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The MS Tax


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#1 screamer

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Posted 17 February 2003 - 02:51 PM

While browsing /. today I noticed an interesting question about buying a laptop without Windows installed. It talked about the MS tax people have to pay just to buy a machine, and how getting hardware without an OS installed is practically impossible. Sure there's companies selling laptops with no OS, but usually they just buy Windows machines, wipe out the OS, and then sell it "Linux-friendly." I plan on emailing all the major computer retailers (dell, compaq, gateway) and seeing what they have to say about the "no OS" issue. One person said he had asked dell about not getting an OS, and they wouldn't even reply. It should be interesting to see what happens.

At first I thought "Ah just get it with Windows and delete it." But when Windows makes a profit for each purchase, it's kind of sickening...especially if you don't want their software! Why can't people just purchase hardware without software? And more importantly, why does installing Linux void the warranty of many laptops? If Microsoft isn't in bed with the computer makers, I don't know what's going on.

#2 Access Excess

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Posted 17 February 2003 - 03:09 PM

hey screamer, i feel your pain! the situation is the same here in romania, all computer retailers sell hardware with software, or better put windows. the only way to get yourself a computer is to buy the parts and build it yourself. this is what i will do from now on. it would be nice if we could see a contract between microsoft and these retailers and see what are microsoft's demands (i.e. SELL WINDOWS OR DIE!!!). :lol:
anyway i read in freq 28 that you made the switch to open source computing and i am glad you did as i did the same from jan 26 2k3. right now i'm running slack 8.1 but as soon as summer comes and school ends i will get a new computer for my birthday (i will build it myself from parts) and i think i will try out other UNIX OSs like BSD or something. i'm curios to know what OS are you runnin' now and if you will ever do another live ep of hackermind is your NIC supported? that's all i had to say. greetz and don't go back! :nono:

#3 screamer

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Posted 17 February 2003 - 03:34 PM

Right now just mandy 9.0, but I'd like to get debian soon. As for the show, not sure if a live show is in the cards anytime soon, but we will make more recorded ones eventually.

Not going back is actually a tough call. I think everyone knows I love Linux, but I confess, there are times when I crave the simplicity of windows. Plug it in and go, sometimes that's all you feel like doing.

But that brings another topic to mind, how can you convince a lay person that Linux is better than Windows? I'm talking about your typical, only-uses-instant-messaging computer illiterate. From my experience it's all but impossible. From drivers not working, to buggy browsers, to dependency issues, all the way up to the ever life-threatening gaming problems. You tell them it's free, they say they downloaded WinXP for nothing. You tell them it's open source, they say open what? You show them how much easier programming is when virtually everything's a file, they just stare at you. Is it possible to show non-hackers why Linux is a lot more fun? I'm having serious doubts here.

#4 hacnslash

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Posted 17 February 2003 - 05:16 PM

IT isn't possible because when something is fun to a hacker, it isn't necessarily fun to the average user. When something doesn't work it intrigues me, I like it, I like the feeling when I make something work. The average IM using computer iliterate person will just be like: goddamn this piece of shit, user friendly my ass, thank god it's still in warranty. That's why I dont think it is easy to explain the benefits of linux to a non hacker.

#5 logan5

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 01:07 AM

But that brings another topic to mind, how can you convince a lay person that Linux is better than Windows?  

[snip]

Is it possible to show non-hackers why Linux is a lot more fun?  I'm having serious doubts here.

I'm inclined to agree.

From my past experience doing tech support and computer sales, I don't see how Betty & Bob Budweiser, your average users who mainly use their computer to get on Ebay and bid on Beanie Babies are going to understand, let alone care, that reasons that Linux offers an alternative to Windows, nor will they be able to grasp the concept of the open source movement. These people don't even know what the Internet is, they just know they have to be on it. They'll use Windows because they don't the information to know that there are viable alternatives.

I say this as a Linux übernoob and as a long time Mac user. I've been spoiled, because anytime I've ever needed to do something with my computer, it has just worked without me having to configure, compile or initialize anything. I tried Windows but I didn't inhale. I hated it. I'm starting to play with Linux because I just want to learn about it and for the challenge of trying something new and knowing that I have another tool to work with once I learn how to use it. The more I learn about Linux, the more I'll be able to transfer that knowledge to learning about the BSD underpinnings of Mac OS X (which fucking rocks, BTW) and vice versa.

But these days if I'm trying something in *nix and it doesn't work I'm challenged to figure out why. Yup...I swear alot too...even throw a few things when I hit a major roadblock. Betty & Bob Budweiser don't want that....they just want to check their Ebay auctions and do their IM-ing. Yes, they can do all that with Linux (and any other OS), but when you're spoonfed from day one to believe that "It's better with the butterfly" you really don't want to know about your options...even if they are better ones.

#6 Access Excess

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 02:26 AM

Personally I wouldn't like to see "Betty and Bob Budweiser" using UNIX OSs almost at all... Let them stick to their freackin' Windows and eBay and IM worthless lives for all I care. Take my brother for example. He's one of those "happy" Windows users that know shit about computers and when he sees me on the computer when I'm modifying config files in CLI to get my printer or whatever working he always says: "Why the hell do you complicate your life so much?" "Fuck Linux and put Windows XP as it's the best OS in the world, you just plug your printer in and off you go!". Of course I never listen to him and just call him downright stupid. But really I would like to see all UNIX operating systems being used by people with real knowledge not some imbecils who "know how to turn them on". BTW screamer do you still have that guy in your class that asked you for the drivers CD when he didn't even fdisk the HDD and install Windows 98? That was so phunny! Anyway that's about it...

#7 hacnslash

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 10:09 AM

Access, people have the right to use whatever os they like and if betty and bob decide to use linux then they should go right ahead. The fact is that most windows users are so addicted to its simplicity that they don't want to learn anything new, and this contradicts the stuff hackers are made of, we want to learn new things, we don't want bill gates shoving this shit up our asses, that's why most other people will never grasp the idea of the open source movement or linux, because if something is already there and it's easy to use, then why complicate ourselves with something new, that's how most ppl think.

#8 GUEST_Guest_***

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 10:27 AM

I think the best *NIX solution for the end user would be Mac OS X. The only problem that I have with Apple is their price. However the PowerBooks are coming down $1700 and the IMac's aren't bad either.

I have used Linux/HPUX/Solaris/FreeBSD/etc. for years now, and I think the only person that could compete for the desktop arena would be Apple. X windows just doesn't cut it for your average Joe.

Just my .02

#9 screamer

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 12:06 PM

How ironic, I was looking for a reason to start an OS X post. You'll have to forgive my ignorance, my experience with apple machines goes no further than a few games in the late 80's and early 90's (the games themselves were from much earlier), and sending an email or two on an iMac. So please, splain things to Lucy...OS X is basically just a UNIX system that allows you to run a few Windows apps right? Well they look a might purty, and I wouldn't mind buying one...but why should I exactly? The only convincing argument I've heard is stability, but am I wrong when I say I acheive that same stability through Linux on my PC? Go ahead you wannabe salespeople, convince me to shell out the big bucks for a Mac (cus when I go, I go all the way...none of those cheesy little i/eMacs for this guy).

#10 hacnslash

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 04:53 PM

Well, yes os x is as I understand a modified darwin with a real purty gui. There is really no reason to buy a mac except if you want to get out of the x86 camp. Really macs are sort of underpowered and there really is no good reason to get one, you can't really tell me that os x is all that easy to use cuz I've seen it and played around with it for a while, it's not that easy. But alas if you want to, you can go ahead and get it for its stability, though you can get the same thing free in linux or bsd......so if it's free why pay for it o_0

#11 paracord

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 05:03 PM

Basically just a heavily tweaked version FreeBSD with a spiffy GUI. I've been running it since it first came out and it's become great. The first release was honestly an overpriced beta but now at 10.2.4 it's solid.

From what i've seen most people here dual boot windows and linux, windows for the sake of everything "works" when you just want to get something done, and linux for messing around and having fun doing it. For me OS X is just that in one OS, GUI config for everything bla bla bla but you also have a command line in which you can do anything that you can do in linux.

As for applications, most anything present on windows has a port or counterpart on the mac. Same thing goes for linux. With a few x windows options such as XonX and Xdarwin and various ports from Fink there is really not much that you can't do.

The only drawback is that the hardware is pretty expensive. You could build a pc similarly configured to any of the powermacs for a bit less.

So what it comes down to is: you get what you pay for. And you pay more for a mac cause they're not stamped out by the billions with a shitty os preinstalled.

#12 SourcePhreak

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 06:25 PM

The reason why I am attracted to Macintosh is the fact that I can have apps that I enjoy on windows, in a sweet GUI, and have a UNIX core, all in one. I have not yet gotten a Mac because of the price, but I am going to put my money where my mouth is, and pickup one of those 12" PowerBooks in a few weeks. From everything I have read / seen just about any GNU software compiles and runs just fine.

For those who may not know Mac OS X is a combination of 3 OS technologies, Macintosh/NeXT/FreeBSD. For what it's worth I got a chance to talk to Marty Roesch (The creator of Snort) last year at a security convention and he said he switched his whole R&D team at SourceFire over to Macs.

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#13 logan5

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 12:29 PM


Not to cop a phrase, but I think that every OS is created equally.....but some are more equal than others.

For me, it's really a matter of productivity and much I can get accomplished on my computer because that's what puts food on my table. As much as I love tinkering with *nix to get myself up-to-speed with that world, I have always been partial to Macs because they just WORK.

My livelihood demands computers that don't crash consistantly and I don't have time to spend troubleshooting, reconfiguring, recompiling or the like when I have a deadline to meet. I can't tell a client that their project will be delayed because I had to recompile my kernel, address dependency issues, or that I hosed my BIOS trying to upgrade it and that my computer is dead. I don't have to deal with any of that, and I can't afford to.

I've been a Mac user for about 15 years. I tried Windows and hated it. I hate using XP, I'm not impressd with the quality or the capabilities of most (but, not ALL) Wintel boxes I've seen and used. That being said, I'm really digging Linux. The whole concept appeals to me, and it appeals to the side of me that loves tinkering, exploring learning and discovering. But I have to reserve that for my free time....

I really like OS X because it is SO fucking flexible. I've just installed Apple's version of X11 and have been playing with OpenOffice. I can run just about any X Windows app and I can finally purge the last of the M$ crap from my drives. To me, that's a GOOD thing, even though I do have virtual Win95 and Win98 machines running under Virtual PC for web site testing.

There are TONS of open source apps for OS X. Some of what I've used is alot better than their commercial counterparts. Another cool thing is that the new browser that Apple has made, Safari, draws on KHTML and KJS software from the KDE project. From what I understand, Apple made some tweaks to KHTML, and made their changes available to the KDE project and they loved it. Yup...Apple IS a company out to make a profit, but the fact that they ACKNOWLEDGE open source as something viable and useful is pretty cool.

The OS X cross-platform compatibility and stoopidly-easy networking are key things for me too. I have 3 USB printers on my network. I can share them all on any of my computers, and I didn't have to intall any drivers (they're installed with theOS), do any configuring or ANYTHING...the damn things just show up on the network and I can print to any of them, even over wi-fi. Never tried to do anythign like that in Windows or Linux, so I don't know how easy/hard it is, but I was impressed in that I didn't have to do ANYTHING and it all works. Plugging in devices is the same way...the shit just works. Firewire drives mount on the desk top (And I can boot from them), my smart media card reader is recognized, my printers are automactically recognized.....no installing drivers, nothing...just plug 'em in. I rememeber having to install drivers, download updates, yadda yadda yadda. I don't have to do that anymore.

So, I spend less time fighting my computer and spend more time USING it. I have 4 machines running 10.2.3 (haven't updated to 10.2.4 yet). Of the 4, the shortest time I've had one running without having to reboot is 27 days, The longest was 43 days, and I only had to reboot that one so I could install the PPC version of Mandrake 8.2 this past weekend. To me that's really good.

Underpowered? Maybe...if you just look at the processor speed. But the chip architectures are different enough that you really can't use that as a basis. I find that a high end Mac and a high end PC will do the same tasks at pretty much comperable speeds, clock speed not withstanding. But if Motorola doesn't get their shit togetehr and start pumping out some faster chips, look for Apple going to IBM and using the PowerPC 970. I doubt they'd ever go with Intel, even though that has been speculated.

I've got a dual 867Mhz G4 and it screams. I do alot of high end graphics and video and I can't complain about the speed at all.

Overpriced? Eh. You do get what you pay for. The prices have come down recently, but even still, if you look at things feature for feature with all the software that comes installed, the Mac/PC price difference is negligible.

What you want to spend really depends on what your're using the computer for. I'm planning on buying a cheap Wintel box so I can really start playing with Linux on a dedicated machine. But if a G4 costs more than a comperable Dell, I don't mind droppin' the extra coinage cuz I know the computer and the OS will work when I need it to.

I've also been playing with Mac OS X Server. Oy vey, is that cool! I set up an FTP server in literally less than 5 minutes. And it works. I'm also working on upgrading an office of 15 Macs to OS X and will use X Server's NetInstall function to deploy the new OS to all 15 machines at once. Alot of what I'm learning on OS X and OS X Sevrer can be used in my Linux explorations, and vice versa.

All of this aside, I guess it really depends on what you want a computer *for*. At the end of the day all that really matters is that you have a system that does what you want it to do. But, I've always thought that if there is a better, easier way to do soemthing, why reinvent the wheel when you can save yourself alot of greif. As much as I'm loving learning about and using Linux, it just can't meet the requirements for the computer use that puts food on my table. Neither does Windows. Nope, Macs aren't perfect (HELLO! How 'bout putting a CD eject button back on the damn computer!), but they are reliable, efficient and stable enough so that I can have some free time to do things like post long-winded exposés on the Internet....and go ghettodriving.

OK, that's a bit more than 2¢ worth, guess I owe some change.


#14 logan5

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 12:39 PM

I have not yet gotten a Mac because of the price, but I am going to put my money where my mouth is, and pickup one of those 12" PowerBooks in a few weeks.

FYI:

By the time you're ready to buy, there *may* be new 15" PowerBooks out. They'll probaly have the same built-in Bluetooth , firewire 800 , and 802.11g support that the 12" and 17" do. Hopefully the lighted keyboard too! They're supposed to have the new aluminum bodies too.

I'm in the market for a new lappy myself, but I'm waiting to see what the next couple of weeks brings. Chances are that if/when the new models are announced, they'll drop the price on the remaining stock of the 15" titanium models. In that case, you *may* be able to get a more cabable machine than the 12" for close to the same price...it just wouldn't be the latest and greatest.

#15 hacnslash

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 12:48 PM

I don't think apple would go with intel, because first of all that would go against appple tradition and second of all they might lose a lot of credibility and customers, I think going to intel would be a bad choice for apple, really really bad choice.....

#16 paracord

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 01:22 PM

I'd rather see Apple go with intel rather then stay with motorola.

#17 sl1pm0de

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Posted 21 February 2003 - 03:09 PM

Well I have stopped buying computers from PC makers. I also am not going to build a PC from the ground up. What I have been doing which has payed off well is that I buy PC's from other people that are about 2 years old or so.

People do not realize that you can still do alot with a PIII 500Mhz. Just throw a $100 graphics card in there and things run great visually. People seem to think they need the top of the line with all the doo dads. Problem is you spent to much money and could do the same think on a much cheaper computer, sure you may not get 350fps per second on your favorite first person shoot but the eye cannot even see anything over 30 fps per second anyways. I have saved alot of money and have gotten alot of systems that have given me alot of use out of them.

In life you have to pay for so many overpriced things such as cars, insurance and other crap. Screw the mainstream and give some of these not so old computers a home. The best people to get them from are the losers that upgrade all the time to the next best thing so they have their old PC just sitting around that they are will to sell for cheap. Then of course throw your favorite open source OS on there and rock on.

Words of wisdom from da slipmode :grr:

#18 logan5

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Posted 22 February 2003 - 10:12 AM

[snip]

What I have been doing which has payed off well is that I buy PC's from other people that are about 2 years old or so.

[snip]

People do not realize that you can still do alot with a PIII 500Mhz. Just throw a $100 graphics card in there and things run great visually. People seem to think they need the top of the line with all the doo dads.

Very good point. No matter what you buy as top of the line today, it's not going to be top of the line 6 months from now.




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