What you use Linux for?

Chat about Linux in general

Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby dee. on Sat Feb 02, 2013 4:33 am

perduta wrote:
dee. wrote:There's nothing religious here.


If you want a discussion about the technical merits and deficiencies of Linux I suggest we do it elsewhere, but in my experience such discussions are rarely productive.
This thread is for discussing what purpose people actually (or even knowingly) use Linux for

p.s. even within the Linux communities there are 'disto-wars' going on you know. ;)


For technical merits, Linux is simply the best there is. It's not perfect, but there's nothing better available. BSD's have some neat features, but they are shackled down by their silly licensing that lets their code be appropriated for proprietary use and be locked down, which reduces the amount of contributions and interested developers. Linux uses the smart GPL license which enables different companies to all collaborate together on a common project with the assurance that their work won't be usurped by a competitor. It's the largest collaborative software project in the world. Mac OS is just a butchered BSD with a price tag. Windows, well we don't have to even talk about windows... then there's Hurd, Minix, Solaris, Haiku and such, but those are pretty much niche systems at this point.

The point is, if you're not satisfied with Linux, maybe you should make your own operating system that would be "free of the clutter of UNIX" and see how popular that gets.

I don't care about distro-wars, if people want to debate which distro is better that's their business. What do they even have to do with the topic at hand?
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby perduta on Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:00 am

dee. wrote:
perduta wrote:
dee. wrote:There's nothing religious here.


If you want a discussion about the technical merits and deficiencies of Linux I suggest we do it elsewhere, but in my experience such discussions are rarely productive.
This thread is for discussing what purpose people actually (or even knowingly) use Linux for

p.s. even within the Linux communities there are 'disto-wars' going on you know. ;)


For technical merits, Linux is simply the best there is...

:lol: cool... if you say so ;)
Personally I think personal computers would be streets ahead of where we are today if the stupid Digital Equipment Corporation hadn't phased out RSX-11M and let that upstart Mr Gates with his amateurish MsDOS dominate the market. Still... no point crying over spilt milk. DEC went broke which is exactly what they deserved :)

dee. wrote: The point is, if you're not satisfied with Linux, maybe you should make your own operating system that would be "free of the clutter of UNIX" and see how popular that gets.

I did dream of making my own distro. It might be educational, but IDK... it's a lot of work. However it would be a single user, no-nonsense machine specifically for running in virtual box. There would be just ONE guest account (who can use 'sudo' command providing they know the admin password) but no root user, no screen savers no /dev/tty0 thru /dev/tty63 and all that crap. Grub would just boot whatever is on the disk with it...

I would add Windows style case insensitivity and practically all packages apart from synaptic would be an optional extra (rather than coming as part of the default set up). I am confident it would be very popular... maybe not with the general consumer but with technical people who just want a lean mean machine to get their job done... meh... whatever, it's probably well beyond my capability atm... so Linux Mint will do just fine :)
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby griffon on Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:00 am

I use Linux for everything except for some Windows-based cross-compilers (Wine copes with those) so its quite transparent, and a Chinese MPU/PROM programmer which only has a Windows driver. It needs XP in a VirtualBox but that's no pain and restores when I need it almost instantaneously.

As other posters have said occasionally using friends laptops running Windows almost drives me insane waiting for things to happen!
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby dee. on Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:07 am

perduta wrote:I did dream of making my own distro. It might be educational, but IDK... it's a lot of work. However it would be a single user, no-nonsense machine specifically for running in virtual box. There would be just ONE guest account (who can use 'sudo' command providing they know the admin password) but no root user, no screen savers no /dev/tty0 thru /dev/tty63 and all that crap. Grub would just boot whatever is on the disk with it...


So, it'd basically be FreeDOS with a GUI...

Also, if you think it'd be as easy to make Grub boot "whatever is on the disk with it" don't you think more distros would already do that? You'd basically have to make it run BootRepair at every bootup, making it the slowest booting system ever. And if it's meant to run in a virtual box, what do you need grub for anyway? Sudo will not work without a root account - in fact, the entire system will not work without a root account, there needs to be a root account so that the system can start - go look at your system monitor and look at how many processes are started as root. Why would you want to get rid of the root account anyway? In systems like Mint or Ubuntu, you never have to use the root account at all except via sudo, it's totally hidden - but they still give you the option to use it, if you want. For that matter, why would you want to hardcode it to only have one guest account? How exactly would that be any better than most distros that come with one account by default, but allow you to create more if you need them? There probably doesn't need to be 6 of them, but getting rid of them alltogether is probably a bad idea.

perduta wrote:I would add Windows style case insensitivity and practically all packages apart from synaptic would be an optional extra (rather than coming as part of the default set up). I am confident it would be very popular...


Somehow I doubt it. Windows-style case insensitivity, why on earth? That's a crappy practice that doesn't do any good. Also to modify Linux to be case-insensitive, it'd require modifying the kernel itself and probably would require rewriting large parts of the system - ie. more trouble than it's worth. Furthermore, making this change would make your distro incompatible with every Linux and every other UNIX-like system there is. What good is a distro that won't run any programs?

Seems like your dream OS would be "linux with all that pesky functionality stripped away". I don't get it.
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby perduta on Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:13 pm

dee. wrote:So, it'd basically be FreeDOS with a GUI...

Most personal computers in the home... on the lap and in the hand are just that: personal and they have no 'system administrators' in the house.

dee. wrote:Also, if you think it'd be as easy to make Grub boot "whatever is on the disk with it" don't you think more distros would already do that?

It is something MsDos could do on a 360k floppy... it's a sad indictment of the industry how everything expands into over-complicated bloatware.
To me: less > more.

dee. wrote:...That's a crappy practice that doesn't do any good...


That's in your belief system. OTOH having files readme, ReadMe and Readme all being different form README is epitome of stupidity in the creed of K.I.S.S.

Anyway, back to the topic: Many people are crying out for a light weight dedicated single user appliance.
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby dee. on Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:08 pm

perduta wrote:Most personal computers in the home... on the lap and in the hand are just that: personal and they have no 'system administrators' in the house.


That doesn't mean that people shouldn't care about the security of their computers. Also, sometimes people need to share their devices with other people. Again: no one forces you to create more than one account on a Linux system, but it's still good to have the option.

You need to understand that your experience is not the same as everyone else's, and what works for you doesn't work for everyone.

perduta wrote:It is something MsDos could do on a 360k floppy... it's a sad indictment of the industry how everything expands into over-complicated bloatware.
To me: less > more.


Hardware has become more complex since the days of msdos. Msdos didn't have to care about several types of partitions, different hard drives, buses, etc... in msdos time, x86 computers were way more homogenous. Msdos was a very simple system, it had many built-in limitations that had to be circumvented in order to do anything useful.

perduta wrote:That's in your belief system. OTOH having files readme, ReadMe and Readme all being different form README is epitome of stupidity in the creed of K.I.S.S.


How many times do you have ReadMe, Readme and README in the same directory? Not really a problem. With tab-completion and GUIs case sensitivity is really never a problem at all. Only ones who even complain about it are people who are used to windows and don't want to have to change any of their habits.

Case sensitivity is useful because it can be used to better differentiate files from each other and doesn't have any real downsides.

perduta wrote:Anyway, back to the topic: Many people are crying out for a light weight dedicated single user appliance.


Who are those many people, and why would they want to use desktop computers in the first place? There's already a solution for their problem and has been for a long time: android tablets. They're light weight, dedicated, single user appliances. If that's what you need, get one of those, because a desktop computer is completely unnecessary to your needs.
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby perduta on Sat Feb 02, 2013 7:07 pm

dee. wrote:
perduta wrote:Most personal computers in the home... on the lap and in the hand are just that: personal and they have no 'system administrators' in the house.


That doesn't mean that people shouldn't care about the security of their computers. Also, sometimes people need to share their devices with other people. Again: no one forces you to create more than one account on a Linux system, but it's still good to have the option.

You need to understand that your experience is not the same as everyone else's, and what works for you doesn't work for everyone.
...
If that's what you need, get one of those, because a desktop computer is completely unnecessary to your needs.


Who said anything about ditching security? Requiring a password before actioning potentially insecure operations does not require multi-user framework with administrator accounts.
The attitude of 'Linux is the one true path' is not productive.
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby dee. on Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:29 pm

perduta wrote:
dee. wrote:That doesn't mean that people shouldn't care about the security of their computers. Also, sometimes people need to share their devices with other people. Again: no one forces you to create more than one account on a Linux system, but it's still good to have the option.

You need to understand that your experience is not the same as everyone else's, and what works for you doesn't work for everyone.
...
If that's what you need, get one of those, because a desktop computer is completely unnecessary to your needs.


Who said anything about ditching security? Requiring a password before actioning potentially insecure operations does not require multi-user framework with administrator accounts.
The attitude of 'Linux is the one true path' is not productive.


For the third time: no one forces you to create more than one account. Why would it be a good thing to take away the option though? What possible benefit could you possibly get?

Anyway: yes, it actually does. In Unix, everything is a file, and every file has an owner. This way, privileges can easily be separated. System files can be owned by root, thus requiring root access to manipulate them. Each user can own their own files. But the users can also set permissions, so they can define a group and set the file to that group, and each user in that group gets access to the file. Or they can just give read access to everyone else, but keep write and execute rights only to themselves. The Unix privilege system is the most versatile, most secure way to separate privileges that has so far been invented. And that's not "religion", that's just fact. It's why it has stayed pretty much unchanged and used by so many systems since well before Linux. That's what I mean when I say it's tried and true. What you're proposing sounds more like UAC from windows, which has been proven to be inferior and less secure many times.

To be fair though, I do think that there is merit to the idea of creating a minimalistic distro with only the absolutely necessary packages to have a working GUI included, letting the user install what they want themselves. That isn't a bad idea by any means. But the rest of the stuff you propose are kind of... pointless.
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby perduta on Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:44 pm

dee. wrote:
perduta wrote:
dee. wrote:But the rest of the stuff you propose are kind of... pointless.

IMO what is pointless is retaining the full functionality of a very complicated design that was intended for multi user mainframes and not for modern small self sufficient devices.

Take for instance the X11 window system... it's based on networking multiple dumb displays on your computer...
- The complex is difficult to maintain and hinders development.
- It introduces all sorts of security liabilities for spyware.
- It is a bottle neck trying to shove your 3D graphics over a bandwidth limited network
- It waste computing resources for all this bloatware that is not being used
- it serves no purpose because the computers themselves are networked and their displays are memory mapped for speed.

Similar consideration apply to the Linux file system. I think I already mentioned the proliferation of various 'bin' folders... well that's just the tip of the ice berg.
A fresh mint installation here has 176,675 items occupying 3Gb. Well I used to have a fully function Windows 3.1 system with every tool I needed for my job and oodles of space on the disk and that disk was only 10Mb! So what is in this other 2,990 Mb that Linux requires? I did have a look and it is practically all pointless junk that serves me no purpose I know of.
Yet if I deleted, it would at best just reinstall itself with next update, or more likely render my machine unusable because we, the consumers, have been robbed of intelligent control we once had over our own machines.

Now the fundamental way to do security is to have your executables on a read only drive. One only enables writing to that drive when you knowingly install new software.
If you don't, then your machine will behave exactly the same when you switch it on tomorrow as it did today. Yet most modern OSes are re-writing critical files in all parts of the file system creating a liability in the case of power failure as well as opportunities for root kits and malware.

Now you also have your data files.These go on a read/write drive but you have NO need for execute permission on said drive unless you knowingly and deliberately give it clearance to run, like if you are testing a program you are developing yourself.

IMO the whole industry simply failed to step back and think intelligently about what they were doing and instead blundered blindly ahead serving a market that responds to the glossy facade of a cool looking desktop with no appreciation for the mechanics underneath. Thankfully limitations of palm top devices may now force the industry to start cutting out the dead wood. IMO the sooner Linux community (not just Google and her Android) wakes up to this reality, the better for all of us really :)
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby dee. on Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:47 pm

perduta wrote:IMO what is pointless is retaining the full functionality of a very complicated design that was intended for multi user mainframes and not for modern small self sufficient devices.


If you want a tablet, get a tablet.

perduta wrote:Take for instance the X11 window system... it's based on networking multiple dumb displays on your computer...


Like I ALREADY SAID BEFORE... X11 will be phased out in time, when Wayland is ready for production use. So there's no point in complaining about X11, yes it's dated now but it was very advanced when it was first designed, and it has served relatively well over the years.

How is it that even with all this "bloat" and "overhead", Linux systems are still the fastest, slimmest, least bloated systems available on the current OS market?

perduta wrote:Similar consideration apply to the Linux file system. I think I already mentioned the proliferation of various 'bin' folders... well that's just the tip of the ice berg.


It's only a problem if you don't understand their purpose. For the average user, there isn't even any need to know anything about bin folders, the average user doesn't even have to ever see the filesystem outside their own home directory. What exactly is the problem here?

perduta wrote:A fresh mint installation here has 176,675 items occupying 3Gb. Well I used to have a fully function Windows 3.1 system with every tool I needed for my job and oodles of space on the disk and that disk was only 10Mb! So what is in this other 2,990 Mb that Linux requires? I did have a look and it is practically all pointless junk that serves me no purpose I know of.


Yes, 20 years ago, an operating system could fit in 10 megs. If you go even further back, the C64's entire operating system took only about 10 kilobytes! So what's your point? Technology marches on.

Seriously, we don't live in the 90's anymore. Hardware is more complex. Why do I need to keep telling the same things to you? Have you tried running a windows 3.1 on modern hardware? Go on and try it. I bet it won't even boot. 3 GB is not even much these days, because storage medium advances just like every other tech. 500 GB hard drives are common and not too expensive - heck, you can get 2 TB hard drives these days. So 3 GB is nothing for a desktop OS. Heck, it's still 10 times less than Windows RT.

Oh, and all that "pointless junk"... reminds me of the time when I was 7 years old or so, playing leisure suit larry 1 on the MS-dos... I was a curious kid, I knew how to start the game from the command line (hey, that was the only way to start it back then), so one day I was taking a look at the directory of the game, and I saw all this "pointless junk" in the directory... I was like, what do we need all this junk for, we only need the exe file that starts the game! So naturally I deleted every other file in the directory. Surprise, the game didn't work anymore! And there was no "undelete" back then...

What I'm trying to say is, just because it seems like "pointless junk" to you doesn't necessarily make it so. Seriously, what's 3 GB of disk space? You're complaining about silly things here.

perduta wrote:Now the fundamental way to do security is to have your executables on a read only drive. One only enables writing to that drive when you knowingly install new software.
If you don't, then your machine will behave exactly the same when you switch it on tomorrow as it did today. Yet most modern OSes are re-writing critical files in all parts of the file system creating a liability in the case of power failure as well as opportunities for root kits and malware.


The ext-4 filesystem has safety checks in place to prevent data loss in case of power failure. It's not infallible but that's why you should always have backups! No system in the world is going to make making periodical backups redundant, that's just the way it is.

We don't live in the 90's anymore. Software gets updates periodically because that's good security, if a security hole is found it is fixed ASAP and the files are updated and that's that. There's no need to have executables on a "read-only drive" because when you set the files to be owned by "root" in Linux or any other Unix system, they are practically already read-only for anyone except the root user. That's why the update manager asks for your admin password, because it needs root privileges in order to be able to rewrite system files! That's why the software manager needs your password, because it needs to be able to also access system files in order to install new packages! In other words, what you propose already exists, it's just implemented in a smart and flexible way that also allows automated updates and package management.

perduta wrote:Now you also have your data files.These go on a read/write drive but you have NO need for execute permission on said drive unless you knowingly and deliberately give it clearance to run, like if you are testing a program you are developing yourself.


The unix system already allows this. You can flag all your data files with no execute flags. chmod a-x ~/* -R, there you have it.

perduta wrote:IMO the whole industry simply failed to step back and think intelligently about what they were doing and instead blundered blindly ahead serving a market that responds to the glossy facade of a cool looking desktop with no appreciation for the mechanics underneath. Thankfully limitations of palm top devices may now force the industry to start cutting out the dead wood. IMO the sooner Linux community (not just Google and her Android) wakes up to this reality, the better for all of us really :)


Oh yes, all of the millions of developers who have created some of the best Free Software in the world should just stop and listen to you, because you obviously have the knowledge and experience to set them all straight. Remind me again, how many OS kernels have you written so far?
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby perduta on Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:06 pm

dee. wrote:It's only a problem if you don't understand their purpose.


No, the real problem is that some people - mentioning no names here ;) don't even understand that it is a problem :shock:
Look I'll go make special thread to discuss it cuz this is derailing the intent of this thread OK :|

right so... the thread for talking about our likes and dislikes is http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=61&t=124711: Linux: The Good the Bad and the down right Ugly!
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby perduta on Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:46 pm

double post
Last edited by perduta on Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby zerozero on Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:49 pm

let's please backup with personal remarks (to everyone involved in this topic)
Image

[ bliss of ignorance ]
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby perduta on Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:58 pm

zerozero wrote:let's please backup with personal remarks (to everyone involved in this topic)

Well don't you think dee was derailing (repeatedly) ?
I have written a professional real time kernel anyway, and it was used for over a decade in industrial applications.
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby AnonKS on Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:11 am

I've just switched to Linux a couple months ago. Linux mint cinnamon 13 was one of my first linux distributions and I love it. Mint is very nice and the cinnamon desktop is beautiful. You just can't knock it. Right now, however, I'm running Arch linux because I love a challenge and I wanted to learn how to do everything on my own. Learn my way around a bash shell and also partitioning disks myself and such.
I use linux because I love the customizability of it. No 2 linux installations are exactly the same. And I love that I'm no longer supporting the corporate fat cats. I love the ability to see each and every operation that happens within my pc. Linux is just perfect for my needs, as well as my preferences.

I'm also currently learning python, C++ and java. And I find development to be a much cleaner experience in linux with my chosen open source apps than the ones I used in windows.
I'm starting a bachelor's in computer science as well as a masters in computer engineering at Regis university in the fall. And I hope to, some day, develop operating systems.
There are a thousand reasons why I love linux. Sorry for the long winded post. I could go on forever, but I'll stop here. :)


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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby HoppityBob on Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:40 am

I first installed Linux about 13 years ago. Why? Because I'd built a desktop and windows would terminally bluescreen every two days without fail, meaning a full, and very painful, reinstall. I've used Linux ever since and it is actually painful to have to go back to Windows now, e.g. I find the file system/hierarchy particularly irritating. And I say that as someone who's spent twenty years working in IT - development, project management, etc. e.g. I worked in Microsoft for several years on the dev of Win95, I've managed labs in Nortel and Cisco with hundreds of pcs, etc.

If there are any particular windows apps I need they're run in a vm (on a personal level that's just Garmin Basecamp these days), but everything else is Linux. I simply don't need Windows. And all of my family and friends have been running linux for years now as well. Easy to use, no security hassles, and it does everything they want. Windows is simply irrelevant.
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby perduta on Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:07 pm

HoppityBob wrote:I first installed Linux about 13 years ago. Why? Because I'd built a desktop and windows would terminally bluescreen every two days without fail, meaning a full, and very painful, reinstall.

I can empathize with that. My PC was fine until it got a virus and then I had to format the drive and reinstall and ever since it would fail to start for no apparent reason once a week.

HoppityBob wrote: I've used Linux ever since and it is actually painful to have to go back to Windows now, e.g. I find the file system/hierarchy particularly irritating. And I say that as someone who's spent twenty years working in IT - development, project management, etc. e.g. I worked in Microsoft for several years on the dev of Win95, I've managed labs in Nortel and Cisco with hundreds of pcs, etc.

In deed the folder structure on Windows is ill conceived for professional use. It's all designed for people who use it as a media player with my_music and my_video my_pictures and my_documents folders and now also so called 'libraries' for the same. What I want is separate folders for different projects and each and every one may contain its own mixture of different media and documents.

One of the worst things introduced in Win95 was the registry as there is a profusion of settings that we can never hope to make sense of. I did see a Linux distro that introduced something similar and I was amazed scrolling through it to see so many entries for equipment that had absolutely no relevance to my computer at all, I deleted it and now I can't even remember which distro it was. Personally I like each application installed with it's own configuration settings and other resources as a self contained file hierarchy. So IMO the Linux way of organizing things is also not ideal.

HoppityBob wrote:If there are any particular windows apps I need they're run in a vm (on a personal level that's just Garmin Basecamp these days), but everything else is Linux. I simply don't need Windows. And all of my family and friends have been running linux for years now as well. Easy to use, no security hassles, and it does everything they want. Windows is simply irrelevant.

Sony Vegas video editing and a virtual machine would simply not deliver the performance on graphics and audio, directX would not work for some games and a few other problems with Windows 8 in virtualbox so I use dual boot on my machine.
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby perduta on Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:17 pm

AnonKS wrote:I'm also currently learning python, C++ and java. And I find development to be a much cleaner experience in linux with my chosen open source apps than the ones I used in windows.

I've only explored the command line development tools on Linux and I prefer them to visual tools because I don't have to find my way round countless menus. However the autotools used with many packages to generate header files riddled with macros and conditional compiles is just too convoluted for my liking. However it is a great platform for software development in general.
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby perduta on Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:55 am

I wuz on an Windows oriented forum and some ppl were ranting about the fact Windows 8 doesn't include no DvD player no more, nor software for burning new optical media. :O
Mind you they are obsolescent I suppose... none the less, I posted about some of the facilities that Linux offers straight out of the box...
... and that is definitely a reason for using Linux as far as I can see ;)
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Re: What you use Linux for?

Postby Macmeister on Sat Mar 23, 2013 9:36 pm

I'm running Linux Mint 14 (cinnamon), and use it primarily for web design. (although it also handles the daily surfing and email stuff) I code using Bluefish Editor, transfer files with FileZilla, and modify images and create graphics with Gimp. It took me a while to get adjusted to Gimp after using Photoshop for years, but I've settled into a pretty efficient workflow now. I like it!
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