Linux users make the best Windows Vista Beta testers! July 3, 2006Posted by oktyabr in linux, opinions, personal, Windows.
I’ve recently begun playing around with an x86 install of Windows Vista Beta 2 Build 5384 and really must admit it’s shaping up to be a very nice OS… While doing so it had occurred to me that some of the nuances about the beta appeal to me perhaps more so than to others *because* of my passion for linux! In fact I’m fairly certain that linux users, no, more properly, linux enthusiasts, make the best beta testers for the latest monster from Redmond! Why?
I mean think about it… Most Windows users are content with what they have. Sure, they are used to having to reboot on a major software upgrade or install but pretty much everything works for them the way they want it to. All their games run correctly, they can surf their pr0n or whatever, hours of illegally downloaded warez are installed and cracked… installing a new OS that (currently) sacrifices much of that functionality, no matter how pretty a desktop? No way!
Then you have your Mac users… They love the eyecandy but most of them think that not only is Vista a cheap ripoff of all-things-pretty found in OSX but also inferiorly so. Besides most Mac users love their Macs because “everything just works” (/me pukes just a little) so what on earth would compell a Mac user, even if they had the technical know-how to deal with a flaky beta to give it a try? Nothing. Vista has nothing that would appeal to most Mac users.
Linux enthusiasts are a bit different but first I MUST differentiate between linux users and linux enthusiasts by saying “users” simply use the OS. Whether it’s for work, an old 486 recycled into a boot-off-the-livecd firewall or a cheap home internet terminal, most users don’t really care about why they should be using linux or how it works, they just care that it does work the way they need it to…
Linux enthusiasts, on the other hand, use linux because they like to explore the unknown. It’s an inexpensive way to be on the forefront of a specific genre of computer geekdom! Your typical enthusiast wants to use linux for things that maybe no one else has thought of yet. A typical enthusiast has a stack of burned cds containing a whole alphabet soup of different distrobutions and versions… To a linux enthusiast a newly released “beta” or “release candidate” is something to excitedly rush to, like a kid gathering thrown candy at a parade. The “bleeding edge” is where the enthusiast feels most at home.
Now back to the topic. Like many linux enthusiasts out there I’m a bit older (ok, a Vic-20 was my first computer. That’s the only hint you get!) and to boot I’m a gamer. I’m an active member in more than a few online forums, the majority of which are gaming oriented. A couple in particular cater to folks in the upper age ranks of gaming and many are employed in a technical or computer oriented field, some of whom are actually in the employ of Microsoft…
We saw plenty of posts on these forums when the Vista Beta was released and a smattering of replies from people who had attempted to run it, the majority with less than positive results… “support for driver X isn’t there yet”… “it will definately take a while to get it up and running as a daily use OS”… “lots of flaming hoops to jump through to get >application X< working”… etc., etc.
What? Missing drivers? Tricks to getting software to install or hardware to be recognized? Bugs to squish?!? Let me at it! This is just the sort of thing linux enthusiasts do in our free time… for FUN!
Long story short… when Microsoft closed the doors to new beta testers recently most of the existing threads about where to get it, etc. were made moot, so I started a new one dedicated to those out there that not only downloaded it and tried it but are actually testing the darn thing, day to day, over and over, squishing bugs, hacking driver disks, sifting through google results and more, and sharing our results and findings!
Oh yeah, so far the new thread I’ve started on said forum has one other major contributor… another linux enthusiast! 😉