Recently, I’ve been modifying my view on the various open source operating systems. In the past, I’d always been a hard-core Mac user,until the day I got MkLinux running on a Power Mac 7100, which was pretty cool.
So, I became something of a Linux booster at that point. However, Linux on Mac hardware was still in its infancy at that point, so the distributions that ran on my Mac were limited in form and function. Then, I got NetBSD up and running on an old Mac IIci, which was also pretty cool. That machine couldn’t do a whole lot, given its lack of memory and disk space,but I was able to turn it into a very functional firewall for my home DSL connection. In fact, it stayed up and running for hundreds of days at a time without a reboot, which was pretty impressive. Then, a colleague introduced me to FreeBSD,which has become my server operating system of choice. For instance,my home machine firewalls my LAN and serves LDAP, IMAP, AppleTalk over TCP, SMB, DHCP, DNS, SMTP, HTTP, and ssh. Not bad for a six hundred dollar home-built PC running a free operating system. My success with running all of these various processes well on one box with no downtime, has meant that I’ve been become a FreeBSD advocate of late.
Recently, however, I’ve been using Linux on my laptop and I’m beginning to revise my opinion of when and where Linux and FreeBSD should be used. I still think that BSD is a superior server platform. However, Linux looks like a better desktop solution at this point. Unfortunately, I don’t say that because Linux is better in some easily quantifiable technical way. Linux, however, has more applications written for it at this point (including Real Player, Word Perfect, Star Office by Sun, etc.) than FreeBSD. The reason I think that this is unfortunate is that it’s the Micro$oft syndrome all over again. People starting using Linux because there were applications for it, which made more people write more applications for it, which made more people use it. Ugh, the vicious cycle continues.
Started using StarOffice from Sun today. It’s interface is nothing short of confusing and the package’s mail client seems to have been designed by left-handed aliens who were suspended upside down when they wrote the code, but other than that, it’s very cool. If you’re in the market for a powerful and free office suite,and you have Windows, Solaris, or Linux, I’d suggest taking a look at StarOffice.