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4 Linux Distros Compared To Win XP, Mac OS X 729

Morf writes "The Australian Consumers? Association has evaluated Xandros, Linspire, Mandrake Discovery and SUSE personal and compared them to Mac OS X and Windows XP in its latest Computer CHOICE magazine. The article is very much focused on "mums and dads", and concludes Linux is just about ready for consumers, although installing new software could pose some problems for those who aren't really computer savvy. The report is available free for a short time."
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4 Linux Distros Compared To Win XP, Mac OS X

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:05AM (#11548795)
    Ah, yes, the great Australian Consumers? Association!

    Brought to you by the Puzzled Slashdot? Readers Group.

    • Re:"Consumers?"? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by js7a ( 579872 )
      Hm, I think it's supposed to be an apostrophe, meaning that the association isn't necessarily composed of consumers, but certainly belongs to them.

      Someone tell the Australians that the rest of the English speaking world avoids apostrophes in titles and proper nouns.

      • by uhlume ( 597871 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @02:08PM (#11552489) Homepage
        More to the point, someone please tell the Australians that the rest of the English speaking world avoids question marks in lieu of apostrophes, as they are not typographically equivalent.

        (Shut up you pedants: I know it's a charset issue, but where's the humor in that?)
    • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:31AM (#11548916) Journal
      Nothing that 20 million people do is a big deal to US readers but Choice magazine has been around for a long time. A heap of (particularly older) people pay for a subscription and it carries a very good reputation.

      They may not be as enthusastic as your average slashdotter but the fact that they even did this comparison means Linux is getting consideration by people who are very quality sensitive. Also retirees who like to fiddle with PC's and photo's but don't have heaps of cash will read it next year in the doctors waiting room.
    • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:56AM (#11549024) Journal
      It's the Australian accent. They often raise their voices at the end of a phrase so it sounds like a question.
    • Maybe it was written by a 14-year-old girl. Ever hear them talk? "There's this magazine? In Australia? That compared a bunch of distros? and wrote about it?"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:05AM (#11548796)

    The report is available ... for a short time

    Okay, which one of you hosers told them we were coming?

  • Hope again (Score:4, Insightful)

    by randallpowell ( 842587 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:10AM (#11548815)
    If Linux distros could enhance their drivers, use a standard package installer (like apt), make it easy for gandma yet her geek grandson could use it as a PHPBB server for a weekend, and advertise it on TV so people will know that it exists, we'd have more converts from the Darkness of Microsoft.
    • Re:Hope again (Score:2, Insightful)

      by KiloByte ( 825081 )
      The thing is, to make a distro usable by grandmas, you need to dumb it down to a point where I wouldn't let it within a mile of my servers.

      A man page usable by grandmas is a waste of disk space for me, and conversely, a man page I need is utterly incomprehensible for the grandma.
      There is no way to fix this except by having two completely separate sets of documentation. This could by possibly done by putting the files next to each other, but I quite fail to imagine any good way of integrating that into a s
      • Re:Hope again (Score:3, Insightful)

        Make two distributions then with a common base perhaps? The base distribution being a normal one for those who are "advanced" users, and the extended one with lots of dumbed down explanations and extra guiding GUI stuff for grandmas... and everyone can be happy.
        • Re:Hope again (Score:3, Insightful)

          by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
          But nobody will want the home version. Everybody i know has all the professional, or enterprise versions of all the microsoft software installed, even though the home versions would do fine. Mind you, they never actually paid for them, but they still won't use Windows XP home. Even though the only difference is a web server they don't even know how to write web pages for.
      • Re:Hope again (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TiggsPanther ( 611974 ) <tiggs@@@m-void...co...uk> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @06:08AM (#11549068) Journal
        A man page usable by grandmas is a waste of disk space for me, and conversely, a man page I need is utterly incomprehensible for the grandma.

        Putting aside whether man is suitable or not for non-techies I'd say this would be easy enough to do.
        Granted easier for the User than for the people putting together the distro/software/documentation. But even then it shouldn't be too hard.
        Plus whether man or a graphical help function I'd love to be able to switch to a less/more complex version sometimes.

        Two sets of documentation. Help software defaults to the simple version but a simple flag can access the more in-depth version. Similarly a simple configuration file could be used to make the more complex version default for more experienced users.

        Probably still not perfect, but would allow for less experienced users to immediately get less-confusing help when needed, and the more-experienced ones would be more able to handle the steps required to switch to the in-depth help. It'd probably be a real pig to implement though.

      • Re:Hope again (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:09AM (#11549263) Homepage
        The thing is, to make a distro usable by grandmas, you need to dumb it down to a point where I wouldn't let it within a mile of my servers.

        *throws hands in the air* Awwww fuck it then!!! We might as well just call it quits.

        Rather then complain about other peoples computers, why don't you just concentrate on keeping YOUR server safe. Don't expect joe-shmoe to ever be as tech savvy as everyone else on Slashdot. It just isn't going to happen. Computers are supposed to be just a tool for the public, not a software experiment.
        • Re:Hope again (Score:4, Insightful)

          by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:35AM (#11549343)
          What I need is a distro that is fit for me. A moderately skilled programmer/sysadmin with an inability to talk to non-technical users and a badly overgrown ego.

          I need usable man pages. I need all that complex docs. I'm not a wizard who already knows everything by heart. I want documentation, not dumbed-down text asking me if the computer is turned on.

          What those Joe Schmoe users need, is a clickable interface with anything that could make them shoot themselves in the foot carefully hidden. What I need, is a system that allows me to shoot my own foot if I tell it so. A system that doesn't try to pamper me, but does what I say -- without standing in my way. It needs to provide some examples and documentation that is not completely opaque -- and that documentation would be too dumbed down for those more skilled than me.
          In general, my goals are opposite to the goals of Grandma Jill. I, being selfish, can't stand if I get hurt due to someone trying to make it easier for grandmas.

          I, a technical user, need a system fit for technical users.
          Grandmas need a system that's dumbed down.
          It's hard to have both in a single system, so any compromise will hurt both sides.
          • Re:Hope again (Score:4, Insightful)

            by tolan-b ( 230077 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:48AM (#11549841)
            Why on earth is it hard to have user freindly documentation *and* man pages? It's not as if text takes up that much space, and anyway, if you don't want the grandma doc sthen just don't install grandmadocs-1.1-3.. Where's the problem? What am I missing?
      • Re:Hope again (Score:5, Insightful)

        by b-baggins ( 610215 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @10:02AM (#11549930) Journal
        A man page usable by grandmas is a waste of disk space for me, and conversely, a man page I need is utterly incomprehensible for the grandma.

        You, my friend, need to find a good technical writer.

        It's called inverted pyramid writing and goes something like this:

        1. Summary
        2. Non technical end user level information
        3. technical end user level information
        4. hard core geek level information

        You simply provide a sidebar nagivation in the summary page that takes you to the level you want.

        The "dumb down" argument is nothing more than the desperate flailings of ego trying to still prove to the world that it is justified.

    • Just how would you wish the distros would "enhance their drivers"? If you're talking about device support, I find it to be perfectly suitable for grandma to use, especially since it's likely she won't have the latest and greatest hardware.
    • by gilesjuk ( 604902 )
      There's an option to version modules in 2.6, so potentially they can be used with a different kernel than the one they were compiled against.

      But a lot more work needs doing in that area.
  • by SigmundFreud ( 656053 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:11AM (#11548816) Homepage
    From the article's conclusion: 'Linux fell short on common tasks such as installing new software.' This is the most important point. Joe Average wants a usable system, which includes being able to work in an intuitive way. the 'friendlyness' of most GUIs that I have seen (KDE, Gnome, OpenOffice, etcetera) still leaves a lot to be desired, which hampers accomplishing common tasks. These 'Linux is ready for the desktop' stories have been piling up for quite a few years now, but will it really happen?
    • by jesterzog ( 189797 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:45AM (#11549367) Homepage Journal

      These 'Linux is ready for the desktop' stories have been piling up for quite a few years now, but will it really happen?

      I really don't think that users being able to administer their systems should be considered a serious problem when considering linux on the desktop.

      In recent months I've come to believe that Linux, and many other unix-like systems for that matter, are not only ready for the desktop and have been for some time, they're near perfect for it. The major catch (apart from that whole software compatability thing, perhaps) is that they're only perfect when someone who knows what they're doing is adminstrating the system.

      I administer my own home linux system, and I like it that way absolutely, but I wouldn't reccommend it to any of my friends. Sure, I could get them set up and rurning, but every so often they'd want to change something and would need help.

      At my university, we run a department network of NetBSD machines, and they're administered brilliantly to the point where new students who are used to Windows can get started in using them for many things without a lot of problems. The security's locked down to a reasonable extent so it's hard for any badly written software the seriously break any of the workstations, but if we want something changed then there's a responsive team of administrators who'll look at providing what's needed. Most importantly, the workstations are reliable and they're looked after by experts who know everything that's on them inside out. Just like my home machine, unixes very rarely break or collapse if they're administrated well.

      My point is that Linux is very ready for the desktop, but people shouldn't be expected to administer their own systems. Luckily, though, Linux has several other very handy things going for it:

      1. It's reliable: Switch it on and do things, and it'll usually stay up... even if applications crash here and there.
      2. It can be locked down from the users to prevent a lot of things from going wrong. When the user is prevented from doing certain things to their PC, they're less likely to break things.
      3. Due to the lock-down, a lot of software (such as spyware) will have a much more difficult time embedding itself in the system in a way that can't be cleaned out by an administrator.
      4. It's very accessible for remote administration. Someone can log in remotely and, with the appropriate but usually ubiquitous tools, have direct and immediate access to anything administrative that's required.
      5. High speed connections are becoming more and more common.

      What surprises me is that nobody yet seems to have seriously jumped into a potentially great business opportunity of offering remote linux administrations for home users. Essentially it'd be linux by subscription, ironically enough.

      I really do know lots of people who use Windows because they're afraid of everything else, and they only even try to administer it and understand the issues because they have no other option. Really they'd rather concentrate on actually doing things with their PC, and would often be happy to pay someone else to administer it if the price were reasonable.

      The business would be in providing a remote service which, once a customer's home PC had been set up in an appropriately standard configuration, would offer the service of administering the PC remotely. For instance, if the customer wants new software, they phone up and ask for it. An admin logs in, installs the package, and sets up any appropriate configuration. Perhaps every so often, administrators come along and upgrade whatever software is installed, probably (usually) keeping the configurations within bounds that are known to work on a large scale. Perhaps they even provide conversion services for things like Word files, in cases when something like OpenOffice simply won't handle it properly.

      On occasion

    • 'Linux fell short on common tasks such as installing new software.' This is the most important point.

      Installing new software is a common task? I would have assumed most people, once past the initial setup of a system, spend their time USING software, not installing it.

      But the point stands. In OS X, installing new software is usually just as easy as copying it to the Applications folder. Why do Linux and Windows make it so much more complicated?
  • by Gopal.V ( 532678 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:13AM (#11548833) Homepage Journal

    * Check the manufacturer&#146;s website for a list of compatible hardware prior to choosing an OS.
    I guess I always did that with Mac OS X ... :)

    Jokes aside, I bought (ie assembled at home) a PC which I picked off the hardware HOWTO. Ended up being a charm to get Linux working on it. I would like to call that Voting with your Money.

    These days you should check TuxMobil [tuxmobil.org] or some other Linux site rather than just the hardware vendor's site for the compatibility from the wild.
  • In breif summary (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:13AM (#11548837)
    Apple Mac OS X (10.3) $229
    Microsoft Windows XP Home $324
    Xandros Desktop OS 2.5 Deluxe $135

    Apple Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows XP were easier to use than any of the Linux distributions tested - but not by much.

    Mac OS X lost marks for poor help files but was easier to use for most common tasks. Windows XP had excellent help files but scored lower for installation, which was complicated and time-consuming. You may also need to spend extra money on additional software for common tasks.

    Xandros Desktop OS was the top performing Linux distribution. It was easy to install with very good help files but was more complicated to use for tasks such as burning a DVD and viewing digital photos. It didn't include DVD burning software and you need to find the correct folder for photo and movie files. However, at $135, it's a considerably cheaper option than Windows XP or Mac OS X.

    None of the operating systems are ideal, however.

    * The Linux distributions fell short on some common tasks including installing new software, setting up an internet connection and the availability of help files and instructions.
    * Mac OS X could have more comprehensive help files and we'd like to see the inbuilt firewall switched on by default.
    * Although Windows XP usually comes pre-installed on computers, the installation process could be easier, as could some of the common tasks such as playing a DVD.

    We'd also like to see inbuilt antivirus software in all operating systems -- the tested operating systems don't currently include a virus checker.

    In brief

    * Microsoft Windows is the dominant operating system.
    * The Linux-based operating systems we tested aren't quite as easy to use as Windows XP and Mac OS X, but they're not far behind.
    * Linux fell short on common tasks such as installing new software.

    Overall, however, Linux has improved in leaps and bounds over the years. It's probably not suitable for beginners yet but if you're a confident computer user, any of the tested distributions should suit you.
  • by Simon (S2) ( 600188 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:16AM (#11548848) Homepage
    And he loves it. I first tryed it on my own computer and was really surprised at how polished and stable it was. It detected everything out of the box and I had very little to do to make it work like I wanted.
    So I decided to make my Dad switch from WinXP to Ubuntu, installed Abiword and gnumeric (oo.org was to slow on his P4 with 96MB RAM), setted them as default editors, copied all his Documents over from the Win partition and made a shortcut on the desktop to his Documents folder.
    He really likes Ubuntu. At first he was a bit bored because he had to learn some new things (for example the "Applications" menu is on the top left, and not on the bottom), but he got the changes quickly and adapted to the new OS in a few days.
    I asked him yesterday if he likes more Windows or Linux now that he tryed both, and he told me that it makes no difference for him, as long as he can use spreadsheets, write letters, read his emals and organize his pictures like he did before (btw. he loves gPhoto and Gimp is his new favorite program :).
    So to him it makes no difference, but now I don't have to clean his computer from spyware and viruses every few weeks.

    So for me (and for my dad) Linux IS READY for the desktop. At least Ubuntu is.
    • A P4 with 96 megs of RAM? wtf? that is the weirdest combination i have ever seen. Even dell puts in 128. or is that 128-32 for graphics = 96 ?
    • oo.org was to slow on his P4 with 96MB RAM

      Pardon? A P4 with 96MB? My Pentium 100 from nearly a decade ago had 192MB. My current PC is a second generation Celeron and the video card alone has 128MB. What dumb bunny company is selling a P4 with a mere 96MB RAM?

      Do your Dad a favour. Splash out and spend $100 on a 256MB upgrade.

    • by _Hellfire_ ( 170113 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:28AM (#11548900)
      Here Here.

      I installed Ubuntu on my gf's grandmother's laptop, a Toshiba Tecra A2. Setup was a breeze. It detected everything right down to the wireless eth card.

      I also stuck a "My Documents" shortcut on the Desktop so the other Windows people woulnd't get lost and in addition made it boot straight into her profile with no password.

      That was a few weeks ago, and I saw her the other day quite happily looking at photos of the grandkids and playing a mpeg clip with mplayer. Keep in mind she's 80 odd and has never used a computer before. She wanted to play some games also, so I stuck shortcuts on the desktop to Solitaire and minesweeper.

      After using Ubuntu, my gf's dad now wants it on his computer because he says "Windows XP is too hard to use" and he "really likes it how everything makes sense on Ubuntu". Hmmm a logical desktop OS where everything Just Works(tm) is the exact reason I use Ubuntu on my desktop.

      Is Ubuntu ready for the desktop? You bet your ass it is.

      PS If anyone's interested you can read the blog entry here [cr0n.net]

      • by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @06:31AM (#11549138)
        Is ubuntu ready? No - the point is that *you* installed it... *you* set it up... a geek was needed to get this beast working smoothly, and that shouldn't be the case. It may work wonderfully now, because you've set it up and got everything where they expect them to be, but what would have happened if you'd handed them the install CDs and said get on with it? (ok, other than your gran telling you she wasn't going to bother because it's too confusing to put a CD in the drive ;) )
        • by Anonymous Coward
          This is not entirely fair, is it?
          Try to hand a WinXP install CD to a non-geek and watch him suffer.

          While I'd agree that windows being bad is no excuse for linux in general being bad also I'd simply dispute the fact that installing linux is that hard for non-geeks. Ubuntu is in fact a good example for this. Granted, it doesn't come with a nice looking graphical installer, but the install is pretty straight forward and all you have to do is click yes a few times and you'll end up with a working system.
        • by _Hellfire_ ( 170113 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:20AM (#11549296)
          When I said setup was a breeze I really meant setup was a breeze.

          Apart from being very clearly laid out, the Ubuntu installer is easy to follow and takes you through the installation process fairly painlessly.

          Now of course someone who's never used a computer before is not going to install an operating system. That is just plain silly.

          The point is that even someone moderately knowledgable (I'm not talking guru here) should be able to set up Ubuntu. Anyone who can answer yes no questions can set it up. Most of the time the defaults are correct anyway.

          On a related note would you give your mother a Windows XP disc and expect her to install it. I certainly wouldn't. The difference is with Windows is most of the time it's pre-installed by the manufacturer.

          Not to nit-pick... but it was actually my girlfriend's grandmother. Something tells me that you read "I installed Ubuntu", "grandmother" and "Is Ubuntu ready for the desktop? You bet your ass it is." and ignored everything else.
        • Several others have pointed out that XP is really harder to install than any Linux distro today. And I must add another point here: device drivers. Distros like Mandrake or Suse will correctly recognize most of the hardware and install the drivers out of the box. For any MS operating system you must get drivers in separate CDs or even diskettes.

          Worse still, XP will not work with some older hardware. For instance, I have an Adaptec SCSI card that will blue-screen XP, but runs flawlessly in Linux, I can even

        • by DarkSarin ( 651985 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:18AM (#11549702) Homepage Journal
          As some one else pointed out, the winXP setup is not any more freindly than the Ubuntu Setup (which by the way, is MUCH better than the winXP setup, when you get right down to it--faster too).

          I would be 100% confident in handing the Ubuntu disk to anyone and saying here, install this, and know that they could do it, provided they know two things: how to put the disk in, and how to reboot the computer. A few MIGHT have trouble getting their computer to boot from cd, but they would be the minority. Everyone else would end up with a fully functioning Ubuntu linux installation. Of course, they would also be sans windows, but that's not so bad, now is it.

          I do have some other gripes with Ubuntu (it doesn't recognize my epson cx5200, which mandrake does), but they are minor. Personally, I think that their installer needs work, for ANYTHING other than the basic installation.

          I promise that if you handed a winxp disc to most people, they would end up with a functioning system only after much confusion. I mean, NTFS or FAT32? What in the name of $person is that? Ubuntu gives even less control than windows, but it's not any worse.

          Oh, and another thing, Ubuntu, like Linspire, installs in a flash (sub 15 minutes for a working system on a reasonably modern computer). Compare this to the 30+ minute install for ANY version of windows (well, maybe not 3.11, but I've never installed that).

      • You installed it on your grand-father's grand-mother's laptop? DUDE!
    • Yay ubuntu indeed -- especially with the "installation of programs is still hard" comment - my 8 year old sister uses synaptic to browse & install the games category, and generally likes ubuntu more than windows "because everything's much simpler"
  • We have tested... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by michalf ( 849657 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:18AM (#11548854) Homepage
    We have tested the following pieces of food:

    1. a snickers
    2. a jam of pure honey
    3. an apple
    4. a carrot

    We found out that snickers is the best food because:
    1. it comes in a nice wrapping
    2. has many calories and can give you an energetic boost
    3. its taste is supreme to others

    Some people say you need vitamines, you should not spoil your teeth etc. But for an end-user what matters is the ease of use! And the snickers is the ultimate winner here.

    Although an apple and a carrot keep quite close they have a long way to go.

    best regards
  • SuSE (Score:4, Informative)

    by ErichTheWebGuy ( 745925 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:19AM (#11548859) Homepage
    I tried SuSE 9.1 when they made the personal ISO available for free. Since then, I have recommended it to anyone who would listen. YaST makes it easy enough to install software for almost anyone. It only takes a few times before people learn how to search YaST for whatever they might need, it resolves dependencies automatically, etc.

    I know apt-get, emegre, etc do the same thing, but IMHO, those utilities aren't as n00b-friendly as YaST. For one, in my experience, "mums and dads" are terrified of the command line, and will avoid it like the plague.
    • Re:SuSE (Score:3, Interesting)

      by _Hellfire_ ( 170113 )
      I haven't seen YaST so I can't comment on how easy it is to use, but Ubuntu has the apt-get front end Synaptic, which allows the user to browse through the list of available software for Ubuntu and download and install/uninstall it with the click of a mouse.

      Although I'm not a n00b (far from it in fact - I'm a Linux sysadmin for a web-hosting company) I for one don't actually use the command line for apt-get on Ubuntu as I find Synaptic so easy. In fact, since I started using Ubuntu at home I don't use the
  • News Flash (Score:2, Informative)

    by classh_2005 ( 855543 )
    Linux is still not ready for Joe User. What I really think needs to happen is that there needs to be a "no-brainer" distro bundled with specific, compatible, low-end hardware. Optionally, you could purchase all the common, user-expected peripherals like a dvd-player, camera, etc. And make sure that they are assured to work on your hardware - no configuring required. Linux could be easier than Windoze, some installs are easier already! Make it cute and fuzzy and absolutely unintimidating for Joe. If you coul
  • Ozzies? (Score:3, Funny)

    by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:27AM (#11548893)

    The Australian Consumers? Association has evaluated Xandros,

    Is the "?" some kind of joke about the way Australians turn everything they say into a question by going up in tone at the end of every sentence? Or just an unescaped html character?

    Because it gets really annoying? Trying to talk to people? When you're not sure whether they're asking a question or telling you something?

  • Interesting quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Craster ( 808453 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:28AM (#11548896)
    "We'd also like to see inbuilt antivirus software in all operating systems"
    Yeah, then we'd like to sue for anti-competetive practice, and make them strip it out again.
    • I'd much rather see operating systems designed from the ground up not to be vulnerable to viruses. I'm tired of being plagued by popups, spyware, adware, and the sort.

      Oh, wait.

      (Goes back to his Linux desktop)
    • by aug24 ( 38229 )
      I'd like to see inbuilt antivirus security in all operating systems first. Then let's have medicine for the trojans and other socially spread stuff.

  • Why? It means my parents won't touch it and bug me for tech support every 5 minutes..

  • Ironic (Score:2, Insightful)

    Windows XP was the only operating system that couldn't recognise and open an imported Excel file
    How about that? Everybody has better support for Microsoft's products than they do. Not that it's unexpected, but still...
  • Documentation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Neo-Rio-101 ( 700494 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:38AM (#11548946)
    True. Documentation for Linux is still pretty sparse in distributions.

    Many average joe's expect there to be a help icon somewhere in the distro. I know Linspire has one, and Windoes always has it's "Help" tab and chm files.

    Frankly who the heck is going to bother with the man pages and the command line? I know I will cause I'm a sysadmin, but my mother would have a heart attack upon seeing the command line! Anyone who intends to use the command line will have to learn about it from a GUI first, and quite frankly, I can't see the documentation for that in Gnome at the moment.

    Maybe it's time the distributions (or Gnome or KDE or whoever) provided us with some decent pdfs from tldp and stuck them in their packages. Maybe it's time that all the linux zealots stopped posting on slashdot so much and helped out....

    The Gnome "help" function is really sparse and doesn't go into enough detail. I'm using the latest version, and the "find" function is hidden in the menu bar. To add injury to insult, a search on "mp3" yields nothing.
    Now imagine you are a cluser who wants to know where the mp3 app is....
    • Re:Documentation (Score:3, Informative)

      by say ( 191220 )
      All modern desktop environments (KDE and GNOME) has some kind of aggregator for all kinds of help: info, man, html and so on. At least KDE has good docs for all the "KDE apps" in a very friendly docbook-based format, which integrates nicely together with all man and info pages into a little app which per default sits right of the K button. GNOME has its scrollkeeper, but I'm not familiar with it.
    • Re:Documentation (Score:3, Insightful)

      by koreth ( 409849 )
      Maybe it's time that all the linux zealots stopped posting on slashdot so much and helped out....

      Given the writing quality of a lot of Slashdot posts, I'd prefer they stayed far, far away from the end-user documentation.

      "Mommy? Why does the computer always spell 'lose' with an extra O?"

  • by Andy_R ( 114137 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:41AM (#11548960) Homepage Journal
    The author doesn't bother explaining that Linux is free, that updates to Linux are free, or that Windows is a thousand times more likely to suffer from trojans and viruses. That article continues by marking down OSX for not having a 'live cd' despite there being no conceivable reason for a Mac owner to need one, marks OSX down further for lack of help files without commenting that it needs them less, marks Windows down for lack of built in Excel support (jesus, how monolithic do you want your OS?), then adds marks to a Linux distro for having a windows emulator without saying how well it works, or that Windows doesn't need one! Most of the marks are dependent on the bundled software, not one word is given to the possibility of adding more software, and practically no marks are given for stability or security, which leads me to wonder if the author even knows what an OS is - certainly any non tech-savvy readers won't know after reading the article.
    • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:57AM (#11549028)
      I just don't get this "software is hard to install" crap. I use xandros and let me describe the process for those who don't.

      There is an icon on the desktop, it says "get software"

      You click on it and there is a list of hundreds of pieces of software. Each software has a description along side it. SOme have pictures too. Most are free, some you have to pay for.

      When you want something you just click on install and it does, the icon shows up in your menu when you are done.

      This is far easier then anything else including mac and windows. All the software that is compatible with your system is in one place. It's right at your desktop. 99% of it is free. It installs with one click.

      None of this hunt the web sites, download something, unzip it, install it, click a licence agreement. Just click and install no problems with dependencies or anything.

      How much easier could it possibly be?
      • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @08:52AM (#11549594)
        Sure Linux is rather easy to install when you have all the information. You know the name of your distribution, you know how to use your package manager (Different on every distribution). Lets say you want Yahoo Messager. First you will need to know the name and version of your distribution if you happen not to have Red Hat or Debian you will need to know which one your distribution may support. (that would stop most newbees right there) But if they did get the right run then they will need to follow the directions on the site on how to install the software (If they remember seeing it and didn't close there browser) So the muddle threw and install the package. Now where is it? There is no Icon on their desktop No Icon in their Dock, or in the menu structure. So you will need to call up some linux expert and find one who isn't a jerk and tell them to type in rm -rf / as root, because to any linux user it is obvious that it is in /usr/bin or maybe /usr/local/bin there is a chance that it could be somewhere is /opt or ~/usr/bin or ~bin. so they finally find the product now that is assuming that they know the file name is ymessager not like ytalk or some other utility that are cluttered in the bin directory. (depending on the windows manager) they may not be able to drag that icon to the dock or to the menus they will need to do some funky right click combination to find the and retype and refind this file again.

        Yes to people who have been using linux for over 10 years like myself the process is very quick I know where to look and what to look for and how to manage different windows managers. But for a newbie this is a incredible process that is way to much work. And most of them will just go screw it I will just use windows and face problems with bugs, crashes, viruses and spyware because I rather take my chances and be able to install the apps I want.
      • You click on it and there is a list of hundreds of pieces of software. Each software has a description along side it. SOme have pictures too. Most are free, some you have to pay for.

        Hundreds? There are more pieces of software than that. What are the chances of this Xandros having all the programs that run on it in the world in one place? The odds are 0. Also this doesn't account for software that comes on CD, or only in source, or a newer version has been released but isn't in the Xandros depository. What
  • I don't know, I never tested Xandros myself, but please tell me they do not use a Wine'd Internet Explorer as the main browser, instead of say Konqueror, Firefox, Mozilla or galeon. Or might the table on page 8 of the report [choice.com.au] be slightly flawed, like the rest of the article? Talking about the ease of use of installing software on linux here, the call for antivirus software onlinux as a necessity for everyon with linux viruses being as rare as you-name-it (yet), the statement that none of the linux distros ke

  • No live CD? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:46AM (#11548986) Homepage
    They noted "No Live CD" as a negative point of Xandros, but this isn't listed as a negative point for windows or osx, since these don't include a livecd either...
    (MacOS9 used to include a livecd, infact the installer involved booting to a full macos desktop from which you ran the installer)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:49AM (#11548999)
    Linux needs to come a long way before installing software is as easy on Windows. On Windows I just need to plug in the network cable to get Netsky, Klez and a bunch of other software installed automagically. I don't need to click on anything.

    Compare this to Linux, where installing software requires complex things such as clicking or even double-clicking an icon, which in turn requires learning to use a "mouse", a very counter-intuitive device, that you need to move while looking at something completely different, and when you reach the edge of the mouse mat, you need to carefully lift it and move it back to the center, such that the little arrow doesn't move, and then continue moving it where you already moved it once.
  • by micolous ( 757089 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:50AM (#11549001)
    I noticed they commented [choice.com.au] on how some of the Linux distros couldn't resize the Windows partition down to do a dual boot. I've yet to see a version of Windows that allows me to size down my Linux partition and add a boot menu so I can easily choose which OS I want to run on startup.

    Microsoft's website seems only to be able to tell me how to remove Linux (1 [microsoft.com], 2 [microsoft.com]) and not have a Windows bootloader installed to allow me to run both. All the other Linux-related KB articles [microsoft.com] are to do with Virtual PC and SMB problems.
  • No! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tanveer1979 ( 530624 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @06:02AM (#11549042) Homepage Journal
    I have been using linux for about 5 years now as my primary system, and i disagree with the report. There are certain subtle nuances which need to be taken care. For example on my system if i have the flash plugin in the plugins dir of firefox compiled from source, it crashes, but works fine with firefox binary, but the firefox binary did not support java. After some downloads compiles etc,. etc, i got it to work. But your average Joe user is going to turn away. I could not get sound to work with amarok. It would not play. Freenode had me solving the problem after half an hour effort, but the average user does *NOT* want to edit files.

    I know there are going to be posts saying that everything is fine on my system etc., etc., but the fact is everything should work on almost any common system. In case of XP all you have to do is run an exe files and you can watch videos etc.,. Yes it is insecure, virus are a problem blah blah, but the mindset of the avg user is that "Its okay if there is a virus, it is expected behavior" but its not okay if my xyz media file does not work, or my xyz camera phone does not connect. Moving people to firefox from IE is a very very trivial thing. Moving an entire OS is something totally different.

    What does linux need? Well independence from scripting. The user should not have to edit any config file, and helpful support forums. Scaring away and abusing a newbie asking stupid questions isnt going to win any users. Remeber you were a newbie once. As far as the eye candy and user desktop environment is concerned, it is okay.
  • by ABeowulfCluster ( 854634 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @06:02AM (#11549047)
    ... for 'Average Joe' to use. Seriously.. you type 'man' instead of 'help'? Ok mom.. now type ./configure What? DOT SLASH CONFIGURE.. no.. THE OTHER SLASH! GEEEZE!!!! And my document It didn't save? BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T MOUNT the DRIVE AS READ WRITE NTFS CAPTIVE! FOR FSCK'S SAKE GIVE ME THE KEYBOARD! MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOve!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @06:31AM (#11549140)
    Knock knock who's there ? It's Tux
    Whoa hold on you aint installing THAT shit on MY box
    A crate of junk you put together yourself,
    Wasting your life compilin' da ELFs

    Now every distro is just a big mess
    'Drake, Suse, Red hat ? ain't no progress
    5 text editiors, 6 media players,
    7 terminal apps later an' they call me a hater?

    They say the Penguin has 1000s of apps,
    And installing em all is where it's at !
    Sluggish ass desktops, layers of bloat,
    To draw a motherf*ckin' window on your screen that floats

    KDE and Gnome are so motherf*cking slow,
    Double click an' 5 seconds later still no go
    So now you wanna run a lightweight gui
    But don't be thinkin' y'all gonna be loopy
    'cause ice, blackbox and twm
    Are more like something from way back when
    Computers were the size of living rooms
    And Unix was the king of the dust and gloom

    One problem is X Windows
    from a prehistoric age, man it really blows!
    It has no place on the desktop
    Sooner it's is gone, sooner Linux stops being a flop

    Then we haven't even talked stability
    No sound, no floppy just kernel panic city
    And then there's the Linux classic to mention
    The Spontaneous Self Rebooting invention!
    Buy yo that's if you even manage to install,
    Beyond messed up X11 drivers 'an all
    ******(Chorus here don't know what yet...)******

    Well I tried to open GIMP but nothing's working,
    Please Linux stick to web serving!
    KDE ? looks like Windows 98
    Oh and KWrite, Konqueror, and Kate
    KSpread, Ksim, Konsole and Kedit
    Kaint Kno Kuse Kcause they all Ksuck there I Ksaid it!

    And lets not talk about that other one
    With da worlds slowest ass file browser listen son
    Shall we make something even worse than KDE ?
    Sure I know lets call it G-N-O-M-E !
    Y'see thats why A double P - L - E's GUI
    Which runs on F-R double E motherf*ckin' B - S - D
    Kicks the L - I - N -U - X D - E catastrophe
    Straight into a G - U - I inferiority!

    So baby take your vi, I'll take my pico
    You take your emacs, I'll take my BBEdit so,
    You take your X11, While I be in my Aqua heaven
    You will still be rpm an' sudo make install again!

    In fact take your KDM, rterm and XClock,
    I'll take my Finder with drag and drop
    Heck you know what ? I'll even take the Dock!
    I'll even take Sherlock!! (over that Linux flop)

    Sure it don't cost no money, But shit that Linux aint funny
    It's so old, crusty, dark and dusty, That only geeks wanna run it
    And it's hell with it's 5 minute booting,
    Compared to OS X's 10 seconds then login
    It's nothin' but a motherf*cking joke
    Still 20 years away from System 8.0
    And compared to magic Mac OS X
    Linux may as well just start again
    And you see that's why Mac users,
    Say Linux what's that, something for losers?
  • Too much choice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Digital Pizza ( 855175 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @06:45AM (#11549179)
    Expecting "mums and dads" to do ./configure; make; make install is really out of touch with reality.

    'Mums and dads" want to go to Target, pick up Hallmark Card Studio, and Blues Clues for the kids, pop in the CD when they get home and have it all install and work automatically. They can get that with Windows.

    There's too much choice in the Linux world for "mums and dads" to deal with: which distro, which user interface? People don't like choice, unless is about a topic they're really interested in. And "mums and dads" aren't interested in their computer's OS; they just want things to work. You pick out a name-brand PC (depends on which store you go to and what the salesman tells you) with Windows XP Home on it; you know that you can pick up any game or program and it'll just work, no major decision-making required.

    Back when the choice included IBM PC, Macintosh, Apple ][, Commodore 64, Atari, I knew a LOT of people who complained that there were too many kinds to choose from. Why, oh why couldn't there be just ONE type of computer that'll run any program I buy? Now they've got what they wanted and they're happy, even with the virus/spyware problems. Linux, however, is all about choice.

    • "Freedom of choice is what you got. Freedom FROM choice is what you want."

      There is such a thing as having too many options and I think you've hit this on the head. People have too much to think about than configure computers. Most of us here have difficulty understanding that since this is the very thing we enjoy doing!

    • Why, oh why couldn't there be just ONE type of computer that'll run any program I buy? Now they've got what they wanted and they're happy, even with the virus/spyware problems. Linux, however, is all about choice.

      The problem is they don't have what they wanted and especially not at the cost they want. Typing "M$" is old and busted but it came about for a reason.

      Use your own analogy to really hear what any user really wants: Why oh why couldn't there just be ONE type of DVD player that'll play any DVD I
    • Re:Too much choice (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MikeBabcock ( 65886 )
      Actually, moms and dads will do what you tell them they need to do -- just don't expect them to understand.

      As long as it fits on a sticky-note, its cool.

      I have customers that know the most obscure DOS strings for their 1991 era equipment they don't want to replace. They know nothing about computers or DOS, but they know all the commands they've been given over the years -- and they don't want Windows because its different.
    • Re:Too much choice (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ookaze ( 227977 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @10:27AM (#11550107) Homepage
      No Linux distro expects "mums and dads" to do .configure .... Actually, it is DISCOURAGED.

      With your "Windows-is-perfect-centric-biased" view, without even noticing it, you bypass all the real problems with the Windows model.
      What is Hallmark Card Studio ? What is Blues Clues ? Why "choose" these apps ? Isn't there a lot of choice of these types of software ?
      How "mums and dads" even got aware of these softs ? They have to actually leave their house to get the software ? How much does it cost ?
      Who will install this (newbies are afraid of any dialog) ? Assuming it will install, will it work ? You say it will, nothing is less sure. Even games come with RELEASE NOTES full of identified problems !!!
      They can get all these problems. Worse, they do, assuming the countless hours I lost helping people on this OS.

      Contrast this with a Linux distro : no need to leave house, everything is there in the distro, nothing to pay, the description is there with a search button to find what you need. Documentation ? Mandrake comes with at least one full manual in each box, with PDF versions on the net http://www1.mandrakelinux.com/docs/Outputs/ [mandrakelinux.com] !!! Installation of software is a breeze.

      I am european (french actually). I see the only thing Windows has left for it, is that it is ubiquitous. USA people do not see it, but there are A LOT of problems due to internationalisation (i18n) and localization (l10n) in Windows, that are properly dealt with in Linux (do not know OSX). I see that americans just forget these problems, when justifying grave design choices in Windows (like no difference between different case of characters). And I see that when Windows comes out on top in a comparison, that is because the comparaison is Windows centric.
  • OSX Installation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:55AM (#11549392) Homepage
    I can't believe they consider windows to be easier to install than OSX, OSX must be one of the easiest installs, easily easier than windows or any of the linux distributions.. asidefrom that, windows doesn't even support serial ata out of the box, so installing it on modern hardware os a HUGE pain in the ass, especially if you dont have a floppy drive to load the driver from, and even if you do.. its far from intuitive
  • pwned in 30 days! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by randalx ( 659791 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @08:31AM (#11549528)
    I'd like to see a comparison between the OS'es regarding time to get hacked with default installations when in use by an "average" user.

    My friend just got a Windows machine for X-Mas as is now asking me why his computer is getting slower and what's this bargains.exe process he can't seem to get rid of.

    How can they keep saying that Windows is ready for the desktop when this stuff happens after 1 month of use. Windows is not ready for the Aunt Tilley's.
  • by MouseR ( 3264 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @08:34AM (#11549543) Homepage
    I've stopped reading half-way through. This article is full of crap.

    Who's use iMovie as a media player? Dont dont have a clue. iMovie is a movie creation tool. Not a media player.

    Mac OS X comes with QuickTime. THAT is a media player.

    As part of the cons, they list it's firewall not being on by default. What good would turning on a firewall be if NONE of the ports are on by defaults anyhow? Good luck, chap, breaking into it.
    • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter&slashdot,2006,taronga,com> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @08:57AM (#11549609) Homepage Journal
      I stopped reading one paragraph in to the second page:

      "Mac OS X could have more comprehensive help files and we'd like to see the inbuilt firewall switched on by default."

      Anyone who thinks a default client-based firewall is anything but an admission that the OS developers couldn't figure out how to make any network services secure by default simply has NO BUSINESS even commenting on security issues.

      I suppose that excludes most of the pundits online and in magazines, but that's always been true, all the way back to Jerry Pournelle (after his friend Maclean died, anyway).
  • by Understudy ( 111386 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:33AM (#11549765) Homepage
    Here is a review of of several operating systems. That are suppose to complete several functions. However being that I actually bothered to read the article I noticed a few things that bugged me.
    We installed each of the Linux distributions side-by-side with Windows XP
    We installed Windows XP and Mac OS X without partitioning the hard drive. Both operating systems include partitioning software that deletes your existing operating system and data.

    So basically they installed MacOS and WinXP on a entire hard drive and then did a dual boot setup with Linux. They mention how certain versions of Linux will partition the hard drive and certain versions won't. They however don't give the same break to Linux. Try installing Linux on it's own hard drive. Windows and Mac software are more than capable to delete the exisiting software, well hell I can do that also with Linux.

    Xandros was the only Linux distribution that didn't come with a LiveCD. Windows XP and Mac OS X aren't available on LiveCDs

    Yet this is the only place they mention that live cd issue. Why is it not in the bad column under the bullet points for WinXP and Mac.

    Easy-to-access software updates and security patches and fixes can save you time and hassle. Mac OS X and Windows XP automatically check for new updates and patches at specific times as long as you're connected to the internet. You can change the default settings if you wish. None of the Linux distributions offer automatic updates, but you can either download patches and updates from each manufacturers' website, or by using Linspire Click-N-Run or Xandros Networks. SuSE Linux and Mandrakelinux offer to look for updates during installation.

    That is so you don't just throw a patch in there and have it create more problems. I still remember WinNT sp6 and the Lotus Notes issue and several others.

    Unlike Windows XP, the Linux distributions and Mac OS X also let you restrict a program, such as ICQ, to a single user account. Additionally, in Linux and Mac OS X, the administrator is the only account with access to universal settings and files.

    This is a good thing remember that.

    Windows XP was the only operating system that couldn't recognise and open an imported Excel file -- the included office software is very basic so you need to install Microsoft Office or another more advanced program.

    Even Linux distro's require Open Office or other software to be installed to read an Excel file the difference is that you can usually install them right after you install the OS. It may be included in the box set on one of the CDs or you can download it. Either way you don't have to go out and spend more than you paid for the operating system.

    The difficulties with installing new software using a linux-based operating system arise when you want to install software from elsewhere.

    I won't disagree here, extracting tarballs, unpacking an RPM, trying to have apt-get install a program can be a bit of a bear. Making sure you have all your dependincies. The difference is that if something goes wrong you can at least look into it. If the .exe doesn't install properly you are pretty much screwed. Now with FreeBSD you can install your programs from the ports tree with "make install distclean" or a package from the cd or ftp sites with "pkg_add -r foo". The dependincies will get installed automatically.

    I understand the joe average user need. The thing is if joe average has worked with windows before coming to linux they will find things they don't understand and are very likely to get frustrated. The same applies in reverse take a *nix user who hasn't been with windows ever or since windows 95 and throw them into that enviroment. Watch them pull out their hair. While Linux (distros), OSX, and WinXP are operating systems they are very different and trying to find similarites isn't always going to be fair. If you have only ever driven an automatic car, driving a car with a manual tr

  • Complete crap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fitten ( 521191 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @10:51AM (#11550284)
    Well... I had to stop reading the Linux/OSX propaganda document when I read things like:

    You can't restrict applications to only one user account.

    and basically the complaint that Excel isn't bundled with Windows but the other distributions of Linux/OSX have OpenOffice or something bundled with it that can read an Excel document. Microsoft always gets blasted for *bundling* apps (ooo...ooo... the beeg eval monopoly!) -and at the same time- blasted for not bundling apps (ooo...ooo... basic functionality left out!).

    That "report" is nothing more than propaganda to further someone's agenda. It's garbage.

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