[Nottingham] Better than Windows? was: Response on awareness day

Cam camilo at mesias.co.uk
Fri Nov 4 00:02:42 GMT 2005


> I was thinking the other night about something perhaps related to this: yes, 
> choice in Linux systems is good - but it's also confusing.


> Wouldn't it be nice if Linux installations 
> (1) all came with a standard 'install' alias which could point to whatever the 
> distro's installation method of choice was 

That wouldn't be so good, for several reasons: if you take the time to 
learn that there is such a thing as a CLI then learn to use the command 
to install things, you have come a long way. It's not that much of a 
challenge to switch between apt-get, yum, up2date etc. If you used the 
install alias you would still fall foul of argument syntax of the 
underlying commands. So it would add little value. Would it be better to 
have a 'rosetta stone' document that compared and contrasted ways of 
achieving basic tasks on different linuxes. eg. setting up a network 
interface to use DHCP, setting up GPRS dialup, setting up a wireless 
network, setting up a new user, printer, etc? If I had the time I'd love 
to write a book like that.

> (2) set up a standardised set of links so that you didn't actually have to 
> know where a distro put its files to be able to find them (so that a howto 
> telling you to look in /usr/local/bin for something didn't have to be 
> translated to /opt or /usr/local/sbin)

The FHS goes some way towards this. But again to know that you need a 
specific file you probably have the knowledge to 'locate', 'find', 
'which', 'man' or whatever the thing.

> (3) had meaningful names or aliases for installable software, and a proper set 
> of sources built in from the start.

Not sure about this either. I think it's good to have the compilers but 
would you have the devel package for each library on the system? That's 
quite an overhead. Names that are meaningful to users would be good, but 
would you have the developers or packagers of a printer driver slaving 
away to keep up with the latest rebadged printer that uses the same 
driver as the previous 20?

I think there are some things that linux in general does well, and 
others that are neglected. For example most distros do a good job of 
online updates, dependency resolution, even finding packages. But what 
is really neglected is the marketing side. Wouldn't if be great if we 
had something like iTunes for packages, where you could see charts of 
the most popular software for a given genre? Select games, personal 
organisation, networking, music, office, and so on, and get a chart of 
the most popular / latest updated software. Or a keyword search where 
you could put in 'music player' and get a choice of rhythmbox, xmms, 
muine, realplayer and others. I think Linspire is probably closest to 
this at the moment - would you be surprised if you had to pay for the 
next step forward in linux software packaging?

> *Then* it would visibly beat Windows hollow for ease of use - not only do you 
> not need to load that CD (and store it with the 101 others you're going to 
> need when reinstalling windows comes round yet again), but you don't even 
> need to restart your machine. 

When I used to use windows, I'd group drivers together onto a CDR, that 
way it was easier to reinstall. Mostly you could decline the reboots... 
It was still far from slick :)



camilo at mesias.co.uk

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