In article <77rg6n$7d...@hirame.wwa.com>,
Bloody Viking <nos...@tekka.wwa.com> wrote:
> Monica Lau <ml...@ucdavis.edu> wrote:
> : I am a student who is doing a little independent study on Linux. I just
> : want to get an overview of what people think about Linux's prospects for
> : attaining a major share of the PC OS market. Any comments are welcome and
> : would be nice.
> For most end users, Linux probably won't catch on. For the amateur
> programmer, it probably will, as people get exposed to UNIX due to the
> Internet. I got turned onto Linux when I had a UNIX shell account on an
> ISP. I still use UNIX shell accounts to this day and a terminal proggie.
There is a key distinction here. Microsoft's strength is that it makes
systems and applications that are easy to use. To this extent they are
useful. A Microsoft user can take Microsoft Access, and, knowing nothing
about Star Schemas, 3rd Normal Form, or any of that other DBA stuff, can
whip up a customer contact database that can rival those of Seibol and ACT!
The flip side is that this usefulness is limited to data generated for, and
used by, the PC users for his personal and private use. The Microsoft
user can summarize his database into an excel spreadsheet using counts
and summary fields, he can use the spreadsheet to create a chart, and use
the chart in a Microsoft Word document which will be sent as part of a report
to his manager. The manager will then have to take that document, slice
and dice the numbers of the subordinates, and come up with a composite
report for the departement, which he will forward to his VP. The VP
will slice-and-dice to create a report for the president, and the President
will slice-and-dice to create a report for the CEO, the SEC, and the
investors. This entire process can take weeks, even months. Often, a CEO
who relies entirely on a Microsoft based information system won't know
until days before the annual report is issued how the numbers will finally
"churn up". By the time he gets those "hard numbers", there is neither the
time nor the ability to "drill down" to details that push the numbers above
or below expectations. The CEO must then announce corrective actions to
appease dissappointed investors, or announce qualifiers to appease suspicious
SEC regulators. In summary, the same features that made this system easy to
use, makes it less useful in terms of the actual goals of the business (having
an accurate reflection of business activity based on current and detailed
Linux is less easy to use, but was designed to encourage the structured
sharing of information. I can create CGI forms which allow customers to
purchase or order products via the web, the sales clerks can use similar
forms. The orders can be processed using PERL scripts which can not only
post inserts to a database, but can also send update information to other
real-time monitoring systems. If someone orders 49 PCs, purchasing can order
(or adjust their order) for 50 video cards, 25 more cases (we have 25 in
stock), 10 more motherboards (we have 45 but we get discounts for qty 10),
and 100 CD-ROMs (we have 40 in stock, but order qty 100).
The time to find out that we're short is when the order is placed, rather
than waiting until tomorrow until the orders are posted, then waiting until
the next day to compare inventory on hand to orders, and the third day to
format a pretty "this is what we should order" report. Which now means that
the customer must wait 7 days instead of 48 hours for his computer.
> People who are prone to getting under the Windows to DOS are going to like
> UNIX as it's mainly a command-line interface. (CLI)
> Yes, there is a GUI
> thing for Linux, but it's not the main "selling point".
Have you seen ANY Linux retail packages? Have you seen ANY Print publications
on Linux? Have you read ANY copies of Linux World in print? Have you had
any experience with commercial distributions of Red Hat, SuSE, or Caldera?
Saying that Linux doesn't have a GUI is like saying that a Cadellac doesn't
have a transmission (because you don't have to shift).
Linux has the advantage of being able to function as BOTH a Workstation
and a Server. Furthermore, scripting gives Linux a great deal more power
than the "GUI-ONLY" paradigm of Microsoft Windows. NT supports scripting
languages such as PERL, TCL, and Java, but it's main focus is on it's
GUI oriented use and administration. Linux provides flexible GUI interfaces
to standard GUI applications that can be supplemented by scripted capabilities
which can then be interfaced to GUIs including Web Browsers, Java, and Python.
With Linux, the total value is greater than the sum of it's parts.
> I'm one of those wierdos who LIKES a command line! :)
I have mixed feelings on this issue. Too often, I have had to spend days
or weeks learning how to "point and click" my way through some third party
application that did little more than a PERL script, had restrictions which
limited it's functionality, and then - when put under pre-production
stress-testing, crumbled into BSODs, lockouts, and race-conditions that
wiped out multiple applications.
> This is a result of my past where I
> had a Commodore 64 which had as a shell a BASIC interpreter. When I first
> got a PC, I played around with Windows until I found DOS and QBASIC. I was
> "home" again.
I go back to the days of flipping rows of DIP switches to program my 8080
or using a hex keypad to program my COSMAC ELF. I even remember the days
of writting programs using DEBUG or FORTH. These are useful skills when
you have a system that is failing at 3:00 A.M. and you have no network
access, and you have to get a community college drop-out to toggle in
a binary patch to get the system operation again. Thank god those days
are over. With Windows, I have no source code, with Linux I have a network
and remote access capabilities.
> When I used the Commodore, I was on a very low budget, so I began coding
> up stuff for my own use.
You were on a low budget! Try paying $65 for a computer that only ran with
2Kbytes of RAM, a hex key-pad, and an EPROM that let you do a 32bit x 32 bit
display (nonproportional of course) through a video modulator (an extra $20)
using NTSC composite video. That was my 3rd computer :-).
> I soon learned the best computer game was programming itself.
Some of us feel that way. I remember playing "adventure" on a CP/M
system and then getting onto a UNIX system. The "adventure" game gave
text descriptions of monsters and treasure, and a few commands to help
you kill the monsters and get the treasure.
The UNIX box had REAL treasure! It had man pages and doc files that
described mysterious new commands like grep, and sed, and awk, and lex, and
yacc. As I learned each "spell", I would exeriment by using it on code that
I had been asked to modify and enhance. In a few weeks, work that was taking
days under a text editor were being done is minutes with ed scripts, sed
scripts, and awk scripts. In fact, using these new "spells" I discovered
that nearly 90% of the code was essentially the same 10% cloned and modified
9 times. In a matter of a few weeks, I had reduced 500,000 lines of PDP-11
Assembler to 10,000 lines of C. The whole time I was working shoulder to
shoulder with P.H.D.s and M.S.E.Es from MIT, Berkely, and Stanford. To keep
up I'd spend 8-10 hours/day learning their new "magic". In about 18 months,
I was officially recognized as a "Wizard" and assigned to a project where I
was writing a 911 emergency services dispatch system in UNIX. The same
project that had taken 200 staff-year to ENHANCE using PDP-11 assembler,
RT-11 (similar to MS-DOS), and custom code was completed in less than 2 staff
years, (6 people for 4 months) using UNIX components, C, and UNIX languages.
Forms were created using CURSES, reports were formatted using NROFF (from
the database directly to "tbl|nroff|lpr" script. The original budget for
this spooler was 1 year. We did the entire system, including beautification,
in 3 weeks.
> Back in '94, I found out that Linux existed. The idea
> of a mainframe-style OS for a personally owned computer appealed to me as
> the amateur programmer type hobbyist. Even better was the fact that it was
> freeware. My wallet was definitely talking! Before I first lit off a Linux
> box, I had a UNIX Shell Account on an ISP. (I use shell accounts to this
> day) I was already playing with Procmail and shell scripts before Jul 10,
> Y2K-6 (1994)
I first tried Linux in 1992. It was a good functional UNIX, comparable to
AT&T System 5 Release 1. It had no graphics, no networking, ran on VGA,
ran text-mode only, and came with a GCC compiler and linker. I ended up
doing a consulting gig porting X11/R5 to IBM's AIX for ESA. Meanwhile,
some folks at MIT were porting X11/R5 to Linux.
By February 1993, Linux not only had X11/R5, it also had Open Look,
the OLVWM window manager, and a pretty impressive set of GUI applications.
It was almost like being on a Sun Workstation. What was really cool was
that I also had access to an HP/9000 and a Sun SPArc-20 and using Linux
I could use them both from my little 80386 PC. Eventually, I installed
Slackware Linux onto a Pentium-90 and I thought I was in heaven. I have
since switched to Red Hat and SuSE.
[snip - including that X11 broke on him]
> The fact that Linux is primarily a command-line type of thing, it would
> appeal to former DOS fans and amateur programmers. Until the GUI is
> reliably made to install with a Linux install, it will be an OS for the
> hacker types. (No, I don't mean the evil "cracker" type fuckwits.)
Actually, all that's really required is to have the Linux system preinstalled
with X11 properly configured. Even then it's a "power user's" box. The
person who is perfectly content with Microsoft "Works" and IE 4.0 on
Windows-95 probably won't appreciate the full power of Linux. They would
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