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What does your operating system say about you? Spoiler - probably nothing

oluoluoxenfree profile image Olu Niyi-Awosusi Originally published at olu.online ・2 min read

On my first day in my first job I made a joke that didn't go down well with the CEO. Way less terrifying than it sounds!

We were setting up our desks. Desks of our own, not hot desk, which sounds like a tall story from a dusty hard drive at this point to be honest. But yes, actual, we were setting up actual desktop computers, and installing Ubuntu.

The CEO must have tried to joke about how Apple machinery was far better. I , of course, though this was the perfect time to jump in with a laboured analogy!

Each operating system is a guide through vast, unexplored forests. What would each of them be like?

Linux, first of our tour leaders, is of course as multifaceted as the swiss army knife it is packing. In general though, most Linux flavours give you a torch, a machete and a hasty "best of luck" before pushing you out of a helicopter. Ubuntu, often the "entry" flavour, is helpful, occasionally. Through official signage of course, but chiefly through a vast network of previous tourists. They leave behind tips and even whole guide books at times. Sure, they might be short! Or straight up unintelligible to people who aren't used to intense hiking! At least they exist.

Windows has gone for a much more tourist friendly approach. There are paths galore, helpful signage, and plenty of people milling around on these paths to help you on your way. What it lacks is reminders that this is, in fact, still new terrain. There's little acknowledgement that forests can still be dangerous places if you step off the path. If you choose to do so, there will be few people to guide you.

MacOS, for the joke's sake, of course came last. I called it akin to bulldozing the entire forest for the sake of a strip mall and beautiful angles. Sure, you can go off the path, but where's the thrill when it's more of the same boring tarmac?

Surprise surprise, didn't go down well.

It cuts to the heart of the heart of the way many people see computers. It is a little understanding of the appeal of each approach. It also belies a lot of elitism. Elitism I clung to as a early coder, coding on a beat up X220 thinkpad. It must've cost less than the software on the fancy Macbook Pros everyone else seemed to have.

Gatekeeping in tech is a real problem, and I hope I don't end up replicating crappy systems whilst attempting to tear them down. Today I upgraded my laptop from 18.04 to 20.04 of Ubuntu, which was a mild struggle, but also a triumph.

Progress!

We shouldn't lionise struggling for tech's own sake over a smooth user experience. We shouldn't vilify ease and simple set up, and make it seem as though struggle is the only way to get into technology.

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Well, I'd like to think MacOS as only half of the forest being bulldozed to build a shopping mall. You could live in the mall for the rest of your life with all your needs serviced right there. You could also choose to - by dropping into a shell - step out and into the other half of the forest to enjoy the "nature". At least in theory you have the best of both worlds.

Unfortunately the Mac's quality, in both hardware and software, has been declining in recent years, so the mall is looking more and more rundown. Meanwhile, Windows has been building up - by providing WSL2 - its version of the half-mall-half-forest best-of-both-worlds, for much less cost. So of course we start seeing people migrating back to Windows.