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Slate Takes on Linux 280

alkali writes "The weekend edition of the Microsoft-owned, Michael-Kinsley-edited Slate has two articles on Linux, one written by Slate's chief program manager (i.e., a techie) and the other written by a staff writer without any particular technical expertise. No surprises, but the Redmond connection will probably interest at least the conspiracy-minded. "
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Slate Takes on Linux

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  • This article made me laugh. Why would anybody get a Microsoft programmer to write a (supposedly) unbiased article? That would be like a vegetarian writing an article on the health benefits of beef. Anyway, my favorite quote of the article is:
    "You can add a graphical interface known as Xwindows, which looks amazingly like Windows, complete with a Start button."

    Now, I'm certainly not an expert on computer history, but wasn't X around before (or at least soon after) MacOs?

  • I am tired of people saying: 'The amount of hype Linux is getting is similar to the amount of hype Java got, therefore Linux is a fad.'

    Remember, the hype is generated by the computer media (magazines, news sites, etc.) and not by some corporate empire with the sole purpose of inflating the claims of a product.

    The only 'hype' being generated is by Linux users who want to advocate their O/S to others.

    Please read Linux and GNU/Linux, if you are one of THOSE people.
  • ...because the geek guy has this to say about Linux's stability:

    "On my machine I can claim only a week of running without restarting, but that is pretty darn good."

    It must be very refreshing for him.


  • I don't know why, but the layout is nauseating. I couldn't go past the first paragraph, since my stomach was starting to turn over upside down. Interestingly, that's what I feel when I see a Microsoft product's manual.

  • This is a very subtle article of MS FUD. For instance. They embrace linux as little, agree
    with almost what everyone else has said about linux. Stable, good for a server, not so hot for a desktop. They they relegate it to the domain of "Geek Love." They are basically telling people yes it's good, BUT it's only for hackers, geeks and enthusiasts. Of course they don't come right out and say that but it's the underlying theme. It jsut spreads very subtle FUD.
    Superstition is a word the ignorant use to describe their ignorance. -Sifu
  • by John Fulmer ( 5840 ) on Friday March 26, 1999 @02:40PM (#1960960)
    I've spent a horrific 3 days instaling Win98 on my system. Install Win98, install patches, install new stuff, fire up directx, BANG! fall down dead. Format drive, start over. (It's a hardware/driver problem, but Linux and X run JUST fine!)

    The big problem is that people don't install operating systems very often. OS installation can be one of the most painful experiences in computerdom. (With the exception of MacOS 7.x, 8.x, is is actually pretty easy)

    Also, I hope that RedHat replaces FVWM95 with something else for 6.0. "Start button"? Sheesh.
  • Linux was written by a single man? That man was "Linus Torvald?" The FSF preaches that all software should be "Open Source?" What a waste of electrons.
  • I thought Linux was actually started from SCRATCH...great way to make himself look stupid. I don't think I will be able to finish this one.
  • by dria ( 9758 ) on Friday March 26, 1999 @02:43PM (#1960963)
    Okay guys, next time -you- have a Linux tech support question, call Microsoft. Apparently they'll help you.

    (From the second article:)

    "So I telephoned the Microsoft Helpdesk. Even though Linux is supposed to demolish Microsoft, the Microsoft Helpdesk, which provides computer assistance to its employees, was surprisingly helpful."

    These articles (I read both) are biased in lots of unsubtle ways. They are thinly veiled FUD, nothing more. I am impressed that the Slate editor mentioned on the intro page that Slate is owned and run by Microsoft and that the articles should (essentially) be taken with a grain of salt.

    I mean, I try to remain objective about Microsoft. I try to just ignore them, repeating to myself that "Loving Linux does not necessarily mean hating Windows", over and over and over again. I keep trying to rationalize that Bill Gates is "just another businessman", and that Microsoft is "just another company". I really really do try.

    But when I read things like these articles and like the Halloween documents and Gates' blitherings both during his DOJ trial deposition and during his recent book tour, I just get so F*&KING angry. It's not enough that they control the -majority- of the computing world, they have to control the whole goddamned thing.

    Argh. It makes me so angry (said in my best Marvin Martian voice).


    - deb
  • GNOME, I would imagine. That fvwm2/95/AnotherLevel/NextLevel crap deserved to die from day one. It's the first thing that I "undo" when installing a Red Hat system.
  • Er...*zone*'s Friday. Ignore that bit about the helpdesk.

    - deb (*blush*)
  • by Daniel ( 1678 ) <> on Friday March 26, 1999 @02:46PM (#1960967)
    Just read the technical one. It's.erm..interesting. As far as I can tell, he pretends to find lots of cool things to say about Linux so that he has more 'credibility' to shoot it down at the end.
    Now I must confess my doubts about the Open Source movement...Perhaps the greatest technological feature that Windows posesses is that it can handle programs as old as the first DOS applications. Linux will never do that.

    Heard of this funny little thing called DOSEmu? WINE? I'd estimate that Linux is 80-90% of the way to running legacy code, if that's your idea of a good time (the last 10% being the hardest of course...)
    Some critics say that Linux will fracture into a dozen different incompatible versions...

    This has a little more substance--not because of the distributions but because of the possibility of people rewriting the system just to bite their thumb at the FSF. Aside from that, though, it's hard to imagine how such a schism could happen. The distributions are more compatible lately, not less.
    Developers want to write code, they don't want to solve all the niggling little problems that users come up with.

    He works for Microsoft, he should know. ;-) That said, the Debian bug tracking system [] is (IMO) a good place to start looking at how bugs in Linux programs get dealt with.
    I think those are the only things he mentioned that haven't been hammered to death already.


  • Ummm...Java didn't fail. Nor is it a fad "Hype" is the product of a gullible media and a techno-ignorant marketer. The idea that java failed is ludicrous. It was considered viable enough that Microsoft polluted it. Bill Gates reportedly screamed an experinced senior executive out of a meeting because the executive dared sugest that MS prepare for the world of Java. The number of java developers is growing. Many web sites are difficult to deal with if you don't have a Java-enabled browser. But because Java-powered office suites did not immediately appear and replace Windows, Java is a failure? If, in the year to come, Linux doesn't displace Windows on the desktop, the mainstream media will doubtless begin considering Linux a failure, too.
  • Agreed! It is FUD.

    I'm sure Bill was standing behind the writer (if it was an individual) nodding in approval.

    With the MS skullduggery that's been documented in the antitrust case, marking these as "spontaneous" articles by a couple of "individuals" is not even close to being paranoid.

  • Changing the BIOS to boot a CD can't be that hard. My Dad a lot of people in my family can do that and they're not engineers.
  • Linux is also different because it is based on the founding principles and
    software of the Free Software Foundation, whose name describes
    its mission. Linux is derived from an operating system developed
    by FSF called GNU. The proper name for Linux is GNU/Linux.
    GNU is a variation on the Unix operating system and the acronym
    GNU stands--disconcertingly--for " GNU's not Unix." Are you
    still with me?

    The FSF crew preaches that all software should be "Open

    I mean, c'mon!

  • This FUD is quite possibly the most dangerous. The few compliments and insults to Microsoft fool the reader into believing the writer is being fair and impartial. Then when the FUD hits, they accept it without questioning it. The reader loses all ability to tell what is real and what is FUD.

    I'd probably prefer outright FUD, because at least it's easy to spot, even for the newbies...
  • One day I was trying to create a bootdisk, and I accidentally typed "dd if=image of=/dev/hda"
    instead of /dev/fd0. Ok, ok, I was root, so please thwack me for that.

    Anyway /dev/hda1 contains Win95.

    I was able to recreate the partition table, and the only thing I lost was the Windows installation! So this justifies its existance to me ;^)
  • I believe Linux was originally *developed* on Minix, but I don't think it has any Minix code in it. If it did, Linus would be breaking the Minix license, I think. Besides, I thought Linux wanted a 'better Minix than Minix', so why would he have used Minix code?
    If I'm wrong, please correct me.

  • what if both of them have to comment how
    to install windoze 98 or worse if they
    have made an upgrade to 98 ?.
    Worse problems are in the way !!

  • Wow, now YOU look stupid. Linus started Linux because he thought that Minix was kindof limited...

    ..the operating system I had been trying to use before Linux: "Minix". Minix was meant to be a teaching operating system, but it had been to limited and in my opinion too expensive for that. It was also hard to get hold of.

    So when I made Linux, I wanted it to be easily available over ftp with full sources, and I did _not_ want it to be too expensive for anybody.

  • I thought it was refreshingly candid of them to remind everyone on the intro page that they are published by Microsoft. Unfortunately, that's where any semblence of honest, accurate, or candid behavior ended. When I got to the tenth misrepresentation in the "techie" article, I stopped reading.

    Written by a single man? Based on GNU? X Windows "similar" to MS Windows? Time for the ol' "Back" button....

    - Bob
  • Is that there's not the vast diversity of hardware for MacOS that's available for x86 -- and none of it is the total crap that most people run Windows on. Don't get me wrong here, Apple hardware has got some problems, but none of it is as bad as all the Pavilion/Presario/Packard-Bell (*shudder*) junk that people run Windows on.

    In all my experience of installing OSes, Solaris wins hands-down for being the easiest. Now if it only didn't run so god-awful slow.

    And don't get me started on FVWM95! First thing I do to a RedHat install is compile WindowMaker.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 1999 @02:59PM (#1960981)
    For a fair comparison, the two authors should have purchased their machines from VAResearch. I'm sure both normally use PCs with windows *preinstalled* at the factory. So of course the effort to get a Linux PC would be much more than they had to invest in Windows.
    Granted I'm not a novice computer user, but I've installed Linux on two different desktop systems (one with no OS, one with Windows 98 preinstalled) and on a laptop with Win 95 previously installed. You'd think I would have run into at least one of the problems they mentioned. Nope. All went smooth as silk (Redhat 5.2, no plug intended).
    In my office I have a Win 98 based Dell and a clone box running Linux. Win 98 crashes, on average, about every other day. Really. Yesterday it crashed 3 times. The Linux box has *never* crashed. I've thrown Staroffice at it. I've thrown Oracle at it. I run KDE, Netscape, etc. Never crashes. The only time it went down unexpectedly was when someone cut the PG&E main power cable feeding our neighborhood. Even Linux has its limits I guess... :-)
  • by RenQuanta ( 3274 ) on Friday March 26, 1999 @02:59PM (#1960982) Homepage
    It's interesting to me that with Gates saying how Linux is "no threat" that his various media machines like Slate and mouth pieces like Mr. Muth are spewing out such an incredible volume of venomous verbage about how bad Linux is. It's been quite a biltz this week. They're saying it's over-rated, it's under-featured, it's over-hyped, and only for nerds. It has no GUI, it has a GUI that looks like Windows. It doesn't have the features of Windows, it runs "just about as fast as Windows".

    Oy! FUD, FUD, FUD, everywhere I turn, nothing but FUD. I think I definitely sense fear and apprehension on the part of Billy boy. It's good to have confirmation from the man and his machine that we're really on the road to defeating his much-cherished Empire. Just like the Visigoths in the 400s on their way to Rome, here come the OSS hordes to the door of the Redmond offices. They see us coming, and they fear us. They fear the freedom and truth we represent. Time is on our side, and there is not much they can do besides this FUD campaign to stop us. Linux, FreeBSD, and other OSS OSes shall continue to prove themselves superior in the trenches. It's going to be a fun year. :)
  • Oh, gee wow, an objective write up of two microsoft employees' experience in trying to install Linux!

    Man, the whole time I was reading this, I kept thinking this sounded like they were handed "talking points" to make sure they put the right FUD slams in.

    How transparent. Let's see them hand a PC with OS/2 installed and ask them to dual-boot install Windows 98!
  • I agree - the main barrier to more people using or at least trying out Linux is the initial setup. If big vendors started shipping dual windows/linux boxes there'd be a lot more people out there willing to give Linux a go - and I believe finding that there is enough application functionality to meet most of their needs.

    Installing new devices under windows can be a pretty frustrating experience too. A few weeks ago I had a cable modem installed - the techie spent around an hour trying to get the USB drivers installed (windows wouldn't allow the first cd of app software to be ejected to allow the install of the drivers). They eventually gave up and installed an internal ethernet card with the drivers from a floppy disk.

    In comparison configuring it from Linux only took me less than half an hour, including the time taken to recompile the kernel to support the ethernet card and read the FAQ on dhcpcd.
  • Took me five shots and about 15 hours to install NT Server. This was my first time, and I was trying to get it to multiboot with LILO, but it would die at odd times, refuse to boot, etc. For comparision, the first time I ever installed Linux I installed it myself, no help, and had no problems at all.
    And I still find it insane that I have to create and format a DOS partition before I even begin to install NT!
  • I couldn't finish reading it. The guy's writing style is terrible, I've seen better stuff by schoolkids. At least this guy isn't working as a Microsoft tech writer.

    OTOH, maybe his (lack of) style carries over into his code...

    (As for the X Window System (nee Windex, before a certain manufacturer of cleaning products got upset), it was at version 10 when I first discovered it in 1986, so it may well have been around before MacOS (introduced in 1984)).
  • This guy seems to not like partitions or at least is using "ohmigosh linux is making me have three partitions" to further some FUD.

    Its interesting that if he knew what he was doing he would have partitioned much more than that. I always make /tmp, /home, /var, /usr, their own partitions in addition to /. Much safer- divide and conquer! But im probably preaching to the chior...

    I actually thought that these articles were kind of entertaining. They both tried soooo hard to look impartial and then threw in lots of subtle (and not so subtle) FUD. I think I'll call MS the next time I have some problems. "Start menu? I dont have a start menu!" :)

    Calling X a "pale and wan" version of windows was insulting at best. Just grit your teeth- its only a matter of time before Linux surpasses Win32 in all ways imagineable!

  • Without helping at all, sit your mom down in front of a PC with Windows installed, give her your favorite off-the-shelf Linux help/install guide, and have her install the OS.

    Remember, give her no assistance.

    In the general case, if she manages to do it, it will take a long time and be a very frustrating experience, even with such distros as RedHat and SuSE. That is one of the hurdles faced with Linux being on the desktop.

    Given that it's just as hard and frustrating for me to install '98 (three hours, three tries to get the FS set up the way *I* want it, much cussing and fussing), usually some variant of DOS/Windows is already installed. That is your customer base. Now, philosophical debates about whether you want users of that stripe here or not, this is the general computing public.

    Don't go too hard on these writers, especially the English-major chick. Linux is a bit daunting if all you know how to do is point and drool at a preinstalled Windows love-fest.

    My $.02

  • One phrase that sticks out in my head was the word "scaffolding." I'm searching for it as I type because I know it was somewhere that'd be indexed.

    Sure enough:

    You can find it in this article by Wired [] that ran a little while back.

    You'll just need to search for the word "scaffolding" once there. I'll leave interpretation to everyone else.


  • I couldn't finish reading it either. I had to go look for the "start button" on my Xwindows. Still can't find the damn thing.
  • "In my experience, this is the ultimate problem with Open Source development: not enough formal engaged testing."

    This guy's nuts! I guess his definition of "formal engaged testing" has nothing to do with REAL WORLD, day in and day out testing of software. He REALLY needs to read "The Cathedral And The Bazaar". Hey, Andrew, if you're reading this, its ar/
  • snipped from the article...
    Furthermore, as I've written before in Slate, software companies spend a surprising fraction of their resources testing software, not writing it. In my experience, this is the ultimate problem with Open Source development: not enough formal engaged testing. Developers want to write code, they don't want to solve all the niggling little problems that users come up with.

    Oooh, very bad. Companies spend a surprising fraction of their resources on testing for one
    reason, and one reason only. That reason is that the development process is all messed up. Requirements
    and specifications are not laid out properly, then design is not thorough. The development process
    is supposed to be front-end loaded, with over 50% of the time being spent before a single line of code
    is written. Test should be about 10% of the time. Why? What does it matter where you spend your time? Data
    shows that the further along in the development process a bug is found, the more it costs - exponentially! If a bug costs
    $100 to repair in design, it will cost $1000 to detect and repair in coding, and $10,000 to detect and repair in test. It only
    gets worst after release. This has been definatively proven (to my mind) by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI),
    and is the topic of countless software engineering and design papers (all coming to the same conclusion). A great deal
    of data has been gathered to support this, and you only have to read the software engineering papers out there.

    Okay, all that said -- does that mean that linux has 10% testing, and it is the right 10%? I'm not sure, but
    I don't think so. I think that typically linux programmers (like most software engineers) fall into the same trap --
    leaping into coding before a proper design has been done... because coding is fun, and that is what they like to do.
    So how does the "huge chunk" of testing get done? Linux software is quality software.. somehow. I believe that
    the testing gets done by the users and beta testers, and while it isn't formal (which is always good) it is one of the
    ultimate forms of testing -- if the software works for the user, then the software works. Even if there are bugs.
    The user is the definition of the requirements, and of what meets the requirements. Most of this paragraph is just
    conjecture though, because not much data has been gathered to support it.
  • by reemul ( 1554 ) on Friday March 26, 1999 @03:08PM (#1960995)
    Yes, the techie works for Microsoft. Of course he will lean that way. But that doesn't mean that absolutely everything that he says can be thrown out as clearly biased or FUD.

    The point I caught was his comment on testing the code. And its something I've brought up here in the past: lots of Linux programmers, not a lot of QA. I personally work as a tester - in Redmond, no less, though not at MS - and our job is just as important to getting a usable app out the door as the devs. Software testing is an entirely different discipline from software development, but I don't see any articles about testing open source code, nothing about blackbox vs. glassbox methods; heck, we're not even an option in the polls. Pure code review doesn't find all the bugs. Period. You have to have someone willing and able to methodically and carefully test every damn part of the final app. Not the debug version, it functions differently. Not scripting against the underlying structure, or at least not only that. Actually clicking the buttons, one at a time. Putting in just bonkers stuff in all the input fields. Race conditions. Stress tests. Sure, you've got the code in front of you, but nobody does any work with source. Test the *app*.

    But testing isn't cool. Testers don't get movies of the week written about them. And some testing is flat boring. (Trust me, repeating the exact same test cases in 7 different browser versions will make you start looking at the nearby water tower and remebering that it takes 42 muscles to smile, but only 4 to pull the trigger on a decent sniper rifle. Which is why I'm the lead and make somebody else do it.) But untested code, no matter how clever the programmer, isn't going to conquer the world. And devs make lousy testers. It's just a different mindset.

  • And don't forget: Rome had the shiny, impressive army that took over the known western world. But the Vigoths just KEPT coming, over and over and over.....

    And it is hard to make people stop using free software. The price is hard to beat.
  • If Andrew Schulman is now a Microsoft employee, it's news to me. It wasn't entirely clear from reading the article,

    In the past, though, he has taken on Microsoft pretty thoroughly. He did a lot of reverse engineering on the Win95 betas, and much to MS's displeasure, he released "Undocumented Windows 95" which was one of the first books to blow through the hype that Win95 was a "new 32-bit" system. Later, he cracked the MS CD key code, and an article describing it was available on O'Reilly's site. I think it's gone, now. Anyway, even if he is an MS employee now, he has in the past been pretty independant, and he's a very sharp guy.

    It's also a little unfair taking pot shots at the article; it's an article written for people who have been hearing about this Linux thing, and it inevitably has to be a little shallow. Many more similar articles will soon follow in the non-trade press, so get used to it.

    That said, he still can't seem to understand how it can work while being free. I mean, geez, how far does Linux have to progress before people believe that it exists? To quote Groucho; "Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?"
  • I installed DOS, Linux and WinNT on my newly built AMD 400 box and then wasted four bloody days trying to wedge Win95 on that same machine. After many hours searching Technet and getting a patch from MS through AMD (seems that there is a timing loop problem for AMD 400+ MHz CPU's and Win95), I was able to get the thing working.

    Try figuring that one out, little bed-wetting English-major type.


  • Like I said before, Linus developed Linux on Minix. Minix was scaffolding while Linus created his new OS.

    Do construction workers use the scaffolding as part of the final structure they are building? Didn't think so.
  • by AJWM ( 19027 )
    handle programs as old as the first DOS applications

    Ha! Windows doesn't even do that. I know, I've got some old DOS apps that have refused to run under Windows or DOS 6 or whatever. (I did, however, manage to run them on SoftPC on a Mac :-)

    Linux will never do that

    Double Ha! Ignoring that he probably meant DOS apps that old (as I said earlier, his writing style sucks), I've run apps older than DOS just fine under Linux (and that's not even counting the fact that most of the basic unix utilities are older than DOS). Recompile (although I had to dig for a Pascal compiler) and go.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My personal favorite quote (and really a sharp jab in the gut to Linux) is:

    "A big practical disadvantage of Linux is that there isn't much application software for it. But that's because so few people use it. It wouldn't be fair to count this as a negative in weighing Linux's intrinsic merits. And so, of course, I won't."

    Ummmmmm. I don't know about you but I think that counted as a negative!! To people not knowledgeable about Linux, he's simply stating "It doesn't have much software because only an insignificant amount of people use it!"

    It seemed to me thank this "techie" was looking at Linux from his own limited MS world, like "Hey everyone, look at this little Linux thing I found...Isn't is cute?, Oh well, back to the 'real world'..."

    The other article was also pretty bad, making MS look like some kind of hero that could help her, even if it wasn't an MS product, as if the MS Helpdesk knew everything. It also didn't mention the fact that just as often installs of MS products from scratch are difficult and frustrating.

    Both these articles are really biased and have many inaccuracies, subtle jabs, and enough MS plugs and FUD to be seen as an attempt to dissuade readers from Linux.

    Oh well I guess I shouldn't have expected better from Slate...

    Kevin Christie
  • by thinker ( 7404 ) on Friday March 26, 1999 @03:16PM (#1961002)

    Just stop posting them.

    94.9%(guesstimate) of computer owners...

    1. purchased their computers with an Operating
      System preinstalled,
    2. will never install any Operating System
      on a computer, including the one they own,
    3. do not know what an "Operating System" is,
    therefore, this and all other articles related to
    the installation of Linux are moot.

    If these were among the first of such articles,
    there would be no objection, however, that is not
    the case.

    Free software promotes freedom and sharing; if
    you treat it as just another consumable item,
    that is all you will get out of it. Go to a
    friendly neighborhood Installfest rather than
    buying the latest copy of Red Hat from Barnes &
    Noble and installing it alone.
    "The Internet interprets censorship as damage,

  • Exactly, the problem with this comparison is that Java was an untried technology that SUN decided to throw their marketing muscle into. Linux on the other hand is a prooven technology and is succeeding on its own merits.

    It's like PUSH technology... everybody said that it would be the future of the browser, but it was all hype and did nothing for the end user. Generally, if hype preceeds a product, then it is going nowhere... if the product itself generates the hype, then you've got a winner.

    The other thing I see being on Linux's side, which MS seems to think is unimportant is how much it is used in university's and by students. If these students are taught programming and OS concepts on Linux, then what are they going to prefer when they start to work in the real world? The students of today are the IT professionals of tomorrow.

  • Pardon the digression, but has anyone heard that win98 increases the size of its partition by a few bytes each time it reboots, eventually corrupting your no fat32 partitons.

    Yes, I agree it sounds like an urban legend. But I got my swap space in between fat32 and linux. Just in case...

  • These articles weren't *THAT* bad, much better than almost anything from ZD... Here's what I replied to...

    For a first article on Linux, that was a good one. I've been using Linux
    as my desktop for a while now, and I agree: it's definitely not for
    everybody, but it is what I want from an operating system.

    I will have to correct you on one fine point here, though:

    Now I must confess my doubts about the Open Source
    movement. Do all those software developers writing
    open source code for Linux have the incentive to fix
    problems as they arise and--more important--to help people
    upgrade and keep old code running? Perhaps the greatest
    technological feature that Windows possesses is that it can
    handle programs as old as the first DOS applications. Linux
    will never do that.

    Not only do they fix the problems that arise in Linux, Linux already runs
    the old DOS apps.

    I use Linux to run my old DOS programs, and by and large, they run
    *better* than they did under DOS. The program I refer to here is DOSEmu,
    and it is in its late beta stage, I believe. (Wine is still alpha) It
    needs some configuration, but what else is new in UNIX.

    DOSEmu ( provides a complicated DOS virtual machine,
    whereby Linux emulates the required DOS services. It only runs on x86
    though, because it doesn't emulate instructions. However, on x86, it runs
    as fast as DOS does. (you can benchmark it and find in some cases the
    processor is only running at, say, 98% of DOS's speed, but there is no
    perceptible difference in almost all cases.)

    Advantages: more free lower memory, better cache, features you'd expect
    from running under a good OS in protected mode. It is faster to defrag
    your hard drive (dos partition) under DOSEmu than it is under DOS.

    Disadvantages: limited graphics support (original VGA works fine, SVGA is
    more problematic, and tied to SVGALib, this sometimes works better in X)
    and bad sound support. The only sound I could ever get working was MIDI
    (pipe it through Linux's MIDI, this is documented) and DMA. Star Control II
    is the only game I could get sound working perfectly on. However, this
    has no impact on, say, running an old version of Lotus 1-2-3. And some
    old DOS programs don't run very well under Windows 95 (or later)'s idea of
    a DOS VM.

    There is also a less free (shareware) DOS emulator called Bochs that runs
    on UNIX (and, of course, Linux) which is much slower but more compatible.
    It does emulate x86 instructions, and can run Win '95, but I wouldn't
    reccommend it yet. (ever use SoftWindows? This is at least that bad)

    And, for Windows, there's also WABI, for Windows 3.1. You have to pay for
    it, but Windows users are used to that. I prefer Wine, but it is
    certainly lacking in compatibility currently.
  • Yup, can't ignore it any longer, it seems.

    If this is the best they can do to scare people off by this 'subtle' campaign of mis-information and fear-mongering, they have already lost!
  • The "pale and wan" reference was surely a reference to fvwm95, in which case it would be completely justified. I don't know why Red Hat makes that crap the default.
  • For those who haven't noticed, Slashdot run today the story The Ultimate Argument Against Linux []. The "sinergy" between that article and Slate's storys is amazing.

    It is fairly obvious that Slate has an agenda. But at least they are far more subtle and elegant with their FUD. It is "FUD for the thought", if you will. All in all, the technical guy final argument was "Why change?" (see the "Ultimate..." story).

    Now, am I too picky or the Slate self-assumed technically clueless journalist managed to install Linux in just one article? While I was reading I kept remembering another self-assumed technically clueless journalist that spend two(or three?) articles up to now just to tell us how technically clueless he was...
  • It could be that the people managing Slate have enough sense to realize that their success depends on credibility, which means not being seen as under the thumb of their sponsors.

    Of course, compatible with this notion is the idea that this is a sort of intellectual tokenism. Let the occasional anti-MS tidbit by, so Slate can say "Look, we're objective, we can say bad things about MS if we want!"
  • If nothing else, many open source projects such as Linux, Apache, and Mozilla get MUCH more testing than the average commercial app.

    I'm not a programmer, but I know the ins and outs of how a computer system is supposed to run and I report bugs. Many of the people who use Linux and open source are like me, who do nothing but install, use, and test.

    I would say for each programmer on Linux, there are at least a thousand non-programmer admin/user types who are VERY good at testing things and are testing things in a vast array of situtions. Compare this to what commerical software companies CAN do.

    Just testing is boring, but each of us do only a small part of the whole...
  • OK, before you whip out the flamethrower, please read the rest of this comment!

    The MS articles are FUD. Ugly FUD. Sick FUD. I could barely read them.

    However, I can't help remembering my first experience installing Linux, about a year ago now.
    It was RedHat 5.0. I had just finished the 2nd year of my Computer Science degree at Guelph []
    I ran into Linux via my programming classes and was interested enough (very interested) and wanted to try it for myself.

    It took me a while to get it running. It was frustrating. The learning curve was steep. Dare I say, I limped back and huddled in Windows again until I built up enough courage to learn more Linux.

    The point is, I was (and still am, of course) a smart person, and definitely more computer literate than the average user, but Linux was still somewhat hard to install and learn. I probably wouldn't have bothered if I wasn't intrinsically interested as a computer scientist/baby hacker.

    Now go and think of the type of user that makes up the bulk of the Windows user base: it's obvious Linux needs to be as easy, if not easier, to set up than Windows if we want to take over the world. :-) Us hackers can hack it out in an "expert" mode to set up Linux, but distributions like the forthcoming Corel Linux, which aim to make Linux ultra-easy to use, are what the Linux community needs. (As long as Corel gives all of their enhancements back to the community via an OSS license, of course).

    All of this, IMHO, of course. :-)

  • I tend to agree that the traditional software development process is all screwed up.

    Closed software companies often seem to have a problem with testing. Often, testers only know what to test because developers told them what to test. They tend to use the product "the right way", without really mirroring the real world. This is why so many products make it to market with problems, even though testing did its job.

    IMHO, free software gets a more effective workout because it's beaten up in the real world right away. In the free software world, it's ok to release multiple versions back-to-back. This simply doesn't fly in a closed environment, where version x.x must be IT for at least a few months.
  • software companies spend a surprising fraction of their resources testing software, not writing it

    And that explains the crap-masquerading-as-software coming out of Redmond (and a few other places).

    Testing never added quality to anything, it just weeded out (maybe) the defects it found. Reliable, quality software is built by designing it correctly and writing in the quality, which (if you're doing it right) takes longer (and costs more, in a commercial environment) than you'll need to spend on testing.

    It's all those endless "test, find a bug, try to fix it; test again, find a bug, try to fix it" cycles that run up the test time, since to do it right you have to rerun your whole test suite to ensure you didn't introduce a new bug.
  • An even more telling experience would be to sit your mom down in front of a computer w/ no operating system at all installed, give her a shrink-wrapped (or equivalent) Linux distribution, and a shrink-wrapped Windows distribution.

    Don't give her any help.

    Have her install Windows, from scratch, without help.

    Have her install Linux, from scratch, without help.

    Of course, most folks won't ever install their own operating systems. They'll just use whatever comes with their computers, without stopping to think if there might be an alternative. This is why linux should come pre-installed on PCs. After all, if you never have to install the OS to begin with, then OF COURSE it's easier to use.

    I still refer to the RH manual from time to time. In fact, I installed 5.2 last night on another machine, and due to lack of sleep couldn't think of a good partition layout, so I flip to the manual for RH 5.1, and voila, there's a whole several pages on suggested partitions. No where have I seen something like that in a Win95 manual (not that I've really looked) or even an NT manual (again, haven't put in effort).

    I would say that from a scratch installation, (certain flavors of) linux is probably a better contender.

  • Open Source has a lot of testing. When you release software early and often, you get plenty of testing by users.

    Why is Linux so reliable?

    Why does KDE work as well as it does? (as an example)

    Software that is widely used gets plenty of testing. This software is only included in distributions after it is widely tested.

    Open Source gets more testing than most commercial software.

    What you're saying is completely FUD.

  • At the moment, Linux has no formal regression testing, and there's a lot of design stuff that isn't documented. There is certainly the potential for serious breakage, and sometimes it does happen. Regression testing of "stable" preX versions might be very helpful in eliminating the bugs that occasionally pop up in the stable series. That said, Linux's design is mostly quite robust and Linus keeps very tight quality control over the core.

    The parallelised nature of "bazaar" development probably reduces the cost of fixing bugs, because it's easier to create and test branches off the official development versions.

  • Well, I read through both articles. The first one had some rather annoying things in it. It could probably be termed "FUD", but in a rather subtle way. It has the usual confusion of free beer and free speech, but had some other clever things, too. Mentioning that Linux lets you partition your drive "because it knows you're going to want to keep running Windows too" made me shudder inside. (For the new, Linux is happiest with a separate partition for swap, so (re)partitioning is generally necessary.)

    I felt that the second article was a more honest one. Mostly, it described the problems the person has installing Linux. She happened to be unlucky enough to have problems with her CD drive, and had to ask several people for help. As others have pointed out, she would likely have problems installing Windows, also. That's why LUGs offer to do installations. She might have liked Linux if someone else had installed it for her.

    --Phil (No "formal engaged testing"? Read "The Cathedral and the Bazaar"!)
  • The rule is, with enough eyes looking at your code, all bugs are shallow. -E. Raymond

    Linux gets tested by hundreds of thousands of people every day, only the difference is that Linux users can fix the bugs *themselves* and then post the fix for everyone else to use.

    Look at it this way, you can run a product through all the contrived scenarios you like, but that won't catch as many bugs as releasing it to the public and letting them find the bugs.

    Plus, with Linux, you get the fix as soon as it's completed - you don't have to wait for the next product release and *PAY* for the company to fix what should have been correct in the first place!
  • Posted by Mike@ABC:

    Very good point. With OEMs getting on board, I'd be more likely to buy a Linux box, knowing that I wouldn't have to put my limited technical skills to the test. They focused mostly on the install, instead of the actual operations.

    HOWEVER, the article did serve a good purpose -- even with Red Hat 5.2, the install on most Linux builds still needs work. If Linux ever wants to try to take on the desktop, it needs a dumbed-down install for the masses.

    As far as the FUD factor, look at it this way. These articles may have introduced more people to Linux, and if they're interested enough, they'll find out more on their own.
  • like "Debbie Does Dallas".

    You gotta figure, when they can't even spell "Torvalds" correctly, it's going to be bad. Outragously bad.

    "Pale and wan?" I've got Enlightenment (with Absolute E), GNOME, and a couple of Eterms running right now, with a root background from Propaganda. Totally stable, and totally usable. Put that up against any Win98 desktop and you'll know the true meaning of "pale and wan".

    I think we need to a habit of introducing Windoze lovers to our own Linux setups, just to see their reaction. Keep some anti-seizure drugs around, just in case.

    (Anyone else think that RedHat 6.0 will have E/ShinyMetal as the standard window manager? Or will they stick to something a little more conservative, like WindowMaker, for the default? Hopefully not fvwm2; it's just way too Windoze-like.)
  • And this is why past (and conceivably present, I wouldn't know the details) OEM licensing that effectively prevents PC distributors from installing whatever OS they want is particularly pernicious.
  • I did see a story on slashdot about that last year, but nothing since.
  • As suggested some book I read a while ago,
    the X development started in 1984.
    And yes - my linux desktop looked fairly
    similar to Windows 95 - running LiteStep.
  • The article was written by Andrew Schuman, not Andrew Schulman.

    BIIIGGG difference.

  • Well, it can make coffee []...
  • This is exactly what I was thinking when I read her article. Be honest: How many Windows users out there have ever even seen the Windows installation process, much less installed it themselves? Sure, Linux takes a little PC knowledge to install, but no more than Windows does (to install from scratch). This is truly one of the most annoying types of FUD. Any one of the problems she mentioned could (and usually does) pop up during the Windows install process or during everyday use.
    And what is up with her IDE CDROM story? It was plugged into the sound card IDE port instead of the mobo IDE port? And it wasn't even enabled in the BIOS? This sounds more like a PC manufacturer problem than a Linux install problem.
  • The lady's install article was almost fair, and
    an echo of things heard in the highly flamed
    Katz install dilemma (I think she faired much
    more admirably than Katz actually).

    The "techie" article was, IMHO, one of the more
    disturbing pieces of propaganda that I have seen
    as of late. It reminds me of "Purple Heart" -
    a WWII-era propaganda movie (one of *ours* folks)
    aimed at the Japanese culture and war machine.

    By the second paragraph he is already setting out
    to portray Linux as confusing, different, and
    something that Windows people don't have any
    contact with. It appears to me that he is
    targeting the average Windows user who has no
    contact with Linux (to their knowledge) and
    who wants their questions settled in an article
    from someplace safe. He makes Linux immediately
    seem confusing and alien. Good strategy. Many
    of his finer facts are wrong, but within the
    realm of plausible deniability. He sets out
    immediately the "good guy/bad guy" duality
    (Linux is made by one guy instead of a faceless
    monolith, but really it's made by a bunch of
    faceless organizations who can't decide on
    names. Shreds of truth on both counts, but
    the second one is where he puts his emphasis)
    he uses throughout the rest of the article
    to establish "objectivity" while he trashes the

    He continues on to draw upon the party line to
    subtly attack the FSF's motives. Far be it from
    me to side with a Microsoft instrument, but I
    have to agree that I don't expect to see sellable
    software vanish from the world in my lifetime,
    but I don't think that's the point. I'll let
    the debaters rage on that one -- I just enjoy
    having a choice, being able to use good software
    that I can muck around in with the code.

    His description of Linux as merely a kernel to
    which one could add a windowing system, etc. Is
    the first point where I began to get disturbed
    and decided to post a response. The author
    slips from debatable propaganda/FUD and slight
    confusion of facts into a not-so-subtle attack
    on the (debatable) weaknesses of Linux with the
    implication of "...and so the thing's useless. Go
    now back to your homes and play with your Windows
    boxes and enjoy your hair." You are free to go
    now. The verdict is in.

    Linux *is* short of application software when
    compared to the Windows software base. To split
    hairs one can install Linux without X, but if a
    GUI is important to you then you would install
    it. The implication that significant extra work
    or (as with NT for example) extra purchases must
    be performed to install the OS with what should
    be considered "standard" features is another
    example of fine propaganda techniques. The
    implication that the web (similarly Internet) is
    the domain of the average Microsoft user, and
    therefore must have come from Microsoft, is one
    that must resonate well with their user base.
    So when the author says "I even installed a web
    browser." He is masterfully drawing upon this
    unspoken belief -- as one of them.

    The basic premises of the article are what I would
    call the "Party Line" of the MStocracy:

    - free software can't win
    - the Linux community is too disorganized to
    stay around
    - they started from 1 guy, but they have the
    same corporate disadvantages as the rest of
    the industry
    - to get their free software you have to pay
    - you don't get any functionality with Linux
    - Linux is struggling to emulate Windows
    - Linux is nearly impossible to install and won't
    recognize your hardware
    - the stability of the system isn't important
    - Linux doesn't really perform any better/faster
    - you can't run your old DOS/Win3.1 programs on

    Any of these points can be the basis for a healthy
    flame war or otherwise religious debate.

    The propaganda techniques the author uses include:

    - identifies himself as a member of the reader
    community (here day-to-day MS users with little
    known contact with Linux). This is
    particularly ironic since his initial
    credibility takes him, by definition, out of
    that group.
    - establish apparent objectivity by supporting
    facets of the system which do not conflict with
    the "party line" tenets
    - establish that Linux is associated with a group
    very different from the reader community
    - make that different group seem overly complex,
    strange, non-conformist. The important
    psychological tactic here is that the
    demographic of the reader group (due to the
    way the article is targeted) is exceedingly
    conformist, and will react adversely towards
    a non-conformist representation.
    - focus upon the valued facets of the reader's
    current beliefs (Word documents are important,
    printing is important...) and analyze the
    competitor rigidly within this framework.
    - make the reader group appear to be the
    important group, the misunderstood group;
    further highlighting the difference between
    "us" and "them"
    - resting upon the implied conclusions, show that
    the enemy must necessarily fall since our way
    must be superior to theirs
    - allow the reader to believe that since "we"
    drew these conclusions then the reader shares
    some of the credit
    - finally establish a feeling of membership in
    the knowledgeable group by letting the reader
    know that there are others (fools) around who
    will still pursue the Linux phenomenon, but
    "we" know better

    A fairly broad array of effective psychological
    tools. Well done, Herr Shuman.

  • I am puzzled by the number of times I have read articles supposedly written by "techies" who describe all the problems they have installing Linux. I knew next to nothing about Linux the first time I installed it (and on a piece of junk computer, to boot), let alone a CompSci degree, and I didn't have any trouble at all (this was Red Hat 5.0). As for the other article, well, my wife used to to tech support for a graphic design shop, and those people would complain about how hard Macs were to use! There are always going to be those people who just can't understand technology of any kind, and the more complex it is, the more panicky they get, regardless of the reality of the situation.
  • Agreed, installation on a bare drive is probably easier for someone not knowledgeable about computers, assuming the hardware is correctly set up for CD-booting and proper detection. There's one less level of crap to wade through to get the system up and running if you don't have to make allowances for another OS.

    However, that wasn't the case in either of these articles, and it won't be the case for the vast majority of new linux installs in the near (or even the relatively distant) future.

    I agree that it would be great to have Linux pre-installed, and that that will have to happen before Linux is palatable to the public at large. The fact is, though, that most installs will be of the type written about here.

    There must be easy coexistance if Linux is to subsume the Windows installed base.

  • You raise some good points. I've worked with some good testers, and yeah, they'll try stuff that the developer would never think of. Also that the target audience would never think of, just to see if they can break it.

    However, a lot of those sorts of things (eg random input in a text field) can be and are caught by the openness of source, for example when a project coordinator review a submitted patch. Stuff gets looked at a lot more closely there (or should be, beware of Greeks bearing gifts) than in a commercial setting code walkthrough.

    OTOH, free software is exposed to lots of beta (or alpha) testers along the way.
  • Try changing your window manager...mine doesn't have a Start button (AfterStep)

  • I would have expected an article with this many errors to have been written maybe a year ago, but nowadays, most press outlets have gotten more of a clue than this. Or at least they are willing to do enough basic research to avoid such an embarrassing level of inaccuracy.

    Couldn't have been done on purpose, could it? Heh.

  • Just for clarification they were Visigoths not Visgoths

    [sorry, but my login is based on Visigoth]
  • Pre-installed Windows vs. you-install Linux ...

    I am SICK AND TIRED of articles comparing pre-installed Windows systems vs. "you-install" Linux. Totally unfair.

    Can we PLEASE get some REAL ARTICLES showing a pre-installed Linux system vs. a pre-installed Windows 98 system?

    And also, compare Linux more to Windows NT since Windows 98 IS easier to understand from a layman's standpoint since it is a single user system. Of course that comes with the fact that a cracker can trash it in their sleep!

    My $0.02 and damn good pennies too!

  • The point I caught was his comment on testing the code. And its something I've brought up here in the past: lots of Linux programmers, not a lot of QA.

    Not a lot of formal QA, you mean. What you've got is a lot of users banging on every change almost as quickly as the developers can release code. Carpet-bombing isn't efficient, but if you drop enough iron in there pretty soon there aren't any bugs left.

    Also, in OSS the changes are often relatively small because they come out so quickly, as opposed to commercial software where the version sent to test may have dozens to hundreds of change orders in it. Interaction bugs don't get caught until test in commercial software, while in OSS they usually get caught quickly after creation.

    Final sanity check: if Linux lacks testing, then logically it's bug rate should be higher than commercial software. Experience and the extant data says it's lower, so either Linux doesn't lack testing or has something that's doing a better job of eliminating bugs than testing.

  • First I'll comment on 'How Predictable and Lame'. Trying to dual boot/reload Win98 is obviously something they never considered. Maybe we should e-mail a challange to them to do it?

    As for LCD, I mean Lowest Common Denominator. How many people on /. have to deal with people so completely inept at configuring a computer? Sure, we've all spec'ed and built our own systems. How about 'Joe Gateway' that probably can't even dial the phone right to order his system? I think the second article has a bit of truth to the 'I'm not ready for Linux or maybe Linux isn't ready for me' comments. Sure the distributions are getting better at simplicity. But are they fully ready for Prime Time? I don't think being disdainful of the LCD buyer helps advocate Linux.
  • The usual response to this point, I think, is that Linux users (or rather that proportion of them that are also coders) are your testers. They run the program, make it do something it doesn't want to do, then root around in the source to fix it.

    That's the theory, anyway. In practice, this debugging model will miss lots of edge cases and stuff. And anything that involves race conditions or other synchronization issues doesn't get found easily by this model (though in fairness, it's exceedingly hard to even find, much less debug, race conditions by any means). The details of this debate I'll leave to people more knowledgeable than myself.

    Serious testing is certainly vital for mission-critical apps. I don't want the code that controls the airplane I'm riding in, or the control tower directing my airplane, to have been tested with the "bazaar" model of testing. But then, that sort of thing is almost the canonical example of code that should be developed cathedral-style anyway; and people don't write ATC software for kicks.

    I had a point when I started writing this, but I've forgotten what it was.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Random quotes:
    I even ran a Web browser.
    Ooh! Wow, you can even run Web browsers? I'm gonna have to check out this Linux thing.
    A big practical disadvantage of Linux is that there isn't much application software for it. But that's because so few people use it. It wouldn't be fair to count this as a negative in weighing Linux's intrinsic merits. And so, of course, I won't.
    Now that was sneaky... "no one uses it, and there are no apps - but really, don't hold that against the OS." I can almost hear the echos of "tee, hee!" as he wrote that one.
    I had to repartition my drive again within Linux to create swap space for the operating system (for those keeping track I now have three partitions on my hard drive).
    Three?! My goodness! That sounds scaaaary.
    But if the thought of a free operating system is so exciting that you're willing to pay $39.95 and invest hours for the privilege, by all means give Linux a try.
    Argh. What can I say?
  • This could've been written by Bill himself.

    Everybody's watching Microsoft for FUD right now, so they've toned it down, to a more subtle approach. Get a writer, give him geek credentials, then have him act mystified by such monumental tasks as creating a boot disk.

    Faint praise and subtle FUD -

    -'the gui looks like Windows' (implying that Xwindows copied MS).
    -Yes, it did go a long time without crashing, but the writer only managed uptime of one week (without saying why, perhaps hinting that it crashed after a week).
    -Take a subtle shot at FSF ("When pushed they [actually] define free software as...", as though they were admitting to a compromise).
    -Multithreading - something it shares with WinNT (typical of MS to point to a *nix and say it's "just as good as NT", when in fact they wish to imply that NT is just as good as the *nix).
    -Have the so-called geek express doubt as to the future of Linux. I mean, he should know, right?
    - "something called a core dump"... no mention of GPF here.
    -It's as fast as Windows (Jesus, they must have done something wrong!)
    -"Linux will never do that [run old code]". No, you may need to recompile. But wait - then you can run OSS code on any version! Unlike closed source...
    -"Developers want to write code, not solve niggling little problems". Funny, if Linux isn't properly debugged, how come it has so many fewer bugs than ANY MS product?

    Watch for more of this. People will jump all over MS for attacking Linux directly, so they'll try to pull the rug out indirectly.
  • Both of our unfortunate authors tried to install RedHat 5.1 on Pentium 133 that was not put together by a major manufacturer. I'm willing to bet that the computer was someone's home jobbie since the on-motherboard IDE controller was disabled and instead, a Sound Card IDE interface was used. What kind of crap is that? Modern computers plug their ATAPI cd-roms into something sensible so that the bootable CD-Rom option can work. By making this mistake, they effectively dated this article to using Last Year's Linux Redhat 5.1 and a computer from Three Years Ago.

    I realize that Linux can run on a 386 with 4 megs of ram (less, if you're really good), but for reality's sake, lets assume a base machine of a Pentium 200 for Joe Average User, and for the technoGeeks out there, figure out your parts before you build your system. And don't complain that it won't install if you had your CD-Rom plugged into the wrong interface. (Personally, I wouldn't even admit that I had that kind of problem.)

    Shouldn't a technogeek be using Debian or Slackware for the added challenge?

  • If this is typical of the accuracy, tone, and depth of Slate article, can anybody wonder why it couldn't find enough subscribers to support it?
  • Or, for that matter, comparing a "you install" Linux system with a "you install" Win98 system. Or indeed, any comparison of apples to apples.
  • I can't believe someone this ignorant was trying to install an OS by himeself. Ig uess he learned a lot, but one should be willing too.

    I, for one, did not think Red Hat's answers to him were out of line.

    At any rate, this is where the lines will be drawn. Anyone even remotely inclined or curious will be using Linux and everyone else, Windows. Linux will segregate computer uses very sharply until it is as easy to learn as windows for them ... it is almost like back in the early 90's when there were people "with PC's" and those "without": now we'll have those "using linux" and those "using windows". At least for a while.

  • So you can occassionally boot up Windows and remind yourself why you use Linux and why you support OSS.
  • The "English Major" is the person that you would like to see running Linux and loving it.

    But having her install it from scratch? Come on. I bet if she used my Red Hat / KDE install, she would be good to go. Word processor, Netscape, E-Mail, easy to dial in to the net. She'd probably be loving it.

    If you want Windows instalation horror stories, try typing "install windows" into a Deja News search!

    The other thing that really bothered me was the compaints about Red Hat technical support. Say, is the teapot black! Microsoft runs a brutal tech support operation - I've had the displeasure of paying to find that out.

  • Her cdrom problem sounds remarkably like what happens every time I install windows on my system (I seem to get the thing corrupted every few months and need to start over which might indicate a tad bit of instability) the boot disk finds the cd but when it trys to run win for the first time it can't find the cd anymore.

    Contrast this with the linux installation that I did 2 years ago that I just replaced with 2.2.3 a week ago. I didn't even bother to updrade linux when I got a new system - just copied from one disk to another and installed lilo and a prebuilt kernel.
  • Ouch, am I sorry I followed that link!

    I found it amusing and all, but maybe the Coffee Howto should not be in there with the other howtos that do not require one to double major in CS and EE. It's more of a "How-Might" and is probably just polluting the quality of the LDP.

    > Just read kernel hacker's guide, implement a device driver (it could even be user
    > space i think). Please, compile it as a module, so that we won't need a
    > kernel compile in every update. Then write:

    (and that's just the shortest thing I could quote to get the general idea across)

  • The FSF crew preaches that all software should be "Open Source"

    Definately wrong!

    The FSF calls it "free software".
  • sit your mom in front of a PC with a windows95 cdrom and the manual from micros~1 that comes with it, and ask her to install it. In the general case, if she manages to do it, it will take a long time and be a very frustrating experience.

    so you don't; you just install it for her, together with GNOME or KDE, and tell her what button to push on to get wordperfect and netscape, and initiate/terminate a net connection.

    same if you're running windoze, except for the GNOME/KDE part...

  • I have:

    FAT32 (~7GB) | Linux Root (500M) | Linux /usr (4.5GB) | Linux Swap (100MB)

    and no problems yet. Guess we'll see.

  • Yup - was just there - bought a USB Hp scanner only to find, Haha! our 'old' version of WIn95 didn't have USB support, and none was available
    without buying a new pc for the oem sr2, thus we are FORCED to buy Win98, haha Gotcha!!

    The people in the article are unwittingly suffering from the inequity of having a Win9x
    preinstalled - if they could only have a choice
    at time of purchase ....


  • Wait till you have to uninstall...(Hee hee.) I once had to use Norton Anti-Virus to get all of the references to NTLoader off the system. Of course, now I know better. Never again. Jim
  • I think a more interesting test would be to sit someone in front of a PC with Linux installed and get them to install Win98 on it without wrecking the Linux installation. That would provide the mirror image to all these Linux installation articles.

    Anyone tried this (say with a VA machine which had Linux preinstalled)?
  • Check out this section near the bottom of her article.

    - Linux is free if you download it off the Web. With a manual and a CD it's about $40. Compare that with Windows 98: $199 for a full setup, $89 for an upgrade, or bundled for "free" as part of nearly every non-Macintosh computer.
  • I tried something similar with a friend of mine who is a mainframer with some MS-DOS and MS-Windows experience but almost no Linux or UNIX experience at all. You'd think this would give Windows 95 an unfair advantage, but read on.

    Given a properly configured new machine with a blank hard drive and nothing but a boxed Windows 95 and a boxed Official Red Hat Linux he was eventually able to get both installed successfully. However, the route he ended up to get there is not what one might expect.

    He first attempted to install Windows 95, but failed because he couldn't figure out how to get any MS-DOS boot floppy he had to recognize the (generic Toshiba ATAPI) CD-ROM drive (his previous machine has a proprietary Mitsumi CD-ROM in it) and he didn't have the correct driver diskette for ATAPI or instructions on how to configure MSCDEX.EXE.

    Red Hat, on the other hand, provided a boot floppy which recognized his CD-ROM drive and let him partition the hard drive. Once he had Linux installed, he used it to copy the Windows 95 CD onto the FAT partition he had created on the hard drive using Linux and was able to boot from an MS-DOS boot floppy and run the Windows 95 install from the hard drive.

    My conclusion is that even for reasonably competent people, Windows 95 installation isn't significantly easier than Linux. Given properly configured hardware (as apparently the Slate authors did not have), the Red Hat boot floppies will normally detect CD-ROM drives and install with very little trouble.

  • Did anyone notice that there's not one mention of the word "Netscape" throughout the entire technical article? It's always sani-flush clean referred to with the euphemism Linux Compatible Web Browser. Go ahead, try an ALT-F (find in page) and see if that article mentions netscape even once. I wonder what's up with that???? Microsoft employees can't even utter (type) the word?

    The second article by the slate staff writer mentions Netscape exactly twice.
  • I pointedly decided to copy neither Windows _or_ my MacOS environment in my Linux environment. I set it up with Window Maker, clip and dock, several workspaces with specific themes ('net', 'editing', 'admin' etc) and even went so far as to rewrite the Afterstep animated desktop menu feature as Window Maker menus.
    It angers me that this guy can so easily dismiss the notion of anything not working and acting like Windows, because I already felt that your typical Linux desktops (my experience is primarily with KDE, but Gnome does the same things) are simply annoying Windows clones. They are not _worse_ than Windows: there's no reason buttons can't be different or whatever, and there's nothing inherently evil and ugly about even Motif widgets. But they are not better than Windows because they're trying to do all the same things, and this is exactly the trap that approach falls into. How can anyone deny that Linux desktop systems are rips of Windows?
    I'd pointedly add that I didn't say X: X can and usually has looked and worked _very_ unlike Windows. Set these people in front of FVWM and they won't say it's like Win. Set 'em in front of my menu-driven, xterm-filemanaging Window Maker setup and they won't say it's like Win. Set them in front of KDE and what, exactly, do you expect? Why work so hard to approach that which already has total vendor and user lock-in? Expecting people to go, oh, I'll use this, it's just like what I'm already totally used to only it's not, and I can't run Half-Life?
    I'm sorry: when I got heavy into linux (now I'm a Mac dude with the capacity for dual, matched, _striped_ IBM SCSI drives and I'm not _using_ that just because it means that much to me to have a linux disk to dualboot off) I knew I wanted to hack it. I'm not much of a coder but at least I could make ChrisOS out of it, and by God I did- and now I read this article where the guy basically informs the world that what I did doesn't even exist! To him, X is KDE, or maybe it was Gnome he saw, and what are the linux desktop people doing to shake that assumption even a little bit?
    There's nothing I can do about that: those aren't my projects to gripe about. KDE _will_ persist. People _will_ begin using linux and form the idea that KDE _is_ linux, or that it is X, or that linux is X, and so on. I can't stop that, but it doesn't prevent me feeling a sense of betrayal when some guy makes a comment like that- because to more and more people, that's the simple truth. X looks like Windows to them. It acts that way too. And as they clamor for programs that are specially enhanced for their Windows-like X, they will increasingly marginalize me yet again, and there isn't a thing I can do about it :(
    ...except release more GPLed software, and continue to support the extremity of RMS, the hardcore cadre of Linux: anybody who actually likes to handle stuff in xterms or runs FVWM etc, or decides, hey, this is my virtual home, why should I let my decisions on interior decoration and structure be made by Redmond?
    Revision of history is a reality. I'll accept that, and that X will come to be known as that which looks almost like Windows, but not really, and that Linux will be most closely associated with whichever desktop, KDE or Gnome, happens to be installed.
    It's no different, really, from all the anti-Mac fud, of which I've heard some really spectacular examples that were totally false or seriously maliciously deceptive: in this case, assuming people can't be prevented from looking at Linux, the agenda from both the enemy camp and from large numbers of Linux users themselves, is to make sure that those who come to Linux still see all of computing as it was prescribed and planned out in Redmond.
    In this way, Linux people help to further the eternal legacy of Microsoft even should the latter die- if their user interfaces are never significantly varied from or altered, they will never die: they will have changed the world for good, reaching out even from the grave to set the tone for computer use.
    ...WITHOUT my help, thank you-
    ...because I won't go along with that.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've been sitting here reading through all the posts on this board about the conspiracy of Microsoft to damage Linux. And though I certainly believe that it is in Microsoft's best interest for Linux to be slighted, I am thoroughly disgusted with the general attitude of the Linux "community". All this board is filled with is people sitting around whining about a questionably negative ariticle. When in reality you should be overjoyed that Linux has gained so much publicity that these articles were written in the first place.

    The reality of the situation is this. Windows in one form or another is installed on almost every PC sold today. Windows will continue to be installed in this manner as long as consumers continue to consider it acceptable. Right now the "average" end user will generally only buy a PC if it has Windows installed. The Linux "community" can sit around and argue about why this is the case all they want, but right now it is simple reality and it isn't going to change until the people actually buying the computers demand otherwise. What this means is that the vast majority of people buying computers that could be running Linux are currently running Windows on those computers. This makes the scenario described in these ariticles very much in line with what a new Linux user would most likely experience. And despite what the Linux elite want to proffer, the way many people will get their exposure is through a CD from a book or magazine. For the average end user with an analog modem downloading from the net is simply too large a barrier for any but the extremely curious to cross. Also it is not at all uncommon for the "average" end user to have less then state of the art hardware sometimes even older then that described in the Slate aritcles. The question for Linux is not whether it is as easy to install as Windows or not. The question is whether it is easy enough that someone who already has Windows installed will make the effort. Because of this Linux must not be as easy as Windows to install, it must be much much easier.

    Ok so what is my point, first don't be so quick to dismiss articles like this, no matter what their source, as being pure FUD. In order for the Linux community and the open source community in general to prosper it needs to be much more introspective of its faults and use criticism as a rallying cry for improvement rather then to simply fuel the flames of hatred against Microsoft. Try to make the imaginative leap and look through the eyes of the "average" end user. Look at your beloved Linux and ask is it really ready for wide spread use by the general computing population? Is it really easy enough for the average end user to install? Should a person installing it really need to know what a BIOS or a drive partition is? Should they even care? Remember whose eyes you're looking through, these are people who want to use a computer as a means to an end not as the end in itself. They simply want the computer to make it easy from them to do their work or to let them play. I guarantee you, they don't care one bit about how the drive is partitioned or whether it is partitioned at all or for that matter whether the computer even has a hard drive. The only thing they care about is whether their computer lets them do what they want to do and is friendly while doing it.

    Since the "average" end user is most likely already using Windows (which they probably perceived as being free due to the fact that it came on their PC) why should they switch to Linux? What is the added value that Linux brings to the table. What outstanding quality about Linux makes it so desirable that the "average" end user will scale the barriers to acceptance that they are confronted with? Are there compeling enough answers to these questions to make this type of user switch? If there aren't then the articles like those published by Slate should not be derided but should be embraced as an indication of the work still to be done. Only by focusing on the flaws percieved by your enemies can you implement the necessary improvements to eliminate future criticism.

    So what is my challenge? Linux is great for technical users, there is no doubt about that, but I believe that it is no where near ready for use by the general computing population. From the tone of the posts here it is apparent that the Linux community believes it is ready. My challenge to you then is to convince me otherwise. I am about to purchase a new computer for my sister's family. Her family consists of my sister of course, her husband and 3 female children all under the age of 10. A couple years ago I gave them their first computer running Windows 95 and they've used it extensively for school work, her husband's work, playing games and all the other things the average computer user uses a computer for. Not once have they had a problem with the operating system. Now their computer is pretty dated and I want to get them a new one. So what I want to hear from the Linux community are solid reasons why I should install Linux on their new computer in place of Windows 98. Or for that matter solid reasons why I should install Linux at all, even in a dual boot configuration. If I can be convinced then I will install Linux on their new computer simple as that.

    So what will it be?


Do not underestimate the value of print statements for debugging.