Tuesday, February 26, 2008

So you wanna run Linux eh?

Picture this scenario:

Joe Blogs long time Windows user has just been burned with Windows Vista. He's heard about all this open source stuff and decides to give it a twirl.

He aproaches you for help, since you are the local open source advocate and have happily been running Linux on your desktop since the early versions of Dead Rat.

Joe's needs are pretty typical, he needs:
- A decent browser
- Office Software
- Some mission critical software which he says runs on Linux

You review these needs and immediately come up with a solution:
- Browser = Firefox, downloadable from www.mozilla.org
- Office = OpenOffice, downloadable from www.openoffice.org

At this point you tell him that Linux comes pre-bundled with most of these utilities.

Joe replies; "cool so what you're saying I can go to www.linux.org and I'm sorted!".

At this point you inform him that it's not that simple.

"Linux", you say, "is just a kernel, and a set of core utilities from the GNU foundation, various commercial and community interests take this and bundle -together with some value adds- it into a cohesive system, one of these distributions is Ubuntu which is one of the better end user distributions"

Joe replies; "Oh ok, I remember seeing something about the mission critical software I use - which also runs on Linux - requires Red hat enterprise"

You scowl , realising that it's probably not going to play well with Ubuntu and that you are gonna have to try Fedora.

Joe continues; "Oh and then I have another piece of software which requires something called SLES"

You then inform Joe that the various ditributions don't gel well together, you then tell him about chroot and how you can probably hack the software to make it work but it ain't gonna be pretty.

Joe looks back at you with a glazed look and responds; "but I thought it was all Linux"

"Yeah it is Linux" you reply.

Joe looks at you for a while and then says: "I wonder if the software I use runs on Mac"

You look at him for half a minute and then with an approving nod say, "That's actually not a bad idea, I think you should really look into that...."

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