[ubuntu-uk] Operating System Observation

Matthew Holder mattmole at gmail.com
Wed Oct 10 21:40:30 BST 2007

Hi All,

Please note, I am merely telling you all about an observation I have
made, I do not mean to cause a flame war.

I am currently visiting one of the largest satellite building
companies in Europe. I work for a large University in the UK on the
same satellite project as the company I am visiting.

When walking around the buildings every room has PCs running windows.
All of the documents they produce are using word. This amazes me.
Every four years all of the PCs are replaced (thousands of them), and
the deal goes to a rather well know company.

I can kind of understand using windows and office for office usage.
Personally I don't do this, I use Ubuntu on my office PC and I also
write all of my technical documents using LaTeX as I cannot abide the
cross referencing tools on either Word or openoffice.org writer.

I suppose in a way I have spat in the face of the people I work with,
they all recommended I used windows and word, yet I have ignored it. I
do not believe that I have caused any problems with document
collaboration because some word docs do not open correctly in
openoffice (they also dont open correctly on my VM using office), so I
have to ask the original creator to make changes.

I have written some software using visual studio and visual c++, this
software acquires data from some hardware and dumps it to a binary
file. My work is not particularly time critical. However, there is a
piece of hardware we use that needs to convert from RS422 to another
standard. Data is generated on the RS422 every 10ms, and conversion
needs to take place within 30ms.

The timings here are quite tight, and windows just cannot keep up. The
amount of duff data we receive from the conversion unit because one
never knows what windows is doing is unbelievable. The software for
this unit was also written in visual studio using c#.

The person writing this software uses Microsoft IDE, Microsoft
Programming language and even a Microsoft Access database to store
configuration information. It appears that his Uni degree was somehow
linked to microsoft. I cannot understand why a simple text file would
not be better to store the config data. There are not SO many fields
that a database file is needed and if the format changes in future
versions of Visual Studio, then this work could become useless.

I also know of similar timing problems from a linux system. A
telescope would not track correctly due to linux polling USB. The
advantage though is that the solution was easier to find in Linux.

I think the EC idea of unbundling windows from new PCs is a good one.
I have shown at work that I can produce documents on a daily basis
that are as good or better than those on windows with office. I wish
more people would give it the chance, and also that they are allowed
to give it the chance!

Sorry for such a long message. I hope I do not cause arguments, this
was not my intention!

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