The thought about the content of this post occurred to me yesterday when surfing the web as normal. (Interestingly enough, I forgot about it until this afternoon.) It started with Mozilla Firefox crashing. I feel like although with computer-related things I'm a bit more flexible and willing to change (compared to average users) when better software alternatives come around, with some things I just stick too much to what I know, often to my own detriment. Follow the jump to find out exactly what I mean.
Take virtual desktops. The idea of virtual desktops originated on UNIX (and soon after that GNU, and still later Linux) WMs in the late 1980s. The oldest surviving WMs, including TWM and FVWM (developed around 1990), have virtual desktops (6 by default). Yet, it took until 2000 for Apple to incorporate the idea into Mac OS, and Microsoft Windows still doesn't have the capability (though it could be used for a brief time in Microsoft Windows XP through Microsoft PowerToys, which anyway never became a core component of the OS). I myself didn't switch to Linux until 2009 May; until then, I was using Microsoft Windows and was hence brought up in the mentality of being restricted to just one desktop. I took a lot of flak in my article comparing GNOME 3 and KDE 4 Activities (among other things) for conflating the two implementations. I now know that KDE 4's Activities are far more powerful than GNOME 3's, which are a more glorified implementation of the virtual desktops concept. However, for me, it really doesn't matter, because I use neither virtual desktops nor Activities to their respective full potentials anyway; for me, the distinction is academic (i.e. meaningless). So while I am sorry for getting it wrong in that article, please understand that it comes from my years as a Microsoft Windows user. While I am sure that for many people the virtual desktops concept has improved their work-flows immensely, [I don't know if this is true or not but] I get the feeling that the reward for me doesn't justify the (again, perceived) cost of having to create an entirely new way of working that incorporates virtual desktops. For the moment, having all my windows in a single workspace just works (though it does get cluttered occasionally, but I've found ways to battle that).
Next, take Mozilla Firefox. In early 2004, a member of my family (whom I shall not name here but who was able to make a good impression on me) showed me Mozilla Firefox (version 0.8 — yes, I've been using it for that long) and told me it was the cure to all my Internet woes (as at that time I was a user of Microsoft Internet Explorer 5). I tried it and I loved the speed, the idea of tabbed browsing, and the myriad extensions and themes, so I never looked back. But that's exactly the problem: recently, I've found that Mozilla Firefox (version 3.6) tends to crash a little bit more frequently than it should — by no means is it an everyday occurrence, but it's still a bit irritating and disappointing. Yet, though I know that arguably superior alternatives like Google Chrome/Chromium and Opera exist (and this same family member has since tried to convince me to switch to Chromium), I stick with Mozilla Firefox. It's partly because no other browser has Mozilla Firefox beat in terms of extensions and themes and community support. Also, though it is outdone by a few other browsers in terms of speed, memory usage, and standards support, it's still pretty darn good. Plus, I know that version 4 is coming out in a couple months (it really shouldn't take longer than that), and that should fix most of the lingering issues and will add many more new cool features. But all that aside, I know this will sound silly, but I think the other reason why I stick with it is because it saved me from the horrors of Microsoft Internet Explorer, so I feel like I owe it something (that I cannot quantify) and need to support it even when it isn't on top. Then again, software shouldn't be like sports fandom, staying loyal to a particular team even when they're down; it should just be people using software that works best for them. In that sense, I can't really argue that Mozilla Firefox would truly work better for me than Chromium or Opera, though it will get better than the competition with version 4.
So what do you think? Do you have strong preferences for software that mostly stems from familiarity? Do you have suggestions for how I can better make use of virtual desktops? Please leave these and other thoughts in the comments below! (Also, please don't suggest Microsoft Internet Explorer. It's still buggy and malware-prone and still throws all standards out the window.)