Howard Bloom on 5 Sep 2004 01:56:02 -0000

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[PLUG] Interesting Article from eWeek

David Coursey: Security Update
Linux Doesn't Make Sense for Desktops

I've taken a lot of heat - the kind of heat that I don't mind in the least -
from the Linux loonies this week. It's over a column I wrote saying that
desktop Linux is today a non-starter for the vast majority of users. How
anyone could disagree with this simple statement completely escapes me. 

That doesn't mean Linux couldn't be made easier to use and that someday
people won't create a bunch of commercial applications for the OS, just that
it hasn't happened yet. And if you ask me, I don't think it's going to, at
least the part about apps development. This is a practical judgment on my
part, not a moral, political or religious choice. 

Linux Doesn't Make Sense for Desktops

In the column, I went on to really fire some of the Linux folks up by
suggesting that if you want a Unix operating system that is suitable for
desktop users, you need to go buy a Mac and use OS X. It gives you all the
wonders of Unix, plus a great user interface and infrastructure, and real
applications to boot. Overall, I find OS X preferable to Windows XP, though
the comparison is really not a very good one. Explaining why is beyond the
scope of this essay. 

I got complaints saying that because OS X isn't likely to ever be ported to
the Intel architecture that my suggestion for people to use it was deeply
flawed. Of course, I never said I was outlining the least expensive
solution, at least upfront, just one that was a better choice for desktop
users than Linux but still had the benefits of Unix underneath. 

These angry readers managed to reinforce the stereotype that desktop Linux
users are merely cheapskate geeks who get their kicks by hating Microsoft
and anybody who doesn't share their own brand of technological chauvinism. 

And if that's their problem with me, I'm guilty as charged. 

In short, these are nasty people who don't think people who can't (or
doesn't want to) play in the desktop Linux world doesn't really deserve to
be using computers at all. I find this point of view, if you can call it
that, totally repugnant. 

Our focus needs to be on getting powerful, easy, inexpensive computing to
anyone who wants it. We spend too much time and energy pushing the edge of
capability for the benefit of large corporations and not enough on improving
the usability of our increasingly complex systems. 

I have spent my career working to help create and promote technology that
changes people's lives in a positive way. I am not sure how much of that we
have actually accomplished. For example, I often wonder whether computers
really make us more productive or merely change how we use our time. 

I'm not sure of the answer to the question, but I won't rest until everybody
who wants/needs technology has access and the ability to use it. That means
computers need to keep getting less expensive and more powerful, but that
most of the power needs to go into better user interfaces and applications
that are much more helpful to users than what is available today. 

I am sure there are people in the Linux community who share this viewpoint.
I have been saying for a long time that Windows as we know it will never
provide the extreme ease of use and functionality necessary for my concept
of universal computing to become reality. 

Maybe Linux - yes, desktop Linux - can provide the underpinnings for what we
need. Apple's OS X is certainly a step in that direction, regardless of the
processor platform it runs on. But what I said - and will repeat - is that
desktop Linux has a long way to go before it becomes a worthy successor to
either Mac OS X or Windows XP. 

Howard L. Bloom, CCNA
Cisco Remarketer/Network Consulting
PC-MAN, Inc.
305 Earlington Road
Havertown, Pa.  19083
Main Number 610-853-2828
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AOL:    HowardBloomPCMAN 
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"The mantra of any good security engineer is: "Security is not a product,
but a process." It's more than designing strong cryptography into a system;
it's designing the entire system such that all security measures, including
cryptography, work together."

-- Bruce Schneier, author of "Applied Cryptography".

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