helios in this somewhat provocative article claims that some Windows users are idiots.
It is true that Microsoft has convinced a lot of people that computers are easy to maintain. While they are now relatively easy to use, they are not easy to maintain, Windows computers being the worst of all. A lot of unskilled people buy computers, expecting them to work like toasters, and are not prepared to learn even the most rudimentary system administration skills. The result is that their machine becomes horribly infected, and for some it's cheaper to buy a new one that bother to fix it.
The article is very acidic about Windows users, and while I know smug Unix gurus who hold the same view about Windows and Linux users, it's not fair on most users. While there are always some lazy people unwilling to learn or think, most are merely ignorant of the facts. They happily accept overpriced computers, badly configured software, and the great Microsoft lie "it's easy".
Getting people to switch to a civilised Unix operating system, e.g. Linux, Mac OSX, or BSD, isn't helped by calling people idiots
Another version of Mozilla Firefox crept out this week. There have been the odd bug, but it's certainly got a better track record than the Microsoft dinosaur Internet Explorer, which has over 30 known defects, even when fully patched.
Even if you run a sane browser like Firefox, it's still important to keep it patched, and all it's plug-ins up to date. Security is a process, not a state, you can't stop once you have set up your firewall, and basic systems.
Today another Linux baby was born. I set Red Hat Enterprise up on a rather noisy HP server at work. We use Linux to run our SAP Application Servers. In the processes we ripped out a very old and decrepit Compaq box that use to run Windows. We don't have enough space in the server room.
Microsoft apparently named their new version of Windows today. The version of Windows codenamed "Longhorn" scheduled to replaced Windows XP in mid 2005, is going to be called Windows Vista. Given that it's at least 12 months late to market, Vista is a good name for product still so far in the future.
As far as anyone can tell, all the fancy new features that everyone expected aren't actually going to appear in this version of Windows, they will follow in future versions. The only clear facts to emerge is that it will need even more resources than the already bloated Windows XP.
The next 12-18 months is a golden window for Macintosh and Linux to get a toe hold in the lucrative Windows desktop monopoly. The current sovereign continues to get even more antiquated and infected with malware, and the heir apparent is still way to immature.
Today amaroK/GStreamer/ALSA was quit happy to play MP3 files. Yesterday's refusal must have just been a bad hair day in codec land.
In this recent series* of articles on a future Linux distribution "I'm Batman" make some very insightful observations. He also misses some essential points.
I think some of the problems addressed are also present in Windows and Macintosh OS X, and Linux/Unix is no better or worse in respect to many short comings in the GUI.
I also think some of the observations are also misguided. Computers are complex multi-user, network aware systems, even the average home system is now quite complex. This does make system management complex, but attempts to "dumb it down", for example as Windows does helps to explain the very high level of malware afflicting Windows systems.
I strongly recommend anyone with an interest in the future of Linux on the desktop to read these articles and the various comments and follow-ups.
* The Linux Desktop Distribution of the Future:
Yesterday I wanted to listen to a Linux show podcast. Normally I choose Ogg format files and I always rip my own CDs to Ogg but the show was in olde world MP3 only. To my horror amaroK informed me that GStreamer-ALSA couldn't decode MP3. It use to decode MP3s okay, I suppose something was removed or broke in the most recent upgrade...
At the moment my better-half is upgrading from a Windows 98 system to a Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 system. She currently finds the "single-click=activate" behaviour most frustrating after spending many years in the windows world of "single-click=select" and "double-click=activate".
My father, new to computing found the default "single-click" behaviour of KDE much easier to live with, having never had to learn to double click. I've been using X on Unix, and KDE on Linux for some time, so I've gradually lost the "Windows" desire to double click things.
I think that the single click behaviour is actually the better solution, however it's a hard sell to someone with many years of Windows experience. While you can downgrade KDE to behave like Windows, and even upgrade Windows to be more KDE like, it's not the default, or common.
This week I got to try out my Christmas gift for the first time. We went to a local PYO farm and picked just over 2Kg of redcurrants (Ribes rubrum). They go very well with vanilla ice-cream, but we picked them to make jam.
There are two methods for redcurrants, a British method which gives you a pale pink jelly, and a French method which gives a darker and stronger flavoured jelly, but a lower overall yield.
Seeing as my new jamming pan is French we decided to try out the French method. Basically you boil your fruit in a drop of water, and mush it all up with the jam spoon. You then filter the mush out, and add 1:1 sugar to liquid. Boil that up to 105°C for just a few minutes then pot.
In the British method you add a lot of water to the initial boil, and you avoid mashing up the fruit. You add less sugar, and boil a lot of water off. You can then mash your fruit up and repeat giving a second press batch.
I've used many email clients over the years, some I liked a lot, some not much at all.
On DOS/Novell I was partial to Pegasus Mail. I never got on with it's the Windows version, but it's free and a worth while option.
On Windows I found Eudora to be my clear favourite. It's closed source and even comes in an adware version, but I do like it. It also has a reputation for being buggy, and having a strange interface, but I still like it.
Outlook and Outlook-look-a-likes such as Thunderbird and Evolution I hate. I'm forced to use Outlook at work, and I utterly loath it. At home on my Linux box I use Thunderbird as my GUI email client, and while it is better than Outlook, I still don't like it that much.
In the Unix and Linux world I grew up on elm, then pine and I currently use mutt. While GUI mail clients are much fancier, there is still a place for text mode email, and I do really like mutt, it's so fast and simple.
Today I discovered that Eudora is formally being ported to Linux. No beta release yet, but certainally good news.
Digital Networks UK have replaced my shiny new PC, with an even more shiny version. The new systems use a newer nForce motherboards, PCIe system bus, and the latest AMD Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processors.
The only consolation is that the new models are more expensive when spec'ed out at the same level, though it's possible to get a much faster model than was possible when I bought mine a few weeks ago - if you like spending silly money.
In his recent weblog, Firefox developer Asa Dotzler describes why he thinks that Linux is not ready for wide scale deployment on the desktop. He makes many valid points, which I have to agree with, but I think much of his criticism also applies to Windows which is in many cases poorer than Linux.
However he is write in very important respect, if people are migrating then Linux has to be significantly better and have robust automated migration tools. Firefox and the Mozilla browser are both significantly better than Microsoft's IE, but Mozilla was too complex and buggy to start with to gain much market share. Firefox fixed a handful of bugs but came in a much simpler package, and automatically imported your old Netscape or IE settings seemlessly. Firefox is the Mozilla success story not the original Mozilla browser.
In essence if you have nothing then no one in their right mind would pick Windows, but if everyone around you is using it, and all your old data is on Windows, then it's a hard sell to use Linux - even if it's better. Linux doesn't have to be better, it has to be a lot better.
A few things are strange yet, but I'm sure she'll be able to get the hang of it quickly enough, Debian/KDE is a lot more modern and feature rich than Windows 98.
I set my system up first as Debian Etch, and then copied what I did for her, so it's been pretty painless, certainly easier than installing and configuring Windows 98/NT/2K. I've got one small kdm oddity yet, but I'll fix that soon enough.
I've scheduled the first meeting of the "Overton Parish Linux Society" for this Tuesday 12 July at 7:30pm in my garden (weather permitting). Looks like virtually no one is going to be free, but if I don't invite people then no one will come at all.
Summer is a bad time to start anything with holidays and such like, so you could consider this a soft launch for autumn...
My invite to my fellow villagers went out at the weekend while I was on holiday. So far two people have contacted me, I'm hoping to get a few more contacts this weekend.
Summer isn't exactly the best time to start this kind of thing, but I thought better now than never.
For the past few days I've been on a camping trip in Cymru (Wales). We stayed in Dinbych-Y-Pysgod (Tenby) in Sir Benfro (Pembrokeshire), a cute little fishing/tourist town on the south coast. The weather wasn't perfect, but it was good enough to get out and about along the the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
If you ever have a chance to visit south Wales, do take the opportunity, it's a very beautiful place, and well worth the visit.