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Why Linux Won't Ever Be Mainstream 539

Linux won't ever be accepted as a truly mainstream OS by most vendors. The reason for this is quite simply the users. And I'm not talking about everyone, I'm talking about the 31337 h4x0r kids with the bad attitude. They're posting right here on this system, intermixed with others who often share the attitude, but also have a bit more civility. I saw this once again while learning about the Hewlett Packard 3300C flatbad scanner ... which has zippo Linux support from HP. And I don't see that changing. Keep reading and maybe I can explain why.

So I collect anime cels. I have a fairly nice collection now. Cels from Tenchi, Trigun, Ranma 1/2 among others. It's a fun hobby that I find gets me a little more involved with some of my favorite shows to have a little piece of them. Sometimes it can be horribly expensive, but often really nice cels for just a few bucks can be found.

But what do you do with these cels? Well, I framed several. Museum-quality glass ensures that they'll stick around for awhile. But I have dozens of cels, and I travel a lot ... so scanning them in and making nice wallpaper images for my desktop sure will make KDE look nice. So with that in mind I began hopping around looking for an inexpensive flatbed scanner. And I thought I had found it in the HP 3300C. At only $80, it seemed like a great deal: I didn't need 2400x2400 scans or anything, I just wanted to get 1280x1024 images off 8.5x11 cels. A quick glance through /etc/usbmgr/usbmgr.conf revealed a line for it, so I figured I was all set. OK, that was a major mistake on my part -- I should have looked a little harder, I just made the ill-fated assumption that a line in this file meant someone had made the 3300C work under Linux.

I was wrong. I've set up USB devices before. I've set up scanners before. And this one bugger wasn't about to work. So I figured I'd hop over to google and search around and see if I was missing something. After browsing around a few sites that provided me with no information whatsoever, I stumbled upon Linux-USB. Duh, the source, right? Probably should have looked there in the first place, but hey, I never claimed to be a genius. My heart sunk when I found the supported scanners list and found my cheapy HP 3300C, conveniently listed with an icon so obvious that even a moron could clearly see that his quest to scan in cels was going to be fruitless: The Red X of failure.

The site helpfully provides a little more info link with a discussion board that I figured I would read to see if perhaps work was underway. And this is where I made a shocking discovery. And if I was HP, I sure wouldn't be taking the abuse that so many people are dishing out. The discussion starts off fine. An email address to someone at HP to ask for specs. A comment about how HP should make their specs available since they are supposedly an Open Source company (even having gone so far as hiring Bruce Perens to do ... something. Well nobody is really sure what, but he does something for Linux at HP ;). The next comment was a user who returned his scanner. Another user glad that he found this page before he bought the scanner. Lucky bastard. I wish I had.

But this is where things turned sour. The messages turn from disappointed to just plain mean. HP employees are called bastards and assholes. Threats are made. They are referred to as lots of words that I would happily use in friendly conversation with a friend, but never post in a public forum read by strangers.

And thats where all of this is leading. Intermixed with this embarassing dialogue is legitimite stuff. One guy wants to write a driver. Others provide links to various support channels at HP where perhaps a request for the scanner specs might not come up empty.

But somehow I can't get the bad taste out of my mouth. I see it on Slashdot all the time, and I find it really disheartening. Its an attitude that many people have: The "You Owe Me" attitude. Certainly I'm not exempt from this attitude. If I pay for a device, dammit I want specs. But that doesn't mean that I'm going to call a company with thousands of employees "cockmasters" just because they don't want to support my operating system.

I've met a lot of people who've written a lot of open source code. Window Managers. Ethernet Drivers. X extensions. GUI Toolkits. And these people are almost always totally cool. Sure they have attitudes. They are pompous. They are proud of their work. And in most cases they deserve many more accolades then they get. But I think most of them wouldn't say something like "HP seems to be still smeeling Gates' asshole rather than coming out of it. Beware Hp, Linux is going strong and unless you recognize that and properly support your hardware under Linux, you are going to Piss in your pants one day." I'm embarassed to run the same OS as 'Casablanca' who provided Linux-USB with that choice quote. No doubt that Linux is going strong. But what does that have to do with the offensive statement that leads off? How does saying that advance anything?

This is at its worst in public forums. Mailing lists are often much more civil. I'm not saying always because every mailing list with more then a few people explodes into flames every now and then. But at least then you're talking about a private forum. There's just something about a public web board that brings the worst out in some people. Its unfortunate that because you don't sign your name, some people interpret that as a license to be a jerk.

I'm not saying drop the attitude. Linux is a superior operating system to the one that HP usually supports. But that attitude is a double edged sword. If welded childishly, it will hurt us all. I don't care if 'Casablanca' chops off his own leg, but damn it sucks that his attitude might hurt the dozens of other posters on that forum who all paid cash money for their HP 3300C scanner and may never see it supported.

The reality is that HP sells scanners and printers almost entirely to users of that "Other" OS. Writing a driver probably won't make them much money: especially not for a scanner that is going for less then a hundred bucks. Of course, releasing their specs costs them next to nothing, and for a company that has been working hard to embrace Open Source and Linux, it certainly is something cool that they could do.

In conclusion, I had to boot up windows to use my scanner. The Diablo 2 Expansion is the only other software on the partition. I scanned in a half dozens cels, rebooted, and did the rest of my work in The GIMP. It took me much much longer to get things done then I would have liked and it definitely detracts from the usability of the scanner. The scans were fine, but the overhead it required forces me not to recommend the scanner to anyone. But if HP would release the specs to this thing, I know there would be a lot of happy people besides me. HP makes quality hardware and the price is definitely right on this one.

If they don't, I have a hard time blaming them. I know that the bitchers and moaners that are so loud in random forums throughout the net (and yes, even here on Slashdot. Maybe especially here) are actually a minority. The vast majority of Linux Developers and Users are sane and calm. Sure, we have that inner glow of satisfaction that comes from knowing we have uptimes of 200+ days and we only reboot to try out newer devel kernels. But we don't feel the need to call people names because we don't get our way. I admit that I've stepped over the line more times then I should, but I try to be cool about it. And I hope others do to.

Soapbox mode: off.

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Why Linux Won't Ever Be Mainstream

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I wish that whenever I have a bad day that I can write it all down so millions of user can write comments to make me feel better!

    Honestly, Linux isn't the choice because the users are still dumb. Think about it. Most users are babyboomers that have trouble finding the on switch. Once the newer generation get into the game, they'll make the decision, but switching desktops from an extremely popular desktop to a stable one is tough to do and will take tons of time (unless there is some type of revolution when M$ takes one too big of a step to claim world domination).

    So relax, Taco, and give it time. Patience is a virtue. Everyone has a bad day. Its no reason to get frustrated and quit. Geez....
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The root cause of the problem is simply PEOPLE (or the number thereof). As the population (of the world, the Internet, our cities, etc.) goes up, there is more of an inclination for people in that population to believe that they don't need all of the other people. That, in turn, makes them less inclined to build the connections with the other people that have to do with creating a community. The Internet, in some ways, exascerbates this because it is much more of an anonymous medium and it is collapsing the natural separation between communities (ie. artificially increasing the perceived growth of a local population). Because of the anonymity, people come to the Internet not so much to create a "New World" as to create a new technological marvel (the first is people oriented whereas the second is not). Different people are affected this way to different degrees, but the trends seem pretty clear overall and the trend seems to be accelerating into the future.
    More people means more friction.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:38AM (#76555)
    CmdrTaco - I think you've missed the point. Users of all operating systems behave like this. Microsoft tech support must have to put up with alot of flack from users, as would Apple's. BSD & Amiga users are infamous for their demeanour too.
    This won't stop Linux from becoming mainstream - simply because it is normal, and reflects society at large, not just users of Linux.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:44AM (#76556)
    I used to work at HP in the Color Printing division. One particularly nice machine had awful drivers. The problem is, the machine was made by another company altogether. A few HP engineers worked on designs, but the other company did the firmware and wrote the drivers. It was so bad that it released with only PostScript support and not PCL. (HP came up with PCL, back in the day.)

    Another program managed resources on high-end LaserJet hard drives. It's possible to write a comparable program in Perl or Python or Java or Ruby -- all it takes is a TCP connection to port 9100 on the printer and a few commands to update, delete, and query stored information. This program was a big part of the marketing literature. It plain didn't work.

    HP has some very smart people, but they've sold off big parts of the company in recent years. There are definitely people there who "get it", but there are also managers who claim (direct quote):

    We're proactive on this Linux thing. We were the first company to wait to see what everyone else was doing.

    Blame the users who are quick to flame, they deserve it. But HP as a company has a lot of problems of its own. If they pressured the company that actually made the scanner, there might be Linux drivers for it. As it is, there's probably no one at HP that even has a contact at the other company.

  • Umm, actually you are wrong (and I had Amiga 1000, and Amiga 500)

    The people who killed Amiga was ... Commodore themselves, they never listened to their customers, always were arrogant (I know, I talked to them few times)

    Commodore should be a classic example how NOT to treat a customer.
  • The problem with Linux (and BSD's on this case) is simple - and I see it all the times..

    People wants everything to be free AND open source.

    Thats a legit request - on some occasions, but try to tell that to a commercial vendor when he's trying to make living and once their competitors will see his code will simply copy the features (who can tell that the code is the same if they sell it under closed source license?) and will sell it under half the price (heh, no R&D investment is needed)..

    We heard all before from people like RMS, ESR and others that the way to make money is by support. Go ahead - Call MS and see why they refuse to support the user directly - it's NOT PROFITABLE. Ask 100 more companies - the amount of money to make is very small - so they don't write applications that are needed for Linux/BSD. It's that simple..

    As for hardware vendors - some of them simply cannot release the specs because they are licensed from 3rd party (example: nVidia - licensed some parts from SGI and from others), and part of this agreement is not to release specs to the public. nVidia in this case ARE releasing some parts of their specs for the 2D/Video parts of their card to the XFree team under a very strict agreement..

    If you really want your hardware to be supported, then you have 3 choices:

    1. Arrange a petition to give to the hardware OEM, so they can see there is a demand.

    2. Start debugging the driver or reverse engineering the windows drivers (on coutries that it is legal) and create a driver. If I'm not mistaken - that was the way the Linux ZIP driver was created..

    3. If the hardware is cheap, then post a request on the specific mailing list, and ask for someone (who did some work already - not someone that came out of the blue) to do the driver and if he agrees, buy him the hardware and ship it. You'll be amazed how much this helps..

    Bitching/Flaming/Coursing on forums simply doesn't help - and trust me, I'm following dozens of forums and mailing lists. Want example? go read the HP OpenMail forums.
  • Gee Taco's so right. Linux will never be mainstream, because he's too fucking dumb to buy SUPPORTED HARDWARE.

    WinXP will never be mainstream because it doesn't support my HP ScanJet Plus. Riiiiiight.


  • by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:39AM (#76561) Homepage Journal
    ...there's the fact that most people don't want or need to learn a new operating system AND a new windowing system (AND a new way of doing things) SIMPLY for the sake of doing something different.

    A lot of people have been "raised" on DOS and Windows 9x. Why would they ever want to change to Linux? They're used to 9x, and whether or not they really like it is another matter entirely.

    Linux will remain a niche OS because, for most people, there's really no reason to use it.

    - A.P.


  • Older, used SCSI scanners work great. Unlike many other computer parts, scanners really topped out the requirements of the average consumer 4 years ago. You can buy a SCSI scanner and card from Ebay or and, after shipping and all, still be out less than $80. Check out the hardware compatability before you buy, and you'll be in scanning bliss soon enough. SANE and XSANE are for me infinitely more useful than the crappy TWAIN drivers you are forced to use in Windows.
  • Interesting story about "turning the other cheek" as is mentioned in the Western bible's New Testament. Supposedly Romans would only slap with one hand, let's say the right one. Also, they would only use the back (again, whatever) of this hand. Once slapped, if you turned your head and offered your other cheek, they couldn't easily slap it without using the palm of their right hand or the back of their left hand. In this possibly historical sense, turning the other cheek was an act of defiance and control, not of submission.

    However, this really isn't relevant for the modern usage of the expression. =-)

    -Paul Komarek
  • The best solution is for enough people only to buy products that has Linux drivers and Linux clearly printed on the box.
    And then drop a polite snail-mail note to the non-supporting competition's Vice President of Marketing indicating why you were unwilling even to consider his product.

  • It's just so hard to find a new TOPS-10 system these days . . .


  • If I bought your product, YOU DO INFACT OWE ME. This is NOT an unreasonable expectation. This expecation actually has basis in the law. Most Sheeple tend to simply forget about this.

    While a sense of entitlement might make civil interaction less likely, denying a sense of entitlement will also encourage corporations to grow more and more disrespectful of their customers.

    The specs for a $100 scanner simply aren't worth anything. There are no great secrets involved that can't be replicated by a couple of Electrical Engineering undergrads in their spare time.

    These corps need to get over themselves.
  • Just b/c someone told you to RTFM does not mean you should whine all over the place about it. Honestly, getting the mouse to work in X is covered in just about every document there is on the Internet. If you are too lazy to look first before you ask, then they are too lazy to help you

    Yup...sad thing is, the above it the exact elitism that drives people away. You saw just X mouse setup is covered real well.

    Assuming I'm a home user that just got Linux and was trying it out. I went to yahoo and searched on "linux x windows mouse". According to your "solution is everywhere" one of the the returned documents should have answered it. Try it and see what you get back.

    Japanese scalable fonts? Motif Programming? Aqua? A vague question about someone not getting their mouse to work? and of course X windows vs Win9x/NT.

    So, which of these FM's should I have read that covered it?

    Look at documentation for some config files. A lot of programs tend to define the language structure that makes up their files:

    object = ( atoms )
    atom = ( ( neutron && protron ) || nucleus )
    neutron = keyword1 || keyword2

    and think they have fully documented everything. yes...technically they have, and for someone who deals with that kinda stuff, it probably helps them out. But all it is doing is creating more of an elitist state, where you practically need a CS degree just to RTFM, which is NEVER going to get Linux into the desktops, at least not for the average user that everyone thinks will have no problem running linux.

  • If you're so easily discouraged that you can't be bothered to spend 10 seconds refining a search, maybe you shouldn't be installing & configuring an operating system.

    More of the same elitist attitude. If you're too stupid to figure it out yourself, then fuck off and go back to windows?

    Yes, I could have found it pretty easy, however, the point I was trying to make is that all these people that are being told that it's easy to find this and that have a great frame of reference for finding things - yes it is easy for them, but maybe not for the person at the other end of the line. would always be a great and fast answer instead.
  • let me see-- it is the single most common OS on web servers when counting per site according to Netcraft (Windows is more common when counting by server). It has made tremendous inroads into that industry.

    Netcraft numbers mean nothing. Think of how many people are running a web server on their machine and don't even know it because they clicked the "web server" checkbox during their RedHat install. I have four web sites at home (two boxen) that are on Linux machine. That's simply ridiculous. If you wanted to prove your point about mainstream linux acceptance, check out the number of web servers running Linux found at Fortune 500 companies. That would be mainstream acceptance (oh yeah, there aren't that many).

    Note that I have been using Linux for over two years and have seen immense improvement in the end user experience (RH5.1 is the oldest distro I have worked with, RH7.1 and SuSE 7.1 are the most recent but I have also worked with versions of Slackware and Debian). PnP and USB support are both becoming more powerful and user friendly in the system level (not only talking the kernel here).

    Great, and while Linux is working on those wonderful features, Microsoft and Apple have already developed operating systems that support those and more, and do it better and more intuitively for the user. While Linux has been improving, what do you think other companies have been doing? Just sitting around on their hands? Microsoft's developing a whole new way to think about operating systems and software, which Linux is starting to copy. Apple refined the UI experience to a ridiculous level, which Linux promptly tried to copy (failing somewhat because they don't have the underlying technology.

    Microsoft's current model of selling large ammounts of proprietary software is not sustainable, and Microsoft top execs know it. This is why they need to move to a subscription model. And it is why open source software like Linux will become mainstream in the end user market (it has been common in the server market for some time).

    And somehow selling large amounts of free software is? Eventually, people are going to realize that to have a business and earn money and feed the kiddies at home, you're going to have to sell something, be it software or support. Software is a hell of a lot easier to sell because people need it for things to work. People don't need support. In fact, many large companies have their own internal support structure so they don't have to pay other companies for it.

    Linux is a mainstream word, not a mainstream operating system. You can wax poetic about the "improvements" that Linux has made, but in the end, the mainstream user (be it individual or corporate) still finds better options in Microsoft and Apple.
  • The sad part is that back in the day, Linux wasn't mainstream enough to be cool; it was more of an OS perversion than an 31EE+Eism it is today. Sadly enough, we've hit mainstream and Linux still isn't very usable. Without either an intelligent, respectable user base nor a product that's blatantly better (for the desktop), there isn't much hope for us.

    I'm afraid Linux is stuck in server space.

    I'm mostly leaving Linux alone these days in favor of my mac running os x. I can have my unix & use it too.


  • I don't think it's as much a "you owe me" attitude as an "it's my right, dammit" attitude.

    I don't know if this is a peculiarly American disease, but I've been seeing it for a while now; it almost seems to be a peculiar backlash against "political correctness." Anytime anyone says anything that could be remotely construed as "PC," pseudo-libertarians crawl out of the woodwork screaming that it's their constitutional, God-given right to say what they want, where they want, to whoever they want, and fuck anyone who says otherwise.

    I'm not a fan of PCisms, but I've come to believe that the problem of people being oversensitive--while real--is not as debilitating to our society as the problem of people taking pride in their insensitivity. Yeah, you're right--you do have a right to say whatever you want to whoever you want. But just because you can doesn't mean that you should.

    Crazy idea--maybe What America Needs <tm>, from an individual level on up to an international policy level, is a better grasp of common courtesy.

  • > The founding fathers were deeply religious, and
    > intended this as a Christian nation.

    Um, incorrect. Whilst some of the authors of the Constitution were indeed Christian, there were also atheists and a large number of deists [].

    > Certainly they never intended this to be an
    > atheistic or nontheistic nation.

    No, but they did intend it to be a nation where you could be an atheist. Or a deist. Or whatever. They intended it to be a nation where no one was forced into any religion, and where church and state were separated. This partially came from their own beliefs (and the diversity therin), and partially from seeing the corruption that rose from the Church of England. Religion and government are both immensely powerful institutions, and are prone to corruption. Adding them together is like adding an oily rag to a bottle of gas, and thus we have a Molotov cocktail...and people get burned.

    ...back to work. (this comment brought to you by a summer US History I course ;)
  • I too weap for our future

    I weep for our educational system. :) But anyway...

    What I don't understand in all this talk about people being assholes on message boards and all this other stuff is why we should care? I agree with the assertion that it's probably not just linux users who are being assholes on public forums, but even if it were, who cares?

    I would like to think that people use an operating system because it fits their needs. Linus may be out for world domination, and others as well, but frankly I don't care to spend a lot of energy debating and worrying over whether or not the linux community is taking the strategy that maximizes chances for the widest popularity.

    Getting drivers for new hardware is one thing, but why is it that all of the rhetoric here and elsewhere seems focused on making linux popular? It would be nice, but I'd rather cut the PR shit and keep writing software. I want people to come and use linux because we're better than the alternative, not because we're nice on message boards, or companies feel warm and fluffy around us, or because our PR department is better at lying to the customer than the competition is.

    And even if no one else uses linux, it's still going to move forward. The types of users people are trying to attract aren't even really coders. They're not going to help the progression of the OS any except by making companies take notice, who often contribute non-free software.

    Linux is linux, and it's going to be linux. Nobody has to pimp it out in order for it to be what it is.

  • by Old Man Kensey ( 5209 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @11:34AM (#76590) Homepage
    In doing what I've done, I've run into two general classes of new users:

    1) The newbie who understands that he has to learn something (although he may not know how much) about what he is trying to use. He's willing to put forth some reasonable amount of effort, and if he throws his hands up in disgust, it's usually a sign that the thing in question is poorly designed.

    2) The luser who insists on use without learning or thinking, who wants the computer (or whatever) to be a magic psychic box that just makes things happen.

    I will help a person in the first group as far as they're willing to go (within the limits of what I know... I know at least one guy that started from zero, I helped him get started and now he's hacking away on X doing things I just manage to comprehend). The second group I have no time for. You can talk and explain till you're blue in the face and it will do you (and them) zero good.

    The trouble comes with people who treat both groups as equivalent. They remind me of college professors who say "There's the reading for the course, test is on May 2, see you in four months." Excuse me? What the hell are you doing in charge of a class if you're not going to teach? If all you want is to do research, fine, but don't then try to claim you're a "teacher" too.

  • by Old Man Kensey ( 5209 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @11:20AM (#76591) Homepage
    The funny thing about issues like this is, it's all been done before. In the early 80's, Apple did something radical by bringing out the Mac.

    Was it perfect? No.

    Was it the best tool for certain jobs? Absolutely. In fact it turned out to be "pretty good, and easier too" for just about everything computer novices needed, and there was something there for a lot of power users too (particularly multimedia). Look at HyperCard. Look at ClarisWorks. Hell, look at MacWrite and MacPaint in the context of their times.

    Apple put a lot of thought and research into designing MacOS (which was still just The System back then). Much of it has been imitated or outright ripped off. After using Macs for over 10 years, Windows and *nix for 7, I'd say the following:

    Every place MacOS fails is because Apple either decided "you must do it this way, no matter what you think you want, because it's better" (example: lack of keyboard shortcuts in menus) or because they were imitating, not innovating (replacing SCSI components with IDE, IMHO, ultimately hurt the Mac).

    What we need is for somebody to write a whole new OS around the Linux kernel. The first goal of this OS should be "the command line is always useful, but never necessary." The second goal should be "this OS does not try to outthink the user, but think with the user."

    Essentially the usual Linux tools would still be there, with a whole new user-interface layer on top of it. Sound familiar? It should. []

    It's always a fatal mistake to think your company can't learn anything from the competition. The fact that Linux is not a "company" makes it no less true.

  • Are you referring to Fresnel, perhaps? That's pronounced as though spelled freh-nel. The "s" is silent.
  • How did you, the hypothetical newbie, know to use a somewhat computer-field specific abbreviation of the word "configuration"?
  • Should you decide that you need a sig file, allow me to suggest that "Way too many of us need serious therapy. Or better games." would do quite nicely.
  • There's no "e" between the "F" and the "r", in either the spelling or the pronunciation.

    The "F" is uppercase because it's some guy's name.

  • by rho ( 6063 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @10:03AM (#76598) Homepage Journal
    I keep remembering the days back in the 80's when people had comodore 64s and 386s running DOS. No one ever complained about having to type all the commands and edit .bat files etc (except MAC users :O). It was just when MS put out Windows and AOL came around that this new breed of computer users came about. It was then that the term "computer illiterate" was coined.

    Ahh, yes. The "good-old-days", when RAM was $500/KB, computers were hulking beasts, and nobody owned them. I'm sorry, I don't want to go back to that time. You can if you want -- I'll keep my whizzo hardware, thanks.

    They are marketing tacticts used by companies to sell computers. If Suzan Smith wanted to send e-mail and surf the net and all that was available to her was UNIX she would still buy that computer and she wouldn't complain about it being too hard to use because it realy isn't too hard.

    A command line can be entirely as easy to use as a GUI! You have fallen for the biggest lie ever created in the computer industry -- "If's it's got windows, a mouse, and buttons, it's easy to use!" This is a fundamental blockage in the brains of the *nix community, and until they clear it out, *nixes will forever be relegated to the nerd ghetto.

    It isn't windows and mouses and buttons that make a computer easy to use; it's the careful, reasoned, well-thought-out interface between man and machine, the tasks the man wants the machine to do, and the facilitation of those tasks.

    There are a few hard-and-fast rules (Read Tog for more on that), but mostly it's about designing for people, not machines. A fundamental example: the computer's filesystem is built heirarchal, and that works for a computer. It thinks that way. Humans (by which I mean non-programmers) don't think that way. They think in amorphous, nebulous, loosely grouped items that apply to projects, tasks, or goals.

    We've built the computer to act like a file cabinet, forgetting that a file cabinet is a poor solution to a problem, not the best that could be done with the available technology. Rather than make the computer a *better* file cabinet, we've slavishly copied it, and as a result, we have computers that are hard to use on the most basic level: the file manager.

    The more "easy" you make computers to the more ignorant the users will be and the more "harder" using a computer will seem. Because the more about a computer you hide the more complex a computer seems to it's user.

    That is patently ridiculous. All complicated devices become simpler over time -- we don't become dumber, we become more productive with fewer resources and do things faster than before. You see the computer as an end in itself, whereas most people see it as a time-saving device (a better, faster typewriter, basically) and think no further than that. I don't accuse you, neccessarily, it's natural for a computer professional to dispair over the sad state of the users. It's probably a similar feeling your mechanic might have if you are one of those people who go 4-5K miles between oil changes -- "What's wrong with him? Doesn't he know he's KILLING his car?!?"

  • ahhh yes. The infamous "RTFM"...

    If you are going to start using Linux (especially "a few years ago") you need to learn to read. Every OS should require people to read, it creates a larger userbase of knowing people... Not the point.

    Just b/c someone told you to RTFM does not mean you should whine all over the place about it. Honestly, getting the mouse to work in X is covered in just about every document there is on the Internet. If you are too lazy to look first before you ask, then they are too lazy to help you.


    As far as HP is concerned. As much as I disapprove of their lack of Linux support I like their products. I have been using the same HP Deskjet 400C for 4 years. It hasn't given me very many problems and even prints fast enough to make me happy.

    I don't see any companies really being all that helpful w/USB devices in Linux (Intel's USB cameras for example) yet there are plenty of people out there using USB snoop (or whatever it is) to find out for themselves how to get the device to work.

    I refuse to buy USB devices for the simple fact that Linux does not support them. Do not complain about Company X when they won't pass out your device's specs, and definitly don't flame them.

    I really think that this post was only to flame HP "nicely".

    Linux won't ever become a mainstream OS b/c it missed its oppertunity by several years. It isn't b/c of the users, the developers, or the companies.

    Just my worthless .02
  • sorry, but that is correct. When I go anywhere I make sure to have fully researched (usually w/the Internet, sometimes w/maps) where I am going and what's going on. If you don't tough shit.

    As far as you punching me. That's about as useless as me telling you to go look it up in the atlas.
  • Actually, they were deeply religious. They were Theists: they believed in a supreme being, but *NOT* in personal salvation nor that Christ was God's son.

    Shouldn't take you very long at all to hit Google and learn that Theists are not Christian, and that most of the founders were Theists.

  • So I'm forced to wonder whether Tokyo is crawling with assholes.

    Somehow, I doubt it. Politeness, respect, and courtesy are fundamental social laws in Japan.

    Not so in America, and what's left of consideration for others seems to be rapidly dwindling.

  • "Turn the other cheek" isn't going to change a thing. All that will happen is that they'll *continue* to act abusively towards everyone else around them.

    I'm perfectly aware that busting heads isn't a wimpy nice-guy attitude. Tough shit. Dictatorships aren't overthrown by wishing them away, either.

    If we want this society to change, then *we* have to take action to change it.

  • "True story: A friend of mine and I were sitting at a red light in DC when a car full of gangstas pulled up beside us. We happened to be listening to NWA's "Fuck Tha Police". For some reason, these gangstas were offended that two white boys were listening to rap, and one of them pulled a gun and held it up to the window."

    Or perhaps they were tired of hearing assholes with their crappy rap music cranked so loud that it can be heard in the next county.

    They were probably trying to teach you some manners. Shame they didn't shoot your stereo.

    Your one of the *causes* of the "fuck you" society we're living in, buddy. Turn down the stereo already.

  • So fink her out.

    If you don't, she is going to be rewarded for dishonest behaviour.

    That's just going to take us one more step toward the sort of society we don't want.

    Do yourself, do her, and do all of us a favour: make sure she pays the price for cheating and lying.

  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Thursday July 19, 2001 @08:17AM (#76610) Homepage
    All that you say would be perfectly fine and true if we were grizzly bears.

    Griz are out for number one, because they live alone. They're not social animals.

    The most important thing people in this society *must* come to understand is that the good of the whole is *more important* than the good of oneself.

    If we don't start behaving in a manner that benefits society, then this society is destined to collapse. It has happened in the past, and it *will* happen again.

    Now of course, someone is going to go on some riff about the evils of socialism or communism or some other dippy understanding of what I've said. Just please note that I didn't say anything at all about what the political structure would look like.

    What I will say is that "good for society" *can* align with "good for oneself." The two are not mutually exclusive.

    Let me Venn diagram it: two circles, overlapping. One circle is "good for society." The other is "good for oneself." What we want is to maximize the area of overlap, and position ourselves in it.

  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:57AM (#76611) Homepage
    'But somehow I can't get the bad taste out of my mouth. I see it on Slashdot all the time, and I find it really disheartening. Its an attitude that many people have: The "You Owe Me" attitude.'

    It's part of the 'going to hell in a handbasket' problem we've got going in this society.

    The root cause seems to boil down to one thing: a lot of people these days are out for #1, and don't give a fuck for the consequences that affect others.

    Maybe it's because those of us that try to play nice are too patient, too forgiving, and too unwilling to get in their faces and *demand* that they play nice. Instead, we let them walk all over us.

    Myriad examples: the assholes with their 110dB subwoofer ripping through residential neighbourhoods at 2AM. The pissant little fuck who takes 30 items through the 10 items or less till. People who don't hold doors open when you both arrive at the same time. Dangerous fucking assholes running red lights. Ah, it's aggravating just thinking of all the examples.

    Why do these people act like jerks? Because they can.

    Perhaps it's because they're so powerless in every other aspect of their lives. Between their boss and the government, they can't fart without permission. So they take out their frustrations by pissing off everyone else. Maybe that's it.

    Bottom line, at any rate, is that it's time for the nice guys to put their foot down and demand better from others. Don't like the behaviour you see? Don't be a milquetoast -- stand up and demand better!

  • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:44AM (#76612) Homepage
    I have spent a lot more time making my computer do what I want it to do than making my car do what I want it to do. (And money, for that matter.) There's an anecdote - probably false - about a conversation between a Microsoft executive and a GM executive, in which the Microsoft executive was bragging about how fast computer technology was growing, while automotive technology remained mired in the sand.

    The GM exec said, "if cars were built like computers, they would go 200 miles per hour, get 100 miles to the gallon, float on water, fly through space, and explode every 10 hours killing everyone inside."

    The fact is that whether or not it strokes your muyopic ego to think of end users (such as, say, my friend the neuroscientist, who hates desktop computers and has trouble with her email - yet programs MRI scanners fluently) as dumb, it is *far far far* easier to redesign computers than to redesign end users.

  • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:50AM (#76615) Homepage Journal

    This is the attitude that kills Linux in the mainstream: users are still dumb . Nothing could be further from the truth.

    The simple reality is that most "dumb users" use the computer as a tool rather than a hobby or a religion: They want to get on, do what they need to do, and get off. Calling someone who does that "dumb" is, well, dumb, and secondly it totally misses the point of mainstream users and what their motivations are (and it's why Linux isn't a blip on the radar for home users apart from the "computers define my manhood" type). Are you dumb if you don't pull and fix your own transmission? Do you make your own electricity or are you one of the dumb ones that just hooks into the city's grid? Did you make your own engine control system, or are you a dumb person with just a stock car that gets you from point A to point B?

  • If someone pulls a gun on you, run that damn red light. I don't know why you didn't hit the gas as soon as you saw that thing.

    And always wear your seatbelt. If someone tries to carjack you and hops in the passenger seat, what are the chances he's going to have his seatbelt on? Slim. Drive your car into a telephone pole at about 40 MPH (aim for his side of the car). You'll probably live, he'll probably be hurt. That's a lot better than getting to where ever he wanted to take you.

    You're lucky the ice scraper trick worked.
  • ``Kur05hin has implemented censorship and a no-Anonymous-Coward policy. Guess what, it seems to be working. CmdrTaco brought up the linuxusb web site. If linux-usb wants to have a corperate friendly exterior, then it should censor its talkback posts to only relevant posts.''

    Um... makes me wonder... What ever happened to moderated Usenet newsgroups? Are there any left? Ridiculous flamewars and blatently incendiary remarks were not allowed and it kept the SNR high. Most of the ones I remember were in the sci. groups (and similar). Can't remember any in comp.*. (Just thought of a funny thing: moderated newgroups under alt.*.) And, of course, someone had to volunteer to be moderator. Have we hit a shortage of them? (Sorry, but I'm not in a position to be stepping forward :-)

    If an online forum really wants to remain useful to the participants, I can't see how you can avoid instituting moderation. It's not censorship to insist that people stay on topic and remain civil. If the immature folks avoid Kuro5hin because they can't make posts that don't use four-letter words in every other sentance and whose sole purpose seem to be to insult someone else, then great. You're not contributing anything useful to the `conversation' anyway and should go elsewhere. We'd do the same thing at a restaurant, bar, or other social gathering: ``Hey, buster! Any more of that or you're outta here!'' Maybe it doesn't work that well in a web-oriented discussion (where someone's got bills to pay and needs all the clicks they can get) but I don't think an online bouncer is such a bad idea.


  • ``Did the box say anything about running on Windows and Macintosh? I bet it did. I bet they said right on the box what OS you could use.''

    First of all, since when should HP have anything to do with telling anyone what software or hardware may be connected to one of the perpiherals that they sell? Normal people wouldn't go the the extreme of sueing HP for not fully supporting their particular configuration. Something tells me, though, that if push came to shove, HP would rely on some section of the law to defend their position. Gotta love the one-sidedness of the legal system, eh?

    Second, that notice would be just fine if one is out there looking to buy some scanning software. The Cmdr wasn't. He wanted a piece of hardware and the vendor chose to limit the use of that hardware to those people running certain kinds of operating systems. Unless that scanner was some sort of ``WinScanner'' what would have been the difficulty for HP in providing information; especially since they used to do so. Those of us that have worked with HP equipment for years (even decades) came to expect high quality technical information coming with their products. For example, printers and plotters came with a programmer's guide. Now, apparently, some weenie in accounting decided that he could get a bigger bonus if he recommended that the company no longer provide such information. Even more worrisome is that someone upstream from him thought that giving the customers this information was no longer necessary. And, to boot, they wouldn't even allow you to purchase the information from HP. Who wouldn't be royally P.O.d. After long experience with HP, this attitude toward the purchasers of their products in recent years force me to no longer consider purchasing HP equipment.

    On a similar note: I bought an external 56K modem that said it works with Windows and Macintosh. Huh? An external modem that requires a specific operating system? I bought it anyway after the saleperson said I could return it if there was a problem. You know what made it supported under Windows and Mac? The manuals on the accompanying CD-ROM were in proprietary format. I needed to print out the Windows-Help-formatted manual from a Windows-based system. Otherwise the hardware was perfectly compatible with non-Windows and non-Macintosh computers. Would it have killed the vendor to slap a ordinary text version of the manual on the CD-ROM in addition to the copies in the proprietary formats? Of course not.

    IMNSHO, any company that decides that 10% of the market may be ignored should expect too many repeat customers from that 10%. And I have to wonder how many marketing managers would agree with anyone working for them that it just costs too much to provide simple information, like an interfacing manual in plain text format on the CD that they're already creating, in order to pull in customers from that 10%. If they're afraid that some yutz is going to call up and demand support for a problem involving a user-written driver than make it absolutely clear that this is not supported. But don't cut off the people who could use that information and wouldn't be so stupid to expect vendor support for something like that. All they'd need to say is:

    ``We provide drivers for Mac and Windows users. The accompanying programmer's guide contains information that could be used to write your own driver. Please note that XYZ Corporation cannot and will not provide support for problems associated with user-written software.''

    Put it on the manual in a large typeface and in as many languages as possible. Reasonable people will heed the disclaimer. Of course, there are always unreasonable people who will call your 800 number and raise hell. Deal with them bluntly. (Not a blunt object, even though some could use it.)


  • It does not take a pollster to tell you that users of a "free as in beer" operating system are on the whole not interested in buying new hardware every few years. We may be cheap, but we have incredibly high standards as well. These don't tend to mix well.

    I use GNU/Linux because of its features, stability, speed, and, most importantly, the freedom it imparts on me to do my personal and work-related projects in the manner I choose, rather than that to which my vendor constrains me. I do not use it for price (although free as in beer is a nice frosting on the freedom-in-general cake).

    I am also not cheap when it comes to hardware (and I suspect most of us who work in IT as a living are not, just as most of us who are still in school and living on a college budget are). I have a renderfarm of two dual 733 MHz GNU/Linux boxes at home for my blender projects, along with a dual 1 GHz GNU/Linux box as my primary workstation for video capture, editing, and as a third ad-hoc node on the renderfarm when it isn't busy doing something else. All with very nice video, huge amounts of memory, obscene amounts of disk space, etc. I do recycle old equipment ... my old K6/233 machine is now my firewall (gotta love OpenBSD and GNU/Linux for that).

    I am preparing to purchase a good color printer to replace the epson which has since died and refused to respond to treatment (nozzle declogging, etc.). The printer will likely be an HP, although that is not yet certain.

    What is certain is that every piece of hardware, from the standalone Sony analog->firewire converter to the Hauppauge capture board to the nVidia video card to the Intel NetportExpress printserver absolutely must work with GNU/Linux, either via vendor support or third party, volunteer efforts. Otherwise I do not purchase the hardware, period.

    I do not own a copy of Windows (I build my own machines, thereby saving money, getting better components, and avoiding the payment of the Microsoft OEM tax), nor do I plan to ever own a copy of windows. Nor does my mother, my sister, my cousin, or any number of other people I have built and installed computers for.

    They all run GNU/Linux, and any hardware purchases they make have as a necessary and uncompromising requirement that it work with their system, and not require them to go out and buy software they neither want nor need.

    In all these cases it is usability, reliability, and freedom which resulted in the choice of software and hardware used, not price. Indeed, price was only a factor in one of the installations (which, being free, naturally contributed to reaching the same decision).

    Users aren't stupid, nor are they blind and uncomprehending of the implications of Microsoft's new licensing policies, .NET architecture, and XP product registration-key requirements once they are told about it. Nor is GNU/Linux (or *BSD if you prefer) beyond the average person's ability to grasp, if they are given time, encouragement, and friendly help along the way.

    The problem is that mainstream media hasn't made that reality abundently clear to everyone yet, so many are as yet unaware of the truly draconian conditions Microsoft is placing on the use of their software, nor are they aware of the relatively modest amount of effort required to learn how to use a new operating system.

    This is slowly changing though, despite Microsoft's best anti-Free Software FUD efforts. I know several other non-techie types who want me to install GNU/Linux for them, if ever I get the time. They have come to me ... no evangelizing required. Once again price isn't the issue -- they already own the requisite licenses. Freedom, reliability, and quality are the issue, and Free Software wins on all those counts hands-down, a few antisocial punks and Taco's rant notwithstanding.
  • Do the math. More than 50% are below average.

  • It was just when MS put out Windows and AOL came around that this new breed of computer users came about. It was then that the term "computer illiterate" was coined.

    The personal computer market is about 100x larger than it was in the 1980s. You absolutely couldn't use a computer in those days unless you were willing to invest some of your own time into the process. Unlike today, if you were "illiterate" you didn't use a computer - Simple as that.

    Put it this way: We all could still be using $5000 machines with stagnent hardware and obscure user interfaces from a tiny purchasing base, or we could open up the industry to everyone thus getting us $1000 machines that run at 1Ghz. Which would you rather have? Don't forget that lots of smart people also gained access to personal computing along with the AOLers and typical Windows droolers.
  • No it's not. but the scary part is that Linux users are generally frm the top 1/3 of the IQ pool. you'd think that something simple as a civil, quiet letter or email to the company that refuses to acknowlege Linux that you bought a competetiors product because theirs didn't work under linux. this letter if sent by only 1/5 of the people that have looked at that scanner and use linux would have gotten some serious attention at the company. (100 letters stating that will get serious attention for sure!)

    But alas, we as a group are the laziest bunch on the planet. we bitch and moan and whine.....

    Linux could do well by emulating Mac users. Fanatical devotion to the cause and happily write letters (paper letters) and emails to supprot the cause.. and they rarely bitch (well except in the case of the shoddy quality of Microsoft products.. There's a kind-of universal hatred there by all)

    Nope, what's holding linux back is it's users. Every one of you. Linux isn't mainstream? Your Fault.
    Linux isn't being adopted fast enough? YOUR FAULT!
    Linux isn't being taken seriously? IT'S YOUR FAULT!!!

    get it through your heads fellow users. I know I am in the minority by being one that writes paper letters to companies telling them that I bought X instead of theirs because it doesn't work under linux... I show them revenue lost... but they don't care because only one nut is writing them..

    I rarely point fingers that I cant point back at myself... but this is one....

    you a linux user? then it's YOUR FAULT that linux hasn't dominated the world by now. Want to change that? then start writing paper letters to companies, people in power, and friends.

    When was the last time you convinced a windows friend to use linux and made the effort to hand hold them through the first month? Ahhh, though so.

    Go ahead and mark me as troll/flamebait whatever.. but honestly look at what you have done for "the cause"... can you expend just a tiny bit more energy and do more?
  • I have to agree somewhat with the AC on this one - if users cared as little for how their cars worked as they do for computers and the Internet, no one would be able to drive anywhere (wait, I shift and then press this other lever? where's the gasoline come in?). Using powerful tools requires some understanding of underlying principles and a dedication to mastering the uses of the tool. The reason that most people are able to correctly operate cars (a fairly complicated process requiring both muscular control, reflex action, and conscious thought) is that they've been exposed to this tool their entire lives, have good reasons to learn to use it, and put in the time to learn how to drive. The average person doesn't have to rebuild their transmission (or create a Linux distribution), but they do have to know enough about the mechanics of their car to drive it safely and know when to get it serviced. Standardization has helped a lot here in the auto industry, but of course standardization in the computer industry means Windows, so that's not good :)

    I wouldn't say that the average person is "dumb", but more that the average person isn't aware of all that their computer and Internet connection can do for them because they haven't been exposed to these tools for their whole life. The next generation or so of computer users will have the experience to really make use of their tools, and if they think the benefits of Linux outweigh the time spent learning it, they'll easily make the switch.

  • RTFM is important no matter what operating system you're using, but in the case of Linux TFM, when it exists enough in one place to be called a manual at all, is often poorly written, out of date, and so on that even if you read it and understand it it doesn't help.

    I think that RTFM often really means "spend 200 hours fucking with it, you'll figure it out" or "My status is enhanced by not telling you how to do it" or "I've helped people before, but 4/5ths of the people I've helped before are just not sophisticated enough to grasp the details of actually running Linux and I'm out of patience".

    I think the latter comment about end-user sophistication is probably true. Newer distros are often simple to use on common hardware, but getting limited-support devices to work or something other than dedicated-ethernet-IP networking is *not* a trivial accomplishment for a lot of people. Most people who don't do computers/networking for a living are trying to accomplish some other goal: web browsing, online gaming, shopping, email, graphics, and all the things that these tasks accomplish. They're not looking to gain a sideline CompSci degree.

    So when someone gets slammed for not RTFM, deservedly or not, they give on Linux. Maybe they should, but its certainly not always their fault.
  • HP has gained more than one disgruntled ex-customer. I no longer recommend them with pleasure, but only when there really is no reasonable alternative. There are worse companies. HP does generally make good hardware. But I have disliked them for over two years now, and it's been getting stronger.

    Yes, the companies may decline to support us. But we should decline to support those companies, also.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • It's part of the 'going to hell in a handbasket' problem we've got going in this society.
    The people who say "you owe me" today have the same character flaw as the people who, a hundred years ago, said "the lower classes owe us". The outward forms of disrespect are the same, but has the proportion of disrespectful people changed?
  • The '60s -- the we decade.
    The '70s -- the me decade.
    The '80s -- the gimme decade.
    The '90s -- the not me decade.
    The '00s -- the screw you decade.
  • Nice one. Axioms aren't long lived if they aren't useful, insightful or both.

    "Measure twice, cut once" sure seems to fit the bill here, except in your case it's "Edit twice, send once."

    Myself, on /. I'm a preview button junkie. I hate making a stupid error obvious to the world.

  • They are under no obligation to write the drivers, especially when it's costing them money to do so.
    They might be motivated to, if it's costing them sales.

    When you buy a piece of hardware, you are paying for the hardware and the *drivers* to run it.
    With Linux, you're often at the mercy of independant developers to write these drivers, but some companies make it easier for them by following standards, releasing specs, or actually doing the development in-house.
    I don't know if it is common in the US, but here in Japan, hardware is often sold with a little Tux sticker on it to let you know that it is Linux-friendly. Companies that do this are more likely to get *my* business, since I often buy on impulse and don't check ahead of time to read a compatability list.
    I bet if you asked most scanner manufacturers about Linux, they'd say "This scanner is USB - USB doesn't work with Linux, does it?"
    I can use peripherals with Linux now that I could not have hoped to a year ago. My digital camera shows up as a mountable drive icon on my desktop now and this alone makes Linux a *lot* more viable to me.
    (/etc/fstab entry:
    /dev/sda1 /mnt/cam vfat noauto,user 0 0)

    If being able to put a "Works With Linux!" sticker on the box increases sales by 5%, companies will start doing it.

    When they do, give these manufacturers higher consideration and some feedback.

    Jim in Tokyo

    MMDC Mobile Media []
  • by ywwg ( 20925 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:41AM (#76650) Homepage
    There are two things to learn from this story:

    1) Check the availability lists before you buy, duh. When I got a scanner, I checked out the SANE page and went down the list, and cross-referenced that with what was up on ebay. I got a microtek E6 for 60$, and it can do 8.5x13 at 600 dpi with great color, and it has totally native support in the Gimp.

    Linux has great support for sound cards, video cards, that sort of thing, but the second you stray into more exotic territory (scanners, digital cameras, etc) you gotta check the pages.

    2) _Everyone_ is an asshole on forums, not just linux users. HP is not going to drop linux support because of some stupid web forum. Are windows users any more polite? What about mac users? I just think this is a non-issue. I really doubt that HP is subscribing to the linux-usb list, and if they are they aren't going to say "waahhh, they called us cockmasters... no drivers for j00!" Call them up. Have a friendly chat. You run a website that some people have heard of, this lets you do things. Bruce Perens works there? then get _him_ to talk to them! Take advantage of your connections, don't just be another email.
  • Fair enough the little kiddies are annoying and don't do us any favours, but I don't believe it's exclusively a Linux thing. Look at the hoo-haa about Windows 2000/XP drivers for things (notably HP gear) - I think these kiddies are all-pervasive in the computing world.
    Kiddies - shut up, let those of us who at least pretend to be mature sort these things out ;)
  • by Rinikusu ( 28164 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:53AM (#76667)
    Jesus, if I saw you on the street and you gave me an answer like that, I'd punch your lights out.

    "Excuse me, sir, where is Third and Hawkins?"

    "Well, it's documented on every map of the city that there is. Maybe you should have done the research before you came around here, bothering me and asking me for my help. Why don't you go buy a fucking map?"


  • by EnderWiggnz ( 39214 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:36AM (#76698)
    time to grow up kids.

    we've all been guilty of it, and its time for the insane zealotry to go.

    yes, MS is the evil empire. Yes, Linux is the "better" OS.

    but nobody wants to use something where they are made to feel stupid when they first sit down and use it.

    Help and nurture newbies... Not laugh and ridicule. Leave that up to Mr. deRaadt... he's got enough venom for it.

    I'd like to see this linux thing take of to the next level. We need to give the newbies and the less-computer "literate" a better hand, instead of the middle finger.

  • by rjh ( 40933 ) <> on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @09:49AM (#76701)
    Unfortunately, most feedback mechanisms employed by Fortune 500 companies don't have such mechanisms.

    The Net, speaking generally, has no feedback mechanism. It has a really effective blowback mechanism, but that's it.

    Feedback is when information--not data--is fed back into the system. If I'm learning how to SCUBA dive, I'll have a dive instructor watch me, critique my technique, and tell me what needs to change. That's feedback. He sees what I'm doing, separates the important from the unimportant, and gives me information back. This changes the behavior of the system for the better, and I become a competent SCUBA diver.

    Blowback is when data--not information--is fed back into the system. Data, devoid of meaning. Noise, not signal. If I learn to SCUBA dive by listening to Stevie Ray Vaughn albums, well, I'm going to have a very short dive career.

    The Net is a great source of data, but it's a mediocre source of information. Many sites are filled, not with people who want to carefully critique and correct each other's posts to separate out gold from dross, but a bunch of people who want to scream ``Me, Too!'' and get on Ye Olde Bandwagon... whatever the bandwagon is.

    There's an old joke about two paranoids walking down the street. One of them stops and points at an innocent, innocuous shrub. "Who's in that shrub?" the first paranoid asks. The second paranoid answers, "I dunno, but I think I know the guy in there with him!"

    ... Blowback, not feedback.

    Substitute "two loser Linux guys" for paranoids, and "Microsoft" for the shrubbery, and you've got a pretty good description of the behavior we've all seen and condemned.

    A few sites--not many, but some, Slashdot among them--have tried to implement feedback mechanisms in an attempt to limit the damage blowback can cause. Moderation and meta-moderation are SLashdot's feedback mechanism.

    It's a pretty badly broken mechanism, of course, but it's a helluvalot better than nothing.
  • by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:38AM (#76704) Journal
    I cruise slashdot at +2 and sort for highest ratings first (unless I'm moderating, sometimes a real gem is at -1). Ditto at k5 []. I only post to, and read, moderated sites. When I write an e-mail I save it, wait 10 minutes, re-read it, edit it, then send it. If I'm writing to (for example) Adobe, because I'm pissed at something they did , I wait an hour before I re-read it.
  • by cyberdonny ( 46462 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @10:33AM (#76711)
    > bitch at the girl running the register because they were charged tax and they don't think they should be) is that, by nature, they're assholes,

    Or maybe it's because they're foreigners. Indeed, everywhere else in the world, except the US and maybe Canada, sales tax is already included in the displayed sales price...

  • by camusflage ( 65105 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:35AM (#76729)
    Just to preface: I primarily use that "other" OS. Don't worry. It's not just linux they don't like. I made the mistake of picking up an HP system to play with at home. Three months after Win2k was released, they finally came out with modem and sound card drivers, but stated emphatically, including an interstitial message in the download process, that this is unsupported, if it doesn't work, tough, if it causes your marriage to break up, tough. Personally, given the support they have, I never plan on buying an HP product again.

    Of course, YMMV. Me, I had a bad experience at a burger king in college. I haven't set foot in a burger king in eight years now.

  • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:03AM (#76736)
    Perhaps willfully ignorant would be a better term, they don't know and they don't want to know, they just want their computer to work.

    The way to get past that is education. Make it a point to teach people how this stuff works (even for windows). Then you can explain to them the difference between windows and linux.

    I had a discussion with one of the users I support yesterday about why IT people limit the information they give the users. It's true, even when we try to give the users enough information, we sometimes don't do an adaquate job of it. But you just have to keep trying.
  • by DebtAngel ( 83256 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:15AM (#76746) Homepage
    Which situation is less likely to piss me, the newbie, off?

    Me: [Insert question here]
    l33t: RTFM
    Me: What manuals? I'm not sure where to start. Point me to some decent manuals and I'll read them.
    l33t: *massive arrogant l33t silence*


    Me: [Insert question here]
    l33t: I think there's a document for that on HOWTO for that on good book for that by O'Reilly that explains how to do that way better than I ever could. Have you read anything like that yet?
    Me: No. Didn't know any of them existed. Thanks. *reads*

    Telling people to RTFM is no good unless you actually hand them TFM first. How that little fact managed to escape the elitist bastards that run "help" channels (all of them are equally bad) is beyond me.
  • by DebtAngel ( 83256 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @10:42AM (#76747) Homepage
    Funny, if I go to #LinuxHelp (or #WindowsHelp, or #MacHelp, or #Commodore64Help, or whatever), I damn well expect to get some help. I expect that to be a place where I can ask some questions, and get some intelligible answers. Otherwise the channel wouldn't be masquerading as a fucking Help channel, would it? I never expected help from #Linux, but #LinuxHelp is another thing altogether.

    Which is why it always boggled my mind that the #[OS]Help channels were the worst place to get help on the face of the 'net. If you want to mock newbies, go to #MockTheN00bs already. I mean, come on, how fucking hard is it to type "go to and read the HOW-TO"? Really.

    I hang out on the ArsTechnica forums a lot, and I do see the same questions bandied about a lot, but at least people there are willing to give you links to threads that already deal with the subject (which is good, because there are times when you just can't find what you're looking for in a search).

    I'll say it again - you can't say "RTFM" until you give somebody TFM. If you do, you look like a jackass and a hypocrite. And if you're a jackass and a hypocrite, quite frankly, you are in no position to pretend to be helping people.
  • One of the interesting things about the Open Source movement and the Slashdot community is that they are so virtual. Not only do we *use* the Internet as a means of communicating and "spreading the gospel" but we are wholly dependent on it.

    The good thing about being an almost completely virtual community is that news and information can spread like wildfire. For example, watch what happens when a new Linux kernel is released. For the next few days, the volume of helpful and insightful traffic on Linux boards is phenomenal. People help each other and provide all kinds of evaluations of their experiences with the new kernel. It's times like that when I start to think that Katz is on-target with all of his hot air about virtual communities changing the world.

    But the flip side of this virtual community is cases just like the unfortunate H-P discussion board. Here on Slashdot, we have ways of dodging the trolls. Because of the volume of comments on this site, and the number of registered users, the Slashdot system is able to filter out the trolls and their worthless comments.

    Unfortunately, most feedback mechanisms employed by Fortune 500 companies don't have such mechanisms. in fact, they would be accused of filtering out negative feedback if they attempted to use a Slashdot-style moderation system.

    The painful truth is that Linux consumers aren't your average consumer. They know more about how their computers work. They expect more. They're not taken in by the p.r. and the marketing as much as your average computer user.

    Why is this painful? Because we often think we know it all, and we're idealists. We know how the world of computing *should* be, and we're impatient with companies or people who get in the way of that ideal.

    How we as Open Source advocates deal with that frustration begs the question: are we capable of dealing with the "unenlightened" in a mature manner, or are we the spoiled hackers many people think we are?

  • by rob_from_ca ( 118788 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:36AM (#76794) Homepage
    I too weap for our future as I read public message boards, especially ones that supply anonymity (ahem...Sl*shd*t at -1), but the same holds true for just about every internet message boards. If one was to examine the Windows tech support forums, I bet someone would be mad (and equally childish) over not support NT 4.0. Or not supporting some wacky video card API. Or someone who just plain couldn't make the thing work. The "idiots on messageboard" problem is much larger than just the Linux world, and for a company to not support something just because of a childish, vocal minority is more than a little shortsighted.
  • by skew ( 123682 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @10:38AM (#76800) Homepage

    No, I'm afraid you've got it backwards. You see, to these "jerks", you're just another "jerk". The solution isn't knocking everyone in line. The solution is for people to learn to respect each other from where they're coming from.

    Changing folks' attitudes are the solution. Your message makes it seem you want to go bust heads (though I grant messages can be interpreted quite differently than intended). Why? Because you're upset that others aren't appreciating you. At the root, this is the same attitude problem that the others have. You just behave differently and have developed a martyr complex as a result.

    Please don't take this as a personal attack. It's just that I used to get just as worked up and have since learned that confronting folks doesn't solve anything. The solution is to change your own attitude, and ironically, by so doing you can change others.

    This story really brought it home to me: []

  • by SuiteSisterMary ( 123932 ) <> on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:01AM (#76801) Journal
    The original point of these transliterations was to avoid text-search engines from finding keywords; a scanner might be looking for "porn" but wouldn't care about 'p0rn', which a human could probably figure out. When it was reprogrammed to find 'p0rn' they changed it to 'pr0n.' And so on. Like so many things, it was then siezed upon by the masses, and used to mock them by the Intelligentsia. Now, of course, that mocking use is siezed upon by the masses, and the Intelligentsia need to find something else to use.
  • by stilwebm ( 129567 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:14AM (#76809)

    I've seen this kind of flame-fest ever since I started using the internet. Take usenet as an example. Outside of pr0n, I'd say more than half the posts in many unmoderated technical newsgroups are childish chatter. People call each other nasty stuff and say stupid things all the time. I think it's probably the whole anonymity of the experience. I'm certain that most of those people wouldn't use language like that to someone's face.

    You're exactly right. This stuff even predates the widespread use of the internet, but as the access becomes easier, cheaper, and more wide-spread, it becomes more of a problem.

    They are referred to as lots of words that I would happily use in friendly conversation with a friend, but never post in a public forum read by strangers.

    Taco's point tells us a little bit about why: Many of these people don't have friendly conversations with a friend, at least not face-to-face friends. They have been socialized (or desocialiazed) by the Internet and their computer. They don't understand what tacht is, and they see others using this behavior and accept it as OK. The sad thing is that this type of behavior will eventually decrease the signal to noise ratio to the point that there will be so little useful information on some of these sites that people will stop using them.

  • by Wraithlyn ( 133796 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @12:56PM (#76815)
    "well... use windows. it won't kill you"
    Tell that to the poor sap whose life support equipment manufacturer only wrote a Windows driver. ;)

    "Huh? Blue Screen of wha-"

  • by big.ears ( 136789 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:08AM (#76819) Homepage
    I don't know about your claim about free beer. I'll bet your average Linux users spends considerably more on hardware annually than your average windows user. A lot of them fall into the "early adopters" category, and have disposable income to buy toys with. The funny thing is that with the current size of the linux market, a hardware company can probably only get ROI for writing a driver if they are one of the only companies that support linux in their class of products (capturing a large chunk of a small market--this is what Apple has done well for 15 years.) If there is already a ton of supported devices, it may not pay to support linux. So, we get what we have--spotty support. There are a few webcams, a few scanners, a few 3D video cards(ok, I'm just bitter because I haven't been able to get my Voodoo3 to play Tuxracer), and a few laptops that linux can use. Because there are already a few alternatives in each of these markets, their is less of an incentive for new entrants to support linux.
  • by The Pim ( 140414 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:05AM (#76825)
    When I write an e-mail I save it, wait 10 minutes, re-read it, edit it, then send it.

    If only everyone did...

    A similar check: imagine you've sent your mail, and receive a personal, conciliatory reply that apologizes for whatever gripe you had and explains what's being done to prevent it in the future. Throw in a word of thanks for alerting them to the issue. Now ask yourself if you'll feel like an ass if you get that reply. If you can't definitively say "no", keep editing.

  • by connorbd ( 151811 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:21AM (#76844) Homepage
    True. The juicy bits are inside the system anyway. I heard a quote once about technology theft from a Russian intelligence agent to the effect that during the Cold War the Russians were always a couple of years behind the US with a lot of technologies because so much of their effort went into reverse-engineering instead of innovation...

    Oy, did I ever say a mouthful. But that's a conversation for a different day.

    I don't agree that the IP "isn't worth much", but it really is irrelevant in the driver world. I think what's going on is that these peripheral vendors, for whatever reason, are trying to play the same lockin games that people like Microsoft and Apple play, probably trying to milk the developers for license fees. They're missing the point, though -- fact is, it's not too likely that NVidia is loss-leadering every GeForce 3 chip that goes out the door, and HP's scanners have no place in the developer-licensing equation at all.

    Fact is, HP has gained a disgruntled customer. This is not a good thing, and it's time companies like this realized that they are in fact screwing people over.

  • What? No Burger King in 8 years???

    HP, in its' current form, seems to be quite happily making products for consumers, and making the drivers necessary to reach the largest single market: Win9x users. If more people used Linux, they would be forced to make drivers. However, since their goal is to make money (and what corporation doesn't want to do that), they are going to save some money and time and effort by doing what they have to to get themselves some money.

    Tell me what makes you so afraid
    Of all those people you say you hate

  • by vsync64 ( 155958 ) <> on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @11:09AM (#76852) Homepage
    There is no Constitutional "separation of Church and State". This term is taken from a letter Jefferson wrote to a Pastor in Connecticut assuring him that the State would not interfere with nor attempt to control the expression of religion. Exactly the opposite of how it's taken today.

    The same Jefferson who wrote this? "The Christian god can easily be pictured as virtually the same god as the many ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites."

    The founding fathers were deeply religious, and intended this as a Christian nation. Certainly they never intended this to be an atheistic or nontheistic nation.

    "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors." [Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823]


  • by DragonMagic ( 170846 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:15AM (#76857) Homepage
    That attitude is everywhere with some elitists. People who can rebuild a car from spare parts without needing to look at a book feel everyone should be able to take their own car into his garage and be able to fix it in less than five minutes. Anyone who can't is just dumb.

    You get it with nearly anything. People who are fully knowledged in something, and have a chip on their shoulder, feel everyone should know something about it. So when you get what Taco described, people demanding support for Linux even though Linux still isn't a profitable operating system for many of the peripheral manufacturers. Since they know Linux well, everyone should, and therefore, there should be as much support for it as with Windows.

    It's too bad, too, because without all this elitism people show on forums, and with more support and assistance with a smile, more people may migrate over, even to test it out. Systems are cheap, many have more than one computer in their houses, why not? But the demanding that there be support or you'll call the company names you used in seventh grade will just cause more harm to your operating system's PR, not only to the company, but to those who visit the forums for their new OS.

    Who wants to keep Linux loaded when they see that people threaten companies because they won't support that OS? Watch how many get scared that this may happen to everything and get Windows back on the system. Double edged sword in more ways than one.

    Dragon Magic []
  • by garett_spencley ( 193892 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @09:12AM (#76876) Journal
    But for people who don't know the difference between an OS and a windowing system, who don't want to learn how to configure a system but rather want to use it right out of the box, who got a computer so they could send e-mail and look at web pages and type business letters and scan pictures of the kids, maybe handle finances, all with as little overhead (of time and brain power) as possible -- these are the bulk of computer users.

    It's very unfortunate IMO that this is the case. The way I see it is if you don't know how to use the tool, either learn how or don't use it.

    I keep remembering the days back in the 80's when people had comodore 64s and 386s running DOS. No one ever complained about having to type all the commands and edit .bat files etc (except MAC users :O). It was just when MS put out Windows and AOL came around that this new breed of computer users came about. It was then that the term "computer illiterate" was coined.

    I'm sorry but the only reason people don't want to take the time to learn how to actually use a computer is because the companies that marketed the computer that their using told them that they're stupid and that the computer that they bought is "So easy that even some old lady on tv can use it!". It doesn't have to be this way.

    User-friendliness, computer literacy, ease-of-use etc. are all just in your heads. They are marketing tacticts used by companies to sell computers. If Suzan Smith wanted to send e-mail and surf the net and all that was available to her was UNIX she would still buy that computer and she wouldn't complain about it being too hard to use because it realy isn't too hard.

    The more "easy" you make computers to the more ignorant the users will be and the more "harder" using a computer will seem. Because the more about a computer you hide the more complex a computer seems to it's user.

    Can anyone bring me one such person who likes Linux?

    I can give you two. My two younger cousins only use their computer for sending e-mail, surfing the web etc. They both run Linux. They don't know all the shell commands, or how to program in PERL. They just know how to use WindowMaker to start up xmms, Galeon, Nautilus etc. They asked me to install Linux for them after Windows became unusable and we had to do a re-install for the X time that month.


  • by sv0f ( 197289 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @11:03AM (#76882)
    Me, I had a bad experience at a burger king in college. I haven't set foot in a burger king in eight years now.

    And I thought I was the only one. My last year in college, I ordered a chicken sandwich. I bit into it and noticed a problem -- it was too crispy and light. Pulled it apart and discovered the oddest thing. The breading for the chicken was there, but inside there was no chicken!. They replaced it with a normal one but no explanation was offered for how a breading 'sleeve' could wind up on my sandwich wrapping nothing.

    I haven't eaten a chicken sandwich since then -- about ten years ago.

    The thing that gets me is this: I always assumed that breaded patties were made the old fashioned way -- someone grabbing a piece of meat, dragging it through some breadcrumbs, and tossing it in fryer. But such a process cannot break down in a way that yields an empty sleeve of breading. My nightmares consisted, for a while, of a factory with a Y-shaped assembly line. Down one line came soap-bar-shaped slabs of processed meat, down the other empty sleeves of breading. At the intersection was a fat sweating man. His job was to mate meat with breading, stuffing the former into the latter and sealing the result somehow. He must miss now and then...
  • by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:40AM (#76900)
    I have friends who were turned off to Linux for the reason. I really mean that.

    For example, back a few years ago, a friend tried to install linux, and got stuck configuring X-windows and his mouse. He went on IRC to ask for help, and got about 15 people saying "RTFM!!!!" and telling him to go back to windows if he couldn't figure out how to set up X.

    So he asked where to find the manual, since he had just downloaded slackware and didn't know where anything was, and nobody replied. He gave up.

    I'm trying to get him to try Debian now, but i'm sure things like this have turned off many potential Linux users.

  • by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:50AM (#76905)
    If anyone is going to advocate Linux I seriously recommend reading the Linux advocacy how-to []. It has some very important points.

    My biggest personal gripe is how people spell Microsoft. Its M-i-c-r-o-s-o-f-t, not Micro$oft, MicroShaft, Micro~1 and the one-hundred and one other variations.

    You wouldn't like it if people started calling Linux, GPOO/Linsux. It looks childish, immature, stupid and above all it drops your own personal credibility and the credibility of what you're trying to advocate below the ground.

    Just don't do it.


  • by ageitgey ( 216346 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:50AM (#76910) Homepage
    I go to a college where a large number of students use linux. It's just as common to see linux on someone's laptop as the "other" OS. But even here, there is a "holier than thou" attitude about linux in general. The people who use it (myself included) tend to think they are somehow better because of it. When people ask simple questions because everything in linux is new to them, the common reply is "RTFM!" or "go learn it yourself!". This attitude even extends to certain professors (who are probably reading this :) that would rather force you to buy a book than just tell you to do "ls -la" instead of "ls".

    While I think that's fine if you are taking a class as a CS Major, the average user just can't put up with that crap. Their lives don't revolve around this stuff like ours do. The user ends up resentful because you made them feel stupid for asking. Why not try to help out your fellow users instead of shunning them just because they are lost? You aren't a BETTER PERSON because you installed your OS off of a debian CD than a windows CD. You are a BETTER PERSON because you took the time to help out someone.

    I'm trying to put this whole philosophy into action. That's why I've set up the site in my sig. I don't want users to have to search for hours to find a program that gets the job done or find the command listed in some obscure man page. Most of the documentation avaliable for linux is useless to them because they don't understand the terminology involved. It's like telling someone to read a technical journal when what they want is the Popular Science version, because they aren't a professional like you and I.

  • by imadork ( 226897 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:48AM (#76917) Homepage
    As long as there have been computers, there has been platform envy. Some people always feel the need to let you know why their platform is superior and why yours is inferior. I've used many platforms over the years, but prefer the Macintosh and Linux, for different reasons. I learned early on that each platform has its advantages, and that advocating one platform for everybody above all else is a pointless exercise.

    However, quite a few people don't get it. Either they're too young to know anything else, or too immature to take a large view of things. These people are always the loudest, so it is assumed that they make up the bulk of that platform's user base, even if they don't.

    This is a problem that has existed on every platform. (How many MAc zealots do you know?) However, it is even more of a problem for Linux because of the nature of Linux Development. Since Linux development depends (for the most part) on open code written by volunteers, the community is much more dependant on the good graces of software and hardware vendors to support Linux.

    Mac developers only have to deal with Apple on a regular basis. (Of course, they may not be the most mature people either..). But Linux developers have to deal with the entire community, and the morons shout loudest. Many companies may decide that it's not worth listening to all the morons to find the one or two people who are really interested in working with them. Others may decide (as many people have done with the Mac) that since you can only hear the morons, the entire user base must (by default) be morons.

    So I guess that this is a problem that won't go away, because it happens on every platform. But the open nature of the Linux community makes it much more visible. Let's hope that in the future, a rising Linux user base leads companies to want to ignore the morons, or at least just mod them down....

  • by hillct ( 230132 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:22AM (#76921) Homepage Journal
    True. It isn't new, but it has to be said now and again to remind people of just how arogant and tactless technical people can be (myself included). I tend to agree with Rob though, Most of the people who do the heavy work in Linux are good folks with good intentions and good manners.
    Its an attitude that many people have: The "You Owe Me" attitude. Certainly I'm not exempt from this attitude. If I pay for a device, dammit I want specs.
    Rob's comment is accurate, but I find it's more often the non-developer type users of Linux who are the offenders in this area. I have on occasion railed against Microsoft and Hardware Manufacturers for causing carious system inconveniences I've encountered, but I can't in good concience, get so worked up as to scream at support reps for not providing specs, bacause in all honesty, I'm not prepared to sit down and write the nessecery driver, even if I do get the specs. I'm a reasonably sharp guy. I code the things I need to code, but I have never written a device driver and probably wouldn't have time to get up to speed anyway.

    As the popularity of Linux increases, a continually larger portion of the user base will be even less and less technical. It is these users who will be frustrated with lack of hardware support and other such issues, and will not be in a position to do much about it except vent at support reps. As Rob says, this is the drag on adoption by vendors. It isn't the developers who have made great contributions to Linux, that are the offenders here. It's those who lack either the motivation, or slikk to contribute to the development who see postings like 'Linux Driver Unavailable' and have no other recourse but to object loudly and sometimes offensively, that are at fault here.

    It really is a catch-22. As the non-technical userbase of linux grows, the incidents of this sort of thing will become more frequent, and as these incidents become fore frequent, the hardware manufacturers will look at their cost benefit analysys and not bother withlinux, in turn reducing the speed of Linux adoption. At some point, however there will be an equilibrium reached, where the speed with which the userbase is growing, will become constant, and eventually the userbase will be of sufficient size to warrant development of Linux drivers for hardware, by vendors of that hardware. Infortunately, the progress to that end might be slowed to a snails pace by the type of behavior that Rob mentions. I disagree, however, that Linux will Never become mainstream. It's progress to that end will simply become extremely slow perhaps to the point where it's influence will become insignificant. I certainly hope this prediciton doesn't come to pass though...


  • by cicadia ( 231571 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:58AM (#76925)

    I think what's going on is that these peripheral vendors, for whatever reason, are trying to play the same lockin games that people like Microsoft and Apple play, probably trying to milk the developers for license fees.

    That's an old game for peripheral manufacturers, and one that doesn't work so well any more. The video card people, the sound card people, the printer people, the scanner people -- they've all played that game in the past. Those were the bad-old-days, though, when every program came with a half dozen driver disks just to support your printer or sound card.

    Since then, we've evolved into a standards-based commodity market for peripherals. (And I hate to say it, but MS kicked off this whole trend with Windows 3.1.) Basically every peripheral out there must conform to (more-or-less) open standards, such as TWAIN, DirectX, or the Win32 printing API. And it's considered the responsibility of the manufacturer to supply drivers which provide that conformance.

    There are essentially no developers for the HP scanner outside of Hewlett-Packard itself. Similarly, there are practically no developers for the latest SB Live sound card outside of Creative, and with the exception of some game companies out there, there is nobody developing a thing for your latest 3D video card.

    The developers working for the manufacturer have to write the driver software, so that all of the other developers in the world can work with their hardware without paying any license fees.

    The reason these companies won't give you the specs for their hardware isn't that they're worried you'll actually write an application which uses it -- it's that their corporate culture, with 40+ years in the hardware vending business, tells them "don't give out the specs, it makes it easier for our competitors to duplicate it, or even extend it".

    I agree with you, BTW, that this IP really isn't worth as much as they think it is. They would have a happier, and more loyal customer base if they were to give out the specs, so that we know we can always write our own drivers, even 20 years from now. They are screwing us over, by locking us in to their drivers, which they have no obligation to support on past, future, or alternate operating systems.

  • by Tangfan ( 254054 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:28PM (#76948) Homepage
    Well, I hate taking quotes directly from your post, FFFish, because it will then seem like I am dissecting your opinions and individually shredding them. That is not my intent, and I can only hope you understand that, as I am going to cite from you, simply because it will make more sense to the readers.

    It's part of the 'going to hell in a handbasket' problem we've got going in this society.
    Sort of. You see, that 'phenomenon' does not exist, or at least not as far as I can tell. I would be very interested if you can show one way society is 'going to hell.' And Taco's does not count, as I shall show later. You see, for whatever reason, we illogical humans think that today is worse than yesterday. "Oh the times, oh the morals" as Cicero said. You see, they ain't. There was teenage pregnancy in the 50's, 60's, 70's, and etc, just as today. There were divorces, JUST as common as today, stretching into the very, very distant past. People stole, murdered, and were rude and hateful to one another for as long as humanity has been around. Allright, fine for me to say this, show me proof, since I am the one postulating. Very well, my proof is This Book [] by one Richard Shenkman. Read it, it's enlightening.

    The root cause seems to boil down to one thing: a lot of people these days are out for #1, and don't give a fuck for the consequences that affect others.
    Hello ladies and gentlemen, welcome to life. All life, human or otherwise, is governed by the rules of evolution (except in certain states, see your local laws for details). In evolution, we have this thing called survival of the fittest. Therefore, if you are not fit, you don't survive. How are you fit? By looking out for yourself first, and everyone else last. And I mean everyone else. Now we humans like to think we're above that sort of thing, but it's awfully damn hard to just drop a few couple billion (OK, I exaggerate) years of evolution. That means that although we are social animals, and work in groups, we still look after ourselves first and everything else last.

    ...the assholes with their 110dB subwoofer ripping through residential neighbourhoods at 2AM.
    Yes, they are annoying, aren't they? Well, don't worry, at least there're people to get under his skin, too, just like he gets under ours.

    Perhaps it's because they're so powerless in every other aspect of their lives. Between their boss and the government, they can't fart without permission. So they take out their frustrations by pissing off everyone else. Maybe that's it.
    If you're powerless, it's because you let yourself be. Every day your life is filled with decisions, and you will make those decisions, even if your choice is to not choose, you are still choosing. If you don't like your life, start making different choices. The government makes a convenient scapegoat, and we all need one of those, don't we (see point two)? But scapegoating solves nothing, and that is something which I hope should be self-evident.

    Bottom line, at any rate, is that it's time for the nice guys to put their foot down and demand better from others. Don't like the behaviour you see? Don't be a milquetoast -- stand up and demand better!
  • to the 50 or so people that have explained what "31337 h4x0r" means....

    That message is encoded using "h 4 x 0 r - 5 p 3 4 |<" technology, which is a trademark (tm) of RSA Labs, Inc. Decoding the message is a violation of the DMCA and you will be prosecuted accordingly. Explaining the encoding scheme is another crime in and of itself, and charges will be filed regarding that act as well.

    Incedentally, this message is encoded in ROT-26 and any attempt to decrypt it will also be investigated.

  • by cavemanf16 ( 303184 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @09:34AM (#76984) Homepage Journal
    Well, I was born and raised on Microsoft OS's. First it was DOS and BASIC programming, then I moved to Win3.1, Win95, and now Win98. (I've used NT and 2k before, but don't have them at home). However, I will not be purchasing any new computer containing WinXP. Why? Too constricting. Everything I read is that XP will be basically 'dumbed-down' or restricted to the user because it's easier for MS to make a profit off of, easier to protect from software piracy, etc. Look, if MS doesn't think I'm a responsible individual and will use their products responsibly, then I don't want to give them my business.

    So I've begun using Linux Mandrake at home. Is it the best at any one thing? Probably not. Does it do lots of things pretty well. Yes. Is it hard to learn? Yes, I think so. I don't want to have to switch, because Linux is a niche market. But I also don't want to be treated like a moron by the 'other' company selling the most popular OS right now, so see ya later MS! Maybe if they can win back my support by once again showing me some respect, as well as respect for everyone out there, then maybe I'll switch back. But going forward, I'll take difficult over disrespected.

    P.S. Disrespect for what your users want will make a big difference in the end. Smith & Wesson paid attention to what some politicians and special interests groups wanted, gun locks on all new guns, but their actual customers didn't want such a thing. Guess which gun manufacturer is having the worst time selling their products now, despite their long-standing reputation for quality products for the 'masses'...

  • by Win-Developer ( 316016 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:47AM (#76994)
    The painful truth is that Linux consumers aren't your average consumer. They know more about how their computers work. They expect more. They're not taken in by the p.r. and the marketing as much as your average computer user.

    You sir have just summed up the headline to the article in 4 sentences. Please explain to me how you intend on making the 99.9% of "average consumers" know more about their computers.

    Face it, people *don't* want to know more about their computers! It's a box that does it's thing, like a TV or Microwave. People don't care how stuff gets to the screen they just want it there.

    Your average consumer doesn't want to be running .conf files buried in the /usr/bin directory, they don't want to have to mount drives, they want plug-and-play in some form or another. Linux doesn't have anything resembling plug-and-play.
  • by Aerog ( 324274 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:40AM (#77006) Homepage
    I have to agree wholeheartedly. It's the idiots that give the scene a bad name (and by scene, I primarily mean linux but that can be pretty much anything). These are the people that demand massive tax cuts for no reason or who still think you can revive Aeris (random FF7 reference) in the Japanese version. Whatever you do there are people who feel that they need to "vent" in a much less civil manner than our good author.

    Gotta love democracy. Everyone gets a say, even those who by all logical argument shouldn't.
  • by Uttles ( 324447 ) <> on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:35AM (#77010) Homepage Journal
    I think if people would just ask in a civil way for the opportunity to write a linux driver then HP would comply, because they don't want to lose customers, just like anybody else out there. Also did you try to use the configuration of an earlier version of the scanner? I know with printers that sometimes works... PS - What does that code mean in: "I'm talking about the 31337 h4x0r kids with the bad attitude"... I've seen it on this site before but I'm confused as to what it is, is it ROT-13 or something?
  • by dhamsaic ( 410174 ) on Thursday July 19, 2001 @11:28AM (#77014)
    Hey, buddy, it wasn't so loud. I wasn't clear in this - allow me to explain.

    Sitting at 2-lane red light in DC. We're in the right lane. I'm in passenger side and Brian is driving. Geo Metro. White. Listening to "Fuck Tha Police" with the window half down. They pulled up on our left. Their window was partially open as well. The music was not loud. It wasn't quiet, either. But Brian and I could hear each other talking.

    cranked so loud that it can be heard in the next county -- Yes. I'm sure many persons in Fairfax, Montgomery and Prince George's counties were enjoying our music that night. Sure am glad we got those 160,000 watt 74,000 dB amps and speakers installed.

    They were probably trying to teach you some manners. -- Yes, you're right. They probably go around showing off their "piece" to all sorts of rude folks, hoping to instill in their minds some manners. How silly of me for overlooking such a blatant attempt, on their part, to make the world a better place. Don't I feel silly.

    Your one of the *causes* of the "fuck you" society we're living in, buddy. -- We all are. You're no better, with your assuming nature and condescending attitude.

    Oh, and it's You're, not Your. Just trying to help. Though maybe it would be more effective if I pulled a gun on you? After all, that's such a wonderful teaching instrument when it comes to educating persons on the finer and more proper ways of life, like manners and spelling.

  • by dhamsaic ( 410174 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @09:34AM (#77015)
    The problem with the "geek" community basically boils down to psychology - inferiority complexes. And they need to feel superior in one way or another (god I'm going to get marked as a troll for this). I'm a geek. I'm an operating systems enthusiast. I use Linux almost exclusively (although I just bought a new iBook that runs MacOS X). And I like to share my knowledge, because I share your point - the more you can teach, the better. There's a saying - "He who dies with the most toys wins." This seems to be the mentality of the "geek" crowd - "I know more, so I am superior." What none of them realize is that, in the end, it doesn't matter what you know - it matters what you give the world. "He who dies with the most toys... still dies." And only the memory lives on. The world isn't bettered by people that keep their knowledge to themselves (*cough*microsoft*cough*) - it's bettered by people who give it away (Linus, etc). This is their hypocrisy.

    Anyway... you can find the help if you need it. I've been using Linux since 1996, and if help is hard to find now, it was harder to find then. I recommend reading books, although I could never get into it myself. No book will ever tell you to "RTFM" - you're already doing that.

    To you and the AC that replied - if you need to be pointed in the right direction, or have a question that you'd like answered, I'm open to email. - remove the leg. (protection against spam bots).

  • by dhamsaic ( 410174 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @10:00AM (#77016)
    I think driving is the worst. A guy died near where I live the other day because some guy, pissed at the first, cut him off and then slammed on his brakes. The first guy swerved to avoid him, got hit, flipped and crushed. The asshole drove off. I'm sure doesn't care that someone died.

    I always hold the door, although it doesn't irritate me when people don't. It's not considerate, but it's not *rude* either. It just is.

    The problem, though, with confronting people when they do something asshole-ish (like cut you off, or take 30 items through the 10 item checkout, or sit there and bitch at the girl running the register because they were charged tax and they don't think they should be) is that, by nature, they're assholes, and you can't predict what they're going to do.

    True story: A friend of mine and I were sitting at a red light in DC when a car full of gangstas pulled up beside us. We happened to be listening to NWA's "Fuck Tha Police". For some reason, these gangstas were offended that two white boys were listening to rap, and one of them pulled a gun and held it up to the window. I ducked down, not wanting to die that night. Luckily, Brian, for some reason not sensing the fact that these weren't people he shouldn't be fucking with, opened the glove box and pulled out an ice scraper and held it up to the window. The gangstas starting laughing (thank god) and drove off (running the red light, of course). Another example of how our society is going to hell in a handbasket.

  • by GreyPoopon ( 411036 ) < minus herbivore> on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:48AM (#77024)
    Darn, you beat me to it. But I'd like to add to your comments.

    I've seen this kind of flame-fest ever since I started using the internet. Take usenet as an example. Outside of pr0n, I'd say more than half the posts in many unmoderated technical newsgroups are childish chatter. People call each other nasty stuff and say stupid things all the time. I think it's probably the whole anonymity of the experience. I'm certain that most of those people wouldn't use language like that to someone's face.

    However, I don't think this is what stands in the way of more companies accepting and adopting Linux. One must hope that 1) people are less nasty in direct communications with companies like HP, and 2) that if employees are reading such mindless chatter, they realize that this is typical of the internet and not reflective of only Linux users. Instead, I think what prevents some companies from fully embracing Linux is customer base. If my company makes a computer product, and only 1% of all interested users say they would like to use my product with Linux, why should I bother to support it? Because Windows is already firmly entrenched, you must first win the hearts of the consumers before you can sway companies.


  • by Tye_Informer ( 412478 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:18AM (#77028)
    Several distributions have done what you are calling "dumb down" of the OS. That is, they made the install in such a way that even my wife thinks it's pretty cool. ie SUSE, the SUSE install is all graphical, the LILO boot screen has the cool penguin. I bought her the penguin for Christmas without any explanation, so she is so impressed that it is on the boot screen now! For my machine I did not have to go into any config files to get a completely working system. (I had checked to make sure all my HW was compatible for this very purpose) This point did far more to convince my wife that Linux is more than some text based game I play with for hours then anything I have ever said.

    Is the SUSE version of Linux "dumbed down"? I looked very hard at the Kernel source and it appears to still be just as "smarted up" as ever. Am I missing something? I went into the text configuration files and they all appear to still be just as "smart" as ever. When I put on the scroll mouse I was still able to go into the text config file and enable it with KDE.

    Here is a distribution that was dumbed down pretty successfully, but I (a somewhat expert user, ran a text only system for 8 years) was still able to get into the "smart" text config files and do what I want. From what I understand, this is the case with all the "dumb" distributions. Give me root access and a terminal and I can be just as "smart" with any distribution.
  • by jonathanjo ( 415010 ) <jono@f[ ]org ['sf.' in gap]> on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:35AM (#77031) Homepage
    yes, MS is the evil empire. Yes, Linux is the "better" OS.

    but nobody wants to use something where they are made to feel stupid when they first sit down and use it.

    M$=EE: Agreed.

    Linux="Better": But is it really? Is it better for everyone, or just geeks?

    It seems established as the OS of choice for those with the knowhow to handle a CLI and to configure a system to their liking. That's present company.

    But for people who don't know the difference between an OS and a windowing system, who don't want to learn how to configure a system but rather want to use it right out of the box, who got a computer so they could send e-mail and look at web pages and type business letters and scan pictures of the kids, maybe handle finances, all with as little overhead (of time and brain power) as possible -- these are the bulk of computer users. Can anyone bring me one such person who likes Linux?

    I'm a drooling Mac user myself, so I really don't know what I'm talking about. That's why I'm asking and not telling. But this is not a trivial issue -- if you make a technology that is theoretically "superior" from a technical standpoint but don't provide an easy way for people to use it, the job ain't done yet. And Mr. Wigginz is right on -- no one likes being made to feel stupid.

    (Congratulations, you've just bought the best car on the market! See all those empty spaces under the hood? You can install any carboretur, radiator, transmission, and catalytic converter you want! The customer's always right! What, you don't have 31337 m3ch4n1x ski11z? Get off the road, luser!)

    ([And I'll tell you one thing -- ain't no way in hell my mom's gonna go looking on discussion forums for a scanner driver! The blueberry iMac was hard enough for her to learn how to use already.])

  • by kypper ( 446750 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @07:34AM (#77036)
    it's been used by users of ALL operating systems. I recall windows NT boosters putting down 95. I recall FreeBSD users putting down Linux and vice versa. There's infighting, complaining, etc etc. Welcome to the real world; people feel that you owe them.

    Linux doesn't support my internal alcatel NIC. Do I scream at alcatel for it? No. They are under no obligation to write the drivers, especially when it's costing them money to do so. Benefits aren't necessarily going to come out of them, so... why bother?

    Corporations are under no obligation. Do your homework before you get a product. It's that simple.

    If you fsck up, well... use windows. it won't kill you.

    Screw 3...

  • by Jennifer E. Elaan ( 463827 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @09:45AM (#77062) Homepage
    I can give an approximate for this. It really all depends on the situation, but if we're talking about a VLSI design of some sort, reverse-engineering is usually impractical compared to reimplementation. It can take up to 100 times longer to reverse-engineer something, and, at the lowest level, the way things are designed in these sorts of systems is pretty well-defined (Eg. there are only so many ways you can make a floating-point multiplier faster). As for reverseing it from specs, that's simply not going to happen.

    The only thing that having somebody else's specs does is let you see how, in high-level terms, they made it work. But nowadays, most of this is publicized (eg. nVidia improved memory bandwidth on the GeForce3 with a crossbar memory controller). So all that it boils down to is the ability to make cards that are 100% compatible, but not identical.

    But any engineer will tell you that there are always things they would like to do different. So, while a new feature ("framebuffer blit engine" for older video features, for exxample) would be cloned by everybody if the word of it existing got out (and it got out fast, and was subsequently cloned, so now virtually all video cards have one of these), the implementations will almost always be different.

    And it's always easier to hire 5 engineers than 1 good reverse-engineer, and reverseing takes a lot more effort (around 100x for some cases, meaning more staff).

    I should point out here that reverse-engineering software (IE the drivers) is actually much simpler than hardware, although still challenging at best. In most cases, this is what happens, the actual competitors dismantle the drivers to see how it works, so really it doesn't protect them any.

    -- Blore's Razor:
  • by Smedrick ( 466973 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @09:06AM (#77066) Homepage
    Love the article. An excellent companion to CmdrTaco's editorial. I'm pretty new to the Linux scene. I'm definitely not what you'd call hardcore, but I can hold my own. What really surprises me is that Linux users actually trash other versions of Linux. "Red Hat's just the big commercial sellout" That sounds like one of those spiky-haired little freaks telling you your favorite punk band is "lame because they sold-out." It's only cool if it's underground because no one knows about it and we can mock them for it. That's completely ridiculous. I thought Red Hat is an excellent start for a newbie. It lets you test the waters before jumping into the deep-end of more complicated installations, like Debian.

    I think what people have to realize is that Linux just isn't for everyone. Even though I have two different flavors of Linux on my machine right now, I still tend to gravitate towards Windows. It's not a bad OS, it's definitely not evil (most of the time, at least). The majority of the time I like to browse the Web while I'm working (I have a very short attention span). And, IMHO, IE is the better browser. I've also become accustomed to all the fancy extras in the Windows version of AIM. So, while I love doing coding and whatnot in Linux, I usually choose Windows because it fulfills my needs.

    Not everyone concerned about customizing every aspect of their OS or how long they can keep their computer running before it implodes. Linux users have to understand this. Church's don't recruit parishioners by laughing in their faces ("Haha! My l33t god r0x0rs your deity's ass!") or forcing them to convert. They get the most numbers when they just introduce their doctrines and answer questions. I was almost scared away from the Linux scene, too. I don't like elitist loud mouths. You can have your underground. Luckily I'm a very stubborn person and I'm determined to master Linux...with your help or without.

  • by Carna ( 468445 ) <blondeoverblue34 ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Wednesday July 18, 2001 @08:02AM (#77070) Homepage

    I have to say that, as a newbie myself, and a girl, it's hard to ask questions without feeling as though everyone thinks I am an idiot. An intelligent person can recognize that Linux is a superior operating system, and on that note, look to learn more about it and implement it on his or her system. But being a newbie, even a smart newbie, is no fun. Especially when you crave vast amounts of knowledge that the "l337" would rather not give over to one who might not be worthy.

    For anyone with half a brain, every drop of information in this technologically growing world is like water to a flower, and those with the sustenance would do well to share. Perhaps those of us left in the dark could be an asset to the community, if someone would just let us in.


He: Let's end it all, bequeathin' our brains to science. She: What?!? Science got enough trouble with their OWN brains. -- Walt Kelly