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Why Top Linux Distros Are For Different Users 496

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the for-the-nubs dept.
Lucas123 writes "Fedora, openSUSE and Ubuntu Linux desktops may look alike, but they've got some important distinctions, like the fact that Fedora and Ubuntu use GNOME 2.28 (the latest version) for their default desktop, while openSUSE uses KDE 4.3.1. And, Fedora's designers have assumed that its users are wiser than the general run of users. 'For example, in earlier versions, ordinary (non-admin) users could install software on Fedora without access to the root password. As of this version, however, local users will need to enter the root password before they can install software (as they do on almost all other Linux distributions).'"
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Why Top Linux Distros Are For Different Users

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  • by nacturation (646836) * <nacturation@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:02PM (#30459586) Journal

    And, Fedora's designers have assumed that its users are wiser than the general run of users. 'For example, in earlier versions, ordinary (non-admin) users could install software on Fedora without access to the root password.

    So according to this "logic", Microsoft assumes that its users are wiser than the general run of users too? Nice way to spin Fedora finally addressing this security issue, dude.

  • Fedora (Score:1, Insightful)

    by hey (83763) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:07PM (#30459678) Journal

    I use Fedora because you always get the latest stuff. I've never had a major problem -- used all 12 releases.

  • openSuse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by abigor (540274) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:10PM (#30459742)

    Nice to see good results for openSuse. The reviewer didn't fall for the immature "Novell is evil!" absurdity.

  • by bertoelcon (1557907) <berto.el.con@noSPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:15PM (#30459844)
    And these are the reasons Windows still has marketshare. The last 2 are not covered by Windows but because its already got the marketshare then the apps are easy to find. Not trying to troll but that is why it does "just work", even with bugs and holes aplenty.
  • by NeoSkandranon (515696) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:16PM (#30459860)

    Considering the LFS user is most likely to have an attitude like yours, I'd prefer not to hear a single condescending word from him.

  • Who cares.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by salva84 (1701828) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:18PM (#30459912)
    Who cares? I've been using Linux around 10 years ago, I'm a computer engineer, and after all, I beeing using Ubuntu until today. I've tried a lot of distros, but I've never found a better distro for me, despite I'm a programmer too.
  • Re:Wiser? WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cro Magnon (467622) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:19PM (#30459940) Homepage Journal

    It's an indication that you believe your users are wiser than the average users, or at least that you expect them to become so.

    And THAT is an indication that the Fedora developers are NOT particularly wise.

  • by NukeDoggie (943265) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:24PM (#30460030)
    Someone should make a version of Ubuntu or openSuse or Fedora or whatever that is designed for Seniors. Large Fonts, easy to use, very little duplication of apps, no problems... I bet it would spread far and wide. We have the kids checking it out, time to take the seniors... Also, why does all the netbook distros never fit the dialogs on the screen? 800x480 is not much to work with granted...
  • by HarrySquatter (1698416) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:27PM (#30460070)

    No user should ever be more skilled than any other users, and all distributions should cater to the newbie crowd.

    Except the GP made no such point at all. He was saying he didn't want to have some condescending ass try to come and fix his system.

    When all computing grinds to a halt because no one knows how to fix or maintain them anymore, at least you'll have the comfort of knowing that no advanced users are going to make a tongue-in-cheek post on Slashdot that stimulates your inferiority complex.

    There are plenty of people who have skills that people could go to to fix their computers that don't act like condescending and pompous assholes like you and the rest of the "1337 h4x0r" LSF crowd.

  • Stop the hype BS. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:28PM (#30460090)

    It's very cool how Ubuntu has essentially forced every other distro to get up to speed on these seemingly basic features.

    Please stop saying inane things.

    Nothing ubuntu has done the past 3 years is any better than lets say mandriva has done.

    i tried Kubuntu 7.04 to install on friends computers and found taht PCLinuxOS which was #1 then was a much better 'just works out of box' experience.

    Im typing this from Kubnutu9.10 and its no different than any other KDE distro. Actually, THAT is the thing my non Linuxy friends always say... its the same thing.
    Your choice of distro for a first timer is a quesstion of taste when it comes to the big distros. The REAL decision is the desktop.
    Since everyone comes over has used Windows, it makes sense to use a DE that is familiar to them.

    But having used every Buntu since v7, I think your statement is nothing more than fanboi driven hype.

  • by RanCossack (1138431) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:32PM (#30460154)

    And these are the reasons Windows still has marketshare. The last 2 are not covered by Windows but because its already got the marketshare then the apps are easy to find. Not trying to troll but that is why it does "just work", even with bugs and holes aplenty.

    I don't want to troll, either, but this really isn't the case; I tried to reinstall Windows on one of my machines for dual-boot (fresh setup on a new drive) using a generic, non-customized XP disk, and it is amazing how much work it was -- hunting drivers down, having to download extra drivers to a USB key so I could get online, and so on.

    You could say Microsoft does a lot of work with its partners to ship customized Windows distros, but out of the box, Windows is pretty bad; we all just either don't have to deal with it or take it for granted.

    (Or don't deal with it at all.)

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:43PM (#30460328) Journal

    I've got to say, this is a huge feature that most package managers are missing. If I can download an archive, unpack it, and run it from ~, I should be able to install a package under ~ as well.

  • Slackware (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:44PM (#30460348)

    If you can't do it with Slackware, it doesn't need doing.

    :-)

    ...laura

  • by TheCycoONE (913189) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:45PM (#30460360)

    I'd mention that MySpace uses a distributed file system running on Gentoo; but I think that might just prove your point.

  • by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:51PM (#30460462)

    Installing pre-approved software without root access would be a great step forward both for usability and security. Imagine if we can get to the point where a normal user can use a laptop computer for a year without running with sufficient privileges to install untrusted software.

    Sure, there are challenges, first and foremost how to revoke approval of a particular package. That doesn't mean we have to stick with the old trusted root paradigm forever. For the vast majority of Linux laptops/desktops, the user IS the administrator, and we can't expect to educate all computer users to be competent Unix administrators.

  • by gbarules2999 (1440265) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:54PM (#30460508)
    Windows 7 is a little better, and this is coming from a Linux user. So they are trying.
  • by causality (777677) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @01:56PM (#30460542)

    Not everyone really wants to be on the cutting edge, and I like being at least a bit closer to Fedora/CentOS because i use them a lot at work (Debian and CentOS/RHEL are among the best Linuces for servers, while Gentoo is completely inappropriate (although this almost never comes up because Gentoo fans are also completely inappropriate as sysadmins)).

    Many Gentoo users only use Gentoo for their personal computers. Those same users would recommend distributions like Debian to anyone who approached them and said "hey, I'm new to this Linux thing and I want to run a server, what would you suggest?" Gentoo is for users who a) know their way around Linux and b) love to tinker. It doesn't pretend to be for anyone else. I use Gentoo and very much enjoy it, but I would not recommend it to someone who's new to Linux and switching away from Windows. It's about what you like and believe to be appropriate for the job. It's not a religious cause.

    Actually one of the reasons I got into Gentoo in the first place is that I wanted to know more about how a distribution is put together. As a learning tool its manual installation is one of the best. As a "I just want it to work, ASAP" tool it's one of the worst. Again it doesn't pretend to be otherwise. If Gentoo claimed to be the be-all and end-all, the Ultimate Linux Distribution, superior in every way to all others, then maybe I'd understand why it's so trendy to slam Gentoo whenever it comes up in a discussion. Or if I frequently visited the Gentoo Forums and saw the users talking about how lame binary distributions are, maybe then I'd understand it too, but they don't do this.

    Since that isn't the case, this looks to me like another religious issue. Like when you have one sect of Christianity going to war against another sect of Christianity because they disagree on whether to drink wine or grape juice for Communion. Naturally the grape-juice drinkers think they have irreconcilable differences with the wine-drinkers and vice-versa. Each side thinks the other is composed of total idiots and assholes. Neither appreciates that what they're arguing over is a trivial matter of taste. Don't like a distro? Good, use something else. That should be the end of it, but it isn't, because it's not good enough that you use what you like, the other guy must also use what you like, right?

  • by sa666_666 (924613) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:02PM (#30460648)

    Actually, some of us use Ubuntu and the 'easier;' distros because (a) we're tied of screwing around getting things to work like we did 6-7 years ago, and (b) to target the version of Linux that most people seem to be using.

    When it comes to fixing inane issues in Linux, just because you *can* do something doesn't mean you constantly *want* to. Many people (myself included) have cut their teeth with Linux since the very beginning, and would like to use something that 'just works' most of the time, rather than performing constant low-level maintenance that is only necessary to elevate ones epeen rating.

    Don't knock ease of use, or the influx of new users that will make Linux a force in the industry. It's called progress; maybe you should check it out sometime.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:02PM (#30460650) Homepage

    Ubuntu also brought something else to the table: The Debian package manager.

    RPM was clearly inferior. Debian despite of it's other tradeoffs always had
    a packager that was just the bees knees. I even defected from Mandrake to
    Debian myself over this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:02PM (#30460652)

    Use Windows 7 or OS X.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:07PM (#30460738) Journal

    If all the major distributions were sold at BestBuy and Joe Sixpack walked in and wanted to buy Linux, he'd have no idea which one to get.

    If I walk into Best Buy and want to buy Windows 7, I'd have no idea which one to get.

  • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:07PM (#30460740)

    Yeah, unfortunately, Vista/7's folder virtualization has made it so apps can continue to be stupid and not fail, so many developers developing on those systems don't notice when they do this. It's only on XP or 2000 when this beocomes noticable because they don't have folder virtualization.

  • by sa666_666 (924613) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:10PM (#30460804)

    In my experience, it's just the mindset of Windows developers and in some cases Windows users. They've been brought up on a system that was inherently single-user, and apps are still being written that way.

    In fact, in several of my multi-platform projects, I had to add specific functionality for Windows users to save into the app folder. I tried to do the same thing on all ports of the program (save settings in home directory, so the program can run from a read-only installation), but received all kinds of feedback and complaints about that being a strange way of doing things. In the end, I added the ability to override the defaults, but it does show that some people still can't see any other way of saving their personal data.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:21PM (#30460960) Journal

    In a couple of decades Shuttleworth, Torvalds, and Stallman will all be old enough to take on this project themselves.

  • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:24PM (#30461006)

    I think you will have precisely the same problems with an 8 year old Linux distro as well. SATA won't be supported, newer NIC that don't have an emulation mode won't be supported. Newer video cards won't be supported by X, etc... Now, granted, once you get the basics working you should be able to update but you will still have most of those same issues.

  • Re:What nonsense! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:29PM (#30461100)

    Video resolution? Huh? Really who runs their monitor at less than the max? I'm running at 1920x1200 and there is NO reason to use anything else.

    Ever tried using a 15" laptop with 1600x1200 resolution? The text is impossible to read. Most people run these at much lower resolutions than the hardware is capable of running at. The same is true of people with poor eyesight.

    You're a classic example of why Linux has problems, claiming there is "NO reason" for something shows a lack of foresight or even imagination. Too many Linux developers feel the same. Because they don't have a problem with something, they firmly believe nobody should have a problem with something, and refuses to support it.

  • Re:What nonsense! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:48PM (#30461404) Journal

    You're a classic example of why Linux has problems, claiming there is "NO reason" for something shows a lack of foresight or even imagination. Too many Linux developers feel the same. Because they don't have a problem with something, they firmly believe nobody should have a problem with something, and refuses to support it.

    +1 Right On

    There's a lot of "If I don't need it, no one needs it" arrogance in the OS community. Part of it comes from "it works for me, I don't care about you" (which is just fundamental human nature); part of it is the longstanding "RTFM" tradition (i.e., the root geek community that Free Software sprung from put a high premium on self-help. The extreme manifestation, and also the practical reason for full source code disclosure in FOSS, is "Read the Fucking Source" as the rejoinder for someone asking for help.)

    It's a cultural weakness now that FOSS has spread into the general public. Unless you're paying for support, no one is obligated to help you, so if you're not technically savvy and have enough time and effort to chase it down, you're stuck.

  • by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc.paradise@NOSpaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:49PM (#30461422) Homepage Journal
    I agree, but why not differentiate? It's a pointless waste of time for me to have to provide a password on my laptop every time I want to try out new software.

    I'm not saying that it's got no place -- clearly if you have a multiple user system, then you only want to right people installing software. But when you don't... it's just one more hurdle on the road to usability.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @03:06PM (#30461656) Homepage Journal

    I had to add specific functionality for Windows users to save into the app folder. [...] some people still can't see any other way of saving their personal data.

    I'd bet that a lot of these "some people" use multiple desktop computers and carry their apps and data with them on a USB mass storage device. There's even a name for apps that support this use case: portable apps [wikipedia.org] (not to be confused with multi-platform or mobile apps). The solution I used for one of my own apps was as follows:

    1. If a file named "installed.ini" in the program's folder is present, write settings to a .ini file in a folder inside %APPDATA%.
    2. Otherwise, write settings to a .ini file in the program's folder.

    Installation inside the Program Files folder writes "installed.ini"; installation to removable media does not.

  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @04:24PM (#30463172) Homepage

    Don't knock ease of use, or the influx of new users that will make Linux a force in the industry. It's called progress; maybe you should check it out sometime.

    I dunno. I enjoy the fact that many people are using Linux.. It helps for many things. But sometimes it's like a good fishing hole. If you have a great spot you might tell one person (or better yet, blindfold them as you drive them there). But once you start inviting people in, pretty soon you have a major interstate and boat ramps and a Don's Tackle Shop and a Starbucks right alongside your nice fishing hole. And instead of people asking you about the merits of hand tied fishing lures or whether hand-made aluminum can shiners are better than factory you start getting people bragging about their RV and powerboats and complaining about having to bait their own hooks.

    All said, it's better that there are more people using Linux, but I guess I'm nostalgic for those times when a 5 node compute cluster was something pretty cool.

       

  • by mister_playboy (1474163) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @04:34PM (#30463360)

    Since that isn't the case, this looks to me like another religious issue. Like when you have one sect of Christianity going to war against another sect of Christianity because they disagree on whether to drink wine or grape juice for Communion. Naturally the grape-juice drinkers think they have irreconcilable differences with the wine-drinkers and vice-versa. Each side thinks the other is composed of total idiots and assholes. Neither appreciates that what they're arguing over is a trivial matter of taste.

    To be fair, the problem is that such groups think these are life and death matters and not trivial ones. You have be more spiritually matured to see that the matter is trivial.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @04:51PM (#30463648) Journal

    What about shared libraries? Should those be duplicated everywhere?

    The user installed package should use the system library if available, otherwise install a copy under ~.

    What about differing versions of the same package? Should user X have the old version and user Y have the new version?

    Each user should use whatever version they want.

    What if the user installs it and the admin installs it? Should the user's package have higher precedence (PATH, MANPATH, etc.) or the system-wide package?

    It's up to the user to set up the PATH the way they want it.

    These aren't particularly hard questions.

  • by NotBorg (829820) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:32PM (#30466448)

    I agree, the problem with Windows is not so much the OS itself but poorly written applications.

    You can call a virus a poorly written 3rd party application all you want. I'll still insist that the OS shouldn't let viruses walk all over the system even when ran as an underprivileged user.

    How is it still possible to write past the end of a buffer and over the top of executable code? These poorly written applications should crash because the OS tells them no. The NX bit is going on what now? 10 years?

    I'm sorry but if your application shits all over the place and the OS doesn't stop it then it is a poorly written application running on a poorly written OS. Also applications would have a tenancy to applications fix themselves at development time if the operating environment expected more of them.

    For those who think that these additional checks by the OS would show things down, is it any worse than what Norton does? Maybe AV scanning wouldn't be such a hog if there were fewer viruses because they were harder to develop. If that hole in the networking stack wasn't there 5+ years ago we wouldn't still be scanning for the malware years after the the hole was plugged. Yep, AVs will still scan for viruses the system is now immune to. An ounce of prevention goes a long way.

    I know MS has gotten a lot better in recent history and that's great. Still, it will be awhile before they'll earn my trust back especially since we're still suffering from the negligence of the past.

    /optopic rant.

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