ubuntu and Kubuntu from scratch over existing setups, and like you say, all of my data and most of my settings are preserved. I load up my system with a lot of applications, but have never topped 4.5 GB of disk space on the / partition.

    I can’t live with the DRM and WGA nonsense on Vista. I have XP in a virtual machine for the two programs I still occasionally use in it. I hope to either get them on Wine eventually or simply give them up. Either way, it will run as long as I need it to do so.

    *buntu has been a far better experience than any Windows version I’ve ever run, which is all of them up to Vista and now Windows 7 beta 1. But everyone should use what works best for them and their needs – as long as they count the cost and fully understand what they are getting into.

  3. Nice posts.

    I think the only thing that Windows 7 will kill is people’s bank account. And the hardware requirements is way too demanding. I get the similar glossy GUI with Ubuntu currently running on Pentium IV, 512MB RAM, 8MD of it is allocated for onboard graphic chip.

    Then there’s the price tag

    *shivers*

  4. Thanks for taking time to comment! I shudder when I add up all that I spent on Windows and related upgrades over the years.

    Indeed, I fell in love with Kubuntu and Beryl on my old computer, which would not run Aero under Vista. I don’t see an end to the bloat in Windows programs or the OS. There must be some kind of Moore’s law related to bloatware…

  5. The screenshot of Linux booting taken by M. Krigsman on his blog is from a 4 year old VectorLinux. Check my reply to M. Krigsman on my own blog (see http://www.berthon.eu/ice_and_fire/?p=172), you will see the same screenshot but with the latest version of VectorLinux.
    By the way VectorLinux is a minimalist Linux version, much like and even more than Xubuntu.

  6. Hi huygens-25,

    Thank you for your comment. Your article is indeed a good critique of the misleading aspects in Krigsman’s article. Krigsman is just another Windows bot spreading FUD. I like the ZDNet blogs and use them to keep up with developments across the diverse computing community. All have biases and I expect that. But like you, I cannot tolerate misrepresentations.

    That’s one of the reasons I decided to test the Windows 7 beta. I wanted to be able to learn and get out correct information free from the Windows bot spin.

    BTW, thanks for popping in from Iceland. I’ve made several trips there and always enjoyed the great people and the food.

    Bob

  7. This is a good initiative. My self, I do not have the will to get Windows 7 and try it… I have been too many times disappointed by Windows 😦
    XP was the first OS acceptable in my views. It’s fine using it for work.
    But, it is so nice to use Ubuntu (or other Linux systems) and I have to admit even Mac OS X! I won’t go back to Windows…
    As for Iceland, this has been almost decade since I have leaved there… I’m planning on going back there, though only for holidays, probably this year. But it was a great time leaving there, and I do not regret it, I loved it. At the moment I’m popping in from France, after a long time travelling.

  8. Wow, you get around!

    Ubuntu opened my eyes to the wider Open Source world. There’s nothing in Windows 7 to alter make me reconsider leaving Windows for good. It feels more like Vista SP3 than a new OS. It’s easier on the resources, but that’s about it.

  9. Same old song and dance from Redmond … “Windows __(fill-in version number) will kill ____ (fill-in alternative OS of your choice)”

    The only people that believe that are either:

    1. Brainwashed Windows users

    2. Those too lazy to try a free Live CD of any distro of Linux – I recommend Ubuntu

    3. or Microsoft stock holders

    ————————————————-

    I was a Windows user (hostage) for way too many years. Always telling myself that each new version was going to be better than the last no matter how much hassle it was. Vista was the straw that broke my back. WinXP had been a fairly reliable OS inbetween the inevitable BSOD interludes – but Vista was unbearably slow to start up and then there were the seemingly endless security screens whenever you installed something new.

    After a botched SP1 upgrade which required a re-install of Vista I decided enough was enough and downloaded and burnt a Ubuntu Live CD and gave it a go. My Dell XPS 420 was happy from the get-go except for the sound driver which only took a quick Google link to the Ubuntu Forum to get working.

    That was two years ago and now I am happy to report that my home LAN is now 3 Ubuntu desktops and one dual-boot laptop and no future version of Windows will ever “kill” anything around here.

    P.S. – Don’t tell those Windows lovers out there that their DVRs and media players are all running Linux or a similar embedded open source OS.

    -Steve


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