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New Linux-Based Laptop For Computer Newbies

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the bad-software-knows-no-bounds dept.

United Kingdom 198

Smivs writes "The BBC is carrying a report on how people confused and frustrated by computers can now turn to a laptop called Alex built just for them. Based on Linux, the laptop comes with simplified e-mail, web browsing, image editing and office software. Those who sign up for Alex pay £39.95 a month for telephone support, software updates and broadband access. The Newcastle-Based Broadband Computer Company who developed Alex has been working on this project for three years, and didn't immediately adopt a Linux solution — in fact, the first big trial was based on Windows. The company's Chief Technology Officer Barney Morrison-Lyons says that was never going to be the right route: 'The biggest problem with Microsoft is badly-written software — the operating system allows you to write software badly unlike Mac or Linux.' Mr. Hudson, one of the company's founders, said the company also intends to launch an application store for Alex for customers who want to add more features and functions to their computer. 'People who love Linux will be keen to develop for this,' he said."

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Give it to newborns (-1, Troll)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31200914)

Give it to newborns before they get intoxicated be anything else.

> The BBC is carrying a report on how people confused and frustrated by computers can now turn to...

Those people might already suffer from permanent damages from using what they are using now.... ;-))

Re:Give it to newborns (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201054)

Give it to newborns before they get intoxicated be anything else.

> The BBC is carrying a report on how people confused and frustrated by computers can now turn to...

Those people might already suffer from permanent damages from using what they are using now.... ;-))

I am confused and frustrated by your post.

Re:Give it to newborns (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201266)

> I am confused and frustrated by your post.

Sorry about that.

But it was my first thought. It is amazing how people used to Windows react the first time they use a Linux desktop. Also, note that Linux distros have to offer desktop managers that look like Windows in order to ease the transition.

Let's face it, right now, for most people Windows is synonym of desktop computer and they learn that concept early in their life now.

So for most people, Windows fits the task and they are not interested in learning something else, it just isn't a priority for them and they would rather spend their time doing something else.

Hence, start early, give it to newborns ;-))

Re:Give it to newborns (1)

indian_rediff (166093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201382)

Actually I have done something similar to this at my home. My kids (now aged 12 and 10) have been using Ubuntu for the past 3-4 years for their school projects. The older one (my daughter) is more resistant to technology in general. She doesn't like using computers :-)

My son has realised that I am never going to buy a Windows PC for him. Leave alone MS Office. The township here uses the Mac. Also, they have seen Windoze on my dual-boot laptop (on Ubuntu right now as I write this) and on my wife's laptop. I have been able to help them with their presentations (using Impress), their documents with Writer and it has been fairly painless.

I believe conditioning is all that is needed to get kids to realise that there is more than one way to do things. Getting them used to 3 operating systems at this young age and getting to see that it is nothing different has been uplifting. They have learned to live with this - and even enjoy the wider variety of games available for Ubuntu.

I also know that I am probably the only parent that does this with his kids. As a matter of fact, I have asked everyone around, and I have yet to meet anyone else that walks the walk - with their family, not just themselves.

Indian Rediff

Re:Give it to newborns (1)

infuriatedweasel (1326439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201558)

This is the way it is in our house. My three kids have grown up with Ubuntu for at least 4 years. My wife's laptop has Windows on it, and so does the computer connected to our TV. My oldest just bought a laptop for her first year of college this year, and it came with Vista on it, so that's what she uses now. We all use OpenOffice. I offered to put MS Office on my wife's computer when my employer offered a discounted version, but she didn't want it. The public schools here use Macs, so the kids see those too. They just don't really care what operating system they use. Oh how wonderful to grow up with freedom and without prejudice!

Re:Give it to newborns (1)

flabordec (984984) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202406)

They have learned to live with this - and even enjoy the wider variety of games available for Ubuntu.

When the "success story" is that people have "learned to live with" something, then it probably means that something is not so good to begin with. I use Linux on all my computers at home, but the only time I tried to force it on my brothers and parents they were incredibly pissed off. Linux is still for geeks and it probably is better that way, it gives us a sense of belonging.

And on another note, what wider variety of games available for Ubuntu? How many games were released for Ubuntu this past year? How many games were released for Windows?

unlike Mac or Linux (5, Insightful)

jomegat (706411) | more than 4 years ago | (#31200960)

Software can be badly written on any platform, and in any language.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (2, Interesting)

Ben4jammin (1233084) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201014)

As an infrastructure guy who manages many Windows servers, I always wondered about this as I am not a programmer. Is the problem the OS, or the programs that run on it? I guess there is a 3rd option: The OS allows for crappy software to run. I would be interested in a discussion (with people knowledgeable of such things) that compares the different OSes in that regard: How good are they at forcing good programming habits and standards?

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201170)

I would be interested in a discussion (with people knowledgeable of such things)

On Slashdot? I think you took the wrong turn at Albuquerque.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201212)

the operating system allows you to write software badly unlike Mac or Linux." Mr Hudson,

Ms. Hudson disagrees with Mr. Hudson.

The operating system doesn't "allow you to write software", bad or good. Garbage software can be written for any platform. And the "PC" is really a netbook that uses their servers to store your data, so you're locked in.

Subscribers to Alex receive a USB stick which contains user-encrypted data and enables them to log on to their desktop from any Alex computer.

For their monthly fee, customers also get anti-virus software and 10GB of storage space on the Broadband Computer Company's servers.

The USB stick contains your log-n credentials, encrypted. Your data is sitting on their box. Vendor lock-in and over-priced.

They're not doing their users any favours.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31201410)

Ms. Hudson disagrees with Mr. Hudson

Huh?

by tomhudson (43916)

Oh... wait, what?

support forum for transsexuals and the transgendered [transboutique.com]

Oh! Sorry, ma'am...

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201744)

"Your data is sitting on their box. Vendor lock-in and over-priced. "

I don't live in the UK, so I can't comment on their pricing (although it does seem steep), but I have no problem with them keeping users' data on their servers. You think Gramma is backing up all her photos and MP3s on her Windows box? I can guaranty you that she'll be one unhappy camper when her hard drive goes south.

I'm assuming that it's possible for users to download their data to a local disk, of course. And that if the company goes under they'll give users enough notice for them to get their data off the server.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (2, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201284)

As a software engineer with a very pronounced UNIX bias let me just say I don't like the way windows hides stuff.

Sure, sure, most people hate command lines and config files. I know this and I'm not arguing that everyone else is wrong and I am right, or that your grandmother should learn to love bash and xorg.conf or anmything else. I'm just putting across my perspective.

I don't like it when the computer does stuff automatically and gets it wrong, and provides no way to correct it. Example - Dual monitor setup on my laptop + DVI connected flat panel.

Linux - system boots up in single screen mode, I log into X and run xrandr to see available displays and modes, then run it again to set them up how I want. There is a gui option also.
Windows - system boots up with the external screen primary but at the wrong resolution or refresh rate so nothing displays. I unplug the screen and windows (unlike linux) detects this and reconfigures to use a single screen. I log in. Bring up the display dialog and as the second screen isn't plugged in I get no options for it. I plug it in and windows switches back to dual screen at the wrong refresh rate and the panel stays blank. Now we're in a bind, I can;t get at the settings with the screen unplugged and I can't get at the settings applications with it plugged in. Eventually I figure out the key combos to grab and move the display dialog onto the secondary screen so I can fix the settings. Then we're ok.

Now, most people probably have their screens setup once and don't care after that, and sure as hell don't want to be messing with some hokey command line app called "xrandr", but for me it works the other way around.

I actually got a bit pissed off with NetworkManager on gnome desktops a little while ago because it hides all its settings and profiles away too, and it's quite tricky to find how to get it to stop connecting to a wireless LAN it's been connected to before. I found this windowsy and annoying.

So yeah, unless things are seemless and perfect (which it seems nobody has got right yet, though I can't comment on Mac) I prefer being able to get dirty with relative ease. I realise that this is more of a power-user than coder example, but I think it reflects the sort of class of problems we unixy types have with MS. I think. Feel free to to inform me otherwise.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (0, Flamebait)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201316)

I use linux, Except when i need a real GUI.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1)

HoboCop (987492) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201334)

I'm with you on that. I'll even distill that a little more. For me, I find windows particularly annoying simply because it constantly does things I did not ask it to do. I expect a machine to do what I asked, and nothing more. Just sit there.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31201560)

Windows will restart in 15s!
Windows will restart in 14s!
Windows will restart in 13s! ...

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (2, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201414)

As a software engineer with a very pronounced UNIX bias let me just say I don't like the way windows hides stuff.

I'm not a software engineer, and I use a Windows machine approximately 80% of the time... And I don't like the way Windows hides stuff.

Install a piece of software under Windows, and there's really no telling where it goes. Sure, most of the code will live somewhere in the Program Files directory... But you'll wind up with some DLLs scattered all over the drive, and all sorts of registry entries. Un-install the software and it'll likely leave bits behind. Try to re-install again and you may find yourself with all sorts of odd errors.

I don't know how many times I've had to manually comb through the registry to clean out left-behind bits of antivirus software that didn't get cleanly removed.

There's generally no good way to make a backup of your settings before messing with something. Under Linux everything is basically a text file... So I can make a backup of that text file and revert to it if I have to. Under Windows... Well, I suppose I could probably make a backup of the registry... Unless the setting is actually stored in a file somewhere else - like in Local Settings or Application Data or something like that.

And if I screw something up in Linux it's generally a matter of making a change to a config file that is more-or-less human-readable. Under Windows it's a matter of finding the right checkbox in the right window - which isn't necessarily going to be available if you've borked your machine badly enough that you've had to slave the drive.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201594)

Ah yes, that is nice.

When you fscked the system so badly it won't even boot, the ability to plug the drive in elsewhere, read the logs and tinker with everything from the kernel upwards has been a godsend. It's a long time since I've managed to screw up a windows box that badly, sure, but still..

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (2, Insightful)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201742)

Properly behaving windows software will use a handful of locations for different items. The application and all required libraries, not registered by a separate installer or sub-installer will exist in C:\Program File\s or C:\Program Files (x86)\, your individual preferences should be in C:\Users\username\AppData\(local|roaming|local low)\appname\ and system wide preferences will be in the common profile directory. (note the paths changed slightly from NT4 to 2000/XP to Vista/7, but it's much more unix-like today.

Though to be honest, there's just as much fragmentation on the *nix side. System 7 style vs. BSD style structures. /usr/local/ vs /opt/ as well as a lot of software written so it bloats out the user profile, instead of an application subdirectory. Not to mention replication of portions/all of a profile (windows does this a bit better imho).

In terms of backing up your settings, you should be able to copy/backup your user folder. If a particular software doesn't follow the standards set out (special directory settings), it isn't the fault of Windows, it's the fault of that piece of software. You can write resilient software for pretty much any platform. And pretty much all of them have settings for where to put certain types of resources. The problem is the number of developers who make/made assumptions in their software that should have been using standards that have been set for over 10 years now, at least the software that's less than 10 years old for windows (since NT4 in '96 and Win98 a couple years later).

I've seen more than a handful of apps meant to run on *nix platforms that make the same horrible assumptions as well. Also, it's not much less confusing in *nix. You'll need your user profile as well as /var and probably stuff in /opt and /usr/local ...

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1, Informative)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202094)

but it's much more unix-like today.

Yes it is.

Though to be honest, there's just as much fragmentation on the *nix side. System 7 style vs. BSD style structures. /usr/local/ vs /opt/

True, but generally speaking things are stored in human-readable text files. So I could do a fulltext search for a string and be reasonably sure of finding what I'm looking for. Under Windows things are frequently stored in some odd binary file with a bizarre name that can be much harder to locate.

In terms of backing up your settings, you should be able to copy/backup your user folder.

This is true... But I'm not necessarily worried about my personal settings.

Under Linux pretty much everything, including driver settings and whatnot, is stored in a text config file somewhere. I can make a copy of that config file, tweak it, and see what happens. Under Windows, many driver and operating system settings are stored solely in the registry - which is more difficult (though not impossible) to backup/tweak/test/restore.

The problem is the number of developers who make/made assumptions in their software that should have been using standards that have been set for over 10 years now, at least the software that's less than 10 years old for windows (since NT4 in '96 and Win98 a couple years later).

I've seen more than a handful of apps meant to run on *nix platforms that make the same horrible assumptions as well.

Bad code and bad assumptions have nothing to do with the operating system. You can write crap software and cause problems on any platform.

Also, it's not much less confusing in *nix.

Again, generally speaking, Linux uses human-readable text config files.

You can frequently read a config file and make changes to it even if the software itself won't run.

You can usually locate that config file by searching for a string - even if that config file is stored in a completely wacky location.

I personally find these human-readable text files to be easier to locate, troubleshoot, and work with than some of the binary-only config files found under Windows.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1)

pinkj (521155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201770)

Install a piece of software under Windows, and there's really no telling where it goes. Sure, most of the code will live somewhere in the Program Files directory... But you'll wind up with some DLLs scattered all over the drive, and all sorts of registry entries. Un-install the software and it'll likely leave bits behind. Try to re-install again and you may find yourself with all sorts of odd errors.

As a relative newb to *nix (5 years?), this is one of the things I found great about its files structure. Most files have its designated directories which, if taken the time to learn, helps a lot with trouble shooting. Being so used to Windows being a scattered mess, I was troubleshooting things in Ubuntu like I would in Windows and over complicating my efforts thinking Ubuntu was more complex when it was actually laid out a lot simpler.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1)

0ld_d0g (923931) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201642)

This is my experience on Windows (vista and 7).

1. Plug monitor into 2nd DVI connector on my GeForce 9800 GX2 card.
2. Done, start working. (lcd monitor is automatically set at native resolution).

You could have a monitor with broken EDID, issue with monitor drivers, display drivers or ofcource you could have encountered a Windows bug. I haven't seen any evidence that something as basic as what you're describing is broken for all the millions of people using windows (as it would be, if it was a flaw in the OS itself).

Feel free to to inform me otherwise.

Apart from Microsoft's own code, a ton of third party code runs on most windows desktops, its quite a leap to extrapolate from your experience to suggest that there is any flaw in the windows multi-monitor support.

Also I fail to see how "UNIX" helped you here? AFAIK the UNIX specification doesn't address multi-monitor issues. You could make an OS that could earn the UNIX branding and have terrible multi-mon support that you couldn't fix without actually modifying code (assuming you had access to the code).

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201698)

OK, so it's just my experience, and it was frustrating.

What I'm trying to put across is that command lines and config files suit some people, and where things go wrong (it's disingenuous to say they never do) I like the level of access I get to the internals on UNIXy systems.

"UNIX" the philosophy helped me there, not "UNIX" the opengroup specification.

This was windows 7 by the way. It could well be bad monitor info, but xrandr manged to pick up the correct mode list and preferred resolution/refresh info. I'm sure this is a niche problem, if it happened with everyone we would have heard of it. Nevertheless, the underlying point is not that "OMG Windows is so shit and broken!", because it's not.

In an effort to make things easier and better for most users, something which I think it is successful at, it hides a lot of things from people like me. I will freely admit to being an edge case!

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201426)

Windows suffers from two main problems:

1) The old Windows 9x lack of security, which lead an awful lot of programmers to assume that their software would have full access to the filesystem, OS, etc - this is so ingrained that it's taking a long time to be beaten out of some programmers

2) Having by far the largest desktop market share, it attracts the most programmers; the law of averages dictates that a lot of them are going to be pretty bad at it.

There is no silver bullet; while some languages, technologies and OSes may encourage good programming practices, it is entirely possible to write god-awful shite using/targeting any of them.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201518)

>The OS allows for crappy software to run

All I can really say about that is I'm a big fan of consistency in design, a bad but consistent design is going to be nicer than a system with half a dozen different designs.
I use Chrome but I get annoyed by the lack of a "Title Bar," keyboard short cuts need to be the same, and so help me God I will kill the person who though it would be a good idea to change the order of options that pop-up when you right-click on a minimized window, their death will be slow and painful if it launches a fucking help system instead of closing the application.
 
I would love to see OS's do a better job of enforcing the GUI.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (3, Insightful)

ais523 (1172701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201578)

Part of the reason is because Windows is backwards-compatible to Windows 3.1 and 95, which were build without reasonable security models. Since then, Windows' security model has improved a lot; but it still needs to be compatible with old programs, which tended to be written quite badly back then. (I'd say older versions of Windows encouraged sloppy coding because it was just so easy, unlike the UNIX variants around at the time which would generally complain if you tried to do things that broke security too badly). Windows also used to be more homogenous than UNIX systems (even nowadays, you can see Linux manpages talking about the difference between BSD-style and X/Open-style, such as this one [die.net] which summarises the mess). As a result, old Windows programs tended to work even if written badly because they only had one sort of system to run on, which let them get away with dubious things, whereas old UNIX programs tended to need to be written well to work at all. (Classic Mac OS can be pretty-much disregarded here, because nobody uses it nowadays and Mac OS X is based on UNIX.)

Since then, all the operating systems involved have become more modern. In UNIX land, people were used to porting programs anyway, to get them to run on new variants, so when newcomers like Linux turned up (and later Mac OS X, which is less different from traditional UNIX than Linux is with respect to how traditional UNIX applications behave, although it's a lot more different with respect to newly-written applications designed to run on it specifically), it was generally the responsibility of people to modify applications to get them running on Linux in particular, or whatever. As a result, Linux can do its job quite well without needing to tolerate badly-written insecure legacy applications. On the other hand, Windows would lose one of its major selling points (its compatibility), if it did that. So Windows is written to be very good at running legacy badly-written applications; as a side-effect, though, this means that it's rather good at running badly-written applications, even new ones.

The end conclusion is that if you want to write well, you can do it on any platform; but lazy programmers who want to write badly will have fewer issues doing so on Windows.

(There's another force at play, too; the cultures of obtaining software in Windows and Linux are rather different, and as a result, well-written Linux software tends to become much easier to find than badly-written Linux software. I imagine there's lots of bad software out there for both Windows and Linux despite the above effects, but you'll find bad Windows software preinstalled on a newly bought computer alongside the OS itself (people debate the merits of various OSes, but everyone I know hates "shovelware"), and on driver disks with hardware you buy. This doesn't happen so much with Linux, because there's no, or not as much, money in it; people on Linux are so used to (legally) getting software for free, that they're unlikely to pay unless people are offering something of good quality.)

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (2, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201786)

All operating systems allow bad software to run, but the difference is how those applications have been developed for that platform over the years.

Back in the earlier days of DOS/Windows, the concept of limiting what a user (or their account) could do was pretty much at odds with the whole concept of having a "Personal Computer". The whole idea of a PC was that the person sitting behind the keyboard was in control of what happened on that computer, and the operating system should deny them nothing.

As the DOS/Windows model evolved, password-protecting the computer was added, and eventually levels of user access were developed. But the kicker was that most software was developed by people with administrative access to their computers, and given that the shipped default of all Microsoft OSes up to and including Windows XP was to have one user who was an Administrator, there was no significant penalty for writing software that required Administrator access.

I've tried to run Windows XP as a limited user, and it was a pain in the shorts. So much software out there simply won't run, requiring me to keep a pseudo-admin account so I could "run as..." or just give up and promote my user account to admin.

Enter Windows Vista, which as a security model was great - you could run as a limited user and "escalate" permissions for certain software that asked for it. It's almost a copy of "sudo" for Linux. It was a significant step in the right direction, and it started pushing the concept of developing applications with "minimum necessary" permissions (storing user defaults in user accounts or user sections of the registry rather than system folders or HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, etc).

The vast majority of Windows software authors (including shareware authors) really do design their software to run just fine on a limited account. But there's a good bit of Admin-required stuff out there. Enough that most people don't even try running XP as a limited account, and those that do tend to give up after a while.

----------------------

Compare that to the Linux world. Very few users run as root in Linux. The shipped default of most distros is either to have a separate admin account or (in the case of things like Ubuntu) to use a "pseudoroot" - a root account that does not really exist but that the default user is escalated to upon demand (similar to UAC in Windows).

As a result of this, most Linux applications are built based on a more limited permissions model - they tend to store their application data in the /home directory of the user rather than scattered out with c:\Program Files (which is read-only to a proper limited user account) for example. If the majority of your users cannot run your software without significant reconfiguration of their machines, they'll squawk about it and you'll tend to change your code to fit the default model.

So, while neither model FORCES good programming habits, a Linux developer is more likely to be testing his or her code under a limited account, because that's what most of his or her intended users will be using.

It's not that one OS is inherently more secure than the other, necessarily, but that the shipped default has been set securely for so many years that the developers on a Linux platform are just used to only being able to run in userland, so they're more likely to write apps that way. Windows developers have not (until relatively recently) suffered a penalty for writing things to protected areas.

With the advent of Vista and Seven, Microsoft raised the issue in terms of how many UAC boxes popped up. And this was the cause of much angst and gnashing of teeth among users. But that move is slowly showing Windows developers that they need to be taking userland permissions seriously too, and that's a good thing in the long run.

Of course, not all security threats happen outside userland. You can always install software in \My Documents or /home and run it.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202426)

My opinion?

I don't think it's the OS at all, to be perfectly honest. It's the philosophy behind the methods of development.

Proprietary software written for *nix is oftentimes little, if any, better than proprietary software written for Windows. How have those binary-only drivers treated you, in the past? Yes, EVERYONE says that driver x works a charm - but it screws up YOUR display, and you have to drop back to CLI to fix it.

The entire problem can be more accurately described as open-source vs closed-source.

In the open world, you can write really crappy code, and everyone will see it, and everyone KNOWS you write crappy code. If the program has any merits at all, then someone will make an attempt to clean it up, and make it work better. At which point, people begin to take notice of it, it grows, and yet MORE people are looking at the code.

Closed world? There may well be only 1, or 2, or 3 people in the WORLD who have access to the source. If they write a crappy coded program, it will remain crap forever. It won't even matter if the program actually has any merit - the code will be crap, period.

Windows is, after all, just software. And, there are a limited number of people with access to that code. Apparently, NONE of them has ever been induced to release that code to the public. The only way to get it, is to reverse engineer, or decompile it. And, there are dozens of idiotic laws against that sort of thing.

It must be wonderful to have enough money to buy politicians by the trainload . . .

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31201202)

There are a lot of ways in which software can be bad, some of which are directly associated with Windows: bad UIs, inconsistent APIs, et cetera. Obviously, what he's saying isn't literally true, but there may be some truth in it if we say, for example, that peer pressure from the calling conventions used by most *nix programs forces new authors to create roughly consistent interfaces, as does the heavy emphasis on stream-based I/O; whereas no such peer pressure exists on Windows.

Sticking to the console, have you ever seen the command-line tools that MS engineers have made to fill in the shortcomings of the bundled command shell? They're horrible, in the sense that VMS commands are long and the IA-32 architecture is overgrown.

I imagine what the guy's really trying to say is that the Windows toolchain and shell environment are crap, and that made it impossible for him to get any work done on the product.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (3, Funny)

ErroneousBee (611028) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201216)

Software can be badly written on any platform, and in any language.

You are quite wrong. On several occasions Linux has intercepted my code typos, SQL injunctions and XSS vilneravilities.

Once it even prevented me from accidentally biting into a Marmite sandwich.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1)

svtdragon (917476) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201350)

I agree in principle, but if this was developed with XP in mind, he may be getting at the "applications assume they have administrative rights" issue that prompted UAC. In Linux, the default use case of sudo + restricted accounts does make software developers stick to user-level rights whenever possible.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201520)

For their monthly fee, customers also get anti-virus software and 10GB of storage space on the Broadband Computer Company's servers

And full of what looks like fud. "anti-virus"... really.... What anti-virus software do that run that looks for Linux Viruses? ClamAV looks for windows viruses only. so unless it's scanning their incoming junk for windows viruses just to keep them from passing it along they are giving out fake stuff.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201592)

Wish I could give you an extra +1 there. It's simply ignorant FUD to state that any platform can't have badly written software. I've seen badly written software running on multi-million dollar systems before. It happens.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1)

MoralHazard (447833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201676)

Sigh. Technically true, this old saw, but that's not the damn point. Don't get me wrong, the CTO's quote IS bullshit, and you're correct that nothing about Linux prevents programmers from writing bad software for it.

But there is a kernel of truth in what the CTO meant. So before you go congratulating yourself on that +5 (Insightful) for your smug insistence on literalism (and thereby missing the real point, entirely), why not consider what you're missing?

Almost everybody on Linux uses a distro, right? And the tendency is toward laziness, so we mostly use software on Linux as our distro packages and provides it to us. Sure, you COULD install anything you want, but 99% of the time you won't. Even Linux From Scratch is basically step-by-step recipes, and the package list is pre-selected for you.

So in practice, the distro maintainers are the gatekeepers, standing between the app programers and the end Linux users, deciding what kind of experience the end user gets. Bad programs get written all the time, but they tend to get censored at the distro level. And most distros are heavily biased toward open-source software, so the distro has the power to patch bugs and fix problems, again hiding flaws from the end user. (BTW, the biggest exception to the open-source bias, proprietary binary drivers, is a nice illustration-in-reverse of this mechanism.)

Contrast this process with the Windows world: It's hard to get as much done without downloading and installing extra apps and/or drivers that Microsoft didn't package. And that's where the fun starts. Sure, there are lots of high-quality Windows apps (I'm partial to FF, Notepad++, and Eclipse, myself), but there's a lot of shit, too. Anybody who's been forced to work with proprietary, domain-specific, business-oriented Windows apps can tell you horror stories of crap interfaces, random crashes, and slow bug fix cycles, all back-stopped by data format lock-in to make sure that it's just slightly more painful to switch platforms than to keep crawling along with your current torture instrument.

And I'm willing to give this CTO the benefit of the doubt, since he's giving sound bites to reporters. Reporters don't report what YOU tell them to report, they get to pick and choose on their own. And since they generally have to write to a much lower common denominator than technical people, most reporters will badger you into breaking everything down into over-simplified, simple, single-sentence restatements. Most of the time, these restatements are technically misleading, or just wrong. But the reporter doesn't care, because his readers don't give a shit, and he'll lose them if he writes the accurate technical truth.

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1)

bill_kress (99356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201974)

Some systems allow you to be more sloppy than others--

For instance, in windows XP it's pretty easy to write code that assumes it is "admin" (possibly not even intentionally) and have it pass all your testing and be delivered--when you go into admin on a mac, Linux or windows 7, you are more likely to be aware that you are going into admin mode--on a linux system you are even going to be forced to seriously consider NOT going into root when you start getting reports from users that don't install as root on their machine.

On the other hand, with Linux you can get really lazy about writing GUIs under the (generally correct and self-sustaining) assumption that most users will be technical enough to use a good CLI interface.

On the mac, people tend to program for a single API, knowing that apple will most likely completely redesign everything when they move to OSXI and run your stuff in an OSX VM. With Windows and Linux, forward and backwards compatibility is important and will generally be considered all along.

My point is that there is a HUGE difference in what aspects you are "Lazy" with between platforms (and languages, but that's for another post).

Re:unlike Mac or Linux (1)

DeadboltX (751907) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202152)

I don't know what you're talking about. It's impossible to write bad software for a Mac, OS X doesn't allow it. Macs also can't get viruses or malware, they never crash, and they make me popular at my local Starbucks while I write my screenplay.

£39.95 a month? (4, Insightful)

phormalitize (1748504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31200966)

For a slightly higher fee, can I just get someone who will use the computer for me whenever I need to do something on it?

Re:£39.95 a month? (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201072)

The price is comparable with similar home broadband+laptop deals. [broadbandf...ptop.co.uk]

Re:£39.95 a month? (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201204)

That isn't really like for like as they're mobile internet deals (ie 3g) and come with netbooks with 3G modems.

Re:£39.95 a month? (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201122)

For a slightly higher fee, can I just get someone who will use the computer for me whenever I need to do something on it?

That's expensive. IBM used to have that for their top executives, in the 1970s. The executives got a 3270 display with a phone handset. When they picked up the phone handset, they were connected to an operator who could bring up IBM internal financial and sales data. Really.

Re:£39.95 a month? (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201646)

Yes but now that can be outsourced to India.

Re:£39.95 a month? (2, Funny)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201652)

That's still way better than using Lotus Notes.

Can't be serious (5, Interesting)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31200976)

"The biggest problem with Microsoft is badly-written software -- the operating system allows you to write software badly unlike Mac or Linux."

It's very easy to write bad software on all three platforms. I've done it! Many of you probably have, too!

Re:Can't be serious (1)

phormalitize (1748504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201044)

My first kernel driver was a thing of horror.

Re:Can't be serious (1)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201730)

Wait a second, that was YOUR driver I was trying to install?!

Re:Can't be serious (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31201094)

I can't say have - all my software is perfectly written. If only there weren't such a disconcerting amount of bad users out there!

Re:Can't be serious (2, Interesting)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201180)

I'd wouldn't say the problem is badly written software. Especially in the context given, the fact that I can create software for the Windows operating system is one of the main reasons I continue to use it. My code may be what some consider bad, but a part of me still gets giddy with every successful compile.

The root of the issue is people not understanding computers in general. They are machines with their own strengths and weaknesses and that must be understood to avoid being confused and frustrated at every turn. To say simply installing this or that software on this or that computer will alleviate technological ignorance trivialize the problem of vast swaths of the population being effectively illiterate with modern technology.

It seems to me what these people are really after is an appliance like device.

badly-written software (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31200984)

"The biggest problem with Microsoft is badly-written software -- the operating system allows you to write software badly unlike Mac or Linux."

wat

um... (3, Insightful)

cool_story_bro (1522525) | more than 4 years ago | (#31200990)

the operating system allows you to write software badly unlike Mac or Linux.

Yeah. No operating system known to man prevents you from "writing software badly".

Re:um... (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201378)

Yeah. No operating system known to man prevents you from "writing software badly".

True, up to a point. The best-written software I ever produced was run on a Burroughs B3700 mainframe back in the late '70s, where spare RAM (not being used by the OS, MCP IV) was limited to around 300KB. The machine was running in a bureau situation (younger readers might have to look that up), so CPU time was charged for quite expensively.

COBOL was (and actually still is) perfectly acceptable and efficient for any commercial packages, but some of the Assembly routines I used to write only took up a few tens of bytes of codespace, but I had to think really hard about how they were meant to work. COBOL takes the fun out of life: it doesn't let you write self-modifying code... :-)

Re:um... (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201398)

True, but it is clear that these were the directors of the project and not the techs. Windows, at least in the XP and before incantations, the assumption was "User=Administrator" and that did cause badly written software. I'm pretty sure they mean that... or better said, they were told by their engineers that "Windows allows badly written programs" by their engineers who actually meant "No practical user separation".

In all fairness: it is entirely possible to run WinXP as a Limited User. It just takes a certain amount of work when you encounter "badly behaved programs". I even prefer the message "Access Denied" over the UAC message of "Cancel/Allow" in Vista or 7. (Yes, I know you can set it up the way I like it, it's just not default any more).

Re:um... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202044)

Yeah. No operating system known to man prevents you from "writing software badly".

That may be, but a good OS will limit the damage that the bad software can cause. For example, denying PEEK and POKE commands (or their equivalents), doing memory management, enforcing security features, etc.

I'm happy (2, Insightful)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31200992)

If it trully helps less technical people, then I think it can contribute as living proof that Linux (or GNU/Linux, you decide) can be user friendly.

Rock on!

Re:I'm happy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31201160)

I want to install WoW.

On Windows it involves: Putting CD in CD-ROM, poking install button, firing up game and patching.

On Linux its: Put CD in CD-ROM, copy files, install Wine, configure wine, find out I'm missing a library, find library, rig up config file, attempt to launch game and find out I'm missing library/permissions/virgin sacrifices.

Untill I can pop in a cd and install any video game I want by clicking "install", it will confuse the daylights out of real newbies.

Re:I'm happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31201494)

All you've proven is that Linux wasn't made for runnig Windows applications. I could make the exact same argument that Windows wasn't made to run Linux applications.

At least Linux tries to be compatible. See wine, ntfs-3g, and samba.
I can't even mount non ntfs or fat filesystems in Windows. One could argue that Cygwin is to Windows as Wine is to Linux.

Re:I'm happy (2, Informative)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201846)

"I can't even mount non ntfs or fat filesystems in Windows. One could argue that Cygwin is to Windows as Wine is to Linux"

One can argue, but that "one" would be terribly wrong. Wine is much more than Cygwin. Just try to get a simple app such as cat running natively, without recompiling it, like we do with Windows' apps. That's what's so good about wine, it's basically just a reimplementation, not a port of anything -- and that, my friend(s), is incredible.

Re:I'm happy (1)

spartacus_prime (861925) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201838)

I want to install WoW.

Well, there's your problem right there.

Re:I'm happy (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201388)

just dont expect any terminal or interface tweak options.

basically its what asus tried with the first netbook, and where apple have been going since the iphone.

Re:I'm happy (1)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201908)

Sure, and it probably won't be used for people to run WoW either ;) But people like my mother (I'd like to know where I got my skills from), who can't even acknowledge THREE title bar buttons, need this kind of computer. After all, how do we expect them to use Linux if they don't even know what it is? -- If they don't know what a kernel is?. Windows was made for the user, and is so popular that it doesn't need any kind of introduction. Linux, on the other hand, needs basic concepts understood, even due to its architectures. Of course alternatives like this are useful, but they remove the full capabilities of Linux right there. IMO, ofc.

Re:I'm happy (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202272)

I was just thinking this could be an interesting concept for the Tandy brand in the US. I know it's been a while, but they would have a brand from the past that they could leverage for something similar.

no training wheels (2, Interesting)

Tim4444 (1122173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201010)

the operating system allows you to write software badly unlike Mac or Linux

Linux has a lot of good features but I don't know that that it would prevent you from writing bad code...

Linux Alex (3, Funny)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201020)

Finally, a FOSS response to Microsoft Bob!

Linux Clippy (2, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201532)

It looks like you are trying to write some bad code for Linux.
Would like to me to obfuscate that?

Wait a second... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201024)

Linux... For the inexperienced?

And its not even Ubuntu?

Believe me, I've seen people so inept with computers that both the mouse and the keyboard seem like tools of frustration. And I daresay voice recognition, while getting close, is still not quite at the level for full operability.

And also - you CAN write badly written software for Linux. I once wrote an encryption tool that used random number generation, and not actually a key or passphrase supplied by the user. Needless to say, they were a little disappointed when their password didn't work to decrypt. Luckily I provided them with a brute force solution, that tried every possible combination, in order.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201194)

I caught that to, a computer for people who arent good with computers...hmmm..i know lets give them the most unforgiving os on the planet!

Try to delete a system critical file on windows? Im pretty sure it wont let you, and even then it warns you about 3 times before it actually does it. Linux just lets you do it and gives you the finger.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201314)

really? as your user try to delete /etc/fstab ... go on, try it? yep thats right the OS gave you the finger and told you no. Now if you are root it'll happily let you do any old dumb thing you can think of. These are not going to be letting the user have root access. The only "critical" files they can delete then are their own files. Most GUI file managers these days default to asking you about every delete and delete == "mv $1 ${HOME}/Recycling Bin/" so yea. Also apart from the stuff in /boot/* almost every other file can be fixed without a reinstall now a "chmod ugo-rwx -R /*" as root will be hard to recover from and faster if you just reinstall i could recover it from an initramfs(i may start using on just for this) or liveCD to get me started(bash/sh/init/dev/fstab)

Re:Wait a second... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201322)

Try to delete a system critical file on windows? Im pretty sure it wont let you, and even then it warns you about 3 times before it actually does it. Linux just lets you do it and gives you the finger.

Linux says "Permission denied" if you try to delete anything belonging to root. If you try to sudo, it gives you the same kind of warning that Windows gives.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201488)

I doubt the intended audience is ever going to touch the command line and most, if not all, modern gui file managers for any given Linux distro do the same thing as Windows, warn you before you delete anything. And because Linux encourages you not to run as root as opposed to the nothing-works-unless-I'm-admin approach that Windows* takes I would argue that Linux makes it harder for users to hose their system then Windows does.

* yes, I know it's getting better with Vista and 7, but not much.

Re:Wait a second... (2, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202086)

It's a good thing you're only "pretty sure" about that, because (depending on what version of Windows you are referring to) you're utterly wrong .

In any Windows up to and including XP, deleting C:\WINDOWS and all subdirs is a trivial task. Windows is generally shipped with one user, and that user is an Administrative-level user. Windows Vista and Windows 7 have UAC, so at least the system will warn you at least once.

In every Linux distro I've ever worked with (Red Hat, Fedora, SuSE, Ubuntu, Mint, Knoppix, and a few others) your default user is a limited user account. If you went to any system-critical file and tried to delete it, you'd have to go through the extra step of escalating your permissions (log out and log back in as root, invoke su, or run the command through sudo). All three methods require that you enter a password of some sort.

So, for the vast majority of computers out there, your statement is the complete reverse of the reality involved.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201424)

And its not even Ubuntu?

From the second link: And at the heart of the project is Linux, or at least the Ubuntu variant of the open source operating system coupled with a desktop designed by Alex's own developers.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201504)

Linux... For the inexperienced?

Actually, the idea isn't that implausible. I had my wife running Slackware on her computer for several years until she went over to the Dark Side and got a Mac. Actually, she had a good enough reason for the latter: she wanted to use EndNote with MSOffice to write her PhD thesis.

I know there are alternatives and all that, but my point is that so long as you set the machine up well, Linux boxes are just as accessible as any Windows (or indeed Mac) implementation.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201612)

You don't by chance happen to work on the Debian project do you?

Re:Wait a second... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202008)

No, I work on a small project that tries to get FreeBSD to boot off of a series of IBM 80 Column Punch Card.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201912)

Ah, so it was YOU I went to college with. You should have known when we all warned you about it, but the failing grade on your final really should have clued you in.

Seriously, I went to college with a kid who proposed an encryption method that involved taking the ASCII value of each letter in the string to be encrypted, and multiplying each one by a unique randomly-generated 8-digit number. When asked how you decrypted it, he stated that all you needed to do was DIVIDE each character of the encrypted string by a series of freshly-generated 8-digit pseudorandom numbers.

Needless to say, though the code was well-written in and of itself, he never did get it running for finals, and about a dozen of us spent several hours each attempting to explain to him why.

PS: He also bought lottery tickets. :)

Re:Wait a second... (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202156)

Believe me, I've seen people so inept with computers that both the mouse and the keyboard seem like tools of frustration. And I daresay voice recognition, while getting close, is still not quite at the level for full operability.

If you've ever seen the results of a usability test you'll know problems with mice are the rule, not the exception. Pretty much every usability test I've done with the general public includes at least a few instances of users clicking the wrong mouse button. I've even seen it happen in testing with expert users, in one case all users were security architects or administrators for major ISPs and we still saw mistakes with which mouse button to click. It is almost certainly the most common usability flaw in modern computing.

And I daresay voice recognition, while getting close, is still not quite at the level for full operability.

I don't think we'll see voice recognition take off until we get computers managing the soundsystem for homes. Until they know what is going out of the speakers for video games, movies, television, music, telephone calls (ringer), computer system beeps, etc. they won't be able to filter out those sounds from potential incoming commands.

And also - you CAN write badly written software for Linux.

Of course you can, but given or lack of context we don't know what he was referring to. It could be he was referring to the Alex systems as closed ecosystems only able to run vetted software from their store, or he could have been referring to the needed privileges for applications on different platforms. Who can say. I just ignored that whole bit as being to vague to deserve my attention.

BBC? (1)

ak_hepcat (468765) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201064)

This will be helpful to the geeks BBC, whom have been trying to get and keep support for non-microsoft browsers alive.

Unfortunately, this probably won't be alive long enough to make a difference.

It's probably just a Beta unit (3, Funny)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201070)

The real Alex is off fighting the Ko-Dan armada.

Re:It's probably just a Beta unit (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201186)

I wish I had mod points, I'd so bump you with a funny for that Last Starfighter reference.

Rip Off (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201134)

Looked at the website. They're charging £400 for a minimum specced Celeron laptop. I can't even find a laptop worse than their one but you can get much better ones for £300 (less if you want a net top). Other than that, the broadband and tech support is largely priced the same as similar services.

BBC Micro (1)

Comboman (895500) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201662)

The BBC has a long history of selling overpriced [wikipedia.org] computers.

How many likely customers? (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201158)

you want to introduce millions of people to computing for the first time.

Ok. How many people out there have never seen a computer before? Besides newborns, and valley girls, how many people have not used a computer before?

Re:How many likely customers? (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201206)

327. Definitely 327 new customers. 327 new potential customers. Definitely. WHOOP WHOOP.

(it's marketing, duder, they're talking it up, that's what marketing people are supposed to do)

Re:How many likely customers? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202126)

Sorry, given the disproportionate number of people who have never used a computer before who are of extremely advanced age, by the time you finished typing that it was 326.

Now it's 325.

Nope, 324.

Drat. By the time it goes to market, no one in the target audience will be alive to buy it.

323.

"New Linux-Based Laptop For Computer Newbies" (1)

DJCouchyCouch (622482) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201210)

This can't end well.

Biggest Problem? (1)

WarlockSquire (212901) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201222)

"The biggest problem with Microsoft is badly-written software — the operating system allows you to write software badly unlike Mac or Linux."

agreed. — what?

Take that, iPad! (1)

etherDave (1703560) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201240)

...seeing as the overwhelming conclusion drawn about the iPad I have encountered is "this will be great for my grandma." NOW my grandma can have something more affordable, and something that I won't hate to help my grandma use.

I don't quite see the market (4, Insightful)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201248)

"People who love Linux will be keen to develop for this," he said

No they won't. People who love Linux/community/whatever will develop for Linux/community/whatever. People who would love the chance to make a quick quid/dollar by packaging up a FOSS app for the app store will love it, but that won't create a marketplace full of will supported apps. And the general public see the "free!" part of Linux and the "free!" part of FOSS apps and won't be wanting to pay for apps from an app store, especially while paying that much a month for a support contract.

39.95 a month

You can get a free netbook or lowish spec laptop for that, which will come with Windows and will run Ubuntu quite happily, with many mobile phone contracts over here. This comes with mobile Internet access and a phone you can make/take calls and send texts with. I don't see the market - people will not want to get a free computer then pay that much for support when they can get a free netbook just by agreeing to a mobile phone contract and moan about the lack of support they aren't paying for later (and/or get their mate to support them because Dave knows about these things).

The biggest problem with Microsoft is badly-written software — the operating system allows you to write software badly unlike Mac or Linux.

This is wrong on a level or two. While I'm no fan of Windows and the terrible that definitely exists for it, I've also seen terrible apps and scripts for Linux too. No OS can protect the world from slap-dash design/programming with not mind for security.

Re:I don't quite see the market (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201364)

In fact, I've just bothered to scan the article and related links, and they want you to pay a fair chunk for the laptop then pay for the support contract. That is not going to happen. It reminds me of a cartoon of a computer market stall advertising "computers for people who know nothing about computers, PentiumIIs for only $5,000"!

This business is doomed. (1)

jwietelmann (1220240) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201658)

Now don't get me wrong; I'm fine with people making money on Linux, but this whole business model does stink of shameless freeloading. And FOSS freeloaders never seem to last long in the market.

It seems like they're just going to take an established distro, make a couple UI modifications, and add a proprietary app store. Then they're going to make customers buy the (overpriced) computer, yet still charge a subscription for not just broadband (which is reasonable) but software updates. Software updates that other people wrote and tend to provide for free. And then there's that app store, and I think you're right: They're probably going to make users pay for software that otherwise would be completely free.

The Linux ecosystem seems to have a way of punishing freeloaders who monetize FOSS without contributing substantial added value. And this business does not seem to add enough value. Rather than developing for a new distro, wouldn't time be better spent creating an Ubuntu, Mandriva, or SUSE store in which for-pay apps are sold alongside free downloads of free-as-in-beer proprietary software and FOSS. Now that would be something that really adds value.

BTW, I am aware that Ubuntu is considering some sort of "app store" interface; I just don't know exactly how that's intended to operate.

Re:This business is doomed. (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201878)

Now don't get me wrong; I'm fine with people making money on Linux, but this whole business model does stink of shameless freeloading. And FOSS freeloaders never seem to last long in the market.

That's because it is so easy to undercut them in the market or at least match their prices. These people can do this for now because they have first mover advantage. o one else is selling simplified Linux laptops with internet and support services. They can even start out charging for freeware apps, because their customers won't know the difference or have alternatives.

This won't work in the long term, however. Someone else can take all their OSS code and do the exact same thing, except with different branding and with all those freeware apps actually free of charge. The market will then force these people to change or die to compete. And I have no problem with them charging for freeware apps to start and making some money off of them. They're taking a risk by being pioneers and others will learn from their mistakes. They deserve the extra cash. Hopefully, however, they won't expect it as an ongoing revenue stream.

And this business does not seem to add enough value.

I disagree. Simply preinstalling and configuring Linux on laptops and offering a full service support and data setup is significant value added. But going forward, their margins will probably get smaller as they have to compete with others who do the same thing; or they will have to start adding additional value. Dedicated support people cost money, and these people are going to discover it is cheaper to pay a couple of programmers to make fixes to Linux, than it is to continually answer phones and work around bugs. If nothing else, that makes this a win for the Linux community.

Rather than developing for a new distro, wouldn't time be better spent creating an Ubuntu, Mandriva, or SUSE store in which for-pay apps are sold alongside free downloads of free-as-in-beer proprietary software and FOSS.

Actually, I think they're being smart by targeting a niche market of really basic and incompetent computer users. The interface for all the distros you mention is inappropriate and too complex for their market. Have you seen the demo. It is a list of about 6 giant buttons down the side for the applications and three tabs at the bottom for various web resources. It is much more appropriate for very basic users.

BTW, I am aware that Ubuntu is considering some sort of "app store" interface; I just don't know exactly how that's intended to operate.

The plan is to build it into the AppCenter package manager in 10.x. I don't think all the details are hashed out yet. In general you'll be able to buy, download, install, and uninstall commercial apps from Canonical using the same package manager as you use for freeware.

Re:I don't quite see the market (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201668)

39.95 a month

You can get a free netbook or lowish spec laptop for that, which will come with Windows and will run Ubuntu quite happily, with many mobile phone contracts over here.

Note, the article quotes 39.95 british pounds per month for this service, but that version includes the high speed data service plan. The laptop and support plan are 9.99 british pounds, or about $20. I'd further note, the actual service quotes 24.99 british pounds with the broadband, not 39.95. So $50 per month including the high speed data plan a wireless router and free setup in your home is not all that expensive compared to prices in the US.

uhhh... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31201300)

I'm pretty sure a company already makes a 'stupid computer', they're called 'Apple'.

Good luck with that (1)

C3ntaur (642283) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201418)

It's the applications, stupid.

The first time Joe Newbie tries to open a Shockwave web page, send an OpenOffice document to his buddy (who uses MS) that opens with crapped-up formatting, or tries to connect to an Exchange server (and no, OWA light is not a good alternative), he's going to have a bad taste in his mouth.

Badly written or no, the majority of the desktop/laptop world is using closed source products that are largely designed not to play well with anything else. Add to that teams of developers on the closed source side who are paid to iron out the nagging little bugs and quirks that make the (G)UI experience uncomfortable to the end user, but that most open source developers aren't interested in dealing with (it's not an itch they need/want to scratch). I don't know how open source can compete with that.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201490)

i think you just overshot the target market for this by several miles...

Re:Good luck with that (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202412)

The first time Joe Newbie tries to open a Shockwave web page, send an OpenOffice document to his buddy (who uses MS) that opens with crapped-up formatting, or tries to connect to an Exchange server (and no, OWA light is not a good alternative), he's going to have a bad taste in his mouth.

If the machine is being targeted at newbie users, then I take that to be retired old folks or home users - in which case it's highly unlikely they're going to be connecting to an Exchange server for email; more likely IMAP, POP or Webmail.

And why is the doc format issue any different to my receiving an Office 2007 format document when I only use Office 2003?

Enough with the appstores! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31201514)

The hope to be the middle man between customers and developers for a large portion of the market looks awfully attractive to business types. It always has: That's the music industry business model and the same hope fueled a good portion of the new economy craze. The lock-in attempts are disgusting.

mod 0P (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31201568)

"Badly written software" (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202026)

I'm assuming that he's referring to the fact that lots of old Windows software and even some new ones require the user to have admin rights in order to run properly. That and the fact that Windows' handling of user data has been a moving target from version to version makes for some real support nightmares that (to the best of my knowledge) you just don't see in the Mac and Linux world.

To put it in a nutshell, Mac and Linux are much more structured and consistent about separating user, system, and application files than Windows, and this makes software written for those platforms less likely to have problems. In my experience of supporting hundreds of Macs and PCs running scores of applications, he's right.

Horsecrap (1)

fooslacker (961470) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202140)

The biggest problem with Microsoft is badly-written software — the operating system allows you to write software badly unlike Mac or Linux

Please, I've written crappy software on all sorts of OSes...quit being a fanboy.

lol (1)

charliemopps11 (1606697) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202568)

This company is going to sink like a stone.
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