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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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  • Less keystrokes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jonoton ( 804262 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:07AM (#20849977)
    to install debian than to type in the windoze license key.
  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:08AM (#20849979) Journal
    Itself means Linux has made a good 'Next Leap'. Seriously! Until a few months back, the only Linux news used to be about the SCO case, Microsoft - Novell patents FUD etc. The nature of the GPL has meant that the cat is now well out of the bag, and the mainstream press outlets are compelled to sing the Penguin March.

    Poor network performance in Vista, the OOXML vote and now, the Excel 2007 calculation howler have made bad press for Microsoft. Not a day passes on Digg without Ubuntu articles getting over thousands of Diggs. So now, the NYT, Forbes, Gartner, Yankee and the rest must join the Linux bandwagon. Or be left behind.
  • Correction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smartin ( 942 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:11AM (#20850009)
    But those reasons for rejecting Linux are disappearing.

    Those reasons disappeared years ago, what needs to disappear now are stories repeating them.
  • by darthflo ( 1095225 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:15AM (#20850029)
    You're right about the mainstream press 'Next Leap', but apart from the Excel 2007 "problem" I don't see Digg, Vista's network performance, the OOXML fiasco or all those freedom politics helping to get non-techies to consider switching. Even the Excel trouble didn't get too much bad mainstream press 'round here.
    Linux's biggest mainstream advance over Vista will probably stay it's lower price for the next few years.
  • Re:Correction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:15AM (#20850033)
    The same reasons still exist... a lot of the professional software used by many folks, still only exist on windows, and hardware vendors are not quick to support linux.

    Its been that way since i installed slackware 1
  • by Max Threshold ( 540114 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:20AM (#20850051)
    Hardware? Really? My biggest problem with Ubuntu (currently running the 7.10 beta) is with developers trying to squeeze in the latest and greatest upstream versions at the last minute, causing regressions and general strife and turning what could have been the Windows killer into an embarrassment for anyone who's trying to promote Linux.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:23AM (#20850069) Journal
    Most people buy windows pre installed. But anyone who had gone through a full install of Windows knows how difficult it is. When Redmond releases the next version and calls it an upgrade some chumps try to buy the install disks and attempt upgrading their machines. Or more frequently, a virus or something hits and they only thing that will really eradicate it is to format the hard disk and reinstall the OS. Even with a restore disk specifically created for that machine, many of the prompts during the restore process and install process are arcane and most users can't do anything other than accept the defaults. So why people harp on "Linux is difficult to install?", compare Linux install to windows install. Or compare pre installed Linux to pre installed Windows.

    Another disappointing thing about the article is that it positions Linux as a "cheap" alternative. The main point of Linux is not that it is cheap, it could be or it might not be. The real power of Linux is avoiding the vendor lock.

  • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:27AM (#20850109) Homepage Journal

    Itself means Linux has made a good 'Next Leap'. Seriously! Until a few months back, the only Linux news used to be about the SCO case, Microsoft - Novell patents FUD etc. The nature of the GPL has meant that the cat is now well out of the bag, and the mainstream press outlets are compelled to sing the Penguin March.
    I don't disagree with you that the mainstream press' recent positive attention to Linux is demonstrative of Linux on the desktop becoming a success story of its own, but I don't really see what the GPL has to do with it. The license itself makes no difference as far as 'compelling mainstream outlets to sing the Penguin March.' All that matters in this regard is that Linux can get the job done and is proving itself as a viable desktop operating system. The license may have contributed to that by invigorating the developer base (a matter that's up for debate), but the GPL really has nothing to do with Linux's success -- the success is a result of the hard work of developers, testers, documenters, and community volunteers that help spread the word.

    So now, the NYT, Forbes, Gartner, Yankee and the rest must join the Linux bandwagon. Or be left behind.
    These groups don't have to do anything of the sort. They merely report on trends in technology. If one of those trends is Linux, so be it. They'll report. Gartner and Yankee in particular aren't going to end their Microsoft bias anytime soon though.
  • I'm sick of... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:34AM (#20850185)
    the same linux articles on slashdot everyday!
  • COULD THIS BE!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kevmatic ( 1133523 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:34AM (#20850189)
    The Year of the Linux Desktop!?!?!

    Probably not.

    There's not going to be some sudden revolution to Linux, its going to come gradually. There won't be a Year of the Linux Desktop, I'm thinking one day we'll all look back and marvel about how mainstream Linux snuck up on us.

    I doubt this article will get any more than a couple dozen people to try it. But its a start.

    What amazes me is how rapidly its improving. The Kubuntu install I'm using is only a year old, but the new Gusty Beta is so much different it might as well be a different OS entirely. How much does Windows improve in a year?

    Oh, that's right, they take SIX YEARS to improve, and ended up with Vista.

    (K)ubuntu is out pacing Windows so bad its only a matter of time before it overtakes Windows in all fronts. I mean, the automatix problem they're talking in TFA is supposedly already fixed for Gusty, and there's a ton of other features that people will love.

    And yeah, and takes days to get an XP reinstall into a usable state too, with drivers and Firefox and updates and anti virus and antispyware and office suites and media players that have to be installed.

    Seems to me people who ask the question "is Linux ready for Mainstream?" compare it to a perfect Windows that I've never seen in person.
  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:37AM (#20850217) Homepage
    It's amazing how many features get left out of windows, that would be so easy to support, yet for some reason never seem to make it in. One feature is loading RAID, SCSI, and IDE Controller card drivers off something other than a floppy disk. The other that really drives me batty is the inability for you to set an image as your wallpaper, and have windows resize it so that the image fills the maximum amount of the screen, without changing the aspect ratio. Seriously, this has been available in Linux for at least 5 years, and Vista still doesn't do this. The algorithm would take 1 person a maximum of 1/2 a day to program, and test, even if they weren't a good programmer. Spending 6 years on Vista and they can't even add simple features like this, that would make so many home user's lives easier, is just terrible.
  • by Nicholas Evans ( 731773 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:39AM (#20850231) Homepage
    I think his point was that, hey look, it's 2007-10, and they need to release this soon. Why are they trying to assfist in all of the bleeding-edge stuff *now*? Why can't it wait for 8.04?
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:47AM (#20850307)
    Yes that is all you have to do to fix it, but what does she have to do to fix it? The problem isn't that linux is intimidating for the average /. poster. It is that Linux is pretty freaking intimidating for the average computer user.

    If acceptance of linux is something that the community wants, then it needs to realize that Windows biggest flaws are also some of its best advantages. Afterall, its so easy to install programs on Windows that they practically do it themselves ;)

    The ubiquitous nature of windows makes it very easy to fix your machine should something go wrong. Part of it is due to the fact that there are very few versions of Windows, part of it has to do with the vast user base that windows has. You may not like how MS got there, but dislike of the situation won't change the problem.

    To those of you who know how to use linux, remember this: While windows may have a steep learning curve when it comes to administrative work, with Linux the curve is a brick wall for most users.

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:48AM (#20850327) Homepage Journal

    Ok, so you are the one building the PCs for these people and you're bothered that you can't predict the hardware they're going to be using with them?

    Realistically, if they're asking you to build them, then it's highly unlikely they'll be getting third party hardware without checking with you first anyway. Third party hardware under any OS, be it Mac, Windows, or GNU/Linux, is always a problem with non technical people. Third party drivers for Windows are rarely trouble free and frequently cause more problems than they solve - a problem Microsoft has taken note of, which is why they've been moving towards making drivers themselves where possible and trying to force the use of Microsoft-approved drivers in future versions of Windows. In practice, the 90% of devices that are supported in some form under GNU/Linux will work with equal or less hassle than the 99% of devices that have some kind of Windows compatibility.

    So this isn't something to worry about. You can recommend Ubuntu to them, show them the wealth of software you can pre-install for them under that OS, and tell them that if they need a camera or printer, come to you for a recommendation. You'll be able to provide them with something low cost and trouble free. No spy-ware. No bizarre "KodakPolaroidHP SuperdooperQualityPictureMakerPrinter(tm)" that can't be uninstalled without uninstalling the driver, yet adds half an hour to the boot process and takes over the entire computer when you plug the device in. Something that "just works". Which is what they want, and it's what anyone who asks their friendly geek to build them a computer wants.

  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:52AM (#20850355)
    When something goes wrong with my mother's Windows-based computer, what does she do? I'll give you a hint: It doesn't involve fixing it herself.

    How is that any different than Linux, with the exception that with Linux, I wouldn't have to leave my house to go fix her computer?

    The only reason I've left her on Windows is that she plays those games. If they played on Linux, and were easy to install (there's nothing easy about Wine, and it only works on these games some of the time) then I'd switch her over. Heck, I could even install the games for here remotely, if they'd run afterwards.
  • by Dr. Manhattan ( 29720 ) <[sorceror171] [at] []> on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:56AM (#20850411) Homepage

    we'd really need wine to be easier to handle and more feature-complete to satisfy those users too.

    Nope, that's a trap []. OS/2 was essentially 100% Windows 3.1 compatible, and what happened? Developers thought, "Why bother writing an OS/2 native app when I can just write a Windows app and be compatible?" So OS/2 never got any apps to speak of. And we know where it is today.

    Linux needs those alternative, native (or at least cross-platform) apps.

  • by darthflo ( 1095225 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:02AM (#20850455)

    Usability is a nightmare. The UI is cluttered with useless, confusing icons and half of the functions behind them don't even work properly.
    When was the last time you tried a fresh copy of Ubuntu? 7.10 seems way less cluttered than Vista to me and I think it's quite similar to 7.04 and 6.06 (never tried those, but Screenshots look similar).

    Of course it doesn't help that Linus himself is a big antagonist when it comes to making a system that saves the user some time with useful configuration models and efficient UI.
    Unfortunately you may be right here. Linus really is focusing on Linux's potential as an "Enterprise" OS, but that's why we need people like ck, Miguel de Icaza and Mark Shuttleworth.
  • by thasmudyan ( 460603 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:09AM (#20850527)
    Well, at the risk of losing even more karma even replying to this, but...

    What are you talking about? Have you seen a recent GNOME or KDE desktop? Lots of thought and care were put into uncluttering the desktop and making icons and menus make sense -- on both of the major desktops.
    Personally, I like KDE, I even like Gnome, but I'm a geek. And I'm not denying that desktop environments didn't come a long way towards usability. At the same time, I think it is necessary to refine them relentlessly. Anyone who thinks KDE is ready for their mom or your average office worker is clearly kidding themselves and I invite them to conduct their own study.

    It's not. I haven't had to compile a custom kernel in gods-knows-how-long. Most common hardware devices are supported out of the box on modern, polished distros like Ubuntu or Fedora.
    Huge issues for me are multihead configuration and other graphics integration issues. This stuff shouldn't be so hard. Granted, most distros work fine on a standard single-screen system if the hardware isn't too fancy. Again, we've certainly come a long way here. But this needs to go so much further, up to the point where no user has to even touch a configuration text file, ever again.

    Really? Why is that a problem? Notice no one ever says "supporting Windows apps is a huge problem for Mac OS X".
    It is a big problem because there needs to be legacy support for business apps and other expert software that can't be ported but has to be used for some time to come. Just saying "fuck this, you don't need this app" is not really the solution.

    And supporting Windows apps is indeed a problem for Mac OS X, but not a huge one. Why? Because you can install stuff like Parallels even if you are just a mere human.
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by walt-sjc ( 145127 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:14AM (#20850567)
    The ubiquitous nature of windows makes it very easy to fix your machine should something go wrong.

    Really? Sorry, but that's just not true. In fact, the famous Geek Squad usually fixes all Windows problems by re-imaging your box (which may solve the problem, but also wipes all your data, which is not cool at all, and not REALLY a true fix.) It would be like hiring someone to fix a leak in your roof and you come home and find that the roof was replaced, but now all your personal possessions in your house are gone.

    To really fix windows problems requires a fairly significant amount of skill / knowledge that MOST end users (and Geek Squad employees) simply DO NOT HAVE. If this guy's mom runs into problems on Windows, she will call him anyway.

    Once a Linux box is properly setup and running (which I admit may be a bit of a challenge if you have certain bits of "Windows Only" hardware) it is LESS likely to have problems than a Windows box in the first place.

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

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:26AM (#20850683)
    It seems to me that "fixing" the computer for the average user is the same for Windows OR Linux: get someone else to do it for you.

    The problem with Linux for Joe Blow is not fixing it when something goes wrong but getting it to work with peripherals, or new programs. It's gotten a lot better, but when Joe goes out and buys some device and plugs it into his Windows machine, the manufacturer of that device has made it as easy as possible for Joe to get the thing working. On Linux it's not (always) so simple and he might just have to either become a Linux expert or pay someone else to set up his new widget.

    Same with software. There's a lot of stuff available for Linux and it's easy to actually obtain, but sometimes it's hard to find what you're looking for. It's also often poorly documented and sometimes works quite differently from everything else. Joe can't just go to the store and buy a nice shrink wrapped box with a manual in it, and he can't get what all the guys at work use.
  • Re:Correction (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:31AM (#20850733)
    Those reasons haven't disappeared. You still can't do 100% of what you can on Windows on Linux. Until that changes, there are real, tangible reasons for people not to switch. People don't like to compromise. There is no way any of the companies I've worked for could become 100% Linux, as there are key pieces of software that many folks use every single day that are nowhere near available on Linux. It's a shame, and it's getting better, but to say it's "there" is doing Linux a great disservice, as it entices people to sit on their laurels and not strive to actually close the gap.
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:32AM (#20850741)

    You're right about the hardware support. I have been planning to move my home PC to dual boot with Linux since forever: I've been leaving separate hard disk partitions free for this purpose for years. But I never have actually installed Linux on my main home machine, because every time I come to look at it and do the research, I find showstopping issues with some piece of hardware or other.

    I don't think that's the biggest obstacle to widespread Linux adoption, though. In fact, the real problem with Linux from the point of view of average home or office users has nothing to do with Linux itself. It is simply that, as TFA suggests, the applications just aren't there for serious users. To get people to shift away from the Windows platforms they're familiar with, Linux must offer better applications, yet there is not one "killer app" for Linux. Many of the best mass market OSS software is also available for Windows, particularly on the programming and server software front where Linux has traditionally been strong. For end users, there are commercial offerings on Windows as good or much better than almost anything on Linux.

    The really silly thing is that a lot of this is actually caused by the community-driven OSS model that prevails in Linux world, which admits the kind of politics that would be squished by senior management in a traditional, commercial software development company. Your average end user doesn't care about GPL2 vs. GPL3. He doesn't need OpenOffice to try and be an MS Office clone, because he's got MS Office. He doesn't care about your open standard calendar support in your mail software, he just wants to connect to his corporate Exchange server. He doesn't care that Firefox is just following W3C recommendations in how it renders the page, when the page looks wrong in Firefox but right in IE.

    This isn't to say that none of these things matters. To you and me and those who would like to see a better world, the technical details and open standards are important, and for some of us, perhaps the free software philosophy is too. But the bottom line is that the end user doesn't care. He just wants a system that can help him to do his work, relax at home, or whatever. As long as Linux doesn't have the same level of key application support that Windows has, and some "killer app" alternatives that are substantially better than what is available on Windows, it will never be the "year of Linux on the desktop" no matter how good the operating system itself may become, how easy it is to install, how pretty the widgets are in the GUI, or how many geeks object to the de facto standards and vendor lock-in that prevail in the Windows world.

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

    by supersnail ( 106701 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:37AM (#20850795)
    Windows is not easier to install -- its just that Dell/Acer/HP did it for you. Installing an new XP from a shrink box is a long complex process, you usually lose a few devices on the way and spend another half a day trying to locate the right drivers for your sound card etc.

    Troubleshooting is not easier in Windows, especialy if an uninstall program f**s up and leaves your startup and registry in a mess.

    The only real problem from the end user point of view is the numerous intall package formats, if you are running RED hat you can guarentee that the software you really want is packed for Debian, if you are running Suse its incredibly frustrating when the latest greatest version of whatever is only available at Ubuntu. How hard would it be to get a unified package management system?

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

    by CortoMaltese ( 828267 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:38AM (#20850801)

    The ubiquitous nature of windows makes it very easy to fix your machine should something go wrong. Part of it is due to the fact that there are very few versions of Windows, part of it has to do with the vast user base that windows has.
    Windows easy to fix? You must mean, "Umm, where's that installation CD again?" ;) I've used Windows 10+ years, Linux 5+ years, and my experience is that Windows is difficult to fix. It's hard to find the root cause for problems, and it's difficult to figure out what can be done to fix the problems permanently. You just hack away and cross your fingers. And boot after every change in settings (okay, this has improved a lot lately.)

    Of course, Windows has interesting, non obvious features to prevent breakage, such as automatically reverting any modified system files - which can really be a PITA sometimes.

    Very few versions of Windows? NT4, 2K, XP, Vista, server/workstation, home/pro, SP n, ...? This hasn't been a good argument for years now.

    As to the user base, I prefer quality over quantity. Try asking for help in Gentoo Forums, for example, and you're in for a pleasant surprise.

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

    by rbochan ( 827946 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:39AM (#20850813) Homepage

    ...In fact, the famous Geek Squad usually fixes all Windows problems by re-imaging your box...To really fix windows problems requires a fairly significant amount of skill / knowledge...

    Yes, and those that have that knowledge usually charge a price. What would YOU rather do... pay someone knowledgeable for 6-8 hours to remedy the situation or pay them for 2 hours to re-image and update the machine? Even plumbers charge $90 per hour.
    It's a simple matter of economics.


    Once a Linux box is properly setup and running (which I admit may be a bit of a challenge if you have certain bits of "Windows Only" hardware) it is LESS likely to have problems than a Windows box in the first place.

    I agree, which is why that's often an option for end users. It can actually be a much less expensive option in the long run.

  • by Xenomorph.NET ( 969401 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:49AM (#20850927)
    "They" have been saying for 10 years now that Linux is ready for the Desktop. It will be ready for the Desktop when the public says it is. Not supporting DRM or getting scary "constitutes a CRIME" messages when trying to play music and movies doesn't help. Pushing "OpenOffice" as a free *clone* of Microsoft Office doesn't seem to be fooling people either. It will only take a user 5 minutes to realize it lacks the Mail functionality or even comes close in speed of Microsoft's Office. I am looking forward to Ubuntu 7.10. I still won't see it as a replacement for Windows - but it is definitely an alternative to it. Linux for me has excelled as a great tool/utility OS and a server OS.
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by khanyisa ( 595216 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @09:51AM (#20850949)
    After school I went to university and learned that languages change and prescriptive rules like that are silly :-)
  • Re:what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @10:13AM (#20851231) Journal
    Troll away, but I think it's safe to say that Linux has taken far more leaps than any other OS since OSX and XP were first released.

    It's nice to see an article that at least touches on the shortcomings that hold Linux back as a desktop operating system AND about what is being done/needs to be done to resolve those.

    I think this sums it up nicely:

    After using the operating system for writing, Web surfing, graphic editing, movie watching and a few other tasks, it is easy to conclude that Linux can be an alternative to the major operating systems. But since common tasks like watching a movie or syncing an iPod require hunting for and installing extra software, Linux is best for technically savvy users or for people whose needs are so basic that they will never need anything other than the bundled software.

    However, trying Linux -- especially if you boot it from a CD -- is a great way to find out what a lot of open-source adherents are so excited about.

    Linux is easy to start using, especially distros like Ubuntu that bundle a lot of good apps into a near-turnkey solution. I don't think any other OS is quite so functional immediately after install. Linux is also a dream for the technical-minded power users who love to customize and control every aspect of their digital workspace. Where Linux falls short right now is in the middle ground: going from the basic install to a system that is functionally competitive with Vista Home Premium or OSX without being one of those powerusers is a daunting task that can--and will, given time--be made easier.

    Articles like this coming out of the mainstream media can seem like fluff with very little content to the avid Linux community, but they need to be taken seriously. They're a good indication of what the outside world wants to see in the next round of distros, which gives the developers at least a hint of a way to expand the userbase. Based on this article and others like it, I'd suggest two things:

    1) Make media easier to start using. I'm sure there are a dozen distro teams working on this right now, so I'm probably preaching to the choir...but it needs to be said, lest no one say it at all. I've had issues making media work in Linux recently, and am sticking with Vista at the moment because I can't find a few consecutive hours to devote to troubleshooting the matter.

    2) The current method of documentation is quite informative, but a bit dry and sometimes difficult to absorb due to the format. The Linux community would be greatly benefited by solid tutorials based on the documentation and FAQs that are spread all over the internet. I'm not talking about a text file tutorial...I'm talking about a video, or even (if it's possible) a custom live cd distro for the purpose of instructing users. However it can be executed, the end result should be advancing the skill level of the user beyond that which they might reach with the current documentation. (disclaimer: I have a personal interest in this, as I tend to stall out on Linux projects because I have trouble finding some crucial piece of information that might be better taught than read.)
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @10:13AM (#20851233) Homepage Journal
    Non encrypted my ass. Get a decent length password on there and it's fine.
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 04, 2007 @10:22AM (#20851379)

    Except nobody uses that option for home installations. In any case, most Linux distros have that option too.

  • by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @10:36AM (#20851591) Journal
    It sounds absurd when you say it, but there's actually a lot of truth to that. I've walked elderly people through their registry before and not had a problem. "Click HKLM. Now click software. Click Microsoft. Windows. Now click CurrentVersion. Now click Run. Now double-click on that, type this, and click OK."

    This was back in the early days of XP, when a lot of home users had Win9x. I also had to walk them editing some text files like config.sys on occasion. Getting them into the editor was easy, but then..."No sir, you don't need to read me the whole file. Yes sir, I know exactly what we're looking for here. Alright, do you see a line of text that starts with 'buffers'? No? Okay, move your cursor to the end of the last--click the mouse there--right. Okay, now press enter--yes, it should start you on a new blank line. And I want you to type 'buffers=10'. Yes, b-u-f-f-e-r-s. No, don't spell equals, use the sign. Two horizontal lines, to the left of your backspace key. Correct. And the number ten, as in one zero. Yes. Now you want to save that and exit notepad. Yes, overwrite it. No, that won't break anything so long as you did exactly what I told you to do.

    The point-and-click interface gives people a sense of security. It makes them feel like they're in control without being at risk of REALLY screwing things up. And there's some truth to that: changing a switch by editing a number in a GUI field is a lot different than editing a text file. You aren't risking breaking the configuration by deleting a slash or a hyphen...the only way to break it is with a configuration that doesn't work.

    I would like to see a more unified control panel for the Linux GUIs that allowed you to tweak text files without having to dive into them. It's one of those things that would provide a bridge between being able to use the OS and being able to get the most out of it for your particular requirements. As with all things Linux it has drastically improved in recent years, but it wouldn't hurt to do more.
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Knuckles ( 8964 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2007 @10:55AM (#20851917)
    Windows is much easier to troubleshoot

    Aaaaahahahahaaaaa! *wipestearsfromeyes*

    Are you serious? windows is such a bitch to troubleshoot that nobody even tries anymore. Everyone with a clue just reimages when it inevitably starts to act up, home users and corporate IT departments alike. In Linux distros I have wonderful logging by the kernel and the apps, and I can run the apps from the cmd line where they will spit out lots of useful info, and often even have a --debug or --verbose switch. (Not even counting that if that doesn't help, I can recompile with debug symbols and just attach a debugger.)

    Windows, in contrast, is so obfuscated that often you cannot even find out what is wrong in reasonable time (i.e., faster than a reimage). The Event Viewer in the computer management app is a sick joke.
  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TW Atwater ( 1145245 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @11:34AM (#20852617)
    If Windows is so much easier to administer than Linux, why does it need Remote Assistance?

    I don't know about the rest of you who serve as help-desk for a wide circle of family and frineds, but the average user is completely lost if he clicks an icon and nothing happens. The only reason Linux isn't making inroads against MS on the desktop is that you can't go down to Best Buy and find computers with Linux pre-installed.

    More than 60,000 Windows programs won't run on Linux. Partial List here. []

  • by a.d.trick ( 894813 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @11:51AM (#20852887) Homepage

    The license may have contributed to that by invigorating the developer base (a matter that's up for debate), but the GPL really has nothing to do with Linux's success — the success is a result of the hard work of developers, testers, documenters, and community volunteers that help spread the word.

    I'm not quite sure what the GP was trying to get at, but this is a bit misleading. The chief innovation of Linux was not technical, it was social. It's not like Linus was the first decent OS architect, but he (and RMS) founded a great community which made a great operating system (and a compiler, text editor, and much, much more). It was the community that made the software, but it was the license that make the community possible. The GNU GPL still draws far more developers than any other open source license, and this isn't all due to RMS making zombies out of us :-)

  • Re:Correction (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bmcage ( 785177 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @12:29PM (#20853561)
    hmm, do you think I can do 100% on windows as I can on Linux? Think again.

    I suppose I 'work' in a different sector than the window shops.

  • Re:Less keystrokes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bigstrat2003 ( 1058574 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @01:11PM (#20854295)

    Installing an new XP from a shrink box is a long complex process
    That's bull, it's a long and easy process. It takes 30-60 minutes, but it's smooth as butter apart from that. Odds are, you're going to have most of your drivers on the OS disc, if not all, and the few you do have are easy to replace, unless you're missing a network driver. Windows Update is usually decent at picking up those last couple of drivers that weren't on the disc.
  • by kidcharles ( 908072 ) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @01:53PM (#20854949)

    Dude, calm down. You're seriously going to get all pissed about Dell shipping a binary network driver?
    I think it's a legitimate concern. I'm a proud owner of a Dell Inspiron that came with Ubuntu pre-installed. I don't know if the network hardware is proprietary on it. Nevertheless, with binary drivers, sure it works now, but what about with a later version of Ubuntu? What if Dell stops supporting it? Open source/specifications is not just a fell-good concept, it directly effects usability and longevity of hardware.

3500 Calories = 1 Food Pound