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Monthly Archives: December 2008

Courtesy of /. and the BBC, and fresh from the No-Duh desk, we have news that Apple is recommending Mac users use an Anti-Virus program.   Gizmodo reported that they have been recommending this since last year.   The irony is thick when you remember their switcher ad where they said viruses weren’t a problem on a mac.   But the real question is, why is anyone surprised?   Neither Macs nor *nix are immune to viruses, trojan horses, or the like.  They never have been.

Sure, a lot of people have this idea that those systems are either immune or almost immune to viruses.   But, ironically, most people involved in computer security would point out that there’s no reason to believe that.   In fact I think it’s worthwhile to point out that even the current scarcity of viruses and other hostile software for these systems do not prove that these systems are necessarily any more secure than Windows.   It is true that they might be more secure than Windows, but that doesn’t invalidate the need for Anti-Virus software.

So, like I said.  Macs need anti-virus?  Duh. Well–maybe more like should have…

One of the nice things about the open source operating system, GNU/Linux, is the breadth of choice available to users, most at  absolutely no cost.   This allows a user to choose the distribution which matches his tastes best.   But, there is one flaw in this gluttony of chocie.   How’s a beginner to choose a distro?   Okay, let’s say you limit the choices to all of the “major” distros, like Fedora, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, et cetera.   Even then, there’s no easy way for a newbie to pick.   I feel that if we can change this situation, we would be enabling new users to more easily adopt linux as an operating system, as a result spreading free and open source software.

The question then arises, “Which distribution should be the ‘go-to’ distribution for new linux users?”   Well if you read the title for this, you’ll have guessed already…the distribution should be Ubuntu.   Now in all fairness I do use and like Ubuntu, but it isn’t the distro I use most often.   OpenSUSE and Fedora are battling for that prize.   Rather, Ubuntu was the first linux distro that I used.

With that in mind, here are three good reasons why all linux users should support Ubuntu as the linux distro for new linux users.

1:   Ubuntu’s stated goal has always been to make a linux for ordinary people, and it has usually succeeded in making their distro easy for novices to pick up.    For that reason, Ubuntu is already a good distro for new users.

2:   While a generic Wubi is being created to work with any linux distribution, Ubuntu is, now, still the only distro which features the ability to install itself easily onto a windows system and, just as easily, remove itself.   This reduces the upfront cost of time and knowledge necessary to install linux on your computer, so new users will be more likely to try using linux and will encounter fewer road blocks to that goal.

3:   While choice is wonderful, having one distro which every linux user can point to as the distro for people new to linux makes it easier for advocates.   An advocate won’t have to bring up different distros, or explain any complex ideas.  They can simply give them a cd, tell them to choose “install in windows”, and the rest will be self-explanatory.  Hiding the details from new, usually non-technical, users makes the whole experience better for the user, front-to-back, and makes it more likely that they will stick will linux.

That being said, let me know what you think.   Have I gone crazy, or does this seem to be a net benefit for FOSS?