If Linux were popular

This essay was originally written in Portuguese, and subsequently translated to English. I rewrote the English version so it reads like an anglophone wrote it.

I understand that some people have problems switching from Windows to linux. Since all my friends keep telling me how great Windows is, I thought I’d try an experiment.

I went to the Microsoft website to download Windows, but it wasn’t available. I was frustrated because I spent a lot of time uselessly looking for a download link. I decided to ask my friend, and he told me where I could buy a copy.

I hopped in the car and drove to the mall, where I found a store that sells software. I asked someone where Windows was, and they showed me a few options. “I want the most complete distribution” I said proudly, and took the box up to the cash.

“$400 please” – I balked, and fled the store.

One of my friends gave me a copy of Windows XP, but told me not to tell anyone. I thought that was a bit odd, because I copy my linux distro all the time and give it to my friends. Oh well… I took the CD, put it in the drive, and restarted. It didn’t work – where is the LiveCD boot screen? The only thing the CD showed me was an install option. I called my friend, and he told me that Windows cannot be booted from a CD.

OK, so I suppose I will have to install it. I followed the instructions from the screen, but I got nervous since it never asked about other operating systems. I know whenever I install linux, it always is careful to ask about creating a new partition and so on, so it doesn’t damage other operating systems I have installed. I backed up linux just in case, and restarted the installation.

Installation was pretty simple, except for where it asked for a serial number. My friend was a bit peeved that I called again, but he came to my house and typed in his number, again telling me never to tell another living soul. I rebooted, and took the plunge.

I was shocked when Windows let me change the system configuration without asking for root access. My friend swore when he heard my voice again on the phone, but told me that root access is given at login, and that I’d have to create a new non-root account. I did so, then realized that in order to use root access, I had to log out and log back in under the administrator account. Now I see why so many people always run under the administrator account – and it creeped me out.

OK, time to do some simple tasks. I went to Start > Programs to open a spreadsheet application, but I couldn’t find one. My friend told me that Windows doesn’t have those applications by default and that I had to download them from the internet. I guess this is just a basic distribution of Windows. I went to Add/Remove programs in Control Panel, just like in linux, but there were no programs to add. It only let me remove programs. I think it must be broken. My friend told me that you have to search online for programs to install. So, I went to Google and found OpenOffice.org to download and install.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t like this at all – I don’t understand the technology at all. Why is there drive A then drive C? Where is drive B? It didn’t have any productivity applications included, and I had to waste my time looking for them online. Apparently this operating system can get sick, and I need an “antivirus” application to protect it.

I found this Windows distribution very difficult to use. Maybe it is good for some people who understand computers, but not for me. I am switching back to linux.