[oclug]Re: Linux too hard?
tim at trhosking.com
tim at trhosking.com
Mon Nov 25 12:07:56 EST 2002
Get your flamethrowers out guys. I have just donned my asbestos underware,
so you can do your worst :)
Shad Young writes:
> I have been fairly blessed in that my girlfriend is willing to indulge the
> mayhem I create on our home PC as I try distro after distro :). I have been
> double blessed in that she, being of open mind has no difficulty switching
> between XP and Linux for common tasks.
Lucky you. I had to buy my wife a TiBook and promise not to screw up the
mail server unless it's between the hours of midnight and 6am. That's also
the time I get to play with the TiBook.
> The one thing that is missing from Linux and necessitates XP is Excel. Alas
> there is nothing that comes close to Excel for spreadsheet usability and
> features for doing statistical analysis, T tests, graphing etc. I tried hard
> to show her all the various offering in Linux. To her credit she did try,
> but they were missing to much.
I agree. despite hating M$ with a passion, I have to admit that there are
some things they do better than anyone else. Excel is IMHO second only to
PhotoShop in being one of the finest pieces of software ever written. At
risk of being flamed, I am still looking for a mail client that can hold a
candle to Entourage on OS X for simple elegance and intuitiveness (yuck, I
hate that word) as far as the UI is concerned.
> Aside from that she doesn't find it difficult to navigate and perform common
> tasks. She like the way it looks, and was actually resistant to XP going in
> (she like many others have heard the horror stories and thought it was going
> to be crap). She is a lot like me now. Sitting on the fence. I have
> complaints with Linux, but that is because of arrogant claims to superiority
> when it is clearly not. I have complaints with XP for its claims of security
> and privacy when it is clearly not.
Again, I find myself agreeing with you. I gave up on XP some 9 months ago
when I after seemingly endless problems getting stable Radeon drivers to a)
install & b) stay installed - I blame ATI for that however.
I maintain two servers at home, and for obvious reasons they both run Linux
(Gentoo & Mandrake). My workstaion is also a Gentoo box, but I am now
seriously regretting not buying a G4 tower instead when I had the money. I
have been a Macintosh programmer for 15 years, but whenever asked by friends
and family for advice, I used find myself recommending Windows machines,
simply because of the quantity of available packages and overall stability
when compared with MacOS. I am overjoyed with OS X, because for the first
time in many years I can now point them towards a real OS (one they can
actually use without asking me for help) without fear of retribution. Maybe
the lack of any 85 year-old ladies in our family has prevented me from ever
recommending Linux. I simply don't have the time to teach and support them.
> 99% of my complaints would vanish if application authors built a help system
> and properly documented in English (as apposed to techno-babble) with no
> assumptions (remember the old adage?) of technical knowledge, *before*
> releasing their app on the unsuspecting world. Reading docs that say things
> like this app requires such and such and "set it up in the usual way" is
> frustrating to say the least when you have no clue as to "the usual way".
> IMO this is the biggest difference a professional capital driven project has
> over a "build it and they will come" based application development path. I
> know how hard it is to write docs and help files that are both technically
> complete yet require little technical knowledge. I hate doing it myself. But
> it is necessary.
Yep. If Linux apps were properly documented in PlainSpeak (tm), and things
actually worked with minimal or no configuration required, and the user
interface were consitent and polished, I would start directing non-technical
end users (my family) towards it. I have some simple tests for any system
which I apply when decidinng which is the sytem to recommend. These tests
take tangible form. They are my wife and kids.
I sit them in front of a system and switch it on and walk away. If I don't
hear from them for at least an hour then it passes the test. The fact that I
was able too place a TiBook, a printer and a digital camera, still sealed in
their boxes in the same room as my wife and return an hour later too find
her printing and emailing photos speaks for itself. I challenge anyone to
try the same test with Linux (or XP for that matter).
I hear all this BS about mounting digital cameras as mass storage devices,
not forgetting to install SCSI drivers first, and throw my hands up in
despair. What the hell is wrong with GPhoto for God's sake? Why the hell
can't it just see the damned camera without me having to rebuild the darned
kernel and load a bunch of obscure modules? The whole CD burning thing is
also a shambles. Linux always has been and probably always will be the best
server OS around. I could go on and on (I already have). The trouble is that
the GUI seems to been bolted on as an afterthought, at a time when users did
not know anything better. If you had Linux, you were not afraid of editing
config files to get stuff working. Times have changed and users are entitled
to expect a little more.
Hopefully, on day the Linux community will accept that this is really
fundamental requirement for a desktop system. When that day comes, Linux
will not only be an incredible workhorse. It will be a thing of beauty.
Until then it is just for us geeks.
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