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Linux, to be (Like Microsoft) or Not to be?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the that-is-the-question dept.

476

David writes "Stephen Shipman delivers a very articulate and concise view of how Linux fits in server and end user environments. He expresses his view in response to Nicolas Petreley's 'rant' in Linux Journal. He points out the subtle implications of efficiency versus consistency." From the article: "[...] efficiency (as measured by keystrokes) isn't the only metric for ease of use. Consistency must also be taken into account. Microsoft has made a lot of hay (and green) by flogging consistency".

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476 comments

Petreley makes good points (4, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909351)


Microsoft doesn't get it. There are things in Windows XP which are still as idiotic as ever. This isn't evidence of a superiour product, but the result of understanding. The Registry is once again a completely backwards way of contending with things, and worse, you sometimes have to get into the Registry to change things which should be straight-forward options in personalising your computer.

Then there's the Single User aspect, all over again. No matter how they pass XP off as a multi-user environment, it carriest considerable baggage of being single user - case in point: the pop-up key-stealer, when apps suddenly thrust themselves forward and steal a keystroke for the [ignore] [retry] [cancel] [OK] whatever prompt and vanish if it meets the input expectation.

What I repeatedly hear from Mac enthusiasts is how quickly a new user can sit down and get right to business, without thinking half as hard where things are or how settings work. Microsoft made a big deal out of bringing a tonne of people on board to advise them and examine their user interfaces, but I grow increasingly skeptical that these were actually people flown to a nice resort, given fine amenities and still shown what Microsoft thought they should see, rather than simply gaining some real inside, i.e. "so what's the thing you most dislike about Windows/Office/Etc.?" Rather like a homeless guy will be your best friend if you give him a few bucks.

Consistency must also be taken into account. Microsoft has made a lot of hay (and green) by flogging consistency".

They also have become extremely overconfident because success came too easily. Note many of their recent failures. And may I be among the first of many to recognise Origami as an utter flop. Looks neat, but it's a niche player, same as Tablet Computers. It's too big and too small at the same time. Once again a complete misunderstanding of the market.

Linux should strive to be efficient and easy to use, not mugging one of the most inexplicably frustrating environments ever.

Petreley makes unsharpened points (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14909457)

"Microsoft doesn't get it. There are things in Windows XP which are still as idiotic as ever. This isn't evidence of a superiour product, but the result of understanding. The Registry is once again a completely backwards way of contending with things, and worse, you sometimes have to get into the Registry to change things which should be straight-forward options in personalising your computer."

So what's the difference between a registry used properly by programmers, and one that isn't?

"Then there's the Single User aspect, all over again. No matter how they pass XP off as a multi-user environment, it carriest considerable baggage of being single user - case in point: the pop-up key-stealer, when apps suddenly thrust themselves forward and steal a keystroke for the [ignore] [retry] [cancel] [OK] whatever prompt and vanish if it meets the input expectation."

How many people are sitting in your chair?

"What I repeatedly hear from Mac enthusiasts is how quickly a new user can sit down and get right to business, without thinking half as hard where things are or how settings work. Microsoft made a big deal out of bringing a tonne of people on board to advise them and examine their user interfaces, but I grow increasingly skeptical that these were actually people flown to a nice resort, given fine amenities and still shown what Microsoft thought they should see, rather than simply gaining some real inside, i.e. "so what's the thing you most dislike about Windows/Office/Etc.?" Rather like a homeless guy will be your best friend if you give him a few bucks."

Since the stories about LINUX. It looks to me like Linux has a perfect opportunity to get it all correct.

"They also have become extremely overconfident because success came too easily. Note many of their recent failures. And may I be among the first of many to recognise Origami as an utter flop. Looks neat, but it's a niche player, same as Tablet Computers. It's too big and too small at the same time. Once again a complete misunderstanding of the market."

How long has Origami been in the market again?

"Linux should strive to be efficient and easy to use, not mugging one of the most inexplicably frustrating environments ever."

Good thing we dispensed with that whole "global domination" crap then. Second best is looking better and better.

Re:Petreley makes good points (2, Insightful)

Mantrid (250133) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909474)

Just one comment, how can you say Origami is a total flop - AFAIK there's no units out there to buy yet at all. Just some hype on engadget etc, then some disappointment when it wasn't what they thought it was...then some interest when they saw the new interface.

Re:Petreley makes good points (5, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909605)

Just one comment, how can you say Origami is a total flop - AFAIK there's no units out there to buy yet at all. Just some hype on engadget etc, then some disappointment when it wasn't what they thought it was...then some interest when they saw the new interface.

It was years ago that I bought into every shiny new wizzy tech that came along. It took years to wear away my blind otimism that new==better. After spending a good amount of my own money and many long hours fighting with things to make them do what I needed experience etched it's way into my assessment of new, wizzy tech. I don't mean to come across as cocky or smug, but I think I've got to the point where I can take a look at something and determine if it's going to be useful and easy to use, or another exasperating time fighting with it to do what I need, not what the designers thought i should have.

One of the reasons I like being a programmer is writing my own tools. There are tools which will kinda-sorta do the things I need, but often more or less and not quite what I had in mind.

I look at Origami and see effectively a big Palm Pilot or smaller version of a Tablet Computer. It will no doubt be popular with anyone a laptop, tablet or Palm/PocketPC doesn't quite work for. On the last few flights I've been on and the last few conferences I've attended I have seen zero Tablets and few, if any, PDA size tools. Everyone hauls around a laptop. I think that's a pretty clear indicator of what the general population is drawn to. Origami is simply Microsofts misguided way of telling people, We know what you really need, despite many tools like this over the years which have vanished. Maybe UPS and FedEx will adopt them, but what they use looks like it could be run over by a truck and still function.

I don't think it's healthy to pattern user functionality on the designs of a company which is trying to expand into everyone elses market, instead of cleaning up their own back yard.

Re:Petreley makes good points (5, Informative)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909488)

The pop-up key stealing bit happens on Linux too. Ever kick a app off and while waiting switch to the browser and then the one you launched first thrusts itself into view? Happens to me on Linux too.

Re:Petreley makes good points (4, Insightful)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909730)

That's programmable through the window manager, though. With my current setup of Gnome, if I launch a new program, it pops up in the background, rather than in front.
Best UI improvement I've ever seen in the computer industry. I can start something, then keep working away on whatever I was doing before I started it, and when I'm ready, the program I started is up and running behind whatever I'm currently working on.
Having said that, it's not so simple as "everything starts in the background". It depends on whether the program has any open windows already, and what layer they're at, whether the program was started by another program or the Gnome menu, and a whole bunch of other crap. The way it's done though, seems to be very good.

Re:Petreley makes good points (3, Interesting)

johneee (626549) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910087)

Yeah, this happens to me on Windows too.

I wait for something to complete downloading in IE and go to something else, and when IE's done, I get the thing on the taskbar flashing orange. If several IE windows are open, the rollup button flashes, and when I click on that, the one that wants my attention is flashing on the pop-up. No focus stealing involved.

Re:Petreley makes good points (1)

drew (2081) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910012)

That's a recent 'feature'. Linux never used to be that way, but in copying all of Windows not-so-goodies, that one crept in there somewhere as well, and it drives me crazy.

And to the responder who said that your version of GNOME doesn't do this, what version are using and what configuration setting did you have to change to get that behavior? Either you are using an older version of GNOME than me, or you have found a configuration option that I have not. To me that is the single most infuriating feature of my current GNOME desktop.

Re:Petreley makes good points (4, Insightful)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909495)

case in point: the pop-up key-stealer, when apps suddenly thrust themselves forward and steal a keystroke for the [ignore] [retry] [cancel] [OK] whatever prompt and vanish if it meets the input expectation.

The what? I vaguely recall that being a problem in Win98, but I run Win2k here, and when an inactive application demands input, it stays right down in the taskbar where it belongs - all that happens is that the taskbar icon flashes to notify me. Surely this is the case in WinXP too? It would seem strange for Microsoft to introduce the correct behaviour in one version of Windows, only to take it out again in the next.

What I repeatedly hear from Mac enthusiasts is how quickly a new user can sit down and get right to business, without thinking half as hard where things are or how settings work.

And that's total bullshit. OS X is arguably easier to learn for someone who's new to computers altogether, but anyone who has only ever used Windows before, faced with a Mac, is going to have a terribly frustrating time just trying to resize a window ("I click on the left edge and drag, to make it wider, and the window moves instead! What's with that?"), let alone figuring out how on earth the Dock is supposed to work.

What it comes down to is, people like what they're used to. That means Mac users love Macs, Windows users say they hate Windows but hate trying other platforms even more, and Linux users can't figure out how anyone can find Linux difficult to use. Which is why it is sensible for Linux to behave more like Windows (KDE), or more like OS X (Gnome) - because with greater familiarity will come greater uptake.

Re:Petreley makes good points (2, Informative)

BoneFlower (107640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909737)

"And that's total bullshit. OS X is arguably easier to learn for someone who's new to computers altogether, but anyone who has only ever used Windows before, faced with a Mac, is going to have a terribly frustrating time just trying to resize a window ("I click on the left edge and drag, to make it wider, and the window moves instead! What's with that?"), let alone figuring out how on earth the Dock is supposed to work."

Not really. I picked all that up in about 20 minutes, had it down well enough to find it easier than Windows in less than an hour. And I hadn't touched a mac in about 10 years- that long ago they were probably more different from OSX than Windows is.

Re:Petreley makes good points (2, Informative)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909783)

It's been a while since I used win2k, but I can assure you that the problem does still exist in WinXP. I was cursing that behaviour just last week.

Re:Petreley makes good points (1)

fwr (69372) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909855)

I'd have to agree. Windows XP still has this stupid behavior. Particularly frustrating is Microsoft applications not making themselves modal for certain dialog boxes, or the modal feature not working like it should. I've had to change my password on at least one occasion because a password dialog that should have been modal was not, or the modal feature didn't work correctly, resulting in my googling for my password. I'm not paranoid, but I'd assume that search keys are stored somewhere easily accessible. Thank God that E*Trade has a SecureID token!

Re:Petreley makes good points (1)

Arandir (19206) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909870)

As a new (and still part-time) Mac user, I independently discovered the "it just works" thing about the Mac. I'm primarily a FreeBSD user, so I can look at this from a somewhat neutral perspective.

When I am finished installing Windows, I still have a lot of work left ahead of me. I need to grab a couple of manufacturer's CDs to install drivers, one of which is required in my case to have a screen resolution higher than 640x480 VGA. I double check my hardware manager that all hardware conflicts are resolved. Then I set up the network. Then I turn on firewall, turn off some ports, and generally correct several braindead default settings. Then I download updates.

Under the Mac, the only additional thing I need to so is download updates. The hardware already works. The network already works. The firewall is already on. Default system settings are already appropriate.

Re:Petreley makes good points (1)

cortana (588495) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909912)

For that to be a fair comparison you should compare like with like: a PC with a preconfigured, OEM installation of Windows will likewise already contain all the drivers you need and so on.

Re:Petreley makes good points (2, Interesting)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909878)

And that's total bullshit. OS X is arguably easier to learn for someone who's new to computers altogether, but anyone who has only ever used Windows before, faced with a Mac, is going to have a terribly frustrating time just trying to resize a window ("I click on the left edge and drag, to make it wider, and the window moves instead! What's with that?"), let alone figuring out how on earth the Dock is supposed to work.

Not in my experience. Everyone I've ever seen switch, including myself with 15 years Windows experience, has had no problem at all catching on to the differences. My entire company of software developers switched with no problem and vastly increased productivity. My girlfriend switched with very few questions. Windows/Linux to Mac is the easiest switch possible. Every time I have to use a Windows machine again I turn into all thumbs because it's designed so poorly.

Re:Petreley makes good points (3, Insightful)

salgiza (650851) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909938)

The what? I vaguely recall that being a problem in Win98, but I run Win2k here, and when an inactive application demands input, it stays right down in the taskbar where it belongs - all that happens is that the taskbar icon flashes to notify me. Surely this is the case in WinXP too? It would seem strange for Microsoft to introduce the correct behaviour in one version of Windows, only to take it out again in the next.

Mmm... that's a good question. I can assure you that, in XP, it happens. The only time I got spyware in my computer was when a a pop-up appeared while I was chatting with MS Messenger and browsing the Internet at the same time (and I was using XP). A window appeared asking me if I wanted to install whatever (I didn't have the chance to read it), and stealing the focus, just as I pressed Enter to send a message in Messenger.

Anyway, from what I've read, this doesn't have as much to do with the OS as with what the programmer decided to do. In Windows, when a program asks the user for confirmation (or shows a warning/alert) it's the norm to show a modal window stealing the keyboard focus. On the Mac, it's the norm to make the app jump in the doc. However, I've seen Windows programs not stealing the focus (IE, if I recall correctly, at least in Windows 2000), and I've seen Mac programs being nasty and doing it.

Re:Petreley makes good points (2, Interesting)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909497)

XP is six years old...

Vista is pretty much multi-user on the Unix level - even moves home/profile to a "Users" subdir! The problem is applications which still stuff datafiles in folders on the root. I can name some media players and download managers here.

LUA will bring the windows GUI to - at least - SUDO level, with a more granular and flexible access control mechanism than simple *nix permission bits. I wish ACLs and LDAP were better integrated on the *nix side. Sit down, OS X! I wasn't talking about you.

Re:Petreley makes good points (5, Informative)

tpgp (48001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909836)

XP is six years old...

No. XP is 4 1/2 years old.

XP SP2 is a year and half old. And I still can't do lots of things (like full use of a USB thumb drive) using a non-priviliged account (not to mention that the default install on my Microsoft-partnered laptop came with the user accounts having full admin priviliges)

Your 'Vista will fix it' argument is quite frankly, the same thing I've heard about XP SP2, Win2k, NT4, & NT 3.5. It wasn't true for those operating systems and I doubt it will be true for vista.

Vista (1)

fwr (69372) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909907)

You're talking about a future product. Vaproware at this point. I guess we can feel good that Microsoft Windows will finally catch up to the functionality of Linux desktops at some point in the future.

Re:Vista (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910056)

I'm a big Debian user. Don't get all puffed up, man!

You can always DL the Vista CTP release, and figure things out yourself...

Re:Petreley makes good points (3, Funny)

argent (18001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909983)

Vista is pretty much multi-user on the Unix level

So in one instance of Vista:

I could run one copy of IIS in two instances on separate addresses.

I could run one copy of the Windows Networking service in two instances on two addresses, so that the files and other objects visible in each instance could be completely unrelated... with one only exposing "D:" as "\\servername1\ftp" and the other on the other interface exposing "\\servername2\C", "\\servername2\D", and so on...

I could run one copy of Active Directory in two instances and serve two completely serapate DNS hierarchies on different interfaces.

I could create an environment where "C:" was mapped to "C:\chrooted\C" and so on, and even registry access from that environment went to hives in C:\chrooted\C\Windows...?

Re:Petreley makes good points (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910072)

Probably - for the DotNet architecture stuff. Legacy land still lives - and will for a LONG time - in Win32 world, which includes Win95 compat. :-(

Re:Petreley makes good points (1)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910095)

11 years ago Microsoft was touting Windows 95 as being 'almost as good as a Mac."
As far as I'm concerned, they're still there. Putting User directories into yet another different directory than they are today isn't going to fix things. MS Windows still has it's soul bound to the daemon of the single-user. It's probably never going to get free.

(( And as for Microsoft being King of Consistency: I'd say that they are shabby pretenders to the throne. Apple has been and remains secure as rulers of that domain. ))

Re:Petreley makes good points (4, Insightful)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909552)

All OS's have little backwards bits here and there. Gnome has gconf, for instance. MacOS X has some hidden config files you have to get to for (rare) things.

Compare, say, setting up apache on a typical Linux distribution with configuring IIS on Windows. The difference is night and day. Sure, sometimes you have to dig into the Machine.conf or use a command line tool like httpcfg, but these are rarities, rather than the common case. Also, while there are some GUI configuration tools for apache from various sources, all of them suck rocks through a straw to the point that it's EASIER to look up arcane flags and configuration settings and type them into a text editor than it is to click a button. Typically, it's just a graphical representation of the config file.

OSX and Windows do a damn good job of making the common stuff easy to configure and use with a nice GUI. On Linux, what config applet you use may depend on which environment you're using. KDE and Gnome both have different stuff, as does SUSE, Red Hat, etc.. consistency may be better (not great, but better) within one particular distro, but not across even two similar ones.

This is a hot button, though. Lots of people will disagree, because whatever they're doing works for them. it's that kind of myopic outlook ("it works for me, you must be too stupid") that makes it so difficult for Linux to gain acceptance. It doesn't have to "work for you", it has to "work for THEM", and if it works for you too, then that's even better.

Re:Petreley makes good points (1)

moof1138 (215921) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910155)

"Also, while there are some GUI configuration tools for apache from various sources, all of them suck rocks through a straw to the point that it's EASIER to look up arcane flags and configuration settings and type them into a text editor than it is to click a button."

While I'm probaly not the best judge since I think Apache is easy to set up (the 'arcane flags' are documented in the comments in the config file), I found webmin [webmin.com] makes a nice and usable GUI for Apache.

What's a "single user" problem? (5, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909557)

No matter how they pass XP off as a multi-user environment, it carriest considerable baggage of being single user - case in point: the pop-up key-stealer, when apps suddenly thrust themselves forward and steal a keystroke for the [ignore] [retry] [cancel] [OK] whatever prompt and vanish if it meets the input expectation.

Of all the things you could propose as a reason for considering it "single user", that's the oddest. It's hateful and frustrating, and more prevalent in MS WIndows than X11 or Mac OS, but it's more prevalent in X11 than Mac OS, and more prevalent in Mac OS than 8 1/2.

You could have pointed to the single-application-instance shared with Mac OS (which Firefox has imported to X11). Whether it's services, desktop applications, or just logged in users, it takes a huge effort to have two instances of ANYTHING running in Windows.

Their virtual terminal and user switching required years of development work from Citrix, Xerox, Metaframe, and other companies to figure out what parts of the user environment should be shared, what should be duplicated, and what should be switched from instance to instance... and you still can't have two login sessions under the same user id.

For applications that run as services there's been even less work done to get around the problems... so it's actually more cost effective to build "blade" servers or run multiple copies of the OS in virtual machines than to run multiple webservers or other applications in the same instance of Windows.

I mean, I had a 486/50... this is a machine that wasn't powerful enough to run one instance of even NT 3.51... and I was running multiple webservers on different addresses under the same kernel. This kind of thing is routine and easy in UNIX, because it was designed for multiple users (and thus multiple instances of every possible resource) from the very start.

Re:What's a "single user" problem? (1)

BoneFlower (107640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909785)

bah, a 486 can run NT4 quite well.

ok, not well, but rock solid stable.

Re:Petreley makes good points (2, Insightful)

70Bang (805280) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909928)



XP's things aren't the funniest (clinical): Were they not going to consolidate XP into a couple of core types?"

They seem to be breeding like coat hangers in a dark closet.

As for all of the discussions about Windows vs. Linux (and the varios Linux UIs), the game has become cutthroat (for those of you who are athletically inclined), not 1::1. Larger boxes (e.g., are server issues, but that's a different sandbox. The desktop has now become Linux, Windows, and Apple. Although many are claiming to set relatives with a *nix build and they've not noticed any problems, I don't think that's germane to this discussion.. But if businesses get tired of kneeling in front of Microsoft, *poof* here comes Mac, even if it's on a machine-by-machine, group-by-group, division....

I would say Microsoft fears Mac when it comes to the desktop UI until Linux can demonstrate a professional, long-term UI, no matter what some says about what's available now. Remember, you have bias. If we were to assign you the task of defending Windows and your opponent switching from Windows to Linux, what would your arguments look like? I think honest answers on the opposition position make for interesting entertainment, but more imporantly, how well-versed they are about each others' material. (you'd be surprised how little people are able to defend the opposing view because they know almost nothing about it, but use fiat|ukase to make their viewpoint to be the right one.

Whatever Miiiiiicrosoft wants.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14910159)

Microsoft doesn't get it.

Apparently, the 'it' in your statement is not referring to 'money.'

OUTGOING (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14909359)

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K-BYE

Solved! (-1, Offtopic)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909443)

HELLO WORLD
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68575 68575 43609 43609 14824 14824 20713 20713 34795 34795
06284 06284 47084 47084 42495 42495 39708 39708 29742 29742
K-BYE
Ugh, this "Anonymous Coward" guy has the hardest cryptoquips. But I think I got this one solved:
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Flogging consistency? (4, Funny)

mcsestretch (926118) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909410)

It's not Microsoft's continual flogging of consistency that bothers me. It's that they consistently flog the dolphin.

Seriously, Microsoft. You'll eventually go blind.

Re:Flogging consistency? (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909658)

and if Microsoft is flogging consistency, what is Linux doing to it? The mind boggles.

Re:Flogging consistency? (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909844)

Absolutley right. They've been flogging the Dolphin since 11 November 2001 (GameCube release date)

Re:Flogging consistency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14910045)

Seriously, Microsoft. You'll eventually go blind.


why? Does MS shag?

/etc/rant/slashdotted (1)

TheMotedOne (753275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909426)

Does anyone have a mirror of the rant?

It appears to already have been slashdotted.

Re:/etc/rant/slashdotted (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14909471)

Works fine for me, but here's the text anyways:

Pack up the Microsoft sycophants and shoot them off to Mars.

When did Microsoft lose its status among open-source developers as the evil, or better still, incompetent empire? When did open-source developers stop trying to make software better than Microsoft's and start imitating everything Microsoft does? Why do we have to have an open-source Outlook, or an open-source dotNet? Sure, there are examples of how we do things better in Linux than Windows. But I'm getting really tired of the monkey see Microsoft, monkey do Microsoft mentality that has infected open source. And the operative word here is "monkey"--hint, hint.

Aside from being open and free, isn't superiority what got Linux where it is today? Once upon a time, Microsoft was under intense pressure to catch up to Linux stability (in my unhumble opinion, Microsoft still has a long way to go). Now we have several projects that exist for no other reason than to to catch up to and duplicate Microsoft software. Worse, we're duplicating architectural nightmares like the registry, and with no other apparent purpose than to be more like Windows.

I have nothing against cream-skimming the best features of Windows for use in Linux. But creating a registry for Linux is not cream-skimming. It's pond-scum-skimming. What happened to the days when people were appalled at the idea that you'd have to edit a registry in order to make this or that feature work the way you wanted? I don't care if the registry is binary or XML. It's a maintenance nightmare.

Next time you visit Redmond, take a look at big hole with teeth marks in the Microsoft butt. That's a "came back and bit it" bite mark left by the registry. While Microsoft is trying to get around its mistakes, we're busy duplicating them.

Here's another example. Emulating what OLE 2.0 brought to Microsoft Office is not cream-skimming. It's biohazardous-medical-waste-skimming.

I remember the original Microsoft demos of OLE 2.0. You paste spreadsheet cells into a Word document. You click on the cells and the word processor magically transforms into a spreadsheet program. That makes good demo, but did anyone ask what real value it offers? Aside from looking cool, that is? This feature is bad not because of what it does, but because of what it fails to do. It fails to make it easy to create a live link between the original spreadsheet data and what you paste into the document.

Fortunately, not everyone has imbibed from the punch bowl of Microsoft cool-aid. EIOffice, although it looks and feels more like Microsoft Office than OpenOffice.org or KOffice, actually came up with a fresh idea. Imagine that. Innovation. But it took a commercial company, not an Open Source community, to do it. The folks at Evermore Software (the makers of EIOffice) must have at least one non-Microsoft drone on board to enlighten the developers as to what really matters. EIOffice gives you a menu selection to paste a bit of spreadsheet into a document where the cells are live-linked to the original spreadsheet data.

And this next bit of information should send open-source fanatics into a tizzy. EIOffice is based on that evil, despicable language called Java. How dare they? Mono C#, Python, Ruby, maybe even Perl. But Java? Won't that encourage Sun to become dictator of the world if EIOffice gets popular? It's perfectly fine to copy Win32 DLLs in order to make Linux do Windows tasks, but heaven forbid Linux should be infected with a Java runtime. How Sun replaced Microsoft as the evil empire is beyond me. But don't get me started on that.

Back to OLE 2.0 and its successors. Of course, the OpenOffice.org and KOffice folks have faithfully duplicated this monstrosity. Hey, it's how Microsoft Office works. It must be the way to go, right?

That's what they want you to think. Who is they? I don't know, but I can't help but wonder if one or more people within some of these open-source projects are Microsoft moles.

"Here's the plan. Infiltrate the Open Source community and neutralize it. Convince them that the only way to compete with Microsoft is to create open-source versions of Microsoft's great software and development tools. Without our patents, you'll always be several steps behind everything we do. And the fact that you're imitating us makes us look like the clear innovation leaders. End result? Free advertising and marginalization of the value of having Linux."

It's time to boot the Microsoft suck-ups out of the Open Source community. Give them a free copy of Windows XP, Visual Studio dotNet and two months to use these to create a navigation system for the rocket we'll use to send them to Mars.

Yeah, but what do I really think?

Nicholas Petreley is Editor in Chief of Linux Journal and a former programmer, teacher, analyst and consultant who has been working with and writing about Linux for more than ten years.

FOSS Means Business, in Belfast, March 16th (5, Interesting)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909449)

There's a conference this Thursday, March 16th in Belfast called FOSS Means Business [foss-means-business.org] where Stallman and Perens are both doing business-orientated lectures, plus presentations by Google, Open Source Academy, and Oracle.

People trying to encourage IT decision makers to transition to free software have to learn to explain it. Bruce Perens is good at this, but as well as telling people about the value of free software, we have to tell them how to hang on to it - how to not let it slip through their fingers. That's Stallman's angle, as can be read in this transcript of his lecture on GPLv3 [www.ifso.ie] .

Microsoft isn't top because of their software quality, and free software won't displace them purely based on quality either. We'll win for other reasons.

Stallman? Business? (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909516)

What the hell?

(The above should be flagged "sarcastic" for those who happen to lack such a barometer internally. I hear it's coming in Hurd 1.0, though.)

Yes, it's all true, and it's BIG (3, Interesting)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909600)

The above should be flagged "sarcastic" for those who happen to lack such a barometer internally

No, it's true actually. A lot of businesses in Northern Ireland were poking at free software but no one wants to be first, so we're organising a big free software conference aimed at businesses. Stallman's name is a big draw. He knows it's a business audience and he'll adapt to that. He'll be including a substantial section about GPLv3 [fsfeurope.org] , which has gotten a surprising level of interest from public administration bodies.

Interest has been huge and there were many requests for speaking slots that had to be turned down. I guess there will be a FOSS Means Business 2007 too, but one at a time. On Thursday we expect at least 300. The venue can hold up to 1150.

I think events like these, and the networking that happens at them, is more important than increasing efficiency of the software. We'll see.

Re:Yes, it's all true, and it's BIG (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909736)

Oh, goodie, talking about the GPLv3...do we shoot him before or afterwards?

More seriously, though. I'm sure that Stallman will attempt to tailor his comments to a business audience. I am equally sure that he'll be looked on as little more than a joke. The man has charisma--I've seen him speak in public, and he's got something there--but he's just not the one you want speaking to a business audience.

Torvalds? Sure. He actually works for a living. He is someone whose existence a businessman can parse, relate to, and understand.

Stallman? Considerably less so.

converting others to linux users (-1, Offtopic)

Douglas Simmons (628988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909453)

I'd like to get my ol' lady using Linux without freaking her out too much. Which desktop environment is best at looking like Windows? Is there some addition to KDE or Gnome that has an XP theme?

Re:converting others to linux users (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14909479)

I'd like to get my ol' lady using Linux without freaking her out too much.

This is SEXIST and WRONG.

also you are a faggit.

Re:converting others to linux users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14909630)

Wow. Sexism met with heterosexism.

Ahh. Feel the love.

Re:converting others to linux users (4, Informative)

idonthack (883680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909622)

Is there some addition to KDE or Gnome that has an XP theme?
http://www.kde-look.org/content/show.php?content=2 9551 [kde-look.org]
Average users won't know the difference.

Of course, they wouldn't know the difference even if you didn't skin it.

Re:converting others to linux users (3, Informative)

mayesa (944673) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909650)

You can try KUbuntu, Ubuntu, Knoppix, Linspire, Xandros in that order..
You can try out, Linux + Java based solutions with ServiceRules who is a small argentinian company that performed several linux migrations.http://www.servicerules.com.ar/ [servicerules.com.ar]

Missing point (1)

DarthChris (960471) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909464)

An application can consistently non-inituitive, and extremely efficient when used by those who wrote it. However if the learning curve is too steep for the average user, they aren't going to bother, and will stick with what they know - even if it costs more and isn't as good.

Re:Missing point (3, Insightful)

lahvak (69490) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909670)

But who cares? :)

Seriously, not all applications are for what you call "average user". I wouldn't advocate that our secretary learns how to use Vim, but I also wouldn't use another editor if I could avoid it. And I certainly didn't write Vim.

Spamlet (2, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909483)

To be or not to be Open Source, that is the question.
Whether it is nobler in mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous Microsoft fortune, or to take up your arms against a sea of troubles and by using Linux, end them.
To die, to sleep no more.

Linux is Not Windows (2, Informative)

houghi (78078) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909494)

Linux is Not Windows [oneandoneis2.org]

Link is BS (1)

giorgosts (920092) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909841)

Don't compare a car to a motorbike. A more accurate comparison would be a car (xp) to a heavy track (linux). Linux is slower but takes more load, multitasking, but you have to get your hands dirty cause it doesn't work all the time off the box. Xp requires a lot of third-party software to work properly (extra money or risk of bundled spyware), a linux distro comes with (some) low quality or unstable apps. But the main reason of someone choosing open source is freedom. The notion that there is such a thing as free software that you are free to develop, use, modify, distribute or even make money out of.

Linux Registry? (2, Interesting)

superid (46543) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909501)

According to the rant, there is now something of a linux equivalent to the windows registry? Where is that exactly?

Re:Linux Registry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14909551)

Its called gconf

Re:Linux Registry? (1)

The MESMERIC (766636) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909998)

that is applicable only for Gnome Distros.

The answer is that there is no single all-encompassing registry in Linux like you have in Windows.

Re:Linux Registry? (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910073)

The registry isn't "all-encompassing" in Windows either. Sure the base OS stores it's data there, but many applications still use .ini files, totally ignoring the registry.

Re:Linux Registry? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14909659)

It's called the Elektra project (formerly the Linux Registry project). At the moment, however, it's just /etc

Re:Linux Registry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14909664)

/etc/init.d ?

Re:Linux Registry? (2, Insightful)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909875)

Haha, in all the /etc/init.d scripts you can at least put comments. That's one of the really nice things about plain text config files, even the ones that are just lists of variable settings. I always mark my edits to config files with #AWD and usually some comment as to why I made the change, so if I ever need to go back it's easy to remember why I did what I did.

They may have "flogged" consistency, but... (5, Interesting)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909534)

Considering that there's really not been any real consistency throughout MS' product offerings or
anything else about Windows' operating environment:

- Printing that doesn't work the same from Windows 95/98/Me to NT/2000/XP because of different
driver rules at the GDI layer.

- API's that change from one ruleset to the next without warning (the move from 16-bit to 32-bit
generated at least several API calls that produced nasty results because they used zero as the
default but in the 32-bit version they used a string for that parameter and they didn't account
for this in the API...)

- Consumer WinCE devices being allowed out the door with missing functionalities (i.e. The Uniden
UniPro 100 PDA was missing the Finder and a few other things- for no good reasons other than they
were short on firmware memory because of the added recording functionalities- and instead of
increasing the BOM costs slightly for more ROM capacity, they opted to omit some of the functionalities
that make it consistent with the other WinCE devices.)

- Apps don't have any consistent install/uninstall interface. (While Linux IS better in this regard,
it's got many of the same problems...).

- Apps often install their own DLLs to prevent being hosed by other apps and Microsoft when they do
updates.

There's tons more. "Windows" only seems consistent because the end-user community sees something that
"works like Windows" and is therefore familiar- since it's familiar, they whitewash over all the
issues about consistency and it "being easier to use". Issues that plague them day in, day out.

Microsoft may talk the talk, but when the rubber meets the pavement, they're not walking the walk- not even close.

Re:They may have "flogged" consistency, but... (2, Insightful)

MooCows (718367) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909706)

- Apps don't have any consistent install/uninstall interface. (While Linux IS better in this regard, it's got many of the same problems...).

Well, I think removing "Program Files\AppName\*" makes more sense than hunting for a bunch of different files in /etc, /usr/bin, /usr/lib and whatnot.
Placing all applications files (minus user settings) in a single directory is what I actually like most about Windows. Unzipping AppName.zip into a new directory in Program Files, then later removing the whole directory is quick, easy and clean. And it doesn't require any special packaging. Obviously, what I dislike most about Linux and BSD is installing and uninstalling software. Package manager packages, tarballs, and the various ideas about what goes where. Confusing and frustrating in my opinion.

Disclaimer: I'm sure a Linux user will soon point out why this Windows paradigm is such a pain. ;)

Re:They may have "flogged" consistency, but... (2, Informative)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909859)

What you're describing sounds more like MacOS X than Windows. Unzipping AppName.zip in to a new directory in "Program Files"? What Windows applications do you use? The majority I've dealt with seem to be packaged with installers who also touch the registry if not various other places.

Granted - there are plenty of little apps that can be "installed" in the manner you've described. But then, you CAN do the same thing with *nix applications too if you really want to (not that OSX is doing anything THAT special). I do on occasion. And some of the proprietary commercial games I've bought for Linux do, too (as well as various one-off builds of Firefox, SUN JRE, etc.).

Re:They may have "flogged" consistency, but... (4, Insightful)

arivanov (12034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909895)

I am not a windows user, but I happen to admin a mixed network with 50%+ Windows. With all due respect you are talking BS. This was valid in the days of 3.11. It has not been true ever since. Less then 5% of the applications nowdays will operate correctly if installed by copying because they rely on registry settings put in by the installer.

Funnily enough the model you are describing works fine on guess what... Gentoo and BSDs. Portage. I personally dislike it, but that is a matter of taste.

Re:They may have "flogged" consistency, but... (3, Insightful)

pyros (61399) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909898)

Disclaimer: I'm sure a Linux user will soon point out why this Windows paradigm is such a pain. ;)

I'll just point out that that isn't really the Windows paradigm. The Windows paradigm puts a bunch of keys in the regsitry for configuring the app, seemingly half of which are inaccessible to configure from within the app, and 90% of which aren't removed when the app is uninstalled. If everything was truly self contained "c:\program files\app" and your personal prefs in "c:\documents and settings\pyros\application data\app" then that would be very straight forward.

You'd still have software publishers including their own favorite version of a common DLL. Such that even if the system copy gets updated to fix a security vulnerability, the app will still be vulnerable without its own update.

Hopefully you'll notice that my response has nothing whatsoever to do with how anything is done in Linux, and looks purely at the merits of how things are done on Windows.

Re:They may have "flogged" consistency, but... (1)

FrostedChaos (231468) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910096)

Well, I think removing "Program Files\AppName\*" makes more sense than hunting for a bunch of different files in /etc, /usr/bin, /usr/lib and whatnot.

I hope I'm not feeding the troll here... but does anyone really believe that deleting folders in "program files" uninstalls applications?
yum install clue
Setting up Install Process
Setting up repositories
Parsing package install arguments
No Match for argument: clue
Nothing to do

Re:They may have "flogged" consistency, but... (1)

Forbman (794277) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910100)

I would agree, if only Windows were set up so that x:\Program Files was a virtual folder to a different partition. Windows blows up? Great, reinstall Windows and, as part of that installation process, have it be able to "reinstall" applications in Program Files w/o actually having to reinstall the app in most cases. Then, we can backup our apps once in a great while, our personal files and data frequently, and Windows' system files somewhere in between, and that a failure in one part does not necessarily require reinstallation of EVERYTHING from original sources/backups (backups, what backups?). Then, make all these virtual directories just hide under "C:\". Heck, one could probably get away with that, too at this point.

Sure, the various underpinnings for some of this are there (i.e., move the drive that "Documents and Settings" sits on, for example), but they're so unmentioned because that would be "too complex" is silly. Set it up right the first time, and it's so flippin' easy for Joe Blow to deal with (i.e., the computer person he hires to fix it for him) that Windows support becomes as easy as it's been promised for almost 20 years now.

Oh, and provide some way, even in the Recovery Console, to deal with a broken Registry in an off-line kind of mode: identify broken data, broken trees, fix/prune, etc.

Re:They may have "flogged" consistency, but... (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910117)

Yes it is if you pretend that the registry doesn't exist.

How can you critique this? (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909563)

It has, as the logical postivists say, "no cognitive content", or at least very little. By talking about "Linux" and indeed "Windows" so broadly, you can make the figures for consistency come out to whatever you want. In either case the largest source of inconsistency is the choice of optional software you choose to put on the system; as it is much more convenient and you have a much wider variety of software you can install on a distro like Ubuntu, naturally you can easily make your system wildly inconsistent. It's because there's so much software, from different sources, that are available at a touch of a button under Linux. A lot of that software is of course really bad from a UI perspective, but even if you restricted yourself to reasonably good software, it's still easy to end up with a LOT of software installed on a Linux box.

None of which of course applies in the server domains, where you're better off with less UI. Wildly divergent configuration files are bad, but not as bad as wildly divergent GUIs.

Foolish Consistancy (3, Interesting)

Hillgiant (916436) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909567)

In order to assert that Microsoft has made a lot of green off of consistancy over efficiency, Microsoft's programs would have to be a lot more consistant. I hate hate hate that ctrl-tab does NOTHING in Word. UI options are hidden all over the damned place and only some of the settings are stored in the user directory (making portability a nightmare).

Consistency to what degree? (3, Informative)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909578)

And in what context? That's a tricky question. One thing I'd say for sure is that Linux should most definitely stop trying to be a Windows replacement. Why be limited by Windows functionality and MSFT's overhead? I like Linux, and many of you here would agree, because it's not like Windows.

Linux distro developers might want to explore voluntary standards for certain types of configurations. Maybe something like configuration assumptions for desktops v servers. Like that commercial with the Easy button? Maybe we have an "easy" configuration for desktop distros that tucks more the inner workings out of sight. But if you take away the inconsistency in the Linux environment, you may be undermining one of its most important strengths.

Microsoft (0, Troll)

PresidentEnder (849024) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909579)

What sucks about windows?

1. it breaks.

What about linux?

1. it's hard for beginners to use

Ignoring everything else about both OSes, these two characteristics mean that windows wins. Not everyone wants to be an expert or a hacker, and windows is easier to deal with. Everything in windows is more intuitive at the Joe User level than in Linux. That's why windows wins.

Re:Microsoft (5, Interesting)

The MESMERIC (766636) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909768)

Linux is not hard for beginners to use.

I've installed Linux Desktop on laptops belonging to people that doesn't even know what an operating system is - and they got on well.

Now if you wanted to say Linux is hard to administer.

They yes, you are completely right.

If we get pre-built desktop system with Linux installed with all the compatible peripherals .. then I am of the feeling Linux is actually easier and less intrusive.

When you get a machine optimized for Windows, non-compliant BIOS, Linux-unfriendly video-card, broadcom wireless chipset, some Lexmark printer, some Canon Scanner .. some USB broadband modem, then you may find the prospect of installing Linux and trying to get everything as functional - as enjoyable as cutting your own eye-lids.

Not being a propagandist at all -- but one thing I find curious about non-tech users after they been exposed to Linux (for a while) .. is that they actually miss it once it's gone.

The Linux system obviously would have to be set in a very friendly way for that to happen - which is what I do to other people's dying PC when I am bored :)

Re:Microsoft (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910093)

1. it's hard for beginners to use

that is horribly incorrect. Modern linuxes like ubuntu and Mandriva are insanely easier for a newbie than windows. What is a more truthful statement is that,

  "Linux is hard for a long time window user that has problems with things being different to use."

same is true for a long time OSX user. but brand new users that have not been tainted by the other commercial Operating systems find linux pretty darn simple now with the really easy to use distros that even allow you to download an install new software with a single click.

Consistancy is important. (4, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909599)

HOWEVER, it is important to remember that people do not think alike. What is consistant for one may not be for another. The "correct" UI is one where the applications describe what they'd like the UI to contain, with a skinning engine turning this description into something the user can actually use.


For example, plenty of Windows users will be quite happy by going to "file" to print or close an application. "Find" is under edit, not view. That's fine for people who think that way and for them it SHOULD be that way. The rest of the userbase shouldn't have to suffer for it, though.


Myself, I like visuals. The idea of dragging an application window to a printer, OR dragging the printer to the application windows, appeals to me. (To me, drag&drop needs to work by object, not by destination.)


"But writing all those interfaces would be massively overwhelming!" I'm not suggesting anyone does. Just provide a rational, consistant, standard skin that the majority can use, then provide a powerful enough engine that can handle application look&feel and drag&drop events not otherwise handled. Then write a simple UI editing engine. If people want their own UI, give them the tools to provide it.


"Most people wouldn't bother." Probably true, but the Open Source dictum is that some will, and that evolution will lead to superior interfaces.


"How does that benefit company X that sells products?" Easy enough. Every time you're about to release a next major version, look and see whether other skins are doing better than your default. If they are, switch. If that's how everyone sees your program anyway, it won't hurt anyone's ability to use it.

Re:Consistancy is important. (2, Insightful)

lahvak (69490) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909761)

I agree with this. I have tried Gnome, KDE, fluxbox and whatnot several times, and I always end up returning to my heavily customized fvwm based desktop environment. Most "experienced" computer users would probably be lost in it (I know my wife hates it). Interestingly, my kids very quickly learned how to use it. They seem to be equally comfortable in my "personal" desktop environment as in Gnome or Windows XP.

So some people definitely will bother. I bother in such extent that when given a new Windows computer at work, I always spend couple hours installing things like TXmouse, virtuawin, bash etc so I can get a system that at least slightly resembles my environment. I found out that the time spent doing that definitely pays off for me.

Problem with linux (2, Insightful)

spazoidspam (708589) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909640)

Let me start this out by saying I am in no way a microsoft enthusiast, I loath their business policies just like almost everyone else here.

Now let me get to my post. As it stands now, Open source is not ready for average users. There just isnt enough focus on the learning curve. I believe the main reason for this is because of it being free. Developers of open source projects don't hire graphic artists and average joe testers to make sure that their products look good and are easy to use. They put in all the features that they want, and make it intuitive enough for them to use. I know this because I am a developer. I constantly write software that I think is really easy to use, then I hand it off to one of the people here at work who arent so great with computers. I watch them use it and usually they come up with all kinds of reasons why its hard to use that I could never think of, just because I already know how to use it. Until more companies start funding open source projects and sinking real good resources into them I just dont see them coming massivly mainstream. One of the obvious exceptions to my theory is firefox. I installed it for my parents and they had absolutly no problem using it, but when my wife sees me messing with my mythtv box she normally has no frickin clue whats going on, and shes an above-average user.

Companies should start focusing on releasing their products open source and charging for the support. That way, the minority of people like us can get their software for free, learn to love it, and tell our friends and family how great it is. They, in turn, will go get it and buy the support because while I dont mind googling to look up and fix every little problem I come accross, most people out there just dont have the attention span or willingness to do it. Companies will buy the support. Its really a win-win situation.

Re:Problem with linux (2, Insightful)

ShibaInu (694434) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910038)

I'm a Linux enthusiast and I agree with many of your points. I also think that one of the biggest issues is the number of distros, and how those distros differ.

I installed Ubuntu and it worked great - recognized my nVidia card, loaded and updated fast, etc. I loved it. Then it would hang. The clock also ran 2x faster than it should. Both problems were unacceptable. Went to FC4. Nice, solid distro, except that getting nVidia drivers is painful. Updates suck. I won't go into Mandriva.

The point is, depending on your hardware, one distro may just suck rocks when you load it. Since users think Linux is one big thing, this colors their view. At least with Windows you know what you will get - even if it is painful.

Good points... (3, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909644)

The goal of Linux as Desktop OS should be to fix Microsoft's design mistakes, not adding their own.

By rejecting everything in Windows as "evil", they're rejecting many good things like the UI and configuration consistency. Why should we have to rely on MANY DIFFERENT stuff for configuration, when Windows does it elegantly with its Control Panel? (I'm talking about the first tier, not the registry crap - Control Panel would do as well by using .ini files instead of the dreaded registry)

To configure stuff in Linux, you have an app to configure the screen, another to configure the network, etc. etc. And THIS is the problem with Linux fundies. "Why change it? It works". It was attitudes like this that gave birth to answers like the famous quake 3 under linux [slashdot.org] troll, which originally was a legitimate complaint.

In comparison, Ubuntu (as we saw recently) has an extensive list of things-to-be fixed [launchpad.net] to make it more user friendly (like hardware recognition, boot loaders, package management), and this was the reason to delay Dapper, so they can finish the ones currently being worked.

My theory is that Linux needs a critical-mass of user friendliness to replace Windows on the Joe Users' desktops, and Ubuntu seems to approach that critical mass quite fast. Maybe in 3 or 4 years, it will happen.

You don't take it far enough... (2, Insightful)

msimm (580077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910075)

Its not actually accurate to say "in Linux, you have an app to configure the screen, another to configure the network, etc. etc.".

I mean its partially true, but its actually even more frustrating then that.

In Red Hat you have system-config*, which is a whole mess of applets to configure A or B. Thats messy. In Suse you have YAST, which last time I looked...well kind of sucked. You certainly couldn't do everything you'd need to from there (although like most of the configuration tool's I'll mention it did something very well). Mandriva you've got DrakeConf. Its the closest thing to a working Control Center I've seen, but still your left with some very fundamental features either missing or seriously lacking (to the point, IMHO, of basically not working).

Why all these distributions insist on focusing their efforts on rebuilding the same functionality baffles me. I mean I "get" the want to be unique thing. Don't want to copy thing. But basic functionality like configuration isn't the right place to show off you 'own product' in favor of standardizing and making a single product thats simply better for the customer.

The control panel style is fine because it allows flexibility for Suse to add custom Active Directory integration applets for their enterprise edition. But all these tools are really one of the best examples of what Linux vendors consistently (insistently) do wrong.

At the end of the day I don't care who founded the project I use to do basic configuration. I just care that it works without having to do a lot of extra fucking around.

Today no-one provides that and I bet idiotic egos will keep it that way for a long while into the future.

At least we've got Webmin...

Re:Good points... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14910129)

Ahhh the mighty Control Panel... a special folder where some shortcuts to special exe files (renamed to .cpl) are located... some of them are for Admin only use, some of them may be used by everyone...
If I don't seem to be impressed it is only because I'm not impressed... If you have used MMC as an example you would have had a point...

With the flamewars in mind (3, Informative)

StacyWebb (780561) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909654)

I believe that the main reasons that people have choosen linux over microsoft is the same reason I have, choice. With linux we have the ability to make it appear and work how we want it to, without having to apply third party applications just to provide basic security and functionality. If you like the way windows runs and acts, use it. If you like tweaking your system to become an extension of your personality then I would suggest Linux. Because what it all boils down to is the ability to choose.

Re:With the flamewars in mind (1)

Jerry Rivers (881171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909861)

"With linux we have the ability to make it appear and work how we want it to, without having to apply third party applications just to provide basic security and functionality."

"If you like tweaking your system to become an extension of your personality then I would suggest Linux."

Forgive me for asking as I use neither Linux nor Windows, but isn't there a subtle contradiction in these two statements? How is tweaking Linux any different than applying third party applicatons to Windows? Do you never apply third party apps to Linux in order to make it appear and work how you want it to? Aren't there different GUIs for Linux? Aren't there security enhancements one can install?

/etc/rant (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14909685)

/etc is for configuration files, NOT rants. Rants go in /usr/share.

GConf is not nearly as much of a mess as this guy makes it out to be. Remember what programs did before GConf? they littered your home directory with .program directories (sometimes they were more well-behaved and left .program.d) and .program files. Theoretically, they read configuration information from /etc/program, then .program, the the command line, each location overriding the previous one's directives. Theoretically. Some programs did it that way, some didn't, and you had to read the manual to figure it all out.

Remember X Resources? X Resources are another kludge that GConf seeks to replace. foo.bar.* String, or Program.foo String, all in one big file. At least what overrides what is clearly specified.

Each program has to provide parsing code for its command line and its configure files, stat() those files manually to determine if they exist, do overriding correctly...

But the GConf puts these configuration directives in an XML format in clearly-defined places and lets the individual application developers not have to write buggy, poorly-documented configuration management, and suddenly people cry 'registry'?

What was wrong with the Windows registry was its corruptible, unrecoverably binary format and the random distribution of keys between the system and user registries. GConf does not have executable keys. GConf does not let one user change system preferences unless that user is root. If a GConf configuration gets corrupt, that corruption is localized to the specific corrupt file, and the user can try to repair that file because it's XML and not some undocumented binary format.

Rant is about right... (2, Insightful)

Retalin (68942) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909696)

I'm getting sick and tired of hearing about how Linux is so much better than Windows. I'm a Linux guy... I run Linux on 90% of my servers I have a Linux desktop but it's all about personal preference people. Linux is not better than Windows for a lot of people... if it were there would be more people using it. It's not about one OS being better than the other, its about what the users want and right now they want Windows.

If Linux gets to the point where it's better you wont see rants of this nature... you'll see rants like you see on Slashdot daily about how "crappy" it is or how "bloated it is". The flavor of the day is the one that gets hit the hardest and right now like it or not Windows is the flavor of the day.

While Mr. Petreley has some points which could be considered worthwhile reading they are encapsulated in his fanboi rant thus losing any and all credit they might have gotten.

Shipman's response (2, Insightful)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909742)

Shipman's response attacks Petreley for saying things that he didn't say. Petreley never said that the Free Software community shouldn't do things in a consistent way, he just said that they should stop imitating Microsoft. Yes, there's a good reason to have desktop environments where ctrl-c copies and ctrl-v pastes. Users expect that. It's also nice to be able to enable emacs/readline keybindings in your desktop apps, because a different kind of user expects that (fortunately gtk+ makes it quite easy, though I don't know how to do it for qt-based programs). There's no reason that when Microsoft decided that blue gradient toolbars were a good look for Office OO.o had to make the same awful decision, and there's no reason to duplicate the registry. That's what Petreley said. And Shipman claims that that makes him some kind of hacker-elitist that wants new users out, when that's simply not the case; he says in his article that skimming the cream of Microsoft's ideas is good!

We always hear the smug statement that those that don't understand Unix are doomed to reinvent it badly. Perhaps those that don't understand Windows are doomed to reinvent it even worse. If we don't understand what's useful and what's not in Windows we'll continue to duplicate some of its good ideas and some of its bad ones, and some will be completely out of context with the goals of our Unix-like Free operating systems. If you want Free Windows, wait for ReactOS to finish its code audit and contribute to that; that is the place to really duplicate all of Microsoft's design decisions, for better or worse, in the name of ABI compatibility. Our Free environments should make the best decisions and offer a choice. Everyone likes to pose vi/vim's editing style against more Windows-like editing styles and claim one is superior, citing "efficiency" or "consistency". For some people a text editor should be consistent with the other programs they use. They should run nedit, or the MSVS editor, or kate. I'm in my editor enough that it only needs to be consistent with itself, and as efficient as possible; vim is a good choice for me. Petreley doesn't call for kate to be vim-ized; he simply says that OO.o shouldn't have those garish blue gradients in its toolbars.

Re:Shipman's response (1)

akheron01 (637033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909863)

Well, it all started when Microsoft didn't understand the Macintosh, so the reinvented it badly, so now most Linux GUIs are bad rip-offs of a bad rip-off! No wonder people complain about Linux usability!

Consistency (3, Insightful)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909775)

Unix: Everything is a file. Microsoft: All kinds of different metaphors, none the same version to version.

Re:Consistency (1)

BoneFlower (107640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909874)

Good point on the engineering level, but the user interface needs work.

Doesn't necesarily need to clone MS, but Linux distros should work harder to present an internally consistent user interface.

Re:Consistency (1)

cortana (588495) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909980)

What file can I read from to take a screenshot?

Which file do I write to to PING a given network address?

So (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909804)

The article claims that linux does waste efficiency but it doesn't matter because it does so in a very consistant way?

Hey, I *patented* that 'rant' years ago: (2, Funny)

Hosiah (849792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909815)

Even have it for a journal entry [slashdot.org] .

Bottom line: if you want Windows, you know where to get it, and you're welcome to it. I've never twisted anybody's arm to use Linux, and it is an act of collosal stupidity to turn Linux into "I Can't Believe It's Not Windows!(TM)" just to make users of one system feel more at home. I could see having one or two distros be "ex-Windows-user-friendly"; that's fine, that's choice, that's what Linux is all about. Steamrolling *all* of Linux into a Windows-clone takes away *my* choices of wanting a system as different from Windows as possible.

Thank God I'm not the only one screaming this into the void anymore. People are finally starting to wake up. Where have you all BEEN for five years?

Linux, to be (Like Microsoft) *AND* Not to be? (1)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14909864)

One of the points of Linux is that each distributor/user has the full freedom to make Linux work the way that we want it to.

I'm not forced to put the Xgl Desktop [groklaw.net] on my file server, and I'm not forced to use the console screen to do my text editing. I can put the Umbutu desktop on my friend's desktop and a smoothwall install on his firewall.
And best of all, I don't have to write to Washington for permission to start the computers.

Gee, I never thought of that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14909887)

I'd be happy if they "all" just adopted the same damn end of line characters!

Linux to be like Microsoft? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14909927)

Linux: An operating system kernel.

Microsoft: A multinational corporation.

Unless the laws of reality turn in on themselves, I do not think Linux is going to become anything even remotely like Microsoft.

Linux got to where it is today by being both better and different from Windows, not by trying to be a cut-rate knock-off.

To play devil's advocate - Linux did get to where it is today by being a cut-rate knock-off. But it was a cut-rate Free knock-off, and it was a knock-off of UNIX, not Windows.

Linux has since surpassed many competitors in many ways, and has killer features that no longer relegate it to being a "cut-rate knock-off", but that's what it grew into when it became more than a hobby, and that's what enabled it to become as popular as it did in the mid-to-late 90s.

Variety is the Spice (1)

k1980pc (942645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910001)

If Windows had all the features which the linux/mac guys want and worked exactly the same way,its the same geeks who now rant against MS who would be trying to create a new OS..different from Win/Mac/*nix..
Windows has its own way of doing things and so does everybody else. We should either accept it and move on or keep bickering for ever.

I make it clear that I am a mac guy and I just feel disoriented on Windows. But if one day i want a change, my only option should not be a Linux or Unix based distro.

two x *fun* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14910002)

you all look like little children crying for your toys... GNU is more than one thing! We have built an operating system for (according to Linus) dull users (ubuntu with gnome). But that is not how it started, GNU started for hackers, for geeks that wanted to *build* and *understand* their system. These are two groups of people, with compeletely different requests.

With the base we have created, we should be able to split the fun in two parts: users and hackers. Let's create a million zillion different solution for one problem, give the users the standard choice, let the hackers find out themselves.

For the inconsistent GUI, thats Gnome/KDE/others problem, they must keep it consistent in every way they can...

For the M$ problem, there is no way you can beat them... so try to ignore what they do, just pretend they don't exist right now. Make a solution, and compare it with others. With the way we are going, we will inflict a great deal of 'better' in the software industry.

gl,
MAD

The real Linux revolution starts at the user level (3, Interesting)

Kunt (755109) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910003)

I think it would be a huge mistake for Linux to imitate Windows or any Microsoft product. Windows is ass-backwards. It is system and application centric, not user or document centric. Sure, XP has some features that seem to have been made in an effort to move towards serving the user - i.e., the dumbed-down default settings for start menu - but that is just a sham. It is a thin veneer on top of a rough, unfinished, mindless interface - at least as mindless as Microsoft's current leadership - that sees the system, Internet Explorer, and Microsoft-only applications as the centre of the "Windows experience". It's an annoying hodge-podge of an "experience" that should never have gone golden master. The way I see it, Windows is still very much in a beta stage of development. So, instead Linux should perhaps look elsewhere for inspiration - Apple, for instance, are the real masters at this sort of thing - but also go it's own way. Screw Microsoft! They did everything wrong. Linux developers should find out what the right way is, and in what direction - towards detailed complexity or logical simplicity? - Linux should go. The real obstacle, in my view, for Linux to be universally adopted on the desktop - that's what everybody wants, right? - is the lack of a consistent, completely standardised interface from the system and application level all the way to the user space. Linux' revolutionary breakthrough will come only when that has been accomplished, and not before.

To be like Microsoft... (0, Troll)

packetmill (955023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910058)

1)The title is flaimbait.

2)The way to go about bridging the gap between efficiency and consistency is not difficult: it's called user interface.

3)How about an article called "To be like Java" since MS is generally very good at stealing ideas, particularly in software development.

4)Windoze registry sux.

Linux useability? (4, Interesting)

dedeman (726830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910080)

Ok, I'm neither an expert using MS (take your pick) or Linux (take your pick). In an attempt to diversify my understanding of Linux, I started using RedHat 7.2, many years ago.

It was a slow, long, widing road, but I've learned, using a certain amount of perseverance.

It is the perseverance that the "average" user is lacking. Tell me how many of the following terms/words the shopper going to Best Buy or Circuit City are willing to learn: Source, Binary, Compile, RPM, apt-get, x86, X11, /etc/blah/blah, port(ed), API, drivers.

There are more, but I can't think of anything right now that would add to user/consumer confusion when all people want to know are things like "Can I use the internet with this", "I need some word processing", or the more experienced user that know that a hard drive size is measured in bytes, and the processor speed in herz.

Microsoft makes many things automated. Want OS updates? Go to windowsupdate.com, or click on the "Windows Update" icon. Want driver updates? Go to manufacturer, get drivers for 2000/xp OR 98/ME. No pointing to mirrors, no compilation, no source, no RPM, no Yum, just "Do It Now!", wait for the icon to appear, double click, make a sandwich, reboot.

That's what Linux is lacking. Does anyone realize this?

Why Ubuntu over Suse? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14910140)

While we are on this subject. Why is Ubuntu seemingly more popular than Suse these days? Is it the desktop? The debian goodness of apt-get? Having used both for a while, I still can't quite put my finger on it.

Petreley is myoptic yet again. (3, Insightful)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 8 years ago | (#14910143)

Just like his rants in Infoworld and IWETHEY forums, he is short sighted and cannot see the bigger picture. I tried to comment on his rant, only to see that Linuxmafia had removed the ability to comment in an attempt to censor critics of Mr. Petreley.

Anyone who took Information Systems or Computer Science knows that you develop software to the needs of the customers, you don't just tell the customers what they need. If your customers want a software that is easier to use, or works a bit like a Windows counter-part, you develop it for them. Find a need, and fill it. Quite simple.

Take Linspire for example, their success has been that they made Linspire work a lot like Windows does, so much that they have helped switch people over to it. While critics claim that Linspire is a commercial Linux, Linspire did give away free copies via BitTorrents at times, and the install CD costs $50. Linspire has also helped bring Linux to the masses with their $300USD Linux PC sold at discount stores. What has Mr. Petreley done to bring Linux to the masses, over that be a Mad Prophet of Linux who spouts out negative things?

Ever wonder that Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird are popular because they work a bit like Internet Explorer and Outlook/Outlook Express? Why there are even Windows versions of those software programs to help ween users off Windows and onto Linux where they can use the Linux versions of those programs. Novel Mono helps bring a .NET development environment for Linux to help Windows developers use existing code for Windows over to Linux, without having to re-learn a new language.

No, Mr. Petreley, we will help people decide to convert to Linux by meeting their needs, rather than ranting and raving and yelling at them. Your way does not meet their needs.

Take Mac OSX for example, see how it tried to catch up to Microsoft Windows when Mac OS 9.0 and Copeland failed to do so. See how Microsoft tries to make Windows Vista work like OSX. Linux is not the only OS on the block, as Mac OSX now runs on X86 hardware (Apple branded Mactel boxes) which could take marketshare away from Linux.

No rather, Linux needs to evolve in order to adapt to change. Customers are changing to wanting software that is easier to use, and works like Microsoft Windows. Refuse to adapt to change, and risk becoming a dinosaur. Would Mr. Petreley like Linux to become the next Plan 9 type operating system? Different from Windows, but hardly anyone uses it? Don't focus on the negative, but on the positive. If you are not meeting customers' needs, someone else will.

Besides a registry if done right, need not bite us on our behinds. Make it an OSS database based registry on MySQL, Postgres, Firebird, etc. When I developed software I had a fax program that used a most recently used name and number list. The way Microsoft does a registry is a flat file, which is sort of like using an INI or Text file. If I stored 50 names on a file, it took a long time to load and sort them. When I migrated to a database, I was able to use more than 50 names, and was able to load and sort them faster.

See the bigger picture, learn to grow and evolve.
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