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Windows User Experiments With Linux for 10 Days 1259

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the user-gets-a-gnu-perspective dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Clarence Ladson over at Flexbeta decided to kick Windows to the curb for 10 days in an experiment to find out just how hard it would be to 'quit cold turkey' and move entirely to Linux. It's amazing how many day-to-day operations require the inadvertent use of Windows in our daily lives."
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Windows User Experiments With Linux for 10 Days

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  • Necessary Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kkirk007 (304967) <kkirk007@yahoo. c o m> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:31PM (#13368205)
    As much as we all hate it, we have to keep Windows around for some necessary things.

    If nothing else, then at least to play a lot of our games.

    • Re:Necessary Evil (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TedCheshireAcad (311748) <ted@fc.AAArit.edu minus threevowels> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:35PM (#13368231) Homepage
      I don't use microsoft at home or at work. the last time I used windows was when I fixed my fiance's laptop. MacOSX at home, Linux at work. Bada bing.
    • Re:Necessary Evil (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:47PM (#13368305) Homepage Journal
      Which games are those? I migrated to Linux a year ago for my sole desktop PC and rarely look back. I play the following on a regular basis in Linux:

      World of Warcraft (emulated, faster)
      Unreal Tournament 2004 (native, faster)
      Neverwinter Nights (native, slower)
      Warcraft 3 (emulated, slower)

      The only game that has tempted me back towards Windows lately has been Battlefield 2, and that should be working in Linux soon.
      • Re:Necessary Evil (Score:3, Interesting)

        by stealth.c (724419)
        >Unreal Tournament 2004 (native, faster)

        how did you accomplish this? I tried to run UT2k4 native on several distributions, always making sure I have the most recent nVidia drivers, and UT's OpenGL is DOG SLOW.

        Do tell me how you got it to be faster than it is on Windows.
        • Re:Necessary Evil (Score:3, Informative)

          by Sparr0 (451780)
          I never did anything unusual. Maybe it is because I have older hardware, a GF FX 5500, Athlon XP 1800+, 512/768MB PC2700. I get 25-35 FPS in windows on average scenes and 40-50 FPS in linux, all with medium settings. It may be different if youre comparing performance with higher end cards or higher/lower settings.
    • Re:Necessary Evil (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Paralizer (792155) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:48PM (#13368316) Homepage
      As much as we all hate it, we have to keep Windows around for some necessary things.

      Just because I don't use Windows that often doesn't mean I hate it. In fact, I don't even dislike it, I really have no problem with most of Microsoft's software. I don't entirely agree with their business tactics, but I give them credit for making software that is easy to use to even casual users.

      Most people I run in to that claim they hate Windows are those who are really just frustrated with the OS because they don't spend the time to learn what exactly it is that they are doing. I'm sure many of the /. readers here would agree, Windows is a great OS for those people who don't have a significant amount of time to learn about open source alternatives such as Linux. You don't really think your grandmother wants to spend weeks learning how to read her email on Linux do you? If they just want normal day-to-day tasks, like reading email or the latest news, go with Windows -- there's nothing wrong with that.

      However, I think this idea of dedicating a reasonable amount of time to attempting to learn how to use Linux is a great idea (if of course you have the time and you are genuinely interested). Not to say all the people who participate will stick with it after their ten day trial, but some of them may enjoy the system and either continue to use it on their spare time, to take what they've learned to the Windows community. I'd like to see more programs like this, and less about "schools completely switching to Linux". If you force someone to switch to a more advanced environment when they may not have been comfortable with using a more user friendly one, that's really not going to give you the results you are aiming for. People will become frustrated and lose interest, probably destroying any consideration of looking into the alternative in the future.
      • Re:Necessary Evil (Score:3, Informative)

        by skiflyer (716312)
        Nah, for me I was up for learning everything, twice in some cases.

        I gave up for lack of vendor support, keeping my laptop working 100% in Linux was a slight pain, not getting all the neat little things on my laptop that IBM only puts out of Windows was a much bigger one.

        Then I needed to switch to Quickbooks 2005 to please my accountant, and that was just impossible (yeah, Caldera can get 2004 running, but not 2005)... so now, I'm done, I gave up... Windows on my laptops & desktops, linux on my servers
        • Re:Necessary Evil (Score:5, Informative)

          by Pharmboy (216950) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @08:12PM (#13368721) Journal
          I am in the same boat. Windows on regular desktops, Linux on servers and a couple testing desktops. Just can't run the software that business requires on Linux yet. And so far, most Linux desktops are burdened with TOO MANY choices, making it unnecessarily complicated for the average user.

          I personally WANT to run Linux on the desktop, not because of cost (we pitch computers every 3 years, never actually "buy" either) or for political reasons (although I am not fond of MS's tactics). Its about the freedom to use the software, and how much easier some tasks are in Linux vs. Windows. I can hack around with Perl and automate backups, updates, and ssh into each station, which is much harder in windows. Yes, there are ways in Windows, but I already know the *nix ways, which are more universal.

          To me, I can get more done with Linux on the desktop, I just can't run the software I need in a production environment. So the most productive way for us is Windows desktops/Linux servers.
      • Re:Necessary Evil (Score:3, Insightful)

        by abdulla (523920)

        Windows is a great OS for those people who don't have a significant amount of time to learn about open source alternatives such as Linux. You don't really think your grandmother wants to spend weeks learning how to read her email on Linux do you?

        I would think my grandmother would have the most amount of time to learn such things. People are more open to alternatives than you think, and people like my grandmother who haven't been exposed to Windows all their life would be more flexible to change.

      • Re:Necessary Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

        by digidave (259925) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @08:27PM (#13368776)
        Actually, configuration aside, learning Linux tends to be easier than learning Windows. Email, Internet and office are virtually identical. Users don't have to learn the hard way about email viruses. They don't have to learn the hard way that the Control Panel can be dangerous. All they need to learn is to click on the three or four icons at the bottom of the screen.

        I put my mom on Linux and she has never used a computer in her life. Yes, she had a learning curve, but that was mostly with how to use the mouse. Now she's burning CDs (easier with Gnome than Windows) and emailing digital pictures (again, easier with Gnome than Windows' shoddy digital camera support).
  • 10 days? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Limburgher (523006) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:32PM (#13368208) Homepage Journal
    Why stop there? Except for work, not using MS software is pretty much my life. Work, OTOH, I'm working on defenstration. Should be easier once I'm in management.

    Now, if only that were likely. :)

    • Re:10 days? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Seumas (6865) * on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:39PM (#13368254)
      I'm not sure what things the blurb poster was talking about, but I use OSX, Solaris and Ubuntu for my desktops at home and work EXCLUSIVELY and Debian on my production server on the west coast. The only thing Windows does for me is play my games - which I barely even do anymore anyway.

      So seriously, what's so great about windows that linux or OSX can't do for you (obviously solaris isn't as geared to a few of these things, but still...)? Calendaring? Email? Managing your website? Writing letters and documents and spreadsheets? Personal wikis? Photo albums? Dinky little flash games? Instant messaging? Watching movies? Listening to music? Making music? Coding? P2P/Bit Torrent?

      Exactly what is there that you can't do on a non windows box?
      • Re:10 days? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Reaperducer (871695) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:51PM (#13368335)
        Play "Blue Screen of Death" and "Guess Which Driver Is Causing A Problem Today."

        Today the Microsoft database index at work ate itself and I'm waiting seven hours for it to re-index a couple of million documents. I said to one of the guys trying to fix things, "How come every time you guys tell me something bad it begins with the word 'Microsoft?'"
        • Re:10 days? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Com2Kid (142006) <com2kidSPAMLESS@gmail.com> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @09:17PM (#13368969) Homepage Journal
          • and "Guess Which Driver Is Causing A Problem Today."


          Instead, under Linux, you get to play:

          "Guess which driver is not supported today."

          For instance, when I did a kernel upgrade, I lost video driver support, my vid driver was too old, OK, go get another one, hey look, my video card was NO LONGER SUPPORTED by the newest video card driver.

          Gee thanks Nvidia! Because we all know that Linux is primarily about gaming and that no one would dare use an OLDER video card on a Linux box? Right? ...

          Granted this particular problem is Nvidia's fault, but then there are the sound drivers. . . .

          Oh and why does something as simple as getting a frame buffered console require me to recieve conflicting advice on exactly which packages to emerge, and then editing of a script file? ...

          Installing Java on Linux, hey, just as much fun! Only 3 or so files to edit in order to get the paths setup right. Don't count on advice from any ONE site since every distro is different! Fuuuun....

      • Re:10 days? (Score:3, Funny)

        by aussie_a (778472)
        Exactly what is there that you can't do on a non windows box?

        Perhaps you should have read the fucking article, instead of just the blurb. You're question would have been answered.
  • Wow (Score:3, Funny)

    by Saiyine (689367) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:32PM (#13368211) Homepage
    There is a problem with the database that is preventing the site from working.

    Looks like that a database is one of those windows-only thi
    --
    Dreamhost [dreamhost.com] superb hosting.
    Kunowalls!!! [kunowalls.host.sk] Random sexy wallpapers.
    ngs!
  • Wow... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Matilda the Hun (861460) <flatsymcnoboobs <at> leekspin <dot> com> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:35PM (#13368234) Homepage
    I didn't get past the first page yet (slashdotted), but it would appear that this is...stupid. One, from his references of going to school, this is still a student. Two, his mentions of "using windows whether we know it or not" basically come down to one, the ATM which may or may not have embedded Windows. All of his other examples aren't things that most normal people have, let alone people who chose linux over windows (a Windows CE palm? a Windows Media Center connected TV?). I call possible bull.
    • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Daimaou (97573) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:51PM (#13368337)
      That's funny. I worked at Microsoft a few years ago (2000-ish).

      I remember the bank tech coming in one day to service the ATM machine in the cafeteria. As it booted up, you could see the OS/2 logo. I asked him about it and he kinda mumbled that he tried not to let people see that.
    • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Virak (897071) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:37PM (#13368578) Homepage
      Page two isn't much better:

      Not only is it pretty much the most popular desktop environment available with this distro but it's also the most recommended to new users as it offers a very clean and attractive GUI (general user interface).
  • Coral link (Score:5, Informative)

    by JavaRob (28971) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:36PM (#13368236) Homepage Journal
    This technically isn't working at the moment, because the site is well and truly hosed... but PLEASE only try this link instead of hitting the main one, and eventually it will recover:

    coralized link [nyud.net]

    Future submitters: PLEASE PLEASE use coralized links! It's easy -- just add .nyud.net:8090 to the domain name.
  • by Aeron65432 (805385) <agiamba@@@gmail...com> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:37PM (#13368242) Homepage
    I know myself, I haven't been able to quit Windows cold turkey. In general I use linux, but there are many Windows-specific things, several of which he mentions.

    I'll list a few big ones.

    Games, of course.
    Certain programs.
    Family.

    • Wow. Could you post a comment that is more useless? "Certain Programs"? "Games"? I don't think you could get more generic, dull, and uninformative.

      Look, we all know there are programs (both applications and games) that run only on Windows. That's not any news. What would be MUCH more interesting is to hear exactly which applications you must use in a windows environment.
  • by andy753421 (850820) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:39PM (#13368257) Homepage
    "It's amazing how many day-to-day operations require the inadvertent use of Windows in our daily lives."

    Maybe this is true at first, however after several months of using Linux I began to see the FOSS alternatives to using windows and now I haven't had windows installed for about 9 months.

    It seems like switching to Linux should be more gradual. Linux has a steep learning curve. If you try to jump in all at once your more likely to get a bad impression when you can't figure out how to play a dvd, or even 'mount' the cdrom drive.
    • by nmoog (701216) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:08PM (#13368424) Homepage Journal
      I keep trying Linux, and keep moving back to windows. Each time I go Linux I stay there for longer and longer. Until I do stupid things and Linux wont boot because I tried to re-compile the kernal without reading any docs.

      The thing that I've got out of it though, is that my windows environment is becoming more and more open-source-filled. I cant believe I was so used to using WinZip and pressing "Accept" everytime I wanted to open a zip file, etc.

      Whenever I look for any kind of program now I go straight to sourceforge. I only started doing this because of my rounds of Linux using.

      Eventually, Ill master Linux and never come back. But until then I think Ive got it pretty good with the "best of both worlds"
      • by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @08:08PM (#13368704) Homepage Journal
        I went through the exact same cycle. I guess I just started a few cycles earlier. My latest stint in Linux is up to a year, over numerous kernel recompiles, with no sign of stopping. Most of the programs I use every day now dont even have counterparts in Windows. I do not know what I would do without access to the simple shell scripting tools in Linux (how the hell do I copy every file created on any day after 12PM in windows?).
      • by Mad Merlin (837387) on Monday August 22, 2005 @01:09AM (#13369748) Homepage
        I keep trying Linux, and keep moving back to windows. Each time I go Linux I stay there for longer and longer. Until I do stupid things and Linux wont boot because I tried to re-compile the kernal without reading any docs.

        In the future, try adding the new kernel as an additional boot option, rather than replacing the old one. Trivially simple to do with LILO and I would presume the same with Grub, though I've never used Grub myself. you should have System.map-$VERSION, config-$VERSION and kernel-$VERSION in your /boot directory, open up your LILO config file (usually in /etc/lilo.conf), copy and paste the block of text that you're using for your current kernel, and replace the version numbers, label it something that you'll recognize. Save the file and run lilo as root, it'll update the MBR and you'll see a new option the next time you boot. If the new kernel doesn't boot, you can just pick the old kernel and try again.

      • by dtfinch (661405) * on Monday August 22, 2005 @02:56AM (#13370001) Journal
        I went through that cycle too. My main system always ran Windows. I'd set up an old system to run Linux, play with it for a few weeks, then eventually stop using it. I did this probably three times. First Red Hat, then Slackware every time thereafter. About two years ago I finally decided to just switch for good. My current PC at the time had some hardware problems that caused the display to appear scrambled in both DOS and Linux, so I spent about $500 on a new Dell no-OS PC to run Linux. They cost more than with Windows nowadays, but I'm pretty sure they cost the same back then.

        After the system arrived, I installed my favorite distro slackware on it. When I tried using it as a desktop, many programs under KDE crashed very often and predictably. The crashes went away when I switched to another distro. I tried several. There was still one problem left. Anything that used OpenGL with hardware acceleration would crash the system within a minute, on every distro I tried. This problem went away with my switch to Ubuntu Hoary last year when it was still in development, and my system has been pretty stable ever since, due to bug fixes that came with their switch from XFree86 to X.org. I have yet to find a development environment for Linux that I really like, but it hasn't really stopped me.

        I use both Windows and Linux at work, but at home my Windows PC has collecting dust, and its keyboard is usually buried under a thick pile of paper, wrappers, equipment, and soda cans. At work, we're pushing towards open source mostly due to increasingly unjustifyable licensing costs, and sometimes due to security issues or simply superior software quality. There's only one program left that we're unable to migrate. A third party ERP system can lock a company into Windows desktops for many years.

        I've never managed to render a Linux system unbootable, short of hardware failure. Even then, at work we have a Linux server that's been running smoothly with BAD RAM while we wait for the replacement to arrive in the mail. Linux can be configured to work around the bad parts, which allowed me to bring the failed production server back up within the hour. Another non-production server lost both hard disks in the same week, which would have gone unnoticed if I haven't checked the logs because it just kept working, having enough cache to serve requests from ram. After that happened I've been checking logs and hard disk temperature twice a day now with a simple script that polls all our servers at once. I'm not an IT person, but somehow my programming job has gradually expanded to include absolutely everything that nobody else knows how to do, whether or not I knew how to do it either.
    • by MoogMan (442253) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @08:13PM (#13368723)
      This is the wrong way of thinking, IMO. Linux shouldn't have a steep learning curve (and many distributions are starting to effectively tackle this... Ubuntu, Fedora).

      Why would I want to mount my CD? I expect to just put it in and it to be available. Same with my DVD. I expect to put the DVD in and click "Play DVD" or "Open [Totem] Movie Player".

      Ok, I personally don't think that Linux installation is going to come anywhere close to be installable by the average computer user - it's *not going to happen*. But for the large majority of things people use it should "just work".

      Take music for example. I want to play my mp3s.

      Hurdle 1: I can't find them because they're on my WinXP/NTFS partition.
      (Solution: An init script (or preferably, an install module) to scan for non-ext3 partitions and automatically add them to fstab.)

      Hurdle 2: I find my music player. Why won't it play my mp3's? Licence? What licence? I don't have to get a licence on my xyzfoobar player in Windows.

      This is just one of *many* situations that need to be resolved before users start sticking to Linux.

      Having said that, the last year or two have made leaps and bounds in terms of user-friendlyness, but there's still much room for improvement.

      At present, Linux for the end user lacks the polish it needs to be usable by the majority of PC users. I use (and love) it, but I seem to be able to see from the viewpoint of the average user - something many geeks cannot do.
      • Troll (Score:4, Insightful)

        by the_womble (580291) on Monday August 22, 2005 @02:12AM (#13369903) Homepage Journal
        Either you are trolling, or you have tried soemthing like Red Hat 6 and nothing since. Every single problem and "hurdle" you come up with are things that have been dealt dealt with long ago.
      • by Jussi K. Kojootti (646145) on Monday August 22, 2005 @06:41AM (#13370493)
        Hurdle 2: I find my music player. Why won't it play my mp3's? Licence? What licence? I don't have to get a licence on my xyzfoobar player in Windows.
        Do some research on this -- you might be surprised. Either the distributor of xyzfoobar has bought a license and gives it to you (it's one of those free lunches) or someone is using the codec without a license...

        This is just one of *many* situations that need to be resolved before users start sticking to Linux.
        This is a situation resolved best by either not using mp3 or buying an mp3 codec (stand alone or bundled with Windows or a commercial Linux distribution). This is not a technical problem as you suggest, but a legal/economical one.
    • The problem is (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @09:09PM (#13368937)
      How do you do it gradually? I've actually been running Linux on my desktop at work some, because I need to learn more about it. We are going to start offically supporting it and unlike Windows and Solairs, we don't really have any gurus, so we all need to learn more about it. The problem is, that I find I have to force myself to boot in to Linux. Why? Well it, at best, does things as well as Windows does and in many cases does them much worse, or just not at all.

      So of course I do the natural thing, I take the path of least resistance and just leave my machine in Windows, espically whenever I get busy.

      Now I'm willing to do this, I'm a tech worker, it's my job to understand how to support our systems. However how is this supposed to apply to an average user? They are going to be very unimpressed if you tell them "Ya well you can do some of what you want easily in Linux, the rest you'll just have to figure out or do without." They are likely to just go back to Windows perminantly.

      I think it's fairly difficult for most people to switch if there isn't an ideological reason behind it. You just don't find any advantages as an end user. For some it might seem like it initally, those that are spyware'd all to hell will probably find Linux a relief initally since it'll be faster and work stable, but soon, very soon, other annoyances and problems will creep in and they'll be frustrated all over again.

      This is really the area that Linux needs to improve in, if the objective is to penetrate the mass market and really compete with Windows. It needs to be easy for completely non-technical people to switch over. This is getting more true as MS is slowly erroding advantages Linux once had.

      Time was, Windows just wouldn't stay up. It wasn't a question of if it went down, just when. Not the case anymore, a good XP system will basically never crash, and it'll handle patching while you sleep so from a user perspective, it's never down. Likewise spyware and exploits were/are major problems, but they are clamping down on that too. The included firewall stops nearly all automatic worms, and their spyware tool is really quite slick and I imagine will make a major dent when it is in a release state.

      So really what Linux needs to concentrate on is an easier end-user experience. Now leaps and bounds have been made in that area. I remember the first time I tried Linux in 1996 and had to get a friend who was an expert to help me even get it installed, now for most research systems in the department I drop an FC3 CD in, install, patch, setup LDAP, run our automount script and call it good. However there's still a long way to go.

      One thing, for example, is the install process. For almost all Windows software, including most OSS, the install process invloves clicking on an executable which launched a nice graphical installer. This walks you through any options, and then does all the install needed. Any libraries that need updating are updated, all settings are taken care of, etc. In Linux, things are usually at best a make script. Now when it works, it's pretty easy. Config, make, make install, what's so hard about that?

      Well it's intimidating. Normal users, and even us tech peopel that can't program, get intimidated by the compiler. It's something that's way outside the experience of normal users. And then what if something goes wrong? I've had make scripts fail and generally I'm sunk, I don't understand the errors because I don't know C or compilers. Imagine how an artist feels.

      So things like that really need to be improved, if Linux in teh mainstream is a goal. Most users won't give a new OS months, many won't even give it a week. It'd better do what they want for word go, or they'll dump it.
  • all depends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigwavejas (678602) * on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:42PM (#13368268) Journal
    Windows is business worlds industry standard, with companies using programs such as, Powerpoint, MS Project, Outlook (to name a few). It seems to even try to function as a business professional without Windows you're asking for HUGE headaches.

    Linux strikes me as more the OS of choise for tech types (engineers, IT pros, etc), as its much more robust at those type of applications than Windows.

    I think it all depends on the environment.

    • by Infonaut (96956)
      It seems to even try to function as a business professional without Windows you're asking for HUGE headaches.

      I functioned as a business professional for several years using a Mac, without any serious problems. I found that Office was the determining factor. Because there was a Mac version of Office, the OS was of secondary importance.

      As more and more office functions are filled by web apps, the determining factor will become the development tools used in the creation of said web apps. IT departments th

    • Re:all depends (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Wylfing (144940) <brian AT wylfing DOT net> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @08:32PM (#13368795) Homepage Journal
      It seems to even try to function as a business professional without Windows you're asking for HUGE headaches.

      I am a business professional. My desktop is 100% Linux (Ubuntu) and has been for a long time. I've never bothered to tell anyone I was using Linux, and as far as I'm aware no one has any clue. My pain level is zero. (Actually, my pain level is "negative," since from time to time tasks crop up like mass file renaming, which I get done in a few moments but the Windows users take hours and hours to do. Manually. One file at a time. For hundreds and hundreds of files. THAT is pain.)

  • by MosesJones (55544) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:42PM (#13368275) Homepage

    I put my aged PII 400MHz home computer over to Linux a few years ago (well 2002 actually) and since then my Wife has suffered not a single case of having to reboot using the plug-socket, not a single crash and not a single failed application.

    Until she got her iPod... so now we are buying a new PC, just so she doesn't have to use my work machine for iTunes.

    My mother had an horrific attack of the virii which has meant I had to do a complete re-install of windows, and I've lobbed SUSE onto the other partition to help the recovery next time. My mother has elected to use SUSE to access the internet, and just go into Windows when she has to use the software from work.

    My wife does email, internet, work processing and accounts, pretty much the same as my mother. BOTH have faired perfectly well with Linux (SUSE), with less hassle to me than on Windows.

    And here is the kicker... installing Windows on a SATA drive was a pain in the arse, my mothers machine having no floppy drive and Windows not being able to detect the SATA (even in an SP2 install) SUSE 9.3.... had no issues and went straight on.

    I couldn't WORK on Linux yet... but for the majority of INTERNET users who just want EMAIL, a browser and OpenOffice.... it really doesn't matter.

    • by brokenwndw (471112) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:13PM (#13368460)
      If your wife doesn't use iTMS, there are Linux sync solutions, e.g. gtkPod [gtkpod.org]. Have you tried them?
      • by ciroknight (601098) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @09:13PM (#13368954)
        Um, no offense, but gtkPod is like trying to interface with a parallel port with a few bits of wire, some chewing gum, and a 9v battery. You have to be MacGuyver to get it right.

        That being said, I have 3 iPods, a third gen, a fourth gen, and a fourth.five gen color, all 20GB. Only the third gen syncs with gtkPod without much error, and it's running an extinct version of the iPod firmware.

        I tried interfacing with the newest one, and it completely destroyed the filesystem on the iPod. Don't ask me how, but my attempts to plug it into a Mac and a PC both failed, so I had to flip it over to iPod-harddrive mode, and format the bastard. Luckily I didn't lose anything, but it could have been catastrophic.

        iTunes is really the best way to use an iPod. If you've got a problem with that, don't buy one. If you don't have a problem with that, like myself, and many I know, buy one, and be happy. And now that iTunes works with Linux [codeweavers.com], there's no reason not to use it.
  • Office environment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flokemon (578389) <florence AT hotbox DOT ru> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:48PM (#13368313) Homepage
    I cannot truly reply to the article considering it was /.'ed before any reply was posted, but I have been part of a trial of Linux workstations at work. Our sysadmins are Windows folks, but with a good original image, I can't see a Linux transition being that hard.

    I haven't had many problems at all. Our main issue was that we still use a native OS/2 application, and because we have ditched OS/2 we need a remote desktop connection to a Windows box to then launch Virtual PC and our OS/2 app. Not the easiest and lightest of setups, but it works.

    We need Wine for a few apps too, but they run fine under it. Sometimes I'll get Lotus Word Pro or 1-2-3 documents that I cannot return in their original format as Open Office won't let me save in .lwp or .123 format, but it has not been a big issue.
    (If after all those hints you cannot guess what company I work in, you really need to think harder...)

    Anyhow, maybe I wasn't sure after home use how easily Linux could be considered in an office environment, but our main problem really is some intranet pages being designed for IE only.

    I eventually got the first page of that article to load, which leads me to think the author may be criticising how difficult it can be to get everything working - but if you have built a solid image, there is no reason why Linux should be any more difficult to use than Windows.
  • by Stevyn (691306) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:54PM (#13368348)
    Last summer I got serious about using linux. Before that, I tried various versions of redhat and mandrake and it was alright. But I always felt once I started to go beyond the beaten path, it was a pain in the ass. By that I pretty much mean dealing with their RPMs when installing a package outside their package manager.

    So I bit the bullet and spent several days installing and setting up Gentoo. Every step of the way was a learning experience. My reason for switching to linux is because I was bored with windows and I wanted to force myself to learn something new. So now it's approaching the end of another summer. I'm sitting in front of two computers running Gentoo.

    However, both have windows XP on them. I have crossover office on each computer and the apps that are supported run fine. I'm a student and usually I can get by with openoffice, but sometimes I need office. I just got an ipod photo and I've been trying to get it to work seamlessly between windows and gentoo. It's been a struggle with iTunes, gtkpod and ipodslave for KDE, but I'm working on it.

    I tried the OSX86 last weekend and I was impressed. I tried windows vista beta and I was very unimpressed. There is never going to be a magic bullet OS. Each will have it's uses. I've learned that it is mostly dependent on the applications for it. If the vendors made perfect linux versions of every program I needed, it would be a lot better. It takes time to figure out which OSS programs are just as good as the windows counterparts and which ones are shit. 10 days with any operating system isn't going to mean much.

    And I have not had a chance yet to read the article bc it's down at the moment.
  • qemu + winXP (Score:4, Interesting)

    by the-build-chicken (644253) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:12PM (#13368452)
    I haven't needed windows for many years now, however my girlfriend does. I run KDE with a seperate user called "windows" which runs qemu with WinXP full screen on login. She chooses to use her standard KDE login most of the time, but some of her uni cds are windows only.

    QEMU is so good, it not only does her needs, but I've started playing around with .NET (which I never bothered to do before because of the effort of buying another machine or partitioning etc etc).

    The speed is excellent, it works with the CD, SAMBA to the host machine (home drives) and sound...it's got everything we want...plus, running full screen on a seperate login it's just like if you partitioned the drive except that you can switch in real time using KDE 'switch user' feature and share data between the two by making your home drive a samba network drive in windows.

    Linux and Windows finally operating seemlessly together, thank you QEMU :)
  • by falloutboy (150069) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:17PM (#13368475)
    Over the last few years I've read some comments on slashdot about schools teaching linux, and I've just now had an idea that I think might be practical.

    I remember in elementary school, once a week or so my class would be herded into the computer lab to learn how to use a word processor and spreadsheet app on the school's Apple IIe computers. I spent a lot more time playing Oregon Trail and playing around with BASIC on those computers, but I definitely learned the underlying concepts about using a word processor or spreadsheet, and was able to really easily transition to Wordstar 5 for DOS and later other apps.

    It wasn't so much about typing a letter to the editor or whatever we were doing back then, as it was about being comfortable accomplishing a certain set of steps with a computer.

    I wonder, then, if you had 30 third grade students in a computer lab, 10 using Windows, 10 using Mac OS, and 10 using Linux (perhaps Red Hat? whatever is dominating is probably wisest), could you ask them all to accomplish essentially the same task? Of course, I mean that they should rotate to each machine, although not necessarily during a single class session, and be exposed to all the machines.

    Any teachers out there? Does this idea make any sense?
    • Use any platform to teach the concepts of computing - like what drag and drop is for, what the clipboard is used for, the concept of a file system structure, u know...stuff like that. Once they have the concepts down, give them an operating system as an excercise to show them the different computing environments available. Then ask them their opinions. I think that could be a very constructive session - both for the kids and the school.
    • by patio11 (857072) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @08:53PM (#13368875)
      That requiers having teachers who can trouble-shoot all three architectures. I love public school teachers with a passion -- half of my family does it and I've taught myself. But do you realize what the average level of computer expertise is? I can introduce you to that lady all the tech support sites make fun of for using scissors to "reformat" a 5.25" disk into a 3.5" one. Most of my colleagues had post-it notes on their monitors for the button sequence to run MS Word ("Start (bottom left) -> Programs -> MS Office -> MS Word"). Schools are one of the worst places for a mixed operating environment (they're also one of the worst places to learn anything about computers). Stick to reading, writing, and arithmatic, learn the computers somewhere else.
  • Linux / Windows (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Exter-C (310390) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @07:25PM (#13368515) Homepage
    I have traditionally been a windows user. Up until I got sick of all the b.s. that came along with it. I installed Slackware (my favorite server distro) on my desktop and have been running with it for 18months. I have even got my girlfriend into using the desktop (KDE). Yes there are some problems with Office documents and features etc But for the majority of people power point presentations etc are not something that needs doing on a regular basis and there are some excellent html/java slide show creators that can do very similar jobs. Taking all that on board YES there is a long way for KDE/Gnome and the others to improve on the desktop but at the same time it has come along way and for the majority of internet users it would have more than enough features and software for average joes and jills at home browsing and chatting...
  • by nimid (774403) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @08:41PM (#13368830) Homepage
    I can't read the article at the moment seeing as their database doesn't appear to be able to cope with the Slashdotting but simply put, switching over is a nightmare.

    Before all the BSD/Linux/OSX users jump me, let me tell you I'm desperate to get off Microsoft software, however, I can't very well dump 10 years of computing experience and instantaneously learn 10 years of FreeBSD.

    My 1 year plan of attack:
    1) Start to use Open Source software on Windows
    2) Move exclusively to Open Source software on Windows
    3) Move over to FreeBSD

    Right now, I'm almost at stage 2. I'm waiting for a decent calendaring solution and I'm good to go*.

    Everything else I use is now Open Source. It's been a painful 8 months but I'm working hard to give this a chance.

    Now, the interesting part comes when you start to move over to a new OS. It's a complete nightmare!!!

    I've heard a lot of people say it's as easy as putting in the RHL disk and clicking a few buttons and I agree. It is, so long as you're only wanting to do office grade work!

    Don't get me wrong, I can install RHL, Debian, FreeBSD and run it fine so long as I only want to use the web, send email, create some artwork, etc but if I want to install PHP, Apache, PostgreSQL, Postfix, BIND and connect to a network (Samba) then I'm going to be here for a good few months just to get it working (properly and securely - not hope-and-pray).

    Once I've got it working, should something go wrong, I'm down for another day/week if I don't understand how things work.

    I am an Open Source advocate but I don't for one second believe a switch-over is going to be easy and neither should anyone else here.

    What we need to do is manage people's expectations of moving over. If you think it'll take less than 6 months to do the switch, then you're probably not a developer and I imagine most of the Windows users here do some form of development.

    Anyway, enough of the ranting. I look forward to the day I can finally switch over.

    Here's a big thank-you to all the Open Source developers who work so hard to give us our freedom!

    * I still have to use IE for work to make websites 'work'.
  • by WindowsWasher (849166) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @10:03PM (#13369168)
    Microsoft Security Bulletin

    MS08-021
    Windows User Experiment Could Promote Linux Code Execution And Loss of Revenue (8399801)

    Summary

    Who should read this bulletin:
    Users running Microsoft ® Windows ®

    Impact of vulnerability:
    Run code of users choice

    Maximum Severity Rating:
    Critical

    Recommendation:
    Windows Systems administrators should apply nicotine patch immediately.
  • by hattig (47930) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @10:56PM (#13369356) Journal
    Disclaimer: I'm a Mac OS X convert as of two months ago. Before that I was a FreeBSD / Linux person that used Windows for various things (Office, games, etc) but without much enjoyment.

    Windows: Tries to get in your way, force you to do things its way, doesn't provide a decent option to de-dumb globally. Office is a nightmare of over-featured bloat that most users will never use. When something goes wrong, it takes ages to fix because whilst you know what is wrong, Windows tries to stop you fixing it.

    Linux / FreeBSD: Works well. If you know your stuff, it is easy to fix stuff and set up. I've had issues with upgrades however, after some time it will eventually mess up. Desktop applications are a mishmash of good and bad, or poorly thought out in a single crucial aspect whilst being very powerful.

    Mac OS X: Doesn't get in your way. Allows you to actually get work done. Many applications are much more specific in their task (alternatively known as not having as many features, but the features that it does have actually work as you expect them to). Dashboard sucks. I don't think it can be beaten as an end-user operating system, however I can see that it lacks certain things that corporations would like in a desktop computer.

    Computers come down to personal preference and what you are used to. If you only know how to do something in Windows and you aren't of a mind to sit down and learn how it is done in Linux or Mac OS X, then you are simply going to state that you need Windows for that task. Despite the frustration that you might have with it in Windows (e.g., tables in Word).

    One thing that I like about Mac OS X is that it generally eschews the dozens of small icons in a toolbar that you can't really make out that well and thus never really use. Applications like Pages, Keynote, Mail and so on have a few buttons that bring up or hide inspectors or sidebars. A good design guide means that you'll always know how to do the common tasks (save, open, print) and you don't need a small icon that is hard to hit (Fitt's Law) present.

    However it will take you a while to get used to this alternative way of working. Once you are there though, you will know you are more productive and find computing much less of a drag. What is unfortunate is that this goes for migrating from Linux or FreeBSD as well as migrating from Windows.

    Also there are issues such as Logitech's APPALLING lack of support for Mac OS X for their webcam range. Canon's DIRE support for their scanners (hurrah for ScanVue). Samsung's AWFUL support for their printers (can't use my 1 year old ML-2250 under Mac OS X, but you can under Windows and Linux, sheesh). Now that the Mac seems to be having a small revival, maybe some companies will spend a little time on supporting it. When you run into something like this, it can be very demoralising, and appear as a negative against the OS.

    But is there anything I *must* use Windows for? I can't think of anything in my line of work that couldn't be done in Mac OS X. However I think that there are big gaps in the software range for Linux, such as good finance/accounting/tax applications. Specialist software is another area where Windows can have a stranglehold, and if you use some of that, then you'll have issues.
  • by Hosiah (849792) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @11:27PM (#13369456)
    The biggest myth of all: Windows is easy to learn and use.

    Oh, yeah? Tell me, Windows loyalists, did you ever get Outlook Express to understand the concept of multiple email accounts and different stationary/spam filters for each? Figure out how to stop Windows from dumping icons all over the screen? Get rid of the MS Network and Network Neighborhood because you never use it? Get Windows to recognise your new graphics card without a struggle? Stop Real Player from firing up at startup and immediately demanding your whole machine's resources? Completely remove software you uninstall, without having to go in and manually delete folders? Confess to you where it hides ALL the cookies and let you clean them ALL out? Not show the taskbar?

    Yes, I'm sure everybody's done some of what's on this list... but you weren't born knowing how? Right? You had to...guess what?...READ some DOCUMENTATION to learn how to make it do what you want! After all, if Windows is just SO-O-O-O silly easy, why were manuals written about it "for Dummies" flying off the bookstore shelves from 1985 to 1995 or so? Why would people need things simplified to the "Dummies" level if it were as simple as could be, already?

    Linux comes with it's own "for Dummies" docs, free. Man pages, info pages, html docbooks, et cettera ad infinitum. Just have a gander through /usr/share/doc and you learn everything in Linux just like the "for Dummies" books in Windows!

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