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SuSE clarifies "Linux on the desktop" Statement 135

Posted by Hemos
from the clarying-things dept.
MrEfficient writes, "ZDNet UK has a story in which Dirk Hohndel, the chief technical officer of SuSE Linux, clears up an earlier statement made by the chief executive, Roland Dyroff, about Linux's readiness for the desktop. "
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SuSE clarifies "Linux on the desktop" Statement

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    GmbH (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung) means something like Ltd. in Britain, or I guess Inc in the US (beschränkte Haftung = limited liability), except it also means the company isn't traded on the stock exchange (otherwise it would be an AG, Aktiengesellschaft).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why do you want the average desktop user to use Linux? Linux is an ideal tool for learning the inner workings of your computer, developing applications, as well as a great and cheap server.

    Let the ignorant rednecks and computer phobic types use their Windows 98, no current Linux hacker will be using Linux when and if it becomes THE desktop OS of choice -- Because all of the flexibility that makes the Linux of today a lousy OS for your grandmother will be homogonized out!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The original statement wasn't stupid at all. It was a bold attempt to de-hype Linux, and this statement now is a useful clarification, IMO, with a sensible timeframe.

    What SuSE does?
    - Improve XFree (Hohndel is VPres), <i>the<i> most important part of the desktop
    - ALSA: the author of the new sound system is employed by SuSE: Sound is definitely sloppy right now
    - coordinate ISDN stuff (still weak in stock kernel)
    - employ KDE folks
    - help porting games and apps

    So, while SuSE doesn' make as much noise as RedHat etc., they do at least as much as far as I can tell.
    Still, they should hire a couple of good marketing guys...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This might sound silly at first, seeing as how windows absolutely owns the desktop, but hold on with me here :)

    The whole idea behind a 'desktop' computer is that it is a piece of equipment which can be used by an average person, with no significant training. This person should not have to have any knowledge beyond a brief glimpse through a manual to be effective at using the product. Operating your 'desktop' computer should be no more frustrating than driving a car or using a calculator.

    Does linux achive this? Hell no! But does windows? Again, absolutely not!

    As long as users have to read man pages, unzip 'tarballs', 'reboot' to change settings, edit text files and registry settings, recompile kernels, run scandisk, or format hard disks, there is no desktop.

  • by DCMonkey (615)
    Check out the GNUStep Project [gnustep.org]

  • I don't see that anyone has told you anything. He was asked (here: by the press) and he answered.
    --
    Michael Hasenstein
    http://www.suse.de/~mha/ [www.suse.de]
  • Very short sighted view.

    I would not want to have any company set the Linux standard. Some day, they'd use the power they'd get through this.

    Better: LSB (which will happen), and then let everyone who wants build on top of that independent and free (thats free as in freedom, not just free as in no-money) standard.
    I don't understand why you want to give someone so much power.
    --
    Michael Hasenstein
    http://www.suse.de/~mha/ [www.suse.de]

  • Right. SuSE Labs employs far more than a hundred open source developers. Don't forget (journaling) reiserfs, which we sponsored pretty heavily, or also LVM (logical volume manager), which will both be in SuSE Linux 6.4 (march) and bring Linux up to a standard with other Linuxes which had that for servers extremely useful combination of an LVM and a not just journaling, but also on-the-fly growing/shrinking filesystem (to make use of an LVM, with ext2 you still have to reformat the partition to use additional space).

    Also, see not just the kernel or glibc list for the many suse people there, but also our latest commitment for HA (high availability).

    Right, we should hire more marketing gurus...
    --
    Michael Hasenstein
    http://www.suse.de/~mha/ [www.suse.de]

  • No no no, Open Sound System is a commercial package, we've nothing to do with that. What you mean is open source ALSA. See http://www.suse.cz/development/index.html which is a page of our developers in the Prague (Chech Republic) office.
    --
    Michael Hasenstein
    http://www.suse.de/~mha/ [www.suse.de]
  • In Netscape its Alt-C, Alt-V. Everywhere else, its select then middle mouse button (which can be good and bad).

    You're forgetting that in Gnome apps (and I would assume KDE as well), it's Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V.

    In Emacs, it's M-w, C-y.

    I'm sure I could go on...

  • But what it doesn't have is anyone who pays attention to HOW MOST PEOPLE REALLY USE COMPUTERS.

    Alright. You are proposing that Linux developers don't understand how common folk really use computers. Interesting. Let's see your arguments...

    Where's the trash can in the GNOME interface?

    I don't know, but I don't like GNOME, either. KDE has always seemed more attractive, consistent, stable and complete to me. Use KDE.

    Why are there no keyboard modifiers for copy, move, or link mouse operations in KDE?

    I don't know, and I would like to have them. However, if you think that this is how most people really use computers, then I think you are sadly mistaken. Like it or no, the sad fact is that people who use mouse + keyboard combinations are the advanced users. Most people have no clue what the contextual menu is or does, and they certainly don't know the shortcuts to those functions. Desktop interfaces are designed for most people.

    Thus, I argue that those shortcuts aren't important except to power users. Further, I am most pleased with KDE's decision to always present a contextual menu to the user. This guarantees that the user is aware of the options available and knows exactly which option he is selecting.

    The way windows approaches this is atrocious. For instance, dragging a file in explorer executes a different action depending on whether you are dragging between different drive letters or not. If you are in folder-view, it isn't at all apparent to which drive letter the source and destination folders belong. I guarantee you, that most people don't think "Gee, this GUI presents a nice interface for me to [link, copy, move] my files between folders". They think "drag this thingy here". Since "drag here" isn't implemented consistently, it very easy for a user to make a mistake. The worst part is that, once a file is lost, the user tends to blame himself and his lack of computer skills, rather than blaming the poor design of Windows.

    Why is it that when I use a marquee to select and move icons on the GNOME desktop, that it only displays the top-most icon?

    Don't use GNOME. If I recall, KDE uses a "bundle" icon to represent a set of files. To me, this seems a better interface for new users since it isn't as likely to overload him. This is largely a matter of taste, though.

    Why is copying files using the KDE file manager harder typing "cp -Rf" on the command line?

    Copying in the KDE file manager is just as easy as copying in Windows/Mac. Most of us agree that the command line tools are more powerful/convenient, but that does nothing to help a "desktop" user, who (by definition) uses only GUI apps.

    What's up with all the flicker and redraw with X, anyway? Don't you guys hate that? You should!

    Hmm. Perhaps you should fill out a bug report. I don't have problems with flicker, and I have very meager hardware (a K6/200 and a S3 Trio64V+). X is more sluggish than Windows for certain operations. It also beats up on Windows for certain operations. Overall, I view them pretty much even on performance, with Windows possibly a bit faster. Of course, the network transparency of X is indispensable for me, so I prefer X.

    Enlightenment (or any other X window manager) is not the answer.

    I agree. But we are talking about desktops, and Enlightenment isn't one. KDE, Gnome and GnuStep are. So if you are faulting Linux desktops, then Enlightenment shouldn't even come up.

    I'm sick of eye candy. I want GUI meat and potatoes!

    What does this statement mean? To me, meat and potatoes would be a consistent widget set/ look / drag and drop interface and desktop metaphor. Pervasive Help helps as well. I think KDE is on par with Windows in most of these aspects.

    I have to teach people how to use KDE. However, I also have to teach them to use Windows. I really don't think that Windows is any easier to learn, or more consistent. Its just that people are more likely to have already learned it.

    If they don't, maybe someone could rape the NEXTSTEP Human Interface Guidelines and produce a real NEXTSTEP workalike.

    Ah...a NEXT guy. If that's what you want, then you are in luck. We already have it. (Well...almost) Its called GnuStep, and its almost done. Check the link in the post above.

    My basic argument is that KDE is no less fit than Windows as a desktop. It's just less common. Like it or not, Windows is pretty much the definition of desktop right now. If you think that NEXT is better, then you may be right, but unfortunately that's not the standard. KDE follows the standard. If you want NEXT, then stop looking at KDE and get GnuStep

    --Lenny
  • Well, I am tired of hearing people saying stupid thing like this. Then they are trying to make it sounds better and they fail again. Could not they just skip commenting it at all? Have not they learnt how to tackle the market?
    By the way what ise S.u.S.E. doing to improve the desktop situation of Linux?
    And last, I am tired of hearing: Microsoft was unavailable to comment at press time. Get real.
  • Linux, of any flavor, isn't ready for the desktop if we're talking about my mother's computer (even though she's used them on and off since the days of the Apple II in her office--they went to x86-based years ago, I've got one of their old PC-XT's and their old Lantastic software), but then, neither is anything from Microsoft, unless I'm around to do the install and then answer questions from time to time, so the question of whether or not something's ready for the desktop depends as much on how it gets and stays there as it does on how it acts.
  • I agree that users need support but this is equally true for windows ...

    Folks like www.learningtree.co.uk [learningtree.co.uk] and others are making it as painless as sending yer incoming techs on a hardware or windows course.

    Add a bit of in-house hand holding and familiarisation and you have what you need.

    It is the quality of the individual that will make a good tech support over time not the app or os needing support.

  • Where's the trash can in the GNOME interface? Why are there no keyboard modifiers for copy, move, or link mouse operations in KDE? Why is it that when I use a marquee to select and move icons on the GNOME desktop, that it only displays the top-most icon? Why is copying files using the KDE file manager harder typing "cp -Rf" on the command line? What's up with all the flicker and redraw with X, anyway?

    Because you (among others) failed to fix it...

    Don't you guys hate that? You should!

    You should hate it enough to help fix it.

    Time complaining about free software is time wasted. Because you can help. That's what's so great about it. And that's why it will get there.

  • Don't say communistic when you mean totalitarian. Contrary to neo-McCarthyist propoganda, they are not only inequivalent, neither is sufficient to infer the other.
  • We'l always have several GUI frameworks (Qt, Gtk, the Xt-based (Motif, AThena), OpenLook, etc).

    I predict we'll have two -- QT and GTK. These two kits are so similar that with a certain amount of effort at compatibility, they won't be too obviously incompatible. Motif is as good as dead on Linux -- Netscape is probably ``Motif's last stand''. The main problem with Motif is that it requires an expensive runtime license, which is why GTK and QT got started in the first place ( to replace the functionality of Motif on Linux ). Openlook ? Are you kidding ? I can't remember using an OpenLook application. Is it still maintained ? As for Athena, no one's going to use it with QT and GTK available.

  • She also clearified that Linux GUI designers should do useability testing w/ Average Users (sounds like SUCH a corporate thing to do, but it makes sense).

    I also think this kind of thing would be a great idea. "such a corporate thing" ? You're dead right -- and it would probably require some real money, preferably some form of corporate sponsorship, to get it right.

    KDE and GNOME have taken an important step -- they have started listening to the users, as opposed to the "old fashioned" way when you listened only to yourself, and maybe other developers. It would seem that the next logical step is to cast a wider net -- and start listening to more users.

  • I completely agree! The Linux community is NOT ready for the Linux OS to be accepted by the masses.

    Everytime I get on IRC I watch the poor little newbies beg for help as the older linux folks give them information in tiny bits or hit them with a barrage of links to huge overly technical documentation that they will never understand.

    The worst part is to someone make a mistake. If someone gets a technical fact or does not about that one file the older user is referring them to then the newbie gets roasted.

    Most linux users look at the end luser as a blithering idiot. If you had to answer technical questions about Linux coming from your mom the same way you do when asked by strangers, then your own mothers would probably disown you.

    You can get great tech support if you already know enough about Unix to grok the command line, otherwise stay away or you'll get roasted.

    Sure, I fear that the OS will end up being watered down to meet the end of getting as many users as possible to the OS. However, my bigger fear is that people will realize what a**holes most technical people are when they Anonymously online.
  • our entire concept of human-computer interfaces are flawed. We need something that will retain all the flexibility that geeks love, while making it natural to work with for those that aren't as technically proficient

    Stated more universally, the problem is that each user will have a different 'point of view', or mental context, for each of his/her aims. Traditionally we have tried to address this with the notion of 'applications'. But the app as a context is too limiting (causing the feature set to bloat as it tries to cater for every conceivable context). What we need are many radically different environments designed to match the user's context.

    For example, consider the same media rich wep page in different contexts:

    'Watch-TV' context: the streaming video takes up most of the screen, foreign language subtitle text is enlarged and overlaid, and info about the cast is in a small inobtrusive box at the side.

    'Program-VCR' context: now the streaming video is small, with large captions stating the name of the series and the episode number. There's a large list of future episodes and screening times, that can be drag-and-dropped to the VRC icon.

    'E-mail a TV-listings magazine with comments about the show' context: shows page for typing e-mail, with list of magazines that have featured reviews of the series before. And instead of streaming video, there is a scene-by-scene breakdown of the episode with accompanying script.

    And I stress that this should be possible from the same 'web page' or location... just by switching to different modes.

  • I think I agree with you. If Redhat became a standard distro for all ex-Windows users who need to have it very easy. Though there is nothing wrong with having a lot of distros for us others. You know what the ad for ads says; choice is good.
  • Thing is, if there is no one savvy enough to config the thing (like on your case, you), it won't work out fine. It it were just your wife and your kids they probably would be better off with NT (or maybe even Win9X). Had they had SuSe they probably would never have gotten close of the Internet. That's my guess at least.
  • >> So many people are convinced that the solution >> is to "dumb down" the desktop environments to >> suit the users. Personally I think that idea is >> way off base, and I tend to agree more with the >> concept of hiding advanced functionality in >> order to not overwhelm new users. > If you think it's a bad thing, you call >it "dumbing down". If you think it's a good >thing, you call it "hiding advanced >functionality". Really, they are the same thing. >It's what KDE does fairly well, and what vi most >certainly does not.

    They're not the same thing, at least as I understand the terms. "Dumbing down" involves removing the complicated stuff, while hiding involves creating an easy way to do the simpler tasks without having to master all the complexity while still allowing the original complex way to be used by those who need it.

    An example would be a GUI configuration tool for some application. Both GUI's could look the same and be as easy to use for the common configuration choices, but the dumbed down version wouldn't work with a hand edited config file. Either by not using a text file, or by not being able to understand a file with entries it didn't expect. The "hidden" version would allow the user to hand edit the file if wanted something more complex than the GUI was designed to handle.

    I had something of this problem with Suse's YaST program. If I recall correctly (it's been a year or more and several versions since I used it, so I don't know if this is still correct) YaST's configuration method was to overwrite the normal configuration files with files it generated from your input. This worked pretty well as long as you used YaST to configure everything. You could also edit YaST's text file, but that was a step more complicated than editing the config files directly. thejeff

  • True, I was using a GUI config as an example of simplicity and the text as an example of complexity, because they are widely percieved that way.
    Obviously, you can make a GUI that offers all the functionality of hand editing the text file, but it seems to me, that you will also gain all the complexity of the text file. If there are a large number of possible parameters to set and a large number of settings for each, the GUI will become crowded and unreadable, or have some form of nested structure that must be traversed to find the right setting.
    While making the user remember odd syntax is bad, making a user who does remember the odd syntax jump through GUI hoops to change it is also bad. It also complicates scripting, remote administration etc.
    My theory is to use GUIs, or menu driven text programs, or even just simplified heavily commented sections of the config file to handle the common setting that most users will need. And to have these write to the normal config files, so that they can be hand edited for the really complex stuff. From my experience anyway, by the time you figure out which of the 'advanced' options you need and how to make it work, it's not the syntax that is the confusing part.
    thejeff
  • Not a problem. Just purchase a box with Linux already installed.

    No one else in my family could have installed NT or Win9x on a raw machine. If they could, SuSE or presumably some other Distro. would not be any harder and would require fewer reboots.

    By the way, SuSE recognized all my hardware, configured X and let me configure my modem all from the setup/admin program YAST.

  • Yup, excellent points there.

    I would agree that it's always going to be good to have the config files just be plain text editable. Build the GUIs on top of that. Perhaps the XML format idea being tossed about is worth a look, it seems to be the best of both worlds.

    Cut and Paste, perhaps a bad example. I'm so used to the Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V combo now I think I make alot of mistakes because of that. However, there should be a standard KEY stroke for cut paste in Linux. In Netscape its Alt-C, Alt-V. Everywhere else, its select then middle mouse button (which can be good and bad). I just want things to be consistent in terms of look and feel across applications in a specific window manager. It really helps in learning a new program quickly. By the way, I love the new Sawmill window manager for Gnome. It's probably the first GUI I prefer over Windows.

    I guess my final point could be misinterpreted. First, I don't think anyone is claiming that the Linux kernel is anything but super-solid. However, as we get further and further away from that things seem to get more and more unstable. Some examples in terms of just handy utilities that are fairly solid elsewhere: GnomeICU (much better with new release), Gnome-napster, KV-Irc (or whatever its called), and some others. True, the older a project gets (given that it is popular), the more stable it gets in general. However, that is not guaranteed as the effort still has to be put in to find what are probably really boring problems with a program. Just because something goes open source doesn't mean they'll be any useful development.

    As for compiling goes, yup its super useful if you know whats going on, and yup binary packages are really common nowadays. Alot of the time though, you are expected to be able to recompile to fix any problems.

    Ahh its all tradeoffs anyway right? I love alot of these advantages and accept the complexity that comes with them. I'd love to see the two goals of configurability and ease of use both be achieved.

    Hotnutz.com [hotnutz.com] - Funny
  • at least from the users' viewpoint there's only a single Windows. They look alike and can be relied on to work somewhat similarly

    Except that there are at least 5 versions of Win9X (that's before counting 95 with IE 4/5 dumped in). They cannot be relied upon to behave the same when it comes to installing hardware & software.
  • Home or corporate?

    One of the really important questions which keeps getting ignored.

    Personally I think Linux/BSD is a very good choice for corporate desktops. Anyone who's ever had to deploy and maintain a farm of Windows machines in a corpororate enviornment knows how much of a headache it is.

    Whilst the Windows model of "end user=admin" makes some sense for the home situation. It's a disaster waiting to happen where the intention is that an employee (or student) is supplied with a machine in order to do work. End users need systems which are difficult to break.
  • <I>Why is everyone comparing linux from 2000 with wintel's from 1990? Liberal use of something like Ghost (for reinstalation of your OS) and
    something like ZENWorks (for application distribution (and repair), print driver distribution, console redirect (like pcanywhere) etc etc, you
    have a solution at least as good as traditional unix netbooting or nis and nfs'd /usr trees.</I><BR>
    <BR>
    In other words "You need lots of third party addons to get what comes as standard with unix..."
  • No, we'l never have One GUI.

    Unless we end up with the human race being made entirely of clones...

    We'l always have several GUI frameworks (Qt, Gtk, the Xt-based (Motif, AThena), OpenLook, etc). But they'l all emerge to a state when they are all interoperaple, and share a huge set of basic features like drag-n-drop, available themes, etc. They will all be configurable to look the same.

    Except they won't have the same "look and feel" because different people want to do things differently and have different tastes as to what "looks good".
    What matters more is them having the right fuctionality

    And you are there again - Linux is not that easy to set up, but to use.

    Where is this (mythical) easy to install OS to be found?
  • Why must you assume that GUI configuration is mutually exclusive with manually editable configuration files? It seems to me that if the program can read its configuration from a text file, it ought to be able to properly write to it

    It's more a case of "can the GUI cope with the file after it has been manually edited?"

    MS Windows has always had GUI configuration, and the configuration files are manually editable. Until Windows 3.1, they were plain text (.INI) files, while in 95/NT you can export the registry to a text file, modify it, and import it.

    However the Windows GUI configuation does NOT cover everthing. As for the 9X exporting the registry, editing approach. This makes anything under unix look like child's play.
  • Yeah Yeah, I know you're trolling.....

    Do you know how to build and service a car? If not, don't drive. Do you know how to build and fly a plane ? If not, don't fly. Do you know how to grow, process and cook your own food ?? If not, you DIE.

    Attitudes like yours are not needed. Pull your head out of your arse, then grow up. Knowing about computers does not make you smart.
  • If you need one overseeing brain to create a GUI, then you need a communistic state to build an OS which is more dificult on all standards...

    I am typing this message right now in Linux (at work!), an OS that was built/created/born from the open source world, where there can be no one "overseeing brain". But in your world this can not exist.

    To really understand this subject try reading The Cathedral and the Bazaar [tuxedo.org] br Eric S. Raymond. He has explained how open source works better than any of us here can.

    P.S. And the goal is not to build a GUI half as good as Windows, nor is it to have just one choice of GUIs. The goal is to build something better, in ordr to give you naysayers no reason to doubt your choice of Linux as an OS.
  • yes correct, i was typing fast and didn't have time to think properly. :-)
  • Why must you assume that GUI configuration is mutually exclusive with manually editable configuration files? It seems to me that if the program can read its configuration from a text file, it ought to be able to properly write to it.
    Yes, that definitely ought to be the case. It just happens to be so that it isn't :-/ If the programs used for the configurations were the same as the ones using the configurations everything would work (imho). Unfortunately the software which are used for configuration (those GUIs that is) are rarely 100% aware of every little thing that can be done in the configuration files.
    --
  • I'm running OpenLinux 2.3 and Win95 on a dual boot
    166 w/ 64 Megs and a 4 Meg video card. Linux was
    snappier from the get go and now 3 months later when Windows typically begins acting flakey OL is just a snappy as when I first installed it.

  • Another thing needed, besides a support system, is just plain end user exposure to Linux. Users need to be taught the equivilent procedures to their daily activities that they do on other OSes...Linux is labeled as harder to learn alone because much of the nomenclature and procedures on it are foreign to newcomers whose only other experience is Windows (or even MacOS). Not to start a holy war, but what we need here is a) Linux in the education system (and not as geek toys, but as actual workstations for daily activites like word processing and email) and b) Linux preshipped on PCs. When that starts happening, Linux will be getting the exposure it needs to build a user base in the mainstream.
  • SuSE is heavily involved with a number of projects relevant to the desktop situation:


    --
  • Um, have you tried to install w98 recently? Sorry, pal. Linux is *MUCH* easier to install

    Actually I have. Yes, it involves a lot of rebooting, but it can recognize most all hardware off the bat, and updates can be made easily through windowsupdate. Now Linux is a crap shoot because the distros are different (I've used RedHat 5.1, 6.0 and am currently using Corel Linux). On some machines, it has installed wonderfully (my last install of Corel Linux on a vanilla machine was incredibly smooth), but on others I had to download x servers (ever try to use Netscape in GNOME in 16 colors with 640x480?) for a Voodoo3, and the sound and winmodem cards don't function (it's not Linux's fault for bad software design, but its hard to explain to a user that they have to spend an extra $50+ for a modem so it works with linux). As for apps...

    They're almost always available either in an rpm or a tarball.

    True, usually they are. But I have spent hours trying to install a graphical telnet tool (ktelnet an knetmon) and neither came with .deb packages (.rpm files help when you have Red Hat) and it didn't work to alien them. And when I try to compile the source, it tells me I need the QT 1.30 libraries (which I have) so it won't finish. Now, I'm not a Linux expert by any means, but that seems like a lot of effort. Hopefully .RPMs will become more prevelant, and hopefully ALIEN will work for me one of these days. Until then I have to say that Windows has an edge from my perspective as a IT guy grown on Windows and is now moving to Linux. Don't get me wrong, I'm not giving up -- for some installations (like people who want only the net) I am now starting with Corel Linux.
  • From the article:
    "If you're talking about grandma and granddaddy using a computer, then you have to ask, is it the right choice?"
    Unix is a great choice for Grandma. Install it for your grandparents and when they are having trouble just telnet in and fix their problem!
  • Look at (almost) any UNIX software distribution. The installation is simple: for 99% of software it's ./configure && make && make install and that's it. That's easy.

    Now, look at (almost) any Win32 software distribution. It's InstallShield. That's easy.

    Then, look at (almost) any UNIX (linux mostly) game installation. Uh.

    Like it or not, but people like installations to be all the same (or very much the same, as in InstallShield: Hit Next a couple of times, reboot it, play it). The average user has probably seen someone else (probably the kid nextdoors) do it and therefore it's not so tough trying to do it yourself. But if every install is a different kind of a battle, what common do you have to relate to?

    IMHO, linux is easy to use . It's the configuration / installation that's being so difficult. Improve that and you'll make it much better.

  • Um, have you tried to install w98 recently? Sorry, pal. Linux is *MUCH* easier to install. Last time I installed W98 I had to reboot my system over 30 times, and still, when I was done, my device drivers were in a horrible state that required a tremendous amount of manual diddling and rebooting before all my hardware functioned correctly. Then, of course, I had to go out to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com several times to install M$ patches to make my box more secure from h@k3rz (read: lame script kiddies) trying to break in off of my DSL line. And still, there was more work to be done in configuring networking to further secure the box from attack. All in all, I spent a full evening, working from 4:00 PM until midnight, making a W98 installation work correctly. OTOH, I can install *ANY* Linux distro and secure it in under 90 minutes, and some of them in as little as 10 minutes. As for compiling programs on Linux, why don't you just get the binaries and save yourself the trouble. They're almost always available either in an rpm or a tarball. Installing via an rpm-based installer is just as easy, or perhaps even easier, than running some SETUP.EXE mainly because you won't have to reboot your Linux box. Finally, as an IT guy, I'd rather support Linux any day than have to correct some mess made by M$ (and I've worked extensively with all M$ messes).
  • Wheres my baseball bat? If ya cant stay on topic, close the browser! I for one cant see linux ever getting a set standard as it could limit the os.
  • Linux is ready to fulfil the requirements of most desktop users, according to the chief technical officer of SuSE Linux and founder member of the XFree86 organisation, Dirk Hondel.

    The comments follow widespread reports that Hondel's boss, SuSE chief executive Roland Dyroff, has said the opposite, claiming that Linux still isn't ready for desktop use. Hondel, keen to clear up the mess, explained to ZDNet in an exclusive Eye2Eye interview -- to be published next week -- that Dyroff's statement had been misconstrued. "It was a conditional statement taken as a general statement," said Hondel.

    Hmm, sounds like they're learning to speak the corporatespeak doubletalk, perhaps they are ready to do the compete-with-Windoze-walk

  • GmbH is a german corporate designation, like Inc or Ltd.
  • Autoconfig is great if you have standard hardware. It really sucks if you don't. Distros that include autoconfig generally don't give good documentation for setting up nonstandard parts. Many of the big name computer vendors have not standard parts. Consider Compaq computers mostly have onboard video cards, sound cards, and IDE controllers. Some models work fine under linux most don't. Most have a sound chipset or a video chipset that is just a little to new to be supported or just uncommon all have winmodems. Ask yourself this would you give a linux box or a windows box to your grandmother knowing that you wouldn't be around to help her and that no one else close knows linux.

    Linux is easy to install and use if you have the right hardware and linux distrobution. It's a nightmare if you have unsupported hardware or non-standard hardware. Even when you get it installed linux is more difficult to maintain and use. It's not extremely hard it's just a little more technical.

    Don't say linux is good enough everyone should be able to use it. Linux is a good operating system but their is a lot of room for improvement. All operating systems can be improved to make them easier to use. There are things that I think could make windows easier to use. Linux is technically superior but it is NOT user friendly. If you think that it is you haven't used it or you've used it so long all you no longer see its flaws. Anyone that thinks that linux is ready for the average desktop should take a step back and think about what they are saying.

    Some of the things that still need to be improved.
    A typical user should NEVER have to edit config files directly everything should be in a gui with a decent help system. Make installation of programs easier and pick a standard installation model. Sometimes less is more. Many home users don't want to have to log in for everyday use, keep root as log in only but setup a default account as an option when installing. A user should never have to leave the GUI or run a terminal for day to day tasks.

  • Your right of course, if you get a linux box already setup then it's fairly easy to use.

    However, when it comes time to do something different or if something doesn't work right with windows you can easily find someone to help you, with linux you can find the information you need if you know where to look. And if you want to add new hardware say a scanner or a camera then you have to be really carefull, in linux to get the products that are supported. In windows almost any hardware is supported, this is not the fault of the linux community but it's still something that needs to be addressed when discussing usability. Getting drivers for hardware to work is also much harder under linux then windows.

    If I were avaliable to help I would recommend linux to just about anyone(not that I'm a linux guru, I'm just willing to do a little research). However, most people do not have access to someone that's willing to help them with their new linux box. That same person would have a much easier time getting someone to help them with a windows machine.

    Having said all that I will say that for most people a linux box that is set up correctly and has the programs that the person needs is easy enough for just about anyone to use. It's those times that things just aren't exactly right that make me think that linux is not ready for the masses.
  • By, standard hardware, I mean common hardware. Think about that for a moment. Linux supports the most common hardware. Common hardware is usually easier to find information on and for proprietary stuff the manufacturer generally provides drivers for windows, therefor it is easier to install new hardware on windows.

    I know that you're supporting a popular argument but you come across as flamebait. I wasn't disagreeing with the preceding argument I was defending a position. Yes linux is easy in the right situations for people with the right knowledge. But linux fails where the user is inexperianced and something is not going quite right.

    Now to ask a personel question are you someone who has never used linux or are you someone that has used it so long that you no longer see its drawbacks. I'm fairly good with computers and programming however, I'm relativly new to linux, that's what I'm basing my arguments on. In my experiance linux can be a pain if your new to it and not everything works correctly. Having said that I've managed to install linux on a few computers and have used a few different distrobutions. I've tried BSD which can be a nightmare as well. But I've not used linux long enough to be comfortable programing or altering how it works.
  • I agree with you to some extent. What I meant by the statement that when someone needs help with windows they can get someone to help them is that more people are proficient in windows then linux. So, it is much more likely that someone will be able to find help with a windows machine if they are haveing trouble.

    Linux is still not ready for newbies.
    Having said that if one is comfortable with computers and not afraid of messing around with partitions and operating systems, linux is easy enough to use and help can be found online.

    BTW I've had to reinstall windows at least four times in the last year a couple of times each on two computers. I've given up trying to help EVERYONE(read this as "lusers") with their computer. I only help people that are not afraid of their own machines and are truly trying to learn how to use it. I no longer help people that are going to depend on me to do every little thing for them. I won't refuse to help people that use MS software but I do refuse to help people that won't even attempt to learn what the machine they bought is doing.

  • You're right. Sorry I meant the percentage of computer users that have the level of technical knowledge needed to install linux are not as common as they used to be. Not that long ago it took at least a little technical knowledge to even be able to use the internet or a computer. Now more people buying computers know nothing about how or why they work. While the number of people with the knowledge to install linux HAS grown the percentage of computer users able to do so has shrunk. Sorry next time I'll be more clear.
    • photoshop
    • illustrator
    • inDesign
    • painter
    • premiere
    • after effects
    • freehand
    • quark
    • dreamweaver
    • lightwave 3d
    • 3d studio max
    • flash
    • director
    • authorware
  • I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't choose an operating system because it makes me "cool" or "leet".

    This goes back to an old problem the computer industry has faced: elitism. There are a great number of technically proficient out there that desperately want to maintain the image that they possess arcane and incomprehensible knowledge. We need to stop fostering the impression that we think of people that haven't spent years developing computer skills as utter morons (as the AC implied). A lack of technical knowledge is not an indication of stupidity.

    If you want to be truly "cool" and "leet", why don't you build your own operating system. Don't blame the Linux community for growing and maturing into something more than it started out as.
  • People with the level of technical knowledge needed to install linux aren't as common as they used to be.
    Huh? They're far more common than they used to be. So are the numbers of "joe average" computer users, but don't confuse the two.
  • The guy obviously got his hand slapped for what he said, and is now changing his story. I don't agree with him now.
  • maybe true... but, I've seen alot of students plunged into using CDE or IRIX and walking away without every having to touch a shell. Linux can easily have any one of the ultra-GUI managers with KDE, and all is good for many desktop users. I mean, have you ever seen a user of Windoz NOT develop a theory about why it won't boot after two days?!

    Visit uMoo - http://www.uMoo.com/ [umoo.com] Keep the govt. from suppressing cattle mutilations!
  • I can't do everything, and I am doing my part already.

    Besides, sometimes even *I* want to use the computer, not rewrite its software.

    If you think that J. Random Secretary is going to leap at the chance to stop twiddling memos and hack on GNOME, think again. That's why her boss BOUGHT HER A WINDOWS MACHINE IN THE FIRST PLACE. Because he wants her writing memos, not writing software.

    Open source works due to the energy of people who want to write software, not from the people who want to do other things. Most people want to do other things.

    If someone doesn't fix the BROKEN user interfaces on Linux, the only people using Linux in the future will be the people using Linux now.

  • I hate to say this, but it's true. Linux will never have a "coherent" and "structured" gui that works half as well as Windows or the Mac. It is lacking the "overseeing" brain needed to create order out of chaos. It is like a nest being built by army ants, rather than the status of David by Michelangelo. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we can move onward and enjoy our "army ant" like efficiencies!

    I can't believe what a deal this is. Get paid to surf the web. [alladvantage.com]

  • I fail to the why unix have to be hard to use. May I remind you that apple's OS/X will be a unix system, and you think that one will not be user friendly. There is no reason why linux couldn't become as easy as OS/X.
    And remember that just because there is a user friendly upper layer does not mean that the hardcore inner layer have to be hidden. Linux would still be linux, it would just be usable for everybody.

  • End users don't need any exposure. End users don't care what their systems are running - they just want to be able to point and click in a way they are used to. You need to have proper IT support in the back, who aren't snooty about users' stupidity, who set things up properly. I'd be quite happy getting my parents to use KDE or Gnome. They're both used to using Windows, so wouldn't have any problems. In many ways I'd prefer them to use it, as it would mean my father wouldn't delete things he shouldn't do and get so cross when the machine crashes, which it does, frequently.
  • I think Linux has been a viable desktop solution for some time. Many linux distros use an auto configurator for X and Gnome & KDE are just like any other desktop ever made. People are just still stuck on the old days when you had to know everything ever published on your monitor and video card.
  • This 'clearing up' looks the same the way Mr. Putin cleared up many of Jeltsin's mumbo jumbo :)

    Companies will buy the OS that let their employees get their work done. Because most people in offices use word and excel, an OS without these 2 programs is worthless, no matter how powerfull the emulators/lookalike offices are.

    At home, people are buying the OS that comes with their computer AND makes them play games and do average webbrowsing and home finance crap. But it has to be easy to use. Any one who remembers OS/2 Warp should know which mistakes Linux is still making.

    And the last thing I wonder: why do you all want it to be desktop ready? Desktop means mainstream, which means Money does the Talking, and decisions are made based on that rule. Mainstream means also that the geekfactor, a huge motivation to use Linux in teh first place, is gone.

    --
  • I am in a similar position to the writer of the parent item, and agree 100% with what he says. Over the last fifteen years, available desktop computer functionality has risen exponentially, and training of users who need it has not kept pace. In addition, more users are being expected to use PCs (in the generic sense) at work. People like ourselves are specialists, but we remain specialists primarily because of our enthusiasm for computing.

    At the risk of being flamed into oblivion, I am not sure whether Linux (or any of the Unices) is the right OS for many naive users. At command line level, the functionality comes in small pieces which the user puts together themselves for a particular task.

    Granted, the user would have to be presented with X on the desktop. All of the small functional OS building blocks are still just below the surface, and to get best use out of them you need to be technically confident enough to pick them up and play with them.

    OK, you say, they will be using StarOffice, or some similar app, and the building blocks won't be touched. Firstly, I would say, nice as StarOffice is, Microsoft Office is nicer. At this point, you are using Unix/Linux to fight M$ on their home turf. Whatever your views on M$, it is easier to find staff out there to support M$ than for Linux/Unix desktops. Our masters don't really care about the technical niceties, they want the job done.

    I know this sounds like a horrible re-run of the cliche "No-one ever got sacked for buying IBM". Personally, I use M$ at work, and Linux at home. And I hope to able to use Linux at work too. But I have a wife, a child and a mortgage to support, so I'll need some convincing.

  • I have Mandrake 7 as well. KDE and Gnome are both quite polished. It is still a long way from being a suitable tool to put on the desk of a technically challenged user. In terms of fighting M$ on its home turf, it has to be significantly better to have any impact. It has a long way to go. Not that I would exemplify any M$ OS as a paragon of anything worthwhile in this respect ....

    Things may be different elsewhere, but Apple has become increasingly marginal in the UK market. IMO this has been a victory for marketing dollars over product quality. I haven't seen OS/X yet, but would be disappointed if it failed to live up to Apple's previous high standards for GUI design and ergonomics. If the UK market is representative, then I can't see OS/X taking over as the desktop of choice for the masses just yet. In terms of market penetration, Apple are too far behind. For organisations with hundreds of these things to support, the skill base isn't out there.
  • Where is this (mythical) easy to install OS to be found?

    Try here! [apple.com]

  • Like many people, I keep a Windows partition for playing games. But if this article is true, SuSE is aiming for more games on Linux, aluding to "an interesting Crismas this year."

    If this holds true, I can't wait to tell all my game-playing Microserf freinds "I told you so!"


    ----------

  • I have always wondered about this point: Of the people who use Windows, how many actually install it? Or could install it? My dad uses Windows all the time, but if even minor stuff breaks I have to fix it. In fact, I'd be willing to wager that most ordinary users never touch their install except when they install their own new things. So, if linux could come pre-installed with everything, and install programs for other vendors were easy to use and didn't screw up often (I sure hate it when this happens), then who cares how arcane the install procedure is, right? Also, I would like it so that big software packages could be less distro specific and more software specific. After all, for my home box I couldn't imagine using a distro. This is my mess-around-with-machine!

  • > So many people are convinced that the solution
    > is to "dumb down" the desktop environments to
    > suit the users. Personally I think that idea is
    > way off base, and I tend to agree more with the
    > concept of hiding advanced functionality in
    > order to not overwhelm new users.

    If you think it's a bad thing, you call it "dumbing down". If you think it's a good thing, you call it "hiding advanced functionality". Really, they are the same thing. It's what KDE does fairly well, and what vi most certainly does not.

    > But there is more than the web, more than word
    > processing, and much more than email. The real
    > question is, how do we gently push the masses
    > into discovering it for themselves?

    Like what? For the home user like my father, sisters, and pretty much everyone I know outside of work, that's all they ever use their computers for. The web and e-mail are the killer apps that have put PCs into millions of homes in the U.S. and around the world. These people have no interest in writing programs, doing calculations on spreadsheets, listening to MP3s, creating graphics, or any of the myriad of other uses that we techies love.

    We will never be able to "show them the wonder", "gently push the masses", or "educate them" to things that they simply have no inherent interest in! It's only because just about everyone is interested in reading magazines and reading and writing letters from friends that the web and e-mail, their electronic equivalents, are the killer apps of computing today.

    > Are we doomed to a world where there are
    > distinct information appliances for the
    > cornerstones, where the PC as we know it is a
    > dinosaur? I hope not.

    Well, all indications from pundits and industry analysts are that that's where we are headed, though the PC will not die but probably revert to being a hobbyist's toy as it was 20 years ago, or strictly as a development tool for information appliances/intelligent devices. And as long as I can still do what I do on my PC (internet, programming, games, multimedia), that's fine with me.
  • Why must you assume that GUI configuration is mutually exclusive with manually editable configuration files? It seems to me that if the program can read its configuration from a text file, it ought to be able to properly write to it. MS Windows has always had GUI configuration, and the configuration files are manually editable. Until Windows 3.1, they were plain text (.INI) files, while in 95/NT you can export the registry to a text file, modify it, and import it.

    As for X cut-and-paste, well, the only problem is... it SUCKS. It works only for text data, it's mouse-centric (It doesn't work with Shift-arrow key selections), and you can't paste into a selection.
  • if you think it takes an expert to install and start using a functional Linux distro with a decent GUI you're sadly mistaken

    Sure, installing Linux is fairly simple. The partitioning beforehand is a b*tch though, if you're not installing onto a fresh hard drive & you want to keep your other OS hanging around.

    The thing is, once you get Linux installed, you can easily spend weeks tweaking things up. Telling newcomers to "compile a kernel" doesn't give them that warm fuzzy feeling, even with helpful tools like "make xconfig."

    One of the (many) things I think is really cool about MacOS is that there's an image of the basic installation -- boot from the CD, wipe the hard drive, double-click on the image, wait a few minutes and you're done.

    But I'll echo the sentiments of many others; it's easiest to just buy a computer with Linux pre-installed.

    Having finished the final tweaks to a LinuxPPC install, my beige G3 kicks major butt....

  • Even with NT Workstation carefully setup, there are too many things a user can do to damage the installation (and that's not even taking into account the things Windows does on its own).

    Why is everyone comparing linux from 2000 with wintel's from 1990? Liberal use of something like Ghost (for reinstalation of your OS) and something like ZENWorks (for application distribution (and repair), print driver distribution, console redirect (like pcanywhere) etc etc, you have a solution at least as good as traditional unix netbooting or nis and nfs'd /usr trees.

    And if your running windows on the desktop machines, then your users have the ability to run all of the apps that they want that require windows.

  • KDE and GNOME are severely lacking design.
    Evidence that nobody ever thought of designing the interface:

    1. There are menus on the windows, the window title bars, the desktop, the 'start' icon, and even at the top of the desktop.
    (yes, GNOME, Enlightenment and X are three separate entities, and so coders think they each deserve their own independent menus... but this is just lumping it all together... this is not design!)

    2. Hundreds of damned cryptic commands, pertaining to different functions/systems, all lumped together across many directories.
    (you haven't got a real gui until every single last one of them has it's own individual icon and help description available through the file browser, with clear distinctions between apps, system/os components, and shared resources... this is how your grandmother will learn to be comfortable with the computer....

    3. Oh, and get rid of the 'start' menu. Lumping everything in a hierarchical menu is just awful. If the file browser was better you wouldn't need a menu to find things.
    (MS has made the start menu their 'trademark', which means they had to stick it on WinCE, which is just terrible... all that precious screen space wasted on a menu bar, who's task bar is useless because it was designed to work horizontally on a 17" monitor... this is puking awful 'design'.)

    But maybe it's already too late for Linux and X, given their historically justified reasonings and forms. I mean, is it actually possible to solve/design in points 1 and 2 above? I suspect not.
  • No, we'l never have One GUI. We'l always have several GUI frameworks (Qt, Gtk, the Xt-based (Motif, AThena), OpenLook, etc). But they'l all emerge to a state when they are all interoperaple, and share a huge set of basic features like drag-n-drop, available themes, etc. They will all be configurable to look the same. And you are there again - Linux is not that easy to set up, but to use. But m4, some clever scripts and some GUI-front-ends (Like Gnorpm for the RPM packages) will do it for you!

    --The knowledge that you are an idiot, is what distinguishes you from one.
  • However, when it comes time to do something different or if something doesn't work right with windows you can easily find someone to help you, with linux you can find the information you need if you know where to look.

    And unfortunately I (as many here) always get the impression of myself always being the one who is asked for help.
    I did it for the last few years and now I'm filled up, I changed something. From last year on I refuse to help people who used ms-word to write important long documents in spite of me advicing them to use latex.
    I tell them: "If you use latex - on windows if you must - you'll get every help I can give you, if you use word, I will not help you."
    I wouldn't extend that to the os, but doing it for applications seems fine to me. And it makes sense, with word I'm really not able to help when for instance this nice piece of software decides to shuffle around footnotes.
    It could help if many people did the same, instead of giving "lusers" the feeling that they buy (our) support together with some ms-software.
  • 2.3.x kernel plug and play works a dream, at least for the couple of pnp cards I have (SB64 and some network card)
  • 1. Interface consistency.

    Well, we both know what most Linux users (yes, me included) thinks about this, so I'm not going to even start about this ;-)

    2. GUI configuration of system.

    This would probably be good for novice users. Fortunately there are some utils to do this (take a look at the current distributions). Unfortunately they usually don't know everything; if I make some modifications on the configuration files myself, they won't work any longer as they are supposed to. I think it's good to have manually editable configuration files; what will happen if my monitor explodes and I only have some dumb terminal to use for configuring?

    3. Target audience for most apps.

    Working on this :-P

    1. First, it is fine to have different window managers. Just make them at least independently consistent. The obvious example - cut and paste, different in every situation and exteremely frustrating and inefficient.

    What on earth are you talking about? Using the middle button works in 99% of Linux applications (I just wish StarOffice starts supporting it), and it's a lot faster than the Microsoft way.

    3. Linux developers target their apps for a Linux Savvy audience. Bugs are expected, bad interfaces with nasty widgets are expected and in most cases a compile is expected. Most computer users don't know what "compile" means.

    I strongly disagree. Bugs are not expected. Hey, take a look at the MS world, and tell me, which MS software doesn't have bugs? I don't think Linux software is any worse (perhaps not any better too, but Open Sourcing help fixing those bugs faster). I also disagree on the interface thing. Could you give me a clue on what software are you talking about?.
    You're probably not surprised when I tell you that I disagree on the compilation thing too. First of all, most of the Linux software is nowadays available as precompiled binaries too. But hey, I don't use them anyway. Why? Because I like the fact that the software is compiled using the optimizations for MY hardware, not someone elses. Also I might not need every gadget that might be compiled in and bloats the software. If I could compile Netscape myself (hey, I can compile mozilla! ) I'd leave more than 50% out (if I could do that using the configure script). So: Compilation is not a bad thing, but it's not required any longer anyway


    --
  • I think that the HP890c is one of those "winprinters." OF course I could be talking out of my ass. If it is I'm pleasantly surprised that it works at all.

    Anyway, I have an HP Laserjet 5L and it works like a charm. Absolutely flawless, its faster than under Win 98 or NT.

    I have it shared with SAMBA to my Windows boxes. On windows I install the HP PCL driver, and I get EVERY feature that is available to me if I am connected directly to the printer. Its just a little quicker.

    Thinking the speed difference might be an illusion, I devised a rudimentary test. I printed a sample of documents, and timed how long it took. I printed all documents to a local printer, and to a network printer. In all cases when the printer was attached to Linux it was faster. I used the same printer for all tests.

    How much faster, about 8%, not earth shattering but you notice on longer documents and ones with lots of graphics. Interestingly the fastest combination is printing from Windows NT to the Linux SAMBA share for the laser. The difference is minute, but consistently about 0.8%. [I wouldn't have noticed without the stopwatch] I didn't account for CPU speed, but I will say that Linux is running on the slowest machines (Pentium 60 and Pentium 100) in the house. Windows 98 is on the fastest (K6-2 300). All my machines have the same network card (Netgear FA310TX) on a 100Mbit LAN (NetWorth Micro 100 rack repeater)

    Does this mean that Linux printer support is all done ? I don't think so. It is pretty good for HP black and white laser printers, without multiple paper sources though.

  • by cdlu (65838)
    I fear --
    I am afraid that as linux approaches critical mass and the acceptance as a desktop system, the quality of the software and the problem of such things as virii will increase. Viruses come from not auditing programmes before installing them, and installing from untrusted sources. Having too big a user base out there, instead of remaining an alternative operating system threatens the very stability that makes linux what it is.
    I want linux to beat out Windows, because nothing frustrates me more then trying to fix a windows system, but if Linux goes mainstream, will it defeat windows, or merely replace it?
    Let us not go blindly forward, we have a lot of obstacles to avoid.
  • Phew, for a minute there I thought Linux wasn't going to be running on the desktop any time soon because some suit said it wasn't ready for the desktop. Now I know it is going to be on the desktop soon because the same suit said it was.

    Thank god I have other people to think for me.

    Hits alt-tab to switch back to his Applix office app.

  • suggest he knows what can and can't be done with Linux on the desktop.

    My phole point is... do you think I don't?? I don't need someone else to tell me whether Linux is ready for the desktop or not. I'm quite capable of using it and declaring it "ready" or "not ready" myself, as if that was in any way meaningful.

  • Dists like Storm Linux [stormix.com] are very easy to get installed. Easier, in fact, than Windows 98 (too many patches to install) or Windows 2000 Professional (too many drivers to track down, none of which are available yet). I hear OpenLinux is also pretty easy to install.

    Personally, I stick with Debian [debian.org]. I find it very easy to upgrade which is far more important for me. I don't need to install Linux every couple of months like my roommate does with Windows. But then, I'm hardly a casual Linux user.

  • Like most Linux users I plunked a Linux partition on an old box (clunky'486) after upgrading a few years ago (geesh, that was back in '96...). It was merely an experiment I would pick up every now and again, but only as at the command line - never loaded up any Xfree servers. Whenever I got a new box (Windows always pre-installed) I'd throw whatever distro I had handy onto the HDD and tinker yet again. It wasn't until Spring '99 that I got the bug again (wanted to see what that old overclocked 166 could really do) I went shopping for new distibutions. I finally settled on SuSE 6.0 and after a month of runnig a dual-boot system I found that it had become my everday desktop.Time to upgrade to a new PIII. Everthing went fine until I tried to get the rest of the family to switch. Here's a few of the things keeping them stuck to the MS desktop.

    1. A nasty addiction to media-intesive plug-ins.
      • My niece wants to paint Barney things on the PBS website, which uses Macromedia Director and not currently available for the Linux platform.
      • Quicktime for sites like AdCritic which won't let you download the .mov files.
    2. Peripheral support. I know that this is mostly a hardware vendor issue, but I've got stuff I can only use in Win9x. A few vendors and a lot of helpful Linux developers are making sure that new hardware will run under linux, but legacy product will be forgotten. (1998/99 goods should not be relegated to the legacy folder)
      • USB Quick cam (anything USB for that matter)
      • Nikon digital camera
      • Nokia cell phone (requires virtual drivers only avialable for Win9x). I had to dump a very happy SuSE off my Toshiba notebook to get wireless connectivity.
      • My nerdy Timex DataLink watch.
    3. Games. Big-time issue again, for the family and me.
      • Flight sims for me
      • educational software for the kids.

    I'm faithful in the prospect of seeing more games for next Xmas, but it's difficult to tell people that things will be better soon. I've been hearing that for a while now and yes it is happening but slowly (especially measured in Internet years). People will be very slow to convert when you tell them that gadget 'X' which they just got last Xmas won't be supported in the current kernel.

  • There are many users out there that have been spoiled by the Windows experience (BSODs included) that have read/heard about Linux and want to switch but fear potential problems they've learned about. Partitioning a Windows hard drive and possibly messing up their Windows partition is one possibility. Another is reformatting the hard drive, installing Linus as the only OS and encountering problems they are ill equiped to handle, leaving them without even internet access. Hardware compatability is another problem, especially WIN modems-don't work at all on Linux, and currently have no vendor support. Leaving them without one of their favorite applications, especially productivity apps (read games) is also a problem. File compatability with Windows Office apps is a problem that concerns buinesses more than the average home user. However home users do want file compatability with audio and video formats, this may be another sticking point with Linux.

    OEMs pre-loading Linux will overcome some of the fear; that of installing Linux, and distributions by Linux OS vendors are becoming easier to install. Software vendor support will bring apps and games to Linux, more hardware vendors will support Linux when it becomes profitable for them to do so. The Linux community will do its best to ensure compatability with multimedia formats, whether total compatability is acheived may depend on the outcome of some current lawsuits.

    The best users to target shouldn't be grandmas, but students! Students after all are the future users, raise the level of their computer sophistication. I don't want a Linux desktop OS with all the gadgets and gewgaws that Windows has if it causes Linux to bloat to the point where it will crash as often as Windows.

  • by joey (315) <joey@kitenet.net> on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @11:29PM (#1219063) Homepage
    "1. First, it is fine to have different window managers. Just make them at least independently consistent. The obvious example - cut and paste, different in every situation and exteremely frustrating and inefficient."

    What on earth are you talking about? Window managers have nothing at all to do with copy and paste. And copy and paste is consistent amoung every X app I have ever used. You select text with the left button and paste with the middle button.

    Few programs support cut and paste at all; but that's either an X or an application-level issue, it has nothing to do with window managers.
    --

  • by Guy Harris (3803) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Wednesday March 08, 2000 @12:18AM (#1219064)
    SCSI cables are supposed to be in knots and CDROMS sitting on the floor.

    Bletch. Having yanked my machine open and added a new disk drive, clipping cable ties, pulling SCSI cables up, screwing the drive into the drive bay, blah blah blah, all I can say is...

    ...fuck that. I've been working with UNIX, including doing kernel development, since 1978 or so, so I'm not even close to a newbie, and, frankly, I would love to have a better way to plug disk drives in.

    The same applies to software. I'd rather use my brain cells doing software development than configuring software tools, tweaking my system so that it recognizes my PnP ISA sound card, blah blah blah.

    I run OpenBSD / FreeBSD cuz they're still true to their roots.

    And I run FreeBSD as my home desktop machine for a variety of reasons - one of which is that it was less work to get it to recognize my sound card than it was to stuff the PnP ISA patch into the 2.0.x kernel in Debian 2.1, and it looked as if it'd be less work than it was to configure isapnptools. (It looks as if the 2.4 kernel will do better here.)

    A more convenient system could well make life even better even for 31337 h@x0rs - less time tweaking your box to be the way you want it to be, more time to hack software....

  • by Derek S (19004) on Wednesday March 08, 2000 @05:06AM (#1219065)
    One thing about Linux that is a minor annoyance to me but a huge problem for the typical home user is the way device drivers are updated. If I install a random new peripheral under Win 98, the system detects the added hardware and asks for a driver disk. Since the disk generally comes with the peripheral, it's pretty easy for anyone to handle the install.

    On the Linux side, I would typically have to upgrade my kernel to a version with support for that device. Or I would have to apply a patch to my kernel and recompile. These tasks are a lot easier now than in the old days, but they can be intimidating to new users and still present plenty of opportunity to screw up one's system.

    I recall that there was some discussion among kernel developers about stabilizing a binary driver interface so that a precompiled driver module would work reliably with different kernel revisions. The argument which shot the idea down was that it would saddle the kernel with backwards compatibility issues and would encourage the development of binary-only drivers. I agree that these are both bad things, but I still feel that there needs to be some middle ground.

    My initial thought here is that there should be a binary driver interface standard that evolves separately from the kernel proper. It's okay for it to change from time to time, but for the stable kernels there should probably be at least six months between revisions. Then perhaps we could establish a driver packaging format in which each package would include precompiled binary modules for multiple platforms (CPUs, SMP, etc.) and multiple versions of the driver interface standard. It could also include the driver source, so that the module could be compiled on the fly.

    Obviously I've avoided most of the implementation issues here, but I would hope that this solution would make peripheral installation as easy for Linux users as it is for Windows users. It would also allow driver developers to work more independently of ongoing kernel development.

    Derek
  • by Desperado (23084) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @10:50PM (#1219066)
    Here's my story.

    I partitioned my NT 4.0 machine and installed SuSE 6.0 for my use. It worked well but I would boot back to NT for my family (wife and daughter) to use. I recompiled kernels, generally messed with the OS and eventually upgraded to 6.1 in yet another partition. Still booting back to NT when I got off the machine.

    Needless to say, I got tired of this and built my own SuSE 6.2 box for myself to avoid the constant booting. Well, do I now have my own machine to putz around with? No. The family is more than likely to be using the SuSE box...seems that it's faster and has some games they like better than the ones that came with NT!

    I do have a box to use most times but it's often the NT box because someone's using the SuSE box. I'd say it's ready for the home desktop.

    The only complaints I get is that some web sites have plugins that aren't Linux compatible but that's changing in some quarters.

    Of all the OS installs I've done, I'd say SuSE installs went smoother than NT installs and I've never had to reinstall SuSE because it wasn't working right. Wish I could say that about NT. Currently it isn't really working right but I hate doing NT installs so I'm living with it. I know it'll get worse and I'll have to bite the bullet and fix it someday....

    I'm going to put it off as long as possible though.

  • by Nodatadj (28279) on Wednesday March 08, 2000 @05:31AM (#1219067) Journal
    It works only for text data

    No it doesn't. You just need an app that has a way to select the non-text data, and an app that knows how to receive the non-text data. The XSelection mechanism is far more powerful than the Windows one, just it's harder to program, so many programs don't bother.

  • by Matt2000 (29624) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @10:18PM (#1219068) Homepage
    Linux is not easy to use.

    KDE and Gnome are easier to use. If Linux truely wants to be on the average desktop there has to be at least these simple issues addressed:

    1. Interface consistency.
    2. GUI configuration of system.
    3. Target audience for most apps.

    Now a brief expansion (coming from a semi-new Linux user, long time computer user):

    1. First, it is fine to have different window managers. Just make them at least independently consistent. The obvious example - cut and paste, different in every situation and exteremely frustrating and inefficient.
    2. There have been important strides in this area in a very short period of time, but the common advice is: "Edit the scripts, who knows what [utility] will do to them." This is no good.
    3. Linux developers target their apps for a Linux Savvy audience. Bugs are expected, bad interfaces with nasty widgets are expected and in most cases a compile is expected. Most computer users don't know what "compile" means. Package managers help alot, it sure helped me, but it won't help the guy deciding on whether to get that iMac or not.

    Linux can be on the desktop, but does it want to be? It's really up to all of us I guess, and as soon as its not and its up to Corel or RedHat or something, then its probably not worth pushing Linux anymore.

    Hotnutz.com [hotnutz.com] - Funny
  • by Uller-RM (65231) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @09:57PM (#1219069) Homepage
    Linux is getting closer as far as software support (such as StarOffice/KOffice, etc.) but it has a ways to go as far as making drivers easy to handle for people. Even my parents and siblings can handle the most basic driver work in Windows such as installing or uninstalling drives or a scanner or printer, etc. - but even engine gods like Carmack can have troubles with Linux drivers.

    THE Carmack and Bernd Kreimeier (of Loki software, the guys with the mad porting skillz) talked about this on the Utah-GLX driver list. They have a copy of the exchange on LinuxGames [linuxgames.com] for Sunday the fifth.
  • by hedgehog_uk (66749) on Wednesday March 08, 2000 @07:24AM (#1219070) Homepage
    I think that the HP890c is one of those "winprinters." OF course I could be talking out of my ass. If it is I'm pleasantly surprised that it works at all.

    Well, I won't accuse you of talking out of your ass, but the 890c uses PCL3+ and TIFF run-length encoding for compression. I spent a few hours of my precious free time last weekened examining hex dumps of the output from the Windows and Linux drivers (Time I'd reserved for filling in my tax returns!) The Windows driver seems to use some undocumented PCL3 escape sequences, but I think that I can improve the Linux driver to give similar performance, if I can find a day or two to dedicate to it.

    HH


    Yellow tigers crouched in jungles in her dark eyes.
  • by HalJohnson (86701) on Wednesday March 08, 2000 @12:19AM (#1219071) Homepage
    You have a very cynical view of how technology is affecting people, and likely rightfully so. The difference is I see it as a problem, not a fact. Perhaps you're right, and consumers are the malleable herd of lemmings that marketers believe they are. I personally don't want to believe it. Just as I don't want to believe the PC has evolved to where it is just to give us email and word processing. I simply find it hard to believe that with all the other feats these beige boxes can accomplish, the pinncle of their existance are the "killer apps" of today.

    Obviously, the vast majority will probably never have an interest in the esoteric features and applications we hold dear. But there are simply so many things that a modern PC can do right now, and I don't think we've even scratched the surface.

    You say you know many people who have no interest in using their PC for anything more than the basics. Have you ever asked them? Do they even know what the machine is capable of?

    And consider this, without the high availability of computers as consumer devices, the web wouldn't exist as a "killer app". What happens if all those industry pundits are right? The PC as a platform hits a plateau, and declines. Where is the next "killer app" discovered? What we have is the platform, a fertile platform, in which the seeds for the next information (r)evolution are planted.

    I do believe that information appliances will be a major industry, but I also think that people need to understand their computers aren't appliances. And maybe the reason that all current computing enviornments don't work well is because they're either targetted specifically at technical people, or they've been designed to hide all the complexity of a purposely complex device.

    You can point at just about any computing paradigm and say its wrong, and back it up with good reason. And you'd be right, our entire concept of humancomputer interfaces are flawed. We need something that will retain all the flexibility that geeks love, while making it natural to work with for those that aren't as technically proficient. Perhaps it's just a time/generation thing, and it will work itself out. Maybe we can help it along?

  • by HalJohnson (86701) on Wednesday March 08, 2000 @12:33AM (#1219072) Homepage
    Why is everyone comparing linux from 2000 with wintel's from 1990? Liberal use of something like Ghost (for reinstalation of your OS) and something like ZENWorks (for application distribution (and repair), print driver distribution, console redirect (like pcanywhere) etc etc, you have a solution at least as good as traditional unix netbooting or nis and nfs'd /usr trees.

    I'm referring to NT 4.0 SP5. I'm not speaking from inexperience, I've been developing for Windows for as many years as Windows has existed, and I know the system as well as any non-microsoft developer probably does. It simply wasn't designed for a corporate environment. It's come a long way, but it will likely never have the flexibility that a unix-like system will. Ghost is great, never having to re-image a PC's disk is better.

    And if your running windows on the desktop machines, then your users have the ability to run all of the apps that they want that require windows.

    In some corporate environments, this is precisely what you don't want. You don't want users installing anything they feel like. Usually, you don't want them installing anything at all. Personally, I believe this is counter-productive, due to the fact that employees should be using technology to it's fullest. The problem is, most of them don't use it productively, and end up costing time and money when they install something useless that makes the system unstable.

    My post covered two somewhat related topics. From an IT standpoint, a unix-like system is much more desireable as long as it provides everything the end-users need. And the free variants are providing more every day.

  • by |deity| (102693) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @10:00PM (#1219073) Homepage
    I don't think that just anyone would want to try and install linux right now. It's just not ready for mass use. If your comfortable with computers and not afraid to give it a try then linux is for you. Most people are not comfortable with computers, ask anyone that works as hardware/software tech support .

    Suse is one of the better disto's out there right now. I've tried a few and I like suse the best, that's what I have installed at the moment. Not only does it have decent installation tools it has every program that one could possibly want.

    There is nothing wrong with telling the truth. Linux is not ready to be windows replacement for the general public. The typical computer user is more and more just someone that wants to write a few papers play some games and surf the net. People with the level of technical knowledge needed to install linux aren't as common as they used to be. If you think this is wrong think about the people that you know that use a computer. Except for people that I went to school with, most of the people that I know that own a computer are completely ignorant of how or why their computer works.

    Someday soon I hope that linux is ready for the general public. I want this to happen so that software that I love from windows(games mostly) will get ported to linux. This will only happen if enough people decide to use the operating system.

    Let the flaming begin.
  • I love Linux, but I run it without an X server because I hate every GUI ever made for it.

    It all comes down to the user interface.

    Sure, Linux has GNOME and KDE. Yes, absolutely, Linux has support for most every video card in the hardware taxonomy. Of course, Linux users can play Freecell.

    But what it doesn't have is anyone who pays attention to HOW MOST PEOPLE REALLY USE COMPUTERS.

    Where's the trash can in the GNOME interface? Why are there no keyboard modifiers for copy, move, or link mouse operations in KDE? Why is it that when I use a marquee to select and move icons on the GNOME desktop, that it only displays the top-most icon? Why is copying files using the KDE file manager harder typing "cp -Rf" on the command line? What's up with all the flicker and redraw with X, anyway? Don't you guys hate that? You should!

    Enlightenment (or any other X window manager) is not the answer. Neither are themes, infinite configurability, or cool spinning clocks. I'm sick of eye candy. I want GUI meat and potatoes!

    Hopefully the Eazel guys will help. If they don't, maybe someone could rape the NEXTSTEP Human Interface Guidelines and produce a real NEXTSTEP workalike, instead of the bastardization that is AfterStep.

    If I hate Linux GUIs, Ghod knows the secretary in the mortgage company isn't going to like Linux any better. And that's the person you need to sell to.
  • by BaptistDeathRay (126948) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @09:50PM (#1219075) Homepage
    It should be obvious that whether or not Linux is "ready" for the desktop depends on whose desktop you're talking about. It MIGHT be ready for some use in some areas of a corporation, but for the "average" user (someone who has only passing familiarity with the inner workings of a PC) Linux isn't ready.

    This isn't a knock on Linux at all -- the fact that it's come as far as it has in the amount of time it has is, quite simply, amazing. But in all honesty, more work needs to be done before the "average" desktop user will spend more time using the machine productively than he/she will trying to figure out what to do next when something doesn't work as expected.

    So again I ask, why the reversal of this position? Was SuSE getting flack for that comment? It would seem grossly unfair if they were.


    +----------------------------------------------- -------

  • Linux is ready for the desktop already -- if there is a Linux expert available to set the bloody thing up. But for a some users, if you want web browsing over a lan: you can buy/dl Corel Linux, press "ok" and you got Netscape and the internet. For some people that is all you need. Me, I'm not a Linux expert and am still trying to figure out why I need to compile programs in order to get them to run, and searching for antiquated libraries to support the files... ARG! In windows you just double-click SETUP.EXE (and reboot, and reboot).

    But for the end user -- it's all the same: MacOS, Windows, Linux: double-click on the Netscape icon and you got your Internet. So like I said, Linux is easy to use for end users, but they still need an expert to set the thing up for them.
  • There are a couple things that need to be finished up...

    OpenGL.
    Games.
    Glide.
    KDE2.
    Gnome2/Nautilus
    Enlightenment2.
    Alsa gets included in the kernel.
    Xfree86.
    Mozilla.
    Better drivers...
    Plug and play kernel
    Abiword, Ksomething word, Gnome something word. etc.

    I forget the rest.

  • by yamla (136560) <chris@@@hypocrite...org> on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @10:03PM (#1219078)
    The question comes down to what you consider viable.

    I use Linux as my primary desktop operating system and have for a while now. With KDE and a decent office suite, the only reason I ever want to boot back to Windows is to run games. And even here, Linux is catching up. In addition, I find Linux easier to install than either Windows 98 or Windows 2000 Professional, assuming of course that I pick a decent distribution.

    So for me, Linux on the desktop is here now. But what about my mother? She isn't concerned about installing Linux (she wouldn't, nor would she install Windows) and Linux does have a lot to offer. But it also offers her no compelling reason to switch. She has all the software she needs and is comfortable with it. The few times that she buys new hardware, she knows it will work in Windows. She doesn't have to worry about recompiling a kernel or anything like that.

    Linux is viable for her. But not yet compelling. She doesn't want to tinker with her system and she would end up having to learn how to edit config files and the like if she switched. Dists like Storm Linux [stormix.com] go a long way to making everything easy to use but the Linux world still lags behind Windows.

    We are getting there. We have the stability. We have the general ease-of-use if you don't need to tinker too much. We have the MS Office compatibility. We are starting to get the games (though the APIs lag significantly). Linux on the desktop is coming (and soon) but it isn't here yet. We're probably 80% of the way there.

  • by hedgehog_uk (66749) on Wednesday March 08, 2000 @12:15AM (#1219079) Homepage
    <rant>
    One of the best things about Windows, in fact, one of the only truly wonderful things about Windows is the printer support. It's very easy to install and configure printers. When I print, to my HP890c I can hit a button in a dialog box that selects 'econofast' mode. This prints quickly (12 secs for a test page), with pretty good (300x300dpi) quality.

    The same test page printed from Red Hat 6.1 takes almost THREE AND A HALF MINUTES to print. This means that a 10 page document would print in two minutes from Windows and over half an hour in Linux. It was quicker to reboot into Windows, print and then boot Linux again, than to print in Linux. This sucks hard.

    I finally managed to work out how to get Linux to print quicker, but it took a very long time and I had to download, compile and read the source to Ghostscript to do it. Your average user couldn't/wouldn't do this.

    I'd love to take time off work to help out with one of the Linux printing projects, but am far too busy at the moment trying to get an interactive TV project on air (I'll try to fix some of the bugs in the print driver though). Maybe in the summer...

    But until Linux printing is as good as Windows, it really doesn't have a chance on the desktop.
    </rant>

    HH

    Yellow tigers crouched in jungles in her dark eyes.
  • by HalJohnson (86701) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @10:01PM (#1219080) Homepage
    Home or corporate? Personally I think Linux/BSD is a very good choice for corporate desktops. Anyone who's ever had to deploy and maintain a farm of Windows machines in a corpororate enviornment knows how much of a headache it is. Even with NT Workstation carefully setup, there are too many things a user can do to damage the installation (and that's not even taking into account the things Windows does on its own).

    I know of at least one place I manage that I'm considering moving away from NT Workstation to either Linux or FreeBSD on the desktops. Its a small shop (about 20 desktops) which relies on a DOS based real-estate management package. The primary reason I'm considering the move is the flexibility I have with the configurations, which brings me to my next point ...

    So many people are convinced that the solution is to "dumb down" the desktop environments to suit the users. Personally I think that idea is way off base, and I tend to agree more with the concept of hiding advanced functionality in order to not overwhelm new users. Although I believe that is also less than ideal. Computers are powerful devices, but everyone seems to think they need to be made as easy to use as an appliance. I'm sorry, but I think it's a tremendeous waste of such a powerful and flexible machine. What we need is a way to educate users. Show them that they can do more with these machines than browsing the web, writing documents, and sending email.

    Its depressing when I see people buy brand new high-powered machines and really not use them for anything beyond the basics. Its understandable that these are the reasons that most people purchase computers (aside from the "me too" hype), but we need to show them some of the wonder that we experience.

    I love technology (and I bet you do too), and I realize everyone isn't like us. But there is more than the web, more than word processing, and much more than email. The real question is, how do we gently push the masses into discovering it for themselves?

    How do we educate them without scaring them away? Or are the wonderful flexible machines we all love not really suited for the general populace? Are we doomed to a world where there are distinct information appliances for the cornerstones, where the PC as we know it is a dinosaur? I hope not.

    (I seem to have gotten semi-OT here, my apologies)

What this country needs is a good five cent microcomputer.

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