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Re: Dangerous precedent being set - possible serious violation of the GPL

Forgive me, I'm not a developer, but I can't stand this thread any longer,
even though one like this has come up every year I've been using computers
(since 1982).

So I have some questions...

Explain why any JoeSixpack needs a Unix-based OS for me, someone?  Please?
Explain why he needs to know ANYTHING about OS's or even to have a traditional
OS even installed on a computer he uses?

He *needs* a web appliance -- someone could (and some already are) certainly 
be making these devices with Linux -- but he doesn't *need* a user friendly
machine with a full-blown OS any more than do most people.

Why create an "alternative to Windows" when most people don't need or use
half the features of that highly annoying and non-free OS?

I keep seeing threads like this pop up over the years, but Unix remains Unix.
New X desktops come and go, and people still want Unix for what it does best...

Give the power users the ability to get things done that you just can't do
as easily or as quickly on other plaforms.  The learning curve is steep and
lasts a long time, but it pays immediate dividends in insight into how things
REALLY work in computers, and GPL'ed software with the source there for all
to see helps this along even more.

Just a silly analogy, since we had to do some network troubleshooting today...

Folks who need to run tcpdump on a regular basis don't want Windows and
JoeSixpack doesn't want to know that things like tcpdump exist.  Really.  It's
a poor analogy, but it's how I feel.

I've always warned people that if they're not willing to learn a whole lot of
new concepts, techniques, technology, etc... don't buy a PC.  Go get a Sony
PlayStation, you'll be happier.

If you're naturally inclined (or were taught by your folks) to learn new things
constantly, then computers are a great place for you to be.  Jump in, and
you'll probably find yourself at my doorstep asking for a Debian CD-ROM once
you learn that Window's isn't a "learning man's" OS, it's just an exercise
in frustration that most companies use, so it's a "standard", and people are
used to seeing it on PC's.

Use the best tool for the job.  Unix is not the best tool for JoeBeerStud,
nor should we try to make it be, IMHO.

Open source projects survive because people are willing to crack open the
code.  Joe SixPack isn't going to do that, he's not going to give anything
back to the community (other than to put another $70 in RedHat's pocket),
so why cater to him?  Just a thought.  (And before you even type it, I know
that technically RH is "giving back to the community"... don't go there).
Perhaps I'm mean-spirited, and I'd better grab my flame-proof undies for saying that, but it's true.  Anyone who "runs the gauntlet" and figures out how to install a distro and get it up and doing what they want it to do then has learned invaluable skills (like using MAN!) that will carry them much further in computing than if they decided to load Win98 on their box and then Word.  If the overall Linux community thinks something is too hard to use, it usually gets updated to a point where most folks can figure it out that have sense enough to know to
look in /etc for the configuration files and (at least in the case of Debian)
in /usr/share/doc for the documentation.  And yes, there are some areas we'd
all like to see development in, but making a JoeBillyBobJimbo-proof GUI isn't
worth the time and effort, IMHO again.

Instead of working hard to make the distros more "user-friendly", let's make
them more "intelligent-person who has a clue-friendly".  Write good
documentation for your code and UPDATE it regularly or have a FAQ that gets
updated.  And contribute time to finding someone who likes writing docs and
would like to help document your software in the LDP.  That's going to help
EVERYONE more than making programs ask 20 times, "This is dangerous, you might
be an idiot, are you sure?  ARE YOU SURE?".

So as an amusing final note...

My wife falls somewhere between inquisitive and "don't care" and wanted a 
computer for the basics -- word processing, small databases, e-mail, etc.
She actually has a true use for a computer because she likes to print out lots
of graphical notecards and flyers and such, which I doubt any net-appliance
will ever do.  She's slightly beyond the "appliance user" and not really ready
or willing to tackle anything really complex.  And I do so much computer stuff
at work, that when I'm home I want to PLAY with my computers. I absolutely
did not want to do any tech-support for hers.

So we bought her an iMac. It's the right tool for THAT job.  All my machines run
Linux or FreeBSD, aside from the one machine that I keep Win on for some games.

They're the right tool for what *I* want to do.  Don't turn them into "Unix for Dummies" X-based "Are you sure?" machines!  :)

Nate, nate@natetech.com
On Wed, Dec 08, 1999 at 12:36:34AM -0500, Caspian wrote:
> On Tue, 7 Dec 1999, Bruce Perens wrote:
> > Folks,
> > 
> > I don't think we have to evaluate Linux _relative_to_windows_ when we talk
> > about user-friendliness. It is sufficient to look at Linux and realize that
> > there is much that could be improved and would make the naive' user's life
> > easier without making life more difficult for the rest of us.
> The "relative to Windows" bit isn't the important part, but it does
> matter. The important thing is merely to get a system that Joe Sixpack can
> use. However, the sad truth is that at this point in time, Joe Sixpack is
> also Joe WinIdiot. Unless something looks like an attractive __alternative
> to Windows__-- for that is precisely how Joe WinIdiot will view anything
> !Windows-- he will not switch. So, in this particular world that we
> live in, the only way GNU/Linux will even -get- into the naive
> users' lives is by using Windows as a yardstick. That's just the way
> things go. (As a side-note-- look at what the commercial GNU/Linux dists
> that are targeted at "desktop" users are doing. They're impersonating
> Windows! There's a reason.)
> I don't like Windows and I don't like using it as a yardstick. But unless
> we want to lose the war to the profiteers, we're going to have to act now
> to create a 100% (or as -damned- close as humanly possible) free-software
> GNU/Linux dist that WinIdiots will like.
> As for the "help naive users without hurting the rest of us" bit-- yeah,
> of course. We should look for ways to accommodate all. But there are
> always ways to add user-friendliness without screwing real hackers if
> one's clever enough, so that doesn't negate the very real need to take
> immediate action towards making 100% free GNU/Linux systems feasible for
> Joe Sixpack, as well as J. Random Hacker.
> > 
> > 	Thanks
> > 
> > 	Bruce
> > 
> -- 
>  = Jon "Caspian" Blank,  right-brained computer programmer at large =
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