- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Viva la revolušion!

Posted by: Farinata ( L'inferno ) on October 20, 1999 at 18:50:11:

In Reply to: Thank you. posted by Dr. Cruel on October 20, 1999 at 01:09:49:

: Frenchy, you should be quite proud of yourself. You have rather efficiently converted Farinata into an advocate of free-markets. Now, if we can purge this nasty bigotry against large companies (and if the Leftists might be convinced to forgive this blasphemy) ...

Not at all, Doc. Some competition is good; it's a capitalist monoculture that's bad; as typified by Microsoft.

: Once upon a time, Apples ruled the computer world. If you wanted a personal machine that was any good at the time, that's what you got. Then came DOS. I didn't like it; it was a new OS, after all, too structured for my tastes, filled with new commands to learn - in effect, it was to me then what LINUX is to me now, i.e. simply another complexity I did not feel compelled to add to my life. I had games for the Apple, in any case - why make the change?

Doc, your knowledge of computers is obviously somewhat limited. Apples and PCs are different bits of hardware; you cannot run MacOS on a PC, just as you cannot run Windows or MS-DOS on a Mac. PCs got a huge boost because IBM adopted MS-DOS as the operating system of choice on the original PC. MS-DOS was itself originally a cut-down and dumbed-down version of Unix.

(It's why "cd .." is a recognised Unix command as well as a recognised MS-DOS command.)

The story of how Apple lost the plot has been gone over in some detail elsewhere on the Web; I'm not going to go into it.

PCs became dominant in the late 80's due to their being favoured by companies; they were like Fords; you could get hardware and software easily for them; they weren't "the best"; they were cheap and cheerful. However, as PC power increased, it reached the point where PC hardware could run Unix-like operating systems; Linus Torvalds produced a small Unix-like operating system in October 1991 that ran on a 386. Hackers liked it, since they could run Unix apps and apps produced by the Free Software Foundation on it; the word spread around the 'net and people started to write things for it.

Unix is widely recognised as being the best and most reliable operating system the world has ever seen (regardless of your own personal experience, Doc.); it generally works unless the superuser does something pretty horrendous to break it; and ordinary users don't have the power to break the operating system, since they cannot write to the core of the operating system (unlike anything Microsoft has ever produced); think of it as a series of blast doors protecting the centre of the OS from accidents in the magazines.

: The capitalist driven world thought otherwise. Soon, I truly needed to learn this arcane OS to play any of the new games that were being offered. So alse, finally, I learned how to work with WIN 95 (which I've always hated). And so on.

Windows '95 is possibly the worst single OS the world has ever seen; it has all the limitations of MS-DOS (on which it is based) as well as having a vast and unwieldy GUI sitting on top of it. Think of it as an unreliable lawnmower engine sitting inside the bonnet of a two ton truck.

However, Microsoft's prime skill, like McDonald's, is marketing; intensive marketing - aimed not at the engineers who have to maintain the PCs but at their managers and their accountants, who don't have enough technical information to know any better.

The demand for Windows was stimulated artificially by one of the most expensive advertising campaigns in history; as well as "strategic deals" by Windows to lock existing and potential competitors out of the market; if a PC manufacturer shipped another OS, like OS/2, then they would get treated like a second-class citizen by Microsoft unless they agreed to stop shipping OS/2. Since people were clamouring for Microsoft software like they saw in the ads and the presentations, it would be suicide for a hardware vendor to refuse Microsoft's demands.

: This little parable can be applied quite easily to other issues of compelling interest, such as socialism, or the greenhouse effect.

Doc; I've got a bloody degree in Space Science. Read the UN's GEO-2000 report and give me facts to disprove it; it's the largest and most complete study ever carried out and it says that we're up shit creek, ecologically speaking. Give up-to-date counterevidence, or admit that you don't exactly have a qualified opinion here. I have a qualified opinion; and it agrees with the UN and the observed evidence.

: To wit, if these are truly good 'economic products', as it is so often repeated with such vehemence, then soon enough they will win out.

Actually, OS/2 is superior to Windows '95; as well as being virtually crashproof and a more modern design. Did it win out? No. Microsoft had a stranglehold on what OSes were shipped with computers; it used this to kill a technically superior competitor.

: So far, LINUX has a small (but growing) following, socialism has been seen to have only limited functionality ("few people would tolerate a toaster or a car that was as buggy as socialism..."), and the greenhouse scam seems to have peaked.

See above; the Greenhouse Effect is getting more and more definite as time goes past. How many tropical diseases have to hit the US; and how many more hurricanes hit North Carolina, before you admit that the climate is changing and the mean surface temperature is going up?

As for a small following, try visiting the Linux Counter; the estimated number of Linux users is over 7 million.

Of course, since Linux doesn't cost anything - there are no license fees (you can buy CDs with images of Linux on if you don't want to download the OS off the 'net), it is much cheaper for educational outlets than Windows; which is why the Mexican government decided to install Linux as the standard OS on 140,000 school PCs in Mexico; they made a financial saving of $124 million by going for Linux over Windows. And the OS the children at school grow up using is the one they are generally most comfortable in...

: Of course, I could be wrong. The free market (of ideas, in this case) will produce the final verdict. I can wait.

If market values came into it, Linux would not exist. Linux was brought forth by people who coded because they enjoyed coding; and spread by people who enjoyed using it; there is no market here because the source is open; you are free to copy and modify the source code of any program if you wish to. It's not copyrighted; it's copylefted - sharing the source code for the greater good of the computer world and humanity.

: P.S. WIN 95 is successful, not only because of unfair business practices, but because it is fairly simple to use (and LINUX, based on UNIX, very likely isn't). However, a few of the computer jocks I know are experimenting with it. "Red Hat" seems also to be a buzzword passed around these days. Like I've done in the past, I'll watch and wait. Worry not, Farinata - I will get my money's worth, whichever way it goes.

Like I said in the article you actually followed up to; there are two highly usable GUIs for use with Linux; namely Gnome (screenshots here) and KDE (screenshots here).

Both of these GUIs are entirely graphical. You don't have to use a command line if you don't want to. They are also much more stable and less resource-hungry than Windows; you can run them easily on a 486 (unlike Windows '95).

Doc, you still seem to be plodding along in incomprehension, despite my telling you three times now. Linux is not UNIX - the kernel of the operating system is different and it will run on CISC or RISC chips, not just RISC chips (unlike UNIX). It is UNIX-compatible - a lot of the apps were made from their UNIX counterparts; but that doesn't mean that they would look anything much like 1980-style command line-based stuff. Linux is simple to use; at least, it is as simple as you want it to be. If you want to use it as a desktop machine for playing games like Quake III, you can. If you want to use it as a small or mid-range server from a command line, you can do that too. It's flexible.

To re-quote an article from yesterday's news;

"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."

Oh; I wouldn't personally use Red Hat; it's the Linux preferred by suits and managers and non-technical users; my Linux of choice is the geek's preferred distribution; Debian GNU/Linux; it's the most powerful and stable type of Linux; as well as coming with over 2,200 free programs.


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