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I have only used microsofts operating system and it's been easy enough for a non-computer geek like me to learn on my own. I've never used LINUX and I don't think I'll ever have to. I guess I'm trying to figure out why LINUX is the fix to something that doesn't seem to be broken (Microsoft windows). LINUX is supposed to be free but sells for $69 bucks in the store. What's up? Windows 98 was 90 bucks. Microsoft has upgrades and critical updates for free on thier website. LINUX RHAT charges for service. Isn't that how REDHAT is supposed to make money on something touted as free? I'm not so sure computer programmers are going to want to write good programs for an OS and not make money somehow.Why wouldn't they write for microsoft or some other software company? Money is what makes the world go round. Isn't this the same hype free internet service was going to do to AOL? Someone please enlighten me.
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mwollmann writes:
I have only used microsofts operating system and
it's been easy enough for a non-computer geek like me
to learn on my own. I've never used LINUX and I don't
think I'll ever have to. I guess I'm trying to figure
out why LINUX is the fix to something that doesn't seem
to be broken (Microsoft windows). LINUX is supposed to
be free but sells for $69 bucks in the store.

What's up? Windows 98 was 90 bucks. Microsoft has
upgrades and critical updates for free on thier
website. LINUX RHAT charges for service. Isn't that how
REDHAT is supposed to make money on something touted as
free? I'm not so sure computer programmers are going to
want to write good programs for an OS and not make
money somehow.Why wouldn't they write for microsoft or
some other software company? Money is what makes the
world go round. Isn't this the same hype free internet
service was going to do to AOL? Someone please
enlighten me


Certainly.

Various Linux distributions sell for $50+ in the store.
Why? Many come with commercial applications. If you
want to buy the latest RedHat distribution for
$2.99 then that is perfectly fine, simply order it
from cheapbytes.com. Or if you want to be 'devious'
simply copy a friend's RedHat CD (the non-commercial
progs), or download it for free off the net!
But ... There isn't anything deviant about it -- it is
perfectly legal. Yay Free software!

Now as far as updates for the product go. If problems
ever come out for RedHat, they issue erratas very
swiftly, and they are free downloads right off their
page. There is no support fees, there is no nothing.

You argument about who is paying you to write free
software has no validity. Whether or not the employer
gives away his software or not, has no bearing on how
much a programmer will get paid. Some of the best
programmers out there do it for free -- simply for the
love of it. Some do it for money -- then give the
software away.

Hope this clears up your head a bit.

-- Jon
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I'd like to put another spin on this:


I have only used microsofts operating system and
it's been easy enough for a non-computer geek like me
to learn on my own. I've never used LINUX and I don't
think I'll ever have to. I guess I'm trying to figure
out why LINUX is the fix to something that doesn't seem
to be broken (Microsoft windows).


My guess is that you don't view Microsoft Windows as broken because you don't really push it very hard, or you've grown to accept the general problems that do occur. Allow me to continue with a programmer's perspective before returning to the user's perspective.

Many programmers are tired and frustrated with the roundabout ways of having to program under Microsoft. When only Microsoft has access to the source code, the programmer is forced to work around bugs and poor documentation. Seemingly simple problems can easily become sleepless nightmares that stretch for days. The programmer then blames Microsoft because it is known that the exact same thing would be much easier, or at least possible, under linux. What is worse, is that Microsoft may never fix the bug, or only provide one large update after several months that fixes hundreds of bugs at once. The programmer is left hanging in the meantime, and the programmer's boss just wants the job done. The compounding problems can overwhelm all the advantages that a popular Microsoft product could bring. As linux increases in popularity, more and more bosses are understanding that letting programmers use open software is more productive.

With open source software, a programmer can quickly identify a bug, see why that bug exists, report it, fix it, or just better document it. Many people can work on the problem in parallel, and use open internet forums and e-mail for discussing solutions and alternatives. The gist is that any such action will encourage more immediate fixes within hours or days. Bugs are squashed faster and more accurately, and the needs of programmers are better met. This ultimately results in far more flexible and powerful software, that is probably better debugged and more secure.

Another bonus for open software is that those who wish to improve documentation can match the behavior of the program exactly by examining the source code directly. I've read too much Windows documentation that was written based on what "seems" to work. This indirect analysis often makes poor documentation. It is a well known fact that many programmers do not enjoy documenting their code. Open source allows others to contribute to fill in this void.

All this is being said from the programmer's perspective, but the same can easily apply to the user's perspective. Linux has been becoming more and more user friendly (a slow, but sure process) precisely because there are more users providing input into the open community of developers. Open source blurs the line that distinguishes the user from the developer. One might extrapolate from this that, as linux becomes more user friendly and gains applications and developer mindshare, even you might someday need to use/develop linux.

On the one hand, if you don't have any major problems with Windows, or are uncomfortable with experimentation, complicated things, and providing feedback, stick with Windows. You'll probably be happier with it than many programmers could hope to be. On the other hand, if you enjoy learning on your own, having control over your environment, and interacting with a diverse community, you could also view linux as an investment of time, and help to see the dramatic returns of your contribution and efforts.

If you are interested in learning more about open source development or using linux, check out the Linux Users Group message board. There is really quite more to say! It is all there for one to see!

-debug
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I've never used LINUX and I don't think I'll ever have to.

I'm glad you have the choice not to use an operating system you don't like. I'm also glad I've got the same choice too. I would be even more glad if you demonstrated some kind of tolerance for my choice, even though it differs from your choice. I would be triply glad if you made an effort to understand the answers to your questions, but I suspect you're posing these not out of curiosity, but out of spite and ignorance.

LINUX is supposed to be free but sells for $69 bucks in the store. What's up?

Linux is free in the sense of "freedom", not in the sense of "less than one cent". If you obtain a copy, you are free to keep it, pass it along to your friends, and generally share the software. This usually pressures distributors to make Linux free in the economical sense as well, with the exception of 1) printed manuals, boxes, media, etc., which do indeed cost money to make, and 2) installation support, either through email, web applications or 24-hour 1-800 support lines. The latter makes up the predominant portion of the cost of most retail Linux distributions.

Microsoft has upgrades and critical updates for free on thier website. LINUX RHAT charges for service.

Please go to www.redhat.com, click on the link labeled "Download", and you will find 1) links to the files you need to download to install Redhat 6.1, 2) full instructions on how to make the disk images necessary to re-create the disks you would find in the boxed version, and 3) links to the Redhat errata, also known as "upgrades and critical updates". If you had spent 2 minutes with your web browser, you would not have taken the ridiculous and untruthful position which you posit in your post. All of this is available at no cost.

Yes, Redhat charges for service, especially since they have to pay the poor fellow on the other end of the toll-free hotline so he can eat while he's not on the phone. To argue that they should do otherwise is folly. Likewise, to insinuate that Redhat does not carry "upgrades" for free on their website is unfair.

I'm not so sure computer programmers are going to want to write good programs for an OS and not make money somehow.

Too late, it's already happened. Most of the people who write free software neither need nor want your assurance of anything.

Someone please enlighten me.

Somehow, I find it hard believing that you're seeking enlightenment, when most of the answers to your questions could have easily been seen during a quick browse through Redhat's web site, or even www.linux.org . Looking back at your posts to the Microsoft board in November, it would appear you decided on the nature of your enlightenment months ago.
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I'm a programmer who makes a living programming in Winodws. I also have a Linux machine set up at home. What I've discovered is that, other than the specific things that have already been mentioned to answer your questions, there is a bit more that Linux offers, though not in a concrete way.

When I program in Windows (or do most anything there) I am constantly wary of the OS getting in the way. Am I going to get some sort of error that makes me lose work? Is the system going to mysteriously lock up? Things like this (and a lot more) happen routinely in Windows, and it's always on the back of my mind.

With Linux however, those thoughts never occur. While I may have a probelm here and there with certain pieces of software, the underlying OS is as solid as a rock. I've done complete reinstallations with no troubles or hassles and the OS has never locked up on me in any way. There are tales of Linux servers not needing a reboot for many months or even several years. I'm lucky if I don't have to reboot my NT servers at work at least once or twice a week.

In other words, Linux offers me piece of mind. That's a pretty significany difference.
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When I program in Windows (or do most anything there) I am constantly wary of the OS getting in the way.

You know, I haven't thought of it in that way. I make my money by developing in MS environments. I have Linux at home as a "hobby". If MS fails, I just reboot and fix it. If Linux fails, my family cannot get connected to the internet, my kids cant do their work. Mass histeria. Even though Linux is supporting my "mission critical" work, I worry more about developing in the MS environment than I ever do developing in Linux. Your right, "Linux offers me piece of mind."
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The other questions have been answered fairly elegantly, so I thought I'd tackle this one. :)

> Microsoft has upgrades and critical updates for free
> on thier website.

So too does Red Hat (errata). And these upgrades aren't *nearly* as troublesome to install as applying those many series of NT Service Packs over and over again! :P

> LINUX RHAT charges for service. Isn't that how
> REDHAT is supposed to make money on something touted
> as free?

All software companies charge for real support. If you doubt this, ask any MCSE or sysadmin who's called Microsoft for Windows NT support! What is it - like $150 hr, I believe...
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My thoughts and questions on Redhat are from an investor (stock) point of view. I'm wondering how redhat is supposed to make money. Anyone know?
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My thoughts and questions on Redhat are from an investor (stock) point of view. I'm
wondering how redhat is supposed to make money. Anyone know?


Why do you suppose there is a FAQ on this board?
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Appreciate your comments. Since there are more consumers than there are programmers, do you foresee a market developing among non-programming consumers for Red Hat, and if so, why?
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Being a Linux user and having an eye on how this OS can come to the consumer, there still remains issues with ease of installation and intuitive GUI comfortability.

The pieces are there for it all to occur and each new revision to the Linux distribution gets a little easier. But I find even seasoned IT geeks get a little frustrated by both the multiplicity of shoddy documentation online or the lack of a concise set of standards to get the OS up and running smoothly.

With software like Sun's free distribution of StarOffice possibly replacing the MS Office standard and other software company alliances, Linux holds promise as a consumer OS in a year, if not sooner (hopefully).

My 2 bytes...
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I like Red Hat's distibution.

I've used and supported Red Hat's Linux and many other network OSes (NT, Netware, OS/2, AppleShare), and I _don't_ believe Red Hat (or any of the current distributions) will own the desktop PC market in the forseeable future.

It's still far too difficult to set up and configure Linux -- XFree86 in particular usually takes even geeks 1-3 days to get running well on new video cards.

That said, I'm still fairly bullish on the future of Linux, primarily in two market segments. On the high end, Linux can become the primary OS in internet service providers, web sites, and even corporate data centers, because it doesn't make sense to spend $700-$1000 a pop on software for a room full of $2000-3000 servers, when an acceptable free alternative exists. (I'm painfully aware that you can spend much more on server hardware, but as with desktop PCs, server prices continue to drop, and ISPs and startup web sites frequently use hardware in this price range as servers).

This is a market that is currently very profitable for Microsoft, and where Red Hat is primarily aimed. For a Windows NT shop, each server's OS is typically ~$750 up front. Then, to get decent support, the customer enters into a support agreement with Microsoft that typically runs somewhere in the 5 figures per year (depending on number of servers), and includes CDs, more complete access to Microsoft's internal bug-tracking and problems database, and some level of guaranteed response.

Red Hat can focus the money IS managers spend on the area of greatest concern -- quick response to problems and bugs through annual support contracts on a server-by-server or corporate basis, but without the up-front costs.

On the low end, I doubt that the consumer future is in desktop PCs. Products like NetPliance, WebTV, and the like are great candidates for an embedded Linux, and Red Hat and other companies are interested in this space:
http://www.latimes.com/business/20000310/t000023005.html . The Tivo personal video recorder is running Linux today.

The likely success of Linux in this market doesn't necessarily equal success for Red Hat. Most companies that have to customize the OS as much as these will can just create their own version of Linux for their own product, and this sort of product must by definition run with minimal or no ongoing support, which equals no ongoing support revenue.
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It's still far too difficult to set up and configure Linux -- XFree86 in particular usually takes even geeks 1-3 days to get running well on new video cards.

That is not my experience at all. When I first installed Red Hat Linux 5.0 on my old machine a couple of years ago (May 1998 I guess), it took me a couple of days because I did not know how I wanted things, and it had to share the machine with Windows 95, and my monitor was not in the list of supported monitors (although the video card was in the list and it autodetected it anyway). I had to install it a couple of times to get the partitionning right. Sort-of right. I had more partitions that made sense, in retrospect. My Windows 95 crashed so much that I wanted a lot of small partitions so if the machine scrambled one, I could recover more easily and lose less.

I installed Red Hat 6.0 last year when it came out. I had to install it only once, and I cut the number of partitions by 2, which was a step in the right direction. I dared to do this because the 5.0 version did not really crash, although either xvfm or X Window System locked up on two occasions when Netscape got in trouble. I just did control-alt-backspace to restart the window manager the first time OK, but that did not work the second time. I just rebooted it to fix it, though I have since learned a better way. There, too, they did not recognize my monitor, but it took only a few minutes to lookup the needed parameters in the booklet that came with the Samsung 4Ne monitor.

When I got this machine, it came pre-loaded with VA Linux's version of Red Hat Linux 6.0, but it was configured for SMP (the machine has 2 Pentium-III's), and it knew all about my SCSI disk drives, my SCSI DDS-2 tape drive, etc., so it worked right out of the box. I reinstalled it anyway because I wanted to change the partitions around, including the / partition. That reinstall took about 15 minutes. I have only 8 partitions spread over 2 9Gigabyte disk drives, and two of those are swap space. There is a 6 Gigabyte /home, a 6 Gigabyte /, two 2 Gigabyte partitions for a dbms, and two tiny partitions, /boot (on one drive) and /boot2 (on the other drive).

So I do not think installing the Linux OS is all that difficult anymore. It is easier, IMAO, than re-installing Windows 95, which I have to do from time to time when it destroys the registry so bad that I cannot restore the registry from backup media anymore. That is really no fun at all.
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