Fw: Re: Does open source make life easy??????

Jim Kronebusch jim at winonacotter.org
Tue Nov 13 18:45:26 UTC 2007

I just realized I forgot to copy the list on this.

---------- Forwarded Message -----------
From: "Jim Kronebusch" <jim at winonacotter.org>
To: "CET" <cet at africaonline.co.sz>
Sent: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 10:42:51 -0500
Subject: Re: Does open source make life easy??????

On Tue, 13 Nov 2007 12:47:53 +0200, CET wrote
> Dear all
> When I first heard about open source and the explanation given I thought
> that was the way to go. We were told open source is good for refurbished
> computers, it enhance the performance of older machines. But if you look at
> the way new versions come out then you see that new computers should be used
> now. Then what is the difference between Microsoft and open source? In both
> software, you need better machines or even the top of the range machines.

With Microsoft, you have to buy the newest versions to stay compatible.  This means you
have to have the most powerful machines in order to run it.  With Linux you have
options.  Say you only have pentium II's with 64MB RAM, you can run a single high end
server and use those older machines as clients.  This is not possible with Microsoft. 
Again, choice is the benefit.

> Since I joined this list I read people saying the many different problems
> they encounter when trying to do something in open source and I am a victim
> of that. The lack of compatibility with Microsoft is the most serious
> challenge, which I plead with the developers to do something about it. For
> example if you write a document in Open Office you can't open it in Ms Word.
> That on its own does not encourage anyone to continue using open source.

Search google for problems with Microsoft products, I'll get you get some hits (serious
sarcasm intended here).  I and many other people have built entire companies around
solving problems with Microsoft products.  With every Microsoft product you have tech
experts to help solve problems with them.  When was the last time you talked to someone
who talked to a Microsoft tech to get the problem solved......I'm guessing never.  So
Microsoft actually has far less support than the open source community.  Luckily for
Microsoft others have stepped up and offered help through separate businesses or tech
forums on the Internet.  Open source also has this.

OpenOffice is highly compatible with MS Office.  You just need to save in the MS Office
format before moving, and this can even be set as default.  Now MS on the other hand is
not friendly.  You can not save as a OpenOffice document from MS.  However open source
is so great that they have found a way to talk to MS even though MS by default is not

> In my own thinking I would expect open source to be friendlier to all both
> novice and gurus. As it is right now open source is a thorn in the flesh and
> it frustrates, it stresses and it does all the sorts of negative things that
> you can think of.

Given the origin of open source, it is inherently geek oriented.  However in the last
few years tremendous steps have been taken to make it novice friendly.  Say I need to
install and Office suite on my new Windows computer, I need to go to a store, then
decide which product to buy.  I need to determine minimal system requirements such as
CPU, RAM, Windows version (most novices I talk to have no idea what those requirements
are).  Then they need to bring it home and figure out how to install it, insert CD,
start installation, click next 8 times, agree to some EULA crap and hope they didn't
give away rights to their first born, then the application hopefully installed with the
features they needed.  In Linux, open your package manager, search for your office suite
(OpenOffice in this case), then click install.  It is brought to your home
automatically, installed automatically, no questions asked, no media, no trip to the
store.  Much more user friendly for a novice if you ask me.  What you refer to as being
more difficult is called "change".  There is no software in the world that can eliminate
the users fear of change.  Novices are afraid to upgrade from Windows version X to
version Y, so even the great Microsoft is at fault here.  Also you want to see how
novice friendly MS Office is, save a MS Word 2007 document in the default XML and try to
have any other Office suite in the world open it, even prior MS Office versions, no luck.

>  If you need help there is nowhere you can get it, you search in the
> internet for help but nothing, nothing. You can spend the whole day and
> tomorrow searching but you can't find anything. Someone was trying to help
> me, I was surprised that it was all about knowing the source codes, but
> where do you get a programming manual to learn the source codes?

You make this statement in a free Linux help forum.  Odd.

Many things your Novice users expect to find simple help for in such forums is usually
stuff a novice would never try in Windows.  They usually just throw their hands up and
call somebody and pay money to have it fixed.  The manuals are in your operating system,
and they are everywhere on the Internet.  If I want to learn how to modify the
/etc/dhcpd.conf file to change my dhcp server, I just type "man dhcpd.conf" and I have
the manual at my finger tips.  Again, change.  And what novice wants to modify
dhcpd.conf  or the like?

> Another thing for concern is the numerous types of Linux, are the developers
> competing among themselves? These different Linux are confusing to the users
> or people who want to get into Linux.  How do you choose the right one? You
> end up spending money buying CDs that don't help at the end.

There is no wrong one, there is no right one, there is only the one you choose.  Again
choice is the problem here.  With Microsoft you have no choice.  You buy the new
version, if it doesn't do things exactly the way you want, you wait for the next
version.  With Linux you can search the Internet and see other user feedback, you can
view screenshots, you can do all the research you want before making the choice.  If you
have a good Internet connection you can download the operating system for free.  And if
you buy the CD's you can buy about 20 and try them out for the price of trying one
version of Microsoft.

> I am not writing may be because I hate open source, I love it, in fact I
> want to put it in all the schools in my country, in my laptop I am using
> open office its only that I want to voice my suffering.
> I wish somebody could correct me and tell me that open source makes life
> easy.

I think what you write is very conflicting.  You love open source, but hate everything
about it?  I think many forget what the real problem is here with compatibility,
Microsoft.  Their products are the only ones that are not compatible.  Everything open
source runs on every other open source platform, or at least can be ported due to the
source being open.  If Microsoft would at least play nice, or open their source, there
would be no problems.

I cannot correct you about life being easy, it is not.  No software will make your life
easy.  At this point I would say you should be upset with Microsoft for making your
transition to any other operating system more difficult.  Linux gives you choice,
choices can be difficult.  Choice can make life better, although more difficult. 
Example: Say when you finished schooling and you went to find a job, you only had one
option, and that was the job you had for the rest of your life and at the same pay
(Microsoft), this is easy, you have no choice.  Other example:  You finish your
schooling, there is an entire world available and you have a plethora of jobs, you can
work in many different industries, you have many options for pay (Linux), this could be
a difficult decision, you have choice.  Now many of us don't find the perfect job right
out of school, but we can switch, choice.

Point being, choice can make life more difficult, but it can also increase the quality
of life.  This describes my view of Open Source software.

------- End of Forwarded Message -------

Jim Kronebusch
Cotter Tech Department

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