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Breaking Down Barriers to Linux Desktop Adoption 821

Jane Walker writes to tell us that in a recent interview with Jono Bacon takes a look at why some of the reasons people give for not switching to Linux might not stand up under closer scrutiny. From the article: "For example, they fault Linux OpenOffice desktops for not having all the features in Microsoft Windows Office, even though few actually use all of the Microsoft stuff. So, in essence, they're saying they want desktops cluttered with unnecessary features."
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Breaking Down Barriers to Linux Desktop Adoption

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  • "So, in essence, they're saying they want desktops cluttered with unnecessary features."

    I think, that in essence they honestly just want to justify the decision they make. It's harder to go out on a limb and go open source if you are the person making decisions. The old addage that "Nobody was ever fired for going Microsoft" is still correct, it's still correct as ever.

    • For example, they fault Linux OpenOffice desktops for not having all the features in Microsoft Windows Office, even though few actually use all of the Microsoft stuff.

      I was was ever going to make that point, it wouldn't be because I want "desktops cluttered with unnecessary features".

      It might have something to do with the fact that when I need to use some random feature of MS Office, it's there.

      I checked out the new AbiWord yesterday because it has a grammar check.
      Well... the grammar check still isn't ready

      • Agreed. And how long is it going to take for "the open source community" to come up with a reasonable alternative to Visio? Oh, sure, there are drawing tools out there (i.e. Inkscape) and the infant Dia project, but, in these days of OpenOffice being able to read and write Word, Excel and PowerPoint files without a hiccup, where's the app that can open Visio drawings and templates?

        Of course, the Mac development community doesn't have anything, either. :-\
        • Exactly. The trouble is there are too many Liuxers who are so busy being intelligent, they don't listen to user comments like that. When I first started using Linux, I kept asking about a word processor that had macros that would let me redefine margins with keystrokes. Every programmer, developer, or even Linux user (and this was 5-7 years ago) kept saying, "Why would you want that?" with a tone of voice that indicated that if it couldn't be done, why should I care. I'd explain that I was a screenwrit
    • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <{akaimbatman} {at} {}> on Monday February 27, 2006 @06:03PM (#14812054) Homepage Journal
      It's harder to go out on a limb and go open source if you are the person making decisions.

      The real reason why the general public isn't moving to Linux is simple: Nobody wants Linux.

      Now before you string me up by my pinky toes, listen to me for a moment. Consumers don't purchase something they don't want or need. If you go into the store and see a flashlight, you won't pick it up unless you have no flashlight and absolutely NEED one. And even then you'll probably look for the cheapest one that meets your needs. One of those needs may be familiarity. If Brand Y is cheaper than Brand X, but you can't figure out how to turn it on without a manual, you're going to purchase Brand X.

      Now consider for a moment that you're walking by the flashlights and see one that loudly proclaims "No Batteries needed!", "Super Bright Halogen Performance", "Tiny, Palm fitting size!", and "Laser Guided Beam!" Suddenly that flashlight is appealing to your baser instinct of "cool". Even if you don't need a flashlight at the moment, you're going to pick it up, look it over, and perhaps even convince yourself that you need a new flashlight. Then you'll get it home and read the manual to figure out how to turn the blasted thing on. You're then going to share your experience with your friends and family who may catch your enthusiasm and grab one of the new flashlights next time they're in the market. (Consider the fact that ThinkGeek has made an entire market out of "cool" objects that you don't need.)

      Linux appeals to techies who want to try a new OS, but it doesn't universally impress people as being "so cool they need it". Ergo, they don't need it, so they don't get it. (It's really a matter of they don't *want* it, but they think in terms of needs.)

      The same thing happened to Microsoft when they tried to get people to move to Windows. No one wanted the Microsoft Kool-aid. DOS worked just fine, and no one was going to switch to windows unless they had applications that required it to run. (And they usually grumbled about that.)

      Enter Windows 95. Microsoft convinced the public at large that Windows 95 was SO important, that thousands of customers who didn't even have computers lined up to purchase this wonder-product. Sure, they were disappointed when they realized they needed a computer, but the millions of others who already had one, happily installed Windows. (Some even purchased expensive memory or hard drive upgrades just to run Windows 95.) Whether Win95 lived up to the hype or not is a different matter, but consumers were enamored with exploring the new features in this OS. (Almost) All of their old programs ran, and they could run these snazzy new Win95 apps that looked nothing like those ugly old Win3.1 apps. It was a revolution!

      So what does Linux give consumers to make them want it? Cool features that Windows doesn't have? Not really. (At least, none that the consumer sees.) Pretty graphics? Nope. Linux lags behind, often showing ugly text screens. How about "killer apps" that exist nowhere else? Nope. Either they're ported to Windows, or they're just a rip-off of something consumers already have. So what does Linux have that makes the average consumer WANT it?

      Absolutely nothing.

      That's why I suggested technology [] to take Linux far out into the lead. If Linux can get there before Microsoft and Apple, it might actually have something to offer consumers that would make them want it. Otherwise it will continue to lag behind as the red-haired step child of the Desktop world.
  • rejection (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kc0re ( 739168 ) on Monday February 27, 2006 @05:35PM (#14811818) Journal
    People reject OpenOffice and reject even Mac, because they don't know any different. They have been "programmed" to use Microsoft Windows, therefore, until they are told different, they will continue to use Microsoft Windows.

    We can sit around all we want and say stuff like "when people get tired of (malware|viruses|spyware|whateverelse)" they will switch to (Linux|Mac).

    It's just not true. People will switch when they are told to. Nothing else. Until Companies FORCE people to switch, there will be no switching.
    • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Monday February 27, 2006 @05:40PM (#14811858)
      I believe it is because most people are comfortable with being part of the herd.

      90%+ of the desktops out there are Windows. If you have a problem, even if you cannot get it fixed, you'll be among other people who have had problems.

      With Linux, you have to expend effort to find such a group of people.

      What benefit is there for any particular individual to do so?

      So, home users won't migrate until businesses do. And for a business, there are real benefits to migrating to Linux. Which is why more businesses and governments are.
    • Re:rejection (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shaka999 ( 335100 )
      I disagree.

      People will switch when everyone else switches. Yeah, sounds stupid but its true. When you can go to BestBuy and pick up Turbo Tax and a World of Warcraft for Linux then you'll start getting some converts. And running if some 2 bit emulator doesn't count. I'm talking native apps.
    • People reject OpenOffice and reject even Mac, because they don't know any different.

      Yup. I loaded OppenOffice about two years ago, after being told how wonderful it was. Pentium 4 with 512 megs of RAM on a fresh boot.... 60 seconds to load. More disk thrashing than I get when performing a defrag.

      But, I don't know different.

      And no, I would not mind dumping Office... However, I love Outlook because of its highly configurable and programmable scheduling and task assignment capability, and Excel has many feat
  • by jyuter ( 48936 ) <> on Monday February 27, 2006 @05:35PM (#14811821) Homepage Journal
    While he makes some good points about "lethargy" and people not wanting to learn something new from scratch (esp those not techinically savvy), there are some programs which simply will not work on Linux. If you happen to need these programs, you're just not going to switch.

    Let's also not forget hardware issues. Yes, there have been major strides since I first experimented with Red Hat 5.2, but the fact that I couldn't get my non-winmodem or sound card to work under the OS turned me off from using it for some time.

    There gets a point where it's not so much of lethargy as it is a hassle to deal with and *still* not being able to do everything you need/like to do on your computer.
  • So, in essence, they're saying they want desktops cluttered with unnecessary features.

    That's a major difference between Americans and other people in the world:

    we don't care if we need something, we just want it dammit.

  • Even if I never use 'all the features' there is a good chance a client, business partner, or coworker does.

    So some way to make use of that feature may be a business requirement whether I plan on using it or not.

  • Chuckle (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Monday February 27, 2006 @05:36PM (#14811831) Journal
    Breaking down Barriers

    Q: So. Why don't you like Linux?
    A: Well... Office doesn't have features you want.
    Q: Are you a freaking moron? Few actually use all of the Microsoft stuff. So, in essence, you're saying you want desktops cluttered with unnecessary features.

    I can't imagine why Linux zealots have a hard time communicating with the masses.

    (asbestos jockey shorts on)
    • I can't imagine why Linux zealots have a hard time communicating with the masses.

      Yeah, but they've got a server setup.
  • Yeah, and nobody needs a car that can do 0-100 Kph in 4 seconds either. Not to mention that nobody needs a car that can cruise at 250 Kph.

    But they sell anyway, and unneeded features in office software are a world cheaper than hot cars. Hell, MSOfice is cheaper than the monthly insurance on hot cars, and you have a much better chance of talking $EMPLOYER into paying for MSOffice than for a Ferrari.

    • Cheaper until the excel math bug costs your company hundreds of thousands of dollars. Office is garbage. I won't claim that OpenOffice is the answer, mind you, but I stand by that first statement.
  • Arguing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 1point618 ( 919730 )
    that someone is wrong won't make them see the light. Show them what the system can do for them and how easy it is to switch over, and they will. Until then, the arguments against switching might be stupid, but arguments against those are even worse. Many many people and companies use Linux, it is the most used OS in many academic pursuits (I know for a fact Astronomy), and has its great points. But it isn't Windows, and if people are happy with Windows and use it efficiently, even if it's just because they
  • Normal, everyday people are not going to get as excited about Linux as most of the people here. Other than the price, they are simply not interested in the benefits. However most people will pay through the nose for something as long as it "just works". They don't care if it is Windows or Linux. Can they still email? Can they still write Word documents? That is all that matters and Linux seems to be too much of a hassle (and lets be honest, for Average Joe, it is).

    So in order to sell Linux to Average
  • Just because few people use *all* the options doesn't mean that the all of the options aren't used across the entire user base.
  • Desktop Change (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mordors9 ( 665662 ) on Monday February 27, 2006 @05:38PM (#14811843)
    I agree with the article that a large reason that change isn't coming is lethargy. Most people have the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality. So as long as Windows suits their needs, they will think why change. There are also all the costs involved in any kind of change. I also don't think the average home user (outside of geeky types) will ever change to linux as long as Windows is what he is using at work. He doesn't want to worry about changing formats, he wants seemless integration with home and work. Most of the people I know that do use a different OS at home, they use a Mac because they say they can use it without thinking about how it works. Most of us Linux users, use it because we like to know how and why it does what it does.
    • It *IS* broken. In this case though, people are still unwilling to fix it.
    • are such that the lethargy you talk about can be identified as step 1.
      Step 2 would be where the curious users give linux a try (I'm talking curious users, not curious geeks)
      Step 3 would be where some of the curious have liked it and it spreads via word of mouth. Then the less lethargic try Linux out. At each of the above steps, the number of Linux users grows.
      Step 4 is when Lethargic user 1 has a majority of people in his/her cyber communication cirle use Linux and has to think about switching out of necess
  • Back in the day (Score:4, Insightful)

    by waif69 ( 322360 ) on Monday February 27, 2006 @05:38PM (#14811847) Journal
    when windows 3.1 was new, there was a saying that was going around. What sells windows? Three things; applications, applications, applications.
    • I think it is different now though. Linux has thousands of applications and a lot of them are free. I think the biggest draw for me is that I have access to so many free programs. I can actually do what I want on a computer without either spending a fortune or cracking software. I couldn't possibley afford to do everything I can on Linux with a windows machine. Just the programming tools alone are worth it, nevermind the free burning tools, the free finance manager, the free layout program, or the free
  • He said it all with this one line, "Unless I can see a big, perceived win that attracts me, I'm not going to change my current system for something else that doesn't really give me a straight-up benefit."
    Windows and Office is good enough for most people. Why is Firefox doing so well? Easy IE isn't good enough. Yes I use Linux for my desktop but for most users what do they gain by going to Linux. For a company what do they gain? Forget about free as in speech as a motivation for a company. They don't care ab
    • Re:Simple answer. (Score:3, Informative)

      by C0rinthian ( 770164 )
      Why is Firefox doing so well? Easy IE isn't good enough.
      Add one thing to this: Ease of switching. Installing firefox and getting up and running with it is trivial. The last time I tried installing *nix, I spent 2 days trying to get working ATI drivers. Eventually gave up and went back to my XP partition. I can't work in 640x480.
  • by gasmonso ( 929871 ) on Monday February 27, 2006 @05:42PM (#14811867) Homepage

    Many people don't switch because the computer they buy already has Windows on it. Whether its from Dell, Gateway, or Best Buy, the computer already comes with Windows and it works. Considering you can buy a pd from Dell for $500 with XP, why would anyone venture to Linux? I'm an of course asking that question as the average computer user. Obviously more tech gurus like Linux, but thats a small percentage of the user base. Windows works ok and already comes on the PC. That's about it. []
    • Actually the commoditization of hardware is *precisely* what is going to drive the adoption of Linux in the long run. The price of Windows wasn't such a big deal back when the computer that you really wanted was $2000, but as the price of a computer continues to drop and the margins on hardware continue to get smaller and smaller eventually hardware manufacturers are going to look at cutting the amount that they spend per machine on software.

      You'll notice that I didn't mention anything about consumers, a

  • I run Red Hat 9 (yea yea, need to upgrade, blah blah) under VMWare when I surf the web or just want to mess around. I _would_ put Linux as my main OS if it had support for games. And yes, I know all about the emulators that are out there that will emulate DirectX9 but they don't run as well under those environments as they do under Windows.

    Drivers are another issue but ehh, whatever.
    • Aye. Games. My feeling also.

      I'd only add that the reason my dad had for not going with Linux was that he could not figure out how to install stuff. Having to use the command-line is a real pain-in-the-patootie for people like my pop. Now, to be fair, my dad was using card-stack programs for years before the PC came around (worked as an accountant at Control Data back in the 60s) and command-line tools for years once the chaplinesque PC hit the desktop, but he's become accustomed to the advances in simplif

  • I think a lot of the problems with OSS stem from one issue, the fact that the developers are very out of touch with the average user. I'll give you an example:

    I have been striving to use all open source or free software on my latest windows machine. I found that winamp had become problemsome for multiple reasons, and that I disliked windows media player 9 for certain reasons as well. So for video playback, I've attempted to use VLC (something I'm still trying to play with). Now, VLC seems all-in-all li

    • Back in my days of my naive youth (1999-2000), I had my hopes that Linux would eventually overtake Windoze on the desktop. It was "almost" there.

      But hobbyists are not the people who are going to do, "Hey, let me drop work on this neat feature that really interests me, that doesn't exist anywhere else, and instead work to dumb down the desktop interface in a manner that would be conducive to stupid users, and write my own device driver for X that the manufacturer is too cheap to do themselves." AND have it
  • Most people I know (including a lot of the office folk where I work) use their Mac or Windows PC 99% of the time for Internet related activities like email and web browsing, and increasingly for streaming media like Internet radio and iTunes. Some do compose text intended for print and when they do could get by with Wordpad or TextEdit for basic font control and text formatting. Excel is still an important tool for some, but fewer all the time, usually just the bean counters now. PowerPoint is simply abused
  • Being a long time linux user, I'd say most zealots (of the linux variety) tend to miss the most important point. People want the "real deal" applications. Despite the fact that it works to an acceptible degree, gimp (as an example) is NOT a suitable replacement for Photoshop. Right or wrong, people learn an application and unless a replacement is a mirror image of the original, they simply aren't interested. If the gimp folks would stop with all the chest beating and make the interface comparable to Photosh
  • ...people think they need MS Office and Photoshop, who actually don't. Amongst others:

    1. It's what "everyone else" uses.
    2. They think they'll someday need those features, and don't want to invest time in other tools.
    3a. For most people, it's already paid for with their computer (not free but "sunk cost").
    3b. For most of the reminder, it is "free as in beer" *cough*
    4. Most people have it preinstalled with the PC they bought, and changing it is inconvieniencing them.
    5. It's easier to blame something you "can'
  • So, in essence, they're saying they want desktops cluttered with unnecessary features."

    I hope this is not the common development mode in Open Source, because it's just arrogant to presume what a user might or might not want to use.

    And so what if these users really want desktops cluttered with unnecessary features? Let's face it, if that's what they want and you couldn't deliver these to them, you have failed.

    Open Source should really do more on marketing (finding out what consumers want) than sales (selling
  • So you're saying you can tell users what they really want? And that currently they're wrong? Oh that will go over real well.
  • "For example, they fault Linux OpenOffice desktops for not having all the features in Microsoft Windows Office, even though few actually use all of the Microsoft stuff. So, in essence, they're saying they want desktops cluttered with unnecessary features."

    Someone needs a wacking with the clue stick. I don't use all the unnecessary features of Microsoft Office. But at some future unspecified point, I may need one of those obscure features. If a client sends me a particular file that uses one of them, or if I
  • The reasons they give are reasons that engineers and other smart people might illogically reject Linux. You need to remember most people don't have a clue. They are not engineers and they probably don't want to know too much about computers. They reject Linux because they bought their computer for $1500 and it came with Windows XP installed and they click the AOL icon to get internet when they bring the box home. Little do they know that they could have put together the box theirselves for about $500 and in
  • ...use Linux as my primary OS: Because documentation is weak, support is nonexistent, and the interfaces--until recently--have not been nearly as intuitive as Windows and Mac OS. The biggest problem is documentation and support. I know dozens of people who have installed Linux, played with it some, and found themselves unable to do what they want to do and unable to find out how. They can't even find out how to get help inside the OS, and the only support they can get is via community forums, which are noto
    • So... you're bitching because it's not exactly like Windows? Why would you want to switch when you already have Windows, then? That's what I've found most people's problem comes down to. They expect to be able to do things in Linux exactly like they do in Windows. The way that Linux does things almost always makes sense. It's just not Windows, and people need to know that before they try using it.
      BTW, every Linux distro I've tried lately has a big help icon on the taskbar. I've always resorted to Goo
  • Bacon takes a look why some of the reasons people give for not switching to Linux might not stand up under closer scrutiny

    Instead of pretending that people don't perceive Linux as a good enough desktop, why not just improve the Linux desktop? I mean, if Linux is usuable to users, then users will start using it. Period. I find the whole "Linux as a desktop is good" skew a bit of a twist on reality. It's like the article (Bacon) wants Linux to be a better desktop system and figures if it covers it

  • With a user's desktop, they don't look at specific features as much as the whole experience. It's a flaw that's been with Linux (and its various desktops) for a while now, and is just beginning to get better: feature-based instead of user-based design.

    Honestly, we all know Linux has all the capabilities (and then some) of Windows and OSX, but still everyone insists on asking, "gee, why isn't everybody and their mother switching? It's FREE for god's sake!!" So why isn't everyone switching?

    I think it's ju

  • i used linux on the desktop for years. i lovezed it. then i got myself a latitude x300. here are some links to getting linux set up nicely on this machine: [] ell-x300/ [] l-latitude-x300/ [] []

    long story short: sweet mary joseph mother of PETE! i guess it serves me right for buying a crazy little dell.
  • There are a few things wrong with that features argument. For one, just because you don't need a feature now, doesn't mean that you won't need it in the future. Secondly, just because you don't need it doesn't mean that someone else won't. Picture this: You're in charge of getting a word processor. You decide to get OpenOffice instead of Word. It doesn't have feature A, but no one uses feature A, so you figure that you can go with OpenOffice. Fast forward 6 months. Your company starts a new project that req
  • I use Linux and OS X almost exclusively, apart from checking web pages in IE, but I have to say that much open source software runs better on Windows than on Linux. I can't fathom why. OpenOffice is an absolute dog on Linux and spreadsheet columns frequently lose their settings. Font rendering is still inferior on Linux, at least with most out-of-the-box distros. Seen that wonderful flaky Courier Knoppix uses by default in dialogue boxes? Hideous. Default fonts in Mozilla/Firefox are appalling on Linux to
  • That's what it comes down to. I mean, look at all the features on your digicam. Or, worse, on your cell. Do you need half of them? No. But would you take a phone/cam that doesn't have those features?

    Appearantly, not even if it's free. Then again, for most people, MS stuff is "free" as well. Stolen, but still...
  • It is user comfort that matters to many. I use Linux almost exclusively. That means I use Linux at work where possible and I use it at home always. I have learned how to do the things I want to do under Linux or I have learned how to wait until I can or I have learned that it takes a bit more work at times to make it happen. (Taking more work is becoming less frequent these days I am happy to say... as of FC5, my laptop's functions will be 100% supported 'out of the box!' It's a very exciting turn for
  • Every time I see one of these articles about "when will Linux be ready for the desktop" or "what can we do to excite people about Linux on the desktop", I just substitute "laptop" for "desktop". Given that some analysts are reporting that a majority of PCs sold are in notebook form factors [], it's important that the user experience be seamless -- and in most cases, it isn't. Folks wanting to know what it will take to make Linux mainstream need look no further than the laptop in front of them.
  • I'm a techie from way back, I hate Microsoft, I dual-boot Linux with Windows now, and I use, Thunderbird, and Firefox even on Windows. But I still find it next to impossible to set up Linux the way I want it. Here are the major problems with 'Desktop Linux' as I see them:
    (1) Lack of drivers. True, this is generally because the manufacturers don't support Linux. So what? Sorry, but it's still a valid argument against Linux. My Canon scanner doesn't work, and there's no driver for my particular
  • by saterdaies ( 842986 ) on Monday February 27, 2006 @06:05PM (#14812077)
    There are logical reasons to reject a Linux/ desktop.

    1) doesn't use .doc as its native format. Yeah, it can open them and save to it, but people don't want to have the hassle of selecting .doc when saving (yes, people are that lazy), worrying about if it looks right saved, etc. They just want it to work and they don't know as much about computers as Slashdot readers. They don't want to have to think.

    2) Linux is different. Anytime there is something different, there is a cost of switching (you have to learn something new which costs you time - time you could use doing something better). Now, if Linux ran 2 million times faster, it would be well worth the effort to learn it since it would greatly increase your productivity. But Linux isn't amazingly better than Windows - I use Linux as my primary OS, but the difference is marginal, not night and day. Plus, there are consumer things (streaming audio and video, flash. . .) that Windows just wins. Yeah, there is a flash plugin for Linux, but it isn't installed with many distros and it isn't as good as the Windows version. Yes, you can get gstreamer to play mp3s and such, but it isn't as good as the Windows equivalent and there are tons of proprietary codecs that it doesn't support and won't support anytime soon. Not to mention the games and other proprietary software that doesn't run on Linux. So, for consumers, Linux often doesn't look like an upgrade because it doesn't do many of the things they are used to computers doing.

    People buy Windows with the expectation that "anything I want can run on Windows". There is a lot of great Linux software out there, but it just isn't the same as being able to head to BestBuy and grab the latest version of Civilization and be playing it that evening. And please don't say things like "Well, there's FreeCiv" or "They could use WINE" because we all know that it isn't the same. Also, please don't say, "they can replace iTunes with Rhythmbox" because they also are not the same.

    The fact is that there are many logical reasons NOT to switch to Linux. Linux is great, but let's not kid ourselves into thinking it beats Windows at every turn. There are many things that Windows does better (whether this is an outcome of market conditions or something inherent, consumers aren't going to care - telling the consumer that proprietary codecs and archaic market conditions are the things to blame for why they can't play their iTunes in Linux or watch a video online isn't going to make those files play any better and consumers don't care, we care but consumers don't).

    Let's live in the real world where we can fight to get rid of the problems in both Linux and the market for operating systems so that we don't have to go around waving our arms saying "Linux Rules" - consumers will know it for themselves.
  • I've been trying out Linux lately by dual-booting with windows. This is a problem I recently ran into: upgrading the video card. I took my old card out, booted into Windows (at 640x480), installed the new drivers, rebooted and Windows was working with my new card. Then I tried booting into Linux, and it just dumps me to a command prompt. No 'new hardware detected' or 'video card config invalid'. I ended up having to reinstall the whole os to get it to work.
  • For example, they fault Linux OpenOffice desktops for not having all the features in Microsoft Windows Office, even though few actually use all of the Microsoft stuff. So, in essence, they're saying they want desktops cluttered with unnecessary features.

    Is this surprising? Many of us find ourselves living in a society that promotes the idea that "more is better". Many people go to restaurants where quantity is promoted over quality. Lots of individuals prefer to buy a large number of cheap goods over severa
  • by ( 782137 ) <joe&joe-baldwin,net> on Monday February 27, 2006 @06:08PM (#14812103) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry to say this, but frankly as far as home desktops are concerned, the battle has been won by Windows. I'm not talking about power users, but just the people who want to do their office work and deal with the minimum of hassle, maybe upgrade their drivers etc but are generally not fussed. The reason for this is that Linux is, from the perspective of end users, needlessly complex, whereas Windows is for the most part easy to use and simple to understand.

    As an example, contrast installing NVIDIA's drivers under Windows and Linux. Under Windows, you download a driver file from NVIDIA's site, run it and then reboot your PC after clicking next a few times. Done. On Linux, however, that process is more like go to NVIDIA's site, download file, kill X (not a very simple task for newbies on distros which have things like GDM and KDM), find the file you downloaded using a terminal, run it and follow the instructions. If you're LUCKY, you won't need to build the kernel module and a prebuilt one is available. For everyone in the world ever, however, you need to futz around with GCC versions and kernel sources and what have you...

    You see, most people would have given up as soon as GDM popped back up. Installing using apt-get or shell scripts or even configure; make; make install doesn't seem very logical to most people, they prefer just going onto a website, downloading a file and double clicking the icon.

    Then there's the software which has numerous features missing. shines as an example of what software should NOT be. I tried running it on a fairly new PC, running WindowMaker on Debian. It was dog slow; menus took seconds to open, rather than being instant as they are on Windows. Just unusable. And it might sound like a small thing to some people, but there's a complete lack of decent MSN Messenger clients for Linux. The closest is Kopete, with Gaim frankly unusable, as Kopete has support for webcams and personal messages while Gaim does not. But still, on both a simple task like changing your nickname, changing your personal message or setting a display picture is a darn sight harder than it really needs to be. Hell, custom emoticon support would be nice. You might scoff at this, but for most teens and even some adults this is an important thing.

    AmaroK is a nice application for Linux, one I do miss while on Windows (I run Win2K as my primary OS). But still, what Linux is missing is a Windows Media Player/iTunes-alike. Something that rips CDs, syncs to iPods, burns CDs and plays music files all in one program. Yes, you may cry, there's Sound Juicer/KAudioCreator and yes, there's Rhythmbox but both of those have very serious flaws. KAudioCreator is, and not to mince words here, a pile of shit. It is a pain in the ass to use, a pain in the ass to configure and a pain in the ass in general. Sound Juicer follows the GNOME philosophy of hiding features from the end user, and so is a pain in the ass to use. Grip, for all its power, has no usability whatsoever. What most people want to do is just open Linux Media Player, insert a CD, click the start rip button, wait 5 minutes and come back to find a load of MP3s. That's it. This is a serious failing on the part of Linux desktops, people like this sort of integrated functioning.

    I'm not going to bother with the arguments about not having MS Office or games, because they're bleeding obvious and have been rehashed many times before. But Linux has a long way to go before it is even remotely as usable as Windows or Mac OS X. It's simply far too complex for the average end user to understand, and the software which most people want and need to use day in day out is woefully inadequate.
    • Grip, for all its power, has no usability whatsoever. What most people want to do is just open Linux Media Player, insert a CD, click the start rip button, wait 5 minutes and come back to find a load of MP3s.

      I do this all the time with Grip (well, to oggs but otherwise); what's the problem you're having?


  • that this article represent why people won't change. It assumes open office suits everyone's needs and is good enough, which just isn't true.

    There is no object analysis of what is holding people back and what the driver would be for people to switch and assumes that everyone else is ignorant and lazy. I know linux and every year try open office and am always disappointed with it. It many ways it is inferior and I prefer to pay MS $100+ than only use open office for free.

    But I must be stupid and lazy.
  • I installed Ubuntu the other day; first time I've loaded up Linux to test out the desktop aspects for a couple of years; I normally work with it at a server level.

    Anyway, I do think things have improved. Pretty much everything "just worked". NIC, Monitor, Video Card, Mouse, Sound card (Really!), SATA disks the lot. The install was very very simple, when I logged in all the updates came down from a local mirror (i'm assuming) at about 800 k/second and within a single reboot I had an entirely up to date syste
  • Before I get called a MS lover, I program on Linux and Windows at work. Windows for embedded programming and Linux for everything else.

    I can think of a bunch of reasons:
    Bad driver support.
    Lack of adoption of automated installation tools.
    Lack of core/common tools easily visible (simple stuff like a file system explorer or search).
    Lack of easy to install software
    Lack of ease when it comes to updating.
    Complex folder naming convention in root folder (bin, boot, dev, etc, home, lib, mnt,usr)

    Its easy for me to do
  • For example, they fault Linux OpenOffice desktops for not having all the features in Microsoft Windows Office, even though few actually use all of the Microsoft stuff. So, in essence, they're saying they want desktops cluttered with unnecessary features.

    What idiocy. It's people like this that hold back OSS. In essence, it's the same old "if only people weren't so stupid they'd all switch over from Windows."

    What doesn't occur to this guy is that Microsoft doesn't sit around thinking of "unnecessary" feat

  • by Reeses ( 5069 ) on Monday February 27, 2006 @06:18PM (#14812206)
    It's a shame that people in the OpenSource community get so easily worked up when people say they want "unneccessary" features. All it tells me is that no one has taken a really good hard look at Office.

    Office alternatives are never going to unseat office until a few things happen:

    1) The ease of use and development of a databse similar to Access is created. I've used a lot of databases, and none of match up feature-wise to Access. Yes, I know, there's more powerful databases out there, and ones that can do X. But none out there use the native Operating Systems widget set to build applications.

    2) The interoperability of the various Office programs is unmatched. The ability to use a custom Database built in Access to pull information from the corporate server, which then uses Word to display reports, and Excel to put the information into usable formats is currently unmatched, and a bigger "unnecessary feature" than OpenSource developers give it credit for.

    3) A long, hard, cold look needs to be taken at Office. As long as people continue to beleive that Word is "just a word processor" and Excel "just a spreadsheet", and Access is some "database throwback to the 90's" then you're never going to make any headways against office. The Win32 API/OLE/ActiveX/Acronym of the Day combo is a much more powerful set of tools than most people give it credit for.

    4) Hardly anyone buys Office for home. Most of them pirate it from work. As long as work drives their usage of Ofiice, it's going to stay entrenched. As long as companies continue to use the "unneccessary" features of Office, nothing else is going to manage to make a dent.
  • People keep saying that the availability of Open Office should break down a big obstacle to Linux adoption. My question is, have these people even used Open Office? The technical staff at my company generally runs Linux, myself included, but I *still* have to boot to Windows to work on a test plan or a requirements doc. The last time I opened one of Product Management's Word created docs in Open Office, it cut about 25 pages out of the middle of it. Open it in OO, 9 pages, open it in Word, 34 pages. Pe
    1. Low level: drivers. For example, there are no free accelerated drivers for the majority of today's video cards, and no Linux drivers for most WLAN cards and laptop modems. If Joe Sixpack buys a USB gadget at BestBuy, plugs it into his Linux PC, and it doesn't work, he will ditch Linux. The more hardware manufacturers keep their specs secret, and the more DRM is creeping into hardware design, the tougher this part will get.
    2. Mid level: plug'n'play, ease of administration. Linux won't be "there" for desktop us
  • Where did you hear that?

    Thats not at all why we're not using Linux across the board at our company. We've used it as a server in the past, but never as a client. We use knoppix to debug hardware and the network but thats about it.

    X's latency was an issue. This was brought up a few times on slashdot with the fanboys yelling and pretending there was no latency issue with X + decent windowmanager. Now both redhat and novell are releasing opengl-based X servers which will fix that issue. Next in the line is bin
  • I have 400 users that really dont seem to have any problems using Linux at all. Im a 100% linux admin, not that good but i manage very well. The thing is, not that many users i know tends their own computers. Using linux is simple, its managing it thats pretty much as hard for your normal user as with Windows. Its not harder by any measurment. I install Windows XP and Linux machines all day long and i find XP much harder to manage than Linux even considering i have extensive training in Windows.

    Whats hard w
  • I already use OpenOffice, Firefox and Thunderbird in Windows XP. I'd love to convert to Linux, but the professional audio and imaging applications are still amateur.

    The Gimp can't touch Photoshop for crucial features (CMYK, Pantone, for starters), and the GUI gives me migraines. Audacity is a decent audio editor -- not as nice as Wavelab, but useable. But there are still no audio content creation tools that can hold a candle to Calkewalk's SONAR. I could go on about Nvu versus Dreamweaver, or Sodipodi ve

  • I'm a technically adept person, so switching to linux wouldn't be a big deal to me. Yet I've still never done so. Sure, I've tried out some distributions on extra systems, but I've never run it as my primary desktop.

    There are a few reasons for wanting to change (expanding my resume, coolness factor, security), but there are far more reasons for not changing:
    • My wife is used to Windows, so I'd have to worry about training her.
    • I've found from my previous linux experiences that KDE feels cluttered and unintui
  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Monday February 27, 2006 @07:12PM (#14812697)
    1) Software. By far the biggest reason not to use Linux on the desktop. It seems that there are always a few MS applications that many users feel they must have. Dual boot systems, running two computers, or using emulators; are all inadequate solutions. I know lots of people who say they would like to use Linux, but then they wouldn't be able to this particular game, or that particular application. I know there are Linux alternatives to a lot of standard PC software, but it only takes one "must have" app to kill the deal.

    2) Hardware. Since Linux only commands about one quarter of 1% of the desktop market, it stands to reason that hardware manufacturers are not overly concerned with making Linux compatible products. Linux will always lag MS in this area. I don't think I have seen Linux drivers included with any PC hardware. It is possible to put together a Linux box that runs all the hardware you need, but it takes a lot of careful planning. With windows, hardware is not an issue, the OS is typically pre-installed, and any PC hardware comes with windows drivers. You can read right on the box which windows versions will work with the peripheral. With Linux you have to look it up, or guess. Even if a driver does exist, you may have to go all the web to find it, you may also have to compile the driver - which most average users don't want to do.

    3) Cost. Practically all PCs come with MS operating systems installed. PC buyers will never get their money back for those operating systems. Which mean Linux is just an additional expense. You may also have to buy an emulator if you want to run your windows apps, or partition magic if you want to dual boot. Yes, OS-less systems do exist, but none of the majors sell them (Dell, Gateway, Compaq/HP, Apple). Most people don't feel comfortable buying Wal-Mart or no-name PCs.

    4) Performance. Without a GUI, Linux is very fast, and will run with minimum hardware. But, once you run KDE or GNOME, Linux performance is much worse than windows. I know there are other trimmed down GUIs, but they don't generally have the functionality of GNOME or KDE, and certainly don't approach the functionality of Windows or MacOS.

    5) Lack of standards. No standard distribution, no standard interface, no standard way to upgrade, no standard installation for OS, or applications, or drivers. Frankly, no standard anything. Those who like to tinker endlessly consider this an advantage. But, the vast majority of desktop users don't want to endlessly tinker.

    6) Support. Your ISP many allow you to use Linux, but don't expect the level of support a windows user would get - not even close. If a peripheral isn't working correctly, don't expect the hardware manufacturer to you if you are running Linux.

    7) Convenience. With MS, the user can purchase a PC, with OS installed at any department store or electronics store. Applications are also easy to find and install. You never have to wonder if a particular peripheral will work with windows. You don't to search all over the web for drivers. You don't even have to install the OS. With windows you just go to CompUSA and pick up what you need.

    8) Relative reliability. Linux advocates like to say that MS systems are too unreliable. That may have been true, with Windows 9x, but 2000 and XP seem reliable enough.

    9) Available free software. Linux advocates also like to point out all the free applications that come with Linux, but there is tons of free software for Windows, including a lot of the same free applications that Linux advocates are so happy about, like OpenOffice.

    10) Ease of use and installation. Linux is getting better, but still lags MS.

    • 1) Software. By far the biggest reason not to use Linux on the desktop.

      True enough, although I anticipate this is going to be less of an issue. As more apps move to web based offerings this will go away for most users. Unfortunately there currently are often apps that users want to use that aren't available for Linux - this makes it difficult for the average user to convert. This is one of the biggest reasons, if not the biggest.

      2) Hardware...With windows, hardware is not an issue, the OS is typica
      • "Not true. Linux has very good hardware support for PC hardware. Most of the hardware I've ever tried to use works fine under Linux."

        My experience:

        - My very standard HP Laserjet Series II has never worked with Linux. No problem with any version of windows, or MS-DOS.

        - Even getting a DVD to really work can be a pain with Linux. Hate to even think about a DVD-RW.

        - Scanners are a pain. Those multi-function printer/copier/scanners, almost never work.

        - About 50% of the USA population still uses dial-up, and you

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?