Originally Published: Tuesday, 29 August 2000 Author: MasterSibn
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Do We Need a Different Kind of Software?

There's something I find myself wondering about every now and again: why do we need more software? Don't we already have enough software? I would like to see the free software library grow every day, and with any luck, I'll be a contributor. But I wonder if what we really need is "another office application," or "a more friendly interface."

   Page 1 of 1  

There's something I find myself wondering about every now and again: why do we need more software? Don't we already have enough software? I would like to see the free software library grow every day, and with any luck, I'll be a contributor. But I wonder if what we really need is "another office application," or "a more friendly interface."

I personally did not start using Linux until a few months ago, but this is the way I see things now. We have at least five office suites, each great in their own right: Gnome Office, KOffice, Applix, WordPerfect Office, and Star Office. These are not even all the choices available, and if I hear correctly, Microsoft and an Israeli company by the name Mainsoft might end up porting MS Office to Linux.

It looks like there's about to be six times as many choices for office apps for Linux users as there are for Windows users. Office software is great, but too much of a good thing can be bad. If these suites' supported file formats are not the same (or interchangeable), then what I see happening in the business field is MS Office becoming the de facto standard again. Home users will always make room for free software, but businesses want to be as interchangeable as possible.

I, personally, don't have even $100 to spare for Office productivity.

We seem to have "Ease of Use" at an all time high, as well. It's never been easier to get a Linux-powered system up and running, although we clearly still have some kinks to work out. With no previous Linux/UNIX experience, and a single 500-page book, I taught myself to use Linux. By asking questions and getting answers, I learned to work more efficiently.

To this day, I can't find myself using Windows efficiently.

I recently had the great pleasure of figuring out how to install and configure XFree86 4.0.1, for which I owe thanks to several people. It certainly is a different kind of software, I think. It's absolutely fabulous. Running the Accelerated X server, which is something I could never figure out how to do before now, consumes 18MB less RAM than X 3.3.x.

Unfortunately, I have an old motherboard. and to get a decent graphics accelerator, I have to buy a PCI card from 3DFX. This is frustrating for me, because 3DFX is blatantly complacent about the state of their drivers. They did an admirable job of being the first company on the accelerated bandwagon, but have utterly failed in their efforts to stay afloat.

Placing drivers under the GPL a software community does not make. It's terrific that they did GPL their drivers. It is most unfortunate that they expect us to pick up after their failings.

Looking at the state of nVidia's most recent drivers, (which I might add, are not subject to community alterations) I have to conclude that it is definitely not beyond the capacity of 3DFX to release quality drivers, especially given the concepts driving the XFree86 4.0.x servers. After all, nVidia did it without help.

Taking all this into one closing paragraph is simple:

We already have a different kind of software. Now we need to make it more interchangeable. 3DFX's software is so different, it should be destroyed. There is absolutely no excuse for the state of that software, especially when one considers how long it's been around, and how long it has had to mature. Avery Brooks was wrong; we don't need a different kind of software, we need a different kind of developer. Good developers will make good software, while bad developers, quite obviously, will make software bad enough to throw them out of business.

-msibn is realizing how much this smacks of darwinism. He's in the middle of moving, and so doesn't have access to Linux or his email. Apologies for any incoherence as a result of temporary insanity.





   Page 1 of 1