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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 2:43 am 
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I have been trying to encourage Linux use as much as possible, and usually start with BLAG. Sometimes, I move to another Distro to meet some special need. Example, I use Puppy Linux on very old hardware.

My question is if Linux, in any form, is better than Microsoft Windows?

The reason I ask is because I see here frequent discussions about Slaveware, and proprietary software, and I understand these are not favored. However, I have some friends who need or want specific things, and they are not able to, or patient enough to make it work in an all free mode. As an example, they want to see video clips on WEB pages. I can't always make this work without Adobe Flash player.

I have a case where my co-worker thought there was too much he was giving up, and he switched back to Windows ME.

Others want to have the 3D graphics capability so that the games work. They are not willing to live without it, and switch back to MS. In this case, ATi drivers might have helped.

I would like to hear some opinions on this. Is it better to use Linux with proprietary stuff, than to go back to MS Windows? I want to help undo Microsoft's OS dominance. If I install Linux with this proprietary stuff, am I helping the Linux movement, or hurting it?

I look forward to anyones thoughts on this.

Thanks,
Mike


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 6:48 am 
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Personally, with any newcomer to Linux I would point them towards distros that are not completely free to begin with. I started with Pclinuxos where most everything works straight out of the box. A year down the line and I began looking into the ideals behind free software and came to BLAG.

Yes, any Linux is better. Being 80% free is better than 0%...


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 6:22 pm 
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You'll probably find debates (and passionate beliefs) about this issue all over the web. Personally, I don't feel bad when someone decides to give ubuntu a try because they've heard me talk up free software. For a lot of folks, ubuntu IS linux (the gnu part isn't even on the radar screen), and no matter how many times I tell them I use something else they think I'm really just using another form of ubuntu.

I can see the argument that too many users might "settle" for a "compromised" OS that isn't fully free. But I also think there are a variety of stakes involved. One is the ideal of freedom in the FSF sense. That's important to me, but it's not the only consideration.

For instance, another stake is simply helping out someone with a problem. I've gotten more people to try linux because it just works than I have by touting freedom. Friends and colleagues sick of crashes and viruses and bloatware don't always care about software freedom.They may be willing to try out ubuntu or suse or pclos because they've heard about them before, and they're unsure about blag because they've heard about it only from me. So I'm glad to help them get started with the distro of their choice.

Breaking the MS monopoly (without sparking a new monopoly for OS X) is another factor. So is increasing the profile of linux as a desktop solution. Blag is ideal for these goals, but other distros meet them too.

And I think people who give any distro a try and start to see that the things that are good about linux are good because of freedom are more likely to switch to a fully free distro or to advocate for changes to the distro they use than a user who stuck with vista because youtube worked better (assuming you could get vista working in the first place that is).


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 11:05 pm 
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Well do I use Linux because it is prettier or easier than say a Mac? I mean if I look at things without an unbiased attitude, certainly Linux can be hard to learn but BLAG and a few other distros make the learning curve easier.

I use Linux because I believe in freedom, I want to do what I can to support it and whatever seconds I may lose doing something that is quicker in other OS'es, I gain knowing I am doing something positive.

Saying that, there is not one area of the market where I would honestly give Windows the upperhand other than driver support.

However are we comparing that Windows driver support to Linux or on a global perspective because if it is global, then OS X blows Windows out of the water. Indeed I think the battle is OS X vs Linux rather than Windows. Windows to most people I know is such a non-entity that it might not be too far fetched that the only people using it in 5 years are big corporations tied to Microsoft.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 12:01 am 
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Perhaps you're right--five years out is a long time in software terms! I can see windows losing footing in that time. But drivers aside, MS has money and market share and mind share, and they're not limited by ideals other than making money now and laying the groundwork for making more money down the road. Apple is the same way, of course, but MS has a huge lead. Those factors often outweigh small things like product quality. I suspect they'll continue to be the dominant OS come 2013.

But Mike's original question wasn't so much about using linux compared to using another OS. It was more about using libre linux compared to using other distros which are less free but may be better known or may seem to offer an "easier" out of the box experience to new users who don't know what an OS is, have never heard of the GPL, and figure (wrongly, of course) that, since they're not programmers, they'll never personally take advantage of the freedom that free software provides so what difference does it make? Do these distros help the cause by luring users away from MS and Mac or do they hurt the cause by giving users an alternative that isn't really free?


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:14 am 
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Quote:
But Mike's original question wasn't so much about using linux compared to using another OS. It was more about using libre linux compared to using other distros which are less free but may be better known or may seem to offer an "easier" out of the box experience to new users who don't know what an OS is...


Thanks, this is quite on target. My aim is to help spread Linux. After several attempts with BLAG (some have stuck with it, others have not) I am thinking of getting people started with a Linux Distro that gives more of what I think the average user wants/needs.

My own computer needs are covered by BLAG, and frankly it has worked the best. Some converts understand the FREE aspect, and are using BLAG. Others don't care about FREE. For those, I might get them started with something else.

I guess this comes round to my thoughts, am I doing the Linux world a favor if I were to promote the most non-free Linux I can find? I'm thinking the answer is yes.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 2:07 pm 
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Some thunks, pre coffee.

It seems ubuntu would be better than windows, despite not really wanting to say that. ;)

BLAG has more drivers and supports more hardware than any *single* version of windoz.

I'd be interested to hear about what your "regular" users liked and/or disliked in blag. And if they "left" was it for the standard things (e.g. no video editing, flash sucks, 3d) or something new or wha? Just curious.

Thanks for installing BLAG on your customers' machines. :)

-Jeff


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:37 pm 
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Is the worse Linux the most usable?

I find BLAG a lot easier and more feature complete than Ubuntu. Mint has more features than BLAG, but I have more problems getting it going.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 8:38 pm 
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Here's what I get from those "regular" users:

First, 3d. Some want more fps than Intel graphics can provide. A lot just already have AMD or Nvidia. Obviously, no one is going to buy a new motherboard or PC to downgrade to Intel integrated graphics just to get free out of the box 3d on BLAG. Someday nouveau and the free radeon drivers may make 3d a moot issue. Until then, users will stick with windows or choose an ubuntu-type distro that allows them to get 3d in a gui click or two.

Second, inertia and fear of change. Just knowing linux isn't windows is enough to keep some people from trying it. The command line is part of this, even though users who are mostly doing Internet, music, email, and the like would probably never have to use it. (I've shocked a few people by showing them the command line on their xp or vista machines--they had no idea it was there.) I've set up dual boot for a couple of people who ended up sticking with windows full time because they'd run across one thing they weren't sure how to do in BLAG that they already knew how to do in windows. It doesn't matter how easy it is to do the same thing with BLAG.

Third, customer support. I know, I know--BLAG is easily the best supported distro I've ever come across, and it leaves MS and Mac in the dust. But there's no 800 number and you don't have to pay for help. Very suspicious. I almost had an IT guy at work let me blagify one of the windows servers. Instead, he went with RHEL because he'd always had a support contract when the server ran windows and he felt better about having one when switching to linux. Had he ever called MS support? No. Did he think switching to a more reliable OS would create more need for support calls? No. But he still wanted that contract. People still find it hard to deal with the idea that there might not be a corporation behind a product.

@ Noldrin: I agree about ubuntu. I've used it on a couple of laptops that wouldn't take BLAG and while it is improving, I don't think it's as stable or as flexible as BLAG. And they really have to do something about that default theme!


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:55 pm 
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Quote:
I'd be interested to hear about what your "regular" users liked and/or disliked in blag. And if they "left" was it for the standard things (e.g. no video editing, flash sucks, 3d) or something new or wha? Just curious.


Users that switched back:
2. Scanner support
2. Uneasy about support situation (felt MS would help them some day)
1. Could not play Yahoo games
1. Could not live without Yahoo Instant Messenger Photo sharing capability
1. No 3D graphics, so 3D games don't play
1. Gave up, too difficult to learn
1. Could not install some Windows software (bootleg of course)
1. Daughter told user to switch to Win XP so she could help her with computer

Funny, the one who's daughter convinced her to switch, now pays me to help her with WIN XP issues. I helped her with BLAG issues for free. The daughter hasn't a clue what to do when there is a problem.

The one who needed to play Yahoo games switched back to WIN ME. No less than a week after reverting back, he is nailed with a virus (the reason we switched to BLAG in the first place).

Additionally, many people have no issues using pirated OS/software. The idea of having it legitimately for free means nothing. "Why should I switch, I can have XP for free" I think the ease at which people are able to obtain and use pirated copies of software slows the expansion of Linux, here in the US and in other countries. Last week I was visiting a company in China. We needed to look at an .ai file, so I suggested we use Inkscape because it is free. "Ha Ha Ha, Adobe Illustrator is free too".

I still have my 2 PCs and my laptop, my father's PC, and a friends laptop running BLAG. Plus, one co-worker running Puppy Linux, and feeling comfortable with it. I use my laptop to demonstrate BLAG. Everything works great, except 3D graphics and flash.

I'm setting up another old machine with BLAG if I can get it to work (it's for another co-worker). It's pretty old, so I may drop down to Puppy again.

NOTE: My PC work (hobby),
I go to great lengths to make WIN: ME-XP-Vista systems as secure as possible. I have an XP system running here all the time, and I do all kinds of nonsense with it. They can be made somewhat secure, but many people can't resist those intriguing emails, etc. Also, kids use computers, and anything that mysteriously pops up on the screen, they seem to click on.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 1:07 am 
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MY users have complained that mail (and the included .wmv, or whatever, did not play in their mail.

That's one of the biggies. And that it seems that oo won't default to winmode, there [it seems] is no front end for oo.

If I could run BLAG as my only system, I would. Because I can't, I have an XP box here - also running 24/7. I think that this sux, but seems necessary. Users also need to be able ti run their new, cheap, hdwe. There needs to be a way to make the MS .exe drivers usable. Besides that, there should be nice, blind scripts that convert drivers from MS to L. I have never understood why this has not been done. If one got $$ from doing such, I would have done it years ago. -- SO so much for free software, eh?

b-


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 2:03 pm 
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Converting closed drives to open ones? Reverse engineering - illegal?

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BLAG 'em up!


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 4:05 pm 
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I think a move from MS Windows to any form of Linux would be a step in the right direction.

Once people have accepted that alternative OS exist, it should make it easier to move from Linux with proprietary stuff to Linux with no, or minimal proprietary stuff.

Mike


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 2:18 am 
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john maclean wrote:
Converting closed drives to open ones? Reverse engineering - illegal?


Unethical perhaps but anymore unethical than shipping an insecure operating system that doesn't work and crashes all the time? Microsoft do it.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 3:34 am 
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Jason wrote:
john maclean wrote:
Converting closed drives to open ones? Reverse engineering - illegal?


Unethical perhaps but anymore unethical than shipping an insecure operating system that doesn't work and crashes all the time? Microsoft do it.


Well, we know that unethical is often rewarded in corporate culture. It's the ethical stuff--like reverse engineering in order to support freedom--that's considered illegal and can land you in serious trouble. We can't confuse ethics and legality when MS and its ilk are involved!


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