If they do, it’s because they can

Perhaps it is an unintended side effect of the Windows-esque desktop I use these days, but I noticed something the other day — a behavior that seems to have changed since the days when I was actually using Windows.

I was having difficulty connecting two machines — my trusty Thinkpad and a relative’s Windows machine on the other side of the planet — and when it became clear that the two things were not going to behave as planned, I did something that I now take for granted: I dove in and tried adjusting things on my side of the fence.

That’s right: My initial reaction was to assume that something is wrong on my end, and start tinkering to fix it. That is an impulse borne out of countless failed attempts, busted installations, bizarre-o constructions and frankenstein approaches to system and network construction. Nine times out of ten, when something doesn’t work like it “should,” it’s because I micromanaged it to the point of utter failure.

So naturally, even when it is something as point-and-click easy as, for example, a Skype connection, I tend to jump to the conclusion that the error is on my end. And there are some who take that to mean that Linux is inherently error-prone.

But actually, what it means is something to the opposite. Consider: If my microphone doesn’t seem to be working, and as a result I can’t speak over the magic of the Internets to relatives in faraway countries, I have the ability to troubleshoot and correct the issue.

I’ll repeat that, highlighting one part: I have the ability to troubleshoot it. As a Linux user, I can tear apart almost anything, all the way down to the kernel level, adjust, correct, insert, remove, tweak, rebuild, delete, patch, reconfigure, create and even jury-rig, to any degree to get that microphone working again.

It’s not that there are more errors to be tackled, as some *nix-haters would have you believe, but that I have the freedom to dive in and fix them. I change and adjust and troubleshoot because I can.

For some people that is not appealing, and that’s okay. My neighbor, when she has a problem with Ubuntu, asks me to fix it. When my mother, a two-year Linux veteran, comes across anomalous behavior, she asks me for advice. And so again, I exercise my freedom to fix it, albeit thousands of kilometers away.

I won’t say Windows users can’t fix things on their own, because that would be as much an error as the suggestion that Linux users face more problems. I will say, however, that if I had a machine with a recalcitrant microphone, I would more-than-likely be limited to a neverending driver search, to find the magic combination that made it work again. Or a reinstall. :roll:

(I won’t mention Mac users. I have no positive experiences to report in that department. :| )

So don’t let it be said that the *nixes somehow need more fixing that Windows. They don’t. Linux users don’t face any more errors than Windows users, the caveat being that hardware is what determines success with either operating system. The reason Linux users seem like they’re always fixing things is because their choice of operating system gives them the ability to do just that. If they do, it’s because they can.

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8 Responses to “If they do, it’s because they can”


  1. 1 mulenmar 2009/08/13 at 11:45 AM

    “I dove it and tried . . .” should be “I dove in and tried . . .” ;) But I have to second your point — people aren’t used to having so much choice, so they can’t understand that “It’s actually possible to have it be really simple — I just like doing it this way instead.”

    Or, in other words, “It’s simplicity, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity!” :D

  2. 3 lefty.crupps 2009/08/13 at 11:47 PM

    > Linux users don’t face any more errors than Windows users

    Quite the contrary; Windows users face many many more issues.

    However, Windows issues often come as spyware etc which people seem to be happy living with, as it eats the CPU in the background generally more than causing in-your-face subsystem errors (which happen too often as well).

    Linux issues ONLY come as a subsystem failure (microphone doesn’t work? Linux is to blame!), and fixing these errors generally makes one work at the command line because, for knowledgeable people, that is faster. For people who rely on GUI, Linux often has fewer tools for these fixes, so it must be complicated to type stuff (or copy/paste it).

  3. 4 Olovram 2009/08/14 at 8:31 AM

    So true c:

  4. 5 Timmy Macdonald 2009/08/23 at 8:39 AM

    I don’t know…I’m pro-Linux, but with drivers, I think that it’s a lot easier to *learn how* to fix a Windows driver problem than it is with Linux.

  5. 6 Timmy Macdonald 2009/08/23 at 8:39 AM

    …curses, I forgot to check the “notify by email” box…:shame:


  1. 1 Linux troubleshooting « *Nix’s Blog Trackback on 2009/08/13 at 3:35 PM
  2. 2 Links 14/08/2009: Linux 2.6.31 RC6, Ubuntu 9.10 Alpha 4 | Boycott Novell Trackback on 2009/08/14 at 10:07 PM

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