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Windows vs. Ubuntu — Dell's Verdict 718

Barence writes "Remember how Dell put up a website declaring Ubuntu was safer than Windows, only to later change its mind? Well, the company has gotten right back into the Windows vs. Ubuntu debate with a highly sophisticated website arguing the pros and cons of each OS. People should choose Windows, argues Dell, if: they are already using Windows, are familiar with Windows, or are new to computers. People should choose Ubuntu if they're interested in open-source programming. Brilliant."
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Windows vs. Ubuntu — Dell's Verdict

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  • by nyctopterus ( 717502 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:41PM (#32954000) Homepage

    I'm a Mac user, but I certainly wouldn't hesitate to recommend Ubuntu to someone new to using computers. It really is as simple to use as Windows, and repositories are huge win for usability and security.

  • I disagree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 2names ( 531755 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:46PM (#32954084)
    I set my parents up with an Ubuntu machine. On the desktop are icons for: Solitaire, Google, and Yahoo! Mail. They have not had a problem since I moved them to this setup.
  • Re:I heart Ubuntu (Score:2, Interesting)

    by danieltdp ( 1287734 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:47PM (#32954094)
    Windows can be a challenge at times, there are pros and cons to everything. And I really mean that! I firmly believe that both my sentence and your's are true
  • by Hamsterdan ( 815291 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:49PM (#32954122)

    For most users *any* platform will do. Be it, Windows, Linux or OS X.

    Most users will use the computer for Facebook, Twitter, MSN messenger and such. Unless you are a gamer or absolutely need to run a Windows-Only application, ANY OS will be able to get the job done, Windows being the less secure of them for non-techies.

  • by SquarePixel ( 1851068 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:50PM (#32954134)

    Irons with labels that tell you to remove your clothes before attempting to iron them are being truthful, too - but anyone who need a label to tell them that is probably too stupid to be allowed to get near an iron.

    There's a difference, because doing that can seriously harm you. Not knowing the difference between Windows and Ubuntu is only an inconvenience for the user when their stuff doesn't work. It's also an inconvenience that will get them angry at the company that sold the computer for them, and don't you think it would be better for the company to inform their customers what they are buying and what they should buy based on their needs and expectations?

    I call that good customer service.

  • Re:I heart Ubuntu (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:55PM (#32954222)

    I too set my parents up with Ubuntu, and they love it. They no longer get viruses, as my Dad puts it "it's more simple", it makes good use of their old computer's limited hardware and everything they love to do, they can do:
      * Web browsing
      * Checking email (Mum uses gmail, Dad uses Evolution)
      * SIP (We use Ekiga for video chats)
      * Storing and downloading photos
      * My Mum plays all the games that come bundled with Ubuntu
      * [luckily] their Epson multifunction printer / scanner worked out of the box.
      * Word Processing

    I think Ubuntu is great for uber-geeks and it's great for complete noobs, but it's the people in between it doesn't fit so well - like my sister who needs Photoshop for her college course, and my brother who likes to buy the odd computer game, and expects it to work out of the box.

  • PIA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by COMON$ ( 806135 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:56PM (#32954232) Journal
    Ubuntu 10 has been a PIA for me. As an experienced administrator I am largely OS agnostic. I learned to program on Solaris and VAXVMS, I owned a Clamshell through college, and in the business world have been working with MS. However like many I am heavy on the Windows side.

    Ubuntu 9 was fine, but it was missing a couple libraries that were dependencies for Fuse 2.8. Not to mention that SMB is broke in 10, the GUI is just awful because it doesn't allow for easy 'run as root'. Want to edit smb.conf, you are SOL unless you go through CLI or create a custom link to your favorite editor. I have no problem going CLI only either, except that in Ubuntu 10 everything has been moved into a slew of *.d directories. As a newbie to 10, where the hell is anything you are looking for? You use the find command and good ol ubuntu leaves out crucial syntax points in their man pages...Often my biggest issue in Ubuntu is not so much that I dont know what I want to do, but rather, I cant find what I want to do. I ahve pretty advanced knowledge of firewalls and routers but WTF do you do when you cannot find the conf file or force it to reload?

    For now I think I am going to be sticking with redhat derivatives...seems to be more support there.

    If ubuntu wants to win over more windows folk, they really really need to fix that dammed GUI, or at the least work on encouraging the community to be more active. I have 3 separate threads asking for help on either iSCSI, SMB, or NFS. Only got 2 hits and they only posted twice before going MIA. You would think that Ubuntu would be better at supporting communication between windows and Linux.

  • Re:I disagree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TyFoN ( 12980 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:59PM (#32954286)

    My 67 year old father built his own computer and installed hackintosh and kubuntu on it, and he has windows 7 running in a vm in paralells or something. My 92 year old grand mother is skyping with her 102 year old cousin across the pond. Things are changing :)

  • Re:I heart Ubuntu (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:59PM (#32954296)

    My parents have been using Ubuntu for the better pat of the last five years, and the only time I've had to come take a look at it is when they were having printer driver issues. For people who want basic functionality out of their PC, such as ability to surf, write documents, listen to music, check e-mail, and play some basic games, I maintain Ubuntu is the perfect OS. I think linux distributions in general have come a long way in the last few years. Last night I installed OpenSUSE on my laptop and it was painless. All hardware was auto detected, and the amount of input from me was less than that required to install Windows 7. I believe KDE 4.4 has more eye candy than Win7 as well and runs quite well. (Core 2 Duo, 1.6Ghz, integrated graphics) I could have stopped right there and had a fully functional PC out of the box. The fact that it comes with an array of hand picked software is a nice touch as well. It saves you the hassle of trying to find an office suite, media player, photoshop alternative, etc.

    I think a lot of /. crowd may be overestimating how the average user utilizes their PC today. It explains thy the iPad is even allowed to exist: give the people what they want.
    My 2cents. (Canadian)

  • by the_rajah ( 749499 ) * on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:01PM (#32954328) Homepage
    The extent of the instructions I give guests is, "This is not Windows, it's Linux, but it works pretty much the same. Here's the Firefox icon up here." Family and friends ranging in age from 10 to 70 have used it with no problems. Those who need to are able to work on business documents that they brought on a USB drive and can print to the inkjet and laser printers on our home office network just fine.

    I think I detect a little arm twisting on the part of MS here, but nobody is surprised at that.

    When Dell came out with their pre-installed Ubuntu machines a few years back, I bought an E520N the day they became available so as to vote with my wallet that this was a very good idea for Dell.
  • by NNKK ( 218503 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:02PM (#32954352) Homepage

    However, I've still had some problems with hardware support in a couple cases (each Ubuntu release seems to fix some problems and introduce others)

    At this point, Linux hardware problems are not significantly different from Windows hardware problems (e.g. a fresh install of Linux on any given PC is at least as likely to run fine as Windows, probably more likely since more up-to-date drivers are included), but they're harder to fix when they do occur due to lack of direct manufacturer support.

    In Windows it's usually "go download the driver from the manufacturer's site", in Linux that's less likely to be an option, and if it is, the installation process is probably going to involve the command line, which scares people.

    and you're still missing some commercial packages that might be vital for a lot of users (e.g. Photoshop, where GIMP is pretty good but might still not be a viable alternative).

    If you already own such packages, most of them work well in Wine these days (and Wine is a lot easier to use than it was in the past, though still not what it should be).

  • by blai ( 1380673 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:03PM (#32954360)

    The question is, if you have no idea what Ubuntu is, then why did you choose it?

    Must a man seek alternatives with a reason other than a head full of curiosity?

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:07PM (#32954430) Homepage Journal

    Nope your wrong.
    I use Open Office but it really isn't all that much like the current version of Word.
    Calc has real issues compared to Excel.
    For the Price OO is really very good but it isn't Office.
    Also some people don't want to have to "figure it out" they just want to get the job done.
    So, no you are wrong.

  • Thank you (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:11PM (#32954462)
    I tried linux distros various times in the past, each time I gave up after a day to a week when drivers and programs wouldn't install, package managers wouldn't work, and I ended up spending more time trying to fix my computer than getting things done.

    Yesterday I installed Ubuntu. I can't install the language patch (click on it in Opera, garbage on my screen. right click and save as, now I have it saved but how to install it??) I can't use bittorrent, (can't install wine because I don't know how to install a package handler because of the above problem)

    That said, I find Ubintu easier to understand, more intuitive, and friendlier overall than Windows XP. I've used Windows since version 3.11 and never could positively compare Linux to Windows until today. I will now recommend Ubuntu to anyone who asks and I want to thank the linux community for making this OS possible.

    tldr: Thank you.
  • by PenquinCoder ( 1431871 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:15PM (#32954520) Homepage
    One of the 'reasons' Ubuntu (or any Linux) distro won't become a major player in the consumer OS market, is because it is not SOLD in the consumer OS market. Linux will become more of a mainstream desktop/laptop consumer choice (key word, choice) when you can drive down to the 'big box' store and buy a computer pre-loaded with Linux on it. Until then, the majority of people will use windows, not necessarily because it's easier, or better, but because that is what was SOLD to them. For the casual user, Windows == my computer. Period.
  • by BenEnglishAtHome ( 449670 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:21PM (#32954602)

    On his blog, Ken Rockwell decried the lack of serious photographic hobbyists who actually take pictures. Most of them just buy equipment and geek out over it. He referred to photography as just something that, to paraphrase, "guys do on their computers in between porn sessions."

    True that.

    How many guys go looking for porn from time to time? A *very* high percentage. And does the search for porn lead to the dangerous back alleys of the 'net? Yep. The relatively lower number of viruses and other malware targeted at all flavors of Linux is a *major* selling point.

    If I were setting up a computer for someone who even occasionally looks for porn online, I'd choose Ubuntu over Windows in a heartbeat.

    Now, seriously, what percentage of the population do you think falls into that "occasionally looks for porn" demographic? Linux should have at least that big a market share.

  • by PagosaSam ( 884523 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:30PM (#32954790)
    I teach computers at the local senior center. They are all running windows and so I get to fix them too. Grandma just can't say no to an install request. Invariably I have to clean off a half dozen tool bars from IE and clean out god awful trojans pretending to be useful tools. I have to lecture about free anti-virus programs (which I install for them) only to find they have later signed up for professional/commercial level AV products they really don't need and can't afford (senior center!).
    I bought a real nice Dell Inspiron N series laptop with Ubuntu pre-installed. I think I'm starting to win some hearts and minds here. Everyone who uses it, loves it.
  • Re:I heart Ubuntu (Score:2, Interesting)

    by phoenixjim ( 1259994 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:40PM (#32954958)
    I helped my 72 year old uncle get started with Ubuntu when his Windows became so badly infected that he couldn't clean it. I used Logmein to remotely control his pc to download the image. I had him put in a CD and then I burned it for him. I had the machine reboot, then talked him through the install. 3 calls later, he's cruising without viruses, doing his banking etc safely and comfortably, and easily handling his email and game needs/wants... Yes, Ubuntu and the rest can be a challenge at times. But when I can get someone who's a complete novice with computers to use it (from over 1000 miles away) and they actually LIKE it, that says something very positive.
  • by jrade ( 1522777 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:46PM (#32955080)

    ...Walk down the street and pick out a hundred random people and ask them if they are interested in programming open source. They don't even say "if you are interested in free open source software" they say "open source programming." Do you think you'd even find one person interested in actually programming open source?

    And even pick out 100 random programmers and how many would answer yes?

  • by lowrydr310 ( 830514 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:50PM (#32955128)
    There is one issue with the Ubuntu Software Center; it doesn't always get everything you need. In my case, I wanted to set up Eclipse with the Android ADT plugin. The version of Eclipse that gets installed via the Software Center is missing a ton of dependencies that the ADT plugin needs, and trying to manually get all these dependencies led me down a rabbit hole. The only pain free solution that worked for me was a manual installation of Eclipse, by downloading the 'fully-loaded' version from the eclipse site.

    Then again, the average joe probably has no need or desire to install Eclipse in the first place, so maybe that software center isn't such a bad idea.
  • Re:New to computers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday July 19, 2010 @04:01PM (#32955350)

    I'm a pretty tech savvy user and even I had trouble with Linux when I converted one of my machines over to Ubuntu a while back (I finally just gave up). The documentation is absolutely horrid. Without a good understanding of how Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular does things, it seems like a real chore to do even the simplest thing (I never could get it to recognize dual monitors or get the right screen resolution). And one of the worst things for me was dealing with all the distros and UI's out there and even trying to decide if a given piece of Linux software would work for me. I'm still not clear on some of it. Will KDE software run on gnome? Will gnome software run on KDE? Is the difference just cosmetic? Will a given piece of software run on all distros, or only some? Is the installation different for each distro?

    I get headaches even remembering it.

  • by XB-70 ( 812342 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @04:10PM (#32955470)
    As a former sysadmin for 12 yrs, I have to divide what I understand about what's best from the realities of the real world.

    You and I both know that Ubuntu is a far superior operating system on so many levels. It's more secure, it's way faster, it runs on more platforms, you can modify it entirely to your liking, it comes with 'real' software, it's free and it's evolving 2x per year.

    For the average user, however, the reality is that many are petrified of their computers. All they know is that it's really bad to screw up and that they will never figure out how to make them run right if they do. They never open manuals or read help files. That is the reality out there - lets' get used to it.

    With that said, Lucid Lynx is, arguably, the most user-friendly operating system I have ever used. Coupled with incredible speed, lighting installation and simple interface, it truly stands out for its polish. There's more: getting apps, for the 'newbie' is just a click, a search and a one-click install. Try doing that with a licenced Microsoft Product. You'll be futzing with licence keys and compatibility issues for hours.

    Obviously, Linux Mint and others are very polished too, while also taking a run at combining proprietary software with non-proprietary software.

    In short, Dell's right: if you're new to computing, install Ubuntu. If you have legacy MS apps, bend over!!

  • WINDOWS programs?? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CallsignBaron ( 1136063 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @04:14PM (#32955526)
    From Dell's site: "You are already using WINDOWS programs (e.g. Microsoft Office, ITunes etc) and want to continue using them" Since when is iTunes a WINDOWS program? Damn, Dell will have the boys in Cupertino on their ass next.
  • by http ( 589131 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @06:38PM (#32957590) Homepage Journal
    You say,

    ...users still need to have in-depth knowledge to do basic stuff, like install new applications. Things got slightly better, but it's still way more difficult than it should be. Even with a user-friendly package manager you are still faced with a huge noise to signal ratio created by the large amount of applications that might do what you want, none of which are the application you've heard of.

    Ya know, I have had that exact same problem using MS Windows since forever. I recommend dropping that from your list of arguments, as it doesn't do what you think it does.
    I do volnteer work educating seniors about using computers, and let me tell you, the amount of knowledge required to follow such directions as `right click on the icon and select "Properties" from the context-sensitive menu' is not trivial. These are not stupid people, they just never have been taught before. The real eye opener for me was finding myself teaching a (retired) physicist. I never had to repeat myself, but I still had to explain a lot. Just because you and I know it and consider it basic doesn't mean it's not in-depth.

  • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <jmorris@[ ] ['bea' in gap]> on Monday July 19, 2010 @07:18PM (#32957992)

    > Even with a user-friendly package manager you are still faced with a huge noise to signal ratio
    > created by the large amount of applications that might do what you want, none of which are the
    > application you've heard of.

    So? Stop thinking in the Windows box. Do what I do in such a situation and just install every app that might do what I want and spend an hour or two playing with them. Once I pick one I remove the others. Doing that sort of promiscuous software installation on Windows would lead to disaster so people quickly learn not to do that, as you apparently have internalized. With Linux's superior package management and the lack of much malware 'in the field', the 'install em all' tactic is rational.

  • by FourthAge ( 1377519 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @08:41PM (#32958838) Journal

    Any comment criticising Linux is bound to be controversial here and I really don't have the energy to respond to everyone who has called me a Microsoft shill.

    The people who make a living from Linux, like myself, are those who are best placed to point out where it is lacking. On the server side or for embedded systems, it is great. For me, on my home computer, Linux is also great. Or at least better than the alternatives. But then I have a lot of experience with it, as I said. I'm one of the people who can dump Windows, and indeed that's exactly what I did.

    To me, Linux (1996-2010) is a sad story. Both Windows and MacOS have made huge leaps forward in terms of usability, stability and security, and Linux has hardly moved. The "year of the Linux desktop" has turned from something we all hoped for into something that will clearly never happen. In fact, it already happened with those Linux netbooks: but, once again, Linux just wasn't ready to do that. There was no Linux environment ready to go on a netbook that would do everything a netbook user wanted to do, and I'd say there still isn't.

    Linux is hamstrung by idiotic free software politics and the problem that nobody wants to do the unattractive but important work, like usability testing or making a stable platform for commercial software. And what do we do when we hear of these problems? We say "That's FUD" or "You're a Microsoft shill". Until we can admit that the problems are there, we are never going to get any improvement.

  • by IANAAC ( 692242 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @10:49PM (#32959768)

    To me, Linux (1996-2010) is a sad story. Both Windows and MacOS have made huge leaps forward in terms of usability, stability and security, and Linux has hardly moved.

    I don't know how you can honestly say that with a straight face if you've actually used Linux on the desktop since 1996.

    We've come a LONG way in terms of the desktop since then. The first "usable" Linux desktop I used was Caldera's Looking Glass Desktop (I think that was the name of it) back in 98-99. And I put usable in quotes for a reason: It was absolutely laughable compared to either current Gnome or KDE desktops of today. I can't speak for KDE's stability - I settled on Gnome quite a while ago, but it's every bit as stable as any current Windows or OSX desktop I've recently used.

    Out of curiosity, what huge leaps in security are missing in Linux that are present in either OSX or Windows? I'm asking honestly.

  • by Killer Eye ( 3711 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @11:12PM (#32959934)

    Recommending that people "new to computers" use Windows is the worst advice imaginable. We've given Microsoft over 20 horrible years, and they have managed to make computing almost boring in that time. It is well past time to hand the torch somewhere else...ANYWHERE else. The last thing we need is another generation who thinks Windows is what it means to "use a computer".

    Even in 1990, the power and potential of machines was staggering. And I'm sorry, but Microsoft has done NOTHING with that potential. Software is still overly-expensive, locked-in, ugly, and crashing, and impressively it seems that basic tasks are even slower today than on machines of the 80s. It really wouldn't have taken much effort to bring the world way forward, to make PCs absolutely marvelous devices. Instead of realizing the potential, these incredibly sophisticated machines still have pretty basic uses, and I find that sad.

    We need another generation, the people "new to computers", to use something new. Let them tinker without the chains of some stupid monopoly, and build a better machine.

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @06:10PM (#32983976) Homepage

    There have been shiny happy installers for Linux since the 90s. If you want a Windows style
    installation experience, it's there. Now a lot of the Linux "shareware" doesn't have this
    sort of thing. That's where package managers come in. These are great and easy and very

    Sorting out extra 3rd party freeware crap for Windows is a royal pain in the *ss. The sorts
    of sites that like to present Windows software seem to be all hip deep in popups and spam to
    the point where it's hard to know what link you should click on. It really puts all of that
    "curated" experience nonsense with the iPad into perspective.

    Macs are a bit better. The websites are not quite as spam infested.

    Although both are not nearly as automated.

    Not all Mac or Windows shiny happy installers take care of all of the dependent bits.

    So you end up search and sorting this stuff out your self.

"My sense of purpose is gone! I have no idea who I AM!" "Oh, my God... You've.. You've turned him into a DEMOCRAT!" -- Doonesbury