Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fedora Linux 10

Alright, let's take a moment to embrace one's inner geek.

I've always found Windows a little painful to use - not sure why, and after all, should it really matter? A computer's OS is just a way of launching your web browser or e-mail client, so why do I (and many others) feel the need to try new alternatives? I've often been tempted to get a Mac, but exquisite as they are, I could never justify the premium compared to much cheaper PCs. So how to get the Mac experience, without buying one?

I've been playing around with Linux alternatives, and think I have finally found one to move wholesale from Windows Vista: Fedora 10.

Whilst I still don't believe Linux is easy enough to use for the mainstream, it does now offer a powerful and attractive alternative to those who want to 'Think Different' without buying a Mac. Fedora 10 (a product of Red Hat) works very well for me, having tried all the mainstream alternatives (Ubuntu: too ugly; SuSE: too fussy). I might talk a bit more in detail about the benefits some time in the future, but for now here are a few screenshots to show how my desktop looks as a basic illustration of the Fedora experience:

1. Here's the basic desktop, as it appears having booted-up:

2. Firefox web browser:

3. The OpenOffice suite, an effective alternative to MS Office (and of course, free):

4. Virtualbox running Windows Vista for occasional times when I can't get a job done in Fedora (i.e. updating my Tom Tom, and synching my iPod). I admit, this is not an ideal solution (especially as you have to buy a copy of Vista!), but it works very well:

5. For me, here's the best bit: multiple desktops. When I started work at Nortel, my first PC was a HP Unix workstation, which had multiple workspaces on the desktop. Once you're used to this way of working, it is very hard to go back to a single desktop (i.e. Windows). Even Mac OS X has recently added this feature - I was surprised Vista didn't have it. In my opinion, Fedora, and the other Linux distributions, implements this feature the best out the lot. My last screenshot is just one example of how this looks - you have to see it in action, and use it, to reaslise how much easier it makes juggling multiple tasks. Anyway, here's a 'zoom out' of my four virtual desktops:

Alright, that's enough nerding around for today. There are loads of reviews and videos of Fedora out on the web in case you want to see more. If I have already inspired you then get over to the Fedora web site and download (yep - it's free) the operating system and try it for yourself.

On a slightly more serious note though, why on earth hasn't Apple released OS X as a software product you can buy and install on your standard Windows PC, to rival Vista directly? Surely this would open a whole new route for people to migrate from Windows to Mac, generating more sales for Apple. Right now, you have one option if you want to migrate:

1. Buy a new (expensive) Mac.
2. Dispose of your old PC.

Not the cheapest, nor the most green approach if you have no good use for the old hardware.

Instead then, if people could buy Mac OS X and install it over (or along-side) Windows, then this is what could happen:

1. PC user buys an iPod. Installs iTunes on their Vista PC, and likes the simplicity and style of his small Apple product. He wants more of it.
2. He buys a Mac OS X CD-ROM and installs it on his Windows PC. Apple will have written a very friendly migration tool, so the PC user does not lose any documents, all his mail is migrated, and his internet bookmarks. He's now a Mac user, albeit on his existing PC hardware.
3. After a while, the PC user is loving the Mac OS experience, but hates his ugly old PC hardware. Time to upgrade, so he walks into an Apple Store, and buys an iMac.

There you have it. Apple have ultimately gained a sale of an iMac which they might not have got otherwise. They have also made some high-margin revenue from the sale of the software-only Mac OS X CD. Finally, as long as the technology all works, the user is then locked-in to the iMac hardware, and so becomes yet another very loyal Mac fan.

No doubt this is a stupid idea, otherwise why haven't Apple already done this (well, perhaps the iPod and iPhone have kept them busy enough)? Anyway, seems like a good plan to me!

Thanks for reading.

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