Re: A good charge against free operating systems
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On Friday 09 March 2001 10:03 am, Frédéric Aguiard wrote:
> When I use a screwdriver or a hammer, I don't think about physical material
> resistance issues.
> Of course, I could break my screwdriver trying something too hard for it.
> But if I stick to a normal, basic use of my tool, it shouldn't break. And I
> shouldn't have to care about all the technical basis behind it.
> In fact, my screwdriver is a very nice tool, indeed. Most of the time, if I
> do something foolish with it, let's say, use its stick as a hammer, it may
> not work very well (it's not what it has been designed for) but will not
> break either.
Sorry, but I suspect this analogy does *not* mean what you think it does.
For many years I have worked in the construction industry using tools of all
descriptions...the use of a tool is something you have to *learn*...you are
not born knowing how to wield that hammer or that screwdriver, you are not
born knowing how to read a tape measure (reading a tape measure properly is
from my experience of mentoring many apprentices one of the hardest initial
things to learn. It can take some of them over week to master).
Similarly, yes, a computer is a tool, no, you should not have to necessarily
understand all the underlying principles of it before you can use it, however
you do have to learn how to make effective use of that tool. It is almost
painful to watch someone who has not learn how to use a hammer properly
struggle to drive a nail home.
> You can't ask a secretary to understand all the complexity of a linux
> system. You can't even ask her to use a shell, nor anything like vi or
> latex or anything else. This is not HER job. She just needs a tool, a tool
> providing her what she needs for her daily work, a tool that does not break
> up in her hands while just using basis functions, nor doing something
> reasonably foolish.
Why can't I ask her to use vi or latex? let's go with something a shade
easier...I can teach someone in an afternoon all they will ever need to know
about using a simple editor (say jed). I cannot teach most people in an
afternoon how to properly wield a saw or an electric drill, these things take
practice and thought and training. In fact I would say that from a standing
start I could teach someone to use jed far more quickly than I could teach
them to use word.
> I, as a computer engineer, can understand most of the subtle technical
> issues of a linux system. I can deal with lots of problems. Hell, I can
> even use VI to modify a configuration file, or personalize my enlightenment
> desktop down to any pixel... 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.
I read the article with interest. The author seems to be operating from a
false premise (let's not even start in on all the out of date parts of the
rant or the outright inaccuracies in her article). She seems to be under the
impression that linux is supposed to be a desktop operating system. It is
not, it is a server operating system, and people like myself and probably
yourself who like computers and like playing with the innards of your
hardware and software are happy to use it as a desktop. I fail totally to
see why a rant like that should be perpetrated on something because it fails
to be what it is not and was not designed to be (although it is slowly
evolving towards this, hopefully without losing any of the power). This is
like ranting at an apple for not being a strawberry.
GPG public key on request
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