Linux

Ease of use: But for who?


Over the weekend I was writing an article for TechRepublic about two alternative Linux word processors (Abiword and KWord.) As I was writing this article, I discovered something that might lend a hand to not only the developers of those tools but to Linux developers in general. This discovery is simply a matter of target audience.

I think Linux developers are targeting the wrong people. I think, in a number of instances, Linux developers are targeting themselves as the key user group for their tools. What made me come to that conclusion might surprise you.

As I was writing my article, I found a couple of the features of the word processors that I found to be rather nifty. One was the KWord Personal Expressions Editor. This tool allows the user to save oft-used phrases and be able to insert them quickly and easily. Say, for instance, you use the phrase iptables -A INPUT -s 0/0 -i eth0 -d 192.168.1.1 -p TCP -j ACCEPT often enough to not want to have to type it over and over. You could create this as a Personal Expression and have easy access to it. A programmers lil' helper?

Another interesting feature came from Abiword. In the tools section you will find entries for Babelfish and Wikipedia. You highlight text and select Wikipedia, and your browser will open on the Wikipedia page for that word. Yet another tool most Linux users are very familiar with.

You will also find, in Abiword, the ability to add equations (from LaTeX even) and bookmarks.

Both tools can be used nearly 100 percent without a mouse - another throwback to Linux programmers.

If you take a look at OpenOffice.org you will see the target audience is pretty obvious - MS Office users. The developers of OpenOffice.org simply want to take over that cross section of computer users. That particular user-space is made up primarily of average users who know nothing about programming, can't imagine using a computer without a mouse, and have most likely never visited a wiki.

I think the average Linux developer could benefit from following the lead of the OpenOffice.org developers and stop developing for themselves. Focus your sights on the average Jane and Joe who just want a word processor that will do exactly what they expect it to do. Instead of focusing on adding features that will wow the Linux crowd, tighten up the features that all users of word processors have come to expect.

  • Make it import and export MS formats 100%.
  • Make it follow standard formatting.
  • Make the UI standard.
  • Make it print properly.
  • Make it install easily.
  • Make it fast and reliable.

I think if you follow those simple guidelines, and stop trying to raise the geek-factor, your projects will find more success. Of course that doesn't mean you can't have geekier versions available. Just make sure you don't neglect that largest, non-geek user group.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

156 comments
seanferd
seanferd

Lots of Windows users want to figure problems out for themselves. They don't call tech support. MS once had some good documentation, for DOS. At times their KB was good, but right now, searching it is a mess. I have run the same query, for the same database (KB), but depending on what page I ran the seach from, I would get different results. I've also had queries for older OS lead to the Vista users forum, or whatever they call it. Windows help files are generally unhelpful, especially since a resource kit is no longer included on the disk. Then there is the purposeful lack of registry documentation. Where do users find info for a lot of this stuff? Third party websites. You can download Linux with an entire CD of documentation. There are scads of Linux sites for help with the OS, just like for Windows. I have no idea what Linux phone-in tech support might be like for those who pay for it, but I've never seen very good results for Windows tech support from MS or the OEMs. So, I think support quality is at least a toss-up, Windows support is not a magnitude better than Linux support. As for PNP behavior, wait 6 months after buying the brand new hardware before trying to get it to run under Linux. I personally have had better hardware support from Linux (total), than from Windows (find & download drivers for [i] everything). [/i] That was on a couple of systems designed for the MS OS at the time. Windows gets drivers first because they force hardware manufacturers to write them according to their specs (which change mostly for no apparent reason) for each new OS. Linux will have drivers as soon as hardware vendors release their specs (or the coders "figure it out"). I am not here just to bash MS. I use Windows products. I want to like Windows, but it just keeps jabbing me in the eye when I least expect it. Then again, maybe that is why I like windows. I love a mystery, and I love to fix things. Correct me where I am wrong, and flame me if you feel like it. ;)

aaronjsmith21
aaronjsmith21

I agree that you should have compatibility between all the major word processors!... ...But why not have the options build right in, for example: Create a layout selector. If some one prefers the MSword layout, then they can select that option, or if they like to customize there layout and format or just select another built in layout, they can. I guess I am looking for something like Notepad++ which I use on my windows machines that allows me to select the language or format that I want to work with, and the layout will automatically be created for me. I guess what I am really looking for a fully customized word processing application that you can save you formats/layouts in a file and open that format/layout later if I need it. Would be great if you could upload/download these layouts to a server somewhere also! So you could see what others use for there jobs. If I had the time, I would do this myself, but I already have enough projects going on. If I don't see a program like this with in a year or so, I might dig in and see what I can do about it. It would most likely become a sourceforge project. Let me know what you think??

Absolutely
Absolutely

[i]I guess what I am really looking for a fully customized word processing application that you can [b]save you formats/layouts in a file and open that format/layout later if I need it.[/b] Would be great if you could upload/download these layouts to a server somewhere also! So you could see what others use for there jobs.[/i] A thought that has occurred to me in the past is saving the textual content of word processor files and the formatting in separate files. Is that what you have in mind?

Absolutely
Absolutely

If you're precise enough to notice that error, *nix is less likely to be a problem for you.

jlwallen
jlwallen

i nearly wrote that as the title. however, knowing the audience I didn't want to come across the wrong way. often the Linux community can come across as "I'm better than you...". so the removal of the "m" was intentional...even though it caused the title to be grammatically un-correct. ;-)

Absolutely
Absolutely

The luxury of not being on the paid staff is that I needn't concern myself with such horsepucky as jumping through hoops or deliberately mangling my grammar to ensure the total absence of any subliminal suggestions of superiority to parties which take such offense irrationally. Linux [u]is[/u] better than Windows. I don't care if somebody takes that personally, because they're already using a crappy operating system, which implies a high likelihood that they are stupid, in which case I am better, and their offense might be the first time in years they've been even half right! :p

Absolutely
Absolutely

[i]I don't care if somebody takes that personally, because they're already using a crappy operating system, which implies a high likelihood that they are stupid, in which case I am better, and their offense might be the first time in years they've been even half right![/i] I didn't mean you; somebody dumped Windows on you. I'm better than your boss.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"I did not bring up the subject of personal superiority ..." Yes, you did, in your "That is funny!" post: "...they're already using a crappy operating system, which implies a high likelihood that they are stupid, in which case I am better,..." I'll be happy to rephrase my 'equate' statement. I would advise against equating Windows use with stupidity. There are lots of intelligent people that use Windows simply because they aren't aware of the options or don't care. That makes them ignorant or apathetic, not stupid. Your use of a non-MS OS doesn't automatically make you better than them, just better informed in one area of knowledge.

Tig2
Tig2

I honestly believe that is the main issue. The "we've always done it this way, therefore this is the right way" direction of thought. I like the challenge of learning something new, I will therefore look for new things to try. Someone else may not have my thinking. I started thinking about what would make the most sense for me from a hardware standpoint. I could buy an Intel based pc and be restricted to Windows, Linux, or BSD. Or I could buy a Mac and run OS X (which is powered by BSD), Linux, or Windows... or all three. The reality is that a change will occur because it is inevitable. Technology changes. The fact that technology is in the business environment doesn't make that statement untrue. But consider- for a very long while there has been a perception that there was only one viable business choice. Microsoft. More and more people are waking up to the idea that they have other choices. And that will drive the change. In my opinion, we should be focusing instead on how to make all the choices inter-operable. And J-Mart, try AVG for your AV solution. I have used it for years on Windows boxes and find it very serviceable and easy to use. I would also give a consideration to Zone Alarm Free. Fine product in its free version.

j-mart
j-mart

I Have nearly finished setting up this computer for my daughter. I was running Debian but she wants XP. I have wiped the Debian and nearly finished XP install, still have to sort out Anti-Virus software and find a driver for sound card. Because I feel going from Debian to XP is a definite downgrade I have installed a second hard drive and because a few regulars on techrepublic forums have been recommending PCLinuxOS, downloaded and installed it on this machine. Much faster and all the hardware correctly detected and configured all up and running on my home network and connected to internet in about an hour. I still need to do more work to get XP up to this stage. Linux definitely easier. How professionals in this industry can't get past this Windows is easier Linux is harder myth is something I have never been able to understand especially when every time I use these products I get the same result.

Justin James
Justin James

Yes, he is. He shouldn't be IMHO, but he is. Jack knows what he is talking about, though I occassional differ with him on matters of opinion. David Berlind... well, he is an employee of a sister company to TechRepublic, so out of respect I will not go any further. Do a search on "J.Ja Berlind" and restrict it to zdnet.com, and you can see my history of interactions with him... J.Ja

Absolutely
Absolutely

Yes, I meant Jack Wallen, not David Berlind, who also wrote something recently that I found interesting. Their articles might even have been open in different tabs of the same browser when I composed that reply, but as far as I know, neither is the other's pseudonym. :0

apotheon
apotheon

I'm pretty sure you were responding to Jack Wallen, not David Berlind, in this case. David Berlind is over on ZDNet, if I recall correctly.

jdclyde
jdclyde

is always a grand thing, especially this close to Christmas! An early present to some? :) It is funny how people DO take criticism of their chosen product as criticism of themselves. No one wants to feel like they have made a bad choice, even if they didn't make an [b]informed decision[/b] to come to that choice?

Absolutely
Absolutely

Sue me. [i]Oh, and don't equate use of Windows with stupidity.[/i] Oh, and don't equate your seniority on TechRepublic with the privilege to tell me what to not equate with what. [i]Ignorance maybe, or perhaps lack of concern. Your choice of operating system doesn't make you better in any area except your choice of operating system.[/i] I did not bring up the subject of personal superiority nor of anybody's perception of it. If you re-read my post to David Berlind, you'll see that I merely said, in kinder terms, that other operating system users' tender pathetic little feelings are their problems, not mine, and that [u]if[/u] they take my statements about my perception of the technical merits of various operating systems as personal criticism of them, [u]then[/u] they are stupid. Possibly, I included a "maybe" or "might be", because I tend to be generous in that respect.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]the home consumer doesn't care about better. They're swayed by marketing campaigns and what's on the shelf at the store.[/i]" True. "[i]Right or wrong, those consumers who have at least heard of Linux perceive Windows to be easier to use.[/i]" This is why people like absolutely and I have a tendency to correct incorrect assumptions when we encounter them -- because we're sick and tired of the tendency of people to unquestioningly spread FUD about non-Microsoft OSes.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Linux is better than Windows." I can't argue with that, and from the little I've used it, I agree. So why isn't it better established in the consumer market? Because the home consumer doesn't care about better. They're swayed by marketing campaigns and what's on the shelf at the store. Right or wrong, those consumers who have at least heard of Linux perceive Windows to be easier to use. Those who haven't heard of it are going to run whatever OS comes on the box when they buy it. Maybe Dell can make a dent with their Linux pre-installation option. Betamax was better than VHS. 12" laser disks were better than either. I don't see Betamax or laser disk players in use today except among hobbyists. Oh, and don't equate use of Windows with stupidity. Ignorance maybe, or perhaps lack of concern. Your choice of operating system doesn't make you better in any area except your choice of operating system.

Industrial Controller
Industrial Controller

The article asks questions that we desperately need to ask if widespread use of Linux is a goal. I have found that any given Linux installation task can take hours up to days wading through cryptic documentation and installing one package after another that requires another package until I run out of time or run into an error I need to research in order to proceed. I have developed on and used Linux for years but it can be maddeningly enigmatic. Perhaps as one respondent suggested, a new distro would solve this. My last install of Ubuntu required a wait hours long as it tried to configure itself. There is a lot I prefer about Linux, and I will do anything to avoid Windows lock-in but Linux can be tough to love. As the song goes "love hurts".

criderja
criderja

You've completely missed the point that for most Open Source developers, the target audience IS the developers. There are exceptions, especially on high profile projects, but many Open Source developers are volunteers writing programs for their own use. If others find the results to be useful, that is a nice side effect, but as long as there is not some form of compensation (whether monetary or not), there is no reason to expect the developers to target anyone else. If you don't like the results, get involved with helping the developers to implement features you want or pay someone to do it for you. Doing anything else displays for all the world that you are simply another whiner. As for your first bullet, if you had any idea what your were talking about, you would know that is not possible in an Open Source project. Everyone that has paid any attention knows that there is no open documentation on any Microsoft document formats for versions prior to Office 2007, and the OOXML specifications submitted to ECMA as the proposed standard are not sufficiently complete for anyone to fully implement them.

Tig2
Tig2

I have been around for yonks and frankly don't care whose name is stamped on the product... as long as it meets my particular needs. Our considerations for a target audience must include what that audience needs. Most of our end users just want to be productive. Our job is to facilitate that. My SO is a very skilled application architect. Guess how he spends his highly paid day? Creating spreadsheets. If you are asking yourself what I am sniffing, you aren't alone. Fact is that the average end user has maybe 5 minutes of their life that they care to spend developing a solution to their problem of the moment. If the tool that they are required to use is too bulky, too cumbersome, too difficult, they will find someone else to do the work for them and get on to the next thing. Once upon a time we could develop tools that were as geeky as we were. And as long as we could teach Joe User how to manage them, we could get away with it. Our goal back in the day was to mainstream computing. Guess what? We did that. And the result is that mainstream users want their needs addressed and without having to put up with a bunch of geeky stuff they don't understand. Let those of us who understand pivot tables and binary do our thing. But create software to support the end user in a way that user can understand. The line to walk is fine indeed. But I think that the geeks among us are capable of the challenge.

DanLM
DanLM

The computer was created to work for me, not me for it. If I have to jump through hoops, I'm working for it. Wrong answer. I will move on to something else that works for me. Dan

Absolutely
Absolutely

Do you find, in general, that Windows or Linux has you working for the computer more? On the balance, I prefer the up-front requirement of learning the command-line over the instability, insecurity and maintenance hassles of Windows.

Absolutely
Absolutely

Um, I mean, JohnMcGrew's point 2: [i]2) Owning and operating a PC shouldn't require any more of an engineering background than any other complex industrial consumer product.[/i] Typing does not require 'an engineering background.' Typing at a command prompt is not any more challenging than typing in a word processor, it just has different results, which are just as systematic as the formatting rules in M$ Word, and no more difficult to learn, than the all-important "applications." Typing 'cd [directory]' to change to a directory contained by the current one, or 'cd ..' to move the opposite direction in the directory structure, is not complicated, or difficult to learn. The greatest challenge is probably un-learning the term 'folder' and replacing it with 'directory,' and other examples of un-learning the arbitrary, proprietary, non-standard kludges Microsoft has chosen, to freeze in their customers. About Linux being 'geeky,' I hadn't noticed. I have noticed that it works, and didn't consider any social or cultural 'relevance' of my choice of operating system. Is that 'geeky' of me? apotheon: kudos on the 'neck beard' remark, especially considering JohnMcGrew's picture!

Absolutely
Absolutely

I could use xsane as root, but had to Google to learn how to get it to work for other users. This was one of the more difficult hardware issues I've ever had to configure, and it only took me as long as an hour, because the man page was unusually bad. Some guy with a German e-mail address wrote the GUI xsane to work with the scanner package sane, which of course is a cute acronym -- for 'scanner access now easy.' Anyway, he had some suggestions about creating symlinks, and changing permissions of certain files and directories, which were 3 or 4 levels from /, so it took some time to verify that those all did not work. So then I flipped off the general direction of Germany & flipped on my Google, and found the answer within 15 minutes. http://www.debianhelp.org/node/11010 Now that that's done, I want to address a couple of JohnMcGrew's good points. [i]Their PC [is] a tool. These people aren’t getting into computers as a hobby like I did almost 30 years ago, but are doing so because they expect to be able to do things with them.[/i] Yes, that's me. [i]For a mature product, there shouldn’t be the kind of barriers we’ve discussed here. [/i] Do you agree that Patch Tuesdays, re-booting for every new driver, and third-party anti-virus scanners are also not the kind of barriers there should be in a mature product? If not, there is probably nothing further to discuss. If so, we should compare the magnitudes, contexts, and costs of these two types of unacceptable manifestations of immaturity. [i]And as for Microsoft, I wish to see Linux emerge as a 3rd alternative for a desktop operating system. That is the only thing that is going to get Microsoft to clean up its act. But for Linux to do that, its advocates are going to have to learn what makes Microsoft successful; to date, they seem to either ignore or scorn those lessons.[/i] Linux has more "users" than "advocates," because most users of it find that it does what we want it to do, very reliably thank you, after a bit of up-front learning. Attacking a steep learning curve, in my experience, is something that a person is either willing to do, or not; there's no reasoning with some people.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]You implied that users who do not understand the inner workings of their systems and do not or can not maintain their systems are incompetent.[/i]" I don't recall doing so. Would you mind quoting the relevant passage to me, and explain how it implies what you claim? "[i]I argue that if we want 'mainstream' use of these systems, they need to be as automated and reliable as possible, which they obviously are not.[/i]" What really surprises me about this statement is that you seem to think MS Windows somehow fits that bill, or at least comes a lot closer to it than other OSes.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]But I've never said anything like 'they're all a bunch of socially maladjusted cave-dwelling neckbearded dorks'.[/i]" No, you didn't say [b]exactly[/b] that. You said: "[i]Until the Linux community breaks out of it's 'it's cool because it's run by geeks' mentality, it will not be a widespread success on the desktop.[/i]" The implication is obvious.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

Hey, I'm a "geek" too, and take great pride in my skills. But that doesn't prevent me from realizing that if Linux is ever going to escape the server room, it's going to have to shed some of that "ya gotta be a geek to really use it" image. But I've never said anything like "they're all a bunch of socially maladjusted cave-dwelling neckbearded dorks". You did. I think you are the one with the self-image problem.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

You implied that users who do not understand the inner workings of their systems and do not or can not maintain their systems are incompetent. And yet, people sucessfully use complex systems every day with complete ignorance of their inner workings. I argue that if we want "mainstream" use of these systems, they need to be as automated and reliable as possible, which they obviously are not.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]I really don't see any contradictions in that.[/i]" Like I said, I've realized there wasn't a conflict -- because you don't really have a point other than insulting people and stirring up trouble. If you were paying attention, you might notice that, as you stated them, nothing I've said disagrees with your points one through four. Your fifth point is just a specious characterization of people who use Linux as though they're all a bunch of socially maladjusted cave-dwelling neckbearded dorks, with particular relevance to the original topic of discussion. Thus, as I said, you don't really have a point, obviously. You just have a goal -- as a troll.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]Well then, by your logic... ...I'd have to assume that you are incompetent to own and operate an automobile for not understanding how to maintain a timing belt.[/i]" You seem to have a difficult time with the concept of valid logic. For one thing, you don't seem to understand what my argument was if you think it leads to that conclusion. For another, nothing I said suggests that I don't understand how to maintain a timing belt. I just haven't done it yet, and don't yet know the specifics of the procedure. If I needed to, I'd find out -- and I'd do it, or pay someone else to do it. I haven't installed djbdns, either, because I haven't needed it -- but that doesn't mean I'm incapable of doing so. "[i]The problem is that to effectively operate any of these operating systems requires more knowledge and skill than dealing with keys, windows, and oil changes. And yet, it?s clear that most consumers are either not equipped for or interested in these challenges. The fact that roughly half of the tires on the road are mis-inflated should be proof enough of that.[/i]" Thanks for making my point for me.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

The points: 1) People buy Windoze because they see it as the path of least resistance. 2) Owning and operating a PC shouldn't require any more of an engineering background than any other complex industrial consumer product. 3) As long as computer remain vital but overly complex, our jobs are secure. But it's hardly good for consumers in the long run. 4) Just because most users aren't interested in learning about IP routing, ports, or the innner mechanics of how malware works does not make them stupid or lazy. 5) Until the Linux community breaks out of it's "it's cool because it's run by geeks" mentality, it will not be a widespread success on the desktop. I really don't see any contradictions in that.

apotheon
apotheon

All this time, I thought you were trying to make some kind of point. That's why I thought your points were self-contradictory. I can see now you don't actually have any points -- you're just trolling, trying (successfully, it seems) to stir something up by making asinine, pointless claims.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...I'd have to assume that you are incompetent to own and operate an automobile for not understanding how to maintain a timing belt. The information for doing so is easily available on-line, just like the info on Linux. What?s your problem? Too lazy? Or has your ego been too ?coddled? by your mechanic? It?s good that you ?know how to roll up windows, lock doors, turn off the car, keep my keys in my pocket rather than leaving them in the seat or the ignition, and change the oil.? At least you possess minimal skills. Subjective enough? The problem is that to effectively operate any of these operating systems requires more knowledge and skill than dealing with keys, windows, and oil changes. And yet, it?s clear that most consumers are either not equipped for or interested in these challenges. The fact that roughly half of the tires on the road are mis-inflated should be proof enough of that. And as for what people will buy, the ?bottom line? is they will buy whatever the guy at Fry?s or Best Buy suggests; and that is going to be the stuff that they understand and know works when plugged in together.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

I've never argued that people "should" use Windoze. I've just argued why they "do". And yes, I don't think that computer ownership and use should require my expensive oversight. (The economy would be much better off if it did not) I am not there to "sustain and encourage their ignorance", any more than most auto mechanics are there to "sustain and encourage" your ignorance about how your automatic transmission works. And yes, my comment about users being required to have their own personal technicians was absurd. I'm sorry my attempt at pointing out absurdity was too subtle for you.

apotheon
apotheon

On one hand, you seem to be arguing that people will/should use MS Windows because it doesn't require them to know or do anything other than just use the computer. On the other hand, you seem to be saying that your users don't have to know or do anything other than just use the computer because you're there to sustain and encourage their ignorance, providing 24/7 tech support, or something to that effect. The only way I can see to reconcile these two notions is to assume that you're implying ever MS Windows license comes with its own on-call technician elves who show up when you aren't looking, fix things by waving their wands, and vanish before you turn back around to try to do any work. You must be one of those technician elves, in fact. Of course, that would be simply absurd. As such, I suspect you just let your arguments get out of synchronization, and they've started fighting with one another.

apotheon
apotheon

I can change the oil in my car -- which is a heck of a lot more difficult than swapping out a CD in the CDROM tray.

apotheon
apotheon

I don't expect someone to know how to change a timing belt, and I've never changed one myself (then again, I've never had one require replacement, either). On the other hand, I know how to roll up windows, lock doors, turn off the car, keep my keys in my pocket rather than leaving them in the seat or the ignition, and change the oil. From what I've seen, most users know how to do the equivalent of turning off a car and rolling up the windows when it comes to computers, but simple things like taking the keys with them or locking the doors is beyond many. Some know how to do those things, but don't know how to change the oil (or even understand that it needs to be changed). These last two groups seem to be the groups of people you think we should be encouraging. I find it immensely ironic that you seem to think this wouldn't cause any problems, when the evidence is all around us that most of the problems we deal with on a daily basis are related to either that or leaving the keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked. Users of MS Windows absolutely [b]should[/b] know the computer equivalent of how to lock doors, take keys out of the ignition, and change the oil. The fact that they don't is the primary reason that the majority of nominally operational MS Windows systems in the world are probably either infected or half-broken. Ultimately -- and assuming for the moment that MS Windows doesn't actually suck up more know-how and time than free Unix-like systems -- you don't have to know any more to get and keep most Linux or BSD Unix systems running than you do to get and keep an MS Windows system running. The difference is not how much the users need to know and do -- it's how much the software distributor lies to the users about what they need to know and do. . . . and that's the bottom line.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

I hardly see my job as "coddling the egos of users". My job is to make sure that when they come into their offices in the morning that things are working so that they can do their work. I don't understand how this discussion has anything to do with egos, other than perhaps the egos of some of the geeks here whos superior skills at operating PCs allows them a sense of superiority over those who couldn't identify a command line from crapola. Yes, I know Windoze sucks. Big time. (I've even gone on to say that Windoze has sucked most of the fun out of my job) But that was never the point here. The average driver couldn't tell you what a timing belt does, much less how to replace one. Does my belief that the average driver doesn't need to know how to replace one constitute stroking their egos too? Have you ever changed a timing belt? Do you feel competent to operate an automobile?

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

I don't consider "Joe User" to be "as dumb as dirt". Far from it. I am employed by many people who I suspect are far more intelligent than I. But when it comes to understanding firewalls, IP routing, malware, viruses, spyware, or the implications of a vulnerable PCs accessing or being accessed by hostile systems, they are completely clueless. That's why these people hire us for crying out loud! They have better things to do than screw with these details. I don't know about your clients, but all mine want is to be able to walk in their offices in the morning and have everything work without having to worry about the details of some criminal script kiddies trying to break in and steal their data. They don't want to learn command lines, or spend hours every day going through the Internet to see what's up with the latest patches for their distros. PCs are not their hobbies. They are their tools. Until you guys figure that out, you're not going to be very helpful to these people. Is that arrogant enough for you?

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

Maybe no user should be allowed to be connected to the Internet without a license, or without the direct supervision of an IT professional. How great that would be for our business if that was the case; a great way to extort a few hundred bucks from every single Internet user in the world! We really need to start a TR lobby group to start pushing our congresspeople for this. The government has required more oversight over less. Let me ask you this: Do you know how to properly gap the spark plugs on your automobile? Can you even change a spare without help from the AAA? If not, perhaps you are not competent to operate an automobile, period.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

"But most users today... ...don't have the time, inclination, or ability to master a command-line." In every post to this point, you have denigrated Joe User. It is patently obvious that you consider him/her dumb as dirt. However, it is more than likely that they do indeed 'have the ability to master a command-line', just not the time or inclination. As an example, I am perfectly capable of using a command-line but prefer not to. I don't have the time or the inclination to do so. While I have been fiddling with a Linux distro that requires it on occasion, you can bet your buns that the next distro I fiddle with won't require it. I have better things to do with my time. You, on the other hand appear to have nothing better to do than lord it over the heads of dumber than dirt users that you - unlike them - are an ubergeek with perfect mastery of the command-line. Hmmm... Get a life.

apotheon
apotheon

What are you trying to prove by suggesting that behavior for the majority of end users? It certainly doesn't prove that end users should not "have to do" anything to maintain their computers. What it suggests to me is that most end users should not be allowed to touch a computer connected to the Internet. Period. As Jeff Henager said: "If the average user can put a CD in and boot the system and follow the prompts, he can install and use Linux. If he can't do that simple task, he doesn't need to be around technology."

apotheon
apotheon

JohnMcGrew, I happen to be someone who [url=http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/security/][b]deals with matters of computer security all the time[/b][/url]. As such, I probably have a slightly different perspective on what users "have to do" with their computers. What I see is that users "have to do" a heck of a lot more than they actually do, in most cases. The entire world's computing experience is circling the drain because most users simply don't do what they "have to do" to maintain an even minimally effective level of security. Coddling the egos of end users by telling them they shouldn't "have to do" anything is basically selling us [b]all[/b] down the river -- especially including those users in particular. MS Windows and MacOS X only reduce what users "have to do" if you ignore security concerns -- and even then, there are some indicators that they might have to do at least as much as with free Unix-like OSes, if not more, in the case of MS Windows users, just to maintain and use that computing environment. At a previous corporate netadmin job, more than 60% of my time was spent maintaining less than 15% of the computers on the network. Those 15% of computers were MS Windows systems. The rest were non-Microsoft systems, mostly Linux. How you expect this to translate into home end users that don't "have to do" anything with their computers is beyond me.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

I don't think I've ever seen anything from Apple for $400. That said, you are correct in that Apple gets an A+ for out-of-the-box user experience.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...most do not. I think most people not under the direct supervion of an IT infastructure don't even update Windows. They just use their PCs until they quit working. They can't be bothered.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...I challenge you to find any post I've made on TR where I enthusiastically "back" Microsoft. If you spend any time on that at all, you'll find that I am probably one of their biggest critics. 2nd, I don't consider most users "lazy". Quite the contrary. Most are hard working people who need their computers to operate reliably and efficiently so that they can do their real work. It?s not that I don?t think that most lack the initiative or ability. It?s just that I don?t think that they should have to spend the amount of time that many here seem to think they should on figuring out what works with what and how to make it happen. They want to spend their money, put it in place, and then get to work. Their PC a tool. These people aren?t getting into computers as a hobby like I did almost 30 years ago, but are doing so because they expect to be able to do things with them. For a mature product, there shouldn?t be the kind of barriers we?ve discussed here. And as for Microsoft, I wish to see Linux emerge as a 3rd alternative for a desktop operating system. That is the only thing that is going to get Microsoft to clean up its act. But for Linux to do that, it?s advocates are going to have to learn what makes Microsoft successful; to date, they seem to either ignore or scorn those lessons.

DanLM
DanLM

There are those that wont do crap, and you have to do everything for them. These would fit your description to a T. But, I find that is the minority. So, your user base and mind must be as different as night and day. I've changed my mind about where your coming from. I thought it was a die hard Microsoft position. I don't think that is the case. I think from your experience with users, you don't think they have the initiative to try and figure things out on their own. This is where I disagree, but not in an ahole way as I was before. Its the perception you have from what you have been dealing with. I have found it differently, but I have not dealt with your users. So, please excuse my earlier posts about MS diehards. Yes, I know I can be an ahole. Hell, I even try some days. But, this is one time that I think our differences of opinions are just in what we have had to deal with. And this is one time that I don't want to forward my position in that manner(ahole). chuckle, peace. Dan

seanferd
seanferd

People download "archives" all the time, and install them. They get the newest drivers for their gadgets. They get updates for their software. They go to places like cnet to get new programs. They also install things that are beyond their system specs and break Windows.

Tig2
Tig2

" ...anybody with $400 to spend can go to their local big-box store, buy a Windoze-based PC, plug it in along with a wide assortment of acessories and be up and running. The same cannot be said of any other operating system." It took me longer to drive to the big box store- MicroCenter- to purchase my MacBook Pro then it did to get it set up and running and on the net. MicroCenter is brand agnostic and therefore has a Mac Center as well as a pc Center as well as a build it yourself Center. OS X is GUI. But I can open a terminal window and work from the command line as I wish. There ARE viable alternatives out there.

DanLM
DanLM

And not because you are backing Microsoft. Because you are slandering every damn user with they aren't smart enough. They are too lazy. They will not take the time. You have a piss poor attitude. And I would hate to have to deal with you on any technical issue on a help desk call. Dan

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

And you're right. Windows falls in their lap because it's not the best, but because it's there. And the software is there. And the hardware is there. Lunix is not. I really don't know how it's possible to make that more clear.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]Because of trojans & spyware[/i]" How ironic. "[i]they don't have the patience or technical ability to figure out what is good or bad[/i]" Of course. End users are too stupid to think for themselves. They need to be told what to use. Luckily, Microsoft is here to save the day -- and you're here to make sure they know they've been saved. How lucky is that? "[i]So expecting them to figure out which distro and archives to choose from is a bit much.[/i]" Er . . . what? Okay -- if they can't figure out what to use, they can just use whatever falls in their collective lap first. That's what you're saying they should do instead, with MS Windows. MS Windows falls in someone's lap first -- so use that. Good. Glad that's settled. If PC-BSD falls in someone's lap first, (s)he can use that instead. Glad that's settled. Any other brilliant arguments for the superiority of having no options? . . . and what the hell does that have to do with the fact that I've refuted every one of your previous arguments, and your only responses have been to try to change the subject?

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...are offices full of people who when it comes to technology don't know s*** from shinola. Because of trojans & spyware, we've spent years conditioning them not to trust anything downloaded from the Internet, and they don't have the patience or technical ability to figure out what is good or bad. So expecting them to figure out which distro and archives to choose from is a bit much. The Microsoft world has made this easy for them. The Linux world has not. This is a marketing and support problem. Not a technical one. You really need to figure that out.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]Joe User doesn't want to know anything about archives. He wants to go home, plug it in, and have it work. Period. He doesn't have the initiative or patience to look through an 'archive'. And frankly, I don't think he should.[/i]" That is about the most stupid, asinine comment I've seen you make. Seriously. Everybody has to get software from somewhere. They have to go somewhere they can find software, and they have to look through the selection, then choose something they think they'll like. This applies to going to Best Buy to pick up one of the latest selection of MMORPGs, it applies to searching Google for a decent antivirus application, and it applies to buying a Dell and having to decide whether to upgrade the productivity suite that comes with the computer. Software archives maintained by free Unix-like OSes such as Debian GNU/Linux and FreeBSD are a [b]convenience[/b]. It has nothing to do with needing "initiative" or "patience". With the availability of GUI software management tools such as Synaptic and BPM, it's much easier to find and install software on such systems than it is on MS Windows. There's no online ordering and waiting several weeks for your shrinkwrapped box of CDs to arrive. There's no driving to the store and wondering why you can't find anything on the shelf that suits your needs. Thousands of applications are at your fingertips for roughly instantaneous installation, in an easy to use, well-designed GUI. Something tells me you haven't used a free Unix-like system since 1995. Maybe I'm mistaken in that assumption -- but if so, I don't think that speaks too well of your honesty, since in [b]this[/b] century things are [b]nothing like[/b] the way you describe them.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]But the average home user doesn't know that, or care about it. He just wants his appliance to work in the fashion he nebulously defines as 'easy to use'.[/i]" Fine. So . . . what does that prove, exactly? "[i]I'm trying to say it is my opinion the average user isn't interested in the availability of the source code for any application, whether he runs the app or not.[/i]" . . . which in no way changes the fact that the benefit to the end user [b]still exists[/b], regardless of that end user's (willful) ignorance. "[i]I'm aware it's possible to load different GUIs onto a Linux installation (or skins onto a Windows desktop), but since I'll never exercise that ability I don't care if it disappeared tomorrow.[/i]" 1. I think you may be making statements about an uncertain future that may prove false in the long run. 2. Even if I'm wrong about #1, you're still benefiting from the existence and continued development of alternative GUI environments. You may not consciously care about the fact of additional available GUI options now, but if they all disappeared you'd certainly care a lot about some of the consequences of that unfortunate vanishment. 3. Caring, or not, in no way changes the importance of what you do or don't care about. "[i]But to an end user choosing an OS, the availability of the source code is not going to affect the choice one way or the other.[/i]" Maybe it won't affect it directly -- but it [b]does[/b] affect it indirectly, because without the availability of source code a lot of the characteristics of a given OS that prompt someone to choose it over another are consequences (direct or indirect) of the availability of source code. For instance, a significant chunk of the reason for the increased security characteristics of free Unix-like OSes is the open source licensing under which they are distributed and the developer communities that have grown up around them. Eliminate the availability of source code, and you've eliminated some of that security -- and thus eliminated some of the reason Joe Sixpack the Corporate IT Stooge may have chosen a non-Microsoft OS in the first place. Thus, he may not care about the availability of the source per se, but he sure as sh*t cares about the benefits he can get from the availability of source -- even if he's not aware that's where he gets those benefits.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

Joe User doesn't want to know anything about archives. He wants to go home, plug it in, and have it work. Period. He doesn't have the initiative or patience to look through an "archive". And frankly, I don't think he should. This "hey, he should be able to figure it out" attitude is what will doom Linux to be no more than the domain of sys admins and geeks. It's a shame, because until that changes, we will remain slaves to the Microsoft way of doing things.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm not sure how I can make my opinion clearer. I thought the cell phone analogy was good, but apparently not. a: "The availability of source code has a causal relationship to a lot more than simply one's personal ability to study and/or modify it. The availability of source code in open source projects provides significant benefits that do not require one's actual use of the source code for one to enjoy." Agreed. But the average home user doesn't know that, or care about it. He just wants his appliance to work in the fashion he nebulously defines as "easy to use". abs: "I prefer to exercise mine on something within my control, on a kernel and community that isn't ashamed to show me how it does what it does." P: "Joe Keyboard doesn't care about having the source code; he can't read it and isn't interested in learning how to changing it." apo: "Saying that the lack of skill and motivation for reading source code makes the availability of source code useless is like ..." I didn't way it was 'useless'. I'm trying to say it is my opinion the average user isn't interested in the availability of the source code for any application, whether he runs the app or not. As an example from a strictly personal perspective, I'm aware it's possible to load different GUIs onto a Linux installation (or skins onto a Windows desktop), but since I'll never exercise that ability I don't care if it disappeared tomorrow. "Why does it matter in terms of the technical benefits of choosing one OS over another whether the end user cares about availability of source code..." It doesn't matter in terms of the technical benefits of the OS. But to an end user choosing an OS, the availability of the source code is not going to affect the choice one way or the other. Whether it's due to a lack of understanding the overall strategic benefits, or a lack of usefulness to him personally, he simply doesn't care.

apotheon
apotheon

What hacks? There's software you can install directly from most distributions' software archives that work with iPods. I don't see any hacks here.

apotheon
apotheon

[b]palmetto: [/b] "[i]I didn't say it was useless, I said the home user doesn't care.[/i]" I'm afraid I don't get your point, then. Why does it matter in terms of the technical benefits of choosing one OS over another whether the end user cares about availability of source code, or of choosing one nation of residence over another whether the common US citizen cares about the legal protections provided via the power of the courts to issue a Writ of Habeas Corpus, or of supporting one potential head of government over another whether some oppressed and destitute third-world victim of totalitarian socialism has the ability to reason through the economic benefits of a liberal (in the denotative, non-political sense of the term) free market system? How do any of these things in any way affect the viability of the OS/nation/leader in question as an improvement in the conditions of that individual who "doesn't care" about very relevant details? I don't understand what your statement is meant to assert or refute. The (probably willful) ignorance of someone that doesn't understand the benefits he or she can accrue from choosing differently in no way alters whether the alternative option is a good one that can reasonably be employed, that will [b]not[/b] make life more difficult or unpleasantly complex. [b]absolutely: [/b] "[i]Call me crazy.[/i]" Why? I agree, and find your statement perfectly reasonable.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...iTunes with a iPod doesn't run on Linux. Oh yes, I know there are hacks to make it possible. But then again, that's just the point. Joe User isn't a hacker. He just wants to walk out of the mall with it, go home, and have it work out-of-the-box.

Absolutely
Absolutely

my Creative brand compressed audio playback devices are quite compatible with Debian 4.0, as is my Epson printer. The scanner functions of the latter will require some editing of a conf file, I suspect, and underscoring my point to whoever you are is not quite important enough to me to postpone my homework any longer. But configuring the scanner is on my to-do list for next week, when my classes will not meet. I'll log how long it actually takes, and in the meantime I leave you with this thought: based on past experience, in the cases that any customization is necessary at all to get a device working with Linux, the time I spend (1) researching the package & (2) editing the necessary .conf file(s) is comparable, and I daresay much less on average, than the time to (1) install drivers from CD & (2) reboot & (3) download "updated" (read: properly tested & QA'd) software for the same devices to work with Windows.

Absolutely
Absolutely

apotheon, to JohnMcGrew: [i]If you step just one more level up that stepladder of computer user skill, to the point where you find someone that doesn't have to buy a whole new computer after six months because he's able to put an MS Windows installation CD in the CD tray and click "OK" a lot, you'll find that there's still very little difference between the two in terms of ease of getting started.[/i] That is exactly the point where I saw the costs in time of maintaining a Windows vs. a Linux desktop for personal & academic use approaching parity. Having already researched the comparative stability and security of Linux, I had all the information I need to choose my operating system and licensing model. I have occasionally had to switch on the old Windows box for academic work, which can be required in Microsoft file formats, or via connections that use ActiveX (!), a tirade I don't have time to pursue right now. But where rules permit me a choice, it's Linux all the way. For the general case, I think it's fair to call the first re-format/re-install of Windows the point of increasing marginal return of switching to Linux, for home users. They won't all use all their commodity peripherals easily at first, but the "consistency of user experience", in the technical not marketing terms I suggested above, was better for me within 2 years. You only have to learn, for example, CUPS and xorg/x11 once. With proprietary software there is a lot more proprietary/thowaway learning. I count that as a "cost". Call me crazy.

Absolutely
Absolutely

Of course! The way you referenced my post by number made clear immediately that you were using Print/View All. [u]I[/u] forgot what effect that would have on the formatting that made the attribution clear. I should use "username: [i]quotation[/i]" in the future.

Absolutely
Absolutely

You're saying a lot of things that are true, and which serve to define your perspective, which is not mine. You're welcome to it. I am not arguing that anybody *needs* to use a Microsoft competitor who doesn't perceive the advantages of it. I only explain my own choice, as the topic arises. Yours is not [u]the[/u] point, it's merely your perspective. [i]You all continue to miss the point The technical superiority of Linux doesn't matter; will never matter if people never buy it. The average computer user has no way of understanding the back-end benefits. They just want to walk into the story, buy their computer and their accessories, go home, and plug it all in. And until the Linux community figures that out, it will remain as a niche share for the desktop.[/i] Microsoft entered the home market via the home users' employer. Linux can do the same, and home users will merely tend to prefer the same distro their employer uses, on their *first* home Linux computer. [i]Until there is a more consisten user experience and device drivers that are both avalilable and work consistently, Microsoft will rule this market.[/i] I include "continuous uptime" in my own calculations of "consistent user experience", and I consider system slowdowns for virus scans and viruses, and operating system re-installs due to virus infection and blue screen errors all as "inconsistent user experience events". Yes, I fully understand what you're trying to describe with the term "consistent user experience". You're talking about a GUI that is as uniform from one PC to the next as one McDonald's hamburger to the next. You're talking about the "high-tech" industry in the terms that have defined the fast food industry. It's hilarious that some of you seem to wonder why some of us are unimpressed by that. The uniformity of desktops is not a high enough priority, [u]to me[/u], to tolerate the multitude of associated trade-offs. [i]Microsoft (which is not a technology company, but a marketing company) understands that.[/i] So do I.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

You're right, it was JohnMcGrew who preached that users replace their machines every year and half. In my defense, I read your quotation of him in "View/Print All" mode and couldn't tell it was italicized.

Absolutely
Absolutely

Great idea for maximum message depth replies, by the way. Now, back to our disagreement: [i]As you note, you're estimating. You're also assuming every Windows user has problems. And if every Windows user just replaces his machine when he has trouble, what's keeping Geek Squad and the others in business?[/i] First, it is not necessary to assume that every Windows user has problems, when there are plenty of data available providing the clear picture that Windows users disproportionately experience certain problems. Second, the 18 month replacement interval was not my assumption, but one that I [u]referenced[/u] in a counterargument, and whose relevance I disputed. Using an assumption I have not made to undermine my position is dishonest or sloppy. Take your pick.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Saying that the lack of skill and motivation for reading source code makes the availability of source code useless ..." I didn't say it was useless, I said the home user doesn't care. I can not care about cell phones (and don't) but still realize others find them useful and beneficial. I doubt the home user has that level of recognition, or knows what "open source" means.

apotheon
apotheon

[b]JohnMcGrew:[/b] "[i]The technical superiority of Linux doesn't matter; will never matter if people never buy it.[/i]" "[i]They just want to [. . .] buy their computer and their accessories, go home, and plug it all in.[/i]" I think [b]you[/b] are the one missing a point here. [b]My[/b] point is that you can do that with a Linux-based system, too. If you step just one more level up that stepladder of computer user skill, to the point where you find someone that doesn't have to buy a whole new computer after six months because he's able to put an MS Windows installation CD in the CD tray and click "OK" a lot, you'll find that there's still very little difference between the two in terms of ease of getting started. Your previous comment, titled "The problem is...", in which you said "while a relative novice might be able to get a Linux distro up and running, they won't be able to do much with it beyond that," tries to make a point about what happens after the system is installed, which [b]directly contradicts[/b] this comment of yours about how your only point was that people want to be able to just buy everything preconfigured so they don't have to do anything but plug it in and hit the power switch. You made a very clear argument to the effect that even when a user gets a system set up he or she is unlikely to be able to do anything. My last post in this subthread addressed that directly, where I pointed out that clicking on the OO.o icon is no more difficult in a KDE GUI than in an Explorer GUI. . . . so please, kindly stop recasting the discussion in terms completely unrelated to the previous progression of the discussion, effectively lying about what was previously said. Address the matter at hand, even if only by saying "I don't have an answer to that, but perhaps you'd like to provide an answer to this other concern of mine." "[i]Until there is a more consisten user experience and device drivers that are both avalilable and work consistently, Microsoft will rule this market. Microsoft (which is not a technology company, but a marketing company) understands that.[/i]" If that's your point, perhaps you could enlighten us all about the reasoning behind your previous statements to the effect that non-Microsoft OSes are unusable without a great deal of expertise -- which is a technical matter, and not a marketing matter at all. [b]Palmetto:[/b] "[i]Some people don't mind spending money as much as they mind spending time.[/i]" It is for people like this that retailers like Dell, Emperor Linux, and Wal-Mart provide a means of acquiring a computer with a Linux-based OS already installed and configured. "[i]I could take the time to learn to maintain my car, invest in the necessary tools, but I don't. I drop it off at the shop to have the oil changed, tires rotated, brakes, uh, whatever it is they do to the brakes, because I would prefer to pay someone else to do it while I use my time for other things.[/i]" On the other hand, one would hope you occasionally check the oil level and tire pressure -- and, of course, the gas gauge. "[i]You're also assuming every Windows user has problems.[/i]" Every MS Windows user connected to the Internet that doesn't know enough about the system to perform some maintenance tasks [b]does[/b] have problems, I believe. Oh, sure, all it takes is a single exception to disprove the rule -- but A) I don't think you'll find such an exception and B) even if you do, that just forces one to change the rule to "every MS Windows user except this one, singular, incredibly unlikely example right here". "[i]I could get a car with a standard transmission if I wanted that level of control in my car, but I don't.[/i]" I think you misunderstood absolutely's point. He didn't say he wanted to hack kernel code. He said he preferred to spend his time on something that he [b]could[/b] control if he wanted to (having the option is not the same as using the option), and on something whose purveyor is not ashamed of its internal workings. The automatic transmission is a marvel of modern technology. Really. All those whirring rings of spiral-cogged metal are amazing, especially when one considers how they have to interact with each other in practice. The technology is very publicly understood, however, and assuming the ability to fabricate the material components one could conceivably build one in one's back yard, given the proper skills and knolwedge. This is knowledge that can be gained if you wish. Microsoft Windows, however, is not something you're going to be able to build from components at home. It's just beyond the ken of mortal men. It is the result of more than a decade of layered cruft at this point, and the marvel of its operation is unlike that of the automatic transmission -- not because it's amazing the way it works, but because it's amazing the damned mess works at all. Furthermore, Microsoft is "ashamed" (I think that's a much more literally accurate term than most people would think at first glance, especially since it took me a few minutes of thought to realize it was applicable as more than merely a jab at the vendor) to let us see the innards. Any time someone is afraid to let you see how something works, regardless of whether you actually [b]want to[/b] know how it works, that's a pretty bad sign. You may want to rethink entrusting it with anything important -- like your finances, that novel you're writing for [url=http://nanowrimo.org][b]NaNoWriMo[/b][/url] this year, or even email communications. "[i]Joe Keyboard doesn't care about having the source code; he can't read it and isn't interested in learning how to changing it.[/i]" The availability of source code has a causal relationship to a lot more than simply one's personal ability to study and/or modify it. The availability of source code in open source projects provides significant benefits that do not require one's actual use of the source code for one to enjoy. Saying that the lack of skill and motivation for reading source code makes the availability of source code useless is like suggesting that all the world's problems could be solved by taking money from rich people and giving it to poor people: it is short-sighted and absurdly simplistic, ignoring matters like what effect such redistribution of wealth has on things like the productivity of people who expect some reward for their efforts (otherwise there's no motivation for the effort in the first place) or, even in the case of the truly altruistic, the simple ability to apply that wealth to the task of pursuing those altruistic ends. Communism fails in practice to encourage the overall improvement of the living standards of a society for many of the same reasons that closed source software development models fail in practice to encourage advancement of software technology available in a society where such practices dominate. You don't have to be a business owner to benefit from the positive effects of a free market economy just as you don't have to be a gun owner to benefit from the positive effects of shall-issue CCW laws, you don't have to be a reporter to benefit from the positive effects of the First Amendment to the US Consitution, you don't have to be a lawyer to benefit from the positive effects of the US justice system's assumption of innocence, and you don't have to be a programmer to benefit from the positive effects of the availability of source code.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]Since it's not likely that "Joe User" is going to find a way to get the multifunction printer, digital camera, iPod, and video camera to work with a Linux machine[/i]" I don't see why not.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

Since it's not likely that "Joe User" is going to find a way to get the multifunction printer, digital camera, iPod, and video camera to work with a Linux machine, he's never going to experience the alternative.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"A Windows user can ... expend less time initially by traveling to the nearest Big Box retailer and purchasing a computer ... Add cost of third party security programs, and time tending to them to your calculations. ...when their PCs become too bogged down ... they don't bother to fix it, but go out to buy a new one. ...There is an equal or greater cost of time, just paid gradually. By my estimate, the time wasted re-booting Windows, installing & re-installing third party software is more than the time required to achieve equal or greater productivity using Linux. The difference is not necessarily in the amount of time spent, but in how time is spent." Some people don't mind spending money as much as they mind spending time. I could take the time to learn to maintain my car, invest in the necessary tools, but I don't. I drop it off at the shop to have the oil changed, tires rotated, brakes, uh, whatever it is they do to the brakes, because I would prefer to pay someone else to do it while I use my time for other things. As you note, you're estimating. You're also assuming every Windows user has problems. And if every Windows user just replaces his machine when he has trouble, what's keeping Geek Squad and the others in business? "I prefer to exercise mine on something within my control, on a kernel and community that isn't ashamed to show me how it does what it does." That's you. I could get a car with a standard transmission if I wanted that level of control in my car, but I don't. I'd rather have my right-hand free to eat Bacon Triple-Cheese Cardiac Arrest Burgers with Extra Lard. I don't care who put the automatic transmission together or how they did it, since I'm never going to touch it anyway. Joe Keyboard doesn't care about having the source code; he can't read it and isn't interested in learning how to changing it.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

The technical superiority of Linux doesn't matter; will never matter if people never buy it. The average computer user has no way of understanding the back-end benefits. They just want to walk into the story, buy their computer and their accessories, go home, and plug it all in. And until the Linux community figures that out, it will remain as a niche share for the desktop. Until there is a more consisten user experience and device drivers that are both avalilable and work consistently, Microsoft will rule this market. Microsoft (which is not a technology company, but a marketing company) understands that.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]while a relative novice might be able to get a Linux distro up and running, they won't be able to do much with it beyond that.[/i]" Oh, I get it now. You're kidding. I mean, obviously, you're just kidding, JohnMcGrew -- because nobody can really believe that something like clicking on the OpenOffice.org or Mozilla Firefox icon will prove to be such a tremendous challenge that the average end user won't be able to handle it. I guess maybe the fact that Firefox doesn't use a big blue E for its icon could be confusing at first, but I'm pretty sure that won't hold anyone back for long.

Absolutely
Absolutely

A Windows user can, just as you say, expend less time [u]initially[/u] by traveling to the nearest Big Box retailer and purchasing a computer that will plug in and work, immediately. For a while. If they pay extra for anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall programs. Or, if they never connect to the Internet, but that would defeat the primary (often, the only) purpose of the machine, so that's out of the general discussion. Add cost of third party security programs, [u]and time tending to them[/u] to your calculations. [i]Oh, and what do most people with Windoze PCs do when their PCs become too bogged down due to viruses, spyware, or "registry rot" in about 18 months? Like with most modern consumer electronics, they don't bother to fix it, but go out to buy a new one.[/i] LOL, so true! In the meantime, we encounter progressively more of the mysterious malfunctions which cannot be diagnosed without [u]hours of research on Google[/u] -- do you see where I'm taking this yet? There is an equal or greater [u]cost of time[/u], just paid gradually. Like a credit card bill... By my estimate, the time wasted re-booting Windows, installing & re-installing third party software is [u]more[/u] than the time required to achieve equal or greater productivity using Linux. The difference is not necessarily in the amount of time spent, but in how time is spent. I prefer to exercise mine on something within my control, on a kernel and community that isn't ashamed to show me [u]how[/u] it does what it does. If you replace the machines running it quickly enough, perhaps Windows does save time -- in the extremely short term. But then, I'm the kind of person who counts the [u]money[/u] I spend in terms of the time I spent laboring to earn it, so that really doesn't stick, either. If I did prove your point, I also proved that it's true only in such a limited time interval that I also proved it inconsequential.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

A Windoze user does not need to spend hours on a Google search to determine if all the stuff they'd like to work with their new PC is compatible with it. They just go to Best Buy and a helpful salesperson will be happy to fill their basket with everything they need, no question asked.

Absolutely
Absolutely

http://www.google.com/search?q=linux+hcl&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a How would a Linux user ever know what hardware will be compatible with their distribution? I just don't know where to look for that information.

Absolutely
Absolutely

they just spend it on the phone with Tech Support, be it Dell, or Geek Squad, or whatever. Ability & inclination are personal matters for individuals to decide, but if you really believe that "most users today" don't have them, I think Microsoft pays you a lot of money. [i]As unstable and insecure as Windoze is, the fact remains that absolutely anybody with $400 to spend can go to their local big-box store, buy a Windoze-based PC, plug it in along with a wide assortment of acessories and be up and running.[/i] For how many days, before the first major malfunction? [i]The same cannot be said of any other operating system.[/i] That's true.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...that while a relative novice might be able to get a Linux distro up and running, they won't be able to do much with it beyond that. There's very little in the way of accessories at your local big box store that you can plug into it and expect to work without a certain level of expertise.

jdclyde
jdclyde

I have heard that a lot about 2ghz systems. Sometimes it is a virus, sometimes it is malware, but more often than not it is from them changing internet providers that all provide a security suite that they INSIST (to the people that don't know better) that they HAVE to install it. They forget to tell the user to uninstall the old AV from the previous provider, and now it hangs. That, or they made the serious mistake of loading the Mcrappy suite on. On a clean XP system with an AV and firewall running, I expect it to take 190 to 220 MB of ram to boot. Mcrappy bumps that closer to 450 MB JUST TO TURN IT ON! I have "fixed" many a system just by uninstalling that and putting AVG and ZoneAlarm on and the people were begging me to take more money they were so happy.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]Heck, almost any boob can set up a Windoze server as well. (just keep clicking "next" whenever the wizard asks anything) The same cannot be said of any Linux distro.[/i]" Actually, exactly that behavior will often get a plain vanilla Debian system running these days. You just have to enter a username and choose a couple of passwords, basically. Otherwise, accept defaults and you'll get a system configured for the common desktop case. You won't get an ideal configuration -- but it'll be less painful in the long run than the far-from-ideal configuration of a default MS Windows install. There are other Linux distributions that behave similarly during install, as well as BSD Unix installers such as PC-BSD.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

Of course it takes a certifiable IT background to keep a Windoze-based PC healthy in the long run. Believe me, I'd never dispute that as my porch is constantly littered with computers left by desperate friends & relatives. The point is that anyone can walk out of a store and get it running. Heck, almost any boob can set up a Windoze server as well. (just keep clicking "next" whenever the wizard asks anything) The same cannot be said of any Linux distro. Period. It's a non-starter. (litterally) Hence; As Windoze will continue to sell to the mainstream, Linux will remain to appeal only to the true geek. (Unless it comes in a Tivo box or like) Oh, and what do most people with Windoze PCs do when their PCs become too bogged down due to viruses, spyware, or "registry rot" in about 18 months? Like with most modern consumer electronics, they don't bother to fix it, but go out to buy a new one. It's great for Microsoft and the PC retailers.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]the fact remains that absolutely anybody with $400 to spend can go to their local big-box store, buy a Windoze-based PC, plug it in along with a wide assortment of acessories and be up and running[/i]" . . . for a few weeks, or even months. Then, the nightmare begins. To maintain a secured and stabilized MS Windows system, you have to know (and do) a hell of a lot more than to achieve equivalent results with a Linux or BSD Unix system. Couple that with the fact that once you know enough to maintain a Linux or BSD Unix system you'll realize that you know enough to get a [b]lot[/b] more done. The problem here isn't one of not needing to know as much about MS Windows to make it useful. You need to know more to [/b]keep[/b] it useful, after all. The problem is one of marketing: it's very difficult to sell someone on something based on long-term benefits. Everybody just wants the "plug and pray" behavior, and doesn't give two craps about the fact that his or her computing life will become hell in a couple months -- or, at least, doesn't care until it actually happens.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...don't have the time, inclination, or ability to master a command-line. As unstable and insecure as Windoze is, the fact remains that absolutely anybody with $400 to spend can go to their local big-box store, buy a Windoze-based PC, plug it in along with a wide assortment of acessories and be up and running. The same cannot be said of any other operating system.

Absolutely
Absolutely

Sorry if the question seemed confrontational. I'm just curious, because I agree with the premise, but you only imply an answer to the question at hand. Thanks.