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With the economies of the globe heading south - and Linux getting its first real crack at newbie end users not familiar with open source thanks to the burgeoning netbook market, maybe now is the time to start rethinking the use of Linux on commercial desktops. That could be what Hewlett-Packard was thinking as it began shipping …

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Linux

Hmm

Linux is for geeks.

Geeks like fast machines and toys.

What is the point of Linux on crap hardware?

Having said that, I started running Ubuntu on an old Dell OptiPlex GX270 and that seems to pretty swift compared to Windows XP on the same hardware.

If only Linux could browse Windows network shares properly and wasn't so user-hostile. :o(

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Anonymous Coward

LInux and crap hardware

Linux and crap hardware is my favourite combination. I always have this problem that even the cheapest machines are too fast for me: I'm stingy and don't like paying for speed I don't need. I also don't like paying for Windows I don't need, so I usually build my own desktop machines, so I can have the slowest processor that money can buy, but a nice big disc.

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Anonymous Coward

Not far enough

I've been pestering HP about their 'FreeDOS' HP 8530w 'workstation' class laptop. On their site they say it exists but I can't get a manufacturer number for it. Come on HP - if you're going to say you support FreeDOS and SUSE on your UK web site then actually provide a way for someone to buy the thing. I will part with my cash if you will sell it to me.

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@ Hmm

User-hostile? What's so user-hostile about the KDE or Gnome desktop environment? You can even get to control the entire network from a GUI never mind just the local machine. It's looking more and more like a Mac these days. I wouldn't say it's user-unfriendly at all.

For sure it's different to Windows and you don't find the functions you have got used to after many years of Microsoft brainwashing but remember the time when you moved from pen and paper to mouse and keyboard? It's just a learning process.

I can actually cite an over-50 computer-illiterate user who had not used Windows before and I introduced him to SuSE and KDE a few years ago. He recently had a look at Windows and decided KDE/Linux was far preferable. I can also vouch for the fact that he is far from being a geek... or perhaps he IS one despite appearances!

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IT Angle

Hmm

"Linux is for geeks."

How do you work that out?

Do non-geeks know how to administer their Windows boxes? Do they know how to keep their firewall up and working, their virus checker up to date and complete? Do they know how to reinstall software to stop the terrible things done to the Windows Registry by installers to clean up? Do they know how to back up their data (in case they get hosed by a trojan)? Do they know what a trojan IS?

All these things MUST be done, else any problems with windows is beacuse of the dumb users, not Microsoft.

But if it isn't for geeks, why must they do all this and more?

Do you have to do this with Linux?

No.

So why is Linux for geeks and Windows not? Surely, if anything, it's the other way around.

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Tom
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linux is for geeks - thank goodness!

windows is for people that want a computer but dont actually want to use it.

I'd hate to have to support windows users on a linux system.

'Hi tech support here how can I help'

'My machines still up and working fine'

'Is that a problem?'

'Yes, If I cant blame the computer my boss will find out I'm useless'

'Use office software then - just write lots of documents he can never have time to read and will have to give you a good appraisal as a result'

I can see why MS never integrated all their office products like they promised - it would show them up too!

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Mmmm....just wait until...

...you have to explain to an accountant he can't use MS Excel - he'll cry and run straight to the MD.

Linux is great when it's all running well, but once you start to install "extra" software the hell breaks loose. Recent example was an install of VLC on SUSE. Something simple on a Windows turned into a 2 hour job on SUSE - don't ask why coz I went for lunch!

I've been using Linux since RH 3 and I've always dreaded the words "dependancies required".

I'll stick with Windows, mate, even if it costs me much much more money!

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Paris Hilton

approved

And if only the 'snooty' nature of some of community wasn't so off putting.

Paris because she being open to many, but dislikes the whole 'command line is best' thing.

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Coat

Year of the Linux Desktop

2009, could it be?

Mine's the one with ubuntu install cds in the pocket.

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Stop

@Hmm

Some geeks may like fast machines and toys, but many, like myself, enjoy giving old discarded crates a new lease of life with various flavours of unix code.

I keep a lot of this type of 'junk'; Pentiums, Pentium III's, AMDK6, even an old 80386 DX. They consume very little power and are fine for browsing and simple tasks.

I think low-power is the future and will be embarking(mad) on using solar power for some of these rigs very soon.

Yesterdays junk could be a life-line very soon !!!

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Re Mmmm....just wait until...

Try using Kubuntu/Ubuntu (insert any flavour of Debian) and your dependancy hell is over.

apt-get install vlc lbbdvdcss2 w32codecs

I *always* install extra software (including VLC) and haven't had dependancy hell for years (since I gave up on SuSE/Mandrake)

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Not likely - no benefit.

When they're selling the Linux PC at exactly the same as the Windows one, companies will go with the Windows boxes because there's no retraining time or costs involved.

Also, many companies have a carte blanche Windows volume licence as well so the bigger companies would just shove a drive image onto it so that its already configured as they want from power on.

This is not going to achieve anything.

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Silver badge

There are good reasons why HP charges $150 extra for Linux

A linux machine comes with piles of useful software. If they sold you Vista, they would make an extra $150 on the software you would need to make it do something useful.

A linux machine runs fine on minimal hardware. If they sold you a machine that is still fast despite Vista, they would make an extra $150 on the CPU, memory, graphics card, power supply and noisy fans.

A linux machine lasts for years. If they sold you Vista, they could expect to sell you a new machine next year when this one is choked up with adware.

Linux machines cause less hassle for IT staff. You will make that $150 back ten times over in the useful life of the machine.

I am surprised they only charge an extra $150. After all, Dell charges an extra $150 for XP compared to Vista.

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Gates Halo

"Why so expensive..." ?

One factor is that the deals that the big boys (HP, Dell, etc) have with MS in order to get the cheapest possible Windows prices mean that they have to pay for Windows on every box they ship (within a product family, eg desktops), even if the box ships without Windows. It may also be simpler for HP factories to make things that way - put a CoA on everything going down the line (and pay for it), whether or not it will eventually need Windows.

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Linux

@Mountford D

"What's so user-hostile about the KDE or Gnome desktop environment?"

Nothing. It's just that it isn't fully functional and many times you need to drop down to the terminal to get things done. This is user hostile (at least to the neophyte).

Yes, Linux is not Windows (it's kinda hard to miss that) and it terms of stability I have no doubt that many Linux flavours will beat Windows. But in terms of actual usability? Not uber-techie "admin the entire network from one GUI" but more of the power-user stuff (e.g. set up and browse shares) Windows wins. Totally.

@Mark

Err....Linux does need a firewall and you do have to keep it's patches up to date. No real difference there. An idiot on Window will, no doubt, be an idiot on Linux too.

Don't get me wrong, I do quite like the penguin; but I think they still need to do more work to bridge the gap between the uber-geek and the common user. Progress is being made and I hope it continues (I saw a huge difference between Gutsy and Intrepid). I intend to make my next PC Linux and to carry on learning it, but this does not mean I am going to don the "fanboi" goggles most seem to wear and not see the flaws in my Linux distro.

And at least there is a chance I can help fix the problems I find with Linux (all that OpenSource loveliness).

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XUL will rule

The most significant thing here is this running of FireFox safely.

Have you guys seen what's possible with XUL. We're just starting with it but basically it's a full on rich client which you run in FF - and that's FF running on *any* platform.

Check out the FireFTP extension for FF to see how amazing it is. Tabs, directory trees, buttons etc. And the code is javascript. Basically, VB6 for FireFox.

OK - so, for a general web application for the masses use LAMP, Zend framework, MVC, Smarty, REST etc. Cool solid cross platform app for easy access to anybody. Keep the AJAX to a minimum.

Where you want more detailed control say for administrators use XUL. Your application can then be be installed as a FF add-on or I think can just be accessed as a normal web page from Firefox. Certainly the buttons and other widgets are created purely with XML which is viewed in the browser.

So, HP supply Windows or SLED machines - doesn't matter which cos the user is going to be using the company application which will run inside FireFox.

Updates are either via FF add-ons update or updated code at the server.

As for the choice of OS - we have a first Ubuntu machine at a clients sitting in amongst the Windows XP machines. Feedback so far - the Windows users are saying how fast the Ubuntu machine is (same hardware specs as theirs).

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Silver badge

Dependencies

QUOTE: I've been using Linux since RH 3 and I've always dreaded the words "dependancies required".

I used to hate this too, until I used Debian. I now use Debian stable (currently etch) for servers, and Debian Stable & Testing or Ubuntu for desktops. As long as you stick with the prepackaged software, or well set up 3rd party repositories (like debian-multimedia), you will have NO problems with dependancie. "apt-get install <xyz>" just works and is WAY easier than many things on Windows. Alternatively, for those who dont like command lines, there are plenty of GUIs to APT.

Other distros have similar tools, but I havent used them for years so I don't know how well they work.

Remember: APT has Super Cow Powers

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Linux

Linux dependency hell == history

Sheesh ... "I've been using Linux since days of yore and gave up because of trying to sort out dependencies is hell" (and similar mis-quotes from loads of people).

Honestly, if you will stick your collective heads in the sand and ignore apt on Debian and yum on Red Hat /Fedora you get what you deserve. The supposed "dependency hell" is brought on by people who try to resolve dependencies by themselves rather than by using the right tools for the job. I've been using yum to install rpms for, what, four years? and never yet had trouble resolving software dependencies apart from those brought on by my own personal madness.

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Paris Hilton

re: Mmmm....just wait until...

"Linux is great when it's all running well, but once you start to install "extra" software the hell breaks loose. "

Uh, does your desk jockey install software for themselves under windows, or does the IT department do it for them (and only approved software)?

Because if it's your IT department, why is this a problem? You buy software that works with the operating system (so no Win98 programs purchased for Windows Vista) and it installs on that operating system.

It's only if you try to install software for a different OS (Say, Classic Mac software on your PPC Mac Book Pro) that "all hell breaks loose".

I love the smell of burning FUD in the morning...

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Paris Hilton

No retraining?

So when the UI changes from XP to Vista, no retraining. But changing from XP to KDE does?

When Office 2007 brings in a completely new format and the ribbon UI there's no retraining or conversion problems, but when you move to OpenOffice, you can't open your files and must be retrained how to click on a "printer" icon to print..?

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Hmmm...

QUOTE: I've been using Linux since RH 3 and I've always dreaded the words "dependancies required".

Hmmm... Something don't smell right - someone says they've used Linux since 1996 and not tried Debian.

Methinks one of the Redmond anti-linux team.

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Silver badge

SVS layer = Sandbox?

"..The SVS layer in the machine sits between the operating system and the application, and any changes that a program makes to the system as it is running are stored in this layer and wiped out when you stop the app."

Isn't this just the same as a Sandbox? I use Sandboxie for browser isolation and it seems to work very well. Perhaps they've applied the principle to the entire operating system, in which case you will need to learn to control it, so that changes you intended to make to the system are made permanent instead of being wiped out.

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@Anonymous Coward

"Err....Linux does need a firewall and you do have to keep it's patches up to date. No real difference there. An idiot on Window will, no doubt, be an idiot on Linux too."

Err. it isn't an add on. It's part of the OS and doesn't yibber in your face about how you need to mollycoddle it. Because the OS is more secure against drive-by shootings from the internet, the firewall doesn't need to be as complex as Windows (because Office Help Files are HTML and use the HTML renderer, thereby opening up Office to a HTML attack if the IE renderer has a security bug).

"But I think they still need to do more work to bridge the gap between the uber-geek and the common user."

No, there's no gap to close between the uber geek and common user if you mean "the guy who knows how to install Linux" and "Aunt Tillie" because Windows DEMANDS any user be either an uber-geek or run a botfarm member.

The gap between the user Windows requires and the user Linux requires doesn't exist except that you can't go into PCWorld and buy off the shelf software for it. That's not Linux's failing. The gap's not there.

The only place there is a gap is the uber WINDOWS geek who knows how windows works but doesn't know how computers work.

that gap can remain open if the only way to close it is to give Linux the same security problems and lamebrain ideas on how to tie stuff together.

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Gates Horns

Useability is less important than ...

... Windows vulnerabilities borking the networks of three UK hospitals concurrently because of virus infection.

In case you missed it read "PC virus forces three London hospitals into computer shutdown" (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/11/18/london_hospital_malware_shutdown/) in November's El Reg.

Doctor's having to resort to paper and pencil for ~72 hours proves Windows is not 'enterprise-ready' software in my view.

That some readers may be used to it and so think its "usable" is of considerably less importance than it being so horribly broken that it threatens lives.

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APT

The reason why APT works so well is that people take a LOT of time and effort in getting it right.

There's NOTHING that apt does that RPM couldn't do.

The problem with RPM is that most people are really quite crap at making them. They don't put the care in to them. And so they depend on things that for your system is in two different RPMs because you picked someone who built the RPM without checking what someone else had done.

The applications can do it.

The users are generally not bothering to put as much effort in as the Debian people.

Which may be a problem with people grunting out software for Ubuntu: if they don't take the requisite care, apt won't work quite so well.

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Coat

SuSE on old laptop...

"Some geeks may like fast machines and toys, but many, like myself, enjoy giving old discarded crates a new lease of life with various flavours of unix code."

I had an old(er) AMD 486 chipset laptop that had been running W2K on it. Taking a chance, I scrub the HDD and installed SuSE 7.2 (I didnt have enough RAM for 10.3). The install was a breeze - enabled my NFS/Samba mountpoints within a matter of minutes and configured my printer drivers shortly thereafter. All I need to do now is connect a wireless card and I am able to go to my (*insert favorite free WiFi hot spot here*).

Anytime I use our Vista desktop, I always worry about getting the machine haked into, despite the firewalls running in my houselhold network. With Linux, I NEVER have to worry! HP is the second company to offer a Linux-based product (Dell being the first, AFAIK). As more and more companies offer Linux as an alternative to M$, you WILL see the Linux install base not only grow, but become much more vibrant.

Mine is the one with the old copies of MS2/WARP in the breastpocket.

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Boffin

Re: Mmmm....just wait until...

Why oh why do people still bash RPM on that "dependencies required" thing? It hasn't been an issue ever since yum was introduced to the RedHat derivative distros. YUM is as good as apt-get, in fact I really don't see any difference between these managers.

Anyway, I don't remember jumping any hoops when installing VLC on Fedora 6.

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Flame

Re: No retraining?

"When Office 2007 brings in a completely new format and the ribbon UI there's no retraining or conversion problems, but when you move to OpenOffice, you can't open your files and must be retrained how to click on a "printer" icon to print..?"

This is what I've pointed out all along: migrate to OO.org with a similar interface to what the cube-jockeys are already using and they either squeal like brand whores ("I want Microsoft Blah!") or moan that their dodgy macros and other stuff don't work (which, if they rely on such things for the bulk of their business logic, indicates that they don't take such matters seriously as an organisation); migrate to the latest version of Office with a completely new look and everyone will gladly go on a training jaunt and pour even more money down the toilet.

It's the hypocrisy of the "Linux not ready" brigade, with a dash of backhanders for good measure.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Unhappy

until it's available in BIG-BOX RETAIL....

it's an obscure and difficult mail-order item, not at all relevant to Ma and Pa Kettle.

And wow, the price point is set to make the Windows equivalent look like you get Windoze for free. Hurd is still controlled by his "master", the Microsoft co-marketing gang, and probably won't ever channel a non-Windows box into retail. Ever.

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Coat

re "Mmmm....just wait until......you have to explain to an accountant he can't use MS Excel"

have you tried telling an accountant that Excel is not a good database?

they don't like that one either.

In an accountant's mind Excel is THE tool, and every problem can be reduced to an Excel spreadsheet. You can get a 1,000,000 line database , you just have to write the vba to address over data over several sheets. Trust me in a deluded past I've done something like this (yes I am certifiable )

I even managed to get a version of "surround" or "snake" (as nokia calls it) running on Excel , with VBA.

Back to Accountants...Now get Excel running on linux , and they'll be happy or you could always try and get them onto open office .. HA HA !!

good luck.

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Go

Linux is for geeks?

I've used MS Windows since Windows 3.1. Mainly because of the availability of programs that I like. Last year I decided to skip Vista and try Linux. I installed Ubuntu's Gutsy Gibbon from a cover disk and liked it. Then I updated to Hardy Heron and now I'm thinking of trying Intrepid Ibex on my laptop. It is now my OS of choice although the desktop is dual boot with XP (for games). I mention this because 1. I won't see seventy again and 2. I have always avoided the command line like the plague whenever possible and so far it is no harder to use than Windows just different. As was the Archimedes from the Commodore machines.

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Alien

@Wally AC

"Nothing. It's just that it isn't fully functional and many times you need to drop down to the terminal to get things done. This is user hostile (at least to the neophyte)."

Like what?

What does KDE lack on the GUI that Windows manages?

Anything?

No, you're just pulling a stool out of your arse and calling it a strong argument because it stinks and makes your eyes water.

And this is how shit happens...

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@Mark

You are clearly a Linux fanboi and your inability to engage in a discussion without slinging insults is typical of the Linux community at large. If there is any criticism of Linux (or any opinion that does not venerate Linux) then the Tux crowd start insulting/attacking the messenger rather than dealing with the message.

Attitudes such as yours is one of the issues that the Linux community needs to address before it can really be taken seriously by the wider world.

The various distros have made a lot of progress, Linux based OSs are still not ready for the masses, there is still too much need to go to the terminal or hack config files.

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@Hmmm

> Geeks like fast machines and toys. What is the point of Linux on crap hardware?

Because the purpose of this box is to replace 3270 terminals on bank counters. Windows is hell for that job, since it has a high system administrator to deployed hardware ratio, whereas I've seen Linux deployments in that space work with ratios of 1:10000. The only way Windows even gets in the ballpark is with Citrix-style rollouts, and they have a requirement for huge centralised servers.

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Go

Re: Not far enough

HP have been offering FreeDOS on pretty much all there business class kit for years (at least three that I can remember, probably longer but never paid attention). As for the laptop you mention (as with all the FreeDOS stuff) its a built order, and the laptops HP part number GW680AV (just basic chassis no OS) and to get FreeDOS on it, thats the addon part number KX041AV#ABU. It's all part of there "built to your spec" ACE scheme they do where you pick a chassis, then choose cpu, ram, OS etc...kind of like Dell but with more choice and better hardware. As for buying it, try a independant who sells HP kit, not directly from the site or some mailorder company since these are all specific orders and they won't do a one off build.

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