Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

From Sarge to Sid

With the iMac almost ready it is timeto look forward to the real task of writing 100 pages on the day to day use of Linux. Not about geeky shellscripting, not about running Linux as part of a renderfarm, but plain simple effective day to day use. About the programs that make you forget the software you used to pay for.
I have been playing with computers since the Commodore Vic 20. No GUI in those days, but that was hardly needed. Wordperfect did the job just fine on the HeadstartII which sported two 5.25″ floppy drives and a 320 Kb virtual C: drive. Then came the windows era, from Windows 3.0 to XP and Vista. About seven years ago I was asked to help out by the it department to unlock the information from the students database. It appeared I was the only one with sufficient DOS knowledge to make that happen (long story, but it saved the school from a hefty fine. I got promotion after that).
Anyway, things have changed with even the more experienced users being used to sitting behind a nice GUI instead of a command prompt. That is the target audience. Adventurous enough to try a completely new operating system, but it has to work out of the box. Can Linux deliver? In the book we will make our case for it. On the level of applications I would say yes. For most people. The ones who run Dreamweaver to build simple websites, or use Word for straight forward text editing. And I am firmly convinced this counts for the majority of users.

On a side note. I decided to experiment a bit with the Debian sources.list and add the Sid source to it followed by a complete upgrade. It took a few hours and the system feels somewhat unstable (switching themes causes problems and Kde thinks it is running on laptop with an empty battery, hence shuts the system) the upgrade is worth it. The instability can be fixed, as well as some other issues (like a non-mounting USB drive), but I do have all applications on the same level as Ubutu now.

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