Steve Gibson… For the love of all that is holy, why don't you use Linux?

Hi all.

I was listening to the SecurityNow Episode #298 with Leo Laporte and Steve Gibson – founder of the GRC.com who is for some of us a security guru. I like this fella. I like listening to the podcast. I find this show to be entertaining and informative in the same time.

In every second episode there is a Q&A session in which Steve replies to a questions from the listeners. In this podcast one of the questions got my attention and I have decided to share it here with You.

LEO: Oh, it’s getting better. Fortunately, this one’s Anonymous in San Diego wondering why are you still using Windows? Hi, Steve. Love the show. I’ve been listening for a little over a year now. During that time, until now, I’ve been able to bite my tongue. But I can’t hold back any longer. For the love of all that is holy, why don’t you use Linux? I think I asked Steve this in day one. In your last Q&A show you mentioned how you would love to use BSD, and I suppose that by using Mac OS you are using BSD. But why are you still on Windows? I understand if you want to be successful in developing software you must test it on the OS that has the greatest market share. And this is the good question: Why use it for personal use? In the same show you mentioned something about not wanting to be on the command line all the time. Well, as I’m sure you know, there are probably close to a hundred different window managers and desktop environments for Linux/Unix: Gnome, KDE, XFCE, Fluxbox, Openbox, Blackbox, and now Unity. Please try it out. This is, I think, an evangelist.

STEVE: Yeah, I think so.

LEO: There are great advances – and I love Linux. I use it all the time. There are great – so don’t – there are great advances being made every hour – every hour – in Linux and BSD technology, and it’s free. I’ve been using Linux as my main OS since 2004, and I haven’t looked back. I was forced to do something on Windows 7 recently and found it very confusing and frustrating to use. I think it would be great if you started a small segment of the show discussing Linux and Unix desktop security vulnerabilities because of course I know there’s no perfect OS. Thanks for everything. I think that’s appropriate. Why don’t you just use Linux?

STEVE: I like Windows.

LEO: Oh.

STEVE: I don’t like Windows 7. I like XP. Maybe someday I’ll like Windows 7.

LEO: But Steve, it’s a toy operating system. You said it.

STEVE: It is a toy. And, I mean, it really is. No, I mean, I wanted to add this question today because we do get this in our mailbag a lot. And it is – I guess it’s a number of things. First of all, anything I want is available for Windows. Not everything I want is available for Mac. On the other hand, not everything that’s – there are some things for the Mac that are not available on Windows.

You may remember that I switched to using the Mac for some period of time when I was writing all the code for those machines that are over my left shoulder behind me. All of that was on a PDP-8 simulator that was only available for the Mac. So I dusted off a MacBook Pro and used it happily for some length of time. So, and I’ve got a BSD server where our newsgroups live, and it’s the DNS server for GRC. And every time I touch it, I feel good. It just feels right somehow. And so the idea that Mac’s got a real good Unix underneath with a very nice UI on top, to me I think that’s probably my sweet spot.

But I know Windows inside and out. I’m a Windows developer. Anything that I want, like my little wacky Wizmo, which a surprising number of people like and use for turning their monitors off and rebooting and doing little utility functions, it’s easy for me to whip these things out for Windows, much as I said I was considering doing a countdown for days left in XP’s life. So I’m a Windows developer and a Windows user. And I’ve never been, knock on wood, been bitten by any of these problems that do catch out so many people because I’m a very careful Windows user, and I do not click links in email. So it works for me.

LEO: Well, and that’s another answer which you’ve given in the past, which is how am I to talk about Windows security, how am I to be an expert in Windows security, if I don’t use Windows?

STEVE: Right.

LEO: So you kind of have to. I mean, it’s not merely because you want to sell more copies of SpinRite.

STEVE: No.

LEO: In fact, it’s not that at all because, I mean, it runs in DOS.

STEVE: SpinRite boots itself, yeah, exactly.

LEO: So it has nothing to do with that. It has to do really with the fact that, if you want to talk about security…

STEVE: Well, and Leo, if I want to affect the most people. Frankly, my DNS Benchmark is incredibly popular. I looked at the DNS page, I think 1,500 people a day look at that. And about 500 of them are downloaded every single day. Well, sorry, I mean, Linux exists, yes. But Windows is where everyone is. Windows, I mean, and the Mac, the Mac to a growing degree. And when I wrote the benchmark, I did make sure that it ran under Wine for Linux and the Mac in acknowledgement that those platforms are growing in strength. But still, I mean, by default, Windows is – it’s ubiquitous. So I want the things that I write to be able to help the most people.

LEO: That’s an interesting point because you don’t make money on those freebies.

STEVE: No.

LEO: And you know how to develop for Windows. You’re not a Mac developer or a Linux developer. And that’s just what you know how to do.

STEVE: And frankly it would be a huge learning curve. I mean, it’s not small…

LEO: No, it’s not trivial.

STEVE: …to switch platforms.

LEO: For instance, SpinRite, which uses INT 13, has to be on BIOS. You’re using a BIOS call. You would have to duplicate all that functionality on EFI. And I guess you could do it in Linux, wouldn’t be so hard. But it still doesn’t run in Linux, it runs perfectly well on a Linux box in DOS. You just put the – you create the boot disk, you stick it in, it’s running on FreeDOS, and it just runs, so that’s fine.

STEVE: Well, yeah. And you often see multiplatform things that just aren’t very good. I mean, for example, they make you install Java because they’re written in Java. And it’s like, okay, they work. But they’re just – they don’t feel like they’re – it’s like, because they want it to run anywhere, they don’t really run anywhere very well. And it’s like, eh, that’s not a tradeoff I want to make. I want to make really, really good stuff for Windows. And increasingly acknowledge that it’s not the only solution in town, and put some time into supporting other platforms, as well, as I have.

LEO: I begged him to write, I begged him to write, to rewrite SpinRite to work on the Mac. But no.

STEVE: Not quite yet.

LEO: No. But that’s fine. Because I just take the drive out, put it on a PC, and run it. It works fine.

STEVE: Yeah.

After listening to His answer I thought “Ok fair play to You Steve”.

Sharing this as an interesting factoid rather then anything else.

Regards.

Andy

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