[ubuntu-uk] Who writes this stuff [long post]

Mark Harrison Mark at ascentium.co.uk
Wed May 23 12:51:51 BST 2007

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace wrote:

[Long post snipped]


Good message.

I've just come off the phone from Mr. Scargill, who is an incredibly 
reasonable chap with some very positive things to say about Ubuntu.

The point on which I absolutely agree with him is that 
integration/interoperability - for many businesses, this is the most 
important factor, since the costs of sorting out interfacing issues can 
(and in my experience frequently do) cost rather more than the software 

He said that Ubuntu is the best version of Linux he has ever seen. He 
said that if he were starting a small business from scratch for 
office-based staff, he would use Ubuntu on the desktop. He also said 
that he had not yet come across good Linux tools that supported the 
mobile user base as well as the Exchange Mobile solution, so if he had 
mainly a field-based operation, he'd probably still go with Microsoft SBS.

He said that he would like to know of any good tools to provide Exchange 
Mobile - equivalent solution for messaging (not email, but the more 
generic messaging problems.) I'm with him on that - I have a good email 
client (ThunderBird), but it's not a replacement for Outlook (as opposed 
to Outlook Express.)

His biggest criticism of Linux is that what we see as "choice" is very 
close to "confusion". And that one man's "modular solution" is another's 
"set of different packages that need to be bolted together".

What I think that we, as a group, often miss is that most people want a 
balance between "choice" and "certainty." In some areas - the car I 
drive - I want to absolutely be able to pick something quirky and 
unusual (which is why I drive a Morgan.)

In other areas, like say laser printers, I just want the certainty of 
dealing with something I'm familiar with and that I know will work 
(which is why I have an old HP Laserjet 4M Plus and an HP Colour 
Laserjet 2600n) - because I knew that I would be able to take them out 
of the box, and get them working in five minutes.

While, on my personal PC, I want to be able to fiddle and install 
whatever software I want, when I was running helpdesks I had a duty to 
keep the overall cost of IT (not the licence cost - but the overall 
cost) down, because that was the mandate from the Board. The easiest way 
to keep costs down is to have complete standardisation across the 
organisation (I was supporting about 2,000 people across 6 locations) - 
that meant that I needed to have my desktop support staff trained in one 
set of applications - as a result of that, we could concentrate on 
building value-added services that would work across that set. Our 
problems came when one unit wanted, say, to use Excel instead of 123... 
or Word instead of WordPerfect (this was about 7 years ago - now the MS 
solutions are the incumbents...)

The biggest thing we could do as a community to expand the installed 
reach of Linux would be to persuade Dell and PC World to offer Linux 
with a range of "cheapest" PCs... so that it became the value option. 
The reason that I'm on the Ubuntu list rather than that of any other 
distro is that I see the Ubuntu foundation / Canonical as the group with 
the most clear vision of how they are going to achieve that.

When people raise criticisms, the winning approach is NEVER to say 
"You're wrong - you need to do X, Y, and Z", but always to say "Good 
point - what can we do to improve it?"


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