[LINK] OSX, Linux and Windows (was Legacy/high-end platform conversions to Linux/Intel...)
Wed, 14 Nov 2001 11:47:03 +1000 (EST)
On 14 Nov, Chirgwin, Richard wrote:
> The OS X difference is that it's explicitly a consumer offering. I know
> everyone who likes Linux believes Linux is easy. But it ain't. I love the
> idea, but if I wanted a first exposure to Linux (and I wanted to spend on a
> new machine), then I'd probably consider an Apple as a less painful starting
> point than trying to install the beastie myself.
> [And yes, I have installed Linux. And suffered horribly for my sins. Yeah,
> I'm ignorant, but I found it harder to use than Wang Basic...]
...which does not surprise me, because Linux is a much more complicated
system than Wang Basic. Until fairly recently, Linux has not paid much
attention to being 'user friendly', just powerful, reliable, secure and
However, there is now a significant effort to change that, which started
(very small) with GNOME/KDE in 1997. This effort is now bearing fruit,
although this fruit may still be too unripe for some people :-)
Unfortunately, to become a successful desktop operating system in
today's market, many things must come together simultaneously (unlike
the server market where a single function server is very common).
Not only must the desktop OS be easy to use (whatever that means - I
found the Mac desktop significantly frustrating as I could not get at
the underlying OS in a 'raw' state, I have not yet played with OS X),
but there must be sufficient 'core' applications of adequate reliability
and functionality (and interoperability) to make the desktop viable for
the general user.
This is happening with Linux - the GNOME/Nautilus or KDE desktops are
reasonable (in places excellent) and there are applications suites (open
source and proprietary) that are approaching MS Office in functionality,
as well as many other apps to meet other functions.
When organisations speak to me about using Linux as a desktop, after
investigation I generally end up recommending that they can move some of
their desktops to Linux but must leave some on Windows - the exact mix
depends on application usage. However, any organisation that is
deploying a Linux desktop solution also needs to build its Linux
administration skills, to handle the demands that Linux places - in
exactly the same way that they invest in Windows skills (either directly
or through hiring people with those skills).
Right now, Windows skills are the norm and new users to Linux find their
Windows skills do not transfer. This and the fact that installing ANY
unfamiliar OS can be a significant challenge (see below) is part of the
steep curve that new Linux users face.
Note: I would describe myself as significantly above the norm of the
average user in terms of IT skills and knowledge. However, by 2000 my
Windows skills and knowledge were at least 2 years out of date. As there
was no DV editing software for Linux and I had been given a DV camcorder
for Christmas/birthday, I built a new IA32 machine with heaps of power
and disk on which to do this work via Windows (where there was a range
I spent 24 hours in total fighting a Windows 98 install on new hardware
in 2000). First of all, I discovered that you cannot install MS Windows
98 on a machine that has only a SCSI CDROM - back to the hardware shop
for an IDE one. I then had HUGE problems getting all my hardware
recognised at once. In fact, I installed Red Hat Linux to make sure that
I did not have broken hardware!
I did finally succeed in installing MS Windows 98 and getting all the
hardware configured - but I think this demonstrates that 'ease of
installation' is a barrier to more than just Linux!
[On a side note to a side note, as there is now DV editing software for
Linux, that machine no longer runs MS Windows, but I find that I am
going to have to dual boot that machine as I need to install MYOB - the
software my accountant requires in order to handle Interweft and my
wife's quilting business - see www.awwombat.com.au.
I expect to have another battle, although not as lengthy. I do know
that MS Windows will trash my master boot record as it arrogantly
assumes it owns the entire computer - fortunately, this is easy to
overcome and the Linux boot loader (Grub) will happily boot MS Windows
as well as Linux.]
Robert Hart email@example.com
Strategic IT & open source consulting +61 (0)438 385 533
Brisbane, Australia http://www.interweft.com.au