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[LUG] today's meets and some observations etc.
First off, nice to meet you all and put some faces to the names.
(wot, no wimmin?... lol)
I want to say something here, but first I want to make it abundantly clear
that this is in no way any form of personal attack or criticism of anyone
either in particular or in general, just some observations.
OK, I've been around computing and such (by dint of my age and luck) pretty
much most of my life, geeks were pretty thin on the ground then so I still
know some of them from the early days before they became uber geeks,
unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) for me dyslexia meant that coding was
a non starter for me, anything less legible than the very earliest BASIC just
turned to fuzz and made my eyes start to water, which is why today I mainly
do hardware, although of course this means exposure to most operating systems
and application software somewhere along the line.
Kai said something today, paraphrased it was "I wasn't around for the dot com
boom", well I was, I had a very small stack of cobalt raq2's on colo when the
dot com boom came along and xxxxxx everything up for a lot of viable
businesses, because everything internetty got a bad name, and there is
another saying, "those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it" and I
feel Kai's vision (and I think "vision" is an appropriate word for the huge
enthusiasm he clearly displays) of the browser replacing the desktop is an
example of that, it's never going to happen, and it's never going to happen
because USERS aren't interested.
Today I stuck my toe back in the linux "con" scene in a very small way, and I
am saddened to say little has changed, let me explain this.
For years now, regular as clockwork, someone chants "this will be the year
linux makes big inroads on the desktop" and of course for years now redmond
continues to steamroller everything in its path, and some players on the
sidelines get the latest apple offering.
For years now I have been giving people disks (first they were 5.25 inches and
really were floppy) and for years they have been meeting me some time later
and saying "no, didn't get on with that"
Except this year, for the first time I am giving people disks and they are
coming back to me saying "I'm using that now, it's great, and I've given that
disk to my brother/son/dad/cousin/neighbour and they are using it too"
Finally linux has grown up to be a serious contender... so, back to the plot.
I stick my toe in today and see the same old same old, attendees largely split
into two camps.. about now you will be thinking GPL vs BSD or Debian vs Suse
or something along those lines, no, I'm talking about age, old and young.
In the old camp there is myself, simon, the doc, and matey from cornwall, in
the young camp there is matt, kai, the fella from the school, we can
pigeonhole the crediton guys as "visitors".
The thing I noticed is this old / young thing is still extant, and the
interesting thing is that counterintuitively it is the old farts who are
adapting, and the young ones who are running along in tramlines.
take a choice, get a working computer system by installing gnu/hurd and
spending a good part of the day hacking the loader and disk partitions, or do
it by sticking in a live-cd and typing "sudo knoppix-installer" and sitting
back for 30 minutes.
old farts like me will take the latter, because hacking the bourne again shell
is something we do not call productive work, doing email / www /
correspondence is. (or playing doom3)
you want to convert windows users (rightfully) away from a flaky insecure and
expensive operating system and application software and get them on linux,
brilliant, but ANY windows user visiting todays meeting would run away
screaming, and then tell everyone they met about linux nerds with obsolete
computers in pieces everywhere with screens full of unintelligible gibberish
with not an icon anywhere to point a mouse at, you wouldn't just not convert
them, you'd spread the word to their friends that linux is for people who do
not want to "use" their computers and who prefer hacking to having a
girlfriend... I'm thinking here of the two guys from crediton.
running microkernel linux on a usb watch or replacing the dektop with a
browser or xxxxxxx around in the shell isn't adapting, it isn't aiding
change, and it isn't ever going to be anything other than a deep minority
interest thing, and it's never going to get people to drop windows in favour
of linux, nope, sorry, never happen, not when opportunities to help people to
actually convert their product, which already has a large installed base of
LAWYERS (the IDEAL people to expose to linux) are passed over.
I suggested Red Hat in the initial emails to those guys simply because in
exchange for your money you get someone on the end of the phone who is
skilled at their job and who treats getting YOUR applications working as his
top priority (that is a bit of post dot com savvy, people will pay for
service, provided they are the ones who define what constitutes service, and
not your project manager) which makes them look good. And I'm sorry to
contradict you Kai but MySQL most certainly does have a per server commercial
licence, and without signing a non-disclosure with the crediton crew and
having access to their business data it is only speculation to assume that
their particular potential use would not run afoul of this.
microsoft came out the other side of the dot com bubble with 50 billion in the
bank and something like 98% of the desktops installed, yes they used
protectionism and slick marketing and litigation etc, but most of all they
focused on two things.
1/ producing an operating system that would install on most any x86 hardware
and give a working desktop (not browser) with one icon launch of applications
that allowed the user to do work, eg email / correspondence / etc
2/ giving users as a whole what they wanted, a uniform desktop GUI based on
the WIMP that allowed users to do work and NOT fuck around with the OS
users <> hackers
users don't wanna be hackers
employers don't want employees to be hackers
in the real world hackers are like victorian sewer workers, everyone needs em
but nobody wants to see them, meet them, talk about them or worst of all have
to deal with them to get something done. (shades of master blaster from the
mad max movie)
Red Hat are / were so successful (Just as Cobalt was with the RAQ's, of which
I owned several) and Apple are so successful because they get this, Linux
users as a whole and distros as a whole are still minority events because
they don't get this.
A Mepis live-cd would have blown away the crediton guys, and more importantly
blown away the crediton guy's clients, in many ways the more impressive more
geeky DamnSmallLinux live'cd on a business card sized cd would have impressed
them less, and left their clients (LAWYERS) thinking about the security
aspects of such "devices" and leaving them with altogether the wrong sort of
I tossed a comment away today to see if it would be commented upon, it wasn't.
the comment was "Journalling file systems make data deletion difficult"
ext2 is easy to wipe, ext3 / resiser / etc are much much harder to wipe, sure,
we can deep geek about I/O performance of these files systems vs the
admittedly inferior FAT32 fs, and make jokes about windows crashing and
deleting data automatically, but when your business laptop is lost or stolen
Windows NTFS Encrypted File System works out of the box and defeats just
about anything including live-cd's, so here we have YET ANOTHER reason for
microsoft winning and linux losing....
meanwhile we are standing around discussing browsers replacing the desktop,
windows longhorn which won't be out for 2 years at least, and software raid
meanwhile the crediton guys go home with bugger all, and several hundred
clients / users are still only being exposed to windows, even though there
are better linux solutions out there.
So, back to the original ish premise about the old farts adapting and the
young ones being stuck in a rut, you can stay stuck and get old, I've got
mates who still run PDP-11's and other old crap, not because the serial I/O
is better than they can get in modern hardware, which it is for some
applications, but because they were too into it and didn't want to adapt,
they didn't want to "use" their computers to do "work", they wanted to sit
there all day and hack and try and get gcc to compile on an ancient alpha cpu
and massive 500 kilobyte winchester, just for the challenge.
Linux is evolving, FAST, if Klaus Knopper hadn't started his project what's
the betting debian wouldn't have bothered with a proper installer?
Coming from an (marine) engineering background I'm not about to knock anyone
for taking some pride in the fact they adjust their own tappets and change
their own brake pads (xxxxx I ride a custom motorcycle, that should tell you
I'm not being hypocritical) but this doesn't detract from the fact that most
people DO NOT WANT to have these skills, I even know people who pay good
money for other people to clean their car and empty the xxxxxx ashtrays, and
yes I will sneer at these people for their ignorance and foolish waste of
money and dependence upon others, but I sneer under my breath, because while
there may be a living to be made valeting people's cortinas' as a valet or
mechanic, there's a fortune to be made running businesses like kwik fit, and
most importantly the public perception or common meme's that these businesses
have achieved are awesome...
just think, Windows (TM)
how many of you thought "launa double glazing"
Mepis and Knoppix are having that level of impact amongst the users out there
Red Hat is doing the same in corporate territory
even bloody big blue is getting Linux savvy
everything else put together still adds up to bugger all
in 2014 assuming I'm still alive I'm guessing Microsoft Windows will be as OS2
is now, and I'm guessing some form of Linux will be as Windows is now, I'm
hoping so anyway, and I'd like to think it will be if not Debian then at
least under the Debian ethos of "it cannot ever be made into a commercial
licenced thing in and of itself without any added value", and I'm sure Klaus
and Warren will be thought of as Linus and Vint and RMS are today for Mepis
and Knoppix, and I'm sure there will still be meetings with nerds dedicated
to compiling Gentoo on creaking and ancient 64 bit 5 GHz systems, but out
there in userland.......
I know a man who asked Bill G at a Q&A session "do you have one of these?"
he had Knoppix 3.3 on his pinky
Bill said "No", and took the disk................
if Bill was at today's meeting the two crediton guys would have walked out
with a microsoft answer to their problem, even if it was a MS meets Open
Source answer like sticking phpdev (do a google) on windowsxp for instant
apache / php / mysql without the IIS headaches, footprint or vulns.
We need to convert people, and that means SHOWING them that there is a better
way, TODAY, to the challenges that they are facing now, which is giving users
what they want, not what we think is leet.
Well, that's it, rant over.
I hope nobody is offended or upset or sees it as any sort of personal attack,
it certainly wasn't meant that way, and if I've trampled all over someone's
pet budgie then I apologise unreservedly, but from my point of view everyone
who doesn't walk away from one of these things clutching a live-cd and with
deb testing installed via livecd going "WOW!" and itching to show it to their
friends is a missed opportunity.
Once again, a pleasure meeting you all, with no exceptions (i might not agree
with kai but I love people who believe in things that much) and thanks to
simon / zylug for the venue and caffeine
If anyone wants to harangue me about this off list or in person feel free to
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