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Linux Software IT

The Next Leap for Linux 517

Nrbelex writes "The New York Times is taking a look at the state of Linux. "Linux has always had a reputation of being difficult to install and daunting to use. Most of the popular Windows and Macintosh programs cannot be used on it, and hand-holding — not that you get that much of it with Windows — is rare. But those reasons for rejecting Linux are disappearing." The article discusses major PC makers' newest offers and compares them to their Windows counterparts."
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The Next Leap for Linux

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  • Difficult? (Score:4, Informative)

    by blackbirdwork ( 821859 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:23AM (#20850073)
    Difficult to install? That's only for Linux from Scratch. All other distros are easier than Windows to install. Have you tried to install Windows XP on a new machine? It's a pain in the ass... remember to have a floppy drive before trying it.
  • by MarkEst1973 ( 769601 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:28AM (#20850121)

    Why Closing a Driver loses its vendor money []

    ESR may or may not be popular on Slashdot, but he covered this topic pretty well in the Cathedral and the Bazaar [].

  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:42AM (#20850273)
    But anyone who had gone through a full install of Windows knows how difficult it is.

    I guess I must have missed something then, as I've installed various flavours of Windows over the years and have never had any issues. Of course, I've never had any issues installing Linux either...
  • by darthflo ( 1095225 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:44AM (#20850287)
    You're in a bit of a dilemma here. Running beta software will cause some instabilities there (as mentioned by all others responding to you), but going back to stable 7.04 will probably get you the hardware-related problems GP was talking about (if you're running exotic or really new hardware anyways, Gutsy really fixed tons of issues there). I'm happy with Gutsy and a few problems, hope you are too :]
  • by E-Sabbath ( 42104 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:47AM (#20850301)
    I've found this lovely project. It's called Wine-Doors, and it's a Package Manager for Windows programs under Linux. Like Apt-Get.
    Seems to work pretty well, too. []
  • Re:Difficult? (Score:5, Informative)

    by blackbirdwork ( 821859 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:48AM (#20850317)
    It seems you never did an advanced installation of Windows XP for hardware with RAID or SATA controllers not supported by Windows...
  • NO! Not Automatix! (Score:5, Informative)

    by gbutler69 ( 910166 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:48AM (#20850321) Homepage
    Automatix IS NOT recommended for Ubuntu! It tends to screw things up preventing correct updates to the next version.

    Codecs are now installed automagically whenever you attempt to open a media file for which you do not have the correct CODEC.

    Automatix IS NOT recommended.
  • Re:COULD THIS BE!? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:59AM (#20850429)
    While some areas are definitely overtaking Windows (Seen Compiz in Gutsy? Nice and stable!) there are others that are pretty much out of the control of developers. I'm talking about mainstream software. It simply doesn't work on Linux, even with Wine. Once there's a Photoshop for Linux, and maybe a few other choice apps, then you'll see the acceptance of Linux as a desktop for the common man.
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:5, Informative)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:00AM (#20850441) Homepage Journal
    You can actually do remote assistance invitations on Windows, or install VNC on her computer.. I'm no lover of Microsoft, but that's kind of a poor reason to choose Linux over Windows?
  • by chrono13 ( 879557 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:32AM (#20850739)
    Not only is Automatix not recomended, but it is almost completely irrelivant and unessary.

    On a fresh 7.10 install:

    Add/Remove, Show all packages, "restricted". Install restricted package.
    You now have installed: Java6, Flash9, video codecs, lame, dvd playback, ms fonts, and more.
    No command line, no downloading of a 3rd party unrecomended script. Just easy. Compare that to Windows.

    Even going outside of the package manager, most people find there is a deb for their distro (eg. Google Earth).

    I removed the "Made for Windows" sticker and replaced it with a "Powered by Ubuntu" sticker. Ubuntu 7.10 is the release that has replaced Windows for me.
  • Re:Difficult? (Score:2, Informative)

    by blackbirdwork ( 821859 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:52AM (#20850953)
    Try to install Windows on a server with Raid or on a simple New PC with new SATA controllers, you will need drivers on a FLOPPY disk.
  • Re:Difficult? (Score:2, Informative)

    by mauthbaux ( 652274 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:58AM (#20851011) Homepage
    It's not just about having media to install from, it's that the windows installer will *only* accept media from a floppy drive. No USB drives (unless your BIOS allows you to map it as a floppy). No CDs. No files from another Hard drive. No networked or internet files.

    I assume that Microsoft fixed this in Vista, but years of dealing with it in XP has been a source of sufficient frustration that my next install will likely be Ubuntu.
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:2, Informative)

    by zsouthboy ( 1136757 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @10:09AM (#20851155)
    None of those things you quote in your post are necessary anymore.

    And as for your last statement, [] - no partitioning, and it's a real installation.
  • Re:Difficult? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @10:10AM (#20851183) Homepage
    with your old out of date hardware yes. Xp will install from the CD.

    have modern hardware without IDE but SATA? gotta have a floppy drive.

    Why dont you buy a modern PC and try it instead of living in the land of old outdated hardware.

    Why microsoft shipped XP install without the ability to mount and read a USB thumb drive is mindboggling. Vista installer is the same way. god help you if you are using a unsupported raid card for your install/OS disk.
  • by Etyenne ( 4915 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @10:14AM (#20851245)
    Because 8.04 will be a LTS release (Long Term Support), and it is expected that the Ubuntu developers will be conservative with the feature set they allow into 8.04. As such, if you have a feature that is somewhat experimental, you need to push it now (to get it tested and polished before 8.04), or wait until 8.10. At least, that's the theory. In practice, I am fairly certain quite a few experimental features will find their ways into 8.04 anyway.

    Managing releases at fixed date and coordinating with upstream project release is probably the toughest challenge Ubuntu is facing. But on the other hand, this is exactly what gave it the edge in the distro war. So far, the execution have been pretty good and Ubuntu reap the benefits.
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:3, Informative)

    by tchuladdiass ( 174342 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @10:36AM (#20851593) Homepage
    Install cygwin & sshd, then you can ssh into the windows box. Also configure VNC to only accept local connections and ssh port forward. Instant secure remote admin.
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:5, Informative)

    by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @10:42AM (#20851691) Journal
    Step 1 on Linux could be any of:
    • apt-get program ... done.
    • urpmi program ... done.
    • Search for it in Synaptic or aptitude.
    • yum install program ... done.
    • emerge program ... done.

    Also, if you think troubleshooting Windows is easy, you probably haven't done it much. Try installing WordPerfect Suite, Corel Draw, Photoshop, Crystal Reports, PowerTerm Pro, Lotus Notes, and PagePlus on 10 PCs. Crash half of them by cutting power. Then, troubleshoot the DLL hell and disk corruption that results.

    Troubleshooting Windows may be easier for you than troubleshooting Linux. That's not an objective measurement. I'd say both have their strengths and weaknesses in troubleshooting. One of Linux's biggest strengths is that so many production server machines so rarely need troubleshooting in the first place. I've never had a Windows server run for three months without downtime, let alone a year or two.

    Desktops of both kinds are more likely to need troubleshooting than servers, because you have more finger-poking happening. A well-administered Linux desktop is safe from lots of this, while most Windows desktops still have to be run as administrator to get real work done. Microsoft is making progress on the limited account front, though. On Linux at least you can remove and reinstall a particular package without trashing the libraries in use by other programs, and without rebooting to release any libraries still in use by other programs. Microsoft's registry is probably a really good idea for the OS, but making it a central
    repository for every application is a mess. /etc is a much better solution, and is easier to fix when something goes wrong.

  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:4, Informative)

    by CortoMaltese ( 828267 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @10:44AM (#20851747)

    but whilst still wiping all the other software that you've installed that doesn't come with the default installation - if I've spent a year picking this and that out of yast and installing it, so that a bunch of clever gizmos are just there when I come to need them I don't want to be having the whole lot wiped out (because they're not installed in /home) when everything else is re-imaged. And what about stuff that I've compiled from source and had to spend 1/2 a flaming day hunting down the dependencies for because developers STILL can't be bothered to include everything you need in the archive? If you re-image you'll wipe that out. You'll probably also re-image with a new version, so instead of having to find all the pre-compiled bits and move them back into the relevant places so they can be run useably, you'll have to recompile everything as well, and if you have to do that, you'll probably spend forever chasing dependencies down again, or at least making sure to compile each in the right order.
    I really don't have experience in yast, but I'll warmly recommend to try out Gentoo, if you're not intimidated by the thought of it. There's really not such a thing as a "default installation", but everything you've installed is recorded in the "world file", which is a great help in rebuilding a system. Just save /etc and /home, and you'll get really far. Of course, this has next to nothing to do with re-imaging the box, but for someone like you it might work nicely.

    I'm running the stable branch (I don't have enough time for the bleeding edge) and the problems with dependencies have been few and far between. The only piece of software I've needed that I haven't found in Portage (the Gentoo package repository) is Alpine, which is still in alpha stage anyway. Of course, you'll have to compile. And you'll have to compile a lot. But typing './configure', 'make', and 'make install' has pretty much become a thing of the past, 'emerge' does it all for you. And I've never had to move the installed files anywhere. And 'equery' tells you to which package a file belongs to, and which files belong to a package, so you can easily figure that out as well.

    Conclusion: The bits of your linux installation that you'll want to save aren't confined solely to /home, they're buried all over the place. at least with windows you can make sure to save all your installation files in one place and back that up as well.
    You have a point in that /home is not the same as your linux installation, but I'll argue that, for most people, their personal data is way more important than the installation anyway.
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 04, 2007 @10:55AM (#20851927)
    You appear to be confused about the term encryption. The stream of data that makes up your VNC connection is not encrypted. A man in the middle could watch your entire VNC session, or even inject mouse & keyboard events or take over control of the remote machine. O.K: it's unlikely. But it isn't much more secure than a Telnet session.

    The poster below has the right idea: tunnel the VNC session over SSH (which adds the needed encryption) and then only allow the VNC server to accept connections from the local IP address (I.e. from the SSH server on the same machine).
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:4, Informative)

    by norminator ( 784674 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @11:34AM (#20852629)
    That's cool, but in using cygwin, ssh & VNC to support the idea that it's easier to securely admin a remote Windows box than to admin a remote Linux box, you just proved that you need extra steps to do the same thing...

    Under Linux, you obviously don't need cygwin, and an ssh server is usually installed and ready to go after a default install of most distros. VNC is just as available for Linux as for Windows, although most Linux distributions give you quick access to many VNC flavors through their default package managers, so you don't even have to manually download and install files.

    Of course, under Linux, you can just install an NX server/client, which does have its own setup headaches, but once it's installed, using it is just as easy as Remote Desktop. You don't need to establish an ssh connection, then tell the client to tunnel through that connection; it handles all of the ssh stuff automatically and transparently. And with the latest version of NoMachine's NX server/client, you have the option of establishing a new session (even while someone else is running another local or remote session), or attach to a currently running session.
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:4, Informative)

    by Zonk (troll) ( 1026140 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @11:50AM (#20852863)


    Windows XP: Go to, download the Windows installer. (This is chosen automatically, so you just have to click 'Download' on the front page, and then 'Download Opera' on the next page.) Save it to the desktop. Double click on the new file on the desktop. Click Next until you can click 'Finish'.

    Ubuntu Feisty: Go to, download the Windows installer. (This is chosen automatically, so you just have to click 'Download' on the front page, and then 'Download Opera' on the next page.) Save it to the desktop. Double click on the new file on the desktop. Click ... No wait, that's it. It's done.

    Wow, Ubuntu is easier! Maybe you shouldn't have let me pick the program. While there -are- programs that are harder on Linux, any that provide a .deb file are now as easy as on Windows.
    Why not just select "Applications"->"Add/Remove...", select the "Internet" category, Check "Opera" and hit "Apply"?

    Far easier than navigating and downloading through a web site, and updates are handled automatically.
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 04, 2007 @12:04PM (#20853095)

    Also, if you think troubleshooting Windows is easy, you probably haven't done it much. Try installing WordPerfect Suite, Corel Draw, Photoshop, Crystal Reports, PowerTerm Pro, Lotus Notes, and PagePlus on 10 PCs. Crash half of them by cutting power. Then, troubleshoot the DLL hell and disk corruption that results.
    WTF? DLL hell doesn't happen anymore. Hasn't for years. And Windows has had a journaling filesystem for years and years too so if you pull the power it's in exactly the same boat as Linux is. I don't understand what you're getting at.
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:3, Informative)

    by weicco ( 645927 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @12:41PM (#20853771)

    You can actually do remote assistance invitations on Windows

    And you can do it over Live Messenger which I install to every computer I have to set up.

  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:3, Informative)

    by Knuckles ( 8964 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2007 @03:00PM (#20856039)
    That's patently not true, or only true on very standards-compliant machines. For example, the driver to work around a laptop's usually broken ACPI implementation is with high likelihood not on the Windows CD. So are other laptop drivers.

    And even if a Windows installation is done in 60 minutes, what can you do after that? Write in Notepad, i guess. To install all the applications and assorted crap like codecs that a general user will need usually takes a few more hours. In contrast, an Ubuntu installation is also done in 60 minutes tops, but is then ready to go with all applications for general usage (and codecs will be downloaded on demand, unlike Windows, *cough* Divx *cough*).

    Of course, only when your Windows CD is old do you understand how crappy Windows is. I recently had the honor to install Win XP Pro SP1, and boy was that annoying. Of course there are many downloads with such an old release, a linux distro would not be fundamentally different (though it seems to me that for the amount of patches Windows downloaded, it should have included apps too, like a distro does). But I assure you that a linux distro would not reboot 20 times in the process. Boot, log in, Windows Update finds patches. Dl, install. Reboot. Login, it finds more patches. Dl, install, reboot, login. It finds more patches, and so on and so on. Why the fuck can't it download everything at once?
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:3, Informative)

    by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @03:31PM (#20856527) Journal
    When did proper version tracking of shared libs happen on Windows? That's right, it didn't. The application vendors put the DLLs they need in the application's directory and use extra disk space and memory. That's not a shared library any more, is it? Avoiding the problem by taking a step back in time is not the same as solving it. The .NET framework tracks its own libraries that applications based on it use, and that alleviates some of the pain as well.

    If NTFS has gotten as good as ReiserFS and ext3 at recovering from crashes, I've missed it somewhere. It's a far leap past FAT (12, 16, or 32), but it still has some way to go AFAICT. It's pretty close I guess, but I'm not sure I'd say it's in the same boat. Maybe in the same harbor. When was the last time you crashed a Windows box with a RAID 5 array and didn't at all worry about it cleaning up after itself? I as a matter of fact kicked the power loose on a Linux box with a RAID 5 data mount this morning, being my clumsy self. No problems at all.

    I'm not a Linux freak who won't touch other OSes. I use XP and Linux both every day. I also use OS X semi-regularly. I have Amiga OS, OS/2, DOS, NetBSD, and a few other OSes on my collection of older and unusual hardware. Windows is one of the best OSes out there for the desktop, regardless of application availability. I don't think it's _the_ best, and I'm not sure it ever will be. The applications sure help its case, though. Windows definitely isn't in my top 5 for server OSes, and it might not be in my top 10 if I took the time to make the list. I'd put it in the top three or four desktop OSes, but I still don't think it's any easier to troubleshoot than, say, Ubuntu, Mandriva, or PCLinuxOS. Easier than Gentoo or Slackware, sure, but those are not valid comparisons for mainstream desktop use.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."