Windows and Linux

Glen Turner glen.turner at aarnet.edu.au
Tue Jan 18 23:56:43 CST 2005


Rhett Kipps wrote:

> I recently installed FC3 on my desktop after a very poor experience with
> FC2.  My experience has been the opposite.  I've found FC3 to be
> markedably more responsive, and everything detected perfectly (including
> sound, X, removable USB HDD enclosure, and SATA controller - which
> previously wasn't detected at all by default in FC2).

I agree. The crash during install was because of a bug in the driver
for the XWindows i810 driver.  But here's the thing -- Red Hat didn't
release a new install image when a fix was available.  That is, they
don't care if you need to be a guru to install FC3 upon that popular
chipset (install in text mode, boot into single user mode, don't
configure X, run yum update, reboot).  That's what they really think
of the "user experience"?

And when you configure X there's no hint at all that the i810 is
a "made to price" chipset which offers all of its features in
only one mode (1024x768, 16bpp).  Naturally, that isn't the offered
default :-(

And X11 doesn't use the DCC information from the monitor to set the
dots-per-inch and gamma correctly. So photos come out all wrong.
And in any case, Red Hat *hard codes* the DPI for fonts in an
obscure file.

But the box wasn't ready to go once installed.  Oh no, you need secret
knowledge about building Sun's Java in JPackage. About where the
vendor RPMS for Flash player and RealPlayer live.  About additional RPM
repositories which contain mplayer-plugin and probably-illegal DLLs
so Quicktime works (or core dumps). About the msttcorefonts RPM, and
about re-building freetype from SRPM so they are hinted correctly.

And the joystick, what a nightmare that is.  I get this message
in dmesg upon "modprobe ns558":

   gameport: NS558 ISA at 0x201 size 8 speed 864 kHz
   pnp: Device 00:0d disabled.
   ns558: probe of 00:0d failed with error -16

How's an average user going to figure that one out?  Especially
since you need to re-boot with each attempt. A nasty reminder of
Win95 there.

Don't get me wrong, Linux is a fine operating system. But it still
needs a guru at hand for sysadmin.  And maybe that's fine for
corporate deployments, but I wouldn't recommend it for households
without at-hand computer support.

And yeah, I expect that this conclusion will change. Just as the
desktop is now usable by anyone who has used Windows or Mac, a
vast improvement on the mess of only a few years ago.

The reason I expect rapid improvement is simply that there's money
to be made in selling second computers. Just as the second car
doesn't rivial the first car in specification, there's a market
for a second computer with a slower CPU and much cheaper price tag.
And people are more willing to consider alternatives for the
operating system for that box -- at least that's what Lindows
and the new box-only Apple Mac are betting on.  The only thing
I don't understand is why they are bothering to sell them without
a 802.11b interface (like Joe Average is going to run Cat5 so the
second machine has net access).

Cheers,
Glen


BTW, the build quality of this Celeron was terrible. It saved one
ATA cable by having the CD-ROM and hard disk on the same bus, which
made the hard disk underperform (since the lowest common denominator
is used for the PIO/UDMA mode).  It had additional RS-232 and Centronics
ports on the back, but these were not connected internally (ie, undo
rubber band, install cables to motherboard).  The power supply is *just*
large enough, you can hear the fan RPM alter depending what is on the
screen.


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