If you’re the sort of person who looks for the most efficient and satisfying ways to get the job done, regardless of the conventional wisdom, then read on. If you’re the sort of person who conforms to the expectations of others, and believes that the most popular or the most widely adopted way of doing something is always the best way to do it, then you may as well stop reading now.
I am not one of the latter types. Your way of doing things might work fine, but it won’t necessarily work best for me. I want the freedom to work my way.
That’s why I like the Unix environment, and why I use Linux for just about everything. It fits me. I have the freedom to do things in the ways that work best.
For about ten years now, give or take, I’ve been using a collection of utilities and systems that provide the following important features:
High quality desktop publishing with a high degree of automation. I’m not talking word processors here.
An extremely efficient and powerful editing environment in which I rarely have to move my hands away from the home row of the keyboard, even when executing complex procedures using multiple programs, like importing some extracted Bible verses, or search results.
Independent programs where each does a specific task in a predictable and efficient manner, which can be interconnected easily to perform complex functions, even from the comfort of my editing environment.
Efficient archival of important changes to my work, so that mistakes can be reversed, old versions found, etc.
Network access to all of this work, so that I can use the system equally well here at my primary computing location, or anywhere I have connectivity.
Freedom and access to adjust the way I work in any way that I might see fit. (This may be the most important feature.)
The ability to expand and augment the system with tools of my own creation.
I enjoy these and other important features in my daily work, because I use Linux (Debian GNU/Linux, to be precise), Vim, LaTeX, Python, Git, SSH, Mutt, Gimp, and a many other programs and projects, representing many thousands of programmer’s hours. I also use programs I’ve written too, though they’re not so famous.
If you know what Libronix is and does, you probably already know where it falls short in my view. The problem is not that I want to rip off lots of copyright holders and distribute their work indiscriminately by means of the Internet. The problem is that I want to use those copywritten works fairly, yet without being hamstrung by a computing environment that (a) doesn’t give me the freedom and power I need, and (b) charges me a lot of money for my loss of freedom, power, and stability, too.
Unfortunately, the Windows environment is automatically disqualified. (Case in point: DRM is supposed to be a step forward for Vista. It’s actually a big step backward for someone like me.) The constant upgrade cycle alone is too expensive, though I’m sure MS shareholders think it’s great. I’m probably one of them, come to think of it.
I’ve enjoyed using the Macintosh environment, mostly because I can use the same Unix tools that work together so efficiently. The next time I have $2k I don’t know what else to do with, I might just drop it on a Mac. Macs are just priced out of my league, and they have an expensive upgrade cycle of their own.
As for Libronix, I understand the philosophy: control. It’s like the Matrix. All those snazzy features: searches, hyperlinks, notes, etc. — it’s all about control. The software is written that way in the hope that you never want to leave it. The proof of this is that you can’t export works from the digital library. Oh, you can export tiny bits and pieces, but not whole works. So just leave Libronix running all the time, and you’ll always have access to your digital library. Do you need to search? Just enter the Libronix application. Do you need to extract something? Switch over to the mighty Libronix app. It’s your go-to guy for everything related to your digital library.
I’m sure the approach works. It’s one way to do it. But sometimes it doesn’t work. (It locked up on me more than once when running it in Windows 98 under VMWare.) It also takes a while to load and run. It also interfaces only with whatever editing environments the Libronix designers anticipate, and that their marketing model will support. In case you haven’t guessed, that doesn’t include Vim. It also can’t be used remotely over SSH. And so on and so forth. Meanwhile, I’d like to grep through a UTF-8 file of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions and get the results in my text editor, for possible use in my next Bible study. Something wrong with that?
Libronix probably works great as a money-maker for Logos, though I’m sure that’s not their (only) purpose in producing it. Libronix probably does a good job of protecting the interests of copyright holders. It probably seems great to the great herds of computer users who don’t care to look for “a better way to do it.” But Libronix doesn’t work for me.
So if you are a copyright holder wishing to publish your work digitally, consider those of us who don’t appreciate being locked in to one vendor, even a vendor with good intentions. Frankly, I value freedom. I’ll respect your copyright, but if you won’t publish your work in a way that I can use it, then your hands are tied. Wouldn’t you prefer that your work gets used?
And if you work for Logos, please consider a release for Linux that includes quick access to the digital library from the shell. I’d be happy to work with you on it.