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Re: Walmart Linux computers - what's the experience?

__/ [ M ] on Sunday 07 May 2006 18:30 \__

> hakro807@xxxxxxxxx wrote:
>>>That's could be intersting Freudian slip. They would probably play
>>>Solitaire, which as a phrase could describe them as *ahem*.. wankers.
>> :-] Man, that comment made my day! I'll tell my daddy the same thing
>> next time he kills some time on his kick-ass 486 machine running
>> Windows 3.11.

*smile* Just be tactful. Please.

>>>I carefully read what you have to say. My instant reaction: this is the
>>>typical trail of thought that you find in long-time Windows users (I used
>>>to be one for many years)..
>> I am a long time Windows user, no point denying that. But I'm also a
>> long time FreeBSD user and has dipped more than my toes in OS X and to
>> a smaller extent Linux. They all have their pros and cons. Still,
>> FreeBSD _is_dying, OS X has software and hardware support but is locked
>> into Apple hardware (the typical Mac user is also a fanatical PITA) and
>> Windows.. Darn, I just don't like the idea of the OS being privately
>> controlled.

This was never my main reason for a Linux migration. Windows lacked power.
Operation of Windows was far less efficient (its desktop environment was
depleted from muchly-needed functionality). And there were more factors, but
I don't want this messages to become overly elongated.

>>>It is /choice/ which gives power and gives one a handle on how many
>>>resources can be afforded (e.g. legacy hardware) or how much you one is
>>>willing to spare (e.g. backroom Web server).
>> True, still - what's the most common asked question among people
>> interested in Linux? What distro should I choose? And then they ask
>> "which desktop enviroment should I choose"? That's two questions which
>> could have been avoided. Support will also be easier if a major
>> distribution was to emerge.

Distribution = kernel + desktop environment + minor bit and pieces +
applications (take, add or remove a few, as to avoid flames)

The kernel is the kernel and the minor bits and pieces are irrelevant to the
user. The user can choose which applications are included, removed or
subsequently installed manually (as opposed to out-of-the-box, that is).
They are all free and, that aside, many distributions come with the same
applications (e.g. Firefox, GIMP), so uniformity prevails.

Then, you are only left with the desktop environment and there are usually
two contenders (developers move on from the old projects to join the new
ones while backward compatibility excludes no legacy hardware). Nothing
prevents you from sticking with just desktop environment. Thanks goodness,
merely any distributions comes (or can be set up to work) with both. Choose
your poison (desktop environment) and stick with it. Unhappy? Excellent. As
fortunately you /do/ have choice. The choice is *not* the change your
*entire* O/S.

>> Being forced to make choices can easily translate to making the wrong
>> choice as well. Imaging the guy installing Ubunto just to realise they
>> lack dual monitor support out of the box. No big deal, all he have to
>> do is read a 10 page document about how to to probe his hardware,
>> install a few extensions and edit a few config files. Windows, on the
>> other hand, works out of the box. This guy will of course ask "why
>> didn't Ubunto have native dual monitor support when every other major
>> dist has it?". I use this example as it happened to a friend of mine
>> just a few days ago. Later on he also tried SuSe just to realise that
>> the only resolution available to him on the second video card (G200)
>> was 800*640 while he had two identical 17" TFT monitors. To tell a new
>> user he as to edit a config file just to get the correct resolution is
>> not my idea of how to gain new users. It looked quite funny although.
>> :-]
>> Anyhow, I guess you have heard this "unified distro" cry a million time
>> already and I won't drag it further.

The devil flips over and changes sides in his coffin. Did you know that
Windows Vista will come in 7 editions? Even 9 if you include the versions
that are intended for the EU. Suddenly, this argument against fragmentation
to suit different end end-users is shattered. Or is it not?

Why is it that people require hours (or days) to set up a Windows machine to
do heavy, niche-specific work? Why is it that Google released what they call
Google Pack for Windows? Different people have different requirements. You
will not run Windows XP home in a supercomputing cluster, for example.

Are your requirements fairly basic? Ubuntu may be fine. Are you
technology-savvy? SuSE might be good. Networking? Maybe Red Hat
distributions will do (yes, even vendors have different O/S products, *for a
reason*). All it's about is saving your time and giving you the applications
that you need most. The distribution can also be tailored to particular
hardware and thus be optimised for better performance and minimal cruft.

Why not make a superset of all (Holy Grail Linux?) and give choices at
installation time? Because you would need about 5 DVD's and the users will
be unbelievable confused. The choice is made _in advance_. See the following
Web-based tool:


It's questionnaire-based. Highly recommended.

> That doesn't sound like an argument for a "unified distro", sounds more
> like a cry for the installer to get a bit smarter. After all, if you where
> left in the same position or worse with a "unified distro", how would that
> be any better. Try taking a look on the Ubuntu forums to see how things are
> at present.
> Having watched a guy install linux many years ago, and having used linux
> installers recently, I can say they have come a long long way. Having also
> installed Windows XP, IMHO I would also say that installers like the Ubuntu
> one, are quicker and easier than Windows.

Yes, but Ubuntu is not for everybody. An engineer might not perceive
him/herself as Human (as in "Linux for Human Beings"). *smile* Windows
XP/Ubuntu = KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid). If you are not stupid and you
know what you want, go for something else. It will /save/ you time *and*

> From what people have recently been saying, if you want a linux distro that
> 'works out of the box' then may be PCLinuxOS or MEPIS may be a better bet.

I tend to hear that too, but I have nothing such as personal experience to
affirm that.

> How they would deal with dual monitors I have no idea, but if it is an
> issue, the best way to get it fixed I would have thought would be to get it
> onto the installer wish list.
> I can certainly empathise with the new user who is not only faced with
> learning the OS, but also needs to find a suitable distro. But the problem
> is not insurmountable, and with a little bit of research you can usually
> come up with a starting point.
> Being able to install another distro has got me out of trouble on more than
> 1 occasion.

Hope it helps,


Roy S. Schestowitz      |    Community is code, code is community
http://Schestowitz.com  |    SuSE Linux     ¦     PGP-Key: 0x74572E8E
  5:05am  up 10 days 12:02,  7 users,  load average: 0.00, 0.11, 0.26
      http://iuron.com - Open Source knowledge engine project

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