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Why Linux Doesn't Spread - the Curse of Being Free 1243

Vlad Dolezal tips us to a philosophical take on why Linux hasn't grown to challenge Windows as the most popular operating system. According to the author, the reason is simple; Linux is free, and humans tend not to equate free things with being valuable. "Here's what Compy McNewb sees. He can get both OS's for free. But one of them is worth over three hundred dollars, while the other one is worth nothing. 'That's not true!' I hear you scream. 'Linux is worth a lot! It's just being offered for free!' I know it's not true that Linux is worth less than Windows. It's far more valuable to the end user in terms of getting things done. But that's not what Average Joe Computer Newbie sees. He sees a free product versus a three-hundred-dollar product he can get free. It's all about the perception!"
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Why Linux Doesn't Spread - the Curse of Being Free

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  • by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:22PM (#22458430)
    I call this the "King's New Robes" effect, which is the same logic by which "boutique" products are sold - you can take the same crap, repackage it in a pretty way, and charge 10X as much, and people will flock to buy it by the hundred.

    In the past year I've had a lot of success converting frustrated Windows users into Linux people... and simply convincing both Windows and Mac users that Linux was a legitimate operating system. However, I've also frequently run into a scenario where I would be showing somebody my Dell laptop running Ubuntu, and they'd be REALLY excited about the features, the intuitive UI, the eye candy... and then they'd ask me how much it was... and when I told them it was free, they'd be disappointed!

  • by GodOfCode ( 878337 ) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:30PM (#22458490)
    I agree with you on this one. Most "mainstream" manufacturers have shown enormous reluctance in offering Linux as a pre-installed option in their products. Then you have the li'l problems when you buy some gadgets that come with only Windows versions of the software that runs/manages them. And, of course, the fact that most human beings avoid change if they can help it.
  • by schnikies79 ( 788746 ) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:34PM (#22458514)
    I have a minor in marketing and economics, woohoo. Anyway...

    This is the best example I can think of. There was a small watch company (can't think of the name off my head without getting out a textbook) who sold fairly high-end watches for about $500-$800 and sales were poor to flat. The company raised the price to around $1500 and sales went crazy. The higher price has a perceived higher quality, even if it doesn't.

    Cars work that way, computers work that way. Of course price doesn't always equal quality, but it can and that is a that point is stronger in peoples minds.
  • it is true (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aeron65432 ( 805385 ) <> on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:34PM (#22458522) Homepage
    It is true. One of the most common examples of expensive products being valued more, despite the difference, is wine. Caltech released [] a study about a month ago that showed people constantly rated wine better if they were told it was more expensive, and vice versa for cheap. And it wasn't just preference, it was cerebrally measured.

    People associate more expensive products with being superior. Stupid, I know. But it's true.

  • by jakecdouglas ( 1199545 ) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:39PM (#22458552)
    About 6 years ago during my introduction to Linux and subsequent zealotry phase, I stubbornly ran Linux as a desktop environment despite all its shortcomings at the time. Once I got over that part, I slowly found myself drifting back to...Windows. Linux was clunky in that area and really didn't have the support it needed. It has come leaps and bounds since then, but I believe still has some to go. After being introduced to OS X, I would never go back to either. Linux has its place in my life as a spectacular server operating system and I wouldn't consider using anything else. Windows...doesn't have place in my life. OS X bridges the gap for me by combining the flexibility and integration potential of Linux while retaining the familiarity and ease-of-use of Windows (go ahead, laugh,) and bringing to the table a _killer_ GUI that is intuitive and as simple or as tricked out as I want it to be. I can sit my Windows-only Mom down in front of my Macbook and she can figure it out just fine. But it can still run all the fun Linux stuff and more! Woohoo.
  • by transporter_ii ( 986545 ) * on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:40PM (#22458560) Homepage
    1) IBM, Novell, Red Hat, Sun...along with small businesses and individuals across the country (via the Ron Paul *Money Bomb* line of fund raising), do a flat-out hostile takeover of Intuit.
    2) Quickbooks and TurboTax are ported to Unix/Linux under the GPL.
    3) IBM, Novell, Red Hat, Sun, etc., build a Linux application server tuned especially to offer up Quickbooks in a Remote Desktop style.
    4) Offer said server on an easy to install LiveCD that lets everyone try it out and easily install it.
    5) IBM, Sun, etc., make a huge amount of money selling enterprise ready QuickBooks servers.
    6) Novell, Red Hat, etc., make a huge amount of money selling QuickBooks support.
    7) All the small businesses save a ton of money not having to deal with QuickBooks forced upgrades and other shenanigans.
    8) MS certainly isn't going to disappear, but they certainly feel a disturbance in the force -- as if a million people suddenly cried out Freedom!
  • by catwh0re ( 540371 ) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:44PM (#22458600)
    Computing is a boon to the consumer-based society.(Not entirely helpful while ploughing a field for example.)
    In a consumer-based society products are propagated by sellers.(Computer stores in this case.)
    When a product/service is good, the penetration of a product/service is directly proportional to number of sellers.(Think iPods)
    The number of sellers is maximised and thus achieved by the ease of profitability of the good/service sold.
    Items which can be sold as-is attract both small and large resellers who market and profit from the good/service directly.(It's easier to sell something as-is, then have to think of something to bundle it with to make it profitable.)
    Remove the sale price and the result is instead of being the sold item, it merely becomes a tool to sell another kind of product/service.(Usually as a value themed bundle - such as services or hardware, think IBM or Walmart.)

    Additionally, selling it cheaply doesn't solve the problem either, as there needs to be significant profit for sellers to be bothered.(Why you will find windows and not linux in the local computer store.)

    Free items are rarely marketed to consumers for these reasons, marketing costs money, marketing is mostly to generate sales uplift. Marketing is paid for by revenue. The end result is that there is limited mass-market penetration, and it's propagated almost entirely by skilled persons or word of mouth.

  • Re:Duh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kamapuaa ( 555446 ) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:46PM (#22458618) Homepage
    Uhhh...they already do this. Here's the first one that came up on Amazon [], but they have more and less expensive of boxed Linux available at just about any computer-related retail store.

    Of all the methods of getting people to adopt Linux, I just don't think "it needs to cost more" is one of them.

  • by SipM ( 1241278 ) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:47PM (#22458622)
    Anyone tried getting a java applets to work in firefox on a 64-bit AMD linux platform? Or how about sending audio to a TV over an HDMI connection? How about video overlay on an ATI x1250 video card (on a motherboard with the AMD 690 chipset)? Can you tell it just took me over 1 week at over 8 hours a night of getting my new HTPC set up with linux? And I tought very long and hard between whether to go with linux or windows xp. It has decent new hardware but still performance is horrible mainly due to lack of proper driver support (even though this hardware has been out for more than a year). Anyway ... if you have the ability to patch source code, (re)compile kernel modules, and sort through 100's of pages of forum threads telling you to change one config setting after another, then sure, you can make a really great platform working for free. But is the average PC user really able or willing to put the necessary time to figure all this out? At the same time, you can't blame manufacturers in not putting the resources to support the relatively small linux userbase. So it's a chicken and the egg problem. Whether chicken/egg or not, the FACT remains though that overall, installing, maintaining, and using linux is still far more complicated for the average user (who has no clue what a daemon or python script is) than windows.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:52PM (#22458650)
    No pain == no value in many people's eyes.

    Oh that's why Linux geeks hate Windows so much! Because it is so painless to get stuff working, hence it has no value.

    Whereas struggling for hours to find a working Linux driver for your particular brandX hardware, discovering that there isn't one, then being told to write it and share it with the community because it'd be helpful to have a working driver for brandX is so much more painful that it has value beyond belief.

    OK to be serious now, Windows and Linux both have their own strong points and weaknesses. People should use whichever suits them. I prefer Windows myself these days, but in my younger days when I loved to endlessly tinker with assembly and C code I'd have preferred Linux. Nowadays my slothful old self prefers gaming and web browsing and since most of the shiny new games I like run on Windows that in large part dictates the OS I use.
  • by at_slashdot ( 674436 ) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:52PM (#22458656)
    It's lock-in, hardware and software lock-in.

    Hardware: Linux is pretty good at working with MOST of the hardware, but there are wireless cards and scanners and of course other devices that don't work out of the box with Linux

    Software: yes there are replacements and most of the people probably need only a browser, but if 100% of Windows programs would work on Linux I'm sure we'd not have this discussion.

    All the rest of "reasons": ease of use, resistance to change, lack of perceived values they are there but they are minor issues, most of the people I know won't even be able to tell the difference between KDE and Windows, most of the people I know don't care about the "value" of their OS either.

    And of course, why says that Linux is not growing? It's growing pretty fast considering these issues. What do people expect?
  • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:53PM (#22458664) Homepage Journal
    You asked the question:

    why would you even waste your time farking around with something else?
    And then I transitioned to some personal gripes with OTOH.
    Proprietary software gives you a fish every time you boot up.
    Free Software offers a spectrum from the same fish, to a kit and destructions for building your own fishing pole, along with a few Mb of usenet postings on where to fish.
    Nothing is intrinsically wrong with accepting the fish, but the point is that the opportunity to get out there and catch your own should be advertised and encouraged in a gentle way.
    Many do not think past taking the fish, simply because the possibility of catching their own has never been spoken to them.
    Might hurt someone's profits, you know.
  • It spread here (Score:2, Interesting)

    by flerchin ( 179012 ) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:55PM (#22458702)
    I just installed Ubuntu 7.10 this weekend on my thinkpad. The process was seamless. Ubuntu is ready for grandmas. I got it at a good price too! However, I don't know how I can convince my non-geek friends that it really is that good, and it really is that easy.
  • by dl107227 ( 632747 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @12:05AM (#22458796)
    I used a linux type OS fr the first time in the late 90's at a computer lab at the university I went to. Mosaic worked and later netscape worked. I thought it was fine as a way to access the internet. I still used word perfect (on a windows system) for word processing. Hell... I remember telling my dad that you could find anything on the internet. i told him if you want to find out more about "nose picking" just type it into a search engine and you will discover new ways to pick your nose (there were less than 10 hits back then on compares to 400,000+ on google now) So recently I downloaded and burned a gutsy gibbon boot disk. I was not a Comp Sci major. I am not some computer guru even though i built all my computers and my parents computers (the only exception being the laptop I am currently posting from. Booting to GG showed me a desktop that I was almost familiar with (things do change a bit with time). I immediately discovered that my bluetoooth mouse and my internet connection did not work. Obviously without internet it becomes impossible to research solutions to a problem on the internet. Without bluetoooth I could not use my mouse and I hate using a touchpad. I would like to use some sort of Linux distro but I don't seem to have the specialized knowledge required to do so. If, eventually it becomes a system where all you have to do is install it and almost everything works then I will gladly become faithful fan. Until then I will continue to use windows products because I have a lot of other things on my plate than learning how to finagle an operating system to meet my needs when there is one that already does.
  • Call the emperor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Progman3K ( 515744 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @12:10AM (#22458840)
    Tell him his new clothes are ready!

    As far as I am considered, I hope Linux NEVER becomes mainstream.
    I've been using Linux exclusively for 4 years and I love it, especially when all the freeloaders ask me
    "You're in computers; my computer is acting up, can you take a look?"
    "What operating system are you running?" I ask.

    "Sorry, I can't help, I run Linux"
    Ahh... Sweet peace and quiet, not only in my computer, but in my life also.
    Fuck being an evangelist, it has caused nothing but pain for me and now I just want to be left alone.
  • by webmaster404 ( 1148909 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @12:10AM (#22458842)
    Dell though seems to be hiding Linux, even though they offer it they never mention it in any ads, or on the main page. If you search for Linux you will find it with the heading "Not sure Open Source is for you?" under the computers. Honestly, even though Dell does offer Linux which can't be said about other vendors, they sure seem to hide it well.
  • by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Monday February 18, 2008 @12:13AM (#22458876) Homepage
    Tell that to my nice flatbed scanner, which hasn't worked with a Windows version since 98. Or my printer, same boat.

    Windows doesn't work better. It works better when it's preinstalled with hardware that it's designed for. Same with Apple, same with Linux. Get yourself some quality hardware, and Linux starts working much better than Windows.
  • by prestomation ( 583502 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @12:16AM (#22458900)
    I think many people with some basic computer knowledge associate unix-like systems with a CLI and they consider that archaic. I'm a college student using kubuntu as much as I can, and lots of people in the dorms get wide eyed at compiz. When my roommate first saw it he asked me what it was and I told him it was linux. His response was "That's a really old system".

    I "wobbled my windows" and "rotated my cube" and replied "Yeah, it's real ancient"..
  • by erlehmann ( 1045500 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @12:17AM (#22458904)
    when i present ubuntu, i highlight the integration:
    - synaptic is a killer application, the dumbed down version is literally idiot proof
    - when i click on a file, if a suitable program isn't installed, i get a prompt if i want it
    - when i input a command and a suitable program isn't installed, i get instructions to install it

    combined with my subtle RDF, it works quite nicely ;)
  • Re:Uhhh... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by webmaster404 ( 1148909 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @12:20AM (#22458930)

    And honestly, Linux would "cost" the average person more than $300 to start using in terms of time and effort. It's cost me way more than that, and I have some idea of what I'm doing.

    Oh yes, because we know Windows costs less. Lets take first the OS, ranging from $50-$300, even if you buy it OEM you will still pay the approximately $50 it costs for the OEM Windows, not to mention all the time taking off all the crapware they install on new PCs. Now, because we don't want your Windows box to become part of a botnet, you install an antivirus/anti-spyware that costs around $40. Of course while your at it you need to install MS Office, around $150. So thats just $240 in software alone. Now assuming you need a dual-core PC with 2 gigs of RAM to run Vista properly, that costs around $450 without monitor and such. A far cry from the $200 gPC, so with your $300 of time and effort spent learning Linux you have spent $500 compared to the $690 with the MS solution.

    And honestly, how much money do you think it would cost to learn Office 2007/Vista? I would expect a lot more and it comes without the assurance that it won't get discontinued and you have to learn Office 2009/Windows 7 within 3 years and of course pay more. Learning Linux is an investment, and not a hard one at that. And honestly, Linux would "cost" the average person more than $300 to start using in terms of time and effort. It's cost me way more than that, and I have some idea of what I'm doing.
  • by Ritchie70 ( 860516 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @12:27AM (#22458970) Journal
    I don't think you appreciate the lock-in for an accounting package. My financial history for the last 15 years is in Quicken. If I want to know when I bought something, I go look there. I can tell you how much I spent on a P2-450 Dell in 1998. (It was a stinking lot.)

    I've played with live CDs. I work in technology. I administer Linux and OpenServer systems.

    But I run XP on my personal laptop. The only application I really need from Windows is Quicken, which you can take when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. It sucks that I'm locked in to Windows, and locked in to those Intuit bastards, but there just isn't any way to export all of my history as far as I know, and there isn't another program that could really pull it in and give me all the same features.

    Maybe I'll look at running XP within a virtual machine just for Quicken. Except I don't think I have an XP install disk - it came pre-loaded.
  • I don't know (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bitspotter ( 455598 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @12:29AM (#22458984) Journal
    I don't know that Ubuntu GNU/Linux isn't spreading.

    I've long since given up trying to advocate a new OS to people who aren't fed up with the one they have. But last week, I heard from a friend of mine who told me his roommate installed it after seeing it on his PC. He installed it after seeing it on his girlfriend's computer. She happens to be my roommate, and she asked me to install it without prompting from me.

    I didn't even install two of these systems. I didn't //have// to. The thing installs itself; I just get a postcard every so often.

    Aside from that, freedom is worth more than free. I am worth more than beer. Thank you very much.

    So he may be right, in the sense that Windows users basically hate freedom (like terrorists! er, no wait...), so they put a low price tag on it. But everyone I know who's installed Gutsy since it's been out has been pretty pleased with it //precisely// because of the lack of restrictions on what it lets them do, instead of trying to sell and advertise a bunch of crap they don't want, or have to pay more to get if they do want it.

    Perhaps freedom won't sell. But that's because it can only be given away. And as people realize that they're paying to have their freedoms //taken away// instead of given to them, they find ways to make the switch.

    And again, why is it so important that GNU/Linux "spread"? Just keep it^H^H me free.
  • by neapolitan ( 1100101 ) * on Monday February 18, 2008 @12:36AM (#22459034)
    The funny thing is, after you push the software on somebody and allow them to reap the rewards, they are incredulous. It undermines the concept of "fairness" that they have learned as you state above.

    My girlfriend was about to shell out several hundred dollars for Word on her new Mac. I introduced her to openoffice, but she couldn't figure out how to save files, and said "it uses incompatible format, I have to buy the Word."

    I showed her how to save in .doc format, and she was astounded. She is converted, and introduced 4 of her friends, all students, to openoffice.

    Viral marketing can work, and old learned prejudices can be overcome...
  • by sean_ex_machina ( 1026748 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @12:37AM (#22459038)
    A few years ago, you could walk into a Best Buy store and find any of several boxed Linux install kits in the $75-$100 range sitting next to the $75-$100 Windows XP upgrades.

    Did charging money for Linux do anything to spread it to the masses? Well, SUSE was purchased by Novell, Mandrake nearly went bust, and Red Hat canned its end-user distribution and replaced it with Fedora. So much for that idea.
  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @12:53AM (#22459162)
    A good example would be the whole source code thing. This is scary to a non-technical user. Maybe it shouldn't be, but it is. While it is possible to run Linux and never run in to any code, it isn't that hard to find something you want to do that needs source code. Maybe it is a driver or an app that is distributed only in source form. Well, compiling that scares people. You have to drop to a command line and you are going to get a shitload of text dumped at you that makes no sense. Even though the end result might be just as easy as running a visual installer in Windows, it doesn't FEEL as easy, it feels scary.

    I could go on with a whole list of design choices Linux has made that are like this. Basically what it comes down to is that it doesn't seem as easy to a non-technical user. Even if the process is just as easy (and there are times when it certainly isn't) the fact that it involves something that looks highly technical makes it very intimidating. This is going to hinder adoption, of course. If people feel it is harder, they aren't going to want to use it or learn it.
  • by golodh ( 893453 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:08AM (#22459280)
    I know I won't make myself popular here, but nevertheless. I think it has to be said.

    I believe that Linux being free has nothing whatsoever to do with its value perception.

    Instead I believe that people, and to some extent correctly, still equate Linux with "something for geeks, not end-users" because of:

    - the generally poor standard of GUI's on Linux itself and Linux software

    - the generally dismissive attitude of Linux users / software developers for a nice polished GUI with all the details taken care of.

    There ... I've said it. So flame me.

    Ordinary users simply do _not_ want something that forces them to go to the command line for system maintenance. Neither do they want to have to edit configuration files, let alone scripts. It has taken Linux distributions years to come up with something as sophisticated as YAST (for SuSE Linux) and KDE Control center, and especially KDE still doesn't provide a reliable one-stop solution to detect and install my inkjet printer. I have to go to CUPS for that. In a word ... it's less simple than MS Windows (unless you already know what you should be doing because you did it before and kept notes).

    I have seen threads with expostulations about how great command line oriented programs are, and I agree ... for some programs that are oriented towards batch processing, for repetitive jobs, and for software that I write myself for my own use. (When I write software for my own personal use, I never write GUIs. Command-line, control files, and file in, file out. If a GUI is needed, someone else can do that.)

    But for other people's programs, and for programs I don't use every day I want to be prompted and guided ... by a GUI ... with tooltips and a smoothly functioning and fairly complete Help function. The very last think I want is to be obliged to read a manual and remember commands for some fink of a program before I use it. I believe I have a typical end-user mentality in this respect.

    And did I mention that as an end-user I really do _not_ want to see every program sporting its own GUI layout either? I don't care a fig about what some programmer thinks is good way to organise his GUI. I want my GUI to be *standardised* (at least the toolbar) so that it's somewhat familiar as soon as the application starts. Copy-paste should of course be supported, and don't you dare to let it default to any other key combination than C for copy and V for paste, and a print option (if applicable at all) right where I expect it ... under the menu (which has to be the leftmost menu) somewhere 3/4 down the list.). Well ... I might be able to cope with a standard GUI layout under Linux that's different from Windows, but no more than one.

    And then the graphics itself ... ouch. I really *hate* GTK-based programs. They look somewhat like the Windows programs I'm used to, but the widgets work differently. I find them clunky. Ugly and clunky. Again, I couldn't care less what some programming community thinks of them. I don't want them. Take the typical GTK file menu for one thing. An abortion! And what's more, I won't have them unless there is no alternative.

    As an illustration, take for example AviDemux (see here: []). It comes in two flavours: with a GTK+ interface and with a QT4 interface. I tried the GTK+ flavour first and disliked it. The QT4 version on the other hand was acceptable. It didn't irritate.

    The good news is that this nicely illustrates the difference between what in the context of "Git" (the version control software) is called: the plumbing (the guts) and the porcelain (the superficial layer that comprises the GUI). A well-designed GUI can be rendered in either GTK+ or QT4, and it should have absolutely no impact on the plumbing.

  • by adamkennedy ( 121032 ) <adamk@c[ ].org ['pan' in gap]> on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:11AM (#22459312) Homepage
    Computing is a boon to the consumer-based society.(Not entirely helpful while ploughing a field for example.)

    Hundreds of thousands of farmers (in developing countries and the west) with real-time access to pretty graphs of farm product prices on local and international markets and detailed short/medium weather forecasting would disagree.
  • by Zey ( 592528 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:33AM (#22459450)

    No. No it's not. OpenOffice sucks. It's usability is worse than MS Office

    Oddly enough, I've been using OpenOffice since its early StarOffice days (before it was bought out by Sun). Its kept its UI generally stable and I've never had to waste my time learning new menu layouts at each new version release. It's available where ever I might need it.

    Personally, I always remove Microsoft Office and replace it with OpenOffice. OO's the known quantity. MSO is the one with the dodgy shifting target document formats.

    it's compatibility filters regularly screw up simple files

    If Microsoft doesn't care if its own Office app is compatible with older copies of Office, why should I? Need to transfer a document to someone else? Use PDF, RTF or TXT.

    They DO care about WindowsMedia 10

    Sucks to be them. Everyone else has heard of Videolan's VLC.

    Also, if you require me to do any sysadmining whatsoever you've epicly failed

    Ah, so you're the one who doesn't use Windows Update, clean the viruses from your PC or run defrag every once in a while.

    You want linux to really be valuable to people

    Nope. Personally, I want Microsoft to buy out the QNX folks and impliment Windows 7 as its GUI. Then create a nice sandboxed emulator to handle all the old Win32 app cruft.

  • by SipM ( 1241278 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:35AM (#22459468)

    Yes, it's called "go to a page that uses java, and when the little box comes up that asks if you want to install Java, say yes. Wait a few minutes, and then it works".
    In windows, that's exactly what I did. With linux, well ... it hasn't really been that easy. As far as taking up things with specific vendors when they don't work ... that was exactly my point. :)
  • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @02:10AM (#22459688)
    There's very little difference between Office 2000, XP, and 2003. Except that 2003 has some corporate features you'd never use at home (for instance, extensive Sharepoint support.)

    But you should try Office 2007. Microsoft went back to the drawing board and came up with a new interface from scratch after they realized that most of their requested features were features Office already had, people just couldn't locate them in the menus. I don't know if you'll think it's better, but I quite like it...

    And I really like the thought of a major software maker actually working to improve the usability of their product (even if it doesn't work out, at least they tried... that's more than, say, Adobe's ever done.)
  • by Mattsson ( 105422 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @03:07AM (#22460036) Journal
    To most home-users, though, it's more like this:

    The system has become full o shit and can't be used anymore.
    Try to find the OEM-rescue disc.
    Copy a friends XP instead
    Find out that their valid license key doesn't allow them to install from that particular disc even though it says "XP Home Edition SP1", just like the sticker on their computer (WTF?)
    Get a volume license XP Pro with a pirate key on the internet.
    Find out that 1/3 of their hardware aren't supported in XP without something called "drivers" that they have no idea where to get.
    Don't install a firewall, antivirus or any Microsoft updates.
    Install the two games and two applications that they own.
    Get a bunch of pirated applications of the internet.
    Install Microsoft updates that have been automatically downloaded.
    Install lots of shit..
    Back to a system that can't be used.

    Or, since Vista is the newest and therefore the best, they get vista in step 5 and find out that 9/10 of their hardware aren't supported...

  • by batkiwi ( 137781 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @03:38AM (#22460200)
    A nit:
    -OEM copies don't require activation
    -OEM copies come with all the drivers slipstreamed

    So take out about 1/2 of your steps.

    If you're really installing windows a lot you'd also have a rollup CD, so just 1 reboot.

    Compare that to 300 megs (183 updates already!!!) of downloads for an ubuntu 7.10 install I did on Sunday, and there's no way to slipstream or download those for the other 3 computers I'm installing later...

    I love ubuntu, and will continue to use it, but monthly updates to their installer CD images would be KILLER. So yes it's 7.10, but if I download it today I am current through Jan 31. If I download it in March I'm current through Feb 29. And so on.
  • by penix1 ( 722987 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @03:45AM (#22460254) Homepage
    What you and others who are making the argument that it is the lack of commercial viability that is holding at bay the crapware are completely ignoring is the value of open source. One such value is the ability to fork to remove the crap. That is why it is so important to insist that vendors release the code. Every time you buy from a vendor (such as NVidia) that only releases binary blobs, you are rewarding the very behavior you detest in Windows. This is the meat of the beef between "free software" and the rest of the "open source" licenses. Free software (GPL) will ensure that the source will always be free from influences like the crapware.

    I'm sorry to say that a program that you don't have the source for isn't open source. The fact that a binary may run on Linux doesn't magically make it so no matter how much the vendors wish it. Since my system is built from source, it behooves me to insist on hardware that favors my system. In short, I vote with my wallet.
  • by dogganos ( 901230 ) <> on Monday February 18, 2008 @04:02AM (#22460344)
    Always the same story...

    Around 1828, after Greece revolted and got independent from Turkish enslavement, Greece's new governor Ioannis Kapodistrias, in order to feed the people, introduced the potato to Greece and large shipments of potatoes were distributed to the people for free. Nobody even bothered to taste it. Kapodistrias was smart: He gathered back all the potato quantities and locked in large containers, and also put armed guardians to 'guard' it, as if it was something extremely valuable. Quickly, interest was sparked among the Greeks, and soon they started looting the containers (under the guards eyes (who they were told to overlook)) in order to eat the forbidden fruit...

    The moral: If you want linux to spread, lock it, and also distribute the necessary cracks. But there is also a more subtle moral: Do you really want this kind of stupid people for linux users?
  • Except that... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ceeam ( 39911 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @04:11AM (#22460400)
    It does spread.
  • by ET3D ( 1169851 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @04:31AM (#22460500)
    There aren't any wireless cards that don't support Windows.

    I've had quite a bit of problem with this under Vista. Which actually is a good example of why it's important to have drivers. One of the reasons I didn't want to move to Vista, and still use XP, even though I got a free Vista license, was that it didn't just run out of the box with all I had. The same thing, applied to Linux, is even more of a problem, since moving to Linux will mean having to do a lot more work to get comfortable.

    I run a Live CD occasionally (usually Knoppix), and IMO things are better than they used to be. But last time I used one I still needed to call a Linux-using friend to get some things working.

    On the original subject, I think there's something to that. Getting something for free which costs money feels more valuable (for example, the Vista I got vs. Linux). On the other hand, I also have a Microsoft Office license, but I still have Open Office installed instead, and frankly (especially when I wrote a lot) I preferred Wordpad over both. So I'd say that it's more a matter of supplying the needs of the user than the matter of cost.

  • What crap. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kiwioddBall ( 646813 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @04:31AM (#22460504) Homepage
    I don't use Linux because I don't like it much. Its not user friendly. And I'm a geek!
  • by rawbytes ( 737682 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @04:50AM (#22460598)
    every so called 'realistic' reporting is telling us that everyone makes decisions based on their perceptions. Stock market, elections, choosing a consumer product. If that's the case has the population become a bunch of numbheaded drones or its part of the propaganda to isolate people and feel helpless?
  • by mikew909 ( 1236976 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @05:59AM (#22460906)
    Vista is horrible.. they basically put a try/catch around the blue screen of death - it restarts 4 times a day on its own
  • by cp.tar ( 871488 ) <> on Monday February 18, 2008 @06:17AM (#22460982) Journal

    That kind of thing just doesn't happen on Linux. Everything is integrated into one updating service. Everything shares the same libraries as much as possible. "Start" menu entries are organized by function, not by who wrote the program. I realize no non-geek would give a crap about any of this, but I really don't like it when software does its own thing and presumes to know better.

    Menu entries organized by function instead of company name is a very big thing, though, as anyone navigating it will have less problems finding what they want. Especially newbies.

    I just installed Linux for my grandfather, who has never ever used a computer before; I'll be setting it up for him today.
    I put Kickoff on his Kubuntu install and set up Compiz.
    Kickoff sorts things rather nicely, though it would be better if it were translated completely; I may have to do something about that in the future. I'm quite certain it will help him find the desired action or program.
    I have set up Compiz to burn windows as they are closed, and to slide them to the taskbar as they are minimized, so that he knows what has happened to them.
    These may seem to be trivial or even superfluous things to any geek, but any kind of help or cue when you don't really know what you're doing can prove to mean a lot.

  • by ozamosi ( 615254 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @06:40AM (#22461116) Homepage

    I usually say that it is a Good Thing that hardware usually doesn't support Linux. Hardware supports Windows, Linux supports hardware. This means that I can plug in a new wifi dongle, and not having to install this brand new networking management software, which comes on the driver disk, and happens to also include a driver somewhere that you can't really get without that whole new disgusting application.

    After having to touch my mothers new Vaio laptop with Vista for a while, I realized that the biggest problem with Windows isn't Windows, it's that every application in the world that isn't a part of the original installation is fucking annoying. There were about a gazillion applications labeled Vaio, mostly duplicating already existing functionality (you know how every newly installed Windows OS has a pop up that welcomes you, and offers to show you some documentation? Her laptop had two - one from Windows, and one from Sony, with at least 50% the same content, and the other 50% being lot's of annoying "we have a Club Vaio we want you to be in - it doesn't do anything, but it at least has a cheesy name!" buttons). However, if you remove the annoying Vaio apps, suddenly the Fn+F#-keys stop working (you know, to change volume, brightness, monitor, etc), because that driver was apparently part of one of the most annoying applications. Which, of course, can't be downloaded and reinstalled from Sonys website, because the binary they have is broken.

    You know when you come home to someone because "their computer is a bit slow", and you realize it's because it has Bonzai Buddy, Gator, 1 000 hits in Ad-Aware, and 50 or so viruses? You know the feeling? That's what I was feeling as I was booting the computer. For the first time.

    So please, computer vendors: don't ever, ever sell computers with preinstalled Linux. I'll do it myself, thankyouverymuch, so that I will not have to be exposed to your "user friendlyness". Give me an plain, unmodified Ubuntu CD or something if you want, and a clean hard drive.

    Hardware vendors: don't ever, ever release Linux drivers - I don't want to install a pop up blocker for my web browser to be able to change resolution on my monitor. Give me the specs and/or source code, and I'll let someone who's not an idiot write drivers.

    Software vendors: don't ever, ever release fancy one-click Linux binaries - I don't want to get a million fancy, themed (not system themed - your own theme engine you developed, just to annoy me) pop ups and toolbar icons, just because I was stupid enough to actually wanting to use your product - I'm sorry, I will never do it again, now leave me alone! Give me the source code, and I'll let someone who isn't an idiot create a deb package that can actually be removed, and/or fork your product and make it non-horrible.
  • by chord.wav ( 599850 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @07:02AM (#22461240) Journal
    There have been much improvements lately but it is still hard for end users. Ubuntu really tries not to be, but still.

    Assuming you get past the installation point, there are a number of things that are not user friendly.

    Applications have a horrible UI. Really, Linux has by far the worst looking apps. Users don't use bad-looking apps, regardless what that they do.

    Users don't want to type commands in a terminal. By each command line you tell someone to do, God kills a new Linux user and makes a windows user instead.

    WiFi with Samba are not easy to set up. Before you yell at me, I know YOU can, and I know users can't.

    It has too many config options. Many config options clutter the screen and they end reading nothing.

    Users don't care about squeezing every single processor cycle, the don't even know there is one, and they shouldn't know.

    Users don't know what a hard drive is and don't need to know, so don't even ask about partitioning.

    Probably the worst one: If something goes wrong, it doesn't degrade too gracefully. You'll probably have to type some lines in the terminal making God kill a dozen new Linux users until you fix it.
    Have you seen an iPod fail? It doesn't give you a mem dump, nor a blue screen. It displays a "sad iPod" icon and a URL to Apple's tech support. That's all the users need to know.

  • by lena_10326 ( 1100441 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @07:49AM (#22461528) Homepage

    You're pretty much confirming the hypothesis set forth in the summary then - which is pretty obvious to anyone who has ever suggested a free program as an alternative to commercial software and been met with "huh, why is it free?".
    I use Inkscape occasionally because it's one of the better OS/Free graphics apps, but then I use Illustrator/Fireworks for the majority of my real vector work. There are things they do that Inkscape cannot do. At no time was my decision ever influenced by "Why is it free?". I still use Inkscape for non-work purposes, mainly because it's gradient tool works very similar to Xara (which is a good thing).

    There is a second reason. If you look at many of the design jobs, there's almost always a requirement for Photoshop/Illustrator/Fireworks/Flash, so there's a strong reason to choose Adobe at the individual level is purely for improving one's marketability in job interviews. I shudder to think of walking into an interview that demands Adobe experience and try to sell them on nothing but Gimp/Inkscape/Emacs/and-whatever-else experience.

    Of course, that point is probably moot if one is an freelance contractor, but the majority aren't. And even then there may be requirements for files to be in Adobe formats. If you've ever exported/imported those files, they rarely go smoothly without some form of rasterization or munging something.

  • by orasio ( 188021 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @08:54AM (#22461880) Homepage

    I'm sorry to point this out to you, when everyone else is doing the same thing, but his point is simply that the software people need to do their jobs does not exist on Linux. It doesn't for web developers, it doesn't for me, it doesn't for anyone I know except for the woman who writes server code on and for Linux.
    Maybe you know a specific kind of people, or you just stopped looking some years ago.
    I have worked at a telecom company (big by my countries standards, 2-3k workers, 1 million fixed + 1 million cellphone subscribers).
    90 percent of the people there work either via web, or terminals for legacy software.
    While I was there, my coworkers changed a companywide VB6 program used for work hours registering into a JSF application.
    Developers use mostly Eclipse, and those who don't fall into that generous 10% I set apart, including some VB6 legacy software, and marketing people who use publishing software, and have lots of old files.

    MS Office and OpenOffice are used indistinctly. You get a machine with OpenOffice, and you need to make the case to get MS Office.
    Publications are made with PDF, so people are ok with OpenOffice, because it works great for them, and MSOffice is not enough for them without Acrobat, and they need to justify the expense of MSOffice + Acrobat.

    The application that was very important for them was Outlook, because it lets them share calendars. Now they have an internal web app that works better for that, and is easily accessible everywhere.

    I think that maybe most people need exchange to do their jobs, but there are lots of other packages that work much better and are more reliable. So it's not that most people need windows to do their jobs, it's that IT departments haven't had the need to transition yet. With the current move of US economy, you will see some of what I described happening around you.

  • by kklein ( 900361 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @09:02AM (#22461936)

    I don't really think so. I'm seeing a lot of people moving to the Mac (full disclosure: I did, and I can't believe I'm saying that).

    You're still pretty heavily in the IT industry there, though. The point I make endlessly at Slashdot is that most people aren't in IT.

    For me, ALL of the software I need to do my research is Windows-only. But that hasn't stopped me from just running it under virtualization with VMware Fusion on the Mac. I picked up a Mac laptop last summer just kind of out of curiosity, and have been stunned at how good it is at getting things done, now that they are on Intel and I can run Windows (or Linux!) apps in virtualization with, to me, no noticeable performance hit.

  • by TMB_Steve ( 758201 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @09:07AM (#22461956) Homepage
    Not only is it free it's also *shock* *horror* LEGAL. An illegal pirate copy of WindowsXP has much more street cred than the goody two shoes linux option. I ordered 6 ubuntu cds to give to people on my course here in Ireland who are attending a hardware maintenance course. Not one of them even put the disc in the machine! Why? Cos it's legal! Therefore I propose two new linux distros based on Linux Mint. 1) Illegal Linux (complete with activation key scribbled on the cd case) 2) Thousand dollar Linux (linux that is sold in the shops for $1,000) This was typed on an ASUS eeepc running Ubuntu 7.10.
  • by apoc.famine ( 621563 ) <> on Monday February 18, 2008 @10:57AM (#22462992) Journal
    While good on the older ipods, the author doesn't always have the $$ to buy the latest and greatest to test against. Found that out the hard way when we got my mom a nice shiny new nano for christmas - last I knew, she still has to boot into XP to get music on it. Gtkpod does tend to lag a version or two behind.

    My mom will be psyched when she no longer has to boot to XP to add music. I think the only thing left for her there is her tax software, and that's a once a year use. Linux is spreading - just slowly.

    One of the last real hurdles is a solid sound manager, (stupid-easy gui like in windows) which PulseAudio seems to be on track to provide. Being able to two to four click to set a default sound device is a very useful thing for even an incompetent computer user.

    The fact that my mom has nearly everything she needs in linux at the moment (and to be honest, I think her tax program might run under Wine) is an indication that linux is getting close to usable for the bulk of the non-technical population. Sure, it will lag in features for windows power-users, gamers, and specialists, but for the average joe, it's working.

    My mom just discovered that there are dozens of solitaire games in the "Add/Remove Programs" menu under Ubuntu. She said, "What? You can actually ADD programs there? You can't in windows!" And she was amazed that there were 20k+ programs available, searchable, and installable with only a click or two. From her standpoint, that's FAR easier than navigating shareware/nagware websites to download and install games which are often crippled versions of useful programs.

    At the same time, she's thrilled when ALL of her programs update at the same time, on her command. If she doesn't want to click the little triangle, she doesn't. And eight different programs don't pop up eight different "There's an Update Available!" notices while windows updates in the background, screwing over any semblance of user experience. And for most non-technical users, who let all their third-party apps do that, I'd guess that would be a similar experience. They just need the introduction.

    Linux already has 95% of what you need to browse the web, and do all the stupid shit that people do on it. Outside of a few windows-only plugins for a few off-the-beaten-path websites, the average joe can do what he usually does on the internet. Combine that with full control over program updates, and the ease of finding and installing apps, and I think linux will do a fair job of converting the sheeple masses, once they get that initial introduction. I'm truly convinced of it. My mom is starting to become an evangelist about linux, due to those reasons.
  • by ckaminski ( 82854 ) <slashdot-nospam@ ... m minus physicis> on Monday February 18, 2008 @11:27AM (#22463328) Homepage
    My advice, having been a programmer and sysadmin for 14 years, is for you to learn Linux and Windows sysadmin; you'll be a much more well-rounded developer, and us sysadmins will hate you less when you know and can understand the pain we feel when we have to deploy and support your overengineered and crafty shit. :-)

    You don't have to be a master sysadmin, but you should be comfortable doing it...
  • by QuantumBritt ( 456422 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @12:31PM (#22464202)
    Why Linux sucks:

    Remarks like yours which start out with an insult
    Helpful comments to new users:
    1) RTFM
    2) If you don't like it, here's the source code, go write the change yourself
    3) Man pages suck so much it is ridiculous
    4) Coders write programs for their own use, then wonder why no one else uses them
    5) Cryptic 3 letter names for shite I want to use daily
    6) Command line needed to reconfigure simple shite that should be in a simple gui control panel
    7) Command line needed for anything
    8) Wireless support, Linux doesn't (this is an example people, read it and treat it as such) work with wireless right out of the box, it needs one to delve into it's guts to get it working
    9) OpenOffice may or may not take an hour to load (see previous post) but it does automatically default to a file type for saving that MS Office can not read, thus making user generated files unreadable by MS Office, with whom 99% of the people you need to talk will not understand or be able to open
    10) Being more concerned with a philosophy than with usability
    11) Rude and condescending user base
    12) Do you really want me to go on?

    Linux is a fine set of OSes for the hobbyist, fine for people who get satisfaction in delving into the guts, but for the average joe or jane user it sucks so bad they wonder why anyone in their right mind would even suggest it! They just want their computer to work. One of the Computer Scientists at the R&D lab where I work was having issues with Vista... Pre installed on her new laptop, so I gave her Ubuntu to try... Long story short, after running it off of the cd that night she gave me back the cd and told me that she wasn't interested in wasting time attempting to relearn everything about her computer in order to get work done, she just wanted to get work done, so she pulled out her old XP install disk and installed that on her laptop...

    People, stop thinking you are going to take over the world until you realize that feeling superior and being insulting aren't winning social engineering strategies, and start thinking, gee, how could we make that GUI more useable and intuitive for a non-technical user... oh and GUIs for every conceivable setting need to be developed.

    Yeah, I have a chip on my shoulder from every damn time I have gone to a newsgroup to ask a question and been told one of two things: RTFM (I already did or I wouldn't have been there asshole) or well, if you can't figure it out, then you have no business owning a computer. WTF? Over. I use a mac and a pc mostly because guess what? Apple and MS never say that if I don't take the time to figure it out that I don't deserve to own it, they are helpful and walk me through it.

    So, in short stop thinking that Mom and Pop are stupid and start thinking that if you want a user base, outside of your current users then you need to think of those peoples needs and meet them

    End Rant.
  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:15PM (#22464770) Journal
    Compare that to 300 megs (183 updates already!!!) of downloads for an ubuntu 7.10 install I did on Sunday, and there's no way to slipstream or download those for the other 3 computers I'm installing later...

    Just because you don't know how to do it doesn't mean it can't be done.
  • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @03:12PM (#22466216) Journal
    What an odd interpertation. Why should anyone in your company try to dig into someone else's code to fix it? What if the "OSS community" doesn't bother to help, how does that leave your project? Pretty fucked, from my point of view. As expensive as MS support is, at least you CAN get them to find a solution to your problem.

    There are a lot of people who care more about covering their ass than about delivering solutions. They want to put in a 40 hour day, and if it doesn't work, they want to point fingers at someone and go home without being blamed.

    Those people are losers. They don't care about protecting their capacity to succeed, they care about preventing accountability. They fail on a regular basis because of this attitude.

    There are some people who care more about delivering a top notch solution to a problem. They want to put in the time to make it work, and they don't want to have to ask someone to care about their problem and hope they do.

    Those people are winners. They don't care much about accountability and suits, they care about being a person who always succeeds at what they attempt. They don't generally fail.

    Winners don't like depending on other companies to cover their ass. They like being able to do it themselves. They take responsibility because that is their nature.

    That is the answer to your question. Stick it wherever you like.
  • by VON-MAN ( 621853 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @04:21PM (#22467084)
    All you have to know is that you missed my point.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Monday February 18, 2008 @06:24PM (#22468356) Homepage Journal

    Actually, ext2/3 fragments but they're designed in a way that it doesn't matter. At all.

    Actually, it matters when you're running a virtual machine with a virtual disk contained in files on your disk. If those files are not defragmented completely then you can get seriously horrible results.

    I never cared about defragmenting XFS, either, until I failed to pre-create my disk files for Windows XP. Criminy.

  • by mhall119 ( 1035984 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @12:16AM (#22471282) Homepage Journal

    how is the average joe going to find out what in the heck Synaptic is if they don't know enough about computer to know the difference between downloading and installing?
    Because the average user will just use "Add/Remove Programs", which will tell them when they need to use Synaptic, and what they need to use it for.

    Windows has far less installation issues, if only because the hardware is made for it
    That seems like common sense, but in reality anybody who has tried recently will tell you that it is simply not the case. Yes more hardware is supported on Windows, but more drivers are included in a typical Linux install than come on the Windows install CD. For example, on the same laptop that Gateway shipped with WinXP, a vanilla WindowsXP install didn't have drivers for the video, audio, wired or wireless networking. Linux was only missing wireless.

    Windows is far simpler to use than Linux right now, sorry but that's the facts. Linux is far more useful than Windows but it's still not easy enough for primetime.
    Opinions are never facts, and concepts like "simpler" are always opinions. My own anecdote is my wife, who had no problems adjusting to my Ubuntu, but can't figure out how to do simple things on her parent's new Vista machine.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.