[svlug] Linux an "upstart"?

James Leone linuxcpa at netscape.net
Sat Jul 19 21:07:25 PDT 2003

steve at itsage.com wrote:

> Hmm... we seem to have different ideas of a what a 'desktop user' is 
> and what constitutes 'server' software.
> You specifically mention Apache, 

I had to mention that, ya know because Apache does work reasonably well.

> IMAP, 

If I said that this ran well for me, that was a huge mistake on my part. 
 You couldn't pay me to try that, just like you couldn't pay me to eat 
eggplant.  ;-)

> and a few other that definately fall in the 'server' category, IMHO.  

> How many 'desktop users' do you know that run there own mail and web 
> servers? 

Ok, your right. 

> Typically they get these services from their ISP (or the IT guys at 
> work handle it for them, if its for the office).  Other things you 
> mention such as crossover office, are definately focused at the 
> 'desktop user'.
> So I would be curious to know: How much trouble do you have with more 
> traditional desktop apps Vs. server apps? 

> For Agruements sake, lets consider desktop apps to be things such as 
> OpenOffice (Office Productivity), Evolution (Email apps), Gimp, games, 
> etc.
> The sorts of thing you find installed on a typical home or office

On desktop applications, I don't know if you mean traditional Linux 
applications, so I'll just mention what I use.

Overall I am fairly hapy with my desktop situation, only lacking a few 
aplications working in Crossover Office, and that's where the server 
apps come in.

Browsers -

My browser of choice is Netscape, and that works very well for me. There 
is only one glich, but I can handle that by using Internet Explorer in 
Linux with Cross Over Office.  I only have to do that when I have to 
check on a client's data in a web based tax organizer, I have to use 
Internet Explorer in Cross Over Office for that. I also have to tell 
clients that they have to use Internet Explorer for that.  It saves a 
ton of time because the organizer is integrated with our tax 
application, so we spend less time doing data entry and more time on 
accounting.  Part of using the web based tax organizer includes 
retrieving and saving the clients information on a PDF file for our 
records, and printing the file. Right now it won't display the PDF file 
automatically, but I know where to retrieve the file in the fake windows 
directory. I can then save it and print it, so I can fullfill the 
requitrement of my job. However, your average person won't know how to 
do that one part.

So  overall, now that I have both Internet Explorer and Netscape 7 in 
Linux, I am not cut off from the world, except for some multimedia 
content, see below.  

Email -

I am fairly satisfied with Netscape email, it doesn't use HTML, and 
seems dependable. I use Netscape 7's Movemail to call up my mail from 
/var/spool/mail/james after it has been purified with Procmail and 
Spamassassin. Fetchmail sets the timing and sendmail is part of that 
mix.  Although I can use this easily, and am very thankful to those that 
taught me, its too difficult for Joe Sixpack to learn unless they are 
flat told how to do it (which I was) or there is a script that will do 
it for them, which I did and released at sourceforge.net.

Network Server Access -

Not missing any functionality here that I need. We have both a Netware 4 
IPX and Samba server  here, and I have access to the shares and printers 
they both control.  Not easy for joe sixpack to set up, but again, I 
have made a shell script to automate the Netware IPX client over at 
Sourceforge and Novellforge. I had to research and put together existing 
tools to create something reasonably useful for a desktop end user. 

Office Suites -

I am very happy with Microsoft Office in Cross Over Office.  Open Office 
is missing a database, is slow to start, and sometimes can't handle 
documents other people send me.
I would say that this is upstart only because it is not commonly used.

Gimp - 

Gimp serves my purposes just fine.  However, I deal with a lot of new 
users in the Lindows forum, and I know that they are not happy using 
Gimp vs. Photoshop. However, now that Photoshop is supported by Cross 
Over Office, those gripes are answerable.

Multimedia -

CD Audio - KsCD  - I know beggars can't be choosers, and once it starts 
up it works fine, but sometimes, its like, <seinfeld> would this thing 
play already?</seinfeld>

Real Player - Linux' Real One player is a lemmings version compared to 
the Windows version. But I have to compensate for what the Linux version 
does not do for you. If I want to see something I have to hope that they 
use the real player.   I will then go to a web site and mine out the 
rtsp links and place them in a home made .ram file.  If I want to get 
sound files off of a CD within a reasonable time, I usually have to go 
into Windows to get audio files off of the CD, which the Real One Player 
does that practically automatically. In Linux however, I have to edit 
the names of the files, and make my own .ram files to automate the song 
playing or to set up a repeat etc.

Games - I don't really play many computer games, I have horrible hand to 
eye coordination, etc... however, I think that the stock games in Linux 
are far better than Windows. I also feel that Winex has done a good deal 
to get some of the games running. However, there are too many games that 
can't be played to put Linux on a child's desk without them coming out a 

Multifunctionals -  This was fun too. We had a Gestetner Multifunctional 
that we eventually dumped for a Konica.  The Gestetner and Konica 
provides copy, printing and outgoing fax services.  Linux software to 
interact with the Multifunctionality to allow for qquivalent 
functionality with Windows is not provided by the manufacturer.

When we had the Gestetner, I ran Etheral on it,  and with the help of 
some emails, I figured out that the scan delivery function was just FTP, 
being ran off of an uncommon port. Luckily someone one email suggested 
that I use Proftp to retrieve scans made on it.  So while I am happy 
with what I have, I still think that the lack of support is upstart.  I 
plan on doing the same with the Konica, and already ran nmap to 
determine that FTP was running on the Multifunctional.

AOL - This was fun. I just went and got winex, and installed AOL 5 by 
adding an empty textfile called wsock32.dll to the /windows directory in 
Winex fake windows folder. I don't use it and it has nothing to do with 
dialup functionality. Again, I still think that the lack of support is 

Server apps -

I have been looking for a time and billing application that ran in Linux 
for a long time. I have tried numerous and not one of them worked. Not 
in the mood now to go digging in the pile of papers here, or at my house 
to find what they were and write them up, but 
Groupare/Timesheet/Calander apps mostly vaporeare in my experience.

If there isn't a desktop application to run these, then I look for a 
thin client solution, and many hours have I wasted on trying to find 
this. Supposed ly the Groupware apps could fill the gap, but so far its 
been a wild goose chase.   :( !

> pc.  In the server category, lets look at things such as mail 
> services( both MTA such as sendmail/postfix and mail stores such as 
> POP3 and IMAP), web services, 

Web and IMAP are vaporware to me, while the rest are rock solid, and I 
should have said that before.

> VPN's, etc.

I am very much against taking my computers off of the 192.168. series 
lan.  Yeah, its paranoid. Lets just count this as something that would 
have worked fine for me. I have never tried it though.

>   There are some 'in-between' services such as firewalling and Samba - 
> but lets skip them for now.  With these sorts of definitions - How 
> much trouble do you have with desktop apps and how much with server 
> apps ?

SuSE's desktop firewall is a big disappointment and waste of time, I 
just don't run it. Supposedly you can tell it to not block smbfs ports, 
I did that, didn't work, then it was time to get on with my life.

I once took the time to learn Ipchains, but it seems like the day I 
learned it was the day it was obsolete and a few years later, broke. 
Takes too much time to research.

With most of these Vaporware suites you have to research the web for 
answers, test the research, then test some of the solutions, realize the 
solution is outdates,  research again, find a weird error, research the 
error, find no answer and then look at the clock,  and realize that I 
just threw away 8 hours.

> btw - the reason I'm so interested is this is it's how I make my 
> living. I've had plenty of contracts to install 'services' but I've 
> never had a job to install end-user stuff.  Just wondering if maybe I 
> should expand my service offerings.

I think an expansion in the desktop area would be very good for the 
community.  I just do this stuff because I am stubborn, I am a CPA, and 
I am more suited for that stuff.

> Oh - in regards to Debian.  Requiring a month to learn to use 
> something doesn't mean its an 'upstart' or its not 'easy to use'. All 
> products have a learning curve.  

LOL -  Come on... it doesn't take a month to learn how to Install SuSE 
even! Windows 2000 + you learn as you go.  I like the Debian folks, but 
I really think they need a better installer. No offense.

> New users require much more then a month to learn ANY computer system 
> - windows, MacOS/OS X, Linux, etc. 

Well in my experience it takes _a lot_ longer to learn Linux.....and I 
really hope that will change. I really do.  

> For instance, how long does it take most people to figure out where to 
> store new document templates in Office - to make them available from 
> the main selection screen?

Yeah that can be difficult for some people....but the answer is more 
obtainable for them

> Let alone the in's and outs of where things are set/stored.

My documents...

> I have to agree, Debian's installer shows it's age.  Distro's like 
> Corel, and Storm really had much nicer ones (*sigh* I miss Storm 
> Linux).  As for the old packages thing - just change your apt sources 
> file to pull newer ones.  Debian defaults to pulling from 'stable', 
> but there are also unstable, and testing - plus nightly builds from 
> many projects. Throw them in the sources list, and off you go :-) It's 
> just a matter of how close to the bleeding edge you want to live.

Well as things improve.....and I hope they do.....it will be easier to 
switch very quickly, more support will be available, and desktop Linux 
will be mature.

James Leone

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