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All operating systems go, but then again...

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AJ+.Column

According to the computer trade press, Linux is set to overtake Mac OS and become the second largest computer operating system. Who cares, you might say, when their combined weight is maybe an eighth that of the Evil Empire's Windows - and when Mac OS X is virtually a clone of Linux. This latter truth came to me forcibly when I was advising a mate struggling to install OS X on his state-of-the-art Apple laptop in Australia. In one of those little intuitive flashes, I grabbed one of my Linux textbooks and recited several standard Linux/Unix line commands into the phone. Bingo. It turned out that these mantras worked for OS X as well - and, amazingly, worked all those millions of miles away around the other side of the world. Just like it does here.

The above-modest trade press excitement about Linux had something to do with the fact that, although the operating system is very cheap, lots of dosh can be milked by dealers from punters who have bought Linux - and cannot get it to work. I bet it does not say that in the brochures. But they are right. Linux is fanatically defended by a bunch of near-insane geeks who writhe in syncopated hatred at the idea of it being used by just anybody. To use an expression coined, incidentally, not by early Dr Who scriptwriters but by old Joseph Conrad somewhere near the end of The Secret Agent: 'Exterminate!

Exterminate!'

Whatever, English Heritage and the Highgrove connection have nothing on the inner Linuxians. Read any of the magazines on the topic of Linux and there will be one of these creatures droning on about how good it is for you to do things the impossibly hard way - and by hand - when all you really need to do is click on an icon and hit Return.

The trouble with Linux, however good and easy it can be to use, is that it relies for its development on the demented purists who behave as though they despise easy graphic interfaces as much as they do newbies to Linux.

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