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Walt Mossberg Reviews Ubuntu 642

sciurus0 writes "Mainstream technology journalist Walt Mossberg recently reviewed an Inspiron 1420N with Ubuntu installed by Dell. Citing problems such as an oversensitive touchpad and poor multimedia support, he suggests that 'from the point of view of an average user, someone who wouldn't want to enter text commands, hunt the Web for drivers and enabling software, or learn a whole new user interface' Ubuntu isn't a good choice compared to Windows or OS X."
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Walt Mossberg Reviews Ubuntu

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  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:52AM (#20638407)
    Citing problems such as an oversensitive touchpad and poor multimedia support, he suggests that 'from the point of view of an average user, someone who wouldn't want to enter text commands, hunt the Web for drivers and enabling software, or learn a whole new user interface' Ubuntu isn't a good choice compared to Windows or OS X.

    My wife has a Dell laptop and while the touchpad isn't sensitive the little nodule in the middle of the keyboard is while running XP! She doesn't use either of those though, she uses an external mouse so I guess neither matters to her.

    Everyone with any sense knows that Linux isn't a great choice compared to Windows or OS X for those that don't want to learn a new UI (or anything else he said) as I've discussed here numerous times before to the pro-Linux troll mods' joy. Linux is a great option if you're not interested in additional cost, vendor lock-in, and attempts by a corporation to invade your personal privacy and choice due to their licensing allowances while covering it up with vague non-sense.

    I will continue to run Windows and OS X on my desktop machines until any of the Linux distributions mature enough to match what's available on the Windows platform (which will probably never come unfortunately) and I will continue to trust Linux as my network server -- happily chugging along for years at a clip without as much as a hiccup.
    • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:32PM (#20639221)
      Everyone with any sense knows that Linux isn't a great choice compared to Windows or OS X for those that don't want to learn a new UI

      OK, I'm going to be a little hard on Linux/*NIX here, but I'm not trolling. I love linux, I'm typing this from a Linux box, so here we go.

      All *NIX GUI is pretty bad (with the exception of OS X). From my opinion, there is no real difference between Gnome and KDE, and both are pretty much a combo of 80s and 90s UNIX X window managers with a strong Microsoft Windows influence. My favorite GUI environment from the late 90s was WindowMaker, which was a ripoff of NextStep.

      Linux is cool from the perspective of its openness and it being based on *NIX philosopies and style. But Even Linus will tell you that Linux is nothing new, and I believe that it would take something like a startup and a bunch of cash and forethought to make a good GUI for Linux or any other *NIX (again besides OS X).

      I've used FVWM, TWM, OL(V)WM, WindowMaker, Afterstep (which is how I found /.), CDE, KDE, and Gnome, and I guess a few other Windowing environments for *NIX, and sure they are usable, but none of them are great.

      It drives me up a wall that copy and paste is so inconsistant. I have to think, is it control-v, right click and use menu, middle click, shift-insert, and its common for me to get it wrong. Oh, to do page up/down, should I use page up or down keys, or shift and page up/down, or will page up and down even work? What about drag and drop? Will it work? Will it work between apps? What about a consistant Widget look and feel?

      These are common GUI things from the mid 80s, but as a rank ordering from best to worst, you have OS X, Windows, and others. Windows is not that great either. The look and feel has become about as segmented as *NIX. And OS X is not perfect, but it seems clear that they have spent more time and effort with attention to these design features than anybody else.

      • by jesterzog ( 189797 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @07:05PM (#20645383) Homepage Journal

        These are common GUI things from the mid 80s, but as a rank ordering from best to worst, you have OS X, Windows, and others. Windows is not that great either. The look and feel has become about as segmented as *NIX. And OS X is not perfect, but it seems clear that they have spent more time and effort with attention to these design features than anybody else.

        I take your points, and to me it just seems as if nobody knows how to make a great GUI, or at least, nobody is making a great GUI. If there really was a great GUI out there, I might use it, but as far as I can tell there simply isn't.

        I also think it's important to point out that it's completely possible to have a user friendly command line. I think command line interfaces get an unjustified reputation for new users. One of the most commonly used types of apps in the World -- the web search engine -- is based around command lines. Users type what they want, and the search engine tries to give it to them... often quite accurately. The Google command line is a great example of this. It's straightforward for new users to use quite effectively, and advanced users can customise their searches in lots of ways. It's not the type of precisely specified command line that would be associated with something like a bash session, but it's a well designed system appropriate for the task, intended to be quick to learn and easier to use.

        Getting back to your comments about GUIs, I have to admit that one of the main reasons I prefer Linux as a desktop OS (and I fully agree this isn't for anyone) is that in a world where no GUI is that great, it provides an excellent command line. I primarily use the GUI these days to do regular things like open a web browser or edit a spreadsheet. But when I get sick of trying to interact with the GUI for a slightly complex operation such as moving files around in a certain way, I can switch to a command line and do things very easily.

        Windows has a horrible command line as far as I've experienced. There are few consistent standards for how Windows command line tools should work together, and many Windows tools I've tried to use through a command line have been a secondary effort to an equivalent GUI tool. Often it's impossible to do simple things without invoking the GUI. The Windows Powershell stuff is quite nice for scipting functionality, but Windows still presents it through an awful interface for typing in.

        Just my thoughts, anyway.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by samkass ( 174571 )
      Linux is a great option if you're not interested in additional cost

      Only if "cost" is counted in money. I think we need a third "Free as in..." category. Linux is free if your time is worthless, but otherwise seems to incur significant "additional" costs beyond MacOS X (and to a lesser degree Windows). At some point in your career/life you reach a point where you have and are willing to pay the money for someone else to deal with all the random whack-a-mole problems.
  • by saterdaies ( 842986 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:53AM (#20638433)
    Linux (Xorg, really) does configure touchpads to be too sensitive and some things still can't be configured graphically, but the fact that Dell is willing to sell a computer with Linux is a big step. It isn't perfect, but it is getting there. Frankly, reviews like his are what Linux really needs. Linux isn't deficient, but when people point out these things, it tells us "oh, maybe we can set more user-friendly defaults for touchpads in the xorg.conf - or create a small front end to edit them".

    These reviews will only make Linux stronger.
  • by Dekortage ( 697532 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:53AM (#20638435) Homepage

    Mossberg isn't just dumping on Linux or open source. He generally likes the idea of OSS:

    Ubuntu and other versions of Linux have several advantages. Unlike Windows and OS X, they're free. Unlike Mac OS X, they can be run on the least-expensive popular hardware configurations. Unlike Windows, but like the Mac, they are essentially free of viruses and spyware. And unlike Windows and Mac OS X, they are built and constantly improved by a world-wide network of developers, professional and amateur -- the so-called open-source concept that produced the excellent Firefox Web browser.

    It makes sense that all the best software brains can't be located in just two places: Redmond, Wash., where Microsoft is based, and Cupertino, Calif., Apple's base. And plenty of people reading this have had lots of frustrations with the two better-known operating systems, especially Windows, whose latest iteration, Vista, is disappointing in many ways.

    Rather, he notes some average-user-level problems with Ubuntu (simple things like video, audio, and mouse issues). He's talking about usability by people who don't read Slashdot and are not related to (or dating) someone who DOES read Slashdot.

    Of course, he still thinks that "the Apple iMac as the best consumer desktop computer on the market." And we all know the iMac is horrible to use and support!

    • by camusflage ( 65105 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:02PM (#20638655)
      Rather, he notes some average-user-level problems with Ubuntu (simple things like video, audio, and mouse issues). He's talking about usability by people who don't read Slashdot and are not related to (or dating) someone who DOES read Slashdot.

      That is something that anyone looking at this article needs to consider. What Robert X. Cringely is to geeks, this guy is to the MBA crew. Consider the audience when considering the work.
      • by bockelboy ( 824282 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:56PM (#20639661)
        Indeed. If you want people to take your consumer-level technology seriously, one of the ways to do this is get a positive review from Walt. From his wikipedia article:

        Mossberg is widely regarded as one of the most influential writers on information technology. In 2004, in a lengthy profile, Wired called him "The Kingmaker", saying "[f]ew reviewers have held so much power to shape an industry's successes and failures."[1] He is also the highest paid journalist at the Journal.[2]
        In other words, despite people here calling him a "fossil", this is possible the most important person in the consumer tech industry. His concerns ought to be addressed carefully.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Bluesman ( 104513 )
        "(or dating) someone who DOES read Slashdot."

        +1 Funny

    • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:11PM (#20638825)

      Of course, he still thinks that "the Apple iMac as the best consumer desktop computer on the market." And we all know the iMac is horrible to use and support!
      And yet, it's still the best consumer desktop computer on the market. Depressing, huh? :)
  • You can't deny it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:57AM (#20638505)
    The hardcore Linux proponents can deny it all they want, the simple fact of the matter is that when the average user sits down with a Linux box, there are still numerous shortcomings that may make it unacceptable.

    I've said it elsewhere, I've said it here; licensing MP3 would be a good start for Ubuntu. They can certainly afford it, and the US MP3 patents are only valid until 2012, so it'd cost at most $250,000 to essentially get permanent MP3 support.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The hardcore Linux proponents can deny it all they want, the simple fact of the matter is that when the average user sits down with a Linux box, there are still numerous shortcomings that may make it unacceptable.

      really? because my technoilliterate mother can use it just fine, all she has to do to install things is click on the synaptic icon on her desktop, type the password and take a look at hwat she wants. hopefully that's not too technical... [it's easy for anyone, especially Dell, to make the deskto

  • Simple stuff (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Knuckles ( 8964 ) <knuckles AT dantian DOT org> on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:58AM (#20638531)

    There is no control panel for adjusting the way the touch pad works
    So, Dell does not install gsynaptics for touchpad control? Bad move, but this issue will go away soon, since it's default in Gutsy (Ubuntu 7.10).

    When I tried to play common audio and video files, such as MP3 songs, I was told I had to first download special files called codecs that are built into Windows and Mac computers. I was warned that some of these codecs might be "bad" or "ugly."
    I dunno about the installation dialog in Feisty (which must be what Dell uses), and I agree that the wording here can use polish. But hey, at least it asks me whether it shall install the codecs it needs. The last time I tried to play an avi file in Windows, Media Player popped up a message that it should download the codec, then it said error, then I couldn't watch it. (I am also using the same POV as in the article).

    To get the computer to recognize my Kodak camera and Apple iPod, I had to reboot it several times. When it did find the iPod, it wasn't able to synchronize with it.
    I don't have an iPod, but all cameras I attached to Ubuntu since Dapper just worked, even those that wanted me to install crapy software for Windows.

    Playing videos was a bad experience, with lots of flickering and freezing. Oh, and there's no built-in software for playing commercial DVDs.
    Huh? Did Dell forget to enable XVideo? I haven't had such a problem for amny years, my AMD K6 450 played videos w/o a problem. DVD: why the hell does Dell not install a player and pay the license?

    That's all the complaints the author has. Not bad, I have seen Windows users with a lot more.

  • Malware? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Britz ( 170620 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @11:58AM (#20638559)
    How about someone that doesn't want to search for good AntiSpyware solutions?
  • A good sign. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by delire ( 809063 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:00PM (#20638607)
    Dell needs to take these things in steed. If Mossberg's criticisms are valid - which they seem to be - then Dell isn't far off from having a system perfectly reccomendable to 'non-techies'. Perhaps then Dell can compete with those preinstalled Ubuntu laptops [system76.com] non-techies do seem to find great out-of-the-box.
  • by C10H14N2 ( 640033 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:07PM (#20638747)
    Mark Shuttleworth, the South African-born founder of the Ubuntu project, told me this week that "it would be reasonable to say that this is not ready for the mass market." And Dell's Web site for its Ubuntu computers warns that these machines are for "for advanced users and tech enthusiasts."

    Armed with that knowledge, he goes out to write a column about:

    So, what do I mean when I say Ubuntu is too rough around the edges for average users?

    Apparently, though it is "too rough" it is not rough enough to keep the uninitiated away despite warnings precisely to that effect, which is a damned sight more interesting by itself than the litany of peeves he enumerates.
  • by Spencerian ( 465343 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:08PM (#20638765) Homepage Journal
    I tried Linux in several distros back in 2000 and was amused but not pleased. Driver support was crazy, the simple matter of changing screen resolutions was terrible, and useful applications (beyond games) made Linux a poor choice for the basics.

    Times change, however. Contrary to Mossburg, who, much of the time, is a very even-handed and well-informed tech columnist that really knows the ins and outs of Windows and OS X, I'd have to disagree with him here.

    I've installed Ubuntu client in my Parallels virtual environment on my OS X system. I like it over the past Linux distros for several key reasons:

    (1) Ubuntu (actually, GNOME) has greatly simplified its interface, "stealing" good elements from both OS X and Windows. From the Mac, a fixed menu bar at the top of the screen, and only four menus at that. Finding things is easy. From Windows, the notion of menu-launching key applications a'la the Start menu button (rather than mere commands found in OS X menus).

    (2) Ubuntu has very good hardware support, but always there will be a system that doesn't like it as well. This is because of the same problem that Windows has (although Microsoft has more money and clout to throw at this problem): Hardware quality and variations in the computer world are astronomically huge. Expecting any operating system to support the myriad of PC hardware variations is just near-impossible. Ubuntu does much better, in my experience in using it, than say another GNOME interfaced-Linux, Fedora. (In fact, Fedora is pretty awful in client form.)

    (3) Ubuntu has EVERYTHING that the average Joe Offthestreet needs for basic internet and home needs: A web browser (Firefox, arguably best in the biz), an office suite (OpenOffice, always trying to be something that MS Office thinks it is), a mail client (Thunderbird, a client so nice I've moved from Apple Mail to it on my OS X system) and lots of games and the like.

    Software update processes are now less crazy and propellerhead, again taking the ideas from the commercial camps. Security is as good as any Unix/Linux client, and since its not Windows, spyware and viruses are not generally present here.

    Ubuntu loses only in the specialized "gimme-gimme" internet needs of the youth and industry, like iTunes (doesn't exist, but good MP3 players and support for them are, although iTunes Music Store reins supreme, IMO), some specialty web features for audio or video, professional-level graphic and audio tools, and enterprise support (this problem is shared with OS X, despite my own personal and professional efforts to the opposite).

    Installing further applications outside of the bundled, however, needs work. GNOME needs to expand further with, say, Apple's "package" concept of a single app in a double-clickable folder that contains all the binaries and libraries for the app. For now, Ubuntu works like many Linux clients, so third-party apps are hellish to do for the average Joe Whodoesntdo-cmdlines.

    If I had a friend or family member that needed a computer (PC) but didn't want to fight the antiquation battles that MS wants to give its consumers, AND if my friend only needed to do web, email, and general office stuff, Ubuntu is a hands-down favorite.

    Mossburg and others, unfortunately, may have had too much exposure to other operating systems to see things more simply. Not everyone needs an enterprise-level operating system...just one that works for them for what they need, at home.
  • by WombatControl ( 74685 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:19PM (#20638993)

    The problem that Linux has is that it's written by wildly disparate groups of people with different ideas about how an OS should work from a user perspective. The strength of Linux is that it's written by wildly disparate groups of people with different ideas about how an OS should work from a technical perspective.

    It's perfectly possible to make a UNIX OS be usable by the masses -- Apple's done that with OS X. The difference is that Apple "cheats" -- they only support a certain range of hardware, all of which is a known quantity to them. They're not dealing with the issues of a Frankencomputer made from whatever bits of hardware happen to show up.

    The only way to get Linux as a mass-use OS is to user test the living hell out of it. That means a continual process of refactoring so that the user never has to view the command line unless they really want to. That means making sure that every application follows a consistent HIG. That means that the first person who says something along the lines of "RTFA" gets canned.

    What matters isn't technical excellence, but a culture of usability. The Linux subculture is still based around the hacker ethics -- and that's why Linux remains an OS primarily for people who enjoy compiling programs and manipulating settings. That has to change. The culture needs to be one of taking a critical look at every stage in the process and presenting the user with a set of simple and consistent choices that let people use their computers rather than worrying about getting their machine in a usable state. Ubuntu's leaning in that direction, but they still have a long way to go.

    The problem is that changing a culture is a hell of a lot harder than just writing software. A culture in which people are expected to navigate the Internet looking for answers will keep Linux marginalized. A culture that says "this problem is too complicated and needs to be simplified so that the average user gets it" is a culture that can take Linux to the mainstream. Not only that, but it encourages technical development as well -- a good number of the reasons for unnecessary complexity is because there are unnecessary complications in the way a piece of code works. At the end of the day, a solution that's simple for the user is often simple at the code level as well.

    I've been using Linux for a decade now, and Ubuntu is a great distro -- but it still isn't enough. The only way that Linux will get mainstream acceptance is when Linux developers start consciously thinking about the overall user experience. It isn't the code that's the problem, it's the culture, and looking for technological solutions to cultural problems doesn't work -- just look at what Microsoft is trying to do with its current strategy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You (and many others) are overstating the problem.

      There is no significant gap in practical usability between Windows Vista, Mac OS X, and Ubuntu. There are some specific sore points (oh noes, you have to click "Ok" twice to play an MP3 the first time) and a hell of a lot of resistance to change.

      Any person or company who wants to run Ubuntu on their desktop(s) can do so today - with almost exactly as much effort as it takes to switch from Windows to a Mac. Some hardware and peripherals may be unsupported a

  • by Dystopian Rebel ( 714995 ) * on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:29PM (#20639177) Journal
    Amusing. See the subsequent Slashdot article, http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/17/1543208 [slashdot.org].

    It appears that the "vast majority of computer users" are the same ones who are so incompetent that they have surpassed viruses themselves as a source of affliction.

    The "vast majority of computer users" need to learn how to use these complicated machines.
  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:31PM (#20639199)
    Perhaps Linux would make better progress with the unwashed masses if, instead of trashing a Linux-inept user/reviewer or "fossil" (as someone called Walt), the community simply "fixed" (for lack of a better word) the issue. If the mouse pad sensitivity can be changed easily in Windows, the same should be true for Linux, etc.. If the edges are rough for the "average user" - meaning average non-Linux proficient user - smooth them over.

    I'm not suggesting that the rank-and-file support the uninitiated, but perhaps Linux vendors can take these types of things as fielding notes to help them build a better product.

    Unless Linux geeks don't actually *want* Windows users to switch... :-)

    • Unless Linux geeks don't actually *want* Windows users to switch...

      You hit the nail on the head. Linux geeks actually do NOT want that. They still see themselves as the "computer wizards" and want to be worshipped for their magic powers. And yet, they fear a million joe users bothering them to fix their PCs. Linux geeks want everybody to be as smart as they are so Linux can be run on every computer in the world. They're OS-centric instead of being user-centric. That's their problem.

      I don't care if i have to
  • by athloi ( 1075845 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:41PM (#20639401) Homepage Journal
    Any moron can see that Linux isn't ready for the desktop, like Windows isn't ready for the server market. This is because most people want technology to just work. They are not technology workers and they don't care how it works because they have their own fields to learn, or are unskilled labor and can't learn.

    I think what we as those who produce code should focus on is the generally low quality of software and hardware. In efficiency, capabilities and interface, our software and hardware today generally is mediocre but rarely better.

    If Linux improves in these areas, it will be adopted, because the price is right and its hipness factor is higher than that of Windows or Mac OS (Windows is corporate, and the Mac is associated with smug trendsters talking loudly at Starbucks).

    Let's be honest about the issues facing Linux.

    1. Installation sucks. Hardware support is lacking, the process is ambiguous and confusing for most users. Included in this is "Your documentation generally sucks because it's done by non-professionals."

    2. Much familiar, high quality Windows software is missing. Yes, Photoshop really is better than GIMP. And Office is better than OpenOffice. Quark is better than Scribus (or inDesign).

    3. People want clear, simple, fast answers to common problems, not a "fiddle with it and come back to our mailing list so we can call you stupid again."

    4. Someone to call in case of emergency who can give definite answers. It's 3 AM and your taxes are due, and there's some odd problem you don't understand. You can call Microsoft and for $200 they'll fix it. For Linux?

    Knowing that software generally sucks helps us stop resting on our (or Linus's) laurels and lets us realize we have a lot to do. Software is still in its infancy. It is bloated and inefficient, it often lacks capabilities for common tasks and is unreliable, and its interfaces are generally awkward and seemingly created with no understanding of how the end user works. And interoperability is still in its infancy.

    What I'm saying here is that to beat Windows, you have to be better at the game of being an operating system for people who are not obsessed with computers. Tech geeks don't understand that there are other ways of earning a living that are equally as if not more legitimate (and difficult) than typing in code patterns. These people want to focus on their specialty, not yours.

    As long as we are content to scorn others for not being geeks, we will not meet their needs, and so Windows will continue to triumph over us as it is doing now. We need to stop thinking everyone out there is a tech geek. Think outside of the box? Think outside of your solipsistic skulls, and realize you haven't met the needs of the average or exceptional person out there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      You are right about many things, but
      I have to admit that your post reminds me yet again of the gap between myself and many computer users.
      Especially when you say "Just call Microsoft and for 200 dollars they will fix it", I know that for a business, 200 dollars is nothing, but I think for me, and many other people, that is a lot of money. Two hundred dollars is about how much I have spent on computers, totally, in the past two years.
      Which is another thing about GIMP and OpenOffice, they are free. And if you
  • by Mr. Picklesworth ( 931427 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:41PM (#20639409) Homepage
    I stopped caring about his opinion as soon as he started dissing codec support. The codecs are unavailable by default for a damn good reason, but you can actually get them really, really easily. In fact, it is much easier to get DivX codecs and that crap in Ubuntu than it is in Windows; no web browser required. How? Open a movie, click Install Codec in the dialog, type your password. Done! You don't get an ugly media player with it, either.

    Repeat for every other codec available (within reason). I am able to view every video file that comes my way on both of my Ubuntu systems (even the 500 mHz one), and on neither of them have I needed to hunt for any more than five seconds within official repositories. ...And yes, the Universe repository is very much Ubuntu; they have to do it this way, because it would be very difficult to create localizations which appeal to each country's laws.

    Explain this, Walt: How is that a lack of codecs, and how is it difficult? Expecting his readers to be /that/ stupid should be considered insulting, even for a tech columnist. I, for one, would not appreciate being talked to like a toddler.

    More importantly: How is this any less trouble than in Mac OS, where we have to pay large sums of money to Apple for codecs that should exist by default? Tried any Mpeg 1 or 2s [apple.com], lately?
    Not only do they not play in Quicktime, but to find out /why/ they don't play, "the stupid, vision impaired user" has to hunt through the scary Interwebs in search of the very irritating answer: He must pay $20 US and perform numerous terrifying clicking operations to gain the ability to play a file format which is available out of the box in almost every other media player out there.
  • So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Compuser ( 14899 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @12:42PM (#20639417)
    What he seems to be saying is that Ubuntu is ready for corporate desktop. The minor driver issues can be dealt with by
    support guys but otherwise the polish is there. It may not be ready for the grandma but his review makes it sound like
    Ubuntu is ready for desktop (if there is someone to custom configure it upfront).
    Is there anyone working on the complete client-server install distro of Linux (something that would install a complete
    Linux groupware solution on the server and Linux clients ready to talk to said server)? A complete end-to-end install
    where there is no need for things like Exchange on either end.
  • by randomjohndoe ( 618905 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @01:59PM (#20640823)
    Just the fact that Walt Mossberg reviewed Ubuntu is a huge win for Ubuntu.
  • I don't get it... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lawn.ninja ( 1125909 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @02:41PM (#20641537)
    If you look at the Dell website it tells you it is for more advanced users and probably won't work for mom and pop. Everyone else in the world also states that you need to be a little bit more savvy to run it, but you can understand it if you want to. Now my question... If everyone in the world that is involved with this has already stated that it is not ready for mainstream use, including the company selling the laptops. Why do we need a review saying that it is not ready for mainstream use? Seems redundant to me and more like a fluff article. Also if someone is not ready to try a new GUI interface and has used windows why would you buy a unbuntu laptop? I only bring this up because of the absurd comment the author made about people who aren't ready for a new interface shouldn't get it. I'm betting if they aren't ready for a new interface they've not even begun to look this direction for their OS. In any case the article is just fluff that has no real point. Bravo to the mainstream media for taking what Dell stated so eloquently in two lines and making into a thousand word dissertation. Oh BTW last time I checked you still had to manually update codecs for media player also.
  • Seems OK to me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JoeCommodore ( 567479 ) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Monday September 17, 2007 @02:52PM (#20641753) Homepage
    He stated the facts as a person who does not live for computer use. He had problems and pointed out some problems that may seem trivial to us but to others they can be pretty big.

    I'd rather see the mass public have something with those features taken care of than to keep answering the same questions regarding codecs, etc.

    Some people posted on the list about various useful websites for documentation or utilities like Automatcix for installing stuff, the only problem is those things are not in the standard install so if Linux was suddenly 'general public popular' (be scared) we would be having to post again and again all these things because they are not something that is easy for the average user to figure out or find.

    Recently I was looking for a good noob guide to Linux and the various OSS licenses (up to date and no really big long winded paragraphs with legal talk or platform bashing) and didn't really find any good ones. A lot of this is the 'well we already know that stuff already' mentality that is throughout the entire computer industry (i.e. "How do I take a snapshot of a Mac screen?" everyone who's been with a Mac for a decade knows but there is no easy guide for the new Mac people.)

    I for one don't mind the situation as it is - cause once the 'AOL nation' moves to Linux we have the same problems MS has with Windows, "consumer lock-in", a lot of people keeping you from getting new/necessary work done because of fear that their old Apps don't start up any more (either rightly so or not). I figure there are are probably still some adjustments coming down the pipe before we want EVERYONE to depend on Linux to have it in wide use - too early makes fixing some problems a lot more difficult.

We are experiencing system trouble -- do not adjust your terminal.