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informal poll 
Theron William Stanford 
Sat, 09 Jun 2001 10:38:57 -0700 

Hello, Linux users.

I'm just curious about what all of you do with your computers once you get Linux
set up on them.

I do a lot of programming.  My current project, which will turn into my thesis,
is CAI in Chinese characters.  Since I want lots of people to be able to use my
software, I program in Windows, not Linux (or MacOS, for that matter).  I
usually use Perl, but now I need access to graphics, and Tk isn't strong enough,
so I hack in C and compile with MingW32's version of gcc.  I also maintain the
Perl code for Royal Skousen's analogical modeling algorithm.

I also do a bit of writing.  If it's { mathematical | scientific |
computer-oriented}, I'll use TeX or LaTeX; it it's in Chinese or plain English,
I use Word (for now -- maybe I'll figure out Omega some day).

Online gaming (except for The New York Times crossword puzzle) and massive
web-surfing are not common pasttimes; if I need to access the Internet, I just
go on campus and use their machines.  I have what might be called a "physical
firewall" at home, namely, no dial-up ISP account.

I guess I'm looking for impetus to do more in Linux.  I mean, if everything's
ported to Win32...

Responses?

Theron

Re: informal poll 
Michael Halcrow 
Sat, 09 Jun 2001 12:55:52 -0700 

<rant> I use Linux because I an an anti-Microsoft religious zealot. I have
a dual-head video card with an MPEG-2 decode chip that I cannot use
because there are no Linux drivers, but I suffer happily. I spend
countless hours combing through weird combinations of DeCSS, MPEG-2
software decoders, and experimental video drivers so that I can watch my
DVD's on my computer screen as the video skips and the software crashes. I
use StarOffice in all its bloated glory with no anti-aliasing because I am
too good for Microsoft Word. RealPlayer locks up and the audio pops and
crackles, but that's okay. I can't play the video for my on-line class
because it uses the Sorenson codec which is proprietary and not released
by Apple on Linux. I don't need to see the video anyway. I use MySQL
instead of Access because for 99% of the stuff I do I need EVERY LITTLE
BIT OF SPEED AND EFFICIENCY that MySQL gives me, and Access isn't a *real*
database, etc., etc., even though it took me 2 hours of reading through
the documentation to figure out how to set up the user permissionas
correctly for remote access and I haven't run across anything like a
visual SQL-statement builder. l337 haX0rs just write the raw SQL
themselves, and visual tools are for the weak. And who needs things like
integrated Visual Basic and visual form and report builders? Real men
check out the CVS and build it themselves. And when the build breaks, they
go out and download the dependencies and compile those, and when those
builds break they go out again and get the dependencies of the
dependencies, and comb through the Makefile and .h files like all the docs
tell me to do, and so 15% of the time after 3 hours I sometimes have
something that actually works. And who needs a WinModem anyway? I'm
willing to shell out the extra $50 to buy a modem that doesn't outsource
DSP to the drivers. And who needs a checkbox that automatically turns on
NAT? I'd rather spend hours and learn all about the details of packet
mangling and iptables and postrouting rules so that I can use NAT with
Netfilter. Read the DOC's, lozerz!!! There are 15,004 pages written so
that you can become an expert in every aspect of whatever it is you are
just trying to do, and we know everyone has time to read them all. Open
Source is great, so when Mozilla doesn't have that PGP-encrypted mail, you
can just download all 2,000,000 lines of code and add it yourself. After
all, Linux is free, right? </rant>

In short, I do things with Linux (for free) that I would have to shell out
a pretty penny for in Windows, but I've also lost A LOT of productivity
and time I could have put "on the clock" combing through HOWTO's,
README's, and other docs. After a year and a half with this OS on my
system, I now feel halfway competent with it to actually solve most of the
problems I could have with it. But Linux is NOT free. I personally would
be more than willing to PAY for an EASY solution to many of the problems
Linux has (i.e., automation for GOOD setup and configuration tools so that
I can concentrate on doing real work for my classes and/or major).

I use Linux partly because I don't want to pay a lot of money for an OS
and an office suite. Once I am graduated and making $60,000 a year, I
would be willing to shell out $1000 for software that can help me save
time when setting things up and that can do everything I want it to do.

All that said and done, I've traded fast configuration, most video
features, and a lot of time for things like procmail, pipes, AppleTalk and
Samba-in-one, client/server X, and reliability.

Mike

On Sat, 9 Jun 2001, Theron William Stanford wrote:

> Hello, Linux users.
>
> I'm just curious about what all of you do with your computers once you get Linux
> set up on them.
>
> I do a lot of programming.  My current project, which will turn into my thesis,
> is CAI in Chinese characters.  Since I want lots of people to be able to use my
> software, I program in Windows, not Linux (or MacOS, for that matter).  I
> usually use Perl, but now I need access to graphics, and Tk isn't strong enough,
> so I hack in C and compile with MingW32's version of gcc.  I also maintain the
> Perl code for Royal Skousen's analogical modeling algorithm.
>
> I also do a bit of writing.  If it's { mathematical | scientific |
> computer-oriented}, I'll use TeX or LaTeX; it it's in Chinese or plain English,
> I use Word (for now -- maybe I'll figure out Omega some day).
>
> Online gaming (except for The New York Times crossword puzzle) and massive
> web-surfing are not common pasttimes; if I need to access the Internet, I just
> go on campus and use their machines.  I have what might be called a "physical
> firewall" at home, namely, no dial-up ISP account.
>
> I guess I'm looking for impetus to do more in Linux.  I mean, if everything's
> ported to Win32...
>
> Responses?
>
> Theron
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> To unsubscribe from the BYU UUG discussion mailist list, send email to
> [EMAIL PROTECTED] with the word "UNSUBSCRIBE" as the message body
>

-- 
---------------------------------------------- | --------------------
Michael Halcrow                                | (801) 371-5779
Research Assistant, Configurable Computing Lab | [EMAIL PROTECTED]
                                               |
Nothing is ever a total loss; it can always    |
serve as a bad example.                        |
---------------------------------------------- | --------------------

Re: informal poll 
Ross Werner 
Sat, 09 Jun 2001 14:31:00 -0700 

> Hello, Linux users.
> 
> I'm just curious about what all of you do with your computers once you
> get Linux set up on them.

Well, some of these posts have been rather negative, so I'll just post my
two cents so that you don't think that _everything_ about Linux is
absolutely awful. There are some very good points.

First of all, I do have my share of problems in Linux. Xmms hates me, and
I have to use WINE to emulate a few Windows progs (it does a lousy job of
it). Whenever somebody comes over and tries to play on my computer, they
inevitably mess stuff up (wait! Don't minimize that window! Oops ... it's
gone forever now) simply because they're not used to the way I have things
set up.

But there are good points, too. For example, I simply love the command
line. If you don't love the command line, you won't get alone with Unix.
But the point is that you _should_, because the command line is a great
tool, and amazingly powerful. What with grep, vi, perl, and all their
friends, I spend 90% of my time in a shell. I've got friends who use
screen, caim, pine, and lynx--they don't even have X on their machine.
Why? Because the command line is powerful.

Another benefit of the command line is that with ssh (or telnet, heaven
forbid), any computer in the world becomes exactly the same as yours right
in front of you. And if the network connection is faster than a modem,
it's hard to feel any lag at all (whereas trying to get a remote X session
going? Not simple, and not fast.) My personal favorite is sshing to some
T1-ified connection by means of a dial-up, using 'wget' and seeing it
download at about five-hundred times how fast you could have downloaded it
yourself.

So what do I actually _do_ all day that makes Linux useable? Well, if I
were doing things like video editing, desktop publishing, graphics work
etc., I'd probably get a Mac and run OSX. But I'm not. Instead, I do
mostly surfing the web (Opera), writing code (vi and g++/perl/whatever),
listening to mp3s (xmms even though it hates me, mp3blaster, Freeamp), and
checking my mail (sshing to various machines and using pine--exactly what
I'm doing now, as a matter of fact).

Another thing is just the customizability of the GUI. I'm sure if I
looked, I could find things that allowed me to do these things on Windows,
but I haven't. Whenever I use a Windows PC, I absolutely hate the things I
have to go through to get things done. I can't manage my windows without
another virtual desktop or two. I want my hotkeys that pop up a terminal
window or a web browser. I want the ability to select something and paste
it with one mouse click. I want the ability to move a window by holding
ALT and clicking an arbitrary point on the screen. I want to be able the
ssh remotely and kill processes. I want gkrellm running to the side of my
screen and nothing else taking up desktop space. I want the control to do
every little piddly thing on my system, and not have the OS take that
ability away from me.

But one of the big reasons I gravitate towards Linux is that I'm a
minimalist. I want vi, not emacs--and I function perfectly well in vi
instead of vim when forced (certainly no gvim for me). I don't want a GUI
for most of my tasks. I don't want helpful hints. I do my SQL queries from
a command line, not from a GUI. I maneuver around my filesystem with ls; I
mount drives by hand.

Why? Personal preference, I guess. I type a lot faster than I can get
around with the mouse, so it feels more comfortable for me to get all my
tasks done without ever taking my hand off the keyboard. I suppose that's
the big reason I've become so used to Linux.

In Windows, say I want to edit a text file. Basically, you _have_ to use
the mouse. The best I can do (and I sometimes do this) is hit WIN-E to
open Explorer, tab around 'til I find the text file, and hit enter to open
it in a nice port of gvim. Make my changes, save and exit.

In Linux, I pop open a terminal (with a hotkey--no mouse usage there), cd
to my file and use vim to edit it. If I've got a dozen files in the same
directory, I'll likely run some perl -e to munge them all in one stroke.

I suppose if I installed CygWin and some custom desktop managers, I could
get away with that in Windows. But why? As someone once said, that would
be "the desktop apps of Linux and the stability of Windows."


It depends a lot on (a) what applications you use, (b) how
speedy/comfortable you are with the keyboard, and (c) how willing/able you
are to learn a new, IMHO more efficient, GUI paradigm.

There are a lot of people I've recommended continue to use Windows rather
than Linux, particularly because they failed all three of these criteria.
It really does depend a lot on your needs and interests. But I think
there's a lot more to Linux that a lot of people generally realize.


Apologies for the gigantic rant but, well, once I'm off to South Africa I
won't have many chances to rant like this. (I wonder where the computer
world will be when I get back. Will [Apple|Microsoft|Linux] have died by
then, or gotten considerably weaker? Who will dominate in the desktop
neighborhood? Any of those three? Somebody different? Will there even _be_
a desktop computer market? Strange turns are afoot for the next several
years in the computer world. Excitement.)


Ross, the Linux Zealot

Re: informal poll 
Michael Halcrow 
Sat, 09 Jun 2001 16:47:48 -0700 

> So what do I actually _do_ all day that makes Linux useable? Well, if I
> were doing things like video editing, desktop publishing, graphics work
> etc., I'd probably get a Mac and run OSX.

I hate to break the news to you, but OSX is just about the worst thing you
could put on a Mac for image and video editing:

http://www.apple.com/finalcutpro/specs.html
Final Cut Pro 2 System Requirements:
- Mac OS 9.1 or later (9.1 Updater included - Final
Cut Pro 2 is not certified to run in Mac OS X or in Classic-mode***)

http://www.adobe.com/products/adobesupportsOSX.html
Currently, most of Adobe's software products do not offer native Mac OS X
support.

> Another thing is just the customizability of the GUI. I'm sure if I
> looked, I could find things that allowed me to do these things on Windows,
> but I haven't. Whenever I use a Windows PC, I absolutely hate the things I
> have to go through to get things done. I can't manage my windows without
> another virtual desktop or two. I want my hotkeys that pop up a terminal
> window or a web browser. I want the ability to select something and paste
> it with one mouse click. I want the ability to move a window by holding
> ALT and clicking an arbitrary point on the screen. I want to be able the
> ssh remotely and kill processes. I want gkrellm running to the side of my
> screen and nothing else taking up desktop space. I want the control to do
> every little piddly thing on my system, and not have the OS take that
> ability away from me.

Windows 2000 supports most of these features through 3rd-party software.

> But one of the big reasons I gravitate towards Linux is that I'm a
> minimalist. I want vi, not emacs--and I function perfectly well in vi
> instead of vim when forced (certainly no gvim for me). I don't want a GUI
> for most of my tasks. I don't want helpful hints. I do my SQL queries from
> a command line, not from a GUI. I maneuver around my filesystem with ls; I
> mount drives by hand.
> Why? Personal preference, I guess. I type a lot faster than I can get
> around with the mouse, so it feels more comfortable for me to get all my
> tasks done without ever taking my hand off the keyboard. I suppose that's
> the big reason I've become so used to Linux.

I like this too. The problem is the *learning curve*. You've paid a price
to be able to use vi and mount drives on a command line. In my experience,
the typical end user wants the computer to get the job done with the
minimal amount of work on their end. Enter GUI's. We all know that in the
long run, this hurts anyone who will be spending any signifianct amount of
time with computers. I guess what I'm trying to say is that people in
general are lazy, and unless they can see an immediate benefit to using a
command line over a GUI, they won't.

> I suppose if I installed CygWin and some custom desktop managers, I could
> get away with that in Windows. But why? As someone once said, that would
> be "the desktop apps of Linux and the stability of Windows."

Well put  :-)

> There are a lot of people I've recommended continue to use Windows rather
> than Linux, particularly because they failed all three of these criteria.
> It really does depend a lot on your needs and interests. But I think
> there's a lot more to Linux that a lot of people generally realize.
>
> Apologies for the gigantic rant but, well, once I'm off to South Africa I
> won't have many chances to rant like this. (I wonder where the computer
> world will be when I get back. Will [Apple|Microsoft|Linux] have died by
> then, or gotten considerably weaker? Who will dominate in the desktop
> neighborhood? Any of those three? Somebody different? Will there even _be_
> a desktop computer market? Strange turns are afoot for the next several
> years in the computer world. Excitement.)

I got permission from my mission president to read Dr. Dobb's Journal. :-)

Then I was called as the financial secretary for 10 months. I threw out
the standard church DOS software and rewrote everything in Access '97 (the
church will only let Windows 95 and Microsoft Access be used in their
branch offices). When I went in there, they had two separate databases on
two unnetworked systems, one running Windows 3.1 and Access 2.0 and the
other running the Italian version of Windows '95 and Access '97. The
executive secretary and the financial secretary syncronized their
databases by yelling across the office, "HEY! WHERE'S ELDER JONES THIS
MONTH?" The majority of the financial records were kept in a spaghetti of
Excel files.

By the time I left, we had 3 networked computers all running Windows '95
and Access '97 with all office positions using one centralized database.
It was easy to set up, stable, and I was able to build a reliable mission
operations system. I had even contacted the bank to get the format for the
file that their home-banking software creates for transfering funds en
masse. They faxed it right over, and I built in a module to the database
to automatically make the transfer request file to send to the bank
computers to execute the transactions (it's a good thing I'm an honest man
;-) I got end-of-the-month rent and consecration payments down from a
3-day process to a 45-minute process, and was able to send out account
transcripts to the zone leaders detailing each missionary's account for
the month. Best of all, Access was "dumb" enough for my successors to
figure out and work with (no offense to Elders Stice or Vespa :-). I was
one very satisfied customer (or, should I say, developer). I was just some
20-year-old kid who hadn't written a line of code in a year, and I was
able to throw together a decent system. Even the head software engineer at
church headquarters said that my database was better than the church
software (but he still frowned on us using it). In any case, kudos to
standard Windows products for that success.

If I had tried to build that system in MySQL and supporting programs, I
would not have been able to do it. Perhaps I could build the tables and
relationships contraints. Maybe I could have made some rudimentary report
generators. Perhaps I could have created a WEB interface for the office
elders to use. But what about extensibility by those who came in after me?
I would have definitely left oodles of Perl and/or PHP script around. In
all, they would have been absolutely clueless. They would have thrown it
all away and gone back to Excel files.

But Windows/Access was "standard" or "easy" enough for people to be
comfortable with and to continue to use. Keep in mind that I had to
convince many people, including my mission president and the regional
office, that my database was an acceptable substitute for the "standard"
church software. This political aspect is a key one.

As for adding to it... to add a new field to a table, and then add a
textbox to a form for that new field is a point-and-click job that
(almost) any numbskull can do.

Okay, I'm getting off on a tangent, but you know what I mean.

I hope the Linux database tools, in the realm of a fast learning curve and
ease-of-use, can get to the point that Access is at, because I would
really rather not write another line of Visual Basic.

Cheers,
Mike

---------------------------------------------- | --------------------
Michael Halcrow                                | (801) 371-5779
Research Assistant, Configurable Computing Lab | [EMAIL PROTECTED]
                                               |
If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be  |
research...                                    |
---------------------------------------------- | --------------------

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