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Why Desktop Linux Hasn't Taken Off 1264

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-the-flaming-begin dept.
alphadogg writes "It's free, easier to use than ever, IT staffers know it and love it, and it has fewer viruses and Trojans than Windows. So, why hasn't Linux on the desktop taken off? When it comes to desktop Linux, the cost savings turn out to be problematic, there are management issues, and compatibility remains an issue. 'We get a lot more questions about switching to Macs than switching to Linux at this point, even though Macs are more expensive,' one Gartner analyst says."
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Why Desktop Linux Hasn't Taken Off

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  • Way too confusing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crazyjj (2598719) * on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:04PM (#39846823)

    How I am even supposed to begin to recommend Linux for the average user when there are 100 different distros, each with its own quirks and issues? Hell, even I don't have any clue where to begin on which one to recommend. And I sure wouldn't know how to support each one if they had problems.

    At least with Windows, I can say "Use Home Premium at home, Professional at work." Even simpler with Macs. With Linux, I guess I would recommend Ubuntu, but a lot of Linux fans are even starting to bitch about that.

    If you want simple users, make it simple to use. Linux is way too fractured right now for the average user. Get a consensus down to a single home distro, a single business distro, and a few specialized distros and then start from there.

    It would probably also help if you could get Linux users to stop fighting amongst themselves over every little goddamn thing. Outsiders are really turned off by what looks like a bunch of squabbling geeks fighting over their favorite Star Trek series (which we all know is DS9, anyway). Average consumers *do not* like stepping into the middle of a fight which they don't even understand. That's one of the reasons they like Windows and OS X (all the fighting over those is kept behind the scenes, for the most part).

    • by TechCar (2628639) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:05PM (#39846831)
      Also; Quality, easy of use, availability of (commercial) software etc are the better selling points. Frankly, free is one of the shittiest selling points for corporations. The cost of OS licenses is ridiculously small compared to everything else. Hell, employers have to pay almost 100x the price of Windows/Mac license to one employee per month, with taxes and benefits. If things work better with Windows/Mac then it's a no-brainer. With servers the cost are much higher, and Linux been used with them a lot more and has better compability, so it's less of an issue. But even still Linux has only managed to get about half and the other half goes to Windows Server, which admittedly is used more in internal-facing servers.

      "Free" just isn't good selling point for companies. The time you need to waste with Linux costs a lot more than something that just works. Hobbyists might value their time less, but employee hour for a company costs A LOT.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:11PM (#39846935)

        availability of (commercial) software

        this x100 is half the battle; the other half is management of desktops (basically admins having to relearn, which will face resistance).

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:55PM (#39847677)

          In my work environment, it comes down to two words - Microsoft Office. Period. We are a Fortune 100, a mix of Windows PCs and Mac laptops. Centralized management is nice, but the critical thing everyone needs is Microsoft Office. Pay no attention to the fact that MS Office on the Mac is not the same as MS Office on Windows. If Microsoft forked LibreOffice and called it MS Office for Linux, Linux on the desktop would suddenly become a reality.

          • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Monday April 30, 2012 @04:13PM (#39849647) Homepage

            Agreed. Even in our small business (two small locations), I couldn't get away with anything other than Microsoft Office.

            People flip every time I roll out a newer office where a few button locations changed, or Microsoft removed some obscure feature. The employees are so accustomed to it (they really do know the suite inside and out) that they feel like you've tied their hands when anything changes. This is especially true with Outlook.

            Beyond that there's also Creative Suite, but not everyone gets that, so it's less of an issue.

            • Psycology (Score:5, Insightful)

              by phorm (591458) on Monday April 30, 2012 @06:13PM (#39851175) Journal

              I know somewhere that had similar issues.

              So one guy got smart. He started mentioning how old our version of office was etc. The techies followed with the same mutterings.
              After that circulated around, it was announced that we were going to bring in a newer version of Office (nobody said MS Office). By making it sound like an update/upgrade, rather than a newer version, acceptance was greater and everyone actually seemed to like it.

          • by walterbyrd (182728) on Monday April 30, 2012 @04:34PM (#39849929)

            If not MS-Office, then it's Photoshop, or AutoCAD, or some game, or whatever.

            On my home desktop, I don't need any of those apps, so I use Linux, and I consider it a far superior desktop experience in every way.

            • by HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) on Monday April 30, 2012 @05:27PM (#39850531)
              The funny thing is how many people will respond to this with "But OpenOffice! but Gimp! but FreeCAD!" without realizing that even on a Windows or Mac machine, MS Office, Adobe's suite, and AutoCAD absolutely DOMINATE their markets. They have become de facto industry standards, and competing software is only used on the fringe to get access to obscure features, while still interfacing as tightly as possible to the market leaders. Often, people will even use both (as in, Illustrator for most vector work, but Corel Draw for vector work that requires a specific technique to separate spot colors). This is why other software can stay in the game; they offer as much (or nearly so) as the standard software and tack in a few clever features; but they don't try to go heads up against the giant.

              Sorry, but even if a software is actually better, if it's competing with an industry standard, it sure as hell has to conform 100% to that standard in addition to being better. David may have won one time, armed with a sling, but he'd have had an easier time of it overall if he was armed with sandal polish, instead. It's just the way it is in a lot of industries, at least until the sandal-shiner is consistently clever enough to rise as the new dominating force.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2012 @06:18PM (#39851253)

            This article is based on estimates from Gartner. They are both biased and ill informed. From the article:
            __________
            In addition, the free versions of Linux are only supported with free fixes for about a year, says Michael Silver, an analyst with Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner group. "You have to switch to the new version of Linux every year," he says. "Microsoft supports each version of Windows for ten years -- I don't have to pay any more money, and I still get security fixes. Even vendors that do offer extended security fixes for Linux, like Novell or Red Hat, they're going to charge every year for the privilege."
            __________

            The claims made by the analyst are simply false.

            The bottom line is that the desktop form factor is in rapid decline. Tablets and phones are eating away at them. In addition, most stores do not offer Linux preinstalled. The consumer, a mindless sheep, uses whatever is placed in front of them.

            The article is both a non-starter, and old news. What is the premise, other than FUD? Do they really think that Linux users will abandon their cherished operating system because they are at "2%" market share? No, the article is to put pressure on IT shops and software companies to abandon their Linux efforts.

      • Re:Way too confusing (Score:5, Interesting)

        by RanCossack (1138431) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:13PM (#39846969)

        Hobbyists might value their time less, but employee hour for a company costs A LOT.

        I thought a lot of what you said made sense, but -- hobbyists don't value their time less; they just enjoy their hobby. It's different from a company.

      • by sconeu (64226) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:14PM (#39846991) Homepage Journal

        The cost of OS licenses is ridiculously small compared to everything else

        Yes and no. The cost of OS licenses is ridiculously small. The cost of OS and app license *COMPLIANCE*, on the other hand, can be huge *cough*BSA*cough*.

      • by Barbara, not Barbie (721478) <barbara,hudson&gmail,com> on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:15PM (#39847007) Journal

        And then there's the problem of distros breaking on upgrades, and the prevalent WORKS_FOR_ME && WONT_FIX responses towards bugs, the really lousy bug-reporting scheme (I tried it with KDE, my cpu went to 100% and never even loaded the desktop, requiring a reinstall from scratch).

        Then there's the lack of social skills among the "self-anointed." Plus their childish insistence on labeling it GNU/linux (do you call it a Firestone/Mustang)? Or M$. Yes, we see what you did there, and no, after the 5,000th time, it's just stupid.

        Pointing out the problems invariably gets you labeled as a shill, an astroturfer, or worse.

        Pointing out the problems with the GPL - or worse, pointing out that the GPL doesn't even respect the 4 freedoms listed on the home page of the FSF - brings out people who blindly repeat what "everyone who really is a true believer knows."

        It's not a religion or a cult, but you could have fooled me.

        • by SomeKDEUser (1243392) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:36PM (#39847363)

          Bad distro? change distro! Are there too many? No: practically, you have ubuntu, fedora and opensuse. And lots of vocal advocates for tiny distros they and their three friends use. You mostly hear about them, but they don't amount to much (in fact, according to the WP logs, only ubuntu amounts to much).

          Seriously, the GNU/Linux thing died years ago -- you can still tell the old farts by the fact they seem to care, but no one else does.

          Pointing out problems is fine, and believe it or not, even appreciated. However, ranting that "your CPU went to 100% and never even loaded the desktop, requiring a reinstall from scratch" will not make people taking you seriously. Because to know your CPU went to 100%, without the desktop, you clearly know how to change the virtual console and launch top, and yet you were too ignorant to not do something as useless as "reinstalling from scratch".

          So you either are lying outright or are taking rather large short-cuts in your retelling of the problem. Neither of which will get your bugs fixed.

          As for the GPL and the four freedoms, WTF are you talking about ??!

          • Re:Way too confusing (Score:5, Informative)

            by Microlith (54737) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:47PM (#39847529)

            "Barbara, not Barbie" is not here to argue in good faith. Her goal here, primarily, seems to be riling up people who like and enjoy using Linux, and otherwise think the GPL is a good idea.

            For instance, in the last flamebait article I went back and forth with her as she (even now) continues to describe [slashdot.org] a flawed "workaround" that would allow proprietary vendors to violate the GPL in a way that couldn't be defended against. The logic is utterly broken, and seems more focused on hatred of and attempting to undermine the GPL rather than posing a rational argument or real technical flaw.

            The irony of it is that as much as she hates the "cult" she describes, her own attitude and behavior don't paint her in any better light.

            • You mean there is a legal loophole in the GPL, and the hundred of proprietary vendors which would benefit have formed a secret cabal to kill linux in one fell swoop if it were to become too troublesome?

              My. I'll go back to windows, then. The risk is too terrifying.

        • by Benfea (1365845) on Monday April 30, 2012 @02:14PM (#39847963)

          ...I'm afraid it's a valid concern. Not because of anything you said, but because Microsoft really does pay shills to post at places like this and pose as a regular person. It's not just Microsoft either, as this is a very common marketing tactic nowadays. We have no choice but to be skeptical of anyone who says anything positive about a product from a large corporation. That's not to say that all positive comments about products from large corporations are automatically the output of paid shills, but as a community we should be immediately skeptical of such things.

          In a perfect world, corporations would not use this tactic, and thus we could immediately dismiss the "yer a shill" accusations whenever they come up, unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world. We live in this world. Any such positive statements must be treated with skepticism.

          The difference is in the validity of the arguments, and in this case, I happen to agree with yours.

      • by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:15PM (#39847009)

        The issues with Linux have not changed in the past 10 years. It's disappointing that no progress has been made.

        Sure it's easier to install than it used to be, but for most people it's not as simple as putting the disk in and running the installer. You'll end up with devices that don't work and that Joe Average can't troubleshoot.

        Despite the fact that it's become easier, it's still not easy enough for the general public. Compounding this problem, the "Easy" bar has moved significantly further away now that OSX and iOS are becoming the consumer platforms of choice.

        The desktop platform is, for average consumers, on the way out. There's really no need to worry about it now. The resources poured into Linux for desktop PCs would be better spent building a competent, truly private, truly free, easy to install and again, truly free - distro of Android.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Microlith (54737)

          The issues with Linux have not changed in the past 10 years. It's disappointing that no progress has been made.

          Perhaps this is because what you believe to be "issues" are not believed to be by the people doing the work?

          for most people it's not as simple as putting the disk in and running the installer. You'll end up with devices that don't work and that Joe Average can't troubleshoot.

          And when Joe Average has problems with Windows he's equally stuck.

          it's still not easy enough for the general public.

          And the p

          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:37PM (#39847377)

            "Perhaps this is because what you believe to be "issues" are not believed to be by the people doing the work?"

            This disconnect is why Linux, in its current state, will never achieve any foothold on desktop shares.

            • by Microlith (54737) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:41PM (#39847445)

              No, this why you have companies like Canonical. They give structure to a platform that has no uberdictator to decide where it goes.

              Trying to force an entire, wide community of people with diverse needs, opinions, and goals to act as if they were part of a single organization is nigh upon impossible, and trying to suggest that they should do as such is to completely ignore the reality of the situation. A real solution will only happen when that's taken into account.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:26PM (#39847217)

          This is not a fair comparison at all. The average user does not install Windows
          or OS X, it comes pre-installed.

          Heck, installing Linux from scratch on random hardware can be far easier than
          doing the same with either Windows or OS X. Many drivers work right off an install
          disk.

          Comparing apples to apples, stick to assuming users buy their computers with
          Linux pre-installed.

          • by ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:34PM (#39847335)

            If we're comparing Apples to Apples shouldn't we be looking at iOS vs. OSX?

          • Re:Way too confusing (Score:5, Informative)

            by pz (113803) on Monday April 30, 2012 @05:30PM (#39850583) Journal

            Heck, installing Linux from scratch on random hardware can be far easier than
            doing the same with either Windows or OS X

            True, this. Installing Windows XP on a blank system to the point that it's fully updated and has all drivers loaded is a right royal pain in the butt. In my experience, most network interfaces aren't supported by the distribution disc, so I have to plug in my lone and highly valuable Intel card to gain access to the net. Then eons spent downloading the right drivers for that particular motherboard (and a dose of good luck). Then Windows Update, reboot. Update, reboot. Update, reboot, etc. I think I counted 11 reboots once. Uninstall network card. Reboot. Somewhere along the line validate the installation. Avoid Windows Genuine Advantage through all of that, too. Then install favorite anti-virus, answer inane questions about MSIE configuration, install MS Office. Update, update, update. Run AV to check that everything's OK. Defrag disk. Easily most of an afternoon. Maybe versions after XP are better, but I've not touched them, yet.

            Doing the same for Fedora is much, much easier, as it involves one reboot, and a single, if large, update. Maybe an hour total, and far fewer interactions required by the operator.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ebinrock (1877258)
        Exactly, you get what you pay for. And you're right, EMPLOYEES are the single biggest cost to any company. As for me, where the situation is home use and free DOES matter, I decided to switch back to Windows after my little short-lived courtship with Ubuntu Linux, for a number of reasons: * For every little file move or copying of files, I HAD to get root access and type in a command. There was no GUI way to do some things (as far as I know). And there's really no way to correct a typing mistake in com
    • by wjousts (1529427) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:07PM (#39846861)

      It would probably also help if you could get Linux users to stop fighting amongst themselves over every little goddamn thing.

      Checks weather report in hell, nope, not gonna happen today.

    • by wjousts (1529427)
      Agree on the need for less, simpler distros. The problem is that one the greatest strengths of Linux, that if you don't like something about it you can just change it, has led to it biggest problem, that there are hundreds of slightly different flavors that the average outsider can't make head nor tail of. I'd say it's ironic, but some grammar nazi will jump all over me and tell me I'm using it wrong (which I probably am).
      • We had a chance to get Linux On the Desktop in 2006 with Vista "that looked like Windows 7 (to come later) but crashed like Windows 95". So X% of users suffered, y% stayed on XP, Z% went to Mac. Let's just say "no one" (for LARGE values of "no one" in quotes) went to Linux.

        But maybe we're on the edge of an even better chance. We're all being shoved off of XP soon, headlong into Windows 8 Metro. Metro will NOT look anything like Windows. It might not even run a lot of apps so the compatibility advantage wea

        • by sam_paris (919837)
          Sorry to burst your bubble but any app that runs on Windows 7 will also run on Windows 8. It's totally backwards compatible.
    • by dgatwood (11270) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:15PM (#39847015) Journal

      Dude.... DS9 was way too bogged down in politics. TNG FTW.

      Besides, it's not just fragmentation. The fact of the matter is that Linux isn't designed with any sort of binary compatibility in mind, and consumers don't have the patience for trying to learn why compiling the latest Foo application produced some obscure error about C++ symbol availability... or worse.

      This problem came to a head for me when I had to port an app to a newer version of a library to avoid breaking everything else on the system; the library in question was, IIRC, a popular sound library—the sort of library whose existing API should never just suddenly go away and get replaced with a different API. For me, it took all of about fifteen or twenty minutes; for a non-programmer, it would take all of about fifteen or twenty years, all because they couldn't be bothered to include a three-line compatibility shim as part of their new API. And that right there is why Linux will never make it on the desktop as long as the hacker mentality prevails.

      What most consumers want is to know that for the next several years, they'll be able to get new apps without having to upgrade their OS, and that those apps will be simple, drag-and-drop binary blobs that "just work". Anything less than that, and Linux won't go anywhere.

    • Re:Way too confusing (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:16PM (#39847037)

      I just installed Linux Mint Debian Edition. It's 100% compatible with Debian Testing. I run Debian Sid on every linux machine in my house (HTPC, server, sheevaplug, sound server in the basement). I've tried other distros. My girlfriend has Ubuntu and every single update she bitches about how they changed something. First they forced Unity. Then they managed to make unity worse. She's going to give the latest LTS a chance before switching to Mint or back to Windows.

      I wanted to see if I could finally replace my Mac. I'm very, very impressed and think I may finally switch to a Linux "Desktop" (it's my laptop). MATE is excellent with Compiz.

      But the one problem with Linux is what everyone touts as its biggest advantage: The paradox of choice [ted.com]. When I was setting up scale (aka Expose) on Compiz I could drag the speed slider all the way from 0 to 50. What they ment, fuck if I knew until I tested it. And could I really see a difference between 5.3 and 5.5? No. Say "Slow, Medium, Fast". If nothing else hide it behind a "advanced user" dialog.

      A perfect example is the pointer acceleration/speed in the mouse dialog. XP has 10 discrete spots. MATE has infinite. I spent almost 9 hours getting the desktop how I wanted it. The average user doesn't want to do this, but if they DO want to change something how about we not overwhelm them with choices.

      • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:41PM (#39847439)

        It's the year 2012, fix sound.

        Sound doesn't work out of the box. They have the abomination (IMHO) that is PulseAudio so I do an apt-get purge. Suddenly sound works.

        So I go and try to play 2 things at once. [Unless you have ALSA setup a specific way with mixers it won't do it because only one PID gets to talk to hardware at once.] Wow it works. Maybe they started shipping a working ALSA config. I go check /etc/asound.conf. Everything is still set to pulse.

        So I check task manager. Sure enough the pulse server is still cranking away. But by purging all the files it somehow magically started to work. So I re-install it.

        I repeat the test. Somehow mplayer decides it wants to grab ALSA instead of pulse but ALSA then grabs the hardware, so pulse dies and can't communicate to ALSA (which is actually doing the hardware interfacing if I read my workflow correctly). So now I have no sound, again.

        So I try it straight from mplayer specifying the hardware device and it works. Except only in mplayer. So now I'm going to spend another few hours dicking with either the dmix plugin or deciding to give Pulse a 5th chance.

        Fork something or start something from scratch. Something like MATE/GNOME2. And make it 'just work'.

    • Simple: "Use ubuntu." The average user isn't deciding what they will use at work. And who cares about what the Linux fans say? Do you want the average user to be able to use their computer, or do you want to appease the Linux fans? The average user isn't going to hear the arguments. Ubuntu is simple to set up, simple for the average user to keep up to date, they can browse the web and make word-compatible documents and, basically all the things the average user wants to do except watch netflix. They won't N
      • Re:Way too confusing (Score:4, Interesting)

        by arth1 (260657) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:33PM (#39847301) Homepage Journal

        I'm not doubting your story, but that you can draw a a valid conclusion from it.
        Fewer support calls doesn't necessarily mean that something is better - it could also be that it's not as useful or attractive, and that less use means less calls.

        (Linux Desktop user here. It's great for me, but I have no problems seeing that it isn't great for everyone.)

    • by nyctopterus (717502) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:20PM (#39847093) Homepage

      I think you have a point, but I think the biggest problem is that most people just don't see the advantages. Their question will be 'what will Linux let me do that I can't do on Windows/Mac?'--and there isn't a clear answer to that. There will be things they can't do to do: run many popular games and applications, but the benefits are nebulous.

      Answer that question satisfactorily, and I think you'd see some people switch.

    • by dynamo52 (890601) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:21PM (#39847119)

      It would probably also help if you could get Linux users to stop fighting amongst themselves over every little goddamn thing. Outsiders are really turned off by what looks like a bunch of squabbling geeks fighting over their favorite Star Trek series (which we all know is DS9, anyway). Average consumers *do not* like stepping into the middle of a fight which they don't even understand. That's one of the reasons they like Windows and OS X (all the fighting over those is kept behind the scenes, for the most part).

      Not only that but another big turn off is that documentation often tends to be non-existent, incomplete, confusing, or simply wrong then, to make matters worse, when inexperienced users venture into the forums looking for guidance, the replies are usually along the lines of RTFM emphasized with varying degrees of condescension. Very rarely will you find a simple, clear set of instructions on how to perform a specific procedure. New users need hand holding but the Linux community will more often than not just throw them to the wolves.

    • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:26PM (#39847203) Journal

      "...Linux for the average user when there are 100 different distros..."

      There are at most 5-6 distros for the average user. Counting every special single distro is at best ignorantly misinformed. More likely intellectually dishonest or outright FUD.

    • Re:Way too confusing (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sirdude (578412) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:35PM (#39847347)

      I don't know why people are even considering the 95 out of 100 distros that can simply be written off for any number of reasons. There are only a handful of players of worth when it comes to a reliable, user-friendly desktop for average use. These are in no particular order:

      -Ubuntu
      -Kubuntu
      -Mint
      -Fedora
      -Debian
      -SuSE
      -Arch

      The above list can be trimmed down even further if you merge all the Debian derivatives. Everything else > /dev/null.

      If I consider average users to be Mom and Pop types who are basically simply after a browser, spreadsheet and Picasa, I always install Kubuntu. The only hardware issues I face nowadays tend to be related to the webcam and printer. Those are usually solved pretty quickly.

      IMO, the reasons why Desktop Linux has not yet taken off are:

      -Bundling
      -Power users are happy with Windows/Macs and its the power users who advise the average users.
      -Work culture; people stick to known poisons.

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:44PM (#39847495)

      Linux works great for Grandma,
      Linux works great for IT folks.

      Linux sucks in the middle. That is why Linux is Strong in the Server area and in the Mobile Phone area. However lacking in the desktop area.

      The key features for the Middle, that isn't really all that easy in Linux.
      Adding new hardware. Some stuff just works, other stuff is a real big pain. Mac and Windows (due to its popularity mostly) has the hardware vendors supply them with drivers, or when you get the hardware you have an easy to use install for the drivers. Linux you may be able to find the drivers, but you have many versions and you need to do a lot of research to see which one is going to do what you need it to do.

      For example my Wifes Dell Inspiron 9 mini (Netbook) with Ubuntu display 800x600 while the screen native resolution is 1024x600... I cannot use the normal GUI to fix that. The instruction on how to do so, are cryptic and sometimes don't work. while the 800x600 stretched bugs the heck out of me. My Wife doesn't care, so I wont do much to fix it. That is after I spent time to get sound working on it, after an upgrade.

      I am sorry but compared to Windows and OS X, Linux is a Free Desktop OS and it shows. Put it in a server great, put it in a phone just as good. The desktop is the troubled area.

      Part of the issue I think, is they are spending too much time copying what Microsoft does or what Apple does, and the Open Source democratic structure doesn't have a few good people to say it sucks or it is good.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:49PM (#39847573) Homepage Journal

      How I am even supposed to begin to recommend Linux for the average user when there are 100 different distros, each with its own quirks and issues?

      Ignore the distros you're unfamiliar with and recommend ones you are familiar with that you think would match the person you're talking to.

      Although I really see no reason why anyone worries about why Linux hasn't taken off. That's easy -- Windows comes preinstalled on all but Apple machines, and if it ain't broke, why fix it?

      I can see why IT wouldn't, in many cases, want Linux. In the home, however, Linux is far superior to Windows. But Joe Blow has never even heard of Linux, or if he's heard anything at all about it it's a piece of crap hobbled together by a bunch of hippie nerds and you have to use a command line and you can't do half of what you can in Windows, plus you have to be a genius to use it and most hardware has driver issues. False, of course, but that's what Joe's heard, if he has heard of Linux at all.

      When I talk to normal people about Linux, they're incredulous. Don't have to enter a password when you turn it on? And it comes back on with all your programs and apps open just like they were when yoou shut it off? You can leave it running without reboots? Impossible! Everybody knows that when you patch a program you have to reboot the computer!

      Well, you do with Windows. These are only a few Windows annoyances that Linux lacks. Good luck even explaining what an OS is or what Windows does to Joe Blow.

      • Re:Way too confusing (Score:4, Informative)

        by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday April 30, 2012 @03:59PM (#39849429)

        "In the home, however, Linux is far superior to Windows."

        No it isn't, because it fails in a big way with media, meaning sound and video. Windows "just works" when it comes to things like that. Most onboard audio cards are UAA so they don't even need a driver, but quality WDM drivers are available for all audio cards and Windows actually has a functional audio standard and support so once installed all that works great. Likewise, there is a fully functional video acceleration layer in the form of Driect2D/3D with a consistent driver interface for graphics cards to use, and all the providers have drivers that work with it. It provides not only things like 3D graphics, for cards that can handle it, but acceleration of the UI and importantly these days hardware H.264 decoding, which nearly all chips have.

        So what that means is Windows has no problem even on modest hardware playing full screen 1080p Youtube videos. Just install Flash (or use a browser like Chrome that includes it) and go. No issues, it plays at full speed, you can even do video playback while doing other things like sliding the window around and it doesn't miss a beat. You can have a video playing with sound, and music playing from another program and they mix seamlessly.

        Linux? Not so much. You CAN get a Linux system that can do that, well mostly, but getting an arbitrary system to do it is far harder. Linux has all kinds of problem when it comes to audio and video.

        Gets even worse if you start talkign media production. Say Joe Blow has a nice AVCHD camera and wants to make videos to upload to Youtube. Don't say this isn't a "normal user" thing either, the vast quantity of crap on Youtube attests otherwise. Well on Windows it is real easy. It has a built in program (Movie Maker) that can do basics, but you can easily get all sorts of programs like Vegas Movie Studio that do a real good job. It is as simple as plugging in your camera, importing clips, editing, and then having the software upload them to Youtube.

        It might be great for a home user if all they do is check e-mail and surf the web, and if surfing the web doesn't involve too much in the way of video. However you find home users often do a little more, and Linux falls down on it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by interval1066 (668936)

      How I am even supposed to begin to recommend Linux for the average user when there are 100 different distros, each with its own quirks and issues?

      Pick one, and deal with its "issues".

      If you want simple users,

      Prefer sofisticated users, but I get your meaning.

      Linux is way too fractured right now for the average user.

      Disagree. Instructed my sister on how to install it over the phone. She would have called for help with windows as well, so don't go there.

      It would probably also help if you could get Linux users to stop fighting amongst themselves over every little goddamn thing.

      That's not going to happen, and I'm not sure its an issue if you just use one distro. Even so, how exactly does OSS infighting harm you?

  • by gatkinso (15975) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:07PM (#39846869)

    Very powerful, virtually nonexistant for Linux on the desktop.

  • Two Words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thebrieze (1102809) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:08PM (#39846879)
    Microsoft Office
  • by s0litaire (1205168) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:09PM (#39846881)

    simple...

    Games!

    Get the games companies to release Linux version of their big titles (Modern Warfare series, Elder Scrolls series etc... etc...)
    and you'll see more and more Linux desktops!!

    Well that and AMD / Nvidia get around to shipping bug free drivers that is.. ^_~ lol

  • by elykyllek (543092) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:09PM (#39846887) Homepage
    It's an application compatibility issue at the moment. Just about everything I use is browser based these days except photoshop. If I could pay a subscription to something like onlive.com for remote photoshop access, my next laptop wouldn't be a mac.
  • by Microlith (54737) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:11PM (#39846915)

    Why do we keep getting these posts that are deliberately chosen to incite flamewars between pro- and anti-Linux people?

    Do we need to have more unhelpful arguments like the one yesterday when Samzenpus posted a dupe of a response to a dupe from back at the start of the year?

    • "Why do we keep getting these posts that are deliberately chosen to incite flamewars between pro- and anti-Linux people?"

      If the story was trolling, I'd agree, but in this case, it's fact. Desktop Linux hasn't taken off. And a discussion about why is actually productive and could help improve Linux, even if a few people have hurt feelings that something bad was said about their favorite operating system along the way.

      • by Microlith (54737)

        And a discussion about why is actually productive

        The problem is that the discussion has been had many times, and the demand that is always made is that everyone give up what they're doing and go to work on some $unified_platform, with the decisions made by $unknown_dictator as if they were a single corporation. The problem is that unless you find a way to incentivize or inhibit people who disagree with how things are done, you will get differentiation. No one ever offers a solution to the people problem.

      • It's flamebaiting more than trolling.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:11PM (#39846929)

    Maybe we need to plan a "year of the Linux desktop" to get people to migrate...

    • Maybe we need to plan a "year of the Linux desktop" to get people to migrate...

      ... to Apple? Because that's what people want - something that works, not something you have to make a hobby of just to keep running between distro-hops.

  • by Criton (605617) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:14PM (#39846983)
    Most people do not know there is an alternative to windows or that it's as good as windows. Other issues confusion and people trying to fix things that are not broken such as completely redoing gnome in gnome 3 or brain dead things like Unity in Ubuntu which cause Mint to over take it as the most downloaded distro. Android is a good example of what can happen when people are exposed to an alternative OS. It's now the number 1 smart phone OS and Windows phone is more or less a flop.
    • by Locutus (9039) on Monday April 30, 2012 @02:57PM (#39848501)
      It has nothing to do with advertising really but far more to do with the money the large OEM vendors get from Microsoft as part of their "Marketing Program". This money is out side of the licensing costs/deal but still tied to it. Microsoft pays vendors for putting those Windows stickers on the packing boxes, keyboards, and computer chasis along with logo's on the web pages and in the purchase literature. Lots of money.

      And then there are the preloaded software kits companies like Adobe and others have contracts with the OEM's for so time-limited or entry versions of their software is installed on the computer already. The OEM's make money off that too.

      I guess there is a 3rd primary reason too and that is the fact that Microsoft's _people_ will come knock on your door if you start putting Linux on some of your systems. They will smile, sit down with you, as an OEM, and place your existing licensing cost sheet down on the table and then ask if you think shipping Linux systems is really financially worth your while. Smiling, he'll say to think hard about it while tapping his finger on your existing cost sheet for the Windows OS license.

      That's about it so even if customers ask about Linux, the vendors really can't put Linux on the systems unless they are the small fry guys and even then they'll probably talk you into putting it on with a 2nd disk or as a 2nd boot option on the same disk. The big guys can not cut off all that marketing money and reloaded software money when that is where they make their profits from.

      LoB
  • Development Tools? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by darylb (10898) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:19PM (#39847077)

    At work, I write code that has to run on Windows (multiple versions, multiple bitness), Linux x86-64, and Solaris SPARC 64. Maintaining compatibility across multiple versions of Windows and Visual Studio is trivial compared to Linux. Worse, GUI applications have more complex code execution paths that, under Windows, can be debugged without too much pain. On Linux, I cringe every time I have to fix a broken GUI.

    I'm sure there are lots of Linux developers that are smarter than I am, but, really, Microsoft has pushed hard to make the developer tools usable and productive, so much so that they're actually worth the cost. The result is that it's easier to develop more apps faster on their platform.

    Just one opinion.

  • E Pluribus Unity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by XiaoMing (1574363) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:20PM (#39847091)

    IMHO, it's because Ubuntu was really the only distro that had a fighting chance at "mass" adoption (that number is relative, but considering how MacOX was sitting at 9% for an eternity...) with their tri-force of:

    A pretty, and relatively user friendly interface,
    A centralized software update suites that didn't requiring googling what to sudo apt-get for in a console
    And pretty good brand recognition and media attention.

    UNTIL they decided to completely over-indulge their own sense of relevance by forcing the mandatory Unity interface on users with some absolutely retarded idea that they would to do this for the huge wave of tablet adoption they were now going to see, since I'm assuming Desktop users are already totes in the Ubuntu bandwagon?

    I think the real issue isn't that (consumer) Desktop Linux hasn't taken off, but that the people behind the main distro that actually had a fighting chance decided to chop some of the more useful limbs off of it to make it more...fingerable.

    http://www.extremetech.com/computing/102599-ubuntu-14-04-will-be-a-smartphone-and-tablet-os-so-what [extremetech.com]

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:23PM (#39847151) Homepage

    The great opportunity for Linux on the desktop was a decade ago. Back when Windows 95 sucked, Windows XP was late, and Windows 2000 cost several hundred dollars. That's when it could have happened. It didn't.

    There was a second chance when the netbooks came in. But that, too, was botched. For a moment, it looked like the future of computing was a $99 Linux netbook in a bubble pack at WalMart. This terrified the industry. The EeePC Linux was badly broken, especially in the networking area. Microsoft frantically revived XP, and then, with the cooperation of the PC industry, tried to destroy the netbook industry. Companies which also produced PCs were told they'd lose their Microsoft volume discount if they sold a Linux netbook. Hence, the "Asus recommends Windows 7" [asus.com] branding. Similar pressure was applied to dealers. You can buy low cost Linux netbooks from suppliers in Shenzen right now, but try to find one at a US retailer. (The current ASUS EeePC 1001, at $200, which is a quite capable little computer. was supposed to be a Linux machine. It's only available with Windows 7.)

  • by Anon-Admin (443764) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:25PM (#39847189) Homepage Journal

    First, the biggest reason that business does not look at changing is the cost of retooling. Most businesses are soo tied into windows that they can not even consider an alternative. They have thousands of not hundreds of thousands tied up in the windows infrastructure that would, for the most part have to be scrapped and replaced. From communicator, exchange, Antivirus, share point, you name it and if it is a Microsoft product then it is designed to work with windows. I have known several large companies that looked at moving to Linux desktops, once you worked out the cost of retooling, retraining, and the disruption to the end user, it was cost prohibitive.

    Now to home use, I think Linux as a home desktop is far more prevalent that most people think. I know quite a few non-tech people now running linux as a home desktop. I have noticed that almost every software provider has listed in there FAQ "Do you provide a version for Linux?" If it is a frequently asked question then, IMHO, it is far more prevalent than many believe. The issue here is proof, with windows it is sales but buying a Linux desktop is not as easy as going to Walmart and buying a windows one. Top that off with the fact that all systems sold with windows count towards windows numbers even when they are wiped and Linux is installed. So the real question is how many linux desktops are there and what is the best way to identify them. Until those questions are answered we really have no way of knowing how big the population is.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:28PM (#39847241) Journal

    Dekstop Linux hasn't taken off because people don't want a powerful OS that does what they tell it to. They want trinkets that keep them entertained. It's the same reason why McDonalds sells billions of hamburgers a year, why Home Ec is the chief focus of The Learning Channel, and why Kurtzmann and Orci keep getting work. People are stupid, end of story.

  • by andydread (758754) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:28PM (#39847243)
    300+ Ubuntu residential installations and many business desktops/laptops and counting. When I approach an infected Windows computer I suggest a migration from windows to Ubuntu. I charge the same price to clean windows or migrate to Ubuntu. When they realise that they don't have to keep paying me to come back and clean windows again and again they chose to go with the migration to Ubuntu and are quite happy with their choice. Almost every one of them have not heard of Linux until I come along and give them the option.
    • by bbbaldie (935205) on Monday April 30, 2012 @02:06PM (#39847839) Homepage
      My experience too. But first, customers must be qualified:
      • Do they run Quicken or Quickbooks?
      • Do they require Office specifically, or could they get by with any office suite?
      • Do they use any websites which (damn the developers) require IE?
      • Do they need Photoshop?

      If the answer to all four questions is no, then I build their system and provide an hour of training, and then make myself accessible over the phone. I very seldom get any calls afterwards. I do get raves from my customers though. :-)

  • by Sebastopol (189276) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:29PM (#39847263) Homepage

    All of the +ve praise for the Linux desktop comes from... the linux community!

    Try asking non-Linux people what they think of it, and maybe you'll get realistic feedback.

  • Four reasons (Score:5, Informative)

    by Raul654 (453029) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:33PM (#39847321) Homepage

    Here's what I think are the five biggest reasons, in roughly descending order of importance:
    1) Microsoft Office - like it or not, Microsoft Office is by a huge margin the dominant office suite. You have a presentation to give tomorrow? You better make sure it works on that Windows/Office computer that is connected to the overhead projector. Fuck ups in document formatting/compatibility will not be acceptable. Morale of the story: Until an open source program can read and write Microsoft office documents at damn close to 100% fidelity to their windows counterparts, this will be a HUGE obstacle.
    2) Games - Despite repeated predictions of its imminent demise, the PC gaming market should not be underestimated. To some extent, this is a viscous cycle: the Linux community ignores the potential increase in market share from gamers, and software companies ignore the Linux market (because it's too small to be economically viable).
    3) Poor UI choices - Unity. Enough said.
    4) Package installation/management - Let's say a hypothetical windows-to-linux convert wants to install a program. If he's using a distro that uses apt/yum, and if what he wants to install is available in the repositories, and if the distro is configured to use those repositories by default, then he's in pretty good shape. If any of these conditions doesn't hold, then our user is screwed. This is one area where Windows is light years ahead of Linux. If you get a Windows installer and run it, it installs with a minimum of hassle, and you'll never ever be told that your compiler is out-of-date or to use certain compiliation flags or to manually install a dozen dependencies.
    5) Lack of standardization in configuration - It is not helpful to google a problem and get eight different answers depending on which distro you use. Like the poor UI choices, this is largely a self-inflicted wound.

  • by swm (171547) * <swmcd@world.std.com> on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:35PM (#39847339) Homepage

    Ernie Ball ran a company (they make guitar strings).
    One day the BSA shows up, armed marshals in tow, to do an audit.
    They find a few systems out of compliance, and the lawyers negotiate a settlement.
    These thing happen, right? Cost of doing business, right?

    But then the BSA thought, hey, this guy has name recognition.
    He's connected to music; the kids know who he his.
    We'll make an example of him.

    And they did.
    They ran ads that named him as a pirate;
    they got his case on the evening news.

    Mr. Ball took exception to this.
    So he went to his IT people and told them that he wanted Microsoft out of his company in 6 months.
    So they switched to RedHat.
    More into at http://news.cnet.com/2008-1082_3-5065859.html [cnet.com]

    My take-away from this is that Microsoft is running on inertia.
    Not theirs: their customers'.
    Microsoft persists because their customers don't have a compelling reason to switch.
    But given a reason, switching to Linux is no big deal.

    At any point in time,
    most of the world is 6 months from Linux,
    and Microsoft is 6 months from oblivion.

  • by Locutus (9039) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:41PM (#39847449)
    With Windows I know I can just pick Windows Starter if a netbook is needed and the netbook is a 10.1" screen or less. If it's larger then it's called an Ultrabook and that means Windows Home is an option if networking isn't a big deal or connecting to a Windows network. There's Windows Media Edition for all kinds of multimedia fun but the hardware needs to be beefy enough to support it. If the home computer is going to be used for work then I'll need to make sure to upgrade or get the Windows Professional version so it can connect to the network at work. If we get a site license then there's the Windows Enterprise version and that comes with a bunch of client licenses because I need licenses every client when connecting to Microsoft's server software.

    With Windows it's just so easy and with Linux there are just too many choices.

    LoB
  • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:42PM (#39847461) Homepage

    Let's see ... there's four Windows desktops and laptops and one Linux desktop/server in my household in common use.

    But looking at other systems ...

    Three Kindle Fires, running Android (Linux).
    Two original Nooks, running Android (Linux).
    Two smart phones, one running Android (Linux) and one is an iPhone (not Linux.)
    One Boxee Box, running Linux.
    One Chumby alarm clock, running Linux.
    I'm not sure, but the cable company provided DVR might run Linux. (The DirectTV Tivo I had previously certainly did.)

    In my household, it seems that Linux has already won. Just not on the desktop.

  • by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:42PM (#39847469)
    I'm the tech support person for my parents. They are smart people but I know a lot about Linux and I sure as hell am not going to be leaving a desktop Linux machine under their Christmas tree when I consider the support calls that would be coming my way. They love their Mac and supporting them on the Mac is easy. Most computer users are like my parents. They are not passionate geeks like me. Linux is for servers and passionate geeks.
  • by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:44PM (#39847493)

    What is compelling about Windows or OS X or Linux? These days, not much. Operating systems have pretty much become fungible. A corporation is going to pick the platform that runs the necessary software and that their staff can support. Lots of places now let employees choose the platform because often all that's really required is a modern web browser.

    Individuals are going to pick what friends or salespeople recommend. I personally haven't recommended anything other than Apple hardware in the past few years just because if they call me looking for help and I can't solve their issue, they can always take their machine into the Apple store.

    Instead of answering why Linux hasn't succeeded on the desktop, I'd like you to answer why it should? I don't really see anybody actively targeting desktop Linux with the goal of gaining market share. What I see is mostly people scratching their own itch without any regard to what might be useful to a very wide userbase.

  • by hessian (467078) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:51PM (#39847601) Homepage Journal

    Nerds like to fiddle, geeks like to tweak, but the average person does not see the computer as an end in itself. To them it is a tool to be used as a means to achieve other ends, and to that end, it must just work.

    They do not want to spend long time configuring software. When a problem arises, they want a relatively singular solution. They don't want more options, they want better-organized options with good documentation and a support structure, and a clear "there's a right way to do it" hierarchy.

    Linux is a hobbyist's system. Sometimes, it can take a week of hacking to get a soundcard to work. Often, software isn't a matter of being a tool, but a custom library that requires scripting. The normal user is not concerned about this.

    Further, in the grand tradition of communities that sabotage themselves going back to the Amiga and Apple II communities of yore, the Linux community is self-sabotaging. First, it likes to imply a dichotomy between "knowledgeable" users and by implication un-knowledgeable users, when the actual dichotomy is more like hobbyists versus people using the computer for something else. Second, it is downright hostile to users when they make requests for technical help. Finally, it spends most of its energy on "fun" projects and ignores vital upgrades to existing but incomplete projects, including documentation.

    Linux is a great achievement, and my life is better for it, but it has a long way to go to be ready for the desktop. Of course, one company adopting a distro and putting in the work to make it competitive could change all this, but with the community so hostile to anything corporate, I don't see that happening anytime soon.

  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:52PM (#39847623)

    Believe it or not, Linux has an absolutely golden opportunity to deliver a 'better than Windows' experience to consumers it will more than likely miss. some of these issues are application developers fault. Others are Linux itself's fault. A few things:

    - Stop doing Jacked up things to KDE, Gnome, and similar. No more Mandatory themes per distribution. Mandriva does this with ROSA, I had to make an RPM just to replace the ROSA theme.

    - Harmonize RPM and DEB. An RPM be it a Suse RPM, or a Mandriva, or Fedora RPM should generation-ally, be able to be installed on any RPM based system that uses RPM. Same for Deb, although Deb is better than that.

    - Application developers: Target SDL when making games (OpenGL for 3D). Do NOT use the deprecated X11 Video, Joystick, and similar input. Some Linux games still use these conventions which can result in crashes.

    - For Retro Gamers: Linux is in a better emulation position than Windows on a few fronts with a few exceptions: Those being: Atari Jaguar, Sharp X68000, PC-9801. FM Towns/Marty. Fix this, and Linux has absolute supremacy in the legacy hardware emulation realm no 'virtual console' can match.

    Linux has the ability using Wine to take ground and hold ground at all cost against Windows. Wine and Samba are the best example of this. The resilience of the Samba 3.x NT Domain backward compatibility issue has shown that Linux CAN alter Window's behavior. In the Samba realm Samba 3 took NT Domains, and to over come the lack of BDC support, added LDAP and Kerberos that was standard, creating Open Directories with multiple PDCs, forcing Microsoft to maintain backward compatibility far beyond what they wanted.

    Now; with the entrenched position of AD, the same thing can happen again, Samba 4.0 can extend AD by tacking on OpenAFS Cell Clusters, and other things, and overcome AD's technical design limitations in the same way; creating a superior AD experience under Linux.

    Wine stands to one up Windows 7 and XP for game compatibility with 9x. Try and make 9x games and XP games that don't work right hold ground over Windows 7.

    In the new game arena, make sure that Wine can stand it's ground on Steam. make sure new games work Wine even without the creator's consent. If possible, try and get them to run better on Wine.

    Ensure Linux has tools to clean Windows machines. Especially remotely that does not mean reformatting the machine.

    Ensure that Linux can seamlessly run Android products. As with Wine, an Android API translation layer should be availible for Linux.

    Hardware wise: With a Bluetooth Module, you should be able to seemlessly pair any PS3 Controller, Wiimote, and 360 Controller without Human intervention. This does work. But it takes Human intervention. I have to install drivers and an applet, and I have to launch that applet MANUALLY. If I have a Bluetooth module, or the 360 Dongle, it should work, perfectly, with the proper Quadrant lights, the first time. Currently I can make this work, by hand. But I shouldn't have too.

    I have a feeling people will screw this up. They always do.

  • by hey! (33014) on Monday April 30, 2012 @01:59PM (#39847749) Homepage Journal

    ... when it is installed in a flying car.

  • Attention all anti-choice idiots who said "fragmentation":

    GET OUT

  • by whitroth (9367) <whitroth.5-cent@us> on Monday April 30, 2012 @02:06PM (#39847851) Homepage

    Let's start with ignorance: corporate management frequently has no idea you can buy linux support... or that they may already have people in house with that knowledge. And the eternal "no one ever lost their job by recommending IBM, er, Microsoft"

    For home users, the amount of FUD is massive. Just the other week, I happened to hear a public radio talk show, the Kojo Naambi show, who apparently has a weekly computer segment. They had a techie... who when someone texted in to suggest open source software, said that he'd looked at open office, and it had a terrible interface, and that what did you expect for something that was free.

    Terrible interface? In what way? And is it worse than The Ribbon idiocy?

    Home users also have a lot of inertia. How many years do they run the same o/s without even security upgrades? What's going to push them to go buy or install a new o/s? And the stores - buy a new computer without Windows? Huh?

    Which distro? I've worked with a few, and the obvious to me answer is a stable one, NOT a cutting edge one. I *loathe* fedora, for example, and gnome 3 is S0 K3WL F0R K1DZ. Actually *do* something other than play with the eye candy?

    And Ubuntu's descent into k3wl with Unity is a take aim with .45 with both hands, shoot foot. Now shoot other foot. I mean, menus that disappear with a wave like a sheet in the wind? That pop up with an explosion? That's certainly the way it is on a 14 yr old's of my aquaintance....

    OpenSuSE or RHEL or CentOS. Yeah, they may be a few years behind the latestgreatest... but they tend to be very, very stable. They don't have 80 updates this week... and another 20 on Friday. They may not support the hardware that came out this week... but if it came out six months ago, there's a really good chance it's supported.

    Finally, I've had my computer-challanged fiancee on my CentOS box, and she's had as few or fewer problems than she has on the Vista box she has at home (yes, I'm *trying* to get her to go to Win 7, if she *has* to stay in Windows, but there's that $100+ on an o/s to spend....)

    So, what's the issue with "which distro"? Just look at what's used most.

                  mark

  • It sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Monday April 30, 2012 @02:11PM (#39847927) Homepage

    Overall the Linux desktop experience is a shitty experience, it's really as easy as that. And no, I don't mean the lack of games or commercial software, I just mean problems within the Free Software world itself. The complete lack of quality control, inconsistencies, stuff not working properly and so on. It simply looks and feels like what it is: A product cobbled together by thousands of people with little or no agreement on any consistency. It doesn't help that the Free Software world likes to hit the reset button every five years to switch to a new, yet completely incompatible and still completly unfinished desktop expierence.

    Wanna improve things? Get together and define one distribution independed packaging format. And while at it, make it flexible so that it doesn't require root rights to install software, make it easy to share software with it, make it easy to get access to the source and modify it. Then start working on having apps cooperate with each other, give me flexible data import/export everywhere, so that I don't have to manually transfer my podcast subscriptions item by item when I want to switch players. Cleanup /home/ so that everything is in ~/.config/. Enhance the documentation system so that it's trivial to find out what files an application uses and where it stores your data (yeah, strace is great, it's not a replacement for documentation). And so on.

    At this point I don't expet Linux to ever succeed on the desktop. It was a mess 10 years ago and it's still a mess, with very little improvements in the mean time, instead a lot of useless reinvention of the wheel.

  • by quixote9 (999874) on Monday April 30, 2012 @02:23PM (#39848059) Homepage
    I think it was 2007. Linux was taking off all over the place. Governments were talking about adopting open standards. Schools and municipalities were deploying Linux. You could see it really starting to take hold.

    Microsoft's no stupider than everybody else. They could see it, too. And I seem to remember they dropped the price on Windows to $3. (That was on whichever version was old, but still dominant at the time. XP?) Not in the US, but elsewhere, where the danger was highest. Then they also really, really, really pushed to prevent adoption of open standards and, if that wasn't possible, to water those standards down to something that interfered less with their business model.

    And, as far as I can see, they've successfully held back the tide that time.

    Which isn't to say that the problems with Linux people have identified upthread aren't right. They are. Linux does have problems with lack of advertising and sudden holes where important stuff ceases to work. That is very important and something we really need to get our act together about. But the real problems shouldn't blind us to the equally real problems that have nothing to do with Linux itself.
  • by aztektum (170569) on Monday April 30, 2012 @03:42PM (#39849181)

    All the problems people grouse about with Linux on the desktop exist on Mac and Windows. You can find 100 pieces of hardware that won't work out of the box and require tweaking, newer drives, etc. on all of them. You can find another 100 that work on all out of the box.

    Wave a wand so that Linux has 80+ percent of the desktop share instead, and people will bitch about how Windows has the problems they pin on Linux today. "My built in motherboard card didn't work without tweaking/driver." Yeah, I just built a media center PC with new components. I put Windows 7 Ultimate on it, since it will be a Netflix box. I spent ~20 minutes waiting for the OS to install and another 30+ installing drivers and plugins and whatever.

    Most users don't deal with that shit because they buy a laptop from Dell or HP who does it for them. They can do the same with Linux and the user would never know. Except they don't, because MS strong armed them into loading Windows for years and now no one gives a rats ass to use anything else. For them "it just works", when really "it just works" because Dell and HP did the work for them.

    Google has banned Windows internally except in situations where a business critical app requires it; Mac or Linux only otherwise. I know of dozens of small companies that are purely Linux (many of them are not involved in dev or IT) It can be done and done well. It's just buying the licenses and installing it is seen as "easier."

    You know what: until you get beyond a certain point, it is. At one small company, we had 30 Windows users, I made disk images with various software loads and updated them every 6 months. Later, I worked on a huge SCCM deployment project to manage a universities desktop computers (comp labs and offices, ~5/k machines) and it was a fucking nightmare, because Windows is a horrible network OS. Meanwhile, the UNIX team hardly touched their networked machines thanks to a robust and relatively easy to deal with Puppet setup (including various addons).

    Windows is better because it's everywhere and people are use to it and really it works well most of time. Linux is not as ubiquitous, but also can be made to work well most of the time. This argument is rarely based on technical merits and typically devolves into opinion and preference. And Macs are only used by douche bag hipsters :P

  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Monday April 30, 2012 @03:44PM (#39849205) Homepage

    Can we, please, stop posting fake "complaints" and "explanations" that come from Microsoft, and serve no purpose other than FUD-mongering and misdirecting the Linux development?

    Should I remind everyone that Microsoft's settlement terms after (mostly toothless) antitrust lawsuit expired recently, and Microsoft is now free to continue their monopoly-maintenance practices such as "taxing" manufacturers' devices with non-Microsoft OS, without even trying to conceal them?

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