Last night, Saturday night, was the big night. Jeff (my eight-year-old son)
and I sat down to install Sun’s Java Desktop on the family PC in the dining
room. Almost four hours and a few frustrations later, we had a working, Linux
PC. Jeff was very pleased at the improvement of his login time from 2 1/2 minutes
under Windows XP to a mere 16 seconds under Linux. Wow! What does Windows do
that it takes 2 1/2 minutes to log a user in? After I showed him the snake game
that ships as part of the Gnome desktop, Jeff went to bed happy.
Unfortunately, things have taken a turn for the worse. As I began to write
this blog entry at the breakfast table, Jeff was trying to play some games on
his favorite websites, and with very mixed success. My eight-year old has gone
from happy to grumpy in the space of a half-hour. In fact, he’s downright mad,
says he hates Linux, and just stormed out of the room in frustration.
I took a look at his browser. It’s Mozilla, and identifies itself as:
Mozilla 1.4 for Sun Java Desktop System
Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; linux i686; en-US; rv:1.4) Gecko/20031111
His problems begin when he goes to Lego.com,
and tries to sign in to his Lego
Club account. Mozilla clearly shows focus to be in the nickname field, the
cursor is blinking in that field, so Jeff looks down at the keyboard, types
in his username, and looks up to see, NOTHING. That puts him in a bad mood right
off. I sat and watched him click twice on the field before he succeeded in making
the focus really go there so that he could type in his username. It’s a small
glitch, but enough to frustrate an eight-year-old.
The Lego.com game he wants to play called The
Quest for the Golden Dragon. There are some serious performance issues
with this game under Mozilla. At first, the game appeared not to work at all.
The game window has a help button (a question mark) at the bottom, but hovering
over it does not change the cursor to a finger like it should. If I hover long
enough, and click enough times, eventually the cursor will change to a finger,
and I can click the help button. Much worse, from a playability standpoint,
there’s far too long a delay when Jeff clicks the spacebar to switch from one
character to another in the game. He clicks. Nothing happens. He clicks again.
Nothing happens. The clicks stack up, and all of sudden the game madly cycles
rapidly through several characters. Walking the characters around seems to perform
well-enough. The result is a game that is frustratingly close to playable.
Jeff also got mad when he visited Bonus.com,
only to find that none of the games that he finds simple enough to play will
run under Mozilla. I haven’t yet had a chance to look into any of those to see
what the specific problem might be.
I just asked Jeff whether he wanted Windows back. Here’s what he said:
I’m not sure yet. There are some things nice about Linux, and there are
some things not nice about Linux, and that makes me not know what to do.
So that’s where things stand in my grand, Linux experiment. Things are looking
frustratingly dim. StarOffice and Evolution will probably satisfy my wife’s
needs for email and word-processing, we like the fast login time, and I like
the faster shutdown time, but if Jeff can’t get his games to work, then it’s
back to Windows we go.
If you have any suggestions for improving the performance of that one Lego game, I’m all ears, or rather I’m all eyes.