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[wlug] Real world requirements

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Oliver Jones oliver@d...
Mon Apr 4 15:32:55 NZST 2005

On Mon, 2005-04-04 at 10:35 +1200, Greig McGill wrote:
> James Clark wrote:
> >Such as?  I'm actually interested by this.  
> >  
> >
> Sure.  Here's a list:
> 1.  Outlook+Exchange.  I run Thunderbird to read my home email over an 
> ssh vpn (thanks putty).

Have you tried the Exchange connector for Evolution?  I'd be interested
to hear how that works.

> 4.  Requirement to edit proprietary data formats in a seamless manner.  
> No, close enough is NOT good enough.

I find Codeweavers CrossOver Wine product to be exceptionally good at
running MS Office apps (and others like Photoshop 7).

> I can, and have, run Linux only here at work.  My laptop dual boots, and 
> there are semi-workable solutions to most of the above problems.  It's 

My laptop has Windows XP on it too.  But I only ever boot it to run
iTunes, dump CDs, and sync my iPod.  Which is why I'll probably get a
Mac Mini in the not too distant future for this exact purpose.  Then
I'll have zero reason to boot it. :)

> just too much work to do this on a daily basis though.  Maybe when it 
> becomes easier, I can re-visit this.  I am paid to do my job though, not 
> to muck about with computers and software.  Perhaps it will become 
> easier in time.  If I didn't believe this to be the case, I'd hardly be 
> involved in the WLUG, let alone be it's president, would I? ;)

It is a pity we still have to deal with proprietary software but much of
the world has yet to "see the light" as it were... ;) 

> Horses for courses, James.  We all have different work requirements.
> I've actually started to quite like Windows XP.  I've even been running 
> it by choice at home occasionally.  It's not as bad as people make it 
> out to be, though I am no friend of Microsoft, their business practices, 
> or their showstopping, jaw dropping, chip popping bugs.  I'd like them 
> to go away.  It's not going to happen in the near future, and I need to 
> do my job in the meantime.

Recently I had to setup a few office workstations for a company.  The
only two major proprietary pieces of software I installed on them were
Windows XP and MS Office 2003.  All the rest was OSS (or freeware).  I
installed FireFox, Thunderbird, PDF Creator, Putty, ClamAV, etc. 

Had the business not already had a lot of MS Office documents and the
need to transmit those documents to and fro they could have potentially
done without MS Office.

The OpenSource software stack is getting quite good.  It's not quite
there yet but it is getting close.

There was an article in a recent Linux Magazine regarding the "little
things" that block peoples transition to OSS or Linux desktops.  Users
get so used to a small feature or idiosyncrasy of an existing
application or environment and become almost dependent on it.  Without
an almost 1-for-1 replacement of that feature they are very reluctant to
change.  Only if the benefits significantly outweigh the costs of change
do they concede.

My own experience with FC3 and Gnome 2.8 (I'm not up to date with
regards to KDE) on my laptop has certainly taught me that Linux has some
way to go with regards to the desktop.  I'm a computer geek so I can
handle the constant irritations.  I have solutions other than "reboot
it".  But I have to pull out my command line swiss army knife too often
for problems that shouldn't exist.  Eg, I often have to kill gam_server
just so I can unmount my USB2 HDD.  gam_server is a fam (File Alteration
Monitor) replacement for Nautilus.  It is a very young codebase
(v0.0.25) and still has many "issues".  Normal desktop users shouldn't
have to deal with these things and as time goes by the problems will be

This problem is pretty endemic in open source software.  Coders focus on
adding features and neglect to polish the features that already exist.
That is because adding features is more fun.  Polish is often boring.
The problem is that polish is what makes an app reliable and useful to
the masses.

                   Oliver Jones » Roving Code Warrior
   oliver@d... » +64 (21) 41 2238 » 

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