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stupid reasons to love linux

the following are reasons i like unix/linux which aren't exactly major arguments for the platform. people often cite stability, performance, the community, or access to the source code as major reasons to like linux/unix. the following lists are minor reasons to like unix that may not make it into any usenet or slashdot debate.

general unix

  1. multiple desktops
    rather than "minimizing all windows" or some dumb crap like that, clicking on a brand new desktop is faster, safer and just plain cooler. depending on your WM, you can set different wallpapers so you can keep track of which one is which, and you can even change the desktop icons with certain packages. i used this a lot when i had jobs that took a long time to complete (making tapes with tar, ftping, finds, etc.) running in several Xterms. when i needed to bring up something like a browser or a mail client in a large window i would just jump to a new desktop. usually i have a chat client, mail client and a browser up on one desktop, various terms for monitoring on another desktop, and editors and other productivity apps on another. once you get all your windows arranged just perfectly, flipping to a new desktop will preserve that arrangement. not to mention, it is a great way to quickly cover up your actions if someone walks up to your desk (you know, surfing for a new job, and other things the boss may frown on).
  2. telnet/ssh
    in the windows world, remote control is a new thing, but in unix it's old hat. telnet is woderful for all kinds of things from accessing a mainframe from a PC, to rebooting a workstation from half way around the world. some say telnet is a security risk, and making telnet available on a server that doesn't need it is a security risk. that being said, i think floppy drives are a gigantic security risk (all you need is a bootable floppy and you can pretty much bypass all security), and they get deployed on all kinds of workstations everyday.
  3. the middle mouse button
    the middle mouse button rocks! it lets you cut and paste with a single click. highlight with the left and click your target position with the middle. you can cut and paste to the command line in windows, but it sucks compared to the unix way with the middle mouse button.
  4. common command line utils
    pretty much every unix box has pine (or elm) for mail, vi/emacs for editing (in my case it's pico cuz i'm a wimp), and cat and more for file viewing, and tar and a bunch of others that are the same wherever you go. this is cool when you are on a BSD box or IRIX or whatever and you aren't sure about what all the X toys do or which ones are there. when you start a new gig someplace you have a basic set of tools to get started with until you get acquainted with the gui (CDE, KDE, Gnome, Afterstep, whatever). it's also easy to find out if a command is available, by typing which or locate to find the path to something you want to use.
  5. the super user command
    there is nothing more annoying in NT than logging out and logging in as a priveledged user. here is an example: to load a mail client like outlook for a person who is not a priveledged user on an NT box, first you have to log in as a priviledged user to load the software, then log out and log in as the user to attach to the exchange server and build the mail profile. this is a pain when you are using SMS, login scripts, and about a zillion startup options. with su, you can log in as root, load the SW, then su to the user to do whatever you want. actually you never have to be at the workststion, you can telnet in, su to root, load up, su to the user to configure and test, then exit, exit, and exit.
  6. symbolic links
    winblows does shortcuts which are close to symlinks, but not quite. by pointing a link to a file or executable, you can do cool stuff like load SW anywhere on the machine, then making a pointer to it in your path. for example, the citrix metaframe client likes to install in some bizarre location, but i want to be able to start it from /usr/local/bin/citrix. so i created a link to the executable, then made it world executable and i was in business, no futzing with path statements or anything.
  7. scripting languages
    there are a ton of scripting languages available that are essentailly unix independant. i have just stated tinkering with perl and while i am still very new to scripting, i know that it is very versatile and very powerful. by using the shell or other scripting languages like python you can quickly generate programs (tools) that handle specific or general tasks that commercial software is too generalized to take care of.


  1. using jpegs as wallpaper
    you can use just about any pic format you want as your wall paper. cool sites like customize.org and digital blasphemy ship their pics as jpegs or gifs, which are nice small formats. bitmaps are not, but in NT you need a bitmap as your wallpaper.
  2. using 2 buttons as 3
    under most linux distros you don't need a 3 button mouse to take advantage of the way cool 3rd button. all you have to do (if you picked the "emaulate 3 buttons" option) is click both buttons at the same time.
  3. tons of window managers
    one of the reasons i like linux so much is the fact that the desktops look cool. i can set up a hundred tool bars and everything and customize things way more than under NT.
  4. virtual terminals
    virtual terminals are so cool becuse you can sidestep right from X into a fullscreen command window by hitting a CTRL-ALTFsomething. this is fast, clean, and comes in handy when you need to do something and someone else has locked everything in X, or when X has gone haywire (versus everything just dying like in NT).
  5. transparent terminal windows
    there is no functional purpose for transparent windows, but they are so bloody cool that you just have to have them. i wish KDE did transparent terminals, or that Gnome did different wall paper on each desktop (maybe they do and i just haven't figured out how to do it yet) so that i may have the best of both worlds.
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