FOSS or Proprietary?

I am ecstatic about my new PC. However, there is a catch in all of this. Would I have to give up my beloved Penguin?

While conducting my research on the best components to buy, I was informed that the HD 5870 (and ATI cards in general) are not as well supported by Linux as the nVidia family of graphics cards. This was a major annoyance. I have been a strong supporter of FOSS and specifically the Ubuntu project for more than four years and it was quite an important part of my overall computing experience. I had much introspection and evaluation to perform before settling on my choice of graphics cards. I could go for the ATI HD 5870 which was cheaper and better or go for the nVidia GTX 285 which was far more expensive, not as powerful but worked with Linux (I know I am oversimplifying the pros and cons but this is essentially the decision I had to make). In the end I decided that I could either buy a powerful computer to play games on or I could get any run of the mill laptop or desktop and use Ubuntu. I decided to opt for the former. While I respect the goals of FOSS and Ubuntu I have been unhappy with the numerous problems I face on a daily basis. This is not to say that Windows 7 does not have it’s own share of annoyances, however I decided that at this stage in my life I was better served by Windows 7.
This started a whole new adventure for me. I had to find a whole suite of new applications to replace my Linux open source ones.
The following were available in Windows:
The following required substities:
  • Pidgin – this was available for Windows, but I found that all the notification options (such as Guifications and Snarl) were not suited to the Windows 7 Aero theme. Therefore, I decided to go with Digsby which is closed source, but a great product.
  • Compiz – of course Windows comes with Aero, but I really liked Compiz’ expose style feature. So, I got the useful Switcher program which emulates this function with a number of options.
  • TransmissionuTorrent, this was hardly a choice as uTorrent is simply the best torrenting application available.
  • Amarok – Media players are the hardest to choose in my opinion. iTunes was of course the “obvious” choice as I own an iPod. However, two things put me off using it immediately after I had loaded my 10,000 songs into its library. The start up is incredibly slow (note my powerful i7 processor) and it did not grab all my album artwork which is located in the folders of each of my albums. This is an annoyance as I had spent many hours meticulously putting these together. Therefore, I decided to go for Media Monkey, which is a surprisingly good media player. I hardly miss Amarok!
  • Package Manager – without an auto-updater, such as the package manager built-into Linux, it is difficult to keep up with frequent software updates. Therefore, I downloaded’s Update Checker. Simple app that just gets the job done!
  • rSync backup – This was a CLI application that did incremental backup. I spent hours learning the commands so I could come up with a script that did the “ideal” backup for me. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any similar app for Windows and went with Genie TImeline which is a nice, simple Time Machine like backup tool.
  • Gnome-Do – Simple launcher app which has its equivalent one in Windows: Launchy.
  • Symbolic Links – this is built into Linux and it allows you to create a type of short-cut that links back to the original folder. This is mainly useful to ensure that you can copy folders into your Dropbox folder without having to duplicate all the contents of the folder itself. Link Shell Extension does the job well in Windows 7.
The following are new “finds” for Windows 7:
Am I missing anything?
Generally, speaking I miss Ubuntu. I spent months tweaking it and setting it up and changing to Windows has been drastic. There are a number of new headaches (such as viruses) to worry about and the interface is completely alien. My current headache is that even after my desktop comes out of sleep my Razer Copperhead mouse refuses to awake for at least 15-30 seconds, making my desktop unusable.
Having said that Windows 7 is a huge leap forward and the fact that I can play games (which is immensely difficult in Ubuntu) has made my experience all the more sweeter.

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