04 February 2007

Modes and versions

Yes, it’s another ’Doze rant...

We have this loaned machine with a handful of games on it, and the freakin’ thing can’t keep its act straight. Some of the games want 8-bit colour (indexed) & will crack a big sad if they don’t get it. Other games want 16-bits of colour & will likewise sulk if not accomodated. Still others want 24-bit (or 32-bit) colour — & you guessed it, go all dark-faced if they don’t get it.

Linux, on the machine next to it, with an inferior graphics card, will open 8-bit windows on a 32-bit screen painlessly. What’s the big deal?

Meanwhile, the ’Doze machine has no less than 3 versions of the video decoders aboard, all of them incompatible with one another. And all of them installed automatically because they are “necessary”.

Incompatible?

Well, some days a program will get an advanced version of the codec & do well. Other days, the codec will either break partially (e.g. play in monochrome or some bizarre resolution or colour scheme) or completely collapse, typically crashing out the program but less usually locking up the entire machine. Other days, the program will get an older version of the codec than it wants, whinge bitterly, & often refuse to use it.

Linux, on either of the machines next to it, uses the PLF-supplied mixture of codecs flawlessy. I’d not be surprised if the programs weren’t really aware of what version of the codecs they were using: they just work.

On one hand, we have software which costs money to install & money to maintain, is protected by copyrights, disclaimers, waivers & probably minions from hell — on the other hand, we have free software written by amateurs with inadequate documentation & typically no official support. Dilbert readers would be able to predict which one works. (-:

Oh, hang on, I feel a bit more rant coming on...

On any of the Linux boxes I can sit down & use this free whiz-bang sound editor (Audacity) to edit speech or music & spit out Ogg & MP3 streams. I can use this free word processor (OpenOffice Writer) to spit out web pages. I can use this free database (alternative) to back this free web scripting language (alternative) on this free industrial-strength web-server to do fancy web pages. Or I can use this free presentation manager to tell you about it. And so on.

On ’Doze, none of this arrives.

You have to go out, find stuff like it, & pay for it, then probably find more pieces & pay for those as well. Then what you get is locked down to a few specific formats, doesn’t adhere to any worthwhile standards, & locks up on you every hour or few.

Oh, yes, & pay for it again if you want to run it on your laptop as well.

A big bunch of this payment goes towards worsening our balance-of-trade & making us ever more dependent on authorities in foreign countries. Or in some cases, making the computers so unreliable & so expensive to fix that people can’t afford to use them. But they can’t afford to avoid them, either.

Why bother doing all of this?

Use Linux & you can leave everyone’s balance-of-trade undamaged, run with genuine standards, reliably, on as many computers as you like, & support industry in the countries which really need industry & innovation.

Go for it! (-:

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