Are there any folks out there using Unix or Linux to run their office applications? I tried using StarOffice a while back, but couldn't get what I was seeing on the screen to print that way. And, now that we have an HP OfficeJet G85 printer I am worried about whether we could make full use of the features of this product with Unix or Linux. I don't remember whether the cd contains drivers and utilites for Unix/Linux. At this point I am seriously looking at going with Debian as the distribution of choice, and later on turning the fourth and oldest machine into a mail server, gateway and firewall with FreeBSD.
update: Is there a site out there with specifications for older monitors like the Packard Bell 1010? When I was trying FreeBSD a little while ago, I could not for the life of me get the resolution higher than 800x600. Normally I use 1024x768, it's easier on my eyes.
ChipX86, what I say in my diary is geared toward one of three things:
(a) stating my opinion; or
(b) asking for advice; or
(c) defending myself from a select few on this site.
And, no, I don't try and build myself up. I value my opinion and no matter how poor a writer I am or how little I know about the open source community in general, I am not afraid to say what I feel. My true friends respect me for this.
It seems you totally misunderstood me when I stated that Unix and Linux have a long way to go before they will have the share of computer users they dream of. They're on the right track. But, saying that I am pissing off the open source community is just plain stupid. Just because you might wish to take the stance of being offended by my finger pointing at Unix and Linux, does not mean the next person wishes to think that way.
I am calling out to the folks here in www.advogato.com to give me some pointers on how I, being a seasoned Windows user and VERY new to Unix and Linux, can get started in contributing to the open source movement. Some of you have suggested that I could make improvements to the documentation out there. That sounds interesting, though I think not being close to the products the documentation is based on might make that rather difficult. Others have suggested writing simple programs and submitting them to the public. I have been to several open source sites, besides this one, and really do not have a handle on how a contributing newcomer to the scene could get started. I think that some of you have mentioned reading over lots of source code. Is there an easy way to go about this? Perhaps the much better writers here could write up an article on "Newcomers to the Open Source Community Scene" or something. This sounds very exciting to me. I have a pretty good handle on how people react to marketing, products and customer service, but am a green thumb when it comes to actually developing or supporting these products. That much some of you have established, and for that I am grateful :)
and unfortunately I think that software developers too often forget that. So you decided to write the product for yourself, eh? That's great. If it provides you with better functionality than the previous product you were using, very nice. But the minute you present the product to the public, the focus becomes not your product but the customer. I use the term customer loosely, it can mean many things. To me 'customer' means anyone that I deal with in public. Before any of you reading this become tempted to turn this into a personal flame war, remember that I am talking about software and the people that deal with software.
One or two persons today mentioned that they didn't care what others thought of their product. Then, why are you even bothering to provide CVS-like updates with your products? To show off how organized or geeky your site appears? Or to provide the customer with a rundown of your product's history? The attitude of "I don't even bother with documentation" is the very attitude that has caused many to turn away from non-Windows products. We're not talking about freedome of configuration of the products. We're talking about basic usage of the products. Microsoft and most Windows-based software companies do a very good job at providing the user with an easy to use interface. Unix and Linux often make it difficult to install and configure their products. You say it is a minimalist approach, and one where you think the user is responsible with coming up with the documentation to support the product. I say that it is the inability to design the interface (installation and usage) well. In short you really don't care about the product. That is, if you are of the type person I am talking about here.
This is not a personal attack on anyone, just a wake-up call to the open source community (and paid software entities) that a huge factor in converting Windows users over to Unix and Linux is how easy it is to install software, make simple changes to the software, and use the software. To tell someone that they don't belong in the Unix and Linux world is ignorant. If you feel they don't belong outside of the Windows domain because he or she can't find the documentation (even though you claim that what they are looking for is out there), then why not do the people you are calling stupid a favor by showing them where the exact documentation is? Otherwise, the joke is on you. I have spent many hours looking for documentation to guide me in Unix and Linux configuration, and often have not found it. So, I am hard pressed to not laugh in the face of a non-Windows user who makes baseless comments and worn-out cliches (RTFM), yet can't actually be a part of the solution.
It's clear why the gap between the number of Windows users and the number of Unix and Linux users has not gotten that much smaller. All one has to do is take a look at the defensiveness that Unix and Linux users (Windows users are not angels) display when the population complains that Unix and Linux are not user friendly. Congratulations.
There are two things that I have noticed about the Unix and Linux world out there, unfortunately for me they both are observations that don't often cause other unix and linux users' faces to light up with excitement. First, there are way too many open source projects in relation to the number of people working on them. This is why you see tens upon tens of editors, with only a minute number actually being of real quality. I know quality when I see it, just as any computer user does. What I define as 'quality work' may be totally different than, say for example, what Joe Schmoe thinks 'quality work' means. Since a lot of people have agreed with me on my definition of 'quality work', and because it is logical to assume that if you thought about something then so too have many other people thought about the same thing, then this must be a pretty serious issue. What the Unix and Linux open source community needs, from a standpoint of continuing to bring in new users from other operating system platforms and to continue keeping existing users, is to improve upon only a handful of products. The question I hear from many people, and mind you I am much more of a Windows user at this point than a non-Windows user, is this: Why should I move to another platform when there aren't very many great products like Office 2000 and games like Madden Football 2002 can't be played on anything other than Windows (not sure about Apple products)?
The other, perhaps more persistent, gripe I have with the Unix and Linux product world is the poorly written documentation. Now, granted I don't know a lot about those products and I don't consider myself a really good writer or one that would enjoy spending hours upon hours documenting a particular operating system or product. What I do know is the documentation I have read is outdated, not really applicable to the task at hand. Okay, okay, perhaps what I am reading could be </i>slightly</i> changed to fit the task at hand, but therein lies my point. Well written documentation is both intuitive AND accurate. Sometimes, and I think this is quite funny, I get the feeling that Unix and Linux folks get an intellectual high from reading documentation that isn't straightforward. Some would call this hacking their way around, or better put "just try different things". Well, that is a suggestion I have gotten a lot and it is a poor piece of advice. There is really no reason that documentation can't be written accurately (so, one doesn't test his program throughout the stages of development either?) and intuitively (if you expect a lot of folks to have working, stable, friendly machines). Sadly, I don't think that a lot of Unix and Linux users or developers care about this. Why is there not a piece of documentation out there that gets someone's FreeBSD machine set up as a gateway, router, server and firewall? I have looked over the documentation, and since I do know how to follow instructions and I have still not satisfied my FreeBSD goals, then I firmly believe the documentation is not well written. tk, this is why I won't rescind my opinions of FreeBSD. I could care less that the founder of FreeBSD or any other developer in FreeBSD might be hurt with my posting of the truth, what really matters is the user. Until more people in the Unix and Linux world wake up and smell the coffee (I'm short on cliches), then things will continue to be status quo, we'll just continue to see more and more products of the same genre and function come out to the public, with none of them actually maturing to any great degree. Worse, the gap between Windows popularity and non-Windows popularity won't get much smaller, if at all.
Back to the topic of translating what the Unix or Linux newbie (to the operating system or to a function of the operating system) reads to what he does to his working environment. I don't need to do any guessing, nor should I have to fiddle around with settings. Just get the user's FreeBSD machine installed and configured, then let him tinker around the next time. At least he has a working machine to begin with. That alone is enough motivation to want to learn more about Unix (since I am on the topic of Unix at the moment), and who knows? Perhaps he will want to know more about a specific function of FreeBSD like firewalls. Then, assuming that he wants to write some software, perhaps he might decide to write his own version of a firewall and then later release it to the public.
Rather than look for others to agree with me, I think it is more important to encourage others to utilize their documenting skills to produce better instructions for the end user. Let's worry less about quantity of documentation, and worry more about quality of documentation. Perhaps we might be able to use a CVS of sorts in documentation. That way, when a user gets stumped, the documentation can be checked for accuracy or deprivation of detail, and the documentation will be updated so that the user and those who later read the documentation will have an easier time at installing, configuring, using and maintaining FreeBSD, or any Unix or Linux variant for that matter.
Well, you can't say that I don't love computer gaming. I just spent a whole freaking day trying to figure out why I can't play online with my High Heat Baseball 2003 game.
What is happening is that ultimately every game that I play online results in a lock up of both machines (me and the client, or vice versa). Here are the frequencies of where the lockups occur:
MOST: during the player introductions and the virtual panning of the baseball stadium
SOMEWHAT: the batter steps up to the plate, and guess what happens? lockup, maybe being able to get back to the desktop where with some effort I can kill the program.
RARELY: after one or two outs in the top of the first inning (I or my human opponent never make it to the bottom of the inning) the frame-rate comes to a screaching halt, eventually it looks like you are playing a high class Pentium game on a 486e computer. The end result of trying to get out of that mess is, drum roll please, a full blown lockup. Windows doesn't even need to ask me to reboot this time.
What magnifies my frustrations are this:
(a) 3DO is near or at bankruptcy at the moment, so they're not going to do squat for providing technical support. they may provide a long distance support phone number, but you won't get anything more than an assisted run down of the components on your system. More like a marketing tool than anything. And, their online support? It's useless. The questions with answers are nothing like someone having serious, mind boggling game playing troubles would experience;
(b) 3DO put out a High Heat Baseball game that should have been the patch to their last game. Looking back at the online photos they posted of their 2003 version of the game back in early spring, it turned out the photos were airbrushed, and were only photos from their 2003 version. How sad;
(c) There are so many variables that go into making an online gaming product work. You get to deal with protocols, operating platforms, DirectX versions (I think), Internet connection speeds, IP versions, Latency frequencies and intensities, on and on and on.
So, my question to myself and the rest of the open source community is this:
Is there a way to write a software product that is, to put it in a nutshell, pluggable to the games currently in existance or at least compatible with future games? You know, the software writers would just worry about the game on a single game basis, writing the game in such a way that it can take advantage of network gaming utilities?
This is something that I want to look into, hopefully the far more experienced programmers out there can offer me some pointers.
chipx86 You know, I thought we had established that out of fairness until you apologized for your actions directly and rescinded your comments about me - since you indeed were the first one to post a diary entry to www.advogato.org about the conflicts occuring elsewhere on the Internet, among other things - there is absolutely no reason for me to remove my rating of you and rescind my responses to you.
The ratings I assign are based both on how I feel someone contributes to the open source community technical-wise and personal-wise and how I feel about the person in general. Someone who strikes me as a kind person away from the open source community is one that I feel has the potential to contribute more greatly (if the technical skills are high) within the open source community.
That's really all there is to it, and I feel it is a policy that many both within and away from the open source community would adhere to. Really, I don't care to discuss this any further. I've had a pretty good week so far.</b>
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