[Dclug] [Novalug] Fwd: What makes Linux great...
dc.loco at gmail.com
Wed Jun 18 11:31:26 EDT 2008
On Tue, Jun 17, 2008 at 20:30, Maxwell Spangler <
maxpublic08 at maxwellspangler.com> wrote:
> My thanks to everybody who is replying to my other thread. I'm finding
> all the information interesting and insightful and I hope you consider
> it worth your time to read (and write.)
> That's my short list of really compelling features. What would you add
> to it and why?
I've always been interested in computers in educational environments. While
it's certainly true you can build interesting tinker toys from proprietary
software, I feel that so many of the proprietary apps are "dumbed down" to
the point that it becomes difficult to get "under the hood" to learn
anything. In an earlier message, I think you said something like --
paraphrasing -- you wouldn't recommend Linux to your non-technical friends.
I wouldn't have until the third Ubuntu release (Breezy). Now I give it out
like candy. We're teaching 80- and 90- year-olds, as well as immigrants
from rural areas who've never used a computer using Ubuntu. There's also
the XO computer.
My feeling is that, for low cost, you can give someone a machine that does
all the basics (web, e-mail, word processing, spreadsheet, graphics/photo
editor, etc) but can very quickly introduce them to simple ideas like using
a pipe or redirect at the bash shell, and in short order build that
knowledge into a way of thinking about approaching problems via bash, perl,
python, etc. If that floats their boat, they can "scale up" without a lot
of hassle. And in some ways, the remaining flaws in the software act as an
incentive to "scaling up" one's knowledge. ;-)
My only complaints are that:
(a) as nice as yum, apt-get, etc are, I grow weary of being my own sysadmin
sometimes. Fooling around in /etc/ files, and constant worries of impending
disaster get old. (This is where a commercial company aimed at consumers
might be able to help. Sort of a cross between Red Hat and an ISP...)
(b) I think it's time to give up some of the baggage of history with things
like bash -- or at least provide intelligent aliases to everything.
Explaining to new users that you take the first and third letter of a word,
or the middle three letters of a word to create a command is just plain
stupid and serves nothing but history -- and maintenance -- at this point.
Is it really going to slow anyone down THAT much or eat up that much more
memory to type "copy", "move", "remove" (or "delete"), and "concatenate" (or
something better)? Sure, it means a lot of old things break, which is why
aliasing would be a good idea. A lot of these things are now so ingrained
that I don't even think about them when explaining things to newbies.
[minor rant on]
Also, I'm not wild about things like OpenOffice. Taking a bloated,
fundamentally flawed suite as a model and creating an open source bloated,
fundamentally flawed suite is not an improvement. ;-) When explaining open
source to people who've used WordPerfect, I say "Reveal Codes" and the light
goes on, and a longing nostalgia comes to the faces of many. A few of the
FOSS crowd I run with tried to claim that OpenOffice had a Reveal Codes that
was just as good. So, I bolded a few letters, typed a space, bolded a
second set of letters, deleted the space, and asked them to tell me where
the bolding began and ended... As I recall, there was no indication that it
<b>yada</b><b>yada</b> rather than <b>yadayada</b>
nor a SIMPLE, obvious way to get that information. That may not have been
the exact example I used, but it was something like that. I keep waiting for
an open source version of Nota Bene (a wonderful editor in its early days),
and if I ever have a LOT of free time on my hands, I might write it myself.
I see things like Evolutiuon (e-mail, calendar, addressbook, backscratcher,
veg-o-matic) in a similar light. But I'll defend emacs with my dying
breath. Go figure. ;-)
[minor rant off]
Ubuntu Linux DC LoCo
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