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Re: SEUL: Fwd: Linux (potential) end-user research.

> This was a document that was sent to me a while ago. I figured I'd
> forward it to the independence and laet lists, in case they can make
> better use of it than I, in terms of actually taking these issues into
> account.
> It needs some serious work if we (seul) are going to publish it as an
> "end-user example" document, but it might still be very useful in terms of
> ideas. It gets better in the second half, so don't stop reading early. :)
> I've interspersed comments, along the lines of things we'd want to work
> on if we want to get it into publishable shape. (I don't have anywhere
> near a clear idea of what it's supposed to look like at the end, else
> I'd probably have tried to get it there.)
> I've gone through and fixed up typos and other small things. I tried to
> leave the tone intact, because I got the impression that was core to it.
> Please direct followups/replies to seul-pub@seul.org.
> >------- Forwarded Message
> >
> >Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 16:54:30 +1100 (EST)
> >From: "dscott@acs.itd.uts.edu.au" <dscott@acs.itd.uts.edu.au>
> >To: seul@seul.org
> >Subject: Linux (potential) end-user research.
> >
> >Hi,
> >
> >After writing this out, I looked for the most helpful place to send it,
> >and I guess you're it. It seems you're way ahead of me on my main point
> >(about researching potential end users), but this piece might still help
> >you to identify some issues for consideration -- issues that might not
> >readily occur to highly expert computer types, such as I assume you to be. 
> >
> >I'm (very) new to email, so I couldn't figure out a more useful way to
> >send this than to post it directly to the SEUL organisation. It would be
> >very kind if you could forward it to whoever there was most likely to find
> >some use for it. Thank you in advance
> >
> >Best wishes, and thank you for being interested in the non-elite
> >multitude. 
> >
> >=====================================================
> >Why I Am Interested In Linux, and FUD As It Really Is
> >=====================================================
> >
> >by: a "newbie." (Maybe. I still haven't decided.)
> >
> >I wrote this out to begin with, to sort out my thoughts on the usefulness
> >or otherwise of Linux, a topic on which I could go either way. 
> >
> >I finished this piece, because I looked at some discussion lists on Linux
> >and it seemed to me that people were speculating or even inventing images
> >of these strange, stupid non-technical users and their FUD. No one seemed
> >to be asking the people concerned about anything. Because I am basically
> >sympathetic to the Linux project, it seemed to me that I could do a small
> >service by explaining what one of these dullards who don't "get" Linux was
> >actually thinking about, and what FUD, as a reality, not a slogan, is all
> >about. 
> >
> >My individual problems are of not the slightest interest or importance. 
> >But, if Linux is to achieve "world domination," someone whose say-so

I prefer "world liberation".  :-)

> >counts for something had better be thinking damn hard about these problems
> >in general. It is not possible to beat Microsoft while Microsoft retains a
> >"lock" on nine out of ten non-technical home users across the world. I'll
> >say that again: it is not possible to beat Microsoft while Microsoft
> >retains a "lock" on nine out of ten non-technical home users across the
> >world.
> >

Part of the problem is the mental inhibitions in Linux developpers:
just because Unix was used for certain tasks and by certian users they
figure Linux will be restricted to the same users and contexts.  THey
don't figured that there is a thing where Linux differs from Unix:
PRICE.  And that makes it economically viable for many tasks where
Unix was never a contender.  Like home use.  Look at my paper "Linux
is not Unix" in the web site.

> >If I can leave people with just one thought, I would say: "Stop speculating
> >about the motivations and fears of non-technical potential users of Linux,
> >and ask them. Do research." 
> >

An excellent exercice I would heartily recommend to the Linux
"aristocracy" is read news groups.  It gives you an excellent overview
of the problems met by people and the most urgent ones to fix.

> >
> >Why I Am Interested I Linux
> >===========================
> >
> >
> >(1) I crave stability in an operating system.
> >=============================================
> >
> >By "stability," I mean:
> >
> >Linux won't be "killed" by its owner or the market. For example, I loved
> >OS/2, but IBM "killed" it as a personal operating system. They won't do
> >anything more for it, and because it's proprietary, no one else is allowed
> >to run with it. No-one has authority to "kill" Linux like that. It has a
> >"bullet-proof" future. 
> >
> >Linux is properly constructed so as not to self-destruct. Windows 95 has
> >near enough to no self-repair capacity, so when it gets itself screwed up,
> >you have to back up all your data, wipe your hard drive, and start again.
> >(At lest that's the only 100% solution that a non- technical user has the
> >skill to implement.) I can't use Windows 95. I have my hard drives
> >partitioned from C to G, with everything pertaining to Windows 3.1 backed
> >up on C, and separate installations of Windows on D, E, F and G. During
> >semester, I don't have time to fix anything that goes wrong, but If
> >Windows doesn't get screwed up more than three times, I'll still have a
> >good installation to work with. This works, but I feel there must be a
> >better way, and I believe Linux is this way. 
> >

This sounds great for disk manufacturers.

> >Linux is properly constructed so as not to crash. Windows 3.1 is easy to
> >crash, and Windows 95 is much worse, because it crashes almost as often,
> >and it takes the whole computer with it, instead of just sending you back
> >to DOS for a little while. I feel there must be a better way, and I
> >believe Linux is this way. 
> How much experience have you had with windows 95? I always found win31 to
> be less stable than win95 (which in turn is less stable than winNT). Can
> you provide some more details here?

I think that while Win 95 is better protected against app software
misdesigns it has much more internal bugs (above three thousand Win 95
bugs were "fixed" in Win 98 according to Microsoft) so perhaps he is
right in this.

> >Linux makes sense. I don't have confidence in Windows, because its design
> >makes no sense to me. Broadly speaking, every program can do anything to
> >anything, anywhere, at all times, and the windows\system directory, which

Protected mode is about memory overruns.  This is related to file
protections.  Of course in systems where app software can directly
access the hardware any file protection scheme is ineffective against
malicious software.

> Actually, protected mode in theory fixes a lot of these issues. Specifically,
> winNT is better about this sort of thing.

LoseNT has memory leaks.  The brand new French aicraft carrier
"Charles de Gaulle" uses NT and for now she is a dock queen (LoseNT is
not her only problem).  I heard US Navy had similar problems.  :-)

> >contains the "guts" of Windows, and ought to be a fortified stronghold, is
> >actually a garbage pail for any kind of miscellaneous file, and it never
> >gets cleaned. I don't understand anything about programming, yet, but I do
> >have enough common sense to see that this is "garbage." Anyone can
> >understand this. I understand that Linux is built logically, with key
> >files segregated in protected areas, dangerous actions restricted to the
> >"super-user mode," and so on. I feel much more secure with this kind of
> >system. 
> >

Linux is not a good maket for vendors of anti-virus software.  :-)

> >Linux is constantly peer reviewed and debugged. Windows is secret, and in
> >the case of Windows 3.1 (the only kind of Windows I would run) the secrecy
> >seems to serve the function of hiding what a shoddy job of design and
> >programming it is.  (Compatibility is king, otherwise I would prefer
> >GeoWorks.) Peer review is impossible, there is essentially no ongoing
> >debugging, and Microsoft won't fix it because they want to force everybody
> >to upgrade, and upgrade, and upgrade. Naturally, I trust only the OS that
> >gets debugged, and not the OS that is swarming with uncontrolled bugs and
> >viruses. 
> >
> >Proper login security, with an option for restricted permissions so that a
> >visitor can't do anything that could fundamentally destabilise the system,
> >is highly desirable. This goes from "stability" to "security," but many of
> >my friends share house, with several personal computers to a house. People
> >really hate having their personal computers used without their permission,
> >particularly as the "visitor" can do absolutely anything on a Windows
> >machine, even by accident.

Really no system is secure when you allow physical access to the main
box.  An user could just reboot with a floppy or in case you have a
boot password (and the attacker doesn't want to reset it) just unmount
the hard disk, put it on another computer, do everything there (unless
you use crypted data) and replace it on your box.  There is also a
pretty simple denial of service attack consisting in opening the box
and using a heavy hammer on its contents.  Linux 2.2 still has no
support against this.  :-)

Of course Windows also allows much more conventional attacks.

> Again, don't generalize this to all windows environments. NT is much better
> about this. But of course, NT still has its bugs, and indeed it's designed
> for much stronger hardware than you're likely to be using.
> >Why Stability Is Key
> >- --------------------
> >
> >I don't need an operating system with a lot of features. At least 90% of
> >what I do is just word processing, and the main "features" I care about
> >are those that are imposed on me as standards, for example: "You must use
> >typographic quotation marks." But I absolutely, positively do need a
> >stable platform under my feet when I am on the ragged edge of a deadline,
> >and this is exactly what Microsoft non-peer-reviewed, closed source
> >software will never give me. I don't care if my computer's screw-up can
> >easily be corrected in time. There are frequent occasions when I don't
> >have time to deal with such problems at all. Pass or Fail might not look
> >"mission critical" to Redmond, but by G-d it looks critical to me. 
> >
> >(2) I want the contents of my hard drives to be works of art, whether it's
> >my own work or someone else's. 
> >==========================================================================
> >
> >I feel that Linux is a work of art by many hands, and so I am happy to
> >have it on my hard drive. Guys like Torvalds and Rasterman aren't saying:
> >"Screw quality.  We'll toss it out there, win market share, and fix the
> >bugs later, if we have to." They're saying: "Let's do the best job we
> >can." I have a really good feeling about having the work of such artists
> >in my home. 
> >
> >I feel the opposite about Microsoft Windows 95, which seems to be the only
> >"live"  alternative on my hardware. This is not art. This is a trick to
> >gouge money out of people. I am viscerally hostile to Windows 95, which
> >defined the Start button as my primary interface point, and then dumped
> >the menus there full of advertising and dross that I didn't have the skill
> >to get rid of. Even in Windows 3.1, which is mostly sort of OK, Help About
> >leads to a "gotcha!" where the software company reminds you who's boss. 
> >Help About should lead to Help About that program, or I should be able to
> >change it so that it does. 
> >

"About" is for telling you what is the version of the software and who
is the author.  It helps about who you have to contact.  Every KDE and
Gnome app has an "About" button despite being hardcore (GPLed) free
Linux software.

> >I want to control every visible aspect of the OS, to make it beautiful in
> >my own eyes. OS/2 gave me a lot of that: absolutely everything was an
> >object, with an extensive property sheet for me to define. Windows 95
> >takes that away: I couldn't even rearrange the items in my Start button. I
> >understand that Linux is the best: it will be possible for me to choose,
> >and customise, my desktop program to get the effect I want, and to get
> >things to work the way I want. (Ideally, the way I'd like to do things is
> >to have a directory tree showing my files (with "long," unmistakable file
> >names) here, and labelled boxes of tools and programs (with unmistakable
> >icons and maybe "balloon help") there, and drag this file to that tool (or
> >vice versa) to do everything. Real "toybox" stuff. I assume there'll be a
> >way for me to set that up in Linux, if things are even half as
> >customisable as people say.) 
> >

KDE and Gnome provide this.

> >Linux is open source, and I hope to do a computing major, so in time I may
> >hope to contribute to this art in a fundamental (though probably tiny)
> >way. 
> My general impression is that this section is not 'universal' with
> end-users -- specifically, they don't much care who wrote it or how or
> whether it killed trees or dolphins to do it, as long as it works well
> enough for what they're doing. In addition, few of them are intending to
> major (or did major) in computer-related fields.

There are people who like to have a look at the motor of their car.
Specially owners of high-end cars.

> >(3) I can run Linux on my hardware (probably?), and I can afford it.
> >====================================================================
> >
> >Suppose I thought that Windows NT/2000 would solve all my problems: on my
> >hardware, and with my budget, so what? Linux is a "real world" solution. 
> >
> >(4) Linux will run applications that will enable me to do my work.
> >==================================================================
> >
> >I read that Corel is committed to WordPerfect on Linux. That kind of thing
> >is critical to me.  Now if someone would just write an equivalent for
> >Microsoft Works for Windows, Version 3.0, but on Linux, I would be really
> >happy. 
> While I don't know what MS Works is, I bet Staroffice (www.stardivision.com)
> has a substitute that works pretty well.

From the description of a member in this list MS Works is little more
than a collection of run-of-the-mill Windows freewares (read
pathetically weak. Good free software is not Windows tradition) with a
Microsoft logo over it.

StarOffice is much more powerful and compares with MS Office.  On
Linux it is free for personal use and you also have an unexpensive
version with paper doc for personal use.  The drawback of StarOffice
is that the Unix version is not the "main" one and lacks optimization,
in particular memory management is simply apalling.  With 64 Megs it
is really nice.

Applixware is another Office suit.  It is not free but it must be
about 100 US $.  Its user interface differs substantially from Windows
standards but Applixware requires far less CPU power and RAM than

WordPerfect for Linux can be found in "end user stores" here in France.

> >The Internet is becoming important to me, as a student and as a guy with a
> >network of friends who are all easiest to reach by email. I believe Linux
> >is totally superior for anything related to the Internet. Nothing else
> >comes with a remotely comparable set of (free!) tools, or, above all, has
> >the "life" and future on the Internet that Linux does. 
> >
> >Even just having a ""kill"/stop doing that!" button would be a Good Thing,
> >and I know that Linux has one. Many things that are impossible with
> >Windows are automatic with Linux. 
> >
> >I read that SCO Unix is free for personal use. Joygasms. What kinds of
> >word processing and works programs are written to run under SCO Unix on a
> >486? If I need strong tools (and I do), I need Linux. 
> >

SCO is like a dog where you get the bones for free, but flesh, fur and
every thing else are $$.  :-)

> >(5) I believe that having good open source software will help to teach me
> >computing.
> >=========================================================================
> >
> >The only way I learned anything about chess was to study the games of
> >great masters like Capablanca and Fischer. It makes sense to me that to
> >understand software, I'll have to study the programs of great masters like
> >Torvalds. 
> >

Capablanca and Fischer were my heroes when I was a chess player.

> >This kind of beauty, based on appreciating an underlying logic, won't
> >yield to superficial study and "once over lightly" treatment in lectures.
> >I'll need authentic, top quality source material, working in my own home.
> >Maybe (and "maybe" is not good enough here) I can pass without it. But can
> >I learn art without it? The idea is ridiculous and offensive. No
> >worthwhile art can be learned without earnest study of the great masters. 
> As above, in my experience most people don't want to learn how their
> software is written.
> >(6) There are -- or soon will be -- enough Linux people around to trade
> >ideas and files with. 
> >=======================================================================
> >
> >It would be easier for me, personally, if there were more end users, and
> >not just hackers who obviously can't be happy to be disturbed by newbies.
> >(Even help files and FAQs tend to say: "Don't ask in public. You'll only
> >make a fool of yourself.") But the people exist.  Saying "OS/2" now is
> >like disturbing a graveyard. 

The people who wrote HOWTOs were not "native Linuxers": they were
former Unixers.  What they had in mind was the old Unix model.  Unix
was expensive.  You didn't have one at home.  You didn't learn alone:
you learned either at University or at work thanks to training paid by
your employer or a senior colleague teached you.  You didn't
administer the box until you had learned enough to do it.  The guy who
posted in a Unix group was an experienced user with a problem but also
the skills to find, read and undersatnd the info.  It _was_ legitimate
to ask him to do his job before posting and do it only after having
tried everything.

Many Linux users have to care alone about their boxes.  That means
that they could have to solve problems well before knowing about
"less".  It is _not_ legitimate to ask them to fight for days before
posting.  The ethics for Linux groups should be: "The time spent in
answering your posting will not be available for other people.  Look
at the posts available from your ISP before posting but if you find
nothing then the only dumb question is the question who isn't asked".
About the people who answer: "Nobody forces you to answer so don't
complain when you see a question for the twentieth time.  Better have
dumb questions than people returning to Windows.  Don't forget those
guys are learning alone.  People who flame them after having had every
kind of handholding while learning are quite simply despicable".  And
for developers: "When a question is being asked again and again that
means we did something wrong".

About university-educated flamers I really regret my English is not
good enough for translating "fils a papa".

> There are many Linux users around these days. If you're looking for more
> 'standard' support, check out linuxcare.com.
> >Fear, Uncertainty and Doubts about Linux
> >========================================
> >
> >
> >(1) Once bitten, twice shy.
> >===========================
> >
> >I tried to install Red Hat Linux, supposedly the "easy" package, a couple
> >of years ago. It was a nightmare, and completely useless. Effectively, I
> >turned my computer into a paperweight, and myself into a nervous wreck. I
> >tried re-installing, over and over. No dice.  As for my "free support," it
> >was online, and of course "I had no computer." Things stayed that bad for
> >over a month, after which I wisely gave up. "Never again." 
> >
> >Some minor points in the maelstrom:
> >(1) As it happens, I do not carry around the chipset and exact screen
> >refresh rate of my monitor. And anyone who can move as often as I have
> >while never losing any documentation is a genius. 
> >(2) Why should I guess what partition sizes I need? Hard drive sizes +
> >packages = exactly the sort of task a computer is supposed to automate.
> >The installation program should ask questions in the right order, ask
> >permission, and then "just do it." 
> >(3) Cylinders? At any time, but now with a hard drive that is damaged in
> >some way I don't understand except that 70MB of it is now useless? "You
> >jest." 
> >(4) The important task of determining whether you have just done the right
> >thing, and if not, how you should back-track, is radically more difficult
> >on a kind of system you have never used before. 
> >
> >I can't help contrasting this with my experience of OS/2's installation,
> >where everything worked perfectly every time -- no fuss, no tears, just
> >results. And this was with all the "difficult, advanced" options, with
> >Boot Manager, HPFS and so on. If I had found OS/2- native software to do
> >what I needed done, the way I needed it done, I would still be using OS/2
> >and pitying the suffering masses. 
> >

The crucial point was OS/2 was sponsored by a powerful company so
every hardware manufacturer just wrote drivers for it and came to IBM
telling what was the very special feature in the card respective to
other cards with the same chip.

Linux had no sponsor and initially a limited user base, so
manufacturers were not unrolling the red carpet under its feet.
Driver developers had to ask docs, read them and write drivers without
any kind of assistance from the manufacturer.  There were cases like
for Iomega Zips where they had to run the DOS driver using the DOS
emulator and spy its traffic with the device.  But you see those
problems are fading away due to a simple fact: Linux has enough users
manufacturers begin to translate Linux=$$$.  IBM, Dell and Compaq
offer Linux as an option and that means that they will have to tell to
the manufacturers of the cards they use: "Either you manage to be
supported by Linux or your partnership with us will be terminated".
Creative Labs (Sound Blaster) has hired a programmer to write Linux
drivers instead of waiting for Linux users doing it.

By the way if Windows install is supposed to be easy it is because the
hardware manufacturer puts a CD in the box containing the right
drivers configured for the IRQs, ports he would be using and in case
of a new computer it comes preinstalled.  But Linux is now reaching
this point.

> >I read lying "booster-talk" about how easy Linux is to install, and I just
> >laugh. You'd better believe I warn my friends about the truth. If luck
> >does not favour you, installing Linux can easily become a species of
> >computer Hell. 

That truth is no longer the truth.  In Linux six months is a long
time.  Of course it would be nice if for legacy ISA hardware the
install allowed to probe all combos of IRQ,ports and to hell with the
fact one user in thousand will have his ethernet lock the box (just
restart with no probing) but in PCI boxes the redhat install just
looks at the hardware you have and uses the adequate X server (and
probably ethernet driver).

> Which version of redhat were you trying to install? Have you ever tried
> a different type of Linux? Have you ever done an install, from scratch,
> of any of the Microsoft operating systems? How did those compare?

I tried.  And the Ziff Davis people tried and they wrote an article
about Microsoft who was more violent than anything you can read in
Linux newsgroups.  When you really have to do the work (ie the
hardware manufacturer hasn't done all the dirty work) then installing
Windows is hell.  And there are some cases (Pentium to MMX, changing
motherboard) when upgrading part of your box will corrupt the register
base and you will have no choice but to reinstall _everything_ and
that is manufacturer's advice).  This despite the fact every
manufacturer is doing most of the work for Microsoft.  Here we see
Mighty Microsoft in all its glory.

> >(2) Linux may not work on my hardware.
> >======================================
> >
> >I never did get Linux to recognise my CD-ROM drive. Maybe that's because I
> >was doing things wrong. After all, there were lots of things about Linux I
> >never got to work properly, starting with LILO, the start-up program. But
> >maybe Linux just won't tolerate my CD-ROM drive, or my sound card, or
> >something. I've talked to other people who also couldn't get Linux to
> >recognise their CD-ROM drives, and gave up. I read the compatibility
> >lists, and all my stuff (Panasonic CD-ROM, true Sound Blaster and so on)
> >is there, but maybe it is somehow set up wrong, or connected in a way
> >Linux doesn't like, or something. I could pay someone to crack open the
> >box, and go on a random fishing expedition, at $60 per half- hour, looking
> >for "things Linux might not like." Then again, perhaps not.  There may be
> >no solution, given that I can't afford a new computer. 
> >

This was two years ago.

> >My CD-ROM drive is my only music player, so one of the things I remember
> >about my efforts to install Linux is that my flat fell quiet. 
> This is a good point -- no installation that I've seen has done that
> "last little step" of setting up the right permissions on /dev/dsp --
> indeed, the Debian 2.1 installation I recently did totally forgot to do a
> 'MAKEDEV audio', so I had to point cdrom at my hdc, change the perms, etc.
> >(This is the right time to think very seriously about this, because
> >"disaster just struck," and I have to get my CD-ROM repaired, perhaps
> >replaced anyway. This may be a critical decision "in the dark.") 
> >

If it is replaced then buy an IDE CD drive (after ensuring it works on
your 486).  There is nothing to guess with them and they are under 60$.

> >I also have only two hard drives, of 470MB (after damage) and 200MB. Linux
> >hates multiple drives -- it doesn't even like to read a floppy disk, in my

Linux _loves_ multiple drives.  Ever loved them since 1992.  I have
been using them since 1994.  It also loves floppies.  Now were you
using the right commands?  Once I found a guy who typed "/dev/fd0" to
access the floppy because he thought Linux was like DOS or OS/2 and
their brain damaged A:, C:

> Actually, Linux deals very well with multiple drives, provided you did
> the right thing in the 'fdisk' section of the install. What you want to do
> is set up partitions on the various drives, and then during the installation
> specify that you want /usr/ to be a certain partition, /home/ to be a
> different partition, maybe /sbin/ or /bin/ a third, etc. But this requires
> knowing the sorts of directory hierarchies Unix uses, and it also requires
> having an intuitive feel for how much "stuff" will go under each directory.
> No end-user (or even windows programmer) can be expected to know this stuff
> when he's starting out.
> >experience -- and it wants its one hard drive to accommodate hundreds and
> >hundreds of megabytes of -- "stuff."  It was way beyond me to figure out
> >what I should leave out and what I might need.  According to an expert I
> >read, the only smart, safe move is to buy a multi-gigabyte drive and
> >install everything. I don't regard that as an option. Besides, if I want
> >to install hundreds of megabytes of useless fat, Windows can do that for
> >me, no trouble at all. There is no "logic,"  no economy of force, no art,
> >in this approach. And I haven't got the money. 

Because it is free software distribution manufacturers fill the CD
with as much stuff they can package.  But your expert should have
closed his mouth instead of saying such sillinesses.  I agree that
asking people about software they want installed is not a good idea at
this stage.  I prefer Caldera's way where they ask you what you will
be doing with the box and then install software for that use.  However
in RedHat there is a selection by categories and even an inexperienced
user can tell if he will be programming or doing fancy graphics.
Notice that if you are seeing this menu then it is becausse you have
choosen "Custom installation" so you are supposed to know what you are

> Modern installers (with Redhat, at least) have options for "workstation"
> or "desktop" installs, where presumably they make most of the decisions
> for you in terms of which packages to install. (I always choose 'custom',
> so I don't have much direct experience with this.)

If you choose "workstation" or "server" then modern Redhats
automatically partition the drive and install a selection of software
without user intervention.

> >A 486 DX2/66 with only 24MB of RAM may not be nearly enough to get
> >acceptable performance out of the graphical interface(s) and all the
> >programs that rely on them. I think a well-written, light, lean program
> >should go: "Snap!" Very likely, that won't be possible.  Well, it was a
> >sexy machine when I went so deep into debt to buy it. Not any more. 
> With a light window manager, this machine will still be relatively fast.
> It's true that you won't be able to (easily) use the newer desktops like
> KDE or Enlightenment, but you don't need them. Perhaps the installer
> should take into account the "power" (cpu + memory + drive space) of
> the machine when deciding which desktop setups to recommend.

KDE plus X plus some servers go into 20 megs of memory.  That is on a
box who is using 1024x768 and 16M colors.

> >I also have definite ideas on multi-tasking performance. OS/2 was
> >splendid. Windows 95 was grotesque. ("Kalunk, kalunk, wait while I think
> >about it, wait ...  Thunk. OK, now I'll give you back your input
> >devices.") If, because of my weak hardware, Linux multi-tasks as badly as
> >Windows 95, or even worse, that would be -- ugly. 
> While I haven't used OS/2, I'm told it's pretty good with multitasking.
> Linux is at least on par with it (given that Linux beats the pants off
> every other x86-based OS out there, in most benchmarks I've seen). It's
> certainly far superior to Windows.

And it beats NT

> >(3) There is no cheap, safe starting option for applications software (as
> >far as I know).
> >=========================================================================
> >
> >This issue can't be wholly segregated from installation. I know when my
> >operating system is properly installed, because I do simple tasks with it,
> >and they work. I write: "Hey, it worked!" in IBM Works or Windows Write,
> >and I print it out. I play a CD, and it sings: "I Feel Good!" And so on.
> >For a non-technical user, the possibility to read a "man" page, or start
> >"emacs," and in either case be baffled, does not provide the same sort of
> >feedback. It's still an open question whether the system can be somehow
> >manipulated so as to do a useful task or generate an output. 
> >
> >One of the things that boggled me about Linux is that there is nothing to
> >get started with. Not IBM Works. Not Windows Write and Cardfile. Nothing.
> >There's no Microsoft Works to buy. There's no "happy stuff" either: no
> >Chessmaster 4000, no Microsoft Encarta, no Dangerous Creatures, no
> >Microsoft Home Essentials. Nothing. You sacrifice all that, and lash out
> >for your "big" applications suite, because no-one is offering anything
> >more "human-sized," and because, consequently, until you get your big
> >applications suite, your Linux home computer is an elaborate paper-weight. 

Please.  It was two years ago.  Linux started when a guy wrote 'A's
and 'B's to the screen until it got them interlacing (multitasking was
working right).  It started from zero software, zrro user base and
zero sponsors.  Today we don't have Dangerous Creatures or Home
Essentials but we have Office suites, first comercial games (but they
don't run on 486s :-( ), every non-Microsoft database, MP3 players and
we can watch TV on Linux.  And we have the GIMP: like Photoshop in
power but free.  Plus Enlightenment to make the Windows guy die from

> Project Independence (http://independence.seul.org/) is attempting to
> address the issue of "no little apps", but they're still a ways from
> finishing that goal.
> >With the "reputation" that applications for Linux are earning, this is not
> >an attractive gamble. Will Star Office or Applixware support my 9-pin
> >dot-matrix printer that emulates an Epson LX800? "Do ya feel lucky, punk?"
> >As it happens, my honest answer to that question is: "No." And I have no
> >plans to rob a bank in order to buy a PostScript printer. 
> Oof. Good issue, I don't do non-postscript printers so I'll let somebody
> else tackle this one. :)

Cuckle.  Ghostscript has been in Linux since 94 or 93.  It converts
the Postscript generated by Linux apps to the language spoken by your
printer.  And yes Epson LX8000 is in the list.  And you don't have,
like in Windows, to install a driver for every app with a determined
printer.  We also have automatic filters who will invoke the right
application in case you just send an image or compressed file to the

> >Besides, I don't want a high-tech, advanced-technical-feature "office." I
> >want Home Essentials for Linux, but I don't think Microsoft will be
> >bringing it out anytime soon. 
> Independence: do you have a list on your website of the sorts of apps that
> you think would cover this, and why they're good/etc? It seems like a good
> document to have if you don't already have it.

One of my personal obsessions has ever been the home user and I wan't
thinking in nerds programming at home but in housewiwes and
househusbands :-) who have children to educate, who would like to
manage their investments or checkbooks, use the computer for
entertainment and in general manage their house.  I would have liked
we would have by now a program to tell you what bait to use when you
go to fish such fish, in such river and under such meteorological
conditions.  I didn't find one but I found about investments,
checkbooks and managing a wine cellar.

By the way I tried to add the best wysywyg word processor who had no
restrictions in use or distribution (Maxwell).

> >If it doesn't work, what is the next move? Configuration Hell reinstalling
> >DOS and Windows? Yes, that would be the next move. "Been there, done
> >that," and "better the devil you know." 
> >
> >(By the way: I'm not mad at Microsoft in general. I think they make
> >excellent mice. If they were strictly a hardware company, I'd put them
> >almost up there with Logitech. But they've virtually "locked out" low-end
> >users who need a small, good-quality, reliable operating system, and I am
> >mad at them over that.) 
> >
> >I don't believe WINE is the solution. First, I don't believe WINE works. 
> >Second, I don't believe WINE works. ("It's such a big problem I thought
> >I'd mention it twice.") A toy that's considered impressive because it runs
> >WordPad, usually without crashing, is of no use to me. A WINE that's
> >almost as good as the real thing returns me to OS/2:  "Congratulations. 
> >You have just installed an enormous Program Manager replacement. And by
> >the way, it will cause problems for your multimedia CD-ROMs." A
> >better-than Windows WINE, a bullet-proof WINE? I don't believe it. The
> >future for Linux is Linux native software, or failure. More to the point,
> >I don't believe anything but Linux-native software will give me the
> >reliability I want. 
> >

Wine allows to run several DirectX games.  Games are the area Linux is

> >(There is one area where WINE is valid and vital. But that comes later.)
> >
> > Maybe the only way to get Linux-native applications as reliable as Linux
> >is to make them open source like Linux. In which case, I'm out of luck,
> >because there's no indication I know of that open source word processing
> >is possible, or that an open source works program is even "imaginable." 
> Open source word processors are slowly progressing, but you're right that
> they haven't been proven truly feasible yet.

We have several closed source ones.  And they are not worse than their
Windows counterparts.

> >Ideally, I would like programs to work the way they do in GeoWorks. Along
> >with your choices about new document/old document or template, you get to
> >choose a complexity level from (say) 1 to 3 (and you can customise what
> >each includes and leaves out, if you want to). So, if you're making a
> >"difficulty of one" document, (or if you're a "difficulty of one" user),
> >you never have to deal with buttons and choices that are useless to you. I
> >know lots of Word users who would like to be able to do that. But it's
> >only too obvious that no-one is about to write this kind of simple
> >software for Linux. 
> >
> >As far as I can tell, the people who write stuff for Linux only care about
> >impressing each other with advanced technical features, in a spirit of
> >"can you top this?"  It seems irrelevant whether the people who make the
> >software charge money for it or not:  Applixware, which is commercial,
> >seems to have the same attitude. I think that if that's your attitude,
> >it's impossible to write the kind of good quality simple software I need.
> >If someone insists on making a screwdriver advanced and technical and
> >complicated, he'll make a lousy screwdriver. 

More exactly most free software has its origins in a tool needed by
the original author.  That means that most of it is programmer's or
engineer's software.  That was true until the guys of KDE decided to
make a desktop as user friendly as Windows and began writng apps to
fit with this desktop.  Later they started Koffice who seems to be
going well.  In addition we also have the Gnome desktop and its apps
who like KDE are written by people who don't want Linux being used
only by nerds.

> You should check out a lot of the applications written for the K Desktop
> Environment. Unfortunately (there's always an unfortunately), it's kind of
> a resource hog and might not work very well on your hardware.

I have used it on a 16 Meg box for months, in his 24 megs box it
should fly as long he avoids Netscape and fancy backgrounds.

> KDE supporters: you guys have support for a light window manager and
> light applications......right?
> >(4) Compatibility is king, and it is in question.
> >=================================================
> >
> >Can I get the university computers to "eat" the files I would generate
> >with Linux? I don't know. Can I print out on the superior printers at the
> >university? I don't know. When I get an assignment that requires 100%
> >Microsoft Word compatibility (and I know I've got at least one coming up),
> >could I do it on my Linux home computer? I don't know.  Internet Service
> >Providers generally want to dictate what software you use. (They also want
> >to take your money and provide no service, in my experience, but that's
> >another problem.) Will an ISP who would be acceptable to me on other
> >grounds tolerate a Linux home computer? I don't know. 
> Good concerns. Staroffice and Corel have some good filters (for converting
> files from word format and back, for instance), and there are some other
> applications out there designed to convert. But I don't know if anybody
> is claiming 100% compatibility yet.

Microsoft keeps changing formats just to avoid other people being
compatible with it.  The fact governments allow this kind of
monopolistic maneuvers can only be explained by a mix of corruption
and crass ignorance about computing.

StarOffice, Corel and Applixware work with Word files.  Not the latest
version but they work.

> >My guess is that all of this would work out, somehow or other, after some
> >trouble. But guessing is not knowing by experience. I know what I can do
> >with the software I've got, defective as it is. 
> >
> >I do know that a whole lot of ISPs want/require you to run Win95/98 and
> >Explorer. Maybe the whole Internet will divide, with the ISPs keeping
> >Linux for themselves, and forcing their clients to use Windows 2000 and
> >Explorer? 

They provide you with Explorer and a connectivity tool for Windows.
That does not mean you are restricted to using them.

> Presumably they do this because it's easier to support a single operating
> system, and Windows is currently the most common (and probably the simplest
> to support as well, given the relatively small number of things you can
> do with it). Many ISPs that "want" you to run windows actually just set up
> a PPP connection for you, and then you use their software to communicate
> over it. You could just as easily use any other software, including the
> Linux PPP support.

The fact every distrib is using a different PPP connectivty tool is
harming us.  Linux users are numerous enough and specially networked
enough to be able to talk loud and make an ISP lose a lot of money in
case he gets blacklisted for not supporting Linux.  Unfortunately ISPs
would be forced to provide a dozen PPP setups (one for every distrib)
each one representing little market share.  Add the fact we are not
used to talk loud.

> >I do know that using Linux puts me at loggerheads with the Australian
> >Government. Telstra is partly privatised, but still the government
> >telecommunications company.  It is providing a basic email service for
> >free. (And a good thing, too. This should be part of the basic phone
> >service by now.) This service is provided free exclusively for Microsoft
> >Windows 95 and Microsoft Windows 98 users. The Microsoft Australian
> >Government software is written exclusively for those platforms, and if
> >you're not running the Microsoft Operating System that Microsoft wants you
> >to run, you're
> >(a) about to "upgrade" as required, or
> >(b) not entitled to equal services.
> >As the man on the phone patiently explained to me: there are no
> >work-arounds, there aren't supposed to be any work-arounds, and there are
> >no plans to support any "obsolete" (= "non-Microsoft") platforms, ever. 

Now you know what you have to do for next elections.  You see
"aparatchiks" (read high-end governement employees) were planning the
same kind of Microsoft-only policy for french schools and french
medicine but some Linux activists went over their heads and got to
politicians.  And yes they were heard.

> Wow. Yuck. Check out http://www.anatomy.usyd.edu.au/danny/freedom/ip/aidfs.html
> and contact Danny; he knows more about this than I do (given that he does
> free software lobbying for Australian organizations), and might have already
> done a lot of research on this topic (I have no idea).
> >This is a disturbing straw in the wind. When a key Government company goes
> >into the business of diminishing personal choice and market competition,
> >for the benefit of Microsoft Corporation, then it may become very
> >"inadvisable" for small, weak individuals to buck the system. This is
> >where WINE is vital. If it works well enough, it may enable Linux users to
> >put up a "mask" of Microsoft conformity when the Australian Government
> >requires it, as the Government may in future do on far more important
> >questions than whether or not you get equal phone services. 
> >
> >Maybe other governments will also standardise on Microsoft, because it's
> >easiest to write for one platform. When masses of ordinary people need to
> >be Microsoft customers in good standing, in order to talk most easily with
> >their governments, then the competition about operating systems will be
> >over, as far as I can see. 
> >

In France the army is becoming suspicious of Microsoft software where
you don't know if Microsoft isn't spying you.  Perhaps this is one of
the reasons governement is no longer so fascinated about Microsoft it
used to be.

> >Anyway, let's keep the paranoia to a dull roar. No-one is going to shoot
> >me for not going Microsoft all the way. They're just going to make life
> >inconvenient. But my capacity to buy my way out of inconveniences is
> >limited to say the least. 
> >
> >(By the way: I feel this is really unfair. I am a Microsoft customer: 
> >Microsoft MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Works, Microsoft
> >"everything." I just don't count as one, because Microsoft has dumped my
> >operating system, and, effectively, me.  They didn't even maintain
> >backward compatibility for Word. This does not engender goodwill.) 
> >

So the old software you have is not an argument to stay with MS.  Will
your MS Works be able to generate files for Word like asked?  No?
Then that would mean buying Word and also another computer because the
new Word needs more than a 486 with 24 megs.  How convenient your
university attitude both for MS and PC manufacturers!  

> >
> >Why I Am Still Strongly Interested In Going To Linux
> >====================================================
> >
> >
> >Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt are justified, but they don't get me anywhere. 
> >I can limp along effectively enough with my present system, and I would
> >probably be wise to do so.  However, the down side of that course is that
> >my present difficulties will never diminish.  They will only increase, as
> >time and Microsoft-controlled standards leave me further behind. 
> >

You aren't free to upgrade or not to upgrade.  You have to pay.  Like
taxes except that they aren't used to improve your city or country.  They
are used to feed a vampire.

> >If I want security, stability, beauty, strong tools (at least in certain
> >specific areas), and the satisfaction of supporting people I like instead
> >of people I no longer like much, I want Linux.  This would be the (only)
> >way to solve my computer problems rather than putting up with them. That
> >is, it would be if Linux worked for me, and I don't know whether it could
> >or would do so. 
> >
> >- -----------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> >I guess this is where the file ends. I've laid out my pros and cons, and I
> >still have no conclusions. 
> >
> >I wonder how many there are like me? Quite likely there are millions of
> >us, inflating the figures for "people who've installed Linux." 
> >
> >If I can leave people with just one thought, I would say: "Stop speculating
> >about the motivations and fears of non-technical potential users of Linux,
> >and ask them. Do research." 
> >
> >And if that's already agreed, I would say: "Do qualitative research."
> >
> >- -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> >Best wishes,
> >		David Blue
> >
> >------- End of Forwarded Message
> Thanks for the notes. Hopefully I've given you some more things to think about
> from my comments, and hopefully other people will address other issues.
> Please take a look at http://www.seul.org/pub/fsib.html for a draft document
> that might convince you that maybe free software is the more rational choice
> for companies as well as individuals, and therefore maybe Microsoft is going
> to continue to lose influence rather than gain it. (Comments on that greatly
> appreciated, as it's still in draft form.)
> --Roger

			Jean Francois Martinez

Project Independence: Linux for the Masses