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[ale] Open Source Apps

(much deleted, in the interest of brevity)

I have a brother who is an attorney.  He was into computers in the 
days of the TRS-80.  He had one and used it at work.  I was not into 
computers then, but I was interested.  I asked him, "How do you pick 
a computer?"  HIs answer:  "Find a program that does something you 
want and buy the hardware that runs it."   This is still good advice.  
He runs Windows (now up to XP) because it runs and because it is 
compatible with the people he deals with.

There was a time in amateur radio when most operators built their own 
equipment.  There was a time when amateur operators built their own 
parts.  After WW II, "rice boxes"  (equipment built in Japan) began 
to appear, and a lot of people started using them.  The old-timers 
derisively called these folks "appliance operators".  The new guys 
didn't really care about what was in the box or how it worked.  They 
just wanted something that they could communicate with.  Knowing 
which switches to push and which dials to turn was enough.

I think there is a real parallel here.  I think most of the people on 
this list are like the original amateurs and that most of the public 
is really completely satisfied being appliance operators.  And I 
don't think that this situation will change.  Would you dare give a 
computer novice a box and a set of installation disks and turn him 

How then is Linux to increase its penetration?  I can think of some 
things that might help.  

First would be publicity.  A columnist for the Sunday paper comes to 
mind.  Someone who knows Linux and  can present it in a manner rank 
newbies can understand and appreciate.  Read Bill Husted's column for 
an example.

Second would be a distribution that would self-install as easily (or 
easier) than Mandrake (sorry, I haven't tried SUSE).  Auto-detect and 
auto install.

Third would be quality applications that suit the novice's needs and 
auto install themselves.  I think the Linux community is close on 
this one.  These applications would need to be compatible with MS' 
data format.   My brother, my son, and my two daughters are NOT going 
to switch to Linux and not be able to use their machines at work.  
Free software is a great idea, but who is going to write (and 
maintain) it just for self-gratification?  Commercial software is 
likely to be necessary.

I don't need to be convinced that Linux is a superior operating system 
and neither do you.  But the world lives by applications.

Sorry to bend your ear, but I am compelled to put in my bit.  Even if 
it might be heretical.

Regards to all, Zeb.