Thursday, January 15, 2009

Your average Joe Tuxpack

Since when are you a Linux user?
Since February 2000.

Was it difficult to do your first install?
Not really. I took a day off to install Linux, a dual boot installation with MS-DOS. At the end of the day about 80% of the functionality I needed was covered by Linux. Nowadays it is much easier to install Linux. It essentially installs itself. It recognizes your hardware and installs the appropriate drivers.

Did you especially select your hardware for Linux?
Partially. Nowadays I do some research before I buy my hardware. Better prevented than cured.

Was there hardware you never got to work with Linux?
A parallel port scanner.

Did you have any prior knowledge of Unix?
Yes, I had worked with Unix before. It helped only a little, since there are so many other concepts connected with Linux. The only moment it was really valuable is when I connected an old Wyse-50 terminal to the serial port.

Have you ever compiled a kernel?

Have you ever written a device driver?

Have you ever compiled a device driver?
Yes once, for a floppy based tape drive. I can't help it, I like old, exotic equipment.

Have you ever compiled an application?
Yes. ./configure; make; su; make install. Extremely difficult. Not.

Does every application have to be compiled this way?
No. When you've done a fresh install of a reasonably new distribution you can pretty much get any application over the net using a GUI. Just tick what you need. The package manager will get the applications you require, resolve all dependencies automatically and install them. You don't even have to click a "Continue" button. If the application is not available, yes, then you have to follow the procedure I described. After about two years your distribution is usually no longer supported, which means newer versions of your applications are not available. You have to follow the same procedure if you want to install them.

Can't you upgrade?
Yes, but it is not without risks. I prefer not to change a running system. Others do a reinstall of a newer distribution. It is a personal preference.

Are you a proficient programmer?
I'm pretty good at C and Forth. I can do some shell scripting, some PHP, some HTML. I can figure out what is going on in most programming languages.

Linux is a FOSS system. Do you have your own projects?
Yes, I have an active project called "4tH". It is a bytecode Forth compiler. I have other projects too, but I haven't updated them in a long time.

You are pretty much a FOSS person. Do you hate Microsoft users?
No!! I've been providing versions of "4tH" for MS-DOS and MS-Windows since the start of the project. I've also created a MS-Windows port for the Arena project. The great majority of FOSS projects support MS-Windows, like KDE4, Gnome, etc. Fortunately, because I use them myself. Note there are FOSS initiatives like Wine, ReactOS and Linux Unified Kernel which most FOSS users do not object at all.

What is your Windows experience?
Personally, I've used Windows up to Windows 98. That is, within a virtual machine, but that seems to count nowadays. Native, I've used Windows up to Windows 3.11. For work, I use Windows every day. The latest version I've used is Windows XP.

Do you hate Microsoft?
I don't hate Microsoft, but I think I speak for many FOSS users if I say we would feel better if its grip on the industry is significantly diminished. Microsofts business practices have been questionable at best and illegal at times. But please don't use the word "hate" anymore. What we feel is an objection, not an emotion.

Are there times you require Microsoft products?
Yes, when absolute compatibility with proprietary MS formats is required, e.g. PowerPoint. Most of the time OpenOffice handles those requirements very well. Internet Explorer runs on Linux.

How much time do you spend on the CLI?
Me, quite a lot. But I do that on both Linux and Windows. My girlfriend hasn't seen a CLI in all her life, including her Linux life.

Is Linux really much more secure than Windows?
Absolutely. People say it is because Linux is such a small target, Windows having a 88% marketshare, but that is just not true. That's just another myth Windows proponents play out each and every time. Compare it to Firefox. Firefox is not a small target, but it is much more secure than Internet Explorer.

What is the biggest hurdle to move to Linux?
The biggest hurdle is that you have to learn everything all over again. You have to learn how to use OpenOffice, GIMP, Apache, Linux, etc. Not everyone is prepared to do that.

Is there something you can't do with Linux?
Video editing is still a minor issue, but everything else can be done with Linux. Note that I compile and package my 4tH compiler under Linux. Those packages have never seen an MS-DOS or MS-Windows machine until you install them.

What do you like about Linux?
It's stabile, predictable, great uptime, wonderful latency, a beautiful, state-of-the-art GUI, no DRM and the license is more than reasonable. That's why I decided to convert all my shareware programs to FOSS. It is my way to give something back to the community. I feel that is better than just to provide return to shareholders.

What do you recommend to Windows users who want to convert to Linux?
Start using FOSS applications. There are plenty of those available for Windows. Use Firefox, OpenOffice, GIMP, Dia, LyX, they're all free of charge. The next time you're faced with buying a new system, buy one that has Linux preinstalled or no OS at all. That will save you at least $100 in unused Windows licenses. You can get Ubuntu disks free of charge or you can download the distribution of your choice from the web. It will have all the applications you need or you can download them from the web.

People might find it difficult to choose a distribution.
I know there are so many to choose from. Safe choices are Fedora, (K)ubuntu and OpenSuSE. There is plenty of support for those. That doesn't mean others are "bad", on the contrary.

What desktop should I choose?
Most users use KDE or Gnome. Again, that doesn't mean others are "bad". Personally, I'm a KDE 3.5.x user. If you choose one environment you still can use applications that are written for another desktop environment, e.g. I use Dia and GIMP although they are written for Gnome.

What if I run into a problem?
Use Google! If you still can't figure it out, you can contact the numerous forums and newsgroups there are for these distributions.

I gladly want to switch to Linux, but there is this single application I need to have.
Try to get it to run under Wine. If not, you can always install QEMU or VirtualBox.

Something else?
We don't bite. We just get irritated sometimes.


Anonymous said...

This article was actually a pleasant surprise in that it didn't include the usual overzealous Linux afficionado phrases.

I personally feel that you left out a few of the problems that hinder many people's complete migration to Linux (the horrible audio situation in Linux, no support for games, no viable alternative to Visual Studio, etc), but once again, a good article.


The Beez' said...

I wrote this from an end users point of view. I know there are issues with sound, but I have never run into them. My games, my videos, my recordings, my sound editing, it all works just fine. IMHO, it is more an architectural problem than a real end user problem.

There is support for games, like Wine, Transgaming and lots of free, native Linux games (yes, also 3D flight simulators, FPS, racing) but if it is your first and utmost requirement, Linux is not the best choice IMHO. Better buy a Playstation, much easier to use than a computer and a lot cheaper too.

There is plenty of development tools under Linux like KDevelop, Gambas, but I prefer not to use them, just like I hate to use Visual Studio. If you consider the amount of development that takes place under Linux, I don't think most Linux developers really miss it.

In short, I didn't include it, because it is not the way most people will experience it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, thoughroughly enjoyed this article. And a very well thought out set of questions, with equally honest and well thought out answers.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the article.

Nicely balanced and stated with the focus on using Linux rather than 'not using something else.

I hope it gets a few more hits.

Kind regards.

Anonymous said...

@Beez Good post, Thanks.


I personally feel that you left out a few of the problems that hinder many people's complete migration to Linux (the horrible audio situation in Linux, no support for games, no viable alternative to Visual Studio, etc), but once again, a good article. "

I personally have never had much problem with sound under linux. Yes problems obviously exist just like other platforms like Vista, and the pre-release of windows 7. Not a show stopper. Most issues can be resolved by the helpful communities built around distributions. The community of user support under linux is much stronger then windows provides.

Games are also not my thing, the few games like Tux racer are enough for me. As Beez suggests there are other options.

Why would you need Visual Studio?. The last time I downloaded VS MSSQL .NET versions... I used up so much space in my virtualised windows systems disk space, I thought to myself what is the point. MS software uses so much more resources than Linux's equivalents, its not funny.

Is harder to develop under windows from my perspective. A week ago I was working with an external developer at my work. We had to agree on a table structure. I could use my works very expensive MSSQL tool set to dump the structure into a text file, But the other developer could not, as he was using the cut down MSDE version. That did not provide this feature.

The open source Mysql database can dump the database structure in an easy one line command. We would be better off using MySQL rather then MSSQL, for ease of development. I know the external developer could purchase MS Visual Studio, but its expensive and frankly easer to develop using MySQL. No wonder most of the web is developed with Open source software... MS Visual Studio is not required and a hindrance from my perspective.

Anonymous said...

I take back what I said earlier, you uttered the usual Linux zealot fare when the PITIFUL Linux games are mentioned "get a Playstation". That is nonsense. The Windows platform offers a gaming experience that exceeds that of consoles.

I know this will surprise you, but there are many developers using Visual Studio. You have to use it to develop .Net applications, which many people do in order to gain employment.


The Beez' said...


Apart from professional games (who I don't blame for not using Linux) I think it is a waste of good equipment to do gaming. Ask people who use high performance Linux clusters (where Linux has 85% of the market) how often that equipment is used for gaming. They say it is a waste of computing time. I don't see you combining Visual Studio with high-end gaming as well.

On the other hand, Windows comes standard with Minesweeper and Solitaire. Linux does too, but also with Sauerbraten and Alien Arena. Less know, but slightly older Windows games run sometimes better under Linux/Wine than under Vista. There are migration issues with XP to Vista too, you know.

Finally, some people get employment by developing LAMP applications, which run fine under Windows/ISS/SQLServer too BTW (I know I've written some major applications for systems management for a large bank in Holland). It's not a bad idea to gain acquantance with that platform too, because you never know what is required for a certain job, especially if you want to work for the government.

Sure, you could use Mono on Linux for writing .Net applications on Linux, but personally, I wouldn't touch that stuff with a poke, because of the patents issue.

Sure, you can label me with any of your standard "Linux proponents" words, and I could hang the same label to you, writing stuff like "Windoze" or "M$", but strangely enough I was under the impression that we had a civilized meaningful discussion here and we not playing a game of namecalling.

Anonymous said...


This behavior looks like the work of another MS troll. He/She does not backup there argument with reasoned discussion. As soon as we may something negative about our experience with MS software. It is only software we are talking about. They behave like its a religion.

The Beez' said...

Anonymous comment was deleted. Profanity will not be tolerated!

Anonymous said...

Yeah thats why you deleted it , It still dosnt address the faiure of open source software .

When compared to their proprietary rivals these applications are absolutely rubbish subpar knockoffs .

Call me an idiot for using Photoshop,Flash,Premier,Autocad,ProE aand PowerDVD but the fact remains these applications are the best and their FOSS knockoffs dont even come close .

Nobody in their right mind would stop using adobe premier and start using virtualdub nand dub or any of its useless clones .

The Beez' said...

No, you got deleted because you used a four letter word. "Rubbish" will do fine, thank you.

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