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Bridging Unix and Windows At NASA 293

Posted by Hemos
from the making-the-jump dept.
slashdotess writes "Information Week reports: "About a year ago, Patrick McCartney, a Johnson Center project manager, created a Linux desktop environment that could also run government-mandated Microsoft apps. This let his team of 30 engineers continue to program in a Unixlike environment and create Word documents and Outlook E-mail all on the same PC. This mixed-use scenario is slowly taking hold, encouraged by a growing number of applications for running Linux on PC desktops." Score another one for Linux on the Desktop."
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Bridging Unix and Windows At NASA

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  • OS X... (Score:2, Troll)

    by bgarland (10594)
    Why don't they just get some Macs? Then they can do Word/Office in a native environment instead of some Wine-like UNIX hack.

    Ben
    • Re:OS X... (Score:2, Interesting)

      Maybe it has to do with the cost of OSX + hardware vs the cost of Linux + hardware.
      • Not only is the expected TCO for mac osx lower than linux the hardware is easier to maintain.

        I've seen this phenomena too many times. a site has a zillion pc techs and 1 mac tech. rather than conclude the obvioust that PCs need higher levels of support they usually vote to go to a single PC platform, and the poor single mac tech is outvoted.

    • Re:OS X... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by robbyjo (315601) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @04:21AM (#4950850) Homepage

      Bear in mind that the "government-mandated Microsoft apps" are not just Word/Office.

    • Re:OS X... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by transiit (33489)
      Why should they get a Mac? What would the greater cost of hardware + software get them?

      Better multimedia performance?
      A simpler GUI?
      Proprietary crap masquerading as open source?

      This is NASA. These are scientists and mathematicians and people that are smarter than the average visual basic programmer that think that the success of the computer is by slapping on as much meaningless cruft as possible! People that have been using mainframes for years. Scientists.

      What does the average mac advocate usually present as the case for the mac since the release of OS X? "It's Unix! Really! We think so! We never use the terminal because we've got crap like iTunes and iMovie and iChat and iBlow! These are innovative apps that aren't at all like winamp, xmms, windows media player, gqmpeg, the numerous windows apps that get bundled with hardware (ulead), broadcast 2k, or any of the players like mplayer, xine, videolan, etc. These are innovative! They've got skins! Just like all those others, but it's got Quartz and displaypdf. We don't know what it does, but damn, does it sound cool! Don't you want to be cool? I've got a TiBook. I'm cool. Some teenage girl on allergy meds says I'm cool. Isn't that what computing is about?"

      Ok, so I've gone way overboard into the land of flamebait. But still, why are all the people that claimed any technical merit a year or so ago now collectively creaming their jeans over eyecandy and pretending it to be the greatest contribution to the advancement of technology ever?

      My problem with OS X is that it presents so little to the core while trying to slap on a pretty facade. They failed on both accounts. I find aqua to be pretty darn ugly, and beneath the whitewash, nothing that would make me shell out the money to move away from LinuxPPC on the same hardware.

      -transiit
      • Re:OS X... (Score:2, Interesting)

        Strange... what you say is that we Mac users just stay in the graphical comfy part of the OS and never touch the terminal? Hmmmm.
        That's kind of strange because my terminal is about always open, often in an SSH to one of my *BSD boxen. You want to know what was the selling point for a Mac for me? It was (and still is) OS X, I don't have to use the mess that Windows is, but I don't have the hassle of managing a Linux system. (I prefer BSD anyway) I may not be a typical Mac OS X user, and you will never hear me say "it comes bundled with flashy apps" because I hate that, you'll never hear me say a Mac is faster because it's not. I couldn't care less about "displayPDF", and I know only about displayPDF because I read it on slashdot: I guess the "standard" Mac user doesn't know and doesn't care.

        No, you're right. Your comment was flamebait. If you don't like Macs, buy yourself a Dell with bloated XP and shut up. Besides, you claim to run LinuxPPC. Okay, that is very 31337, I have reserved a 5 Gig partition for it on my iBook. Yet strangely enough I am very satisfied with what OS X offers. LinuxPPC... I'll think about it when my iBook cannot cope OS XI, or I could just stick with OS X 10.1.5 as I do now.

        • Re:OS X... (Score:2, Insightful)

          by transiit (33489)
          While my better judgement is trying to tell me that replying to someone who felt "Corporate Troll" was a witty username is a bad idea, I'll bite:

          First, you've already shot yourself down by talking about how great OS X is, without stating a single thing that makes you stick with it...even if you do claim to agree that much of the flash isn't very useful.

          Second, you've confirmed my assertion that the console/terminal (and thus the layer that most closely resembles unix) is largely unused by stating that you mostly use it to shell into another box.

          Third, this was never about windows. I don't use it either.

          Fourth, you pull the standard bsd bullshit of "managing linux is hard". I'll give the BSD's credit that they may have a lead on security over linux. (What's that motto? OpenBSD: less than a year without a remote root exploit?) However, the BSD's also cripple themselves by maintaining an "avoid the GPL" mindset and would rather maintain their own userland. I, on the other hand, enjoy what the GNU versions provide. I also won't budge on the utility of Debian's "apt" or Gentoo's "emerge". Even as a diehard slackware user, I'll still give apt the overall thumbs-up when it comes to maintaining a large number of machines.

          Finally, you say the apple hardware is slower, that you hate the apps os x bundles, and yet you still paid more. Congratulations. You have achieved a higher level of consumerism.

          -transiit
          • Re:OS X... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by curmi (205804) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @07:22AM (#4951218)
            Calm down Mate.

            If you are happy with Linux, fine. Some of us are happier with OS X. Accept it.

            The way you react it sounds like you are threatened by OS X. Hopefully that isn't the case - Linux needs people willing to extend it beyond just bitching about the other operating systems out there.

            By the way, I use the terminal for a large amount of my work - I'm a Java developer. Java on OS X is better integrated than on any other OS. The development environment (Project Builder) is superb. The fact that I have all the usual Unix utilities is great. The machine just works - I don't need to mess with configuration unless I want to. And I like the iApps - I run iCal, I run iTunes, I sync with iSync, and I've used iMovie on occasions to put together some home videos.

            Perhaps the apps don't appeal to you. That's fine. But you can hardly call them crap - they are far superior than the offerings on Linux. Hey, I used to develop on Linux. I've been a Unix developer for over 10 years - I moved on to something I find superior. Deal with it.

            You really need to calm down and realise that not everyone thinks like you. Some people are going to find they work better on OS X.
            • My suspicion is that Apple has been astroturfing around these parts for some time, and I'm overall tired of the advocacy for most systems.

              Too many times have I seen obvious bullshit such as "I used Linux for 5 years, and I used to hack in the kernel, but then I saw the icons on Mac OS X and it is so much better for development and now all I need my computer for is iMovie"

              Or "I used to use solaris, but now I've got OS X and it's so much better for everything!", from the same people that used to post nothing but pro-Beos comments.

              'The Best System for the Job' is indeed a noble goal, but I find a distinct lack of statement as to what's really all that great about OS X. Before you get into how 'pretty' it is, let me immediately exclude things that really don't apply for many developers: icons. consistency in look and feel. any of the "i-" apps. anti-aliasing.

              When I'm coding, I tend to have several xterms open with my text editor of choice (joe), manpages, and top. That's about it, so all I really need of a GUI is to leave me plenty of screen real estate. So tell me, what can OS X do better for me?

              -transiit
          • it's: Only one remote hole in the default install, in more than 7 years! tard.
            • http://slashdot.org/articles/02/06/26/1547242.shtm l?tid=172

              OpenSSH vulnerability. Posted June 26.

              The 7 years slogan no longer stands.

          • However, the BSD's also cripple themselves by maintaining an "avoid the GPL" mindset and would rather maintain their own userland.

            I actually do not think this is the case. FreeBSD ships with gcc and supports dozens of GPL userland applications through packages, ports and a Linux compatability module. gcc is the default compiler under many BSD systems. Linux also includes a fair number of BSD-licensed userland utilities with most distributions.

            So I'm not seeing an "avoid the GPL" mindset (and I've spent the last half hour actively looking for evidence of it.) There are advantages to having all of the core system under the same license, a sentiment also expressed by RMS in regards to non-GPL parts of the Linux kernel.
      • Whether or not Apple adds anything "to the core" is, I imagine, not important to Apple or to people who buy Macs. If your only use of a computer is to run character apps, then you obviously you don't need a Mac, or X for that matter.

        Apple sells hardware to a broad base of consumers. Although they may advertise the Unix angle to the geek community to attract developers, that's the last thing they ought to do to generate sales elsewhere. The Unix toolset is, and will always remain, of little interest and use to the mainstream computer user.
    • Re:OS X... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sql*kitten (1359) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @06:21AM (#4951085)
      Why don't they just get some Macs? Then they can do Word/Office in a native environment instead of some Wine-like UNIX hack.

      Or run XWin-32, eXceed, or even VNC on ordinary PCs and share a large Unix machine? This is by far the best way to do things; rather than putting a Unix workstation on each desk, buy one much more powerful machine and share it among 30 people. For interactive use, from the machine's perspective, all users have a lot of idle time, whether between keypresses, or while reading what's on screen, etc. By sharing one powerful machine, everyone gets far more peak performance than a workstation can give them, for example for a compile, while getting the same processing power when averaged throughout the day because it's unlikely that all 30 users would want peak performance at the same time.

      In such an environment, you just want the PC to run Word and Outlook, and be an X terminal for everything else. What they've done at NASA gives them no real advantage.
      • >>Or run XWin-32, eXceed, or even VNC on ordinary PCs and share a large Unix machine?

        Just want to chime in on something here;

        If you folks haven't tried the Cygwin XWindow server you really need to give it a shot. I use it at home running xdmcp on my linux box (tucked away down in the basement) and can use Linux from any of my kids machines or my wireless laptop. It's incredibly useful - I would imagine even more so in an office setting.
    • Where to start?

      • A primitive single-desktop environment?
      • Primitive 1½ mouse mouse button support (at least the wheel works now without 3rd party software and some apps use 2 buttons)
      • Single-vendor hardware? (Apple has killed all clones, remember?)
      • No parts available. (Where can I get a new motherboard or CPU? Shall I buy a whole computer when something breaks?)

      Sure, MacOSX looks great in a demo and feels great the first 2 hours you use it. But after that time all the nifty animations just get in your way and slow you down. But that of course is just my opinion. Yes I did try Jaguar.

    • by zecg (521666)
      It was proposed, but the Macs make the astronauts all fruity -- in a test they started complaining about the shuttle wallpapers, using words like "flamboyant" over the voice comm and pinching each others' behinds.
    • Of course, you know you are in heaven when an MS App goes berserk, you can open a term window and do a "ps auxwww | grep Word" and "kill -9" it out right.
    • What makes you think NASA doesn't use macs?
    • by goombah99 (560566) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @10:50AM (#4952147)
      Dear Unix user, welcome to mac. If you trust me you will just do all of the following without asking why, before you start whining about features you miss. The following is a no-fat-added list of essential customization for unix users converting to the mac world.

      1. The Mouse.
      Go buy a 3 button USB mouse. Make sure you get an optical mouse with a wheel. Buy the most expensive one you can. Heriditary mac users prefer a 1 button mouse, but you wont.

      2. The Terminal.
      Open /Applications/Utilities. Drag the terminal.app to the Dock

      3. File system journaling
      Open the terminal.app and type
      sudo diskutil enableJournal /Users
      Just do it. This can be undone and you can change how you want it later.

      4. The Compiler
      Regardless of what compiler you prefer, you need the native compiler and libs. Go to
      http://developer.lanl.gov and register for free. Enter the site and select the downloads option. Scroll through the list till you find "developer tools", download and install it.

      5. Installing GNU ports part 1.
      Goto http://sourceforge.com and find the latest stable release of "fink" for mac os X. download and install it. There will be some questions to answer, just choose the defaults except if offered, ask it to get updates from CVS.

      6. Install X-windows part 1
      If you have 5 hours to you can wait, type in the terminal
      fink install xfree86-rootless
      this is preferred as it gets the latest release of a fast changing package.
      If you are in a hurry you can install the binary.
      Type
      sudo dselect
      Quick intro to dselect: after some preliminaries you are offered the chance to choose packages from a list. Use the down-arrow key to move down and find xfree86-rootless.
      Press the + key to select it. You will be offered "conflict resolution": accept the defaults by pressing return. Then return again to exit the selection. DO NOT GET GREEDY and select other packages yet. Finish the installation.

      7. Installing X-windows part 2: the window manager
      You may prefer fvwm2 or some other window manager but take my advice and try out oroborus first. Oroborus does things the mac way, and later you will be glad you did even if its not familiar at first. Oroborus deliberately eschews many popular features, letting the OS provide those services. For example, if you want virtual screens you DO NOT want them as part of the windows manager! You want them as part of Aqua so that they apply to both aqua and to x-windows. Likewise you want the Dock to manage minimizing windows not the window manager.
      Go to http://apple.com click the OSX tab, then the downloads tab and find oroborus.
      Note: the oroborus that comes with Fink/dselect is not quite the same thing.

      8. Installing GNU ports part 2.
      Use dselect or fink to install a few packages. Fink has about 2000 packages available including your favorite parts of kde and gnome. To see what's avalaible type
      fink list | more
      just for practice try installing gv (ghost view) and xemacs.
      Remember, dselect will install binaries (fast), and fink will install source (slow), generally dselect is a good idea. Once a month type "fink update-all" or update packages in dselect.

      9. Text editor
      Goto http://www.barebones.com and get a free copy of bbedit "lite". I recommend buying the full version, especially to geeks. Note that you can save files in unix/mac/PC formats which have different end of line characters. Despite the name, on a mac you should normally use unix format. Mac mode is mainly for historic reasons but gums up unix commands. Even if this (amazingly) does not turn out to be your preferred editor, you should install it anyhow so that it is there for guests.

      10. Mounting network disks
      You can mount NFS disks by creating a file that looks just like the usual /etc/fstab file. It does not matter where you put it since the mac will ignore it. To mount the disks type "sudo niload fstab" followed by the file path name. However, don't do this right away till you have more experience. Instead do the following.
      In the finder window, select go>servers. In the text field type
      nfs://xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx/hostpath
      Where xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx is the ip address or domain name of the host with the disk, and /hostpath is the exported fs. The disk will be mounted in /Volumes and be "aliased" to the desktop.
      To mount windows network disks we use
      smb://xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx/path
      Be nice and unmount your disks (throw them in the trash) before disconnecting from the net.

      11. using X windows across the network.
      All the usual stuff (like xhosts and DISPLAY) works as expected. However you do need to activate oroborus (which will fire up X-windows) since its not on by default. However, before you do this let me suggest an alternative you may find better. Goto http://apple.com and on the osx downloads page locate VNCdimension (or VNCthing) and install this application. On the X windows client, run vncserver. And on the mac attatch to it using VNC dimension. On anything but the fastest network connection you will find this smoother and faster than using x-windows. Plus its more secure and even runs through firewalls. At present much of X-windows on the mac is not graphics accelerated, but VNC dimension which runs in aqua is.

      12. Shortcuts worth knowing about
      On your unix machine to run netscape you type /usr/bin/Netscape &
      on a mac you type
      open /Applications/Netscape
      to open the file browser at the current working directory type
      open . (note the period)
      to open a web page type
      open http://macosxhints.com

      13. Pitfalls
      There are few pitfalls in the file system you need to know about early on.
      First be careful with cp,mv,rsync, and tar. For 99.9% of the time they work as expected. But a lot of mac applications and mac documents store info in something called the "resource fork" of a file. Unix files only have a single data fork. Mac files have a data and a resource fork. The data fork is the same as what you would see on the unix system. The resource fork can contain almost anything, but usually contains unimportant meta-information about the file itself like what app created it, and so on. But sometimes it contains crucial information (e.g quicken).
      When you do a unix cp or mv or tar all you get are the data forks. The rule of thumb is this: if your file can be used by a unix program then dont worry about the resource fork. Most modern mac apps do not use the resource fork but older ones do.

      Second, mac filenames are case-insensitive but case preserving. Thus ReadME and readme are the same file.

      Third, unfortunately, for backwards compatibility there are two different kinds of soft links on a mac. One is the usual unix soft link and the other is the "alias" function of the OS. The OS is smart enough to recognize the unix links and treat them as file aliases in the GUI. But the reverse is not true. Generally you are better off using the unix soft links.

      Fourth, macs have three layers of file permissions where unix has one. Macs have the usual unix permissions. Plus there is an ability to lock a file against changes or deletion, and finally there is the ability to lock a file against modification even by root. generally you wont ever need either of the latter two, but you may someday find a file you cant seem to delete! just in case, the normal file lock is accessed via "get info"

      Fifth, fstab, exports, shadowpassword, passwd, and most unix configs don't work the way you expect. Use the admin tools to alter netinfo configuration data. (see root below)

      14. Thinking mac-like.
      First off you never need to touch the other mouse buttons outside of x-windows. Second, try to adopt apple applications where they exist to replace you current favorites. For example, use the mail.app instead of pine or Eudora. Sure these have nice features, but long term apple apps will stay more tightly integrated: for example, mail.app links to addressbook which links to iCal. Third, Chill-out dude. Macs force you to do things a certain ways with warning dialog boxes or focus-on-click windows. These are not worse than other ways, and long term you will come to see the benefits from the cross-application uniformity of operations. Unmount disks, especially network disks, by tossing them in the trash. (you may want to add an eject button to the finder menu)

      15. Viruses, Worms, holes, etc...
      Regularly use the software update feature. Bugs get patched quickly. Historically, the only security holes you must stay on top of are Microsoft Internet Explorer holes, Microsoft Entourage/outlook holes, and Microsoft macro viruses. Don't bother worrying about anything else till you worry about these. Many people use Chimera for this reason.

      16. Root
      If you read just one book try "mac OS X for unix geeks", most other books aren't for you because they are trying to explain unix to mac-heads. Avoid using root when you can use an admin tool or sudo instead. Apple has not fully document root admin, so stick with tools. Except don't ever play with netinfo manager or niload until you have a lot of experience, as there is no faster way to make your mac unbootable.

      17. Goodies
      There are virtual window managers at mac OSX downloads.
      Try out Watson at http://www.karelia.com/watson/
      Microsoft office X is a great program even if it is made by Microsoft.
      Scientific plotting: You may like Igor from wavemtrics.com since it has both command line and menu driven interface. Fink comes with R, Octave and Gnu-plot. Mathematicians may prefer mathematica.
      If you have a powerbook, put the dock on the left and make it small.
      Turn off autostart on OS 9.0
      Discover iTunes.
      Consider a mac.com account
      Read http://macosxhints.com

      • fink and 10.2 do not work well together as of the last time I installed it (a few weeks ago). you need to dig up some directions, otherwise it will be Bad and Annoying.

        you have to install all packages from source from now, and compile fink, and use cvs-selfupdate.

        Lea
  • If NASA didn't have to use any more MS apps then there would be a victory for Linux.
    • by GimmeFuel (589906) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @04:20AM (#4950845) Homepage
      Agreed. Instead of making a hybrid like this, their time would be better spent trying to get NASA to dump MS completely. Point out MS's track record for bugginess and insecurity (do we want script kiddies to be able to fly the space shuttle?), and Linux's freeness (sure, NASA gets volume discounts, but free is still cheaper than a percentage of something). Linux running MS software seems to defeat the whole purpose.
      • You may not realize this, but companies other than Microsoft develop for the Windows-32 platform.

        Using crossover is easier than convincing all of your software vendors to port products.
      • by babbage (61057) <cdevers.cis@usouthal@edu> on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @09:58AM (#4951797) Homepage Journal
        That's nice. But if you actually read the article, the government *requires* them to use Microsoft software for tasks such as email. Can you honestly picture a department full of Unix nerds bending over backwards to accomodate Outlook because they *wanted* to? Especially when Ximian Evolution is available for much less pain?

        So while you make a good point, it doesn't seem to be Nasa that you need to make your argument to. The problem sounds like it's upstream somewhere, and that itself is a huge problem: why is the federal government forcing its employees to use the software of a tried, convicted, and... well completely unpunished abusive monopoly? Don't take your aggression out on the people that came up with this hack, point it at their bosses & their bosses' bosses, who told them that this is what they have to do.

  • Crossover plugins (Score:5, Informative)

    by tavarua (473460) <plethora@(no-spam)shanafelt.net> on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @04:13AM (#4950819) Homepage
    This article can be summed up in one sentence: The Johnson Center's IT team installed CrossOver Office from CodeWeavers Inc. on McCartney's PCs to give the engineers access to a variety of open-source and Microsoft Office apps.

    Bottom line: They didn't do anything special.
    • That sums up alright. When I saw the line About a year ago, Patrick McCartney, a Johnson Center project manager, created a Linux desktop environment... I couldn't believe it for a moment. Single person, that too a manager, creating an environment. Phew! sounded some work!

    • Ah, but you are forgetting that it also does one other thing: it creates the appearance that Linux is being used more. I think that by creating an illusion of something happening the chance that someone will go along with it and it will actually happen increases. I remember some old David Bowie interview where he confessed to fudging his stardom in the beginning and it became real.
    • Bottom line: They didn't do anything special.

      The fact that an office in a bureaucracy like Nasa is taking steps to streamline IT costs and create a more efficient PC environment is something special.
    • The Johnson Center's IT team installed CrossOver Office Server Edition. There's a difference - the Server Edition lets you run MS apps from a server on a Linux thin client.
  • by altgrr (593057) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @04:14AM (#4950823)
    "Score another one for Linux on the desktop". Maybe. But if you read the article it states that the machines replace both UNIX and Windows boxes, which implies that there was some un*x presence in the first place.

    IMHO, you will find that, in scientific and academic establishments, un*x and Linux are used a lot, because that's what they have been working with for a long time, and that's where the programming languages are free. If the academics could have their way, a lot of universities would be running Linux already on all their desktop PCs. What? They are? Well, that'll be due to the fact that Linux is now more than passable as an OS for your everyday user.

    There's a difference, though, between university students and academics running Linux, and your average office secretary running Linux. It's a difference which I think will still take a long time to erode.
    • That is the main place I am starting to see Linux in my workplace.
      Systems that were previously running Solaris were going to be converted to mswindows,development had even started to take place to convert them. However with Linux now seeing growth; windows is being dropped as servers and Linux is taking its place. While this has caused problems with delay it is all for the better.


    • "Score another one for Linux on the desktop". Maybe. But if you read the article it states that the machines replace both UNIX and Windows boxes, which implies that there was some un*x presence in the first place.


      As someone else pointed out - a group moving from another Unix platform to Linux is a group not moving to Windows. I know that there are other Unix environments even within the Directorate that McCartney works that moved from HP/UX and Solaris to WinNT / 2K. Despite the engineer's preferences. Cheap hardware is a strong draw for management. Linux provides a link between the preferred Unix (or unix-like) environment and commodity hardware pricing.

      It might also be worth mentioning that the more Linux is used, the more the JSC / NASA environment becomes used to seeing Linux. And once they're familiar with it, they're much more likely to accept it as a solution. Old biases against "freeware" fade. And "Microsoft" is no longer the knee-jerk response to any form of IT question.

      Finally, you have to consider the internal politics within JSC's IT environment. JSC was, at the direction of CIO Jack Garman, heavily Microsoft centric. The great exodus of Mac workstations [houstonspacesociety.org] was due to this policy. As was the slow shift away from Unix to WinNT. Today, JSC is still widely Microsoft centric. The "requirement" mentioned has more to do with the need to handle certain Microsoft protocols and data formats for day-to-day office automation than specific policy. The fact that Linux solutions are being implemented shows that the old single-vendor mentality is no longer the guiding force within JSC. And that's a win for Linux... and everyone else. Except, perhaps, Microsoft.
    • "Score another one for Linux on the desktop". Maybe. But if you read the article it states that the machines replace both UNIX and Windows boxes, which implies that there was some un*x presence in the first place.

      Indeed. Linux is at least as big a threat to Sun as it is to Microsoft. Probably a lot more.
  • by Jason O'Neil (607723) <jason.oneil@gma i l .com> on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @04:15AM (#4950828) Homepage
    Sorry, but I was under the impression that CodeWeavers could already run Word and Outlook.


    Is this just an example of it's implementation or have they added something new?

  • by EzInKy (115248) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @04:15AM (#4950829)
    Though Bochs and Vmware are great apps, the future lies with projects like Wine. Interoperability is the only way to increase competition and that is why MS should have been forced to open up at least it's API rather than be forced to include competitors programs like Java.
    • forced to include competitors programs like Java.

      I tough that Sun was still in court to force MS to include Java. Is the case already over?
    • In my experience VMWare is a much better interoperability solution than Crossover Office -- The only app I need at this point that I haven't replaced with a Linux alternative is Visio. OpenOffice is excellent at Word and Excel files and acceptable with PowerPoint, but nothing can touch Visio 2000 for usability (2002/XP is nasty and I had to downgrade back to 2000).

      I'm a satisfied Plugin customer, so I tried Crossover Office when they announced Visio capability. I had to ask for my money back, as it was only able to install Visio after several manual steps and an unofficial upgrade, and then was unable to display complex diagrams properly or edit simple diagrams without crashing.

      VMWare with Win98 and Visio2000 as the only apps in it is fast, responsive, and troublefree. I mount my home directory via a private samba server and use host-only networking so Windows can't see the Internet -- so no patching, no worries, no problems. It may cost more in terms of licensing and RAM than Crossover, but the value is there.
  • I have a PC running XP and a G4 Cube and I use them off of one monitor with VNC (mac is server, win is client) and I'll have a nice USB-supported monitor switcher by Xmas!

    VPC with XP on OSX was just unacceptable for windows coding and gaming, henc my current setup. I like the UNIXness and Macness but I have to (well, had to) do Windows programming.
  • See...... (Score:5, Funny)

    by MegaHamsterX (635632) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @04:24AM (#4950862)
    You don't have to be a rocket scientist to use Linux...
  • Hybrids (Score:2, Insightful)

    by katalyst (618126)
    That's the most logical way to go about things. "DUMPING" windows to jump to Linux may be too drastic. Shifting as and when required/possible, is feasible.
    Incedently, Star Wars AOTC was half done on Windows and half on Linux Machines. ILM ended up shifting completely from Windows to Linux.
    I've made a beginning by installing my Windows fonts on Linux. Makes life MUCH easier.
  • by Zemran (3101) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @04:48AM (#4950911) Homepage Journal
    When I think of my reasons for leaving Microsoft, Word and Outlook are right up there at the top just under reliability. Reliability has always been one thing that Microsoft could never deliver and that is something they have gained and I can agree with them all the way on this. Where do most of the problem virii come from though? Word or Outlook with the occasional one on Excel. I know that you can try to lock them out but you never really succeed.

    Open Office is a great office environment that meets all my needs and I have yet to meet someone that genuinely *NEEDS* anything that Word has, that OO does not (I have met some that claim they do but it always turns out that they really mean that once in the past 2 years they once had a situation that would have been easier with Word). I use Evolution instead of Outlook and it is even as good at eye candy. It does every thing and more that I was using Outlook for. The only think Outlook does better is spread virii.
    • and I have yet to meet someone that genuinely *NEEDS* anything that Word has

      Well the asinine installation program that for some god unknown reason needs to 'configure' itself everytime you look at it the wrong way or some other user logs onto the computer helps keep me employed... =) (yes, blah we just made a custom .msi installation script that 'installs on first run' or whatever the point is you shouldn't fscking have to). of course it also makes me want to gouge out my eyes with a plastic spoon the minute somebody mentions MS Office.

      FOR GODS SAKE WHY WHY WHY DOES MSOFFICE NEED TO FSCKING CONFIGURE ITSELF? WHY CAN"T IT JUST BE INSTALLED LIKE EVERY OTHER FSCKING APPLICATION? WHY GOD WHY IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY WHY?

      Sorry. See what I mean?
      • This is because of billy boy ! one of his pet ideas, something he keeps talking about whenever is has the opportunity to talk about the future of software. He wants software that does things for you, that configue itself, that "guess" what you wanted to do ! this is for instance why Word insists on formatting what your type, making guess about what you wanted to do. This is just plain annoying ! every time you install a new instance of MS Office you have to endure this insanity ! it's one the first things I disable. Too bad, a lot of MS Office users are not aware of this, and keep silently suffring from billy's crazy ideas !
    • Outlook, I'm definately in agreement on. That is one piece of definate anti-productivity. Evolution was kind in giving a very similar look and feel, but truth be told, it's still not the definative answer. It copies something that many of us remember being a HUGE pita when it came out, and only got worse (migration from Outlook 2k -> Outlook XP was a miserable experience due to bugs galore.)

      Office has become some severe bloatware, but in it's younger years (office 95 std), it wasn't too shabby at all. Gave all the functionality that you needed plus the macro abilities which were strong enough to do things like importing an address book from excel/access and producing mass-mailers for churches and businesses alike (put anti-church sentiment elsewhere, not the topic of this thread.) I firmly believe that if you were to model an office suite from 95 and make different improvements like easier wizards and such, that would be the killer app. Word has become more of a page-layout software than the word processor it began as.

      Also, far too many people rely on Access instead of a relational db, but there must be some merit there that could be improved upon for a x-platform solution. I mean, we have db4 databases, why not slap an easy to use gui on the front? (If there's such a system that exists, I'm unaware of it so please list it in a reply.)

      OpenOffice is a pretty great piece of work, and hopefully it can be tweaked to fix that niche that is the business desktop. I believe that another type of Email client, however, is really going to be necessary before the masses will accept it.

      Many people still say that Linux can never fill the desktop market.

      I don't believe that at all, but the large-profile companies (RH, Mandrake, Caldera) need to stop stripping the common desktop tools and include a distribution that gives the user the power that they have on current Windows boxen. Aside from not having a true DirectX equiv. (would be a HUGE bonus), they need to include packages like a video media player that covers ALL formats (including QT/Real/DivX) instead of having to download 10 different packages and compile them all (IN order, otherwise you lack features.. bloody mess), and provide a viewer that is intuitive enough for "Joe Bob" to use. He can already use Win Media, so make something as easy, but can play more formats (insert obligatory mpeg-2 + ogg plug here). Also, put the mp3 libs back in! XMMS is nice, but dangit, I wanna play both mp3's AND ogg's.

      Businesses are slowly accepting Linux, but it's my belief that still some things must be changed before it can hit mainstream. The power is there and the apps are coming close. We just need to tighten the reigns and pull it all together.

      [NOTE] I have tried multiple times to build a new email client, but to no avail. I've never been any good at layout and past attempts prove it. However, I'm gonna still plug at it until I or someone else gets it right.

    • The advantage of running Windows apps on Unix is that the app is very unlikely to take the damn OS - and hence, all your other running apps - with it when it goes down!

      It's amazing watching Windows users get their first taste of reliability ... and realise what sort of crap they've been putting up with all this time, and that they don't have to any more.

      Key marketing point for Unix over Windows: A STABLE, RELIABLE DESKTOP. That doesn't fall over once a day.

      • Win2K Pro is exactly that -- slow as mud, but just as stable as Linux in my experience. I prefer not to use it for freedom and licensing reasons, but I can't knock it as a capable OS the way that I've knocked all their desktop products.

    • by sql*kitten (1359) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @06:50AM (#4951144)

      Reliability has always been one thing that Microsoft could never deliver and that is something they have gained and I can agree with them all the way on this.

      Really? I can't remember the last time I had Outlook or Word (2000 and XP) actually crash, and I use 'em both every day. The 2000 line of products is a huge leap over the 95 line (which I will agree were pretty crap).

      Microsoft do have some unreliable products still - IIS and Exchange spring immediately to mind. But a lot of their stuff now is rock solid. I can honestly say that in the last couple of years I've had more Xemacs crashes than Word.

      I know that you can try to lock them out but you never really succeed.

      You can turn off VBA with a couple of clicks. Now do you want to talk about buffer overruns in sendmail and named?

      I use Evolution instead of Outlook and it is even as good at eye candy. It does every thing and more that I was using Outlook for. The only think Outlook does better is spread virii.

      As a straight mail client, Outlook as some competition from Open Source, but for groupware Open Source doesn't have anything to compare.
      • You can turn off VBA with a couple of clicks.

        See, this is the problem right there. It should be the other way around. You should have to turn *on* VBA with a couple of clicks. It's kind of like saying that RedHat 6.2 was secure once you turned everything off...

        There's almost no reason to have this in an e-mail client at all anyway, except for viruses and spam. This feature is nothing less than a huge blinking neon sign attracting ne'er-do-wells to your front door, and Microsoft was too stupid to see that putting it up would be a hugely bad idea. Oddly enough, they keep up the good work.
        • There's almost no reason to have this in an e-mail client at all anyway, except for viruses and spam. This feature is nothing less than a huge blinking neon sign attracting ne'er-do-wells to your front door, and Microsoft was too stupid to see that putting it up would be a hugely bad idea. Oddly enough, they keep up the good work.

          Well, remember that Outlook and Exchange were always intended to be more than just a mail client and server, they are meant to be a platform for developing groupware and workflow applications. The scripting support is there so you can send validation logic along with a form, for example.

          Microsoft historically have always prioritized features over everything else, but now they are waking up to security. I agree that they are long overdue. But I guess it was just one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time - and probably was a good idea on a LAN without an Internet connection - and once customers started using it, they had to keep it.
      • Really? I can't remember the last time I had Outlook or Word (2000 and XP) actually crash, and I use 'em both every day. The 2000 line of products is a huge leap over the 95 line (which I will agree were pretty crap).

        I was originally going to disagree with the parent, but this is more to the point. I've been using 2000 since it came out in one form or another (at home at first, now only at work), and while I am not a huge fan, it's stable enough. It does crash, but reasonably rarely (disgregarding shoddy 3D games, which you can't really blame the OS for), in any case no more often than KDE and X.

        XP is another story all together. It was preinstalled on a laptop I bought recently, and I've had nothing but problems with it. Crashed several times in the month I've had it (might be an improvement for 9X users, I guess...), their wireless config utility makes wireless networking damn near unusable, and it has taken being patronizing to the levels of a fine art form... Office XP is nice though.

        Anyway, it's gone now and replaced with 2K. Incidentally, the laptop isn't for myself, I personally am getting a PowerBook :)

        • It does crash, but reasonably rarely (disgregarding shoddy 3D games, which you can't really blame the OS for),

          Why should the OS let an unhandled exception in a userland app crash the entire box? Bad design decision.

          • Why should the OS let an unhandled exception in a userland app crash the entire box? Bad design decision.

            Many of these crashes are because the games rely on device drivers for graphics speed. Because Windows uses a monolithic kernel, every driver has the ability to crash the system.

            Linux has the same architecture. If it ever got to be a huge gaming platform you'd see the same problems there.
      • "Now do you want to talk about buffer overruns in sendmail and named?"

        Laughable that you would try to compare the billions of dollars in damage, yes billions, that MS desktop products cause as opposed to some SERVER daemons that aren't even installed on most linux desktops. His statement about viruses was correct, yours was in basketball terms a brick. Good try though, event he best MS lemming couldn't have put forth a better effort.

        http://www.wired.com/news/infostructure/0,1377,4 96 81,00.html

        This post brought to you by Nimda, Codred, Bugbear,Sircam,Love bug, and Klez.
    • Open Office is a great office environment that meets all my needs and I have yet to meet someone that genuinely *NEEDS* anything that Word has, that OO does not (I have met some that claim they do but it always turns out that they really mean that once in the past 2 years they once had a situation that would have been easier with Word).

      I could not replace Excel in my environment. You can not write a USEFUL financial application on OO. Yes, you can actually create apps on excel. BTW, locking virii out also disables those cool apps as they are mostly macro on MS (though few new macro virus get written)
    • But the problem in the article is that they are required to use Microsoft products. I, too, like 00o, but NASA apparently could not make that switch. that said, MS Office is still a little more professional. Until Open Office shapes up a little, I would not recommend it to everyone. MS is still better at this point. However, I would say that it isn't worth paying hundred, of dollars for.
  • Why can't the government just use Linux and Staroffice instead of wasting a crapload of taxpayer money on Microsoft products? If Denmark's entire school system [slashdot.org] can do it, so can NASA. There might be other products out there that Microsoft writes for the average desktop PC which become "government-mandated", but I'm sure it's no big deal to find cheap or free alternatives.
    • Schools and business are 2 totally different institutions. Not trying to down you, Woogie, but computers used in a school system and a business are not the same. Give ya a good example:

      Computers go down at the Board of Education. People can't access budget, students grades, or profile records. Wait until the system comes back up or is restored from backup. It's just annoying since there are no REALLY necessary deadlines outside of payroll.

      Computers go down at the office. Sales can't work on/give presentations to clients, customer information can't be retrieved (think ISP or Credit card processor), or quarterly reports can't be completed for stockholders/banks. This can cost a company a TON of money, clients could leave to find another place of business, etc. (Imagine needing the IRS to look up your information to make sure your extension was filed lest you be fined/go to jail.)

      Keep in mind, swapping an office or group of offices takes a TON of time. Normally there are a number of in-house applications that would have to be re-written AND heavily tested before they could be implemented (think of the MEGS of VB source that would have to be ported to perl/php/java). In the gov't, MOST applications are custom-written, many by contracted companies, so the gov't doesn't necessarily have the source to it. Then there is retraining of employees to use the new office/email applications, and the meer re-install of EVERYone's machines from Win to Linux where you hope that all the needed hardware is supported (which has gotten SO much better in the past 3 years.)

      It's a daunting task, and can be VERY costly in man-hours to do such a task. If nothing else, the down-time upon switching over and the performance curve while everyone learns the new applications.

      I agree in the sense that I'd LOVE to see M$ no longer in the gov't offices, but I also realize what it would entail to switch everything over.
      • It's just annoying since there are no REALLY necessary deadlines outside of payroll.

        Baloney. Schools run on tighter schedules than most businesses. Try telling a parent that you can't get out a transcript for an application deadline, or a student they can'r get the records they need for a financial aid application.

  • How is this a score for linux if people are still using proprietary applications such as word and outlook? Linux isn't linux without the main software being open-source applications created for linux, not microsoft programs being "emulated' on the linux desktop.

    Personally, I think this is more a score for microsoft, being able to market their proprietary products to more people.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I feel that government should be mandating standards not Apps. But then Microsoft apps would not be aloud.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @05:54AM (#4951047) Homepage
    Don't expect every program people might need to exist or get ported to linux. I know of at least one business that went from win98 to VMware/win98. Of course this means they'll replace what they can with native linux apps as time goes by, but those things take time, money, and nagging many software producers. Plus a gradual changeover is much better for the users and support, which get things slowly instead of a *completely* new system. All the menus/buttons being in different places can be enough of a problem for some. Having a fall-back solution is always good.

    Kjella
    • >Don't expect every program people might need to
      >exist or get ported to linux.

      Exactly.

      In big companies, people often spend a lot of time using a terminal emulator to access mainframe applications from their Windows desktop. Old apps don't disappear/get replaced overnight.
  • That brings them up to, what, one and a half ?
  • by Conspire (102879) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @06:48AM (#4951142) Homepage
    Why oh why, do we have an agency that is already under budget pressures, REQUIRING thier employees to use MS software for email and office applications, when they cost MUCH more in licensing fees to that budget squeezed agency? It is so disgusting I am almost to lazy to start the list, but here is my list of points:

    1. If NASA says GNULinux administrations costs are too high, think again---surely all these Unix gurus can administer thier own systems little support needed.

    2. If NASA says that MS Office Formats are required for standard file formatted documents accross the organization, think again----surely the entire organization switching to OpenOffice.org is a much better way to ENSURE future standardization without upgrade costs.

    3. IF NASA says that MS OUTLOOK is needed to standardize email ---- sticking to open and standard protocols as opposed to proprietary and costly protocols is surely the best way to standardization.

    4. IF NASA management says that they liked the MS PowerPointless presentation, they probably did, and they probably believed all the points that MS made to them during the presentation. Which explains why we have a GOVERNMENT organization still running PROPRIETARY software and forcing thier users to use MICROSOFT when they don't want to!

    5. If NASA made it a REQUIREMENT that ALL of its vendors communicate using OPEN and NON-PROPRIETARY FILE FORMATS as a REQUIREMENT FOR DOING BUSINESS, THEY WOULD!

    6. If you told your senator what you think, than you did the right thing. If you did not, than you can blame no one but yourself when GNULinux is OUTLAWED and a copy of PALADIUM is REQUIRED to VOTE.

    Get the letters out to the senators folks.

    • If NASA says GNULinux administrations costs are too high, think again---surely all these Unix gurus can administer thier own systems little support needed

      Yes, because it's a good idea to have your people wasting time on system administration instead of doing what they need to do. And yes, this applies just as much to Windows, OS-X, or any other system -- it's why you have sysadmin groups in the first place. And, frankly, it's generally cheaper to admin Unix than NT since you need fewer people for more boxes.

      IF NASA says that MS OUTLOOK is needed to standardize email ---- sticking to open and standard protocols as opposed to proprietary and costly protocols is surely the best way to standardization.

      No, because you save money in time. Look, the greatest expense any large company has is not capital expenditures -- it's payroll. There is no equivalent to Outlook in the open source world. There are very few equivalents in the commercial software arena, and there's a reason that Outlook is beating them. Notes, whatever Sun is offering now, Novell -- they all require a lot more administration and hardware for little gain. Yes, you get stuck with Outlook. But the calendaring, email, tasklist, and so forth aren't as well integrated in any open source solution. I sincerely hope that changes, and soon, but until then all the people whining about Outlook are simply proving that they don't have a clue about what it does and what it offers to a medium-to-large company.

      If NASA made it a REQUIREMENT that ALL of its vendors communicate using OPEN and NON-PROPRIETARY FILE FORMATS as a REQUIREMENT FOR DOING BUSINESS, THEY WOULD!

      Not likely. NASA isn't stupid enough to make that kind of decree, nor is the DoD. Just take a look at the three biggest aerospace/military contractors - Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon. Oh heck, let's throw General Dynamics in there too. You aren't going to tell these four monsters to switch their entire computing platform -- yes, they need the business. But you also need them. If they told you to go screw yourself and your standards, who the hell are you going to get to replace them? There isn't anyone that can step in. Which is why any kind of standards like you talk about are fielded before the large defense/NASA contractors beforehand to make sure it doesn't cause too many problems. Yes, this is the real world. You may not like it, but it doesn't care about you.
    • 1. If NASA says GNULinux administrations costs are too high, think again---surely all these Unix gurus can administer thier own systems little support needed.

      The problem with that is that all those NASA engineers are supposed to be working on aerospace stuff, not Linux stuff. That's why even technology companies have IT departments.

      2. If NASA says that MS Office Formats are required for standard file formatted documents accross the organization, think again----surely the entire organization switching to OpenOffice.org is a much better way to ENSURE future standardization without upgrade costs.

      At the incredibly expensive cost of converting all their existing documents to OpenOffice's format (you can't simply run them through the DOC filter, because it sucks), and retraining their clerical people to work with it. Not to mention the looming headache of interacting with other companies. I use OpenOffice myself at work to open the few DOC files that come across my desk as a progammer, and I've seen that it mangles the document beyond use just as often as it opens it in a legible format.

      3. IF NASA says that MS OUTLOOK is needed to standardize email ---- sticking to open and standard protocols as opposed to proprietary and costly protocols is surely the best way to standardization.

      People don't use Outlook for the email, they use it for the groupware. And open source has nothing that can hold a candle to Outlook's groupware functionality.

      4. IF NASA management says that they liked the MS PowerPointless presentation, they probably did, and they probably believed all the points that MS made to them during the presentation. Which explains why we have a GOVERNMENT organization still running PROPRIETARY software and forcing thier users to use MICROSOFT when they don't want to!

      And the Government also drives automobiles built on proprietary technologies by General Motors and Ford. And they also fly fighter jets built on proprietary technologies by Lockheed Martin and Boeing. What's your point? There's no historical precedent that states that everything the Government uses needs to be in the public domain, or that every piece of data the Government works with needs to be open to public inspection. (In fact, I'm sure the people at Area 51 or Cheyenne Mountain would strongly disagree on that point.)

      5. If NASA made it a REQUIREMENT that ALL of its vendors communicate using OPEN and NON-PROPRIETARY FILE FORMATS as a REQUIREMENT FOR DOING BUSINESS, THEY WOULD!

      I'm sure NASA picks its battles, and I don't think using one word processor over another is worth throwing down the gauntlet over. Users simply do not care whether it's Office or OpenOffice. Go ahead and imagine that in words with alternate capitalization if that helps.

      6. If you told your senator what you think, than you did the right thing. If you did not, than you can blame no one but yourself when GNULinux is OUTLAWED and a copy of PALADIUM is REQUIRED to VOTE.

      Slippery slope theory and pure FUD. You're stretching for things to rant about by this point, apparently.
  • I have the same problem, I want to use a unix-type environment but I am stuck programming for Windows-only platforms. The solution was provided by Microsoft itself: a terminal services client for OS X.

    Now I use my iBook for all MS Office tasks, web programming is done in BBEdit and HTML layouts in Dreamweaver MX. Whenever I need to do something on a SQL Server or configuration of IIS I can use the Remote Desktop Client and use terminal services to do whatever I need to do.

    I also tried XP on Virtual PC 6 but found it horribly slow on the iBook. Terminal server will do for now until we phase out IIS and SQL Server and bring up php and MySQL.
  • Slowly does it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FungiSpunk (628460)
    This NASA thingy has raised one of my favourites! Now I love Unix, I work as an SA/DBA, but I notice a lot of people stating, simply dump Windows/Office and get Linux/OpenOff! How many of you have ever worked on a Win/PC help desk? Generally you get calls from people who lose their minds because the send button was moved three inches down or "Word has crashed or is infected with a virus" when the document reload/fix option auto-repairs a doc. These are the sort of people we are hoping to ask to move over to a completely new environment where buttons will be in completely differnet sub-panels and applets. We need time to educate and coax standard desktop users over, not rush in guns blazing stating that "YOU WILL MOVE TO LINUX OR ELSE!", slowly does it!
  • by jconley (28741) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @08:47AM (#4951401) Homepage
    they could bridge the metric/english units thing ;)
  • by pitr256 (201315)
    The big news in this article isn't that some poor schmuck at Nasa has decided to cut costs by using Crossover Office but rather this:

    The Johnson Center has also been able to replace a $1.6 million SGI Inc. mainframe server with a cluster of 12 PCs running Red Hat Linux for developing simulation software. The PCs were a $25,000 investment, less than half the cost of annual maintenance on the SGI server.

    1.6 Million with a 50,000 dollar a year maintenance fee and yet
  • G'Day,

    Thought I'd chip in with my experience under OS X.

    I'm currently using it to drive applications which were originally written for UNIX, Mac, and Windows. I use excel for mac, OSX mail client, iTunes, etc... For all my pretty boring day-to-day stuff.

    If I need to do something which I used to do on my linux box, I just fire up the same application. XFree86 is just an apt-get away thanks to fink. So... I run lyx, latex, xchat, etc this way. I just launch apps from apple's terminal because it has superb integration with the surrounding OS. The XFree86 applications integrate fairly seamlessly with the surrounding UI, including minimising to the dock, etc.

    For the very very few applications which I require a windows machine for, I run virtual PC with Win2K. I use my CAD package (Protel DXP) this way.

    Furthermore, I can use rdesktop to access remote terminal servers if I wish.

    I run all this on a Titanium Powerbook (1GHz).

    Honestly, its the most painless computer I've ever used. I've got everything set up in about a tenth the time I would with a Linux box. Apple has done a great job of a scaleable OS. If you're a power user, it has the back-end there to allow you to do all the same stuff you would on a linux box... If you're like my mother (to whom I had to point out the power button several times), it also works very well (I've given her my old computer and she's thrilled!).

    I paid a lot for this thing, but its definitely been worth it. Apple just makes a better product.

    Have fun!

    Dave.
  • by anewsome (58) <anewsome@@@anewsome...com> on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @12:04PM (#4952716) Homepage
    I wanted to correct everyone on the list who is incorrectly stating that Ximian's Evolution is the answer to Outlook or Outlook express.

    A little background here first, I use Linux on my desktop, laptop, servers, to run my business, for video editing, etc. I've been pretty much a Linux only user since about 1995. I installed one of the first slackware versions sometime in 1993 or so. Suffice to say I know Linux very well.

    Anyone who says Ximian Evolution is an answer for Outlook is sorely mistaken. These are people who obviously saw some screenshots and said wow, native Linux app and it looks just as good as Outlook. Or these are people who fired it up once or twice, sent a couple of emails and never really used the app on a continous basis.

    Well I can tell you I use Evolution every single day, and I have since pre 1.0. I would be embarrased for myself or anyone who tried to pass off Evolution as being more stable (or feature packed) than MS Outlook. Evolution crashes constantly, and I usually find myself killing and restarting it at least 5 times a day, every day (combining the at home and at work restarts).

    For email, Mozilla is still light years ahead in stability and speed, as well as having more features that I need and use daily.

    I am currently using the Evolution 1.2.1, fresh from Ximian.com and although it is better than 1.2, it still is riddled with bugs and everyday crashes. The biggest fix in 1.2.1 is that LDAP finally works, but it still has a bug.

    Topping the list of bugs for me is:

    • Pressing Send/Receive button at any time for any reason will certainly hang the application. It will not receive any mail on it's own after that.
    • LDAP support can not seem to remember that my LDAP server is anonmyous. It only remembers passwords, not non-passwords or the lack of a password. Prompts me everytime for an LDAP password and there is none!
    • Can not search recursively in IMAP folders. Mozilla has done this since a really long time ago. In my year 2000 folder I have another 12 folders, one for each month. In Evolution I have to search each one since there is no recursive search. Mozilla does this by default.
    • Good luck getting a working calendar server for Evolution other than MS Exchange server.
    • Slow, slow, slow for what I use it for most, Email.
    • Pre 1.2.1 versions did not even have working LDAP. I did a tcpdump and found the app was not even doing a bind to the LDAP server, it was simply trying to do the search without a bound handle to the server. I reported the bug and it was fixed in 1.2.1. Makes me wonder how it ever worked for any developer in the first place.
    Don't get me wrong, I will continue to use Evolution, crossing my fingers that it will get better (it will), but for people who compare such a young, crash-ridden application to high quality commercial offerings just shows overzealous ignorance.

    --Aaron

    • I've just been corrected on one bug. Anonymous LDAP access does in fact work.
    • I'm not sure what is wrong with your box, but Evolution is stable as hell on my machine at home. Of course I'm still using 1.0.8, since that is what came with Redhat 8. I considered upgrading a few times, but decided that I was happier with the current stability than I could be with any new features that I'll probably never use.

      Just a little background: My desktop OS is Redhat 8. I dual boot into XP on extremely rare occasions. Mainly when I'm at LAN parties. The other 98% of my PC usage is linux. My Evolution usage is simply as a pop3 email client. I have a few filters set up to keep my inbox clear from the mailing lists I'm on. I use the tasks and calendar a fair bit, and I have about 21 contacts. Mostly just friends that I keep in touch with on a fairly infrequent basis, so having something remember their phone #s and addresses for me is helpful.

      I must agree with you that Evolution is no outlook replacement. It doesn't have the backend that outlook has. (Not just Exchange, but the services configuration where you can use local mail stores, or exchange mail stores, or pop3 and imap mailboxes.) Keep in mind though, that outlook was not the first iteration of Microsoft's groupware client. I still remember the original Exchange client. Also, you should note that Outlook/Exchange is not the best groupware out there by far. I remember using Netscape's groupware solution a while back, and it kicked the shit out of Outlook by a long shot. Simply the ability to look at someone elses calendar without them specifically giving you permissions to do so was a life saver. You could even create events on your calendar requesting the presence of others, and they would recieve notifications that they were requested at an event, and they could mark whether they would or would not be able to attend, or if they were undecided. Events could even require resources, like conference rooms, projectors, and other material items of which you only had a limited number. On top of that, the whole thing ran off Netscape's LDAP directory server, so you could easily query against it with in-house custom applications. And yes, it still had a web access frontend available, just like Exchange. (And the client only needed to be installed once, and never had to configure itself again for new users, unlike outlook.)

      I believe what we really need is not an Outlook clone, but rather a brand new groupware system that takes the best of each existing system. All it needs is a solid backend and a stable client (absolutely a windows version and a web version, preferably a native linux version as well). I know that is a lot to ask, but features are just features, not requirements. Make it simple. Make it just work at first, then add replication and the other bells and whistles.
  • but 30 guys on one PC? Come on NASA, spring for an Apple II lab at least...

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