Re: A whole new meaning to putting tasks in the background...

  • From: Steve Baker <ice@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: technocracy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000 12:06:30 -0500

From: "M.K. Chatterji" <chat@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> >   What I hate is having stones thrown at my profession and favorite OS. You
> >also seem to have forgotten that OS X is basically a library running on top
> >of a real OS, that being BSD, which is much like Linux in many ways, save
> >for it's license.
> How could I forget -- it's so Next-ish..

  NeXTStep was some kinda of bastard child of Unix that totally blew. You
know of course that I don't like Solaris.  Well I don't like NeXTStep for
the same reasons.  I loath Solaris and NeXTStep almost as much as Windows.
It's only saving grace IMNSHO is that you can install many of the GNU tools
on it and make it approximate Linux in some respects.  The same can almost
be said of NT, but there are many other reasons to not use that.  I suppose
part of the reason I loath most commercial Unix so much is that I started on
Dynix, which in retrospect, is very much like Slackware.  I started out on a
best of breed Unix IMO, and so I have little tolerance for the limitations of
other Unices. I expect them to be at least as simple to use, and they're
usually not.

>Oh ho, I did peek up Steve. Let me tell you a story or two
[ Standard installation horror story deleted ]

  You lay out your problems, but you've done nothing to describe them, so I
can't know where blame lay.  If you could give me a run down of your
hardware, specifically, make and model of: Video card, network card / modem,
sound card and printer.

  Now, my questions.  Did you plan ahead?  In other words, did you check to
make sure that the hardware in the machine was actually supported?  Did you
check to make sure that the distribution you chose listed all your hardware
in their support database?  Secondly, when you ran into problems, did you
even try to get help?  You said you had difficulty keeping it running, are
you sure you don't have hardware problems? What was this Office clone you
used?  There is more than one.  Did you really expect total integration with
MS products?  You can't even get that between the Mac and PC using the same
exact software, or even on Windows using even slightly different versions of
the same software.  This is why companies need to standardize on standard
formats that are cross platform supported, like RTF or maybe XML.

  It sounds to me that you made it harder than it had to be.  Hell you could
have asked me to install it (drop it off at my office, I've always agreed to
at least try to install Linux on just about anything anyone drops off at my
office). The only reason people think Windows installs easy is that they've
never installed it.  Linux does a much better job of it than Windows does in
my opinion.  There are a few caveats I will admit, the first-most being that
the hardware must work with Linux, the other being until recently
configuring X could be problematic for the uninitiated, however even that is
changing rapidly.

  If your hardware doesn't work, or you don't have the software you want,
that's not a failing of Linux in my conceited opinion, that's a failing of
you and everyone else to bitch at the hardware companies and software
vendors to support their crap on Linux, or to at least let the developers
support it by not making it impossible for them to get information on
hardware that will let them support it.  The stuff that is supported almost
always works like a champ.  I have the uptime numbers to prove it.

> But I see a 
> lot of continuing headaches for Linux mass appeal on Wintel hardware 
> -- particularly with that hardware continuing to evolve so fast. Like 
> yet another new video card standard every time we turn around..

  There hasn't been a new standard for video cards since SVGA to my
knowledge.  Video cards are well beyond standards now, basically anything
goes these days.  X supports them all quite well, ham-strung only by a lack
of vendor information on their cards.

> If there had been some agreement way back when on a hardware spec 
> standard (like back when CHRP was being considered) I think Linux 
> would have clobbered Microsoft by now in the consumer market as well 
> as the small server market. Also, It's probably the reason why the 
> corporate world (even little ole Ivy Tech) continues to like the 
> outlandishly expensive Solaris/Sun platform -- because there is some 
> predictability and consistency there when it comes to the platform 
> itself.

  Standards are a double edged sword.  They may make it easy to support, but
they eventually back you into a feature corner, then you need a new
standard.  What you need is a good flexible base that can support a wide
variety of hardware.  Believe it not, the X window system is just that
base.  It supports nearly every video card out there, and it does it much
better than most people give it credit for, and is evolving to better that
support quite nicely.  The only problem it has, is a lack of vendor openness
and cooperation.

  Also one shouldn't underestimate the standard presentation Linux provides
disparate hardware, such as cd-rom writers and removable media drives (tape,
floppy).  They all look and work the same at the userspace level allowing
you to use the same mechanisms to access the devices, instead of needing
vendor specific software.  Burning roms under Linux is much nicer than under
Windows, and you usually have a wide variety of software to choose from for
making tape backups, not just whatever the vendor gives you.  In the future
when there are fewer and fewer standards, it will be up to the OS to provide
a uniform presentation, and Linux is well equipped to do just that.

                                                                - Steve

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