the user factor
lets not forget this! i am pretty much forced to run nt in my office environment (refer back to a previous post about the lack of office workgroup tools such as exchange:outlook which open source still neglects!). at 8:20am on ILOVEYOU day, i sent a mail to all users in the office to NOT open any email with the subject ILOUVEYOU in it.
sure enough, 10 minutes later my email box received 6 mails from one of the lusers in the office with *suprise.suprise* ILOVEYOU in the subject. i had to physically run to every desktop in the office and make sure that everyone else on the network who received mails from this particular luser didn't open them. fortunately most people in the office are developers and only one desktop (the original lusers') was infected.
now linux usage is characterised by more expert users who understand the difference between what may or may not be an untrusted script. as linux moves deeper into a mainstream environment and *IF* linux developers start focusing on the luser (which it really should start doing outside of the standard desktop installation) then we do indeed face the possibility of exploitation. we could be even more at threat than windows users as small open source projects are not always as rigoursly managed as windows and large open source projects. i believe that office productivity software which will be the gateway to luser virus infections need to be closely planned and managed by our bigger developers such as valinux and the boys at redhat and K.
my mother and open source
this discussion is full of people making good and valid comments. but i think there is something that everyone is missing here, and that is a small link in the chain known as the end user.
lets take a look at my mother (no funny comments!). she is an end user. do you think Amanda (www.amanda.org/) is important to my mother? do you think my mother could actually "Take netcat and grep, awk and sed, and *wush*" have a killer application?
do you think my mother ever played with lego? we all did. thanks because we're geeks. we tinker. we play. we know computers. we are NOT end users. and everyday one of us decides to make a new piece of lego. either to make his/her life easier, or to better our entire lego community.
my mother wants a fully assembled space station. she doesn't want to have to individually put pieces of lego together to get one. now as strange as this may sound to people. my mother would actually *pay* for this preassembled space station, rather than be given a space station kit and man page for free. i suppose this is called commerce. and i also suppose it sounds contradictory to open source. but if there is ANY WAY that we are going to topple the software giants and put a unix on every desktop, we as a community are going to have to become more END USER aware.
if my mother were to buy a pre-assembled space station, what would she want...
1) an intuitive, user-friendly window manager (WHERE IS THIS???)
2) Office Tools (haven't played with KOffice, but StarOffice was S-L-O-W)
3) Workgroup-orientated email/calendar/etc solution (like Exchange, but one that works! AND NOT WEB BASED!)
note: other people's mothers would probably want ERP and CRM tools.
additionaly, the RAD tools for unix are a bit sucky. i don't want to give any praise here to MS Access, so please consider this as an example...
my mother needed a piece of software developed for her, which was essentially a front-end to a database that captured data and then did "hectic stuff (tm)" to it, and started printing of thousands of documents (they don't know much about email in the healthcare game here in south africa). every small-medium company has their little set of it requirements that can generally be built on crap like access - as it provides not only the data side of things, but easy to make front ends.
some punk ass kid wrote this piece of my mothers space station set, and like he doesn't really need to be much of a coder to do this.
anyway. i could go on for hours, but i have to get back to work and stuff. but i would like to see more workgroup orientated applications being built. and i think that people should start doing PRODUCT development - which entails a large amount front-end development and considering the end user. my mother.