I posted this comment on slashdot and thought it would make a good journal entry. I really like linux but when people want a desktop PC, I usually suggest Windows and this comment sums up why.
There's one thing linux needs to play catch up on: installing software after your system is set up. package management (yes, i know, itsn ot hard, but for n00bs its VERY CONFUSING) is a totallly COMPLETELY FOREIGN FRIGGIN CONCEPT to anyone in the windows and mac world...it makes installing software appear to be much harder than it needs to be!
Actually it is deeper than that:
1. Hardware detection is a kludge (kudzu is a good step forward but it does not configure everything right or detect all hardware properly).
2. Desktop Environment is non-standard (how to get desktop icons onto the desktop, no standard gui toolkit and uncertainty of what to expect in each environment).
3. Package Management is unsophisticated (does too much in the background without user input in the location of various files/programs) and again non-standard (rpm, apt-get, whatever Slackware uses, etc...).
These core issues make Linux significantly behind Microsoft XP. Without drastic changes to the way these things are handled, system modification is going to be sub par to the "home user". The problem is that most of linux software have as a user interface configurion files that are best meant to be edited by a human instead of by another program or auto-detecting. People should NOT be expected to configure ANY of the stuff that is commonly needed in a linux system. Two examples:
1. I added an LCD monitor to my parents RedHat machine for Christmass and the monitor barfed saying resolutions could not be used. Had to edit xf86config (or something like it).
2. I added a cd burner to my linux machine recently and it was not detected as a burner. Had to edit grub.conf to say hdc uses ide-scsi. Could not find documentation of what the syntax of defining that should be used in grub (but plenty for lilo) but managed to get the info from someone who also has a cd-burner in there linux machine.
These are just two of the most recent problems I came across in the last two weeks, but there are hundreds more I could easily list. Some of the most basic ones that users commonly come across are:
I) DVD playing in linux.
II) 3D acceleration support for Video cards.
III) Games, Games, Games
IV) Mozilla detecting java/video/sound in system.
V) rpm packages never ask if you want an icon or menu item of installing program.
I could go on but this post was not supposed to be a rant but to point out that Linux is very far behind Windows as a Desktop OS and I am surprised that Linux even has one percent of the desktop when it is such a pain in the ass to do any upgrading or modification of the system (and I am speaking as a Linux user).
Now I know that all the above can be achieved (and I have done most of them) and I know that Windows is not perfect but when I make modifications to my Windows machine, I know that in most cases, it is LESS than a half hour of my time, but on the linux machine, I am happy when it is only a half hour.
I agree with RedHat when they said Linux is not ready for the desktop. Sure you can use it but it far from optimal.