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Old 05-22-2004, 10:09 AM   #1
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What's the community's vision of GNU/Linux

I was reading the Distro Reviews here on to check how what people think of Mandrake 10.0 when I came across a short review by Nz_Boy_2004 (the third review on page: ).

This is a rather short review but the his cons made me wonder. He said:
Cons: ease of use ease of use and ease of use
Is it a bad thing that a certain GNU/Linux distro is easy to use? What do people think the goal of GNU/Linux is? Is it to make something which only geeks and nerds can understand and use. Something that's so hard to use that when you sit down to write an essay, you'll need a bottle of Valium and a personal psychiatrist to keep you calm. In my opinion GNU/Linux is a global project of people who like programming and want to use it to give something back to the world, learn some new programming tricks on their way and see how their efforts become something people use in daily lives. Why shouldn't GNU/Linux then be something that's easy to use? Why should that be a bad thing?

Maybe Nz_Boy_2004 is a part of a minority within the GNU/Linux community, who thinks that by making an operating system which is easy to use, everything has gone terribly wrong. I thought I should bring this topic up, just to see if there is any common goal within the community.

Why do you choose GNU/Linux? Is it because you can't stand the Blue Screen of Death? Is it because you like giving something back? Is it just to make your living a little bit harder or is it something else?

...or in the words of Microsoft (with a little adjustment):
Where do you want (GNU/Linux) to go today?
Old 05-22-2004, 12:10 PM   #2
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Old 05-22-2004, 12:18 PM   #3
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I'm going to go out on a limb here, but....

I think his point was that if the distro is too easy to use, you never learn anything about the underlying technology and basic tools, and end up relying too heavily on the GUI tools (which may not be available on other distros). The GUI tools available in Mandrake and RedHat etc. make it seem like it's very easy to run and secure what is essentially an industrial strength OS, and could leave users with a false sense of security. If the system fails for whatever reason they're left high and dry.

Having Linux on the desktop is definitely a good thing (in my view), but shipping a full UNIX with all the associated servers and command line tools, then backtracking and putting some nice GUI configuration tools on top for the 'noobs' which only handle certain tasks is not helping anyone.

I don't think this is a problem with Linux specifically, but with personal computers in general. The only system I could really recommend to a user who just needs to get some work done on the desktop is still MacOS - the OS is locked down by default with no services running and not much threat from viruses etc, and Just Works.

Linux users either want a desktop system, in which case that is what they should get and not much more, or they want a full UNIX box, in which case they most probably want to have full control over their system, which GUI tools can't deliver.

"Have you got a licence to run that distro?"
/me puts on flame proof suit


I use Linux because I'm interested in computers in an engineering sense, and UNIX-type systems are the only way to go to really understand how they work. I've learned far more about computing from using Linux that I ever did from the years spent using MacOS 7/8/9/X and Windows. In fact, using Linux has probably taught me more that my comp. sci. degree ever did.

For the first time, I'm also seeing very high quality applications appearing on Linux (Firefox, Evolution, Xine, KDE etc) which I think are actually superior to their Windows counterparts, so I use linux as a desktop OS as well as a hobby OS, and I can do everything I could in Windows without having to pay ridiculous prices for software.

The other reason I use Linux is because of the development tools that come with it. Emacs is indispensable, and getting every compiler I could ask for included in the distro is fantastic. Oh yes, and having a powerful shell for tasks that would normally take ages to perform in a GUI makes my life a lot easier.

Just my $0.02


p.s. sed -e -i s/Linux/GNU\/Linux/g
p.p.s. I've ranted about this before:


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