The last few posts have been awash in details. I thought that it would be a good time to sit back and evaluate the effort to date. In the beginning I proposed to prove or disprove this hypothesis:
An ordinary users of modest computer skills can install Linux and then do productive work with it.
Is that true? Sorta. Mostly. I did install Ubuntu 8.04 and get it to the point where I could do the big Three
- Web Browsing
- Office stuff (word processing, spreadsheet, etc)
For these things, either the Linux version of the windows programs are available (Firefox, Open Office) or a near clone is available (Evolution to replace Outlook or Agent running under Wine). I’ve even managed to find applications that are an adequate substitute for the windows program to:
- Edit and play videos
- edit and play music
- Edit and view photos (Xnview is almost an Irfanview clone)
All these were installed without resorting to the shell or to Guru knowledge.
Total and abject failure has been experienced in the areas of:
- Web site management (FrontPage)
- Web publishing (Website Publisher)
- Navigation and maps (street atlas)
- Various other smaller utilities
For thse activities I will have to boot into windows and continue to using XP. In that regard, this project has failed. One of my major goals was to “Boot Bill”. I’ve given him a swift kick in the pooter but he’s not out of the game yet. Fortunately my windows environment can now be static – no need to upgrade any of the programs that I use in that environment. FrontPage will continue to edit HTML for as long as I use it. Website Publisher is free so an upgrade, if it comes, will not cost me anything. Street Atlas is good to go for many years to come. The maps will slowly fall out of date but maybe by then they’ll have either ported to Linux or someone else will have come along.
Partial failures include my sound system (Sorry Christopher but a peripheral that goes away upon any other USB bus activity is not robust) and various other niggling USB problems. I’d say that the state of USB under Linux is about where Windows 98 was. It works but it has problems. Many things that I’ve tried will not work through a hub. That was a common Win98 problem.
My palm pilot works but if a HotSync fails, I have to manually kill the daemon and let it start over. The “restart daemon” in the little globe icon doesn’t work. I have to manually kill the process. Knowing how to do that borders on Guru knowledge, even though it can be done graphically using the Process Monitor. It is not robust like the Palm1 system under windows is.
To summarize: When Windows is fresh (first few hours after a reboot) it works better than Linux. After that Linux has it beaten for the core computer functions.
I will be staying with Linux for my day to day work while I wait for applications to catch up. Meanwhile my Windows boot disc will stay safely tucked away in my computer bag for those moments when I have to do something that I can’t do under Linux.
Lest this sound too negative, I just want to say that it’s incredible what the free software community has achieved with Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular. For most folks, Ubuntu can step right in and do what they need. A little warty around the edges but still functional.
I also want to thank Bill Gates for being such a despicable person and Microsoft for following in his image as perhaps the most morally bankrupt corporation extant. Without the pure hatred of what they are and what they stand for, the motivation to develop an alternative (Linux) would not have been there. Linux would still have been a play toy of the hard core *nix types, something Corporate
America would have ignored. Parts of Corporate America certainly would not be funding Linux development as it is now. As it is, most any corporation or individual who wants to can Boot Bill and quite tithing to Redmond. That’s a really good thing.
OK, back to making things work.