It’s All About the Applications

Yet another article purporting to show that GNU/Linux is not making it on the desktop…

  • LibreOffice – “The biggest features missing from Writer are a grammar check tool, as well as some difficulty with docx page layout when importing from an existing MS Word document.” Hey! Some of us can use language properly and if everyone in the organization uses LibreOffice, where’s the problem?
  • Gimp – “Gimp wins in the price category while Photoshop offers some “extras” that many people have deemed critical. I tend to believe most of these people simply prefer to use what’s familiar to them. Your own experiences may vary.” I have to agree with that.I have not, in a decade, needed to use PhotoShop, and the time I was forced to use it, the interface was unfamiliar…
  • Browsers – “Firefox has more available browser add-ons than any other browser out there. Google’s Chrome might be catching up, but I believe that Firefox is still the winner in terms of raw add-on numbers.”
  • Free v non-Free – “Microsoft Windows is a screaming example of this problem. It offers only slight improvements to get you to spend more money on something that, honestly, wasn’t needing to be replaced in the first place. It’s even worse when you find yourself needing to buy new hardware two years later as there’s some new “feature” that requires the latest thing from partner hardware vendors.” Amen.

Just when I’m thinking this guy is on the right track, he makes this faulty conclusion:“There are countless times where using the freely available, open source alternative would indeed work just fine for the majority of software requirements. I believe that by working together, both proprietary/closed source and open source software have a place in this world. Because embracing both options when appropriate translates into true software freedom.”

The symbol for “argument” in Chinese is two women under one roof… Free and non-Free should not be embraced equally. Make FLOSS the default and only when absolutely necessary use non-Free. That’s a better way to do IT than to have a workable system and still prop up the monopolies. I have adminstered small and medium sized systems in schools. Administering that other OS was ten times the effort and cost (time, money) than FLOSS. Embracing that other OS and all its baggage is not freedom. Then there are the great advantages of FLOSS in flexibility of usage and distribution. It’s no contest. Use Free Software. I recommend Debian GNU/Linux.

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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35 Responses to It’s All About the Applications

  1. Each to his own, but I disagree with most of your comments. GNU/Linux is far less complicated than that other OS. M$ does hide complication but they give one no way to actually control the OS. The complications of that other OS are what makes it so easy for malware to penetrate and why it’s so slow. The licence matters to me in a big way. Just how many machines do I have on the LAN? Why should I care? Oh, the EULA forbids more than 10 or 15 or some arbitrary number. That is one big fat complication for me. In a school I may have more than 100 PCs on a LAN and I want them all to be equal citizens. M$ will do that if we pay them. I value freedom and it’s free.

  2. John A. says:

    You know what, I’ve tried Linux with numerous distributions and desktop environments and I’m convinced it’s not ready for prime time. I like it but it just wants to be complicated which is entirely the wrong approach.
    I always come back to Windows because of video games but mostly because I’m not afraid of pirating software. I’ve received training in Word 2007 (and its interface in other words) and I’m far more comfortable with it that with the old 2003-style interface (what LibreOffice is imitating)

    It’s just not easy to pick up. GNOME is stupid and KDE crashes far too much. In addition to that, they are both bloated as shit. The lightweight options (i.e. everything else, including Enlightenment which I was testing out until yesterday with Bodhi).

    The average user doesn’t care at all for the source code. Nor do they care about the bloody terminal that shows up during boot-up. To this day, the reason for the inclusion of this stumps me. It’s just ugly. I don’t like using the terminal; it’s inconvenient, I just want the bloody thing to work with nice options.

    And don’t give me the shit about security. No-one cares, literally. On Windows, all people do is install the anti-virus and forget about it. I don’t even run one and I’ve never caught a virus. I understand the argument, but most people don’t care.

    The GNOME project has the right philosophy which should be applied to all ‘newbie’ Linux apps–you must hide the deep customisation options. Distributions still fail at this, even Ubuntu and you often have to end up using the terminal. Its use shouldn’t be promoted at all. Enough said. The terminal is the biggest inherent problem to desktop Linux being successful apart from ones that can be easily fixed like the ever-increasing army knife of drivers. Games are still behind though, we need AAA+ titles by big corporations. And with games it isn’t the same… it’s all enjoyment, being proprietary (at least with art) means nothing. Not that people care.

    In short; GNU/Linux NEEDS to be dumbed down in ALL aspects. Its vendors must stop promoting FOSS; they can be using it under the hood but the whole philosophy drives away people. Above all, it must be superior to pirated software which is also free price-wise. Until then, we, the 99% (association intended, but as a pun) won’t be convinced. I’m obviously very tech-savvy, but still, I think like the layman in most cases.

  3. Contrarian says:

    “Does anybody think a person should be allowed to occupy any sort of job with responsibilities if they can’t even string a coherent sentence together?”

    I guess you should ask #oiaohm’s boss, if he actually has one.

  4. aikiwolfie says:

    “The biggest features missing from Writer are a grammar check tool, as well as some difficulty with docx page layout when importing from an existing MS Word document.”

    A “grammar checker” is still considered a “big feature”? Really? Of all the fantastic things MS Office is supposed to be able to do that can’t do. That statement right there tells us how important those mythical features really are. It also tells us just how dumb down MS customers need to world to be.

    I mean really. Does anybody think a person should be allowed to occupy any sort of job with responsibilities if they can’t even string a coherent sentence together? No wonder the global economy is going down the tubes. Nobody can communicate properly any more with the okay from Microsoft first!

    As for docx? Microsoft were found guilty of patent infringement of the only feature that made docx uniquely useful in a business environment. And subsequently forced to strip out that feature. Which it turns out wasn’t all that widely used anyway. Meaning the docx format is just not that essential. PDF is by far the more essential format to businesses for sharing and publishing documents. It’s pretty much a standard in the printing industry. And LibreOffice can print to PDF files without any fuss. For all other purposes ODF will work just fine. People need to understand word processing is not desktop publishing. It never was and never will be. No matter how much Microsoft likes to pretend it is.

    On the few occasions I have converted a docx document I haven’t had any issues. But that’s just my experience. Others may vary.

  5. Contrarian says:

    “Then the fans tell me here that the problem lies with FLOSS”

    There is no problem at all, #pogson. You only wish there were one. MS Office IS the standard and whatever it does is, by definition, according to the standard.

    Hundreds of millions of people use MS Office in a business or personal setting and have absolutely no trouble with it. Everyone who needs it has access to it and everyone who has access can share new or old documents as they feel the need.

    The dilettantes who are unwilling to pay for a copy of MS Office and/or have no other access to one at work may have a minor problems sometimes with formatting in some odd circumstance, but they hardly matter since they are not doing anything critical.

    It matters not if some group of dweebs get together and come up with exotic constructions that they then parade about as a “standard”. It is not what 99.44% of the world is using for serious work and no matter how hard you point at the remainder, they are just an anomaly and not worthy of much consideration.

  6. Microsoft Office 2007 to Support ODF But Not OOXML

    Quoting M$, “The file that you are trying to open may have been created by a third-party (non-Microsoft) software product in compliance with the International Standard ISO/IEC 29500 Office Open XML (OOXML). Microsoft Excel 2007, Excel 2010, Word 2007, Word 2010, PowerPoint 2007 and PowerPoint 2010 do not support all the standards that are outlined by ISO/IEC 29500.”

    A wise saying: “There’s none so blind as those who will not see”. There’s reality and then there’s the tripe put out by M$’s technological evangelists. M$ is a blight on the world of IT. They pushed a standard and do not use it so that those who do will have a “jarring” experience trying to interoperate. Then the fans tell me here that the problem lies with FLOSS.

  7. oldman says:

    “Yes the official documentation of doc and the implementation don’t match.”

    prove it.

  8. ch says:

    “DOC format hasn’t changed since Office 2003”

    To be precise, my MSO calles it the “Word 97-2003 format” 😉

  9. oiaohm says:

    Ivan I would gain from link grammar or other grammar checkers if it was integrated into firefox not libreoffice since I have other grammar checkers already in libreoffice. So its a zero gain.

    Phenom Hmm so has not changed since 2003. So explain why a complex doc file created in Office 2007 screws up formatting in Office 2003.

    Yes the official documentation of doc and the implementation don’t match.

    Fun some time change you default printers and watch Office 2003 from time to time eat document formatting.

    Simple fact is Doc is a defective standard because it allows measurements inside the file to be set relative to the current default printer. These are normally the documents that completely explode when open on Libreoffice and also explode when sent to people with different types of printers.

    ODF is sorting out a lot of problems in fact.

    Sorry to say I know softmaker well. I do know how to break it as well. OLE just like Libreoffice can be nasty.

  10. revdjenk says:

    I am not sure what specialized files you are attempting to open, but I have no trouble with doc or docx files with LibreOffice in my world. And the times I have to share with someone with MSoffice, they have not reported any problems with files I have sent them in that proprietary format.

  11. Phenom says:

    Sorry to disappoint you, guys, but DOC format hasn’t changed since Office 2003. Eight years, guys, and FLOSS still can’t implement proper support, despite the format being well-documented.

    The reason for that failure is not Microsoft. It is much more simple. It is fun to make media players. It is not fun to read some hundred pages of documentation and develop support for a complex file format.

    Look at that:
    It does support Microsoft Office formats, and does so well. But this is expected when you get paid to get the job done.

  12. revdjenk says:

    You are just proving my point… duh! Excel is incompatible with open standards the world recognizes. But I did see that pdf versions are available on that site, and LibreOffice will not only open these, but allow me to EDIT them, (and have had that capability for years.)
    Listen, I have been using Microsoft products since Windows version 1.03 (and yes, even have a win7 box) but prefer the ease, speed, and uncomplicated Linux offerings.

  13. Ivan says:

    “However, I have been using LibreOffice and its predecessors since 1999 with little or no problem with Microsoft, and many other document formats.”

    Have fun getting these to work:

    “Ivan other than the fact Link-Grammar is only english in fully maintained support.”

    You would benefit from link-grammar, Mr. Ham.

  14. Even M$ is not OOXML compliant. They made the standard impossible to implement.

  15. Yep. I started using StarOffice 5.2 in 2000 and on the first day of release. 1.0 was buggy but by 2.0 it was quite smooth. Libreoffice seems to do everything I want the way I want to do it.

  16. oiaohm says:

    Ivan other than the fact Link-Grammar is only english in fully maintained support. Libreoffice and Openoffice have tried to be more cross nation.

    Really Ivan full doc and excel compatibility is more likely now if that it will never exactly happen. Libreoffice is running a test suit system including fussing looking for bugs IBM was not running anything like it.

    Also you are being stupid IVAN. If you are implementing excel to be 100 percent compatible you have to implement MS bugs in data processing as well.

    Like saying 1900 is a leap year when in fact it is not this applies to word and excel. Excel is a highly buggy data storage. OOXML version of Excel also keeps a lot of the bugs. MS did not take a chance to clean slate.

    Yes there are data secuirty reasons why some countries have rejected OOXML and xls from being able to be long term data formats.

    Libreoffice completely discarded and rebuild the rtf processing part. Turns out doc and excel files were depending on that at times. Also many importers based on Java IBM and OpenOffice was using have gone and replaced with proper code.

    Also now that ODF 1.2 is out Microsoft next Office suite will have to be able to convert excel to ods properly. None of this just insert OOXML into ods. Yes the openformula standard is part ODF 1.2.

    Next version of MS Office is going to be highly interesting. Since MS will have to develop a lot of the conversion from OOXML to ODF 1.2 and that ODF 1.2 lacks lot of the loop holes in standard MS was able to exploit with ODF 1.1 to make incompatible documents.

  17. oiaohm says:

    Moxy the biggest mistake in windows is the registry hives. Giant black box of who is playing with this setting.

    Also provides a nice central point for failure.

    A long time ago the Linux/posix and Windows worlds faced the same problem. This is the time of windows 3.11. Issues was stacks of setting files end up in the same directory and it being impossible to find the one you had to change.

    Linux/Posix goes the path of creating a standard to sort the mess out

    Microsoft implements the registry. For some settings what it is has to be prefixed for others it don’t. Next is the interface to get around the registry is not exactly that great. Search functions are weak.

    Microsoft goal was to reduce number of files that had to be opened. Result is one file that now contains everything and is a mess. Now down the track MS got the idea lets split the registry a little.

    Of course the result is the windows internal standard is still a mess.

    Vista and 7 still have not address the lack of way to link registry keys to application.

  18. revdjenk says:

    “…full doc or excel compatibility…” You are correct. LibreOffice and many other office suite software are at the mercy of Microsoft’s changing formats. Microsoft needs to do that, so people must upgrade to the new “standard.” Oh, and to maintain sales.
    However, I have been using LibreOffice and its predecessors since 1999 with little or no problem with Microsoft, and many other document formats.

  19. Arup says:

    There is language tool for Libre Office that does grammar and its as dumb as the MS version. GIMP does it all but vanity, most Photoshop users, the general amateur ones use it as they would use Apple, to belong to a crowd and be identified as a pro photographer, otherwise GIMP does it all. Not to mention in terms of scalability and use of multi CPU,GIMP outdoes PS.

    Half the world uses XP cause they are sheeple, they have been STUPIDIZED plain and simple.

  20. Pogson's #1 Admirer says:

    Leave Mr. Pogson alone! He does more for computing freedom than you “other os” shills will ever do.

  21. Ivan says:

    “Ivan LibreOffice does have third party grammar checkers.”

    Mr. Ham, LiarOffice wouldn’t need a 3rd party grammar check if they would simply integrate Link-Grammar. After all, LiarOffice is already a 200M+ bloated piece of crap, they might as well make it a 200M+ bloated piece of crap with a working grammar check.

    I won’t bother mentioning full doc or excel compatibility, that will never happen. IBM can’t even do that with their fork why would the loons of the Document Foundation?

  22. Almost half the world of x86 users run XP. Are they stupid? Perhaps they are just using what works for the moment. You’re a twit.

    I have used Vista and “7” a few times and found them both slow dogs. GNU/Linux is faster. Why not use it for that reason alone? I can also find many other good reasons to use GNU/Linux.

  23. Moxy says:

    the thing is slow so it takes longer to do anything with it, and it frequently breaks. –

    Blah, blah, blah and more old man rantings. You’ve not used Windows since XP so your outdated opinion has no basis. No facts, no references, just an old man’s bitter opinion.

    You’re stupid.

  24. Nope. I have an M.Sc. in nuclear physics to prove I am not stupid. The reason that other OS costs so much is because the

  25. damned EULA is so restrictive,
  26. the thing needs to be constantly updated against malware and the single source of updates is in another timezone,
  27. the thing is slow so it takes longer to do anything with it, and
  28. it frequently breaks.
  29. Time is money. The reason I choose not to waste time on that other OS is because my time and money are precious.