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30 Days With Ubuntu Linux 852

Posted by Hemos
from the making-the-switch dept.
jkwdoc writes "Vexed by Vista's hardware requirements and product activation issues, many have claimed on various boards that they plan to 'switch to Linux.' [H] Consumer spent 30 days using nothing but Ubuntu Linux to find out if this is truly a viable alternative for the consumer. Linux has indeed become much more than the 'Programmer's OS.'"
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30 Days With Ubuntu Linux

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  • by 0racle (667029) on Monday March 05, 2007 @11:35AM (#18237652)
    Look what happened there. People that might be interested in Linux or OS X will try Linux or OS X. People who aren't, won't. In the end, very little will change.
  • by multipartmixed (163409) on Monday March 05, 2007 @11:43AM (#18237740) Homepage
    Are the configuration files in either a text format, or a well documented format?
    Does have a normal UNIX shell environment?

    Then it's got all the control you need.
  • by MontyApollo (849862) on Monday March 05, 2007 @11:44AM (#18237754)
    It seems to me that often people who build their own computers and worry about overclocking are doing so to get the most bang for their buck for gaming purposes. This would not be necessarily be a target audience for Linux.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2007 @11:44AM (#18237756)
    Building a computer today is easier than 10 years ago? O RLY?

    Maybe you don't recall IRQ conflicts or undocumented jumpers. Perhaps you don't recall 'Plug and Pray'. To say nothing of cases wherein their manufacturers believed human hands were made of some steely, unbreakable substance and by no means needed protection from sharp metal.

    I can slap a computer today very nearly by accident in comparison to the annoying foibles of yester-year-- saying it has become more difficult simply smacks of an unwillingness to become familiar with new technologies. That doesn't really play well in this community, sir.
  • by faloi (738831) on Monday March 05, 2007 @11:50AM (#18237840)
    So I don't see where the challenge is for these people.

    The challenge is in the purpose. AFAIK, people don't just got into the guts of their system to crank everything up for the joy of theoretical numbers to throw around. Generally, they're after the biggest, baddest box for a reason. A big reason for a lot of people is gaming, after all...it's what consumes the most horsepower. And gaming is currently where Linux falls short. I think if more games (that people want to play) were available with native Linux support, more people would be willing to switch.

    Distro's like Ubuntu are great for non-technical users to have a solution to hop on the Internet, check email, do word processing, that sort of thing. In short, all the stuff that a non-technical user is likely to do with a computer anyway.
  • Commendable but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sobrique (543255) on Monday March 05, 2007 @11:51AM (#18237850) Homepage
    The place where Linux really needs to start to shine is the workplace. People run PCs at home, mostly because they run PCs at work. There's exceptions, but this is definitely the majority.

    What's really needed is some 'professional' IT organisation to sell a definitive Linux solution for a whole workplace. And support it. And point out that actually it a) costs less to support and b) is way cheaper.

    Personally, I think it's viable, and I can see IBM gradually moving that way, and perhaps Sun too. But they'll have a lot of work to do to overcome the 'No one ever got fired for buying Microsoft' attitude that's ingrained into most of the workplaces in the world. (I'm still somewhat stunned at the complete lack of understanding of the mere existance of Unix that I see in my current, IT company).

    *shrug* I look forward to a day when every business desktop runs Linux. I think there's a lot of people who's talents are wasted being support monkeys for cranky windows bogosity. But at the same time, I can't see it happening, simply because it'll put a lot of people out of work.

  • Ubuntu (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vwstickman (1071956) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:00PM (#18237958)
    I tend to agree with the mass consensus, Ubuntu has gone a long way to bringing home the Linux desktop but still needs work in some areas. One such area is laptop support. When I installed Ubuntu my standby was flaky and hibernate hung on restart forcing a hardboot. These are key areas that do not work properly and there are many other little bugs like that. As I said it has come a long way but still does not work 100% out of the box.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:01PM (#18237974)
    More difficult? I disagree. I've met lots of people who brag about having assembled their own machines. What is there to brag about? There are no IRQs to set by pin or other resource conflicts to manage. You just have to put the piece into the place that seems most obvious and it will work.
  • by fantomas (94850) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:02PM (#18237984)
    "Frankly, I'm perplexed that anyone would pass on the opportunity to try out a free (as in beer) OS. "

    Changing OS is too complicated for most people, and there's not enough payback. If it works, why break it? If you can send email, and look at the web, and write a letter, and it took a lot of pain to get that far, why change the system you use and have to learn all over again, maybe losing your old files? That's how most people see it.

    Changing OS may cost nothing financially, but for many people, their time isn't free. The time required to install the new software, get up to speed using the new tools and assuring yourself that you can access your old files and all your other hardware (printer, digital camera, internet connection, etc) is either lost business time (=costs money) or lost personal time (=time away from more pleasant use of leisure time). It's only "free" if you were going to spend that time messing around with a computer anyway. For many people that's not the case.

  • by creimer (824291) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:16PM (#18238154) Homepage
    It's more harder to put a CPU fan on top of the CPU with all the extra clips, screws and whatever else. Back in the Pentium days, switching a CPU was no problem and I did that frequently. These days I switch out the CPU once in a blue moon since removing and putting the fan back on can be a bitch.
  • by pembo13 (770295) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:16PM (#18238160) Homepage
    When one invests their time in platform dependant skills, one has to live with the fact they will be forever tied to that platform. I'm pretty sure that what you want is not yet legally possible.
  • by cide1 (126814) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:17PM (#18238170) Homepage
    IRQ conflicts were 15 years ago. 10 years ago was about the easiest it has ever been. Buy an ATX power supply and case, any of the hundreds of Intel BX boards, whatever the fastest Slot 1 you could afford was, a hard drive, a cd drive, (it was all the same bus then) and if you really had mad cash maybe a Geforce 1 or Voodoo3. All cards were PCI w. AGP video. Everything was PC100 memory, and it was pretty cheap for the time.

    Now, you have 5 differant processor sockets, 8 differant chipsets, 3 differant memories all in multiple speeds, differant power supply sockets, PCIx, PCI, and AGP, etc... Plus, it is harder to tell which parts are the fastest or best value now that everyone says their chip all their chips are equivallent to 4 GHz. The chance of being able to upgrade to current equipment is much less than it used to be. Replacing a processor now almost always means memory, power supply, motherboard, and heat sink.

    All of this is hard enough building a windows machine, but now couple on getting Linux compatibility, and I say no thanks. I have built dozens of machines for family and friends, but I no longer do. I tell them to go to Dell, buy the cheapest thing, upgrade the memory. I don't have support or warranty issues. Im not returning parts that are wrong, etc...

    My best solution to this problem was that when my super tricked out brand new system got stolen, I bought a mac, and it was one of my best computing moves. I paid a rediculous amount, but 3 years later, I haven't felt the need to upgrade it once.
  • by Dog-Cow (21281) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:18PM (#18238192)
    "(for example, the Command and Conquer 3 demo is completely playable but crashes after several minutes)."

    I think it's this definition of "completely playable" that keeps people away from Linux.
  • by iceperson (582205) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:23PM (#18238252)
    I deal with typical users every day. Most of them have at least 1 device that won't work at all or at least loses functionality in Linux. These are common things like webcams, digital cameras, mp3 players, multimedia keyboards, Bluetooth/wireless cards, cellphones etc... The fact that you said she uses digital photography because you email her pictures and she views them is naive at best. So you setup a linux box to do what your grandmother could have done with webTV. Call me when you setup a box that your uncle can seemlessly syncronize his PDA/Cellphone on while his 3 kids can update their 3 no name brand $40 MP3 players and his wife can print edit/print photos on her 3 year old canon photo printer taken on their Suprema digital camera...
  • by BJH (11355) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:24PM (#18238266)
    Putting your own computer together these days with all the options, choices to make, etc. is getting harder than it was 10 years ago.

    I call bullshit on that one (and yes, I was putting together my own PCs ten years ago).

    Then: A dozen different video card manufacturers, twice that many chipsets, equal variety of drivers.
    Now: Two major manufacturers, two unified drivers.

    Then: IDE=slow. Master? Slave? Cable? WTF is this?
    Now: SATA - plug and go.

    Then: Set up your modem to connect to your ISP and hope you don't get any incoming calls. Firewall? What's that?
    Now: ADSL. Wireless routers. Built-in firewalls.

    Then: Scanner? SCSI (and don't forget your terminators). Printer? Parallel. Video in? Forget it.
    Now: USB and Firewire.

    Then: Steel case weighing 20kg, built out of razor blades.
    Now: Complete kit with rounded internal edges, fans in the box, you name it.
  • by jcgf (688310) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:26PM (#18238282)

    Even if you just want a dirt cheap PC you can still usually build one for cheaper than what Dell does.

    I'd like to see that.

  • by Stamen (745223) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:31PM (#18238374)
    I'm old enough to remember a time when you would get laughed at if you suggested Windows would be used in the office, this was around the Windows 3.0 days. Novell ruled the smaller server space, and Word Perfect and DOS were king.

    Windows started to penetrate the desktop first with Windows 3.1 (IIRC) and Office. Then Novell made some serious mistakes, like making it hard for Windows desktops to connect to Novell servers (actually Microsoft did this, but Novell could of done much better), and not supporting TCP/IP and going with their IPX protocol instead. Because of those two things, as well as others, it started to become easier to use Windows Server or Windows for Workgroups (peer to peer serving) instead of Novell server, even though it wasn't even close in regards to performance, ease of administration, or reliability (you could do some very cool things with Novell NetWare).

    Linux is starting the other way, with the servers, and then going to the desktop. So it's a different challenge. But one thing, IMO, that Linux needs to do is develop some features (not just copying Windows or OS X) that aren't available anywhere else that makes people demand it on the desktop. LInux does, of course, have the very real benefit of not having many issues with viruses and malware, but it needs more than that. If you take a look at the history lesson above, perhaps Linux Desktop could leverage the large install base of Linux on the server to solve integration issues that you just can't on Windows, making it so that the IT people demand Linux on the desktop, as we use to demand Windows on the server (before we got smart and started demanding Linux on the server :-) ).
  • by metlin (258108) * on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:31PM (#18238384) Journal
    One of my biggest problems with Linux is - believe it or not - stability.

    For one, getting X to work at a good resolution was hard (I've a widescreen notebook). In fact, until a recent upgrade, I could only get it to work at a much lower resolution. Secondly, getting the WiFi to work wasn't a cakewalk, either. And during the whole messing around with install process, I had to restart the system at least a few times (Linux, meet Windows - one and the same). Now, I've also had problems with the GUI in getting things done - sure, I finally end up resorting to opening a terminal and doing what I wanted, which defeats the purpose, I think. I won't even go into the number of times I've had to restart X. And oh, I've had hell trying to get files on a USB thumb drive -- for whatever reason, the files are simply not accessible from a Windows box. Tried every damn thing, and finally booted into Windows and did what I wanted. And I still can't get my printer and scanner to play nicely with Linux. Half the time, the box ends going bonkers. I finally upgraded to Edgy Eft and things seemed a little better, but not much better (I did get Beryl working though!).

    And I won't even go into such things as DVD burners and the like - half the time, I just use Windows than go through all the trouble of getting something to work.

    Linux is great, but it still is not as usable nor intuitive as Windows is for a lot of things (spare me the "you're used to Windows" crap - I've been using *nix for at least 10 years). Its support for other things (e.g. Indic language support, accessibility etc.) is also nowhere near Windows.

    And the thing is, as Linux becomes more usable, its stability is going down the drain.

    There is also the problem with drivers - yes, I am aware that folks don't always make everything with Linux in mind or do not release the appropriate drivers (although many are starting to). But this is a chicken and egg problem - the reason they are not is because Linux isn't picking up, and the reason Linux is not picking up is because it is hell to install. And the reason it is hell to install is because you have to go hunting for drivers, appropriate fixes etc.

    Secondly, the amount of free (as in beer) apps in Linux maybe more than in Windows, but they are nowhere as stable or usable. For instance, compare Paint .NET [getpaint.net] with, say, GIMP - the former while low on features is infinitely more usable (and in my experience, stable) than GIMP. The fact that the MS Paint replacement is faster and more stable than the (supposed) Photoshop replacement is a little spooky.

    Personally, I think that despite what Slashdotters may believe, Linux has at least another 5-10 years to catch up to Windows in terms of accessibility, usability and stability.

    The day I can get my box up and working without having to go through the trouble of hunting around the net and spending a few weeks in fixing it will be the day Linux will be comparable to Windows on the desktop.

    Linux is only free if your time is not money - and for some of us, our time is money.
  • by Coryoth (254751) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:31PM (#18238386) Homepage Journal
    I think it is worth noting that similar stuff was said about XP before it's release. Once XP was out it became pretty clear that the uptake was going to be very fast. Here we have slow uptake of Vista and comments made about switching after the release. It isn't entirely wishful thinking this time - though wishful thinking clearly come in to it to some extent.

    The other point is that Linux has come a long was since Windows XP was released while Windows has... well, just look at Vista. The difference between Ubuntu 7.04 and Vista will be very small in comparison to the difference between Redhat 7.2 [titaniclinux.net] and Windows XP, which, in turn, was small compared to the difference between Redhat 5.2 [princeton.edu] and Windows 98. This is the real concern for MS - that while Linux might have been behind in desktop user friendliness it has been improving much faster than Windows.
  • by Sobrique (543255) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:32PM (#18238400) Homepage
    I'd agree. I have Windows on my PC at home, because my favourite game of the day is pretty much certain to be 'fully compatible' with Windows.

    Whilst a _few_ make it onto Linux, it's a minority, and generally it's a lot flakier.

    Which is kind of a chicken and egg scenario - No game developer in their right mind does 'Linux Only', and only a few do 'Linux as well', simply because of relative market sizes.

  • by tha_mink (518151) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:40PM (#18238556)

    Yeah, I read the thread where you "tried" to get help. Your take on the episode doesn't have a lot to do with what you actually posted at the time.
    I actually didn't think he was being *that* much of a dick. I mean, you can tell he was frustrated. He takes a bunch of shots at the people trying to help him, but still, he just seems frustrated. I can relate. When I first started trying to use linux years ago, I encountered the same types of problems installing RedHat and suse. The point of his bitching is that it didn't "Just Work" which is probably what has been forced down his throat by the people telling him to use Linux. Can't blame him for being pissed, only for being a dick about it. Just my opinion.
  • by nostrad (879390) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:47PM (#18238678)
    I find your comment a bit funny. Recently I put together my neighbours computer and removed the fan by accident(!). It was a Core 2 Duo boxed with a fan. Putting the fan in place couldn't be simpler.

    I didn't have to make sure it was aligned correctly, there was no socket parts that would raise the copper and disable it from cooling the CPU. There wasn't any huge force involved fastening the CPU, just align it with the 4 holes on the motherboard and push the locks until they clicked.

    Removing it is even simpler, grab a screwdriver and rotate the locks 90 degrees (follow the arrows) and they pop right up.
    I would say computers recently got a lot easier to put together.
  • OK, I'll try.

    You know how Windows has "My Documents", right? And that's the default place for downloaded files to go?

    The analogous concept in Linux is the "home directory". It's called that because each user account on the system has one, and that user has complete power to do whatever they want there, unlike most of the system which requires admin privileges to make changes.

    The home directories, logically enough, are all stored in the /home branch of the filesystem. So if your user account name was "cpnabend", your home directory is probably /home/cpnabend

    The home directory is where the system is going to store lots of stuff -- configuration files for applications, downloaded files, you can even install applications in there (if you're the only user who needs them). In this way the "home directory" concept is more expansive than the "My Documents" concept, which is only for document files (your configs are in the Registry, your apps are in Program Files). It's also why the home directory is more useful than My Documents -- if you regularly backup your home directory, you will have nearly everything you need to bring your Linux box back from the dead in case of emergency.
  • by timonvo (1063686) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:01PM (#18238900) Homepage
    That config is seriously outdated.
  • by whoever57 (658626) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:15PM (#18239070) Journal
    Well, Ubuntu Dupe, I read the thread.

    You were asked what your hardware setup was -- including motherboard. I did not see any answer to this question.

    I don't know if this was related to the problem, but I would certainly suspect it could be. You have a 1250MHz Athlon -- that's about a 1400+ or 1500+, correct? The sort of motherboard that would accept such a processor might not have BIOS support for >137GB disks

    And you had your installation on a 200GB disk, correct?

    So, I don't know if I have hit on the solution. You have not revealed it (why not unless you are just a troll?), but YOU FAILED TO ANSWER A CRITICAL question.

    You were also rude, which is hardly a way to get help. In fact, I don't think you really wanted a solution -- you just wanted an excuse to complain about Ubuntu. That's why you have not revealed what the eventual solution was.
  • by Thuktun (221615) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:16PM (#18239094) Homepage Journal
    As someone who has never seen this particular exchange before, yes, you come off like a jerk.

    You may not have meant it that way, but that's certainly the way it appears to someone reading it. In every response, you made a snide remark about Ubuntu or the other posters, rather than being polite with the people from whom you're seeking help. Implicit in all your responses is that it's all Ubuntu's fault, that there could not have been any user error.

    That's not how to ask people for help. Remember, you're asking volunteers for help, not demanding support from a company to whom you've paid money. I think the respondents were more than patient with you; I didn't see a single flame returned at you.
  • by eln (21727) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:17PM (#18239102) Homepage
    Meanwhile, Dell has a system that uses a SATA drive rather than your outdated IDE drive, a faster processor, a DVD-ROM (which you did not include), faster memory, and a 1 year warranty for only 20 dollars more.

    http://www.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx /dimen_essential?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs [dell.com]

    I build my own systems for the same reasons noted above: for high end stuff, I can build a nicer box for less money than Dell can. Plus, the cases you buy off the shelf tend to be easier to work with than Dell's, which seem designed specifically to discourage tinkering. For the low end, though, might as well just stick with Dell.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:18PM (#18239120)
    Looks like you're a fucking moron.
  • by avalys (221114) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:18PM (#18239126)
    That's wonderful. Now consider the cost of your time in building the computer, installing Windows, downloading and installing all the drivers from the various manufacturers, and all that.

    Never mind the fact that some of the components you ordered are OEM, meaning they have no warranty - and that even for the components that have a warranty, you will likely have to deal with dueling technical support departments. Random crashes while playing games? Video card manufacturer says its your motherboard, motherboard manufacturer says its your video card. Have fun with that.

    The rest of us will pay the extra $27, spend ten minutes unpacked our fully-assembled, fully-warranted (from a single source) computers, and get on with our lives.

  • by ballmerfud (1031602) * on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:22PM (#18239178) Journal

    Linux may not be just a programmer's OS, but the Ubuntu flavor of Linux, IMO, isn't a very good programmer's OS at all. I think it crossed that fine line between control and ease of use.

    That's just plain silly. I've been programming professionally for ten years and in my experience, Ubuntu is exactly what you want for a developer's workstation. It has practically zero maintenance, installs right out of the box with little to no configuration, almost every major software package is available in binary form, being little more than an apt-get away. Beryl, OpenOffice, Apache, PostgreSQL, MySQL, Rails, you name it -- Ubuntu has the most up to date builds of everything, wonderfully configured, and ready to install. Do you need the GCC toolchain and related developers tools? apt-get build-essential. Done. Do you need various multimedia or Win32 codecs not in the main repos? apt-get easyb-ubuntu or automatix and with a click-and-drool interface that even a Windows user would love, a few mouse clicks will fetch and install it all, plus some stuff you hadn't thought of or knew existed.

    You have over 12,000 available software packages compiled for Ubuntu, in the official repository alone, not to mention all the others. I came from Gentoo, and Ubuntu is infinitely better because I can put my effort into building *my* software, rather than everybody else's. That is the point of programming, right? Working on your software, not spending days compiling your system from scratch.

    Yes, there are some dependency issues with some packages, in that they may link with other libs you may not want (e.g. amarok brings in MySQL client lib), but this is true with *all* distros. You are at the mercy of the package maintainer. If you don't agree, you have to compile from scratch -- as with any other distro. But typically with a workstation, who cares if you bring in other libs? You've got tons of disk space and the goal is comfort and ease. Perhaps on a server you may mince over deps, but that's another story.

    And -- getting on my soapbox I just have to add it -- since Linux/UNIX/OSS is so incredible, once I have my system exactly as I want it, I drop to single user mode, mount a USB drive and to do a dump of my root filesystem, making an exact backup image of my system. From that point on, I will *never* have to reinstall from scratch no matter what happens. If my drive hoses, I simply boot from a live CD of any distro, create a root file system, restore from my backup image, update grub, and reboot. Right back to normal. No online activation or phoning home, no install keys, nothing -- just rewrite the system image to disk. What would take three hours in reinstalling Windows (reinstalling the OS, activiation, and all installing other software) takes under 5 minutes with Linux. Of course, if I *buy* more software with Windows (e.g.Ghost), I could follow a similar process, but it still takes longer, and is still more of a pain in the ass. I've done it -- I know. My solution now is to run Windows in Linux using VMWare player (free). Now, my Windows partition is actually sitting inside a Linux file system, which I back up to USB using the aforementioned process. Windows backups/reinstalls are now as easy as Linux (thumbs nose at M$).

  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:24PM (#18239214)
    The advantages you mention were covered in my original post. I specifically said that you get the better warranty and support when buying from Dell, but that you could get off cheaper if all you wanted was a cheap computer. You challenge that statement, and when proved wrong, you try to retort with points that I originally made.

    My original point still remains exactly the same despite your completely irrelevant comments: building your own system *can* be done cheaper than Dell (even on the low end - the price savings increases as you approach the high end), but if you want the extra warranty or support, you can buy from them.
  • by HUADPE (903765) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:24PM (#18239218) Homepage
    And yet it is highly similar to a $400 Dell. Same processor (AMD Sempron) same HD space. No, it's not a great computer. It's a cheap computer.

    http://configure.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx?c= ca&CS=CADHS1&l=en&oc=C521SB_R_E [dell.com]
  • by mdielmann (514750) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:24PM (#18239234) Homepage Journal

    Because at work that's not what we use and I'd rather re-use my skills rather than split into a new branch just because im having something on the side.
    No offense, but I've never understood this statement. A spreadsheet's a spreadsheet, whether it be 1-2-3, Excel, or whatever. How long do you expect it to take to be able to pick up the basics of it? After that, learn what you need to get things done. I went from MS Works to a shareware clone of 1-2-3 for DOS. Guess what? Most of it is the same, any serious stuff takes some different commands, but they all do pretty much the same thing.

    I feel the same way about word processors, GUIs, and programming languages. If a language can be made to work with the CLR, it follows a fixed set of rules. Yep, that includes Java, VB, C, C++. You've already learned conditions, branching, looping, etc. So, now you know what needs to be done, you know the structures to use, take the next step and try to make it in another language. Worry about the unique features after you've done the translation - it will come a lot faster.

    I'm not knocking your choices. I live in a MS world, work in a MS shop, and have been working (and playing) in VB from 6 to current. I've also had the mixed pleasure of using far too many versions of Access. But I've also played around in Java, javascript, and a couple others. I've also done serious work in SQL stored procedures and a custom programming language that looks painfully similar to Delphi. What I do in each looks pretty similar, just a different syntax in different environments (and maybe some unique features available in one vs. the other).

    Remember, that first step is going to be the hardest. But once you get comfortable with a useful language for the tasks you have at hand (and I don't pretend to be knowledgeable about web programming), it shouldn't take too long to start learning the unique features that make that language extra useful. And as a bonus, you won't be tied to MS and their somewhat arbitrary changes.

    Also, you may want to check out the Mono project. This may be in the direction you're looking for.
  • Re:ya but (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:25PM (#18239252)
    And here you have stated the problem perfectly.... Linux is for the guy who has no problem spending a few HOURS to get something working. People who want the machine to just do it with a minimal amount of effort use something else. Hell, I'm perfectly comfortable at a command prompt, spend the majority of my day there, but if I want to sit back and play something, I'd prefer to spend the time playing the game, not configuring the game and tweaking config files just to make ti work.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:27PM (#18239272)
    The stock fan is not a problem. See how easy it is with a Zalman or Arctic cooler.
  • by d3ac0n (715594) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:28PM (#18239280)

    That config is seriously outdated.


    Um...

    That's the POINT of a "Dirt Cheap" PC setup. You want dirt cheap, you get second, third, or 4th generation old parts. Frankly I don't think there is anything wrong with using older generation parts, provided you don't expect them to perform like cutting edge stuff. Honestly, any machine with at least a 1Ghz Processor, 1 GIG RAM, and a 2 generation old video card should be able to run XP or Ubuntu with no trouble at all. Vista, No.

    But then isn't that the POINT of this article anyway? To get off the expensive upgrade treadmill by moving to an OS that doesn't waste your CPU and RAM by being full of bloatware and unnecessary services and processes? (I won't even go into the benefits from a computing experience free of virus and spyware worries.)

    Methinks that you missed the spirit of the OP's post.
  • by BJH (11355) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:28PM (#18239284)
    And oh, treating someone complaining about the problems like an idiot is a great way to get things done.

    Treating someone trying to help you like your personal support bitch is also a great way to get things done.

    Why is "complain to the manufacturers" such a bad answer? It is the ONLY way that device drivers in Linux will improve in anything other than incremental fashion.

    And BTW, if by saying "I've given talks on writing Linux device drivers", you actually mean "I've ripped off other people's work to make it look like I know something about writing Linux device drivers", then perhaps you shouldn't bring it up.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:29PM (#18239290)
    I put a 486DX/66 chip in the ZIF socket in the wrong position. The little triangle thing in the corner wasn't matched up. I powered the PC on and it melted the chip and motherboard. That sucked, considering I was 14 at the time and had no way to buy a new mobo/cpu. There's soo many place guards in todays systems that it's almost impossible to screw it up.
  • by avalys (221114) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:31PM (#18239330)
    Sorry, no one has better application management than the Mac. Every application is a single file, that you can drag anywhere on your system, and double-click to run. To delete it, you drag it to the trash.

    How can you get any better than that?

    Some badly-written applications require installers, but they are few and far between.

    The Linux package management systems are merely tolerable, especially if you have any problems.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:36PM (#18239378) Homepage
    Who recommends burning a CD from a computer that can't load an OS?

    I don't recall them saying it had to be the computer with the problem. Sure, this didn't make it easy for you, but I'm willing to bet that with just a little effort you could have found another computer with a burner and a high speed connection. I'm am 100% certain that it was "physically possible". And if you had done this, your problem would have been fairly simple for the forum members to solve for you. Instead you yelled at and insulted members of a community volunteering to help you with a problem for even suggesting that you take the most straightforward method of fixing the computer, because you "shouldn't have to".

    Sorry, but you did have to, "should" doesn't enter into it. You didn't want to. Your problem didn't get fixed. What a surprise.

    I listed four things, none of which had anything to do with my attitude, that had to happen, and did happen, for me to be in my predicament. None of them should have happened. Ubuntu should not have recommended Grub, at least not without explaining the possible consequences. Grub should not freeze when it gets that error. The files should be where there's supposed to be. The commands to diagnose should not fail.

    Of course! Ubuntu/Grub had a serious bug, and should never have put you in that situation. Sympathy was naturally on your side. You managed to burn through most of that sympathy two sentences into your first post, and you burned through the rest when you replied to serious attempts to help with derision.

    If any one of those had not happened, the install would have gone fine. Think about it.

    And if you hadn't been an asshat with a sense of entitlement and a "I shouldn't have to" attitude towards self-help, you would have gotten better help to try to fix it when the install didn't go fine. Think about it.
  • by BJH (11355) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:51PM (#18239610)
    Whether you've written Linux device drivers, met people who have written them, or sent spam to a guy who knew somebody who met Linus, is not relevant.

    From what little information you saw fit to provide, most of your issues (Broadcom wireless, Intel wireless, NVidia/ATI video card?) seem to be with binary drivers.
    In that case, talking to the manufacturer is the ONLY way you are going to get a stable system. Some people may be able to provide ad-hoc workarounds, but only the manufacturer can solve the cause.

    (I also found it interesting that you gave the level of Indic language support as proof of the superiority of Windows, when it's apparent from the site you linked to that Windows' out-of-the-box Indic support is fairly sucky.)
  • by adachan (543372) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:59PM (#18239688)
    Since when do OEM products have no warranty? Check the item descriptions.
  • by zizzo (86200) <fishbolt AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday March 05, 2007 @02:09PM (#18239844) Homepage
    I'd rather spend a few hours installing windows than spend weeks uninstalling the Dell shovelware. I'd be pretty surprised if you bought a Dell and jumped for joy at the "fun" extras.
  • by Coryoth (254751) on Monday March 05, 2007 @02:48PM (#18240416) Homepage Journal
    I'm not suggesting it is ready for prime time. I was merely trying to provide a description for the OP of how helping someone overcome initial difficulties/fears can pave the way. He was interested in helping his parents switch, and I was merely suggesting to him good ways to do that. I think the fact that you read everything as a "Linux is ready now!", whether it is or not, says more about you.
  • by uimedic (615858) on Monday March 05, 2007 @03:21PM (#18240852)
    First, if your building your own computer, chances are good you're not running to tech support every time something goes wrong. So the tech support issue is a red-herring for the home-built crowd.

    Second, it's not like you just turn on the Dell and run. Dells come pre-loaded with a bunch of crap that consumes too many of the limited resources available to a low-end PC from the first boot. To remedy this takes a lot of time. I daresay as much time as it takes to throw together the parts for a basic PC.

    Third, you are seriously misinformed about the OEM = no warranty issue. Your assertion is just not true. I've personally received excellent warranty support on several OEM components purchased through Newegg. I've heard that that Windows is unsupported by Microsoft when purchased with an OEM license, but I don't know the facts on that and I've never personally called MS technical support.

    Finally, notice that $95 of this $362 machine from Newegg is a license for an OEM (unsupported) version of MS Windows Vista HOME BASIC?! With Dell, that cost is bundled in automatically. You can't remove it a la carte. You can only get it refunded by prostrating yourself in public while chanting "please, please, please." Building your own, you just don't buy windows and you save 26% on the purchase price (making it a full $122 less than the Dell).

    If Ubuntu is a strong competitor to Windows (and I've found it that), there is substantial savings to be had for those interested in building their own computer to run linux vs. buying from Dell or any other mainstream manufacturer to run linux. Which is how this whole discussion got started anyway.

    Respectfully,

    uimedic

  • Re:ya but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HermMunster (972336) on Monday March 05, 2007 @03:47PM (#18241190)
    Linux used to be a hobby for me. For a few years linux was on the fence and one could fall off quite easily. Today though Linux has really matured. The biggest problem still exists--the linux zealot. They kill Linux, they harm the community, and the completely stifle growth on the desktop. The Linux community should shun them hard. They are like an outdated car. They are more broken than they are worth. It's best to move past them instead of trying to fix them. You can't appease a Linux zealot--they are harmful just by their very existence. I think the BSD community needs them now, and they should relent to the desktop.

    You know in reality this fanaticism toward total open source is just ridiculous. On the one hand you see everyone saying Linux is only good if you are true open source while the majority say that they want quality commerical games and apps running under it. You can't have both. No one is going to release a commercial application or game as open source. So just consider the OS open source and get the applications/games running so the market share can grow.

    I see the zealots holding everyone in a catch 22 with their false logic. We need development and yes that means comemrcial apps. Linux is just an OS. The applications and games are just applications and games. What benefits the users is more important then even open source. Never relinquish the open source product to the commercial venue but realize that the OS is just that, the OS. It is meant to be installed and forgotten. The users don't interact with the OS they interact with the applications and games. If you can get that through those zealot's thick skulls we'll have growth in the market. But that also means a real stand-alone universal distro applications installer.

    It's about the USER not about the OS. Never has. These zealots have the same disease that Microsoft has -- OSitis. We, the users are the king. It is us that make or break you. It isn't about the OS. Your OS should provide the services to the apps and games so that we the users can benefit the greatest in the smallest amount of time.

    All in all, I use Linux as my main box. My favorite game (Enemy-Territory) plays just fine on it. If I want to get any of my other games installed I can. Not that I can get them all but through Cedega or Wine I can. Keep in mind that there are quality commercial games out there such as Doom 3, Neverwinter Nights, Quake 3, UT2003/2004.

    The problem here is DX9 and 10. It is a closed environment which requires a sizeable investment to learn and develop for. With Vista discontinuing support for OpenGL (even though OpenGL is still a widely competent and quality product) it makes it hard for developers to choose to target OpenGL even as a secondary target audience. These are efforts of a Monopoly power using tactics to close down its competition, clearly.
  • by Cloud K (125581) on Monday March 05, 2007 @03:51PM (#18241240)
    I ask that instead of automatically going "OMG he went with Microsoft he must be stupid / evil / a troll / whatever" - you think seriously and constructively about the pros and cons of each platform and why the MS route was more suitable for me. And perhaps, how Linux can cater to my type in future.

    I've been interested in Linux for a long time, but as yet I haven't found it suitable to be a *complete replacement* for Windows; and unfortunately because it's so inconvenient switching back and forth, I might as well use the platform which works for me. I find myself facing Compromises quite a lot with Linux, and this is fine for a secondary machine but not a primary one. The compromises are fully understandable - most of the software is written by unpaid volunteers in their small amounts of free time, there are patent/DMCA issues holding back certain areas and many hardware and software manufacturers simply refuse to develop for Linux. However the fact remains that there are still compromises to be made - and ones which I'm not willing to make when I can pay £67 and do everything and never have any compatibility problems, compromises or headaches.

    I have a long log of my experience with Ubuntu somewhere, but basically it boils down to this:

    - Installation itself was ridiculously easy - on par with Vista. It was after installation that things went downhill...

    - It didn't recognise my 1Gb network port (Asus P5B) so I had to use the 100Mb one until I *recompiled the kernel with patches* (messy, and getting the bits together for compiling it was a bitch)

    - I never got wireless networking going, it would see the access points and connect to them but not get any data through and signal quality read '0'. I knew what I was doing and it was clearly a bug. Even ndiswrapper with the win98 drivers didn't work. There were endless other people encountering exactly the same problem in the Ubuntu Forums (network section) but nobody coming up with working answers. I am not willing to accept "well you have a wire connection, use that" as an answer.

    - I got bluetooth kind-of working, although it was flaky to say the least (to be fair, the same usually applies in Windows. I only know of Macs and other non-PCs that have decent, reliable bluetooth support)

    - Getting something other than 60Hz on my monitor, required hacking xorg.conf manually... I can do this so it's not a problem, but really I shouldn't have had to. A flaw with Ubuntu rather than Linux itself (and a long standing flaw as I had the same problem with early versions) as other distros handle monitor detection and configuration perfectly.

    - Getting things like java, flash, etc were a ballache, as ever, due to all the licensing/patent issues.

    - World of Warcraft didn't work in WINE or Crossover when I tried it. I didn't get around to messing with it much, to be fair, but I expected the latter to work as it's advertised as one of their primary supported products.

    - I'm a keen photographer, and photography in Linux is "pants", to say the least. The only decent, configurable RAW converter (not dcraw, which only does the basics) was the commercial Bibble, and even then - due to it not using Canon's SDK - it's not a patch on Breezebrowser Pro or Canon's own DPP in Windows when the results are put side by side. Photography was essentially the deal-killer with me: there are many things I'm willing to compromise on or 'live with' - but I am not willing to compromise on my photos, otherwise I wouldn't have bought a 30D.

    - What with all the other bits of software and games for Windows which are not ported to Linux or supported in WINE, and the sheer amounts of time you *still* have to invest in getting anything out-of-the-ordinary working (not nice after a hard day at work when all you want to do is spend the few available hours having fun) I'm afraid I went with the horned devil. £67 (Home Premium OEM) seems like a very reasonable amount to pay after all the wrestling with Ubuntu :)
  • by mackyrae (999347) on Monday March 05, 2007 @03:53PM (#18241258) Homepage
    Yeah, pretty much everyone I do tech support for is like that too. I think my boyfriend's the only person I know with a PDA (Crackberry) that syncs to the computer. I think he's the only person I know with a PDA, and he's far from an average user. He's a hacker. Everyone else just sends email using webmail or types things in Word (or Writer in my family's case) not realizing Notepad/Wordpad (or Gedit) exists or uses AIM (or Gaim) or browses the web on Firefox. They do understand single/double click, but I know my mom is afraid of right-click. In the interest of getting her to stop fearing her computer, I set her up with no sudo rights so she doesn't have to worry about breaking it. I mean, I'm in college. I look around my dorm, I see AIM, a web browser, Word, and iTunes. That's it. That's what average users use. There's also a few guys who play video games, but they're very outnumbered, and most are console-gamers anyway.
  • Re:ya but (Score:2, Insightful)

    by utopianfiat (774016) on Monday March 05, 2007 @04:27PM (#18241626) Journal
    I think exactly what you said is what ubuntu has caught onto. Ubuntu is a complete change in paradigm away from the configure-everything linux to an OS that is user-aware, configurable-yet-sane, and generally does what Microsoft fails at (and fails on an epic magnitude).
  • by Micah (278) on Monday March 05, 2007 @05:04PM (#18242128) Homepage Journal
    I just installed Kubuntu Feisty Fawn Herd 5 on my new ASUS laptop with Intel 3945 wireless. It recognized it immediately on the default install and let me connect to my home router. Didn't have to do anything else!

    Kubuntu rocks, try it! :)
  • Re:ya but (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Panzergheist (609926) on Monday March 05, 2007 @05:10PM (#18242202)
    Let me preface this by stating some facts that will provide perspective to my argument.

    I am quite used to Linux. I used to help my local University setup Linux in their computing labs. I was also one of those nuts who found it fun to use LFS. I started on Slackware and have since become accustomed to every distribution from Debian to Gentoo. I still run OpenBSD (yes, I know it's not Linux) as my network firewall, and have developed production firewalls using IPTables for government contractors. Nothing is "holding me back" from switching. I switched a long time ago. My statement is that there are still applications, (WoW is just one example) that are good enough and have no comparable replacement on Windows, that I need to keep it around.

    Now to address your question of why I would not use Wine for WoW. It's really simple. There is a risk that as long as Blizzard does not produce an official client for WoW that your account may be banned for using "third-party" programs. Notice that I stated there is a risk, not a certainty.

    I know what wine is. That is why I prefaced that list of tools with emulation/non-native methods. Wine is most certainly not native in the strictest sense. It is a reimplementation of the Windows APIs. It will never run applications as well as those that are made for Linux. It may run them as fast, but never as well. Please note the difference.

    The biggest problem with wine itself is that it lets developers be lazy with regards to Linux. Why would I, a game developer, write any cross-platform code when I know that Wine will run it "good enough"? I wouldn't. And I'm obviously not the only one who thinks this way.

    In conclusion, you're preaching to the choir about the virtues of Wine or Linux. I was evangelizing these same things before the turn of the Millennium. The comments I make are not really complaints of Linux, but legitimate observations of the software market.
  • by wolrahnaes (632574) <seanNO@SPAMseanharlow.info> on Monday March 05, 2007 @05:40PM (#18242694) Homepage Journal
    Here's the problem with that system: Not future proof

    If I buy even the cheapest Dell, I'll be getting either an AM2-socket AMD or a LGA775-socket Intel. I'll also be getting PCI Express. There likely won't be a video card in the PCIe slot, but it'll be there.

    With your configuration, I get a Socket 754 AMD chip and AGP, neither of which have any future at all. No new parts are coming out for either or even have for quite a while now.

    Now, let's try this the right way.

    For reference, here's a Dell Dimension C521, currently priced at $359 + $29.99 shipping + $26.26 Ohio Sales Tax = $415.25
    AMD Sempron 3400+
    Windows Vista Home Basic
    512MB Single Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz - 1DIMM
    80GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM)
    16X DVD-ROM Drive
    NVIDIA GeForce 6150 LE Integrated Graphics GPU
    Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
    Dell USB Keyboard and Dell 2-button Scroll Mouse
    56k Modem

    My system, built from Newegg
    Powmax CP808PL-1 case with 450W PSU - $20.99
    Sempron 3400+ - $69.99
    DFI C51PV-M2/G Infinity - $93.99
    --Provides GeForce 6150 Integrated Graphics and 7.1 Channel Audio
    Western Digital WD800JD 80GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive - $42.99
    Patriot 512MB DDR2-533 - $33.99
    LG 8164BI 16X DVD-ROM - $17.99
    Rosewill RK-101 Black Keyboard - $3.99
    Kingwin KWI-123 USB Optical Mouse w/ Wheel - $3.99
    Encore ENF656-ESW-AGPR 56K Fax Modem - $4.99
    Windows Vista Home Basic OEM - $95

    Total Price - $388.91 + $32.82 shipping = $415.73

    That's a 48 cent difference in favor of the Dell. Also remember with the Dell it's already installed, tested, and expected to work right out of the box. With the homebrew machine, you're talking at least 20 minutes assembly if you're really good and then about 1/2 hour installing Windows (the new Vista installer really is a lot faster). Figure for another 1/2 hour downloading/installing the nVidia graphics and chipset drivers after that before you're ready to use it. Unlike some, I'll give that time up though, because going and decrapifying a new Dell, particularly the cheap ones, takes about as long.

    In the end, you come out 48 cents poorer, lacking a single source of support if something isn't working right, and with no OS support at all (OEM editions of Windows are to be supported by the system builder, i.e. YOU). I love building my own machines as much as the next person (I haven't owned an OEM desktop in 10 years), but given the choice I'll take the Dell.
  • by wolrahnaes (632574) <seanNO@SPAMseanharlow.info> on Monday March 05, 2007 @05:49PM (#18242842) Homepage Journal
    It's worth noting, I guess, that for those not intending on buying a new OS along with their new hardware (transferring from an older machine, using Linux, etc) the pendulum obviously swings way back the other direction.
  • by ukemike (956477) on Monday March 05, 2007 @07:34PM (#18244184) Homepage

    OK, let's see how you acted on the Ubuntu free support forums:.....
    goes on to illustrate with quotes how one user failed to make good use of the unbuntu forums

    This discussion about the jerk and his problems with ubuntu and his interaction with the forums can be used to illustrate the greatest strength and weakness of Ubuntu.

    The forums.

    They are really amazing. There is a huge community of VERY helpful people that will usually step forward to help you solve whatever problem you have, for FREE. That's a great strength.

    The weakness is that answers often come in the form of several commands with lots of switches and operators that should be copied and pasted into the command line interface. It often works but leaves the seeker of help ignorant as to WHY it works. After months of using Ubuntu, and getting really excellent help from the forums several times, I am still so ignorant that I don't even feel worthy to post a question anywhere but in the "absolute beginners forum." When I've learned how to do something in win or mac I can show another person how to do it, because I understand. With linux my answer would be, "post a question on the forums." It's like that weirdo in the computer lab said back in 1989 when I asked a dumb question about how to do something on the unix mainframe, "It's Unix son. You just gotta know." There is a significant culture of elitism linux and the culture that nurtures it.

    Several times I have been given a correct bit of advise, but I have to ask several follow-up questions before I know what the hell the original answer was suggesting that I do. Someone once told me that their family owned land near Peoa. I asked, "where's Peoa?" The answer was, "near Oakley." Which was true but totally unhelpful. With windows and mac I know that the difference between newbie and power-user is time and experience. With linux I'm beginning to believe that there is a huge hurdle that must be surmounted before time and experience will help at all. I fear that I will never make it past that hurdle.

    I hate to make this analogy but it is very useful to me. Windows 1.0 thru 3.1 (and really all the 9x's) were just graphical user interfaces tacked onto DOS. The modern Linux distros are really just a hodgepodge of extremely varied GUIs tacked onto the OS and onto each of the many different applications. When you need to get something out of the ordinary done you have to get into the command line. I am past the age where I have years of time to spend learning the intricacies of another CLI. That's why my 3 year old son's computer runs linux. HE will have the time to learn this stuff. So I guess I'm breeding/raising my own tech support, much like my Dad did.
  • by Bertie (87778) on Monday March 05, 2007 @08:31PM (#18244752)
    Man, are you still bleating like a stuck pig about this? You know, with the sheer amount of effort you've put into this whine over the past months, you probably could have rewritten Grub from the ground up.

    Any chance of you putting a sock in it?

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