An Infamous Cyber-Cynic Falls In Love With Linux - InformationWeek

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3/9/2009
11:13 PM
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An Infamous Cyber-Cynic Falls In Love With Linux

How do you know when Linux has gone mainstream? When one of the tech industry's great cranky-pants pundits gives it a resounding thumbs-up.

How do you know when Linux has gone mainstream? When one of the tech industry's great cranky-pants pundits gives it a resounding thumbs-up.John Dvorak has been covering the tech industry for the better part of three decades. When Dvorak sounds off on a topic, he pulls no punches; as a notorious critic of all things Apple, he routinely baited MacUser magazine readers with a column that rarely had anything good to say about the company or its products.

Dvorak is hardly infallible; back in 1984, for example, he slammed Apple for adopting a newfangled gadget known as a "mouse." Yet he can also be very open-minded, as he proved in 2007 when he reversed his opinion of the Mac in what he declared a "sad day for Mac bashers."

In any case, you don't have to agree with Dvorak to recognize that he is nobody's fool. In fact, he's about as hard-headed and as resistant to fads as any IT journalist working today. And that's why his current ode to desktop Linux is worth taking seriously.

Dvorak's rationale for praising Linux -- or in this case, Ubuntu Linux -- is all about nuts-and-bolts issues. He's sick of the malware that plagues Windows systems, and he's "tired of dealing with Windows malware, patch Tuesday, and the never-ending deterioration of the OS as it clogs up like a drain in a greasy-spoon restaurant."

He's fed up with Microsoft's paranoid, counterproductive anti-piracy efforts, including a software validation process that occasionally snares legitimate Windows users in its dragnet.

And while Dvorak doesn't deal strictly with business IT issues, he takes pains to note that "If I had a small or mid-size company, I'd probably use only Linux and open-source software, just to stay out of the way of the software police and their onerous 'audits' -- another abhorrent situation that, to me, is intolerable."

Finally, he points out that almost any new hardware, from a humble netbook to a high-priced server, enjoys full Linux support. Dvorak, like many other people, long viewed hardware support as the Linux platform's Achilles heel. That has changed for good.

Too many IT decision-makers continue to avoid Linux because they assume that it is a fad, a religious cult, or an exercise in pathological jealousy at Microsoft's expense. Dvorak may be a curmudgeon, but he's not a fanboy or a fanatic, either.

And as far as he is concerned, "critical mass" for desktop Linux is a done deal.

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