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some thoughts


I just joined this list. Here is something about my background and
thoughts on the distributions of linux, which I have used. 

I started using microcomputers during the age of CP/M although my
experience on CP/M is very modest. At present I'm working (as a
researcher) at a research centre (for education), which has got some 40
computers ranging from IBM 286 and Macintosh SE:s to Pentium II's and
PowerMacs. These computers are connected to a local Novell network. That
Novell network is connected to some unix machines (including some
linux-machines) and vax-machines of our local university (of some 8000
students) and to Internet. At present I'm using a Macintosh IIsi to write
this post (using pine in an unix-machine and telnet connection). Mainly I
use this mac for writing text (for printing and for e-mail) and for
internet connections as most of my co-workers do. Some people
here use their machines for computing some statistics and two people use
some linux-programs made locally calculating some more complex
mathematical models.   

At home I've got a basic pentium cpu'ed (32 mega ram, 1 giga hd)
microsoft-free linux machine. That computer is used for writing text and
testing Linux. After some 10 years of microcomputer experience I've got an
opinion that more than 90 % of the computers' home use is either to make
some kind of publications of combined text and pictures (for printing or
making cd-roms) or using it for the net-connections ... kids' playing
excluded! Computer-games I've never been so interested in and I know
almost nothing about them. (I made my first MS thesis on mathematics, Set
theory. I don't have much difficulty of reading mathematical texts,
philosophical texts, technical texts on motorcycles, technical texts
on buddhist metaphysics and so on, but I never studied any computers or

Before Linux I had win95 with some word-processing applications (including
WP 5.1. dos, wp8 for win, Njstar to write chinese, JWP to write Japanese)
on the hd of my home-machine. I've got a soundcard as well, so I put there
some Realaudio and other multimedia applications as well and tested some
multimedia cdroms for win. They work but the real use of cdroms is still
playing of kids some encyclopedias excluded.



First I loaded RedHat 5.0. I let win95 on the same hd. I had quite
big difficulties with the documentation of fips. It nowhere said that I
was supposed to delete newly created partition and make a new one later.
The other problem was with Xwindows. It appeared that 'Metro' on that
Redhat 5.0 cd didn't for some reason work with my hardware combination
(S3V+ videocard) but surprisingly the autoprobe of Redhat was able to
configure the videocard somehow. The screen was brand new with a manual
and I could set it up quite easily. The printer configuration wasn't so
difficult, it is about ten years old 9-pin Brother, configured as Epson
highres. The problem which remained with RedHat was that lyx (, which I
was thinking to use to write some papers) didn't print. Netscape was
working and printing very well. The problem with lyx remained unresolved. 
I tried a program called 'lout' as well but never understood the 'jokes'
of the author of the program put in 'the manual'(?) So I needed some
applications to write and print text.


I purchased a 5.2. S.U.s.e. (suse) linux. It came in a box of four cds and
manual of 400 pages. The cds contained a demo of Applixware 4.3.7. suite.
After some calculations I decided to discard win95 altogether with all
the dos applications and the win-applications. Suse installing was a
little bit more difficult than that of RedHat. The manual isn't so clearly
written in my opinion. It has too much unnecessary explanations in the
beginning. And the really needed information is difficult to find. With
suse I managed to get xfsetup working (with RedHat I used Xconfigurator),
with the screen I had some problems (it decided not to work at the
specified hi- and vertical-sync, I had to select a little bit lower

Yast, the installatiion and setup tool of suse is quite OK, but I still
miss the glint of RedHat. With some experimenting I managed to install
Tkdesk (I had that with RedHat , too), KDE, Applixware suite, lyx, 
Netscape and some 5-6 different wms. Printer configuration was OK.

Both the Applixware demo and lyx
print very well using my old Brother (, which I purchased at the
university's garbage-sell for 2 USD). Applixware demo happens to have even
finnish language support. The computer isn't networked so I don't really
know about Netscape, but with local files it seems to work perfectly. I
still needed some programs to write sanskrit, chinese and japanese, but
most of my work I can already do with the machine. 

Applixware isn't at all
compararable to Win WordPerfect (especially, if  adding pictures to
the text), but it anyway can make basic text... lyx seems to be still far
behind considerind useability... especially making documents with pictures

But basically:

If someone could write a little bit better (manual or) on-line
documentation for suse, it could serve
as a base for seul... 

1) There are ready configured package combinations  and kernels, but the
information of them is mainly missing. That part should be newly written.
With some clearly written choices that would almost do the job. For
example, select first the size of installation, then if networked or not,
then which cpu it has... The main applications, like word-processing
(maybe lyx would anyway serve as that later) and browser should be
installed without question. After the configuration of x, select a wm (in
my opinion fvwm2 of suse would do), configure of a printer and that's

2) Choosing later optional packages to be installed is with suse in my
opinio much worse than the system of RedHat. RedHat's glint is better than
xrpm. But basically something like glint or xrpm could be used to install 
later more applications... which could be supplied on some included cds. 

3) So, in my opinion end-user's linux is meant for working with a

The most important or most used applicatios should be
included. That means creating, copying and manipulating text and pictures.
And networking using e-mail and www-browser. So seul needs to have a
working GUI (fvwm2), a wordprocessor (lyx?), picture manipulation and
drawing program (gimp?), e-mail program (pine?) and a web-browser
(Netscape?) and good means of installing (xrpm, glint?) more optional
applications (for example spreadsheets, PIM's, html-editors, ...
developer's programs...)? All of these should be made to look somehow
uniform like that of Mac's programs?