I’ve thought a lot recently about the reasons behind the choice of an operating system. I’ve narrowed it down to a single reason: chance. It’s not intelligence, technical aptitude, or money. I know of many very smart people that I would say are making an unintelligent decision to use Windows. I’ve met people that have very little money that are using Mac OS X and paying the required amount for compatible/regulation hardware for it. I’ve met some people that are so technically challenged they have trouble rebooting their machine – but they choose Linux.
I’m not saying that Windows users should be dumb, OS X users need to be rich, or that Linux users have to be software engineers. I’m saying that the opposite is true, even though people seem to scoff at the idea. There are so many users of each OS that you are bound to get a broad spectrum of personalities for each. And the big revelation? Their chosen OS works for them.
The guy that has no clue what grub is can love Linux. The OS X user might spend more on her MacBook than on her car, but that’s her choice. The Windows fan may know that his OS is vulnerable to countless viruses. But he might also take steps to protect himself.
So why do we tend to hate other operating systems? Because we chose our own OS by way of chance and the culmination of different influences – and we feel like anyone using another OS is trying to tell us that we are using the wrong one. When you see someone doing something different than what you’re doing, it plants a seed of doubt: what if I’m making a fool of myself? You actually are using the wrong OS – for another person. It’s the right OS for you, but not for everyone.
This may all sound like a bunch of hand-holding, everyone-wins, hippie outpouring. It kind of is. But maybe it will help you treat other OS users with a bit of patience and tolerance. Learn to accept your fellow computer user even with his foreign OS. It will make you happier. (And make for better comments on Slashdot and Hacker News).