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Thread: Preview of an article to be published 10/4

  1. #1
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    Preview of an article to be published 10/4

    I wanted to preview this here first before Monday's publication. The people on this forum are probably the best and most helpful Linux users there are. Please accept this in the spirit intended.

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    An open letter to the Linux Community.

    You are my last hope. I am a small business owner with a small network of computers. Simple stuff really, invoicing, customer data storage, research…we are not any different than most small businesses today. Our computing needs are simple, yet we rely upon our network to get our job done. In August of 2004, a particularly nasty variant of Bagle wiped us out. Even with Norton and Sygate standing guard over us, we got hosed. 36 hours were spent in cleaning up the mess and restoring our operation. My fault. I should have had better protection than I did. Norton took 90 hours to address the variant that hit us and instead of blaming the software, I made a decision. I migrated us to Linux.

    Now, let me clarify one thing. I am not a system administrator, nor am I a guru of any operating system. I am a business owner who relies upon my machines to operate smoothly and with efficiency. I have learned the basic things I must know in order to get the job done. As a life-long Windows user, I faced some daunting challenges. Choosing a distro was actually one of the biggest. Suse 9.1 Pro and Kanotix were the two I finally settled upon, but that is not really important because the problems I face are not distro specific, they are Linux specific.

    While I am amazed at the power and flexibility Linux brings to my operation, I am totally befuddled by several shortcomings in Linux. One in particular stands out. As media consultants, it is imperative that we are able to view news clips and streaming video in our browsers. Finding that Linux of any flavor lacks this ability “out of the box” was stunning. Equally as stunning, were the steps necessary to add the necessary software. See, I don’t care anything about licensing problems or GPL issues. What I care about is an operating system that does what I need it to do without having to spend 3 hours making it do so. After an hour on the respective forums, I found out that Mplayer was the tool I needed, along with the mozilla plugin for it. It only got worse from there. Finding the proper Mplayer with the gui and the mozilla plugin was not near as traumatic as installing it. I had no idea how to resolve dependencies and if it weren’t for the kind and patient people in the forums, I would still be struggling with it. In some respects, I still am. The people who answer posts in the forums from people like me are the only thing that keeps Linux alive.

    So my letter to you is not intended as a slam against Linux, but a call to make some basic and necessary changes. The argument has been, “Linux is free, you have to do a few extra things…” Not so. I paid 89.00 US for Suse and it should work out of the box, completely and without caveat. Until simple things like video streaming and webcam conferencing are included in the bundles, Linux is destined to remain a hobbyist’s operating system. While Linux has made great inroads on the server side, as a viable alternative to the Windows Desktop, it is failing

    Ken Starks
    Austin, Texas

  2. #2
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    Looks good to me. You raise what seem to me to be valid concerns. If I'd paid $90 for some software, I would expect it to at least be easy to install the plugins, and not let you descend into dependency hell . . .

    On your point about havin the OS do everything out of the box, I'm afraid I don't agree. That is what MS does, and in the process they have buried many smaller companies with better products. All though their history they have done this, and I don't feel it is right . . .

    Better to have an OS that works well, and allows the plugins you need. Easily.

  3. #3
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    Well - why do you adress Knoppix, and not SuSe?

    And when you buy something, at least here in germany, you make a contract.
    If streaming media in browsers out of the box is part of the contract, you may call your lawyers.

    If not, not.

    Perhaps you could find some professional, to get such a thing done in one or two hours if you pay them.
    How do you come to the conclusion, video streaming and webcam conferencing are simple things?

    But you may not insist on features you expect by whishes.

  4. #4
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    helios is right on.
    Quote Originally Posted by 'Case"
    Better to have an OS that works well, and allows the plugins you need. Easily
    Emphasis on easily.
    Streaming video is not easy. I know, mine is still not working. Every time I think I've got it, it doesn't work again, usually just when trying to show off that it WILL work to a sceptical Windows proponent.
    I just spent 3 hours getting my HP 2175 printer/scanner to scan. Fortunately working through the hpoj documentation got it solved, but it took 3 hours.
    etc etc.
    I also fully understand that Linux developers are up against it since they are mostly volunteers and they get no support (and sometimes outright resistance) from both hardware suppliers and closed source developers who set up deliberately difficult file formats etc. but the attitude of some major linux groups ("if you cannot build fromsource & run from command line you shouldn't be using the OS at all") doesn't help. Mplayer & Debian do not get high marks in this regard.
    [quote="user unknown"]Perhaps you could find some professional, to get such a thing done in one or two hours if you pay them.
    How do you come to the conclusion, video streaming and webcam conferencing are simple things?
    [quote]
    One can conclude video steaming & webconferencing are simple because they are simple in windows. And what home user is going to hire a professional to set up the home system?
    It is these issues that will keep linux as a hobbiest system for sometime to come.

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    um, this letter would not work in this capitalistic world.

    Just use the right tools for the right jobs. For your particular situation(and IMO most of the desktop out there), use XP or Mac for the desktop and linux for the server etc. or special purpose machines. XP is the best desktop OS(for PC) and at its price, no one can beat it. Mac is the alternative. In fact, it is a well polished *nix for a specific class of machine, that is on par with XP target ting end users like you. That is IMO exactly what you are asking the linux community to do for free, and it won't happen.

    Just why do you want to use linux rather than XP when you need to pay 90 bucks for it as well ? Almost all new PC comes with XP at a discount(and in many case, you can say no).

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by garyng
    um, this letter would not work in this capitalistic world.

    Just use the right tools for the right jobs. For your particular situation(and IMO most of the desktop out there), use XP or Mac for the desktop and linux for the server etc. or special purpose machines. XP is the best desktop OS(for PC) and at its price, no one can beat it. Mac is the alternative. In fact, it is a well polished *nix for a specific class of machine, that is on par with XP target ting end users like you. That is IMO exactly what you are asking the linux community to do for free, and it won't happen.

    Just why do you want to use linux rather than XP when you need to pay 90 bucks for it as well ? Almost all new PC comes with XP at a discount(and in many case, you can say no).
    I use linux because the alternative is the epitome of everything that is negative in this capitalist world. I'm not rabidly anti-closed source or anti business but I am anti monoploy. MS has set new standards for predatory monopolistic business practises, most of their 'product improvements' since win NT & win 95 have been aimed at securing their monopoly, not better product for the customer. For instance Internet Explorer integration, XP 'service packs' that prevent use for running older software and the whole 'longhorn' plot to embed your data into one big server.
    I realize they are not going to miss my puny little big of business but it's my only way of protest.

    Besides, there is a sense of accomplishment when you overcome all the obstacles and actually get your scanner scanning.

  7. #7
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    crashed again:
    One can conclude video steaming & webconferencing are simple because they are simple in windows. And what home user is going to hire a professional to set up the home system?
    But helios 17 isn't a home user.
    And in which way are video streaming & webconferencing simple in windows? Do you have access to the sources?
    If you want to express, that it is easy to use them or get them run - that wasn't the point in helios' post. He asks why the linux people don't get such a simple thing done.

    garyng:
    XP is the best desktop OS(for PC)
    Perhaps for your needs.
    For mine it's a crap.
    If it was useful, I would have used it, because it was included with the hardware (laptop) and not customizable on ordering.
    It was clearly mentioned, that the recovery-cd would restore the original state, deleting self-created partitions - an attempt to get rid of linux-installations? Why couldn't the program ask?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by user unknown
    crashed again:
    But helios 17 isn't a home user.
    And in which way are video streaming & webconferencing simple in windows? Do you have access to the sources?
    If you want to express, that it is easy to use them or get them run - that wasn't the point in helios' post. He asks why the linux people don't get such a simple thing done.
    I think that is the point.
    Whether or not helios is an actual 'home user' or a very small business user is not really relevant. Any user can set up and use video streaming & webconferencing in windows easily but cannot in linux.
    Are you saying that a user (home or small business) should expect to need professional help to do the same setup in linux? If this is the case, then clearly this is a deterrent to linux being a viable alternative for the home or small system user.

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    I continue to see a rather conflicting message here. On one hand, people don't like Windows(for whatever reasons) and on the other hand, you want the linux community to do all those things exists on Windows and better yet, free as free lunch.

    As I said, the only viable *nix alternative for Windows for average joe user is Mac OS X. It has almost achieved(if not exceeded) the same level of easy of use as in Windows.

    So if you hate Windows, buy a Mac. It has the added benefit that anything goes wrong, you have one single vendor to shout at rather than in PC where you get lousy support from the hardware vendor as well as Microsoft.

    Otherwise, either pay someone to do the job(for small business) or do what others do(individuals), figure that out yourself. There is a thing called google which you can find all the information you want to make linux works the way you want. You have already got a good starting point with distros like KNOPPIX etc.

    The linux(and open source) model is a "need some ? take some. have some ? give some". Why people don't make feature "X" as simple and easy as in Windows ? Because those who knows how to do it don't have the incentive. It is more in the way of "we help those who help themselves".

    As for saying XP is a crap, just wondering why ? XP is years ahead(at least on notebook). What didn't work that make it a crap ?

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    Re: Preview of an article to be published 10/4

    Quote Originally Posted by helios17
    I found out that Mplayer was the tool I needed, along with the mozilla plugin for it. It only got worse from there. Finding the proper Mplayer with the gui and the mozilla plugin was not near as traumatic as installing it.
    You might want to look at Linspire, I believe these applications will work for you right out of the box. Try the Linspire Live CD first to see if it fits your needs. As for installing software, Linspire uses something called CNR (click -n- run), I believe. This should make things easier for you.

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