WIndows culture vs Linux culture

Does it annoy you when people just assume Windows? I sometimes feel a sort of cultural distance – otherness would be the postmodern term – between me and the people at my place of employment who are chained to Windows with its straight-jacket corporate mindset, its suite of bloated, intrusive products.

I have long worked for a public sector (USA) entity, where the official desktop is Windows 10. Formally, my job does not involve IT at all, but in practice I have been a de facto systems administrator and full-stack web developer, providing applications that keep the trains running for my particular unit within the organization. I morphed into this role because we were trying to administer our office with pencil and paper when I first was hired back in the 1990s, and it had become untenable. But there was no software solution available, commercial or otherwise, that could meet our peculiar needs. Nor was the in-house IT staff up to the task of coding a project as complex as what we required. So we created our own, and have been running successfully with it – with successive iterations of it – for 20 years.

The point of this background is to explain why I defied the local policy and installed Linux on my workstation. I had work to do! The standard Windows user is forbidden to do things like install the tools necessary for my tasks. It’s impossible to work that way. Thus I ended up as a tiny minority, the one guy in the organization running an entirely different operating system from his peers. And in the normal course, it makes no difference whatsoever. I do what I do, they do what they do, all good.

Fast forward to the COVID-19 crisis, in which we do remotely everything that can be done remotely. The IT guys want a meeting to discuss my project with me. It’s scheduled as a Skype for Business thing, something foreign to me, but I figure, whatever. It must be user-friendly enough, if it’s meant for normals, right? Opening my official government Microsoft Outlook account through the web interface, I encounter a dialog prompting me to join the meeting. OK, click. Then it cheerfully reports my meeting will start in a new window. Fine by me. And then… nothing.

A few minutes of fiddling later, I determine that I cannot partipate in this meeting because I can’t install the Skype for Business client because Linux is not supported. Meeting adjourned, rescheduled for later in the week when it will be conducted via the more platform-agnostic Zoom – courtesy of your humble servant who has shelled out for a paid license.

I walked away from this – virtually speaking, of course – feeling a little weird about it. Is my stubborn refusal to run Microsoft products on my own personal hardware in my own house at fault for the aborted meeting? Or is it the clueless, Microsoft-subservient drones’ fault?

It’s a pleasant feeling of camaraderie we Linux users feel with each other. I guess this is the less pleasant flip side of that same phenomenon.


About twenty years ago I was writing a paper. I was on a 10,000 word roll when I blanked out–I couldn’t remember how to spell some simple word. I wanted to get on with it , so I ran spell check. I can’t remember which version of MS Office this was but even with auto save active, you had to run “save as” before you could run spell check. Otherwise it would dump everything written since the last “save as”.

Boom! Most of a day lost.

And that was the last time I used MS Office. It was a known bug. It effected lots of machines. And it was never fixed. The next day I was using an ancestor of Open Office written by Sun Micro-systems. And within 7 years I was running Ubuntu full time. Finally, everything worked!

For me the biggest cultural difference between Linux and Windows is how each sees its users. In Windows paying customers are treated like children who can’t be trusted. In Linux, users who pay nothing, are treated like paying customers.


Hang in there. Don’t be complicit in the destruction of Linux.

Something that just occurred to me. I have the latest version of Wine on one of my machines and I’ve been impressed by how many .exe files will load and run perfectly. I’m not sure whether Skype for Business is a free download or not, but if it is and you have Wine 5.x I’d give it a try.

1 Like

Ha! No worries about me in that regard. I am steadfastly committed. :slight_smile:

You know, I did think about that alternative. Last time I tried Wine was a looooong time ago. From time to time I hear that it’s improving. (I actually managed to get a Windows program – Quicken – running for a friend whose reluctance to migrate to Linux really came down to that one program. I don’t think he ever made the break, though.)

But that’s one of the things that I resent, just between you and me and our several thousand closest friends. Linux goes so far out of its way to be interoperable with the non-Linux world, and what do we get in return?

Hell, I recall reading somewhere that LibreOffice – or it may have been OpenOffice – was nicer about reading MS Word files in ancient formats than MS Word itself! No accident, of course. Microsoft wants money. The Linux world likes to be able to pay the bills, too, but we have principles.

So, yeah – I considered Wine and all that but decided I’d rather switch to Zoom (with all its security and privacy issues) than go through a lot of contortions.

1 Like

Well said.

Another irony is that Microsoft is exalted by some as a shining example of entrepreneurial, innovative, free-market success, while the Linux world is in many ways much more of a free market: you compete and you get rewarded for quality, rather than relying on your self-reinforcing monopoly advantage.

Your anecdote about the 10,000 words is hair-raising – and not uncommon, as you mention. Maybe another difference between the Linux user and the MS types is that we are the sort who will not put up with it! We will not resign ourselves to that fate.

I can remember when I first got interested in web development. It was maybe 1998, and I was using Windows 98. I was running a web server – someone had generously created a little http server you could easily run on a windows machine – and a browser, and a code editor, and a database server known as MiniSQL, sort of a precursor of MySQL. Someone had generously ported MiniSQL to Windows. As you can imagine, the machine kept crashing, and at the time I was naive, puzzled. What was I doing wrong?

Sure, it’s possible that one of those several programs was ill-behaved, leaking memory or hogging resources. But I believe the more likely explanation is simply that I was trying to use the wrong tool for the job. You don’t do serious work on a piece of crap, garbage Windows consumer operating system like that.

My first attempts to migrate to Linux were total or partial failures, but man that was a long time ago. Each successive round got better and better – easier installation, better hardware support. I don’t remember which distro was the first one that was really stable. This was well before Ubuntu came along. But it was 18, 20 years ago that I made the break and have never looked back.


Yes it is annoying that everyone just assumes we all run Windows. Even tech support for my web host did this to me recently. I made the switch about 7 or 8 years ago. At first I had to maintain at least one Windows system for my accounting software (Intuit refuses to support Linux also) but at the end of life for Win 7 even that machine got changed over to a Linux distro. Now my books run in a Win 10 VM that isn’t allowed to connect to the internet (because I don’t trust Microsoft at all). I tried Wine several times and could never get it to work. I have one client whose hard drive was wiped during a Windows 10 update. Last month a client brought me a laptop complaining about malware pop ups driving him crazy – turned out to be MS nagging him to install McAfee even though I had put Webroot on the machine for him. I guess I shouldn’t complain because Windows ensures that there is always a client whose machine is ticking them off.


My employer is a big Microsoft shop, they even partner with that Redmond Seattle firm (and we even have an office in Seattle too - i.e. we’re in most Australian cities, the 3 big cities in NZ, and Seattle WA) - so we’re forced to use the full MS suite of substandard (IMHO) products. They’re always plugging sharepoint and stuff like that - I DETEST SharePoint, if you want to bury some documentation to never be found, just upload it into a ShitePoint haystack, good luck finding it again :smiley:

Good luck getting Skype for Business (only the name “Skype” bares any resemblance to the original product M$ bought from that Baltic [Estonia? Latvia?] company) working on Linux - I tried getting it to run in Windows 7 VM, without success - it expects to know all about your Corporate Organisation and directory and global address list, so I wouldn’t hold my breath for success on Wine…

There’s a couple of positives here - apparently Microsoft Teams scales REALLY well, and there’s a Preview for Linux which for me works 100%, i.e. tele (VOIP) and video conferencing, chat (Teams calendar 100% integrated with Outlook Calendar] etc, although I can only VOIP other people in my company (Skype For Business can let me do VOIP almost anywwhere). By “scales” I mean on demand - e.g. one of my company’s customers (big mining company) was using Cisco WebEx during the inital lockdown #ISO in late March, and the platform completely crashed due to overload, my company has since put Teams in there, and it’s really good at scaling on demand (I suspect it’s doing autoscaling of compute resources in Azure)… I’m not trying to plug Microsoft… but they’re not as bad as they used to be…

Apart from Skype For Business, most of the Office / Outlook “O365” is completely 100% functional in a browser like Chrome, on ANY platform (I vastly prefer the Outlook Web Client to the actual 64 bit “exe” binary running on M$ Window$).

When I’m in the office (haven’t been in, in over 50 days) I’m expected to use the corporate SOE/MOE Windows 10 laptop, which is basically a pile of cr@p (they ENFORCE HyperV - so you CANNOT run a decent Linux system in a VM - really HyperV is a steaming hot pile of excrement!) - so outta frustration - I took a personal laptop into the office, running Ubuntu - which I used 95% of the time, in the docking station intended for the Win10 laptop, using the pair of 24" monitors… The worst thing about have that MOE/SOE - is they won’t even let me update the Windows build so I can update to a more recent build of WSL (I can only run Ubuntu 16.04 in WSL - nothing later).

So - the last 50 days? I’m using one of two Dell laptops running Ubuntu 20.04 (upgraded from 18.04) - and the ONLY thing I use/need the Windows 10 laptop for is to answer the infrequent VOIP calls from Skype4B (like maybe 1 x a week?). During the day I keep one laptop out in my patio, so I can smoke ciggies and work - the other sits on my desk, docked to external monitors… I keep the indoors one connected to work’s VPN (hideous Checkpoint product) 24x7, and it’s my intermediate “jumphost” to SSH to customer Linux servers when I’m outside drinking strong espresso and puffing on durries :smiley:


I can remember years ago calling my ISP, and the person on the other end, asked me if I had a Windows computer to use, and I said no, that I only use Linux, and it was “Sorry we only support Microsoft Windows blah blah”… So I just lied to her and - “oh yeah, sorry, Windows? Yeah - here I am clickety-click click click”…

HellDesk Operator : “Ok, open up Internet Explorer, do you have it, or you can use Firefox”.
Me : “starting up Firefox in Windows” (that was a white lie, 'cause I was actually using X Window System!)
et cetera…

Happened many times when calling them… these people are supposed to be somewhere technical, didn’t they know that EVERYTHING done on Firefox on Micro$loth Window$ can be done in Firefox ANYWHERE???

Also - that ISP was a HUGE Linux shop, and were one of the main West Australian Debian Linux mirrors for most of the 1990’s and early aughties…


I am in France where the leading phone supplier is orange. Calls to tech support about connection problems are routed to a central call centre somewhere 8n either north Africa or India, cannot work out which and they will not say.
All requests lead to Windows replies and when told but we don’t have that we use Linux the tech staff insist but you must have Windows and you must do this. Hard for them to follow that no that is not the case.
If the send a technician to your home which you pay for many have no idea and just blame Linux for the fault even when it is clearly a line or livebox issue.
Never tried Skype for business, and I know Skype for Linux on mint does not work especially if you try the 32 bit version.
Answer is Skype online website
Many users on that and no issues except on poor bandwidth connections where removing video still allows connection and communications.

1 Like

Ironically we at our place had tons of issues during the initial lockdown time. A couple of days Teams did not work at all. Once that was more or less gone, we still had partially very major problems, like disconnects during a call, especially when several people were in the same call, etc. After many weeks it finally stabilized for the most part, yet I still experience a disconnect here and there (yes, only within Teams – everything else works perfectly fine).


I detest Sharepoint, and I’ve never even used it! My line of work is a niche within a niche – court interpreting. My great lifetime coding project is a court interpreter management system, created by me because there is nothing else out there. So one day, I hear about another ostensible solution cobbled together by some colleagues in another part of the US – using Sharepoint. I saw some presentation slides, from a conference I didn’t attend, where this was trotted out. One look was enough. It was hideous.


Dang I love reading about people having the same crazy ass stories as I do and using the same crazy ass tricks to get the job done :smiley: HAHAH I feel normal!!

1 Like

I run into the “won’t run under Linux” problem often enough that I always keep my machines as dual-bootable, even when they run Linux most of the time. And I’m sure you have your own reasons for not doing that.
But the culture problem is so common that most people don’t even realise they are doing it. I run into it every day just in daily living…
I am from Perth, W.A. but now live in the US, and I am constantly reminded of the fact that most people around me can’t think outside the US framework of thinking. They do not know that almost the entire world uses the metric system. The lb/feet system is only used in the US, Burma and Liberia - yep, the US is in great company there.

Even people who live in the unrealistic world of fiction are stuck in this US-centric paradigm. For example on TV shows, all UFO-alien encounters happen in the US. Nobody makes TV shows about alien landings in India or China or …
But … we who are different from the rest of the herd learn to live with it. I try not to be too hard on the US though - my wife is American.


I’m still in Perth WA mate! :smiley:

Along with your mention of culture, I hate the assumption that Northists (people in the Northern Hemisphere) have that the WHOLE planet is in sync - i.e. when it’s Winter in New York or London or Moscow, it’s winter every where else like Buenos Aires, Cape Town or Sydney… :smiley: … oh and calling Autumn “Fall” (or even “The Fall”) :smiley: … but we’ve become inured to all that anyway… it doesn’t bother me too much…

Imperial vs Metric? In the most recent sci-fi series “Lost in Space” (reboot of the classic from the 1960’s) - they’re in space and they’re using IMPERIAL tools and bolts! In the future? Surely the future will surely be 100% metric!

One thing I do hate about the imprint of US culture into “our” more British culture downunder, is most Australians now write “ass” and say “ass”, when they should be writing “arse” and sayin “ahhhsss” :smiley:

Regards to your missus :smiley: no offence meant…


I think there is a general culture problem in the USA. There are many things that Americans think are correct, while feeling like there is only 1 country in the world: the USA. Then there is the old school enemy Russia, the new school enemy China and all other countries of the world are just to be conquered territory for the US. So I think the metric system example is just one of so many things that Americans feel solipsistic about.


Yes. As you say there are many things to mention, the metric system is just one of the many that pop easily to mind.
And to say “solipsistic” is being very kind. Sometimes I think that “stubborn” would be a more suitable descriptor. (A good example of that would The War of Currents between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse that led to the US being stuck with a domestic supply voltage of 110-120v, whereas most of the rest of the world uses 220-240V)
The craziness about metric is that when I speak to architects, designers and engineers about whether they know the metric system they all say “Yes. I can work in Imperial or metric.” And they prefer metric. And many Americans I speak to tell me that they know the metric system and they wish that the country would change to metric.
And when I work on my wife’s 2002 Chevy Silverado, I find that all the nuts and bolts are metric sizes. And that Chevy was built nearly 20 years ago.
I continually ask myself - why does the US not just ‘bite the bullet (so to speak)’ and change?" Is it stubbornness? Or pride (though there’s nothing to be proud about in sticking to the Imperial system)? Or what?
Perhaps it is just a lack of political will.


I find the best way of getting rid of microshaft drones s to bludgeon them. Shooting is too quick and while a samurai sword is good, bludgeoning is messier and even more fun. As for …?..!^^! …Ooops!! Sorry. Wrong forum.


France huh! You are now entering the twilight… sorry, minitel, zone. Lol. Actually they’re not too backwards. Heard that for cyber defence, hacking/counter hacking France is premium. The govt. has also ensured that the broadband rollout has been more thorough and quicker than for most other ‘Urop’ countries.
My overall impression is that your Froggies can be a bit conservative and therefore slow on the uptake but when they commit themselves they’re damn efficient and we’ll organised.