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Sneaking Open Source Software Through the Front Door 316

the_1000th_Monkey writes "LWN daily pointed out this new project today. It aims to be 'a compilation of high quality open source software (OSS) [that] will be made available as a CD distribution in order to help promote OSS to users of Windows and MacOS.' There are hopes that this would make it easier to encourage universities, OEMS, and your parents/friends to take advantage of this software and eventually bring them over to a completely free system on their own time. Help for suggestions/discussion is being sought." Newsforge is carrying a slightly more in-depth look at this project. Anyone care to design some attractive, downloadable CD-graphic images?
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Sneaking Open Source Software Through the Front Door

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  • by Quasar1999 ( 520073 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @11:46AM (#3435916) Journal
    Wasn't there something called that tried this idea sometime last decade? Did it succeed then?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      A decade ago Open Source Software wasn't as slick as it is now. Not that I'm saying OSS applications are slick now. I mean, compared to MS or Apple apps, they're still way behind. The point is, a lot of OSS apps are complete (meaning reached at least version 1.0). So they are all viable alternatives to MS apps. Imagine, a typical person getting a CD that has or The Gimp on it? Then they'd probably decide they don't need to bother buying MS Office XP or Photoshop. Re-read please, i said "typical person" not the professionals that need Photoshop or MS Office. I read the Newsforge site, and throwing Abiword and Mozilla in as an example is a little lousy. Typical users won't really bother with any other browser. And I find Abiword a little lacking.

      Comparing software now to what it was a decade ago is a little unfair (yes, by saying that this idea has already been tried is pretty much saying "the software sucked then and nobody used it so why use it now"). It's like comparing a 1960's car to a 2002 car, the old is a classic, but you really wouldn't wanna use it everyday.
      • Actually Mozilla is fair. I would want it on.

        There are plenty of things that Mozilla does that IE dosen't now.

        One example I ran into recently is PNG alpha transparency.

        IE dosen't do it, Mozilla does.

        The other feature that has made all of my friends that run windows look into looking at/running mozilla is the lovely "Scripts and Windows" preferences, that can stop pop-unders and pop-up ads.

        I can't speak as well for abiword. Tables are quite a necessary thing.
    • I think that they have a chance here to be different than As long as they avoid becoming the dumping ground for all sorts of projects, pick the cream of the crop, and, most importantly, work on packaging.

      An initiative that focuses on slicker installation procedures for OSS (which they would have to do if they want to be taken seriously by less than geeky types) will benefit the entire field of OSS development.

      For a big number of OSS projects, various GUI config and setup tools are already available, but have never been packaged together with the software itself. Bringing all these components on a coherent easy to use CD, would further the movement greatly.

      (I may be wrong of course :)

    • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @02:27PM (#3437234) Journal

      Orville: Didn't some guy in Switzerland crash into a lake a few months ago trying this?

      Wilbur: You're right. What were we thinking? Let's just go back to the bicycle shop and forget about all this nonsense.

  • success? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tps12 ( 105590 )
    My first reaction to this was, "great!" But then I started thinking, maybe this won't work so well. After all, open source software has been available for years on Linux ISOs...a lot of distros will install on a normal FAT32 filesystem.

    So why aren't people taking the plunge?

    Whatever the reason, it isn't the lack of an easy to install CD. If you think about it objectively, well, what are the differences between most, say, Windows software (commercial or shareware), and most open source software? Well, cost is right at the top, no question. And flexibility, for the small number of people who care. And next? Well, hate to say it, but polish, ease of use, help systems: anything that could make OSS usable by any but the most freakish, repressed, zealous, skinny Linux geek. And sticking it on a CD will never change that, ever, despite what the "community" would have you believe.

    • Re:success? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @11:52AM (#3435967)
      > the most freakish, repressed, zealous, skinny Linux geek

      Hey, we're not ALL freakish, repressed, zealous, skinny Linux geeks.

      Some of us are fat.
    • Re:success? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by billstr78 ( 535271 )

      After all, open source software has been available for years on Linux ISOs...a lot of distros will install on a normal FAT32 filesystem.

      The idea proposed is far different from a Free OS that will install on a FAT32 filesystem. It is modestly an introduction to the great big world of free software. Bringing a collection of Free Software that runs on thier existing windows system will allow for a smooth transition and eventual disconnect from the Borg that so many people could benifit from.

      It is true that M$ has made a near science of useability and has made software that a well trained monkey could use. However, the Free Software distrubuted on this CD also has many of the "help systems" and useability features that the M$ bloatware has levreged to gain so much of the market share. There is no reason why any open-minded person would not swithch, or at least try out the software on this CD. They may even find that they can get just as much done for about $600 less than they could with thier M$ alternatives.
    • Re:success? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Da Schmiz ( 300867 ) <slashdot AT pryden DOT net> on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @12:32PM (#3436228) Homepage
      Okay, I'll bite.

      I would say the killer app for getting OSS into Windows boxen would have to be either rpm or apt-get.

      If we could make installing software easy, painless, and reliable, we would have an open-source competitor to the Windows Installer. Just think: how many small apps use a full-blown InstallShield or Wise wizard when all they really need is to copy a couple of .EXEs and set up some shortcuts? But how many technophobic users would never install software by reading the README, unzipping the files, and putting them in the proper places?

      Once you have a back-end like rpm or apt, all you need is a one-click graphical front-end that launches it. If installing the program all happens automagically, the users will think it is a Good Thing(TM). They will notice how they don't have to click through a gazilion stupid steps like ""C:\Program Files\Company-Name\Product-Name" does not exist. Do you want to create it?"

      And then they ate Sir Billy's minstrels. And there was much rejoicing.

      • You say that a big problem is getting the stuff installed...

        I wonder if Gateway would want to promote this as a branch-off from their free music initiative. They already ship computers bogged down with other stuff, might as well put something useful on there too.

        That could be a big deal for them. This software would add 'value' (as in functional or sales value, even though the software itself is 'free') to their products without costing them much(I say 'not much' because installing that on each computer will cost them).
  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @11:47AM (#3435925)
    So, are they asking people to contribute to the project or to help spread it around. From what I can tell there's nothing there yet.

    To answer the headline question. Sneaking a non-existant CD "Through the Front Door" is rather easy. I do it all the time.

  • by jocknerd ( 29758 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @11:48AM (#3435933)
    To get people to move to Linux, we must first get them to use alternatives to MS Office and other packaged software. Get them using the cross-platform software and then switching the underlying OS won't be as tough down the road.

    The only thing that can stop Linux from eventually succeeding Windows on the desktop is either laws to prevent it from happening or not enforcing laws that will allow it to happen.
    • " we must first get them to use alternatives to MS Office" - but don't the alternatives just work under Linux or are there Windows ports of Open Office, Star Office etc?
    • To get people to move to Linux, we must first get them to use alternatives to MS Office and other packaged software. Get them using the cross-platform software and then switching the underlying OS won't be as tough down the road.

      This is, in fact, exactly the tactic Microsoft has already used.

      When Microsoft started developing Windows 95, they already had Windows NT 3.something. They knew they wanted everyone to move to NT, as it was more stable and performed better. So when they made the "Designed for Windows 95" logo program, they made one of the qualifications for receiving that logo to be that the program ran on both Windows 95 and Windows NT.

      6 years later they were able to produce Windows XP, on which almost all software written for Windows 9x will run.

      I'm no big fan of MS, but I appreciate their solution. And you're right, in order to move people off Windows and onto Linux, a similar migration would have to occur.

      Perhaps someone (Red Hat?) can start a "Designed for WINE" logo program, and require software that receives that logo to run on both Linux (under WINE) and Windows.

  • Mascot? (Score:2, Insightful)

    What we need is a mascot. Something furry and cute. Penguins are cute, Gnu's are not.

    How about .... A OSS Otter? Cute furry, adorable frolicking otter. Okay artists, get to work.
    • Mascot? (Score:1, Offtopic)

      Offtopic? You have got to be kidding. I better things to do with my time than post offtopic.

      "Anyone care to design some attractive, downloadable CD-graphic images? "

      Sounds like they wanted suggestions to me. I was making a suggestion for the mascot. Now if you don't like otters, then maybe you have a point.
  • If this CD has an easy to install copy of LyX for Win32 I'll be more than happy to buy a copy!

    Mmmmm. What you See is What you Mean editing. Mmmmmm. Yummy. Easy export of PDF, HTML or any other format from one document...

    More on LyX, the BEST text processor in the world [] or just download [] it.

    Linux users probably have it already. []
  • Shaped CDs (Score:2, Informative)

    by jsonic ( 458317 )
    Anyone care to design some attractive, downloadable CD-graphic images?

    Take it one step further and put it on shaped cds. []

  • Cygwin Too (Score:4, Interesting)

    by doublem ( 118724 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @11:56AM (#3435992) Homepage Journal
    And we can't forget a copy of the Cygwin utilities. (Many core GNU utilities ported to Win32)

    grep, awk, wget and others all easy to install.

    fortune will be VERY popular! :)
    • by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @01:28PM (#3436751)
      Anyone who needs those utilities already knows how to get them.People who use Windows or MacOS over Linux do it because the GUI handles all the details for them, not because they want to manage it all from the command line.
      • I can tell you at least one thing that would be considered useful in Cygwin to GUI Windows users: the Cygwin Xfree86 port, configured to remotely control UNIX boxes ala Hummingbird Exceed.

        It wouldn't have the mass popularity that, say Mozilla or OpenOffice offer, but it would get the CD in the door of shops like GM that have Unix boxes setup to run stuff like Unigraphics. These places have users that need a major Unix app like Unigraphics, but don't necessarily need it all the time. For instance, I supported Unigraphics at GM and didn't really need a UG seat all the time, so I ran Hummingbird Exceed.

        But at GM, like all the Big Three automakers, its difficult to Hummingbird Exceed on your seat because it costs money. So some users that would otherwise be using Exceed end up walking up to a shared walkup Unix box.

        If these people could access Unix boxes remotely from their Windows seat for FREE they'd do it en masse.

        Just a thought.

        • Actually to be completely honest, the XFree86 port is shit. I've tried it, and it had some issues in screen refreshing, even the startup "Welcome to Solaris" screen was often garbled. I switched to Exceed and all my problems were solved. Exceed comes with some other goodies too, and a _real nice_ window manager (I don't have to put up with TWM; it's from the stone age practically.)
      • For those times when you have to go to the command line in Windows, some of the command names are completely different. If you absolutely must include the command line utils, then I would suggest aliasing or wrapping in a shell script to get the command name and syntax to something more familiar.

        The commandline tools in Windows (all versions) are pretty brain-dead, since they are leftovers from DOS.
    • Those utilities are all do things which are not intuitive to people who aren't used to them.

      But I think Cygwin is a good idea, because it allows the CD to include a bunch of stuff that's written for a Unix-like system, just because a lot of really useful things are written that way, and Cygwin is a good way to package them up and install them together.

      Cygwin lets you provide scp, which is always missing from windows ssh clients (and there are a lot of cool things you can do with ssh that windows clients don't support). There are also a number of other utilities that are really helpful in a mixed Unix and Windows environment, like cvs.
    • Agreed on this. Someone mentioned that if you know enough to need it, you already have it. Not true, there are still people who want the tools and don't know of Cygwin's existence. Heck, a couple of years ago, I asked on one of the NewsGroups, and the best suggestion I got was for the 300$ suite.

      Needless to say, I like Cygwin a whole lot better. Especially with X and WindowMaker. :)
  • some holy water and garlic will do the trick.

    "Vade retro, $atana$"
  • ....with this;

    "Free Software on proprietary opperating systems"

    Can you spell "spell checker"....


  • by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @12:00PM (#3436024) Homepage Journal
    What would be even better would be a cd that was full of open source software for windows. Like WinCVS, emacs, etc. If there isn't enough of it for a whole CD, write more!
    Most open source software is for our open source operating systems. If we put more open source software out for windows, that is quality, people will use them, because they are free legally. If there are enough quality open source windows programs we can get to the point where people are using like 2 or 3 major open source programs a lot. Like how just about everybody uses WinAmp and AIM/ICQ.
    What I'm trying to say, and very poorly at that, is we can make some open source programs for windows that will be very frequently used my numerous users. Then we can switch them to linux more easily, because it has all the programs they use every day and more. The biggest fright about switching to linux is that you have to use all new software for everything. All of your beloved programs are gone or different. People tend to find one piece of software for each task and stick with it.
    • Dude, that's what the CD is.

      It will come with the 1.0 versions of OpenOffice, Mozilla, AbiWord and other programs as well...

      The Windows port of GIMP might be cool, but its a bit buggy and is based on a buggier port of Gtk.

      For programmers, the Free Pascal [] compiler (which has been 1.0 for a while now) and tools might be cool as well, along with WinCVS and Emacs or XEmacs. Vim, too.

      The Cygwin ports of XFree86 and KDE might be cool, too. :)

      The Windows port of PINE? (Or is that not Open Source) Ok, never mind, PINE sucks. :)

      Look at GNU Software For Windows Site [] for more ideas.

    • That is exactly what this project is proposing.
  • by cnladd ( 97597 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @12:01PM (#3436036) Homepage
    I've tried a number of times in the past to get my parents to switch over to Linux and OSS, and I used to recommend it to just about everybody. I always told people how easy it was to et up and use. This was a few years ago. Needless to say, I've learned a lot since then - the few people I've convinced to try it were never terribly happy, and after a week or so desperately wanted to switch back. I've learned my lesson, and now would never really recommend Linux or OSS to anybody unless they express an interest in learning more.

    People who learned to use Windows and MacOS expect things from their software that OSS programmers have yet to really give them. What it boils down to is a polished product. I'll admit - I think the KOffice suite, StarOffice 6, The Gimp, and many other OSS projects are incredible. They're complete, relatively bug free, and give me all of the features that I want. But when compared with similar software on Windows and MacOS, most people find the OSS stuff just feels klunky. Most OSS software (let me stress the most - certainly not all OSS software is like this) just isn't as polished-looking to the degree that a lot of common Windows and MacOS programs are.

    It's not so much about stability for the typical user. Sure, they want stability. They also want something that's intuitive, compatible with what their friends and coworkers use, and looks clean. They want software with a very adequate and easy to use help system, for when they get stuck.

    Also, they don't want something with the exact same features as what they're currently using. After all, why switch unless you'll also be going to something better? The better the software can meld into how they currently do things, the more likely they'll switch.

    In other words: yes the software needs to look pretty. Yes, it needs to be functional. Yes, it should be relatively bug free. But it also needs to integrate just as well or even better than what they're using now. It can't just be a functional replacement - it really needs to be something different and offer something remarkably better than current solutions. Finally, price isn't as much of a concern as most people think. That's not enough to make people switch from something the way they do things now, otherwise we'd have already seen the mass migration away from Windows and other closed-source, proprietary products.
    • Eh? maybe it's just me, but in 7 or so years using windows, I've never once had the MS help actually solve my problem.

      • I think the Help reference was for Applications. I know I've had a lot of Windows apps that had REALLY useful helpfiles. Microsoft help is always a steaming pile, but other apps have great help interfaces. And he's right, that's lacking in a lot of Linux apps. I think Linux as an OS has gone plenty far enough that all it really needs now is to be prettified some. It's the applications that now need work in order to garner mainstream usage and acceptance.

      • the OSS stuff just feels klunky
      • Most OSS software just isn't as polished-looking
      • They also want something that's intuitive, ... and looks clean
      • the software needs to look pretty
      I respectfully submit that most software (including OSS) on Linux/Unix suffers from these symptoms largely because of the X Window system. How does one design a polished, friendly GUI that integrates with the system and with other apps when X is standing in the way, with its plethora of toolkits and window managers, plus several major "desktop environments", each with its own look-and-feel? (Not to mention the brain-damaged font model!) Beats me.

      The bottom line is: UI consistency is important, and X makes it near impossible.

      • X is just a graphics system, similar to the Windows GDI. It does not, and cannot stand in the way of making apps look good.

        There are only 2 major toolkits: GTK+ and QT.
        Even though they both look different (default theme), they look similar enough to not confuse people. I have yet to meet a person who can't see that a GTK+ button is a button, or that a QT button is a button.

        I also can't see how the window manager can make things look unpolished. If you like it, stick with it, and *ALL* apps will have the same window borders. If you don't like the current wm, then switch to one you do like.

        As for the "brain-damaged font model": it has been "fixed" (Xft), and both GTK+ 2.0 and QT 2.2 supports Xft. GTK+ 1.2 also supports it, using GdkXft.

        The reason why we still don't use 1 unified toolkit yet is because many people have different opinions. Person 1 loves the QT look but hates the GTK+ look, while person 2 loves the GTK+ look but hates the QT look. One person likes C++, the other sends his C++ compilers to /dev/null. You can't just tell people to go for 1 toolkit until you have something that satisfy all of them.
        In the Windows world, there are different opinions too, except that people are more or less forced to use the standard Windows toolkit (though I have seen quite a lot of apps that don't exactly look like other Windows apps).
      • One all-too-common mistake is the assumption that OSS means Linux/Unix. There are, at the very least, windows ports of many open-source programs that originated on Linux. Trouble is, the vast majority of these use their own (klunky) widget sets instead of Windows' native widgets.

        Mind you, GTK works great under Linux, but its windows implementation is slow, weak, and buggy. It would be nice to see applications like X-Chat, The Gimp, and OpenOffice ported over to Windows using the standard Windows widgets. Yes, it would take more work, but it would also make them a heck of a lot more useable in the eyes of the average user. Nobody wants to use software that klunks.

        The real bottom line is: On Windows, X has nothing to do with it. It's the fact that Windows ports are secondary to original Linux code, and don't get the attention they need to make them solid.
    • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @01:42PM (#3436876) Journal
      Take the GIMP. Quite powerful plugins. But nothing like the easy-to-use with presets plugins you get on Photoshop. Every time I see a GIMP plugin, I think "this is neat, but a non-techie won't go for it".

      Take edge-detection. AFAIK, not a big deal in Photoshop. There are *three* different plugins implemented for gimp, each named after the algorithm they implement. This is cool if you're into image processing, not image editing.

      If you run out and download plugins you can get cool stuff, too. The problem is that downloading, compiling, and installing plugins is not going to work for new users. And most of those plugins aren't oriented toward design sorts either -- more towards image processing engineers.

      Let me give an example. A tasty-sounding plugin for the GIMP is Artistic->Oilify. Oil painting, cool! In Photoshop, if you run something like this, you'll get a little window with a preview, a bunch of bundled presets named "big gloppy brush", "Van Gogh", etc. In the GIMP, you get a frame called "Parameter Settings" containing a checkbox called "Use Intensity Algorithm" and a slider entitled "Mask Size". Now, maybe it's just me, but I doubt anyone but the original coder k(or someone that's looked at the code, or is familiar with this family of image processing algorithms) knows what the "use Intensity Algorithm" does. There's no preview, so no easy way to check. Mask Size doesn't mean anything to a non-coder.

      The GIMP (1.2.3 ximian) still doesn't bundle even have a good, preset-capable, previewing drop-shadow plugin. This is something that people want, and usually they don't want to still run out and create another layer, fill the selection, gaussian blur and then offset the new layer. It's work, and the 1% of the time they want some weird effects in their drop shadow, they can do things the hard way.

      That means you shouldn't have a "alpha squared" value slider, you should have a "hairyness slider".

      And this is the GIMP, which is billed as just about the most consumer-oriented app on Linux.

      AbiWord is probably one of the closest apps here to what I'm talking about. Any word processor user will be familiar with most of the options.

      Every feature has to be documented, tooltips be included, etc. if people really want to try to take over the commercial app market.

      Something like Apple Guide or Windows Help needs to be implemented. Tooltips should be implemented more than once in a blue moon.

      Now, I'm not asking for anything -- I'm happily using and hacking on the software out there, and it works nicely for me. But if the intent is to go after the commercial apps market, then a few areas need to be addressed.
      • Completely agree about GIMP. But trying to tell this to the Gimp-developer crowd is a different story. My mom wanted to try GIMP because she couldn't afford Photoshop.

        She hated it, just because it didn't *look* like Windows and nothing made sense to her (the algorithms and things you mentioned). I sent a message to Gimp-devel with some suggestions on how this could be helped (even asking for direction on how it could be implemented since I'm not a hardcore C coder), of course met only with flames. "Potato Shop Sucks!" etc.

        I think half the problem with OSS is that developers implement what they think is cool and what is useful to them. Which is great! But if we want our software to take over the world we have to cater to the rest of people out there.
        • Interesting. I was going to offer "The Gimp" as a counterexample. In my case, though, the "victim" was a technical person (a developer) who couldn't afford Photoshop. He loved it, and I think he even went out and bought books for it.

          So maybe this ISO should be targetted at technical folks using Windows.

          -Paul Komarek
    • While we're on the subject of parents... some time ago mine wanted a PC. I duly built one and installed Windows ME as I thought I should be nice to them (!). I am a linux diehard - but I was worried they'd find it hard to use.

      To cut a long story short, months 1-3 were OK. After that I was getting phone calls every week or two about things going wrong. My mum asked if there was any alternative to Windows - preferably something that Bill hadn't been near. (Me gets heart failure)

      One Mandrake 8.0 install later and much tuning of fonts and installing opera I gave them a system which looked after their phone calls for the internet (diald), selection of browsers (opera + konq + moz - choose as required) and a nice email system (kmail + local mail hub (exim) routing through the ISP or my server as seemed good.

      After 1 week, I asked how they were getting on. Mum said - and I quote - "this is nice and easy to use - much easier than that Windows thing". I kid you not.

      There were web problems from time to time - mostly caused by crap websites. So recently, I went down and installed Mandrake 8.2. Spent a while tuning the anti-aliased fonts in KDE, made sure moz was stuffed with every plugin I could find and improved a few system things.

      Now, and truely now, they are really happy. Moz does everything right with pretty much all the websites they're interested in. Kword is a passable - but simple - wordprocessor they find meets their requirements. Kmail is pretty, clear and intuitive.

      The moral of the story was too choose the few apps they actually needed as being the "best of breed", polish them and stick the icons on the taskbar. They don't want to do much - they just want those few things to work properly.

      And of course, the system is rock solid and I get decent remote admin (ssh).

      A true story...

    • You are absolutely right regarding the quality of some OSS. The reason is that good software needs a lot more then programmers. You need good test engineers, technical writers, graphics/UI designers, product designers, product managers (scope creep anyone?), usability and human factors sepecialists, and even some market research to determine what the people want. How many OSS projects study controlled "joe-blow" usability sessions with their latest UI? I think the reason that projects like Linux are so successful is because it's made for geeks, by geeks. Writing an Office Suite or a Consumer Desktop is a totally different ballgame.
  • Why not Cygwin? (Score:2, Informative)

    by jspayne ( 98716 )
    Cygwin [] is a great way for those bound to the evil empire to have access to some powerful developer tools. For those not familiar with Cygwin, it is the inverse of Wine: a complete Unix environment that runs in Windows. Just about any Linux app can be ported to it, and many already have. - gcc - gdb/Insight - Python - Perl - PostgreSQL - Apache - XFree86 - KDE - Gnome all the shell lovin' you could ever want. Jeff
  • Wouldn't it be funny to form some BSA-like group, which would goose-step into corporate offices, auditing software. When the group found unlicensed software (or, more likely), software which probably is licensed, but for which no license can be found, it would either mandate that their victims pony up zillions of dollars -- OR, switch to OSS software.

    I wonder how fast the BSA would shut down such a group?
  • has incredibly sweet CD-R's for sale.

    Maybe something like Hello [] or Punchcard [] is appropriate?
  • I could say Mozilla but that's waay to obvious, Qcad is good for newbies to cad and it's OSS, go grab a copy at, it's cool. I just wish they'd hurry it up with the CLI in qcad 2.
  • Demolinux (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mirko ( 198274 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @12:12PM (#3436099) Journal
    Demolinux [] is a project that consists of booting Linux from a Live CD.
    This is IMHO the best Linux distro for newcomers and it looks quite like what is intended for this project : See Free Software in use without touching one's HD..
    • But it doesn't seem to read ext3 file systems. It recognizes them, and labels them (with short-cuts on the desktop.) But the fstab calls their file system type unknown, and mount doesn't appear to know what to do with a -t ext2 argument.

      Of course, the basic idea is to demonstrate things on non-linux systems, but I was hoping that I could use it as an emergency disk.
  • I think that this might work as a good "gateway drug" into the world of Linux for most users. I don't think that people are opposed to the idea of OSS, I think that they are just uncomfortable with switching their OS. If they kinda get a taste of OSS in an enviornment with which they are familiar, it might make them a bit more comfortable moving to Linux. I've always thought that there was a need for more Win32-based open-source projects.
  • Kinda OT.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jonnythan ( 79727 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @12:16PM (#3436122) Homepage
    But the article blurb made me think of it.

    Windows doesn't come with any horribly buggy, barely working applications. None.

    In addition, it installs one version of each "accessory" app.. calculator, notepad, browser, file manager, etc. It even puts shortcuts to them in the same place.

    I'd like to see a linux distro that includes just one stable, simple version of each type of app in a basic install. One browser, one file manager, one word processor. Having a slightly more task-oriented set of menus and shortcuts in a distro would be a cool thing to see, IMO. I remember first installing red hat 4.something.. the choices of apps confused the living daylights out of me. The way I see it, this hasn't changed all that much...

    Oh yeah, having a way to just "download and select run" to install new apps would be good for linux too ;)
    • Well, you could look at Lindows. They seem to be planning on that. They are even talking about a license that "allows you to use the same version on every computer in your family". (I found that a bit of a poser. Isn't it under the GPL? That sounded awfully limited.) But they do limit the choices, and they do always put everything in the same place (or at least so I judge from their ads).

    • Re:Kinda OT.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by jd142 ( 129673 )
      Take a look at what was Redmond Linux, now Lycoris. Pretty decent install, except for 1 or 2 things. Nice, simplified setup when you are done. Not for Gnome lovers though.
    • Re:Kinda OT.. (Score:2, Informative)

      by BenjyD ( 316700 )

      Oh yeah, having a way to just "download and select run" to install new apps would be good for linux too ;)

      I suppose typing apt-get install $APP_NAME is too much work?
    • I'd like to see a linux distro that includes just one stable, simple version of each type of app in a basic install. One browser, one file manager, one word processor.

      COREL tried this with their distro, and had good distribution channels, a widely recognized brand name, and marketing bucks. They even had the 'download and select run feature' you talk about thanks to an enhanced Debian .deb installer.

      In the end they sold off their Linux division for $3M.

      I think the lesson learned from this was that they weren't accepted by the Linux community, and that the Linux community is often too caught up in wars between distros or between Linux and BSD or GNU to focus on what really matters which is getting Linux accepted by the masses and crushing the MS monopoly.

      • Hmmm... that's an interesting thought.

        And I thought the reason I sat in front of a computer was to be productive, but I guess what really matters is "crushing the MS monopoly"... learn something new everyday.

        I don't care what platform I run on as long as it is stable and has the apps that I need. That's what really matters, getting the stuff done that you need to get done. That is the reason why I've got a unix desktop and a windows desktop, I'm most proficient on my unix system, but there are no unix apps that hold a match to the productivity of using Visio, MS Office, etc on a windows system (and before you say it, I've got a Sun workstation so no wine for me, and besides that why would I want to use wine that has more stability issues than windows).
      • Re:Kinda OT.. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jdavidb ( 449077 )

        I never accepted Corel because they were a hybrid free/proprietary system. I love Linux, BSD, and GNU. I love RedHat and Debian, and would probably be happy with most of the other distros. I know there are flamewars, but I don't usually see them from the people I know in the community. (I usually browse slashdot at 4 or 5, though.)

        The only war I'm really interested in is making sure they we are opposed to all proprietary software, not just MS. I could get along without MS but still be trapped in proprietary software from Apple or Sun. Plenty of people seem to think that attitude is petty, obstructive, or anti-business, but that's the one thing I'm passionate about.

        My goal is not to get Linux accepted or to crush Microsoft. It is to get freedom and copyleft accepted. So, we're pointed in the same general direction, but at times you'll find me and people like me aren't focused in directly on the same things you are.

  • by zoombat ( 513570 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @12:17PM (#3436128)
    I work for a non-profit, so low cost or free is essential. However it's not everything.

    Replacing MS Office is, in my opinion, the Holy Grail of open source target product replacements. What a product needs to do to compete with Office is:

    1. Be very polished so that below-average users can get their work done without hitting snags.
    2. Integrate with other applications as well as Office does. Such as Exchange Server with Outlook.
    3. Be stable and easily patchable, but not require frequent reinstallations. This is probably where Office is weakest, even though they've improved the stability and crash recovery features with XP, and implemented the semi-reliable Windows Update.
    4. New Features. Microsoft takes some rough shots from the open source community, but the open source folks are more or less playing catch-up with the feature-set in office. Not only do they need to catch up and match the features, they need to offer some significant improvements to make MS chase them for a change. That way, the software would not just be "Nearly as good as office and free", but "In competition with Office and free".

    If the above were true, I believe the product might succeed in becoming more widely used and supported.

    In the mean time, a free version of an Office replacement might make it in the door and onto my desktop if it was good, but it would take the above criteria for me to roll it out to all my end users.

    I do, however, commend this effort. The open source community needs some help putting it's best foot forward to be seen. There are some pretty darn good open source projects, but there is also a lot of noise that makes open source stuff look like free junk.

    • New Features. Microsoft takes some rough shots from the open source community, but the open source folks are more or less playing catch-up with the feature-set in office. Not only do they need to catch up and match the features, they need to offer some significant improvements to make MS chase them for a change. That way, the software would not just be "Nearly as good as office and free", but "In competition with Office and free".

      I will recommend the opposite: fewer features. I've observed a lot of friends, colleagues, and coworkers use office, and two things stand out as being very common. First, people use software very inefficiently. They stay in newbie mode for years. Very rarely do they use advanced features, or employ advanced, more efficient techniques that they didn't learn initially. Second, most features cause more problems than they solve. I've seen more people get trapped by all the extra features and end up with, for example, documents with strange formatting they don't know how to get rid of, than I have seen people make use of even relatively basic features. People might like the idea of having 40 choices of font and 8 different border styles with 20 variations each, but it doesn't really result in a better memo or more informative annual report, and it adds complexity and opportunity for error. Presentation features are generally a problem anyway because most people don't know enough about typesetting to pick the right border style in the first place. Giving them fewer choices reduces the chance that they'll pick something completely inappropriate. Publishers and typesetters do need those tools, but they're a specialty market and they probably wouldn't be caught trying to typeset on Word anyway.

      If you took Word Pad and added a handful of features, perhaps tables, automatic pagination, page numbering, and maybe a half dozen other simple features, you would end up with a program that, to most people, would probably be more useful than Word. What would really help people out is to create a set of simple tools that are easy to learn, efficient to use right from the start, and which don't have too many options; the thing should Just Work.

      If you tell someone that you have a free word processor that has even more features than Word, they'll probably respond that they already have Word, know how to use it, and don't need any new features. If you told them you had a small, fast word processor that you could teach them to use in an hour, didn't have lots of confusing options and menus, and which made preparing letters, reports, and other common office documents extremely easy,a and by the way it's free, you'd probably get more takers.
    • Actually, OpenOffice has one very small feature that Excel doesn't have. Upon the bringing in of a comma-delimited ASCII file, it automagically does the equivalent of Excel's "AutoFit Selection" for column width. This sounds small, but I have to import a LOT of comma-delimited files into Excel and this little timesaver is a major reason for me to use OpenOffice instead of Excel.

      (Yes, you could always do this in an Excel macro, but most users aren't that bright. :)

  • This is EXCELLENT news, especially if some kind soul (or company) would care to finance an AOL-like blizzard of CD mailouts and mage coverdisks. I've often thought (and occasionally said) that getting the message through to ignorant PHBs is the only way to guarantee Free software a future: witness the horrors of the DMCA, et. al., and now the EUCD (which is even WORSE than the DMCA... []). Once PHBs realise that such laws will actually COST THEM MONEY - or that they can save money by using *cough* open source *cough* apps, servers and OSes, we'll be safe from the proprietary industry's last attempt to save itself, by legislating us out of existence.
    • IF such a cd was created, and IF it was really well done, I personally would have no qualms about spending my time and money to help get these out in the same manner aol does theirs. We could do it like every other OSS project, 100's of people contributing $5-10 or whatever they wanted.

      Imagine it. A CD comes in the mail with a label like:


      A little insert with a description of the project and where to go to learn more would go a long way.

      I wonder what the costs would be for a project like this, it's a really good idea. If it's practical it would really be cool.

  • What it takes (Score:4, Informative)

    by saphena ( 322272 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @12:19PM (#3436147) Homepage
    For the vast bulk of "ordinary" users the computer is just a thing they switch on and it "just works".

    They use M$ Windows cos that's what it came with, that's what everyone else uses and, in business at least, that's the platform targeted by the mainstream application developers.

    They use M$ Office and M$ Outlook and M$ Internet Explorer cos that's what it came with, that's what everyone else uses and they get email attachments and website downloads that presume the existence of this platform.

    These people usually have little, if any, computer literacy, They have little, if any, awareness of the "politics" of the open source argument. The overwhelming majority will have no understanding of or use for the source at all.

    If you want to change their habits, you won't succeed by selling the operating system. "What's an operating system and why would I care about it?"

    If you want to change their habits, you won't succeed by trying to change everything all at once or by selling the virtues of "open source".

    If you want to change their habits, you won't succeed by giving them a CD full of strangely named things that they have to "compile" or "make" or learn howto use a plain text editor to configure.

    Pick one thing, say OpenOffice, make sure that it is idiot proof with an idiot proof install routine. List ALL its virtues and, particularly, why anyone would want to use it in preference to M$ Office that they're all used to.

    That might do it.
    • Re:What it takes (Score:3, Informative)

      by natbudin ( 577028 )
      I've been doing this with Mozilla at my school for awhile now. Whenever someone comes to me with an issue about malicious ActiveX controls, or browser-trapping popups, or whatever, I help them get rid of it, and then say, "By the way... you should check out Mozilla. It lets you turn off popups."

      Most people end up trying Mozilla and never going back to MSIE.
  • The next step to making OSS ready for the masses is getting the developers to put the vowels back in their product names.
    • Amen, brother.

      If i had one OSS wish it would be to ban the letters 'K' and 'G' from all OSS applications names.

      Does anyone like these kinds of names? It's not cute, it's not clever. Is it a lack of imagination? Are the developers too lazy or uninterested to come up with a meaningful and simple name?

      When will the hurting end?

  • by MrResistor ( 120588 ) <peterahoff&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @12:24PM (#3436172) Homepage
    What will this CD have on it? Linux ports or Windows ports?

    Personally, I would use the Windows ports. They're available for all the current shining stars of open source; OpenOffice, Mozilla, GIMP. Those are the big ones, they cover 90% of what people actually use computers for, and they're all available for windows. Get people to switch to those and you're more than halfway to getting them on Linux.

    Someone else asked 'this stuff is already freely/easily available with easy install, etc, so why aren't people switching already?' Habit is why. They're used to using MS Office and they're afraid that it'll take too long or be to hard to learn a new package. I just went through that with my Dad when I built him a new computer. He was used to MS Office and wanted it installed. Of course, he didn't actually own a copy, and I tossed my pirated copy when I discovered OpenOffice. It took me a little while to convince him to just try OpenOffice, and if he didn't like it he could always go back. It's been 2 weeks now, and he's sold. He finds OpenOffice much easier to use, and he's comforted by the fact that he can open up his old MS Office documents without a hitch.

    This is the way to get people to switch to OSS, one app at a time. Then, once they've switched for all their major apps, simply point out that they will all run on Linux.

    For home users, it usually isn't that hard. In a business environment it's a different story, since even the thought of a productivity hit, no matter how small, sends chills down people's spines. I think the key there is to get them to switch at home, where they're more comfortable and can take some time.

  • From the Mac side... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @12:34PM (#3436234) Journal
    There's (going to be, at least) a big market for this kind of thing on MacOS, where the arrival of a new operating system has created a lot of holes in the lineup of available software. Projects like Fink, XDarwin and the others have been really useful in making it easy to find and install existing free software.

    I've also found a number of Java apps on Freshmeat that run fine on OS X, and were certainly less painful than the only native alternatives. Those would also be worth collecting and distributing.

    Besides, this is a great opportunity to grab the kind of mindshare apps like Newswatcher and Fetch had on Classic.
    • Interesting. Time will tell if you're right. I guess maybe it depends on how you look at it. I mean, since Gimp (for example) can now run on OS X it's user base might jump dramatically. OTOH, this probably translates into a negligeable perecentage of Mac users as a whole. Believe me, I don't think Adobe is afraid of Gimp. No professional Photoshop-using shops are even considering switching, I can assure you.

      I actually think that within a couple of years it will be the UNIX community that benefits most from the association with the Macintosh, rather than the other way around. Think about it. Tons of commercial applications running on OS X mean that porting some of them to other *NIX platforms might be on the black side of the cost/benefit analysis sheet for the first time ever. Bingo, you suddenly have Photoshop for Linux. You get the idea.

      I guess my main point is that it's would mean a lot more to the *NIX community to get Photoshop than getting Gimp means to the Macintosh community. Whether it'll actually happen that way, who knows.
  • The site: [], which is nothing officially to do with GNU [], is a collection of links to open source Windows projects. I've already used it to compile some pretty useful CDs to give away to people.
  • App Bloat (Score:3, Insightful)

    by barnaclebarnes ( 85340 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @12:42PM (#3436309) Homepage
    This sounds like a good idea as long as they keep it to best-of-breed products. One of the things I find annoying (as well as great) about Linux distros is the sheer number of applications avaialable. I would rather the distro only gave me 1 top quality CD palyer installed to start with and 1 browser, one office suite, etc. Then later if I wanted to allow me to try others.

    Hopefully for this Windows CD they can stick with just a few top qualtiy products.

  • by EnglishTim ( 9662 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @12:43PM (#3436320)
    Looking at their forums, a lot of the people who contribute (to the forums, at least...) seem to be primarily Linux people who may use Windows a bit. As a result there's a load of people advocating crazy things like putting vim or emacs on the CD... Even programs like the GIMP are going to feel odd to most Windows users with their appalling X-style load/save dialogs...
  • Simple reason

    Reading specs from C:/mingw32/bin/../lib/gcc-lib/mingw32/2.95.3-6/spe cs
    gcc version 2.95.3-6 (mingw special)

    Reading specs from /usr/lib/gcc-lib/i686-pc-cygwin/2.95.3-5/spec s
    gcc version 2.95.3-5 (cygwin special)

    Reading specs from /cygdrive/c/devkitadv/bin/../lib/gcc-lib/arm- agb-elf/3.0.2/specs
    Configured with: ../gcc-3.0.2/configure --prefix=/devkitadv --build=i686-pc-cygwin --host=i686-pc-cygwin --target=arm-agb-elf --
    -cpu=arm7tdmi --without-local-prefix --with-newlib --with-headers=../newlib-1.9.0/newlib/libc/include / --enable-multilib --enabl
    terwork --enable-languages=c++ --enable-targets=arm-elf,arm-coff,arm-aout --disable-win32-registry --disable-threads -v
    Thread model: single
    gcc version 3.0.2 (DevKit-Advance)


    In case they didn't notice OSS is not really stagnant software. Putting it on a CD will be kinda useless because the software will be outdated in a month or two at most. Sure I guess putting only full whole [e.g. v1, v2, etc...] releases on it would be nice but just grabbing any old piece of OSS is a bad idea.

  • ALL my Windows development tools are either OSS or designed to interact with OSS in the case that the client app is closed source... and even then its still a free closed source app. I heard it expressed in an earlier discussion on OpenOffice that making a Swiss Army Knife of a suite isn't always the best way to fight Commercial Apps. Smaller, faster tools that get the job done are very compelling. Compare MS Access to using MySQLFront (not OSS but free and the server is OSS...) Access has got a lot of wizards and tools to make tasks easier for a novice. However, when you outgrow that those features don't mean much.

    Also would like to say donating time and spare cashflow to the development of these tools is critical to making these apps "polished". So practice what you preach and really support the coders creating these cool tools.
  • Good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sulli ( 195030 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @12:57PM (#3436465) Journal
    I switched to Mozilla a couple of weeks ago (which sucked ass when I tried it before) and love it. Better than IE or old netscape, mainly because of one killer feature: popup killer. Now I would love to try other stuff that is as reliable and easy to install - GIMP and OpenOffice would be great if they work as advertised, as would a reliable, working, non-shitty, ad-free Gnutella client - so for me this cd would be quite useful, if shipped for win and mac os 9.

    But let me reiterate what others have said: it must be EASY to use. No editing text to config. No compiling. No weird choices between tools nobody outside the free software world has ever heard of. Just a small, coherent set of useful applications that just happen to be free. Do that and you'll be amazed at how many people use and distribute this.

    • Make it easy, yes. Make it simplistic, no. Dumb it down, no.

      Unfortunately, too many of the people in charge of specing out software don't understand the difference. Mozilla isn't too bad, and it certainly kicks IE's butt, but I really would like a command line option to specify mail or browser, so I can have two different icons on my desktop, one for mail and one for browser. It doesn't have to be complicated. Maybe that option is there, but I haven't found it yet through trial and error, reading the documentation, or consulting with Miss Cleo.

      What's harder? Having the distribution/installer set up these icons once, or having the use always start a browser to send an email?

      I'm not picking on Mozilla. It's really great, and that problem is extremely minor. But it's typical of a lot of software. Because someone decided that the command line is evil, all the intermediate and advanced users are penalized because the newbie might, just might, discover that there's a command line option to start the mail client and run away screaming in terror.
  • Abiword is mentioned as one piece of quality software. I use it, but now only to read new word docs that my MS-Office 95 can't read. Why? Last time I tried to print a 2-page letter with Abiword, it came out on 3 pages. First page and last page were just about normal, except that the middle page contained just 1 line that should have come out on the first page but didn't quite fit. I was using a popular HP printer, so it wasn't oddball equipment. The Abiword site admits that they are small and of limited capabilities vs the bigger vendors of WP software. What they have done is very good for a small team, but why make a poster child out of something that is only a usually adequate second choice? The hassles of one document screwed up like mine just about cancel all the savings of going to a free package for one desktop in a large business.
  • Yes, there's a lot of great open source software out there that many average people could find useful.

    But there's a lot out there, too, that are just the 240th way to catalog MP3 titles.

    What's needed is for the collection to be a subset of the OSS universe, applications which have been tested for being relevant, useful and reliable.

    A well integrated CD like this could do wonders.

    One of the hindrances that we contend with is fragmentation of a finite user community, in the sense that given 10 users of a specific kind application such as a Word-like WYSIWYG document preparation system, 2 will be doing Abiword, 2 will be doing KWord, 1 doing LyX, 4 doing StarOffice, etc.

    The CD integrator has to be brave enough to choose one good application of each kind to build a complete, but minimal system. End users appreciate that orthogonality. [Not limiting them in any way - advanced users will find out about the alternatives and their benefits and limitations all by themselves.]

    But most importantly, there's likely to be a larger community of people that can help new users with any particular application and also more developers furthering the particular application because of big marquee glory for something that's used by tens of thousands of users.

  • by feldsteins ( 313201 ) <> on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @01:21PM (#3436678) Homepage
    "...eventually bring them over to a completely free system on their own time."

    That implies running a "free" operating system, probably Linux.

    "...your parents/friends..."

    In my world this group would include people who aren't computer professionals and who's machines aren't otherwise professionally managed.

    Having established all that... You're kidding me, right?

    The last time I had run linux was ...gosh, had to be at least 3 years ago. I installed it...went "hmm" for a few weeks.. and then wiped it. A couple of weeks ago I thought it was high time to give it another look. Why not? I had listened to Linux users in these forums proclaiming how good this-or-that distribution has gotten that I kind of assumed that the operating system really was ready for prime time.

    I managed to get Yellow Dog 2.2 [] installed on my Titanium PowerBook, sure. But after having done it I was stunned at how...well, rudimentary the installer was. In spite of endless "the installer really has gotten good now" comments. Well, if by "good" you mean "nowhere near the usability of commercial desktop operating systems" then yeah I'll agree with that.

    I managed to get my wireless networking going. I found out how to do a few other things. But the main thing I discovered is that Linux hasn't really gotten usable enough for novices. Somehow I expected more.

    Frankly I don't care if some Linux zealot mods me down or lables my comment "troll" or "flamebait." While you're doing it, bear this in mind - I'm doing this for you. The Linux community really needs to take seriously the idea that a novice needs to be able to install, configure, troubleshoot, and maintain the thing without endless arcane documentation or professional help. If your fellow Linux users/developers won't tell you, I will.

    Linux will never be more than a server OS and a geek toy until / unless the usability radically changes.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      ... I thought it was high time to give it another look. Why not? I had listened to Linux users in these forums proclaiming how good this-or-that distribution has gotten that I kind of assumed that the operating system really was ready for prime time.

      I managed to get Yellow Dog 2.2 [] installed on my Titanium PowerBook, sure. But after having done it I was stunned at how...well, rudimentary the installer was.

      What do these two things have to do with each other? ``Ready for prime time'' and ``quality of installer''? Nothing. Granny can't install Linux, Granny can't install Solaris, and Granny can't install Windows. Despite the big advantage Apple has from their iron-clad control of everything which runs OSX, I suspect that Granny hasn't a prayer of installing OSX, either. There exists no OS which meets your criterion: `` ... that a novice needs to be able to install, configure, troubleshoot, and maintain the thing without endless arcane documentation or professional help.''

      Toasters and refridgerators work that way, but complicated things like cars and computers don't. Do you think that cars aren't ready for the mass market? Once a knowledgable person sets up a Unix OS, it will run and run and run, for years. The user can't easily screw it up. That's ready for prime-time. Windows isn't, and may never be. Thanks to things like USB and Kudzu, Linux is pretty near there, once installed.

      Have you tried a Windows installer lately? Some of them have pretty graphics, but their hardware detection and included drivers are way behind linux on Ix86. Installing Windows is HARD. Solaris is HARD too. Linux is a good deal easier to get running on intel hardware than those others. By the way, graphics doesn't make for an easy install. Good hardware detection and automated selection of the right drivers does.

      • I'm not equating "ready for consumers" with "easy installer" although the former does imply the latter. Remember, I also said "But the main thing I discovered is that Linux hasn't really gotten usable enough for novices." By this I meant to imply that I discovered a great number of common activities beyond installation that required beyond-novice-level skills to do.

        You ask, "Have you tried a Windows installer lately?" To which I reply, yes - I have tried them all. Repeatedly. I didn't explicity say so earlier but I do work in IT. And I must take exception to your inclusion of Solaris in this mix. Solaris isn't a consumer desktop operating system.

        Anyway, we could nit-pick forever about specifics. I'd like to propose the following hypothetical experiment. We buy 100 PCs. Store-bought, brand name PCs. We wipe the drives bare. Then we give 50 of them to novices and include a Windows XP CD. We give the other 50 to novices equipped with, say, Red Hat 7.2. No outside help allowed. No calls to "uncle Ed the computer nerd." Just for kicks let's buy 50 Macintoshes, wipe those drives and give them to 50 more novices, including an OS X install CD.

        At the end of three days which group with have more fully functional machines? By fully functional I mean OS installed correctly, internet connection working, email set up, web browsing, installed a couple of 3rd party applications, maybe.

        Obviously the Macintosh group will come in first, but this is almost cheating since Apple controls the hardware and the OS. Enough said. But what of the other two groups? Who will take that second place? If you think even for a moment that it will be the Red Hat group then I think you are seriously deluded about the state of Linux's usability.
  • Success is possible (Score:2, Interesting)

    by OSSturi ( 577033 )
    I'm giving away CDs with the latest stable Mozilla and OpenOffice versions away for quite some time now. I'm always including the Linux and the Windows version and the appropriate spellchecker. This works quite well. My girlfriends parents have a new PC with XP and Word preinstalled. They're using OpenOffice now for spreadsheets and drawings. They still use Netscape 6.2 though. Be careful to choose the right moment to convince them and take the time helping them installing things. Give a short introduction and they'll find out the rest themselves. In a few years they'll be doing the same with others... OSS takes it's time, the source is ours, it won't run away.
  • ... is not to hand out CD's full of it to your friends and neighbors who aren't really interested in the first place. The most effective way would be to convince the businesses that employ these people to use it. People want to use the same OS and software at home as they do at work. Remember that most people were more or less forced to learn Windows and MS Office for their job, and have no interest in learning new software when they are already familiar with Windows (and MS Office, IE, etc...). If they were required to use Linux at work, they would be much more likely to try it at home. Familiarity is the key. So try sending your OSS CD to local businesses, and be sure to stress that all the software contained therein is completely FREE... even for business use.
  • by 5KVGhost ( 208137 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @02:12PM (#3437137)
    I'm discouraged that their list of "contributions from the community" doesn't include anything at all about decent documentation. The fact that the first item is "cool graphics" isn't very promising, either.

    Accurate, well-written, and current documentation is absolutely vital. They apparently plan to link to "full online documentation", which are probably the cobbled-together FAQs and HOWTOs that are already available, and that's not likely to be adequate.

  • People will give a free handout a 3-5 second glance at the contents listed on the cd.

    Such a CD should include Winamp and Winamp themes, at the top of the list. When people see that they might actually spin the cd up and not throw it away.

    Also if companies can be talked into allowing netless installers for free with minimum junk, the cd should also include Realplayer, Winzip, Quicktime, Flash and so on...

    Allow tastefull non-spyware(Real?)/non-nagware to piggyback but don't make it a GNU with a cross and a sword. People don't care about licences. Just worry about getting them to run .autorun.inf, a good explanation of each package from there will do the rest.

    I didn't see anybody mention Dia (gnome diagram editor) which is Very solid on Windows.

    Fortune should be recompiled as a Windows popup that installs so that it automaticly runs at login time. Remember the millions paying $30 a head for flying toasters. No reason it shouldn't just go.

    In the future, Cygwin should install by default with X windows in mixed mode. Not a desktop in a big window.

    I also did not see anyone mention Xemacs.

  • It doesn't matter how simple the interface becomes, it's not enough. So what if KDE? is just as easy to use as windows. How hard is it to install new software? The standard steps of "configure, make, make install" may be intuitive for us, but it isn't for the average Windows users. Microsoft does it the right way, double click on "setup.exe" or, even better, the installer launches when you stick the CD in the drive.

    The installer should be smart enough to install any components necessary for the program to run. If that means included in the package, so be it. It's not good enough that most systems will have that library. Unless all systems have that library, it must be part of the installer. If the program fails because obscure shared object is missing, 99% of the users will remove the package (if they can figure out how). It won't take too many of these failures for someone to get fed up and go back to Windows.

    Don't stop at getting the dependencies handled properly. Make the configuration just as easy. Either the installer must ask for necessary default information and create the default dependency, or the program itself must recognize the need and fire up a configuration wizard the first time it is run. For the typical end-user, wizards are great. They simplify what can otherwise be a tedious and error prone process.

    Another area needing major improvements is manuals and help systems. All too often the developers do a damn fine job of producing a top notch program. Too bad only geeks can figure the software out, since the manuals suck, the online help is non-existent or minimal, and the web page says, "I don't have time to write anything" (I've actually seen this!).

    The program isn't ready for public consumption until the manual is finished.
  • We could work with a cereal company and distribute OSS CDs on cereal boxes! Junior takes the CD, drops it in, installs, OSS replaces/removes spyware, etc., replacing it with good OSS products! Make sure your computer gets its daily dose of vitamins GPL and OSS! Perhaps working with IBM for funding. Hey kids! Be the first on your block to run DB2 and Websphere! It makes your MP3's fly off your website! We could advertise doing loops with Fruit Loops, shred your license costs with Shredded Wheat, crunch your software costs with Captain Crunch...ok, that might pique curiosity. ...but I am somewhat hesitant to associate OSS software with cereals that snap, crackle and pop. The CD should hold two or three solid good choices for each major software category: Office Suites, Web Browser, Games as well as include easy to use Media software to handle MP3s and VCD, CD libraries, net phone/video, secure IRC, email, personal finance and tax software, dictionary, encyclopedias. It should have a greeting card making program, music editing MIDI, MP3, etc. As well as core internet tools allowing one to host websites, run firewalls, XTerm, VNC, FTP, SAMBA, security and system utilities, etc. Perhaps using Peanut Linux or other smaller GUI-based Linux distribution that easily loads in along side MSFT Windows and plays games, DOS games and WINE. Of course, for real fun, we could put hacking and cracking mini-CD's in Cracker Jacks... What about Happy Meals with OSS Golden Archives mini-CDs? OSS Collections of the week? Collect cute little penguins with the mini-CDs? Ask AOL, AT&T, or Earthlink to include a bundle of OSS software along with Mozilla? Imagine AT&T promoting OSS unix with it's broadband malings!! AT&T promoting unix again...such an odd come around that would be! Remember when...sigh. Well, we could have Red Hat 7 at the 7/11 store? CD design might be important. A boot CD that only has OSS OS and software on it that can run live, using a C: or A: drive for temporary files and data, could provide proof of concept for many folks. Maybe we could get OSS software CDs included with cheap little hand scanners that look like pets or with CD/DVD burners. Yep, it's time for my meds again. I'll check in again after demagnetizing the storage drums and flipping the core rings to zero. I know I left that Hollerith code book somewhere. Anybody else out there know the feel of the speed to hand spin reels of 9 track tape for data recovery? Milk carton 'have you seen this missing OSS CD' ads? Hostess cupcakes with web hosting CDs? Bubble gum trading OSS mini-CDs? Amazon books offering OSS mini-CDs with free shipping, mini-CDs which can be used as bookmarks or pocket mirrors too! Phone cards printed on mini-CDs filled with OSS software. Hallmark Christmas Star Trek ornaments made of OSS mini-CDs, collect all 64! Merry Christmas and hey, what's this ELF format OS stuff?
  • by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @04:51PM (#3438337) Homepage Journal
    When it comes to software with an inelastic demand, no one cares if it is open source or not. What businesses care about is whether it works and works well. If something was free but didn't work, or was a sub-standard product, no one would use it who could afford to do otherwise. A product that has a free price tag but hurts your productivity isn't exactly a good deal compared to a product with even a hefty price tag when that product helps you get your job done more efficiently. This is why companies like Oracle and SAS can charge as much as they do, the companies that buy their products SAVE or even MAKE money in the long run.

    As for the political/religious free as in speech aspects of open source, you might as well be speaking swahili because most business brains won't understand what you're talking about and those few that do won't care.

    If the idea behind this project is what I think it is, to make converts out of people so that they will shun commercial products in favor of free software irregardless of the quality of the latter, then the people behind this project are in for a nasty suprise: Non-hackers are indifferent to the open source movement. Some are going to be downright hostile in fact due to the way that some open source "advocates" behave.

    What this project needs to do is promote the compilation based upon the quality of the software it provides, not on the basis that it is free. This will serve to educate the public that open source software can be just as good or better than commercial offerings. When this is accomplished open source will be able to compete with commercial offerings on an equal footing. It won't have a stigma attached to it and whether it is chosen or not will be entirely based upon quality and its suitability for a particular purpose.

    I've been using Linux since 1995. I like the fact that it is free as in speech and in beer, but that isn't the reason I choose it over Windows. I use it because it is more powerful, more stable, and more flexible. If it were kludgey, flaky, or unstable then I'd do little more than play with it. I certainly wouldn't use it in a commercial setting where downtime equals dollars down the drain. This is the burden that all software must carry regardless of how much it costs or how accessible the source code for it is.

  • Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @06:07PM (#3438856) Homepage Journal
    Well... have fun guys ;D

    While you're talking about doing that and figuring out graphics for installers, I have got...

    ten thousand copies of the GPL onto Macintoshes with my CD mastering program, Mastering Tools []

    Three hundred and seventy copies of the GPL onto an entirely different set of Macintoshes with Filmpaper [], a new program I just put out a couple days ago, for screenwriting.

    Both of these are seriously hardcore programs aimed at markets that are jammed with software so proprietary that in some cases it uses dongles and key disks. Both pro audio and professional screenwriting are full of relentlessly un-free, user-hostile software- some of the best apps in terms of performance have some of the worst copy-protection. Every copy of one of my programs that goes into such a market goes with source, 'COPYING' and a glimpse of another world- a world where you aren't jerked around by 'godlike software developers' but are allowed to take matters into your own hands if you need to, a world where you could take an active instead of a passive role with the software you use- not to mention a world where your software won't expire, annoy or selfdestruct.

    It's pretty funny, actually, when you think about it- lots of Linux open source coders, deities at kernel hacking and C++ multiple inheritance, capable of coding back-end that REALLY WORKS, sitting around trying to figure out why GFX tweaks aren't loving The GIMP or why Windows consumers aren't rushing to grab ISO images of Linux for free. It's simple- DO WHAT YOU LOVE. And if all you love is heavy-duty code-monkeying, do back-end coding. But if you want free software to really build up steam, get passionate about something other than coding and apply your coding skills to it.

    The important thing is to have the ONE BEST PROGRAM in any given situation be a Free Software program. I have done this in part with my CD mastering software- the area where it beats anything else out there is output sound quality, so far I can't get other aspects up to professional quality (like workflow, realtime audio and response to control adjusting). Someday I'll have that stuff together too.

    You will never, never get to be the 'new Photoshop' by targetting the 'masses'. Ever. Not happening. Forget it. Guy Kawasaki had it figured out back when he was getting the Mac started- you target the TWEAKS. Do everything to target the uber-tweak heavy hitters, the early adopters, the influencers. If you are writing an OSS 'Pro Tools', talk to people in LA and Nashville- better still, BE one of the people in LA and Nashville, and code what YOU need, only then will you get it right. You have to be coding what you personally will need to put hours of use on.

    We gotta find more reinassance-geeks. Biotech, robotics- I have sound engineering pretty well covered, but don't use a DAW- if you're writing a spreadsheet it had better be because YOU need to make heavy, heavy use of a spreadsheet, not because 'people in offices use these!'

    This pep talk has been brought to you by Chris Johnson, who's placed over 10,000 copies of the GPL on computers where it had never been seen. He's going to continue doing this whatever you do- but if you want to show some freaking support, don't be paying for the SOFTWARE, instead go look into some of the stuff Chris cares about a lot, like his music []... be totally unlike most people and buy a CD while you're at it, or just download + rate tunes left and right. Or please yourself- but that would be a BIG help

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. -- Albert Einstein