About seven years ago, I tried to free myself from the oppression and misery of running Windows ME by installing Linux on my PC. Ever installed the Linux operating system? It's not for the faint of heart. So, when it was recently reported that Linux-based netbooks are being returned at a rate four-times higher than their Windows-based brethren, I can't say I was surprised.
To lop a few hundred dollars off of the final ticket price, it makes sense that these lightweight, stripped-down laptops like the MSI Wind and ASUS Eee PC would offer an option for Linux instead of Microsoft's pricey operating system. But, does Joe Windows know what he's getting into with Linux?
This week, I installed Ubuntu on my Macbook Pro to get a taste of what today's desktop Linux experience is like, and I can see why those return rates might be so high.
The first reason would be the perceived lack of software. The truth is, there's absolutely no shortage of software for Linux—just a shortage of what some might call "mainstream" software. When the average netbook buyer brings his low-cost, Linux-based laptop home, the first thing he's going to try and do is boot up Microsoft Word, Internet Explorer and iTunes. Of course, that ain't happening. But, for every Windows and Mac program out there, a similarly capable Linux alternative exists—you simply need some confidence and time to get up and running with them.
If that doesn't scare the average computer user back into the arms of XP, then the overall presentation of the OS might. Linux looks and feels like you'd expect an operating system to: It's got windows, icons, logical keyboard shortcuts and dropdown menus full of programs. But, while OSX and Windows do their best to disguise their technical underpinnings behind a lot of user-friendly gloss, Linux has all of its underlying machinery proudly on display. Kernel? Mount? Root? Bin? Lib? Terminal? Those all sound pretty scary, and aren't necessarily the kinds of things the non-techie wants to see as he clicks around his computer.
Even if Linux hasn't lost the average user yet, there are still huge roadblocks standing in the way of full-fledged acceptance. My biggest beef with Linux has always been how difficult it is to install programs. Installing software on Mac and Windows is such a seamless and automated process, you're barely aware of it. But on Linux, you sometimes feel like you need a Computer Science degree just to run a new program. There are two main ways to install software on Linux: packages and source code. Packages are basically installation programs like you'd see on Mac and Windows—the exception being that you need a package for your exact type, brand and version of Linux you're running. It's not quite as simple as just running a Windows .exe file. For example, if I want to install a package on my MacBook right now, I need to look for a .deb installer since Ubuntu is a Debian-based distribution of Linux. And, because Ubuntu is such a heavily customized version of Debian, I have to make sure that my .deb file has been built specifically for Ubuntu. Ubuntu itself changes a lot from version to version, so this particular .deb file needs to be compatible with the version I'm running, which is 8.10.
That's the "easy" way. The other method of installing programs involves downloading the source code and then actually compiling it yourself. If Joe Windows wasn't headed for the return kiosk already, wait until he's faced with the prospect of punching command-line instructions into the Terminal.
Tech support is also troubling for new Linux users. Message boards are really your only recourse when you need help—but it's a funny thing about the Linux community: I've found that message board users are generally welcoming and patient with new users. The problem is, they assume a base level of knowledge that a new user simply wouldn't possess. For example, earlier this week it took me about an hour of message board hunting and trial-and-error to figure out how to run a program off of a CD-ROM. Any helpful post I could find assumed that I already knew how to move around the Linux filesystem and change user privileges from the command-line, which I didn't.
At this point, the average netbook consumer would be asking himself if all of this trouble is worth the $200 he saved by not going with Windows, and I think the higher-than-average return rates are your answer.
The problem isn't Linux itself, but what the consumer isn't being told about Linux. I think these netbook manufacturers are leading people to believe that Linux is a lot like Windows, but just a little different. What they're not being told is that the operating system is DIY by its very nature. It takes a lot of technical moxie to maintain a Linux installation. Linux diehards aren't rabidly enthusiastic about their operating system just because of security and flexibility. Linux is hard work. You have to go out of your way to run it, and there's a lot of pride in that.
Overall, I found Linux so much easier to install, use and live with than I did seven years ago when I first tried it. Unfortunately, it's still not right for your average computer user. And, as computing moves increasingly away from the operating system and into the Web browser, I have to wonder if desktop Linux will ever have its day or it if will forever remain a tool of the tech savvy.
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While I am glad PS is exposing its readers to Linux I wish some misconceptions were not passed along. First, Linux programs are far easier and safer to install than Windows programs. Program installations are taken care of by a package manager. Open the package manager program, click on the program you want, and it is automatically installed over the web from a SECURE repository. I challenge anyone to install from scratch Windows and associated user aps in the 45 minutes it will take me to install Ubuntu Linux on that computer. Only geeky programs very few people use require the installation procedures described in the article.
Xandros Linux is installed on the Eee, probably because it is windows like in appearance. I didn't like it, so I installed Ubuntu Eee instead (Linux). Wireless wasn't working (that bug is no doubt fixed by now) and I had to do a web search to find a solution. I'm no geek, but I could follow the "cookbook" instructions. Someone new to Linux would be wise to find a Linux geek to hold their hand through the process of installing and making sure everything works. The usual 45 minute process took me two hours.
Ubuntu Eee is VERY COOL and worth the trouble of installing. It is far cooler than the Windows or Xandros versions the Eee comes with. The interface is fabulous, and Ubuntu Eee is a full Ubuntu installation with the whole range of user aps Linux users are used to. That is like having a Windows power user's desktop installation installed on an Asus Eee. (I'd like to see someone try that!) Though the Eee is not a hardware powerhouse, my daughter uses her Eee as her sole computer. She can do this because Linux makes very efficient use of hardware. She does everything a typical college student does, excluding tasks requiring high processor power, so no fancy 3D games, or major video edits.
Windows users new to Linux will find many familiar programs: Firefox, Skype, Open Office (Microsoft Office replacement), GIMP (Photoshop replacement), Pidgin (user interface to use all the IM services someone may be subscribed to all at once). Windows users could save a lot of money if they stopped thinking of brand name aps and instead thought about what tasks they want to accomplish. When I switched from Windows to Linux in 2001 I owned about $600 worth of programs. In the Linux world I found equivalent or better programs and have spent exactly $0 on software since 2001. I am living proof you do not have to be a geek to use Linux. When I switched to Linux in 2001 I didn't even save my data to a hard drive because I didn't know how I would ever find it. In the intervening years I have tried mightily to be come a Linux wizard, but I have failed laughably, and now there is no point to it. Ubuntu Linux is mindless to install and it just works. Even hardware drivers, which were an issue in 2001, are a very minor issue now. In fact, Ubuntu Linux has fewer problems with hardware than Vista does.
Readers need not fear getting involved with Linux.
I have made the switch from Windows to Ubuntu entirely for about a year now. I am very happy that I did and Linux (Ubuntu specifically) is right for me. It is not for everybody however. The rate that Linux is becoming easier, more reliable, and more user friendly is mind boggling, but it's not perfect yet. I feel that it eventually will be though. And the beauty of Linux is that it provides alternatives and really is the manifestation of a cause and a mentality, which I support entirely. I personally will sacrifice form for function and don't mind having to dive under the hood when things get hairy. Again, this is not for everybody, but is perfect for some.
There isn't a doubt in my mind that Linux will eventually get to a very low "random problem" rate and that the complex, but very well designed, way of fixing problems (ie text based commands and component modularity) will be streamlined for the GUI dependent user.
I think it is important to stress however, that the main difficulty with Windows or Mac users coming to Linux is that the way you think about using computers must broaden a bit. When users think about installing programs, they immediately are faced with the source code/compilation problem when it really isn't necessary. Getting software from a repository is not a normal way of thinking. Every convert wants to stick to what is familiar and use Microsoft Office, Itunes and many other programs not knowing what else there is to use.
Linux is a different country compared to Windows and Mac, you need to observe the culture, learn the language, and try to assimilate. If you don't want to, use Mac (imho) it's the perfect hybrid of Unix based kernel and all the security that provides plus proprietary support and design.
I feel that software for Linux, in genetic terms, has a very high population and very high genetic diversity; theres a whole lot out there and it ranges the gamut. Again, I'm confident that over time, the Linux flavors and all the software will mature and "winners" will be picked making it much more obvious what programs users are safe using.
It's not perfect now, but the open source process is a process of perfection for perfections sake and is not driven monetarily. The people are creating a product and that takes time, but Linux is a bit of a lifestyle and a mentality. It's one that says, to me, that if there is ever a problem, you have the opportunity to teach yourself what you need to know, and you have full ability built into the OS to fix most any issue directly, or at least participate in the solution of that issue. I am proactive in problem solving and problem resolution. And while it takes time and effort to be Linux "literate," it grants me power and I feel like the operating system finally treats me like an adult.
Wow, way to perpetuate the old myths that don't apply anymore, or to spread disinformation based on your lack of knowledge. Don't get me wrong, you make some valid points too, but be fair man.
Very glad to see some light drawn to Linux on PopSci, but seriously, my 6 year old son installed Ubuntu, by himself, on his laptop when he got sick of problems with Windows. Ubuntu is about the easiest install experience ever, and a whole lot faster install than Windows.
Lack of software? I have more software on my computer with Ubuntu than I ever did in Windows. For two reasons, first because the software is free, and second because there are more useful apps in Linux in my opinion. Perhaps the lack of preloaded bloat seems like an absence to you?
I do agree that the first thing Joe Windows will try to do is fire up "Microsoft Word, Internet Explorer and iTunes" and I believe Word and iTunes are the two biggest reasons people are returning those netbooks running Linux, they want to use iTunes and Word and can't figure out how to do that. However, anyone who expects Word/Office to run smoothly on a netbook is already a bit misinformed. But as you said, these people buying them aren't being told about what they are buying, thus are dissatisfied amd returning them, understandably.
How on earth did you have a hard time installing programs in Linux? Compiling source code? Seriously? Dude, open the package manager, search for the type of programs you are looking for, check the boxes for the ones you want, hit ok or apply, and you can install them all at once.
How is that hard?????????
I teach kids, senior citizens, small business owners, etc. how to use Linux and all but one has said that they think it's easier, faster, better, and saves them time because they don't spend so much of it maintaining their computers (security) like they did on Windows.
My techno-phobe Mom uses Linux now and she hardly ever has to call me for help on anything anymore. When she ran Windows it was 2-3 crises a day.
It took time to learn Windows for everyone originally, it takes time to learn OS X when you switch to a Mac, the same is true for Linux. If you switch to something new, there will be a learning curve. If you expect anything to be just like something else, you are headed for disappointment.
Again, glad to see Linux mentioned, but it think you need to spend a little more time on it before you go writing an article about it, because based on what you wrote, it is apparent that you have old misconceptions that you seem to think still apply.
A lot of "Joe Windows" people switch to Linux every single day, and the majority have a better experience than what you described.
For all the reasons Tom lists, unless corrected, Linux will never be where Windows has always been. You can pretty much take Windows at whatever level you're at; beginner, or advanced user. There is almost no basic, safe level to use Linux at. I consider myself a little more that basic, but I've had multiple tries at Linux and have retreated to the safety of Windows just as many times.
Some interesting points made there...My family has used windows forever, but when my dad and i built our own computer, we used Linux Mint, because it was not some odd 300 bucks. I like windows, because its what i know, and all our games are meant for it, but you have to admit, for free, Linux is appealing...(but i still find it scary!) lol
Man I am running ubuntu since 2 years now and I can say that this article if full of shit.
By the way, I never had any problems installing programs on ubuntu.
Its fun to see and read more and more articles on the Linux phenomena. Europeans have in general a more open mind to open-source and new tech, if you dont belive me google it :)
You can read about different government changing entire systems like the french police for example.
Myself tried it out and got stuck to it because of the easy way of configuring anything I wanted. But of course it was totally new to me at the time. I like to look at the world with open eyes, anything could be possible so why not try it out, if I dont like I try something else.
I get the feeling that many people expect a "PC" to be Windows just because thats what your computer comes loaded with unless you build it yourself or buy a Mac.
The funny thing is that a Mac and a Linux system isnt that different so I cant see the problem for the writer in this article...
When I was a student I couldnt afford to buy the Spice and CAD software that was used i my school so a fellow student gave me a cd with linux and then I found lots of programs that would ruin any ones economy totally open and free to use.
I still see a point in the article even though I dont agree, that the average "Joe" is used to work in a Windows based way and is not interested in learning something new. Beacause of this I understand that people return their Linux Notebooks.
My wife hate computers and she hate Windows because of a system faliure that ruined all of her pictures of the birth of our baby, so today she uses Linux and she has never complained of lack of "avarage Joe" programs. She never lets me show her anything so she found out for herself how to use Linux, if she could do it anyone else could aswell I suppose.
Read this list please of software that is equal to thoose in Windows and free to download and use.
IE - Firefox or Opera
MS Office - Open Office
Itunes - Rythmbox or Songbird (yes Ipods are unofficially supported by Linux...)
So no I can not agree with the writer of this article but I think its a problem of knowledge and will to look out of the box.
And Its a problem that the sellers tell people to use their Notebooks as a workstation, it is NOT anything else then a SURF station. Small harddrives and low performence for a smaller size dedicated for simple tasks.
For that I can not see the problem with them or their use of Linux. If its to hard to learn something new perhaps you should give up the tech stuff and return to farming or something ;)
My final comment is that I have a problem of not finding the programs I run on Linux for Windows :)
Well, I have to agree with the author on past distributions of Linux but disagree irt modern distros. In 2000, RedHat thrashed me soundly with driver problems, the need to mount drives manually, and a host of other things that I have since repressed... but rather than live in fear of Linux, I just waited. I knew developers would make it easier to use if they wanted a greater market share, and they have.
Early in 2007 I purchased a new laptop, an HP dv9000 with a dual 2GHz CPU, 2 gigs of RAM, 160 gigs of mass storage, and Vista. For all that power and space, it didn't run very fast so I did what I had been wanting to do for a while and tried another flavor of Linux... this time it was Ubuntu Feisty Fawn which was released that April. The install was simple and fast, I was able to get everything but the wireless (the nefarious, Linux averse Broadcom) to work and since an ethernet cable provided twice the bandwidth, it didn't really bother me. The rest of it just worked and it took a day of playing to learn the GUI... I'm a Gnomester although I've used KDE and have XFCE (a lighter, less resource intensive GUI) running on an older Pentium IV that has only 256 megs of RAM.
Since Hardy Heron, released a year later, wireless has worked flawlessly due to the driver wrapping being more automated (if that is the correct way to refer to it) and although I still dual boot, my secondary partition isn't XP... it is Xubuntu, tweaked out for gaming. I happen to like Sauerbraten and update it faithfully whenever a new release for Debian based distros is posted.
As for the installation, it is a no-brainer. The only part that should even come close to intimidating you is the partitioning, and if you are not dual booting, just accept the default. At this point in time, after about a year and a half of installing various flavors of Linux on a number of machines, I ALWAYS use the manual partitioning... if you can call clicking, pointing, and typing a few numbers "manual."
So, for those of you put off by the author's fear and message of "run from that scary Linux monster" - pay no attention. If I can learn to use Linux, then you can learn to use Linux, and advance from the Windows v Linux flame war to the battle of the distros (I like openSuse, too, it has a cool opening jingle...) and the battle of the GUIs which is typically between Gnome and KDE. (Blows raspberry at KDE.)
Seriously, I think the author should revisit a modern distro with an open mind and a willingness to learn. His article reads like someone receiving a paycheck from Redmond.
You simply cannot be serious.
Most modern Linux distros are far easier to install than any Microsoft product. (Bear in mind that I make a living on Microsoft platforms.)
Not only are they simple to install, there is a huge compliment of available software for any purpose you could dream of -- the vast majority of which is entirely free of charge. Most distros have some simple method for installing additional software that is as simple as selecting the software and clicking a button to download and install it from a repository on the web.
Furthermore, instead of waiting for weeks for Microsoft security patches that come out AFTER a vulnerability has been discovered and exploited, most Linux distributions offer immediate updates -- and often the system on your computer will alert you to their availability.
Ubuntu, for instance, issues frequent upgrades that are sometimes made available more than once A DAY.
A novice user should have no problem using most Linux distros right "out of the box." There is no reason at all to do anything from a command line any more than there is a reason to do it in Windows -- which does still allow you that option. As for the "techno-savvy", we like the ability to dig deep into the guts of the OS and make it suit our needs.
The problem with your experience, and that of many other Windows users, is very simple: Linux distributions are not Microsoft Windows. You shouldn't expect them to be.
You guys (leaving the comments complaining that this is inaccurate) are COMPLETELY MISSING THE POINT OF THIS ARTICLE.
The point is that Linux is too widespread version-wise (i.e. even if you use the package manager, you still need to know what you're looking for, and HOW to use the package manager in the first place - this is completely unnecessary on Joe Sixpack's Windows-based machine) and this incompatibility makes it hard for an inexperienced user to know what to use.
Most end-users who want to use their PC to download music, video, etc and use it as a media/internet machine are simply best off with Windows or OSX. THERE IS NO POINT IN USING LINUX IF THIS IS YOUR SOLE PC USE.
What I don't get is why there's such a devotion to Linux in the first place. This article may blow it out of proportion, but its not far off: Linux is a pain in the ass to use even if you know what you are doing.
Why? Because some of the fundamental functions of an operating system are still controlled using ancient methods or methods that are NOT user-friendly.
Linux fan boys say: "so what, you obviously know nothing about computers...blah blah blah"....well, that's the point, you PC-geniuses: the OS has to be user-friendly for the MASSES. Not for computer geeks.
Linux will never become as popular or widely used as Windows or OSX until 3 things happen:
1) Standardization of a Linux version; no red, yellow, blue and purple hats. JUST ONE. or maybe 2: PC vs MAC. whatever.
2) User support that doesn't require that you already know how to use the product, thus circumventing the "help" aspect. (assume the end user has never used a PC before - could they use linux? no. who can't use HP's touchscreen interface on Vista? only people without fingers or similar appendages. 'nuff said.)
3) User-friendly interface. The package manager is NOT a solution to install issues. It does NOT work for every program. It doesn't tell Joe Sixpack which products to buy @ Best Buy that are compatible with his all-too-customized Purple Hat Linux Ver. 126.96.36.199.1 beta 8 Rev 2...blah blah...
Lastly, Linux is just unnecessary for most people. If you don't know WHY you'd ever need Linux, you probably don't.
OK, I completely agree with this article. First, you cannot equate Linux with a specific release of Windows (or Mac OS), you have to specify the 'distro' that you are using. I have tried Ubuntu on my computer, loading it so the machine was dual boot. Yes, easy intall, very easy. But it has at least as many updates as my Vista. And after all was loaded and running I timed it. It was only about 3 seconds faster to boot. And the software had some missing features that I had come to rely on. Then I wanted to change to a wireless 'N' adapter. Can you spell death knell? No hope unless I started fooling around with command line stuff and doing hours of research to get the right one.
I read a line from a linux fanboy. "Real men code by hand". Me, I'm just a panty waist who wants a computer to do what I ask of it, when I ask it. And the OS that allows that sure ain't Ubuntu...for now.
who needs Linux? me!
A little tale about David Vs Goliath
(first - sorry for my limited english)
2 weeks ago, I had a job of saving the content of 2 HD from an old dismantled PC that nobody used or cared for years. I took out both HD and put one in a HD USB container box, hoping I could read it through my XP HOME Dell desktop. XP did his thing when I plugged in the USB box but then... no drive letter assigned, nothing. I tried the same thing on my XP PRO laptop: same negative result. I tried the second hd: niet! I tried some more stuff with the hd jumpers, still noting.
Finally I thought why not try to plug the hd container box in my ubuntu eeepc... well, i should have done that first: I could see the content of both hd no problem and transfer it through my home network.
Why did it not work on XP? Why did it work with Ubuntu? I just don't know... but the main thing is that I could get the job done.
I'm an IT professional working with Microsoft product since DOS 4.0 and I consider windows xp as good OS (don't talk about Vista I hate it). That said, over the years I explored 10s of OS included the short lived but great BeOS and many linux distro.
Who need linux?
1) Someone who don't like monopoly.
2) Curious persons that like to go out of main stream.
3) Technically incline persons that like the idea of opensource and to participate to it.
His linux there to stick?
Surely and web apps are not an impediment to that on the contrary as those only require a browser an Java. Switching from IE to Firefox is an eazy one, in fact around the world 20% users have already done the switch.
Ubuntu is as easy to to as windows. As an IT supporting windows users, I can tell you that most call I receive are not real problems but ignorance of end users. The only reason windwows persist i because it is main stream and most peoples fills more confortable staying main stream.
But things are changing slowly and in a few years the market share of linux will surpass that of MacOS X.
if you know how to read and google you can use a linux based system. simple as that
zeecher's response is moronic and moreso the reason why normal people don't adopt Linux.
If you know how to read and google you can build and maintain your own car. Simple as that.
Ok, for some, this may be true. Think car mechanics will be replaced by these reading and googling people anytime soon?
I'm a computer scientist and I agree with the author. Linux is a hobby. Not a real operating system for normal people. Even I only use it when I absolutely have to.
Linux is not hard to learn to use. My 87 year old father learned to use Linux and liked it better than Windows. Linux is not Windows Linux anymore than Mac is Windows Mac. I found switching from Windows to Linux to be easier than I found switching briefly to a Mac I had been loaned when I had hardware problems. That doesn't make the Mac interface bad.
There is a tone among the respondents that Windows is the standard and Linux must live up to the standard. Wake up. Windows is a far from perfect standard. Windows users simply accept with little thought the problems they have with Windows: lack of support - unless you are a mega business; lack of security; viruses, trogin horses and spyware that slows machines to nearly a halt; and a bloated Vista OS that requires half the processor power of a dual processor computer while the other half does the work you need your computer to do. Vista is too bloated to run on an Eee. Even Windows PC magazines damn Vista as a terrible OS.
Nor is Linux perfect. When I adopted Linux I thought mounting and unmounting drives was a very good idea and not difficult for even this computer retard to manage. But in 2001 hardware driver problems were a real issue. I simply accepted that I would have to make sure any equipment I bought had Linux drivers before I bought it. Now Linux has no more driver problems than Vista has, but that means there are still problems. And there are other problems as well. Far fewer though, than the problems encountered in the Windows world. I say this because, though I am not a geek, I do hang out with geeks who make their livings as system admins. Windows is their cash cow. Repeat customers. One of these geeks encourages people to try Linux. Those who do stop being repeat customers and he only hears from them when they buy a new computer.
Another problem with Linux is that most people use Windows and save their data in proprietary formats rather than Open Standard formats. For the most part Linux programs deal with these formats seamlessly, but to share your data with people in the Windows world you have to save your data to formats their programs can handle because their programs are less flexible than your programs are.
The numerous Linux distributions (flavors, like flavors of icecream, what flavor do you prefer) and the wide variety of choices in user aps is NOT a problem, though several respondents have referred to it as a problem. This is what gives Linux its strength, utility, and rapid innovation. However, I empathize with being overwhelmed by reading names of programs you have no clue about about. I went through it when things were even more obscure, but I didn't have to choose from ignorance. Back in 2001 I simply chose the standard installation rather than the custom installation. Today Linux programs are better known and as mentioned above, some notable ones are available to Windows and Mac users. If you are fearful of all this choice, simply choose the most popular Linux flavor, currently Ubuntu, and you will have a complete desktop with solid easily usable user aps to do all the tasks you are used to doing with a computer. From this stable beginning you will be able to explore and decide whether you like the standard Ubuntu installation or prefer this or that other program to do this or that task. Googling will not just get you support but allow you to find out what other people like and do not like about various programs, and you will come to form your own opinions about which programs suit you best.
So what problems do you want to deal with?
I chose the problems I would encounter in the Linux world because I would not click "I agree" to the XP end user license agreement. I had had problems with Windows before I switched and I had problems with Linux after I switched. Just different problems. You will find it to be the same today. I would not give up the Freedom and choice I have in the Linux world for anything the Windows world has to offer me, and I will never again put up with the viruses, trogan horses, spyware, and security problems of the Windows world. Again, what problems do you want to live with?
First off I have to say well written but contains some factual errors about Linux. I made the switch to Ubuntu Linux about 6 months ago. I am fairly computer savvy but by no means a "geek" or a "techie". I ordered all my hardware from Tiger Direct and built my machine. After about 3 months of Windows Vista Home Premium I found all the usual bloatware and slowdowns of my system over time unacceptable to me. So I remembered my failed attempt at Ubuntu in the past and gave it another try. This time all went well and I have to say that for me I will never go back to Windows. Installation and setup was a breeze. Installing and downloading programs (many at once too) only takes a few mouse clicks. I don't have to worry about adware, spyware, virus or trojans any longer, the only reason I antivirus software is so I don't infect my Windows using friends. Admittedly there is a learning curve but the Linux community forums and official documentation got me thru any rough spots quickly and efficiently. BUT LET IT BE KNOWN: Linux is not Windows so if you aren't ready to learn some new things then you won't like Linux. How's this for performance: Vista hogged 32% of my 4GB RAM just to run Vista alone. When In Ubuntu only 353 MB of my 4GB RAM are used to run Ubuntu. The bottom line is Linux is not for everyone, but for those willing to learn with the help of the community and documentation there is a whole different OS out there for you. The best it is free- not just as in free beer, but also you are free to use the OS and all software as you like and on as many machines as you like. That's why there are 48 flavors of ice cream, so I can be happy with chocolate while at the same time you and everyone else can choose their flavor and be happy too. The only time I use Windows now is when in work, and that's because I have no choice.
Linux is not out to compete with Windows or OSX. Actually it doesn't matter how many people use it or how much of a market share it has. These are not the reasons it exists. As far as getting the PC to do what i want when i want I find Linux is just as good if not better at that. I have gone over 6 months without having to reinstall Linux. That never happened with any version of Windows, they all inevitably slow down immensely over time or Blue screen of death in your face. As a Linux user I am not out to convince anyone of anything, but when people misrepresent the facts about Linux I will speak up. The fact is that each person has the right to choose which OS they want to use and not be attacked for it. So if you like Windows go ahead and keep using it, that is not a threat to me. You see Linux is not a commercial for profit adventure therefore it doesn't matter how many people use it.
In my personal opinion, you can say anyone can use Linux. It is not the most difficult to use or learn. Even though not everyone has the time to do this after being accustomed to using Windows for so long. The change involved is large, and depending on what you do or use decides whether or not Linux is practical for you. So I would just focus on practicality. This article kind of states that Linux may not be ready yet for everyone which I can agree with.
Being someone who uses Linux I can tell you about a few problems normal Joes would encounter all the time. With hardware you can be affected by something not being supported, who is to tell Joe what proper hardware to buy?. Vendors need to adopt standards for this, imagine a sticker on a box letting you know that the product has an open source driver. Even if it doesn't but is able to work in Linux can they somehow make note of it?. Joes don't know what works in Linux and alot of vendors don't even produce a driver anyhow, leaving you to find a driver on your own which may or may not exist for a piece of hardware (printer, scanner, All in-one, webcams - you name it) that you may have a practical use for. Of course by luck you find a driver and it becomes harder to install then just a package you click, Joe could have trouble. More vendors should work at this.
Even though Linux has alternative software to mostly everything, not every distribution has integrated everything smoothly. Some programs you may need to use could involve harder steps. Distros try to maintain their own separate packages for everything. It could get simpler if we unified the way programs are installed, instead of having different packages depending on what version of Linux you have. This goes back to the hardware issue I mentioned earlier where you may be out of luck finding a premade package made to install on your specific version of Linux.
Other than that you can find rare instances where you may even need to use windows or something from it, almost being completely unavoidable. For example a Sandisk Cruzer Profile, is a USB stick with a fingerprint reader for security needs to be accessed using Internet Explorer. If you go to school, sometimes websites they use are written for Internet Explorer and may break trying to use another browser, or the only plugin written for something is for Internet Explorer.
- Your business could use special VPN software that may not have a Linux counterpart, I couldn't imagine a solution for that other than installing windows itself or running it in Virtualization/Emulation. Joe might have a hard time with that and some software products are commercial and costing money (Crossover Office or the likes). In order to adopt Linux we need to embrace it and be willing to accept it all around, along with all the vendors, programmers, developers and manufacturers.
This spring I put together a computer out of spare parts kicking around in my basement. I installed Ubuntu just to see what it would be like. In many ways I am happy with this computer, although I have had some difficulty. I was very surprised with how much this article got wrong, though.
Ubuntu is ridiculously easy to install. It comes with all the basic software you will need. Installing new software (and uninstalling it) is also ridiculously easy to do, and I don't worry about slowing down my system with obsolete registry files or spyware. Adding new hardware is also fantastically easy. That's the good news, and should be very front and centre in this article.
Problems I've had: wireless networking. Logging in to my secure wireless network has been a nightmare, and I've given up. I now just steal my neighbor's unsecured signal. Trying to get support online DOES have the problems outlined in this article. Those providing advise use unfamiliar technical jargon, and the solutions generally involve typing in commands that can be scary to a non-techie, or even someone like me who is atleast partially techie enough to try to build a computer with spare parts.
The other frustration I've had is with trying to run Windows games on this system. I understand that the Windows Emulators (Wine & Cedega) are better than they used to be, but unfortunately they aren't quite where they need to be yet.
Overall, however, I like the premise of an open-source operating system, and I believe that the major commercial barriers will be fixed within the next 12-18 months. After that, I'd like to see software (game) companies porting over to native Linux versions. Given that the PS3 uses Linux, that might be even closer.
As a gamer I am forced to use windows. Windows is one of the worst OSs I have ever used. The instalation is not streamlined at all and it is garentied to fail eventually. The bigest thing with windows is viruses spywair etc. I have had to re install windows (XP) 9 or 10 times. No antivirus can protect your computer completely. Conecting your windows PC to the internet is always a risk. Linux has no problem with hackers viruses and other internet hazards. If more companies made their games compatible with Mac and Linux I would abandon windows and it's acociated stress in a heartbeet. Plus I am sick of micro$oft's B.S. like DX10 for vista only, crazy ammounts of copy protection that hackers will bypass in hours and cause inconvience to the user and all the softwair bagage that slows it down. If companies supported Linux Switching over would be worth the learning curve.
I just want PopSci to take a minute and realize the kind of response they got here. A lot of Linux fans.
Windows app install is really straight forward, as long as you know what website is hosting your installer, and how to navigate to it.
If all you know is "I need a program that can edit videos" you're going to have to Google it, then spend hours (possibly less, if you're a Gooru) to find a suitable free editor.
In ubuntu you run Add Software, do a search for "Video Editor" , choose the program with the highest rating, and hit Install.
Even if you do everything online you still need an OS on your computer. MS hasn't given up on Windows -- they are trying to control the internet with Silverlight and Internet Explorer-only webpages. Wherever they go, though, Linux will meet them.
Common knowledge is working for Linux. Server buying decisions aren't being made by know-nothings like they were in MS hayday. You can't pull the wool over everyone's eyes anymore, when it comes to technology.
Where Mac survived by making deals with schools, Linux is creeping in. Now Macs can stand alone, but it won't be too long before many people are exposed to Linux, and they'll begin a slow growth, I believe taking over eventually.
I am a pc user. I've used Windows all my life. I tried to use Linux for about 10 days. HATED IT!!!! I couldn't install anything on it. sure I could play music, videos and download apps for it, but I couldn't play my video games on it. No STAR WARS! SO what good is a computer that can't play games. I tried to learn how to use it properly but I don't have time. I put my windows back on and was playing again. PS. The ups about Linux is that it's free. Well, so is windows XP! Genuiuses! There is a way to get windows XP for free on your machine. If you know what i mean. It's called hacking. which granted, is a lot easier to learn than Linux.
I really, really don't understand all the discussions about operating systems. I've used Windows all my computing life from 95, 98 to XP and have never had any problems with viruses, malware, adware, etc.
I never "use" Windows but the programs that use Windows to run. Period. Months go by and I don't see anything on my computer that remotely looks like something "Windows".
So Windows for me is just something I know that's on my machine but I really don't care. I never use the things under "Accesories" like Calculator, Paint, Wordpad, Games, etc. etc. I'm an Industrial Designer so you'll get the drift about the kind of software I use and it has definitely not anything to do with Apple, Windows, Linux or other Joe Smith-stuff.
Funny; I don't find Linux difficult to use or applications hard to install. Others have commented on this above, so I need not revisit that.
I will say that I've been using Linux (Fedora) exclusively on my PC since August of 2003, and I will NOT be going back to Microsoft.
I am part of a forum - http://forums.delphiforums.com/crossborn/start - that welcomes newbies and expects zero understanding to get started. All we ask that the newbie provide is patience and a willingness to learn.
Wait.. so you say that desktop applications are going the way of the browser, yet installing applications is the toughest thing about Linux. So, that doesn't favor Linux how? I have yet to see a Linux distro intended for use in a desktop that didn't come with a browser.. Let's get this straight: in the future, rather than getting a free OS with Firefox for accessing one's applications, consumers are going to buy Windows or OS X to use a free browser to access their applications? Right..
What IDIOT can't find programs to install on linux?!?!!?!? Go to the package manager, or add remove programs and you will find a googolplex of free and awesome software. I'm a dual booter, because I like certain games that won't run under Ubuntu, but I find that I am booting into my windows partition less and less. 15 days last count. Popsci has got it all wrong! It has really degraded my opinion of the technological attitude of article editors. Anyone with half of their cerebral cortex missing can install Ubuntu and like it better than windows! Getting the completely awesome compiz effects is a different matter, but not too difficult for me.
Hi(am a user of Ubuntu Desktop & Server 8.10)!: I switched to Linux in hope of finding an OS that would be less demanding on computer resources & more versatile. Indeed, Linux is the answer for me! However, I have to agree with some of the posts I perused, and, quite correctly; one has to be a bit of a computer geek to use Linux. As well: be prepared to invest some time to the learning curve (Remember when you first started using Windows?). It took me about a week to finish tweaking the Desktop version I am now using on my laptop. My server has never been easier to maintain than now... YES: Linux is fun to use, it is definitely faster surfing the web and executing programs, no security problems, a true multi-tasking OS (I have had up to 10 programs running simultaneously and no glitches); and yes again, it's all FREE! I could go into the myriad problems I have had with Windows OSs, but you already know them! No problems with Linux so far other than LEARNING ones. Thanks for your time...ammofreak (just started posting on Ubuntu Forum)
Hi: with regard to SpeedyB's article, I am in the same boat! I love online gaming and have no choice but to do the dual boot method. Am hoping some brilliant Linux programmers will write the software to please the gaming audience. I personally would like to use Linux 100%......cheers
I have used Linux (Ubuntu) for 1.5 years. All the negative problems mentioned above are false and problem caused because if the users unwillingness to spend more than 10 seconds looking for the button thats right there. The only problems I have encountered with Linux ARE NOT Linux's problem. They are the people who make the hardware's. Companies rarely make drivers for Linux. Linux has done fantastic at coming up with their own drivers, but this could be improved if the manufacturer did it's part. The other problems I have had are because of my fooling around changing things not knowing what I'm doing. And yes all your mainstream programs aren't going to work, and your games don't work, but guess what, it's not Linux's fault, It's the software developers. If you absolutely need a windows app, use and emulator like wine. Chances are that your windows app will run FASTER in linux than in windows.
Bottom Line, linux will top windows anyday, but in order to get it to work perfectly, manufacturers and software developers are going to have to do there part. They will be forced to because linux WILL absolutely take over the computing world.
And if your looking for some eye catchers, 10 minutes setting up will get you 20 minutes of playing with it's amazingness.