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Re: A good charge against free operating systems

On Fri, Mar 09, 2001 at 11:03:06AM +0100, Fr?d?ric Aguiard wrote:
> IMHO, computers are mostly used as tools by a vast majority of people all
> around the world. But using a tool doesn't mean you have to understand or
> care about all the underlying technical issues. 


> You can't ask a secretary to understand all the complexity of a linux
> system.

I don't see why you can't _ask_, but I agree that you shouldn't _demand_ it
of anyone outside the field, just as the guy at the local garage doesn't
expect you to know how to rebuild a transmission.

> But I agree with the author of the debated
> article : linux is not yet a tool that can be put in the hands of end-users.
> Not that the end-users are too stupid to use it, but linux is just not
> mature enough for that. 

Now, though, you're getting silly.  I don't think it's realistic at this
point to expect the average user to be able to install linux from scratch
or do heavy-duty system configuration (of course, very few people expect them
to be able to do this with Windows either), but daily usage of an already up-
and-running system is quite viable.

A couple data points to support my position:


To the typical consumer, it's just a really smart VCR that doesn't
use tapes.  The interface is clean enough that, even though it's completely
new, I could immediately access everything without having to look at the

But underneath the shiny interface?  It's a PPC box running linux.


Designed as a web terminal, this little linux box starts up Netscape when it
boots.  The first time you start it, it asks whether you're putting it on a
LAN or using a dialup ISP, then asks you for the information it needs to
configure itself.  Then it stores that information in flash RAM (the OS runs
off a CD, so you can't mess anything up there; it doesn't have a hard drive)
and you're off onto the web.  The initial setup is easy, but still might
scare some people; once the networking information has been entered, though,
it becomes an appliance.

My job:

I just started as a sysadmin/geek-of-all-trades for a machine shop.  The
typical employee is not a geek, but they're quite comfortable scanning
barcodes off of job sheets into serial terminals scattered throughout the
plant (which feed the data into a linux database) and getting new barcodes
from label printers (each of which is controlled by a linux box - without X
or any other GUI running, just a text console - sitting beside it).

Linux will do for applications what the Internet did for networks. 
    - IBM, "Peace, Love, and Linux"
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