Linked by David Adams on Wed 19th Feb 2003 19:10 UTC
Features, Office As the Microsoft Windows monopoly becomes ever more entrenched, the world seems to be becoming an increasingly more difficult place for a new operating system, or even some that have been around for a long time but have a limited share of the desktop PC market. Proponents of alternative operating systems seem to spend their time alternately griping about Windows' grip on the desktop and asserting that it doesn't matter all that much because they can get their work done with their OS of choice.
Order by: Score:
cost is the driver for the future
by Michael on Wed 19th Feb 2003 18:30 UTC

Linux and GNU/FSF came into being because the cost of existing software was very high, affordable by only a few.

The world outside the US is adopting Linux in record numbers because it is affordable. I'm not talking cooked data and TCO here. I am talking initial cost of entry. I am talking building a PC and doing basic things.

Linux and the FSF movement have enabled millions of people to participate in computing where Microsoft and Apple would have shut them out.

The future of computing belongs to low cost solutions, not Apple's rich-people-only BMW-esque "ultimate computing experience" or the Microsoft Windows total market domination game. How Apple and Microsoft adapt to a lower-cost world is only something that time will tell.

I am grateful for the choices that are available to the individual today. And I have faith that these choices will become more and more available to the residents of the United States and other countries that Microsoft has illegally cornered the OS market.

--ms

Nice!
by insignia! on Wed 19th Feb 2003 18:31 UTC

Good article. You sum up a lot of points concerning alternative OSes.

My main reason for disliking microsoft is their closed standards (e.g. Office). I don't blame them, as that's their main way of making money. But still...

I hope we can all stop trolling (me included) and help in some way or the other in the battle of good vs evil ;)

What does the average user need??
by Berend de Boer on Wed 19th Feb 2003 18:43 UTC

> the average computer user would be frustrated to use an
> alternative OS.

Except games, what does the average user user? WWW, internet, and a visual type setter. Mozilla gives you the first, OpenOffice the 2nd. Both run on a lot of platforms. And most games (except the more complex) run better on a gaming console anyway.

Windows and Illusion
by Mark Wilson on Wed 19th Feb 2003 18:47 UTC

The dominance of the Windows OS is really based on an illusion of standards. Leaving aside gaming and MS Office file compatability, there is really nothing Windows does that can't be done by any other operating system, usually better and often cheaper. I personally don't care about gaming. In the business context, MS Office file compatability is a major barrier, particularly as to MS Word.

Crossover
by Jason on Wed 19th Feb 2003 18:56 UTC

I've found that barring 2 applications only available in Windows (Orinoco OR Manager and YDI Client Manager - wireless management tools for our WISP), I can do ALL of my day to day work in Xandros with Crossover Office installed.

I tried using Redhat with OO and Moz, and it just didn't work out for me. Xandros has been the only one so far that has allowed me to ditch Windows comfortable (even though I need to boot into Windows from time to time to check on clients).

Not that this is on topic or anything.

another point
by CrackedButter on Wed 19th Feb 2003 19:12 UTC

I don't have to play games but assume for the moment i don't.

All i do on my pc is surf the net, email, word process, however because of college i have to use a DB program so here i am back in windows using MS Access.

Just thought i would mention it, because if i could get a DB progam i COULD just purchase lindows and be done with it.

Re:
by Darius on Wed 19th Feb 2003 19:18 UTC

Except games, what does the average user user? WWW, internet, and a visual type setter.

The major mistake that most alternate OS advocates make is that they assume the only thing most Joe Users do with a computer is to browse the web and write letters. I can assure though that if you were to go into the living room/bedroom of every Joe User (at least in the US), you'd find at least once piece of software tha Linux can't account for.

Leaving aside gaming and MS Office file compatability, there is really nothing Windows does that can't be done by any other operating system, usually better and often cheaper.

Just because it can be done doesn't mean that it is being done.

Overall, great article! It certainly expresses things in ways that I never could. I look at all the things I do that would either be difficult or impossible to accomplish with anything but a Mac (and some things even with a Mac) and wonder what the hell those people who live comfortably outside of Windows or OSX actually do with their computers in the desktop realm.

BTW: Access is a HUGE sticking point when it comes to Dbases, because Internet web apps nor MySQL have the same level of mobility as .mdb files.

RE:
by GetOutofHere on Wed 19th Feb 2003 19:47 UTC

" however because of college i have to use a DB program so here i am back in windows using MS Access. "

If your college requires Access as a DB, then you should transfer; Access is a lower grade DB.



It's no big problem, really
by Iggy Drougge on Wed 19th Feb 2003 19:52 UTC

I think that the problems of living outside Windows are exaggerated. I think that it's mostly a case of ex-M$ users going to Linux, expecting to find their new Windows environment and in turn being disappointed. The number of Linux users who are ex- or current M$ users can't be overstated.
Not using Windows is only a problem if you're looking for compatibility with M$ Word or need that special particular custom application only used by you and your workmates. Or if you're hell-bent on getting hardware without checking whether it works with your OS first.
It's just a case of people getting out of their M$ mindset. Mind you, when the new generations of computer users have ever used any non-M$ systems, this might turn out to be too much of a challenge, but I don't find lack of M$ Word compatibility any greater problem than lack of AmiPro or WordPerfect compatibility. Of course M$ have got a custom format for their wordprocessor. Everyone does. That's why it's unsuitable for data exchange. Standards would be nice in this department, but until then we'll just have to stick to RTF, for lack of anything better and as compatible.
Besides, the office argument is irrelevant. As the author points out, office PCs are glorified typewriters. Who cares what they run?
As for the emerging Linux market, I think that they have more to gain by emulating Apple than Microsoft, since Apple are actually able to survive with a less than ten percent marketshare. Linux would do good in adapting to such circumstances, too.

access?
by Steve on Wed 19th Feb 2003 19:54 UTC

BTW: Access is a HUGE sticking point when it comes to Dbases, because Internet web apps nor MySQL have the same level of mobility as .mdb files.

access beeing mobile? where? since when?

sorry to ask, but i am a lotus notes (yes! it is a database system! and yes! it is very flexible! and no! it is not a RDBMS or a traditional database system!) useser since years and no other application amazed me that much with mobility as lotus notes does. and no way that access .mdb format can be that comfortable as the notes/domino .nsf format is.

access may be easy and good for a single user database... but other database systems as well are very well in this area.

ms access may be good if you live in the microsoft world, but the microsoft world is not the only world. and when you live or are forced to live in manny diffrend worlds (normaly you are forced, if you do work for manny manny diffrend companies), then you look much diffrend to this kind of topic.

Choice
by Bobthearch on Wed 19th Feb 2003 19:55 UTC

One error when discussing alternative operating systems is to think that end-users even consider choices. Nearly every single single use is going to use the OS that came with the computer, and they'll use that OS as long as they keep the computer. A few may dual boot, but no market-share statistics even try to count them.

Operating system dominance is pre-determined by computer manufacturers and dealers, not customers.

I'm no business guru, but if I was boss at MS and felt threatened by alternative operating systems I would give away Windows to everyone. I'd give it away with every computer, send out mass-mailing like AOL, and definitely free downloads. That's a sure way to maintain dominance and keep profits coming from support, developer liscensing, and MS-brand applications. Who would pay $100 for a retail Linux package then? MS obviously has no reason to feel threatened yet...

Later,
Bob

Re: Choice
by Steve on Wed 19th Feb 2003 20:00 UTC

I'm no business guru, but if I was boss at MS and felt threatened by alternative operating systems I would give away Windows to everyone.

microsoft is not so much under pressure with alternative os. i think their bigest problem is the free stuff you could use on windows (aka OOo, etc).

microsoft is getting about 85% win from each ms office they sell. if this would be replaced by another office suite, then microsoft has a big big problem. and when ppl would start to exchange their office suite.... they would probably think of exchanging their os as well.

Re Iggy and Steve
by Darius on Wed 19th Feb 2003 20:00 UTC

Not using Windows is only a problem if you're looking for compatibility with M$ Word or need that special particular custom application only used by you and your workmates.

If you really believe this, then that proves that you have absolutely no clue. Did you actually bother to read the article?

access may be easy and good for a single user database... but other database systems as well are very well in this area.

Uh, like what? Sure the Mac probably has FileMaker and others, but how many of these are available on Linux? I'm not saying that Access is the end-all of databases, but I am saying that for what it does, I haven't found anything in the open source world that does similar.

Re Darius
by Steve on Wed 19th Feb 2003 20:04 UTC

Uh, like what? Sure the Mac probably has FileMaker and others, but how many of these are available on Linux? I'm not saying that Access is the end-all of databases, but I am saying that for what it does, I haven't found anything in the open source world that does similar.

if you look for a 100% replacement of ms access, then the only replacement i can suggest you is --> MS ACCESS!

if you look for a desktop database system... ahhh... this is another story.

Darius
by Iggy Drougge on Wed 19th Feb 2003 20:19 UTC

Yes, I read the article, all four pages of it. That's why I commented. Why are you asking, Darius (if that is your real name)?

Unlike you, I'm speaking out of experience. I've never run an M$ OS at home, and am quite happily doing so. But then again I don't whine that I can't run M$ Office or that bargain basement WinModem.

microsoft to buy Connectix
by tom on Wed 19th Feb 2003 20:21 UTC

<quote>For those applications that you really need to run, many alternative operating systems have applications that allow some kind of Windows emulation. Many of these, like VirtualPC for Mac and VMWare or Win4Lin on Linux require an actual licensed copy of Windows that runs in parallel with your main OS. These applications work very well, though VirtualPC does not perform at full speed because it emulates the x86 on a PowerPC. Nevertheless, for the rinky-dink applications that we all occasionally run into they're a good solution, except for the fact that to use them legally you must pay for a license to Windows.</quote>


According to many reports on the internet, Microsoft will buy connectix tomorrow (Thurs 2/20/2003)

How come?
by praetorian on Wed 19th Feb 2003 20:21 UTC

How come I keep hearing madonna singing "Cause I am liiiving in an alternative world, and I am an alternative girl" when I'm reading this article?

Yikes.

Re: Iggy
by bkakes on Wed 19th Feb 2003 20:28 UTC

I've never run an M$ OS at home

Then you're not the average person. There's a reason most PCs come with (at least) small business edition.


But then again I don't whine that I can't run M$ Office or that bargain basement WinModem.

Then you're not the average person. Your average person isn't going to be too happy to have to unnecessarily spend more money on a modem for the privilege of running "free" software.


or need that special particular custom application only used by you and your workmates

Right. Like such amazingly-custom applications such as TurboTax, Kazaa, or good CDR/DVD-burning software.


Or if you're hell-bent on getting hardware without checking whether it works with your OS first.

Or maybe you're simply hell-bent on being able to use that hardware at all.


It's just a case of people getting out of their M$ mindset

No, it's a case of providing people with equivalent functionality and ease on alternative platforms. That currently isn't the case.

re: Steve
by Bobthearch on Wed 19th Feb 2003 20:28 UTC

"microsoft is not so much under pressure with alternative os. i think their bigest problem is the free stuff you could use on windows (aka OOo, etc)."

Good point. If OpenOffice (or others) had a little advertising and could be seen in retail packages in stores, I think MS would get worried. On the other hand, no one seemed to care about EasyOffice or StarOffice... Still it goes back to what came installed on the computer. You don't buy a Dell with OO installed.

Another problem is the longevity of their Office apps. I'm still on Office 2000 and it works great. Newer MS Office versions have no new capabilities that I need, and I don't even notice new features while using them.

No. I don't think they feel threatened by other OSes either - yet.

Some things right others wrong Darius
by Johnathan Bailes on Wed 19th Feb 2003 20:34 UTC

The major mistake that most alternate OS advocates make is that they assume the only thing most Joe Users do with a computer is to browse the web and write letters. I can assure though that if you were to go into the living room/bedroom of every Joe User (at least in the US), you'd find at least once piece of software tha Linux can't account for.

The major mistake most geeks make in terms of accessing the needs of average users is to assume they do much more on their computer than they actually do.

You are correct that Joe Users does more than surf the web and write letters.

They read email -- Evolution.

They do presentations -- OpenOffice.

They do spreadsheets -- OpenOffice.

They do Instant Messaging -- gaim.

They play music mp3s -- xmms.

They rip CDs -- grip.

They use their PDAs -- pilot link for Evolution.

They do art -- gimp or sodipodi and others.

They make basic web pages -- Mozilla web editor or sweb.

They do some games go to http://tuxgames.com

However, you got the issue correct in your second statement.

Just because it can be done doesn't mean that it is being done.

Except this applies to linux and other alternative OSes in general. The problem with all the alternative OSes out there is there is no one overwhelming reason in the form of killer OS function or killer app or killer game available for linux that would compel a common desktop user to use linux as opposed to Windows.

I believe that most office environments are tougher on the specialized apps that linux cannot emulate.

In the office, you run into that Access db app you can't use in linux or you run into issues with old Visio files that nothing will read. Maybe all the managers have MS Project files they need for scheduling (its not like Mr. Project can import those).


BTW, I work in linux and at home I use linux everyday. I use linux everyday for my work as a unix sysadmin and at home on my desktop I surf the net, play Castle Wolfenstein, get my email, yes surf the net, listen to music and quicktime movies with the new mplayer and automate almost every task I do through nautilus scripts etc...etc..etc..

When I say this I am not trying to be a zealot at all. Some people are just going to prefer Windows. Some people are going to like BeOS or even the Macintosh for goodness sakes.

I pointed in another post on another topic a whole list of reasons why someone would want to use Windows.

However, I do both my work as a system administrator and a Software Configuration Manager on a linux workstation. I even edit fairly large Install Instructions docs for our server side software releases on linux. I like linux. It is not for everyone but it gets the job done for me.




Re: bkakes
by Steve on Wed 19th Feb 2003 20:44 UTC

I've never run an M$ OS at home
Then you're not the average person. There's a reason most PCs come with (at least) small business edition.

yes! there is a reason! --> PROFIT

But then again I don't whine that I can't run M$ Office or that bargain basement WinModem.
Then you're not the average person. Your average person isn't going to be too happy to have to unnecessarily spend more money on a modem for the privilege of running "free" software.

it is not a question of getting a modem to run free software. if i calculate how much i save on getting cheep hardware and then i spend $$$ for getting software to run that cheep hardware, i would be better to buy from the beginning the better hardware (eaven if it would be more expensive) and then save on the softare.

or need that special particular custom application only used by you and your workmates
Right. Like such amazingly-custom applications such as TurboTax, Kazaa, or good CDR/DVD-burning software.

never used turbotax (i am from switzerland and our coutry offers us free software for doing or taxes! see the translation from german to english (with bablefish:http://babelfish.altavista.com/babelfish/urltrurl?url=http%3A~*...)). and i never used kazaa and good cdr/dvd burning software is available on linux like sand on the sea (if you search for a easy one... look at http://k3b.sourceforge.net/).

Or if you're hell-bent on getting hardware without checking whether it works with your OS first.
Or maybe you're simply hell-bent on being able to use that hardware at all.

can't comment that one, because i don't understand it complety.

It's just a case of people getting out of their M$ mindset
No, it's a case of providing people with equivalent functionality and ease on alternative platforms. That currently isn't the case.

hmm... my office runs linux on the desktop. the only applications from microsoft are the winword-, excel-, powerpoint- and visio- viewers to run inside the wine application (we run the lotus notes client inside wine and mails offten have some ms word/powerpoint/excel attachment. and for viewing the ms viwers are okay. and for editing, we use OpenOffice.org).

OpenPC
by gunnar on Wed 19th Feb 2003 20:47 UTC

Many of the posts talk about adoption of basic machines that are cheap and running open source software. This is the greatest single reason for the average person to think about switching. The developer community is now strong enough to support just about anything except perfect Word interoperability, it's just a matter of lag-time which most people are prepared to accept if they get it free. Over the next 5 years most all of the incompatibilities will be erased and new users will never even know of the nitty gritty problems we see today. Remember, the OpenPC market is still very young. If any of you have used OS X, you've realised that it is ENTIRELY possible (including Office compatibility). The only problem there is that Apple is positioned as a boutique company. OpenPC and Apple will converge overtime and that will be the default alternative to Windows.

aggrrr
by Steve on Wed 19th Feb 2003 20:49 UTC

long time agoo, eugenia posted a message where she asked us to place a space bevore and after a http link. stupid me! this is the correct link:

http://babelfish.altavista.com/babelfish/urltrurl?url=http%3A~*...

Access equivalent
by Anonymous on Wed 19th Feb 2003 20:51 UTC

Kexi ( http://luci.bux.at/projects/kexi/ ) is being integrated into koffice, and looks like it will be comparable to Access.

geee
by Steve on Wed 19th Feb 2003 20:52 UTC

ahhh... the link is not working correctly.

if you are german speaking, then get the german version at: http://www.heise.de/newsticker/data/pmz-14.02.03-000/

if you are not fluent in german, then use a translation engine to translate it in your preferred language.

cheers

Steve

Re: Steve & Jonathan
by Darius on Wed 19th Feb 2003 20:56 UTC

if you look for a desktop database system... ahhh... this is another story.

Actually, I am ... do you know if there's anything available on Linux?

They do Instant Messaging -- gaim.

Works ok until they want to use some od the 'advanced' features of the Windows clients, such as file transfers, voice/video chat/ IMViroments, etc.

They use their PDAs -- pilot link for Evolution.

A friend of mine just got one of those Dell Axiums <sp> which is a PocketPC .. how the hell is this supposed to help her? (She works for Dell and got a discount on the PDA.)

They do art -- gimp or sodipodi and others.

Same friend uses the computer to print calenders with Winnie the Pooh characters all over them. (I swear, it's a Pooh fetish!) How to accomplish this in Linux?

They do some games go to http://tuxgames.com

I'm not even going to comment on this one.

Also, what about DVDs. Sure, they can watch them? But will all of the snazzy 'DVD-ROM extras' work on Linux?

it is not a question of getting a modem to run free software. if i calculate how much i save on getting cheep hardware and then i spend $$$ for getting software to run that cheep hardware, i would be better to buy from the beginning the better hardware

Not if the software sucks shit by comparison.







Re: bkakes
by Iggy Drougge on Wed 19th Feb 2003 20:58 UTC

I've never run an M$ OS at home.

Then you're not the average person. There's a reason most PCs come with (at least) small business edition.


Of course I'm not an average person. But then I'm not referring to the average person, but to the average convertite, the average OSNews reader, the average tech enthusiast.

Your average person isn't going to be too happy to have to unnecessarily spend more money on a modem for the privilege of running "free" software.

WinModems are a bad idea from the get-go. I was shocked to hear that such a thing existed, just when WinPrinters had (luckily) been orphaned out of the market.

And please don't make any assumptions. I pay for my software.

or need that special particular custom application only used by you and your workmates

Right. Like such amazingly-custom applications such as TurboTax, Kazaa, or good CDR/DVD-burning software.


Granted, Kazaa might be nice. A shame that I'll have to be doing without a daily flow of pirate copies. But that's life.
As for CD burning software, I'm quite happy with BurnIt. It even made my old Philips, which refused to work with my friend's free software, come to life.
Have no idea about TurboTax. Never needed a tax program, I just sign the tax sheet each year.

Or if you're hell-bent on getting hardware without checking whether it works with your OS first.

Or maybe you're simply hell-bent on being able to use that hardware at all.


Either you can, or you cannot. It's as simple as that. If you find this so unbearable, you're better off switching to a platform where it's supported, I think.
You check for compatibility before shopping, it's as easy as that. For example, if my machine has got PCI slots, I'd be bloody stupid to buy an SBus card, no matter how fancy it might be.

It's just a case of people getting out of their M$ mindset

No, it's a case of providing people with equivalent functionality and ease on alternative platforms. That currently isn't the case.


Just don't come crying on my shoulder because you don't find yourself able to switch comfortably. You're the one who created the mess in the first place, not I. I do what I can for the diversity of computing, you're consolidating certain hegemonies.
While I regard M$ as quite incompetent when it comes to operating systems, if some people prefer or need it, then so be it. It seems sufficient for office desktops and other certain categories. But I have a hard time believing that it's the only runner in every field of computing. If you really need a particular piece of software, and it happens to run only on Windows, then please go ahead and run Windows. It's a perfectly sound option in that case. The reverse argument might also hold true. But in the majority of cases, there are several options. Yet.

Re: Anonymous
by Darius on Wed 19th Feb 2003 21:00 UTC

Kexi ( http://luci.bux.at/projects/k exi/ ) is being integrated into koffice, and looks like it will be comparable to Access.

This looks like another MySQL frontend, no? What we're trying to accomplish is to eliminate having to rely on MySQL for the actual database.

My point in general
by Iggy Drougge on Wed 19th Feb 2003 21:00 UTC

A problem nowadays is that there seems to be a term such as "alternative OS". As though as there is a "mainstream OS". It just results in a phallic complex in the so-called "alternative" communites.
If we all regarded ourselves as a little less alternative, this wouldn't be such a problem, I think.

Re Darius
by Steve on Wed 19th Feb 2003 21:07 UTC

hey! i am in no way trying to convince you to use linux or a alternative os. if you are happy with windows and it does what you want it to do, then be happy and use it.

i know alot people wich will never use anything else then windows and i can (somehow) understand them.
the reson i wrote the word somehow is, because they use allmost only pirated software on their windows boxes. and then they keep telling me how great windows is and how great photoshop, 3ds max, maya, ms office, corel draw, etc is. but when i ask them if they would pay for the software, then i hear allways the same answer: NO

and what kind of reason could those people motivate to switch to a alternative os or a free os? NOTHING!
they have allready everything free.

i would bet alot of $$$ that manny manny home users of windows have alot of pirated software on their computers.
it is so easy to get them. ask your friend for a copy, ask your neighbor for a copy, go to the internet and search for it...

and as long this is so easy... windows will stay and almost everyone will use it at home. but when this changes and coping windows or microsoft or adobe or corel or whatever software gets very hard, then people will start to think about switching to something more cheeper.

cheers

Steve

re: Johnathan Bailes
by Bobthearch on Wed 19th Feb 2003 21:10 UTC

"They do some games go to http://tuxgames.com"

To say that average users play some games is a serious understatement. Game sales remain strong in this tech slump, graphic card sales are doing very well, and entertainment capabilities (DVD, music, games) are the driving force in new home-computer sales.

By the way, I was deeply, deeply underwhelmed by the software library at tuxgames. You hit it on the head here:

"The problem ... killer game available for linux."

Every single one of the titles listed at tuxgames is available for Windows. There isn't a single cutting-edge game that is available Linux-only. Most games written specifically for alternate OSes look like 8-bit Atari games - sad to say - even for BeOS (the so-called MediaOS). There's absolutely no motivation to dump Windows...

nice article
by mmu_man on Wed 19th Feb 2003 21:11 UTC

some typos, but well written and quite insigntful.

Btw, for those who want to get better support for alternative OSes now and tomorrow, 2 driver petitions, asking for hardware manufacturers o release their datasheets so alternative OSes can use their hardware:

http://www.petitiononline.com/zxcv7nm/petition.html
And a new one: (the website still has some hickups it seems)
http://www.camodi.org/

(IMO, datasheets for hardware really _belong_ to the manual, as it's part of what alt-OSes need to operate the hardware properly. Hell you bought the hardware you have the right to get it working no matter what OS you run, don't you think ?)

Free software myths (how original =)
by Iggy Drougge on Wed 19th Feb 2003 21:16 UTC

Linux and GNU/FSF came into being because the cost of existing software was very high, affordable by only a few.

The world outside the US is adopting Linux in record numbers because it is affordable. I'm not talking cooked data and TCO here. I am talking initial cost of entry. I am talking building a PC and doing basic things.

Linux and the FSF movement have enabled millions of people to participate in computing where Microsoft and Apple would have shut them out.


GNU/FSF came about because Richard Stallman wanted to peek at source code. Have you read what the man writes? It's all about source code. Price has never been an object in GNU philosophy. You're allowed to charge millions for your GNU software as long as the source code is available on request.

Besides, software isn't that expensive. A lot of people buy software, even today, despite all the free software out there.

As for allowing millions of people to participate in computing, that is very untrue. As any of our far-east correspondants would tell you, getting a pirate copy of any common commercial program is no problem at all in the third world. Probably even easier than getting open source software.

Re Iggy
by Steve on Wed 19th Feb 2003 21:23 UTC

As for allowing millions of people to participate in computing, that is very untrue. As any of our far-east correspondants would tell you, getting a pirate copy of any common commercial program is no problem at all in the third world. Probably even easier than getting open source software.

ahhh... and getting the pirated software so easy is a free ticket to use it? c'mon!

killing someone is easy as well and definatly much easyer then living your own live. and this is in no way a reason for me to kill someone.

anyway... maybe my comparisation is to hard. but i don't see the "easy available" reason a valid reason for using pirated software.

and using open source software allows a country to generate work in their OWN country by giving work to OWN developers (inside their country) to change/enhance/fix/whatever open source applications. and by priating comercial application they drive them self into a much deeper hohle.

Re: Darius
by Johnathan Bailes on Wed 19th Feb 2003 21:35 UTC

I am saying that it works for me. You like Windows. Like Steve said, use it.

Aol puts out an Aim client which I have not used in awhile but has some of those advanced features like File transfer that you are talking about.

No you are not going to sync that thing I believe. Linux is an alternative OS. Compatibility with all hardware is an issue for any alternative OS and no linux is not an exception.

There are template files for OpenOffice that do this sort of things and importing an image into a spreadsheet or whatever (wish I still had that link) is not a big deal. If the Calendars are sets of image files gimp makes overlaying images and stuff pretty darn easy.

DVD-Rom Extras? I don't have a DVD player but I thought ogle could do that where xine and others had trouble. Could be wrong.

Never said it was perfect.

I was just saying you can do more than surf and write documents and you can live on linux. I like living in linux but I never said you or your friends would. The average user could live in linux and do all the things I mentioned in my list. These are common things that users do that you can do in linux.

I prefer many linux apps to their windows counterparts. That is me. Like Steve said, keep using XP.

Kexi backend
by Anonymous on Wed 19th Feb 2003 21:41 UTC

This looks like another MySQL frontend, no? What we're trying to accomplish is to eliminate having to rely on MySQL for the actual database.

I only tried it out for a few seconds, but it seems that the default is to use CQL, and to embed the data, tables, queries, etc. all into a single portable file.

Re: Anonymous
by Darius on Wed 19th Feb 2003 21:47 UTC

I only tried it out for a few seconds, but it seems that the default is to use CQL, and to embed the data, tables, queries, etc. all into a single portable file.

Well, if it is possible to write frontends with CQL and be able to run them on boxes without the underlying database, then this could be right up my alley ;) I'll have to look into this.

This is a great in-depth story (one of the best I've read here, I might add) that does everything it can to objectively reflect on the real aspects of alternative OSes in a non-developer world. This article might have felt like a cold shower to enthusiasts, but sometime that's just what I need to open my eyes a little wider to every morning's reality... There are real users out there, "regular joe"s, you know... ;-)

I've been using BeOS, Linux (in many flavors), QNX and some other alternative OSes for a while, but I have to say that for my work and for a lot of other reasons, I had to keep a Windows desktop. It might be true that some things can be done better with other systems (I used BeOS for professionnal media gigs for a really long time), the fact is that a user uses software, and doesn't usually cares much for what's underneath it. Here's my point...

Even with the huge media advantage of the BeOS of 4 years ago, I had a really hard time finding a multi-output soundcard that would work (I own an Echo Darla and it requires much fidling to make it work as multi-channel). We made our system work, thanks to Cortex and Soundplay, and it was by far superior to any other DJ system available on Windows (and even Mac) at the time. But BeOS development slowed, but the market for these solutions didn't. The stuff available on Windows is not only more advanced now, but is also cheaper than most other solutions (even the MacOS ones). We had the tought choice to restrain ourselves, or to keep doing business by shifting to Windows. We did lose some very usefull features (the BeFS attributes for one), but we had to give and take to stay competitive... I have to admit, our system was showing it's age and the new features we wanted were simply not availlable for any alternative OSes.

I'm considering switching to Mac, but I'm still pretty sure I'll still use Virtual PC for some tasks, since the software I need will probably not be fully availlable for OS X. I must confess that Windows is still atractive since a lot of the software I need will work on it, and objectively thinking, Windows 2000 has proven itself to be very stable for what I do. But... AAARGH!!!

See, that's why I fully agree with the author's conclusion. Alternative OSes can be amazing, but for most people, they're mainly seen as sandboxes for development of new ideas. Like petri dishes for bigger commercial products. Common users can understand why a OS feature is better than another way of doing things, but only if you can bring it to them, integrate it in something they know well and they are comfortable with, and explain them in plain language. This is reality, and no matter how it saddens me that the best is not always the greatest, we have to live in it.

Windows power
by Will on Wed 19th Feb 2003 21:57 UTC

The power of Windows is simply its ubiquity, which gives it a solid network effect, which draws developers and users. That fact that it is "mostly" backward compatible with older software just entrenched it deeper, as it helped maintain both a software base, a knowledge base, and served as a launching platform for the incremental improvements that the base OS added.

Apple attracts folks by selling the entire platform: Hardware, Software, Applications, iLifesyle. They're selling the Same Thing Only Different. Apple is not selling compatability with Windows. They're saying "leave it behind".

Apple had to do this to try and bootstrap their new OS. Apple took control by providing top shelf applications that many consumers use without having to go back into OS 9.

In many ways they attracted new developers because here's a large company, with a large marketing budget pushing a new computer with a clean slate of applications. Meaning that whoever wrote "Mac Wedding Planner" for OS 7.x and had a "lock" on the Mac "Wedding Planner" market were now potentially in a race with some nobody who has a passion for Wedding Planning software. OS X is a completely new market.

Clearly, the big software makers are jumping on board.

But, with Linux et al, there's nobody pushing it hard. I haven't seen one "Linux Computer" ad on television. I haven't seen any nice "Linux Computer" kiosks at the computer stores.

None of the Linux companies are taking "responsibility" for their platforms. They bundle a bunch of stuff together but tend to wash their hands of it from there. The biggest crime Red Hat has done, IMHO, is not commit to a single desktop. They should pick one, KDE, Gnome, whatever, and just focus on it. As an application programmer for Linux, which environment should you write for? Which one is worth putting the time into?

"We're all about choice" Linux folks cry. Sure, great, but that means that the software vendors can't decide which to support, as the market isn't behind a solution. The market hasn't told developers where it's worth putting their finite time into.

Server applications are much more fluid, but desktop applications, where interface DOES matter, and where integration with the desktop environment is important to users, these are not as flexible.

And if a developer is going to write a "portable" application, I can guarantee that they're going to "port it" to Windows first.

Desktop DBs
by Will on Wed 19th Feb 2003 22:07 UTC

Who cares what the engine beneath the Desktop DB is? Why does it matter? Is it simply a bundling issue? (I don't know anything about MySQL.)

Is it that you can't distribute the application as a simple .xyz file? Can't you zip or tar it up? and use a directory instead?

Desktop databases are entirely focused on the user interface, task wizards, easy screen I/O and reporting. The engine behind them has pretty much always been irrelevant.

Do users use Access for the JET Engine? I don't think so. Is the "Modern, High Performance" ISAM Dbase-esque data core of Alpha V it's primary selling point? Umm..No!

It's data entry, query, reporting, and analysis. Ease of use and elegant power. Make first timers productive, yet provide a depth that 3rd parties can leverage to build small scale vertical applications.

free software foundation + free vs. piracy
by Michael on Wed 19th Feb 2003 22:14 UTC

For the people who have never read about the Free Software Foundation, if you are actually interested in learning about it, here's the URL:

http://www.fsf.org/philosophy/philosophy.html

And for those people who are especially confused about 'free software' vs. 'open source':

http://www.fsf.org/philosophy/free-software-for-freedom.html

Hardly anyone buys software in many poor countries. Linux gives these people the ability to use legal software and take part in the evolution of computing. Pirated software doesn't offer this.

Beyond using pirated software (which ultimately benefits Microsoft), going with Linux is a far better option than living in fear as Microsoft/USDOJ steps up their efforts to put 'software license violators' aka 'pirates' in prison. As Windows costs what someone makes in FIVE years of work in some countries, you can imagine the penalties for software piracy will be abusive and inhumane.

The fastest growing OS in the world today is Linux. China has major Linux efforts underway including a State version of Linux. India has major efforts as well. Almost every country in the world is phasing out Windows and putting in Linux, some faster than others. For many it is a simple matter of trust. Linux offers what is unavailable with Windows -- source code.

--ms

Re: Desktop DBs
by Darius on Wed 19th Feb 2003 22:22 UTC

Who cares what the engine beneath the Desktop DB is? Why does it matter? Is it simply a bundling issue? (I don't know anything about MySQL.)
Is it that you can't distribute the application as a simple .xyz file? Can't you zip or tar it up? and use a directory instead?


Here's the problem:
Let's say I write a nifty application in Linux (using QT, or whatever) to keep track of my porn collection. Not only can I keep the name of the movie, the actors (if there is such a thing in porn) and other such info, but I can also scan in the cover image on the box along with the other info.
Now, let's say I want to package this up as a .xyz file and send it to my Linux-using friend so he can keep track of his porn collection too. Now, say the database I used to accomplish this task was MySQL - what if my friend doesn't have MySQL installed on his Linux box? He'd either have to install it just for this one app or connect and use MySQL running on my box to keep track of his collection, neither of which are very workable options, IMHO.
What Access does is to allow me to package just the app and the needed DLL files for the database access (which are often times on someone's machine anyway), and I can read/write to the .mdb file without the presence of Access or any other actual database program on the computer.
AFAIK, you can't do this on Linux, or at least I haven't found a way yet. There are a lot of GUI frontend for MySQL, but that's all they are are frontends .. meaning, you need MySQL to make them work.

Hardware is a big problem!!!
by SSA on Wed 19th Feb 2003 22:36 UTC

While everyone is busy talking about software that is only availible for windows what about the hardware problem. There has to be millions of machines with winmodems most of which cannot be used by linux or any other altOS. I installed Suse linux onto a machine with a AC97 audio chip and the sound is barely usuable because the compatiblity is so poor. BeOS had better compatiblity, but not perfect. There are millions of machines with off-brand hardware there have no drivers for linux or any other altOS. Why try an altOS if one has to buy new hardware just for their sound to work properly. The other weekend I added a CD-RW drive to a machine and windows booted up recognized the drive and could read just fine(needed a driver to add writing, but the install was quick and fairly painless(needed a reboot. grr..)) My linux distro(Suse) on the other hand had a kernal panic. I still haven't solved it. Most altOS's still have work to go before they have even caught up with windows(or macOS for that matter) in ease of use.
For the most part other than some games, linux is getting pretty close. Most average people(non-corporate types) could use OpenOffice without much trouble. Mozilla and konq are fine alternatives to IE(I can bank online with moz!). I can use Mathematica for linux and there are good free typesetting programs(one professor said he preferred a lot of the free linux typesetting programs) so it is not like a lot of academic software is not availible. As for games, all that it will take is more people to buy linux games. If the sales for linux versions of the currently ported software improved a lot then other companies would port more games. You just need to get the critical mass of users. Ditto for all of the other software. It is sort of a chicken and the egg problem. A lot of people don't want to buy something that can't completely replace windows, but a lot of software houses don't want to take the chance of wasting money on a port. It is as simple as that.

Wintel computer geeks created this MONSTER!!!
by W on Wed 19th Feb 2003 22:48 UTC

At work I live in the wintel world. Our IT department has been preaching Wintels for years and years, working hard at making it a standard within the company. They even looked the other way on many of the problems you have with wintel because one OS is easier for them to manage. Its too hard to learn and understand Unix/Linux/BeOS/Mac.

The other day we met with our IT department (like we have from time to time) to review our computer issues. Many of the IT people were upset with the state of the wintel world. One of the wintel geeks was up in arms about MS pushing out Novell of Windows and now he has to deal with all these new Novell/MS problems (I don?t know all the details because I am not a computer geek in his area of expertise). He was calling MS all these names in the book and how MS as taken it too far!!!

Well to all you computer geeks that have persuade ?non-tec world? into buying wintels.


YOU CREATED THE MS MONSTER, NOW LIVE WITH IT!!!

W

Re: Iggy again
by bkakes on Wed 19th Feb 2003 23:14 UTC

Of course I'm not an average person. But then I'm not referring to the average person, but to the average convertite

Point taken; in fairness, you did not claim to be representative of average needs. I was merely pointing out how the limited needs you referenced are not indicative of an average person's abilities to use an alternative OS. So while my point is valid, it was perhaps inappropriate in a reply to you, and I apologize for that.


Your average person isn't going to be too happy to have to unnecessarily spend more money on a modem for the privilege of running "free" software.

And please don't make any assumptions. I pay for my software.


I wasn't implying your piracy......merely stating that so-called free software often isn't when you factor in time, support costs, and so forth.


WinModems are a bad idea from the get-go. I was shocked to hear that such a thing existed, just when WinPrinters had (luckily) been orphaned out of the market.

I've heard this a million times, but can someone please explain why to me? I have three winmodems, each of which cost me around $5, and average around 48-50kbit/s connections, which is extremely reasonable for my phone lines. Seems to me that saving money on needless hardware when my CPU is way more than enough to compensate is an extremeley reasonable proposition.


Granted, Kazaa might be nice. A shame that I'll have to be doing without a daily flow of pirate copies.

For better of for worse, millions and millions of people use Kazaa. Not having it available will limit how useful the computer is to them (regardless of whether they use that capability for good or for ill).


Never needed a tax program, I just sign the tax sheet each year.

I don't have sales figures, but I doubt that anyone will dispute that TurboTax and its brethren sell millions each year. Again, you may not need it, but many, many people do.


Either you can, or you cannot. It's as simple as that. If you find this so unbearable, you're better off switching to a platform where it's supported, I think.

Exactly. There are certain types of hardware that simply aren't supported in alternative operating systems. People who desire that hardware's functionality over OS choice will have no choice but to use the major platform.


Just don't come crying on my shoulder because you don't find yourself able to switch comfortably. You're the one who created the mess in the first place, not I.

Please tell me how I am responsible. I used a Mac until 1995, used Windows for a while. I switched to the BeOS in 97-98, but as of a few years ago, it cannot support my needs. So I use Windows. I'm somehow responsible for the fact that no alternatives can current suit my needs?


I do what I can for the diversity of computing, you're consolidating certain hegemonies.

Sure, by using what I require to do my work. Asking people to sacrifice functionality for the sake of using inferior but diversified products is taking a technological step backwards.


But I have a hard time believing that it's the only runner in every field of computing. If you really need a particular piece of software, and it happens to run only on Windows, then please go ahead and run Windows. It's a perfectly sound option in that case. The reverse argument might also hold true. But in the majority of cases, there are several options. Yet.

True, there are several options in many cases. But that doesn't preclude Windows from being the best option. I might get by using (often) inferior Linux applications, and struggling with what is certainly an inferior interface and hardware support, but why should I?

You Underestimate me..
by Anonymous on Wed 19th Feb 2003 23:14 UTC

This article is ok, however it underestimates your average user i.e. me. We all think that MS are in control, but so are its customers. They couldn't even if they wanted to, completely change the format that (for example) MS Word uses.

I've seen some amazing stuff done with Access, but this is becuase of VBA, and its IDE. Its just so easy to get things up and running. I'm trying to learn MySQL now, hopefully.

Missing the point
by Larye on Thu 20th Feb 2003 00:11 UTC

The point of the article that stood out for me was the observation that Windows has market share only in the common platform: many systems are one-purpose, no more than dumb terminals: all running the same custom application and sharing a database in client-server mode, where the database may be on a Windows server or something else. As noted, the other use for desktop computers is to replace the typewriter, adding machine, and memo pad in the traditional office. There is no reason to use Windows in either case. The only reason to buy Windows is to run must-have software that is only available on Windows. One can conclude that Windows total market share is made up of multiple niches: for a given type of usage, other systems stack up well against the total number of Windows machines running that type of application. So, we might consider that, for the general purpose user, other systems might be better suited to a specific application or a wider range of applications than is Windows.

I'm writing this on a Sun workstation running Solaris, but it could just as well be on Windows: I have both, courtesy of an Intel co-processor board installed in my Sun--for the sole purpose of running genuine Windows-only applications or to view web pages and run web-apps built only for Internet Explorer on Windows. Once you have Windows, there are a lot of usable applications that are very cheap to own , and most add-on hardware plays well out of the box with Windows. So why invest in a Unix workstation to house a single-board Windows computer in the first place?

1) Windows is primarily a desktop system: when I want and need to run client-server software, both run on Unix.

2) Windows is a serial multi-user system: Unix was designed for concurrent multi-user use, or, as a software developer or system administrator, I can run concurrent sessions with different privileges and environments.

3) As a developer, it is easy to build and port Unix applications to many different hardware architectures and scale, without investing in specialized development packages and systems. And, it is much easier, within the framework of the Unix philosophy, to get different applications to exchange data.

If you can only have one computer, shouldn't it be one with which you can do everything? With Windows, you need two or three, plus a lot of expensive software, even to write your own. Unix comes completely equipped.

Re: Darius - Access
by DeadFish Man on Thu 20th Feb 2003 00:54 UTC

About the portability thing with Access, you do realize that MySQL (and maybe the others open sources RDBMS as well) let you export your data in a very nicely format? That's a dump and it is just a text file fullfilled with SQL statements that can recreate your database in another host in a matter os seconds. And if you're really picky about the portability thing, you can just export it as a CSV.

There are open sources front-ends like MySQL Navigator that allows you to manage your database and do that exporting with just point-and-click (and thus that ease of use that people keep talking about) but if you are the kind of guy that likes commercial stuff, you can just buy one of those nice apps that TheKompany provides.

Re: DeadFish Man
by Darius on Thu 20th Feb 2003 01:42 UTC

ou do realize that MySQL (and maybe the others open sources RDBMS as well) let you export your data in a very nicely format? That's a dump and it is just a text file fullfilled with SQL statements that can recreate your database in another host in a matter os seconds. And if you're really picky about the portability thing, you can just export it as a CSV.

I see two problems with this approach:

1. If I understand you correctly, this still requires you to have MySQL installed on the other computer, does it not? The idea here is to be able to build frontends that will run without the actual database install on the target computer, as can be done with Access/.mdb files.
2. Does this method handle image data (blobs?), or just plain text ?

Actually ...
by Darius on Thu 20th Feb 2003 01:50 UTC

Just so you understand, I don't really use Access all that much. Basically, I just create the table skeletons for a particular database I need (so I don't have to do it by hand or through code) and then use VB6 to write whatever frontend (if necessary) I need for it. (I find GUI programming in Access to be much more cumbersome than it needs to be).
Then, I can just package my frontend into a setup.exe file, burn it to CD, and take it with me wherever I go, and I don't have to worry about Access being installed on whatever computer I use my frontends on. So in theory, it's not really Access alternative that I need so much as something like the .mdb file format.

AlternativeOS's
by manolo on Thu 20th Feb 2003 02:02 UTC

Speaking of alternative Operating Systems where is Atheos?
I cannot find it lately.

@Darius
by Aesiamun on Thu 20th Feb 2003 02:06 UTC

2. Does this method handle image data (blobs?), or just plain text ?

Yes, it will handle any data that you store in the MySQL database. All mysql_dump does is dump that database to a flat text file that will rebuild it on any other mysql server.

But you pointed out, you need mysql to use it. And that sucks. I agree

Kexi does not depend on MySQL, it uses CQL, which seems to be something that the Kexi has embedded into the project. Apparently (I haven't tried it, just reading docs), it will package the entire application (forms, database, UI, queries) and you can redistribute it.

What leaves open to question is: does that package depend on any libraries? I know access applications require some dll's that weren't installed on windows when I was doing DB work with Access.

I hate having customers go find third party libraries. I hope Kexi doesn't force me to do that same.

D

What you need is a programming language that write an app that can write to a database file. You don't ODBC and you do not want the app to require you to install MySQL.

People forget old school so quickly.

It is called DBase. There are all kind of tools (even perl and php mods) and C++ wrappers for the creation of XBASE formatted files.

Also what about the unix granddaddy of embedded database engines?

Berkeley DB

About:
The Berkeley Database (Berkeley DB) is a programmatic toolkit that provides embedded database support for both traditional and client/server applications. Berkeley DB includes b+tree, queue, extended linear hashing, fixed, and variable-length record access methods, transactions, locking, logging, shared memory caching and database recovery. DB supports C, C++, Java, and Perl APIs. DB is available for a wide variety of UNIX platforms as well as Windows NT and Windows '95 (MSVC 4, 5 and 6).

Now can we all move along?

@Darius (Take 2)
by Aesiamun on Thu 20th Feb 2003 02:10 UTC

If you're familiar with C/C++ you could probably write a whole slew of applications around the Berkely Database (bdb).

It's an embedded binary database (non SQL), used by many applications already including many Open Source databases as the primary way they store databases.

If you want, I can get information on BDB if you feel it might be something you want to look into.

D

Re Access
by Meh on Thu 20th Feb 2003 02:25 UTC

Darius, do you realize that, when you package up the DLLs required to run the data in your .mdb file, you are in fact packaging up the database engine itself? The JET database engine is very nearly as ubiquitous as Internet Explorer, and for exactly the same reason: it, or significant pieces of it, get installed by default with Windows.

As a result, you *might* have to install some "extra DLLs" to get your Access-created app to run on someone else's machine -- or you might not, if you are lucky. The point, though, is that there still has to be a database engine installed and available on the other's computer. An .mdb file does not run itself, any more than a Word document does. Such files can run in viewers/run-time environments, though.

The major difference between this and a Linux system is that on the Linux system the database engine is a separate package which you can choose to install (or not). It is equally possible to repackage the necessary files as a run-time executable and include them with your database schema and your front-end application -- at least in theory, and I'm sure folks have done it in practice, too, particularly in the area of embedded Linux. Come to think of it, perhaps BerkeleyDB counts as an analogous bit of software.

Another difference is that there aren't very many "fire-and-forget" database engines similar to JET that are very popular under Linux. The major reason I've seen for this is the old argument that Access and its ilk don't provide the robustness that most "real" database applications require. And, well, Access doesn't, which is why you also have SQL Server (which is always a separate install, and requires a server flavor of Windows). What Access *does* provide is an easy-to-learn IDE, a relatively simple programming language, a fairly sucky database engine which has a lot of ubiquity, and hooks throughout the operating system and other MS applications -- all in one package. Linux, on the other hand, has Sagan-like billions of unconnected packages, few-to-none (correct me if I'm wrong, folks) mature all-in-one IDEs (and let's NOT count emacs, it really isn't in the same category, being non-visual), lots of great programming languages that are loads better than VB, very powerful DB engines that generally require administration (no fire-and-forget), and few built-in hooks (but lots of ways to get things to talk to each other anyway).

But the all-in-one package can be done under Linux. Just look in the right places, and be prepared for some limitations. Or, roll yer own. ;)

Re Access, take 2
by Meh on Thu 20th Feb 2003 02:43 UTC

Oh, okay, just read your other post -- front-end in VB6, supporting DLLs, .mdb package. Neat, easy, simple.

Took a couple of seconds, and Berkeley DB looks like a really good bet as an analogy to .mdb package, and is pretty much equally ubiquitous and can be repackaged as needed.

And, to plug my own favorite language, Python is ridiculously easy to learn, is extraordinarily powerful, will save you lots of time, has a reasonable GUI toolkit in Tk, has a standard library package for dealing with Berkeley DB (bsddb), and is cross-platform. Oh, and you should be able to create a setup.exe package for Windows with an extra tool called py2exe. I have no experience using py2exe, but the docs say that it will automatically include all necessary files, and you won't need to install Python on your target computer.

Good luck!

Re: Johnathan Bailes and Meh
by Darius on Thu 20th Feb 2003 04:05 UTC

Another difference is that there aren't very many "fire-and-forget" database engines similar to JET that are very popular under Linux. The major reason I've seen for this is the old argument that Access and its ilk don't provide the robustness that most "real" database applications require.

That's really too bad - that's like saying that noboy should use Netscape Composer for writing webpages because it's not robust like a REAL HTML editor such as Dreamweaver. Sometimes, portability and simplicity is more important than raw power.

I'll have to check out all of the embedded database engines you guys mentioned - if any of them can handle audio (in small amounts) and images, they may just be right up my alley ;)

I'm not sure about using Python as a GUI though - depends on how 'reasonable' the Python/TK GUI is. If it's reasonable like Perl's Win32::GUI, I'll be looking elsewhere ;)
But if I can do shit like toolbars, popup menus, splitters and such, I might give it a shot.


BDB != relational database
by Michael on Thu 20th Feb 2003 04:19 UTC

The Berkeley Database is a low level database toolkit (think C API and b-trees). It is not comparable to Access, MySQL, or any other relational database.

There are a number of front-ends to MySQL that are in development and one of these may end up being a good Access replacement for Linux.

--ms

@Darius and Python
by Aesiamun on Thu 20th Feb 2003 04:38 UTC

Darius

wxPython is a implementation of the wxWindows toolkit for Python. It works really well with what we are using for very simple and quick applications and extends well to the windows API. Along with that, you should able to run those applications on Mac OSX and Linux as well (wxWindows is available for those).

Might want to look into that as well.

and Michael:

MySQL is far too large to be used as an Access replacement. Not every distribution has MySQL installed by default (and I agree with the fact that they shouldn't). It would seem to be an overkill to have to supply the SQL engine with every application (one must assume it's not installed).

If there was an embeddable MySQL engine, I would think that would be fine. Otherwise why not use something a little smaller like Interbase or possibly CQL?

COMPATIBILITY
by CC on Thu 20th Feb 2003 05:23 UTC

Unless I am missing something, I always thought the compatibility issue using Windows products was overhyped. When any of our project managers would distribute an electronic copy Microsoft Project, they would have to save it in at least 3 formats. You might ask, why so many versions. One word: Cost. It is expensive to upgrade everyone at once in a large organization to the newest version of the software. What would typically happen is someone would get a new PC because theirs was considered not economical to repair or they were on a version of Window that was not going to be supported by our IT department. Newer versions of Windows would not support the older versions of office products, so the new PC would have newer versions of office, project, access, visio, etc. That is why I have always wondered why the compatibility issue keeps getting prevalent coverage. If you use some of the embedded functions in Access or Excel, they do not work from version to version cleanly. When I was taking some online courses the solution was having everything saved to RTF, there was never any problems opening the documents. One last observation; most of the advanced features in any office suite application are used by a very small percentage of people.

Embedded MySQL
by Darius on Thu 20th Feb 2003 06:17 UTC

Since we were talking about embedded databases, thought some of you might find this interesting:

http://www.mysql.com/doc/en/Nutshell_Embedded_MySQL.html

Embedded MySQL
by Aesiamun on Thu 20th Feb 2003 06:40 UTC

Very cool, now the question is: what does it require for the user to be able to just installed an application and run it? You can probably just statically link to this library if needed.

I wonder if there is way to get Python to work with this...

Time to do some research. Thanks Darius.

It's all about the Boxes!
by mabhatter on Thu 20th Feb 2003 06:44 UTC

First, realize that you are not a Microsoft customer. They don't care about you! Their customers are the gateways, dells and General Motors of the world--If you don't spend a million dollars they really don't care unless they can throw together something quick for you.
Windows wins again on the store shelves. Again unless you sell ten thousand+ copies and can get Best Buy & Walmart to carry it your out of luck.
Realize that MS has many of the hardware vendors chasing their tails to keep up with windows next "Big Thing" Most of the key software (i.e. drivers) is not written by MS, but by all the little vendors. (including most of the stuff on the windows CD--it's just repackaged.) It's a grand Pyramid scheme--everyone else does the work (and takes the blame) and MS gets all the glory. After this experience with MS (and the botique nature of Apple with apple only hardware roms in everything)
It's no wonder hardware makers cringe to support Linux. Even though it's relatively easier than either windows or mac and you can get lots of free help!
Linux needs to "infect" windows. The table needs to turn around and make MS have to be compatible with everyone else. This requires all the little OS to band together (And I have a cat herder job for you too!) to be compatible with each other and leave MS out in the cold. Take it to the next step and turn programs like Samba around and instead write it for windows PCs to talk to OS boxes because they don't need special software to talk. GPL such works and the specs just to rub salt in the wound!
On the store box front, many programs could be written in such a way that they would support both Windows and other things. The key is again to go after the little ISV that makes $20 discs. Most of the kids games (reader rabbit) and general house stuff (fonts, photo cataloges, widgets, etc.) is really simple windows 3.11 compatible stuff. If say the wine project could support these ISVs and get big Tux stickers on the boxes opinion would change--It's all about perception, not reality. (At a store like BB most of the software on the shelves is at about the 20-30 mark. most of that is little stuff that exactly 5 people in your town want. The big name non-game programs don't sell well at BB and they've pulled most of them! think adobe, quark, corel, ect. pay attention to the shelves next time your there!)
Also many household utilities could be rewriten or used in Linux with very little change. Here I'm thinking Clipart, Fonts, kids games (mostly flash anyway), taxes, reference, calanders, etc. The tools used to make this stuff are simple or cross platform anyway in many cases the programs just have to be targeted at the Alt OS base.
gotta go
bye

@Darius RE: Python + embedded db's
by Aesiamun on Thu 20th Feb 2003 06:47 UTC

I also just found out about Metakit which is an embedded SQL that has python modules.

This might also be a good thing for quick scripting of forms and small db applications.

I don't think I've ever posted this much on OSNews.com before. Heh.

DAMN WORLD OF OSes!
by Vasheel on Thu 20th Feb 2003 07:37 UTC

hi there
just wnated to say that the OS war has really given good things till now
has anyone tried the new Linux distros!!!!
they are much much much more accessible now to everyone now
what only lacks is good gaming capabilities!!!!!
that's i guess the only thing hindering its growth!

Happy Switcher
by Guus on Thu 20th Feb 2003 07:45 UTC

I've used a PC for years at home. In 1999 a neat little iMac entered my house. In december 2002 when OS X was installed on the iMac, the PC became obsolete.
There are beautiful applications where Windows users can only dream about, like MacSQL.

I don't know why....
by wakeupneo on Thu 20th Feb 2003 08:20 UTC

..there wasn't a push by the open source community during the MS anti-trust case to have some of these issues brought up...hardware-wise I mean.

If hardware manufacturers only write a driver for their product to work with Windows, isn't that kinda forcing the industry to use only one OS? A monopoly is formed even without MS intervention if everyone does it.

If the DOJ truly wants the playing field to be even, why not force the hardware manufacturers to supply a device driver for at least one other OS in their packaging? This would alleviate the issues we're seeing now and would truly give the rest of the industry some chance of competing with MS.

Just my 2c....

@meh, Darius and python
by jmf on Thu 20th Feb 2003 09:25 UTC

>Oh, and you should be able to create a setup.exe package for Windows with an extra tool called py2exe. I have no experience using py2exe, but the docs say that it will automatically include all necessary files, and you won't need to install Python on your target computer

Right. I created a windows application (python + wxPython + py2exe), that allows you to run and learn python on a win platform without having all the python stuff installed on your platform. No ini file, no registry modification, no dll hell. You can run it from a zip drive or from a cd.
The application, called psi.exe, is available at http://www.chez.com/spinecho

Good article but this is old news
by semicolon on Thu 20th Feb 2003 10:25 UTC

While this article was well written and organized, the people that it really needs to speak to (most likely anyone who cares about OSnews at all) already know or have heard the barriers of an alternative OS gaining acceptance by Joe User or Mr Suit. This article just reiterated those old points and didn't need to be published.

The mention of how market share is collected in a lazy fashion was something that needed to be said. However, it has long been said that the Internet will move data-driven form based desktop applications to the network so they can be accessed by computers more resembling thin clients and small wireless devices.

Geeks who develop the alternative OSes (and actually manage the projects and promotion) are out of touch with Joe User, and this often leads to them being unable to effectively target the desktop market (those that want the desktop market at least). It's understandably hard for them to put themselves in the mindset of not even criticizing, much less questioning the viability of alternatives, of what comes preinstalled on their PC.

PostgreSQL
by Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz on Thu 20th Feb 2003 11:58 UTC

Uh, like what? Sure the Mac probably has FileMaker and others, but how many of these are available on Linux? I'm not saying that Access is the end-all of databases, but I am saying that for what it does, I haven't found anything in the open source world that does similar.

Try PostgreSQL combined with TOra or pgaccess as an GUI for your database and speak no more of M$ Access. Come on guys, M$ Access sucks!

OS use and estimation
by aRTee on Thu 20th Feb 2003 12:26 UTC

To check market share of OS'es, have a look here:
http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html

With win95 at 3% and linux at 1% there's a lot yet to be done...
I will have a drink the day this counter goes to 2% for linux.

So far, I have managed to convert all my computer interested friends to at least dualboot. Just passed some linux install cd's to a colleague today.

All we can/should/have to do is spread it.

BTW big corporations ARE looking into it, but just like they are now more or less open to the idea of using AMD based pc's things take time.

level playing field
by Olivier on Thu 20th Feb 2003 12:44 UTC

Something that's not really mentionned in the article is that like any other product, any application's merit come accross a lot better when supported by effective communication and advertising. I am not only talking about sole magazine advertising but also managing to appear in a favorable light in mainstream computing press (most PC magazine don't even mention that Apple or Linux does exist), sofware reviews and other lab tests.


Large number of people will not move to Open Office on Windows (let alone Linux) before they even know it does exist. OEM will not consider OO or Mozilla as attractive bundling propositions, unless somebody pays to make punters aware that these are desirable apps. And as many mentionned, it is beyond most people to even consider an alternative to what came with their computer.
Most hardware vendors don't mention that their gear works with Linux (not talking about support here) because they don't realise somebody has taken care of it !

Windows and other large software companies have got a huge advantage over any new kid on the block : the communication fire power. The marketing budgets of all solvent linux companies grouped together is probably less than a 100th (wild guess here) of the Microsoft one. That's a big hurldle, especially that linux companies don't seem to worry to much about communicating together anyway !



More SQL
by Err on Thu 20th Feb 2003 12:55 UTC

Here's another embeddable one (In C this time) I got pointed at a while back and looked quite decent.

http://www.hwaci.com/sw/sqlite/

Wish I could remember how to do that link thing :>

PDF files anyone?
by Anonymous on Thu 20th Feb 2003 13:45 UTC

"Documents have to be Word, RTF, or text"??!? Has this guy ever heard of PDF? Has he even seen that pdf files are ubiquitous?

Worlds
by Jay on Thu 20th Feb 2003 16:15 UTC

Thank you David for the well thought out and expansive overview of this situation. It's one of the best things here on OS News lately.

I know you were looking at the overall view, which is both the joy and curse of people like ourselves, who must know what else is out there.

It got me thinking though about how so many regular users really can go into a particular world and stay there and be happy as clams. These are pretty much home users though, I know. Apple, of course, comes to mind with the integrared iApps. But, it's even true in the PC world. A person who gets a Sony VAIO computer could easily completely immerse themselves in Sony's bundled multimedia apps and never come up for air. A person who wants a computer for the lightest of uses can get a Microtel computer from Wal-Mart.com with Lycoris on it and never look back.

Of course, none of these examples address your main points. Again, it just occured to me how individuals can immerse themselves in a one OS/platform world if there is no reason come out of it. Of course, this can also lead the the flame wars where people rage at each other, not knowing exactly what they're talking about :-)

About writing apps.
by anon on Thu 20th Feb 2003 17:17 UTC

One other things that favor windows over *nixes for writing apps, especially GUI apps is library hell. I've been told Windows have a "dll hell" though I've never seen it. On Linux its another matter. Libraries keep changing all the time, not only are they binary incompatible, so you have to compile and support a whole bunch of diffrent binaries, one also have to learn a new API almost every six months. Thats about the time it takes for finding decent docs for all the libraries.
The fact that I can sit on my win2k machine, make advanced MFC apps(MFC dies its job but sucks, but that's another discussion), compile it, and the result will run on anything from win98 to winXP, and probably future windows version is nothing common windows developers give much thought. When they face e.g. linux, see all the diffrent versions, distros and so on, it easily scares the away. I've sadly seen many examples of that recently.

@ ---.mayo.edu
by Aesiamun on Thu 20th Feb 2003 17:24 UTC

The problem with PDF is that most people aren't aware of the non Adobe solutions for the windows side, plus it's not as simple and straightforward to quickly edit PDF's on non OS X computers with the utilities available. I don't know any writer/viewer combination available for linux today.

I know you can dvi2pdf and such, but I can't just open up a pdf and edit someone else corrections easily in linux (my primary OS).

I would really prefer an XML solution, but XML is way too broad for simple documentation, DocBook is obscenely huge for most cases, far too much to learn for just about anyone.

Then again, office won't support it immediately...and once again, no real good solutions for both viewing and editing, all in one applications.

I'm talking more than the webbrowser, vi/emacs/pico/nano solution. For something like that, even OO/Koffice dont have a standardized format beyond the container (XML).

We seriously need interoperability, but the .doc format isn't the way to do it.

Bkakes again
by Iggy Drougge on Thu 20th Feb 2003 20:47 UTC

And please don't make any assumptions. I pay for my software.

I wasn't implying your piracy......merely stating that so-called free software often isn't when you factor in time, support costs, and so forth.


I can't be arsed to defend so-called free software. There are Linux advocates who will do that, and though I don't think they're doing a good job at it, it's not my headache. I only use free software in the same way Windows people use free software.

WinModems are a bad idea from the get-go. I was shocked to hear that such a thing existed, just when WinPrinters had (luckily) been orphaned out of the market.

I've heard this a million times, but can someone please explain why to me? I have three winmodems, each of which cost me around $5, and average around 48-50kbit/s connections, which is extremely reasonable for my phone lines. Seems to me that saving money on needless hardware when my CPU is way more than enough to compensate is an extremeley reasonable proposition.


All right, so I use a 25 MHz computer. Emulating a modem would be a painful proposition. And it hasn't impressed me much on Wintels either. I think it's a bad idea, especially since it's the same kind of stupid cost-cutting which doesn't add much value in large series. Like IDE drives. You save some money if you're cooking your own hard disk interface, but if you've got a plant in Taiwan, it doesn't really matter if you use two resistor packs or a SCSI chip in the end.

Granted, Kazaa might be nice. A shame that I'll have to be doing without a daily flow of pirate copies.

For better of for worse, millions and millions of people use Kazaa. Not having it available will limit how useful the computer is to them (regardless of whether they use that capability for good or for ill).


As I said, it's a pity. But there's nothing I can do about it. I just wonder what all others do. Do they use Gnutella or something?
Mac people used Hotline for a long time for similar purposes, and Be people use BeShare, I think.
But online pirate copying is certainly a killer app of today. This is something which should influence free software people more.
I picture that a software suite which gives instantaneous access to a whole new world of pornography would sell anything today.

Never needed a tax program, I just sign the tax sheet each year.

I don't have sales figures, but I doubt that anyone will dispute that TurboTax and its brethren sell millions each year. Again, you may not need it, but many, many people do.


I won't argue against you, but since I've never had the need, I've never even tried to see if there is any such software out there.
As someone pointed out a while ago in another discussion here, tax software is one such thing which doesn't lend itself well to an open-source development model, since it's not so much about programming as reading through lots of legislative material and getting updates out in time each year. Besides the boring, non-programming nature of its development, deadlines have never been a concern for free software.
In other news, though, I've heard that there is now a web interface to TurboTax.

Either you can, or you cannot. It's as simple as that. If you find this so unbearable, you're better off switching to a platform where it's supported, I think.

Exactly. There are certain types of hardware that simply aren't supported in alternative operating systems. People who desire that hardware's functionality over OS choice will have no choice but to use the major platform.


This is a problem nowadays. The traditional killer apps have all been sucked into Windows. Back in the day, if you were into MIDI, you bought an Atari with Cubase. If you were into DTP, you bought a Mac with Quark, and if you were into DTV, you bought an Amiga with a Toaster.
Noadays, Cubase, Quark and Videotoaster are all available for Windows.
Most types of hardware are available for your OS of choice, though. Perhaps not this or that brand, but there is always support for a sound card, a video card or a network card.

Just don't come crying on my shoulder because you don't find yourself able to switch comfortably. You're the one who created the mess in the first place, not I.

Please tell me how I am responsible. I used a Mac until 1995, used Windows for a while. I switched to the BeOS in 97-98, but as of a few years ago, it cannot support my needs. So I use Windows. I'm somehow responsible for the fact that no alternatives can current suit my needs?


Then I apologise, since you've done more than most. But the fact remains, that the responsiblity lies with us, no matter how uncomfortable that might sound. Bill Gates, despite his millions of dollars, and despite certain shady businesses, hasn't got the power to force anyone at gunpoint to run his software. People are the ones who have given him the unequalled power he has today.

I do what I can for the diversity of computing, you're consolidating certain hegemonies.

Sure, by using what I require to do my work. Asking people to sacrifice functionality for the sake of using inferior but diversified products is taking a technological step backwards.


As long as you really need Windows, go ahead. In that case, I regard it as a solution to a problem, just as an Atari with Cubase. I just don't think it's necessary for all of us, and I'd rather it remained that way.

But I have a hard time believing that it's the only runner in every field of computing. If you really need a particular piece of software, and it happens to run only on Windows, then please go ahead and run Windows. It's a perfectly sound option in that case. The reverse argument might also hold true. But in the majority of cases, there are several options. Yet.

True, there are several options in many cases. But that doesn't preclude Windows from being the best option. I might get by using (often) inferior Linux applications, and struggling with what is certainly an inferior interface and hardware support, but why should I?


No, it doesn't preclude Windows from being the best option. It has penetrated its slew of branches quite well.
But why should you put up with something else? Because that's the only thing which will allow us to have choice. We all want choice, but few are prepared to do something about it.

yup
by frend on Fri 21st Feb 2003 01:36 UTC

linux has some way to go before i will use it

dll hell for anon
by Johnathan Bailes on Fri 21st Feb 2003 06:18 UTC

I've been told Windows have a "dll hell" though I've never seen it.

I saw this just the other day. Guy in the office grumbling that his visio stopped working. He had just installed Office XP and some old ass Winnt/System dll got waxed in the process.

Another guy could not get some freeware icon editor working because it insisted it needed an older version of some of the vbrun dlls and would not work correctly (randoming bombing of app involved) with the newer versions vbrun on the system.

I could give more examples but I do not write this to bust on Windows or as an excuse to ignore the dependency issues on linux today. However, dll hell does exist and I have seen it.