My views on software, programming, Linux, the Internet, government, taxation, working, and life.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Experiments with Ubuntu Linux Adoption

I have done an experiment with Ubuntu and my family. Here's the results.
  • My wife understood the justification for the move because after severely trying to protect her PC from identity theft with Windows and Windows controls, she was still hacked. We have since switched her to Ubuntu. Now, however, she asks if online courseware from her school will work on it and I don't have a clue whether it will support Firefox. Because Microsoft can get away with proprietary media inside IE, and the abuse of the W3C standard, Microsoft may win out. I'm crossing my fingers to see what happens here with my wife's online courseware, when she knows something more about it.
  • My wife complained about the lack of a Microsoft PowerPoint-knockoff in Linux. Note I do not install KDE environments because she is already in the GNOME environment and has limited RAM and processor speed, so KOffice is not an opportunity here. OpenOffice on that PC also proved too slow and I had switch to Gnumeric and Abiword. She likes those, however.
  • A relative of mine complained about the lack of Quickbooks Professional for Linux in order to manage a business. Grisbi is close, but not quite. The only thing I could tell him was that if he works at it, an ordinary spreadsheet works just as well.
  • My son complained about the lack of games until I downloaded 'zsnes' and downloaded illegal copies of Super Nintendo games. He then complained how hard it was to find those things and install them to work with zsnes, and he was correct. He's since found those games boring and has switched to playing PS1 games that are more 3D and have more action.
  • My daughter refused to switch because she's a "MySpace Head". She's a teenager and she likes her proprietary formats that are prevalent on MySpace. Sure, there's players for proprietary media on Linux, but they are illegal to install and then display stuff fairly choppy. Until Apple, Real, and Microsoft can be sued or somehow coaxed out of promoting proprietary media, these guys win.
  • Of those who did make the switch, they found most things fairly easy to do. Note that I first did a trick of getting everyone used to Firefox, Thunderbird, and OpenOffice in the Windows environment before I did the switch. They had been using those other items for as much as 2 years before the switch.
  • The prevalence still of proprietary media in the web browser.
  • The prevalence of websites that fail to pass W3C specification with IE-specific or Mozilla-specific settings.
  • Lack of adequate Powerpoint and Quickbooks Pro (for small business) knockoffs for lower-powered PCs.
  • The lack of games that would interest children such as what you might see on PS1 and XBox, on up.
  • The difficulty with installing some common things.
  • The illegality of using ways to overcome the proprietary media shortcomings.
  • Having to pay for a Linux in order to have a flavor that has licensed and properly installed proprietary media support.
  • Linux adopters need to broaden and strengthen their attacks on proprietary media, non-W3C standards, lack of a Powerpoint-knockoff for lower-powered PCs, lack of a Quickbooks Pro knockoff, lack of a sophisticated game API and developers writing games, and ease of installation of these items.
  • Microsoft, on the otherhand, probably wants to broaden and strengthen their use of the exact opposite of these problems with Linux. Linux adopters will want to be aware of that.
  • The LSB standard will be a step in the right direction, but there is more to do:
    • More promotion and improvement of free multimedia standards to make them more "sexy". Phrases like "Ogg Vorbis" and "Ogg Theora" are only going to satisfy the types of people who go to SciFi conventions, and those types of people are ones I keep my kids away from. We need more maturity in this arena.
    • More legal pressure in various countries to show how Microsoft, Apple, and Real are working like a cartel for vendor lock-in with their proprietary multimedia formats.
    • More legal pressure and press embarassment to expose Microsoft's abuse of the W3C standards to encourage vendor lock-in.
    • More developers need to be brought into the Linux arena and they need to do everything from writing knockoffs of common office apps to games, and done in such a way as to be zippy on slower PCs. There have been strides here or there in this respect, but this measure has not been strengthened and reinforced enough. The incentive to encourage this development is the funding from new adopters in other countries who see the long-range cost benefits.


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