Re: More Political Stuff

> On Fri, Aug 25, 2000 at 06:23:56PM +0500, Sean Middleditch wrote:
> > Also, GNU/Linux isn't even close to ready for the desktop.  
> I do get tired of hearing this meaningless phrase.  Who does this
> mythical desktop that we're supposed to be ready for belong to?  I have
> been using X on my desktop for the last 3 years, exclusively for the
> last 2.

Let's rephrase that then:  Linux isn't ready to be the desktop for
average moron.

> 50% of the desktops at my work run RedHat and about half of those are
> using Gnome.
> I would imagine that my father could install and use a Linux
> distribution without too much trouble, if he was so inclined.  My mother
> could not, but she could not install any other OS either.

Niehter of my parents, or my friends, can.  Most people don't want to
learn even the simple stuff.  It's them I'm talking about when Linux
isn't ready.  Linux is MORE than ready for me, it's all I use: I don't
touch Windows, Mac, anything, unless forced to.

> Which one of the above is "the desktop".
> > Even if GNOME was complete, there are still way too many problems.
> > The whole issue of "root" for example is confusing to newbies.  You'd
> > be better off developing a stable gnome-su and whatnot so that there
> > is never a need to open a terminal and su as root.  If someone has to
> > do that even once, then the desktop isn't ready.
> The concept of "root" may be confusing to some newbie users, but there
> are a lot of desktops in the world where knowledge of root is
> unnecessary.  Offices will have an administrator, who will be very
> grateful for the ability to stop users tinkering with the system.  I
> have had the misfortune to administer a network of NT workstations - i
> found it next to impossible to make everything except the user's home
> directory read-only, and it kept leaving world-readable copies of user
> profiles lieing around.  Unix/Linux has a much stronger concept of a
> user/administrator split and in many cases this is a very desirable
> split, and with competent administration it is possible for users to
> exist happily with no knowledge of what root is.

The average user is working in their home, not the office.  I'm more
interested in the home user.

> I admit that there will still be a lot of home users where people don't
> have the skill or enthusiasm to install Linux on their desktop.  Perhaps
> Gnome is not ready for their desktops, but there are a lot of desktops
> which for which it is ready.

Again, that's what I was talking about, the home user.  Please forgive
me for not being clear on that.  I'm sorry.

> In my experience, the single biggest hinderance to installation of Gnome
> is the lack of applications for handling MS Office file formats.

Actually, I don't have a problem there...

> > GNU/Linux is also extremely unstable, in comparison to other
> > UNIXes.  While Linux itself doesn't crash that often (in 1.5 years of
> > use, I've it crash once, and that was because of a faulty patch I put
> > in), almost all of the software on it does.  XFree86 locks up, a
> > lot.  Even the old 3.3.x series.  
> I think this is hardware dependant.  I know a lot of desktops running
> XFree86 that have no stability problems, and only a few that do.  Is
> this noticably worse than other UNIXes' X offerings?

There are a few apps that somehow bring X down a lot... Netscape being
the fore-most, but a few other older X apps do it.  Thankfully I think
I've found replacements, but that really isn't the point.  ~,^   It
shouldn't be possible to bring down the system.  But again, forgive me,
I went way off topic with all that.

> > Most of the 'stable' GNOME crashes a lot.  
> I find a few components slightly unstable, but "crashes a lot" is not
> how I would describe my desktop.  Earlier Gnome releases were much
> worse, however.

Over-estimation.. to me a lot is like once or week or so... I'm VERY
picky.  ~,^  GNOME isn't close to as bad as Windows, where the first
time I ran it after installing it (MediaOne wouldn't install a cable
modem unless I had Windows or a Mac) it crashed, and still does about
every other time I run it, complaining about msgsrv32.dll...

> > You can throw in all the nifty programs you want, all the office
> > software you'd ever need.  But other OSes already HAVE all that.  So
> > what would be the point?  Really, the two reasons I stopped using
> > Windows was the crashing and lack of control.  I have lots of control
> > in Linux, but not by using a GUI: GUI's dumb the system down, no
> > matter WHAT you try to say, it's true.  
> My desktop has several gnome-terminals open, which are no dumber than a
> console.  A GUI doesn't dumb my system down.  Here are a few examples of
> how it makes me more productive:

Ya, I run nothing by gnome-terminals.  That kindof defeats the GUI, a
bit (ya, you can still use...).  THe only thing I use the GUI for is the
web, e-mail, word-processing (NOT text-processing), and the occasional
configuration utility like gnome-linuxconf.

> o It allows me to put nicely formatted (netscape, xdvi) documentation on
> screen next to my editor.
> o I can view the progress of a task in one window whilst working in
> another.
> o I have a modem monitor which shows how much traffic is flowing down
> the line.
> o A panel showing the time, CPU usage, and a volume control on hand -
> very useful for taking phone calls.
> o I can view text in a variety of font sizes.
> o I am able to fully configure applications like sawfish to exactly how
> I want them using a GUI tool, without having to wade through pages of
> documentation.

Yes, good point.  I really didn't think about that.  The capability of
displaying information is a GUI's strong point.  It's when you get into
control and manipulaion of data a GUI can slow you down a bit, if not
stop you.

> > The stability is only apparant if you run in a console, too, or run
> > the venerable x-lib software most distros still come with.
> This is not true.  Yes, the x-lib software is very stable, but then
> again, so is a lot of the Gnome software.  I find the ease-of-use gains
> far outweigh the few niggling bugs.  I can change settings like font
> size on my Gnome terminal using an easy-to-learn preferences dialog.  I
> don't have to edit a text file by hand.  I have nothing against text
> config files - they are often very useful - but they do take longer to
> figure out than a GUI config tool.

Agreed.  I don't like the x-lib software at all.  I just HATE
crashes.  HATE them.  It's the single biggest reason I use Linux instead
of Windows, because there's less of it... I'm just greedy and want
none.  ~,^  Which is possible, mind you..

> > OK, that was a large rant about GNOME/Linux/etc. all in one.  Really, I
> > tend to bitch a lot, but aren't these valid points?  Are these kinds of
> > things taken into consideration by most developers?  What reasons do we
> > truly give people to use GNOME?  
> Different people use it for different reasons.  I use Linux over Windows
> because I have experienced the same frustration with using unstable,
> dumbed-down software that I'm sure many others have.  I use Gnome over
> Xlib/KDE because I like having a consistent, decent-looking, easy-to-use
> desktop.  

Hmm, how is KDE not consistant, decent-looking, and easy-to-use
(considering the lastest devel KDE)?  I'm just wondering...

> But there are a lot of different types of user with varying skill
> levels.  There is no simple divide between clueful and clueless.  There
> are a lot of computer enthusiasts who like to play with computers, and a
> lot of them are coming over to Linux/Free software because it puts them
> back in control of their computers, and allows them to contribute their
> computer skills to joint development efforts.

That was put well.  You answered my question very well.  Thank you!

> > Yes, I use it.  But I'm not
> > dumb.  Windows is still easier, KDE is still faster, more stable, AND
> > easier...  GNOME is trying to put together a million features, a million
> > pieces of software, and we're rushing it.  
> I don't see that anyone is rushing it.  The few times that I have used
> StarOffice I have found that it sucks like the biggest hoover ever
> invented.  I find AbiWord development isn't going to stop just because
> StarOffice is GPLed.  It already has advantages over StarOffice,
> including the fact that I can be writing a document within 3 seconds of
> hitting the icon to load it.  On the contrary, AbiWord development
> stands to be boosted by the availability of some of the StarOffice code,
> most notably the Word importer.

True.  I'm just scared that StarOffice will be the "Official" GNOME
Office Suite, so it is what the average user will see, not realizing
there are alternatives until they've already decided they liked
Windows+MSOffice better.

> If AbiWord development seems slow, then this is only an outward
> appearance.  There is a lot of progress, and the guys writing it put a
> lot of effort into making sure that they are writing a properly
> cross-platform word processor Done Right.  The 1.0 product should be
> very usable, if slightly feature thin, but once it gains advanced stuff
> like tables we will have a free, light, powerful, *properly*
> cross-platform word-processor.  I think it would be hard to overestimate
> the potential of such a program.  

I just haven't heard much out of them.  I'm big on status reports.  I've
been updated, now though, and am quite happy with what I've heard.

> Paul

Sean Etc.

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