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Does Linux really want Windows users?

Tuesday, 1 April 2008 linux

Linux is often criticised for its over-enthusiastic community trying to convert everybody and their grandma. Today I saw another post asking why we should care if more people use it. In short: yes but I’ve got plenty of reasons to back this up…

fieldyweb’s posting can be reduced to a few bullets:

While I can’t promise to answer all of those, I can provide some reasons that I suggest Linux to people. Most of them are marinated in a sticky layer of selfishness: it makes Linux better for me.


Botnets account for ~70% of all spam sent. That's about 63 billion emails every day.
Botnets account for ~70% of all spam sent. That’s about 63 billion emails every day.

One reason I would voluntarily spend my life replacing Windows with Linux on “ma’n’pa” computers is spam. Some 70-odd percent of spam comes from end-user computers infected with botnet viruses.

As I discovered when I asked if ISPs should be protecting us, Windows users are collectively one of the most detrimental forces on the Internet — not because of their actions — because of their computers.

The effects of botnets are felt on any platform; spammers won’t assume you’re penis is large enough as it is if you’re using Linux.

Just imagine how friendly your inbox would be tomorrow if everybody installed Linux today.

More users = more apps and drivers

I don’t use Linux for the tree-hugging, arty-farty reasons that most super-evangelicals cite. I use it because it’s nearly a perfect balance in what I need from a computer. Also as a developer myself, it’s pretty exciting seeing something this big moving forward at such speed.

The barrier to entry for most people is the lack of their apps that work well under Linux. Most people write it off as soon as they hear it doesn’t run Windows apps and there’s almost no commercial application support for Linux — a fact that exists because there aren’t enough Linux users to justify Linux development. The exact same applies for consumer hardware.

More people using Linux and demanding Linux applications and hardware drivers from vendors will destroy the vicious circle… And that’s a good thing for everybody already on Linux.

Trial by fire

I’m fully aware that my computer isn’t without bugs so why would I try and push more people into using it? Because all software development works better with more eyes. More feedback and bug reports translates into a better roadmap for the developers. Even if users just test a LiveCD for a few hours, it’s easy to find out what they did and didn’t like about it and how things can be improved.

This also has significant security ramifications. Windows is the most targeted platform for viruses and malware because it’s has a massive market share. Hackers trawl through reverse-engineered code to find weaknesses and while it temporarily makes Windows less secure, patching these flaws makes it more secure.

I want it to improve and become even more secure, faster, for me.