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Re: SEUL: SOTs comments
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From: Santeri Sakajarvi <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 1997 18:35:11 +0300 (EET DST)
Some comments about Linux currently, Windows 95 and problems of
our customers with them (we had a brief meeting about SEUL with
our hardware team):
1) Win95 and Linux first booting before installation is currently too
complex. In Win95 you must make a spesific booting disk with
correct CD-ROM driver on it before starting booting your PC for
In Linux you must make a boot disk. Boot disk may or may
not support users current harware and due to that it causes
a lot troubles. In some cases a user must compile kernel before
he can boot up the computer to support all the hardware.
=> Suggestions: SEUL should boot directly from CD-ROM or should
include ready-to-use boot disk with as much as possbile
hardware support compiled into the kernel.
If we include as much as possible hatrdware support compiled in then
the user has to recompile it to make it leaner. That is both
frightening and dangerous for a beginner specially if the person is
not a programmer. The way to go is having a minimalist kernel and use
modules intensively. Kernel 2.0 made it possible.
2) Current Linux FDISK is a too hard to use for end-user.
=> It should be made end-user-oriented so, that it automaticly
makes the basic partitions (swap, root and home/data) and
then there should be a tools for adding a new harddisk to
Linux (automaticly partitioning, formatting and mounting it).
What is the 'a priori' of the partitions?
Given the common user having only one disk the user should be asked
only one question: Will you give all the unused space to LINUX? A
beginner does not have any idea of /var, /home and the sizes needed.
Better have a program determine it.
3) Current directory tree of Unix is too complex. Directory names like
etc, bin, /usr/local/bin etc. are too hard for win/dos oriented
=> The basic directory structure should be something like
- bin (/bin, /usr/bin, /usr/local/bin/)
- configuration (/etc, /etc...)
- users (/home)
- software (/opt, /usr/local/bin)
- devices (/dev)
- ??? (/var)
- sbin (/sbin)
All extra system dirs should be hidden from users.
It should also be made compatible with Unix directory tree
with eg. symlinks so that upgrading and sw installation
from is compatible in future also.
I have used distributions a bit like that. I didn't like them.
3) X configuration, especially in monitor selection refresh rates,
in video card clock timings etc. are too complicated. Even for a
little bit more experienced users it causes troubles.
=> There should be windows -like selection of
monitor and card. All other should be autoprobed
and defaults should be like in win 95 or win 311 (eg. no
virtual destops etc.). Ofcourse user should have a
possibility to change the configuration if he
want like it is now eg. in Xconfiguration.
Check XF86Setup in XFree 3.3. The old xf86config is obsolete.
4) Dos and Windows software should run in SEUL. Most software
in world runs in DOS and a lot in Windows.
=> DOS and Windows emulators should be included to the
distribution package as default and they should
be ready-to-run after installation. Current configuration
of dosemulator in eg. Caldera is a way too diffucult.
Agreed about dosemu being too difficult. But about Windows emulators
Wine the free one allows to run nearly nothing.
5) People buy operating system for making someting with it.
Windows contains currently some tools for word prosessing,
painting, calculating eg. So you can start using it right away.
=> SEUL distribution should include at least a word prosessor,
a speadsheet and some drawing software. That would make
it usefull as it is for users as it is.
Yes. One of the problems of present distributions is than they are
intented either for mad hackers (Debian, Slackware) or for ISPs and
servers (RedHat and a bit Caldera).
We have a very promising graphic tool (the gimp), a good spreadsheet
with Wingz (shareware under Linux), a Wysywig editor with Thot (but I
have to check its copyright).
6) Installation of a new software is quite complicated in Linux.
Eg. installing star office to Caldera takes several days.
First you try to install it, then you start hunting the
missing libraries, then configure it and configure it and
finally you forget the whole idea and start using Win 95.
=> RPM is easy enough in case you have all the needed
libraries available. All needed libraries should be
included to the software distribution
It took me about 5 minutes (five): all needed libraries WERE included
in my Caldera Standard. Newer RPMs than the one in Caldera now check
dependencies. That could be improved if it had an option to install
every package our software depends on. Alternatively that could be in
the graphic front end.
7) Allmost all software is now-a-days installed from CD-ROM.
For making the installation in Linux you must
- mount the cd-rom
- change dir to cd-rom mounting directory
- run the installation
That is too complicated. And also for removing the CD-ROM
you must unmount the device. This requires also prior
knowledge on Linux devices etc.
=> In SEUL there should be a mechanism like autorun.inf and
automounting and -unmounting of the CD-ROM. So users
puts the CD-ROM in and the installation menu appears
automaticly to the screen.
The installation tool could take care of mounting, unnmounting.
8) Most of the PCs are used for playing the games. In Linux
there is only a limited amount of games available
(I like the wargames of UNIX most ;).
=> Games written to dos and Windows 95 should be working
in Seul and also running at least as well as in Windows.
Or there should be Linux versions of the most popular
Doom is in every distribution. The SVGA version of abuse was broken
by 2.0.1 because it did things not POSIXLY kosher. It was the patch
in exit.c. Now than sources of Abuse are public we could fix the
problem and put Abuse in SEUL.
I also think SEUL should come with a demo. It makes the user aware of
what he has in his distribution.
9) Software installation to Linux is quite complicated compared
to Win95. Eg. in slackware I must
- untar the package
- emacs the makefile
- make compilation
- make installation
- emacs configuration files
Do not base in Slackware: it is not state of the art.
- read dozens of pages of readmes, manuals and howtos.
In Win95 you just run the setup and it makes everything to work
(at least in some cases).
Redhat has a control-panel who allows you to make many things easily.
It could improved.
=> Install and uninstall should be made in Win95 style.
State of the art in Linux distributions is not Slackware: it is
packages than manage for automatic updating of menus, new environment
variables appearing next time you login, new daemons started
automatically next time you reboot. Of course all that disappears
when you uninsatall the package.
That is what you get in modern distributions.
11) Internet -connections are easier in Win95 to configure than
in Linux. PPP and SLIP are allmost impossible for ordinary
end-users in Caldera.
=> In SEUL the PPP/SLIP should be automaticly installed
and configured like in Win95 or even more easier.
This is a very crusial point.
TkPPP. EzPPP. Unfortunately both of them need X. What if the user
cannot run X?
Distributions tipically ask you about Ethernets, permanent IP
addresses etc. It seems distribution authors live in planet Mars:
normal people use PPP, have no permanent link to the Internet and a
lot of them have floating addresses.
But PPP is realtively easy. The main problem is mail and news. They
are a lot harder. If you can't get them working then you cannot ask
for help. Prebuilt configurations addressing real world (home users
not people with permanent links) cases should be included in SEUL. In
real world people have to maskerade their mail addresses: with present
distributions you are on your own.
12) Price is important factor of the product. Here is some
points of pricing:
Resellers = Computer manufacturers, shops etc.
end-users = ordinary home users
companies = medium and large companies etc.
If price is 0
- resellers and computer manufacturers are not intrested
in product becouse clients can get it freely, no profits
- end-users find it attractive to at least for trying,
but it effect to image of product. Its free -> it can't
be that good
- companies find it unreliable. It's free -> it can not be
You get it for zero if you have a CD in a book. I have seen a person
not even looking at the CD coming in his UNIX (not LINUX) book.
Another problem is than CDs in books are old when the person buys it
and then the users are confronted with X servers too old for their
If price is < Win95 and > 0
- resellers and computer manufacturers are intrested
in product becouse they can sell it cheaper than Win95.
In case the system is better than Win95, easier to pre-install
and support works well they might be willing to
start selling it.
- end-users find it less attractive becouse you have to
pay for it, but they will demand also more becouse
had to pay for it and hence they will be more eager to
invest their to make it work.
- companies find it a bit unreliable, becouse they are used to
pay a lot for operating systems like NT or SCO.
It's too cheap -> it can not be trusted as much as NT or SCO.
Companies are not sentient beings, it is the people at key positions.
For a company the reliability can be assessed by the number and
seriousness of bugs and the time of fixing. Linux is very good at
that. For a company its interest is testing LINUX and if reliable
then use it.
The problem is the people taking the decisions: they don't pay for
software so cost is not an incentive for them. On the other side if
you hit a bug with NT then you can explain to your superior than you
had bought from a reputable company, leader of the market but you had
bad luck. If you hit a bug in Linux, you were penny wise but pound
folish, you are the person who played russian roulette and you will
have to find another job. Linux can be very reliable for companies
but it is a big risk for the person taking the decisions. And it will
be until superiors know about it, and the big ones are not computer
If price is >> Win95
- resellers and computer manufacturers are intrested
in product becouse they can sell it companies but the
prices requires some advertising and brand name for it.
In case the system is a lot better than Win95, easier to
pre-install and configure, there is a brand name for it
and support works well they might be willing to
start selling it with 0 risk.
- end-users find it too expensive.
- companies find it reliable in case there are reference
customers (big enough), a good brand name, advertising,
and systems they need available for it. Finding there
reference customers would he how ever quite hard as well
as making the brand.
That is the point about Caldera having a distribution < to W95, one
more or less equal, and one about the price of NT/AS (but each time
you get a lot more than with the equivalent MS product).
Jean Francois Martinez
==================== The Linux. Use the Linux, Luke! =======================