One key difference between Linux and the Unixes that have come
before it is its very real potential as a desktop operating system
for everybody, and SuSE is a good example of a distribution doing
the work to make that happen. So what to make of the fact that
something like PCMCIA seems to work "out of the box" while XFree86
4, despite all its enhancements, continues to present daunting
configuration challenges? Dennis Powell explains.
"Riddle: What do XFree86-4.x and early versions of
Enlightenment have in common?
Answer: While tremendously powerful and feature rich, both are
enragingly difficult to configure unless you happen to be the
This not-very-funny riddle occurred to me during about the
fourth day of my installation of SuSE 7.1 on an IBM Thinkpad 760XL
(P-166, 104 megs of memory, Trident Cyber 9385 video chip with a
meg video ram, 800x600 TFT screen). The fact that I'm writing this
in StarOffice 5.2 on that very machine using that very distribution
might lead you to believe the install was a success; if so, you
would be led astray.
I'm not one to jump promiscuously from distribution to
distribution. My Linux life began with Caldera 1.1, and but for a
brief and unsatisfying fling with Red Hat 5.2 as I awaited the
arrival of an official glibc-2.x, I've been a Caldera user ever
since. Alas, Caldera is heading off now in a different direction.
It's concentrating on business, with its desktop distribution aimed
at developers within businesses. I wish them well, but this has
about as much to me as does an embedded system that keeps track of
the amount of gasoline pumped by a filling station. The potential
to be a desktop system is what separates Linux from all those other
Unixes that have been merrily cooking along in the back shops for
decades now. As an advocate of Linux on the desktop, I'm not all
that interested in how a distribution might be made to work on the
desktop. I want one that's there already."