LinuxPlanet: .comment: The Desktop? The Desktop!
Jul 19, 2001, 06:08 (91 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dennis E. Powell)
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As is often the case, it's a week of surprises and changes of
direction around the Linux world and Dennis Powell catches us up on
a few of them. Read about how KWord may be ready to be your word
processor, Caldera's abdication of the desktop, the problems with
(and a possible solution for) root-privilege-requiring CD burners,
the sense behind SuSE's design, and just a bit about William Gates
III: Organ Grinder:
"One thing that can't be denied about the Linux
universe: It's never short of surprises.
Some of them are bad, as in the reports this week that gave rise
to the mental image of a cartoon in which one William Gates III was
dressed as an organ grinder, standing there grinding his organ and
looking on approvingly as a little monkey danced and collected
coins for him in a colorful tin cup. About which I have no more to
say -- freedom means the ability to do whatever you want to do with
anyone who will agree to do it with you, but it also means my
ability to think of the whole enterprise as superfluous.
Some of them are good, such as what I found when I opened my
latest build -- code from about a week ago -- of KWord. It is now
not just usable but nice to use. It is not utterly complete, but as
I write this in it I'm developing an affection for the thing. This
is important. Here's why.
Time was, a word processor was either a word processor or Word
Perfect, a fiendishly clever scheme whereby lawyers, who were just
about the only ones who used it, could justify inflating their
billable hours. ("You don't think it took 59 hours just to type up
your will? Well, okay, you try to do it. Here's our word processor.
Good luck.") There were a few advanced features, but nothing that
couldn't be figured out by anyone bright enough not to end up
dancing for Bill Gates. But word processors have grown far more
complicated. They offer all kinds of things, often hidden in
obscure places. Some actually require you to learn a programming
language and cook up your own features.
This flexibility is on the whole laudable, but one of its side
effects is that choosing a word processor has become a major
commitment, because to take full advantage of it there's a lot to
learn. KWord, in my view, has reached the level of development
where it is now worthy of that commitment. Problem is, for the most
part it doesn't really require that commitment. For instance, a
moment ago I thought I'd take a look to see if there is a word
count available, one feature out with which I cannot live. It was
the very first place I looked (File > Statistics) and it