Opinion, Technology

Opinion – the ‘Mac-buntu’ fightback

Ronnie got some correspondence regarding my article in Full Circle magazine: MacBuntu: Why? (aka Desktop Identity Crisis here) in which I criticised the Mac and Windows 7 fanboys for dressing up their Linux desktops as OS-X or Windows 7.

Why, when we have perfectly functional and attractive Linux desktops on Gnome, KDE, Xfce and others, would you want to pretend to be using Mac or Windows desktops, even down to the Apple and Microsoft logos?
Particularly when the transformation packs and themes offer only cosmetic adjustment to the look of the said linux desktops and not the actual operation of such. It’s still a Linux computer!

Anyhow, Warvault was sufficiently agitated to write in attacking me for attacking them, incensed that I might want to restrict anyone’s free choice. I was doubly chuffed (that’s a UK English vernacular term meaning ‘pleased’) since:

  1. Warvault was sufficiently motiviated to write in
  2. They also referred to me as an ‘angry young person.’ As a slightly grumpy ageing curmudgeon, I’ll take angry and young as compliments.

Well, here’s the thing. Far from questioning anyone’s right to free choice in what they use and how they choose to make it look, I am all for it. Go at it. Knock yourselves out.

What I question is the dubious taste in cosmetic surgery – the equivalent of breast implants and stick-on designer labels over a perfectly good original – the Linux desktop does not function as a Mac or Windows pc and is, in my opinion, superior to both in form and function and freedom. Mac and Windows are not free or open software. Why can’t every Linux user proudly proclaim their choice of operating system on the desktop and at any other opportunity?  RC

About Robin Catling

Writer; performer; project manager; sports coach; all-round eccentric.


One thought on “Opinion – the ‘Mac-buntu’ fightback

  1. One big reason, actually:

    User transfer.

    Imagaine trying to get your 60+ grandma to switch from windows to linux. All she ever does is browse the internet and play solitaire (it was a big fight to just get her to use firefox, there was “too much change”.) You show her your computer once, and she practically faints, “ALL THE BUTTONS ARE GONE!” she screams. Convinced you must be doing some evil witchcraft to make a computer without a windows logo button to work, she calls her local priest to exorcize you. The priest comes, looks at what you’re doing, you try to explain, and when you try to explain open-source software, he is immediately convinced you’re a thief, possessed by a theft demon, and proceeds to follow through on your grandmother’s attempt to exorcize you.

    Now after there’s been a couple ours of praying, hand waving, your grandmother prostrating herself in various ways, and both generally yelling until they’re convinced the evil demons have fled you, the priest assigns pennance to you of fixing your grandmother’s computer which has viruses garnered from what her history shows as numerous visits to geriatric porn sites. You know your grandmother will never actually pay you for the work you’d do, and you’re tired of getting yelled at when her “christian research sites” crash her computer (You fixed it, why does it keep having problems!?!).

    So, you come up with beautiful and brilliant solution: next time you take her sweet-innocent gouge-out-your-eyes-porn-filled 1980’s beast back home to do repairs, you stealthily slip in your ubuntu disk. A few hours of tweaking, and restoring photos, internet settings, and bookmarks from backup (except for a certain 80% just for the amusement of seeing her try and complain about them being gone without admitting their existance) and you have a linux box that she won’t realize she’s running.

    Soon, she’s amazed at how rarely she’s getting viruses, and goes and tells the priest “how miraculous the exorcism has worked”. Convinced that your new god-guided gifts have let you build a much better computer for you, she explains the sign of god to the priest. Soon, the priest is bringing his computer to you for repair (which you promptly scrub of pediatric porn). Similar process continues, and both computers are running a nice reliable “win-buntu”. On the rare occasion that they come in complaining, you fix the issue, and simultaneously remove one windows-look-alike feature. (Of course, charging the priest an appropriate fee for your ‘divinely guided skills’.) Each time you explain you upgraded their windows version, and explain the new “upgrade” to “windows” (like the synaptic package manager, or mult-desktop) that you “added”. Pretty soon, word of your “holy” skills spreads to the other old internet-browser-only people in the church community, and soon they’re all running the latest “upgraded” windows.

    Eventaully, with this huge crowd, the only difference between stock ubuntu and your “windows” is the windows logo on startup.

    Five years down the road, you go away for a vacation strategically placed during a new windows release. Everybody goes out, since you’re not around, and buys the latest upgrade. They get really annoyed at how “different windows is” and how “it doesn’t make sense anymore!”, that when you get back from your vacation, they all come to you for help. At this point, you tell them, “Well, we can try a different system, it is a lot closer to the windows you’re used to.” And you install stock Ubuntu on everyone’s computers, and are heralded as a local saint.

    Posted by Joshua Petersen | October 25, 2011, 5:44 am

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