Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

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exploder
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Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by exploder » Sun Apr 26, 2009 3:59 pm

Have you ever wondered why Linux is not the standard on desktop computers? I have wondered this and have had many years to think about this. I have seen progress in different areas, such as boot time and hardware support but at the same time I see regressions. I see new releases hailed as being great and innovative when in reality they are half finished work.

Us long term Linux users tend to ignore things that simply do not work or have to be worked around to have functionality. When was the last time you had system sounds working in a Ubuntu, Fedora and a host of other distributions release? It has been a while hasn't it? We tend to just ignore things like this and move on. Someone new to Linux or computers in general will ask why don't system sounds work? The same thing is true with CD/DVD burning in Linux, how many distributions called their release finished when there was massive problems with this feature, not to mention that the floppy drive will no longer work if you should still have one? People that are not computer geeks are quickly turned off by lack of functionality and can you really blame them?

Is Linux a threat to Microsoft's dominance? The answer is no, not at all! Microsoft's product may be bloated and resource hogging but it does function. My Wife's Vista machine has been running for well over a month now without being rebooted and she has been doing some heavy tasks with it and it is still humming right along. My Wife has been downloading 4 and 5 torrents at a time and seeding while surfing the web, checking e-mails, playing games, uploading files and running a chat client! Microsoft stated their largest competitor is pirated copies of their operating system, they are telling the truth on this one. Windows Vista fell short on peoples expectations and Microsoft's minimum specifications to run Vista were way off base for it's time of release. The main thing that hurt Microsoft was that people more or less had to buy new hardware or spend a lot upgrading what they already had to run Vista.

If Linux expects to go toe to toe with Microsoft things have to actually work! A new release with regressions is not the best thing since sliced bread like all of the reviewers might say. Reviewer's can say whatever they want but it's not getting Linux installed on new machines. Dell started selling machines with Ubuntu pre-installed and at first it looked like a very positive move for Linux. Dell has not offered machines with anything newer than Hardy. Why would Dell choose not to offer the latest, greatest on their machines? The answer is simple, regressions! Could you imagine trying to offer support for machines with Intrepid or Jaunty pre-installed? Just a quick look at the General Help section of the Ubuntu forum demonstrates that it would be a support nightmare! The support nightmare exists because final releases are released without actually being finished! Can you just imagine Dell telling their customers that their graphics card might be supported in the next release?

You can not blame the hardware manufacturers for all of the driver issues anymore. What is the incentive for a major manufacturer to build new drivers for Linux every six months? Under the current situation with release cycles by the major distributions major hardware vendors are going above and beyond to provide drivers. Would you expect new drivers if the release cycle was 3 months rather than 6? Who decided that six months was enough time to build a release? Is the world going to come to a complete halt if a release is delayed to fix regressions?

Is there anyone besides me that is tired of hearing the words "upstream issue" or "we are a small group of developers"? I see this all of the time on bug reports I submit to Ubuntu and I am sick of it! If you build a release and call it yours, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE and issues resulting from your build are yours and no one else's. How many developers and volunteers does Ubuntu have? They have hundreds! When is someone going to speak up and say "wait we need to fix this"? All of the excuses you can possibly think of do not make the final product any better or more accepted by the public. The "what do you expect for free", catch phrase is not putting operating systems on peoples computers either!

If Linux distributions want to be a mainstream standard and drop in replacement for Windows they are going to have to do a better job and fix existing problems before adding new technology that is not mature. Linux will never be anything more than an operating system for computer enthusiasts if it continues on it's current course. Are Ubuntu Developer's actually developer's, in my mind they are not. What do they develop? They repackage debian packages and put them together and call that development? Since everything wrong is an "upstream issue", this must be the case, right? In my mind a developer takes a concept to it's logical conclusion. Am I mistaken about development? Is development just throwing a collection of packages together and calling it developing? Funny I thought a final release was actually supposed to work and not have regressions. The word regress means to go backwards doesn't it? Computer software will never be perfect but come on, how could any major distribution release with graphics drivers that do not work? Where is the pride and quality? How could anyone feel good about having release notes that state that popular, common graphics cards will not work?

Is Linux ready for the mainstream? The answer is no.

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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by iironjade » Sun Apr 26, 2009 5:07 pm

Linux works ok on my laptop and presumably, for several million others.
The reason it doesn't appear on many desktops is that no one has made a massive, profitable and exclusive deal with the manufacturers. Why would they and who would they be? There's no commercial competition as such between Linux and anyone else for the domestic user. What would be the point? There's no profit to be made in something which is readily available for free. Linux has to succeed on its merits and not on the strength of its marketing or any commercial backing and will probably be all the better for it. :)
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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by anticapitalista » Sun Apr 26, 2009 5:39 pm

Why do you want linux to 'go toe to toe with Microsoft'?

For many linux devs it is not their (primary) reason for providing a linux distro.
Maybe Ubuntu, Red Hat, SUSE/Novell and the 'big' companies want to do so, but the vast majority of distros do not work on this premise. And why should it.

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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by exploder » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:26 pm

Why do you want linux to 'go toe to toe with Microsoft'?
Why not?
For many linux devs it is not their (primary) reason for providing a linux distro.
What is their reason?
Maybe Ubuntu, Red Hat, SUSE/Novell and the 'big' companies want to do so, but the vast majority of distros do not work on this premise. And why should it.
Actually it is some of the smaller distros that could make it to the mainstream and be successful. PCLinuxOS is the best example of quality I can think of, everything works and it is built to run on the widest rang of hardware humanly possible. Mepis is also making large strides in quality, especially with the large amount of community involvement that has taken place. Quality releases come from solid packages, not nessesarily higher version numbers.

Ubuntu will not provide higher bug fixed versions of things like Gimp because they claim it could compromise a stable system, yet they have no problems with using a version of xserver that are not mature. Where is the logic in these kinds of decisions? Doesn't it make more sense to build the base of the system with a solid foundation and add new technology when it matures?

Why would you spend your time building releases that a large number of people can not use because of regressions? Maybe I expect too much? I would just think that after all these years things would be better than they are.

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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by anticapitalista » Sun Apr 26, 2009 7:15 pm

Maybe I misunderstood the intention of your post or you have misunderstood mine or a bit of both ;) :P
(I think we actually agree with each other)

What I meant to say was that many linux distro devs (especially the smaller ones ranging from PCLOS, MEPIS, sidux and others with a much smaller user base) do not see their need to compete commercially with M$ windows. Instead they/we offer distros that are better than M$, but without the M$ $$$$$ being the priority.
For many linux devs, the 'pride' is not making millions of dollars, euros, pounds, yen ..., nor is it the number of users, but it is the quality of the product.
The bigger linux companies try to compete commercially and IMO they have ultimately failed to 'beat' M$ and also they have ended up lowering their standards compared to the smaller distros. Mint is widely understood by those in the linux world to be an improvement over what is offerred by the parent Ubuntu, Mandriva regularly releases pre-finals and even final releases with known bugs in them as does fedora.
In a sentence and IMHO: Linux is ready for the desktop, particularly those that concentrate on 'people before profit' or 'people's needs before commercial gain'

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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by exploder » Sun Apr 26, 2009 7:44 pm

We see things the same anticapitalista! There is no financial gain to be made in the same way Microsoft makes money. Revenue is generated by donations and support. You are a developer, you develop AntiX, you build the highest quality distribution that you possibly can. I do not see regressions in AntiX, I see continuous improvement in the quality of each release. You built AntiX originally because you really like the light desktop environments and AntiX will run well on older hardware. I saw on the Mepis forum that you are working on a legacy kernel for older hardware. AntiX is not built as a copy of anything else, it is built with independent thought and high quality in mind.

How can these large distributions expect to get anywhere with the low quality releases they are producing? It's funny how the small distributions take care to produce quality releases but the larger distributions with a large number of developers can't seem to get things right.We do see things the same, I just might not be good at expressing my thoughts.

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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by midas » Fri May 01, 2009 6:50 am

Bringing the subject back to Mint....what happened actually to the Mint 5 LTS edition? I don't hear anyone about following the 'semi-rolling-release' principle of Ubuntu Hardy Heron. A distro like gOS is using the Hardy-core and adding the latest packages (if possible of course) of Open Office etc. I think that's exactly the reason why Dell is only using the LTS-editions for their computers. Not the latest-greatest but everything working out-of-the-box. Is that the way to go for Mint also?
Last edited by midas on Fri May 01, 2009 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by Pierre » Fri May 01, 2009 7:10 am

I,ve always said that LM is one of the closest to "desktop ready".
it is already of the most user - friendly distro's. :D
- & that last point, is the most important point.
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Please edit your original post title to include [SOLVED] - when your problem is solved!
and DO LOOK at those Unanswered Topics - - you may be able to answer some!.

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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by FedoraRefugee » Fri May 01, 2009 8:56 am

<sigh>

I go back and forth with this question myself. I really think exploder asks the wrong question, there is no doubt that Linux is and has been "ready" for the home desktop for a number of years now, I would speculate it was really "there" by 2005. In fact, for a couple years every distro that rolled out was awesome. They all worked! Unfortunately, with new ways of doing things Linux has regressed in the past year or two. In fact, I just tried to boot the Fedora 11 Xfce preview on 3 different computers with no love. Like hitting a brick wall...Cant change to vesa and cant edit xorg.conf because it doesnt exist. The best I could do is install in text mode and import my nvidia driver later. Nouveau seems to be as much a piece of crap as the nv driver, though I may be premature in that comment. I sure hope so.

No, what Exploder should have asked is "is Linux ready for the masses?" I seriously doubt Linux will ever be ready for Joe Sixpack. Joe can barely keep Windows running and that is with a world full of support. Heaven forbid Joe has to actually THINK for himself. No, Linux is not there yet.

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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by tdapple » Fri May 01, 2009 10:14 am


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shane
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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by shane » Fri May 01, 2009 10:35 am

you might find this talk at Linuxfest NW by Bryan of the LAS interesting... The title? 'Linux Sucks'

http://lunduke.com/?p=429

I personally couldn't care less if the next guy uses Linux or not. But the fact of the matter is, if we are to get the same level of hardware support as enjoyed by MS, we need a sizable chunk of the market. Otherwise manufacturers don't care if 1% of users can't get their wireless working out of the box when anyway they are the 'geeks' who can figure it out. And that affects us... so sadly, we are going to have to cater for Joe six pack if our own experience is to improve.

Now Joe doesn't care about what he's using... he's not going to download Firefox... let alone Mint or Ubuntu. What we need is preinstalled Linux that does everything that he wants to do... mostly email, web browsing, word processing, etc. *reliably*. And it needs to be marketed with devs whose pay check is on the line supporting it. I think Linux has to be commercially profitable on the desktop for our own experience to improve. It seems like our complacence in being a niche and dependence on the community to fix it is what is holding us back. Until this is fixed, Linux is not going to be ready for Joe and we lose out... It is a vicious cycle.

Linux dominates the server market because people make ton loads of money from it... This is what needs to happen on the desktop also. Somebody has to make money from desktop Linux. Else we remain a niche that no one cares about.

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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by FedoraRefugee » Fri May 01, 2009 10:57 am

confused does that mean? You are going to try to tell us that Ubuntu, considering that LINUX has well under 10% market share, probably more like 3%, and that includes ALL distros, you are saying Ubuntu has more users than XP? ROFL!!!
Now Joe doesn't care about what he's using... he's not going to download Firefox... let alone Mint or Ubuntu. What we need is preinstalled Linux that does everything that he wants to do... mostly email, web browsing, word processing, etc. *reliably*. And it needs to be marketed with devs whose pay check is on the line supporting it. I think Linux has to be commercially profitable on the desktop for our own experience to improve. It seems like our complacence in being a niche and dependence on the community to fix it is what is holding us back. Until this is fixed, Linux is not going to be ready for Joe and we lose out... It is a vicious cycle.
We dont number posts in this forum? Anyway, you may have already read this, but check out my last post in this thread:

http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.p ... 80#p146671

This is why it wont happen. Could it change? Maybe, but I doubt it. Too many big egos to get together and become a real force. Pre-installed computers are the key, and i hope they sell more and more, especially as the economy tanks. But I doubt it will make a dent in the MS monopoly. In fact I doubt it will even touch Apple.

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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by FedoraRefugee » Fri May 01, 2009 11:27 am

you might find this talk at Linuxfest NW by Bryan of the LAS interesting... The title? 'Linux Sucks'

http://lunduke.com/?p=429
Awesome! I am so happy I am not the only one who sees this!

I like what he said at 11:30:

You do not need a new xorg with every release, if it works then just leave it! Quit screwing up all my drivers!

I think the lines between xpermental and stable are getting too blurred. Fedora is trying to become more stable but still remain cutting edge, Ubuntu is trying to get more cutting edge but still remain stable. This is crap for us! Each distro needs to find its own position and let the users come to it. Personally, I dont care if my kernel, xorg, or nvidia driver are a few versions old and stable. I prefer stability here. OTOH, I like my apps to be more cutting edge. If one is too buggy I will just revert back myself. It is harder to revert the previous stuff, and if any of the foundational pieces are broke then the distro is broke.

Anyway, good video, I highly recommend everyone take the time to watch it.

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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by shane » Fri May 01, 2009 12:01 pm

I understand what you're saying and I agree... Our strength is also our weakness.

But I am tired of having to do extensive Google searches before buying any piece of hardware... or being able to run anything with OpenGL on my laptop only since Hardy... or having to use the Hardy drivers for my wireless card since the Intrepid and Jaunty ones are useless... or doing mental gymnastics just to get Ekiga to work with ALSA every time I reinstall... I could go on...

Another example... I don't 'evangelize' Linux either, but I do let people know that I use Linux and what it's all about. So one of my friends wanted to try it out recently because his XP installation was messed up. I had a mini interview with him to find out what exactly he does on his machine, what hardware and peripherals he has so he can continue to be productive... I thought I had all the bases covered until I got there and found his ADSL modem plugged into the USB. I tried following guides and tutorials and whatnot... and some 6 hrs later I gave him a freshly installed XP machine... because the ISP gave him an installation CD. His conclusion? 'Linux sucks'. The fact that Windows couldn't connect either without the CD was irrelevant.

Even though market share seems like the goal of the evangelists, we all need it if things are going to 'just work' IMO.

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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by FedoraRefugee » Fri May 01, 2009 12:23 pm

Agreed Shane, it is a dilemma. I am still watching the video and boy this guy makes sense on a lot of issues. There is so much FOSS needs to compete that it just cannot conjure up under the current business model. So what if Linux ever did go commercial, even keeping the source free, what would happen? Could it work? How do you make money? If your profit margin relies on solely support then why would you make the best possible quality OS? I think it is an impossible situation that Linux can never overcome, which is why I am so negative in threads like "where will Mint (Linux) be in 10 years?" I love this OS, I have enjoyed my almost 10 years of using it. I have enjoyed the tinkering, the making things work, the feeling of accomplishment when you figure the problem out and the feeling of satisfaction when you help others with your solution. I have enjoyed the people I have met along the way. But I seriously do not see this OS competing on the desktop and I really am not sure if I would want it to. Because if it does it will have to change and become something other than what I have come to love. Man, Fedora 8 was tops, I mean that release rocked. It was there, everything worked. Since then Ubuntu and Fedora both have been missing on a couple cylinders. I hope we can get it back, I had high hopes for the next releases, but they are beginning to look like just more problems.

Shane, I certainly am not against you in this, but I am not optimistic either. I guess we both will just have to wait it out and see where it goes.

edit: As a side note, I have not had any problems with peripherals in years but I do double check before buying. However we were just on vacation and we bought our son a Canon Powershot A470 on a whim. Sure as crap, it does not work in Linux. :( I suppose I will be buying him a card reader in the near future, till then we DL the camera on one of our laptops and transport the pics on a pendrive to his computer. Not a big deal, but it is bloody annoying.

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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by FedoraRefugee » Fri May 01, 2009 1:16 pm

This is comment #20 to the video by Jeff:
Linux is rapidly approaching a paradoxical state, in which standardization will be forced upon a group that thrives on openness and more importantly, freedom of choice. When that happens, I expect to see the dominant distribution (Ubuntu) become the standard, and the others to splinter off into some “purer” form of Linux.

There are some in the Linux community, who would rather have Linux never become widespread, and who are very vocal about that opinion. We must move on, past these critics to take on our real competition.

Linux will never achieve widespread desktop penetration without dealing with the issues that Bryan has raised.
His first paragraph describes exactly what has to happen for Linux to succeed. We need one standard, bit this will close the opportunity for others to splinter off. The others ARE splintered off, that is the problem. In order to succeed you will have to force standardization upon a group that thrives on openness. Very well said. That is it exactly.

And that is why I am one of those people Jeff describes in his next paragraph. I do not want to be forced into using Ubuntu. Or Fedora, Slackware, Mandriva, debian, PCLOS, Gentoo, gOS, or any other distro. I do not want to be forced to use RPM, or deb. I do not want to be forced into using KDE or Gnome or even Xfce. The element of choice and flexibility is the very reason I use this OS. If you eliminate these then I will go back to Vista, which is what I am using to type this very post, because Vista came with this computer and it just works and everyone else uses it. Why use a Windows wannabe when I can just use Windows?

I am afraid that Jeff's last sentence is correct. The neat thing to watch will be how these problems are dealt with.

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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by knuckles » Fri May 01, 2009 1:17 pm

I totally agree with exploder! Linux I one of the Operating systems with the most possibility's. There are so many applications that work great, and do not have an equivalent application for Windows, that do the same Job.

For normal non PC interesting People there are a lot of problem, like the application names, example on Windows we have Media Player, and iTunes, if I hear that words I can already think what that application do. But on Linux you have Amarok, Banshee, Exaile..... If I hear one of that works I can't imagine what that program do!!!

Than the 6 month distro updates, ok for people they like to test new stuff, its great, but for a normal User it make Problem.
Windows side (examples):
If you use Vista an you will use MS Office XP, 2003 or 2007, with an only installation that is possible.
If you have an Office XP install CD you can use it for Windows 98/XP/Vista and for Win7
Linux side:
If you use Intrepid, you have only the internal version, perhaps an superior version from other repos, if no package, you must compile yourself (for a normal user not so simple)
If you have a package from openoffice3 for intrepid, you can not use it for openSUSE Linux, but everytime Linux!

On Windows the user if save, because of some defined standards, that must be respected by commercial licenses, on that side the open Linux World give the devs to many choices what brake the compatibility between application and distribution.

That are some problems that must resolved before Linux can become someday a real concurrent for Windows (and I can say Windows 7 is a big step better than Vista, what make the war harder)
Sorry for my BAD English!!

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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by exploder » Fri May 01, 2009 1:23 pm

Bringing the subject back to Mint....what happened actually to the Mint 5 LTS edition? I don't hear anyone about following the 'semi-rolling-release' principle of Ubuntu Hardy Heron. A distro like gOS is using the Hardy-core and adding the latest packages (if possible of course) of Open Office etc. I think that's exactly the reason why Dell is only using the LTS-editions for their computers. Not the leatest-greatest but everything working out-of-the-box. Is that the way to go for Mint also?
midas, I completely agree with your thinking! I suggested exactly what you are proposing. PCLinuxOS more or less does this with releases and they do a good job. Mint 5 would have been the perfect choice for a rolling release because of the LTS aspect.

I don't mind doing a little fixing here and there but when I have to go to removed to update everything I use then something is wrong. There comes a point when geeks and Joe six pack just want things to work and not have to wait another six months in hopes that their problems will be fixed.

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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by shane » Fri May 01, 2009 2:42 pm

Linux is rapidly approaching a paradoxical state, in which standardization will be forced upon a group that thrives on openness and more importantly, freedom of choice. When that happens, I expect to see the dominant distribution (Ubuntu) become the standard, and the others to splinter off into some “purer” form of Linux.
I do not agree with Bryan on the abandoning of alternative frameworks such as phonon or dpkg. Instead I think this standardization is exactly what we need for all to coexist. For example, all sound server projects should agree on the basics as to how an application can interact with the sound server. This way an application developer just needs to code once and the same calls must work regardless of what sound server is in use.

It should be much like HTML. All browsers are built to these standards (more or less) and many work very well even though implementation is very different. Choice still exists in tandem with standards. In fact open source advocates usually are also advocates for open standards.

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Re: Will Linux ever be ready for the desktop?

Post by Shaddix » Fri May 01, 2009 5:06 pm

the biggest issues Linux has are compatibility issues, bot software and hardware aren't always cooping with linux as they should be
propably because of commercial issues, but linux shouldn't hide behind that excuse but figure out some good solutions

for example: I couldn't use Linux on my desktop for some years because it couldn't handle my wireless card, it was a SMC card, one of the most popular ones of the moment out here

on the topic of software, I am pretty shure that Linux should be targetting teenagers and late twentiers if they want to grow, those are the future
but what does that targetaudience use their pc for? I'm 19 years old myself, I'm studying informatics in college, we are a class of 30 "nerds" and only 2 of them (including me) are using Linux
why? simple people from my class want to play games during their pauses, but how difficult is it to run a game decently on a Linux? yes wine is a great program to run games, but it's still not that easy to make a game run good on it, most of the games will even never run smooth with current generation of a wine/linux combo

people of my generation want to use cool software like photoshop and dreamweaver, yes the gimp is a nice alternative for photoshop, it's nice to see people made such a nice program opensource, but still, photoshop is a lot better I think
and dreamweaver... I don't even know a good linux alternative for that

face it, the most popular software isn't compatible with linux, that is the biggest problem why people aren't masivly starting to use windows instead of linux
a state of mint..

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