Some questions from my dad, who may go Linux...

Doran L. Barton fozz at iodynamics.com
Sun Jun 24 19:31:47 MDT 2007


Not long ago, Brandon Stout proclaimed...
> >  * Palm isn't using the Linux system yet. So would a Pocket PC be 
> >better for Linux, and will any Pocket PC work with Linux?

This is a difficult question to answer. If what you want to do is
synchronize data between your PDA and your desktop, there are varying
levels of support and compatibility between Linux and PDAs. Palm is a very
mature platform and enjoys good syncrhonization support from Linux and,
like you said, Palm will be building future PDAs/smartphones on top of a
Linux base. 

> >  * My Garman GPS "StreetPilot 2610", I need to link with it and down 
> >load and load data?

A quick Google search shows there are several pages which describe how this
can be done. Seems pretty well covered by the community.

> >  * What about digital cameras and the programs for the pictures and 
> >editing of the pictures and printing them?

Most newer cameras by common manufacturers implement standard USB storage
protocols. As a result, plugging a camera into your computer via USB is a
straightforward procedure, from Linux's point of view, and is no different
than attaching a USB hard drive or flash drive. If you do have the unusual
camera that doesn't implement a sane USB storage protocol, you can usually
mount the storage media (CompactFlash, SD, etc.) using a card reader.

As for scanners, just about every HP scanner and multi-function device
works due to HP's close involvement with the open source community. Many 
other scanners work well too, but you'll want to check the SANE (Scanner
Access Now Easy) support hardware page 
<http://www.sane-project.org/sane-mfgs.html> to be sure. I've used Epson,
Umax, Envision, and HP scanners all without any problems.

The 800 lb. gorilla in this software space for Linux is The Gimp. It does
95% of what most people use Photoshop for on Windows/Mac platforms. For
even simpler uses, f-spot, picasa, and dozens of other tools exist.

> >  * What about the printers I have?

As previously mentioned, HP provides great support for their printers under
Linux. It's almost a rule of thumb that if your printer isn't the cheapest
of the cheap (i.e. the "free" printer), it's probably supported pretty well
under Linux.

> >  * Internet surfing?

Firefox is the popular option, but since open source is all about
alternatives (unlike the Windows world), there are plenty of other 
choices such as Opera, Dillo, Konqueror, Lynx, etc.

> >I still have questions about going Linux as you can see.
> 
> No problem.  Ask away.  Another thing to consider:  Trying it costs you
> nothing.  If you don't like it, you can still buy Windows Vista Home for
> somewhere between $120 and $200 (OEM), and not lose another dollar.

I strongly recommend trying a live CD of Fedora, Knoppix, Ubuntu, or
other distribution. These CDs let you boot into Linux and play with it
without installing anything on your computer. You simply boot off the
CD-ROM media and go.

All that said, Linux isn't perfect. It's beginning to become an attractive
desktop alternative for business users. For home use, it still has some
distance to cover because it lacks support from hardware manufacturers for
more of the devices commonly used in homes (e.g. webcams, VOIP phones,
other novelties), and many of the popular Windows games are not available
for Linux. But, if the bulk of your use involves e-mail, web browsing, word
processing, and working with digital photos, you'll be well served by
Linux.

For what it's worth, I've got my dad using Linux at his office (he's still
using Win2K at home). He gets by great on Linux. In fact, I still have to
help him with his home computer more frequently than his office computer.

This brings up another point. It's SO much easier to remotely support
someone running Linux than Windows. If my dad has a problem with his office
PC (running Linux), I can SSH into it and usually diagnose and fix his
problem remotely. I have a VNC server set up on his Windows machine, but
it's a lot more of a hassle to do that.

-- 
fozz at iodynamics.com is Doran L. Barton, president/CTO, Iodynamics LLC
Iodynamics: IT and Web services by Linux/Open Source specialists
 "Akita to Okinawa: Non-stop fright"
    -- Japan Airlines advertisement
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