Online article: "Microsoft funds African PCs amid open source debate"

Eric Dunbar eric.dunbar at
Wed Oct 5 21:57:50 CDT 2005

On 10/5/05, Cefiar <cef at> wrote:
> On Thursday 06 October 2005 00:06, Jeff Waugh wrote:
> > We have to be very careful (or work very diligently) if we're going to push
> > this line of reasoning. Windows XP runs fairly comfortably with 256MB RAM,
> > while FOSS desktops with comparable features and user experience generally
> > do not.
> I would qualify that it does only if:
>  1. You don't intend to run Office (even OpenOffice).
>  2. You turn off Themes support and Active Desktop (both of which are on by
> default).
> And if you install the new version of MSN, it turns on the Disk Indexing
> Service by default. I've seen 1.6 Ghz Pentium M's with 512MB RAM brought to a
> complete crawl (not running any apps other than Notepad, and typing takes
> anything up to 20 seconds to update the screen!) because the indexing service
> is chewing up all the RAM and/or thrashing the disk.

If you turn on updatedb it's going to chew up cycles too. Plus, the
new version of MSN does allow the end user to do more!

> > I don't think we own the moral or technical high ground on this issue at
> > the moment.
> I'd say we're about level, but we can turn that into an advantage if we take
> note and actually get stuff done.

I must disagree with you and agree with Jeff on this one.

No amount of propaganda and idealism in the F/LOSS community can
change the fact that Windows (XP) _is_ an excellent operating system
and can run quite nicely on very little.

Linux is itself an excellent operating system _but_ it simply doesn't
do some things well, yet, and, there are some things it will _never_
do well (like run with full GUI on slow hardware). Linux is powerful,
and, one side effect of power is that it's also cycle hungry.

Windows 95 runs quite comfortably on a P I/166 64 MB RAM 1 GB HD with
IE 5.5 and Office 97, and, IMNSHO gives a user experience comparable
to anything offered by a _current_ Linux (what else do you really need
on a computer for 90% of user tasks (excluding audio/images)... web
browser and office suite). The GUI is as polished as GNOME/KDE and the
quality of Office 97 certainly surpasses what's on offer from
2.0 (granted Win 95 isn't the most stable OS in the world, but with
good (old) hardware and the most updated versions of the
aforementioned software you can achieve fairly good uptime).

Linux on that same machine with a comparably polished GUI (GNOME or
KDE) would have seizures trying to run or FireFox, especially
under 64 MB of RAM. Linux simply ain't efficient if you're looking for
a full desktop OS for an old machine (yeah, you can use it with one of
the "lite" interfaces, but, they are pretty crippled, user-unfriendly,
unpolished and not well supported).

I'm not try to advocate that Win 95 is _better_ than Linux. Merely
point out that propaganda is different from reality.


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