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The Institution of Analysts and Programmers

3 replies [Last post]
AndrewB's picture
Joined: 2005-12-18

The first speaker was Kevin Groves MIAP of the Kent Linux User Group. Kevin noted that Linux is the fastest growing operating system, and that email and web services are now commonly hosted on Linux. It has proved its viability for mission critical systems and is now making a leap to the desktop. There are many distributions, all working from the same core, but with different configurations and applications. There are around 150 customised versions, which is good for choice but can be confusing for beginners. Kevin's tip was to try a version that can be booted from a CD. Although it may be a little slower than normal, it will give a good feel for what can be done, without you needing to change your current O/S. Most distributions can be downloaded off the web for free; Kevin has been using Linux for ten years and hasn’t missed MS Windows yet!

While Linux is essentially an amateur system, there is a main core development committee that works to maintain high standards. Many of the add-on applications come from amateur developers, but the systems themselves are becoming much more polished. Desktops need a consistent, highly flexible and configurable user interface, such as Windows users have come to expect. Many of these available now for Linux.

Kevin went on to detail some of the tools and languages used in the development of Linux, mainly traditional languages, but also some newer ones like Python and PHP. Free tools included Vi, Vim, Emacs, Anjuta, Bluefish and Eclipse, plus commercial tools such as Delphi, Kylix, C++Builder, JBuilder and Websphere. Backend tools include MySQL, Interbase/Firebird, PostGress, SQLite, ODBC/JDBC, DB2 and Oracle.

Kevin admitted Linux does have its shortcomings, identifying the areas of licenses and patents, system integration, and the myriad of Linux distros and GUIs. There was also the ongoing SCO verses IBM lawsuit.

Kevin rounded off his presentation with a number of case studies, showing how Linux had achieved cost savings for charities. Most savings come from free licenses.

I do indeed like that we are really becoming recognised within the world.

ma_d's picture
Joined: 2006-07-07

I dislike the use of amateur and consistent in his statement, it's naive.
I can't see how anyone can call the realm of Windows applications "consistent." You might, on a good day, call Mac programs consistent. Most KDE applications are consistent, and even most Gnome applications are consistent (until you mix the two).

About the only consistency I see in Windows applications is which way ok/cancel goes.

Menu's? Incosistent: Media players never present a menu bar.
Toolbars? Consistently different icons on most applications, not to mention Office is completely retuned when it comes to these.
More complex things, as always, inconsistent.

It's not that consistency is a good thing and inconsistency is bad. In some cases, consistency is idiocy: Why would you want xmms to look like every other program, half the point of it is to look nice on your desktop and hang out there in the background.
Why would you want to force a menu on every application (unless it's a Mac), or even force a toolbar on every application? Sometimes they don't make sense: Nothing looks dumber than a toolbar with just "Save/Close/Quit" on it.

Sometimes Microsoft applications are consistent with other Microsoft applications ... sometimes.

And even though he means the modern, incorrect, connotation of amateur I'll take the denotative meaning as a compliment:
Amateur \Am`a*teur"\, n. [F., fr. L. amator lover, fr. amare to
A person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science
as to music or painting; esp. one who cultivates any study or
art, from taste or attachment, without pursuing it
[1913 Webster]

free-zombie's picture
Joined: 2006-03-08
I also completely disagree

I also completely disagree with the usage of "amateur". Being paid for something doesn't mean you're better at it. Doing something as a hobby doesn't mean you don't do it properly

libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04
Indeed. The use of the word

Indeed. The use of the word "amateur" probably has more negative connotations these days than positive and in that respect isn't a fair label to put on GNU/Linux.

I also don't like when people use the word "commercial" to describe non-free software because Free Software can very well be distributed commercially as well. When you call nonfree software commercial you imply that Free Software must be non profit misrepresenting the whole thing.

Also, I find it quite ridiculous to even mention SCO vs. IBM lawsuit as a shortcoming to GNU/Linux. If anything, it is a shortcoming to SCO itself and a win for GNU/Linux. If SCO spent all that money on actually developing new products instead on that pointless lawsuit they probably wouldn't be a shrinking company that they are now. At this point it seems most of the world just waits for them to crash.

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