Home > News > Linux. Still not ready for the average user.

Linux. Still not ready for the average user.

If you are not a computer geek or interested in what you have to look forward to in installing Linux, skip this post.

Every year or so, I fire up a Linux build or two, just to see where we stand on things.  Firstly, let me point out that I use Windows 7 and it is rock solid, never crashes, and is a dream to use.  I am very happy with Windows 7, but decided it would be interesting to find out how Linux is doing.

Every time I try out Linux, it gets a little better, but is nowhere near the ease of use as Windows.  Linux may do well on the server, but on the desktop side, unless you are willing to devote alot of time, effort, and frustration.

One of the first things you will discover about Linux is that the “there are no stupid questions” mantra does not apply.  Any question you ask in a forum about a problem you have, unless you have a very strong Linux foundation, will result in you being mocked and talked down to.  Reading the forums made me feel bad for people who didn’t know what “sudo” was or “apt-get” did. 

So, I have 2 laptops.  One is an older Presario, the other is a newer ASUS N10J.  Let’s discuss how it works installing Windows 7 (and Vista for that matter).

Presario:  Put disc in, select install, everything works (sound, wireless, video, usb, etc)
ASUS:  Put disc in, select install, everything works (sound, wireless, video, usb, etc)

Do you think Linux was like that?  Oh, HELL no.

Wireless screwed up on the newer system, some distros (versions of Linux) didn’t even detect the wireless on the older laptop.  The newer system would keep a connection for a minute and then drop it.   There were no real fixes, just a bunch of suggestions.

The ASUS has a fingerprint reader.  None of the Linux devices saw it or knew what to do with it.  Windows 7 got it right out of the box.

If you are curious how to make the laptop work, take a look at the instructions.  It takes about 3 hours to perform.  http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=315810#kernel

Now, I eventually got a stable build going on each laptop.  Yes, Linux crashes… alot.  Alot more than Windows 7 or even Vista crashed for me.  Ubuntu 9.04 crashed right after installation.  My favorite crash was the one that happened while installing updates.  The program wouldn’t close and when I tried to shut down, it wouldn’t saying the updater program wouldn’t allow me to log out!

So we go on to how it works.  Its fast.  Very fast.  I have to give it that.  The newer ASUS one seems as fast in Windows 7 as in Linux, where the older one is much faster in Linux.

That was about it for the good parts.  Let’s cover the major bad parts.

1.  Software.  There is a lot of software out there, but little of it is anywhere near the level of its Windows counterparts and rarely as easy to use.  For example, even blogging software is a joke.   Windows Live Writer is an amazing blogging product and its free.  The nearest Linux version I could find, Bilbo, was a pale imitation.  No WYSIWYG based on your blog theme, no plug-ins, no picture gallery support, etc.

2.  Ease of install.  Sometimes, a program is easy to install.  There is a nice package installer.  Search, click, and its installed.  But other times, its a horror story.  Sometimes you have to type multiple commands, sometimes you have to run scripts, sometimes you have to copy a directory somewhere.  Sometimes there are versions for each distro of Linux, each installed a different way.

3.  Consistency.  This is the big one.  Everything is completely different depending on what distro / program you are using.  In Windows, you can always be sure that copy/paste and drag/drop work the same way.  Linux is a crap shoot.  For example, in openSUSE, I opened a folder with Dolphin(like Windows Explorer) and an archive with ARK (like WinZip).  I tried to drag a file from the archive to the folder.  Nope.
  Then the question of where the hell files are installed.  There are about 4 or more different locations I have found programs installed in. 
  And each distro (Ubuntu, openSUSE, PCLinuxOS, etc) all do things completely different.  Different control panels, different layouts, different terminology.  Are you using KDE or GNOME?

Linux is still not ready for the average user.  It is ok if you have a very limited set of tasks you perform or only need the web, but for the power user, with modern hardware, stick with Linux.

If you have an older computer and are willing to experiment and learn, give it a shot.  My older laptop is set up as a dual boot and I use linux when I want speed, but use Windows when I need to do work.

Before I get slammed and flamed by every Linux user out there (they are like Obama worshipers that way), I don’t think Linux is worthless, its just still a niche thing.  It gets better every year, but it has  a LONG way to go before I would ever think of switching full time.

  1. macman1138
    October 4, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Well just cut through the crap and get a Mac. I’ve been using them since 1984 and I’m so pleased with them I’d have nothing else. They are good solid machines that are very reliable.
    Also I have been an Apple Certified Technician for over 5 years now and make a good living at it.
    The only down side is that I have to put up with a lot of liberals.

  2. ayfs
    October 4, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    I refuse to write what I think of Macs. One fanatic war at a time please. 😀

  3. zenarcher
    October 4, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    These stories just amaze me. I’m just an “average user,” myself…an old retired guy, no less. I have eight computers in the house…five desktops, two notebooks and a netbook. Five have run on Linux for the past four years or so…one Mac and two Windows XP systems. I’ve also set up Linux for no less than 20 other people on their computers and I can do a pretty fair Linux install by the time the Windows users figure out what they’ve done with their missing driver disks. Linux crashes? Yes, on pre-release versions I play with, but that’s it. All my hardware works “out of the box,” including multi-function printers, Blackberry devices, webcams, wireless and on and on. Hard to install? Windows is hard to install. Of course, if you like rebooting after every little update, install or change, I guess you’d love Windows. Linux does everything I want or need and that’s the case for most everyone else in the family who uses it.

    Perhaps Linux is just a “liberal thing,” since works so well for me. It’s nice to see Conservatives supporting the software giant, though. It has to be tough for them with Linux being “free” as in freedom and “free” as in “free beer.”

  4. Dim
    October 4, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    “A kernel is not ready for the average user”. Of course, captain, nobody uses kernels directly. “Linux-based operating systems are not ready for the average user”? Tell that to users of Palm Pre, HTC Hero, Amazon Kindle and millions of other devices. Ah, you mean, Linux-based desktops? And you have some “arguments”? Oh, not again, just open any forum and read what they say about this subject a couple of times.

  5. ayfs
    October 4, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    I am speaking of Linux on the desktop. Of course it can work perfectly on a cell phone or embedded device. The drivers are written exactly for the device and the interface is written specifically for it.

  6. ayfs
    October 4, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Here is a perfect example of what I mean. I use Firefox 3.5.3 on my PC. In Windows, I clicked on the download link, selected run, and followed the prompts.

    On Ubuntu 9.0.4 (the latest non-beta version of the most popular distro out there) it’s easy too.

    Just start up Terminal, and type this
    sudo sh -c “echo ‘deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/ubuntu-mozilla-daily/ppa/ubuntu jaunty main’ >> /etc/apt/sources.list”
    sudo sh -c “echo ‘deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/ubuntu-mozilla-daily/ppa/ubuntu jaunty main’ >> /etc/apt/sources.list”
    sudo apt-key adv –keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com –recv-keys 247510BE
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install firefox-3.5

    Well, then all you have to do is disable compatibility checks for rare extensions you don’t want to lose access to, and create a new launching point for Firefox 3.5, as Firefox 3.0.11 will remain on your system until Ubuntu’s official repositories update.

    So, now there is Firefox 3.0.11 and a different browser called “Shiretoko” which is actually the Firefox 3.5.3 So, then you try to install something that uses Firefox, like Google Gears.

    Sorry. Shiretoko is not a compatible browser, but Firefox is. So, in “Shiretoko”, type “about:config”, then seach for “agent” and you will see an entry for “Shiretoko/3.5.3”. Simply edit this to “Firefox/3.5.3” and you are done.

    Now wasn’t that just as easy and polished as the Windows install is for the average user?

    • d
      October 6, 2009 at 9:50 am

      “I clicked on the download link, selected run, and followed the prompts.”
      You can do exactly the same for Linux. Just instead of executing the file you have to decompress it.

      The problem is that you don’t exactly know what you’re talking about and compare things that you can’t compare. You are trying to compare installing binary via repositories in one of GNU/Linux distros to downloading a binary on Windows.
      Why don’t you compare downloading a file to downloading a file? If you have to compare such things? There are Firefox binaries (3.5.3) for both GNU/Linux and Windows on http://www.mozilla.com...

  7. zenarcher
    October 4, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Well, perhaps you should do some reading on whichever Linux distro you’re trying to use…at least as to which package manger they are using with the specific distro. Try Synaptic, YAST, or whatever. Ubuntu 9.0.4…your example. Why not merely open Synaptic, search for “Firefox,” check the box and install it? Is that too easy for you? There is no reason in the world to have to install Firefox from a terminal in any mainstream Linux distro. As for “Shiretoko,” that was a temporary name for the Beta release. If you took a look at Ubuntu 9.10 (now a Beta and not using both old and new Firefox), you’re going to see “Firefox” in the application list in Synaptic. For the most part, there’s little reason to download from the website, as most applications are available as a .deb, .rpm or whatever to install. I suppose your way is a good way to try to scare people away from Linux, though.

  8. Sanders
    October 4, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    @ Now wasn’t that just as easy and polished as the Windows install is for the average user?

    We’re comparing apples to oranges here aren’t we?

  9. Trent
    October 4, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Funny. I know of “average users” who use Linux, specifically Ubuntu, and they seem pretty happy with it, one of whom is my aunt — who I talked through installing Ubuntu on her laptop over the phone without any problems. So I think it’s pretty fair to dismiss your “ease of install” argument without any further discussion. Try walking an “average user” through installing Windows from scratch some time and compare that to Ubuntu’s install process.

    Not to mention, not all Linux distros are created equal. Some (like Slackware, which I use) are not so straightforward, and require the user to understand a lot of technical background before diving in, leading to manual partitioning, bootloader configuration, manual package selection, et cetera. But Ubuntu and many other distros are about as simple to install as ANY operating system could be expected to be.

    Not to sound like a Linux user flaming you or anything, but your remaining arguments presented here basically boil down to “I can’t find applications EXACTLY like the ones I use in Windows” and “OMG LINUX IS DIFFERENT!”.

    On the subject of applications, I feel your pain. Finding replacement apps is always hard. Heck, I recently dumped KDE once and for all (because KDE 4 basically just sucks, plain and simple), and finding replacement apps for the programs I’ve grown to know and love in KDE over the years has been painful, and I’m *already* a full time Linux user.

    Going from Windows to Linux can also be challenging because of the applications, but trust me, unless you’re absolutely 100% hung up on finding something EXACTLY LIKE EVERY SINGLE WINDOWS APP YOU USE, you’re just making excuses for not doing the leg work, my friend. That isn’t a failure of the Linux/Open Source community.

    When I first switched from Windows to Linux, it took me a long time to find programs I liked, and it took me quite a while to get around to a different way of thinking when it came to apps. And like you, I’m very, very picky about my software, and highly critical of a lot of pros/cons of just about any application decision.

    The “average user”, however, most of the time isn’t that picky. My aunt was picky about one thing when I switched her over to Ubuntu. She just wanted to make sure she could still run Firefox. 🙂 Needless to say, that wasn’t a problem.

    As long as the “average user” can do the basic things they need to do from day to day most of the time they don’t care. They care about “can I send/receive emails”, “can I surf the web” and “can I listen to music/watch movies/play games”.

    The games thing is still a problem, but again, that isn’t really the fault of the Linux community. Most games are written for Windows.

    As for your problem with Linux being different, so what? Did it ever occur to you that Windows’ way of doing things might not be the best way or the ONLY way of doing things out there?

    Before you bite my head off, hold on a sec. I’m a Windows Server admin professionally (unemployed at the moment, but that’s my main profession). For what it’s worth, when it comes to managing tons of users and folders and applications in a data center, I really prefer Active Directory to the normal Linux paradigm for doing the same thing, and I like Exchange quite a lot when it comes to mail management (though in my opinion Exchange 2007 is a painful mess).

    So I’m not coming here and flaming you from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know the Windows world. I have one foot firmly planted in Microsoftland, and the other planted in Linux. I’m “flaming” you from the perspective of a “right tool for the right job” kind of guy.

    For desktop computing, it’s a matter of opinion a lot of the time… it sounds like you prefer the Windows way of doing things, I get it. That’s fine man! Stick with it!

    But saying that Linux isn’t ready for the average user simply because it’s different, well, it isn’t really valid.

    In my opinion, Windows isn’t ready for the average user either. It’s painful for the average user to install from scratch (yes, I know most end users don’t install Windows on their own, but since you brought that up as a mark against Linux, I figure it’s fair game here).

    Windows hardly ships with any useful applications at all compared to most Linux distros. Ubuntu ships with office software, a couple of different browsers to choose from, and scores of other useful applications right out of the gate. Hell, Windows doesn’t even ship with a PDF reader! Just what, exactly, takes up that 16GB of space apparently required by Vista (and now Windows 7)? DRM? Error message graphics? The EULA? 😉

    Windows only gives the user one, insecure, outdated filesystem option in NTFS, and it can’t even RECOGNIZE other widely used filesystems that have been around for years! Ext3? ReiserFS? Ext2 even?

    Not to mention the simple fact that yes, while an IT professional like myself can keep a Windows box relatively secure if they stay on top of every patch and closely monitor apps for updates and keep an eye on Windows’ processes, you CANNOT expect the average user to be as diligent… not by a long shot.

    While Linux has its security issues from time to time, it simply isn’t as hard to keep it secure because it’s inherently designed with security and internet exposure from the get-go.

    I could go on. But suffice to say, from a Linux user’s perspective, Windows is a nightmarish ordeal of usability problems. And that doesn’t even take into account the ridiculous pricetag associated with it!

  10. macman1138
    October 4, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Look, you can tinker and play with LINUX all you want, fuss about how crummy every version Windows is or you can get a Mac.
    It simply works, the hardware is reliable and it is secure. Granted, I think that the hardware was much better when it was made here in the US.
    I find that people that are “Mac haters” simple haven’t worked with the machines to any degree and have made up their minds without looking at the facts completely and logically. It’s the old “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind’s made up!” attitude. But I’ve seen many, many people switch. More do everyday.
    Now if you must fiddle under the hood, there’s the Terminal application that I myself use to do this and that…often over a network.
    I tell people that I have been using Macs for over 25 years. Then I ask them what kind of computer have they been using for the past 25 years?

  11. ayfs
    October 4, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Actually, Firefox 3.5.3 has not made it to the package manager yet on openSUSE, Ubuntu, or PCLinuxOS. So, yeah, I guess that was too easy for me, zenarcher… Considering it doesn’t work.

    But I am sure they will have Firefox 3.5 in there… about the time I have 3.6 on my PC.

    Again, I point out, this is not ready for the average user. The average user will not search the web to find out all this. The average user will be stuck with an older version that does not support the add ons they want to use and is less secure.

    • Phil Wadsworth
      October 5, 2009 at 6:08 am

      Wrong………..Firefox 3.5.3 is in the repository and in the PCLinuxOS 2009.2 ISO. PCLOS will run right of the disc in 99% of desktops. If your wireless doesn’t work, the solution in the Control Centre for most hardware congfigurations is much easier than in Windows. I run dual boots with WinXP SP3 on three desktops; a 600Mhz, a 700Mhz and a 2.6Ghz machine. PCLOS is faster on all three than the respective Windows XP and it NEVER crashes !.

  12. zenarcher
    October 4, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Well, Firefox 3.5 in in Ubuntu 9.10 Beta. But you’re probably been too busy writing these articles to notice. And, when will you have USB 3.0 in Windows? We already have it in Linux.

    macman, you’re right, most people have made their minds up and are happy with what they use and are proficient in using it. I was proficient with MS, quite a long time ago, at least from DOS 5.0 through the early days of XP. Today, I have a difficult time with it, as I haven’t worked with it in a long time.

    First computer? I worked with S.A.T.A.N. in an Atlas I.C.B.M missile site in 1962. I also worked in hardware design of peripherals…tape drives and such, back in the 1970’s.

  13. Chuck
    October 4, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    I don’t get it. All tech writers seem to have problems with Linux. I’m 56 years old and an average joe. I’ve tried at least 20 versions on Linux on my computer and I have never had a problem. If I can make my computer worker faster and easier than with any version of Windows, how difficult can it be for someone who is suppose to have a clue.

  14. Chuck
    October 4, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    WTW. I have had no computer training. I simply read the instructions.

  15. October 4, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    I consider myself as an average user and I have been using Linux for around 2 years. After the understandable transition phase (of about 2 weeks) I find Linux easier to use than Windows. It’s also worry-free. It’s perfect for the average user.

    Also, I enjoy the fact that it’s free and I can experiment with various free programs and free distros.

  16. ayfs
    October 4, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    No, Zenarcher, I did see it was in 9.10 Beta. I tried that version but it crashed on loading the first time on my new laptop and was very unstable. On my older laptop, it would never connect the wireless, both of which are known issues.

    And AGAIN, I said for the average user. The average user is not going to find and install a beta distro. They would go to the website, download the latest version of Ubuntu that is listed (9.0.4) and go. Pulling up beta versions is a cop out and avoiding the point of the article.

    As for my mind being made up, read the article again. I am running Linux on my laptop. And once UltraEdit for Linux comes out, I will probably dump Windows on my older laptop completely. My newer one will stay Windows 7.

    Chuck, both of the PCs in my article are laptops, which are notoriously twitchy when it comes to hardware. For some reason, vendors make crazy little modifications to hardware when they stick them in a laptop. Perfect example is my ASUS N10J webcam. Its installed upside down! No reason for it at all size-wise, but they fix it in the driver. There is a fix for it in Windows and Linux.

    Laptops are almost an unfair test, except for one thing. Windows installs and runs all the major functions right out of the door. Linux has some problem or another on each of them.

    It runs perfectly on my desktop system without any problems at all.

    BUT, we still have the major issues with consistancy, ease of use, etc.

    Finally, you got me beat, Zenarcher. I was working on computers since 1984 with the TRS-80.

  17. txm
    October 4, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Linux is ready for the desktop. I have been using it for several years and it does excatly what I want it to do. Spreadsheets, word documents, play DVD / CD, Internet, edit pictures, etc, etc, etc. It’s already here, use it. Only rarely do I ever use the command line, so there is no need for the average user to use it.

  18. ayfs
    October 4, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    On a side note, I think open source is a great thing. Honestly, I have several legal copies of Office sitting in a sleeve, yet I use OpenOffice exclusively.

    Unless you are in a company using Microsoft Exchange and need Outlook, I prefer OpenOffice by a longshot. MS Office is bloatware hell and gets worse every version.

  19. Mahfaan
    October 5, 2009 at 12:08 am

    I completely agree with you regarding the state of Linux. I really wish it worked better because I have never liked M$ and their tactics. BUT – everytime I take a new look at Linux, I get weary of trying to get things to work. EG: I like Puppy Linux but I had to write a script file to get my USB wifi adapter to work. No, it is not a new model adapter; just a plain Airlink that is about 4 years old. There are many more examples like the wifi; and to my surprise, the ‘crash rate’ of Linux has been increasing. (WinXP has stopped crashing…)

    For now, PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu 9.04, and Puppy are better than most, but WinXP SP3 is much better – if you need to get something done.

  20. Mattia
    October 5, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Well… I don’t like people who want use Linux as it was Windows. It’s another os and you should learn how it works before judge it. You don’t need to google a lot and read complicated tech articals, just bye a good (and cheap) book. Commands are used very rarely, but it’s much easier to reply with a command than explain how to use the gui. To add a new repository, i.e., you don’t need to use command at all, but why should I explain how to use the gui when you could cut and paste a command and get it all done in half time? Are you scared about cli as it is hell? Then… what about Firefox? Yes, 3.5 is not in repositories of Ubuntu 9.04, have you ever think why? Canonical creates 2 Ubuntu releases per year, you do not need to wait a lot of time for get it. This makes releases more reliable. Don’t you like it? Ok, use a rolling release. Oh.. yes.. it’s not what an average user would do. But does average user care about firefox version? Really? Hey… don’t fool me, the average user still use IE6. You are not an average user, you are a tech user, you think like it and you try to make things like you where used to on Windows. It’s not bad and I agree with you on many things, but be fair please.

  21. October 5, 2009 at 10:19 am

    @ayfs: You are speaking about the “average” user… Do you really think that an average USER cares to install firefox 3.5 instead of 3.0???
    I am taking care about a dozen linux pcs and laptops, used by average families. They just work. No viruses, no complaints. None of the users asked to have firefox 3.5 instead of 3.0. They are USERS, they… *USE* gmail, hotmail, DVDs, the web, etc. And all of this works flawlessly, why woud an average USER want to get firefox 3.5?

    I think your opinion is not representative. You consider yourself, and other geeks playing with “I want the last version of …”, as representative for an average user. But you’re not!
    An average user wants to USE gmail, youtube (or whatever), he does care about using the latest version of firefox.

    All the best,

  22. ayfs
    October 5, 2009 at 10:47 am

    You are quite right about the average user not caring about what version of Firefox is running. That’s because Firefox (and IE for that matter) automatically update whenever a patch is available. That same day. In the mean time, there are plug ins that are updated and stop working, scripting vulnerabilities that are in place, etc.

    And as I said, installing Windows on any system I have is a simple thing. There is no extra work required to make it functional.

    Dealing with a problem area in Linux is many times more difficult than in Windows, where the solution is usually “Download file, double click the .EXE”

    Yes, I am a tech user, so I am comparing what is required to fix an issue. For my wireless issue, there are tons of bug reports and suggestions of how to fix the problem. Your average joe is not going to care. He is going to be pissed that he could install Windows and go check his bank balance online or load up Linux and need to get a book and do research to figure out what is going on.

    I like Linux, I really do. I am using it now. But lets be realistic. The average user wants to put the disc in, click install, and come back a bit later and use it. With Windows, that is much more likely to happen and if there is a problem, its as easy to fix as downloading a file and installing it.

    I know everyone has latched onto the hardware issue as the big gripe here, but its not. A much more major concern that the average user will have is consistency with programs. With some programs, drag and drop works. Programs are installed all over the place. Even installing programs is a chore if its not in the repository.

    If you need to add a repository, the site will often direct you to do so using Terminal, or maybe using the GUI. Then, in the repository, you search for it, find it and it might list multiple versions, dependencies, etc. Do I understand that? Yes. But that’s not the question. The question is will the average user get that. I know you tech people have dealt with them before. The person who calls the monitor the “hard drive”. The person who calls you 20 minutes after “I had an error, but I clicked on it and it went away. Now nothing works. No, I don’t remember what it said.”

    These people are not going to do that. They want to do the same thing every time, with every program and expect it to work the same way.

    • Mattia
      October 5, 2009 at 12:12 pm

      I guess a few people care about updates, firefox, IE, Windows or anything else. Why are updates installed automatically? Because otherwise almost nobody will install them. I know someone who still use firefox 2. However many systems have many security holes because people don’t do some very basic task. So.. what happens with average user? The pc becomes a zombie in less then a week. Is it easy to maintain Windows up to date and secure? Not very much. You can easily install security updates of Windows and Office, but you should manually check every updates for everything else. Linux is another world. Unfortunately this mean that with some distro you have to wait some time to install a new version, but you are not unsafe (programs are always patched), you lake some future. It’s annoying, but less than have to clean windows from some malware (have you ever see a pc with 200 viruses? I did). About the driver there could be many things to say… Windows have drivers created by the manufacturer (sometimes worse than the Linux’s module), so it’s almost always possible to make things work (but not always out of the box). On Linux often it’s more complicated, but often it’s a problem of bundled pc or some exotic hw. Even Mac OS X, i.e., can’t be installed on every pc and can’t make work some peripherals, but it’s better than Linux and Windows.

  23. October 6, 2009 at 3:34 am

    Bufff… You are being very partial. I can talk negatively about crashes, viruses, and other things that have happened to me on Windows.

    They are different but now Ubuntu is far easier to use than Windows. However power Windows users think it is not, just because they are used to install the latest driver profile optimizer of their programs, while on Ubuntu works in a different way.

    So, you are not talking about average user. You are talking about power Windows users. Which is obviously very different. Talk to your mother and try to explain why it is harder and she will not understand. Or tell here to find a music player on the internet, and she will probably download a virus if she can manage to do it.

    About the crashes this is just bad luck, like the one you may have with Windows. I installed in tens of computers and it always worked out of the box.

  24. October 6, 2009 at 3:38 am

    P.S.: My girlfriend and mother use Ubuntu. My girlfriend has Windows 7 on her machine, but she is just used to Ubuntu.

  25. ayfs
    October 6, 2009 at 3:55 am

    I have spoken to several people who have tried Linux and are not geeks at all. The most common things I hear are “How come this does this here but not in this program?” and “why doesn’t this work?”

    There is little consistency between programs in Linux. Sometimes copy/paste works one way, sometimes another. Some programs support drag and drop, some don’t.

    A friend of mine tried out Linux, plugged his printer which works fine under Windows and did nothing under Linux. He didn’t bother to learn how to use Terminal or the repository. He plugged it in and it didn’t work. End of story as far as he was concerned.

    These are the points a normal user looks for. Consistency and ease of use/setup. Linux is just not up to the level of Windows or OSX yet.

    • October 6, 2009 at 4:17 am

      Printers in Ubuntu are a matter of plug-and-play. The system looks for the latest drivers on the internet, and installs them.

      On the Windows you need a CD (at least in Win XP, the most used version of Windows).

      I think it is clear who wins in usability.

      There is more support for Windows than for Linux, but this does not exclude the fact that Linux is system is easier than Windows. Plus, Windows occupies 20gb on the hard drive, including only paint and media player almost, because it needs to have all obsolete drivers on the harddrive. While Linux has everything in 2Gb. Nobody cares? I do care, my new laptop has a SSD of 80Gb, my girlfriend’s has a new laptop with 120Gb harddrive and my netbook is much smaller.

    • October 6, 2009 at 4:24 am

      By the way, my advice:

      Do not follow instructions or howtos that are complicated or talk about the command line. You will end up breaking things, and there is always a simpler way to do everything.

  26. ayfs
    October 6, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Now why would you compare the latest version of Linux and a and 8 year old version of XP, Gadgets? I am comparing it to Windows 7 which can be found in some places now.

    Linux is no where near as easy to use as Windows. And if you actually believe that you are lying to yourself for the sake of evangelizing Linux. OSX and Windows are both much easier to use and much more consistent.

    I mean look at what Linux people are saying in defense of Linux. “All you have to do to install Firefox is download it. Its a compressed file.” And then what? Someone will double click on it and think it will install… No, it will list a bunch of files. Then what? As this poor user tries to find out what to do with this bunch of files, a Windows or OSX user has already installed it and is surfing the web.

    Linux does some things right. The repositories are a great idea, and Ubuntu’s “One Click” solutions are great. Being able to dual boot is awesome and it always seems to set it up right. It’s fast and decently attractive. And, without a doubt, Linux is not bloated like Windwos. But it fails on ease of use to install the latest versions of software, hardware compatibility, and consistency.

    There is a great site called “http://www.whylinuxsucks.org” that is made up of posts from Linux users that honestly discuss what is wrong with Linux and what needs to change to make it popular to the normal user. These people ARE Linux users but they are not blinded to the fact that Linux needs to change before it can truly compete on the desktop.

    Linux has two choices, get better and compete, or stay in a niche market on the desktop.


  27. KimTjik
    October 6, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Stay in a niche market isn’t a bad thing. If you’re using Linux as a tool on your desktop or as a portable device, your main interest isn’t whether you win a popularity contest, but if it gets your work done.

    Linux isn’t a company, and isn’t a collaboration of just a few companies. It’s not even sure that monetary strength wins the vote against individual ideas. That means that all developers and users are its strongest critics and that its direction might get changed by anyone willing to get his/hers hands dirty. It’s actually something of a common jargon among Linux users to claim that “Linux sucks”, not because the user gave up on Linux but that he/she recognize the possibilities for change. I would say it’s your duty as a Linux user to find out why Linux sucks and better up suggest how it could improve. You don’t have to follow the voice of a board of directors, so why become indifferent as if it’s a virtue?

    That doesn’t however fit in well in how we’re used to see technology controlled by investors’ short-term profit interests. This is one step further than the ingenious strategic move Apple did in choosing a short-cut, namely BSD. It’s never the less more true to the original ideas of software developers in the past, before companies business opportunities in locking up software and hide the code.

    The easiness you seem to refer to is one of the greatest failures of desktop systems, something that costs us all enormous sums of money and make our use of Internet solutions unnecessary insecure. What you describe is how a powerful and versatile computer environment is expected to be handled by a game-boy mentality. From one angle it looks great, but with perspective it’s a disaster. A cyber-crime dream embedded in fluffy clouds of bots.

    Windows 7 won’t work out of the box. It still needs complementary drivers; you find some 7 drivers in beta stages, if some lack you might get it to work with Vista drivers, and in other circumstances you might be out of lack, of be patient as in the case of Vista, and wait for several months before some devices get support. Don’t be naive and expect that your claimed smooth experience will become a universal rule of thumb. Some perfectly well functioning peripheral devices might also become obsolete because of no working drivers, not because their inferior (might even be better) to newer models, but just because there’s no money in using resources to develop such drivers. Does that mean Windows 7 is bad or not ready for the average user? No. The user decides and his/her mix of hardware and own expectation gives different answers.

    It’s wrong to say “Linux has two choices, get better and compete…”, because you judge from a particular user perspective, used to the way of Windows for 20 or more years. All systems have to become better and not only to compete for more shares in some particular market, like the desktop one, but to become a better tool in the hands of its users. Windows isn’t the norm; some routines in Windows are probably abnormalities that for some reason became generally accepted while still being inferior.

    Humans don’t have “Intel inside” and a “compatible with Windows 7” stamp in the forehead.

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