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Hardy Heron Making Linux Ready for the Masses? 1100

Posted by Zonk
from the it-is-a-very-robust-bird dept.
desmondhaynes writes "Is Linux ready for the masses? Is Linux really being targeted towards the 'casual computer user'? Computerworld thinks we're getting there, talking of Linux 'going mainstream 'with Ubuntu. 'If there is a single complaint that is laid at the feet of Linux time and time again, it's that the operating system is too complicated and arcane for casual computer users to tolerate. You can't ask newbies to install device drivers or recompile the kernel, naysayers argue. Of course, many of those criticisms date back to the bad old days, but Ubuntu, the user-friendly distribution sponsored by Mark Shuttleworth's Canonical Ltd., has made a mission out of dispelling such complaints entirely.'"
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Hardy Heron Making Linux Ready for the Masses?

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  • Yes, and yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingSkippus (799657) * on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @05:59PM (#23096224) Homepage Journal

    Is Linux ready for the masses? Is Linux really being targeted towards the 'casual computer user'?

    That's easy, and we've known it for a long time: Yes, and yes.

    Convincing the masses to actually install it, now, that's the trick.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:00PM (#23096228) Homepage
    It's getting better all the time.

    But, unfortunately, it's far from perfect. Ubuntu is and has been good enough for my completely non-computer-literate roommate to use when the system is up and running. But there's no way he could have gotten the wireless working on his own (even in the 8.04 beta, I still had to download and install drivers, then muck around with /etc/networking/interfaces file to make it work).

    Still, the progress is outstanding.
  • by mollymoo (202721) * on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:03PM (#23096300) Journal
    Normal people don't install operating systems, they buy a machine in a box at the computer shop. While I agree that Ubuntu is the distribution that is closest to being ready for mainstream desktops, it has to get pre-installed on those machines in order to really break into the mainstream market. So far, it hasn't. Dell went with Ubuntu, but they aren't exactly pushing their Linux offerings. Asus chose Xandros for their Linux machine. HP have chosen Suse (Novell). Their machines are or will be on sale at the local computer shop. I don't think it's any coincidence that both those companies signed patent agreements with Microsoft. I imagine Microsoft's legal team can be pretty scary if 99% of your business is based on selling hardware to run their software.
  • Commercial Gaming (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:04PM (#23096310) Homepage Journal
    As much as i hate games, and hate to admit it, until you can go down the street to your local big box store, buy a game and it 'just work', its not ready for "the masses". "the masses" want to surf porn, buy stuff from ebay and play their stilly computer games.

    For actual useful work, in a company with an IT staff, Linux and BSD have been ready for a while now.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Brad_sk (919670) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:05PM (#23096330)
    >and we've known it for a long time...
    Not really. If that was the case, what was the necessity of Ubuntu? Ubuntu has definitely made Linux easier to install and use which was definitely not the case until like 2 yrs ago.

    Ubuntu (7.10) still has its own shortcomings in configuring things like Bluetooth or Wifi which I hope will not not be there in 8.04 release.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:07PM (#23096356)
    The best way to convince someone is when a non-gamer, non-technical, non-moneyed friend asks you to reinstall their Windows XP, if they don't have a valid license and don't want to spend 100 bucks on one, do NOT give them a pirated copy of XP. Tell them they can shell out 100 bucks for XP, shell out 700 bucks for a new PC with Vista, or they can get Ubuntu for free on their existing PC and they'll be able to do nearly 100% of what they could do before.
  • Really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mmcuh (1088773) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:11PM (#23096410)
    How sad is the attitude towards computing when "installing device drivers" is deemed to be an unsurmountable task for a human being of normal intelligence? Why is it that everything that has anything to do with computers is considered to be orders of magnitude harder than anything to do with, say, driving a car or cooking dinner?
  • Re:take some risks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by QMalcolm (1094433) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:13PM (#23096430)
    I agree totally. I installed Ubuntu about a year and half ago out of curiousity (first experience with linux) and was shocked when I couldn't play my mp3s. This is the kind of stuff that "just works" on WINDOWS, for chrissake.
  • by prockcore (543967) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:15PM (#23096464)
    By that token, no OS is ready for "the masses". Half the games out there won't run on my windows machine due to hardware and copyprotection issues. The ones that do run won't "just work" I have to install patches that came out before the software even hit the shelves.

    PC Gaming isn't nearly the deciding factor it once was. A big hit on the PC sells 100k copies. A big hit on the consoles is 10 times as many.
  • Just keep asking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iliketrash (624051) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:15PM (#23096480)
    "Is Linux ready for the masses?"

    I think that the fact that this question keeps coming up on /. every few months is some sort of indicator.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:16PM (#23096496)
    the terrible state of WPA in wireless support is a huge problem for Ubuntu. I've tried really hard to get WPA on USB wireless to work and it just doesn't. WEP works fine - WPA does not. This needs to be fixed for Ubuntu to able to be used in any properly secured wireless networks.

  • MP3s (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Telvin_3d (855514) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:17PM (#23096498)
    Will it play MP3s as a fresh install? Yes or no.

    If no, then it isn't ready for the masses. Period.
  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:25PM (#23096596)
    Geeks aside, why would anyone install over an MS box?

    What we do see, however, is that devices like EEE PC are making people aware that there is a choice and that Linux is real. Here in New Zealand we can buy laptops preinstalled with Ubuntu in regular retail shops http://www.dse.co.nz/cgi-bin/dse.storefront/48067b6603694d34273fc0a87f3b067e/Product/View/XC5822 [dse.co.nz]. These have been quite popular. They are still quirky: for example setting up wireless is a bit messy (not as slick as windows) and the power management sucks a bit.

    I run HH on one of these laptop that came installed with GG. For the most part, I don't think that HH vs GG is much of an issue for adoption. What is important is that distros like Ubuntu are very easy to use/update and that devices like Eee PC are exposing more people to the option. Soon people will be asking for Linux preinstalled on higher spec laptops and we'll see more choice.

  • by unapersson (38207) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:28PM (#23096638) Homepage
    "Unix for the masses is here, and it's called OS X. Hardy Heron is difficult to use, poorly documented junk."

    So did that detect your RAID array and Wireless card when you installed it on your machine?
  • Re:No, and No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheMeuge (645043) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:29PM (#23096646)

    Does it still require you to edit a configuration file in any situation? Right. It's getting better, but it's not ready.
    Umm... I was a Windows power user for awhile... and on countless times I was forced to hand-edit the registry, as well as a number of other files. Does that mean Windows (XP) isn't ready for the desktop?
  • I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by copponex (13876) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:32PM (#23096680) Homepage
    You may enjoy three hours of tedium trying to get Xorg to display properly on a new monitor, or god forbid, two monitors. Most people don't.
  • Re:No, and No (Score:2, Insightful)

    by plj (673710) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:32PM (#23096688)
    Indeed. Does Herdy already have a GUI for configuring all the buttons of a multi-button mouse? And a GUI for configuring all the features supported by Synaptic touchpad drivers (that already are in kernel)?

    If not, users still need to edit xorg.conf, and there is still work to be done.

    And does it have a GUI for configuring xrandr defaults on X startup, so that users (with compatible drivers,of course) can easily set multi-monitor setups (that have full 3D acceleration support, unlike with Xinerama)?

    If not, users still need to edit xorg.conf, and there is still work to be done.

    And there are perhaps other severe GUI shortcomings as well, but these two have made myself feel pissed enough that I always remember them.
  • by Gnodab (1072670) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:34PM (#23096724)
    I have a HP Pavilion laptop...fairly standard setup. Duo core, Geforce Go, broadcom wireless nic... On the latest version of Ubuntu, I couldn't even load into X because for whatever reason, Ubuntu didn't like my video card. I couldn't even get to the command prompt to download drivers, because whenever I would try it would freeze. I have never, not once, even with 10 hours or so of tinkering, been able to boot clean into ubuntu without video problems. The only Distro I HAVE been able to load into was OpenSuse 10.3. However, After hours with ndiswrapper, and pulling my hair out, I couldn't get the wireless drivers to work, and on top of that, I couldn't hook my laptop to an external monitor. Until Linux can run on laptops with minimal fuss, It won't catch on. There is no way.
  • by CSMatt (1175471) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:34PM (#23096728)
    1. - "Why install Ubuntu when I can just use Windows for free?"
    Note that by "free," I'm referring to the presumption that it was free with the purchase of a PC, not infringing copies.

    This is why IE won the browser wars. Before the integration of IE4, Web browsers either had to be installed manually or were provided by the OEM. The OEMs usually bundled Netscape. Microsoft integrated IE into Windows and changed the OEM licensing so that Netscape-bundling OEMs were punished. You could still download Netscape manually, but why would you want to? Most non-nerds don't care about the browser but rather whether or not it is there at all. It is nothing short of a miracle that Firefox campaigns have been succeeding in getting ordinary folk to install and use Firefox over IE, especially after IE7 came out.

    2. - "Windows is just fine. Why bother switching?"
    This one is all too familiar to Mac evangelists as well as free OS advocates. This, along with ridiculous prices, is what keeps Apple in the minority. My statement about browsers applies equally to operating systems: people just don't care. They will most likely choose whatever runs what they need at the cheapest price. Ubuntu and other distributions have gone a long way in fixing this, but in order to "convert" someone you would not only need to get them to install Ubuntu but also get them to use Firefox instead of IE, OpenOffice.org instead of Microsoft Office, GIMP instead of Photoshop, Thunderbird instead of Outlook, etc. Yes, you can run most of this stuff in WINE, but the experience is so much smoother with native apps, and users will notice this quickly. Additionally, if everything they run is just run in WINE, there isn't really much of a point, from their perspective, of running Ubuntu over Windows. Windows gives them better compatibility than WINE and is already bundled by almost all OEMs. Might as well stay with Windows.
  • by Mastadex (576985) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:39PM (#23096800)
    Now is this the fault of the developers or of the hardware manufacturers? It's the Hardware guys, IMHO, because there is a huge lack of decent drivers for the important hardware. I'm looking at you, ATI. Not to mention, all the 'no name' (or 'cheap') hardware out there (That comes bundled in low-end machines) rarely has Linux drivers. Its either the manufacture does not have enough resources to pump out a Linux driver or they see the Linux community as too small and insignificant to even bother.
  • Re:No, and No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann@slashdot.gmail@com> on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:41PM (#23096826) Homepage Journal

    Quite frankly, I don't want to use the same operating system as someone who refuses to edit any configuration file...
    Leave Linux to the power users and the server market.


    No. Leave *SOME* Linux distributions to power users and the server market. But Windows users have the right to an alternative.

    The point isn't that a user refuses to edit any configuration file. The point is that the user SHOULDN'T HAVE to edit any configuration file in the first place! Not to mention recompiling packages, building your own rpm's, solve dependency problems, have to complain about drivers not working out of the box...

    Since I moved to Linux half a year ago, I've had to do a lot of stuff that the ordinary user shouldn't have to. I would love to just click here and there, and WHILE STILL having options, not have to worry about messing around with the configuration.

    Tell me, why the heck are you afraid of ordinary users? Musicians, artists, graphic designers, hardcore gamers... they want something that just works. What do you have against that, and what are you afraid of? If you don't want dumbed-down distributions, don't use them and keep your own distro! Linux uses the GPL license for a reason.

    I don't mind using the same operating system than an elitist zealot uses - just not the same computer.
  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:43PM (#23096850) Homepage Journal
    It may seem easy to you when you've been learning about computers for years.. it's really hard to get into the mindset of someone who doesn't know ANYTHING about computers - I'd probably say impossible in my case, because there are so many things that I just take for granted as I've been learning for 2 decades since I was four. Computers are actually pretty complicated :P Actually installing drivers these days is the same as installing any other piece of software really, but it has the potential to seriously screw things up if you do it wrong (again, pretty hard to install the wrong drivers on XP because by default it only lists 'compatible' drivers).. but meh yeah the whole concept of 'drivers' just is completely alien to a normal person. I guess a decent analogy would be that a driver is like a phrasebook to communicate with someone in another language, except it's a phrasebook for the OS to use to communicate with hardware.. so maybe easy enough to explain, but there are a million little things that you just take for granted, that have to be explained to people, and it's all too much to teach to them in a short space of time..

    You do get some people who are willing to learn and pick things up pretty quickly, but you are right that you also get people who think that just because something is on a computer that it must be impossible compared to 'real life' stuff.. the type of person who always follows instructions to the letter and doesn't actually try to understand what they are doing when they are following the instructions (I hate just having a list of instructions to follow with no explanation of what is actually happening.. grrr). Okay.. rant over I guess. But even driving is a lot simpler than using a computer, despite the complexities of skill and attention necessary to drive safely
  • Re:No, and No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:45PM (#23096882) Homepage Journal
    Does Windows have a GUI for configuring all the buttons of a multi-button mouse, or a GUI for configuring touchpads? AFAIK you'd need 3rd party software to do those things.
  • by HermMunster (972336) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:51PM (#23096992)
    Been using Ubuntu for a couple years now. It is my main desktop. I have come to enjoy and rely on it for everything I do. It has proven itself capable, flexible, customizable, and more over more competent and secure than anything Windows has offered, ever.

    That aside, I have to warn against the herring. This is not a hardy product. It has lots of failures most particularly during the set up. It is a step backwards on many laptops. Functionality that once was no longer is.

    Even if Canonical mistepped they could always recover, but on many laptop models (not all, but many of the most popular of the past 2-3 years) the product has gone down hill. Laptop owners asked for wifi, for compiz, for solid sound, etc. What we got with Hardy is failed wifi, compiz that once worked but no longer does in this release, and sound that is just as messed up as it was 2 years ago. One could pass this off as a misstep and move forward looking to the time when these issues would be addressed. Unfortunately, as I said, some 2 years ago the sound issues were reported but there's been no resolution. Sound on some of these 2-3 year old laptops works inconsistently if at all. The once working compiz in 7.10 was wonderful, only today it doesn't work at all. Wifi has never worked properly and when it did it only took some random update for ubuntu to make it cease working. On top of that having some of the restricted drivers installed caused it to screw up the sound and networking (wired).

    My point here is that it is going down hill on laptops, not up hill. It isn't improving. One of the most oft requested focus items at the brainstorm.ubuntu.com is to have sound and wifi working. No luck here. The forums are replete with repetitive misinformation that leads users down the wrong street and wastes tons of their hours. When it is determined to be a Canonical screw up there's never a word from them about it.

    One example of the sound issue is this. On some of these laptops if you use the alsa driver and then you log in you may get sound (if you entered the username and password yourself). If you change the login to be auto login then you may hear the start up sound but you hear nothing else after that. If you attempt to play some sound the cpu will go into 100% utilization, even if you kill the app that was playing the sound. If you switch it back from auto login to manual log in the problem disappears, except there are still issues with alsa messing up. If you switch to OSS you have other issues. Pulse Audio is totally out of the question.

    With the share of laptops vs. desktops growing at a fast pace, how does stepping backwards on functionality for laptops make anyone happy?

    The set up essentially killed one of my installs. After doing an upgrade the sound didn't work, the mouse didn't work, compiz didn't work. Nearly nothing worked on a previously working system. I wiped and reinstalled only to find that wifi still didn't work, compiz which did work worked no longer, and sound was totally haphazard.

    These are important pieces of functionality especially when addressing the needs of the average Joe adjusting to Linux from Windows. You can't toss this back into the face of the users and tell them to fix it themselves or for them to rely on the community of people that tend to toss up FAQs instead of investigating the issue for exceptions to the FAQ that result in the same issues. I can only imagine the sheer number of frustrated people and the lost hours of people following a FAQ instead of getting real help for their issue. All of this goes into destroying the reputation of the OS and the distro implementation. People don't want to struggle/to fight with these problems. They want to use the computer for its intended purpose--the programs, their data, and their communication.

    I'm saying only that Ubuntu 8.04 is in many ways a step backwards and since it is going to be a LTS that much of this should have been addressed long before the release. We're going to have to live with every company that relies on LTS status to just live with it the way it is until the next LTS comes out.
  • by somersault (912633) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:52PM (#23097012) Homepage Journal
    lol.. haven't heard of that one. I wasn't actually trolling above, I'm looking forward to trying out the new version of Ubuntu, but the name is .. rather unfortunate? How can you expect anyone to get their friends to let them install 'hardy heron' on their machine?
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @06:56PM (#23097084) Journal
    I've had a Windows NT install destroy the MBR, so that's hardly something you can pin on Grub alone.
  • Re:Xorg (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:06PM (#23097248)
    So basically you're saying since Ubuntu added BulletProofX [ubuntu.com] in 7.10, it's ready [ubuntu.com]?
  • My God.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RobDude (1123541) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:08PM (#23097272) Homepage
    Look everyone, it is the exact same article that has come out every other month since 1997. 'Now that Linux is even better than before - is it ready for desktop masses? Yes it is!' Only, they say it is....but it never really is.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:14PM (#23097338) Journal
    Perhaps you could point to where newbies can easily find out how to fix the MBR when Windows screws it up. My point is that the minute you decide on an install/reinstall beyond the sort of recovery disk methods you get with a lot of brand name computers, there's a chance it can cause exactly what happened to you. Generally people who don't understand this probably shouldn't be doing any OS installs on their own, period. Everything installs 95%+ of the time fine, but even consumer-friendly products like Windows can get really fucked up, and it doesn't even take an install, I've seen failures because a service pack didn't install properly. There's a point at which someone who doesn't know enough should either not be doing it, or should be prepared to call for help (potentially having to pay $$$).
  • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:15PM (#23097342) Homepage

    No, no, no. Did OS X work perfectly on this random Dell that you tried to install Hardy on?

    Seriously. When you first started using OS X, you bought a new machine that was specifically built to run that OS. Comparing that experience to trying to install Ubuntu on random hardware is absurd. If you want to compare your OS X experience to anything, compare it to a Dell with Ubuntu pre-installed.

  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:21PM (#23097442) Journal
    Where's Windows NT's instructions? They amounted to "insert boot floppy in drive A and follow prompts". I don't recall any instructions on what happens if NT does boot after it's installed the base system. Could I have blamed Microsoft? Probably. But because I knew what I was doing, and had seen similar failures enough times, I knew generally what the issue was.

    Inexperienced users shouldn't install operating systems, unless (and this is the caveat) they're prepared for when things don't work. That is how we learn. So instead of railing on (and, it appears, miscategorizing what happened) chalk it up to experience. At least you haven't blown hardware, which I have done in the past. Your attitude bespeaks somebody who simply didn't have the basic knowledge sufficient to install any operating system.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mweather (1089505) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:22PM (#23097446)
    On Microsoft's Knowledge Base.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:22PM (#23097448)

    Try plugging a random monitor into a Mac laptop. I'll bet 9 out of 10 of them show similar symptoms to your Ubuntu experience, just because 9 out of 10 monitors aren't made by Apple.
    Utter bullshit. I've been plugging random monitors into my Mac laptops for four years, and I've never (yes, never) had a single problem with any of them.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:25PM (#23097500) Homepage

    If you've bought laptops that many times and tried Linux on all of them, then why haven't you just picked a laptop with supported wireless hardware at some point? I mean - Intel brand wireless that *works perfectly* is a required part of the Intel Centrino(tm) platform - it's not like it's rare or anything.

    Seriously, it's like you're punching yourself in the face and complaining that it hurts. I'm not feeling much sympathy here.

  • Re:Xorg (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:30PM (#23097566) Homepage

    Hardy recovers in graphical "safe mode" with the graphical config editor up if X ever breaks. Xorg.conf actually isn't even required more, you can even just delete the file and Hardy will work perfectly by regenerating a default config file automatically. This was actually true in Gutsy too.

    Now... X doesn't generally fail like that - Ubuntu worked fine for non-technical users for years without this feature - but now your complaint isn't even a little bit valid anymore.

  • Re:MP3s (Score:3, Insightful)

    by martinw89 (1229324) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:34PM (#23097626)

    $ sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras You're telling me that's complicated, beyond the pale of what average users are capable of?

    YES!!! Hypothetical: you're new to Linux. Someone tells you to open up a "terminal". OK.... You don't know what a terminal is but it resembles that command line thingy you've seen once or twice (and reminds you of the hackers at the movies). Now you see "sudo". wtf?? apt-get... wtf again. This kind of banter of "just type in garbel garbel garbel" just helps keep our operating system exclusive to us. While I don't think this year is "the year" (has it ever been?), Ubuntu has definitely made things way easier.

    So, going back to your question. The average user is not going to understand that sudo mean "execute a command as another user", in this case the super user. Hell, they probably don't even understand what the root user is. They aren't going to understand that "apt-get install" will install packages for them. They also aren't going to understand what the ubuntu-restricted-extras package is. We can tell them to copy and paste this, but this reminds me of the "if you give a man a fish" cliche.

    So what can they do instead? Well, this is where good package management software starts to show where linux has been advancing in the "average user" realm. I'm on a Gutsy laptop right now typing this. In hopes of not disproving my point, I opened add/remove. I typed in "mp3" in the search box. The first result was the restricted-extras package, which according to it's subtitle is "codecs to play mp3, sid, mpeg1..." :) However, I think this wouldn't have shown up with the default repositories enabled. But, according to Ubuntu Brainstorm the needed repositories will be enabled by default in Hardy [ubuntu.com]. The terminal is a powerful and efficient tool. Yes, if I know the name of the package I want I use apt-get. But I do this because at this point I know what "sudo" and "apt-get" means. Telling new users to do it this way takes them out of their comfort zone. It's not necessary and doesn't teach them anything. For more anger about resorting to the terminal, I refer you to an excellent (NSFW) Mark Pilgrim rant [diveintomark.org].

  • the eeePC is (Score:5, Insightful)

    by trawg (308495) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:38PM (#23097668) Homepage
    In no way do I want to disparage the efforts of all people working on various Linux distributions - especially not Ubuntu, who have probably put in more than anyone in recent times - but it seems to me that the mob that has done the most to bring Linux to the masses is Asus with their eeePC laptop.

    1) They've put it on a desirable, useful, practical, cheap ultra-portable laptop that people want for its size and neat-ness (and low cost)

    2) They've made it simple to use and focused on the core applications and best parts of Linux

    3) They've made it open source (well, maybe not by choice) and accessible for developers

    4) They've solid millions of them, in a single stroke bringing Linux-to-the-desktop to more users than (I would guess?) ever before.

    5) Probably most importantly, they've scared the living SHIT out of Microsoft who are now scurrying around trying to get a lightweight version of XP together to match it, which is almost 100% the opposite of what they're trying to do everywhere else (ie, make people buy Vista).
  • by swordgeek (112599) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:53PM (#23097872) Journal
    "Of course, many of those criticisms date back to the bad old days"

    This is a very telling remark, mostly because it's been around for a decade.

    When Linux kernel 2.0 came out, it was "ready for primetime," and the only people who said otherwise were trotting out complaints that were fixed in the bad old days.
    2.2 kernel, same thing. 2.4, again. People who might be half-interested in trying Linux are more than a little leery partly because the community has been saying "it's finally ready for you now--we've fixed all of those bad things you've heard" for half a generation!

    Is Ubuntu ready for the consumer? Yep, I'd say so--I installed it for a friend, and he loves it. That doesn't change the fact that people are suspicious of apologies about "previous" problems.
  • Re:No, and No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mweather (1089505) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @07:56PM (#23097904)
    Then install it on Ubuntu. If it won't run, complain to the vendor.
  • Re:No, and No (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tikkun (992269) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @08:20PM (#23098104) Homepage
    Things don't just magically work; You have to test hardware and software configurations and make sure the software works correctly. When it doesn't work you need to have programmers fix the bugs that will happen. In the meantime you pay systems administrators to work around the problems.

    Software typically works very well on the computer of the programmer that made an application (or OS, or hardware driver, etc.). The trick to making things "just work" is to either convince everyone in the world to use one hardware and software platform, or to bundle preconfigured software with tested hardware.

    If you want the latter, get a Mac (or get a company to sell you a Linux box and all the hardware you'll use it with, with an HP printer/scanner in the mix). If you want the flexibility of using whatever software and hardware you want and the ability to change whatever code as you see fit (or pay a programmer to do so for you) use Linux.
  • by Qzukk (229616) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @08:23PM (#23098132) Journal
    Why would I spend hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring people and setting up the facilities to create a product that is probably not going to make me enough money to cover said expenses?

    What the hell does that have to do with whether you have open source drivers or not?
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xenocide2 (231786) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @08:30PM (#23098192) Homepage
    UUIDs were supposed to fix this. Is this a different problem? Is there a bug report where I can read more about this?
  • Too complicated? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bogtha (906264) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @08:59PM (#23098532)

    You can't ask newbies to install device drivers or recompile the kernel

    You know, I remember a time when casual computer users used to make special boot floppies with special memory configurations just to play games. End-users can cope just fine with complexity. Linux hasn't been too complicated for at least a decade.

    Now you can argue that Linux is more complicated than the competition, and that users prefer the least complicated options, but that's not the same thing as saying that Linux is too complicated. "Too complicated" means that end-users would be unable to use Linux even if it were the only option. That hasn't been true for a very long time.

    And come on, average end-users don't have to recompile the kernel anyway. That's a stupid stereotype that brainless pundits say reflexively. Installing device drivers? Last time I checked, other systems need users to install drivers too.

  • Re:Xorg (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @09:21PM (#23098736)
    So when you tried to install a beta of Microsoft Windows Vista with an old PCI graphics card on an "unusual" 64-bit RAID-1 system from a thumb drive, it worked perfectly?

    I'm not saying Ubuntu shouldn't have worked in your case, but there's a difference between "Linux is not going to take off until it's easier than Windows" and "I tried something that wouldn't even be possible with Windows or Mac OS and had to struggle some to make it work".

    I think the important story is the one that's now absent. We used to say Linux wasn't going to take off as long as "partitioning is hard" or "installing packages is hard" or "compiling a kernel is hard". Now we almost have to try to come up with crazy ways to make Linux fail.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by evanbd (210358) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @09:24PM (#23098772)

    Then.. Umm... It wasn't bricked. If you can fix it from software, aka without having to pull the bios chip off the motherboard, it's not bricked.

    Broken, sure. But we have a term for that, and it's not "bricked." It's "broken."

  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by davolfman (1245316) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @10:04PM (#23099106)
    A good repository system is almost as shiny as you can get.
  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @10:07PM (#23099132) Journal

    Leave Linux to the power users and the server market.

    As a power user, I would love for Linux to be mainstream. The more mainstream it gets, the more likely my video drivers are to work, and the more likely I am to have some decent games to play.

    As a server administrator, I would love it if all of our developers ran Linux on their desktops. It's still possible to run into surprises deploying from Windows on their workstations (read: laptops) to Linux on the server.

    Quite frankly, I don't want to use the same operating system as someone who refuses to edit any configuration file.

    Here's the cool part: It's not up to you.

    The thing is, Linux -- or, more generally, all open source software -- is for everything and everyone. If there's anyone who can't use it, or anything it can't yet do, that's just another problem to be fixed by anyone who has the time.

    And no one can stop it. You can't make it into your 31337 high-school h4x0r club anymore. It's much bigger than that, now.

  • Re:Not ready (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AusIV (950840) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @10:19PM (#23099210)
    I run one monitor at 1280x800, the other at 1280x1024. Admittedly it took some minor edits to xorg.conf, and a five line script to switch between single screen and dual screen, but it's certainly possible. Here [blogspot.com] is a brief tutorial.

    This is one of the areas that Ubuntu has the most room for improvement. I'm hoping that Hardy will resolve some of the problems.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chineseyes (691744) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @10:20PM (#23099220)
    I used to use linux as my primary desktop but next time you think linux is ready for the masses I want you to go to a slightly above average windows user and.....

    1.) Explain why their pda will no longer sync with their calendar, mail client, or transfer files
    2.) Explain why they can't just plugin more than two monitors and just get it to display without editing config files
    3.) Explain why they can't use that one application they NEED for work that only runs on windows.
    4.) Explain why they can't play [latest high end game]
    5.) Explain why [latest high end hardware] doesn't work in linux at all.
    6.) Explain why their cheap no name printer doesn't work with linux out of the box.
    7.) Explain why the pptp linux client is such a pain in the ass to use.


    Before you go into some detailed explanation about how the evil M$ empire is preventing interoperability or how linux is so much more secure and stable remember your average user doesn't give a damn. They want to work/play and they can either do it right away or they can't, excuses and explanations don't matter.
  • my suggestion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by British (51765) <british1500@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @10:45PM (#23099426) Homepage Journal
    I'm typing this on an ASUS EEE PC and loving it. All my linux-centric frustrations seems to be unable to happen on this tiny machine. Guess it doesn't support it. :)

    Want my suggestion? Go for more generic names in the apps. In Windows, it's "add/remove programs". In Linux, the closest thing I can think of is the oddly-named "synaptic". If you tell grandma to run "synaptic" to install something, it just creates more confusion.

    Stop prefixing things with "K" just because it's for KDE or whatever. Stop with the ultra-shortened names for full-blown applications, with 3-4 decimal points for versions.

    Don't tread into copyright infringement with exact names for things, but moreso something a bit more streamlined. "GIMP" is guilty of over-acronymizing(with a recursive acronym in the acronym), and just sounds goofy. Perhaps a tiny bit of marketing at least on the app names will help things a bit.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @11:07PM (#23099624) Homepage

    Why bother when Windows works just fine with ANY wireless interface.

    Why bother with Windows when NetBSD supports any 32-bit microprocessor?

    Finding wireless cards that work great under Ubuntu (or processors that work great under Windows) isn't hard. It makes a lot of sense to select the hardware that you need to run the software that you want to use.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @11:20PM (#23099698)
    Actually, it's the other way around: if Linux wants to be a desktop-ready OS, it has to abandon its open-source-only approach. Nvidia didn't invent the binary-only driver, and won't be the last company to use it to, among other things, protect their intellectual property (and if linux doesn't understand why this is important, well, that's yet another hurdle to becoming a desktop-ready OS). Deal with it or make room for a binary-only-friendly, best-tool-for-the-job ready OS.
  • Re:I agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GaryPatterson (852699) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @11:38PM (#23099824)
    I use a Mac.

    I plug in a monitor and it just works. It's always been like that, because Apple actually did a lot of work to make it that simple. It's hard for Apple, but simple for users.

    A Mac newbie can do it. Anyone can do it.

    If you want to change resolutions or toggle mirroring, you just go to your control panel. Same as always, and exactly where you would expect. Easy as anything.

    When you talk about fifteen minute processes, you're not talking about simple.

    I have no idea why my previous comment was modded flamebait. I guess some mods here disagree that having to research the steps required for *plugging* *in* *a* *monitor* is ridiculous.
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @11:53PM (#23099932) Homepage
    How does that lame apology mean anything? You're screaming about how you said sorry, but at the same time you're acting in the same "I'm terribly hurt, I need restitution" asshole manner that you did originally. Like a bug from 2006 is something for which an accounting must be made. You still act like you were fucking lied to because it turned out Ubuntu wasn't perfect and bug free, and that the community wasn't willing to bust their ass to help you when you were treating them like that. If you haven't so much as changed your tone when describing the problem, how could that apology possibly be sincere?

    You hold onto this for years. YEARS. What happened that was so bad? Is this an ongoing problem for you? I take it you aren't using Ubuntu any more, and regardless the bug has been fixed. So what's worth holding onto? Do you remember the jerk who cut you off five years back? Still waiting for your apology? Do you keep a list? Or do you just register a forum account for each wrong done against you?

    Is there a GeicoDidntSaveMeMoney forum troll out there? Does he still actively post about his problems with the company from 2003? Does he have have a journal where he apologizes for specific phrases he used, but not actually the sentiment behind them?

    Let. It. Go.

    Your handle itself is a pathetic whine that you were "duped" by the community.

    You want to save your precious karma? Try shutting the fuck up about it, like you actually get it. There's nothing useful you have to contribute, the bug was fixed, and no the volunteer community is never going to treat pricks like you with exceptional amounts of accommodation. It was years ago, it's over. Deal with it. And please, for the love of all that is holy, shut the fuck up.
  • by phorm (591458) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @12:33AM (#23100246) Journal
    One of the things that somewhat ticks me off is that when a possible deficiency of desktop linux comes up, the whole rant of "can windows do that" pops up.

    Is the only goal of desktop linux to be as good as windows (in various arenas), or to replace windows? Why can't it just improve upon itself because, well, there are things that can be improved.

    Yes, there are a lot of things a fresh windows install can't do. These days you are still more likely to get a machine having a preconfigured windows install than a linux one. Therefore, linux must have a certain ease-of-use level for those that want to try it out on a pre-existing machine, without needing to hire a local 'nix expert.

    Windows is a good point of competition for linux, creating usability benchmarks and goals, but there is no reason for us to stop short once we reach them, because the end goals should be to keep improving wherever possible.

    My grandparents use linux (because I set them up with that). Before that it was win2k. They're not power users, and had usability issues on both. Anything that can be done to reduce/eliminate these issues is a good thing, even if we're already at par with windows on that particular aspect.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17, 2008 @12:49AM (#23100354)
    Sorry to break into your regularly scheduled adverstisement but...

    And the best part about Ubuntu is the LoCo teams (that stands for Local Community) will do exactly what you're selling...
    for free!
    Find your Ubuntu Loco Team here:
    https://wiki.ubuntu.com/LoCoTeamList [ubuntu.com]

  • masses (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17, 2008 @01:29AM (#23100600)
    You'll know when it's ready for the masses...posts like this won't exist.
  • by Eil (82413) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @01:59AM (#23100768) Homepage Journal
    Oh man, not these tired old arguments again. I have mod points and I was going mod this down, but I'm in a charitable mood and feel like feeding some trolls today.

    Want to use your favourite software (photoshop, dreamweaver, GTA 4 etc: nope, that's for windows and/or mac only.

    The Linux software ecosystem is rife with applications that perform the same task as their popular proprietary counterparts. Some of them aren't quite up to par (Gimp), some are roughly equivalent (OpenOffice), and some are leagues better (Firefox). There are more and more proprietary applications being ported to Linux all the time.

    If your argument is that there are specific software packages that can't run on Linux, well, the same is true for both Windows and Mac. There are many Mac applications that you simply can't buy for Windows and we all well know that the reverse is true.

    Neither Mac or Windows come with a system where you can browse from a catalog of over 10,000 applications and install any one of them instantly, for free, with the click of a mouse button.

    Want to buy new hardware... well you can if you scour the internet for days finding out if it's compatible; you can't just pop down pcworld one saturday afternoon and pick something up and know it'll work.

    This hardware myth really needs to be put to rest. Linux supports a wider variety of hardware [lwn.net] than any other operating system on the planet. True, there can be a delay between the time that a new device is released and the time that a common Linux distribution supports it. It's also true that some hardware vendors refuse to release their hardware specifications or even cooperate in any way with open source developers but these are very much the exception these days rather than the rule. If you think Windows supports hardware any better than Linux then you have either not used Vista yet or have somehow managed to be the only person on the planet who has never fought with Windows over printer, video, or wifi driver issues at some point.

    Want to install some software... sure... if you broadband no problem...

    Ubuntu and many of its derivatives will ship you a copy of their OS on CD at no charge. No media fees, no shipping and handling. Free. Most of the software that you can install afterward is not at all too large to pull down via a dialup modem. Windows and OS X cost hundreds of dollars each. I would say that I put my money where my mouth is, except that I don't have to spend any of it on Linux at all.

    oh, but it might install the software anywhere on your system... good luck learning to grep it.

    Not sure what you mean here. On KDE- and GNOME-based distributions, a shortcut to every installed application gets put into the applications menu. Which, by the way, is sorted by the software's function so everything is easy to find. Contrast with Windows where each application goes into its own folder or a folder named after the company that distributed it. Install enough applications and the Start menu becomes large and unusable. Contrast also with Mac, where you have to dig down into a special (and also unsorted) Applications folder to find newly-installed apps.

    Fat chance if your friend has just given you a cdrom with software on it!

    Why, you don't have any friends?

    Okay, unprofessional personal attack aside, Linux-using friends are more likely to give you a URL than a CD-ROM. If someone's giving you a CD-ROM with Windows or Mac software on it, there's a good chance it's warez anyway unless they're in the habit of giving away their legitimate software.

    want to play games.... err... well... no.. not really, but hey we've got solitaire!!!

    There is, admittedly, a noted lack of high-profile games natively available for Linux. However, there are some good ones [linuxgames.com] available. Recent versions of Quake and Unreal Tournament run fine natively.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Khaed (544779) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @03:10AM (#23101112)
    January 06. Dude, there have been four major releases since then and a fifth is on the way. I didn't use Ubuntu until August 06, so I caught the one next up from you. The difference between that and what I have now? Pretty much astounding. I can't imagine how crappy the version out in January of 06 must have been.

    Also, just so you know, if you don't have a floppy drive, you should have a bootable CD-ROM. Otherwise you're just asking for trouble. And it used to be standard operating procedure to have a boot disk of some sort. Windows CDs are bootable.
  • Re:Yes, and yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kokuyo (549451) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @03:39AM (#23101258) Journal
    Excuse me? Ready for the masses? Where? I've been working in IT for years and tinkering with computers for about 15 years now so I'd say I've come across my share of problems and I've mostly been able to solve them myself or with the aid of, then, AltaVista and google.

    That being said, I tried to install Ubuntu a month or two ago. Well, it appears that the graphical installation is shot. Whatever I did, it wouldn't run on my now at least one year old machine. So I had to download the text install version.

    I have two SATA Harddrives in there. One houses XP which I won't get rid of until Cedega actually manages to run ALL my effing games without 'minor problems'. Did you know that I've been partitioning with the likes of fdisk and cfdisk back in those days? Did you know I've been able to do a dual boot as a sixteen year old kid back in those days with an ancient version of SuSE?

    Well, don't go believing I was able to partition the disks the way I wanted with Ubuntu because Ubuntu is made for the masses and the masses obviously don't have a need for partitioning more than one drive because the drive I wanted to partition just didn't show up.

    What did install eventually was Mandriva. And it worked... mostly. Except I have two monitors with different resolutions... Man, THAT was unpleasant but after days of scouring message boards and trying to get familiar with xorg.conf I managed even that. My scanner isn't supported in linux it seems, so there goes that idea.

    Frankly, perhaps it's just me but on every damn try I run into stupid little problems which take me hours or even days to solve. As long as that remains the case, Linux for the masses remains a myth. As long as we don't have doubleclickable install files that guide us through software installation, as long as we have to set up repositories and work with dependancies that go beyond "you need Java!" Linux is definitely NOT ready for average desktop users.

    And to those who'd like to mod me a troll, I'm the first person throwing a party the day I can just replace windows with linux. But at the moment I don't have the time to spend hours tinkering with my box. I need that damn piece of equipment to just work.
  • by jopet (538074) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @05:58AM (#23101814) Journal
    but I can tell you: kids will laugh at you when you come with this list. Kids want to play the games all other kids play. Kids want to use the software and features all others use. If that software isn't available for Linux, Windows is the choice.
    And once you got raised with Windows, why ever make the switch to Linux?

    My credo is: as soon as software for young people will be available for Linux, *then* it will be a real alternative and it *will* become ready for the masses. (and then hardware vendors will probably finally provide Linux drivers for their stuff).
  • by bentob0x (999087) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @06:00AM (#23101820)
    The real question is: Are people ready to migrate to Linux?

    I'm using Kubuntu for more than a year now. I'm a web developer (PHP/MySQL) and Linux makes me feel at home. But certainly not since day one.

    It took me ages to get my head around the overall different ways of managing files, drivers, devices and the OS (and I'm still learning). But this was hard for me because I'm behind a Windows machine since 1995, which is 13 years of Windows experience and habits.

    The vast majority of regular Windows users tend to forget that they have very often spent hours trying to install a new PCI/ISA/Device/Software on their Windows machine and had to learn everything from scratch on Windows (drivers, software settings, registry, install location, reboot, test again, etc). Those same people now say that 'Windows is easier to use than Linux' simply because they have a better experience with it and know how to do stuff and they tend to forget that, they just feel 'comfortable' using Windows and now that they have reached that point, all the hassle and frustration they've been through is only a bad memory that is fainting rapidly.

    When you migrate to another OS, you're lost. For ages, I was looking for something similar than the Windows Explorer on KDE. I was using Konqueror --profile filemanagement for that and I thought at the start that the Windows Explorer was better (because I was used to the view, the shortcuts, the overall usage of Windows Explorer). It's only after using Konqueror on an everyday basis and spending a bit of time to discover Konqueror's features that I realised that Konqueror is miles ahead of Windows Explorer on any front. Me having difficulties to use something else than Windows Explorer has to do with my previous habit, not with Linux (or KDE).

    Habits are hard to break, it is a big part of our Human nature.

    A friend of mine puts computer together (old and new) and sells them to his clients with Windows XP on it. 90% of those clients aren't computer litterate and they come back to him for:
    • - Defragmenting the system
    • - Fixing Spywares/Viruses
    • - Installing a new device (or new drivers for an existing device)
    • - Backup and reinstall (generally when defrag/antivirus/antispywares won't do anything to make the machine more responsive)
    • - Installing a software they bought at the local store

    This is, to me, ridiculously simple to do on a Windows machine, but it's not the case for 90% of the population. For a total newcomer who isn't computer-litterate at all, learning Linux from scratch and learning Windows from scratch represents the same challenge. It is completely different for people who have already aquired knowledge of a given system.

    Here are the three major problems with migrating to Linux:

    • - Device drivers compatibility (has nothing to do with Linux or any distribution)
    • - Computer games compatibility (has nothing to do with Linux or any distribution)
    • - Computer software compatibility (has nothing to do with Linux or any distribution)

    None of them has anything to do with Linux or any distribution what so ever. Those issues are related to hardware developers, game developers and software developers (or to a certain extend, schools and colleges as they seem to be more encline to teach the Microsoft way of using a computer than the Open Source way, although this is starting to change).

    • - If your device driver doesn't work, it's not because of Linux but because of the device's manufacturer that decides not to supply Linux drivers
    • - If your favorite game doesn't run on Linux, it's because the game makers didn't bother making the game using open-source technologies (*)
    • - If your favorite software doesn't run on Linux, it's here again because the software maker doesn't have a clue on how to write a software that would run on any platform, not because of
  • Re:No, and No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mattsson (105422) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @06:50AM (#23101996) Homepage Journal
    I'd say that distributions like Ubuntu is exactly as user-friendly as OS X.
    If you use supported hardware and don't want to customize the OS in non-supported ways, everything just works.

    Trying to use OS X on badly supported hardware? Needs system-file tinkering and thorough knowledge of how the system works.
    Trying to use Ubuntu on badly supported hardware? Needs system-file tinkering and thorough knowledge of how the system works.

    The biggest difference is that Ubuntu usually isn't bundled together with 100% compatible hardware like OS X and, most of the time, Windows are.

    To get a "apple to apple" comparison between operating systems you'd have to compare how easy they are to install and run on hardware that is 100% supported by the OS out of the box.
    Or the other way around, compare them on hardware that isn't supported out of the box. =)

  • Re:No, and No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @11:08AM (#23105066)

    I'd say that distributions like Ubuntu is exactly as user-friendly as OS X. If you use supported hardware and don't want to customize the OS in non-supported ways, everything just works.

    I disagree. First let me say, I use both systems on the desktop daily (and have both in front of me right now). I also have formal education in and have worked in the field of user interface design and usability testing for disparate systems over several years.

    I agree that not having the hardware vendor polish an install for their system is a huge source of usability issues. Most users never install an OS, and if you give someone a pre-configured system with OS X or Linux, you've solved a lot of their problems already.

    That being the case, however, Linux still has some significant usability issues for many many, workflows and tasks. Linux is outstandingly usable for super-power users who need/want to create highly customized and specialized workflows and are not afraid of learning new interfaces. Linux is fairly usable for a very novice user who has a very limited number of tasks and workflows (Web, e-mail, word processing, playing CDs). It still has some interface issues, but it also has a few usability wins in this regard (such as at the task of keeping this core software up to date). They obviously have not, however, done the extensive usability testing Apple does, but they've hit most of the low hanging fruit for very novice users.

    Linux has a lot of usability and interface issues when it comes to in between users. People who want to add new hardware (webcam, fancy trackball, stylus, braille board, or whatever) are more likely to have usability problems and not just because of lack of drivers. People who want to install and run software for specific more advanced uses such as: video editing, audio recording/mixing, 3D and vector graphics, publishing, or most commercial software like big games and other payware, still have significant usability problems. People still have significant problems trying to perform some common, but advanced tasks: creating a restricted user account for guests, migrating an installed system to new hardware, or sending a friend some software you have installed (but which is not in the repository), or enabling more advanced user interface features.

    In short I understand and agree with your point about hardware, but I disagree in general about Linux being as usable as OS X for the gamut of end user tasks. I don't think any Linux on the desktop developer invests significantly in usability testing (based upon their resulting products) and I don't think they will catch the last 20% or so of problems until they do. I don't think they've even done enough work to address some of the fairly obvious problems that you can find and correct without such testing.

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