Re: Working Within the System

From: Charlie (
Date: Tue May 02 2000 - 01:13:53 MDT

On Mon, May 01, 2000 at 04:16:22PM -0400, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> As I have stated, the fact is that the only version of linux that is anywhere
> near being as easy to install as windows is (and thus the only one qualified to
> be price compared for similar value), is the Corel release, CLOS, which retails
> for $59.00 for the basic and $89.00 for the delux edtion. These prices are very
> much in line with the prices for windows' various flavors, so the original
> argument, which I contested Judge Jackson's claim that consumers were harmed by
> having to pay more for Windows (and thus any OS) than they should have had to.
Ahem ...

I've recently done some installation comparison testing. On a given
laptop, (HP Omnibook 800 -- a little long in the tooth, but fine for
testing), an installation of Windows 95 OSR2 -- the version that HP
customised for this machine -- required four reboots during the install
process and bounced me into six interactive configuration dialogues.
Corel Linux 1.0 rebooted just *once* (at the end of the installation)
and was significantly easier on the typing front, too. To be fair:
Corel Linux detected the CT6550 graphics chipset fine, and the SCSI bus,
but missed out on APM and PCMCIA support -- these are not built into the
stock Corel distro kernel as of 1.0 -- and also missed out on sound (a bit
more serious, but easy to remedy if you know where is).

Note that this was a comparison of a generation #1 product with a
generation #5 product. And the generation #1 product was in the same
ease-of-installation bracket as MacOS.

I've also lately installed Red Hat 6.1 (not 6.2 yet, the review copy is
in the post, delayed due to stupid crypto export headaches) and would
say that it's harder to install than Corel Linux -- but not as hard as,
say, Windows 98.

It's also worth noting that installability is _not_ the yardstick by
which operating system performance and usability is measured; it's just
the first speed-bump on the road to usability, which is why magazine
reviews tend to fetishize it. (I speak as a sometime magazine reviewer,
albeit a bit of an eccentric one :)

What Corel have done -- which is interesting -- is to file some of the
rough edges off the stock KDE 1.1 desktop distribution (found in Red Hat,
SuSE, Caldera, and Debian's non-free section). However, KDE 2.0 is due out
this summer ... and _that_ (along with accessories such as Magellan and
KOffice) is going to start worrying people in Redmond. For example, KOffice
is currently feature-poor, but _very_ clean and 100% componentized; as a
competitor for, say, AppleWorks, it's at least on the map at release 1.0.
Magellan is another matter; as groupware products go it is looking like a
rather nice toy -- it's got a way to go before it can crush Lotus Notes or
the combination of Exchange/Outlook, but that's the target it's aiming for.

Bear in mind that Linux isn't aiming at the desktop market, yet; it's
still expanding in the server and embedded sectors, while us lunatics who
deploy it on the desktop are bleeding-edge fringies. The existing body of
Linux desktop productivity suites and applications is woeful. However,
it exists -- and it is rapidly being augmented, so that last months'
objections need not apply.

> This demonstration is totally leaving aside the fact that the case does not
> recognize new developments in the market, it merely looks at the market at the
> time that the suit was submitted, as a snapshot of frozen time.

Not necessarily. Contemplate the Findings of Fact from the point of view of
a Linux patriot and they make unpleasant reading; Judge Jackson's dismissal
of open source as a viable alternative to Microsoft (at the time the findings
were issued) makes sense. This struck me as being a fairly timely point,
although I expect it to become hopelessly obsolete over the next year or two.

-- Charlie

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