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Editorial Software Linux

Time to Try a Linux Desktop? 848

Posted by michael
from the first-hit-is-free dept.
bigbadwlf writes "EWeek has an opinion column, posted yesterday titled, Isn't Now the Time to Try a Linux Desktop? Quote: 'The crackers currently have the whip hand over Windows, and Microsoft's assertion that Internet Explorer is now part of the operating system shows its flawed reasoning. Worried sick about the latest rash of Internet Explorer security problems? I have the perfect solution for you, one that's even better than switching to Mozilla, Firefox or Opera. Switch operating systems: Go to Linux.'"
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Time to Try a Linux Desktop?

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  • Linux? (Score:2, Funny)

    by kennycoder (788223)
    What's that? ;)
    • Re:Linux? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rd_syringe (793064) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:19PM (#9668065) Journal
      It's the OS all your Windows applications and games won't run on...

      It's not that easy to just tell someone, "Well, IE had a security exploit so it's time to switch to Linux!" The Linux desktop has usability and infrastructure issues. I don't expect them to remain forever, but it is sure taking a long time, and by then Apple's next version of MacOS will be out along with Windows Longhorn, and it will be another decade of playing catch-up with their new technologies.

      I think right now the biggest thing I see keeping away commercial developers is the lack of a single binary installation/uninstallation API integrated into the desktop environment. You just can't be sure your app will still run in 5 years. Can you still run a Red Hat RPM you got in 1997? Windows can still run apps from 1991. In addition, a unified API akin to .NET or Cocoa, instead of these 20 or so different APIs which require that I install all of them since everybody likes to code for different ones instead of coding to a standard.

      I guess that's it, really--you can't expect the Linux desktop to become standard if it doesn't embrace any standards itself. Now, I know a lot of people like that facet of Linux, and that's cool. I'm just saying, don't be surprised if it never takes off in the mainstream as a result. It has a long, long way to go, most of it internal infrastructure issues (the fact we're still using X11 is embarrassing).
      • Re:Linux? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dignome (788664) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:41PM (#9668252)
        It's the OS all your Windows applications and games won't run on...
        That is going a little overboard. Especially with the current status of wine and the company maintaining a seperate branch of wine bent on gaming.

        Wine HQ [winehq.com]
        TransGaming Technologies [transgaming.com]
        • Ask yourself (Score:4, Insightful)

          by rd_syringe (793064) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:53PM (#9668357) Journal
          Ask yourself this--what do you think someone is going to say when you tell them they have to run a Windows API simulator to run their Windows applications? They'll just ask you with a smirk, "Then why don't I just run actual Windows?"

          The rest of the world doesn't share the anti-Microsoft, almost religious viewpoint that Linux is the better operating system just because it's open source and UNIX-like. They'll want actual reasons to switch. At most, they'll just use Firefox on Windows if you try to bring up IE insecurities.
          • Re:Ask yourself (Score:5, Informative)

            by Eric Damron (553630) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:18PM (#9668562)
            "They'll want actual reasons to switch."

            Did you even read the Slashdot story to which this thread is related? The reason to switch is that IE is integrated into Microsoft's OS and Microsoft is incapable of securing their OS because of it! Even if you run a diffrent browser on a Microsoft OS, IE is integrated so that parts of it that may be subject to attack are being used by other parts of the OS. This forces you to apply patch after patch after patch to keep half a step ahead of the bad guys.

            Seems like an "actual reason" to me!
            • Re:Ask yourself (Score:4, Insightful)

              by lvdrproject (626577) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @06:05PM (#9669459) Homepage

              It seems to me that if you're intelligent enough to use Linux every day, you're probably intelligent enough to keep your Windows machine sort of secure. I know i've never had a security problem on any of my Windows computers, and i only switched off of IE maybe 6 months ago.

              Anyway, Linux is definitely more secure than Windows any day, but what are you willing to give up in order to have that extra security that you probably will never need? The list is too long to even begin. Going to Windows Update and clicking 'install updates' once every other month is a small price to pay for having a usable computer.


              I'll probably get modded down as a troll, but i'm sorry, it's just the way it is for most people. Linux, BSD, &c., are fantastic for servers, and they're fantastic if you're really really really hard-core about open-source software. But for the desk top, no way. If there are this many people who are computer-savvy and hate Linux, just imagine how many non-computer-savvy people there are who won't like it.

              • Re:Ask yourself (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Eric Damron (553630) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @06:26PM (#9669595)
                It's really not a case of being intelligent. Linux is getting to be "country simple" to install and it's already no harder to use than Windows.

                "I know i've never had a security problem on any of my Windows computers, and i only switched off of IE maybe 6 months ago."

                Are you sure? When your box gets "owned" chances are you'll be the last to know. :-)

                "Going to Windows Update and clicking 'install updates' once every other month is a small price to pay for having a usable computer."

                I can't say it any better than Steve Vaughan-Nichols who wrote the Eweek article on which the Slashdot story was based. When talking about a flaw that allowed hackers to take control of a computer running Windows and the Mozilla browser:

                "Hmmm ... let me see now. It took open-source programmers less than a day to fix it, Microsoft programmers still haven't fixed the real problem, and it's been more than a year. I know which record I'm more impressed by!"

                The open source community responded lighting fast and reprogrammed the part of Mozilla that allowed a user to exploit a weakness in the XP operating system. They shouldn't have had to do this. Microsoft should have closed this hole more than a year ago.

                Running an update every other month may give you a sense of security but it is a false sense of security!
                • Re:Ask yourself (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by jp10558 (748604)
                  The main problem with Linux is installing other software. Now, I know it's wrong to think of Mandrake, SuSe, Redhat, Debian, Gentoo as "Linux" but damn it, that's what the average person sees.

                  Now there are about 5 different ways to install things in "Linux", of course usually you would use the one for your distro, but how does the average user know which one that is? Also, many of these aren't point and click.

                  I download a staticly linked rpm for SuSE, click on it. I get to extract it - ok so far. Then I
              • Re:Ask yourself (Score:4, Insightful)

                by BlueJay465 (216717) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @07:25PM (#9670021)
                If I had the mod points, I would mod you up. Instead I will reply.

                Most people seem to forget that Windows is a commercial product. Microsoft is indeed in the game to make money. For shelling out $299 (certainly not a drop in the bucket) for a licensed copy of XP Professional, Microsoft is providing you considerably more service and value than just a CD thrown in a cardboard box. Product Support Services can be called at any time, 24/7; the Windows Update site, anytime 24/7, Knowledge Base 24/7, Developer Support 24/7...see a pattern here?

                People tend to place a lot more value on the things they have to work for. Give 1 teenager a car, and force the other teenager to work for his own. Which teenager will still have the car after 5 years? Same thing with Windows and Linux. Linux is significantly different enough from Windows that it will cost me more time than money to learn what the differences are and get my skills with Linux up to the same level as I have with Windows. Money is simply a measure of value, and since time = money, I am not ready to make that commitment yet.

                If the folks who support Linux would get together and settle their differences and fragmentation and decide on some standards on what to use, how to do it, and how to support it, then I would be more willing to make the time commitment to learn Linux. Seeing as no one is getting paid to do all this on the Linux end and no money, hence the VALUE aspect, I don't see it happening anytime soon.

                Prove me wrong.
              • Re:Ask yourself (Score:5, Interesting)

                by fireman sam (662213) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @09:29PM (#9670731) Homepage Journal
                "It seems to me that if you're intelligent enough to use Linux every day, you're probably intelligent enough to keep your Windows machine sort of secure"

                Have you ever seen an 8 year old keeping a windows machine secure? My daughter would click on every attachment she got in here inbox. I would have to reinstall windows on a weekly basis just to remove the crud.

                I finally got sick of that and moved her machine to Linux. She thought she got a new computer because it looked so much better (kde) and had more games. The best part is she can be an average "Windows" user and NOT destroy the system, or get infected every other day.

      • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:46PM (#9668288)
        Will those run on Linux?
      • Re:Linux? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by It'sYerMam (762418) <thefishface@gmaAUDENil.com minus poet> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:50PM (#9668327) Homepage
        Unfortunately, the quick evolution of Linux does mean that things need to be redone pretty quickly, also.
        Personally, I'd rather have new stuff come out, fixing the bugs (which is what the articles about) and providing new features not available in Windows-land, instead of having my OS sit around in a pile of its own security-weaknesses and have old, buggy, cranky, obselete programs from '91.

        Personally, I find that Windows XP has serious issues running anything that needs DOS emulation, while there are sometimes no modern alternatives. On the other hand, linux hackers release new apps almost as quick as the kernel hackers, so we're alright. Sure, this may not suit a corporation, but hey, for the moment it's alright for the user.

      • Re:Linux? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nmk (781777) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:42PM (#9668807)
        I sincerely believe that what is keeping Linux off the desktop is Linux developers themselves. Their focus is completely wrong. Take a company like Apple for example. When they develop any piece of software, their primary focus is the interface. They first try to make the GUI as easy to use as possible, so a normal user can access all the functions of the software in an intuitive manner. The software is then written to facilitate the GUI. Howerver, first and foremost, it is Apples policy that a user should NEVER have to see a CLI.

        Linux developers, on the other hand, have the opposite approach. They write software to perform a certain function, without much concern for the GUI. The GUI is later added out of necessity, with a clumsy attempt to twist it so that it can acommodate software that was written primarily with the CLI in mind. This is one of the reasons Linux users turn to the CLI so often. The GUI simply fails to do what it should do at times.

        I personally find it unbelievable that in the year 2004, there is still an operating system where you actually have to use a CLI to install a device driver. I mean, I haven't had to do that since the days of DOS. Linux may be a great OS, but there has to be a complete reversal in the approach to designing software if it is to be accepted in the general population.

        Look at OS X. A fully functional UNIX CLI exists. However, most Mac users will never see it. It is as transparent as it was in the days of OS 9 (when there was no CLI). As long as Linux is a OS developed by geeks for geeks it will never penetrate the desktop market.
        • Re:Linux? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by trashme (670522)

          When they develop any piece of software, their primary focus is the interface. They first try to make the GUI as easy to use as possible, so a normal user can access all the functions of the software in an intuitive manner. The software is then written to facilitate the GUI. Howerver, first and foremost, it is Apples policy that a user should NEVER have to see a CLI.

          Personally, I think that's the wrong way to design software. Why should the core functionality of an application be tied to the GUI? I would

  • Finally (Score:4, Funny)

    by dj_cel (744926) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:09PM (#9667972)
    Some one is getting the picture, remove the software of shame, attach the software of triumph!
    • Re:Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:58PM (#9668388)
      and spend the enire week trying to find out how to get your printer to work
      • Re:Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jarich (733129) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:03PM (#9668431) Homepage Journal
        It's not like it used to be. Check out Knoppix (from www.knoppix.org). It's a bootable distro that you can install. It will support almost anything you want (everything on my laptop works!)
      • and once you figured it out it will just keep on working day in day out. Not suddenly have the drivers disappear or stop being regonized or you switch on and it spews out all the pages or suddenly stops accepting requests from the network or fail to respond to a cancel request.

        Linux is harder but once it works it works. I always waste some time if I have to install a linux system on getting it right, it even crashes a couple of times. But once I finished it just stays up and works. I never had linux go tit

      • Re:Finally (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chess_the_cat (653159)
        I just installed Fedora Core 2 on a second hard drive and kept Windows on the first. Fedora tells me that it detects my sound card and then asks if I can hear the test sound. I can't so Fedora tells me "Sound won't be available on this system." End of story. Great OS guys. How is this any less frustrating than Windows? Not to mention that installing Fedora was next to impossible. Partition this, partition that. What a mess. Then I download Firefox to install that. I get the archive, open it; now w
  • by krem81 (578167) <krem81 AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:11PM (#9667991)
    The people who are constantly getting hit with viruses, spyware, IE holes, etc. are exactly the kind of people who would have a hard time getting used to and accepting Linux. Most of the potential switchers (like me, for instance) already have their Windows boxes well-protected. There needs to be a better reason than just "it's not Windows" to entice me to convert.
    • by Albanach (527650) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:19PM (#9668066) Homepage
      I think you're wrong. It's been a year or two since the big linux distros would take some getting used to for Joe Bloggs switching from a PC. The reason they're not switching is he same reason they're not patching their PC - it takes time effort and a bit of skill. These folk want a PC that just works. If their PC had come with Linux instead of Windows, preconfigured so their Digi Camera works, their modem works, and their printer just works then they'd all be happily sitting with a distro that'd be equally unpatched. The only advantage then is that it's a bit more difficult for a virus to spread under the linux security model than the run everything as Admin security model adopted on most home installations of Windows.
      • by Tim C (15259) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:19PM (#9668564)
        the run everything as Admin security model adopted on most home installations of Windows

        And what makes you think that home installations of Linux would be any different?

        You can run XP as a non-admin user *right now*, using the "Run As..." service to run stuff with admin privs as needed. Mark my words - when/if "the average user" starts to switch to Linux, either they'll run as root or, if the system supports it, they'll enter their root password to install stuff whenever prompted.

        The security model of the OS is secondary to an educated user being sat at the keyboard.
    • I'll give you a reason. Windows is too hard to use.

      For example, I wanted to install OpenOffice on a Windows 2000 computer today. Easy right? I though it would be too.

      First I had to find my way to the openoffice website and eventually find the right download link. Then I had to download it. It came as a zip file so I had to unzip that. After that I ran the setup programs and had to answer at least five questions. Finally after all that hassle it was ready to be used.

      On the other hand, on my Linux machine,
      • by LucasMedaffy (598394) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:29PM (#9668152)
        That's not much of an argument, considering OO is one of the very few applications that doesn't come with a windows Installer. If you consider MS Office, you pop in the cd, put in a serial number, click next a few times, and it's installed. The links are in the start menu, the files are automatically associated etc. You missed out a few steps regarding apt-get. First, you need to configure apt-get to point to a server that has OO. Secondly, you need to switch to root to install. Thirdly, unless I'm mistaken, you need to manually set up KDE/Gnome links or create a desktop link. I won't switch to a purely Linux machine until I don't have to mess around with text config files anymore. I can do it (I'm a comp. engineer) but I don't like to. Even on my Mandrake 10 installation (which does have a nice OS installer I must admit), I can't get my soundcard to work reliably in XMMS. I had to disable KDE sound, then install other sound plugins, and even then sound only works half the time. Ugh. I will switch as Linux keeps improving (as it is I use almost 100% OSS in Windows), but it's not there yet.
        • by mini me (132455) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:48PM (#9668307)
          considering OO is one of the very few applications that doesn't come with a windows Installer.

          It did use a Windows installer. You can ignore the ZIP step and I've still described just about every Windows application installation procedure.

          First, you need to configure apt-get to point to a server that has OO

          I didn't.

          Secondly, you need to switch to root to install

          Okay, sudo apt-get install openoffice.org. You have to switch to an Administrator in Windows, so I figured that point was not pertenent.

          Thirdly, unless I'm mistaken, you need to manually set up KDE/Gnome links or create a desktop link.

          Not on my system I didn't.

          I won't switch to a purely Linux machine until I don't have to mess around with text config files anymore.

          I hear this all the time. I can't think of any text files I need to modify, ever.
      • On the other hand, on my Linux machine, it was just a matter of typing:

        apt-get install openoffice.org


        Which apt repository did you use? Any distro I've used that had a mechanism like apt (yum, etc.), I had to manually select and enter the server names in a config file before I got anything to work at all. On top of that, editing a config file almost always required me to be root and to select what program I wanted to edit the file with (double clicking the file opened it in konqueror, read-only).

        Ho
    • exactly, if those people can't:

      1.) Keep their anti-virus up to date
      2.) Stop clicking on email attachments from people they don't know
      3.) Run spybot/ad-aware to clean up their computer
      4.) Run windows update once every six months

      Then how can you expect them to learn the linux operating system? I do all of the above and more and my system has never had a worm or trojan (and I dont use anti-virus software to boot, i just watch what runs on my computer and keep it patched). It took me weeks to get my dad to
      • One advantage I see to installing Linux on computers of family members, though, is the ease of administration/patch etc. As long as the computer is on a constant-on internet link (and who doesn't in the day of broadband), and as long as SSHD didn't break, I can always ssh in, su to root, fix whatever broke in whoever's directory, run whatever update I need, without having to leave my house/dorm, drive over and pop in a CD-ROM. Think about it, with the prevalence of remote system administering, why not take
    • by Coryoth (254751) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:26PM (#9668130) Homepage Journal
      The people who are constantly getting hit with viruses, spyware, IE holes, etc. are exactly the kind of people who would have a hard time getting used to and accepting Linux.

      Really? That's what people keep saying, but I'm a little less sure it's true. What makes Linux hard is administering it. If you can't administer your windows box, what difference does it make that you can't administer your linux box either? Other than that it's just a "getting used to" issue - and again, the more computer phobic you are, and the less you understand, the easier this can tend to be. Serious windows users know all the shortcut keys, and the efficient ways of doing things. They know all about the nice extra functionality that is available. Naive users just don't know anything about that - they have much lower expectations of what a computer should be able to do. They don't understand how any of it works anyway, so the change is far less stressful than you would imagine (especially if you use something like Linspire or Xandros which hews pretty close to a lot of the basic windows ways of doing things). It's not like switching to linux means you have to grasp some new interface that doesn't use WIMP.

      How about in practice? I switched my parents to linux. They had no problems using it. And believe me, my parents are far from computer savvy (my mother couldn't figure out how to install new fonts in windows). My girlfriend was curious as to what linux was like - I gave her a knoppix CD, and she figured everything else out herself.

      Sure anecdotes are not data, b ut where is the data? Why is there an assumption that computer-phobic can't use linux? Certainly I haven't seen any real data on that either.

      Jedidiah.
      • Really? Try this (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rd_syringe (793064) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:44PM (#9668270) Journal
        How about in practice? I switched my parents to linux. They had no problems using it. And believe me, my parents are far from computer savvy (my mother couldn't figure out how to install new fonts in windows). My girlfriend was curious as to what linux was like - I gave her a knoppix CD, and she figured everything else out herself.

        Have your mom go buy a new printer and scanner and try to install it. Have them try to install an application themselves.

        We always hear about people who have switched their non-computer-savvy relatives to Linux, but that doesn't mean anything. It's the computer-savvy people you need to target. People who do nothing else but write e-mail, surf eBay, and keep family photos can use pretty much anything from OS X to Windows 95 to KDE. It's not saying much to brag that Linux can use a printer or surf the net. It's when people want to install a new video card, or perhaps a new DVD burner, or perhaps they want to hook up a microphone and try some recording, or maybe they want to play The Sims 2, or maybe they want to install (or better yet, uninstall) an application. Perhaps they'd like to switch from dialup to DSL.

        There are a million different possibilities that go beyond someone's grandma who just uses Linux to browse MSN and check their e-mail. I mean, big deal. There's more to a desktop than that.
        • by Coryoth (254751) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:04PM (#9668440) Homepage Journal
          We always hear about people who have switched their non-computer-savvy relatives to Linux, but that doesn't mean anything. It's the computer-savvy people you need to target. People who do nothing else but write e-mail, surf eBay, and keep family photos can use pretty much anything from OS X to Windows 95 to KDE.

          Um, that was my point. The original post said complained that it was the unaware computer-phobic people that are being asked to switch (due to all the viruses, spyware and the like), but such people are incapable of using Linux. All I said was that that was quite possibly rubbish. You are here agreeing with me. I agree entirely that the computer savvy windows user is much less likely to change. So what? You say "It's the computer-savvy people you need to target", but I don't need to do anything. I switched my parents to linux because, quite frankly, it is easier for them to use. I have no aims for linux global domination, or the destruction of the windows empire - I just want to make my parents computing experience a little less painful.

          Have your mom go buy a new printer and scanner and try to install it. Have them try to install an application themselves.

          Actually they've done both already. I bought a nice boxed distribution for them complete with a little manual. They read that, and followed the instructions.

          Perhaps they'd like to switch from dialup to DSL.

          They're planning on doing that eventually actually. Then again, with the distribution they're using that is no harder to do than it is on windows (there's a nice setup wizard that you just step through).

          Sure, there are still issues that they'll run into occasionally, but then they ran into plenty of issues on windows too. In general linux has been easier for them to use, not harder. Yes, that's largely because they aren't very computer savvy, and will struggle with basic administration tasks regardless of what they are using, but THAT'S THE POINT. For them it is easier, and that's all I'm worried about.

          Jedidiah.
  • not yet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by viggen9 (192812) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:12PM (#9667994)
    the problem is, that for your actual "average user", they will say, "where is my MS Office" and "where is my internet explorer" and I need my Norton Anti-Virus. Linux is great, but it's not for the average user yet. An acquainance of mine can't get over the fact that his win xp box doesn't have a floppy disk drive. What would he do if I took his start menu away?
    • Re:not yet (Score:3, Informative)

      by Coryoth (254751)
      he problem is, that for your actual "average user", they will say, "where is my MS Office"

      The article points out CrossOver Office handles that one.

      and "where is my internet explorer" and I need my Norton Anti-Virus.

      The reason for switching was to get away from IE and viruses - if they were actually switching for that reason, why on earth would they then complain about the lack of it?

      An acquainance of mine can't get over the fact that his win xp box doesn't have a floppy disk drive. What would he do
  • by wheany (460585) <wheany+sd@iki.fi> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:12PM (#9667996) Homepage Journal
    Just like the year before.
    • And the year before that? This is a tired old argument that never goes nowhere. Why do people think they can keep writing the same article over and over and because of it, people will start converting to Linux in droves?
      • "Why do people think they can keep writing the same article over and over and because of it, people will start converting to Linux in droves?"

        Because they read Slashdot and the MS defect of the week, and think that millions of people run around in a panic desperately trying to patch their system. They think it should be bonehead obvious to all of us Windows users that we should switch, even though they don't consider the idea that we don't rate security as high as they do, especially when we know switchi
  • This article is really low on details.

    I'll sum it up: use Xandros, SuSE, or Linspire. Use CodeWeavers or Win4Lin if you can't handle OO.o.

    It doesn't really go into the details like migration issues at all. The author only mentions the difficulty of moving over in one of the final paragraphs.

  • Remember BSD! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:13PM (#9668006)
    How about trying a FreeBSD desktop instead of Linux?
  • Well factored code (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Baldrson (78598) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:15PM (#9668030) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft's assertion that Internet Explorer is now part of the operating system shows its flawed reasoning.

    Actually, if Microsoft factored their code properly there would be almost nothing to Internet Explorer -- a few high level calls to standard libraries and that would be that. Agreed, this isn't what they've done (although they might be fooling themselves into thinking this is what they've done) -- but it isn't an inherently bad thing to say that Internet Explorer is "part of the operating system" so much as saying the "operating system" itself should be nothing but a nanokernel. Even Linux fails in that regard.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:15PM (#9668032)
    ... to be pushing the Linux desktop? I'm a linux user, have been for quite a while, and am trying to get my parents and friend using it. However, Linux STILL has many problems that keep it from being THE OS choice for everyone, even once you get around the user-friendliness issues (having not tried any of the more polished desktop distros, I can't comment on these issues.) Application compatibility: Many people use crummy applications that don't stand a chance for porting to Linux. Pinnacle, my mother's video editor of choice, comes to mind. Also, some people, though there are better pieces of alternative software, still are so stuck on their old apps, they refuse to switch to a superior alternative Hardware Compatibility: Every time I go out to buy a piece of hardware, or even to go drool over the latest pieces of hardware, I find myself thinking first, "Can Linux support this yet?" This creates a problem for the user that wants to go out, buy a peripheral, plug it in, and have it work. I'm not saying Linux won't be ready for the desktop very soon (because I think it will be QUITE soon,) but I just think that perhaps now is a little early to say "Switch to Linux. Like, now."
  • Feh (Score:5, Funny)

    by foidulus (743482) * on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:16PM (#9668033)
    If you are really hardcore I suggest trying tron [wikipedia.org] on the desktop. Now that would be something to write about!
  • by colonslashslash (762464) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:16PM (#9668037) Homepage
    From TFA:

    Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer takes a different view of the bug in Mozilla on Windows. Click here to read more.

    I'm clicking but I'm not getting any reading. I assume this is the same for everyone else. For anyone who wants to read the article that wasn't linked properly, check here:

    Larry Seltzer on Mozilla Flaw [eweek.com]

  • Those that wish to switch from Windows to Linux simply to avoid security problems with Internet Explorer may just find it easier to use an alternative browser and practice common sense when dealing with suspect links.

    It would take a lot more work switching to Linux due to not only learning how the new operating system works, but also how to learn time saving shortcuts that come with the OS and the new productive applications needed to acquire.

    This article uses the widespread threat of hackers "holding the
  • Go for it! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bl8n8r (649187) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:19PM (#9668064)
    USB is still a little fucked up, but the vendor support *is* coming around. The market needs a customer base to get their ass in gear for compatible gadetry, so why not go grab yourself a distro [linuxiso.org] and boot into the 21st century? It doesn't cost anything, and you can always dual-boot to ween yourself off of vendor lock -in. If that's a little scary, then grab Knoppix, or MandrakeMove which boot and run from cdrom without even touching your system.
  • by Duncan3 (10537) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:19PM (#9668071) Homepage
    You could use Linux and give up your games, and 90% of your other apps...

    OR...

    Ditch IE and Outlook (together responsible for 99% of Windows problems right now) install Services for UNIX on your Windows XP/2003 box and run all of your Windows apps and games PLUS all of your UNIX apps.

    Sorry, but Windows still controls the applications universe.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      When I can connect my ATI All-in-Wonder capture card and use it's abilities 100%, sync and download apps to my Blackberry, sync my iPod to my MP3 collection reliably, print DVDs flawlessly with my Epson printer, I'll think about Linux. Someday.

      I'm probably leaving some other cool things I do with my computer too.
    • 90% of your other apps? Please. Which specific apps can you not find an equivalent app for that won't run under wine/crossover office/vmware?

      You will find many here who use Linux as there primary or only OS. Are you saying these people don't actually use their machines?
    • Actually Ditching IE wouldn't fix the problem. Microsoft integrated it into the OS. That means that parts of IE are used by the OS. So even if you stop using it you will still need to patch and repatch and repatch... If you don't you can still be open to other attack vectors against the IE components that Microsoft foolishly integrated.

      A lot of people feel that Microsoft chose to do that in order to prevent the Justice Department from forcing them to remove it before Netscape was rendered completely ir
  • by metalligoth (672285) <metalligoth.gmail@com> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:20PM (#9668079)
    To truly compete against Windows, GNU/Linux needs to have a line of hardware, clearly marked, that it will work flawlessly with. Big distros like Suse and Mandrake need to focus on courting hardware companies to prominantly mark their products with Tux. Period.

    Not just desktop computers, either. You need to have everything from laptops to USB thumb drives to MP3 players to digital cameras and camcorders. Your computer IS your digital hub.

    Linux users need to get in the habit of acting like Mac users. They don't have the hardware support, so they need to make it blatantly obvious what hardware does work with their platform.

    The other big thing Linux needs to survive (other than Quicken and TurboTax) is Office VBA compatibility. In the Enterprise, this is essential. There are plenty of BASICs out there, why hasn't OO.org incorporated one of them?
    • by Gorath99 (746654)
      Actually OO.org does have a VBA equivalent. Unfortunately, it's not exactly compatible with VBA, though (but then again, if it was the MS lawyers would love it) and the editor isn't quite as nice as the one in Office.
  • I've run Linux off and on (more off than on, really) for the last 5 or 6 years. Started with Redhat either 4 or 5 point something or other. Only reason I quit was for games, I think.

    Well, recently, I got the bright idea to try XP and long story short Windows won't even let itself install on my hard drive anymore. So I took it as a sign and switched to Linux again.

    I recently received in the mail 4 distros, Knoppix 3.4, Suse 9.1 personal, Mandrake 10, and Slackware 10. I had used Suse 8.2 and kind of liked
  • by MBoffin (259181) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:22PM (#9668095) Homepage
    The article's basic assumption is that Internet-related work is the defining factor in what OS I choose. Adobe hasn't released a Linux version of Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign. Many other apps I use on a daily basis are either just not released for Linux, or are at the status of someone's pet project on SourceForge. This is not to knock the wide array of software that is available for Linux, but the software needed for me to do all my daily work is not quite there yet.

    In the meantime, I use Firefox for Windows which is nicely patched (and quite quickly patched at that).
  • I've been saying it for 2 years. Believe me, switching to Linux's worth the trouble of installing it.
  • by TheDarkener (198348) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:22PM (#9668098)
    Yesterday I was working on my mom's boyfriend's computer, which I installed a fresh copy of XP on a couple days prior. Already, there were bluescreens during shutdown/reboot (due to IRQ conflicts with our precious plug-n-play system), Adaptec CD-Creator wouldn't print labels (but everything else would print fine), and right-clicking on My Computer to go to properties would yield a cryptic registry-based error before opening properties. He had AOL 9.0 installed as his only Internet connection. I was using that to download drivers, and search for other things (such as "workarounds" for the ever annoying XP Activation), and IE would hang at just about every other website I would go to, rendering everything else I was doing on the computer useless until it freed it's resources. I found myself getting completely frustrated after about 10 minutes of working on this hunk of *$&#, because I couldn't even browse the web to fix the original problems. I installed FireFox, and that helped a lot with the browsing issues.

    All I want to say, is that I've been using Debian Linux for about 5 years now, and just switched from using the "ultra-elite" Fluxbox WM to Gnome 2.6 since it got uploaded to Unstable, and I have had absolutely 0 problems. It JUST WORKS. It's easy enough for my mom's boyfriend to figure out. Even the horridly cryptic "gconf-editor" is easier to get around than regedit. I don't see why anybody in their right mind would still fend for Windows when they have a completely usable, prettier, faster alternative with 99% of applications able to do what Windows apps can already do.

    SWITCH TO LINUX!!
    • by antime (739998)
      Yesterday I spent a good six hours unsuccessfully trying to get networking to work on my laptop before giving up in disgust. I haven't experienced anything equally frustrating since setting up PPP in '97 or so. Today I spent ten minutes swearing over why adding an item to the KDE menu didn't work until I found some webpages telling me I had to nuke some directories from my homedir, but at least I got it working. It's been a very very long time since I had these kinds of problems under Windows. And let's not
  • It Happens (Score:5, Interesting)

    by soloport (312487) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:23PM (#9668105) Homepage
    Just two days ago, a marketing VP I know called to bash Microsoft. He'd lost "thousands of e-mail addresses" (he's not a spammer, just well-connected) because he had answered "Ok" when Windows asked if he wanted to "repair" something.

    He wanted me to walk him through installing Linux, right then and there -- over the phone. So I did. I said, "Well, what I recommend is you get your feet wet, first". I Asked him how he used his laptop; What were the applications he couldn't live without; What were the ones he liked but could live without, etc.

    Then I said, "You know, all the applications you mention are ones that will run on both Linux and Windows. Why don't you download and install them, first on Windows, get to know them and then switch all the way to Linux, once you've adjusted?".

    He agreed to give my recommendation a try, and that was it. Storm calmed. About an hour later, he called back to say he'd found the file containing his address book and had "reconnected it to Outlook". Problem solved.

    Seems like, recently, I've run into more and more awareness of (at least the word) Linux. It's becoming a great "save" me" point when clients get frustrated with Windows. They just want to give Microsoft the big heave-ho! And, though I and everyone in my home and office have been Microsoft-free since 1998, I find myself talking people out of taking the plunge.

    I wish there was a distribution that gave me the confidence I need to recommend it. Since all I know is DEC, Solaris and RedHat/Fedora, perhaps I should buy a copy of Linspire and try it out -- for clients' sake. Any other suggestions for helping people transition?
  • Why switch? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wrf3 (314267)
    I already run Mac OS X. Why would I want to switch to Linux?
  • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:26PM (#9668125) Homepage
    ...but those who could use Linux (i.e. using a limited set of common applications that are also available for Linux) simply aren't persons to "try out" anything.

    Here, I set up a Linux desktop for my parents (actually, it was more of a Linux server for me, we simply added keyboard/mouse/screen), and it turns out they use it more than Windows. Properly set up with a cron job to update itself, it should be nearly maintenance-free.

    Personally, I run Windows on my main machine (+ X server to run Linux apps) because there are simply so much I'm not ready to let go of, and emulation in Linux.... well, in my experience it's either a) very slow (typically VM solution) or b) difficult and buggy (emulation / system call translation ).

    Linux is making big inroads in the corporate market. Don't expect to see any serious migration on the desktop until that has happened. After all, that is where most non-computer interested people get their computer experience and knowledge.

    Kjella
  • by jrl87 (669651) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:26PM (#9668132)
    First, this button turns on the computer.

    Second, you use this board with letters, numbers and symbols on it to input, "type", information into the computer ... we call it a key board.

    Third, you move this kinf of round object here to select stuff on the screen, "moniter", which we call a mouse.

    Ok, you got all of that. Good. Here's a cd with linux on it. You have to install it to use the computer. I have to go.

    All kidding aside, you know that's going to happen, most of my family is that way with the ironic exception of my grandma. I think she has worked on computers since they came out. She has a box with XP on it that she rarely uses and another on that is of the pre-pentium era that she uses frequently. In her case, I think she would do better with linux than windows, but I don't think she is savvy enough to install it herself. If this is going to work, computers are going to have to be shipped with linux pre-installed and be readilly availabe.

  • I don't know about these articles. He starts by suggesting that some people would be better off abandoning windows for linux.

    Then he finishes by offering ways to run windows, win4lin, within a virtual machine on linux.

    I am getting tired of cheerleaders. Journals, I don't think this one, install, manage, or write code for any open-source projects.

    He doesn't offer any solutions or ideas, just researches other peoples suggestions and reformats them.

    Randy
  • We've got a problem with open source products - they're hard to "market." A significant reason that Linux hasn't overtaken Windows is that its hard for a consumer to purchase (try going to your local Best Buy or Radio Shack to buy a Linux O/S machine). Compare to Windows, which is everywhere. Since my mom or sister are no more likely to re-format their hard drives than swap out their car's transmissions, they'll remain in the Windows camp by default. A second prob is that "Linux" doesn't exist as a sing
  • by MysticalMatt517 (772389) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:29PM (#9668156) Homepage
    I recently decided to give Mandrake 10.0 a shot, and I am pleansantly suprised! Except for a few minor glitches that were easy to iron out it installed perfectly on the first try! I would say it's equally as easy as a Windows install.

    Also, after setting up the http mirrors I found that software installation was incredibly simple. I was able to install everything I needed in just a few mouse clicks. This included everything from Apache/PHP/mySQL to silly stuff like Gaim.

    This is the first Linux install I've ever had where I didn't have to edit at least a couple text files to get it to run properly. I would reccomend it as a great "Linux Desktop" for the Average Joe user.
  • by kyknos.org (643709) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @03:50PM (#9668324) Homepage
    I use Linux desktop. Sometimes OS X, but Linux most of the time. And I am very happy with it. I create computer graphics for money with it, and I use it for all my everyday tasks. There were issues (winmodem, 3d acceleration, tablet support) but now it is ok. Ok, I am techie. But i installed it on my girlfriends computer, and on my mothers computer, and they are using it too. My mother never used Windows before. There were some problems (she was not able to use mouse and so on) but not Linux specific. I had more troubles with my girlfriend as she was used to Windows, but everything is ok now. So, users can switch to Linux desktop if someone helps them. The only imporatnt thing is that those users use computers for purposes which Linux can support. I wouldnt recommend Linux to someone who wants to play lots of commercial games.
  • by beforewisdom (729725) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:13PM (#9668508)
    Konqueror ( the web browser for the K Desktop Environment (KDE) for Gnu/Linux ) is integrated into the desktop....which is not as severe as being surgically grafted into the operating system, as is with microsoft windows. However, I wonder if having Konqueror sewn into the KDE opens up Konqueror/The KDE to similar issues as ms windows/Internet Explorer have being joined at the hip?
    • by Moritz Moeller - Her (3704) <mmh@[ ].net ['gmx' in gap]> on Sunday July 11, 2004 @06:38PM (#9669680)
      konqueror is not integrated into the desktop in the way Internet Explorer is integrated into the Windows OS. It makes use of the KDE infrastructure, but even if you use KDE, you can easily deinstall konqueror.

      E.g. in Debian I type "apt-get remove konqueror" and I won't see konqueror ever again. I can still use all of KDE and enjoy the web with mozilla, opera, whatever. [I prefer konqueror to opera and mozilla-firefox, though. ATM I prefer mozilla-thunderbird to kmail due to easier IMAP spam filtering]

      There are no similarities to the IE/Windows chimera, where upgrading the OS requires the browser and where there is no clear separation between apps and OS infrastructure and data.
  • by Talonius (97106) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:43PM (#9668820)
    I have SuSE 9.1 Professional. I tried configuring a VPN connection using PPTP to my workplace which uses a Firebox 4500 (which uses an embedded version of Linux). I used the instructions with the client for my specific distribution (pptpclient.sourceforge.net) and got nowhere. The connections were made but data would not traverse the tunnel, despite multiple routing entries, etc. Under Windows XP I create a new entry under VPN networking and bam, I'm connected.

    I like to modify my menus. I'm particular about how programs are labeled and categorized. Under Windows this is a no brainer - you can edit the menus in place, or right click and choose explore and modify from there. Under KDE (and Gnome) the menu editor stinks. It loses track of single items (not categories) not even showing them. I ended up hand editing my menu items (thankfully freedesktop.org has a description of what the text files should contain!) in order to get them to show up properly.

    Is this the idea of a desktop operating system? No. As bas as it is, people want a graphical operating system and they want it tied closely to the underlying file systems and hardware. Linux may detect new hardware but does that detection extend into the graphical operating system?

    Don't even get me started on playing video files under X and the intellectual property issues involved. I know and understand that the Linux community can't do anything to fix this -- it is the codecs and codec owners involved -- but it is a stumbling block to adoption.

    Finally - there is the issue of no program ever getting to final status. This one has been picked up and banged on by a lot of people in the past few months but it is the truth. It is part of open source and open standards, and most programmers want to itch their own itch. If I were going to set out to create a volume control program I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to find someone else's past code - complete with their bugs and bad architecture - to start with. Yet I find myself with over 5 volume control utilities on my newly installed SuSE 9.1 system. That's kind of silly!

    A unification of an operating system is *not* bad. Having someone direct the operating system and its integration with other software is and can be a good thing. Most distributions try to mold this software into one look and feel, but if they go to far (BlueCurve) a good percentage of the community goes up in arms.

    Linux has the hardware support. Linux has the software support. Linux does not have the integration of the software with the software, nor the software with the hardware, to compete against Windows as a desktop operating system at this time IMHO.
  • Let's face it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by presarioD (771260) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @04:48PM (#9668863)
    The year of Linux will come around when:
    1. Hardest part of installation in brand new desktop/laptop will be inserting the CD in CD drive.
    2. Hardest part of repairing will be inserting the CD in CD drive and click "Repair Linux".
    3. All hardware will be fully supported and "plug'n'play"ed.
    4. Update distribution center for given distro will resolve dependencies and fetch everything necessary for proper package installation (not compilation!).
    5. Command prompt will be optional. (Yes I know how superior you command-prompters feel to the click-click crowd).
    6. Everybody will be able to login, use the internet, mail, listen to music, write documents and so on and so forth without even knowing what an .rpm or an .mp3 or a .wav file is or what package compilation or even worse kernel compilation are all about.

    Let's face it I don't have to be a car mechanic to drive a car for my convenience so I don't have to be a CS graduate in order to be able to use my computer. Most people (the VAST majority of the MS crowd) don't care! That's right, they don't care about CS, about linux, about MS, about IE about anything. Why should they care? When was the last time a car dealer sold you a car on the condition that you'll take car-mechanic classes or crash-courses or enlist to online support forums? People buy a computer to use it for their job or convenience right out of the box. The rest is intellectual wars from people that are personally involved in IT or CS or Tech Science in general and assume some sort of importance by declaring their preferences.

    What MS created and keeps creating is an OS that even that last computer illiterate can use with no problem. It has gone a long way that way but now it is time for them to reverse a bit and patch up the security holes they user-friendly OS architecture created.

    Linux on the other hand started from the other end by creating a robust system on a solid architecture and slowly crawling to user-friendliness. The year Linux will meet with MS midway will be the year of the Linux.

    • Re:Let's face it! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by miffo.swe (547642)
      Your kidding us here right? You demand that linux should be lightyears simpler that MS Windows (any version). Firstly the goals are not something the community can reach, especially hardware support since it demands manufacturers to give out drivers or detailed papers about the internals so that drivers can be made open source. Secondly MS Windows is nothing but simple. I work in a couple of schools as an admin and frankly MS Windows is a royal pain to use for most of the staff and the students. I cant imag
    • Re:Let's face it! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @10:08PM (#9670972) Homepage
      Initiating sarcasm sequence.... now!

      Yeah, that's the great thing about Windows. When my mom calls up and complains that her printer isn't working, I can just tell her to pop the Windows CD in and click "Repair Windows." Viola! The printer is working again! Not to mention all the spyware has been removed, and it sends out signals to blow up all the zombie spam relays in the world, while solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

      As someone who is trying to drag my parents kicking and screaming into the 1990's, I feel fully qualified to make the following statement: Windows is not simple to install, simple to use, or simple to administer.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @05:32PM (#9669199) Homepage Journal
    They could really care less if their PC is turned into a spam zombie..

    If they can still run their games, and balance their check book... it doesnt effect them so they dont care..

    Nor do they care about the costs, or that they are feeding an evil monopoly.

    *we* care, but the 'real world' doesnt...
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @06:10PM (#9669488) Journal

    If you are a windows born and bred type of computer user linux will be hard. Especially if you really want to learn linux and not just whine on /. about how it is not windows.

    People with dos experience will have the basic mindset that not everything has to be done in a GUI with a wizard but people raised on windows 95 and later will have to do some adjusting.

    Oh and if you want linux to be like windows just give up right now. It isn't and hopefully never will be. Linux is a unix. Love it or leave it.

    So on to my tip. DO NOT SWITCH. DO NOT INSTALL LINUX OVER YOUR WINDOWS and expect to enjoy it. DO NOT EVEN USE DUAL BOOT.

    Why not? No matter how smart you are if you are used to Windows 95 and later you will find plenty of moments where you just get stuck in linux. If you are in dualboot and need to reboot to read up on how to get your network up and running then you are setting youreselve up to get a hatred of linux because to you windows just works and linux doesn't (you ofcourse will be forgetting that you once had to learn to get windows to work too).

    Instead setup linux on a old machine and use a kvm switch to switch between them. Then you can use your old familiar setup to read up on how to work with your new OS and if for some reason you quickly need to do something you haven't yet learned on Linux Windows is only a button press away. Get frustated, lost, out of time? 1 press and hello windows. Want to try again after your head cleared? 1 press and back you are to learning and trying.

    KVM switch (keyboard video mouse) is even better then two machines next to each other. Why? When you press the button for linux that is all you see, no problems with two keyboards and one is easier to type on or the windows machine has the bigger monitor. Keep the printer on windows for now so that when you got some long piece of text on windows on a linux subject you can print it (printer setup in linux is easy enough once you mastered it, mastering it isn't easy for everyone so wait, babysteps)

    Now if you got linux running smoothly start using it for 1 or 2 tasks. If your a gamer do all your browsing, downloading and music playing on linux. You will then notice if you use a browser like opera you can keep all the webpages open as you like, have downloads going in the greatest memory hogs java ever spawned, play your mp3 collection from beginning to end WHILE gaming with 100% of your windows machine. Does the game crash? No worry, the linux machine will still be playing your MP3's while windows reboots, have the walkthrough page where you left it and the download happily downloading. BUT always remember to take babysteps. Don't do them all at once. One at the time. Browsing /. is probably the easist.

    Next you may try stuff like Mplayer (linux movie player) and get rid off all the conflicting codecs on your windows machine that are just eating resources. Try openoffice for writing your letters. Email may be intresting to switch (do you really need outlook and exchange at home?)

    I think this way works best, it works excellently for me. I am a web developer with some coding skill and an avid game and anime watcher. ALL my gaming is on windows plus some photoshop. ALL the rest is on linux. Because my game windows doesn't do anything else I got more memory for my games and more cpu cycles. I also care far less about game crashes as it doesn't interupt anything else (I don't photoshop and game at the same time).

    Meanwhile I have learned an awfull lot of linux (to be fair I come from a unix background and had plenty of dos experience so it wasn't that hard for me) and more importantly I have the mindset that there is more then 1 OS out there. You might be suprised to learn this but if you go out into the workplace you might encounter everything from DOS to unix to VMS to mainframes (well software running on mainframes) to custom-made to windows 3.1->2003 to Linux to OS-2 to Mac OS 8-X etc.

    A Windows 95-2003 person will be horribly confused. So am I but at least I have managed to learn the principles behind using a computer. Not just to press buttong X in situation Y.

  • by danny (2658) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @11:01PM (#9671256) Homepage
    My experience is that non-technical users can run Linux, but they need someone technical to provide support. This is not so different to Windows, however - most ordinary Windows users need support from someone with a bit of technical nous as well. So the major constraint on the spread of "household" Linux is the number of geeks using Linux and willing to support it.

    I'm planning to celebrate when Linux moves from 1% to 2% on the Google Zeitgeist [google.com] OS pie chart.

    Danny.

  • by carlmenezes (204187) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:52AM (#9672150) Homepage
    What we need on Linux is better 3D game support.
    Hear me out on this.

    Better game support = more kids knowing about Linux = more parents curious about linux = more companies being aware about Linux.
    Better game suuport also = no need for dual boot = wider use of Linux = a wider testing base.
    Better game support also = more hardware vendors writing drivers for Linux = benefit in software categories other than gaming.
    More kids knowing about Linux also = More potential Linux only users = a wider pool of future OSS developers.

    There seems to be only ONE hardware vendor that has recognized the importance of gaming to Linux and that's NVIDIA. I applaud them for that. They will reap the benefits when more and more people buy NVIDIA cards not just because of their performance, but because there are drivers available for Linux.

    The sooner software gaming companies recognize this fact, the better. The nice part is that it is too late for any company, including M$ to keep them from writing games for Linux. The Linux market is starting to take off and it is in their interest to wake up and smell the coffee.
  • Terminology (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bas_Wijnen (523957) on Monday July 12, 2004 @07:23AM (#9673188)

    While the article doesn't speak about GNU/Linux, it does call people who break into computers crackers, not hackers, and that's a good thing. Let's hope it's a trend :-).

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