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(Update from JS) Re: Do I Want Linux?


Since my overly-wordy post this morning several people have replied
directly or posted corrections and commentary.  I thank them all.

I believe that I agree with 99% of what everybody has said, however,
Viktor Haag (single ">" below), has probably provided the most complete

Thanks Viktor!  (Genuinely.)

I stand corrected on a wide number of issues.  My experience has been
almost entirely in the GNU-distribution arena, thus my incorrect
thinking about source code, etc., etc.  Also, I had a blond moment (I am
qualified to have them) regarding WordPerfect -- of course they have a
well established Linux presence.

In any case, it is terrific that Adobe has taken this step.


Viktor Haag wrote:
> Jay Smith writes:
>  > (Long: if you don't have any interest in Linux, delete this.)
> I'd like to make some responses to some points made by Jay.
>  > Linux is as much a religion as it is an operating system.  It
>  > is "free", but as with any major implementation, the real cost
>  > is in the support and training, etc.  The majority of the
>  > software that runs on it is free.  Literally THOUSANDS of
>  > people and many of the world's largest software companies are
>  > writing software for Linux and GIVING it away -- in the hope
>  > that you will buy other of their services or products.
> While this is strictly true, one should point out that it isn't
> "necessary". That is, while a huge portion of the Linux arena is
> built on the "open source" software model, there are a
> significant number of software companies providing versions of
> their commercial software to run on Linux.
> There is no imperative to provide your software free for Linux,
> or to provide your source code free for your Linux-based
> software.
>  > Bug fixes for Linux software are often made available within
>  > days, if not hours.  I have witnessed action on newsgroups
>  > whereby one person reports a problem in a particular package,
>  > the developer of that package actually PERSONALLY responds
>  > (don't go into shock!), and a few hours later posts the url of
>  > the site from which the new version can be downloaded free.
> This is also true, to a certain extent. However, there are
> downsides to the "bazaar" approach to development as well as
> upsides like this. Also, companies who stick to their commercial
> model, i.e. releasing versions of their software for Linux that
> you pay for, are much less likely to provide this kind of
> turnaround on bug fixes.
> It's much more likely that you'll get exactly the same kind of
> technical support response from them that you would have received
> if you had purchased their software to run on Win32, or
> Macintosh, or Solaris, or any of their other commercially
> supported platforms.
>  > When you load a Linux package, the name and email address of
>  > the primary is usually there.  You can contact that REAL
>  > PERSON, but of course they are not going to have time for
>  > newbie questions -- but they can usually point you to the
>  > necessary resources.  Furthermore, there are usually
>  > newsgroups that cover every possible linux package.
> Hmmm -- once again, true to a certain extent, but not always. The
> "newsgroups that cover every possible linux package" bit is
> overstated, frankly. There are a wide variety of newsgroups to
> cover the various areas of the linux arena, true -- but that's
> just as true for the Win32 and Mac world as well (although,
> admittedly, the usenet presence for linux related material is
> much more varied than for Win32 and Mac).
>  > Linux for the DESKTOP *can* be sophisticated.
> True. Also not very user friendly, exquisitely poorly documented,
> not entirely robust, and difficult to maintain/administer. While
> Linux *is* developing several streams of reasonable "desktop
> environments", they are *far* from being as robust, easy to
> use/maintain, and as well documented, as Win32 or Macintosh.
> However, that doesn't mean the story is all bad -- in most cases,
> the Linux world provides you with a much more powerful framework
> on which to build, and better tools. However, it's still a "roll
> up your sleeves and tune it yourself" kind of world, and not all
> that useful for the computer-novice.
>  > There are web sites that show pictures of just how incredibly
>  > sophisticated they can be.
> Yes, true -- however, I'd also like to point out that in most of
> these cases, what you're seeing is the equivalent of a garage
> hot-rod. The person who's showing you those pictures typically
> spent a considerable amount of time "tuning" their own situation,
> and has a good deal of experience/expertise in doing exactly that
> kind of thing. For the "novice" computer user, Linux is still not
> the best choice available -- unless you're the kind of person who
> knows what they're getting in to, and is willing (or wants to)
> gather that expertise through hard (or at least persistent)
> effort.
>  > When most people, such as yourself, ask "should I consider
>  > Linux", they are asking about using Linux as their primary
>  > operating system for a single-user PC.
> It is within this context that most of my comments are made. If
> you have a central computer system, and perhaps the
> administrative support that comes with it (a Linux-aware IT staff
> to help you out, for example), then you're going to have a much
> easier time as a user.
>  > The current problem (in my power-user, overly-demanding, and
>  > always completely correct opinion - ha!) is that there are not
>  > enough "normal" applications available on Linux YET.  For
>  > example, I have heard that the Linux equivalent of the Word or
>  > WordPerfect environment is still not up to "PC users"
>  > expectations.  Regardless of what one's personal opinion of
>  > Word or WordPerfect is (WordPerfect is incredibly better than
>  > Word), they are both extremely highly evolved programs.  The
>  > Linux Star Office (which I think it was recently CONTRIBUTED
>  > by Sun???) is the heir apparent for this role in Linux, but
>  > still needs work.
> WordPerfect for Linux is available, and is roughly equivalent to
> WP on Win32/Mac. StarOffice is relatively decent. By "normal"
> applications I think what you mean is -- applications that
> provide a comfortable environment for the "novice" user.
> There's very little that you can do on Win32/Mac that you can't
> also do on Linux, given enough expertise and knowledge about the
> tools. The one area that's lacking in my own experience is vector
> graphics (a la Illustrator). Gimp seems able to do most if not
> all of what 90 percent of the population would need from
> Photoshop. I can't speak to it's support for the high-end
> Photoshop user, since I'm not one myself.
>  > For PhotoShop users, there is the PhotoShop-like Gimp on Linux
>  > (love these names!) -- FREE.
> True. And a Win32 version of the Gimp is available as well. I
> suspect that this may have prompted Adobe to start thinking more
> seriously about the Linux marketplace...
>  > However, I personally would NOT YET bet a company's workflow
>  > on Linux AS THE PRIMARY DESKTOP.  At the same time, I WOULD
>  > am very pleased.
> I think those are quite accurate assessments. I use Linux as my
> primary desktop to do my business. However, up until the recent
> release of Frame/Linux I was running Frame either in VMWare, on a
> separate Mac, or under Solaris using Linux as a display
> host. This last arrangement worked quite satisfactorily.
>  > Linux makes NT look like DOS 2.0, IMHO.
> I think that statement is a little too general. In what respects?
> Linux is far better than NT in some respects, but not necessarily
> in others.
>  > HOWEVER, Linux has an incredibly steep learning curve.  Don't kid
>  > yourself.
> Again, I agree with this statement. Although, I wouldn't say
> "incredibly". Those with some experience with UNIXen, and with
> some technical ability, and with some desire to learn more about
> technical things, can do quite nicely on Linux.
>  > Just the same, if I was going to experiment with Linux on the
>  > Desktop (remember, you can always build a multi-boot
>  > environment and have BOTH Linux and Win9x on the same PC), I
>  > would ABSOLUTELY use Red Hat 6.x.  Pay the $60-some dollars
>  > for their CD, documentation and included installation support.
> Well, I wouldn't recommend their documentation all that much. It
> gets one started, but beyond that isn't all that
> helpful. Personally, I use the Mandrake distribution, and like it
> rather better than Redhat. I was using Redhat 6.0 and found it a
> bit unstable. I then moved to Mandrake 6.0 and found an immediate
> improvement in performance and stability. (Mind you, that could
> be because Mandrake provides KDE by default, and I switched over
> to KDE from GNOME, which wasn't all that robust apparently in
> RH6.0 apparently.)
>  > Don't try to download a free version of the core Linux,
>  > because you WILL want and need the support.
> On the whole, I agree with this.
> The *big* catchword here is TYPICALLY. A lot of software for
> Linux *is* free, but not all. Also, in a lot of cases, you get
> what you pay for. A lot of Linux software was, essentially,
> written by a small number of Linux fans in their spare time, and
> as such depends on an entirely different software development
> model for testing, maintaining, distribution, etc. A software
> development model which is still young and earning its wings.
>  > Another important aspect, especially for people like you,
>  > Rick, is that as part of the Linux license, the source code
>  > for Linux software must be available and EVERYBODY has the
>  > right to modify and redistribute -- if you have a better idea,
>  > YOU can make it happen.
> This is disingenuous. Software released to run on Linux is *not*
> required to use the same license as the kernel distribution
> itself. Various companies/individuals use a variety of different
> licensing schemes for releasing their software. Some companies
> plainly have little interest in (a) giving away their software
> for free, or (b) releasing copies of their software's source code
> to the outside world. And their's not necessarily anything wrong
> with that.
> In the long term, it may very well be that the bazaar mode of
> software development will slowly take over and "force" everyone
> to move to an open source model. However, that's debatable. In
> the near term, the more companies that support their software on
> Linux, the better, in my opinion, and if they want to charge
> money for it and use their traditional mode of developing their
> software, that's perfectly fine with me.
>  > I have not seen the FrameMaker Linux distribution, however, if
>  > all is done properly, one should be able to have the
>  > FrameMaker source code and MODIFY/FIX/IMPROVE it as desired.
>  > Now, wouldn't that be interesting....
> While it may be interesting, it almost certainly won't happen. I
> would be *very* surprised if Adobe (a) released Frame for free on
> Linux, or (b) released their source to the outside world. I just
> cannot see it happening. Unlike Sun, Adobe makes its bread and
> butter from selling software to users, and not services or
> hardware. While Adobe may change it's means of doing business in
> the future, I can't see that happening any time soon.
> In order to continue providing software to users, Adobe needs
> those users to pay for it, and I don't particularly have a
> problem with that. FrameMaker (and other Adobe software), for me,
> solves a *business* problem for my employers. My employers make
> money, in part, because of what FrameMaker can do for them. I
> don't have a problem with them kicking back some money to Adobe
> for this.
> So, I guess I'm saying "Thanks Adobe" for finally supporting
> Linux. Now I really hope that the Linux community stands up and
> says thanks as well, and doesn't provide the response which seems
> to happen all too frequently ("Where's the source code?" "Why
> isn't it free?", etc, etc).
> --
> Viktor Haag                           Senior Technical Writer, RIM
> "Unix and C are the ultimate computer viruses." -- Richard Gabriel
> My opinions are my own, only.
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Jay Smith

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