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This week I was sat at a work colleagues desk with a brand new Windows 7 build on a PC trying to get him connected to our VPN something i’ve done over a 100 times in the past yet this time it wasn’t going well.
The main reason for this was a poor 3G single on a dongle however something struck me when trying to deal with the problem which boiled down to the lack of tools Windows comes loaded with out of the box so to speak to troubleshoot problems.
Here are the issues I had..
I do know how to troubleshoot Windows, however more and more when I sit at a Windows PC i find myself looking for the tools I have on my Linux Desktop and missing not having them.
It’s an obvious statement to make that you get used to using what you have and people need to run Windows to do their job and I don’t want this to be a Windows bashing blog post because it’s not meant to be.
I’m often asked by people why I like to use Linux over Windows and it’s hard to put my finger one a single reason however something I’ve noticed as I use Linux more is when I sit down and use a Windows PC i find myself missing a lot of the tools and functionality which come with Linux.
As an example with the problem I had here tools like “top”, “ps” and being able to see the log files and application output from the command line using tail and grep go a long way to assisting in solving problems on systems.
In this instance it seemed to be a certificate mismatch however that did nothing to explain why the VPN client was taking almost 10 minutes to load.
Other things i miss are the ability to ssh to remote systems an invaluable tool from a stock Windows desktop as well as mount and copy files using sshfs and sftp. As strange as it sounds it’s that command line which new Linux users love to hate which pro ides so much more power on the Linux OS and provides the user with the ability to see exactly what is doing on with just a few well learnt commands.
Now I know this is possible on Windows, however I’m not referring to a system setup with Cygwin, ActivePerl, a Lamp stack etc the things I miss are out of the box tools which the OS is built around and which are there because of the different paths the Operating systems have taken to get where they are today.
Windows is a Desktop OS, it’s core build qualities are those of usability and functionality, it’s built from the ground up with the GUI and the user in mind.
Linux has it’s roots in the server community a different beast one which dictates tools and systems to perform different tasks and provide more feedback to the system administrator.
I’ve always said that having the ability to use many different Operating systems and understanding how they are used and where they fit in is a great IT skill to have. Using either Windows or Linux for the sake of using them or because that is all you know is wrong. Use the tool which gets the job done.
In my world however this is meaning Linux for me more and more..