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Why Linux Is Not Yet Ready For the Desktop 1365

Posted by timothy
from the choose-your-own-misadventure dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Every now and then a new- or old-media journalist tries to explain to everyone why Linux is not yet ready for the desktop. However all those men who graduated from their engineering universities years ago have only superficial knowledge about operating systems and their inner works. An unknown author from Russia has decided to draw up a list of technical reasons and limitations hampering Linux domination on the desktop." Some of the gripes listed here really resonate with me, having just moved to an early version of Ubuntu 9.10 on my main testing-stuff laptop; it's frustrating especially that while many seemingly more esoteric things work perfectly, sound now works only in part, and even that partial success took some fiddling.
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Why Linux Is Not Yet Ready For the Desktop

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  • Games (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) * on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:00AM (#27993711)

    Without the big labels like Valve developing their titles on Linux, you aren't going to see Linux widely used in desktop soon.

    • Re:Games (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Remloc (1165839) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:08AM (#27993763)
      That and "niche" applications.
      The only reason there is a Windoze box in my house is that my wife is a quilter. The current version of Electric Quilt (AFAICT) will not run acceptably under WINE. There is no reasonable FOSS equivalent.
      • Re:Games (Score:4, Interesting)

        by porl (932021) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:20AM (#27993873)

        you tried running it in virtualbox? it may still be technically running in windows, but at least you are limiting the 'damage'. if you don't give it network access you can do without antivirus stuff and probably make it run and 'boot' quicker than the real thing :)

        also virtualbox' seamless mode will make it virtually... well.. seamless.. :D

        • Re:Games (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Sun.Jedi (1280674) on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:19AM (#27994735) Journal

          VMs on the desktop are a hack to make up for the shortcomings of Linux, not a solution.

          It's extremely silly to even think that VMs are a viable long term solution, not just because the the topic is "Linux is not ready for the Desktop", but probably more because Mom and Pop will not install and configure a VM when Windows 'just works'.

        • Re:Games (Score:4, Insightful)

          by blackholepcs (773728) on Monday May 18, 2009 @10:46AM (#27996543) Journal
          First let me say the I'm not anti-Linux. Any competition to MS is good, as it (you'd think) makes them strive to make better software with better features and reliability. And I have no animosity towards Linux supporters/users.

          However, I do have a hard time understanding why many Linux Lovers have such a hatred of Windows, and why they continually claim that Linux is better and can do EVERYTHING that Windows can do and more.

          I'm sorry to say this, and I'm really not trying to be a troll (even though I'll most likely be modded as such), but Linux is worthless to a LARGE amount of end users for simple reasons (whether or not the end user is simple themselves doesn't really matter) :

          A) Installation IS a pain in the ass for anyone who isn't a geek with a decent amount of experience. Hell its a pain in the ass for those who DO have a decent amount of experience, especially when trying a new distro for the first time that has a wholly different install experience.

          B) Driver support sucks. Oh, sure, a lot of the big hw companies have usable drivers for Linux. But does that driver work well with your distro? Do all the features work with your distro? And what about the non-juggernaut hw companies. A vast majority of them don't have native Linux drivers, making it a super-headache to get the item to work in Linux.

          C) Software selection leaves a lot to be desired. As pointed out in TFA, Open Office vs MS Office is just one of many instances where FOSS really takes a back seat. And most of the industry-standard software either doesn't run on Linux at all or works partially and only in a VM (which kind of defeats the purpose of using Linux).

          D) Games. I don't think I really need to expound upon this one. We all know (even if some of you can't seem to admit it) that gaming on Linux SUCKS ASS because most games don't work on Linux.

          Ok. Now I know that some of what I touched upon can be band-aided by using Wine and such, but come on. That's cheating. If the OS can't natively run the software, and has to do so in a virtual-Windows environment, why not just use Windows?

          Oh, I already know what a lot of the answers to that question will be. "Windows has viruses and isn't secure!" or "Windows doesn't have good driver support either!" or even "Because MS is EEEEVVIILLLLLLLLL!!!!" Well, guess what. Windows SHIPS insecure, but once installed by any competent person who knows how to tweak the system, Windows can be as secure as any other OS out there. I've used almost every iteration of Windows, and starting with XP have never had a virus infection or security breach (and I download a LOT of crap from unreliable sources). That's not to say that a virus has never actually physically been on my system. Just that I've never had to format, reinstall, repair, or anything. Just delete the offending file, and maybe a registry entry or two. And I've had some virii show up that could have screwed me over royally. But because I tune my system the way I do, not much damage can be done, even if I intentionally download a virus (which I have tested several times). Now, I'm not saying I'm invulnerable. I know my system can get FUBAR'd by this or that virus or breach. But it's a safe bet that I'm more secure than any Linux distro out there (which I've proven via a friend who runs Debian, by betting his system would get FUBAR'd before mine after 3 consecutive days of surfing and downloading from some very disreputable sites. His system was tanked in two days, mine never got touched.)

          Now, that whole paragraph above leads to the main point I'm trying to make. An average end user will not understand/like/want to go through the massive learning curve of Linux. Nor will they be happy with the horrible compatability. At the same time, they will not be happy with the virus-fest and crash-athon of Windows. But they will put up with Windows because 95% (I'm guessing) of software works with Windows, as well as 99.99% of games (not taking into consideration that many games don't work when shipped due

  • by Hoover,L Ron (610796) * on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:02AM (#27993723)
    I always enjoy these /. stories about Linux acceptance. We are guarenteed a full vetting of why this article is wrong by the Linux-heads and why it is so right by the M$-heads. It's even numbered for easy reference to the sprcific points
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:24AM (#27993905)

      Notice the ".ru" at the end of the domain of the "article". Russia, eh?

      I'll tell you what's going on:

      The Slashdot gang, desperate for traffic and the subsequent advertising revenue from said traffic, teamed up with the Russian mafia and they're writing these Troll articles. Now, nothing increases viewership like controversy and the biggest controversy among computers nerds is Linux vs. Microsoft and how Linux isn't ready for the desktop.

      There you go.

      • by wisty (1335733) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:37AM (#27994079)

        Interestingly, the article mostly works if you replace the word "Linux" with "Vista".

        • Wow.... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by p.rican (643452)
          I've never seen a bigger piece of flamebait than this article. Stopped reading it half-way through cuz it's just LOADED with misinformation.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by lazybeam (162300)

        I'm surprised it's not slashdotted!

        Server: ZX_Spectrum/1997 (Sinclair_BASIC)

        As to the article, I thought almost all of the points are "being resolved" but understand some of them actually require people to agree on things, which does seem to go against the freedoms of the people who don't!

    • by b4upoo (166390) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:56AM (#27994359)

      Gee Whiz! I didn't realize my desktop isn't working. Month after month and year after year it felt like it worked just fine.

  • The desktop is dead (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ickleberry (864871) <web@pineapple.vg> on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:04AM (#27993747) Homepage
    The future is web based. Endless bloat, inefficient javascript and the latency of accessing remote systems. Why will people accept such a system? because a lot of people never learned to use a desktop, they learned how to use a web browser. Anything outside the web browser looks complicated to them.

    There is also the fact that web-based is the new way of making money from software. No piracy since its mostly server-side, lace it with ads and nobody complains about adware. Give it a few years and ads will no longer be served up by dedicated domains you can easily block.

    If client side desktop computing is to survive the interface has to become more iPhony. Ordinary folk love the touchy feeley colourful, childish looking animated interface of the iPhone so the future is in projects like Hildon. I personally hate the iPhone's interface but thats alright, if its Linux or BSD I'll just install a minimalist window manager which there should always be plenty of.
    • by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:09AM (#27993771) Homepage Journal

      There is also the fact that web-based is the new way of making money from software. No piracy since its mostly server-side, lace it with ads and nobody complains about adware.

      But people do complain about not being able to access web applications from notebook computers while away from Internet access, such as on the road or in a restaurant that does not offer free Wi-Fi.

    • by Corson (746347) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:09AM (#27993773)
      I've heard and read that mantra ten years ago. The future is not web-based because no large corporation will put/send/store their sensitive stuff (as in trade secrets) on any other corporation's web servers. Not even email. Ever.
    • by digitallystoned (770225) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:21AM (#27993881) Homepage
      The future is web based. Endless bloat, inefficient javascript and the latency of accessing remote systems. Why will people accept such a system? because a lot of people never learned to use a desktop, they learned how to use a web browser. Anything outside the web browser looks complicated to them.


      I'll agree to an extent that Linux isnt a good desktop OS for people who are Windows nuts. I have used Linux for the past 4 years on a regular basis and there is a huge learning curve. Linux is great for the server environment and it blows Windows Server out of the water when it comes to ease of use and setup. As far as web browsers, theres a lot of kiosk companies that are running Linux with Windows as the guest os on their machines and taking care of a lot of issues that used to plague remote admin work for distributed computing platforms. Anything you can do in Linux can be done in Windows. Windows also has about 30 years of end-user time on Linux. I know it wasn't really adopted by a lot of my customers as a viable server until 2001-2002 time frame.


      There is also the fact that web-based is the new way of making money from software. No piracy since its mostly server-side, lace it with ads and nobody complains about adware. Give it a few years and ads will no longer be served up by dedicated domains you can easily block.


      I agree completely. Linux will always be there for the server backend platforms. Linux is great for serving the content. Look at its use in routers and embedded solutions. You couldn't get Windows bloatware to run nearly as effective as Linux does in small environments. I think Linux will overall end up winning in the server platforms in the long run. I'd take a linux server over a windows box anyday of the week just because of reliability. If you have the slightest clue how to setup a basic LAMP then Linux is the way to go. I don't think we need to push Linux to the desktop because people just expect it to work. I spend a lot of time in linux IRC rooms and i see a lot of newbs come in with basic questions that you could get by reading a howto. MS has made Windows so simple that switching to another OS other than a Mac would be hard for them. The other issue i have are the asshole hardcore linux guys that refuse to help people. I think thats really what keeps people away from Linux is because the community doesn't listen nor are they really worried about getting a larger userbase. There are some guys out there that help out where they can, and people appreciate the little bit of help.. In windows getting from A to B is clicking a few buttons. The same process in Linux could be from A to Z with every step needing to be complete and one error throws off the entire process. Until we as a community can stand up and be helpful and supportive and work with developers insteading of blaming them for the problems then Linux won't make it to the desktop and even hold water. Personally any chance I get I load a linux livecd and do what I need to do because for me its easier, but until its easy like Windows then we arent going to get anywhere.
      • by CTalkobt (81900) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:52AM (#27994305) Homepage

        One of the points that I see repeated over and over when comparing apples to oranges / Linux to PC is that there's a huge learning curve.

        I hate to tell you - but there's also a huge learning curve when using Windows. My wife, who had never really used used a PC routinely, was let loose on my Ubuntu box after about 5 minutes of use. A week later I found she had customized her background, changed the icon set, was trying to figure out how to get a cat's meow when she started a program and was wanting access to the package manager so she could see what else she could do.

        Her experience with Windows, a bit later was one she described as "frustrating" in that nothing was where she expected it to be.

        In general, I think the rule of thumb : Linux is fine. Windows is (possibly) fine. Each to their own - I prefer a Linux varient (Ubuntu currently). Work & Home for the past 4 years.

    • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:24AM (#27993903)

      The desktop/laptop is NOT dead.

      The reason is simple: people don't trust computing "over the cloud," because your device will be essentially useless if you are in an area with little to no Internet connectivity. Besides, you can get a netbook computer for under US$400 nowadays, and with improving technology those netbooks will soon store as much as 250 to 320 GB of data on the hard drive in the machine itself, way more than enough to store local data for business documents, spreadsheets, and smaller presentation files.

    • by rolfwind (528248) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:29AM (#27993971)

      The future is web based. Endless bloat, inefficient javascript and the latency of accessing remote systems.

      Most of the software I work(ed) with is still to get heavy duty tasks done are still very much on my computer. CAD, programming, mathematica-type programs... not that I want them all to be, just how it is with current internet pervasiveness and speed.

      Why will people accept such a system? because a lot of people never learned to use a desktop, they learned how to use a web browser. Anything outside the web browser looks complicated to them.

      I like using Google Apps because I don't have to worry about keeping files updated across multiple computers. I think Google is safer than carrying a tangle of USB sticks about. If the file is that important or secret, I stick it onto a computer that has absolutely no net access, no modem, and no ethernet connected to it, no wireless, etc.

      There are more reasons to like net apps than just being clueless. Besides the aforementioned syncing problem with files, services like mint.com provide, say, an iPhone user a convenient look at their finances impossible with a regular desktop/notebook unless you're really regimented.

      There is also the fact that web-based is the new way of making money from software. No piracy since its mostly server-side, lace it with ads and nobody complains about adware. Give it a few years and ads will no longer be served up by dedicated domains you can easily block.

      That's a decent insight. However, I have no problem with people making money on software that way, as long as software patents don't block competition. What's more problematic with me is being at the whim of the software service provide at any moment to hold your data hostage and your account in their hands. I had enough experiences with ebay's arbitrariness to make me wary. That's why I do keep a backup of the google documents (and important emails too, as webmail is the essentially the same thing with the same pitfalls as any web hosted app, although more comfortable to many because it's been around a bit longer)

      If client side desktop computing is to survive the interface has to become more iPhony. Ordinary folk love the touchy feeley colourful, childish looking animated interface of the iPhone so the future is in projects like Hildon. I personally hate the iPhone's interface but thats alright, if its Linux or BSD I'll just install a minimalist window manager which there should always be plenty of.

      While the interface is important, I think many like the convenience and lack of carrying files around like I said earlier, and that will be hard to replicate for any desktop app.

    • by Wowsers (1151731) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:33AM (#27994021) Journal

      The future is web based.

      Is it? After a typical month I am near my download limit for the month, and all it is is web browsing, email, and some file transfers. What is a web based solution going to do to bandwidth usage?

      I've used Google docs for a quick project, and it has vastly cut and inflexible features compared to a spreadsheet installed on your machine.

      Web based is too inflexible. Just my opinion of course.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Just wanted to say, whilst making note that I am strongly against cloud computing, that the first spreadsheet programs were probably very inflexible too. Things like macro's and massively complex formulae probably weren't available early on. I don't actually remember that, I net have a use for spreadsheets until about 4 years ago, but it is something to think about.
  • 9.10? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nvivo (739176) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:08AM (#27993761)

    having just moved to an early version of Ubuntu 9.10 on my main testing-stuff laptop; it's frustrating

    The first alpha of 9.10 was released a couple days ago with new kernel, new gcc, lots of new libraries... you should not be surprised things don't work well yet. Jaunty seems pretty stable to me. Minor issues with my intel video card, but works fine for all my daily work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JoeMerchant (803320)

      The first alpha of 9.10 was released a couple days ago with new kernel, new gcc, lots of new libraries... you should not be surprised things don't work well yet. Jaunty seems pretty stable to me. Minor issues with my intel video card, but works fine for all my daily work.

      Yes, but you must not care to hear Biff bark...

      The summary complains about sound, and the datapoints I have on Linux sound are this:

      1998 - the LinuxSoundHOWTO makes derisive statements to the effect of "well, if you must have sound, these are the hoops you jump through:...", implying that real free beer swilling penguin huggers don't need sound, period.

      2006 - Debian Stable with KDE - Turning on desktop sounds completely hosed one user account, never worked quite right and eventually crashed and burned to th

  • Sound and HDs... (Score:5, Informative)

    by purduephotog (218304) <hirsch@@@inorbit...com> on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:10AM (#27993775) Homepage Journal

    It took almost 3 months to get the sound working on Ubuntu (TOS-link). Even to this day I'm scared that if I lose the system I'll lose the configuration- it required editing different accounts, adding new packages, modifying them in a non-standard fashion, adding options that weren't documented...

    Windows XP? Put it in and the sound comes out.

    I'll say the same thing about hard drives too- while the support is built in I still had to do some 20 commands to add, mount, locate, format, automount, edit the UUID manualy, fdisk....

    Nothing better to kill 2 hours of your precious life.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by damburger (981828)
      LOL Anecdote! My girlfriends computer couldn't uses its sound or graphics card under XP, both worked out of the box with Jaunty. Next anecdote please!
  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:12AM (#27993791)
    Linux's ship has sailed.

    If you're not using it now, you probably never will. As a long time (and current) Linux user, I have come across all these issues first-hand, as has every other Linux user, developer and advocate out there. That they are still problems even though they've been known for years - sometimes decades shows that they will never be addressed, or fixed.

    Linux is a hobby systyem. The code is donated mostly by amateurs (or people working for rewards other than money - for example the recognition of their peers) and is therefore not within the normal disciplines of IT developemt. If you tell a Linux developer their code is crap - or the application they have written is junk, they'll just walk. As they will if you ask them to do things they don't want to: such as write a manual, fix bugs, add (or remove) features.

    Basically guys, this is as good as it gets. Live with it or go elsewhere.

    • Wait....what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wandazulu (265281) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:37AM (#27994087)

      Linux is a hobby system

      So wait, what does this mean, exactly? It's a hobby system that's cute to fiddle with then turn it off when I want to do "real" work? Like working with a database system that holds hundreds of millions of rows, used every day? That's in an Oracle database, running on a Linux machine.

      Is my Tivo a "hobby" system? Does TomTom only make "hobby" devices ("you didn't get where you're going? Oh well, you know it's just a hobby system, right?"). I guess I shouldn't expect much from the routers, phones, and other devices that have put Linux at the core of their stack. I mean, it's just a hobby, right?

      So what is a "professional" system to you? Windows? Sure, it's used a lot of professional capacities, sure there's a lot of software available for it, but are you saying it's somehow more "professional" than Linux? Why is that? Because it's written by Microsoft? Is Microsoft somehow more professional than Oracle or IBM?

      Your post is breathtaking in its ignorance, and I know I'm doing myself no favors by feeding the trolls, but *come* *on*...at least a descent job of flame baiting would latch on to some obvious, specific weakness and exploit it, rightly or wrongly. This is post is just raving.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by petes_PoV (912422)

        So what is a "professional" system to you?

        Simple: one that is reliable, cheap (talking about TCO, not "free"ness[1]). Has the tools I need to produce high-quality output. Is integrated - so I can work quickly and efficiently. Is secure, so I can prevent unauthorised access to my resources. That I can rely on to support the hardware I need/want to use. Is well suported and documented - so I can easily find out how to use it. Is stable, so I have the confidence that in 3 or 5 years time, the same applications will work. Works well with the other syst

        • Re:Wait....what? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by rantingkitten (938138) <.kitten. .at. .mirrorshades.org.> on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:47AM (#27995359) Homepage
          Simple: one that is reliable, cheap (talking about TCO, not "free"ness[1]).

          Windows' "reliability" is questionable -- it's come a way since XP, but Vista isn't what I'd call reliable yet. And spare us the TCO garbage. One day of my trying to hunt down a missing dll and then resolving the conflicting versions, or scrubbing a salesperson's machine of yet another couple of trojans and viruses, outweighs the "productivity" gains from Microsoft's offering.

          Is integrated - so I can work quickly and efficiently.

          I have no idea what this means, and I suspect I'm not alone. Next "point".

          Is secure, so I can prevent unauthorised access to my resources.

          Oh, yeah, Windows is highly secure and never lets unauthorised persons crack it. I'm not even going to bother providing links on such a laughable statement.

          That I can rely on to support the hardware I need/want to use.

          Agreed, Windows is pretty good about that these days, but no better than a modern Linux distro, particularly something like Ubuntu. I also note that Ubuntu usually gets things right out of the box, whereas on any fresh Windows install I have to spend an extra hour or two hunting down drivers from manufacturer's websites, installing them, and cleaning up the party favors they leave behind. Even then I was never able to get my Creative soundcard working under Vista, though it worked fine in Ubuntu (and, to be fair, XP as well, so I have no idea what the deal is). I ended up having to use the onboard sound because I just couldn't get it to work.

          Is stable, so I have the confidence that in 3 or 5 years time, the same applications will work.

          "Stable" can mean a few things, but it's certainly not "stable" by your definition. Tell that to all the people who won't migrate from XP to Vista, because their applications won't function properly under Vista. I guess you could argue that they can continue running XP but the counterargument is that they're nine years behind the times.

          "Stable" also means, to me, that the OS remains relatively cruft-free over time, and doesn't lose performance over time. Microsoft is among the first to tell you to reinstall the OS every so often because Windows is guaranteed to slow down over time, regardless of what you do or how well you try to manage it.

          Works well with the other systems I interface with.

          Windows works well with other Windows systems. It doesn't work well with anything else. If you're strictly an all-Windows shop, great, but some of us are trying to get real work done.

          Complies with standards so they will continue to work together in the future.

          What standards would those be, exactly? Microsoft's own that are followed by nobody else? Frankly, Microsoft can't even maintain compatibility with its own stuff -- documents written under previous versions of Office won't open properly in newer versions half the time for example, then they introduced this docx and xlsx crapola to break even their own "standards". Microsoft dragged its heels in supporting ODF and then offered a completely half-assed add-on solution. Their HTML and CSS compliance still sucks as far as I can tell. POSIX compliance is unavailable in any version of Vista except Ultimate, and is only sort-kinda acheived in Server 2003. The list goes on. "Microsoft" and "standards compliance" are almost mutually exclusive terms.

          Maybe I've been trolled, but I just can't make sense of your statements.
      • Re:Wait....what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ciderVisor (1318765) on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:17AM (#27994689)

        Is my Tivo a "hobby" system? Does TomTom only make "hobby" devices ("you didn't get where you're going? Oh well, you know it's just a hobby system, right?"). I guess I shouldn't expect much from the routers, phones, and other devices that have put Linux at the core of their stack. I mean, it's just a hobby, right?

        I thought we were discussing Linux on the desktop, not as an embedded OS ?

    • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:48AM (#27994223)

      If you're not using it now, you probably never will.

      This prediction is incompatible with the current trend, which sees a (albeit slow) increase in the Linux marketshare. At least at present new people are migrating to the platform, and I see no reason why this slow migration will stop.

      Basically guys, this is as good as it gets. Live with it or go elsewhere.

      This is incompatible with the rather obvious advances that are being made in Linux all the time. With every release it is indeed getting better and better. It's getting better both in the "standard" ways (all operating systems are adding new features, etc.) and in the "catching up" ways (Linux is now easier to install than most other OS, and is almost as easy to configure via GUI for a novice...).

      Linux is a hobby systyem. The code is donated mostly by amateurs

      This misses that fact that many major components of the Linux ecosystem (including the kernel, servers, databases, the major office suite, etc.) are supported by companies. Many of the primary developers on these systems (ever heard of this guy called Linus?) are salaried employees.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by malkavian (9512)

      How very peculiar. I take it those thousands of developers and designers are suddenly going to pack up and pick something else interesting to do today, leavign Linux to languish in its current state.

      As another long term Linux user (I remember the call going out across the 'net to ask for input on Linus' little project, and quite a few of us at my Uni deciding to get our hands dirty with it), I've seen it grow. It seems to do it in true evolutionary style; nothing seems to change much for a period of time

  • Troll -1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by k-zed (92087) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:12AM (#27993793) Homepage Journal

    The TFA is a worthless troll, even more so than usual in these "Linux is not ready for the desktop" Slashdot articles.

    It has the usual list of ignorant complaints (oh no, there is a choice of distributions, boo hoo! oh no, there is a choice of GUI toolkits, boo hoo!), but some points stand out in their sheer stupidity.

    "Bad security model: there's zero protection against keyboard keyloggers and against running malicious software (Linux is viruses free only due to its extremely low popularity). sudo is very easy to circumvent (social engineering). sudo still requires CLI (see clause 4.)"

    Really?

    Who admits these articles to the front page anyway?

  • by fprintf (82740) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:14AM (#27993809) Journal

    I don't know why I bother upgrading. They say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and in the case of Ubuntu that has proven to be the case every single time because something always breaks upon upgrade. This most recent upgrade to Jaunty completely disabled my ability to put my laptop to sleep because the screen now goes dark and I can't see what is happening and what is stopping it from sleeping. No matter what I do I can't get the screen to come back on, so the only recovery is a forced shutdown via the power button. Now I can only shut it down and reboot it - so much for uptime statistics!

    Anyway, something always breaks. This is, however, not so different than any other operating system upgrade. Unless you have well tested hardware, that is nothing too bleeding edge new and nothing too old (e.g. my IBM T-30 laptop) then it is likely you will have some problems each time you upgrade. I know I have had my share of problems when going from Win98 to XP that a few internet searches easily resolved. I guess it also helps when you don't upgrade that often - it has been years since I have touched my Windows installation and yet every 6 months I am upgrading my Linux and bitching every time when something breaks. I should just leave the freakin' thing alone!!!

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:17AM (#27993829) Homepage Journal
    ...but insists that reproduction of any kind is prohibited without permission. So I won't quote from the article. I will just refer to it.

    In the last paragraph the author talks about implementations of SMB and AD (active directory?) not being available, then excludes samba. I with he would say why. Samba seems pretty good in that area.

    In addition I would like to say that my wife's corolla is crap because it can't carry 1000 kilos of stuff the way my van does. Also the Boeing 747 is crap because it has a bigger radar cross section than a B2 stealth bomber.
  • by Toreo asesino (951231) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:19AM (#27993849) Journal

    ...if the OSS community was as honest (and constructive) as this guy [lunduke.com] it might have a chance on the general-purpose desktop against Windows.

    Karma be damned; I thought that despite the provocative headline, it was a really refreshing criticism of Linux on the desktop.

  • by qtzlctl (1538903) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:19AM (#27993859)

    Why Linux is not (yet) Ready for the Desktop

    Preface:

    In this document we only discuss Linux deficiencies while everyone should keep in mind that there are areas where Linux has excelled other OSes.

    A primary target of this comparison is Windows OS.
    Linux major shortcomings and problems:

    0. Premise: proprietary software will stay indefinitely. Full stop. You may argue eternally, but complicated software like games, 3D applications, databases, CADs(Computer-aided Design), etc. which cost millions of dollars and years of man-hours to develop will never be open sourced. Software patents are about to stay forever.

    1. No reliable sound system, no reliable unified software audio mixing, many (old or/and proprietary) applications still open audio output exclusively causing major user problems and headache.

    1.1 Insanely difficult to set up volume levels, audio recording ... and in some situations even audio output.

    1.2 Highly confusing, not self-explanatory mixer settings.

    1.3 By default many distros do not set volume levels properly (no audio output/no sound recording).

    2. X system:

    2.1 No good stable standardized API for developing GUI applications (like Win32 API). Both GTK and Qt are very unstable and often break backwards compatibility.

    2.2 Very slow GUI (except when being run with composite window managers on top of OpenGL).

    2.3 Many GUI operations are not accelerated. No analogue of GDI or GDI+. Text antialiasing and other GUI operations are software rendered by GUI libraries (GTK->Cairo/QT->Xft).

    2.4 Font rendering is implemented via high level GUI libraries, thus:

    2.4.1 fontconfig fonts antialiasing settings cannot be applied on-the-fly.

    2.4.2 Fonts antialiasing only works for certain GUI toolkits (see 2.1).

    2.4.3 Default fonts (often) look ugly.

    2.4.3.1 (Being resolved) By default most distros disable advanced fonts antialiasing.

    2.4.3.2 By default most distros come without good or even compatible with Windows fonts.

    2.5 No double buffering.

    3. Problems stemming from the vast number of Linux distributives:

    3.1 No unified configuration system for computer settings, devices and system services. E.g. distro A sets up networking using these utilities, outputting certain settings residing in certain file system locations, distro B sets up everything differently. This drives most users mad.

    3.2 No unified installer across all distros. Consider RPM, deb, portage, tar.gz, sources, etc. It adds a cost for software development.

    3.3 Many distros' repositories do not contain all available open source software. User should never be bothered with using ./configure && make && make installer. It should be possible to install any software by downloading a package and double clicking it (yes, like in Windows, but probably prompting for user/administrator password).

    3.4 Applications development is a major PITA. Different distros can use a) different libraries versions b) different compiler flags c) different compilers. This leads to a number of problems raised to the third power.

    4. It should be possible to configure everything via GUI which is still not a case for too many situations and operations.

    5. Problems stemming from low linux popularity and open source nature:

    5.1 Few software titles, inability to run familiar Windows software. (Some applications (which don't work in Wine) have zero Linux equivalents).

    5.1.1 No equivalent of some hardcore Windows software like AutoCAD/3D Studio/Adobe Premier/Corel Painter/etc. Home and work users just won't bother installing Linux until they can work for real.

    5.2 No games. Full stop. Cedega and Wine offer very incomplete support.

    5.3 Incomplete or unstable drivers for some hardware. Problems setting up some hardware (like sound cards or TV tuners/Web Cameras).

    5.3.1 A lot of WinPrinters do n

  • Chicken and the Egg (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:19AM (#27993863)

    The driver problem is a variation of the chicken and the egg.

    Linux is not a large part of the desktop market thus many manufacturers do not bother writing drivers for them. As a result every time a new piece of hardware comes out someone has to have that hardware (so they care) and then cobble a driver together for it. As a result some hardware is not supported (or poorly supported). Then people say Linux isn't desktop ready because the drivers aren't up to snuff. Repeat.

    I'm not saying the complaint isn't valid but sadly there is little Linux can do about it (short of creating a new project to keep up with every piece of hardware known to man). Windows on the other hand doesn't have this problem as every manufacturer on the planet makes sure to include a driver for windows. Mac escapes this problem since it's a hardware company and says we only support Mac products. It's a very unfair setup and I'm not sure if there is a way to break the cycle.

  • Again... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:20AM (#27993869)

    Seems like we've had this exact argument a thousand times. This list at least makes mostly good points. But it still misses the mark many times. Particularly annoying is the absolutism in so many statements, like:

    No games. Full stop.

    This is obviously false. There are games on Linux. Many are open sourced, and some commercials games are available on Linux (e.g. World of Goo). Now I wouldn't have argued if he had said "Very few games." But instead he tried to make his point punchier by being absolute... and this weakens his whole argument by introducing lies.

    And as usual the author prefaces by mentioning that this is some sort of relative comparison with Windows, yet points out problems that exist with all operating systems, like "A galore of software bugs across all applications", or "huge shutdown time" (I've timed it on dual-boot systems and for me Kubuntu was faster than Windows XP. YMMV.) and "poor documentation" (does Windows come with an awesome manual I wasn't made aware of? No. For both Win and Linux you end up searching online. Both have tons of 3rd-party documentation.)...

    And then there are kind nonsensical complaints like "don't allow you to easily set up a server with e.g. such a configuration: Samba, SMTP/POP3, Apache HTTP Auth and FTP where all users are virtual" Does Windows let you do this easily? The heading said that this was an analysis of whether Linux is ready for the Desktop and instead the author injects one of his pet-peeves about configuring Linux as a server?

    And then there are spurious assumptions used to justify complaints, like "Linux is viruses free only due to its extremely low popularity". We've had this argument many times... undoubtedly the low market-share of Linux helps keep viruses off the platform. But there is also plenty of evidence that it is robust security-wise (e.g. infection rates for servers). At a minimum it's not the settled question the author implies.

    I could go on and on. No doubt this thread will tear-apart other statements from TFA. It's too bad, because many of the points made are very much correct, and deserve attention. But it seems that whenever someone tries to compile lists such as this, they end up not only making good points about what needs work, but throwing in their own anecdotal annoyances and personal viewpoints, which muddies the whole argument...

  • by FunkyELF (609131) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:27AM (#27993941)
    A lot of reasons mentioned in there could also be said of OSX.

    5.3 Incomplete or unstable drivers for some hardware. Problems setting up some hardware (like sound cards or TV tuners/Web Cameras).

    5.3.2 A lot of web cameras still do not work at all in Linux.

    5.4 It's impossible to watch Blue-Ray movies.

    5.2 No games. Full stop. Cedega and Wine offer very incomplete support.

    I did my research and found a TV tuner that would work under Linux so that I could run MythTV. How many tuner cards work with OSX? Linux is not Windows, but it doesn't mean it's not ready for the desktop.
    Apple puts together hardware that works with their OS and now Dell and other OEM's are doing the same with Linux. If you want to run either Linux or OSX on older hardware you have lying around be prepared to hack (although much less with Linux). If you want to build a system from scratch, do your homework first and buy compatible parts.
    I stopped reading halfway through. Its a troll. I could say Windows isn't ready for the desktop because there are no CLI utilities or scripting languages built in.
    If you want to do something in batch like resize and auto-rotate a bunch of digital camera pictures you need to search for and download a program that does exactly what you want and hopefully not get a virus.
    With linux, you whip up a little script that runs jhead -autorot and convert -resize.
    A lot of times you need to do something specialized each time. Having a full blown GUI for each occasion doesn't make sense and neither does having something that is so extremely configurable because it would ultimately be complicated and confusing and still wouldn't handle the 5% of the corner cases.

  • by Smidge204 (605297) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:35AM (#27994043) Journal

    In my opinion, one of the biggest hurdles keeping Linux our of the domestic desktop market is the developers apparently can't put themselves in the shoes of the average user. In my personal experience they tend to hold the end user in contempt, but I realize that this is a fairly small sample of the community...

    Like it or not, Windows and OSX have set standards for interface and functional transparency. It may not sit well with developers that they can't micromanage what the OS is doing, but the average user just doesn't give a shit and is unwilling if not incapable of tweaking the OS to accomplish otherwise simple tasks.

    It needs to "just work." If you need to use the command line, it's broken for desktop use. If you need to manually edit a file, it's broken for desktop use. If an essential component for some software is not included and must be installed and configured separately, it's broken for desktop use. (That last one is a big, big problem for Linux!)

    For all the faults Microsoft has with their software, at least they did the research and learned how Joe Shmoe uses a computer and designed to the lowest common denominator. That's how they ended up on top.
    =Smidge=

    • by tjonnyc999 (1423763) <tjonnyc@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 18, 2009 @10:14AM (#27995845)

      the average user just doesn't give a shit and is unwilling if not incapable of tweaking the OS to accomplish otherwise simple tasks.

      Absolutely. You've hit the nail right on the head. 95% of users out there are not going to RTFM, will not open the command prompt, and will not edit a config file. Not because they're stupid, or lazy - but because it's not their job. And the sooner developers realize this, the better.

      It's not a question of "how can we make the stupid users figure out that 1% of the application experience so we don't have to code a step-by-step GUI configuration util for it?", it's a question of "how do we understand that the secretary/doctor/lawyer/manager *expects* the machine to work just like every other machine in his/her universe?".

      The problem is not that the average office user / home user is stupid. The problem is that they're used to their coffee-maker, microwave, fax machine, and calculator being 100% operational out-of-the-box, and the computer should not be any different.

      There is a significant difference in the mentality of Joe Q. User and Jim Q. Developer when it comes to the question of what's acceptable in a computer application, and until we IT professionals suspend our hubris for a minute and try to work out a solution that "just plain works", we'll keep running into the same brick wall and wondering why it's still there.

      Of course, this is IMHO, YMMV, and so on.

      P.S. Someone mentioned a dearth of audio software for Linux. Here's a small list: http://habrahabr.ru/blogs/sound_and_music/59815/#habracut [habrahabr.ru]
      Google Transation: http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fhabrahabr.ru%2Fblogs%2Fsound_and_music%2F59815%2F%23habracut&sl=ru&tl=en&history_state0= [google.com]

  • Seriously, why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gzipped_tar (1151931) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:49AM (#27994249) Journal

    But why are Linux enthusiasts hoping for a future of Linux on the Desktop (TM)?

    I mean, I am the one of the mystic, claimed-by-some-to-be-nonexistent "Linux-exclusive" users you've heard of, and I like it with a passion. However I don't understand why people like me are busy trying to push Linux to the Joe Q. Users. Is it because that a Linux future must be better than something else? But how do we know for sure? Even if we were, then why should we be pushing it for some global acceptance?

    And yes, I know the technical advantages of Linux that could be beneficial to average users. I know the ideals for which Linux claims to stand and I think they are fine, but on the other hand something being fine doesn't necessarily imply that we should be pushing it everywhere. You may want to share your joyful experience with your new shiny $DISTRO desktop but everyone has his/her own definition of joyfulness.

    In other words, I value a future of Everyone Happy with His/Her Own Fucking Favorate Operating System far greater than one of "Linux on the Desktop". It's all about choice, huh? We are supposed to be the more technical-savvy group so we should have understood our own needs (which means I need what I need but I don't necessarily need what $BIG_GREED_CORPORATION tells me to need), AND that ours are not necessarily shared by others, right?

    Thanks for listening to my rant. I apology for the time I made you wasted in reading this post.

  • by ricky-road-flats (770129) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:50AM (#27994267)
    I have been trying for years to get a Linux desktop I can use as a full replacement of Windows. It's nearly there, certainly constantly improving, but absolutely not there yet. I'm not just a whinging Windows fanboi - I've been working and playing with Linux on and off since 1992, and on the server side I use a mix of Windows and Linux as appropriate for the job at hand, and have introduced successful Linux systems into Linux-hostile companies.

    On the desktop,in the last couple of years especially, Ubuntu has driven it a long way forwards, and I enjoy trying each new release. But several fundamental things still don't work well enough and the help when things go wrong is still fairly awful.

    Printing - still too hard to get up and running.

    Wifi connectivity - my laptop 'just works' for any required length of time with a solid Wifi connection in Windows at home, but in several distros of Linux it has to re-establish a connection every couple of minutes.

    Battery life on laptops still sucks relative to both XP and Windows 7.

    Suspend/resume, and Hibernation/resume. In Windows I just fold the laptop and *know* it will close down cleanly, and come back when I open it. USB, sound, video - all will still be working when it comes back. Not so in Linux.

    Yes, I as a computer user and engineer of over 20 years experience can get Ubuntu to work for me. But it's just too hard to be worthwhile. And it's a shame, but I certainly can't recommend the technophobe people I support (family, friends) switch to Linux as things are.

    • Linux printing is one of the best things about it. With any reasonably modern (Bonjour compliant) printer I expect to have it working under Ubuntu in no time flat, whereas Windows involves downloading what is often a load of bloatware. HP and Samsung in particular have excellent Linux support, and I've had no problems with Oki.

      I suspect what you are really saying is that it is hard to get the cut price "designed for Windows" printers to work. Well, surprise! You can't blame a non-Windows OS for not supporti

  • by BlueLightning (442320) * on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:12AM (#27994621) Homepage Journal

    OK, so let's deconstruct this point by point. I've left one or two points out where I have no specific comments.

    0. Premise: proprietary software will stay indefinitely. Full stop. You may argue eternally,
    but complicated software like games, 3D applications, databases, CADs(Computer-aided Design),
    etc. which cost millions of dollars and years of man-hours to develop will never be open sourced.
    Software patents are about to stay forever.

    Bold predictions indeed. True, I think proprietary software will remain, particularly in the vertical market; however a certain segment of software will become commoditised (arguably some of it already has been) and therefore users will expect it to be free or priced lower than cost.

    1. No reliable sound system, no reliable unified software audio mixing, many (old or/and proprietary) applications still open audio output exclusively causing major user problems and headache.

    1.1 Insanely difficult to set up volume levels, audio recording ... and in some situations even audio output.

    1.2 Highly confusing, not self-explanatory mixer settings.

    1.3 By default many distros do not set volume levels properly (no audio output/no sound recording).

    Couldn't agree more here. ALSA has improved audio in a few areas but in all other aspects, from a user perspective it has only made things more difficult. Someone else commented recently on Slashdot regarding the BSD approach to this problem, it sounds like they have done a lot better by staying with/improving OSS. I really wish someone would stand up and take charge of improving Linux's core audio infrastructure instead of putting band-aids like PulseAudio on top.

    2.1 No good stable standardized API for developing GUI applications (like Win32 API). Both GTK and Qt are very unstable and often break backwards compatibility.

    I'm not sure this is really as bad as is made out. In between major releases, Qt and Gtk both take backwards compatibility very seriously. Qt at least is a commercial product, they have a commitment to maintain compatibility.

    2.2 Very slow GUI (except when being run with composite window managers on top of OpenGL).

    Too general to respond to - can hardly be true for all machines.

    2.3 Many GUI operations are not accelerated. No analogue of GDI or GDI+. Text antialiasing and other GUI operations are software rendered by GUI libraries (GTK->Cairo/QT->Xft).

    I thought that was the point of Cairo... ? Not my area of expertise though.

    2.5 No double buffering.

    No explanation of how this is relevant to an end user.

    3.1 No unified configuration system for computer settings, devices and system services. E.g. distro A sets up networking using these utilities, outputting certain settings residing in certain file system locations, distro B sets up everything differently. This drives most users mad.

    Honestly I don't think the average user is really going to care where a configuration tool stores its settings as long as it works; only a power user or developer would. Of course it would be nice if people would use the same tools. However, although it's taken quite some time to work in all situations, NetworkManager has vastly improved network configuration ease of use and has been adopted by many distributions.

    3.2 No unified installer across all distros. Consider RPM, deb, portage, tar.gz, sources, etc. It adds a cost for software development.

    True, but arguably as far as the packaging alone is concerned, if you target RPM and deb you're going to cover most of the distributions that actually matter to end users.

    3.3 Many distros' repositories do not contain all available open source software. User should never be bothered with using ./config

  • by reallocate (142797) on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:41AM (#27995189)

    Slashdot has been running "Is Linux Ready For The Desktop?" stories pretty much forever. We could go back several years and find threads saying pretty muh the same things.

    The question is wrong. It isn't so much "Is Linux Ready for the Big Dance?" as it is "Is Anyone Gonna Ask Linux to the Big Dance?" For instance, while it may or may not be the fault of Linux that most hardware vendors do not provide linux drivers, the fact is that they don't. If someone can't use their hardware with Linux, pointing the finger of blame isn't going to make that hardware work.

    Linux lacks many (most?) of the commercial products used by other platforms. Why? Because the perception exists that Linux users won't buy commerical products. Whether that perception is accurate is irrelevant.

    My own take: The more tightly an OS is associated with a specific hardware platform, the eaier it is for that vendor to control the quality and reliability of the users' experience. Due to the nature of its development culture, Linux stands farther away from hardware platforms than do Windows and, obviously, OS X. The Unix-y ability to Linux to run on many hardware flavors is a double-edged sword.

  • by twasserman (878174) on Monday May 18, 2009 @12:07PM (#27998157)
    Several years ago, at the last Linux Desktop Summit, I said that my measure for success of "Linux on the desktop" was to be able to do 100% of my desktop computing on a machine that ran only open source software. Although I have advanced degrees in computer science and was (am) willing to do command-line customizations and installations, I took the perspective of the average non-professional user seeking a home desktop solution that is roughly comparable to MacOS X and various Windows implementations.

    At the time, I estimated that we were around the 50% mark toward that goal (lots of missing device drivers, buggy OpenOffice, no high-quality equivalent tools for photo editing, page layout, video editing, and much more). In short, anyone using a Linux desktop would need to have another machine to accomplish these other tasks.

    In recent weeks, I have installed SLED 11, openSuse 11.1, Fedora 10, and Ubuntu 9.04 on several netbooks, notebooks, and boxes. My goal (once again) was to make one of these systems my everyday workhorse machine, one that I could recommend to friends and family for all of their computing tasks. While the situation is much improved from three years ago, we are still quite a way from reaching that elusive 100% goal. For myself and my family, I would guess that we are in the 80's, but gamers would give a much lower score.

    Installation and setup is vastly improved. The desktop layouts, particularly GNOME, are reasonably familiar to users of other platforms. Individual applications, notably OpenOffice and Firefox, have come a long way. The usability of system update mechanisms ranges from the smooth (Ubuntu) to the challenging (SuSE). (Development tools are outstanding, but that isn't the issue here.)

    However, I had to install restricted drivers to make wireless work, had to install commercially licensed Flash to be able to view many websites, and still found myself without programs for video editing, page layout, and photo editing that compared well with their commercial counterparts (e.g., Scribus vs. MS Publisher or Pages). Watching commercial DVDs occasionally required the use of terminal commands to download and install software, not to mention the associated legal issues. Webcams and microphones were unreliable at best, making it impossible to do video chat or broadcasting (e.g. uStream) with web-based applications.

    So I renew the challenge to make it possible for average computer users to do 100% of their work using open source software. That means moving development efforts up from the operating system and infrastructure level to concentrate on creating high quality, easily used applications. That also rules out using WINE or VirtualBox to run proprietary apps.

    Let's create personas and scenarios for different types of users, identify their needs, and build the needed applications and drivers. Let's also continue to push device makers to supply Linux drivers. Let's find a workable solution for Flash and SWF-based web content. (Gnash isn't quite there.) In that way, we can make some progress toward that magic 100% number that would allow people to do all of their computing on a Linux desktop.

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