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Linux Software

Linux *Won't* Fail on the Desktop? 861

HanzoSan sent in a story claiming that Linux will Succeed on the desktop, and not just the server market where it already has had much success. I think that the latest version of KDE has demonstrated that it can compete, but with the increasing dependance on file formats that have no support on Linux, it's going to be awfully difficult. That said, Linux has been my desktop for many moons, and I don't plan on changing it (Maybe If Apple released TiBook's with 3 mouse buttons I'd at least have an option ;)
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Linux *Won't* Fail on the Desktop?

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  • by meekjt ( 94667 ) on Friday February 22, 2002 @11:47AM (#3051480) Homepage
    I mean jeez, just order your damn powerbook, then head over to just about ANY online retailer and pick up a 3 button scrollwheel intellimouse or something.

    I don't think you understand, people buy laptop computers to be mobile. If you are forced to use a external mouse then that makes the computer much harder to use "anywhere".

  • by Tenebrious1 ( 530949 ) on Friday February 22, 2002 @12:00PM (#3051598) Homepage
    Yeah, it doesn't pass my "Dad" test either. When you have to talk someone through opening a console window, ungzipping a file, untarring the file, running make... you realize how wonderful Windows Install programs are. Wizz-bang-click-next-next-next-finish. Really until my dad can install applications without having to open a console window, Linux isn't ready for the average home user.

  • Re:Build a tool ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by MenTaLguY ( 5483 ) on Friday February 22, 2002 @12:05PM (#3051649) Homepage
    That's effectively the idea behind Berlin [].
  • Re:Hmmmmm... (Score:3, Informative)

    by jd142 ( 129673 ) on Friday February 22, 2002 @12:18PM (#3051757) Homepage
    Well, Mandrake has done this for a couple of years now. The first version of the diskdrake tool, back in 98 or so wasn't as good as using partition magic first, but now it is better. It just finds your windows partition and automatically makes the right lilo entries. Also finds any other partitions and makes mount points for them as well.

    It has correctly found my win95 (way back on my p75 in '96), win98, win2k and winxp partitions on various computers over the years.

    I suspect RH, SUSE and others are equally adept, and probably have been for years, but I've never used them on a dual boot machine.

  • by anpe ( 217106 ) on Friday February 22, 2002 @12:19PM (#3051771)
    Unless you're an advanced user you don't need to unzip untar or whatever to install a program.

    If you're not using a Slackware 0.1a, you will be able to find some admin apps to manage your packages in your GNOME or KDE menu ...

    Compare comparable things : if you want to install something from the source under Windows, some actions a bit more complicated that next-next-next-finish are involved : your dad would have to launch MSVC++ and hapilly compile every new release of Word.
  • by Arethan ( 223197 ) on Friday February 22, 2002 @12:24PM (#3051816) Journal
    I'm currently working on a solution to that problem.

    There is really no reason why we can't have binary compatability between x86 distributions. What's really missing is a common packaging format. One that actually includes ALL nonstandard required libraries, and is self installing. (Meaning that it is a self installing executable that has no non-standard library requirements.)

    The difficulty really comes in trying to determine what libraries are standard and which are not. I'm currently thinking of basing this on the Linux Standard Base. It seems to have a lot of weight with the large distro makers. (Hell, RedHat is a contributer!)

    But you are absolutely right. Linux needs a "next, next, finish" installer. Trust me, it is on it's way. Just be patient. :)
  • Windows applications and Windows drivers can stay in Windows and watch their market dissapear if Linux achieves desktop goals. Windows application emulation is an ugly path that only supports the proven monopolist.
  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Friday February 22, 2002 @12:33PM (#3051909) Journal

    As Ed[1] would say, "Fud fud fud FUD FUDDY FUD-fud-FUD!"

    This hasn't been an issue since, what, 1998 or 99? Download file (to desktop if you want). Double click on RPM file. kpackage fires up and installs it for you. You can even use apt on any non-braindead distribution and let the software elves install stuff overnight for you, just like Windows Update (well, maybe without the instability).

    Console windows, gzip, tar, make, etc. aren't factors in the real end-user experience of Linux these days, and haven't been for years as long as you use your distribution's app packages. It would be nice if someone wouldn't bring up the whole damn "packages are hard" thing every time this article gets written, because I get tired of typing up this reply every time. In this aspect, Linux is as hard as you make it. Just because you like to do it the hard way, and that's the only way you know to explain it to dear old Dad, doesn't mean that that's the only way.

    Now, if you want to get code from different distributions running on yours (SuSe->RedHat, for instance), or you want an app that's only distributed as source, then you do have to do more work. Just like if you wanted to take an app for Win 3.1 and run it on Win2k, or if you wanted to compile a Windows app from source. But there's documentation (often voluminous), and 90% of the time you can get by if you can just read and follow instructions that any 10-year-old could. Heck, building from source is almost as easy as installing that Mac OS X distributed computing app :)

    [1] See you someday, somewhere space cowgirl!

  • by Scooter ( 8281 ) <owen.annicnova@force9@net> on Friday February 22, 2002 @12:34PM (#3051919)
    One of the things they (the KDE and or Gnome folks) must fix in future releases is this business of there being almost no built in file associations - Konqueror(in KDE 2.x) recognises almost all file formats I use (and assigns a nice individual icon to each type) but if you double click one - it almost never knows an app to launch it in, and finding one, and configuring it is a very manual process at present.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2002 @12:47PM (#3052059)
    Same for me. Linux is good for sharing my cable modem, but that's only because I had an extra PC lying around.

    Why would I use Linux for a desktop? I can't run my games, edit Word files, or run IE.
  • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) <> on Friday February 22, 2002 @12:59PM (#3052172) Homepage Journal
    There needs to be some type of HTML standard for printed documents.

    Repeat after me:

    HTML is not a "page-design" language."
    HTML is not a "page-design" language."
    HTML is not a "page-design" language."

    CSS, OTOH, does provide for specifying the positioning, style, etc. of printed documents as well as stuff viewed in a browser. In fact, with software that supports it, you could have one document with a completely different appearance on-screen and on-paper, each optimized for the characteristics of the medium. (You wouldn't need "click here for the print-optimized version of this page" links on a page.) It's anybody's guess, though, as to how well the printing-oriented features of CSS are implemented in current browsers.

  • by marick ( 144920 ) on Friday February 22, 2002 @01:11PM (#3052277)
    This is so clearly a troll, and one of the classic ones, but I'll bite. You don't need to use the command line to install programs.

    There are many GUI-based installation programs out there. I personally use Red Carpet from Ximian, but whatever.

    Last night and this morning, I formatted an 80 gig hard drive and installed Red Hat 7.1 with Ximian Gnome. I used the command line NOT ONCE. And YES, I have all the programs I want including Mozilla, AbiWord, Star Office, Loki Demos, Evolution, Galeon.

    But then you didn't really care about the validity of your argument, did you?
  • by sparkz ( 146432 ) on Friday February 22, 2002 @02:09PM (#3052846) Homepage
    I've been writing a utility recently which generates reports in RTF format. Unfortunately, RTF is a Microsoft format, and a document cannot be independently verified. It's basically a rehash of the internal Word format, so it's just about as messy as the internal Word format.

    RTF was not developed as a language from the ground up, it's just a way of saving MS Word documents in a non-binary format.
    If a language definition came along for RTF, that developers could know for sure that their application was generating valid RTF, it'd be a lot easier for everyone.

    Invalid RTF can easily crash MS Word (just don't close a table, Word dies...) because it's such a hotchpotch format, even Word cannot test the file for validity before it crashes.

    Whilst RTF is useful for interoperability, it's not that much better than MS Word format in some cases. An OpenDoc standard, which MS adhered to, would save everyone megabucks and megastress.

  • by Erore ( 8382 ) on Friday February 22, 2002 @02:18PM (#3052936)
    If you have multiple machines accessing your "few windows boxes" to run Office, then you must pay for a license of Office for each machine.

    Office is not licensed per user, it is licensed per machine. A single workstation that has 20 people walking up to it and using Office needs only one license.

    A desktop machine that has 20 people accessing it via VNC or any other means needs 20 licenses.

    There is no Concurrent Licensing of Office.

    You are in violation of your End User License Agreement.

    Despite how reasonable, practicle, and "fair" you idea seems, it is illegal. Not for any technical or moral reasons, but because of a silly EULA.

    All that said, I like your idea of a drop-box directory to convert .doc. I don't know if t his would violate the license agreement or not. Regardless, could you post your code for others to see and use?

    Thank you.
  • by Time Doctor ( 79352 ) <> on Friday February 22, 2002 @02:22PM (#3052968) Homepage Journal
    Indeed, it is a shame more program writers do not use it, and contribute back to it. Mostly, people seem to be misunderstanding how useful it can be for projects besides games.
  • Re:It's a long shot. (Score:2, Informative)

    by MobyTurbo ( 537363 ) on Friday February 22, 2002 @02:54PM (#3053233)
    I've used Mandrake pretty extensively, and even it has some weird problems (like asking which version of XFree86 you want to use, and not automatically detecting the monitor and setting a reasonable resolution.)
    SuSE managed to configure my video-card for 1024x768 on the spot; configuring it to use 85Mhz refresh rates (which your vaunted Windows XP only does in a difficult to find "advanced" menu) was quite simple, requiring the changing of one line. It also didn't ask what version of XFree86 I wanted, though this actually could be an important question for people with old video cards.
    There is just a lot of stuff on Linux that is poorly documented and/or buggy, and that carries over to the Windows versions of open-source software in a lot of cases. Netscape 6.2 (which I am using on a daily basis) is easily one of the worst email clients I have ever used.
    1. Use recent (0.95 or later) versions of Mozilla instead of Netscape as a browser.
    2. Use Evolution 1.x or KMail as your mail client, Netscape/Mozilla email is for dolts (present company excepted) who think that one program doing everything somehow makes things easier.
    Since I'm flaming software and comparing distros here a bit, I don't expect this to be modded up.I hope you manage to read it anyway, since the objections you posted to Linux are based upon limitations that don't belong to Linux.
  • by Erore ( 8382 ) on Friday February 22, 2002 @03:03PM (#3053293)
    The point is, a user is accessing Office from a second machine. A third user from a third machine. A fourth, from a fourth machine. It doesn't matter that they can't all run it at the same time. Microsoft doesn't care.

    I do not know what you are speaking of when you say "virtualize" the screen. The method of access is irrelevant. VNC on Windows to a Windows machine is exactly like running a single user session of Metaframe or Terminal Services. I only mentioned concurrent because the original poster might be thinking he is within his rights as a user because the copy of Office is only being used by one person at a time. That is not what the EULA for Office is about.

    The EULA reads:

    Storage/Network Use. You may also store or install a copy of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT on a storage device, such as a network server, used only to install or run the SOFTWARE PRODUCT on your other computers over an internal network; however, you must acquire and dedicate a license for each separate computer on which the SOFTWARE PRODUCT is installed or run from the storage device. A license for the SOFTWARE PRODUCT may not be sahred or used concurrently on different computers.

    See, Microsoft doesn't care how you do it, what you are virtualizing, or whatever clever tricks you have created. The simple fact is that different machines are all running the same copy of Office.
  • by HoserHead ( 599 ) on Friday February 22, 2002 @04:02PM (#3053719)
    For streaming media and video right in your web browser, Crossover [] is your friend. Supports Quicktime, Macromedia (flash works, though not "officially" supported since a native flash plugin exists for Linux), and various other bits. Combine this with the native Real plugin and you've got some great surfing goodness. If they get Windows Media Player up and running, there will be no reason whatsoever to use Windows for any porn-surfing at all.

    Plus, it's cheap. Try the demo [] and then buy it [].

  • OpenDoc (Score:2, Informative)

    by mpiatek ( 561163 ) on Friday February 22, 2002 @04:04PM (#3053733) Homepage

    I'm surprised that I've been reading through here and nothing has been said about Apple's old OpenDoc technology. They created it with the idea that each piece of software would be modular and you could create your own custom application from the modules you have installed.

    Obviously, OpenDoc never really took off. It was pretty slow, even on the fastest machines at the time, and it used a lot of RAM. I thought the concept was good though. It would be cool if it could be tried again today, when speed probably wouldn't be an issue, and see what comes of it.

    Apple still has their developer documentation on OpenDoc here [].

  • by Ozymandias_KoK ( 48811 ) on Friday February 22, 2002 @04:12PM (#3053781)
    Nope. Office in this case is not installed on a server and folks running it from there. It's installed on a single machine (VNCBox), and users connecting to that machine are running it on the machine it is installed on (VNCBox, NOT on their machines. They are remotely controlling VNCBox, not running any terminal sessions. It is only installed and running on a single machine, so only a single liscence would be neccesary.
  • Re:Build a tool ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by LetterJ ( 3524 ) <> on Friday February 22, 2002 @04:59PM (#3054136) Homepage
    PHP function to use the Word Spellcheck in the background.

    function spellcheck($string){
    $word = new COM("word.application") or die("The spellcheck function requires MS Word.");
    $word->Visible = 0;
    $word->Selection->Type Text($string);
    $word->ActiveDocument->CheckSpelli ng();
    $corrected = $word->Selection->Text;
    $word->ActiveDocument->Cl ose(false);
    $word = null;
    return $corrected;

  • by npendleton ( 255215 ) on Friday February 22, 2002 @09:01PM (#3055423)
    Registry Editing may do what VBA hooks cannot. I have NOT used this, NOR should inexperienced users edit their registry. Plan, read, research before editing the registry. has an item on Microsoft Word's Save As Registry Settings []. Read IV-48 and IV-47.

    I have posted and edited the text below for slashdot readers.
    IV48 MS Word 97 "Save As" Default Registry Key
    Would you like Microsoft Word 97 to save its documents in a format other than Word 97? Just modify this key to indicate the format that you want, and it automatically saves any new document to the chosen format. It also prompts you if you try saving your document in a different format than you specified via this key. Specify one of the following values for this key. Note that [blank] means you must leave the field blank.
    Key:HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\8.0\Word\Defaul t
    ValueName: Default Format
    DataType: REG_SZ
    Value: insert value left of = sign
    [blank] =Word 8.0/97 (*.doc)

    MSWord6Exp =Word 6.0/95 (*.doc)
    WrdPrfctWin =Word Perfect 5.x for Windows (*.doc)
    WrdPrfctDOS51 =Word Perfect 5.1 for DOS (*.doc)
    WrdPrfctDat =Word Perfect 5.1 or 5.2 Secondary File (*.doc)
    WrdPrfctDOS50 =Word Perfect 5.0 for DOS (*.doc)
    WrdPrfctDat50 =Word Perfect 5.0 Secondary File (*.doc)
    HTML =HTML Document (*.html; *.htm; *.htx)
    Text =Text Only (*.txt)
    CRText =Text Only with Line Breaks (*.txt)
    8Text =MS-DOS Text (*.txt)
    8CRText =MS-DOS Text with Line Breaks (*.txt)
    Unicode =Unicode Text (*.txt)
    rtf =Rich Text Format (*.rtf)
    Dot =Document Template (*.dot)

    IV-48 MS Word 97 User Changing "Save As" Format Warning Dialog Box Registry Key
    HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Office\8.0\Common\Default Save
    Value Name: Prompt Text
    Data Type: REG_SZ
    Value: "Other people, now and in the future, may not have this version of Office, so if you plan to share this file, you should save it in the RTF format."

    This value sets the text that the Assistant displays when you have Default Save set to something other than Word 97 and you use the "Save As" command under the File menu. If you want users to save their documents to a specific standard, you can type the string into this value.

    Hope these are helpful.


May all your PUSHes be POPped.