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After Ubuntu, Windows Looks Increasingly Bad, Increasingly Archaic, Increasingly Unfriendly
The Changing Trajectory of Software

My recent switch to a single-boot Ubuntu setup on my Thinkpad T60 simply floors me on a regular basis. Most recently it's had to do with the experience of maintaining the software. Fresh from a very long Windows 2000 experience and a four-month Windows XP experience along with a long-time Linux sys admin role puts me in a great position to assess Ubuntu. Three prior attempts over the years at using Linux as my daily desktop OS had me primed for failure. Well, Ubuntu takes Linux where I've long hoped it would go - easy to use, reliable, dependable, great applications too but more on that later. It has some elegance to it - bet you never heard that about a Linux desktop before.

There are many night-and-day differences between Windows and Ubuntu and, for a guy that does 80% standard office tasks and the rest of the time I'm doing Linux admin tasks, it was nearly all in favor of Ubuntu after the first few weeks of the transition. Overall, my productivity and the scope of things I can do with Ubuntu far exceed what I could do with Windows and just as importantly Ubuntu (like any Linux would) lets me easily create my own productivity shortcuts of a variety of sorts.

One of the things that's become clear as I've gotten used to the appliance-like experience of Ubuntu is that the future of software in an open source-dominated world is going to be significantly different than the world dominated by Microsoft. So what distant point on the horizon has Ubuntu shone a light on for me? Simple. Software will increasingly compete on ease of use in the total software experience more than on features. The future will be more about being simple than about any other dimension.

Here are some recent use cases:

_ I needed to rebuild my T60 with a fresh OS. Which was easier? MS Windows with a factory install disk, separate disks for Office and for Virus protection and then a lot of hunt-and-peck downloading for various apps like Thunderbird, Firefox, SSH, and Calendar or....Ubuntu with one CD and an OS that includes an integrated, extensible, and slick software package manager where all the software is approved and tailored to the installation?

_ I needed to rebuild a T43. I tried to use the rebuild partition included on the HD but it was corrupt. So I tried to make factory-install disks but the corrupt partition prevented it. Next option? Call Lenovo and get disks sent for $51. That process took five days and eight CD-ROMs from start to finish. With Ubuntu, this process takes three hours max, not four days and there's no software keys or other things to track down. The labor involved is less than a fifth with Ubuntu and the delivered product is a lot more productive - for my use models anyway.

_ I needed to resubscribe to Symantec on a Windows machine. Again this is a 30-60 minute timeout from production AND a $49 charge AND a hassle with product keys and sending data about my machine and purchases around to companies that I'd choose not have it if I had a choice. But I didn't since Windows XP needs Symantec's products badly even though these scanning and cleaning products degrade machine performance badly - even with a gig of RAM.

_ And I now hear that Windows Vista renames the partition it's installed on what used to be the C: partition. I need to check out this story but the very idea of automatic partition renaming is insane to even contemplate.

So my machine sings with Ubuntu. Having no virus scanning alone unleashes a responsiveness that makes the power of the T60's Intel dual-core shine. And what am I noticing most about all of this?

Well, first off Ubuntu is good as a productivity platform. Without that, the rest wouldn't matter a bit. But since Ubuntu is not only good on features but reliability then at least some of us would crawl over broken glass to get it installed.

But, in fact, there's no broken glass in the picture. It's the opposite. Ubuntu's installation is so easy, and maintaining it once it's installed is so simple that Ubuntu nearly falls into your machine like a ying to the hardware's yang. Once there, Ubuntu happily makes a home in your head with hardly a blip. I think Ubuntu actually dropped my blood pressure. Not something you typically find when switching ALL your software for something that's about as alien to Windows as it possibly can be.

Once that major hurdle is cleared, then the other big issues come into focus. Ease of install, easy updates, easy software maintenance, easy data backups. After experiencing Ubuntu, the world of Windows looks increasingly bad, increasingly archaic, increasingly like a neighborhood that makes life hard. Why should I put up with what Windows makes me go through if I don't have to?

I've used rsync for backups for years. I back up my mail, my Thunderbird data, and "my document" directory (i.e., /home/xxxx/). One of these backup commands looks like this and sits in a single shell script and runs from cron once a day (I've already sent the ssh key to the backup target server so no need to manually login to the backup server for this command to run):

rsync -avgz /home/xxxx/.mozilla-thunderbird/ root@mycomcastipnumber:/hdb/ibmt60-ubuntu-mozilla-tbird/ >>

That little command executes in a few seconds to a few minutes no matter where I am on the Internet and even if I've added some decently sized files to my computer. I've got my home router set up to pass the ssh port 22 through to a Linux server sitting in my attic. Quick and painless backups run without a hitch. It's a thing of beauty. I use the same solution for my servers so having a single platform from server to desktop has benefits and this is but one of them. I used to sweat about my Windows backups in the old days - if I did them every two weeks, I was happy. Ubuntu dropped my blood pressure on backups alone by 10% and now I have to decide how often is too often to do a backup. Also, I'm up on the MIRRA product but, trust me, you don't want to forget a password there.

Through a similar setup, I can also print to my home printer from any Internet connection. This is not a Windows- or Linux-specific feature but it's nice to have and I use it more than I expected. This is just good fun but it may also drop my blood pressure a point or two.

So far, none of this is news to those in the know about Ubuntu. It's not news but it is a big deal. A very big deal. Ubuntu is getting rave reviews: it's a productive platform, it's a reliable platform, it's a durable platform, it's an upgradeable platform, it's an easy-to-install platform, and adoption is through the roof.

What's changing in all this?

In my view, once you realize the platform is viable from a daily productivity standpoint (exceedingly so), the #1 thing that Ubuntu is then changing is ease of access to software. If I had decided to rebuild my PC with Windows XP - we won't even talk about Vista - this is what I was looking at:

1) Buy OEM Install disks from Lenovo because my rebuild partition was corrupt - $51.

2) Buy a Symantec subscription because I was done with the 90-day free trial - $49.

3) Buy an extra 512MB of RAM because XP couldn't run Firefox, Thunderbird, MS Word, MS Excel, and SSH all at once with 512MB of installed RAM - $104.

4) Install all of the above with product keys along the way - four hours? Maybe six? Maybe more because the tools for getting 2GB-3GB of mail data back into Thunderbird in Windows aren't nearly as good as the same tools in Linux.

That's $204 just to get me back to where I thought I was two months back - i.e., a machine with XP and Office on it. Symantec alone is going to want to pick my pocket again at some point.

Ubuntu releases me from these costs and from these long-term headaches:

1) Viruses - I no longer worry and I no longer need to check my PC - that's a relief. You can pick nits here about security but the bottom line is Ubuntu is orders of magnitude better.

2) Vulnerabilities - Windows is like Swiss cheese with so many vulnerabilities that it's sick - you can't connect XP to a public Internet connection (i.e., behind a router is OK but direct to the net isn't). Ubuntu? It's Linux - no worries.

3) Thanks to #1 and #2, I'm free from products like Symantec and Norton and the dollar expense, the complexity of administering them (those pop-ups are annoying and a productivity hit), and wondering when they expire next.

4) Software updates for the entire collection of software on the machine are simple in Ubuntu.

5) Backups are automatic.

That's batting for the cycle. Am I missing anything? Anything at all? Yes. Printing is easier in Ubuntu for older printers like the HP Laserjet 4 on a D-Link print server in the office and the HP 6L on an SMC print server in the home office. Multifunction printers are more of a challenge. A little care in printer purchases going forward takes this issue off the plate and I'm fine with the printer solution in place that has largely been stumbled upon.

The one bit of software that was Windows-related was a QuickBooks Timer. I haven't needed it because I began editing the output of that program in Excel six months ago because the QuickBooks Timer was too much of a clod interface to be productive. When I switched from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice on Windows XP, I continued not using the QuickBooks Timer. Doing the same manual editing of these QuickBooks Timer output files in OpenOffice Calc on Linux is a breeze. If there were a QuickBooks Timer for Linux, I wouldn't use it so I haven't checked for it.

In sum, what's changing about software? The installation, maintenance, and use of software in Windows have become a burden. A huge burden. And I don't think the average Windows user realizes how much out of their way they are going to keep their Windows PCs working. Windows challenges users and makes for a very expensive user experience in time and dollars if users follow the book and use the latest virus protection, keep that protection updated, and avoid the pitfalls that are squarely on the path that normal users use. In the best case, you end up with a machine that has a lot of crapware installed on it and is slow and clunky to use. In the more typical case, you end up with a machine that spirals to a grinding halt over six to 12 months - like the T43 I'm working on right now. A machine that has trouble opening an Excel file in three minutes because it has so much software competing for disk access and CPU cycles.

My experience with Linux on the server with its multi-hundred day uptimes broken by hardware upgrades, not software reboots, and with no performance degradation even at high disk utilizations tells me Ubuntu isn't taking me down with it. My blood pressure is truly low now.

I'm literally running out the door to get the word rolling on this changing dynamic. It's that big. And a word to IBM and Lenovo: if you're listening, Ubuntu as an OEM install on your Thinkpad T and X series would be a huge win for you and for the the OSS adoption curve. This is a classic case of experience changing perception and it's got me to thinking about a seamless platform from server to desktop to phone - think about it.

About Paul Nowak
Paul Nowak first used Linux in 1995 while migrating from Sun to Linux at the University of Michigan. He used Linux in subsequent IT projects including web, telecom, telemetry and embedded projects and is currently CIO of a small professional association based in Washington D.C.

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Reader Feedback: Page 2 of 6

I know this is silly, but I would NEVER use Ubuntu Linux for the simple reason of it's name. It's like fingernails on a chalkboard for me. I do use Linux (Redhat) on occasion, but I don't really find it to be as useful on the home/office/desktop as an "everyday" OS. I'm a power user of "Office" applications, and I'm sorry if you don't want to hear this, but for the past 15 years or more, and for the forseeable future, Microsoft has the best products out there. THAT'S why they are the largest software company in the world, their stuff is good. If it wasn't, the marketplace wouldn't have made it what it is. For instance how many of you still use your Commodore 64 everyday?, what about that old Packard Bell? Only 14% of you use Mac's and/or OS X. Stop with the arrogance, your shit just isn't as good as Microsoft's, if it were, IT would be in the lead. I've tried some of the open source stuff out there, like OpenOffice (junk, won't do a tenth what MS Office is capable of), Thunderbird (good, but I still prefer Outlook), StarOffice (worse than OpenOffice), Opera (can you say s-l-o-w), and several others, with similar comparisons, the stuff just isn't as good as what Microsoft puts out. The one exception I've found so far is FireFox, hands down the best browser on the "market". And yes, I realize it's basically just a "trimmed up" version of IE. But for browsing the Internet, I don't need "Power User" features. All of you Open Source "junkies" out there, need to take heed and learn to write code (if you don't know how already) and start writing applications that actually work as well as the Microsoft Products, BUT are still Open Source and don't cause as many resource problems as the more commercial software available from Microsoft and others. THEN, and only then, will you get my attention and that of the "mainstream" user.

This s a response to one of the threads I read where someone complained about Windows server having a GUI:

If you've ever managed a network with several hundred DC's, storage devices, and thousands of workstations, you'd understand why a server needs a gui. It simplifies many tasks when working on very large scale implementations. Not to mention the beauty of group policy. You can get really fine grain control of your network devices and the GUI doesn't bloat to the point of performance bottlenecking. If you prefer command line for scripting of administrative tasks, you should go back to school for some network management lessons. There is plenty of scripting that can be done in windows server '03. Also there is very widespread support for the windows community. For task automation in a server 2003 environment, look up "script logic" It's a fantastic program that's reasonably priced and imo worth its weight in gold for any serious administrator. It takes hours off of time spent researching for pushing unattended installs and other miscellaneous admin tasks. I'll continue to use freeBSD for all of my web serving needs (until something better comes along), but for a large scale corporate environment, Server 2003 reigns supreme. In these cases, *NIX is good for only a few things(database servers, storage devices, DHCP servers,etc.) For managing workstations and authentication/rights management, SVR2k3 works very well. The only thing I can think of that would work well in the *NIX world would be terminal services, which would take a ground up restructuring of any implementations I've worked with to date.

Ubuntu LAMP Server commented on the 8 Jun 2007: "APK, Please no offenses to your Windows theories to make it more secure"

They're not theories bro' - the 14 points I listed here:

Actually work!

... & I quantified this via using the CIS Tool 1.x (which also runs on Linux/BSD/Solaris & more iirc) downloadable here:

& scored an 84.735 on it - I wish some of you guys would try it (it does run on your *NIX setups too) & tell me how far YOU can go (it helps you along fellas, & makes it simpler to secure your rig than you'd think!)

Ubuntu LAMP Server commented on the 8 Jun 2007: "but Ubuntu don't need any tweaking to make it secure enough: it's secure enough by default after installation."

I am curious - does UBUNTU base itself on the 2.6 kernel & does it offer, by default, the SELinux kernel hooks for security (MAC type stuff)?

Unless it does, it's not as secure as you think, NOT REALLY!

(SELinux imo, so far @ least, is the BEST THING THAT'S HAPPENED TO LINUX LATELY, as far as security)

Ubuntu LAMP Server commented on the 8 Jun 2007: "Windows after installation is a swiss cheese full of holes which require lots of 3rd-party antivirus,malware,registry tweaks etc just to put it on the internet without being pwned by a script-kiddie."

I'll definitely agree in the cases of 2000/XP, but they can be secured via the 14 point first url I listed.

Windows Server 2003 is better (on IE6.7 hardened default alone, but I use Opera instead (better/best browser there is imo)).

VISTA is, believe-it-or-not, from a pure security standpoint, better than any of them (it's built on the foundations of Windows Server 2003 code first of all, & things like ASRL, UAC, & more DO REALLY, make it so).

Untuned/untweaked, on the CIS Tool 1.x tests we had done @, VISTA did do better than ANY MS OS, "out-of-the-box" oem stock... still, I have to admit - you have a point here though - Windows does need to be hardened more from ANY release they make (in patches/updates alone, & also via the methods I note in the first url above).

I won't argue this much, hence, why I even did the first URL list of tricks/tips/techniques for securing a Windows rig (only takes about 1 hour to do, good learning experience, & certainly worth it -> Enough to get me an 84.735 score on CIS Tool 1.x!)

Ubuntu LAMP Server commented on the 8 Jun 2007: "Tell you grandma that, and she'll go for Ubuntu."

Lol, my grandmother doesn't use PC's... but, I get your point.

Ubuntu LAMP Server commented on the 8 Jun 2007: "Windows owners complain about linux's console"

I never do - I "grew up"/started out on console mode OS' like UNIX &/or VMS in the 1980's in academia, & into the 90's on PC's using DOS 3.3... I don't mind it @ all!

Ubuntu LAMP Server commented on the 8 Jun 2007: "but they are full of registry tweaks that are way more difficult than using a console."

See, here? I 'beg to differ' & perhaps we have to 'agree to disagree' - given a roadmap like I give users in the 1st URL I post above? It is simpler than you'd think! Especially with prebuilt .reg files (the hardest part is using IP Security Policies, because you have to understand "things IP" in order to get anyplace with it really!)

Ubuntu LAMP Server commented on the 8 Jun 2007: "And if you really care about security so much, drop windows altogether, burn it down, stick it to M$ and install OpenBSD: [visit link] OpenBSD is security of the highest level, even more than Linux, way MUCH more than Windows: for example, OpenSSH was one in many security projects derived from OpenBSD: [visit link]"

Well, you know, I would but the monies are made on Windows NT-based OS' more today in what I do (MIS type coder, others call this databasing, using ASP.NET/VB.NET lately, & VB6/Access & Delphi in the past mostly).

I have to go where the monies are man... in order to survive!

Nice discussion guys, I am outta here for now, it's FRIDAY!!! Hallelujah...


Hi, Roscoe,
there are many simple ways to listen to Internet radio on Ubuntu. It boils down to using the player of your choice. Please see this link for a possible solution:
And you can also use google to look for terms like 'ubuntu internet radio'.

You can also install automatix for free to manage multimedia packages easier:
more tips here:

--> All:
See also for any doubts about Ubuntu:

->Donato Roque:

Installing LAMP on Ubuntu is way easier than in Windows. You just need to read the documentation in Ubuntu Server, or if you prefer a 1-click solution, read this:
Google is always your friend when you have a doubt about Ubuntu. Use it!

Please no offenses to your Windows theories to make it more secure, but Ubuntu don't need any tweaking to make it secure enough: it's secure enough by default after installation. Windows after installation is a swiss cheese full of holes which require lots of 3rd-party antivirus,malware,registry tweaks etc just to put it on the internet without being pwned by a script-kiddie. Tell you grandma that, and she'll go for Ubuntu. Windows owners complain about linux's console, but they are full of registry tweaks that are way more difficult than using a console. And if you really care about security so much, drop windows altogether, burn it down, stick it to M$ and install OpenBSD: OpenBSD is security of the highest level, even more than Linux, way MUCH more than Windows: for example, OpenSSH was one in many security projects derived from OpenBSD:


Check out Beryl. It's another GUI tasty treat for linux. Another great reason to use Linux. I'd also suggest getting used to gnome as well. KDE is sweet, but Gnome has some nice features also.

Check to see if your distro is included here:

It's pretty cool, especially the productivity aspects of it. Since Ubuntu is one of the distros that includes Beryl, I was blown away that "Mr. productivity" didn't mention it. On my fedora box I frequently have several browser windows open, as well as 5-10 programs running. Beryl provides a very useful way to manage your screen real estate. This would have been a good point to mention for the article. There's loads more, but I don't know or feel like digging to find it right now. It may require the use of gnome. Check it out and let me know what you think.

PS make sure to read the documentation or watch the demo so you don't miss some of the finer points of using it.


Continuing on this note, per the messaging diagram for webservers you used from ZDNet?

IIS vulnerability history = 3:

Apache vulnerability history = 33:


That's 10 times as many for Apache, than for IIS6.x... & the article was exactly ABOUT that - message passing complexity in Windows Server version's IIS (not a core component of the OS really, an addon is more like it, & in Windows Server 2003, you have to ADD it (since the OS installs by default, to a setup much like XP Pro, & you personally have to ADD ON SERVER COMPONENTS, so you know)...


P.S.=> As far as Windows Server 2003 SP #2 or RC2 vulnerabilities? See here, as of the current date of my posting:

127 total, 11 of them are unpatched (9%)!

Only 4 are rated critical, & here? Of those 4, only 1 affects MY setup here personally (for how it is setup, afaik), in the NDISTAPI.SYS one!

(Mind you - That driver can be turned on/off via services.msc if/when needed, easily enough).

NOW, as far as Linux vulnerabilities? See here, as of the current date of my posting:

122 total, 16 of them are unpatched (13%)!

EXCEPT HERE? 16 are rated critical!

See for yourself, I have not had my coffee yet this a.m., but I don't think I made a mistake in this analysis!

SO, that all said & done, on an enterprise class scenario so far?

1.) SQLServer 2005 runs from birth to current, with 0 security advisories (and, keeps NASDAQ running 24/7 x 365 days a year (the fabled "5 9's" of 99.999% reliability too) on Windows Server 2003 fully patched.

2.) IIS shows less bugs/vulnerabilities than Apache does (and less critical ones) & in fact, 10 TIMES LESS!

3.) Windows Server (9%) itself has less bugs and LESS CRITICAL ONES, than Linux (13%) does!

The proof's in the pudding... as far as security, but in terms of widespread use?

Windows blows Linux away, & this is just fact that is commonly known/accepted (which means as far as employment possibilities? You ARE better off pursuing Win32 OS, because there are just more machines out there to fix, develop on, & administrate, + use for productivity tasks @ work on the job)

That is because Windows runs on 90% of the world's system & such!

Windows also has more wares available for many purposes!

Windows has a higher security rating via the DOD "Orange Book" too, @ C2 levels (there are higher ones, the best being "VERIFIED DESIGN" & I don't think ANY have this one to date but not sure (even more than the kernel hook addon to Linux, in SELinux, afaik, unless you can show me otherwise as I requested))

Lastly, Windows enjoys more hardware vendor driver support than Linux does.

Don't get me wrong, because again:

I respect the fact that Linux is built for FREE for mostly NO MONIES (thus, it is a "socio-cultural technological marvel" imo) off of the work in time given freely of many people... & I like KDE a lot as as desktop, & it's one I can develop for using Delphi code I already have written in Windows with little to look out for (Win32 API calls use, some Tcp/IP diff.'s, & avoiding Windows specifics like the registry)...

However, Linux is NOT QUITE Windows, yet, & on many grounds!

(Linux clustering is ahead of Windows in their Compute Clustering Edition, but the point is, MS does have this capability in a Windows version build too & Linux runs on more hardware platforms (Windows NT 3.5x ran on MIPS/Alpha/PowerPC/x86, but MS removed everything but the most used platform after that, & stuck to x86 - this is also a point in favor of Linux)! apk

You have spammed me 30 messages now, and have failed to stop when requested. Enjoy your stay on an RBL.

Is your mail server running on Windows? Because the way it's spewing spam at everybody on this list, I would guess you've been exploited. Now fix it, as you have been notified of this problem at least 48 hours ago!

You have been spamming me for 2 days now, and your unsubscribe link is BORKED! Fix it!!!

You have been spamming me for 2 days now, and your unsubscribe link is BORKED! Fix it!

You have been spamming me for 2 days now, and your unsubscribe link is BORKED! Fix it!

SQLServer 2005 SECUNIA security advisors ALL TIME (2003-2007 current) = 0

(Did the legwork for you - not too shabby for what you literally called "so much other poorly designed crap")

Again - that 'crap' keeps NASDAQ running in a HIGH tpm environs 24x7, 365 days a year (well, the fabled "5 9's" 99.999% enterprise-class level, on Windows Server 2003!)


Quote dizzy: "I won't even touch on some of the flaws inherent in how the windows GUI works"

Why not? I am more than willing to discuss it here, bring your qualms on...

Quote dizzy: "why the hell does a server in a rack need a GUI?"

VISTA's Server model upcoming has a "headless mode", look it up on GOOGLE!

Look up "headless mode" for Windows 2000 & Server 2003... it's doable on them as well (TS can manage it, Remote Administration tools for them can do it, VNC can even do it (more ways than this mind you as well, do exist)!



dizzy, a question:

QUESTION #1: What Linux's have C2 security ratings (ala the "Orange Book"), currently even?

You see, I truly am curious on that account...

Mainly, because I am not sure if it does or not as of this date & I know it used to NOT have one but this may have changed!

(Mind you - this C2 rating holds on NT-based OS' only on standalone setups, afaik, which when you come RIGHT DOWN TO IT? Are more secure than networked systems anyhow - but most systems are networked today, but still, I would like to know if Linux has this yet or still not)...

QUESTION #2: Secondly, like I said below??? What can your Linux rig score on CIS Tool 1.x, or rather, how far can you get it to go (the tool assists you here by the way, so go for it)???

Quote dizzy:

"A good admin should be able to secure either system reasonably well."

Go for it, & report back with that score (it's actually fun, & a useful thing to do on your Linux rig to try here & compare our scores anyhow)!

LASTLY - On how well Windows Server 2003's designed @ least, like crap you say? Hmmmm...

Well, it's reliable enough to run SQLServer 2005 24x7 @ 99.999 uptime ratings in a high transaction environs called NASDAQ.

Not bad for, what was it you called its wares & such?

Quote dizzy:

"The major problem Windows has as security is that it is designed to have an ever increasing complex feature set to be backwards compatible to so much other poorly designed crap"

I don't get what you mean by that, when NASDAQ is an example otherwise!

In fact - Check Secunia &/or other security oriented sites, & tell us the answer to this question:


HOW MANY SECURITY VULNERABILITIES DOES SQLServer 2005 fully security patched as of this date show? I don't know myself!

After all, NASDAQ's a fine example of stable & extremely TPM high transaction environs running non-stop then I guess, with buggy vulnerable crap running on Windows Server 2003 SP #2 or RC #2 then.


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