Search is One of the Strengths of GNU/Linux

Searching is one of the five major functions of computerized information processing: searching, creating, modifying, storing and presenting. In the early days of PCs one could keep a scrap of paper or such with a list of floppies and a directory listing would get you close to your data sooner or later. Now, one can keep track of stuff on many terabytes of storage in an instant.

GNU/Linux has been ahead of that other OS in search for a long time. While users of that other OS were traversing directory trees in XP, GNU/Linux had Swish and Beagle. Now there are more than 1000 packages related to search in Debian’s repositories:
apt-cache search search|wc
1017 8574 62330

It was not until Vista came out with indexed search which was back-ported to XP that that other OS responded to people’s need to know what they had and where it was. Early versions of search on XP were pitifully slow. Folks often turned off indexing to speed up their systems. Here’s an article from 2001 documenting how search worked in XP from the outset. Indexed search was available but I never saw an XP machine with indexed search that worked quickly until Vista arrived.

On the other hand GNU/Linux had multiple search libraries and APIs that could be built into any application as needed. The people who do searching for a living use FLOSS widely. It works. GNU/Linux has web applications like Solr/Lucene which businesses love to run on their Java servers. Unfortunately that is not in Debian Squeeze but we do have recoll and others. The ability to search for applications and other software packages from the desktop is priceless. That we can install these for a few clicks is one of the biggest blessings of FLOSS.

xara:

xara-gtk package searching package

recoll:

recoll desktop search client using xapian

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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33 Responses to Search is One of the Strengths of GNU/Linux

  1. Beej says:

    Geez.. It sure does seem The WHAM Burglar is def. a Microsoft puppet.

  2. Don’t forget registry corruption and malware messing with system files.

  3. Wikipedia is mostly the English-speaking world, a major but not global sample of IT. How many hits to they get from Russia, China, India, Brazil and Africa where GNU/Linux is widely used?

    Brazil ships about 20% PCs with GNU/Linux but their language is Portuguese not English.

    Conversely, you will find that Wikipedia gets a lot of hits from USA where folks, particularly businesses are seriously locked-in.

    Consider even a single distro like Ubuntu or Debian. The bandwidth used pushing updates can be measured and it is huge. Debian alone has hundreds of mirrors pushing out installations and updates over the network. see the list Would that infrastructure be needed if only 1% of PCs used GNU/Linux? I doubt it. There is huge demand for GNU/Linux.

    Here are some load data:

  4. D-G says:

    So sorry, but Wikipedia & Co., W3 Counter and Statcounter all have a very much wider exposure than W3 Schools. Yes, I take these statistics over biased comments from analysts any day of the week.

    I will be even generous by assuming that Wikimedia’s stats are “the best”, given that links to Wikipedia are often among Google’s five first search results. Or do you want to suggest that Linux users don’t use Wikipedia? This is hardly the case. Therefore 2.3% is as good as it’ll get for Linux. And from these 2.3% Android alone takes away 0.8%!

    Linus Torvalds put it best when saying recently: “Debian is a useless exercise.” But he really should’ve said: “Desktop Linux is a useless exercise.” The desktop is a solved problem; the solutions are Mac OS X and Windows.

  5. Well, MacOS is only legally permitted to run on Apple’s hardware. Apple publishes unit shipments in their SEC filings. So they do not ship 10% of x86 PCs as some web stats suggest, but more like 4%. Apple is not in the top 5 PC makers (not counting iPad etc.). On the other hand, M$ is on about 86% of PCs according to many web stats. That leaves 10% for GNU/Linux. QED

    see 86% for that other OS on http://w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_os.asp

    and
    APPLE’s 10Q
    “Unit Sales by Product:
    Desktops (a)

    1,227 1,234 (1% )
    Portables (b)

    2,907 2,128 37%

    Total Mac unit sales

    4,134 3,362 23% “
    How are Apple any where near GNU/Linux shipments with only 4 million machines? Dell alone ships a lot of GNU/Linux boxes and they are not the only one. About 100 million PCs ship each quarter so Apple may be as low as 4% unit share.

    see IDC press release

    GNU/Linux was at 3% when it passed MacOS in 2003 and has never looked back.

    see Quotes from IDC and HP in 2004
    “Linux captured the No. 2 spot as desktop operating system in 2003,” said IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky in a recent interview.

    So, you can take web stats from a biased English-only source or surveys taken globally with a scientific basis.

  6. D-G says:

    “Somewhere around 2004, GNU/Linux on the desktop passed MacOS.”

    Yes, if you say so. But Wikipedia disagrees. [1] As do other web statistics data. [2,3] Oh, these statistics aren’t trustworthy, you say? Well, they are a lot more trustworthy than your imagination.

    [1] http://stats.wikimedia.org/wikimedia/squids/SquidReportOperatingSystems.htm
    [2] http://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php
    [3] http://gs.statcounter.com/#os-ww-monthly-200807-201102-bar

  7. “When I am giving a lecture to students, I don’t want the underlying OS to re-boot itself.”

    Wow you really have no idea what you are doing, considering that you could have easily disabled automatic updates right from the control panel regardless of view. Or heck even if you had installed Windows in the first place the option to turn Automatic updates off is presented as part of the install process.

  8. Dann says:

    Speaking of Search, Sphinx is a great search engine for wikis. It works much better than Lucene and afaik, GPL, LGPL, or Apache licensed.

  9. When I am giving a lecture to students, I don’t want the underlying OS to re-boot itself.

  10. “GNU is a system, a UNIX-like operating system. Linux is the kernel most often used with it.”

    Except when it is used to differentiate from Unix as well. Remember folks, Linux in not Unix

    “I was running on an XP machine hooked to a projector giving a lecture to my students. I was using RDP to connect to a running session on my GNU/Linux terminal server. The message appeared on my screen but there was no tab/button/etc. I replaced XP with a decent OS promptly. That was the last XP machine I was running in my lab.”

    Did you seriously forget about Ctrl+Alt+Pause to switch screens? Good grief.

    “Bootability is the ability to boot. XP often gets into the state where it cannot find its bootloader, or you get into a boot-loop, or it just BSODs.”

    Bullshit pure and simple unless the MBR is ****ed up or due to hardware failure.

    “Where I worked last year 50% of the PCs in the building were unbootable when I started work there. When I left 100% were bootable and 90% ran GNU/Linux.”

    Baseless claim is baseless unless actual data is presented.

  11. I will try once more.

    GNU is a system, a UNIX-like operating system. Linux is the kernel most often used with it. I don’t need to write scripts to tell me when to reboot the packag managers do that. I occasionally get a message something like, “You are updating the running kernel. For changes to take effect, you must reboot…”. I can have multiple kernels in the GNU system and select one to run at boot time.

    I was running on an XP machine hooked to a projector giving a lecture to my students. I was using RDP to connect to a running session on my GNU/Linux terminal server. The message appeared on my screen but there was no tab/button/etc. I replaced XP with a decent OS promptly. That was the last XP machine I was running in my lab.

    Bootability is the ability to boot. XP often gets into the state where it cannot find its bootloader, or you get into a boot-loop, or it just BSODs. Where I worked last year 50% of the PCs in the building were unbootable when I started work there. When I left 100% were bootable and 90% ran GNU/Linux.

  12. “Linux does not tell you to re-boot, GNU does.”

    And remember folks GNU is a license except when it is software!

    “The scripts tell me whether or not a reboot must be done.”

    And on Windows you do not need to write a script to tell you if an update requires a reboot, recoding basic functionality FTL.

    “Last year I had “automatic updates” turned on in XP. I was in the midst of a lecture when XP popped up a window, to which there was no way of responding without aborting my presentation and the damned thing forcefully rebooted my machine 15 minutes later.”

    You seriously could not click the ‘restart later’ button and then alt+tab? Lol

    “I can update my kernel”

    Without a restart this is bullshit plain and simple.

    “I can go many months without re-booting my GNU/Linux systems and still keep them updated.”

    So long as you don’t update the kernel, x.org, ect. But hey, security and functionality? YouDontNeedThat™

    “I have done side-by-side tests on identical hardware and XP typically takes twice as long to boot to a usable desktop. I was in one place that used “roaming profiles” that took 2 minutes. I have some simple installations of GNU/Linux that get to a login screen in less than 20s on old hardware using the parallelization of booting processes.”

    And no data to back that up, how predictable. Hence I call bullshit.

    “The other thing that XP does that is foreign to GNU/Linux is losing bootability.”

    Oh and do define and qualify “bootability” because I smell a No True Scotsman Fallicy.

    “Hardware failure is about the only thing that prevents a GNU/Linux system from booting.”

    X.org, kernel, diver incompatibility will prevent a Linux OS from booting. You lose, too bad so sad.

  13. Nonsense. That other OS updates stuff, which changes the registry, requiring a reboot.

    Linux does not tell you to re-boot, GNU does. In GNU/Linux I have a package manager which runs scripts coming in the packages. The scripts tell me whether or not a reboot must be done. I can update my kernel and if the change is in a loadable kernel module, I don’t need to reboot always. e.g. rmmod something ; modprobe something gets the new something loaded. Last year I had “automatic updates” turned on in XP. I was in the midst of a lecture when XP popped up a window, to which there was no way of responding without aborting my presentation and the damned thing forcefully rebooted my machine 15 minutes later. re-re-reboots are one of many nightmares found in that other OS.

    I can go many months without re-booting my GNU/Linux systems and still keep them updated.

    I have done side-by-side tests on identical hardware and XP typically takes twice as long to boot to a usable desktop. I was in one place that used “roaming profiles” that took 2 minutes. I have some simple installations of GNU/Linux that get to a login screen in less than 20s on old hardware using the parallelization of booting processes.

    I have often seen slowing down on XP machines. It is a rare thing in GNU/Linux because once installed the system keeps its functionality much better than XP. The other thing that XP does that is foreign to GNU/Linux is losing bootability. Hardware failure is about the only thing that prevents a GNU/Linux system from booting. Even a bad update of the Linux kernel cannot prevent me rebooting because I can punch down-arrow and get the previous working version. That other OS has nothing like that.

  14. ChrisTX says:

    “We can agree to disagree about the quality of software but GNU/Linux does not slow down”
    So does Windows. That collective ‘slowing down’ is a normal effect that you cannot prevent: Windows, as the clear #1 platform is – yeah I’d say attacked – by dozens of toolbars and browser plugins that all eat performance. If you don’t install any such crap, it’s not getting slowed down either. I bet you can tell so much about Windows, by the way!

    “require frequent re-re-reboots”
    Factual lie. Linux doesn’t inform you it wants to be rebooted. Here, fixed.

    If you upgrade any library or the kernel that is in use, the program that uses it, has to be restarted. If that’s the kernel, you have to reboot. If that’s glib/glibc/zlib/etc you most likely have to reboot, too. In fact, statistics showed that for an average RHEL installation, you WOULD require more reboots than on Windows. Only too bad that it doesn’t tell you when that is, right?

    “and collect malware”
    Windows doesn’t either! I don’t know what it’s with all that: “Windows so slow dah” “Windows so virusd dah” crap claims, but that’s not what happens. Almost all attacks nowadays are drive-by download ones or – decreasing though – E-Mail based. Social engineering is what attacks, nothing else. That would work on Linux, too.

  15. Chuckle.

    Why would I file bug reports at Launchpad when I can file them at http://bugs.debian.org ?

    Over the years I have filed several bug reports and never had one ignored.

    We can agree to disagree about the quality of software but GNU/Linux does not slow down, require frequent re-re-reboots and collect malware. That’s quality I appreciate.

  16. Clanky says:

    Robert, if you really want to help Linux advance then go to launchpad and file bug reports for whatever distro you use (and I have a horrible feeling that it will be either Debian or worse still Ubuntu), when those bug reports are either ignored or blatantly lied about (It’saFeatureNotaBug(TM))then shout from the highest rooftop about what needs to be fixed in Linux rather than about the trivialities where Linux actually does well.

    The only way that Linux (and free software in general) will ever really get there in terms of mainstream acceptance is when it is technically good enough to compete on every level with Windows / Mac and no amount of pretending that it already is will work.

    I can understand why people love Linux I am a Fedora user and I genuinely do love my Fedora, I can understand why they feel so pasionately about free software, I believe strongly that free software is the best solution, but stuff like “ZOMG search – Year of the Linux Desktop” does nothing to help, really.

    Robert, and all of the other zealots out there, just stop and look at how ridiculous you are making yourself look.

  17. Ray says:

    When I said PCs, I meant Desktop/Laptop/Netbook.

  18. They are personal computers that can do phone calls. They have stored programmes, operating systems, drivers, RAM and storage and TCP/IP interfaces. In what way are they not PCs? Screen size. Plug in a monitor or dock it. In Japan, a lot of people have smart-phones and no computer otherwise, getting most of their information fix from their smartphones.

    2010 may have started it but 2011 will be the last year most people think of them as “just phones”. With ARM, they can exceed Atom in computing power. ARMed systems will be found in regular PCs this year.

  19. Ray says:

    One thing:

    Smartphones aren’t PCs, they’re cell phones.

  20. ChrisTX says:

    “It was not until Vista came out with indexed search […] Indexed search was available but I never saw an XP machine with indexed search that worked quickly until Vista arrived.”

    First off all, the search indexing service was introduced with Windows 2000, not XP.

    Secondly, I’d really like to see any proper article documenting search indexer’s slowness (on actual figures).

    “Xapian is the basis of Lucene and Solr and the US government uses it.”

    I’d really like to see how Lucene and Xapian are related, plus the US government uses it… quote?

    “I would argue that GNU/Linux has lots of strengths, too, particularly search, databases, servers, networking, freedom, and package management.”

    Really?
    Search: FAST Search Server, #1 enterprise search product – actually Lucene/Solr do run on Windows, too
    Databases: Oracle – #1 database vendor, Microsoft – #2, IBM – #3, Sybase, Terradata all run on Windows. Heck, MySQL 5.5 particularly advertises its vast improved Windows support.
    Servers: IDC and Gartner beg to differ, as from revenue and unit shares
    Networking: How’s that? NIS and Heimdal?
    Freedom: I do not think that the GPL delivers any kind of freedom, considering it blocks most of the OSI-approved licenses, too. What freedom is it, if you can’t link GPLv2 and GPLv3 based code in one single project? Not to mention APL v1.x, MPL, Ms-RL/PL, CDDL and such incompatibilities. But apparently, being OSI-approved isn’t a warrant of freedom. As a matter of fact, I would claim Windows gives more freedom, as you can use the Windows API without any such restrictions, its license does support all common, OSI-approved licenses. Freedom hard? Next time try the same point with the New BSD license.
    Package management: Windows does have support for custom enrolled packages (MSI) which can be delivered as a catalogue since about NT4. Plus you do have such specific systems as nuget which do allow package management. So not really a good point, either.

    “The share of personal computing devices using GNU/Linux or Android/Linux probably doubled in 2010 and it will more than double in 2011.”
    Say Android, not Android/Linux. Richard M. Stallman cares about the specific inclusion of the GNU name, Linus Torvalds does not about the Linux one.

    “Before this smart-thingie stuff arrived GNU/Linux was on 1-10% of PCs depending on whom you asked.”
    More like 0.5-1.5%, but ok.

    “How many bug reports did M$ take in to fix Vista and to produce “7″?”
    A lot. They do have bugtrackers on Connect. You might want to check the current one for IE9, by the way.

    “Wikipedia costs me very little except a few contributions and I have a local snapshot for schools.”
    Wikipedia is a horribly inaccurate resource, for most times.

    “How much free labour/computing power does M$ use to produce its releases?”
    Not even the point. The value argumentation features a miserable fallacy: It’s not the point. That is the communist market system, where every good is valued by an estimated value ( see fixed price system ). You might want to read about the principle of supply and demand which is the basic of a free price system sometime.

    Until then, long live the proletariat, my comrade!

  21. Look, I read daily that that other OS is king of the desktop because it is easy to use, has games, has applications and comes with the machine. Those are “strengths” of that other OS. I would argue that GNU/Linux has lots of strengths, too, particularly search, databases, servers, networking, freedom, and package management. Why should I not write about any or all of these?

    Until the world wakes up to the fact that there is another way to compute … Wait, it already has… Before this smart-thingie stuff arrived GNU/Linux was on 1-10% of PCs depending on whom you asked. Now we see it on a much larger percentage of smart-thingies and it looks like in 2011 as many smart personal computing devices will be produced as x86 thingies. x86 will fight back, with GNU/Linux. That other OS is tired, bloated, riddled with malware etc. People are tired of it.

    I am near retirement. I have been there and done that. The world has changed. Somewhere around 2004, GNU/Linux on the desktop passed MacOS. Somewhere around 2009, almost everyone around PCs had seen GNU/Linux on a PC or netbook. In 2011, dozens of manufacturers are going to be cranking out Linux boxes. The share of personal computing devices using GNU/Linux or Android/Linux probably doubled in 2010 and it will more than double in 2011. The monopoly is on its last legs. M$ will continue and make tons of money but M$ can no longer dictate to the world of IT. That’s over. If GNU/Linux is blocked from x86 it will thrive on ARM and thin clients. GNU/Linux is no longer blocked from retail even in North America.

    The world has changed and will continue to change. Get over it.

  22. Clanky says:

    This is almost as relevant as boot time.

    1. Stop constantly comparing Linux to Windows, all you do is set Windows as the standard by default, there are so many “GNU/Linux can does xxx better than M$ Windoze” posts on the interwebz that it is clear what even freetards see as the standard of achievement.

    2. A search function while obviously useful is not the be all and end all of computing for most people, remember that the vast majority of people do not spend their whole lives editing text files.

    3. You are absolutely right, no-one can tell you what to do on your own blog, but if you are going to publish bullshit like this on the internet and set yourself up as some kind of GNU warrior then people will point out your stupidity, learn to live with it.

    While nothing that you have said in the original article is technically wrong, but it is mostly irrelevant to all but a niche crowd of computer users.

    ” The people who do searching for a living use FLOSS widely. It works.” Yes, so… How does this effect me or millions of others? How is this an incentive for me or other to use free software?

    Until the FOSS (or FLOSS if you insist) community wake up and realise the state that Linus is actually in and do something positive towards fixing the problems rather than pretending that a better search function or a faster boot time means that Linux has already won some imaginary war there can be no progress.

  23. Pay attention.

    You do not get to tell me what to do in my own blog. Matt Asay is not one I trust with FLOSS but he does know business. The government of the USA is a huge business and they use FLOSS widely and in an increasing way. Xapian is the basis of Lucene and Solr and the US government uses it.

    See, right there at the top of the page:
    “LUCID IMAGINATION SECURES STRATEGIC INVESTMENT FROM IN-Q-TEL
    Relationship to Help Broaden the Use of Apache Lucene/Solr for Full-text Search within the U.S Intelligence Community”

    There is almost no one in IT these days that does not use FLOSS to some extent.

    You have heard of Google, I presume. They are huge in search. It’s their business. They do it for free and charge folks for looking after e-mail and advertising. They have many thousands of servers running hadoop and other technology to make a searchable scalable database. They are used on a lot of desktops. They also have a toolbar with neat search functions built into the browser.

  24. “Google.”

    And Google makes a living on Google Desktop Search how? By the way, Xapian is not mentioned in the link you posted.

    “see Matt Asay. He links to US Intelligence Agency who use Lucene.”

    And that link makes no mention of a US Intelligence Agency using Lucene.

  25. Google.

    see Xapian

    see Matt Asay. He links to US Intelligence Agency who use Lucene.

  26. “GNU/Linux has been ahead of that other OS in search for a long time.”

    Lol, it’s the classic example of Voldemortâ„¢! Nooo don’t say Microsoft, the more you say it the more power it gains! And remember children, if you say Microsoft in front of a mirror ten times Ballmer will squeeze through and eat your soul!

    “While users of that other OS were traversing directory trees in XP, GNU/Linux had Swish and Beagle. Now there are more than 1000 packages related to search in Debian’s repositories:
    apt-cache search search|wc
    1017 8574 62330”

    You really could not find the search function in Windows? Good grief. But hey, a thousand incompatible software packages fixes everything just recode and recompile them to work on your distro!

    “On the other hand GNU/Linux had multiple search libraries and APIs that could be built into any application as needed.”

    Assuming they are compatible with any given kernel and file system.

    “The people who do searching for a living use FLOSS widely.”

    And who are these “people who do searching for a living”? Life Hacker does not provide population data about its users; hence, you cannot use them as a source.

    “it works. GNU/Linux has web applications like Solr/Lucene which businesses love to run on their Java servers.”

    [citation needed]

  27. oldman says:

    “FLOSS is not about getting something for nothing. The whole world needs software and can produce it cooperatively.”

    The world needs a lot more things before it needs software. and while some people may wish to participate in the free software commune, others insist on getting paid for their work. And others like me, understand this and are willing, assuming the terms and costs are acceptable, to pay for the fruits of that work.

    While I do have programming skills, I am ultimately a software consumer. I am not interested contributing in any way shape or form. I have work to do, and I have found that commercial software meets those needs.

    “Did you buy a licence for Vista in its first year? Did you get your money’s worth? Remember the Vista-incapable suits?”

    As a matter of fact, I did. It worked just fine for me. However, as you well know Pog, I was talking about applications. Applications are what count. I moved to Vista x64 when I had applications that could use it. (my in memory samplers are 64 bit capable). I paid my money, I am happy and productive.

    End of story.

    “How many bug reports did M$ take in to fix Vista and to produce “7″? How much free labour/computing power does M$ use to produce its releases?”

    I don’t know and, frankly, don’t care. Your point is irrelevant to the point that I was making.

    BTW I happen to be one of those people who participates regularly in beta tests. I do so because any work that I have to put in for free is more than paid for by the knowledge gained by having access to a product or an OS before its release.

    As long as the OS can properly support my applications, that’s all I care about. All of your comments are frankly not my problem.

  28. Did you buy a licence for Vista in its first year? Did you get your money’s worth? Remember the Vista-incapable suits?

    There are two sides to a purchase, buyer and seller. Generally the seller wants to get the highest value for the product and the buyer wants to pay as little as necessary to get what he wants. Consider a pile of wood. The heating value of the wood may be unknown, the mass of wood may be unknown but it still gets sold and bought. Paying for a software licence is quite different. The seller can make copies and sell any number. In the case of operating systems every PC needs one and many millions of licences get sold. The value of what is sold is easily inflated beyond any reasonable concept of return on investment. With free software buyer and seller both know the value of the licence is low because if the seller asks too high a price one can always ask a friend for a copy. This prevents the price from being inflated and because the software is open everyone knows what is included. With closed/non-free software one does not know what one is buying. It’s a pig in a poke.

    My time is worth something too. apt-get install foo costs me a lot less than hunting all over, getting a purchase order and waiting for arrival of the product. FLOSS is not about getting something for nothing. The whole world needs software and can produce it cooperatively. Creating software is not the only input. I was looking at a piece of FLOSS today and even with examining the code, could not figure out what the command to execute it should be. There was no documentation but the code and I could not read it well enough. I then apt-getted another package and it did what I wanted instantly and it had adequate documentation. Writing documentation is a useful contribution for which one does not need to be a programmer, but it helps. Filing bug reports is another. How many bug reports did M$ take in to fix Vista and to produce “7”? How much free labour/computing power does M$ use to produce its releases?

  29. oldman says:

    “There are several ways that one can “pay” for FLOSS:

    * pay money, goods or services
    * generaate and contribute software
    * file bug reports. It just takes a few minutes and it could make a difference.”

    I am a software user Pog. I have neither the time or the inclination to do the developers work for them. Should I ever wish to do so, it certainly would not be for free.

    If the package is inadequate, I dont care if it is free, I’m not going to bother with it. You see, my time is valuable. and I have particular requirements that will be met.

    As it turns out on the desktop at least, commercial software has been better at delivering what I want. I need only meet their terms, pay my money and get on with the task at hand.

    If part of those terms means paying for updates to the package periodically, I will do so as long as the cost is not onerous and as long as the software continues to meet my needs.

    You see, I do not expect to get something for nothing.

  30. There are many candidates for search packages in the Debian repository.

    There are several ways that one can “pay” for FLOSS:

    • pay money, goods or services
    • generaate and contribute software
    • file bug reports. It just takes a few minutes and it could make a difference.

    In return, you get to use a lot of FLOSS for free. Paying money for software is no guarantee of satisfactions. I have worked on projects where the purchased software did not deliver until months or years after payment. One popular form of lock-in is having paid $thousands for some package only to find it does not work as advertised. I had two run-ins with an outfit that supplied software for schools. In one case they were not able to install the software until I threatened to replace it with FLOSS. In another case their “licensing key” failed to work even after multiple staff spent hours on the phone with them over a period of weeks. It took only 15 minutes to install the FLOSS but in both instances it was not used because the fee had been paid, about $4k.

    I know there is FLOSS that is not of high quality. One chooses packages of FLOSS the same way you do non-free software: personal experience, experiences of others, tests, reviews, benchmarks etc.

    I personally paid the grand sum of $4000 for an encyclopaedia on CD (well, it also came with some books…). We used it a few years and then it no longer worked with our PCs. The books eventually got wet in a basement and were chucked out, covered with mold. Wikipedia costs me very little except a few contributions and I have a local snapshot for schools. Sanitizing the snapshot took many hours of work but I have the snapshot indefinitely, still working and I can bring it up to date or make edits. These are two personal examples where the FLOSS was worth much more to me than the non-free stuff and cost much less.

  31. oldman says:

    “If you think it could be improved, file a wishlist bug report.

    Why bother?

    If it doesn’t meet my needs I’m either going to find some other package that does, or if non exists, purchase one that does.

    But then again, I’m not limited to a platform that makes me dependent on the whims of a community that has no deliverables.

  32. The home page is http://ara.alioth.debian.org/

    xara-gtk is a GUI front end for APT. xara has been updated for new libraries and packaging:
    Changes
    1.0.9: Recompiled for Ocaml 3.08.3. A packaging issue has been fixed.
    1.0.8: Build problems fixed. Workaround for GTK2 crashes with Qt themes. Minor syntax and speed improvements. Typos in the manpage.
    1.0.7: Fixes bug with -noborders option, and a set handling bug.
    1.0.6: Bug in set handling leads to wrongs results.

    The changelog shows the package has been continually maintained.

    The last bug report was 2008. It must perfectly meet people’s needs since. It works for me and I like it. If you think it could be improved, file a wishlist bug report.

    I was using it as an example of search available in GNU/Linux. That other OS has nothing like it because it lacks central application management that APT provides.

  33. Elhana says:

    Xara hadn’t updated in 5 years and has no localization support. Also note large border around menubar and empty status bar. Why do you even write about that lab work of some student in new c00l language OCaml?

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