Today I received an email with some technical specs I was supposed to review, but the document came in OpenOffice Write format (.odt), and since on my MacBook I only had Office installed, there was no way to open it.
Checking the OpenOffice.org site, it appeared a version was available for OS X, but in the traditional open source way, I was met with thinks like:
“en-US builds for Intel based Macs will be listed here as soon as they passed QA. In the meantime please” (The phrase really ends like this, I am quoting vervatim!)
…please…what? What am I supposed to do in the meantime? Ask the guy who sent me the document to re-send it in Word format? Oh, wait, here is the solution:
“The builds use X11 and are meant for the user who doesn’t care that much about look but functionality and cross plattform integration and usability. Other prospects are the Darwin community and the Unix-savvy MacOS X user community and forming a platform for us to build the Quartz and Aqua tracks for the traditional Mac user.”
I thought Intel Macs had only been around for a few months, so how can there be a tradition? Last, but not least, the list of mirrors for the english version were empty. No problem for German or French users, so congrats to you, lucky people! The fact it was empty explained the “in the meantime” statement.
What is this rant all about? The discussion I had the other day with a diehard opensource defender – the type that scream “Linux will conquer the desktop next year, really, this time” any chance they get. I think it is really great that people are willing to donate their time to contribute to opensource projects, some as large as Linux or OpenOffice, but they have to think in terms of reality, not utopia. To think Linux will take over Windows on the desktop, or that OpenOffice will replace Office, at least in the short or medium term, is wishful thinking.
I expect to be beaten to death by the diehard Linux fans, but there is no way my mother would know how to “vi your X86 configuration file to change the video adapter so that it works”. Until Linux or OpenOffice offer similar experiences than Windows or Office, there will stay in niche or very specific target groups. Companies are migrating to these operating systems and office suites, yes, but they usually have the resources to implement the transition, both from technical and training standpoints.
So, good luck with the project, I honestly wish it every success, and I am sorry that I am not a competent UNIX programmer so I can contribute. But from a user’s perspective, it has some way to go.