Codeweavers, Windows software on Linux.
December 14, 2000 3:20 PM   Subscribe

Codeweavers, Windows software on Linux. I think the average consumer might be very interested in Linux, if they could run their current Windows programs on it. Another step closer to the end of Bill Gates' evil rule.
posted by Zool (18 comments total)
You're kidding, right?

The average consumer is lucky if they realize what an operating system is. I'll use my parents as an example, who are huge eBay junkies, have AOL accounts, and have a desktop cluttered to the brim with shortcuts that they don't realize they can get rid of. I think that's more or less representative of the average computer user.

And you expect them to handle Linux?

Please. Let go of the pipe dream that the world will suddenly awaken and want to hack a kernel. Windows (and Macs) work because they're relatively simple. They comfort people. They put on a nice mask behind the ungodly computations that occur every second in a computer. Linux is a geek toy and nothing else.
posted by solistrato at 3:40 PM on December 14, 2000

Oooh, this is going to be fun thread! Now watch, no one else will post. Jinx!
posted by scottandrew at 4:15 PM on December 14, 2000

I think Linux will be used by the masses but it will be in the form of devices like Tivo. I agree with solistrato, the masses will never use the current configuration of Linux. While I appreciate the OS, it's not for everyone.
posted by Brilliantcrank at 4:34 PM on December 14, 2000

I really don't see Linux, as it is, to be widely used. One, it's just way too complicated, even for casual users. I'm no genius, but, I consider myself to be pretty smart when it comes to these things, couldn't figure out how to setup a lot of the other hardware, like a 3d card or a tv tunner card. Ofcourse these things are due to the lack of drivers, but still. There's so much stuff here and there. I couldn't say it's not finished, because there is no finish, it's a continual progression of updates after updates, which I think is another problem for it to be a popular home-desktop o/s. Windows 95, 98, SE, ME 2000, in 5 years. In linux you have new stuff daily, everything is being tried, tested and such.
posted by tiaka at 4:39 PM on December 14, 2000

Iv'e had the chance to play with SuSe's version of Linux, and there was nothing complicated about the GUI i used. Also there are a large number of very nice GUI's for Linux so i don't see the problem. It looked user friendly and not at all complicated. True, most average users are stupid but companies can seriously start looking for Linux desktops if Windows programs work on it. Linux has a lot less problems than Windows.
posted by Zool at 4:42 PM on December 14, 2000

Linux is not the GUI, that's X. Linux uses X, and the different flavors of it. KDE, Gnome, Next and such. I don't know, as much as I hate Microsoft, Win2k is stable and runs business stuff. There is really no reason to change over to Linux. If anyone here ever tried running stuff with Wine they know how that stuff doesn't always work, and when it does, not completely.
posted by tiaka at 4:58 PM on December 14, 2000

The "Linux is hard to setup" is four-parts myth: most people never have to install Win9x from scratch, since it's supplied by OEMs. And anyone who's used Windows for a time knows that the registry gets sufficiently cluttered and corrupted from installs/deinstalls that performance tends to suffer after a few months.

If Linux had the OEM support (and by that, I mean the kind of investment that goes into the MS-Intel-Dell partnership) then fewer people would be complaining about it being "difficult".

Oh, and tiaka: ever heard of MS Service Packs? Windows Update? Install-on-demand?
posted by holgate at 5:01 PM on December 14, 2000

True, most average users are stupid

Errr... no, most people are not computer oriented. There is a slight difference between these concepts.
posted by lagado at 5:17 PM on December 14, 2000

No, most of the linux distributions are easy to install, I have tried atleast 3-4, simple stuff, newer version are cd-bootable, so, just pop the cd in, and start. The complicated part for some is, keeping windows and having linux on, which would require partitioning, that is also something that was worked on a lot, atleast with Mandrake, it comes with it's own partitioner, makes it easy, but, not idiot proof. Select packages, and install. After the install is the hard part, getting the drivers, udjusting the loose ends and such. Yes, I've heard of Service Packs, but hardly anyone uses them, that is if it's not a serious problem. Sure if there was more investment into Linux and more people tried to come up with a single package, that would be more like say Windows, you know, standard fare, most of the needed drivers, auto detection for more hardware. I just don't see every desktop needing an ftp server or a mail server, 10 email clients, 5 irc clients, 4 newsreaders, 20 text editors and so on and so on. Sure you don't need them, but, it's just something that's there.
posted by tiaka at 5:23 PM on December 14, 2000

Point taken, tiaka: though I'd argue that the shift from Service Packs to Windows Update (along the lines of Debian's apt package) shows that MS acknowledges the need to make more frequent updates to drivers than the pre-net release cycle allowed. Security alerts, new drivers et al. And Linux is often at a disadvantage for the latter, since vendors are sometimes loathe to release specifications.

There's definitely a move towards slimmed-down, user-friendly distributions, especially in the embedded appliance sector. In the meantime, WINE has been useful for people such as Corel, who used it to port WordPerfect across. (Although sadly, they're now looking to get out of the Linux market.)
posted by holgate at 6:30 PM on December 14, 2000

Actually Tiaka, there is one flavor of X. Gnome and KDE are desktop environments that run in X. the desktops also can use, but are not required to, window managers such as WindowMaker, Enlightenment, FVWM, etc... (there are quite a few of these).

But, generally there is a default that gets installed depending on the distro. e.g. Redhat will install X with Enlightenment, and Gnome as the default, you can also choose KDE. Honestly I don't feel that the interface is the problem. Its when the user wants to install a new app. There rarely is a standard for this and a lot of the time it will require using the CLI.

Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way. I don't really care if it becomes prolific across users desktops.
posted by jbelshaw at 6:51 PM on December 14, 2000

People seem to like to talk about their parents and their grandparents when they write off Linux. Parents seem to be the quintessential "average user". Anyway, my parents use Linux. I built a computer for them. I installed Linux on that computer. I setup user accounts for each parent and my brother. I plopped the computer down on their desk, hooked up cables, turned it on, and told them their usernames and passwords. I gave them all the preconfiguration that they would get if they bought a Dell with Windows installed. They've been using Linux for over a year withour incident. They click a button to browse the web. They click a button to use Instant Messenger. They do the same things they would have to do in Windows. In addition, they can do many things that cannot be done in Windows. I setup a button which when pressed allows me to dial in to their machine. If they want such and such a software package installed, I dialin to their machine and install it for them. With Windows, I would have to either get in the car and go for a long drive or talk them through the installation over the phone. They've also come to appreciate virtual desktops, window edge resistance and gravity, and other things you can't find in Windows (at least not without add-on software). And, of course, there are the issues of freedom, openness, security, peer review, ...
posted by rboren at 7:03 PM on December 14, 2000

What distro and flavor of X rboren? Seems no question that UNIX and its children are head and shoulders above any other OS out there but it'll be a bit before applications and Gnome fix all the bugs and security problems that make them ready for all the non-computer-savvy masses. Nice that you can setup your loved ones with the best computing has to offer. Now you should mirror their drives and offer them for cost x 3. Call it Plug-And-Play-Linux. :)
posted by greyscale at 7:34 PM on December 14, 2000

Before you even get down to the fact that Linux is hard and intimidating for the "average" computer user such as solistrato's parents, none of you touched on the first thing that I'd bet most of those users would think."Why should I get this linux thing and special, difficult to use software that allows me to run windows programs when I can just use windows?"The average person sitting on earthlink, browsing through eBay and talking to his friend on AIM isn't going to take the time to think about the advantages of using Linux, because the learning curve is a brick wall in the middle of the road.
posted by tomorama at 9:02 PM on December 14, 2000

greyscale, I have Mandrake 7.2 running on my parents computer. They are running KDE 2.0 as their desktop. I run GNOME myself but setup KDE for them since it is more Windows like and offered them an easy transition.

tomorama, I myself would not run Windows apps on a Linux machine. If someone wants to cling to their Windows apps, they should probably stay with Windows. As for myself, I gave up the world of bloated, buggy, expensive, proprietary Windows apps long ago. I got tired of changing file formats and other slimy practices Microsoft and others use to lock people in. I won't use an app that isn't Open Source. I want the source to the apps I use to be open, reviewable, annd modifiable. Further, I don't want to be subject to some draconian EULA. Shrink wrap licenses are appalling nowadays. However, many people want to have the reliability and security of Linux as a platform for running their favorite Windows apps. That's the appeal of Windows on Linux. You get to have stable, open, well-engineered Linux as a base while still being able to run your favorite Windows killer app.

Linux isn't for everyone. If you're happy with Windows and are not interested in arguments of freedom and openness, by all means stick with Windows. If, however, you admire those one year uptimes of Linux machines, want to be able to use older hardware, want a true multi-user environment, want maximum configurability, want to be free of macro viruses, want to get security and bug fixes quickly and easily, and so forth, then use Linux.

I have 5 node network at home with all nodes running Linux. One machine serves as my workstation. It runs a dual headed display with a Matrox G450 driving two 19" NEC monitors. It has a SB Live with LiveDrive driving a Klipsch Promedia setup. It has a Plextor PlexWriter 12/10/32A cd burner. It has ATA-100 disks. It is attached to an APC ups. Another node serves as an internet gateway and internal router. It uses an ADSL modem as its link to the internet. It hosts my web, ftp, mail, and database services. It is my firewall and does IP masquerading for internal hosts. Yet another node serves as my file and network information server. It does software RAID-1 mirroring to two IBM 60G ATA-100 disks. It hosts the home directories for all users in my little network. Any user can log on to any machine and have the same setup where he/she goes. It serves as the backup server for all other nodes in the network. It is a DHCP server which serves IP config information to my laptop when I want to plug it into the network. It also does DNS and NIS duties. I run Linux on my IBM ThinkPad X20 as well. Every PCMCIA device I have ever plugged in has worked without any intervention on my part. This includes high speed serial cards, ethernet/modem combo cards, and 802.11b wireless lan cards. I enumerate all of this to show you the range of hardware Linux supports and the range of services it provides as both a client and a server. All of this is out of the box and at no cost. I could go into the exotic, embedded, telecom class hardware I run Linux on at work (stuff that Windows couldn't even dream of supporting), but I've rambled enough.

posted by rboren at 10:06 PM on December 14, 2000

rboren makes a good point, not that it was his primary one.

*MANY* machines are set up for non-computer people by "their" geeks. Linux makes it *much* easier for those geeks to remotely admin, not to mention secure, those machines, thus reducing their workload.
posted by baylink at 7:32 AM on December 15, 2000

Someone needs to make a super-simple GUI for older and/or extremely technophobic people that runs on Linux, and is as easy to use as, say, a car with automatic transmission.

On the desktop, just have three BIG buttons, one for email, one for the web browser, and one to show you your files & folders.

And the email program, web browser, and file browsing utility need to be stripped-down, simple, bulletproof, and intuitive to use (ideally without instruction, but perhaps with just a little bit).

Hide all the configuration crap from them, but leave a way in for geeks to configure it and troubleshoot it for them (I really like the geek dial-in-n-configure feature rboren mentioned).

I think this would kick ass - give it away for free, get tons of people connected, and make their lives easier. This type of thing would meet the needs of vast hordes of folks who are currently hobbled by all the so-called "features" their current OS comes with.

Hmm, I'll put it on my "future projects" list... (the one that contains the projects I'll get to once I get a near-infinite amount of money and time).
posted by beth at 9:34 AM on December 15, 2000

Be sure to have something from which the "Use advanced features" fob can be activated, so as the user learns more about the environment, and says "I wish I could do this" they realize that yes, indeed, they can do that, they just have to learn a bit first.

It's a nifty idea beth.
posted by cCranium at 12:29 PM on December 15, 2000

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