- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Farinata ( L'inferno ) on October 19, 1999 at 13:08:05:

In Reply to: WHY? posted by Frenchy on October 19, 1999 at 10:55:26:

: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$OK, you know more about computers than I do. Congratulations.
: I really don't have a clue about what your talking about. To tell you the truth, now don't go all goofy, computer stuff bores me. I just don't have the interest.

- and yet your everyday life depends on it. To trust something without any knowledge of how it works is an act of faith, Frenchy; not a scientific approach.

Because of this, the US Government can look at whatever is on your computer. Given a little bit of exertion, I can look at whatever is on your computer. I know you're not particularly fond of the G'mint. Yet you will happily allow them to eavesdrop on your communications...

: I asked a friend who is checked out on this stuff, I said, "Mike, hey, you know about this stuff, what do you recommend that I get?" He recommended this and that and some of those things over there. I said fine, do it. He built it, it works, I'm happy. What can I say?
: I'll ask him what he thinks about Unix though.

Linux isn't Unix (a fact that escapes Doc Cruel); the OS kernel was built by Linus Torvalds (who was then a student at Helsinki University); however, it can use a lot of the same applications that Unix does, thanks to efforts by groups like the Free Software Foundation to port Unix apps to Linux.

You can see in an article today on ZDNet that companies previously loyal partners of Microsoft are willing to risk the anger of Microsoft by writing software that will enable NT applications to be run on Linux; thus cutting the ground from under NT's feet.

: And besides, the majority of people who use computers aren't interested in the bells and whistles, are they?

Just as the majority of people who use cars have little or no idea of how they work, the majority of people who use computers have little or no idea of how they work.

To protect the consumer, therefore, there are strict safety procedures attached to the manufacture of cars. You can't just cobble together a wreck and sell it as new to some unsuspecting punter; you would be endangering their life.

There are no such procedures in place for computer software, despite the fact that every piece of software ever written has numerous bugs.

All software sucks. Some sucks less than others. Windows and other Microsoft products are among the Ford Edsels of the PC world. To quote Bugnet (*the* resource on known computer bugs):

"We have tabulated the bug fix records of the major PC software vendors as usual, but we are not going to give out an award for 1998 because, frankly, the PC software industry's performance has been abysmal.

Fact is, PCs -- and the software products that animate them -- don't work very well. The average American would never buy an electric razor, let alone a chain saw or a mountain bike, that was as buggy and unreliable as a PC.

And the PC bug problem is getting worse. BugNet's data indicates that bug fix rates have declined with every new mass market version of Windows. The bug fix rate for Windows 3.x (OS and apps) was/is higher than for Windows 95, and Windows 95's bug/fix rate was/is higher than Windows 98.

In other words, in a broad sense across the industry, a lower percentage of bugs are being fixed with each new generation of Windows."

(Taken from their page explaining whay they weren't giving awards out for bugfixes in 1998).

Because Linux is subject to peer review, the bugs that come to light tend to be a) small and b) fixed very quickly. It's a matter of pride and the programmer's reputation.

On the other hand, commercial software like Windows depends on money; therefore, a damaging bug could hit their revenues severely. So, instead of trying to fix bugs, they try to either a) hide bugs or b) redefine the term "bug" - hence the famous phrase "that's not a bug, that's a feature!"

This generally means that security holes and bugs in Windows tend to be much more fundamental and damaging; because peoples' salaries depended on them remaining unknown.

See a ZDnet article from June this year about a weakness in all NT boxes that allowed anyone to destroy them (well, their data). This is a classic example of Microsoft's closed-source approach resulting in an insecure product for the end user.

See also a big bug in Frontpage 98 that allows you to wipe the contents of your hard drive without meaning to. The average user could be trying to create a personal web page using Frontpage and completely erase their hard drive; no warning, no alert, no nothing.

Microsoft's repsonse to this was that that was in fact a feature, not a bug.

If people were truly not interested in the "bells and whistles", why does Microsoft also cram its software full of unnecessary crap like talking animated paperclips?

: I mean, take a look at those training manuals! My God! You think I'm going to read those things? Be serious man!

See "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".

: Even if Unix is superior from a technical view point, if it means that I've got to take a year and a half to learn it, it's still useless to me.

You don't have to. As I've pointed out, you can install Linux using a GUI and never have to look at the innards of the operating system. If you look at an article on today's CNN website, their columnist Nicholas Petreley says;

"Caldera OpenLinux 2.3 not only continues to leapfrog over all other Linux distributions for ease of installation; it also proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Linux can be easier to install than Windows.

And since Caldera 2.3 is based on KDE 1.1.1 (you can download the upgrade to 1.1.2 from Caldera's FTP server), some would argue that Caldera 2.3 is easier to use than Windows, too."

(you can find the entire article here.)

: By the way, that was a perfectly good analogy that you ruined.

Nah; it just fitted my arguments rather better than it fitted yours, that's all.

Fact remains; as long as you continue to use Windows, you're using an expensive, unstable and insecure operating system - you can destroy it entirely by accident and the Government can take over your computer remotely if they want.

Linux is free, much more secure and much more stable; it is also as easy-to-use as Windows if you want it to be. If, like me, you're quite happy to get into the internals of the OS, you can do that, too.


"The Linux philosophy is 'laugh in the face of danger'. Oops. Wrong one. 'Do it yourself'; that's it." - Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux.

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