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Re: [vox] Survey: What do YOU use Linux for?
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Re: [vox] Survey: What do YOU use Linux for?

Replies to some of the comments:

1.  There is no question that Linux software is insufficient for game
addicts and the like.

2.  I agree that OSS documentation is generally not so good at the
beginner level.  That in fact is why I've written so many
mini-tutorials, all aimed at that level
(see the files http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/~matloff/*.html)

3.  The GUIs (whether commercial or OSS) ARE aimed at the beginner
level, in my opinion, but I still feel that they fail even at that

4.  To me this is not a discussion of GUI vs. text.  I have nothing
against GUIs per se, and indeed do use some on occasion:  I of course
use Firefox and GIMP; I often use DDD for debugging; I sometimes use
Amaya for Web work; I sometimes use gvim instead of vim; I
sometimes--rarely--use the Eclipse IDE.  These sometimes offer important
extra functionality (or of course fundamental functionality in GIMP's
case), and the visual appeal gives one a good feeling.  

But they are often overkill, and this CAN comes at a cost of reduced
functionality, for the simple reason that the producer (whether
commercial or open source) only has a finite amount of man-hours to
devote to the project; hours spent on the GUI typically means fewer
hours spent on developing more functionality.  And of course for quick
little actions, it's much faster to use the command line than wait for a
GUI to come up.  Another point is that it's very important to me to use
the same text editor for everything I do, so that I can take advantage
of all the macros, abbreviations and so on which I've build up over the
years, something which most GUIs don't allow.

5.  Concerning friendly communities:  I still do believe that the
Linux/OSS communities tend to be more helpful.  I would offer as
(admittedly somewhat indirect) evidence the fact that there is so much
more open source software available for Unix than Windows.  I've long
had the impression that someone who has developed something for Windows
and might be thinking of contributing it to the OSS community suddenly
says to himself, "Wait a minute, I might be able to sell this instead of
give it away."

6.  Lastly, a confession:  Even I recently broke down and made a
concession to Windows. :-)  Since I am often away from the office, I use
www.efax.com as my vehicle for receiving faxes.  Anyone who wants to fax
to me phones a fax number as usual, but it's www.efax.com's number, and
they then e-mail me the fax as an image.  They have free and pay versions.
For Unix people, the free version used to be a straight TIFF file, but
no more.  Now one needs either to use the company's proprietary image
viewer for Windows, or pay for the Unix TIFF version.  Instead of
paying each month, I opted to buy Crossover as a one-time expenditure.
Crossover is basically an interface to wine, but they take care of the
details for certain apps, including www.efax.com's image viewer.


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