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GNU is Not Unix Software Linux

Why Linux Is Not Yet Ready For the Desktop 1365

An anonymous reader writes "Every now and then a new- or old-media journalist tries to explain to everyone why Linux is not yet ready for the desktop. However all those men who graduated from their engineering universities years ago have only superficial knowledge about operating systems and their inner works. An unknown author from Russia has decided to draw up a list of technical reasons and limitations hampering Linux domination on the desktop." Some of the gripes listed here really resonate with me, having just moved to an early version of Ubuntu 9.10 on my main testing-stuff laptop; it's frustrating especially that while many seemingly more esoteric things work perfectly, sound now works only in part, and even that partial success took some fiddling.
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Why Linux Is Not Yet Ready For the Desktop

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  • The desktop is dead (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ickleberry ( 864871 ) <web@pineapple.vg> on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:04AM (#27993747) Homepage
    The future is web based. Endless bloat, inefficient javascript and the latency of accessing remote systems. Why will people accept such a system? because a lot of people never learned to use a desktop, they learned how to use a web browser. Anything outside the web browser looks complicated to them.

    There is also the fact that web-based is the new way of making money from software. No piracy since its mostly server-side, lace it with ads and nobody complains about adware. Give it a few years and ads will no longer be served up by dedicated domains you can easily block.

    If client side desktop computing is to survive the interface has to become more iPhony. Ordinary folk love the touchy feeley colourful, childish looking animated interface of the iPhone so the future is in projects like Hildon. I personally hate the iPhone's interface but thats alright, if its Linux or BSD I'll just install a minimalist window manager which there should always be plenty of.
  • Re:Games (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Remloc ( 1165839 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:08AM (#27993763)
    That and "niche" applications.
    The only reason there is a Windoze box in my house is that my wife is a quilter. The current version of Electric Quilt (AFAICT) will not run acceptably under WINE. There is no reasonable FOSS equivalent.
  • by fprintf ( 82740 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:14AM (#27993809) Journal

    I don't know why I bother upgrading. They say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and in the case of Ubuntu that has proven to be the case every single time because something always breaks upon upgrade. This most recent upgrade to Jaunty completely disabled my ability to put my laptop to sleep because the screen now goes dark and I can't see what is happening and what is stopping it from sleeping. No matter what I do I can't get the screen to come back on, so the only recovery is a forced shutdown via the power button. Now I can only shut it down and reboot it - so much for uptime statistics!

    Anyway, something always breaks. This is, however, not so different than any other operating system upgrade. Unless you have well tested hardware, that is nothing too bleeding edge new and nothing too old (e.g. my IBM T-30 laptop) then it is likely you will have some problems each time you upgrade. I know I have had my share of problems when going from Win98 to XP that a few internet searches easily resolved. I guess it also helps when you don't upgrade that often - it has been years since I have touched my Windows installation and yet every 6 months I am upgrading my Linux and bitching every time when something breaks. I should just leave the freakin' thing alone!!!

  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:17AM (#27993829) Homepage Journal
    ...but insists that reproduction of any kind is prohibited without permission. So I won't quote from the article. I will just refer to it.

    In the last paragraph the author talks about implementations of SMB and AD (active directory?) not being available, then excludes samba. I with he would say why. Samba seems pretty good in that area.

    In addition I would like to say that my wife's corolla is crap because it can't carry 1000 kilos of stuff the way my van does. Also the Boeing 747 is crap because it has a bigger radar cross section than a B2 stealth bomber.
  • by Toreo asesino ( 951231 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:19AM (#27993849) Journal

    ...if the OSS community was as honest (and constructive) as this guy [lunduke.com] it might have a chance on the general-purpose desktop against Windows.

    Karma be damned; I thought that despite the provocative headline, it was a really refreshing criticism of Linux on the desktop.

  • Re:9.10? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by geminidomino ( 614729 ) * on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:19AM (#27993853) Journal

    having just moved to an early version of Ubuntu 9.10 on my main testing-stuff laptop; it's frustrating

    The first alpha of 9.10 was released a couple days ago with new kernel, new gcc, lots of new libraries... you should not be surprised things don't work well yet.

    I would think that it was released they should have it mostly working well. It seems they're more concerned with keeping the precious timeframe than actually releasing something that works (they did that with Hardy too, leaving us stuck with many Really Bad Things(TM) for the next 3 years...)

  • Chicken and the Egg (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:19AM (#27993863)

    The driver problem is a variation of the chicken and the egg.

    Linux is not a large part of the desktop market thus many manufacturers do not bother writing drivers for them. As a result every time a new piece of hardware comes out someone has to have that hardware (so they care) and then cobble a driver together for it. As a result some hardware is not supported (or poorly supported). Then people say Linux isn't desktop ready because the drivers aren't up to snuff. Repeat.

    I'm not saying the complaint isn't valid but sadly there is little Linux can do about it (short of creating a new project to keep up with every piece of hardware known to man). Windows on the other hand doesn't have this problem as every manufacturer on the planet makes sure to include a driver for windows. Mac escapes this problem since it's a hardware company and says we only support Mac products. It's a very unfair setup and I'm not sure if there is a way to break the cycle.

  • Re:Games (Score:4, Interesting)

    by porl ( 932021 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:20AM (#27993873)

    you tried running it in virtualbox? it may still be technically running in windows, but at least you are limiting the 'damage'. if you don't give it network access you can do without antivirus stuff and probably make it run and 'boot' quicker than the real thing :)

    also virtualbox' seamless mode will make it virtually... well.. seamless.. :D

  • by digitallystoned ( 770225 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:21AM (#27993881) Homepage
    The future is web based. Endless bloat, inefficient javascript and the latency of accessing remote systems. Why will people accept such a system? because a lot of people never learned to use a desktop, they learned how to use a web browser. Anything outside the web browser looks complicated to them.

    I'll agree to an extent that Linux isnt a good desktop OS for people who are Windows nuts. I have used Linux for the past 4 years on a regular basis and there is a huge learning curve. Linux is great for the server environment and it blows Windows Server out of the water when it comes to ease of use and setup. As far as web browsers, theres a lot of kiosk companies that are running Linux with Windows as the guest os on their machines and taking care of a lot of issues that used to plague remote admin work for distributed computing platforms. Anything you can do in Linux can be done in Windows. Windows also has about 30 years of end-user time on Linux. I know it wasn't really adopted by a lot of my customers as a viable server until 2001-2002 time frame.

    There is also the fact that web-based is the new way of making money from software. No piracy since its mostly server-side, lace it with ads and nobody complains about adware. Give it a few years and ads will no longer be served up by dedicated domains you can easily block.

    I agree completely. Linux will always be there for the server backend platforms. Linux is great for serving the content. Look at its use in routers and embedded solutions. You couldn't get Windows bloatware to run nearly as effective as Linux does in small environments. I think Linux will overall end up winning in the server platforms in the long run. I'd take a linux server over a windows box anyday of the week just because of reliability. If you have the slightest clue how to setup a basic LAMP then Linux is the way to go. I don't think we need to push Linux to the desktop because people just expect it to work. I spend a lot of time in linux IRC rooms and i see a lot of newbs come in with basic questions that you could get by reading a howto. MS has made Windows so simple that switching to another OS other than a Mac would be hard for them. The other issue i have are the asshole hardcore linux guys that refuse to help people. I think thats really what keeps people away from Linux is because the community doesn't listen nor are they really worried about getting a larger userbase. There are some guys out there that help out where they can, and people appreciate the little bit of help.. In windows getting from A to B is clicking a few buttons. The same process in Linux could be from A to Z with every step needing to be complete and one error throws off the entire process. Until we as a community can stand up and be helpful and supportive and work with developers insteading of blaming them for the problems then Linux won't make it to the desktop and even hold water. Personally any chance I get I load a linux livecd and do what I need to do because for me its easier, but until its easy like Windows then we arent going to get anywhere.
  • by FunkyELF ( 609131 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:27AM (#27993941)
    A lot of reasons mentioned in there could also be said of OSX.

    5.3 Incomplete or unstable drivers for some hardware. Problems setting up some hardware (like sound cards or TV tuners/Web Cameras).

    5.3.2 A lot of web cameras still do not work at all in Linux.

    5.4 It's impossible to watch Blue-Ray movies.

    5.2 No games. Full stop. Cedega and Wine offer very incomplete support.

    I did my research and found a TV tuner that would work under Linux so that I could run MythTV. How many tuner cards work with OSX? Linux is not Windows, but it doesn't mean it's not ready for the desktop.
    Apple puts together hardware that works with their OS and now Dell and other OEM's are doing the same with Linux. If you want to run either Linux or OSX on older hardware you have lying around be prepared to hack (although much less with Linux). If you want to build a system from scratch, do your homework first and buy compatible parts.
    I stopped reading halfway through. Its a troll. I could say Windows isn't ready for the desktop because there are no CLI utilities or scripting languages built in.
    If you want to do something in batch like resize and auto-rotate a bunch of digital camera pictures you need to search for and download a program that does exactly what you want and hopefully not get a virus.
    With linux, you whip up a little script that runs jhead -autorot and convert -resize.
    A lot of times you need to do something specialized each time. Having a full blown GUI for each occasion doesn't make sense and neither does having something that is so extremely configurable because it would ultimately be complicated and confusing and still wouldn't handle the 5% of the corner cases.

  • by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:35AM (#27994043) Journal

    In my opinion, one of the biggest hurdles keeping Linux our of the domestic desktop market is the developers apparently can't put themselves in the shoes of the average user. In my personal experience they tend to hold the end user in contempt, but I realize that this is a fairly small sample of the community...

    Like it or not, Windows and OSX have set standards for interface and functional transparency. It may not sit well with developers that they can't micromanage what the OS is doing, but the average user just doesn't give a shit and is unwilling if not incapable of tweaking the OS to accomplish otherwise simple tasks.

    It needs to "just work." If you need to use the command line, it's broken for desktop use. If you need to manually edit a file, it's broken for desktop use. If an essential component for some software is not included and must be installed and configured separately, it's broken for desktop use. (That last one is a big, big problem for Linux!)

    For all the faults Microsoft has with their software, at least they did the research and learned how Joe Shmoe uses a computer and designed to the lowest common denominator. That's how they ended up on top.

  • by dwarfking ( 95773 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:38AM (#27994093) Homepage

    While I also play WoW under Wine and agree it works reasonably well, I have to ask a simple question.

    One reason WoW works reasonably under Wine is that it will use OpenGL and is not tied to DirectX. Many of the WoW developers are actually using Macs so the application could not be dependent on DirectX. And yet, there is no native Linux client produced for it, only native for Mac OS X and Windows.

    As popular as the game is, and knowing it can run on a *nix variant, Blizzard still won't produce a native Linux client. So why do you suppose that is?

  • Re:Sound and HDs... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:44AM (#27994171) Journal

    For most people, sound in Linux works, but it doesn't work well for anyone. By "work well", I mean MIDI and sound stream control. Windows, MacOS X and even (and especially) BeOS have the sound sewn down and are viable platforms for music creation. Linux definitely isn't and ALSA has inherent flaws that guarantee it never will.

    But, since most Linux users aren't interested in making music, this is not an issue and is why Linux's sound model won't ever improve. It will make Linux a non-starter for a number of users, though.

  • Re:Sound and HDs... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Virtex ( 2914 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:44AM (#27994177)
    What I find amusing is how in the Windows world if a hardware manufacturer puts out a broken driver that causes their hardware to not work properly, people blame the manufacturer. In the Linux world when the same thing happens they blame Linux. I'm amazed at what Linux has been able to accomplish given how most hardware manufacturers will neither provide drivers nor specs on their hardware. Things have improved somewhat in the last year or two, but it's still practically impossible to get most of these people to give anything.
  • Re:9.10? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:51AM (#27994303)

    The first alpha of 9.10 was released a couple days ago with new kernel, new gcc, lots of new libraries... you should not be surprised things don't work well yet. Jaunty seems pretty stable to me. Minor issues with my intel video card, but works fine for all my daily work.

    Yes, but you must not care to hear Biff bark...

    The summary complains about sound, and the datapoints I have on Linux sound are this:

    1998 - the LinuxSoundHOWTO makes derisive statements to the effect of "well, if you must have sound, these are the hoops you jump through:...", implying that real free beer swilling penguin huggers don't need sound, period.

    2006 - Debian Stable with KDE - Turning on desktop sounds completely hosed one user account, never worked quite right and eventually crashed and burned to the point that it was easier to wipe the account and start over without sounds than to unravel the damage, login to the account would lock up the whole machine.

    2009 - Kubuntu 9.04 - sound still stutters and stalls in some circumstances - yes, I can play Pandora flawlessly through Firefox, but TuxType still stutters - shun on TuxType all you like, it's my 5 year old's favorite interactive app...

    2009 - Fedora (recent, not sure exact release, not my machine) - ported a Qt/portaudio app from Vista, compiled and linked with remarkably little trouble, ran flawlessly the first time, then got hosed up and would only play 2 seconds of sound before sound hung up, at least the rest of the app soldiered on. Restarting the app would give another 2 seconds of sound then cut out again. Running a music player in-between would clear out whatever the problem is and the ported app would work fine again, unless there was any kind of unclean exit (not going through the PA close, and going through a PA close after things were off-rails doesn't help). Sure, the app should behave, that's what Win3.1 said.

    I have had similar problems with motherboard based ethernet ports, except they get off the rails and never return - plug in an older $5 ethernet card on the bus and everything in hunky-dory again, but it still shows that the drivers aren't up to snuff in handling problem states in some cases. I knew a serious Debian guru who resorted to the same hardware based fix just because that's how things are, easier to spend the $5 than try to unravel the driver issue.

    The latest desktops are mightily impressive, but I still bought an XP machine for my wife because: Eudora is _still_ more stable than Thunderbird, these little quirks are just un-necessary for her to deal with, and I don't want to be bothered trying to get Reader Rabbit to Run under Wine, especially with the sound issues.

  • by CTalkobt ( 81900 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:52AM (#27994305) Homepage

    One of the points that I see repeated over and over when comparing apples to oranges / Linux to PC is that there's a huge learning curve.

    I hate to tell you - but there's also a huge learning curve when using Windows. My wife, who had never really used used a PC routinely, was let loose on my Ubuntu box after about 5 minutes of use. A week later I found she had customized her background, changed the icon set, was trying to figure out how to get a cat's meow when she started a program and was wanting access to the package manager so she could see what else she could do.

    Her experience with Windows, a bit later was one she described as "frustrating" in that nothing was where she expected it to be.

    In general, I think the rule of thumb : Linux is fine. Windows is (possibly) fine. Each to their own - I prefer a Linux varient (Ubuntu currently). Work & Home for the past 4 years.

  • by ihavnoid ( 749312 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @08:53AM (#27994323)

    Every time I install Windows, it takes three or four hours to complete setup - install drivers, install patches, install cygwin, MS office and whatsoever, restore backup data, and I'm ready to work.

    Every time I install Linux, it takes three or four days to complete setup - install Linux, install packages, change font configurations because the default rendering is so ugly, search on the net to figure out how I can get (insert some hardware here) working on my PC, search on the net to figure out why my PC doesn't shut down properly, search on the net why XXXX doesn't work anymore, search on the net for an older version of some package so that I don't need to touch some old code (that I don't intend to fix), search for this, that, etc. Have to do the same thing for every distribution, because one method that worked for one distribution doesn't work for the other one.

    Even after the settings are done, I have to cope with poor localizations. Typing in other languages such as Korean or Japanese is still horrible, though I must admit the situation has improved vastly. Messages are badly translated, or some messages aren't translated at all. Now I just gave up using any language other than English on my Ubuntu desktop.

    Yes, they are indoctrinated to a world of horrible things. They refuse to open their mind to anything else. So what? They find their computer as a tool, and if the tool does what they need to do, that's enough. I can't teach my wife how to configure SCIM, how to deal with the messages not translated properly, and how to deal with the website that doesn't get rendered properly on Firefox (though in this case, the website is to blame), while all she uses is some simple word processing and web surfing (total 2 hrs per week) which all works perfectly well on Windows. I'd rather deal with the malwares than teaching her all that stuff.

  • by malkavian ( 9512 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:10AM (#27994579)

    How very peculiar. I take it those thousands of developers and designers are suddenly going to pack up and pick something else interesting to do today, leavign Linux to languish in its current state.

    As another long term Linux user (I remember the call going out across the 'net to ask for input on Linus' little project, and quite a few of us at my Uni deciding to get our hands dirty with it), I've seen it grow. It seems to do it in true evolutionary style; nothing seems to change much for a period of time, just little bits of tinkering away from what your average user sees. Then all of a sudden, there's a huge raft of changes that alter the whole experience, and that takes a few months to bed in with the latest distros.

    Hmm. Hobby OS.. Yes, I'm sure that all the machines propping up huge swathes of the internet are all there as a hobby. The machines running Oracle databases and more right here in a hospital are all a hobby of mine.

    As for amateurs.. Phew, do you have a lot to learn about developers! Half the 'professional' developers I've met (probably more than half) are complete charlatans. I've interviewed people with lengthy backgrounds in financial institutions, technical institutions and so on.. And a goodly portion don't have the slightest idea of the true theory of what they're doing. They can quote buzzwords all day, but when it gets to the heart of it.. Not a snowflake's chance. And joy, oh joy, their code gets hidden away from scrutiny, so nobody can actually tell them their code's junk.

    By lengthy experience, I'd say your post is wrong on so many counts, it's almost funny. Should I also believe that this is the apex of your technical knowledge, and that you're as good and knowledgeable as you're going to be, or should I believe that the world is a dynamic and ever improving place, where you'll start putting real thought behind your theories?

    Actually, reminds me of working with a chap back in '95, who said exactly the same thing about Linux then. It was as good as it would ever be, only a toy, and never used in business.
    Sure.. Sure it hasn't. Not at all.

  • Re:Games (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Curtman ( 556920 ) * on Monday May 18, 2009 @09:45AM (#27995303)

    Until there is a Linux distro that "just works" as well as an average new windows installation, there will only be niche uptake of Linux.

    Having just installed a dualboot box for my wife, I can tell you that it already does work better than a new windows installation. Ubuntu booted up with graphics drivers, sound working, hp scanner/printer/fax working out of the box. Windows booted up with no ethernet, low graphics mode, no sound, no printer/scanner/fax.

    This is a very common thing these days. Linux driver support is miles ahead of Windows as far as 'out of the box' goes.

  • Re:Games (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FictionPimp ( 712802 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @10:14AM (#27995863) Homepage

    I don't use linux anymore as my primary desktop. I have moved to mac. However, I find most of this articles arguments to be simply flawed.

    While some areas have good points (audio does need work), others fall flat. Two major ones stick out to me.

    Games - There ARE linux games, not as many as windows but they are there. I used to be a HUGE gamer. I have moved on. I perfer the xbox 360 for gaming and no longer bother with computer gaming. But there are many linux games, even some top titles.

    Unified this or that - This is a flaw in the authors thinking. Linux does not need any of this. Each distro picks the tool they think works best. If you find a popular distro then you will find everything you need for installing software on it. As it gets pointed out so much, linux is not an operating system. We need to stop thinking it is.

    Nitche applications - Sure, it sucks, but sometimes you really are locked into a vendor. That doesn't mean the rest of the world is. I don't like solaris, but I have to use it. But that doesn't mean everyone has to use solaris. I have to use crystal reports at work, but that doesn't mean my home machine has to be windows. There doesn't need to be a replacement for every single application I might use to make switching a good idea.

  • Re:Sound and HDs... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18, 2009 @10:15AM (#27995871)

    > Lexmark printer ? Cellphone with only a Windows sync client on the supplied disk ? Ditto for a digital camera. TV tuner card ? Webcam ?

    Netflix movies on demand? That's the one that kills any possibility of using Linux for several people I know.

  • Re:Games (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ravenscall ( 12240 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @10:27AM (#27996125)

    It is funny you mention this. I brought up dual booting to my wife once. Her reply was "Why should I have to reboot to run my knitting software, that is stupid."

    She would rather play "hunt the driver" to make windows work, and KNOW it will work with the software she wants it to work with, than have the hassle of launching a virtualized session or dual booting. I cannot say I blame her.

  • Re:Troll -1 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @10:28AM (#27996129) Homepage Journal

    Please tell me how to...

    - configure GPRS modem over IRDA. In XP, place it close to the dongle, install a program from the CD, enter some info about your phone provider in a friendly dialog. In Linux I get somewhere between irdaping and irdadump with irattach not working correctly so that I could try to send AT commands to /dev/ircomm0

    - install a serial port wacom tablet. XP, install the drivers, run callibration program. Linux - start off with editing xorg.conf manually, ignoring the big THIS FILE IS GENERATED AUTOMATICALLY DO NOT EDIT BY HAND warning.

    - reconfigure a multitouch touchpad. Windows - launch a friendly configuration program. Linux - supposedly you install a package and then create a proper config file in /etc. When I followed the instructions, touchpad ceased to work.

    - use GPS over bluetooth. Windows: insert the dongle, turn the GPS on, pair the device upon prompt, configure the program with several clicks. On Linux, start with dist-upgrade to Jaunty because Intrepid insists I enter a PID on keyboard of the GPS which has no keyboard. Then edit an entry in /etc so that the device gets bound to /dev/rfcomm0 automatically. /etc/init.d/gpsd restart, because if it starts before the actual device is turned on, it won't connect. Then start the GPS program.

    - Toggle WiFi on/off. Windows: FN+F2. Linux: supposedly run a script in /etc/acpi. Doesn't work.

    - Rotate the screen 90 degrees. Windows: properties, rotate 90 degrees. Linux: nope, you can do 180 degrees only.

    - Mute. Windows: FN+F7. Linux: Hold FN+F8 till volume drops to zero. Pressing FN+F7 turns it off for a fraction of second then it's back. There is a script that fixes that. It doesn't work.

    - Use the camera: Windows: detected out of the box. Linux - don't even get me started, took me about 4 hours.

    Windows XP on my netbook is ungodly slow (due to very slow SSD drive), so I use Linux. But even with a distro supposedly designed specifically for my netbook, about half of the peripherals either don't work or require you to jump through hoops to get them working.

  • Re:Games (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sancho ( 17056 ) * on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:41AM (#27997613) Homepage

    Interesting. Last time I reinstalled, Windows didn't know how to talk to my NIC.

  • Re:Games (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bsdaemonaut ( 1482047 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @11:42AM (#27997633)

    Only because the manufacturer of said computer bundles the drivers with the provided installation media. Lose that "recovery media" and your in the same boat as the rest of us.

    Generally Linux only comes with "general drivers" for the same items that Windows does. There really is no such thing as a general driver unless the API has become extremely stable, such as with USB. Just because one driver might support several video cards does not mean it's a "general driver" those video cards have their own chipsets/API and corresponding low-level code. Sure there's must likely a layer of abstraction in order to make the code more portable, but that's it. If Linux, as well as other open source OS's, has a weak point, it's X11, not the drivers.

  • Re:Games (Score:3, Interesting)

    by oakgrove ( 845019 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @12:52PM (#27998979)

    A) Installation IS a pain in the ass for anyone who isn't a geek with a decent amount of experience.

    I tried to resist... Installation is a pain in Linux versus Windows for the simple fact that unlike Windows, Linux goes very far out of its way not to run rough shod over what you already have on your hard drive. You actually have to make decisions like, do I completely format my whole drive, or do I let the installer repartition it for me so I can dual boot with what's already on there. With Windows you can forget dual booting with anything other than another Windows install. And, if I remember correctly, the Windows installer doesn't have a partitioner so you have to have the disk already set up before you even start. MBR? Windows just blows it away, bye bye GRUB until you fix it. So, I guess you could say that's easy. In the way that walking out into the street and getting run over by a bus is easy.

    Driver support sucks.

    The only way driver support sucks in Linux is if the manufacturers refuse to open the specs for their hardware or won't make the drivers themselves. No for the devices, and they exist in vast numbers, that do have free drivers, they tend to work much better in Linux. When I used to use Windows, and had to install hardware, the CD always insisted on installing some lame 100 MB's worth of crapware just to get a wireless card working. I'm looking at you, Belkin. Now, with Linux, when I plug in my cellular network card, it just works. No crapware, no driver hunting, nothing. So, though everything doesn't work in Linux, there is a flipside. When something does work, it tends to work much better.

    Software selection leaves a lot to be desired.

    Really, that depends on what you are doing. If I want to burn an iso in Linux, I just insert a blank CD. The software to do it is included out of the box. If I want to use a spreadsheet, it's included out of the box. If I want to download torrents, the software is there out of the box. You know one of the reasons the iphone is so popular? It's that little thing they call an app store. You know what? I have one of those. Except everything in it is free.


    You say Wine is a band-aid or whatever. But, you know what? My games tend to work better in Wine than they do on Windows. My Wine games sit on an XFS partition so they load much faster than they used to on FAT32 and NTFS. Especially long load games like FarCry. And when the game hits the drive for something mid-level, it is much smoother. For example, when you shoot somebody in FarCry on Windows, they stutter just a bit as they fall. I didn't notice that until I started playing the game in Wine. In Wine, it's perfectly smooth. It's quite noticeable. Incidentally, I get the same effect with virtual machines and pretty much any disk intensive applications. I have a great time in Wine with Half-Life 2, Bioshock, Fallout 3, FarCry 1 and 2, Oblivion, Morrowind, and the list goes on and on. Oh, and, yes, there are native Linux games that play great too. Like Quake 4 and Doom 3. Great times.

    I'll just leave it at that. But, to close, I will say that not only does Linux do everything Windows did for me, it makes installing new software via repositories immeasurably easier, has the robust GNU tools underneath, has rock solid stability (I use Debian Lenny), and is satisfyingly free in almost every way a piece of software can be. So there.

  • Re:Games (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bike_head ( 252037 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:19PM (#27999435)

    I'm a linux user that recently installed Fedora 10, Fedora 11, Ubuntu 9.04, Vista Basic, Windows XP. I basically did fresh installs on a Dell studio hybrid.

    Fedoras - used live cd and added packages I wanted over the net. Due to open source restrictions I had to do command line magic to enable wireless.

    Ubundu - again a live cd over the internet. Had to enable the non-free repos to get wireless

    Vista - after guided install I had no ethernet (wired or wireless) and simple VGA display. I had to use Dells not so obvious "additional software" CD to get these drivers.

    XP - after guided install I had no ethernet (wired or wireless) and simple VGA display. I was using a developer copy of XP, so I had to go to another machine to get the proper drivers from the DELL suport site, put them on a USB stick to get the network up in order to update the rest of the system

    Which was the easiest system to install? Well Vista of course because that was the OS that was PREINSTALLED! When I had to do the install I would just say tha all had their challenges, but an OS that installs out of the box with no ethernet drivers is a PITA.

  • Re:Games (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thtrgremlin ( 1158085 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:44PM (#27999879) Homepage Journal
    No SATA drive was the most confounding situation I have ever been stuck in, attempting to help someone upgrade from Vista to XP. No floppy drive, and wouldn't let me swap out the CD, and installer didn't support USB for drivers. Ended up making a slip streamed disc which was eventually done right... but I wouldn't consider that something a "normal" user would do.

    Thankfully I added NIC driver at same time which otherwise wasn't there.

    Maybe this is a harsh bias, but I don't consider any problem that can occur between installation and fully working setup to be normal for any user. I was a big windows fan and I found Linux to be "hard". Every turn there was more documentation I needed to read. I thought the documentation was really good... when it existed (I have noticed a lot more "incomplete" documentation than ever any "bad" documentation. Bad documentation gets fixed really quick, because bad documentation is either bad because of content or structure, and in either case many small contributions can improve documentation quickly.)

    When I last used Windows regularly (up until shortly after SP2 was released), I found it took roughly 2 days for an ideal setup with every little thing done properly. One time I managed to cut this down with a slip stream and having all the software on the DVD, but the next time I needed it, most of the software was out of date. The part I liked the least was that breaking one little thing, and your best / only option is to start over. In my personal experience, things rarely work one day and then not work the next in Linux without a clear or easily discoverable reason due to a known issue. If something is broken, it is easy to track down 1) whether or not the issue is fixable / has a work around, and 2) the level of skill / experience necessary to fix such issue. This QUICKLY tells you whether or not fussing with it is going to yield adequate results. Any 'consistent' installation issue (I tweak a new Ubuntu install quite a bit) I just throw into a script I keep online, and each "tweak" being its own function, the script is very portable, like comment out "setup fkey macros".

    In practice, for me, I prefer cli over gui; nobody ever implements all cli / api functions into a gui, least of all Windows, and even when they do, tasks can not easily be automated, if at all. I guess I have had more of the feeling that anything I learn about Linux teaches me how to learn better and faster about Linux. When you learn a gui all you have learned is the gui. No matter how easy it is to use, it doesn't teach you about how the system works.

    Ok, too high an expectation for regular users. Most the problems I see / hear are switching to Linux from Windows problems, not Linux problems. Certain "advantages" of Windows are directly related to Microsoft's monopolistic control over the environment (ANY other hardware, getting the right parts that will work with the system is normal and expected). With due diligence, educating yourself about Linux lets to do more. Maintenance and auditing is fast and easy at any level, once you learn it ("normal users" don't maintain their machines AT ALL even though they know they should, and I would bet most would ask "what's an audit?"). If you break it, just undo it; you don't necessarily need to "time-machine" backwards or restore from backup, or reload a saved state; just change it back. Worst case scenario, like killed grub or hosed your kernel to an unbootable state, just lock and load with a liveCD and fix it. Tinkering in good faith is never going to require you to reinstall from scratch. If you tinker recklessly and aggressively, there is a good chance you can be unaware of what you changed and how, and the amount of time to reinstall than track down the issue will be shorter.

    I know I am a fan boy, but it is only after 1) Taking the time to educate myself about Linux, and 2) Decades of "WTF, ARE YOU KIDDING?!?" with issues with Windows that only seemed to INCREASE over time. Am I expecting too much? Evidently. MY problems, and headaches for that matter, were fixed switching to Linux. Ubuntu has given me enough not to need anything else, installed as host anyway (Gentoo VM is just too much fun).
  • My reasons: (Score:2, Interesting)

    by efalk ( 935211 ) on Monday May 18, 2009 @02:14PM (#28000457)

    I agree with almost every point in this article. I have been a dedicated Linux user since RH 4.2

    My observations about why Linux is not ready for the desktop:

    1) Lack of compatibility between versions.

    I can't say enough about how frustrating this is. Every time I upgrade versions, something breaks. Usually audio. In fact, most multimedia functionality breaks every time I upgrade. I generally find that the /dev/cdrom symlink is broken at the very least, but I've frequently found that all of my CD writer scripts have to be modified.

    Recently, Ubuntu arbitrarily renamed the "libglib1.2" package, breaking every application that links against the GTK+ library. Why? No answer.

    It's as if Linux is actively hostile to the concept of backwards compatibility.

    2) Lack of support for hot-plugging. (point 13 in the article)

    I plug in a thumb drive or usb hard drive and maybe the OS will notice it and mount it for me, and maybe it won't. Usually it doesn't. Usually, I have to become super-user and perform actions to identify the drive and mount it that would be beyond the knowledge of the average end user. And even if the user does know how to do it, why should they have to? A 10-second task just got turned into a 5-minute task.

    USB scanners are the same way. They used to work, now you have to become super-user to use them. Some script that detected scanner plugin events and change the permissions just stopped working.

    Multi-card readers: Same thing. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.

    Windows, Solaris, and MacOS all solved the hot-plugging problem years ago, why can't Linux?

    3. Hardware support regression

    Mentioned in the article, but worth repeating. I really hate upgrading my OS and discovering that some of my existing hardware is no longer supported. Recent discovery: you can have USB1 or USB2 enabled, but not both at the same time. If you want USB1, remove the ehci_hcd module. If you want USB2, install it. See Bugzilla [kernel.org], Launchpad.net [launchpad.net]. It seems unlikely this bug will ever be fixed.

  • Re:Games (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hobo sapiens ( 893427 ) <ELIOT minus poet> on Monday May 18, 2009 @03:16PM (#28001505) Journal

    That was my experience with Ubuntu also. After install, most of my devices just worked. No drivers installed, nothing. It just worked. Awesome!

    My wife took a look and said she thought it was ugly. Let's be honest here...the UI is a step backward from even ugly XP. It's more Windows 98 than most of us want to admit. It just is, sorry. Ugly, pretty is subjective though.

    Then my wife wanted to play music. Then a DVD. Ok, so I fixed that pretty easily by installing some plugins. Music worked, but totem just crashes whenever you put in a DVD. I have no idea why. Honestly, I don't know where to go to check for diagnostic info. I went into the admin panel and found something that looked like an error log, but had no idea what to do with the info I found.

    Then she wanted a music player that didn't look like it snuck off a windows 95 box (she uses iTunes, which I detest but also haven't found anything better). I got Songbird as somewhat of a compromise. But then she wanted to burn a CD with Songbird. No can do, gotta use Brasero.

    Then she wanted to use her Hauppage Capture card. I did find some library that supposedly installs some drivers for this thing. I am a software developer, and can ususally figure stuff out. But I had no idea what to do with this thing. No idea. The documentation was awesome, and by awesome, I mean nonexistent.

    Then our children wanted to play some of their games. I got crossover games edition, and that sort of worked. Except for the graphics don't look right. Now I gotta use the CLI to get the right xorg driver or something like that. In other words, more work than I wanna do during my leisure time.

    See, here's the thing: I work with linux servers all day long. I know my way around the CLI. I also really really wanted to have a go at finally replacing my windows machines with Ubuntu (been trying since Dapper.) I was excited cause I had heard so many good things about Feisty. So I wanted to make this work. A month later, though, and I find myself having to concede defeat yet again. And I am not happy about it, because I had such high hopes AND because of my wasted time.

    So if a motivated geek (but perhaps not an OS geek) cannot get linux to work for VERY NORMAL use cases...how on earth do you expect normal users to do it?

    Sad part is that the fanbois will probably jump all over me. If the stupid zealots would stop for a sec and see the flaws, maybe someone would work on fixing them.

    Linux is great for servers. Starting a new job soon, and I chose to get a desktop with Ubuntu installed. For a developer's box, for a server, or even for someone who just wants to surf the web or check eMail, linux is a GREAT option. But for the vast majority of users, who want multimedia, want games, want to use special hardware, or need to use certain pieces of software, linux is and probably never will be a viable choice. After trying for years to make the switch to Ubuntu, I am starting to come to this conclusion. It makes me sad, cause I really wanted to see it work. But I don't know if I'll go through the headache of trying to make the switch again for a couple of years now.

    I think the guy who wrote the article is right on, as are all the other articles constructively criticizing Linux. The linux zealots need to pull their heads out of their collective anus, stop it with the lame-brained flamefests over articles like this, and square up to reality.

System restarting, wait...