Letters

Readers sound off.

Letters

A Funny

I just found this so funny I had to share. MSN decided to call its search engine Bing. I don't know who the idiot was who thought of this one. I know in Chinese Bing means “disease”, so Windows is admitting what it is? LOL—I just thought this should be shared with the Linux world.


Dean Hill

Linux on the Desktop, Part II

I am sitting here reading the new Linux Journal that came today (July 2009), and I come across this letter to the editor from Kulmacet titled “Linux on the Desktop?” where he mentions that Linux as a desktop OS has the apps, but lacks the stability. I, like Shawn in the response, am scratching my head. Typically, users feel the opposite. We have the stability, but lack some of the mainstream apps. He goes on basically to mention how Windoze is quirky but at least it works.

Yes, when you buy a fresh new Dell or HP, it just works. Those companies have taken the time in their shops to make sure it does before shipping. But, how many of us out there have built a fresh new rig with Windows? Does it “just work” then? No. You still have to find/install the newest drivers and hope they have them for your version (Vista, XP, 32-/64-bit). Linux is the same way. Sure, you may have to do a little configuring, but you do that in Windows as well. I am currently using a Qosmio X305-Q705 running Fedora 10 64-bit. And when I did a fresh install of Fedora, guess what? Everything worked! Sound, wireless, video—everything. So “Windows just works” is not a great argument. Most computers running Linux have decent support for most devices out of the box. The most I really have to do is occasionally get some wireless drivers or the NVIDIA drivers (which have a Linux version) if I intend to do any heavy gaming. For business, you probably wouldn't need this.

And, regarding those forums mentioned in the letter, in most cases, those unanswered problems probably were answered in many other places in those same forums. It just takes a little looking. For “typical” users, how many Blue Screens of Death do you see in Windows compared to kernel panics with Linux? Linux surpasses Windows in stability by far, no matter your experience level—just my two cents though.


Cary

My experience has been similar to yours. In fact, at first I thought the letter was tongue in cheek, but it looks like the reader had some serious bad luck with Linux. Hopefully, our responses will encourage folks having difficulties with stability to take another look at their hardware, because as you mention, stability is generally one thing Linux gets very right.—Ed.

Unsung Hero

Has anyone thought to check out the World Digital Library? Per the publication The Library of Congress Gazette article published today (May 29, 2009) titled “WDL 1.0 Technical Info”, the following might be of interest to the Linux community:

  • Development time: ~13 months

  • Lines of code: ~50,000

  • Test cases written: ~600

  • Development platform: Linux

  • Deployment platform: Solaris

  • Key technologies: Django, Python, MySQL, Solr/Lucene, Squid Nginx, Seadragon

It also provided the following launch-day statistics:

  • Page views: 7.1 million

  • Visitors: 600,000

  • Peak hits/hour: 32 million

When there is a major application being contemplated and the IT folks all say Windows, maybe this will give them pause. The article did not give a byline or mention which distribution of Linux, unfortunately.


Paul F. Baltrunas

Sadly, this is one more example of the unsung heroics Linux is responsible for accomplishing. I wish “open-source infrastructure” was a required course for anyone going into the IT field. Unfortunately, the implementation of open source generally is driven by (lack of) finances. Thanks for the information.—Ed.

Disappointed with KDE 4

I recently upgraded from Kubuntu 7.10 to Kubuntu 8.10, and I was amazed to find that KDE had jumped from version 3.5 to version 4.2! I am a really KDE-ish guy, as the first Linux desktop I ever saw was KDE 3.x on Knoppix. As a result, I learned to love KDE. KDE feels like home. I don't hate GNOME. GNOME is a great desktop, and it even starts and runs faster than KDE. But, it is less configurable than KDE, and even though the difference is minor, it's enough for me to use KDE—at least, until KDE 4.x came along.

KDE 4.x is a major recode from the 3 series. For instance, the desktop now has a widget-based setup—widgets go on the desktop, not files. You want a comic strip on the desktop? Sure, it has a widget for that. You want a battery monitor? A dictionary? A clock? A calculator? A 15-piece puzzle? It's got widgets for those too. How exciting—until you remember that “widgets, not files” has “NOT FILES” in it. No more putting icons directly on the desktop, which is great, if you always have wanted a comic strip on the desktop. But, no files directly on the desktop isn't the only bad surprise that comes packed with KDE 4. It also is much less configurable, because so much was recoded, the KDE coders have not had time to re-add all the functions of good-old KDE 3, and the configuration options that go with them are all missing—for example, auto-hiding the Kicker. You can't auto-hide the Kicker in KDE 4 at all, whereas KDE 3 could be set up to hide the Kicker as soon as the mouse left the Kicker and show it again as soon as the mouse hit the bottom of the screen.

Of course, there is a reason for all this. Apparently, the KDE coders felt KDE was getting behind the times, and it was time to upgrade the interface. KDE 4 has good desktop effects, and although I love the effects and interface, for now, KDE does it at the expense of everything else.

Are you ready to give up your favorite file manager, Konqueror, for a new file manager that is missing some of Konqueror's best features? Then, upgrade to KDE 4.

Hopefully, the KDE guys didn't give up good features for good. I'm waiting on edge for KDE 5, in which, hopefully, all of KDE 3's good features will have returned. But for now, I am using GNOME, which still has much more reasonable features.


Christian H.

From Afghanistan with Love

I'm currently in the hills of Afghanistan and found that receiving snail mail is very unpredictable/unreliable. Therefore, being new to the Linux world, I was looking for quality reading that I could download onto my laptop. After searching all the Web, I came to the conclusion that your subscription helped me with the understanding of how Linux operates compared to the dreaded Windows and Mac environments. I've completely removed all Windows from my system now. Special thanks go out to the support in your subscription department as well! I accidentally subscribed to the print edition, and within minutes called and received a subscription change. This allowed me to download the latest digital edition of your magazine. Additionally, I was able to go to the back editions of Linux Journal and grab all the ones that interested me. Again, you guys ROCK! Thanks for the great service and product!


Stephen Alderete

That's great to hear! Thanks for sending us a note, and if you have a reliable connection to the Internet, be sure to visit our Web site as well. There are lots of things on-line that don't make it into print.—Ed.

Ever Mangle a Configuration File?

Reading the December 2008 issue (five months late!), I was somewhat amused by the box on page 37 “Regenerating smb.conf in Debian/Ubuntu”. Re-installing a package merely because a configuration file got mangled seemed rather unnecessary. If I am experimenting with something new, I will keep a copy (such as smb.conf-orig). Beyond that, I keep configuration files under RCS control, so I can turn back the clock to any version I want.


David Penman

You certainly have best practice in mind when you tweak your config files, but unfortunately many users do not. Sadly, I often fall into that category myself! And don't get me started on how many times I have to ask users, “Do you have a backup?” Thankfully, Linux distributions generally have a way to get back to the defaults when we do silly things.—Ed.

Linux on the Desktop, Part III

In the July 2009 issue's Letters section, Kulmacet commented that Linux was still not a good desktop OS and did not “work” out of the box. When I hear this, I just scratch my head. Maybe the reader was installing an older Gentoo? Ubuntu, OpenSUSE and Fedora are all mainstream distros and install very easily. Recently, a family member asked me to take a look at her computer that took ages to boot up, and then was so slow it was pretty much unusable. I don't have to go into the sordid details of all the viruses, spyware and other junk the scanner turned up. “Can someone just make a system that works and doesn't get all these viruses?”, she asked. I backed up the data, wiped the drive and installed OpenSUSE 11.1 with GNOME. After a brief tutorial, off she went. A few months later, I hadn't heard anything and had assumed Windows was re-installed. No, she was very happy, and the system was fast with no viruses. She even installed a new printer, scanner and camera.

Not every user will have this experience, but I have converted quite a few friends and coworkers to Linux during the past few years. Of course, I use my knowledge and experience to get them over that fear of the unknown. I am sure that your readers could share similar experiences.


George

Like my previous comment, I fully agree with you. The reader last month obviously had an uncommon, and unfortunate Linux experience. Hopefully, we'll all be the encouragement needed to try again!—Ed.

No More Break-Ins

Nice article on the WD MyBook World Edition [see Federico Lucifredi's “Hacking Your Portable Linux Server” in the July 2009 issue]. I just picked up a copy from the local computer store and was happy to discover that one doesn't have to break in anymore. The WD software allows you to open up the system nowadays. I don't know if that works for all World Editions—in particular, the MyBook II in the article—however, my guess would be it works there too.


Hans Kramer

Re: Bad Guys

I let the first letter to the magazine that disturbed me go, but after reading this most recent complaint, I had to write in. However, I in no way am attacking Linux Journal. As a communist and member of the International Socialist Organization, I always find it saddening to read or hear people's distorted understanding of communism. Francis Kohl wrote in to claim Marx is responsible for the “most horrible dictatorships in history” [see the July 2009 issue's Letters]. There are two reasons this is usually a view pushed by people. First, because Marx called for the “dictatorship of the proletariat”; however, this in no way refers to an individual dictator. It is the ruling of the entire proletariat over the bourgeoisie. Second, because many individual dictators have proclaimed themselves Marxists and even have socialist states. But, someone saying something does not make it true, as we see with Kohl's comments.

If you care to blame someone for Pol Pot's abuses, why not blame someone who did influence him? Like Buddha? Pol Pot's Theravada Buddhism is what created his idea of “communism”. This Buddhism is why he saw the rural peasants as the revolutionary class and the need to push everyone out of the cities and massacre the “unnecessary” part of the population. This is directly opposed to Marxism!

Stalin was a horrible dictator, and Lenin saw this potential and while sick and dying, called for his removal from power. Stalin already had gained much support in the military by this time, and years later began the terror against those in the party opposing his disgusting regime. Thus, he executed and exiled the few remaining communists, like Leon Trotsky, who escaped to Mexico before being assassinated by a Stalin hit man.

I'm also confused at the fact that no one on the left or right who condemns Marx for these atrocities ever blames capitalist thinkers for the dictators who had “free markets” (like ours), mass privatization and cuts on welfare programs—Augusto Pinochet of Chile, for example. They also don't attack capitalist thinkers for the deaths of millions due to the quest for profit followed by the corporations around the world. This is not to say Marx and Lenin were pacifists or perfect. Both were human and made mistakes in their ideas and actions, and both understood the ruling class would not go away without a fight. If Kohl opposes this, I assume he does not dare to stand to the United States' National Anthem—you know, that song about a bloody revolutionary to overthrow the ruling class and enact progressive measures?

Lastly, there was a letter many months ago [January 2009], in which Gene said he wanted students to learn more Adam Smith and less Karl Marx. I think Gene may want to study some Adam Smith first. Adam Smith was a supporter of a progressive income and estate tax on the rich to “contribute to the public expense”! Read The Wealth of Nations, and you'll see it's clear Smith would be condemned as a socialist if he were a politician in the United States today.

I am always shocked at the large anti-socialist crowd in the Free Software community, when I see the Internet age and Free Software as great examples of the potential for communism. Communism is not a bullet in the back of your head for not sharing, as Eric S. Raymond said in Revolution OS. I'd be more worried about him and his collection of guns shooting someone for being on his private property.


Tristan Sloughter

Photo of the Month

Have a photo you'd like to share with LJ readers? Send your submission to publisher@linuxjournal.com. If we run yours in the magazine, we'll send you a free T-shirt.

Even though Tux didn't enroll in the US Army, he still has to serve a one-year deployment in Iraq with me. It's a little bit too hot for him also! Submitted by SPC Dumitru Sly Silviu-Cristian, HHC 1-63 CAB 2HBCT 1ID Scout Plt, Camp Stryker.

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