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Insights and opinions from our readers

Windows vs. Linux

I couldn’t agree more with Wade Roushs article (“An Alternative to Windows”, TR September 2004). Linux is practically guaranteed to be successful in todays market. Not only is it cheaper than Windows, but it uses fewer resources and is less prone to viruses. Now that its graphical interface is similar to Windows XPs, its sales have been soaring with corporations and government agencies worldwide. Microsoft claims that retraining IT to support Linux would cost more than staying with Windows, but this is only a partial truth. Perhaps one of the best qualities of Linux is that it’s all open sourcefree to everyone. Its about time Microsoft shared the market.

Siobhan Kivler
Canaan, NH

I applaud the people supporting open-source software. But change must come more quickly. Linux has been around for 13 years. Have the strides really been so striking? Or does our desire to see open source succeed drive us to acknowledge Don Quixotes modest success? Implying that Microsoft provides banal software is simply untrue – particularly when we concede that Linux is a good choice for customers who are willing to give up bells and whistles for a low-cost opportunity. Criticism of Microsoft is a popular sport that ignores the excellent application software available for Windows XP. Microsoft’s success and ethics provide a playground for legitimate critics, as well as criminal hackers and virus authors. If Linux were to become the target in this sport, would it survive the same level of scrutiny and attack? Will Novell’s business model work? Or will Microsoft become the leading open-source vendor? Im rooting for the Novells of the world.

James T. Cassidy
Kansas City, MO

After trying to use the linspire operating system since its first version, and still trying with version 4.5, I have about given up. The biggest problem with this Linux system from Lindows (or Linspire) is a lack of support for all but a few pieces of hardware. If you have to buy a computer with the software installed and can only use certain upgrades to your hardware, you might as well go really wild and go get an Apple system.

Eric P. Freischlag
Lyndonville, NY

A Standard Linux Desktop?

Nontechnical readers of the article on Miguel de Icaza (“Sellout or Savior?TR September 2004) could come away with the idea that Gnome was the first graphical-user-interface option for Linux or Unix systems. In fact, there are several other contenders, some of which were operational before Gnome was even thought of. The upside of this is that you have a choice. The downside is that its hard to produce a completely standard Linux desktop that everyone can get behind. Im confident this will sort itself out in time, but at the moment, for those of us who want to promote and support free (as in speech) software, its one more thing you just have to deal with.

Patrick J. OCallaghan
Caracas, Venezuela

As a freelancer who happily used Lotus, I was angry when I discovered that I had to use Microsoft products to be compatible with my colleagues; they were unable to successfully open my files, whereas I could access theirs. That compatibility should run both ways to allow freedom of choice. This should be the premier principle in all software development. It is an issue that should not have been allowed to be so overridden by one company to the detriment of so many others. I agree with the path taken by de Icaza and Novell, as it requires the conjunction of rebelliousness and maturity to create solutions to innovate. Changes in our attitude toward intellectual property, and the dawning realization that by sharing we gain greater rewards, make this a timely merger, and I wish them success.

Ann Marie Shillito
Edinburgh, Scotland

Fueling Acid

The solution of using formic acid as a fuel source (“Ant Power Packs”, TR September 2004) may lend itself more to applications other than cell phonesbecause of the caustic nature of the acid, and the problems associated with improper use and accidental ruptures. Refilling the fuel cell by hand is impractical for formic acid or even methanol. A possible solution would be to use a docking station to refill the fuel cell, thus eliminating any contact with the fuel. Any type of fuel cell should first be proven in devices much less robust than the common, everyday cell phone. That way consumers can build confidence in this new alternative power source.

Brian Glassman
Orlando, FL

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