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Why the World Is Not Ready For Linux 861

eldavojohn writes "While many users reading Slashdot embrace Linux, ZDNet is running an article on why the rest of the world isn't ready. One note for Linux developers: 'Stop assuming that everyone using Linux (or who wants to use Linux) is a Linux expert.' While a lot of these topics have been brought up as both stories and comments on Slashdot, this article pretty much sums up why Vista could be absolutely terrible, and people would still believe there is no other option." From the article: "The one area of Linux ownership and use where it becomes apparent that there's an assumption that everyone who uses Linux is an expert is hardware support. Your average user doesn't have the time, the energy or the inclination to deal with uncertainty. Also, they usually only have the one PC to play with. Hardware just has to work. There's a very good reason why Microsoft spends a lot of time on hardware compatibility — it's what people want."
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Why the World Is Not Ready For Linux

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  • by suso ( 153703 ) * on Friday November 03, 2006 @12:22PM (#16703835) Homepage Journal
    I believe in people. Sometimes it is hard to, but for the most part I believe that people can be smart or become smart. They are just not given the oppurtunity to be. Companies like Microsoft usually don't try to allow people be smart, in fact its usually the case that these companies develop a business model based around people being ignorant and lazy. You can tell by how they word their agreements, marketing material and by what they leave out.

    The unix way (besides do one thing and do it well) however is to allow beginners and experts in, and help them leverage themselves so that they can be intelligent and productive in how they work. I don't care if everyone adopts Linux, but I do care if the people who want to work intelligently and are willing to be intelligent are shut out of it. I encounter people all the time who want to learn Linux for the sake of learning it. These are open minded people who want to be smart. Maybe they are smart, maybe they aren't. But honestly that doesn't matter, if they have the will, then Linux will probably work fine for them.

    This comment is not meant to "save the world" or anything so grandious. It is only meant as a retort to jackass e-zine writers who don't have the desire to give it a try and have no faith in the concept of community.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bob Loblaw ( 545027 )
      in fact its usually the case that these companies develop a business model based around people being ignorant and lazy
      No one ever went out of business by assuming people are inherently ignorant and lazy.
      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by tibike77 ( 611880 )
        But most people ARE ignorant and lazy if not COERCED to behave otherwise.
        "Why The World is Not Ready for Linux" ?

        Well, for once, because there's already enough people that can mess up something as simple as a Windows installation, and if you tell them the words "command prompt" they'll look at you and go "what command and why in such a hurry?".
        And because most people with a salary are having massive problems even getting used to the most intuitive and simplest of "new toys"... take for example the "oh noes
        • by IDontAgreeWithYou ( 829067 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @01:09PM (#16704697)
          You might want to step down from the high horse. There is a big difference between someone being lazy, ignorant and downright stupid and having a different set of priorities. Most people want to be able to check their email, surf the web and play a game or two on their computer. Why should they have to put themselves through anymore trouble than they have to? They buy a computer with Windows preinstalled. They buy some readily available Windows software and install it by dropping in the CD and clicking "yes" a couple times. It's easy. Now, for no real reason, you want them to go out and make that process more difficult (whether that difficulty is real or simply perceived). Most people would consider that to be stupid.
          • by DaveAtFraud ( 460127 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @01:31PM (#16705205) Homepage Journal
            A guy who used to work for me described it this way: people want a computing appliance. That is, they want their computer to work like their toaster or, at worst, their microwave oven. They really don't know nor do they care what goes on "inside." They just want to play a game, toast a bagle or nuke some left-overs.

            Every interest has a small subset of people who find the internals fascinating. I usually pick on the example of cars. Most people really don't care about how all of the internals work. They just want to put the key in the ignition, turn it on, and drive. Is it within most people's ability to do a significant amount of their own maintenance? Yes. Do they? No. They have other things to do with their time. The Linux community needs to understand this. Unfortunately, all too many Linux folks would rather engage in a protracted flae-war over some nuanced difference between KDE and Gnome, Red Hat and SuSE and Gentoo and Ubuntu and, .. ad infinitum, Debian and any commercial distribution, etc.

            Oh yeah, I've been using Linux since Red Hat 5.0 in 1998. Its great. I just installed Fedora Core 6 on three different systems (including one laptop) and the installs all went flawlessly. I only had to resort to the command line for some "under the hood" changes that a typical user wouldn't do. Its getting there. It would help if there wasn't so much noise about how terrible such a default installation is from all the bit twiddlers.

        • by Odin_Tiger ( 585113 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @01:27PM (#16705091) Journal
          "oh noes how do I set my VCR clock" syndrome

          Your entire post misses one of the main facts that Linux zealots regularly overlook: [Typical User]: "I do not have the time, nor the inclination, to figure out how to set the clock on my VCR. I don't care. What I do care about is watching this movie. That's it. I just want to watch a goddamned movie. Why do I have to (set my clock / install and configure WINE / use the console / download dependencies / switch to root) in order to (watch my movie / play my video game / change the way a program behaves when it starts / get this stupid thing to execute at all / look at the files in directory XYZ)."
          You're right, it -is- a matter of laziness, but most of the time, it is -not- on the part of the user. There are ways of solving these problems in Linux. I've seen it done. But *nix geeks don't want to solve them; they want to continue to lazily assume that everybody is a Linux expert so that they can say that the usability failures in their software are the user's fault.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drsquare ( 530038 )
          Why do you think you're more intelligent because you spend more time and effort to achieve the same tasks?

          Or perhaps only the super-intelligent understand the need to spend all day configuring devices before using them. Us 'dumb' people think of machines and tools merely as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.
    • it's not a matter of weather or not they can, it's a matter of weather or not they want to, and most people do not see the learning curve as "worth it", and you cannot change most of their minds on the matter.
    • by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @12:28PM (#16703927) Journal
      you assume people have the time to be smart. Which is exactly what most people refuse to give these days.

      People have been brought up to expect everything NOW. If they have to take time to learn it then obviously it's not worth it. That's what us Manics are for. They learn just what they need and then we save the day when they need more.
      • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) * on Friday November 03, 2006 @01:47PM (#16705517) Homepage Journal

        Simply look at the IQ gaussian. No matter if it disturbs your politically correct sense or not, or if you have a quibble with what the "center" means, it still lays out the performance curve of human beings faced with task completion. The more complex the task, the further out to the right you go, and the fewer people you find able to get the job done. And this tells you, straight to your face, that you're not going to get everyone even in the center and upper half into your "tent" until, or unless, you deal with:

        1. Linux isn't linux. Desktops vary, UI's vary, what works varies, features vary
        2. Linux isn't friendly to major commercial apps users want — wrong mindset / licensing
        3. Linux has no standard GUI layer in the OS. Look and feel, consequently, is a mashup
        4. No, everyone is not willing to compile applications. Even if it is "easy."
        5. No, people will not type "apt-get" and deal with whatever happens (or doesn't.)
        6. It has to work with their printer, their camera, their favorite website
        7. Laptops are everywhere. No wifi? Bye bye!
        8. Linux has to support popular trends, such as iTunes. Can't play DRM'd tunes? No sale.
        9. Linux needs games. But games are commercial apps... see point #2
        10. Linux needs documentation that works for non-technical users. Badly!
        11. Oh, and Linux needs software that works for non-technical users, even more so.
        12. My favorite poster child for crazy and zot-worthy UI, RH9/CUPS. I just want to add a printer!
        13. Update: I upgraded CUPS. The RH9 UI no longer works. Yeah, that'll draw customers.
        14. Lacks critical mass: My friends / work-mates know how this works and can help me. Right?
        15. Only works with... The holy cr*p factor: I need to recompile the kernel?? What????
        16. Photoshop. Photoshop. Photoshop. The GIMP... no. Seriously. Just no. Photoshop.
        17. If you can't get Outlook, then you need ALL of its functionality. No way around it.
        18. If you can't get Word, then you need ALL of its functionality. OO isn't there.

        Taken together, I think that most of those points are a direct or secondary consequence of the mindset that pervades linux; without a sea change in that mindset, linux isn't going very far outside its technical user base. IMHO.

        From the point of view of my company, we (I, more to the point, since I run the company) am interested in a linux release of our software but the user base is small, there is no core GUI (we are not going to be stuck debugging people's desktops, widget libraries, etc.) and the licensing terms (GPL and others) are basically a minefield for our IP. We've been "doing" windows since the Windows 3.1, we even did all the windows RISC versions (MIPS, PPC, Alpha) we did the Amiga, we're seriously considering releasing our Mac version. Linux? No. I keep my eye on it in the hopes that a GUI will become a standardized part of the OS (whether or not it obsoletes xwindows and pendant technologies isn't an issue.) That'd probably be enough to get a pilot release out. Mind you, I'm not talking about linux's interest in my product. I think my product can stand on its own — all the better for us if linux users are technical. Our product is many times more complex to use than, for instance, Photoshop. No, I'm talking about my interest in linux. Until or unless linux can look and feel to me like support for it won't be more effort intensive than Windows support, it's a non-starter. A consistent GUI is where that all starts. IMHO. :)

        I am guessing that the thought process at, for instance, Adobe, is similar. Linux does everything it can, it seems to me, to not court commercial developers of heavy GUI applications. But desktops elsewhere (Apple, Windows) are going to more and more GUI. Look at Omni Outliner. Delicious Library. Photoshop. Word. You may not like these apps, but they literally se

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Thansal ( 999464 )
      See, there is the difference. You say that some one has to be "smart", or "willing to be intelligent" to use linux. that is not the case. People have to be relatively intelligent AND have the time to spend on linux. I know many highely intelligen people who just don't have the time/energy to spend teaching themselfs how to setup and use a linux solution. And for these people, there is Windows/MacOS. And that is exactly what the article was getting at, most poeple just don't have the time to spend tech
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jridley ( 9305 )
      You know, maybe people don't WANT to become OS experts. Obviously they don't HAVE to. If you enjoy screwing with an OS, knock yourself out. But the vast majority of people want an appliance that runs apps without having to do anything more than shove the disc in and click "install".

      Are they lazy and ignorant? OK, I guess it's hard to argue that they're not ignorant.

      Are people who don't want to rebuild the transmission on their car just lazy and ignorant? They could do it. Most people could do it, if t
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dun Malg ( 230075 )

      The unix way (besides do one thing and do it well) however is to allow beginners and experts in, and help them leverage themselves so that they can be intelligent and productive in how they work.

      Unfortunately, the way linux/unix helps people "leverage themselves" is by being utterly generic at its core and infinitely and endlessly configurable for anything beyond that. What this means is that there is an unavoidably steep learning curve right up front that bars entry to anyone without the time and/or desir

  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <> on Friday November 03, 2006 @12:23PM (#16703851) Journal

    I've been installing, troubleshooting, setting up Linux boxes since the days of the 75+ floppy disk installs. Back then it was fun, how cool to get a FREE version of Unix on my PC!

    I have probably installed hundreds of Linuxes. In the beginning it was cool, it was fun, and the end result was always worth the effort. Today, while a fully functional Linux box is almost always worth the effort, the blood, sweat, and tears of an install-troubleshoot doesn't come as easily. I've found other Linux "experts" who agree... it's time Linux works out of the box.

    That said, I might disagree a bit with the thesis Linux doesn't work out of the box... I've found especially with distros like Ubuntu Linux has come far to "just working". As I've posted before, on a raw machine I've actually had better installation success with a cold install of Linux over XP.

    But the main point is valid, and I think it extends to the Linux experts. Not only is troubleshooting geek-cool only to geeks, it doesn't bring warm fuzzies to people for whom you introduce to Linux. There's nothing more scary to the general users than seeing gibberish bootup messages complaining about missing or incompatible drivers and hardware when what they want to see is a shiny new GUI with applications they can use right away.

    Linux experts can and still do slough through the pain of perfect Linux installs but the rest of the world isn't impressed. Give them something they can use that works well with everything else. Ultimately it looks like Linux is getting there and may even have a chance of becoming a major desktop... I'm not as pessimistic as the article seems to be.

    In the meantime, good points from the article to win favor for Linux and its future:

    • evangelize, but don't be religious (there's a difference).
    • educate
    • give good support...
    • (mine) don't give Linux to someone for whom it isn't going to make any sense... that's a disservice to your "client" and Linux
    • The issue with Linux is that there just isn't a good, up-to-date hardware database.

      Distributors should try really hard to build an online, wiki-style database of ALL the hardware that a given version of their distribution supports. This should not just be by "chipset" (Atheros, ACX100), but rather, should be by actual box packaged versions of the hardware (D-Link so and so version 2, Linksys so and so versions 3-5, Logitech QuickCam Pro, etc. . .).

      There's nothing wrong with supporting fewer hardware configu
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jimicus ( 737525 )
        This should not just be by "chipset" (Atheros, ACX100), but rather, should be by actual box packaged versions of the hardware (D-Link so and so version 2, Linksys so and so versions 3-5, Logitech QuickCam Pro, etc. . .).

        Except the whole problem is that there's thousands of parts. It's simply not practical to catalogue them all, or even just the ones that work - hence why it has to be a "suck it and see".

        To compound this problem, it is not unknown (indeed, it's relatively common) for two products which do t
      • I was kind of thinking along those lines.

        I think there should be a distro that is configured to each major platform.
        a distro for the IBM T30's, 40's 60's etc.
        A distro for Dells (one for each model, even if largly duplicate) Then all the user needs to do is download the distro for their PC and wham! it works.

        Most users buy a Dell and never change it other than adding a bit of disk on USB. It shouldn't be hard to give them good user experience.
        Besides, Dell has shown a willingness to switch vendors... p
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Shadowmist ( 57488 )
          It's probably why I've had an easier time with Linux than most. The bulk of my Linux time has been spent with YellowDogLinux which is the dominant PowerPC distro put out by Terrasoft. It works on a variety of Power PC platforms but it's original target and probably still the bulk of it's user base was PowerPC Macintosh hardware. Was it as easy as point and click OS X installation? Not quite but pretty close. And it worked for me out of the box practically on every install.
    • My experience has been similar to yours. I found Mandrake and Suse much faster and easier to install than any version of Windows, ever. There are less reboots and fewer questions to answer. On slighly old Dells I've never once had any issues.

      But Linux won't go more mainstream until a major desktop vendor puts together a nice pre-installed distro and has the computers displayed next to the Windows machines at CompUSA and Best Buy. Linux can work perfectly well with most hardware if vendors make distros s
    • by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs AT ajs DOT com> on Friday November 03, 2006 @12:51PM (#16704345) Homepage Journal
      But the main point is valid, and I think it extends to the Linux experts.

      I don't think the main point is valid. Installing and tweeking Windows sucks just as hard as Linux. The thing is, you don't do that. You get it pre-installed on your box by an OEM who did all the work. Then your graphics card comes with drivers that the card manufacturer and the OS company have worked together on to make sure the OS gets the most out of the card. Then, you might download some piece of software, and the vendor of that software has worked with the OS vendor to make sure that it installs cleanly and uses all of the features of the OS.

      Linux is hurting on the desktop side, not becuase it is hard to use, but because there isn't an army of companies working with any OS vendor to make sure that you don't really have to "use" it at all. The situation is improving, though. The number of people who run the most popular games under Wine or Cedega and use Firefox, Thunderbird and OpenOffice natively on Linux is climbing, and as that happens, more and more vendors will be pushing major commercial vendors to provide hooks for the smooth installation and use of their software across platforms. OEMs were more common for Linux desktops in the early 2000s, but they died quickly. That trend will rise again as the user-base begins to grow.

      Oracle and Microsoft's recent moves to compete with Red Hat have lit up the industry, and while most of the action is on the server-side right now, it's going to spill over onto the desktop.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Installing and tweeking Windows sucks just as hard as Linux.

        It's actually worse. Let me share a personal anecdote/epiphany:

        Last week, I finally got around to upgrading from Linux kernel 2.4 to 2.6. After the install, I rebooted, everything came up ok, but the network card wasn't working. I did a little digging, and found out that the name of the driver module had changed from "bcm" to "tg3", so I insmod'ed tg3, network came up, everything was fine. Until I tried to launch an application, that is. If I

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by petabyte ( 238821 )
      I'd have to agree with that. I have been running Linux since I was 16-17ish (I'm now 24) and frankly I'm pretty exhausted with it. I've used Slackware, Debian, Suse, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and Ubunutu and while Ubunutu is pretty close to just "install and go", I still have to jump through hoops and pray that my hardware is supported. When I built my last computer a year and half ago, I seriously considered a MacMini. It probably would have cost as much, offered me all of the opensource applications I
    • I am what most would call a noob to Linux. I fire it up when I need a good stable system that I dont have to look at for a long time. SAMBA, Apache, and a host for my VMware servers are mostly what I use Linux for, I dont spend much time in run level 5. But I spend so much time compiling and making sure everything is just right just to install one program. Anyone ever tried to install VMware on FC5 with a SMB kernel?

      I would never recommend Linux to someone without a technical background. Even with pr

    • I use Ubuntu too. I think as far as hardware just working -- Ubuntu succeeds in that.

      The problem is with the software, as soon as the user needs anything more than browse,read email and write letters they hit the wall with Linux.

      I have a photographer friend who uses Photoshop extensively. When fixing her Windows machine that kept freezing, I decided to make a it a double boot with Ubuntu as the second OS. I added all her bookmarks from Firefox, I made sure she could access her documents, her expensive

  • Hardware just has to work.

    I love it. 227 []

    * * * * *

    A man's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another drink.
    --W.C. Fields

    • Hardware does "just work", but only if the hardware manufacturers provide full specs for the hardware, and not just closed source binary drivers. The fault lies with the hardware companies, not with the Linux developers. Claiming otherwise is just FUD.
  • To a certain extent, I don't care if Linux is warm and fuzzy or not. It's not currently that difficult to set up a Linux system on most hardware. Even compiling and installing a driver or two isn't rocket science. Most distros have helpful communities ready to give new users a hand with their troubleshooting. Is all that work that most people want to do? Hardly. But maybe its better if people have to really want it before they get involved with Linux.
    • Most people don't know what compiling is, nor do they know what drivers are. You might as well tell them to flerb their blerfs and it will be just as useful.

      The real issue is that Microsoft comes preinstalled on nearly every machine in the world because of their monopoly, and hardware vendors try to be compatible because of their monopoly (and sometimes even avoid compatibility with free/open software *because* of the Micropoly.)

      • by Eideewt ( 603267 )
        Perhaps we don't want people without the wherewithal to find out what compiling is. There are some people that might be better off not trying to do advanced things like installing a new OS.

        Microsoft's monopoly is an issue, but vendors do seem to be slowly improving their support for Linux. It remains to be seen how this will all turn out, but I'm optimistic that the situation is getting better.
    • It's not currently that difficult to set up a Linux system on most hardware.

      If anything, it's easier than setting up Windows. Ubuntu takes 1/2 at most to install and comes with office software (OpenOffice) along with lots of other productivity stuff. Not many questions asked during install and no licensing, entry of keys, Web validation or any of that sort of crapola. For the most part, it Just Works.


    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by uradu ( 10768 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @12:40PM (#16704151)
      > Even compiling and installing a driver or two isn't rocket science.

      Holy cow, are you even hearing yourself saying this? Most of the people I know that are not in the computer biz have a hard time just wrapping their mind around the concept of a directory hierarchy and the difference between a file and a folder. And then tell these people to cd into folder x and type "make", and then insmod the compiled module? Or explaining to them why some drivers are in the kernel, while others are installable modules, right after explaining what a kernel is and what it's good for? This attitude is exactly what the original article is addressing.
      • You see this Taco? This is why you need to fix your random number generator so I can get mod points. I want to give uradu all that I would have but can't because of your inaction.

        What you just said is spot on. I joke with people that my dad, a ham radio operator, can hit a satellite 10,000 miles in space but can't figure out how to right-click a mouse. To even begin to explain to him how to compile something or how to mount a cd, or do other things that people who have worked with Linux think is so easy
      • by Eideewt ( 603267 )
        Yes, I am hearing (or seeing, rather) what I'm saying. I'm also hearing myself say, "But maybe its better if people have to really want it before they get involved with Linux." I won't disagree that the need to learn something is a barrier to adoption -- I'm saying that perhaps that barrier is blocking people we don't need or want. Clueless noobs are perhaps not the people to be running their own systems.

        I certainly do think that making Linux easier would be nice -- it's not like I actually enjoy shoehornin
    • by RingDev ( 879105 )
      I'm a senior computer programmer with A+/Net+ certs, years of PC/Server building experience, and a handful of previous Linux/BSD builds.

      My last attempt at using Linux at home failed. I was going with Ubuntu, probably 9 months ago. After 3 weeks with no sound and no hardware graphics acceleration, I gave up and went back to XP. I went through drivers galore, usegroups, IRC, forums, all sorts of places, and I could find no working solution.

      Yeah, it was nice to have a free OS, Gimp, FF, Open Office, and what n
      • by Eideewt ( 603267 )
        And your experience is exceptional. Many people have little to no trouble getting things to work. In other cases it can take some work, but it's possible. I'm very sorry that it didn't "just work", but even if Linux's hardware support and auto-detection were much better than it is, you might still have run into trouble if your system is so screwy. I think that your kind of case is what needs worrying about: people who are willing to do some work/learning to make it work, but who encounter some fatal hardwar
    • "Even compiling and installing a driver or two isn't rocket science."

      And that's why linux isn't succeeding.
    • Actually, I'm in the middle of doing a laptop for someone. The problem is the built in sound. The driver I need was pulled from the driver set 4 updates ago*. Right now I am having library conflicts trying to compile the driver from the old source code. Since I don't do drivers, or C, I am having a wee bit of a problem. Fortunately the owner is willing to wait - otherwise this would be back to Win95.

      *at work now, but IIRC it's an ES-186* driver I need & the driver bundle only carries the ES-188* driv

    • Is all that work that most people want to do? Hardly. But maybe its better if people have to really want it before they get involved with Linux.

      When was the last time you changed your own oil, or changed your own brake pads? Maybe you should know more about how a car works before you're allowed to drive it.

      In an answer to your question: yes. Yes that stuff is too hard. You're competing against Windows, which comes preinstalled; so even doing an install from CDs that works perfectly is a detriment. H

  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Friday November 03, 2006 @12:29PM (#16703953)
    Until Linux is pre-installed, it won't matter to the majority of home users.

    That's because the majority of home users do NOT upgrade their OS. They use whatever was installed by the OEM. They use the drivers provided by the OEM. They won't even install and update anti-virus software.
    • And until something replaced Windows as the preloaded OS, Windows will continue to be the resident default value on the desktop. Period.

      I've seen folks who can't even figure out how to use a browser. All they know is that they can click on links in their e-mail and bring up web pages that way, but they don't remember that a browser icon exists on their desktop. Seriously.

      Those folks aren't changing *anything* on their PC as long as what they have works.
    • > Until Linux is pre-installed, it won't matter to the majority of home users.

      I agree. Most users don't add much to a PC other than printers, scanners, or cameras. And when they do, and run into trouble, it's never a Windows thing. Windows can do no wrong for many users.

      Even if I get frustrated installing audio hardware on a Windows box, it's not Window's fault. If it's been a linux box, the user would have just said "can't you just use Windows", but because it was Windows, they meekly accepted that
  • There's a very good reason why Microsoft spends a lot of time on hardware compatibility - it's what people want.

    Uh, there's a very good reason Microsoft doesn't have to spend a lot of time on hardware compatibility - they used anticompetitive products to gain a virtual monopoly and now the hardware vendors worry about supporting Windows.

    And just to put this idea of "a lot of time" into perspective, just how much time do you think the open source community has spent on developing, testing, and debugging ha

  • If Microsoft puts so much effort into hardware compatibility, then why do my nice new HP scanner and laser printer work well with Linux, but not at all in XP Pro? HP's official story is "we can't get drivers to work on the 64 bit version of XP". Linux uses the same drivers for 32 bit and 64, just re-compiled, and they work with an out-of-the-box install of Fedora Core 6.

    That doesn't look like "just works" to me.

    On the plus side, this means that my parents now use Linux pretty much exclusively, because tha
    • Strange, I've had no issues getting a HP printer working in both XP x64 and Vista x64.
      • by tb3 ( 313150 )
        The reason you had no problems, and the GP couldn't get the printer working is that Windows is fucking unstable! Every single Windows install is unique and the configuration is unrepeatable. Even Microsoft doesn't know how the damn thing works. Why else do you think XP upgrades have a feature that lets you roll back the install to the previous OS? (And let's not even get into the fact that even if you roll back the damn thing you've still paid for it, and you can't get a refund.)

        They're admitting that they
      • by theCoder ( 23772 )
        Because if one HP printer works, they all must, right? Man, I wish the world worked that way.
  • "While many users reading Slashdot embrace Windows, ZDNet is running an article on why the rest of the world isn't ready. One note for Windows developers: 'Stop assuming that everyone using Windows (or who wants to use Windows) is a Windows expert.' While a lot of these topics have been brought up as both stories and comments on Slashdot, this article pretty much sums up why Fedora Core 6 could be absolutely terrible, and people would still believe there is no other option."

    If you are a Windows user (like t
  • But it's close.

    The one area of Linux ownership and use where it becomes apparent that there's an assumption that everyone who uses Linux is an expert is hardware support.

    Absolutely. Bad hardware support is entirely because the people writing code for Linux don't think they should bother with device drivers. It has nothing at all to do with the fact that hardware manufacturers won't give up enough information to do it correctly.

    Yup, just a bunch of 1337 haxx05z who don't want the unwashed masses using thei

  • I love the tirades in it about "just work" and "Your average user doesn't have the time, the energy or the inclination to deal with uncertainty"... Yeah, like Microsoft products eliminate all that.

    I make a huge amount of money on the side because of things in Windows that has lots of uncertainty and that they don't work. Example from today.... Customer calls in a panic, they uninstalled Roxio myDVD and now they are missing all their dvd drives in their computer, they dont show up, reboots dont help. I ha
    • I was thinking exactly this -- if XP was so easy to use, why do I get paid so much to consult for people on how to use it properly?

      Its not easier to use, people are just accustomed to it and they accept its failings because its the standard. Its hard to explain to someone that my old webcam doesn't work on Linux; they simply mock me and ssay it would work on Windows. However, everything else I have works better on Linux than it does on their Windows box, but they just take those things as normal.
  • given that it is trying to state reasons why the average user can't use Linux, and the problems are thigns that can be more easily changed in Linux (and I believe, will be changed; allthough not all the way there, Ubuntu is a good example of the cutting edge of the trend). So, shouldn't it be "Why Linux is not yet read for the world"? The way it's progressed, I give Linux 5 to 10 years, unless people decide to migrate to BSD (yeah right)
  • by richieb ( 3277 ) <richieb&gmail,com> on Friday November 03, 2006 @12:36PM (#16704083) Homepage Journal
    If "the people" had to install Windows from scratch, there would be no Windows. Last X-mas I built a machine with my son. It was an AMD based machine, with a new SATA drives. When we booted from the Windows XP install CD no hard drives were detected. After checking and double checking all the connections I booted from Fedora install CD.

    Fedora had no problems detecting the hardware. So, after some googling we discovered that there were separate Windows drivers for the SATA drives that came with the motherboard. We had to create a floppy (!!!!) with the drivers that had to be inserted at a specific step during the windows install. Luckily my son insisted on getting a floppy drive, otherwise we would not be able to install windows.

    Fedora Core 4 installed with no problems..

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by wgaryhas ( 872268 )
      You must have been using a pre SP2 windows disk. Serial ATA support was added at that time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pastis ( 145655 )
      Easy to compare hardware suport in XP (October 2001) with FC 4 (June 2005)...

      Try booting Debian woody (July 2002) on that machine and let's see what goes on!
  • Because no matter how great Linux is for us, we have failed to make the REAL case.

    The very first thing I learned at Microsoft is was the 80/20 rule. This is the thing that most Linux advocate will simply never understand. Many of us hate Windows because it is inferior, but we refuse to address the fact that for a HUGE majority of people, it is GOOD ENOUGH!

    Instead of taking that premise and working from it, we just call Windows advocates stupid, lazy bums who just dont get it. Yeah, that's how you build

    • by ctid ( 449118 )

      Instead of taking that premise and working from it, we just call Windows advocates stupid, lazy bums who just dont get it. Yeah, that's how you build a movement, just insult all the people you care to influence.

      This is just a commonplace, surely? Like the article itself, what you're saying just sounds out of date - it was correct several years ago but under KDE (and I guess Gnome - I don't use it) Linux just works. In fact my experience using Linux at home is far superior to my experience using Windows at

  • That about sums up why i haven't switched to linux yet.

    I tried ubuntu and two other variations that were supposed to be easy too but in the end i dont have the time to learn it all.

    There used to be a time where i enjoyed spending hours just playing around with something, not being afraid to mess it up but that's not the case anymore.

    I got a day job where we use windows then i come back home where i spend time with my girlfriend, i game a little and do some "real" manual work like fixing the car or stop tha
  • Of course, they're right. And it's not for any crazy reasons like "the iPod don't work" like esr would have you believe. The key of course is getting developers to target their products toward users of course. We all know this is the problem. I think that these days if doesn't agree that Linux (pick your distro) isn't ready to go for people with no computing background is crazy. I see, however, a lot of "oh but people are just trained on Windows" - this is no excuse. It's possible to make software discovera
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LibertineR ( 591918 )
      "It's not that people don't have a desire to bring FOSS to the masses, nor the ability to make it usable for Aunt Tilly, but more due to the fact that most end users are fucking bitches. It's not easy for a volunteer staff to put up with the bullshit that real users require - but if you don't deal with it, you can't complain. That's life - you put up with idiots using computers or you aren't competitive in that market."

      Do you realize that this attitude is more responsible for holding back Linux than Micro

  • Has the author actually tried installing XP on a new computer? (a Dell 'OEM reinstall' doesn't count)
    You need to be MORE of a hardware expert to install XP on a computer then if you were to install Linux (especially Ubuntu). yes I know that XP is 5 years old and can't support 'NEW' equipment, but the author doesn't seem to care so I won't either.

    Will Vista support more hardware out-of-the-box? yes of course.
    Will linux support more hardware then Vista in 1+ years? yes of course.

    If you install XP...

    you ne
    • by tuffy ( 10202 )
      I can attest to this first-hand. I took my old Linux box, formatted it to XP and tried to give it to my parents. In the process, I discovered that XP couldn't find SATA hard drives so I had to replace them with IDE. My onboard gigabit ethernet card only runs at 10 Base-T speeds with the driver I found (and Windows' built-in driver tool can't find a better one). The onboard AC97 sound card didn't work at all so I had to add a sound card. Oh, and the older scanner they were using has no XP-compatible dri
  • The misconception is that the layperson actually goes through the process of installing an operating system, ever. Most people don't realize that a computer and the operating system are two different things. They buy it, and everything works. The key to Linux becoming mainstream is extremely simple yet very difficult. Get hardware vendors to ship computers with Linux preloaded and get these computers into the retail stores like Best Buy, CompUSA, etc. The other part to all this is making migration of a
  • by JoeWalsh ( 32530 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @12:44PM (#16704215)
    I left Windows because I was tired of always having to fix something or other every other weekend. Either my girlfriend's computer would have a problem or mine would. I didn't want to fix computers all weekend - I wanted to have a life! So I ditched Windows and tried out this new thing called Linux that was supposed to be super-stable, no crashes, etc.

    That worked OK, but all of a sudden buying new hardware became a monumental task. Will it work with Linux, or is it Windows-only? What hoops do I have to jump through? And when something *did* occasionally go wrong, it didn't usually mean spending a weekend fixing it. Usually, it meant spending a week fixing it.

    That's why, when Mac OS X became stable (version 10.1), I took the plunge and bought a Mac. I haven't spent time worrying about or tinkering with my computer or my wife's computer since. Everything just works. I have my life back.

    And I much prefer it this way.
  • There's a very good reason why Microsoft spends a lot of time on hardware compatibility - it's what people want.
    To imply that Linux developers don't spend "a lot of time" on hardware support is so pompous, pretentious and uninformed that I feel like I'm going to explode. Now, there are plenty of problems with hardware support in Linux, but developers that care, and the amount of time they put in certainly isn't one of them.
  • by Asmor ( 775910 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @12:46PM (#16704245) Homepage
    I've just recently installed Linux on my home system and really tried to figure out. And I've gotta say, the whole thing sucks. I've tried Fedora and Ubuntu. Fedora installed much easier than Ubuntu, although that's partially because Ubuntu was installed to replace Fedora. Fedora, however, had an option to automatically remove all Linux partitions and install there, while Ubuntu's only analog (and default even if there's plenty of unpartitioned space) is to delete the entire drive! Not something I'd want to do when I'm dual booting.

    From there, things just got worse. I spent a long time researching how to mount an NTFS partition in Fedora, finally found some good links for Ubuntu (hence the change). I managed to mount the NTFS partition and listen to the music stored thereon, but I really only had a vague idea of what I was doing. Some of the stuff was reasonably obvious. For example, the fstab file is obviously supposed to be default mountings when you boot up. However, the syntax used inside of it is all gibberish to me, as was most of the commands I used during the process of installing everything I needed for this project. I basically just copy-pasted everything, filling in specific information like /dev/hdb1 when neccessary. I don't know what the -l in fdisk -l means. Hell, if it weren't for using it in DOS I wouldn't even know what fdisk was. I don't understand the commands that I used to grab the software from the internet.

    And every single tutorial is exactly the same. They either assume you know something, or they tell you what to do without explaining why you're doing it. It'd be nice if there were some tutorials that actually took the time to tell you, for example, "fdisk -l" invokes the fdisk program with the -l switch. Fdisk is used for viewing and editing partitions and the -l switch makes it (I assume) list the current partitions.

    I installed Linux so that I could learn how to use it, but all I've learned is how many arcane commands with even more arcane syntaxes (syntaces) it has.

    Keep in mind, also, that I'm the exception. I'm a Windows user with no practical interest in Linux, who's only doing it for the learning experience. I'm actually willing to go out and look stuff up, to some extent. As I said, though, Linux is just a curiosity to me. I'm not going to spend all day figuring out how to exit the "help" given by the man command (seriously, how do you exit it? Aside from closing the terminal, I mean? I know I can prest shift+zz because someone told me that, but how the hell would anyone ever guess that?).

    Linux, even the best distributions, have a long, long, long way to go before they're anywhere near as usable as Windows.
    • Have you tried doing the things you're asking of Linux in Windows?

      Have you tried to gain access to the data on a Linux partition from within Windows? It's actually pretty difficult.

      When people install GNU/Linux on a Windows box they expect it to automatically set up a dual boot option and configure itself so the two continue to work perfectly and in harmony. Have you tried installing Windows on a machine which already has Linux on it? It just zaps things so you have a job getting access to your GNU/Linux in
  • While I agree that getting hardware to work under Linux is often harder than getting it work under Windows, there are a couple of popular misconceptions involved here.

    One is that getting hardware to work on Windows is easy for the newbie user. This isn't true, either. There's a whole industry that makes its living getting hardware working for Windows (it's called "IT"). The reason Grandma Ethel doesn't encounter this issue so much is that she buys a working system and never uses it for anything but email
  • The trouble with Linux is inconsistency that comes about from multiple disparate groups of developers. Everything in Windows behaves the same, and the vast majority of apps of applications follow the same UI trends.

    Take a look at Linux though, and you have a vast array of different widgets that perform the same functions, and different dialog layouts (down to which way around the "OK" and "Cancel" buttons are presented). This inconsistancy is just plain annoying. It's annoying on Windows too, when apps
  • The one area of Linux ownership and use where it becomes apparent that there's an assumption that everyone who uses Linux is an expert is hardware support.

    How are we to take this article seriously with such awful writing? If I wrote "everyone who uses Linux is and expert is hardware support" in a paper for a grade I'd fail. I'm not sure everyone who uses the pretense of being a writer is an expert in use of the English language; I had assumed that people who are paid to write are held to a higher stand
  • The most likely reason that the hardware situation is better on Windows is because MS got its OS dominance by tight relationships to the major hardware supplier (and extended it by building similar relationships with other hardware suppliers) back in the DOS era, then once its dominance was established, hardware vendors had a strong incentive to make their systems work with Microsoft's main operating system of the time (DOS, then Windows.)

    Linux is always going to be at something of a disadvantage there as l
  • I'm a big linux fan. I think it makes for a great server system and a great development/geek system. However, I would be reluctant to run it as my primary laptop OS. I wouldn't run Vista either.

    If Linux wants to be more widely adopted what it needs is not more hardware support but to be more like OS X. Namely it's complex UNIX guts should be accessible but hidden. The user should be presented with a consistent, pretty user interface with all the bells and whistles without being lured into dealing with
    • I don't mean to criticize the linux/X people here. They are likely doing their best with a tough situation.

      Ironically Linux and Vista are both at a disadvantage to OS X in many respects because they are burdended down with backwards compatibility issues.

      Likely the best hope for replacing X is to get everyone on board using multiple output rendering libraries like cairo which can then be retargeted to a new underlying windowing system.
  • All kudos to Ubuntu for their work on making stuff eminently usable, even for complete dumbasses.

    But this idea that EVERYBODY needs to be on Linux NEEDS TO FUCKING DIE!

    There's always going to be a group of people who just will NEVER be prepared for Linux REGARDLESS of what you do! These are usually the same class of users who break something in their Win/Mac box with a generally hourly frequency.

    As to the group of people who have "neither the time nor the inclination", I can only say FUCKING LEARN!

    You don'
  • The author is vaguely correct, so it sounds good and very comforting.

    The most compelling reason why users will switch is because Linux/BSD desktop will have an application that this guy needs.

    At the end of the article the writer claims he'll set up a linux file server. Which is what this guy needs and MS won't give you one when you purchase a desktop from them. (please don't split hairs with me on this one. XP is not a file server.)

    As all linux users know, it will install easily, he'll figure out the way
  • This is something which has always annoyed me. The idea that all hardware just works in Windows is utter nonsense, but something that Microsoft does all it can to perpetuate. For example:

    When someone installs a new graphics card in a Windows machine, after a restart they are invariably presented with a basic VGA resolution, 256 colour display until they install whatever drivers come with the card. This seems perfectly acceptable, and in fact is. However, when someone either installs GNU/Linux on an existing
  • ..isn't hardware support. Even n00bs can find a driver (sometimes!). The main problem is how arcane the entire file structure is, and how the menus don't behave properly. How Wine doesn't come pre-isntalled in most distros. How there are stupid little religious wars over gnome and kde, even though they both kinda suck. How different distros are addicted to random non-standard apps that aren't as cool as firefox. the default of not being root, and then having to logout and log back in and problems rela
  • Oh, suuure, the _world_ isn't ready... Suuuure, let's blame everyone else, riiiighttt...
    Ok... So the world is not ready for not having software that just-works(tm)? It's not ready for no-games(tm)? It's not ready for hey-why-doesn't-my-printer-work(tm)? [/SARCASM]
    No, wait, I think I get it now... Maybe, just maybe, linux is not suitable for their needs?...
  • We have two groups: the free software advocates and the pro-desktoplinux crowd. They are NOT the same. Here's why:

    The free software advocates want everything to be opensource and 100% free. A fully functional desktoplinux with support for latest state-of-the-art hardware is of less to no concern for them. Their goal is a 100% free system with zero propietary components.

    The desktoplinux crowd is much more pragmatic, and doesn't care if the graphics drivers are binary and propietary. Their goal is a competito
  • First, "there is no other option"... ummm, ever heard of MAC OS X? Personally I feel that is the best option for people who don't want to use windows but don't want to take the time to learn Linux.

    As for driver compatibility etc... the only reason most windows PCs just work is because the Vendor they bought the PC from pre-loaded everything. I remember the last time I installed windows it couldn't find my network card so I had to go to another computer to download the network drivers, burn it to a cd so I c
  • A Linux brick. That's it. Just speak to it and it'll give you want you want. Powered by Ubuntu Speaks! (good dog... ;-)


    Until you have reduced the computer down to a simple brick with no peripherals Linux will never be completely "out of the box". Its one of those things where 80-90% is going to be all you get on out of the box is hardware capability.

    Computer hardware (read peripherals) and software (read MS and games) are driven by the new. Linux is getting more market share but in the end corpora
  • The reason hardware support in Windows is so good is because manufacturers are doing all the work. Linux support lags behind because manufacturers don't want to part with the specs on how to directly use the hardware. The only reason that I can think of that makes any sense for not wanting to give this information out is because they are fearful that somebody else will come along and build some hardware that is compatible with theirs and their profits would decrease.

  • The world is not ready for Linux.

    The world is ready for Open Source, Free Software and Computing Freedoms.

    Once you understand this, it makes sense.
  • After having to constantly patch my moms system remotely every weekend for ever bug, viros, exploit, spyware and everything else, I installed Kubuntu on a spare box, shipped it on down there and hooked it up. It detected her Scaner, the digital camera my brother bought her, the speakers and everthing just fine. She now says it never crashes and is the best machine she has ever owned. Now every week, the phone call consists of her thanking me for 'fixing her computer'; she doesn't even know she's not running
  • Absolutely Right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sean0michael ( 923458 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @01:00PM (#16704517)
    Right on the money. As a novice Linux user, I've found my biggest hurdle to using it for more tasks has been simply not knowing how to do what I want to do (I use Ubuntu 6.0.6). For example, when I install a program and want to run it, it it isn't in the Applications menu (using Gnome), I only have the first idea of what to do --use the terminal. But I don't know what to do from there. If there isn't an option listed somewhere in those menus, I have to search forums to try and find solutions.

    It's not that I'm ignorant, certainly. I use Firefox, OpenOffice, Gaim, and other open-source software regularly. I've learned some Java, SQL, HTML, C++, and consider myself "computer savvy." But because I am not familiar with the language of the Linux OS (like the CHAR(3) names for the folders on the \ or the keywords for taking advantage of the terminal), I am extremely limited in what I can do. I tried to install FF2.0 the other day, but after I extracted the tar.gz, I didn't know what to do. I tried a HOWTO I found on Ubuntu's community site, tried apt-get, but neither didn't work for some reason. So I'm stuck with FF1.5 for now. It's probably a simple fix, but that all the more profoundly demonstrates how difficult it can be to use even one of the most user-friendly distros available.

    Don't get me wrong; I love the idea behind OSS and want to learn to use Linux better--I wouldn't be trying it out if I didn't. But I simply cannot use it for anything more than simple tasks like web surfing and office utilities because there is a high knowledge barrier that will just take time to overcome. If Linux can adapt like Nintendo and find a way to make Linux more accessible and bring those who can only handle Windows well into the Linux world, then we've got something. Until then, I'm afraid the author is right.

  • Spot on. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pcx ( 72024 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @01:34PM (#16705275)
    I recently stopped playing World of Warcraft and no longer had a reason to stay on the windows platform. I use open office, media player classic, and Firefox and that's pretty much it. So I thought I'd try Ubuntu out since I'd heard so many good things about it.

    I burned the disk, backed up my data and took the plunge.

    The problem was immediate. I have a lcd monitor, a top of the line NEC monitor that is smart enough to whine, moan and complain when the resolution isn't 1280x1024. Ubuntu however gave my top resolution options as 1024x768. I thought Ubuntu probably needed the NVidia drivers so I headed over and discovered that installing NVidia's Linux drivers made the US tax code read like a harry potter novel by comparison.

    Needless to say, this ended my experiment with Linux. (And yes I know there's a command line to reconfigure the graphics shell but any time you need to send anyone to the command line to get an install working you've pretty much admitted failure.)

    But wait! It doesn't end there! A few days later on Digg there was a thread about Linux being ready for the desktop! I relayed my casual user experience almost exactly the way I have here. Two hours later my user experience had been burried down to negative numbers as had all the other "negative testimonials". Yep, the Linux fan bois had run roughshod over anyone who actually had the nerve to explain why they still thought Linux wasn't ready for the desktop and there were legions of them.

    So the problem is two fold really. Linux still doesn't nail the "out of box installs" anywhere near as well as Windows does and there is a sizable portion of the community that would kill the messengers rather than address the problem.

  • by CheeseburgerBrown ( 553703 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @01:40PM (#16705403) Homepage Journal
    The best thing about my new car is that it's free, which really jibed well with my bank account status.

    The first bad news came when I tried to actually get in the car and drive; I received an error message on the dashboard that said, "No tires detected."

    I got out and checked, and there were tires on the car, so I got back in and punched the steering wheel a few times. After a few hours of poring over the manual I discovered that I had to tell the car about what kind of tires I had, so, after some digging, I found the button to initiate tire declarations (for some reason it was called INI RUBBER-BASED ROAD INTERFACE LIB EZ). I pushed it and a little sign lit up saying, "If your Linux car is a 2006 model or better you may need to install a rubber-based road interface synchronizer before attempting to declare tire status to the vehicle."

    I went to the hardware store and bought one, but it was the wrong size so I had to go back again. The instructions were in German but I still managed to wedge it in there. I pushed the button and went on with my tire type declarations, after which the car decided to recognize my tires.

    Great, I thought -- now where's the gear-shift?

    After hours of searching I gave up and called up a friend who's a real car expert. He chuckled. "Dude, only idiots use gear-shifts. Linux drivers use gear modulating paddles located on the sides of the driverseat. Don't you know anything about cars? Jeez."

    I made fun of him for being a virgin and then returned to my car. Indeed, the gear modulation paddles were conveniently hidden under the edges of my seat.

    I decided to take the car for a spin, so I pulled out of my driveway and the car stalled. A message on the dashboard said, "Before initializing for road driving, please specify your exact model of Linux car."

    It then gave me a list of four hundred vehicle types, each with just a slight difference in model number. I was eventually obliged to take apart a substantial part of the engine in order to see the little model number on the side of the block. Satisfied, I inputted this number into the dashboard once I'd put the engine back together and started off on my first Sunday drive with my brand new Linux car.

    Then I found out my car wasn't compatible with my iPod so I put the fucking thing up on cinderblocks in my front yard and took the bus.

    The bus sucks, true, but you know what? It's a no-brainer.

Some people carve careers, others chisel them.