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Why Linux Can't 'Sell' On the Desktop 1091

Posted by Soulskill
from the everybody-knows-tuxes-are-expensive dept.
New submitter VoyagerRadio writes "Recently I found myself struggling with a question I should easily have been able to answer: Why would anyone want to use Linux as their everyday desktop (or laptop) operating system? It's a fair question, and asked often of Linux, but I'm finding it to be a question I can no longer answer with the conviction necessary to 'sell' the platform. In fact, I kind of feel like a car salesman who realizes he no longer believes in the product he's been pitching. It's not that I don't find Linux worthy; I simply don't understand how it's ever going to succeed on the desktop with voluntary marketing efforts. What do Linux users need to do to replicate the marketing efforts of Apple and Microsoft and other corporate operating system vendors? To me, it seems you don't sell Linux at all because there isn't supposed to be one dominant distribution that stands out from the rest. Without a specific product to put on the shelf to sell, what in the world do you focus your efforts on selling? An idea?"
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Why Linux Can't 'Sell' On the Desktop

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  • heh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:31AM (#39424855) Homepage Journal

    What do Linux users need to do to replicate the marketing efforts of Apple and Microsoft and other corporate operating system vendors?
     
    Spend millions of dollars on advertising and even more in subsidies to hardware manufacturers (or like Apple make your own hardware.) But I have no idea why anyone would want to do that. Though I confess, I don't really care if Linux gets the kind of broad use that Windows has or even OSX. I used to worry about it, because I had a fear that if not enough people used Linux it might go away. But now Linux is so incredibly successful on the server and phone that I'm not worried about that any more.
     
    I really hate Apple - their whole approach but more and more I find myself telling people, "Hey, if you can afford it try out Apple." It seems to work well for normals. They appear to have less issues than the normals running Windows. Frankly, I don't get it, but then again - I don't care. I just want people to be able to do what they want so they can leave me alone so I can focus on doing what I want - which means using Linux. I'm glad I'm not dependent on winning over people that are willing pay extra for devices that are locked down physically and ideologically. (Nobody needs to get their panties in a bunch defending Apple to me. I've heard all the reason people like their stuff. It's not that I don't understand - I just don't agree. I find their products to be aesthetically pleasing as long as I don't actually have to use them.)
     
    And of course MS had to break the law to get the install numbers they had. I'm not willing to go that route either for Linux.

    • Re:heh (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:41AM (#39424907)

      I think we have done it completely wrong for a long time. Asking people to please use a platform is counter productive. Telling them they can't have it could be a better solution.

      • Re:heh (Score:5, Funny)

        by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:53AM (#39425001) Homepage Journal

        That's funny. I need to start quickly shutting off the monitors on my desk whenever someone walks into my office.

        Them: What'cha doin?
        Me: Nothing. Nothing at all.
        Them: Why'd you turn off your computer?
        Me: Well, actually I just turned off.. Never mind. Well I use this special operating system, I'm not even supposed to talk about it.
        Them: Operating System?
        Me: The software it runs, like Windows or Mac
        Them: Really? Who made it secret?
        Me: It's just an unspoken rule. It's rather expensive and very limited in who is allowed to use it.
        Them: Wow. What would it take for me to get it?

        • Re:heh (Score:5, Interesting)

          by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:08AM (#39425103)
          So, the first run of Linux adoption is don't talk about Linux adoption? ;-)
        • Re:heh (Score:5, Funny)

          by IceNinjaNine (2026774) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:12AM (#39425133)
          The first rule of Linux is that you do not talk about Linux.

          The second rule of Linux is that YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT LINUX.

          ... two geeks walking past each other in the hallway with a knowing nod and a calluses on their fingers from their Happy Hacking keyboards...
        • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @09:43AM (#39426567)

          We could use that exact logic to attract the hipster crowd.

          "OSX? Windows? Nah, those are too mainstream for me. Oh, what do I use? Linux. You've probably never heard of it before, though. It's really underground."

          And thus, by hitting the hipster buzz word trifecta ("mainstream", "you've never heard of it", and "underground"), we will get millions of trendy Starbucks loiterers to use it out of spite.

    • Re:heh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:48AM (#39424953)

      What do Linux users need to do to replicate the marketing efforts of Apple and Microsoft and other corporate operating system vendors? Spend millions of dollars on advertising and even more in subsidies to hardware manufacturers (or like Apple make your own hardware.)

      Don't forget the smear campaigns and FUD about other operating systems, threats to sue end users over patent infringement, etc.

    • Re:heh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by beelsebob (529313) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:14AM (#39425149)

      It's much much much more simple than that. Be usable, have a massive pile of good applications.

      • I'm going to have to disagree. That will get you a following but not on the scale of Apple or MS. I don't think they'd market like they do if they didn't see results. The same with defending their intellectual property.

        In the early days of the PC there were multiple platforms that met your description (for their time) and most of them didn't make it. I don't think it was simply a matter of them not being usable or lacking applications.

        Those things of course are important, I am not saying you can succeed wit

    • Re:heh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by digitig (1056110) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @08:05AM (#39425505)
      First get a product that is as good as Microsoft's and Apple's for that particular job. I think Linux is the go-to OS of choice for back ends, but geeks tend to overlook just how hard it is to get Linux working. Every Linux installation I've done there have been problems getting it to work with the hardware that have involved typing arcane incantations into obscure configuration files. Geeks will do that; Joe User won't. And I still haven't got sound or wi-fi working properly on my current Ubuntu installation (nobody on the Ubuntu forums can work out the problems, and all the hardware is listed as supported and works fine when I boot Windows). Not an issue for a backend, but a killer on the desktop. It's not marketing that Linux needs for the desktop, at least not marketing to users -- marketing to hardware manufacturers to persuade them to support it would be a different matter.
      • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @08:15AM (#39425587) Homepage Journal

        I've said it above - but more directly to your point about Linux being difficult - we could argue that all day. I have had a real bear trying to do some rather straightforward things on MS and Apple. The fact that so many friends are calling on me to help fix their problems on such a regular basis (and none of them are running Linux) proves to me that they are not so easy.

        So I think it goes well beyond that - to marketing and business practices.

          But in my mind, this discussion about if Linux is as 'easy' as MS and Apple is a waste of time as we'll be throwing around anecdotes and such without really settling anything. So I'd rather avoid that and ask, "Is Windows the dominant OS based purely on usability?" If you really believe that, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rogerborg (306625)
        Bingo. I've just put Mint on the wife's machine, and it nearly worked out of the box. But from her point of that, that means that it doesn't work, it doesn't get a free pass just for trying so hard.

        Granted, it is all sorted and working now, but she needed Geek support.

  • Why not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dokc (1562391) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:32AM (#39424859) Journal

    Why would anyone want to use Linux as their everyday desktop (or laptop) operating system?

    Why not? It simply works, I can do whatever I want.

    • Re:Why not (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:40AM (#39424899)

      Why would anyone want to use Linux as their everyday desktop (or laptop) operating system?

      Why not? It simply works, I can do whatever I want.

      And you can do that without having to buy (or steal) 50 expensive software packages to get the complete functionality you expect of a desktop or laptop workstation.

      I only keep a Windows box around so I can play commercial games. For me, it's just a glorified game console.

    • Re:Why not (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:53AM (#39424995)
      I think that's probably one of the biggest problems. A lot of people a use to doing what they're told, not what they want. When confronted with too much choice a lot of people just curl up into little balls and cry. Figuratively speaking of course.
      • Fundamentally, a computer is a Turing-complete machine. Meaning it can execute any programme you can possibly conceive of. And infinitely many more you cannot even imagine.

        This is why computers are so different than any other machine ever invented. And the desktop is just a small and useful trick to help you tap the power of your computer. If you try to make your computer into an appliance, you fundamentally did not need a computer in the first place anyway.

        Also, you will either fail or make your device pre

  • by pbjones (315127) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:35AM (#39424875)

    ask not what OS is for you, ask what your OS can do. After the shine wears off it's about what you use a computer for. I play 1 on-line game, read the news, and catch up with a few people on FB. And I have have a diffrent machine for eMail. If Linux does what you want, use it, you don't have to sell it to anyone.

  • by lattyware (934246) <gareth@lattyware.co.uk> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:36AM (#39424879) Homepage Journal

    Really, why? If you can't think of a good reason for someone to use it - it's probably not for them. I've been a Linux desktop user for ages, and I'd find Windows horrible to go back to now, but I get that it's not the same for everyone.

    Look, I'm not saying you shouldn't let people know Linux exists and show them how it could help them, but don't get obsessive about it.

    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:44AM (#39424937)

      Really, why? If you can't think of a good reason for someone to use it - it's probably not for them. I've been a Linux desktop user for ages, and I'd find Windows horrible to go back to now, but I get that it's not the same for everyone.

      Look, I'm not saying you shouldn't let people know Linux exists and show them how it could help them, but don't get obsessive about it.

      Yeah, I'm always amused at the notion that we "should" market Linux. So long as there are enough participants to support a well-rounded free software environment, Linux will have its niche.

      It's not competing with OSes sold for other niches.

      Also, its purpose is to let geeks do stuff they want to do, not to saturate the consumer market or pump up someone's stock portfolio.

      There's no reason for its creators, users, or proponents to do anything other than what they've always done.

  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:38AM (#39424891) Journal

    I don't think the answer here is about Linux, I think it's about Windows. Simply put, there isn't enough "wrong" with Windows these days.

    There was, I felt, a moment where Linux had a chance to make a breakthrough onto the mainstream desktop. It was around the point where Windows ME was failing horribly and Windows 2000 had yet to get much public acceptance. At that point, there was a lot wrong with Windows. The technology underpinning 95/98/ME was creaking horribly. It's hard to believe now, but if you were a heavy PC user (particularly a gamer) back then, your Win98 machine would need daily reboots just to maintain basic performance and stability. Over on 2000, until it got a service pack or two, there were horrible compatibility issues with many applications, particularly those that required directx.

    And then the moment passed. Windows 2000 got patched up and then Windows XP went on, after a rocky start, to become a stable, pleasant to use OS. Even the debacle of the Vista launch couldn't undermine the general dominance of Windows - because the major competition to Vista was coming from XP, not from Linux.

    If you want to unseat the dominant market player, you have to not just be better than them, but be a lot better. It's not just that you have to have a few killer features; you have to be able to at least match the dominant player in every other significant respect as well. Linux is nowhere near that kind of position in respect of Windows these days (take gaming support as a case in point, but there are plenty of other examples).

    • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:48AM (#39424957) Homepage Journal

      It will be interesting to see how Win 8 fares. I agree that Windows is not horrific for normal desktop usage at home. Windows 7 has progressed to be close enough to my Linux/KDE setup that I actually don't mind it too much, especially with power shell. But the changes in 8 are rather significant. I've been running the preview in a VM on my Fedora box and there are some huge changes. I think MS may continue pushing more customers to Apple with it. I don't see it being much of a boon for Linux because Linux just isn't on most people's radar.

      • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:56AM (#39425011) Journal

        I think the problem for MS's competitors is that, as we saw with the Vista launch, even if MS get something badly wrong, they've got a market dominance safety margin because a) their older OSes are still out there and usable, barring some kind of actual kill-switch and b) the competition needs, in many key areas, a few years to catch up to them even if MS stands still.

        Agree that Apple rather than Linux is the more dangerous competitor for MS, particularly if Apple starts to take gaming more seriously in a post-Jobs world. Don't underestimate how many people's OS choice is driven by the games that they and/or their kids play. And it's in gaming support that MS is currently many years ahead of the competition (gaming on Linux appears to have made little substantive progress over the last decade).

    • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:49AM (#39424967)

      don't worry, Ballmer won't let you down. Metro is coming.

    • by F69631 (2421974) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:56AM (#39425027)

      It's important that we have a free (both meanings of the word) alternative for an operating system for those who want it. However, as long as the existence of that alternative is relatively safe it just comes down to competition. You need to invest something (money, time, etc.) to a system and you gain something from it (be it the knowledge that your system is "free", more stability or the UI and applications you prefer) and if most people say that they'd rather go with Windows... why is that "wrong"?

      I guess you can make the point "They might not say that if they KNEW more about Linux" but at that point you are no longer asking "How to increase Linux market share" but rather "How to educate people about Linux so we get more competition" which should be approached with an entirely different mindset. I find it difficult to even think "We should boycott MS because it's EVIL"... Maybe it still is so, but there are so many even more horrible corporations around that I feel a bit apathetic about that.

      Summa summarum... If you know that someone would benefit from Linux, it should be easy to sell. If you don't know, why should you even try to?

    • Actually, I think you have that backwards. Windows 95/98/ME were trying to compete with Linux. Microsoft used illegal means to compete -- fair competition would have resulted in OS/2 and Linux on top.

      Finally, in 2001, Windows XP achieved some parity with Linux and OS/2.

      OS/2 has gone away; Linux hasn't. But, even today, Windows 7 is no particular match for Linux. Does Windows run on Z-series mainframes? Sparc? Anything other than x86? Big-endian? Embedded? With how much compatibility?

      The Linux kernel is remarkably successful. What is amazing is that even with all the illegal efforts at exploiting a monopoly, and actual engineering efforts that have been put into Windows 7, that Linux is even considered competitive.

      • by F69631 (2421974) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:28AM (#39425241)

        OS/2 has gone away; Linux hasn't. But, even today, Windows 7 is no particular match for Linux. Does Windows run on Z-series mainframes? Sparc? Anything other than x86? Big-endian? Embedded? With how much compatibility?

        The discussion is about desktops so pretty much none of that is relevant... Or maybe there is relevance that you didn't elaborate enough and I'm just not getting? I don't think that anyone here denies that Linux is superior to Windows in that kind of specialized systems but that's just not important in this context.

  • Wrong Approach (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Penguinshit (591885) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:39AM (#39424895) Homepage Journal
    You don't sell Linux as a product: You sell it as an idea.

    The idea is that you can do anything you want with it.
  • by Idimmu Xul (204345) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:41AM (#39424905) Homepage Journal

    It's a Livejournal period drama featuring Teamspeak, Gnomies and Google+ hangouts; a total mashup of the entire Internet.

    It name drops, it backlinks, it links images with contribution, it bolds, "quotes", paraphrases and italics. There's even a google advert.

    It just doesn't say anything at all. Which is quite impressive considering how long it is.

    If only it was compressed down to 140 characters, might have been less painful to read.

  • by dejanc (1528235) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:43AM (#39424927)

    I make my living on Linux I spend and for the last 12 years I've been using it on desktop. I am very happy with Linux - I spend better part of my day in Linux consoles on various servers. However, 6 months ago I switched to Mac OS X for my desktop needs and I'm not going back. Why?

    Firstly, now I have a sane desktop environment which doesn't change often. It took some time to adjust to it's workflow, but with 27'' screen it wasn't that hard (just keep everything open).

    Secondly, I get access to all applications I need - ranging from Adobe products to MS Office to various ingenious applications from independent developers. I can still access all console utilities that I had under linux, so nothing is lost but a lot is gained.

    Finally, I get a better software selection than I had with any distribution I tried. The foundation is solid, I don't have to worry kernel upgrade will break binary graphic drivers (which I also get from e.g. Debian Stable), but I can keep Firefox, Virtualbox, etc. up-to-date with a click of a button (which I would get from a rolling release distribution).

    Simply put: Linux is great, and there are many excellent distributions out there. But until they settle on a DE (including broken DE's like early versions of Gnome 3 or KDE 4 is just not acceptable) and until Adobe, Microsoft et al. start selling their software for Linux, many people will simply not be satisfied with Linux desktop - which has very little to do with Linux itself.

  • by mikael_j (106439) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:46AM (#39424947)

    The biggest problem is, IMHO, inertia. In order for Linux to beat the others it has to be clearly superior

    And of course, Linux is still far from being trouble-free. I've been a Linux user since the mid-90s (although for a period I mainly used FreeBSD) but switched over to an iMac as my main workstation a few years ago. Was this because I couldn't get Linux to run right? No. Was it because Linux was "too hard"? No. Was is because of marketing? No. It was because it was UNIX and a turnkey solution. I know it's a tired phrase but it just works. I no longer fear software updates (apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade used to terrify me, had a few incidents where it ate its own package database or simply uninstalled necessary packages (like my X server) for no particular reason) and it stays out of my way.

    Now, obviously this isn't for everyone. I still have Linux desktops at home, they're just not my main workstation because I still can't quite shake that feeling of "well, it's stable now but it took two days of configuring and god knows what'll happen next time I update some software"...

    What about Ubuntu? Well, it's sometimes more user-friendly than Debian but it also breaks in new and exciting ways (for example, for the longest time I couldn't get it to accept the idea of an interface having a static IPv4 address and a dynamic IPv6 address using the GUI tools, and editing config files somehow broke the GUI tools so they would constantly assume that I had no internet connectivity at all).

  • Seriously? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:47AM (#39424951)

    Did you really have to post this?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:53AM (#39424997)

    I've used Linux as my primary OS for 10 years now and wouldn't consider going back. The things 'people' want in a desktop/laptop PC (YMMV): Stability, reliability, security and speed. But there's another, less tangible aspect. When you're ahead of the curve (or even a little to the left); you're cool. You get that innate smugness when someone proclaims their new Windows x/OS y machine ePeen score that you're just a little bit more awesome than them.

    Collaboration and openness; it's the future. First software, then government & enterprise.

  • by roothog (635998) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:03AM (#39425083)

    I have two offices, each with a different desktop (WinXP on one, OS X Lion on the other), two MacBooks (Lion on one, Leopard on the other), and a home Linux system (Ubuntu/KDE). I find all systems to be fairly usable, and for the most part, I don't really care which one I'm using. I just want to be able to use the computer, so trying to push one type of system over another seems pretty pointless if they're all ultimately usable. The differences among the systems end up being pretty minor:

    Linux:
    - Easy connectivity to remote systems/servers.
    - Easy to find, install, and uninstall software via apt-get, with reasonable assurance that the centralized repositories aren't hosting malware.
    - I never think about licenses, everything is free [beer].

    OS X:
    - Easy connectivity to remote systems/servers.
    - UNIX with a pretty GUI (though KDE is pretty nice nowadays).
    - Many applications have easy installs/uninstalls, just drag the folder into /Applications or from there to the trash. (Though having to remember which applications uninstall with a drag to the trash and which need to run an uninstaller is annoying).

    Windows:
    - Usable as long as I can stay away from the start menu (which I find cumbersome).
    - Needs a real command line that lets me ssh & scp. Having to use a GUI program to scp annoys me.
    - No customizability. For example, I can't figure out how to have the clock on the taskbar also list today's date.
    - Installing software via downloads of .exe's from random websites is worrisome.

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:19AM (#39425171)

    what in the world do you focus your efforts on selling? An idea?

    "Linux. The Desktop Teenage Alien Ninja Turtles use. Torrent It This Summer, Or No Pizza For You."

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:20AM (#39425183)
    This is an easy question to answer:
              I can't go to the store and buy software for it.
              I can't play ANY games on it that aren't total crap or 10yrs old
              It's hard to use for most people. (editing text files in emacs is not easy for most people)
              The linux support community are a bunch of assholes. Try and post a question in a linux forum asking how to do something, you get treated like an idiot.
              Even if you had someone to support you, the entire appearance, function and utility of it differs widely from distro to distro... even from release to release. Win7 may be a lot different than Win95... but not nearly as different as 2 Ubuntu distros that are less than 5yrs apart. So even a linux pro can be lost unless you drop to command line, and even then they may be confused unless you're using the same distro... not to mention that its virtually impossible to support a novice, over the phone, while they're entering console commands.

    None of this is new... it's the same problem that linux has always had.
    • by unapersson (38207) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @08:49AM (#39425899) Homepage

      1) You don't need to, but anyway, it's been a long time since I've seen boxed PC software in the wild. Online there's plenty of software you can buy for it.
      2) Humble Bundle. But that said, I game on PC a lot less than I used to, the Windows only policy of a lot of PC game developers drove me to console gaming.
      3) Which decade did you last use Linux? I don't think I've even got emacs installed.
      4) Given the tone of your post, I'm not surprised, but in my experience that's inaccurate.
      5) Gibberish.

  • some reasons (Score:5, Informative)

    by e**(i pi)-1 (462311) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:23AM (#39425215) Homepage Journal
    I use linux as my main work platform since 15 years. Here are a few reasons why I still use a mac. Here are the tools, I use regularly where I did not find analogues.
    • dead simple and robust video editing with quicktime pro (copy paste) which is able to read and export in essentially any format
    • screen recording which allows to archive any video which is visible on the screen.
    • pages, to quickly make a flyer, syllabus which looks great.
    • garage band which just works and does not need to be learned because one can just plug into the epiano and work.
    • PDF manipulation: preview is a fantastic tool to rearrange, copy paste pages in PDF files. Nothing like this exists. I use Adobe professional to reduce the size of PDF files (especially from scanned books). Most of the time the space reduction is a factor of 10.
    • Scanning: with a Fujitsu scanner, I can get a digital version of a book (cut the spine and throw it into the scanner, push one button). The result is a perfectly OCRd PDF file. No hassels, no time waste. Nothing like this seems to exist on linux.
    • presentation software. The simplicity and robustness of keynote is fantastic, especially if you want to play embedded videos.
    • digitizing DVD's. With handbreak, it is trivial to get a nice video file from a DVD. Throw in the DVD, push a button and wait.
    • Backup. I even use time machine to backup some linux directories. Sync them over to the mac, where things are archived nicely.
    • hardware: since a couple of years it is virtually impossible to get reasonably prized displays. The imac has 2560x1440. Almost all monitors one can buy now have only ridiculous 1920x1080. Even the ipad has with 2048x1536 pixels twice as many. Also the macbook air is unmatched.

    Why do I use linux then?

    • Have complete control about the machine
    • Have a second leg just in case.
    • Not to be dependent on a vendor, who might just one day decide to discontinue with operating systems because it is not profitable. (I do not believe that to happen with the Mac, but I had been burned several times in my life, like with Next). This is not going to happen to me again.
    • Have a fast machine. Lag and delays (even fractions of seconds) drive me nuts. Linux allows me to customize my machine so that this never ever happens. Its like going with a racing car. I use a minimal windows manager (blackbox) and disable anything which is not needed, and also regularly buy a decent new CPU. On the mac, especially with "versions", things can become frustrating. open a document for a moment, then close preview, delete the document, then open preview. The program tries to find the old document and blocks the machine. An operating system never should slow down the user.
    • Fun. I like to tune things but do not like to do too much sysadmin. Typically, I do not have to do anything once things are running.
  • by Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:24AM (#39425219)

    I use Linux because I find it very attractive. Sure, there are problems I encounter but I'm committed to working through them. That's how I learn how computers work and I have learned more about how computers work with Linux than I ever have with Windows. I simply cannot imagine myself going back to jail with Windows or Mac. For me, Linux is the Swiss Army Knife of computing. Anything I want to do, I can do it with Linux faster than I can with Mac or Windows.

    For those who want to use Windows or Mac? They're not attracted to Linux for their own reasons so I let them be. They're paying for the subsidy I got on my computer, which has a Windows license. Since they're spending their own money, they have a right to their choice and I support that. I even offer support to fix their computer when they need help, for a reasonable fee. But if they want to convert to Linux with a little boost to get them started, I do that for free.

    When i got my last computer, I imaged the hard drive, and put the image away (making Windows installation CDs is very slow compared to a quick image of the drive). Then I proceeded to install the distribution of my choice and I've been happy ever since. I've been on Linux exclusively at home for almost 5 years and I have no plans to go back to Windows, nor do I see a need to sell Linux. If people want what I have, I help them get it. If not, they always have Windows or Mac to use. It's their choice.

    I would prefer the use of Linux to grow by attraction rather than promotion.

  • RMS said it best (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brad-x (566807) <brad@brad-x.com> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:30AM (#39425253) Homepage

    In a recent interview with an Iranian Linux publication, RMS had this to say about the very issue addressed here - it's an opinion I share.

    "LR: What's the best way to advocate Free Software? Some Free Software users engage in technical debates with Microsoft and Apple fans, trying to convince them GNU/Linux is more powerful. Another group focus on philosophical and cultural aspects of Free Software and try to make people care about their freedom. Which of the two mentioned approaches are more effective?

    RMS: They are both "effective" but they lead to different results.

    If you convince people that some free software is technically superior, they might run some free software, but they will remain ready to use nonfree software in the areas where that is technically superior. They will continue to judge an important question based on superficial issues. This is just a partial success.

    However, if you convince people that they deserve freedom, they will start rejecting nonfree software whether it is technically inferior or technically superior, because they will see that free software is ethically superior. They will understand the important question and judge it right. This is a full, deep success.

    Another weakness of technical arguments is that nontechnical people probably won't care about them at all. But they can understand ethical arguments. Ethical arguments are the only way we can convince nontechnical people to become free software supporters.

    I figure that users can judge for themselves whether program A is more convenient than program B. So I don't try to convince them about that sort of question, except when someone has preconceptions about free software and has not tried it. I focus on talking about freedom. "

  • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:48AM (#39425371) Homepage

    What Linux needs isn't marketing, what it needs is to become the better product. Back in the Windows98 days one could make some good arguments for Linux in terms of stability, security and such, but those days are long gone and Microsoft and Apples OS offerings are just as stable as your Linux box these days, if not even more so. Which doesn't leave much arguments for Linux on the desktop. In terms of usability it's a complete clusterfuck, the user interfaces are an inconsistent non-backward compatible mess (we used to complain about QT looking different then GTK, now GTK3 apps don't even look like GTK2 apps), the packaging formats are all incompatible (even if everything uses .deb, it's still all incompatible) and there still isn't a standard way to ship third party applications on Linux. The fact that it is all Free Software is essentially irrelevant as it rarely povides the user with any pratical benefits over a proprietary alternative (data formats from one app can't be handled by another, etc.). Security is also rather terrible for a desktop OS, as it provides little to no sandboxing for applications, thus making it risky to try third party applications.

    In essence, stop complaining about lack of games, hardware suport or third party support. While those are holding Linux back, they are in large part simply the result of the underlying framework being rather shit. If it would be trivial to build and distribute Linux software, a lot more people might actually do so, but it's not, so the support overhead is rarely worth the effort.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:54AM (#39425421) Homepage

    Here are the reasons why my non techie wife loves linux over windows.

    1 - her computer just works. I dont need to take it and work on it for a weekend here and there. it Just works all the time.
    2 - backups and upgrades lose nothing at all. When I do a complete OS upgrade most of the time she never notices. Only the last Ubuntu change to the Unity desktop has she noticed that it is different. All her app settings and even the desktop wallpaper is effortless to backup and restore.
    3 - effortless free software. She installs a lot of her own software from the computer on her own. Apple recently did this as well and it is the future for the typical user.

    4 - No viruses. And yes this is a fact contrary to all you fanbois. She cant get any of the viruses or trojan horses and spyware that all her friends seem to get weekly on their windows machines. IT just does not happen.

    Drawbacks she does not like.

    Cant use itunes. This has become a moot point with icloud and her iphone and ipad. she could care less about itunes anymore.
    Print spooler still get's finicky at times. Honestly the linux print spooler is great until a printer screws up. For some reason still to this day the linux print spooler does not recover on it's own gracefully. I still have to re start the print spooler to get it to flush the waiting jobs. But we have had no problems at all with printers. In fact the brand new HP color laser we just bought was EASIER to install on her linux box than it was on the Windows 7 machine I have. Yes, Linux is EASIER to install hardware than Windows 7.

    Once in a while she complains that she cant install some cupon printer, until I point out that that "printer" is a trojan horse that causes many of the issues her friends have.

    She is a light user. Internet, and College masters classes. She understands that professors are not bright demanding "MS WORD ONLY" and turns in Libre office documents saved as word all the time and is acing her classes and never has had any complaints. This is her 5th year using linux for home and School. And yes she plays all those damned games on facebook without problems.

    Linux = zero problems desktop for free. You cant get that for a home PC vwithout paying for Apple hardware.

    And yes, we used her linux laptop for taxes this year.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @08:08AM (#39425535) Homepage

    I switched to Linux full time in 2007 after dabbling with it on and off since around 1999, I switched back to Win7 in 2011 after three and a half years and it wasn't because of Microsoft's marketing message. The reasons were complicated but one of them was that very often I got dragged into problems I didn't want. For example one classic was that I discover a new feature in an application I want. Is that version in my distro? No. Can I find a backport? No. Okay but I can upgrade my distro. Oh, new version has regressions. Oh, upgrade is buggy but problem goes away if I do a clean install - it's the "Why should you reinstall every 6 months" for Linux. One of the great reliefs I've had on Windows is that I can install the latest version and it won't end up hosing the base system.

    Without further ado I'll just state the next one simply: There's quite a few Windows applications that either have no counterpart in Linux, lacks features, is buggy or user-unfriendly and WINE/VirtualBox is not always a solution - in particular WINE constantly needs tweaks and has regressions. Saying "you got what you paid for" makes it sound like you had a choice when there is no choice to pay for commercial software, it's either find some way to live with it or ditch Linux altogether. There's many times I wish I could have put down $20 or $50 or $100 for a Linux port and not deal with the OSS abomination. The "all or nothing" approach tends to make people choose nothing, particularly since a lot of good OSS runs on Windows too.

    The only part I really miss in Windows is some kind of application update center, where software could register URLs to check for upgrades so you could do it all at once instead of every app running their own updater, not from mostly one repository like on Linux but still centrally managed. Overall though I can't really say I've missed Linux, it's okay enough if Windows turns to shit but it's not a very compelling value even though the cost is very low. But since some now live in the browser I suspect they'll be happy with Facebook, Facebook Chat, Webmail, YouTube etc. and the actual platform is irrelevant. OTOH "switch to Linux, you won't notice the difference" isn't that good a selling point...

  • by arikol (728226) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @08:12AM (#39425569) Journal

    When suggesting a computer or an OS thens listen to what the person wants to do and suggest a system that supports that.

    Liking a certain ideology is fine, but that can't blind us to the real world. If I can't complete the task I want/need to complete then that system is useless.
    That means that Linux is useless for gaming, has limited CAD capabilities (the main programs are not available), lacks good audio recording/mixing options (lacks the professional applications, although Reaper has fixed this somewhat), and doesn't have many big games. Linux is insanely flexible, but needs technical know-how if any real changes are to be made.
    Mac lacks games (those that are released are always behind the Win versions), costs more to begin with, and has lacked CAD software (that is improving right now), but is easier to use and comes with a good default setup.
    Windows has an amazing selection of software in almost all classes, but has usability issues, needs more maintenance than a Mac or a well set up Linux machine, malware issues etc. and a worse setup out of the box (and I can back that up with empirical data)

    So, for the engineer or CAD student, gamer, or business software user, suggest Windows.
    For the casual gamer who needs to work with graphics, text, or sound, then Mac is easiest
    And for anyone who is willing to put in time to learn their tools, or wants to play around with systems, Linux. Cheap home media centre? Linux FTW!

    All have their pros and cons. Select (and suggest) what fits the user, not yourself..(of course, if you have to provide support then factor in your ease with whatever OS it is. But if you're comfortable with Linux then you can figure the others out...)

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @08:47AM (#39425881)

    The summary ignores one obvious fact. BSD has done quite well on the desktop. It's called OS X. And while BSD is not Linux, it shows that the problem is not OS specific.

      What keeps Linux from repeating that success is that there isn't a large sponsor of it in the PC industry and Microsoft doesn't release Office for it.

  • by smash (1351) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @09:02AM (#39426043) Homepage Journal

    As a former Linux or BSD on desktop user, I gave up a few years ago. I'll still check out Linux or FreeBSD on the desktop from time to time (PC-BSD looks pretty good actually), but it's just too inconvenient.

    Why? At work, we're a windows shop, by necessity. We have a large number of custom applications that will cost multiple millions of dollars, and significant risk to migrate. So work is out. At home? Well, most PC hardware sucks, i'm mostly a laptop user now and Apple make the nicest portable machines.

    Given that I'm going to run a Macbook, well, OS X just works fine for me for the vast majority of what I do. In fact, I can't think of anything I want to do at home that I can't do quicker and easier on the mac than I can with Linux - I have bash, csh, or whatever other shell there if I need it. I have Python, Perl, Java and a C compiler. I also have some awesome development frameworks.

    Essentially, OS X can do anything for me on the desktop, better than Linux, so I see no need to ditch OS X. in fact, there are apps on OS X that I vastly prefer to anything I've seen on Linux. Such as time machine and mission control. There are apps that are not available at all for Linux, such as Ableton Live. And if I really, desperately need Linux, I can virtualize it anyway. Linux can't legally virtualize OS X.

    The "win" from running Linux just isn't there any more. Windows got stable, and OS X is Unix with commercial support and a nice UI. Also, despite what many would have you believe, if you ignore paper spec and just want a decent machine that works, apple is not super expensive. I'm old enough and have been around long enough to not CARE if some other machine is .2ghz faster or has RAM that runs at 1600mhz instead of 1333 or whatever. In real life practical use it makes very little difference - the major gains are when you step from one generation of CPU/bus to another, within a generation its much of a muchness. More important to me is the quality of the display and user input devices/software - and OS X multi-touch is the best interface out there, IMHO.

    Sure, I can customize the shit out of a Unix desktop environment, but you know what? Since KDE3 bit the dust, I haven't seen one I actually like. No matter how pretty it is, compared to the OS X GUI, which is at least stable and fairly consistent, the Unix desktop is lacking. It is too disjointed, too clunky and lately, too fucking unstable. I like Windowmaker, but the rest of the apps to turn it into a proper implementation of OpenSTEP just aren't there, and are too much fucking around to get working anyway, as no distribution seems to give a shit about GNUSTEP, and are all fawning over Gnome or KDE and their latest hair-brained idea of the month.

    So, in short: home desktop = OS X. Work = Windows (with a few BSD machines doing stuff I REALLY don't trust windows to handle). Home servers = FreeBSD. Desktop Linux just doesn't offer me anything significant, given that I'm already buying apple hardware because they make nice laptop hardware (even Linus thinks so). And because it doesn't offer me anything significant, and I already have an OS X license, I can't be bothered putting up with the shit you need to go through (drivers, lack of software like Ableton, etc) to use it.

    And that's before I even get into the political games being played over stuff like h.264, linking to binary drivers, etc. As an end user with money, I don't care about your political ideals. I want an OS that works, and am prepared to pay for it. This is why I run free Unix (FreeBSD or Linux) where it works well, and don't run it on my desktop :)

  • by C_Kode (102755) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @09:05AM (#39426073) Journal

    The sound system blows. It's terrible and has so many issues. They created Pulse to fix it, but Pulse is a train-wreck too.

    X is horrible. Hopefully Wayland will fix it.

    Not all Linux are the same. Debian clones / Redhat clones. Several of their functions (start up / update) are different. That will just confuse people. Yeah there are others, but only these two are actually feasible due to how wide spread they are.

    Ubuntu IMO is doing a great job with the desktop, but the first two things on my list must be fixed.

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