Where is Home Directory? Where is My Computer?

Post LogoI heard from many people who regularly use Linux/Mac naturally hating Windows and I find a similar response from first time Linux/Mac OS X users. Even though there are many other factors to this love/hate relationship, Here I would like to consider the most basic use case i.e., accessing files/folders in your new OS. For a newcomer to Windows the only gateway into their computer is My Computer (or the renamed “This PC”) which unfortunately does not quite resemble his/her Home Directory in the Linux/OS X Finder. This happens the other side as well. A newcomer to Linux/Mac will be surprised to see the Home Directory for the first time and finds his My Computer missing. But trust me the dissimilarities here are skin deep.

The problem here is, By default, When it comes to accessing files or devices, Windows users are exposed to My Computer from ages and Linux/Mac users are exposed to Home directory. This past experience is very strongly imprinted in our minds. In fact, You will be surprised to see how this mindset of a user from one platform creates hatred on the other platform, even though all three platforms provide Home directory and My Computer view of their machine with exact same looks across the board. Let me prove it to you!

Below are some of the screenshots I captured to compare My Computer view vs Home Directory on Windows/Linux/Mac. Before comparing let me point you to the Home Directory of Windows and My Computer of Linux/Mac. On Windows the home directory is always C:\Users\<username>. On Linux/Mac OS X to open My Computer view click Go > Computer in the default file manager/Finder window respectively.

Tip: To quickly open home directory in Windows just type . in Run and hit enter 😉
Windows Run to open home

Home directory on Windows/Linux/Mac
Windows Home

Linux Home

Mac Home

If you look at above screenshots all three resembles exactly same. In fact on Mac OS X the home path is /Users/<username> which is exactly same as Windows

My Computer view on Windows/Linux/Mac
Windows My Computer without pendrive
Unfortunately I do not have CD/DVD drive on my laptop so it is missing here.

Linux My Computer without pendrive

Mac My Computer Without Pendrive

Now lets see if we can find any difference when a device is attached
Home directory on Windows/Linux/Mac with a device attached(pendrive)
Windows Home with pendrive

Linux Home with pendrive

Mac Home With Pendrive

Did you find any difference? Probably won’t. The natural way to open a pen drive in Windows is by going to My Computer then double clicking on it, The same can be done in Linux/Mac as well. But on Linux/Mac we generally go to Home directory and click the device in the sidebar, This can be done in Windows as well! This clearly demonstrates the difference in usage patterns on different platforms even though functionality wise all of them are exactly same. For completeness lets take a look at how My Computer view exposes the device on all the platforms.

My Computer view on Windows/Linux/Mac with a device attached(pendrive)
Windows My Computer With Pendrive

Linux My Computer With Pendrive

Mac My Computer With Pendrive

What should I do next?
Do I have to start opening Home folder instead of My Computer in Windows? or Do I have to use My Computer view instead of Home directory in Linux/Mac? Probably not, the motivation behind this post is, just to show you the striking similarities between these platforms, even though they superficially have different usage patterns. But don’t forget the above tip if you ever happen to open the home directory in Windows :)

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