Monday Forum

Did I miss the weekend? I was home sick on Thursday and Friday, which was quite enjoyable. Do people really watch the crap on daytime tv? Fortunately I was sleeping most of the time. I think I’m on the mend, though. I made it through a whole day of work today.

Last night I was watching The Chronicles of Narnia. I had heard that there was a lot of biblical overtones in this movie, but other than the obvious rising from the dead thing, they were lost on me. The movie was okay, but I wouldn’t watch it again.

I couldn’t focus on the movie the whole time, so I decided to work on a little project. A coworker of mine gave me a cd for the ubuntu operating system and I have an old Thinkpad. Ubuntu is a linux based operating system, in case you didn’t know. The laptop was BSOD-ing quite a bit and it was making a very nice doorstop. I wiped Windows off and installed ubuntu.

The install was effortless and quick. I actually ran the os from the cd, called Live CD, but then decided to install it on the disk. It comes with Firefox, OpenOffice, and just about every program most people need. I’m sure Microsoft isn’t worried about this program, but they should be. My wife, for instance, does not need Windows. For what she does on her home computer, this provides all she needs and more.

I plugged in the pcmcia wireless adapter and connected to the wireless network in about 1 minute. I’m posting this from ubuntu as we speak.

Using this operating system makes me think of the comparison of OpenOffice’s spreadsheet to Excel. Excel, they say, is an under-used program. Most people only use 5% of the program. While I generally believe that stat, I also believe that the 5% isn’t the same for everyone. I wonder if ubuntu would be the same. I know you can use the Internet and e-mail and that should cover most home computer users. Occasionally, someone may need to write a letter, and OpenOffice is there for them. Games? I don’t play computer games much, but ubuntu appears to have a full selection. (They have the connect four game where the kid in the commercial says “Pretty sneaky sis.” I like that one.)

But I wonder if Joe Average home computer user would miss that one feature. That one aspect of their operating system that is seemingly unimportant, but that they would miss terribly.

Overall, I’m pretty impressed with it. The one downside to using linux of any sort is that I now have to refer to Microsoft as M$ and use words like suxorz and roxorz. On the upside, Angelina Jolie and I will likely be thwarting evil virus guys in our spare time. Does anyone use linux on any of their machines and care to comment on it?

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7 thoughts on “Monday Forum

  1. Well first, don’t do what I did, which is where you’re off with gastrointeritis, then go for a curry buffet before you’re recovered. Boy, I’m paying for that this morning…

    The Narnia stuff was very, very biblical in its original written form (which I loved as a kid before I got that the author was sneakily trying to convert me), but the film loses most of those elements, in order to appeal to the masses and make a few bucks. That’s Hollywood!

    As for Linux, I don’t use it. Great that it’s more adaptable, it’s more versatile, it’s cheaper, it’s less prone to hackers etc. That’s all wonderful. Unfortunately, I don’t have 6 years available to spend learning how to use / modify it and become proficient enough to make it do what I can make “M$” stuff do now!

    But, of course, if Miss Jolie was willing to give me private tuition, I might change my mind! ;-)

  2. I run a linux file server/Internet gateway (SME Server on Redhat) at home (MP3’s, Photos and oh yeah some work) which is accessed by 4 PC’s and a Mac.

    It works a treat in that application, but as soon as I need to change the configuration – Whooa

    I grew out of the unix experiance several years ago and enjoy the Windows/Mac (mostly plug and play) approach.

    In 2006 we should not have to go tampering with configuration fles and scripts to re-configure systems and even connecting a USB drive to do a backup “mount /dev/sdf1 -t exf2 /mnt/usbdrive” or something like that just roles off the tongue (lol)

    Apparently I can access it all from work, but I’m not that game … Yet

    Ian Huitson

  3. I used to work as a Unix system administrator. Because of this, I’ve been using Linux on my desktop machines since 1999. All the jobs after that have bolted me to a Windows machine to hack away at Excel.

    I started using Linux because in my experience, it’s easier to set up and administrate than Windows. My girlfriend’s on Ubuntu, and hasn’t used Windows outside of work for over six months. The six months previous, I had to spend three times the man-hours administering her Windows machine. I’m biased because of my experience, but it’s been a definite time-save for me.

    The only time I reboot my (Debian) desktop to XP is to play City of Heroes and faff with Office 2007. I used to have Vista there to play with as well, but I’ve seen enough to know that I won’t be upgrading. is one of those things… My Excel experience comes from work, and relies on a lot of heavy VBA coding. OO.o doesn’t have a VBA engine, but does open it’s calculation engine to a number of more modern scripting languages. I can’t say I’ve ever had reason to use any of them at home, so I can’t say how well that works.

    Blast, I’m starting to sound like an evangelist. That wasn’t my intention. If you’re trying to do something that’s nontrivial on Linux, you do end up having to muck about in config files and with odd commands. Some things are damn arcane, and too many Linux users are idiots full of hollow rhetoric, which means getting help online is a pain in the backside.

    People who just want a media toaster (web/mail/word processing/images/music/video) and don’t care about the underlying software will find the transition to Ubuntu about as jarring as the transition to Vista (especially if they’re already using OO.o, Firefox, etc.). Power users, VBA programmers, people who know Windows and know how to do things on Windows that seem nonsensical on a Linux system will be more comfortable with Windows. Horses for courses, and so on.

  4. I run a dual boot XP/Ubuntu PC at home, although I must admit I use XP far more (this has mainly to do with the fact I’m usually tinkering with Excel, and I can’t run it on Ubuntu (xl2003 that is)).

    I like Ubuntu, I don’t have a problem with using the command line, the range of (free) software is very impressive and if I had no need for specific software (Excel) then I would solely be using Ubuntu. Until my work swaps over to OpenOffice though (for this read “never”), I can’t see this happening.


  5. Yeah I use linux (Ubuntu and SUSE mainly)
    There is lots to like about it, one thing some people miss is the live CDs make no change to the PC at all, just boot from the CD, try Linux (Ubuntu or Knoppix for example), close it down, remove the cd and boot as normal to Windows (that would be windoze then).
    I find linux pretty easy to use even though I have a lot of time invested in Windows. I find plug and play works fine for my USB drives.
    I also tinker around with Gnumeric the spreadsheet, which is worth a look, if you know a bit of C the source code is very useful.
    I know a few developers who run their Windows systems on WMware as virtual machines with Linux as the installed host OS. I keep meaning to do this, if my current Sony laptop wasn’t so linux unfriendly I would have converted it, HP next time I think.
    I think linux got a bad reputation early on, but has come on massively in recent times, and is definitely worth a(nother) look.
    I believe it is ok to like Linux without hating MS and Windows now.

  6. Simon,

    Encouraging comments. I was never exposed to Linux much and for a short time a work project was using UNIX (cygwin). Its one of those things I’ve wanted to learn more in depth, but was kind of daunted by the idea of changing my computer’s OS. My wife gets pretty ticked when our laptop is crippled by one of my science experiments. I’ll have to give the Live CD’s a try! Thanks,


  7. FWIW a week later, I use Windows exclusively when in the office, but I boot into Ubuntu Linux from home or on the road and use Excel and other Windows apps through a Citrix connection with the Linux Citrix client. That works so well I have to wonder how long it’ll be before business migrate average users to Linux thin clients to save on licence fees. A large corporation with an existing Terminal Server farm needs very few Windows workstation machines.

    I can also run Excel 97 under wine, a Windows emulator running under Linux, but it’s not so pleasant. If I weren’t cheap, I’d look into buying the commercial CrossOver Office, another, arugably more capable Windows emulator that supposedly can run Office 2003.

    As for OpenOffice Calc, it has very basic array formula support. Nothing close to Excel. Single biggest difference is that ROW and COLUMN functions *never* return arrays even when called with multiple cell arguments. Therefore, no elegant means of generating arrays of serial integers. Instead, it’s necessary to use a range in the worksheet to hold a list of serial integers, then use OFFSET to return sublists from it. OOo Calc can use udfs written in StarBasic, but those UDFs can’t return arrays.

    OTOH, OOo Calc isn’t afflicted with Excel’s 7 nested function call or 30 arguments per function call limits. OOo Calc also has relative worksheet addressing, like Lotus 1-2-3 but unlike Excel – VERY handy.

    So more of a true trade-off. OOo Calc lacks some Excel features, but provides some features found in other spreadsheets (like 1-2-3 and Quattro Pro) but not in Excel.

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