Re: muLinux and LinuxJournal (or: pro-linuxers & pro-windowsers)

From: Sabino Maggi (
Date: Fri Apr 07 2000 - 12:08:34 CEST

I LOVE this debate!

I would first like to reply to a short sentence from Pat:

> Well, if your colleague think linux is bad because of the mouse
> cursor, there is nothing else to do than to cry of despair,
Yes, also because you should KNOW my collegue, a completely closed-minded
engineer (nothing against good engineers, but here at IEN it seems to me
there is a sort of meeting of the most ... <snip> engineers in town)

Going back to the debate about windows & linux & "how to evangelize", and
referring to the sentence below:

> But as soon as there is a need for the
> user to read the documentation and to find by himself the solution, it
> remains reserved for people that want to play with linux and not really
> use it as a tool (is it really bad ? Who knows...).

I think that sometimes one misses one important point. A computer is a
tool that, differently from a tv or an auto, can be used (and it is
actually), at many different levels. You can use it to do standard office
work, to program, to interface to instruments, to develop operating
systems, languages, to... well, to many tasks to list here.

The point is: if you want to write a text, to use a spreadsheet, to
navigate the web or the like, which is exactly what most people do, tho OS
is ininfluent; you could use anything, windows, linux, macOS, maybe even
vms. And you actually do not need to read documentation, to learn
anything, or at least, not more than in windows.

I am sure that nowadays, say, a secretary could just use the combination
Linux/KDE or GNOME/StarOffice (or Applixware or WordPerfect) exactly like
the Win9x/Office counterpart. She does not need to understand the
underlying OS, the regular expressions, and the like. She could even not
understand she is not using Windows... The only important thing in this
case is to have a good program for the task at hand, that does not crash
every two hours, and -- also -- to be able to generate files that can be
easily shared with collegues and used on other machines and/or operating

The problem with windows and many applications for windows is that they do
not satisfy these requirements: the programs are buggy and crash very
easily, the files are not simple text files but binary files that can be
only read just by almost exactly the same program. For instance, I have
used for years Origin for Win, to plot graphs of my data. Well, Origin
ver., say, 5.0 (I don't remember exactly) had a menu command to save in
the older 4.0 format. The problem was that these files could NOT actually
be read in Origin 4.0, and were totally useless (and you was compelled to
upgrade all your machines to the new version).

On the other hand, Linux/Unix files are plain text files, and for instance
I can write a paper in LaTeX on my Sparc IPX machine (I love it), bring
the file home and continue editing on my Debian PC system or even use a
version of LaTeX for windows 3.11 on my ancient 386 notebook. Just the
same file, the same commands. The same everything. Ten years from now
maybe LaTeX does not exist anymore, however I will still be able to open
my file in a text editor, loosing the formatting but keeping the text and
the essential information... THIS is power and user-friendliness.

For power users... Well, this is a different thing. Here I strongly
believe Linux wins win hands-off. And the problems about documentation,
learning curve and the like are absolutely ininfluent here, because, to be
a power user, well, you are compelled to learn many things, either with
windows or Linux.
However, I think it is better not to grow this mail to an excessive
dimension (and I also, well, have some work to do)

I'd very glad to read other opinions.

-- Sabino

Sabino Maggi ! tel: (+39) 011-3919-436
IEN "G. Ferraris" ! fax: (+39) 011-3463-84
Strada delle Cacce, 91 ! e-mail:
I-10135 Torino, Italy !

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