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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can anyone explain (or point me to a site that does) what X11, OpenOffice, etc is and what it's specific use would be to the average non-techie like me? Is it emulation? I understand that ( I use VPC in my work for apps that are not available in Mac OS).
If this has all been done before, just URL me.....

Thanks

Thom
 

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UNIX, whether it's the kind that is inside MacOSX or any other, runs from a command-line interface. In other words, no pictures, no icons, no mouse needed. Just type text.

To make MacOSX what it is, Apple added a Graphical User Interface to the UNIX underpinnings so that we see the screens and application windows we use to get our computers to do stuff.

Some UNIX apps run from the command line, but others have a GUI, just like MacOSX. If you want to use those programs on a Mac (or any other kind of computer) you need something similar to what MacOSX does.

So, you would install the same tools UNIX users have: X11 and another application (they vary in look and feel, but work more or less the same) like KDE or Gnome.

So, if you have X11 and Gnome installed for example, you can run those GUI UNIX apps on your Mac. Instead of waiting for the developer to make an OSX-compatible version, you can just use the UNIX version that is available for other computer platforms.

If you don't plan to run those applications, you don't need X11. In that case only use applications that say they are for Mac OSX.

For the most part, I would probably not recommend X11 or applications like OpenOffice to an "average non-techie", so if I were you I would just forget about them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks gordguide. I'll remember what you said, but forget using them.....
 

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I found the OpenOffice suite a snap to download and install, and works fairly well
Honestly, if you need a office suite , it works fine
 

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hey there, we just installed X11 at work on our power macs. i'm in the Geographical Information Systems field (we make maps - well its a little more indepth than that) and we use X11 in order to run our GIS software. we run the software off of our UNIX servers and use the X11 interface in order to use the programs on our macs. its absolutely fantastic and a lot more stable and cheaper (free) than the options that were available for Windows machines. its helped us to do a seamless transition from our UNIX desktops to a more user friendly mac. we needed the mac as our job is fairly graphic intensive. now i can export my finished maps from my GIS software and complete them in Illustrator for a cleaner, sharper look. X11 is great! :D
 

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Three great X11 programs available through Fink:

The Gimp

It's not great for print publishing or anything like that, and it's not a polished user interface, but it's a very powerful tool for digitally manipulating photos. There's a big learning curve. So far what I've done mostly is using the clone and bezier and mask tools to make composite photos. Someday maybe I'll buy Photoshop Elements, but for the small amount of time I spend doing this stuff as a hobbyist, the Gimp is easy enough to use, and does stuff that GraphicConverter doesn't do.

ImageMagick command line tools are great for batch processing of photos.

I have tried GnuCash in the past and it seemed very powerful and stable - a better experience than Quicken on Windows 98.

My favourite things about open source programs are that there are continual free upgrades forever, and you don't have to worry about spyware.

 

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X11 is great. As is UNIX in a desktop OS like MacOSX.

But, it's not a drag-and-drop install like, say, Microsoft Office X. For users who don't want to bother with intermediate level installations and who have no intention of investing time in the learning curve, it's more work than they would, in general, be willing to undertake. Just a few years ago this would be considered advanced user stuff.

For many of us, the installation/configuration issues are worth it. But I think it's important to differentiate between the X Windowing System and the applications that a given user needs that requires X Windows.

If you need the application, you need X11. In an of itself, though, X11 doesn't add anything to a Mac if there is no UNIX application they want or need installed on their system.

OpenOffice is a great example. It's not the only office suite around, so for some users the other choices are better for them. They might need user support, for instance, or they might just feel better if they were collaborating with another user, to have the same programs installed on each desktop.

On the other hand, there may be a GUI UNIX app you can use. This means installing Apple's Developer Tools, plus X Window support and GUI, and possibly Fink. Once these things are there, it's fairly easy to add OpenOffice, and a host of other possibly useful applications.

Many users have no problem learning more about their Macs and what makes them tick. In that case, I would probably recommend they do install X Windows because they are willing to spend a little more time delving into the UNIX underpinnings of MacOSX.

But it's not trivial. If you don't agree, then consider how long it would take to move your setup to a new box, with and without GUI UNIX (with internet suppport; without the 'net it borders on the impossible).

I just think it's important to remember that all users' needs and level of commitment are not the same, and when giving advice to others we should consider that before making a recommendation.

By the way, for those of you with Virex from .Mac, the 7.2.1 update available from Apple now fixes the Fink incompatibility.
 

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I agree - for the 'average non-techie', the X11 apps are not recommended, with one rare exception:
IF you have high speed internet and IF you have someone who can set the programs up for you, then apps like the ones I described can be easy enough to use once they are installed. For the price ($free), it's worth a shot if you can get someone to set it up for you. If you have such a friend, appreciate them!

Setting up some apps with Fink+X11 is definitely not a quick or simple task, and high speed internet is recommended.

Another thing about this free UNIX stuff is that you will find they are not entirely compatible with your Mac - you will most likely not be able to associate files with X11 applications, for example. Each one does not get it's own icon in the Dock, and so on. In that sense, yes, it is an emulator. You won't find the reduced performance you find in Virtual PC, but you will find these inconsistencies. As someone coming from a Windows/Linux background, inconsistencies like this probably don't bother me that much compared to most of you. I would still much rather use native Cocoa apps for everything, but as a switcher I found that the cost of buying all these applications is steep, and I'd rather spend that money on good, well-designed hardware that will last. So for me and a lot of other techies, and a few lucky non-techies, X11 is a great bonus and one more thing that makes OS X the ultimate personal computing platform.
 

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I'm grateful for X11 and the ability it offers to run OpenOffice. There are times when my graphics business is given Word documents as content for materials I'm requested to prepare. Without OpenOffice, I'm forced to "borrow" the one Wintel machine available to me. This can be a PITA, as I have to transfer the file to the Wintel over the network and open/convert and transfer back.

Coincidentally, just moments ago I received a number of Word documents for a current project. OpenOffice saved the day... again!

The installation of X11 and OpenOffice is not particularly difficult, unless you're one of those who expects a software install to be fast and unattended. If the instructions are followed EXACTLY, there are no problems. Best of all, it's all FREE!
 

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Mississauga, yah, Open ofice is a hell of a tool, fink is tricky but the new installer of open office is pretty simple.
You got rid of the eye eh? Did you end up hypnotising someone, or freaking people out?
 
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