Do you still use Windows 98? Don’t be embarrassed, I still use a trusty Win98SE install on one of my systems and I have no intention of changing it anytime soon.
The issue of Windows 98 as a legacy system came up recently when there was report on BlenderNation about a new patch for the latest Blender release which restored its compatibility with Windows 98. There were a few wise ones who saw it for what it was, another extra bit to make an open source piece of software compatible with a larger range of platforms, but the majority of the adolescents complained and gibed at all the losers who were still using the old piece of rubbish that is Windows 98 … after all EVEN Microsoft doesn’t support it anymore. Pff! The remaining rabble complained about why the entire world uses Windows at all when Ubuntu Linux is there to save all our souls.
I tried posting a comment to the ever growing thread of responses to add another vote to the saner side of the “discussion”, but it probably got lost in the site moderation queue somewhere. So, I thought I’d jot down my thoughts here instead.
You really can’t discount the value of Windows 98 in many situations. While the special Blender build in question might not be of direct use to me because I use XP on my work computer, I do have one old piece of hardware that is still in use (almost always on) and runs Win98.
For anyone who has experimented with this stuff rather than giving grand pronouncements, the simple fact of the matter is that a well tuned Win98 install is the best option for a usable full-fledged operating system on old systems with low resources.
Yes I like Linux too, and use it when it suits my needs better, but it simply can’t recreate the useability of a Win98 system on most old hardware. What Linux has in its versatility and power, it lacks in the realm of truly light GUI options.
Let me preempt some of the responses this is sure to get.
1) NO, a Pentium 4, 1.(something) gigahertz processor, with a measly 256 MB of RAM is not what I am talking about when I talk of old hardware. I’m thinking much lower. As LetterRip rightly points out, getting a new powerful computer every 6 months to a year is not something a lot of people can afford in the world. Even if they can, in many cases such as mine, people don’t see the point of blind upgrading of hardware when the old hardware does everything you want it to at an acceptable speed.
2) Yes, I am aware of low resource friendly window managers for Linux: IceWM, fluxbox et. al. The point still remains that the modular nature of the open source Linux system means that simply starting up a basic desktop requires a million different modules to be loaded into memory no matter how light the windowing system is. Think about it, the Windows 9x base architecture was designed at a time when you had to pay extra to upgrade from a Pentium 1 to a Pentium 1 MMX running at a whopping 233 Mhz! Most modern Linux GUIs, however, were built at a much more resource-rich time and it shows in the performance. Windows 98 may not be built to take advantage of your new beast of a machine, but it was built to make the best of limited resources. Your latest Enlightenment desktop with rotating 3D widgets or whatever, might not be designed to downsize to low resources, but it makes the best use of your latest beast … and the less we say about the travesty that is Windows Vista, the better.
What it comes down to is using the best tool for each situation, and it’s good to know that that choice is still being kept alive by helpful contributions such as this. Three cheers to jms for providing this Blender build, and more power to open source!
Ultimately the reason I am a fan of Open Source software and the reason all my professional work is created exclusively using such software is because of the freedom of choice and implementation it allows. Since when did it become a mandatory decision to prefer and love a UNIX-like operating system, i.e. Linux. Is it not valid choice to prefer something else instead?
Replacing one form of blind faith (Windows is the only God) for another (Linux is the only God) is not my idea of freedom or open thinking, and I wish more people remember that occasionally. Software is at best a musician’s instrument and at worst a blunt tool. It doesn’t play much of a part in producing greatness in the hands of a great talent any more that it plays a part in producing garbage in the hands of the ignorant.
To me Open Source is one of the most important things to happen in the world of technology for decades, maybe centuries. Now if only we all refrain from our natural tendencies as a species to sink into religious zealotry about everything under the Sun, maybe it can actually reach its potential, and more.
If there’s anyone out there still using Windows 98 like me, leave a comment and let me know your reasons, and the challenges you face with it. This is actually a topic that might be useful to write more about. If there is enough interest I just might do that soon.