Tom Baker, a self-described “hardcore Windows fan” and, presumably, the Fourth Doctor in the BBC’s long-running (since 1963) science fiction series “Doctor Who“, began using a LiveCD of Ubuntu GNU/Linux 7.04 “Feisty Fawn” and, of course, he liked it. The author’s ignorance of UNIX-like operating systems does show through in places but I don’t mean that as a disparaging remark at all — he made the effort. The author begins by telling us how great Windows is:

Say what you want about Microsoft, it powers the world. I can use any hardware, play any game and use nearly any software ever written. I can do it securely, and with little frustration.

I certainly disagree with this because even Vista, with its many security improvements (I’m not being facetious), retains gaping holes through which intruders can exploit your system and the prying eyes of our friends at Langley and Fort Meade can take a peek. Every piece of hardware is far from running flawlessly on Vista. Significant amounts of hardware, including printers, simply do not work with Vista. Other times, the drivers merely negatively impact the performance (in the case of video cards).

Nearly any software ever written? Not by far, lad. A quick visit to SourceForge showed that there are 152,864 projects registered, most of which are not written to run on Windows platforms. And not all of our software, whether free or “open source,” is registered as a SourceForge project. And while using Vista may not be frustrating for him, it is for me. Bugs, crashes, quirks (such as XP shares not showing up in Vista, but Vista shares working properly in XP) and all manner of “Redmondism” plague Vista, not least of which is a barely functional command line shell. Sorry, Bill, not all of us need a cute little picture and a cursor to get the job done.

Patently untrue or not, his opening comments do set the stage for his final report. He had some trouble getting onto his wireless network (secured with WEP) and had some issues with codecs and getting the proper screen resolution. I couldn’t help but thinking “why not just do a dpkg-reconfigure -pmedium xserver-xorg?” The experience of a free, UNIX-like OS certainly does rub off on you once you get comfortable running in terminal, which is where I tend to spend most of my time these days (whether downloading with hellanzb or rtorrent or ussing irssi for IRC chat).

After he decides to install the OS, he has the following to say:

I’m writing this on my newly installed version of Ubuntu. I can honestly say it was a piece of cake getting it up and running. I had to do a few things first, like create some partition space on my hard drive to install Ubuntu on. Lucky for me, Windows Vista has a handy new “Shrink” command to shrink the size of your partition. Thanks to that, I was able to free up about 9 Gigs to devote to Ubuntu.

I can’t help but get a kick out of him extolling the virtues of Vista’s “handy new ‘Shrink’ command.” Many of us have been using gparted, whether from a GNU/Linux install or from a LiveCD, for a long, long time (or qtparted for you KDE types). He concludes by saying that he thinks it is unlikely that Ubuntu will ever replace Vista for him, but admits that he “just likes Vista, warts and all.” To each his own, as they say.

Bottom line, I was pretty heartened to see a self-described Windows zealot describe his initial (positive) reaction to Ubuntu 7.04 which, he says, “lives up to the hype.” Even though I maintain my position that UNIX-like operating systems, free though they may be, are not suitable for many end-users, I think power users and “admin-types” such as this fellow have a definite place in our community. It’s important to remember, however, that the important part of our community is not the fact that we use GNU/Linux – it’s the fact the we use free software.

You can find the full text on his blog.