Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Operating Systems Software Linux

Living Free With Linux, Round 2 936

bsk_cw writes "About a month ago, in Living free with Linux: 2 weeks without Windows, Preston Gralla wrote about what life was like for a long-time Windows user trying to live with Linux. His main problems came when he tried to install or update software. Loads of people responded with advice — so he went back and tried again. Here's what he learned, and what did and didn't work for him."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Living Free With Linux, Round 2

Comments Filter:
  • by Zombie Ryushu ( 803103 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @12:48PM (#27136615)

    People don't run OSes, they run the applications the OS runs on. It will probably be the case this guy doesn't WANT to change from Photoshop to Gimp, from IE to FireFox, from AIM to Pidgin, to run Wine for WoW. The list goes on.

  • One size fits all (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toreo asesino ( 951231 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @12:52PM (#27136685) Journal

    I find these reviews of "converting to linux" a bit pointless really; they're only ever one persons' perspective on what a conversion is, of which I often find I can't relate to much of what they go through.

    I'd suggest if someone wants to do a "Linux conversion log" type write-up, they consider a target audience. In particular, i'd like to see:

    - The web-user; email, web, and IM (99% of reviews fall into this category)
    - The business user; Exchange, blackberry, important Office data (spreadsheet, word), Wifi, power-saving management, enterprise facilities
    - The multimedia user: MP3, iPod sync, games, DVD, video editing.

    That in my opinion makes up most computer users, and in particular most MacOS/Windows users...the target audience. Take a person from each category and see how they survive 2 weeks on Linux; that I'd be truly interested in.

  • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @12:57PM (#27136757) Journal

    Yeah, pretty bizarre that a two word command causes so much vexation. Most people can handle a command line interface to, for instance, their dog. "Rover, fetch" "Rover, sit" etc. Is "apt-get install" really that much different?

  • YAY! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:02PM (#27136813)

    Another "I gave up windows for x days, here are my experiences" blog. This never gets old.

  • Re:Lol (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cromar ( 1103585 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:04PM (#27136843)

    Well, if he's trying to review from a 'clueless user' perspective, he's certainly on track.

    That's exactly what Linux needs. The only way to get respect is through an easy to use UI, which is what the "clueless users" need who, you know, drive the market for desktops. If Linux was easier to use and free/cheap (as in beer), it wouldn't take long for it to be adopted. It just isn't there yet. And the only way to get there is to listen to these "clueless users."

  • by moonbender ( 547943 ) <moonbender@gmail ... minus physicist> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:06PM (#27136857)

    Choice quote:

    The Update Manager is accessed via the starburst at the top right-hand top of the screen. Click it, but be prepared -- you're about to be confronted with literally hundreds of potential updates with incomprehensible names and unenlightening descriptions ...
    By default, every update has a check next to it in the Update Manager. Uncheck the boxes next to those you don't want to update -- I recommend updating only software that you recognize.

    That's terrible advice.

    He might have a point about the huge number of updates on an initial boot confusing users -- doesn't Ubuntu pull updates as part of the install process? If not, it really should.

  • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:07PM (#27136873)

    "That's exactly what Linux needs."

    I disagree. What it needs is people who can write for clueless users. NOT people who are actually totally clueless writing about it.

    We seem to have the latter here.

  • I did RTFA... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:11PM (#27136935) Homepage Journal

    And have to say that it is rather well balanced. But it also reminds me of something: I've been using Linux for more than a decade, and things to which I'm accustomed - like using the command line - are not at all intuitive to the Windows user.

    There is this tendency among Linux evangelists to try to "fix" a neophyte's problems rather than listening to what he's saying. While Linux has made large inroads in the desktop arena, at its heart it is UNIX, not Windows. One of the larger issues of Linux adoption is that Windows users have a mental model of computers which is Windows-specific:

    1. Typing is for documents, not the command line.
    2. Reading is for web pages, not system configuration.
    3. Configuration is about making choices, not thinking, and certainly not about knowing what hardware is installed in the machine.
    4. If it can't be installed with a few mouse clicks, it doesn't work. End of story.

    Making Linux ubiquitous on the desktop will be a matter of coming up with a simpler, more accessible mental model of a computer for the end user. It will not come about by fixing a particular problem with a particular distribution.

    The average computer user is an expert in something *other* than computers. They're not interested in learning the vagaries of hardware configuration or knowing about kernel dumps and command lines. They use a computer as a tool to *do something other than programming*. They want something easy to use, secure, and reliable. Windows comes through on the first part. Linux on the latter parts. However, security and reliability are a moot point if you can't use the computer in the first place. Hence, Windows gets chosen time and again, in spite of its flaws.

  • by Corson ( 746347 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:12PM (#27136945)
    And don't forget "speciality software" users:

    - mechanical/electronic design engineers: AutoCAD, Inventor, OrCAD.
    - artists/game developers: Photoshop, Maya, 3ds max.
    - molecular biologists: DNA Strider, Vector NTI, Pathway Studio.
    End-users choose a platform mostly for the availability of the software they can run on it.

  • by JustinOpinion ( 1246824 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:13PM (#27136983)

    From page 4 of TFA []:

    By default, every update has a check next to it in the Update Manager. Uncheck the boxes next to those you don't want to update -- I recommend updating only software that you recognize.

    This seems like really bad advice. I would say the opposite: only forego an update if you recognize the software and are sure that you don't want the newer version.

    The vast majority of updates will be for "underlying" software, like the kernel, libraries, and so on. These are also the things that a newbie is most likely to "not recognize". But these are the things that critically need security updates. If a newbie only updates OpenOffice and Firefox (which he recognizes) but skips the kernel, cron, openssh, iptables, and so on (because he doesn't recognize them), he may be left with significant vulnerabilities in very important subsystems.

    In a modern world the default advice should be to install updates and thereby stay as secure as possible. Users should only be skipping updates when they have good reason to think that the new version isn't better (e.g. breaks a feature they like). This is especially true on Linux, since there are no updates that are being pushed out just to limit/inhibit the end user (like, e.g. Windows Genuine Advantage does).

  • The bitter irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by steveha ( 103154 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:15PM (#27137011) Homepage

    The thing he found hardest, the thing he singled out for special mention as the worst problem, was: installing new software.


    That's what Linux distros, particularly Debian-based ones, do best! The package management is the best single feature of Debian and Ubuntu, light-years ahead of the situation in Windows.

    Now, he's not a troll and he's not an idiot. Which means that he has just helpfully identified something we should work on.

    His basic problem is that he is used to Windows, where things are done differently. Either Microsoft Office is installed or it isn't; and the only pieces of Office that you can see are large chunks like Word, Excel, etc. It was surprising and alarming to him when there were hundreds and hundreds of little packages with odd names. For example, the updater told him it would update "anachron -- cron-like program that doesn't go by time" and he didn't know what to make of that.

    In his Part 2 article, he recommends that you never update any package you don't understand. Eeek, again! What if there is a critical security update to DNS or something? He is unlikely to know what it is, so he will decline it. And he will be working very hard to go through the list and uncheck the update box for the vast majority of his packages.

    The correct policy is to have the updater pull from a trusted source, and just let it update. Trust the system.

    In all fairness, Windows has its share of similarly weird stuff. But they have done a much better job of wrapping it up to present to the user.

    When you run Windows Update, it won't give you anything called "anachron", but it will give you things like "hotfix 967363: A Windows Server 2008-based DHCP server does not register DNS records for earlier version DHCP clients that do not send option 81 to the DHCP server". But this will be labeled as a "critical" patch that you really need to take.

    Perhaps Ubuntu should have a popup on the update manager that gives newbies a quick overview of package management on Linux? Things are much better than the mess in Windows, so we need to make sure that newbies understand what's going on. When new users are confused, that should be treated as a bug, and fixed.


  • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:16PM (#27137021) Journal
    A beginner also doesn't know what to do when setup.exe pops up a dialog box saying 'Installshield Error: -51'. Actually, most advanced users don't either, come to think of it.
  • Image (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:18PM (#27137075)

    That's exactly what Linux needs. The only way to get respect is through an easy to use UI, which is what the "clueless users" need who, you know, drive the market for desktops. If Linux was easier to use and free/cheap (as in beer), it wouldn't take long for it to be adopted. It just isn't there yet. And the only way to get there is to listen to these "clueless users."

    At the time of my writing this, the above quote, which is actually quite insightful, was modded as flamebait. The modding encapsulates quite succinctly why the Linux community is seen as a collection of misfits, malcontents, and jackasses (which, by and large it is not - it is a community of good and caring people). It only takes the childish actions of a few to get Linux tarred with that brush. It's a shame really.

  • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:23PM (#27137145)

    But not everyone WANTS to learn how to use apt. Most people want to turn it on, click an icon, and have something install. Not have to add a repository, update the package listings, install it, etc.

    Writing for a clueless user and telling them how to do that only works for non-lazy clueless users. Which are somewhat rare. Most clueless people are clueless from laziness.

  • by nwanua ( 70972 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:24PM (#27137175) Journal

    I consider myself well versed at the techie stuff (EE & CS major, unix user since '94, non-public Linux kernel hacker for ppc). Personally, I use LFS (yes, I compile/bootstrap everything and put it in its own place, _myself_), but I agree that apt-get is a pain in the ass. I appreciate all the effort that's gone into package management, but I can't say that it is trivial to install/upgrade a package using this command.

    Problems include:
    - hunting down all the (often non-obvious) package names
    - dependencies
    - integrity checks
    - conflicts with other (new, old, default, broken) packages

    Automated system installation is a tough nut to crack, considering the millions of packages out there, and apt-get has come a long way towards solving it... but it's still not where it should be in terms of ease. If we can accept that, then we can continue to improve the situation, not snigger at "clueless newbies."

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:25PM (#27137195) Homepage

    He might have a point about the huge number of updates on an initial boot confusing users -- doesn't Ubuntu pull updates as part of the install process? If not, it really should.

    A perfect example of why moving to Linux will not help users - his advice amounts to "don't install security patches". I those are the only ones available by default, though it's been so long I don't remember.

  • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Captain Spam ( 66120 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:25PM (#27137197) Homepage

    Except that a better comparison is if you named your dog "Farciot-Shake", "Sadi-RollOver", "Satyendra-Heel", or, in general, some combination of a name completely outside of your native culture and a verb which sounds like a command you've already given the dog.

    (note: obviously, I'm assuming an American English culture; substitute names alien to your culture to fill in the gaps if need be)

    Forget Debian/Ubuntu/etc. Then, ask yourself what an "apt" is. And why it has anything to do with installing programs. Then, still remembering that you're forgetting you know Debian/Ubuntu, ask why you need "install" at the end of "apt-get", which sounds like you're already asking the system to get the program you're asking for. Non-geeks don't care about the difference between "get" and "install", and the redundancy throws a wrench in their understanding.

    Same goes with "yum" (same situation as apt, minus the redundant verb). Same with "emerge" (which is on a system with far more baffling points for a non-geek). Same with "ports" or "portmanager" (while "manager" helps, the "ports" part of it can cause non-BSD geeks to puzzle over the new meaning). It's the sometimes strange, it-made-sense-at-the-time command line names that, at times, drive the laypersons away from the command line.

  • by dazedNconfuzed ( 154242 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:25PM (#27137203)

    Is "apt-get install" really that much different?

    Yes, it is. "Rover, sit" works because "Rover" is the name of the dog, "sit" is a common English word, and the command pattern has been drilled into us since childhood. "apt-get install" - WTF is that to someone new to Linux? What's "apt" (I'd expect "app" at least)? Why the hyphenated "-get"? If I'm saying "get" the application, why do I have to include the redundant "install"? Heck, I'm a long-time hardcore geek and _still_ have to look it up every time; it's just not intuitive to someone who either is new to the concept of operating systems, nor to those who have to deal with a half-dozen or more OSes on a regular basis.

    The App Store model, cheezy as it may be, works precisely because it's easy to find, easy to run, and easy to find & install applications. Linux doesn't have it yet. Having to spend hours Googling for what apps depend on what other apps, and how to install each of them in their own peculiar way, is largely what keeps Linux sidelined for now. At least with Windows I just stick in an installation CD for an application, or click on "install" on a distribution web page, and the install process just starts; with my iPod I just tap AppStore, find the app, and hit "install"; but with Linux I'm not even sure what the name of the application is, much less the precise command needed to install it.

  • Re:Lol (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Niris ( 1443675 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:27PM (#27137247)
    I just switched over to Linux a month ago, and apt-get was the first thing I learned . There's enough out there explaining how to use it pretty damn simply, and I love the little bugger. That's the biggest hurdle for Linux though, Windows users are too use to "it doesn't need a CD and a key? LOLWUT"
  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:30PM (#27137289)

    The web-user; email, web, and IM (99% of reviews fall into this category)

    No. The 'web user' is a myth. Most 'web users' use those apps most of the time, but the vast majority uses at least one or two other apps from time to time.

    My sister is a web user... except she has a sony mp3 player. Her Sony requires windows software to sync... maybe it'll work with Amaraok... who knows.

    My mom is a web user except she works with a financial adviser over tax season to help. She needs excel for this. Maybe Calc will do, we're not sure.

    My wife is a 'web user' except she uses iTunes with her ipod, and likes to play "Intellivision Lives!" (an intellivision emulator and games). She also uses iphoto.

    My mother in law is a web user, except she runs a small home business and needs her Simply Accounting.

    My father is a web user, except, he has an ipod touch, and uses the itunes music store, and has a digital camera.

    My father in law is a web user, but he too has an ipod, and a digital camera.

    I could go on and on... the point however is that there really is almost no one who is *just* an email/web/IM user. In reality, almost everyone has at least one thing more than that.

    Whether its a digital camera or an ipod or personal tax or accounting software or some game they like.

    And its that one thing that makes life complicated.

    Maybe linux can meet the demand... Amarok is fine for older ipods if you don't use the itunes music store. Amarok is ok for newer ipods, although its a lot more flakey...and maybe linux can't meet the demand: pretty much everyone with a touch downloads a few free apps. And the the Tax / Accounting software is a bit of dealbreaker.

    My wifes Intellivision emulator doesn't run in Wine, but I was able to install a linux emulator, and then copy the bios and rom files from the CD... but it was not newbie friendly.

  • by RalphSleigh ( 899929 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:31PM (#27137313) Homepage

    I agree that the update manager exposes too much to the poor end user who just wants to press a button and be told that everything will be all right.

    Perhaps the answer here is for the update manager to wrap up any updates that do not change a bit of software exposed to the user in the applications menu as a generic 'Ubuntu system update'. You could put the details of the actual packages included somewhere accessible, and just push one system package a week/2nd tuesday of the month.

  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:35PM (#27137371) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps Ubuntu should have a popup on the update manager that gives newbies a quick overview of package management on Linux?

    You know, a five-minute video tour is a really good idea. Just a quick intro to package management and updates is probably sufficient, because Ubuntu already does a good job of making the applications menu very simple and accessible.

  • by despisethesun ( 880261 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:38PM (#27137411)
    Because Ubuntu has been the one to make the biggest strides towards user-friendliness. There are others who have come a long way in this regard as well, but Ubuntu stands at the front of the pack. It's probably the easiest to use, it has probably the largest amount of available pre-compiled software, it has a large user community. I could go on, but this is basically why Ubuntu gets the nod when people try to get newbies to try Linux. More advanced Linux users have their own personal preferences, but I don't know how many of them would put the proverbial Joe Sixpack on a Gentoo system, for example.
  • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:40PM (#27137441) Homepage Journal

    Well, if he's trying to review from a 'clueless user' perspective, he's certainly on track.

    You don't get it, do you?

    Adding a user through GST's "Users and Groups" is also the same thing as editing /etc/passwd, /etc/group and /etc/shadow. Guess which one a newbie end-user migrating from Windows is going to understand?

    Vim and Gedit also do the same thing (more or less). Guess which editor newbies have an easier time understanding?

    In fact, Brasero and cdrtools do the same thing. Brasero even calls cdrtools to do it's thing. How many newbie users migrating from windows are going to type 'man cdrecord'?

    Big hint: if the answer to all of these questions is not obvious to you, my friend, then you are decidedly not helping 2009 -- or any other year -- be the Year of Linux on the Desktop.

  • Re:Lol (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:40PM (#27137445)

    I'm not saying he should have gone into detail about how apt works and how to use it, I'm just saying that his assessment of it is a bit off.

    By all means leave it out and tell the clueless users how to use the GUI, I just didn't think his comment on apt was useful, and it was kinda funny.

  • Again, WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dazedNconfuzed ( 154242 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:59PM (#27137813)

    Exactly. Every time I dig into the Linux-software-install problem, the answers are always "oh, it's easy, just do X and Y and Z and P and D and Q - no problem!" Never mind that it works most of the time (what of the rest?), and there's a dozen other comparable posts that say something different and also may or may not work. I shouldn't have to elicit an obtuse answer from some unknown guy by posting a somewhat trollish message on /. - the answer should be right there on the desktop. Even the "just click on Install Programs for Ubuntu" comments come with "but when (not if) that doesn't work, use this non-intuitive command..." disclaimers.

    This is why people buy Macs: it's pervasively designed for simplicity & intuition, not presumption of knowledge of cryptic commands. Would someone kindly explain why it's "apt-get" instead of "app-get"? what's with the 't'?

  • Re:Again, WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:04PM (#27137907) Journal

    Would someone kindly explain why it's "apt-get" instead of "app-get"? what's with the 't'?

    It's just a name, spelling is arbitrary. Do you get all confused when you meet a girl named "Meghan" instead of "Megan"?

  • by Mishotaki ( 957104 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:04PM (#27137915)

    In the same way, we can use a car analogy:

    Is a Ford Taurus a car? Is a car a Ford Taurus?

    Ubuntu is Linux, but Linux isn't Ubuntu about the same way that a Ford Taurus being a car, but all cars aren't Ford Tauruses...

  • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:07PM (#27137971) Homepage
    Being lazy doesn't work for Windows, either. Why do people keep thinking it does? There's a reason that Geek Squad and countless local techs are in business... it's because computers are complex no matter what OS they're running.

    People take lessons to learn how to ride a motorcycle after all they've known how to drive is a car. Why would software be any different? Hell, I'd think it would be MORE important with software, it's a much more complex system than just driving.
  • Re:Again, WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by manekineko2 ( 1052430 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:18PM (#27138161)

    Yes, most people do get a little confused. Which is why Meghan usually has to spell out her name to people who are writing it out, whereas Megan doesn't.

    Everything is arbitrary, but some things are more arbitrary than others.

  • Re:Lol (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Burnhard ( 1031106 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:24PM (#27138267)

    Most clueless people are clueless from laziness.

    This is, with respect, complete rubbish. Most "clueless users" have other things to do and don't want their computer getting in the way. Not everyone is an anally retentive command-line nerd, or has dreams about being one. I shudder reading this guy's Linux experiences. I wouldn't use it as it is now. My life is too short.

  • by srobert ( 4099 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:27PM (#27138307)

    I'm a long time English speaker. I'm going to spend the next week or two learning Spanish. At the end of two weeks, I'll chronicle my experiences telling you which language is best.

  • by Rob Y. ( 110975 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:27PM (#27138325)

    It's not that apt-get is hard to use, either from the command line or via synaptic. It's that you need to know what you want to install, and lots of the packages have cryptic names that, yes, are not newbie or oldbie friendly.

    Try getting your AAC files to play. It's easy if you know *exactly what* to type to get apt-get to install the codecs. But, even if you have the right repositories set up, you can be an old unix hand like me and still not know which packages you need to get the job done.

    Of course, there are websites out there that'll give you step-by-step copy and paste instructions for a particular distro, but by the rules governing articles like this, I think 'use google to figure out what website tells you how to do this, and then go there and copy/paste away' isn't going to be accepted.

    Now, the reason you need to do this is that nobody's willing to stick their necks out and vouch for the legality of doing that. As far as I'm concerned, even if it's not legal, it's legal. For it not to be legal is clearly anti-competitive, and I'm not about to wait for the US legal system to catch up with reality.

    It wouldn't be unreasonable, however, in a 'why Linux is hard' article to explain why it is that some things that should be simple in Linux are hard, and maybe you should write your congressperson...

  • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:33PM (#27138423)

    Actually, I agree with you to some extent. I should have said from laziness *OR* from lack of time/interest. However, the people that know and admit they are ignorant are seldom the ones that are the problem, in my experience. It's the ones that are ignorant and seem to think they should be able to do it anyway, without any effort.

    My parents are an easy example. They know they are "ignorant" about computers. If they have a question, they ask me... and they are also aware that Linux (which they're using now, due to viruses on Windows that they kept getting) is different, has quirks, and isn't perfect, but it is preventing them from having to completely wipe the computer annually (literally).

    I'm a huge fan of making Linux way more user friendly than it is. I think this guy's Linux experiences are not quite proportionate to most people's Linux experiences, unless they tried to do it themselves.

    Also, I might add that I think it's unfair to think we have to make Linux be able to be installed by someone who can't install Windows, either. If they don't know what to do when their computer "gets really slow" then in order to use Linux, someone else will have to set it up for them... just like someone else has to fix Windows for them.

    And again, having other things to do/not wanting computer getting in the way, point taken, and you're right. I have argued that before, as well, but didn't think about it, my mistake. I should have used "non-busy clueless" ... would have been more accurate, probably.

  • App Installation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aarmenaa ( 712174 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:33PM (#27138425) Journal

    The author had lots of trouble installing things. I've gotten into arguments over it before, but here's my take: package managers were the wrong answer to the installation problem. They make installing and updating the the libraries and components that make up the the OS itself very easy, but you'll never satisfy diverse application preferences with a central repository. In his original piece, he tries to update OpenOffice from the web because the package manager isn't offering the update yet. Naturally, this is difficult and not really designed with users in mind. This is why I hate package managers - they leave you with two really crappy choices: either don't use it and have no install management at all, or use it and be doomed to only what's in the repositories and having to wait until New Widget 3.0 is blessed by your distro. Certainly don't try to mix the two options or you'll break everything. The fact that some projects now offer their own repositories is just a terrible band-aid.

    My Windows box on the other hand always has the latest version of OpenOffice, and I didn't have to touch a console - anyone could do it. I just go download the installer and run it, without even bothering to uninstall the old version. And it's very easy because it's not just a tarball full of crap - it's actually a well-tested package. This way, I get managed installs - I have a list of programs and if I chose to remove one I just choose it and click the uninstall button. I know the Windows install system is much-maligned for being fragile (breaks, or breaks other stuff), messy (throwing crap everywhere, and not completely removing things), and causing as many problems as it solves. I don't disagree with that assessment, but I'd blame the implementation. The open source community could have made a standard install system. Something nice for a front end, something reliable. Hell, you could even integrate it with your fancy package manager, if you really want to. But apparently nobody finds having to wait to get software they want to be as unpleasant as I do. While I could honestly care less about system libraries most of the time, I demand very specific things of my applications, and I don't like handing control over to whoever runs the package servers.

  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:37PM (#27138487)

    If Linux was easier to use and free/cheap (as in beer), it wouldn't take long for it to be adopted.

    You haven't actually used Linux, have you? Linux is and has been for several years *much* easier to use than MS-windows.

    I just realized this when I had to give some lessons on Python programming to some people at work. I hadn't used a Windows desktop for several years, but since none of these people were Linux users I used XP for the course. I then realized how hard is XP for someone who's not used to it.

    Starting with the "Start" menu, which is organized by software supplier, not category. Now where the fsck do I find a file manager? I just downloaded this file, where did it go? Where is my "home" directory, which in Linux has an icon intuitively shaped as a house? I want to copy a file, why did it create links for some, but not all copy operations? And so on. Windows is *extremely* hard to use for a beginner.

  • Re:Lol (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:42PM (#27138541)

    But not everyone WANTS to learn how to use apt. Most people want to turn it on, click an icon, and have something install. Not have to add a repository, update the package listings, install it, etc.

    Writing for a clueless user and telling them how to do that only works for non-lazy clueless users. Which are somewhat rare. Most clueless people are clueless from laziness.

    Lazy, clueless? Why does simplicity always have to equated with stupidity or lazyness?

    1. Download software you want to install.
    2. Drag said software to a main "Applications" folder marked with a big fat distinctive icon.
    3. Enjoy.

    That's how easy it can be. Why put up with repositories, RPM files, dependency hell, etc... when installation can be that simple? When it comes to complicated, most users are defeated even by Windows install packages. Sacrilegious as it may be of me to say this Windows install packages are often less complicated to use than Linux RPM packages can be. The poor UI design of many Linux package managers doesn't help either. What Linux needs, and this has been pointed out by more people than me, is a simple well thought out installation mechanism that is used by all Linux distributions. It would have to be two fold, firstly you could retain an RPM like package system for the non-consumer oriented 'professional' software. For GUI apps, which is what most of your "clueless and lazy" consumers are installing anyway, it is hard to beat the OS X concept of a drag-and-drop application-bundle for ease of use.

  • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:47PM (#27138629)

    Try sitting someone inexperienced with computers in front of Synaptic, and sit someone else in front of the Apple App Store. Don't help them. See who figures out how to install a program first.

    There's an absolute night-and-day difference between a package manager, written by and for people who don't ever think outside the *nix box, and an App Store, written by design experts for people who have never installed a software program before. Claiming that a package manager is "more powerful" is utterly missing the point.

    You don't have to be a mechanic to put gas in your car. You don't have to be an electrician to plug in a lamp. You shouldn't have to be a CS major to install a program.

  • Re:I did RTFA... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daveime ( 1253762 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:48PM (#27138639)

    Wrong analogy.

    The car is a tool, the end goal being the ability to drive seomwhere.

    Sure you have to learn how to use it first.

    Windows allows you to drive the car once you know how to drive.

    Linux allows you to drive the car only once you know the workings of every component of the internal combustion engine.

  • by jonesy16 ( 595988 ) <jonesy@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:50PM (#27138685)

    Except that even the windows steps start with something familiar, My Computer. Maybe even My Documents. Or if you want to get extremely advanced, open Windows Explorer. The big problem for me when it comes to Linux always has been that people choose the most absurd names when writing their applications. If I'm looking through an application repository how am I (assuming for the moment that I was a novice) supposed to know that Pidgin is an IM client? Why should I believe that GIMP is an image program? I mean, it's not like it advertises itself ala "Photoshop". OpenOffice is about the best example that the free community has to offer when it comes to application naming. I'm surprised Firefox got as far as it did and probably wouldn't have if it wasn't coming from Mozilla's shop. But I don't care who you are, when you're browsing through the default menus on a Linux distro you better be completely uninspired to open Konqueror to browse your file system.

  • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:56PM (#27138785) Journal

    I'm negating my moderation to reply to this...

    Command lines lack language intuitiveness. (If there is such a thing...) I deal with this with my designers when I write up an API for their work. If I want them to add content to the screen, do I have them type Screen.Load('mycontent.file') or Screen.Add(new File('myContent.file')? There are so many different ways to "say" something to a computer to make it do what you want. If it's in the GUI, the user can visually determine what button to click because the button is given to them. They don't have to guess to type "Yes", "Okay", "Continue", "Cancel", "Stop", "Abort" or several other verbs to describe how the program should proceed. They only have the choices available on the screen.

    when I go to the command line and I want to add a user, do I type:
    ADDUSER nschubach
    ADD USER nschubach
    ADD ID nschubach
    ADD LOGIN nschubach
    LOGIN ADD nschubach
    LOGINID ADD nschubach
    USER ADD nschubach
    USERADD nschubach

    If it was in the GUI, there would simply be a text field and a button. They likely wouldn't have to guess if it was called a Login ID, User ID, Active Directory ID, or any other. They would know that it was the field you enter the user id into. With a GUI you can group content to make it more intuitive as well. If you have a field called Client, is it the client ID or the client name? If you group that with Address, you can figure out that it's the client's name. If you had that in a command line, you'd have to first know to use "client" instead of "customer" or "user" and you'd have to use it in a way that the executable understands it.

  • by AndrewNeo ( 979708 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:56PM (#27138795) Homepage
    But what plays AAC files in Windows? By default, Windows Media Player doesn't, so clicking on the file won't play it. You'll probably need Quicktime or iTunes.. but why would you know it plays AAC files? Because someone told you, or you searched Google for it? Same thing for Linux.
  • by k.a.f. ( 168896 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:01PM (#27138883)

    Choice quote:

    The Update Manager is accessed via the starburst at the top right-hand top of the screen. Click it, but be prepared -- you're about to be confronted with literally hundreds of potential updates with incomprehensible names and unenlightening descriptions ... By default, every update has a check next to it in the Update Manager. Uncheck the boxes next to those you don't want to update -- I recommend updating only software that you recognize.

    That's terrible advice.

    No, it's excellent advice. Why? Updating software brings your system from a state that you know works to a state that may or may not work for you. It doesn't matter that the developers find their shiny new features utterly adorable and consider everyone who doesn't share their enthusiasm a thick-headed troglodyte. A user wants to get things achieved, and if a program does what they want, they should not have to or even be urged to update, ever.

    The proper time to update is when you know a program well enough to know that a newer version has a feature you want. And then the user must be given the option to downgrade again if things don't work out.

    As for security risks, most of the time there aren't any - someone who doesn't run a DNS resolver shouldn't have to keep up with the corresponding software, or even have it installed! Those few critical vulnerabilities that actually endanger the user, or turn the box into a zombie that harms others, should be updated automatically, not optionally. If we have learnt one thing from Windows, sure it is this principle.

    Disclaimer: my opinion may differ from yours.

  • Re:Lol (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mandelbr0t ( 1015855 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:04PM (#27138937) Journal

    Yup, my head just exploded from the complexity.

    I think you miss the point of this article. This guy is talking about what Windows users feel about Linux, and you make a sarcastic comment about how easy it is to type something on the command line that accomplishes what you want.

    Here's a challenge for you: try using your Linux box without ever opening a terminal window. We all know that command line junkies who have memorized every command and parameter and have some shell scripting knowledge can do anything in a single command, but your non-Linux friends (you do have some of those, right?) will not want to learn that. I've spent a year or so on that challenge, and I think I've managed to ditch the command line almost entirely, except to remotely administrate headless machines.

    I have non-Linux friends who use my computer regularly, and 99.9% of the time, they have no problem. The websites they use work properly, even those based on Flash or Java. They have no problem finding the applications they want to use. In short, there is no discernible difference to them between using a Linux desktop and a Windows desktop.

    But that 0.1% of the time still embarrasses me. When a friend is visiting and can't use my computer to do what they expect, I cringe, because my computer somehow seems inferior to theirs. Sure, I can pull up a dozen forums and mess around in a terminal to try and solve that particular issue. And, in fact, Windows has a myriad of issues that require the same sort of hacking.

    But Linux has to be that much better. It won't do that it's an equal to Windows, because that leaves no incentive to switch and try something new. But if it's better, not just in terms of abstract things like being Free, or community-supported, etc., then my visiting friend says, "Hey, what's this fancy desktop you're running? Maybe instead of cleaning up my Windows machine for me, you could install this Linux thing instead."

    Basically, these annoying newbs are a source of two very important things: users who may be willing to try something new if you're willing to spend some time showing them around, and a source of income. A friend of mine once said that geeks should be grateful for stupid users, because it's their stupidity that puts food on our table. And as aggravating as those newbs can be, it's nice to get paid to solve their problems.

  • Re:Why the GUI? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macraig ( 621737 ) <> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:06PM (#27138975)

    Why exactly does the GUI exist as a visual tool, then? What is the benefit of it that makes it so compelling for so many people? Perhaps you need to put away your man pages and THINK about it.

    There's another corollary benefit to GUIs beside what I mentioned above: they can tie visual memory to other symbolic memory. The two can be very separate and distinct. For instance, I will routinely forget the details of something I've read, but if I read it in a book I'll remember which opposing page contained it and even which column or paragraph it was in. In other words (no pun), I'll forget the words but remember its spatial location.

    A properly implemented GUI can use visual memory and reasoning to enhance other forms of memory. It's not all-or-nothing.

  • by Shin-LaC ( 1333529 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:11PM (#27139069)
    I think the main problem with the Linux package management architecture is that it completely ignores the reality of the web.

    For many people nowadays, the web is where you first discover an application: you might read a review of it, or see it mentioned in a forum thread, or in a mailing list archive you chanced upon while doing a google search for some problem you're having. Maybe a friend will recommend the application to you, and paste the url to its website during an IM section; or maybe he'll just give you the name, and you'll paste it into Google.
    However you heard about the application, chances are you'll eventually end up at its website; which is a good thing, because that's where you can read up about it, look at some screenshots, and decide whether it's something you want to try or not.

    And then what? Windows and Mac users will click the download link, run the installer (or just copy the application over, as is common on OS X), and be done. And that's exactly what a Linux newbie would try, too, as seen in TFA. It's not just because all other systems work that way: it's because it's actually a pretty streamlined experience (at least for the "look for new software" case that most newbies are likely to encounter; mass-installing a bunch of software you already know on two hundred computers you're administering is a different matter altogether).
    So, the Linux user is going to look for Linux installation instructions on the webpage, and be confronted with the usual mess of different downloads and instructions for different versions of Linux. And he'll probably get it wrong, because doing it right requires knowing a bunch of stuff he's not supposed to know (such as "what kind of package does your distro use?"); and if OpenOffice, one of the most important open source projects, couldn't make an easy to use installation page for Linux, most other projects are going to fare even worse.

    Of course, what you'd like to do is for the user to stop reading the page, dig for the package manager inside the administration menu, run it, and search for the name of the program inside the list. But that requires switching out from the browser interface into a wholly unfamiliar realm.
    What I think would help here is some standard for putting a "download link" on a webpage that actually invokes the right package manager for the user's distribution.

    It could use a url with a custom protocol and a package identifier, eg "". The package manager would handle the url and look for the package matching the request in its repositories; if it's not found, it could explain the situation to the user (eg "We have an older version of this program, but not the one you're trying to download; would you like to be notified when it's added to our repository?"). To support less common software, the url could contain, in addition to the identifier, a path to a description file (eg ""); if the program is not found in the known repositories, the package manager could attempt to download the descriptor file over http (, where the developer could put a list of custom repositories that host the program, tagged by package type/distro/version; and the package manager would tell the user "We don't have this in our repo, but it's hosted by; they don't have a version for ubuntu 8.10, but they have a generic deb; would you like to install it?".

    I think something like that would be quite helpful to newbies.
  • by davide marney ( 231845 ) * <davide.marney@ne ... rg minus painter> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:32PM (#27139421) Journal

    As mentioned elsewhere, the different mental model of Windows and Unix is laid bare by the often cringe-inducing "mistakes" made by the author. Whenever I recommend Linux to a Windows user, I always take the time to warn them that the will need to adjust their thinking to remain sane during the switch-over:

    1. In Linux, you never install just any old application from the web. You install software from a known repository. The repository has tens of thousands of applications to choose from, all of them completely free. No, really.
    2. When you update in Linux, you are updating all the applications on your system at once, not just a single program here and there. You use a program called the update manager to update your system.
    3. You should regularly run the update manager to keep your system up to date. Sometimes, there are big cycles of changes to the software repository, and an update may involve hundreds of items. That's a good thing; it means that people are fixing problems and making the software more secure. Don't worry, go ahead and let the system update itself.

    The Linux update system is truly a wonder, and is by far one of the best things about the operating system. But Windows people really do need a few minutes of preparation to adjust their thinking, just like the author.

  • by jotaeleemeese ( 303437 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:34PM (#27139437) Homepage Journal

    Some people keep saying this implying it is true, without any substantiation of this whatsoever.

    In which way is Windows installing easier than Linux?

    First of all, both things are nor remotely comparable. IN a Linux machine you have thousands of packages readily available, once the software is installed you can pretty much forget about it: no pop-ups, no reminders, no auto updates, no nonsense.

    In Windows, the software will keep pestering you about all of the above, but because you say it was easier to install all of the sudden we should close your eyes and enjoy the constant pestering of all these applications.

    As for RPMs and debs packages, what could be simpler than double click on them, wait for the graphic installer to pop-up and click one or two buttons at most? And if you are actually running he tool provided with modern installations you simply search for what you need, highlight it, dependencies are resolved for you, and click an install button that gets things done.

    Honestly, the underestimation of the computing literacy of most people is very patronizing.

  • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:38PM (#27139501) Homepage
    Yeah they don't want their computer eating up their time or getting in the way. That's why the navigate through the menus so damn slowly and peck type things out slower than I could type as a 13 year old in business typing class.

    He is quite right. I've seen more than enough people not able to find things on the screen because they simply can't even take the time to read the equivalent of a sentence or two worth of words on the screen.

    It's a shame we can't get everyone to agree to start developing innovation and stop pandering to the stupid. Over night you'd see the quality of the net improve ten-fold.
  • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JTorres176 ( 842422 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:40PM (#27139517) Homepage

    Most clueless people are clueless from laziness.

    I don't think it's laziness. This guy admittedly has been with windows since version 2.0. He has windows interface and doing things the windows way burned so deep into his skull that it would take a flamethrower and some napalm to remove it.

    Imagine coming from windows and being used to windows updating just updating windows. Suddenly you click on something that updates every single piece of software on your entire computer. Imagine how scary that would seem to a windows user. I'd imagine it's much more complex for him, even using the gui, to update things that he doesn't understand like bind, tzconfig, or even allowing ubuntu to update his openoffice.

    If windows update told me it had to update my firefox, I'd be more than a little leary. Coming from the windows world into linux and moving over to a completely different philosophy behind the word "update" would be hard enough.

    Using apt (command line anything) is in an entirely different ballpark. Most windows users probably don't even know how to get to a command line, much less use it for anything useful. Trying to tell them to go to a command line interface to update their computer is even more alien than the computer updating all software at once.

    It took microsoft years to teach people their interface and philosophy. Giving someone a cd and allowing them two weeks (referring to article) to learn an OS on their own is a ridiculous task. Imagine taking a clinical engineer from a hospital after 20 years of working on that equipment and putting him into a mechanical engineer in the aerospace field. Sure it's the same general job title "engineer" but they are vastly different jobs. Even though Linux and Windows are both OSs, they are vastly different in makeup, interface, philosophy, and interaction. Two weeks is hardly a primer.

  • Re:Lol (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ianare ( 1132971 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:45PM (#27139615)

    People take lessons to learn how to ride a motorcycle after all they've known how to drive is a car. Why would software be any different? Hell, I'd think it would be MORE important with software, it's a much more complex system than just driving.

    The basic principles of operation may be less complex, but in practice it's much harder to ride a motorcycle than use software. Harder because any mistakes are punished by instant injuries or death, there is no 'undo' button !!

  • Re:Lol (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ratboy666 ( 104074 ) <> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:47PM (#27139651) Journal

    Sure, let's pit Apple App Store against package manager.

    What do you need with app store? A signon. Note that no help is given as to aquiring the signon.

    But, I'll let you in on the "secret". You need to install iTunes, and give your credit details on-line. Fill in the details on app store and then start buying applications.

    Package Manager? You launch it, and it asks for a password. No credit details needed, or second computer, etc. Categorized list with search comes up.

    Since App Store needed iTunes on another computer to create an account, and no guidance to that is given, I would imagine the Package Manager would win.

  • Re:Lol (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Requiem18th ( 742389 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:51PM (#27139707)

    Congratulations in your FUD, why compare Apple's to the simple Gnome Application Installer right in the Applications menu when you can use the power user Synaptic inside System>Administration.

  • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Deagol ( 323173 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:55PM (#27139767) Homepage

    Yeah, and I'd like a full-service gas station at every fracking corner so I'm not required to learn how to pump gas.

    The the hell is wrong with people?!? Not everyone in the 80's with PCs were early-adopter whiz-kids. You remember the 80s, right? The pre-GUI-centric days of the PC where people had to actually type in commands to get shit done? Where the hottest programs of the day were Lotus 123 and Wordstar and Wordperfect that required byzantine key combinations to do half the interesting stuff? If Granny could figure out Word Perfect 20 years ago while being a secretary at the local elementary school she sure as hell can deal with popping open an xterm and typing a few "apt-get" commands today.

    We see phrases today about people being more "technology savvy"? Give me a break. Pressing "Play" on the Blu-Ray player, being addicted to WoW, or running around like a pompous ass with a bluetooth phone dongle hanging from your ear at the 7-11 does not make people "savvy" at anything, except knowing how to fashionably piss away their money.

    An "apt-get" or "portage" one-liner or two typed into a command prompt is no more effort than going to a web site, finding the downloads page, clicking a button, and then running the installer with all its options to choose from and EULA to read. In fact, the typical command line package manager is LESS work for the end user.

    I've had it, man. I'm totally fed up. I've been rooting for the Linux underdog since the late 90s. No more. Linux just is what it is, which is a kick-ass operating system for the PC and various other devices. Chasing the "Year of the Desktop" is a fool's errand for Linux and other open source efforts. Come *ON* people, quit making excuses for the users. If Linux were the the only OS in the mass market, people would be doing wonderfully, just like in the 80s when MS-DOS was king. The truth is, people don't want it. Period. They like what they have (Windows mostly, with some OS-X sprinkled around), and fear change. At least Linux is gaining traction in the netbook market, where at least some people will inevitably cut their teeth on the OS and become set in their ways.

    There is simply no point in these articles, as all they do is highlight not only how lazy the end user has become, but how tech-oriented people not only expect, but condone, such laziness. It's really sad when you think about it. To hell with the lowest common denominator. Let them sink or swim on their own. They truly don't deserve the fruits of open source developers' labors unless they're willing to roll up their sleeves once in a while.

  • by John Jamieson ( 890438 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:56PM (#27139779)

    Repositories are the future. Having to go out, find your own programs and updates is what you are used of doing.

    Who would ever contemplate a system where the average computer user is expected to find their own updates is beyond me.
    Then the absurdity of expecting them to vet good executables from malware is difficult for me to understand. The repository creates a trusted source.

    The simplicity of the repository and app store are the future. IMO you are taking a strength of many Linux distro's and spinning it as a drawback.

    BTW, my Linux box always has the latest version of OpenOffice as well. I don't understand the problem.

  • Re:Lol (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ianare ( 1132971 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @04:00PM (#27139845)

    or the linux way:
    1. Find the software you want to install
    2. apt-get (or GUI) install it
    3. enjoy

    Don't you mean :
    1. find the software you want to install
    2. search for app in repos to see if you can install via GUI.
    3. app you want isn't packaged by your distro.
    4. go to app's web site and download the linux version.
    Two possibilities :
    5a. the app is closed source - the binary hasn't been updated since 2006 and won't work with your kernel version.
    5b. the app is OSS - you won't be able to find all the lib-xyz dependencies needed to compile from source (if you even get that far!)
    6. give up and assume linux sucks.

    Now do you see why this is a REAL problem ?

  • by Tweenk ( 1274968 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @04:17PM (#27140095)

    Now you're just being silly. The Add/Remove Programs dialog in Ubuntu has a search function, so when you type in "web browser" or "media player" or "vector graphics editor" or whatever, the relevant applications come up. They're even labeled according to their function in the menu, e.g, "Firefox Web Browser", so there's completely no way an user can be confused about the app's function.

    There are also many commercial apps that have weird names: what Adobe Distiller do? What about Maya? Reason?

  • Re:Lol (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @04:28PM (#27140293) Homepage Journal

    You know, it's amazing that expecting people to learn to use a package manager is asking too much, especially when those same people have no problem figuring out how to install and use P2P software to download "pirated" copies of Photoshop, Microsoft Office, etc.

    If they can manage to learn how to download and install "pirated" software, then I don't think it's too much to expect them to learn how to run a package manager - which when equipped with a GUI is quite honestly even easier to use than a Mac.

  • Re:Lol (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @04:54PM (#27140691)

    Hmm, I want a media player.
    So I start Synaptic, hit "search", type "media player", select one or more and then install it.

    And then I put in a DVD, and get an error saying it can't read the disc.

    Depending on the distro, it may or not tell you it's due to encryption and legal issues and libdvdcss is necessary. Depending on how you install libdvdcss, it may not work. Normal users are not interested in spending an hour or more trying to figure out how to play a DVD player. "Why doesn't it work, all I have to do is put it in the drive on my other computer and it asks me if I want to play it!"

    Admittedly, it's a setup issue. Still, it's there.

  • Re:Why the GUI? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sj0 ( 472011 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @05:12PM (#27140977) Journal

    Pretty simple if you already knew it. Otherwise, completely unintuitive. Why would I have to use tar when it's a .gz file? Why would I have to specify it's a file?

  • Re:Lol (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sj0 ( 472011 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @05:13PM (#27141001) Journal

    What's easier: Opening the control panel and editing the users from there, or opening a google window, entering "add a user linux" and sifting through the various sites until you find something that's actually useful, then finding the terminal on your system and using the command line to edit users from there?

    Too many of these ideas come from the viewpoint of someone who already has this information on the top of their head, so it makes sense for them to use the command line.

  • Re:Lol (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @05:23PM (#27141143)

    People take lessons to learn how to ride a motorcycle after all they've known how to drive is a car. Why would software be any different?

    The law requires them to take lessons, or at least an examination because riding a motorcycle can lead to death or injury for the rider or others. Using a computer is unlikely to result in death or harm to serious harm to others, thus does not infringe their rights, thus should not be regulated.

    Secondly, motorcycles behave pretty much as the user expects. When you push the gas it accelerates. When you push the clutch lever the engine disengages. When you push the brake it decelerates. When you drive past certain areas it does not suddenly and without your explicit command start heading to the mall or dumping gas out the bottom. The difference being, computers do not behave as users think and expect because most computer designs do not live up to the reasonable expectation of users. Most people don't assume double clicking an icon will allow the creator of that icon to take compete control of their computer forever, because that seems ludicrous. Sadly, it is the current state of the art since the industry has been crippled and failed to innovate due largely to control by a monopolist.

  • Re:Lol (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Matt Perry ( 793115 ) <> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @06:19PM (#27141979)

    or the linux way:
    1. Find the software you want to install

    The software is too new of a version. I want/need version 2.5 and the version that apt-get wants to install is 3.0. Now what?

  • by dberstein ( 648161 ) < minus caffeine> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @07:19PM (#27142681) Homepage Journal

    Give a man a fish...

    To click icons and tick boxes you need to first understand the meaning of them, rationalize which of these elements fulfill your desired goal, and then activate the proper GUI widgets... each time to you're confronted with the GUI.

    ...Teach a man how to fish and he'll eat every day.

    Using the CLI you need to know before hand the arguments/parameters that will fulfill your desired goal. It requires preparation (i.e. read the man page), but once you learn it it stays with you.

    IMO CLI provides a more immutable interface, as opposed to GUI widgets that can and will change over time.

    Software is a tool than when someone uses routinely its sensible to expect him to learn how to use it properly... for the rest of the human race there is Windows.

    I couldn't be happier that the Linux experience is different from the Windows experience! Attempting to make a Linux or OSX experience Windows-er is as wrong, futile and useless as trying to compare a high-school romance with your spouse.

  • Re:Lol (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bryansix ( 761547 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @07:26PM (#27142777) Homepage
    The difference is in intuitiveness. You might have to take a course to learn how to ride a motorcycle but you don't need to read a book to figure out which way to lean when you are making a left turn. Linux distributions can be so complex or assume so much that you literally have no idea where to turn when you have a problem because there is no intuitive nature in the UI. Great strides have been made but it is still not there and really not much has changed since 6 months ago when I last played around with Ubuntu.
  • Agree! Obquote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KWTm ( 808824 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @08:17PM (#27143363) Journal

    Agree with above. From the GGGP:

    apt-cache search

    apt-get install

    Yup, my head just exploded from the complexity.

    I'm not surprised that Nursie finds this intuitive. What astounds me is that Nursie doesn't understand why other people don't find it intuitive as well. The fact that you have to type in certain character strings (not even words) in a predetermined order with no hint from the prompt as to what to do, the fact that the computer does not understand near misses like "app-get install firefox" or "install firefox" or "aptget install firefox" or "apt-get firefox" is a far cry from the GUI that guides the user down a limited set of possible choices. Presumably Nursie would scratch his/her head trying to figure out what's so funny about following obquote taken from []:

    <@insomnia> it only takes three commands to install Gentoo
    <@insomnia> cfdisk /dev/hda && mkfs.xfs /dev/hda1 && mount /dev/hda1 /mnt/gentoo/ && chroot /mnt/gentoo/ && env-update && . /etc/profile && emerge sync && cd /usr/portage && scripts/ && emerge system && emerge vim && vi /etc/fstab && emerge gentoo-dev-sources && cd /usr/src/linux && make menuconfig && make install modules_install && emerge gnome mozilla-firefox openoffice && emerge grub && cp /boot/grub/grub.conf.sample /boot/grub/grub.conf && vi /boot/grub/grub.conf && grub && init 6
    <@insomnia>that's the first one

  • Re:Lol (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rub3nmv ( 1496653 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @08:30PM (#27143503) Homepage
    Ok then, try sitting someone inexperienced with computers in front of gnome-app-install ( and sit someone else in front of the Apple App Store. Don't help them. See who figures out how to install a program first. You don't have to be a mechanic to put gas in your car. You don't have to be an electrician to plug in a lamp. You shouldn't have to be a CS major to install a program.
  • Re:Lol (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Matt Perry ( 793115 ) <> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @08:46PM (#27143685)

    The you're still probably better off than on other systems if you can only find/download/buy version 3.0 and no one will sell you 2.5 anymore. If you're lucky on linux you may be able to acquire and compile the source for the old version -- not pretty, but better than it simply being unavailable.

    Who's talking about buying stuff? The moment you talk about having to download source and compile something, you have failed to deliver ease of use to non-technical users. I'm sure that you and I could compile something from source and install it, but that does nothing for users who have trouble using apt-get or synaptic.

    Meanwhile, a Windows XP user can still install and run a 10 year old software package. We've failed to deliver the same level of software longevity to Linux users and have instead squeezed them into narrow window of constant upgrades and lockstep application/OS upgrade tie-in.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @09:43PM (#27144319)

    She would NOT have been able to install it and get it working.

    But she could install windows and get it working perfectly? Including playing dvds, etc?

  • by ozphx ( 1061292 ) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @10:26PM (#27144747) Homepage

    Where is my "home" directory, which in Linux has an icon intuitively shaped as a house?

    Whoa. A house? A little picture of a house? I expect to find my letter to your mom under a picture of a house?

    That is what is called "A lame geek pun on a legacy naming convention". Not at all a nod to usability.

    In Vista it would be called "Documents", with a little picture of a folder full of documents. Incidently you don't go and "find a file manager". You just click "Documents", "Pictures" or "Porno".

  • Re:Lol (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @11:18PM (#27145199)

    I disagree. The problem that this guy has stems from his approaching the problem from a "Windows" mindset, rather than a "Never used a computer before" mindset. For example, he complains that flash player doesn't work. A Windows users' first instinct is to open a browser and find an installer, whereas a good *nix user's first instinct SHOULD be to open the package manager (it's what s/he's always done when s/he wants new software). If you think about it from a neutral standpoint, *nix package managers are a much simpler, more consistent way to download and install programs than Windows "download binary, run custom installer, click through 8 or so times, restart if necessary". If he didn't approach it with a Windows mindset, he would be waxing lyrical about package managers (I do, that's one of my all-time favourite things about *nix - I cannot believe how complicated the Windows method is by comparison - not that I expect Windows to make a package manager, antitrust and all that).

    Similarly, he complains about PNG, saying "JPG is a much more common output" - that's only true because of Windows. PNG is a technically superior format - alpha channels, better compression algorithm (less lossy), supports/encourages lossless compression, far better compression for text-based pictures (which screenshots usually are), etc. Hell, he even complains about the machine's inability to connect to Windows machines and a printer attached to a network Windows machine, which is has never been a problem for me (samba came as standard with my Ubuntu, I'm not sure why it didn't with his) - nor is it reasonable to expect *nix to connect to a foreign protocol seamlessly (it does, but I wouldn't immediately assume or expect it). I'm sorry, but his article is basically "I don't like this new thing, it's unfamiliar and therefore more difficult" - it's not more difficult on it's own merits, it's only because he was taught a different way. No-one says "chinese is "harder" than English", but you and I would have more trouble learning it than if we'd started out on it. Many people have learnt Chinese as a second language, it's just not as easy if you're already accustomed to one method of doing things.

    And for the record, I have never been compelled to use a command line outside of forum based tutorials (this is the one thing that absolutely needs to be fixed, although I can't imagine how, given the insane number of permutations of different program/WM/Distro). I do use a command line, but only in situations where they were the more convenient option (network administering, scripting, etc) not out of necessity - just as I have done with Windows (where possible).

  • by rantingkitten ( 938138 ) <kitten&mirrorshades,org> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @11:31PM (#27145337) Homepage
    Well, the names may suck, but it's not like "Winamp" tells me that this is a music player, or that "Gom" is some sort of media player, you know?

    But indeed, "apt-cache search instant message" returns (among other results): pidgin - graphical multi-protocol instant messaging client for X

    And that's just because I do it the CLI way. If you want point-and-click easy, click "Add/Remove" and type "instant message". The only result is Pidgin, along with a few nice, friendly sentence about what it is and how you can use it to talk on MSN, AIM, ICQ, whatever. It's easy enough for your grandmother to understand.

    Similarly, using "Add/Remove" and searching "media player" gives me a few results, all of which will do the job of playing videos and DVDs, all of which come with friendly descriptions of themselves. Check the box next to the one you want and you have it three seconds later. If you decide you don't like it, uncheck the box and it's gone forever. Do this as many times as you like.

    A chimpanzee could do this, but somehow, searching through reams of unknown websites for untrusted executables to cruft the living hell out of your Windows system is considered "easier".

    However, as an aside, Ubuntu already comes with Pidgin, which is labelled very clearly in the menu "Pidgin Instant Messenger". You don't have to go find it because it's already there. It also comes with a music player, video and DVD player, CD and DVD burner, office suite, graphics manipulation program, and a bunch of other stuff. Basically, it does out of the box 90% of what Joe Average wants to do with a computer, and the rest is one-click easy to get.

    Windows comes with basically nothing, so you're forced to go find, on your own, third-party apps for nearly everything you want to do.
  • by quintesse ( 654840 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @05:41AM (#27147747)

    Sorry, don't agree, for me VLC holds that candle :)

I go on working for the same reason a hen goes on laying eggs. -- H.L. Mencken