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Is Linux Out of Touch With the Average User? 1067

Posted by Zonk
from the games-may-have-something-to-do-with-this dept.
MrSmith writes "Is Linux's less than impressive market share an indication that the movement is out of touch with the average computer user? ZDNet examines five reasons that could explain why people are still willing to pay for (or pirate) an operating system when free alternatives exist. One of the reasons seems to be that despite what many Linux advocates claim, Windows users aren't on the whole dissatisfied with their OS: 'Despite what you read on websites and blogs, newspapers and magazines, people on the whole aren't all that dissatisfied with Windows. There are millions of users out there who just get on and use their PCs without any real difficulty.'"
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Is Linux Out of Touch With the Average User?

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  • But so are many commercial and opensource programs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cyphercell (843398)

      Is Linux's less than impressive market share an indication that the movement is out of touch with the average computer user?

      No, Linux's market share is a matter of vender lockin, monopoly abuse, aligned with the fact that Linux is still quite a bit younger than windows.

      • by lanswitch (705539)
        There are millions of users out there who just get on and use their PCs without any real difficulty

        Mostly because they are not aware of the problems. How many of those pc's are zombified, infected, or otherwise compromised?
      • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:19AM (#19236133) Homepage Journal

        aligned with the fact that Linux is still quite a bit younger than windows

        That argument doesn't hold water anymore. Linux is approximately 16 years old and is based on a design that is ~40 years old. The original Windows codebase would be 22 years old this year if it weren't dead and buried. Windows NT technology replaced the original Windows line in the 90's, making the current Windows platform only 14 years old. So in actuality, it's Windows that is the young'un.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GovCheese (1062648)
        Don't forget that a computer is a big ticket item for many families. One of their most important considerations when they buy is "what programs are out there for the kids?" Compared with the wealth of solid education and kid entertainment software for Windows, Linux is a dry desert. It may not be your calculus when you chose your OS, but it is for many families. Port Freddie Fish (as one example) over to Linux and you might have a deal.
      • by gfxguy (98788)
        No, the problem is that many things users want to do require a work-around in Linux that just happens easily with Windows.

        A lot of Linux distributions can't even play mp3's out of the box, or certain other mpegs and avis. It's easy enough for us to make our Linux systems work, but why would a typical user do something when they can get the same thing by doing nothing? When web technologies are present on your machine, windows users generally need to just click on a link and magically have Flash or Acrobat
  • Apart from games, which the clueful use as an excuse to not convert at least one box to Linux, I'd wager Ignorance (capital I) is the leading cause of high Windows market share. There's legions of bot nets for a reason... If the average computer user is satisfied with windows, it follows that they are blissfully unaware of the pornspam spewing from their infected PC.
    • Re:Ignorance? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MontyApollo (849862) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:13AM (#19235975)
      Most people I know have never heard of linux. In fact, the only people were IT people.

      I think the average person is also entrenched in the windows paradigm. They really don't want to know how things work, but they have built up a certain level of knowledge in windows and might not be too inclined to start over again. Most windows users know how to load a new driver for example - you download it, then you double-click it (they are usually in executables that do all the work.) There are a lot of little things like that are big "achievements" for the average user, and he doesn't want too feel stupid all over again learning a new system unless he's REALLY been sold on the advantages.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        You nailed it. In a broader sense I think it shows you how market change does and doesn't work. Linux ought to pose a lot of advantages - it's definitely cheaper up front, more maintainable, provides vendors with options, etc. So a hardware vendor can sell you Linux and keep more money than if they were selling you Windows. Clearly vendors don't all think that or they would have made many things work smoothly with Linux. This usually leads to an argument about support, training and TCO, and all those T
    • Re:Ignorance? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sootman (158191) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:15AM (#19236043) Homepage Journal
      "Apart from games, which the clueful use as an excuse to not convert at least one box to Linux..."

      The average user only *has* one box.

      The fact is, there are a *lot* of computer users out there. Most--I'm not exaggerating when I say it's probably 95%--don't care to know anything about their machine other than which icons to click to launch IE, Word, and Solitaire. Most users don't know what an OS is, or that Windows is one; they certainly don't know that there are options. They don't know the difference between memory and storage, they don't know the difference between the desktop and the hard drive; if you change their wallpaper they freak out that their computer is broken, etc etc etc. Computer runs slow? It's been two years, buy another.

      To respond to the question in question, yes, Linux is light-years out of touch--not that it's unusable, but that most users don't know what it is, where to get it, or why they'd want it. The fact that it's bulletproof against malware isn't enough--they fear change more. Don't underestimate the power of inertia.
  • by overcaffein8d (1101951) <d.cohen09NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:01AM (#19235697) Homepage Journal
    yeah, I use windows. I love Linux, but some games don't work on it except with more tweaking that i can frankly handle. Other than gaming, Linux is pretty good, though.
    • by Balthisar (649688) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:55AM (#19237009) Homepage
      I don't use Linux, either*. I'm a heavy user, a power user, and I choose to use Mac OS X, and sometimes I fire up Windows. In fact, when Apple went Intel, it was a perfect chance to get rid of my home-brewed, whitebox PC and my PowerMac and replace them with an elegant pair of iMacs capable of running Parallels way the hell faster than VPC ever did.

      This post would go on forever if I explained why I used Mac OS X versus Windows, so I won't. But I choose Mac OS and Windows over Linux because of lack of need for Linux. Mac OS X does *almost* everything I could want it to do, and Windows XP in a VM takes care of my needs for the few things Mac OS X can't do (certain personal applications, certain work applications, probably the same stuff that doesn't work in Linux, which would probably already be ported to Mac OS X anyway). I'm aware Windows has its security problems, but I don't really care; it's insulated from most of the world in the VM anyway, and any miniscule, potential exposure is only when it's running. Really, now, what's my need for desktop Linux over existing solutions?

      *Oops, had to add a qualifier to this. My MythTV backend is a Linux box, of course, and it also serves as my my NAT store, and my home gateway for ssh access while I'm not at home. I guess I could have cludged together something under Windows, but then I wouldn't trust it for the job (and Mac OS doesn't run [officially] on non-Apple hardware). So, I'm a Linux user after all, just not a desktop Linux user, which kind of transforms my point into something about choosing tools for the job.
  • by PHAEDRU5 (213667) <instascreed&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:01AM (#19235701) Homepage
    I can't tell you how many times I've see a question like "What's the best linux for a newbie?" or "Will linux run on my laptop?" answered by a fair amount of mockery, and the advice to "Try it, and see what happens."

    This is not reassuring to the average user.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What's the best car for a newbie?
      • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:19AM (#19236127) Journal
        I recommend buying a kit. Not a complete one - just the chassis, engine and transmission. Once you get that running, there are lots of places to buy a body, wheels, tires, windshield, etc. Oh, and it should be a stick - don't get an automatic 'cause you'll never really learn to "drive" in an automatic.

        Sorry, I just couldn't help myself. *hangs head in shame*
  • by gillbates (106458) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:01AM (#19235703) Homepage Journal

    why people are still winning to pay for (or pirate) an operating system..

    Ok, Windows doesn't really come with a spell checker. But Microsoft Office does, and people think that if they use Linux, they'll end up sounding like some hacker-type...

    While I said it in jest, I think there's a point to be made. People tend to use the operating systems that best suit them (or from another perspective: that they deserve). Linux users and Windows users have different needs. Surprise, yawn.

    It would be more constructive to talk about how Linux users can improve the experience for Windows users. I know of quite a few people who hate computers altogether because of their experience with Windows, and, tragically, because of this, are unwilling to try anything different because they fear it will be more of the same.

    • I know for a fact KDE (and I think Gnome 2.18) has a desktop-wide spell checker that works in pretty much every kdelib (or libgnome) app (I've noticed in Konqueror, Kopete, Firefox and G^HPidgin)
  • Thank you Captain Obvious! We'll take it from here.
  • #6 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grev (974855) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:02AM (#19235721)
    The average computer user doesn't know what Linux is.
    • Not only that, the average home user (read, non-IT) equates "Computer" with "Windows".

      Many times I've gotten the blank stare when I mentioned there are other operating systems than MS-Windows and the followup question is often "What's an operating system?".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by massysett (910130)
      Dude, if we could get you to write these periodic "Why Linux hasn't taken over the desktop" articles, we'd save a lot of time. Trolls love to write articles like this one, and they never even mention your point, which is so obvious: people do not even know what Linux is, and even if they did, they wouldn't care. They want to surf a little Net and see some photos, and they couldn't care less what an operating system is. Which is fine. But it's dumb to say that people don't use Linux because it's too hard, et
  • If the "average user" is a Windows user!
    Apart of jokes, there's still a long way, especially if you think about the number of different distributions with very little in common!
  • The simple truth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gosand (234100) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:05AM (#19235801)
    I think that Windows is good enough. Yes, it can be frustrating at times, but let's not kid ourselves. Linux isn't a walk in the park either. Granted, it has come an *extremely* long way over the years, but there are still things that annoy me about it, and I use Kubuntu. Look, I have been using it on my main PC since Redhat 6.2. I love it, and prefer it. However, my wife doesn't want the hassle, and I don't want the hassle either. We recently got her a new laptop, and it has XP on it. (thank goodness Dell Small Business will install XP, I didn't want to wrestle with Vista). XP is installed, wireless works great, it all just works pretty well. She is already used to it, and we have all of her programs tranferred over. Once of those is Quicken. I know there is GnuCash and others, but when I started using them I found them to be cumbersome, and for some reason it wasn't able to import any of my bank statements. Finally got fed up with it, and turned the finances over to my wife and Quicken. It's been great ever since.

    Look, why does Linux have to take over the world? Can't you just use it and enjoy it? I understand being passionate about it, I promote it where it makes sense. But honestly, it isn't a replacement for Windows. And there is no need for it to be.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:05AM (#19235809) Homepage Journal
    A little sarcastic, but honestly I see the reason the average user isn't using Linux is either because they don't care or because, they really don't care.

    Take my parents as an example. No problem with viruses, hacks, or whatnot. Why? Because I set them up right and told them what not to do. The rest of the relatives? All using Windows (one heretic uses a MAC - but she is a California girl so we let her). Kids, they want games, games run under Windows. Who cares if WINE can make their game run, thats one EXTRA step they aren't going to take.

    So, basically unless Linux runs windows software seemlessly and comes preinstalled it ain't going to make a dent. People run Windows because it works. Regardless of the FUD you hear here it does what people need it to do. People don't care what makes it run, just that it does. If a virus takes them down they get their friends to fix it or some store.

    Really, why would you expect them to take the extra STEPS to change something that is adequate for their need? what does Linux do that Windows can't? (and don't go on about security - they don't care)
  • by Eggplant62 (120514) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:06AM (#19235817)
    ...that the majority of people have never heard of Linux before. They've lived in a world where Microsoft software is installed on a new computer by default, and about the only thing they know about this Linux thing is that it is just something their kids told them the kid down the street likes to play with. The bulk of the software on the market that people are exposed to is either Microsoft or created to only run on Microsoft operating systems.

    The answer is to just do what we do best. Show people, educate them, and let them see what Linux is. Keep up the grassroots movement. It will take time, but as long as we keep educating people that they have a choice, Linux will catch on. Microsoft started in 1975 with some stolen code on paper tape, and they didn't become a household name overnight, either.
  • When my girlfriends XP laptop went to the big electronic place in the sky, she started using my computer (Ubuntu box). Took her about an hour to figure things out and she's not very computer savvy. Now I'm building her a computer and she requested I put "that Lenux thing" on it, because she liked how it just worked smoothly and didn't have freeze ups. To me that said a lot.
  • Especially now that Vista decorates the BSOD with lighting effects.
  • This is a good thing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rtkluttz (244325) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:08AM (#19235873) Homepage
    It is good that it is out of touch with the average computer user.

    Average computer users don't care about security. The attitude that average computer users take towards security is the reason why ISP's take it upon themselves to do security on behalf of the user. I don't want to have to search for a decent ISP who doesn't block ports or make security decisions for me. It should be my responsibility to secure my own machine and if I fail at than, then they have the right to boot me off the network.

    Linux expects a certain level of proficiency, but it takes the correct approach in that it doesn't mandate it.
  • by Control Group (105494) * on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:10AM (#19235913) Homepage
    Is Linux's less than impressive market share an indication that the movement is out of touch with the average computer user?

    The question contains its own answer. Most people - even most technically adept people - are not interested in installing "the movement" on their PCs. They want an operating system. They aren't interested in making a statement, bringing Microsoft to its knees, or sacrificing their souls on the altar of RMS' inevitable apotheosis. They want an OPERATING SYSTEM.

    Linux is a great operating system, with - IMHO - just a few minor hurdles that must be overcome before it can be seriously offered to an average person (most importantly, AAA games and hardware support - like USB 802.11x dongles). And those hurdles can be worked around if the average person knows someone with some knowledge of the OS (much like the hurdles of Windows can be worked around if they know someone with some knowledge of the OS).

    But yes, "the movement" is out of touch with the average computer user. As long as it thinks of itself as "the movement," it always will be.
  • by noldrin (635339) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:11AM (#19235943)
    What are the numbers of people who install windows via CD VS people who install Linux via CD?

    The main reason is that under Linux your hardware won't work as well, more internet stuff won't work, and you can't play your games like Evercrack and WoW. People who use Linux generally are either really care about freedom, or are computer hobbyists who like messing around with their computer. Average users often just get frustrated and move back to windows if they were curious enough to switch anyways.

    I think Linux would be better off targeting the computer hobbyists rather than prematurely going after average users. We are prematurely slapping an easy to use GUI on top of a system that you need to know about in order to maintain, translation: we are giving people enough rope to hang themselves before they know how to use rope safely. Once Linux has most of the computer people using it, the casual user will follow. This is how it worked in the world of DOS vs Mac

  • Many of the Windows users that would be disatisfied aren't because they have a friend of family member that takes care of things for them when the box goes to hell because of malware or other disfunctionality. I however, and I imagine much of the readership here, am getting tired of supporting these boxes. It's not bad when it's just routine preventive maintenance but when it becomes corrective maintenance and happens often- that's when I reach for the Ubuntu distro. If I were to cease their Window support
  • It's very simple, people are afraid of change! Especially with that which they don't fully understand.

    Most people don't know how their computer works, it just does. If they click a button it does something. The moment it does something else they panic! Change the way the button looks and they won't click it anymore, because it can't possibly do the same thing as before: it looks different.

    I notice this every day with people who have used a computer for many years every single day. I've been trying to get so
  • Of course it is (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:13AM (#19235987) Homepage

    Is Linux's less than impressive market share an indication that the movement is out of touch with the average computer user?

    Of course it is. What we're really arguing is whether that's a bad thing. Remember when AOL users all piled on to the internet?

  • by emil10001 (985596) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:15AM (#19236037)

    "There are millions of users out there who just get on and use their PCs without any real difficulty.'There are millions of users out there who just get on and use their PCs without any real difficulty.'"

    Yes, and my bet is that many of them wonder why opening their web browser takes 5 mintues.


    Q: Why are there so many windows and mac users campared with linux users?
    A: Because MS Windows and Mac OS X both come pre-installed on cheap/pretty boxes that the customer doesn't need to think about. MS and Apple also both have large, highly visible marketing efforts behind their software to make people aware of the brand, and attract them to the product. There is also the fear of something different that I'm sure many windows/mac users feel towards linux, they don't understand it, and it looks different from what they've seen before.

    I think that the most effective way to get linux out to the people would be a large, highly visible marketing effort. As well as an easy way for people to get a linux distro onto their box without them needing to think about it too much.

  • Number 3 nailed it (Score:5, Informative)

    by niloroth (462586) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:16AM (#19236071) Homepage
    Quite frankly, i think the 3rd point was one of the biggest. I am rather good with computers, and networking, but getting my acer laptop to work with the wireless b/g card in it under any distro is more than i am willing to do. I can NDISwrapper the drivers, and have a card that will only work in b mode under linux, if i go in and mess about with the conf files. But even then there are seemingly random times where it will just stop working. And going between multiple networks without stopping and restarting the service is simply an exercise in futility, something windows doesn't have a problem with at all. I realize that without driver support from the manufacturers this will continue to be a problem, but non the less, it is a reason for the lack of market share, because if i don't fell like going through the hassle, i feel most users wouldn't even get far enough along to realize that all this work is far more than should be needed.
    • I fully agree but at the same time I recently decided I really wanted a laptop, got my company to approve it and convinced myself that there was no way I wanted to use Ubuntu/Debia on my home and work PCs and Windows on a laptop. I don't mind Windows per se and need it to use some company programs we rely on (Great Pains!) but I use it in a VM now when I need to and can pretty much do the rest of the day to day on Linux. So... I researched and I ended up getting a laptop from LinuxCertified. Was it as cheap
  • Naming (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Snap E Tom (128447) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:18AM (#19236117)
    I've always believed a big problem for desktop, mainstream linux adoption was the naming of popular applications.

    Imagine using Linux for the first time.

    Noob: What do I use to play CDs and MP3's?
    Linux Teacher: XMMS
    Noob: What do I use to edit photos?
    Linux Teacher: Gimp
    Noob: What do I use to play movies?
    Linux Teacher: There's xine and VLC.
    Noob: How about for IMs?
    Linux Teacher: GAIM
    Noob: Email?
    Linux Teacher: Evolution

    What the hell's an XMMS, Gimp, xine, VLC, or Gaim? Those names are awful, and they're often acronyms. If you ask any average Joe what a Gimp was, they'll tell you it's a guy who walks funny. How the hell are you supposed to know that that's an image editing application? Evolution's for email and not something to do with biology?

    Photoshop. You have an idea what that's for. Internet Explorer. Same thing - I probably use it to explore the internet. Those are good names. If you're new to Windows, and you want to do something but can't remember the name of the program you're supposed to use, just look around in your Start menu or Programs directory. The names will probably clue you in.

    Marketing and branding can definitely help - more and more people are hearing about Firefox, but that gained popularity first in Windows. Access and Excel aren't that descriptive, but they became household names because of marketing and bundling with Word, which is descriptive.

    If people want to make Linux more "user friendly" developers should think a lot about the name they give their programs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Overzeetop (214511)
      If people want to make Linux more "user friendly" developers should think a lot about the name they give their programs.

      They do - and developers are often far more clever (or think they should be) than the typical enduser. In all honesty, a developer is fully commited to the process, and understands far more about the application than any enduser will. It's no big deal that they use acronyms because they know what it stands for. Think of 14 year old girls texting - they don't see a string of meaningless let
    • Re:Naming (Score:5, Insightful)

      by oneandoneis2 (777721) * on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:52AM (#19236913) Homepage
      Right. Because "Powerpoint" is exactly what somebody who needs to do a slideshow will look for.

      Need a spreadsheet? "Excel" will be the first word that comes to mind!

      Want to get your email? "Lotus Notes" or "Outlook Express" - almost the DEFINITION of names that clearly explain what the application does.

      Need to view a PDF? Good thing you've got the intuitively-named "Acrobat" available, isn't it?

      And "Quicktime" is the first place I'd look when I wanted to watch a movie file. Really.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by X_Bones (93097)
        your and your parent's post both have it wrong - applications don't work that way.

        When your program has millions of dollars in marketing and focus group research behind it, and (by and large) has the features and ease-of-use that the majority of people are looking for, you can name it whatever the hell you want and it will succeed. Notice how all the apps you named come from large vendors who can provide all that. A given piece of free or open-source software won't gain widespread acceptance until it has
    • Re:Naming (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Compholio (770966) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @11:03AM (#19237177)

      Noob: What do I use to play CDs and MP3's?
      Linux Teacher: XMMS or Rhythmbox
      Ubuntu "Start" Menu: Sound & Video -> (XMMS Music Player | Rhythmbox Music Player)

      Noob: What do I use to edit photos?
      Linux Teacher: Gimp
      Ubuntu "Start" Menu: Graphics -> GIMP Image Editor

      Noob: What do I use to play movies?
      Linux Teacher: There's xine and VLC.
      Ubuntu "Start" Menu: Sound & Video -> (MPlayer Movie Player | Xine Movie Player)

      Noob: How about for IMs?
      Linux Teacher: GAIM
      Ubuntu "Start" Menu: Internet -> Gaim Internet Messenger

      Noob: Email?
      Linux Teacher: Evolution or Thunderbird
      Ubuntu "Start" Menu: Internet -> (Evolution Mail | Thunderbird Mail)

      It's not as hard as you make it sound.
    • Re:Naming (Score:4, Insightful)

      by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @11:22AM (#19237617)

      I've always believed a big problem for desktop, mainstream linux adoption was the naming of popular applications.


      Non-issue. Yeah... sure... Open Source folks seem to like picking wierd names. They're not marketing specialists. But its not the stumbling roadblock you make it out to be. A real neophyte is going to just go clicky-clicky on an icon or media file and go with whatever comes up. Heck... how many times have you heard a new user talking about "using the Internet" without a clue about what ISP or browser is involved (or even if they ARE involved).

      I can play the name game in the Windows world too.

      Imagine using Windows for the first time.

      Noob: What do I use to play CDs and MP3's?
      Windows Guy: WinAmp
      Noob: What do I use to edit photos?
      Windows Guy: Paintshop Pro.
      Noob: What do I use to play movies?
      Windows Guy: WinAmp or Windows Media Player
      Noob: How about for IMs?
      Windows Guy: AIM or ICQ
      Noob: Email?
      Windows Guy: Outlook Express

      How many of those names are intuitive?

      What's important here isn't the name of the applications. It is either access to Linux (sitting down at a computer that has it already installed and going with it) or specific applications. Most people have never seen a Linux desktop. And those that do rarely get their favorite applications. I would love to go to my local Fry's, walk down a software aisle, and pick up a software package knowing there's a native Linux install included in the box. I'm fine with most OSS alternatives. But I'd also like the choice. Competition is good.
  • The hassel factor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by simm1701 (835424) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:22AM (#19236213)
    I'm a linux user and admin. By most peoples standards (ie in the developement department of a bank in which I work I'm a linux/unix expert).

    My home laptop (which is my main computer) is dual boot XP/ubuntu.

    What do I boot to 95% of the time?

    XP.

    Simply because its less hassel.

    I've used wineX, cadega, etc. I've built it from cvs, submitted bugs and the occasional patch to it, I've contacted game devs and worked with them to get new games to run under it (and had screen shots from my PC posted on developement group walls after they were impressed about it running under linux)

    I only have 1 game even installed under windows, morrowind, and I know for a fact I could get it running under linux.

    Why don't I?

    Time.

    It would take me an hour or two of messing around to get it working under linux.

    It would also take me that time or more to get my wireless networking working how I like it under linux (ie knowing the WPA key for several different areas and using whichever is available at the time).

    I'm a very busy person and I just feel no need to do it, when its already working without the hassel on my windows partition. I'm not fond of windows, but cygwin covers me for most things I need to do, if its really desparate I'll boot to linux, but thats a pretty rare occurance.

    My home file server runs linux, my firewall runs linux, my personal IMAP server runs linux - I dont have an issue setting these up.

    But when someone like me tends to use windows as a desktop it points to the fact that there still needs to be moreease of use put into linux on the desktop.

    Users are lazy, until its actually easier to run linux in 99% of cases then its not going to happen. (and I don't mean better, I'd argue in general linux would be better for almost all things I do, but it isn't easier)
  • by LibertineR (591918) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:23AM (#19236227)
    Arrogance personified.

    The sheer arrogance displayed by the majority of us who want the world to take a look at Linux is miles beyond what is going on by those pushing Windows or even Macs. To most of the world, we come off as intemperate assholes who hate anyone dumb enough to not agree with us. Never mind that the world has managed to function pretty well in spite of Linux not running everything, we act as though all wisdom and knowledge reside strictly with us.

    Hate Microsoft, hate Apple, but those organizations do not treat potential customers as primordial slime until they have evolved into dual booting at the very least. We talk down to our audience, we cringe at the thought of making adoption the slightest bit easier for noobs, and if you are a hardware vendor that balks at creating a driver for our benefit, well, we just might shoot your mama in the head.

    Someday, our community may figure out that Marketing wins, period.

    Nope, we wont, we have had enough time and evidence to know this, and we have rejected that argument.

    Microsoft has another record quarter, while we just stay pissed off.

    Take your best shot, I've got karma to burn, bitches.

    • by ratboy666 (104074) <fred_weigel&hotmail,com> on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @12:37PM (#19239337) Homepage Journal
      I'm sorry, I don't get your point. Microsoft is the "arrogant" one here.

      For instance, does XP support NFS out of the box? How about NIS? How do I get XP to reflect home directories and common NIS passwd signon?

      Microsoft is arrogant-- their solution is "better". Ignoring interoperability with any other common OS (SUN OS, Solaris, AIX, HP/UX).

      What about POSIX support "out of the box" (a standards compliant shell environment would be nice)? X Window support?

      As a programmer, how about a C99 compliant compiler?

      Yes, I use Linux and Solaris and I even know WHY. I also develop for Windows. I don't mind it, because it's a massive market. But, really, it isn't "Linux" that's arrogant, it's Windows.
  • by lawaetf1 (613291) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:25AM (#19236263)
    How about the fact that for the average user Linux was all but unusable due to driver support / app support / features up until *maybe* a couple years ago? Give it time. It's absurd to ask the question "why isn't everyone using Linux??" when Linux is only just now becoming a viable desktop. There is a powerful inertia in OS usage due reasons including what's already installed, what people know, people simply not upgrading, etc. IMHO Linux still has a couple years to go before it is really mass-market friendly. Maybe then we will start to see some movement in its direction.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:34AM (#19236455)
    When someone gets Windows, he installs it, starts it up and starts clicking around. Some things will work, some won't, but those that won't don't discourage him. After all, everyone says Windows is so easy to use, every dumbo can work it out. So they try. I mean, who wants to be dumber than... And they try. And putz around and finally (maybe after reinstalling, when they managed to click somewhere they really, really shouldn't) it works.

    When someone gets Linux, he installs is, starts it up and starts clicking around. Some things will work, some won't, but those that won't discourage him. After all, everyone says Linux is a geeks-only system, nobody but a true blooded geek can figure it out. So they don't even try and toss it as "too complicated".
  • IT's the apps. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:40AM (#19236637) Homepage
    I know of several film students at Ferris State university that use or pirate windows simply because all Video editing and DVD authoring apps under linux suck horribly and pirated versions of MAC software are hard to get.. (they prefer final cut)

    Cinerella is unstable and not even 1/2 as usable as Adobe Premiere 4.0.. Apps like Sony Vegas, the current Premier, Canopus, and Avid Dv express kick the absolute living crap out of all the linux video eding apps all rolled together hands down.

    DVD authoring also stinks under linux. It's not even at the par of the dirt cheap Dvd-Lab product out there without being a comand line expert.

    Dont get me started with the effects and composting apps that simply do not exist under linux.

    How about Engine tuning software? ALDL or ODB-II scan tool software? Electronics design software (Eagle Cad is the ONLY ONE and it's not that good) how about a Decent CAD package that is even 1/2 as useable as autocad was from 3 years ago?

    It's the apps. People cant rip their DVD's easily (no anydvd for linux), they cant sync with their ipod without pulling teeth, they cant sync with their phone's contacts easily, installing non free and not in a RPM repository apps is something that even a seasoned linux user sighs at.

    Linux is there, it's a rock solid OS. it just suffers from the same problem that OS2 and BeOS sufferd from. Nobody is making software that people want for it.

    Hell I'd buy a decent video editing app for linux. It does not exist. Main Actor is utter crap and is the only commercial offering.

    I'd pay for a native photoshop and Dreamweaver+flash suite for linux, and thousands of others would to.

    It's the apps, plain and simple.
  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:47AM (#19236775)
    The simple fact is that most people aither know how to fix a zonked PC, or they know someone that can fix it for free. Therefore, they don't care much about the issues with Windows. It is only the highly technical crowd that gets annoyed with Windows' general shittyness.

    People used to fall in love with the VW Beetle - hands down the worst car ever - but everybody knew how to fix it...
  • by Wapiti-eater (759089) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @10:51AM (#19236875)
    "'Despite what you read on websites and blogs, newspapers and magazines, people on the whole aren't all that dissatisfied with Windows. There are millions of users out there who just get on and use their PCs without any real difficulty.'"

    And that's only because 'people on the whole' not only have no clue what an operating system is, they don't recognize the OS is often the seat of their frustrations, nor are they aware there are alternatives. It's actually a refreshing to have a user not blame their own PC ignorance for the delicate nature of their work environment.

    If I only had a nickel for the number of times I've had to explain that Word is not Window, not only doesn't come with the OS, but you have to buy it. That inevitably leads to the question, "What is an OS?". That leads to the explanation of what Linux is - because there IS a choice and they deserve to know about it.

    So - my own empirical experience - Windows fragility and weaknesses are not only a motivator for the development of Linux, but a well used marketing channel as well.
  • copy&paste (Score:5, Insightful)

    by multi io (640409) <olaf.klischat@googlemail.com> on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @11:02AM (#19237135)
    Yeah, just convince all UI programmers to put in place a moratorium on new features until copy&paste works between all applications, all the time, with all commonly used kinds of data. Once that's done (2030 or so), world domination will become reality on short notice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rAiNsT0rm (877553)
      Yeah, but who wants to work together? I mean I want to create Yet Another Some App That There are already 100 of by myself, and who cares about making it interoperable!!! There's no fame in copy/paste, but Yet Another CD Ripper will make me kewl and a billionaire.

      It all comes back to some sort of central control, which is lacking. As much as so many cry that it "ruins the spirit of Linux" there needs to be a guiding light that directs the efforts of open source programmers to actually get core functionality
  • by Kazoo the Clown (644526) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @11:06AM (#19237239)
    Most users buy the computer for the applications they can run on it. Pick some of the major interest areas. What choice of applications for that interest area are available on Windows? On Mac? On Linux? I would wager that nearly all of the available end-user oriented apps for a given interest area will run on Windows, but very few will run on Linux. Consequently, it's a no brainer-- unless you're an OS geek who cares about such things, Windows gives you far more choices WRT what you can run on your computer. The choice is very easy. Even the Mac does far better than Linux in this area, many many significant applications run on either Windows or Mac platforms.

    The question you have to ask yourself is not what do end users think about Linux (they don't think about it), but what to commercial developers think about it? Why aren't they porting their apps to Linux as well as Mac and Windows? When you answer *that* question, you may have some idea as to why Linux isn't ready for end-users...
  • by burnin1965 (535071) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @11:23AM (#19237643) Homepage

    Why is it that the average computer user still chooses to spend hundreds of dollars on Windows or Mac when there are countless Linux alternatives that they could download, install and make use of completely free of charge?

    Because your average user is not capable of building their own white box PC and installing linux or Windows for that matter. If you buy a pre-manufactured PC your choices for an OS are Windows or ... Windows. Go figure.

    The PC market is extremely cut-throat. It has to be because consumers will go to great lengths to save a few bucks when buying their latest system.

    Correction, the PC HARDWARE market is extremely cut-throat. The cost of proprietary software is outrageously expensive especially when you compare the manufacturing costs of hardware versus software.

    there are plenty of users who would rather break the law and install pirated copies of Windows than go the legal route and install a Linux distro.

    One word, games. Windows is a gaming OS, the majority of the games are for Windows, I suspect a majority of the pirated Windows installs are running games.

    most people would rather spend the money on Windows (or Mac) than take the time to experiment with Linux.

    Actually the Mac is in the same boat as linux, small market share and competing with a monopolist for the desktop market. If you focus "most people" on servers you find that linux has a significant portion of the market based on IDG world wide server market reports. Why is that, because Microsoft has not been able to achieve a monopolist position in the market.

    1 - On the whole, users aren't all that dissatisfied with Windows

    Every family member with a Windows PC has called multiple times with problems related to Windows insecurity. Often times it results in breaking down and reinstalling because recovery is virtually impossible. The only calls I get from family members I've given linux to is when they can't get a Windows game to run under wine. If there is no dissatisfaction its because users have been beaten into submission and accepted their fate of using a sub par OS.

    2 - Too many distros

    Hardly, I suppose consumers are also shell shocked by the overwhelming number of hardware and software options for the Windows PC and so they end up never buying, right. When major PC distributors start selling pre installed linux desktops the choice will be made, or as is my case I help make the decision because I provide support.

    3 - People want certainty that hardware and software will work

    Absolutely, and its hit and miss with Windows versions even when the box says it works. But as with Windows you will have a great machine if you choose the right hardware and software. It is also important to keep in mind that linux is not Windows so while there are obvious software alternatives in linux like Open Office or Firefox the more obscure solutions are there but will take some research to find. The open source projects don't have the massive marketing waste that proprietary solutions have but they still have solid solutions.

    4 - As far as most people are concerned, the command line has gone the way of the dinosaur

    So don't use, but what kind of idiot would propose that the most powerful user interface be dumped in the name of making clueless mouse jockeys happy. And comparing the DOS command line to linux or any *nix shows the ignorance of the writer. I have to laugh anytime I watch the Windows IT guys doing something as simple as comparing two ini files by opening them in notepad and doing a manual line by line comparison, how lame and archaic is that.

    5 - Linux is still too geeky

    As if the average user understands the inner workings of Wi

  • me thinks... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Grinin (1050028) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @11:27AM (#19237719) Homepage
    I would say that the common Windows user does not know how to reinstall their operating system, which is basically the same principle when installing Linux on a dual boot computer. Not to mention that Windows doesn't usually play nice with other operating systems messing with its boot loader. If the common user was smart enough to reinstall their own operating system, then I think that same user could install Linux and do just fine with it.

    I think what Windows has done is made computer users less intelligent, less intuitive, and MS likes them this way. Ignorant computer users will stick to what they know, they have brand loyalty whether its a good product or not, and they have learned all sorts of little tricks and quirks along the way so that when something breaks, they might be able to fix it.

    Back in the day, you used to have to have some pretty extensive knowledge to operate a computer, and this could even be true for Windows 98, though it would boot into the GUI automatically, it was still running on top of DOS, and if something happened to your autoexec.bat file, you might have to mess around in DOS again to get it working.

    If the common user spent more time learning about all the modern advances in computing, I'm sure many of them would at the very least have a dual boot system. Its true though, Linux is not 100% capable of replacing the common users desktop for the simple fact that they wouldn't know how to install software no matter how easy you made it. Modern Linux distro's are getting there when it comes to software distribution and system upgrades, but sometimes you do have to get your hands a little dirty in the terminal... as you once did in DOS.

    I installed Ubuntu Linux 7.04 on my parents computer and turned it into a dual boot machine. I then rebooted into Ubuntu, and made sure that everything was up to date, and the applications they would need for their limited use would function. They were already familiar with the Firefox icon, so they knew they could check their email. They were also familiar with the concept of a "Desktop" so they could easily save email attachments to it, and then open them with whatever application loaded on the screen when they double clicked it. They Knew they were not in Windows while using it, but they didn't complain, and they actually said that they liked the ease of use, and the "smoothness" of whatever they were using.

    That was all the proof I needed that Linux could be quite useful for the common user... especially if you consider that the common user only really uses a computer for word processing, solitaire, web browsing, and web based email services.

    Some gamers previously posted the issues they've had while trying to use Wine to play their Windows games, which is a true downside to running Linux as your sole operating system. However, if the market share were large enough, it would be just as easy for the programmers to develop cross platform games which could then even open up the Mac world to even more video games as well.

    Which came first? The chicken or the egg? In order for Linux to stand a chance on the common users desktop, we must first have consistent and simple methods for the user to install and run programs. Not to mention that programmers need to also take an initiative, throw out those god forsaken C# and .Net books, and learn how to program for all platforms and not just 1 in particular. Also, its cheaper by nature to program in open source or in a cross platform environment, because you don't have to spend too much (if any) money on proprietary IDE's, costly books published by MS, and the proprietary operating system itself. All those costs add up, and by the time you release a product to the market, you have to sell it for over $100 in order to break even.

    Linux, like Mac OS X, will not be replacing all Windows installations... but I think more users will be willing to take the plunge and delve a bit into Linux or Mac OS X. People have been asking me what a good laptop purchas
  • by cabazorro (601004) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @01:34PM (#19240795) Homepage Journal
    I've been installing Linux since Red Hat 6.2.
    I remember the days when getting the Linux to recognize your video settings and bring X was like winning the lottery. It was that hard.
    Last week I got a brand new PC System with the Asus P5L-VM1394, Pentium D. That's it! No funky hardware.
    I loaded Fedora Core 6 thinking:
    I have a pretty good feeling the all my hardware will be loaded smoothly, I just had that experience happening 2 or 3 times with different combinations.

    NO CAN DO!

    The 2.6.18 Kernel does not carry the Attansic Gigabit net driver atl1.ko so my net chip doesn't work.
    This is a brand new spanking box! With brand new spanking hardware! The least I would expect is for the OS to cover my hardware.

    I had two choices then:
    1. Zap the drive and install Vista.
    2. Do the rounds on the net looking for those crusaders who patch drives and post them on the web for little people like me.

    The Asus board had the Linux drivers on a CD but they wouldn't build. I had some sort of error:
    Well, do you expect the average user to understand simple concepts like kernel headers and global replacements in the make file?
    Well?
    Anybody?
    After 2 hours researching on the web I found out that
    the Makefile was looking for a deprecated file named config.h (I find a kind soul posted the info on the web). I renamed autoconf.h and my atl1.ko was built. I installed and the network started running. The upgrade program, yum, asked me if I wanted to upgrade my packages, I said yes. Why not?

    I let it rip through the night and next morning all modules were updated. I rebooted and my network was gone again!
    WTF!?
    yum went ahead and upgraded my kernel from 2.6.18 to 2.6.20, thank you very much, and now the atl1.ko driver doesn't work with the new kernel. IT IS NOT SUPPORTED! Sorry buddy, better luck next time.

    I was pissed and dumbfounded.
    Some powerful chakra let my brain and my body depleted for the next two hours.
    I went to play in my mac for a while.

    Anger gone, I went ahead again and downloaded the Attansic net drivers for the 2.6.20 kernel.
    Another post said that the drivers are now part of Linux 2.6.21..whoopee.

    This time the drivers built on the first try and modprobe took care of the rest.

    I was so ready to ship the damn box back and get a DELLVISTA box. But I digress.

    But right now FC6 is humming along. The stand by or any power saving mode doesn't work. But sound and video really rock.
    Michael and Bill are not getting my money and I don't have to sign any effing EULA contract. Not today.

    My Vanilla Linux box is a keeper.

    Maybe I should have started with FC7. I don't like odd numbers in my revisions of anything.

    But one fact remains true:
    Linux Distros will never compete with the home PC commercial domain,
    until the hardware manufacturers commit to support it.

    If anybody knows how to configure the acpid for an Asus P5L-VM1394 board, I'll be in my room.

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...

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