Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Accelerated Diversification

Wow. A year ago, all the workstation operating systems I was using, either at home or at work, were Microsoft Windows based. It was a full range of old to recent machines, running everything from Windows 98 OSR2 to Windows XP Professional.

One year after, my landscape has drastically changed and I just really realized how much it did change. For work, I am using a MacBook Pro. At home, we now run a MacBook and a dual boot Kubuntu/Windows XP Professional Dell Precision M90. The only reasons I boot on Windows are .NET development (for NxBRE) and gaming. I am doing all rest, from Java development, Office work and personal finance to writing this blog, on Kubuntu.

This transition to an almost Microsoft-less world happened naturally, mainly because there are now software and hardware options that permit easy option to opt-out: office productivity suites (like OpenOffice, NeoOffice or KOffice), a good browser, a cool IDE... plus the Intel based Macintosh machines.

Of course, this diversification entailed some turbulence like:

  • Keyboard shortcut mix up: switching between OS disturbs a well-trained brain used to its shortcuts. It is worth tuning these shortcuts to unify them as much as possible, to maintain a good productivity level.
  • Application downgrade: Microsoft Office is still way ahead its open source followers in term of comfort of use. A special mention to Entourage, a Microsoft sub-Outlook for the Mac that would have better been named: Sabotage.
  • Driver quagmire: not all of my laptop devices are recognized by Kubuntu and printing on an network shared HP PSC 750 from Mac has never really worked.
But all in all, this diversification is a good thing. As I said before, I do not long for a world unified on Linux or Mac, but one where each OS has a fare share of users.

What about Vista? Mmmmh, not yet on my horizon, not even a faint blip on my radar screen. Maybe for my next machine, in half a decade. Or not.