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Time to Try a Linux Desktop?

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the first-hit-is-free dept.

Editorial 848

bigbadwlf writes "EWeek has an opinion column, posted yesterday titled, Isn't Now the Time to Try a Linux Desktop? Quote: 'The crackers currently have the whip hand over Windows, and Microsoft's assertion that Internet Explorer is now part of the operating system shows its flawed reasoning. Worried sick about the latest rash of Internet Explorer security problems? I have the perfect solution for you, one that's even better than switching to Mozilla, Firefox or Opera. Switch operating systems: Go to Linux.'"

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Linux? (2, Funny)

kennycoder (788223) | more than 9 years ago | (#9667967)

What's that? ;)

Re:Linux? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668041)

It's a quite popular UNIX like operating system made in the early '90 by Linus Torvalds.

Re:Linux? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668080)

Yep. It's so popular, SCO thinks they own a part of the code.

Re:Linux? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668059)

It's a windows wannabe OS, er.. kernel with a 1000 fragmented non-standard distros you dumbass!
Matter of fact, most distros are more bloated and isnecure than XP itself, you windows wannabe lusers!

Re:Linux? (4, Insightful)

rd_syringe (793064) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668065)

It's the OS all your Windows applications and games won't run on...

It's not that easy to just tell someone, "Well, IE had a security exploit so it's time to switch to Linux!" The Linux desktop has usability and infrastructure issues. I don't expect them to remain forever, but it is sure taking a long time, and by then Apple's next version of MacOS will be out along with Windows Longhorn, and it will be another decade of playing catch-up with their new technologies.

I think right now the biggest thing I see keeping away commercial developers is the lack of a single binary installation/uninstallation API integrated into the desktop environment. You just can't be sure your app will still run in 5 years. Can you still run a Red Hat RPM you got in 1997? Windows can still run apps from 1991. In addition, a unified API akin to .NET or Cocoa, instead of these 20 or so different APIs which require that I install all of them since everybody likes to code for different ones instead of coding to a standard.

I guess that's it, really--you can't expect the Linux desktop to become standard if it doesn't embrace any standards itself. Now, I know a lot of people like that facet of Linux, and that's cool. I'm just saying, don't be surprised if it never takes off in the mainstream as a result. It has a long, long way to go, most of it internal infrastructure issues (the fact we're still using X11 is embarrassing).

Finally (1)

cbrocious (764766) | more than 9 years ago | (#9667968)

We have the oppurtunity to get the population away from Windows. We're getting to the point that setting up a Linux distro to be usable is easier than Windows, even if you aren't a geek.

Re:Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668140)

Key words: getting to.

We're not there yet. Setting up a linux distro is still harder than windows. Substantially harder on some less than standard hardware configurations. If you try to push reluctant windows users towards linux before you can say without reservation "linux is easier", they're just going to switch back after a week or two and have a lasting impression of linux as a half finished geek's os. Far better to wait until linux consistently acts like a finished product before you try to move people.

And don't try to say that in those two weeks they'll be so impressed by the lack of malware that they'll stick with linux: anybody still using windows obviously isn't that bothered, or they'd have already switched/bought a mac.

Death of Windows Predicted, Quicktime at 11! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668195)

With linux pretty much anything beyond installation off of the CD you have to know what you're doing. Fair enough. With windows you don't have to know much at all. In which case you'll likely do stupid things like get infected with spyware, trojans, worms and who knows what. If you just barely know what you're doing with windows, you won't be infected. Unless of course you're trusting another dumbass who doesn't who know what he's doing to use your network.

Should people succeed on their crusade to lure all the idiots to linux there will be no Rapture. Instead the idiots will learn just enough to be dangerous. Things like those Mozilla arbitrary code exploits? You think the lazy morons who won't use Microsoft update to fix windows are going to hustle right over and get the latest patch for the big green browsing machine? Think the linux administrators are going to be as proactive rolling those security fixes out as all the windows admins? I do. They'll do it after the next round of Xtrek. Promise.

Re:Finally (0, Flamebait)

blrr (782741) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668224)

i tried suse the other week. modem and wireless card don't work with linux. not buying new ones. back to windows for me.

Re:Finally (2, Informative)

b0r1s (170449) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668226)

Yep, we're getting there...

And once we get there, the same population that can't run windows update will still not be secure, because the latest (OpenSSH/Samba/Cups/X/KDE/Gnome/) security hole will become the new worm target, and then they're even more screwed (linux rootkits are much, much more effective than windows rootkits, as is propagation, etc).

The solution to the current problem is to switch browsers, not operating systems.

Finally (4, Funny)

dj_cel (744926) | more than 9 years ago | (#9667972)

Some one is getting the picture, remove the software of shame, attach the software of triumph!

Stupid! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9667979)

Dumbest thing I've ever heard! Switch OS, but oh, never mind the browser... People will still need a browser! Why would the article talk about browser security conerns, then say, never mind mozilla, opera, firefox, etc. switch OS's and you won't need a browser! LOL how stupid!

I have an even better solution: fuck you! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9667981)

As long as more than 50% of my apps doesn't work on Linux, and the rest works worse and slower, and Linux has an inferior interface, and supports less hardware, etc., etc., etc., etc., I'm not switching.

Better solution: use Windows and fuck yourself! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668031)

You must write viruses - of course Linux doesn't support the features you fuckers require.

Go ahead and stay in your virus-ridden world with Winblows, then. Those of us who have made the switch will laugh at you for the next 5 years (after which Micro$oft will be dead, gone, and good riddance) while you're fighting the latest worm.

Here's an idea - let's have a separate internet for Winblows lusers, that way those of us using a better OS (whether it be Linux, *BSD, MacOS, or Unix) don't have to be bothered with the crapware/malware that infects Winblows machines that just get powered on.

Does it make much sense, though? (5, Insightful)

krem81 (578167) | more than 9 years ago | (#9667991)

The people who are constantly getting hit with viruses, spyware, IE holes, etc. are exactly the kind of people who would have a hard time getting used to and accepting Linux. Most of the potential switchers (like me, for instance) already have their Windows boxes well-protected. There needs to be a better reason than just "it's not Windows" to entice me to convert.

Re:Does it make much sense, though? (4, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668066)

I think you're wrong. It's been a year or two since the big linux distros would take some getting used to for Joe Bloggs switching from a PC. The reason they're not switching is he same reason they're not patching their PC - it takes time effort and a bit of skill. These folk want a PC that just works. If their PC had come with Linux instead of Windows, preconfigured so their Digi Camera works, their modem works, and their printer just works then they'd all be happily sitting with a distro that'd be equally unpatched. The only advantage then is that it's a bit more difficult for a virus to spread under the linux security model than the run everything as Admin security model adopted on most home installations of Windows.

Re:Does it make much sense, though? (1)

xsecrets (560261) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668116)

Actually They would have a hard time getting used to it, because the reason they have all the spyware and viruses is usually because they are the ones that want to install every casino game and toolbar they come across. They want every cutsie little toy that can be had, and none of those will install and run on linux, which will make them think linux is broken and doesn't work right.

Don't get me wrong I know why these things don't install and run on linux and I never think they should, it's just that your average joe ID10T will think the fact that they don't makes linux broken. What needs to happen is for users to become educated, but I don't see that happening.

Re:Does it make much sense, though? (3, Insightful)

mini me (132455) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668097)

I'll give you a reason. Windows is too hard to use.

For example, I wanted to install OpenOffice on a Windows 2000 computer today. Easy right? I though it would be too.

First I had to find my way to the openoffice website and eventually find the right download link. Then I had to download it. It came as a zip file so I had to unzip that. After that I ran the setup programs and had to answer at least five questions. Finally after all that hassle it was ready to be used.

On the other hand, on my Linux machine, it was just a matter of typing:
apt-get install openoffice.org
Of course it doesn't end at software installation, but I thought that was a good example as I was just about ready to give up installing it on Windows because it was too much work (I get lazy when it comes to doing things computers should be doing). And now the next time the next version of OO comes out I'll have to go through the same hassle I went through installing it in the first place. On my Linux machine it will be automatically upgraded.

Re:Does it make much sense, though? (4, Insightful)

LucasMedaffy (598394) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668152)

That's not much of an argument, considering OO is one of the very few applications that doesn't come with a windows Installer. If you consider MS Office, you pop in the cd, put in a serial number, click next a few times, and it's installed. The links are in the start menu, the files are automatically associated etc. You missed out a few steps regarding apt-get. First, you need to configure apt-get to point to a server that has OO. Secondly, you need to switch to root to install. Thirdly, unless I'm mistaken, you need to manually set up KDE/Gnome links or create a desktop link. I won't switch to a purely Linux machine until I don't have to mess around with text config files anymore. I can do it (I'm a comp. engineer) but I don't like to. Even on my Mandrake 10 installation (which does have a nice OS installer I must admit), I can't get my soundcard to work reliably in XMMS. I had to disable KDE sound, then install other sound plugins, and even then sound only works half the time. Ugh. I will switch as Linux keeps improving (as it is I use almost 100% OSS in Windows), but it's not there yet.

Re:Does it make much sense, though? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668164)

you're kidding right?

"apt-get install openoffice.org" is just so intuitive, that's the first thing that pops into my head as a non-linux user

maybe you should blame the people who did the openoffic install package for windows. To install Offic 2003 all I need to do is insert the CD-Rom and click a few buttons.

Re:Does it make much sense, though? (1)

jeriqo (530691) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668166)

Sure, but how many hours would it take my mom to get 'apt-get' working ?

She's fine this Mac OS X, though.

Re:Does it make much sense, though? (2, Interesting)

Metaldsa (162825) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668114)

exactly, if those people can't:

1.) Keep their anti-virus up to date
2.) Stop clicking on email attachments from people they don't know
3.) Run spybot/ad-aware to clean up their computer
4.) Run windows update once every six months

Then how can you expect them to learn the linux operating system? I do all of the above and more and my system has never had a worm or trojan (and I dont use anti-virus software to boot, i just watch what runs on my computer and keep it patched). It took me weeks to get my dad to write his email NOT in the subject box. Trying to get his spyware infested box over to linux? UNPOSSIBLE! :)

Re:Does it make much sense, though? (1)

SoSueMe (263478) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668179)

4.) Run windows update once every six months

Shouldn't that be every six days?

Re:Does it make much sense, though? (4, Insightful)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668130)

The people who are constantly getting hit with viruses, spyware, IE holes, etc. are exactly the kind of people who would have a hard time getting used to and accepting Linux.

Really? That's what people keep saying, but I'm a little less sure it's true. What makes Linux hard is administering it. If you can't administer your windows box, what difference does it make that you can't administer your linux box either? Other than that it's just a "getting used to" issue - and again, the more computer phobic you are, and the less you understand, the easier this can tend to be. Serious windows users know all the shortcut keys, and the efficient ways of doing things. They know all about the nice extra functionality that is available. Naive users just don't know anything about that - they have much lower expectations of what a computer should be able to do. They don't understand how any of it works anyway, so the change is far less stressful than you would imagine (especially if you use something like Linspire or Xandros which hews pretty close to a lot of the basic windows ways of doing things). It's not like switching to linux means you have to grasp some new interface that doesn't use WIMP.

How about in practice? I switched my parents to linux. They had no problems using it. And believe me, my parents are far from computer savvy (my mother couldn't figure out how to install new fonts in windows). My girlfriend was curious as to what linux was like - I gave her a knoppix CD, and she figured everything else out herself.

Sure anecdotes are not data, b ut where is the data? Why is there an assumption that computer-phobic can't use linux? Certainly I haven't seen any real data on that either.


irrelevant (1, Insightful)

Coneasfast (690509) | more than 9 years ago | (#9667992)

No matter how much Microsoft supporters whine about how Linux and other operating systems have just as many bugs as their operating systems do, the bottom line is that the serious, gut-wrenching problems happen on Windows, not on Linux, not on Mac OS.

i agree, linux/macosx is more stable/secure than windows.

having said that, i think this whole article is irrelevant. i don't care if linux is completely rock-solid with absolutely no security flaws, this alone will not persuade windows users to switch to linux for desktop usage.

we've been through these discussions over and over again. linux is NOT a suitable desktop operating system for the majority of users. most users do NOT want to spend a whole lot of time reading documentation on how to setup/configure their system, and most find it fustrating.

Re:irrelevant (4, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668055)

"we've been through these discussions over and over again. linux is NOT a suitable desktop operating system for the majority of users. most users do NOT want to spend a whole lot of time reading documentation on how to setup/configure their system, and most find it fustrating."

What about when most users had Windows 3.1? Setting that up wasn't practical for an end user either, as it required the ability to physically set hardware addresses, configure things through the MCI control panel that were a little less than intuitive, and knowledge of how Program Manager tied into the actual programs.

Sell a preloaded computer with Linux to the masses, and I'm not just talking e-Machines or Walmart, and the books will follow. The "ten easy things to do in Linux" columns in laymans' computer magazines will follow.

People may not patch or compile their own kernels or programs, but that's okay. That's why distributions with package management utilities exist. I don't know about you, but I haven't had to compile anything by hand in quite some time since switching to Debian.

Most users where I work at don't have a clue anyway, so not having a clue in Linux isn't any worse than not having a clue in Windows. In fact, once they're shown the basics of how there are no drive letters and how things are just off of / I suspect that they'll work with it just fine, and they will have a significantly harder time breaking the system into pieces with stuff off of the Internet.

Re:irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668109)

tell me, how do i setup a printer in debian?
how do i connect to a windows network?

i can do it, you can do it, but can a somewhat
new user do it?

Re:irrelevant (1)

Jane_Dozey (759010) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668197)

I'd think the answer is no...even on windows.
Don't get me wrong, you have a valid point, I just feel like being pedantic ;)

Re:irrelevant (1)

Dav3K (618318) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668162)

However, SOME windows users are not techno-neophytes. SOME windows users are absolutely ready to switch to something more reliable. SOME windows users are used to deep diving into the registry, used to setting up secure firewalls, have installed open source programs (such as Firefox) on windows, and SOME users are tired of having an insecure box on the net any longer.

These are the users this article is targetting and for them, it is completely relevant. Why can't you see that?

Re:irrelevant (1)

Coneasfast (690509) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668184)

those SOME who you are talking about would have switched long ago, another article like this containing nothing new will not persuade any more users to switch over.

not yet (3, Interesting)

viggen9 (192812) | more than 9 years ago | (#9667994)

the problem is, that for your actual "average user", they will say, "where is my MS Office" and "where is my internet explorer" and I need my Norton Anti-Virus. Linux is great, but it's not for the average user yet. An acquainance of mine can't get over the fact that his win xp box doesn't have a floppy disk drive. What would he do if I took his start menu away?

Re:not yet (1)

Noksagt (69097) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668194)

How hard woudld it really be for an "average user" to use Crossover Office to get their MS apps back? Or to reassociate "Mozilla" with browsing instead of IE? Or to choose a window mananger/desktop environment that has a "start menu" (many do)?

You don't give the "average user" or the state of the linux desktop nearly enough credit if your gripes are serious.

Re:not yet (2, Informative)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668196)

he problem is, that for your actual "average user", they will say, "where is my MS Office"

The article points out CrossOver Office handles that one.

and "where is my internet explorer" and I need my Norton Anti-Virus.

The reason for switching was to get away from IE and viruses - if they were actually switching for that reason, why on earth would they then complain about the lack of it?

An acquainance of mine can't get over the fact that his win xp box doesn't have a floppy disk drive. What would he do if I took his start menu away?

Indeed. So which distribution is it that you're planning to give him that uses blackbox or windowmaker as the default desktop environment? Is there a reason you're thinking of giving him a more hard core hacker oriented distro instead of, saw Linspire or Xandros or Mandrake or SuSE or Fedora or any of the other multitudes of distros that use KDE or GNOME as their default DE?


Re:not yet (1)

azatht (740027) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668208)

What exactly is an "Average User"? In my opinion there is Users, and there is Administrators ( root ).

But the line between "average user" and "user", I can not see, who is the one to decide who is average or not?

Offcourse the machine to user interface (MUI?) should be clean and intuitial, but the interface should not depend of legacy/third-party software, but by standardizied interfaces. For example there should not be a "MS Office", or "OpenOffice.org", but a "Document Processing Interface".

The problem I see is that Microsoft has made their products synonym as the interface. Personaly I can't belive that the world population is so easly brainwashed, so there must be an other part here that I have no clue about.

Re:not yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668233)

I'd complain if you took away my FDD aswell! People say the floppy is dead but I use it all the time.

Year 2004 is the year of Linux desktop! (4, Funny)

wheany (460585) | more than 9 years ago | (#9667996)

Just like the year before.

Re:Year 2004 is the year of Linux desktop! (2, Insightful)

Vampyre_Dark (630787) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668134)

And the year before that? This is a tired old argument that never goes nowhere. Why do people think they can keep writing the same article over and over and because of it, people will start converting to Linux in droves?

Hmm... (1)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 9 years ago | (#9667997)

This article is really low on details.

I'll sum it up: use Xandros, SuSE, or Linspire. Use CodeWeavers or Win4Lin if you can't handle OO.o.

It doesn't really go into the details like migration issues at all. The author only mentions the difficulty of moving over in one of the final paragraphs.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Dreadlord (671979) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668228)

Sick of gentoo zealots throwing plugs in completely unrelated topics? Me too!

If you want to use Linux as a desktop OS, I suggest you check out Gentoo [gentoo.org], the installation process is a bit difficult, but it's very well documented, and then you'll get an OS customized for your needs.

Portage is very easy to use, it handles deps automatically, and makes downloading new software a breeze. :-)

Re:Hmm... (2, Funny)

Demanche (587815) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668240)

Win4Lin = SCO Affilaited software.... Id rather take my chances with windows then sco ;)

Remember BSD! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668006)

How about trying a FreeBSD desktop instead of Linux?

Nice article (3)

Rat Tank (612088) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668012)

I enjoyed the article, but only in a smug self-satisfied Linux user kind of way. Aren't we preaching to the converted here? I don't mean to flame, but there wasn't anything new there.
BTW, I have eight gmail invites to give away. First 8 followups that I see at +1 (my posting threshold) get an invite.

Re:Nice article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668056)

I want a gmail ! ncaHammer at hotmail.com

Re:Nice article (1)

BeatlesForum.com (545967) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668087)

I agree.

I am a recent convert to Linux (for any appreciable amount of time - having played around with it since RH 6.2).

I dunped MS because I was tired of having things break and tired of all the patching and tired of all the bloat. I saw a guy at my computer user's group meeting that had Mandrake installed so that's what I did. I have a laptop with built-in wireless, so this hasn't been the easiest thing to configure, either.

But back to my point: I know Linux is great, but typical users aren't going to use it (just like Firefox, unfortunately) until it's preinstalled on some box and gets some name recognition.


Re:Nice article (1)

slavetrade55 (444917) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668192)

Here's a follow up: I'm not sure the article was preaching to the converted, but frankly I'm not sure they should be preaching to anyone else just yet. Could you imagine having to do over-the-phone technical support for a joe blow user who just installed Linux? *shudder* People's heads would a-splode.

Linux is not *quite* ready for widespread adoption on the desktop. Of course there is another alternative: Get a mac.

Now how bout that gmail invite ;)

Soon there (1)

Zeroth_darkos (311840) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668014)

Yes, we are definitely coming closer and closer to the point when there is no major obstacle for switching to Linux on the desktop.

Is Linux really more secure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668015)

Didn't we just see an article here last week that said that Linux had more advisories than Windows in the same period?

Re:Is Linux really more secure? (1)

Zeroth_darkos (311840) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668042)

Well usually when you see such reports they are comparing apples and oranges. In the windows category they only include the default install of windows, and in the Linux category they take all imaginable popular programs and distro's.

Confessions of a Linux Fanboy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668016)

I guess you could say I am your typical Slashdot reader. At work, I walk with a swagger, I freely boast my knowledge, put down Micro$oft and colleagues think I am condascending and downright arrogant. But this could not be further from the truth. I am heavily overweight with unkempt hair, soiled clothes and a repugnant odor. I go home and skulk about my dark roach infested parent's house and play role playing games with people I never met. I imagine they are a lot like me. Maybe we are friends. On weekends, I kick back and break out the Sears catalog and crank some out on the lingerie section. Oh what it would be like to be with one of these real women. I used to have some real magazines, but my mom caught me and threw them away. Weekends are also great times to go online and karma whore on Slashdot. I am the author of many brilliant Micro$haft and "clippy" jokes. Later in the evening I will crank out some code and follow that up by breaking out the Sears catalog and cranking some code on that. Long live Linux! I guess you could say that I'm your average Slashdot reader.

Not to necessarily dispute... (1, Interesting)

Otter (3800) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668025)

...his larger point, but I don't understand why everyone has latched onto the idea that the shell:// vulnerability in Mozilla was patched so quickly. It sat in Bugzilla for two years, most of it classified as WONTFIX, before an exploit turned up and it was dealt with.

Re:Not to necessarily dispute... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668093)

Wrong. You're another victum of slashdot sensationalism. The original story had the wrong bugzilla ID and had nothing to do with the security issue. The correct one is much more current and was handled in a timely manner.

MOD PARENT UP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668148)

This is the truth!

Well factored code (4, Interesting)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668030)

Microsoft's assertion that Internet Explorer is now part of the operating system shows its flawed reasoning.

Actually, if Microsoft factored their code properly there would be almost nothing to Internet Explorer -- a few high level calls to standard libraries and that would be that. Agreed, this isn't what they've done (although they might be fooling themselves into thinking this is what they've done) -- but it isn't an inherently bad thing to say that Internet Explorer is "part of the operating system" so much as saying the "operating system" itself should be nothing but a nanokernel. Even Linux fails in that regard.

Isn't it a little early... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668032)

... to be pushing the Linux desktop? I'm a linux user, have been for quite a while, and am trying to get my parents and friend using it. However, Linux STILL has many problems that keep it from being THE OS choice for everyone, even once you get around the user-friendliness issues (having not tried any of the more polished desktop distros, I can't comment on these issues.) Application compatibility: Many people use crummy applications that don't stand a chance for porting to Linux. Pinnacle, my mother's video editor of choice, comes to mind. Also, some people, though there are better pieces of alternative software, still are so stuck on their old apps, they refuse to switch to a superior alternative Hardware Compatibility: Every time I go out to buy a piece of hardware, or even to go drool over the latest pieces of hardware, I find myself thinking first, "Can Linux support this yet?" This creates a problem for the user that wants to go out, buy a peripheral, plug it in, and have it work. I'm not saying Linux won't be ready for the desktop very soon (because I think it will be QUITE soon,) but I just think that perhaps now is a little early to say "Switch to Linux. Like, now."

Feh (4, Funny)

foidulus (743482) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668033)

If you are really hardcore I suggest trying tron [wikipedia.org] on the desktop. Now that would be something to write about!

Yeah, right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668036)

Let users try a distro based on a 2.6 kernel, so it can thrash their dual-booting system and lose all data.

Broken link? Here's the fix. (5, Informative)

colonslashslash (762464) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668037)

From TFA:

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer takes a different view of the bug in Mozilla on Windows. Click here to read more.

I'm clicking but I'm not getting any reading. I assume this is the same for everyone else. For anyone who wants to read the article that wasn't linked properly, check here:

Larry Seltzer on Mozilla Flaw [eweek.com]

Linux n00b here (1)

A_GREER (761429) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668038)

I am a n00b, just installed linux last week, The thing I am haveing trouble with is wireless, it seems near impossible to get my hardware recognised, I have recompiled the kernal, re installed, yada, yada, but noi luck.

My point, untill linux is more accepting of hardware, we need a dare i say it, windows like driver installation and setup prosess, linux will never take off on the consumer level while the prosess of updateing less complex and more streamlined.

I am really lovein' linux - Power to the penguin

Lies! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668043)

These are all lies, it is _really_ time to switch to BSD. C'mon people, pull yourself together!

Why post this on Slashdot? (1, Insightful)

toetagger1 (795806) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668047)

I don't see the point why we need to convince Slashdot to use Linux. I would see a reason for such a newsstorry on CNN or, even better, MSNBC. Wait, why am I thinking this won't happen? Oh, maybe b/c AOL's software doesn't run on Linux? Or is it b/c MS owns MSNBC? As long as the newsmedia and telecomunication industry is owned by the players that have a stake in sticking to Windows, we will not see Linux in mainstream in the US.

Radical change in work environment (2)

Jagobah (794414) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668049)

Those that wish to switch from Windows to Linux simply to avoid security problems with Internet Explorer may just find it easier to use an alternative browser and practice common sense when dealing with suspect links.

It would take a lot more work switching to Linux due to not only learning how the new operating system works, but also how to learn time saving shortcuts that come with the OS and the new productive applications needed to acquire.

This article uses the widespread threat of hackers "holding the whip hand over Windows" when in fact it's not that much different than before. There'll always be hackers and there may always be holes in IE, but if you can practice enough common sense to not click on suspect links or download attachments in e-mail, then for the most part you'll be fine working in Windows.

If I were to switch to Linux I know that I would lose at least 3-5 days of productivity just installing the damn thing.

Go for it! (2, Insightful)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668064)

USB is still a little fucked up, but the vendor support *is* coming around. The market needs a customer base to get their ass in gear for compatible gadetry, so why not go grab yourself a distro [linuxiso.org] and boot into the 21st century? It doesn't cost anything, and you can always dual-boot to ween yourself off of vendor lock -in. If that's a little scary, then grab Knoppix, or MandrakeMove which boot and run from cdrom without even touching your system.

It's the Apps Stupid... (3, Insightful)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668071)

You could use Linux and give up your games, and 90% of your other apps...


Ditch IE and Outlook (together responsible for 99% of Windows problems right now) install Services for UNIX on your Windows XP/2003 box and run all of your Windows apps and games PLUS all of your UNIX apps.

Sorry, but Windows still controls the applications universe.

It's the hardware too! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668136)

When I can connect my ATI All-in-Wonder capture card and use it's abilities 100%, sync and download apps to my Blackberry, sync my iPod to my MP3 collection reliably, print DVDs flawlessly with my Epson printer, I'll think about Linux. Someday.

I'm probably leaving some other cool things I do with my computer too.

Obligatory Apple reference (1)

subtillus (568832) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668219)


You could ditch your windows box and get a Mac, run all your mac programs, use fink to run all your linux/unix programs (or roll your own...) and Virtual PC to run anything windowsish that you still own.

uuuuhhh... nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668074)

I just cant agree, that linux is as nice and easy to use as windows. Dont misunderstand me... I dont hate linux. Just installed a gentoo linux on my machine some weeks ago. But: KDE just does not feel good and what are these ugly looking fonts? They just dont look as sharp as my windows does. Having installed my graphics drives kde ist quite fast, but still feels slower than my windows does. What about all the nice prof. software? And: my friend baught the newest hardware and... linux just doesnt support it. No drivers! That would never happen to you, if you use windows. And all the pnp stuff. To get my md running on linus required some serious googleing. How would my sister be supposed to do that? She just knows how to switch the thing on and thats enough under windows to get almost all pnp stuff running. Yeah windows sux in security. But buy a nice router with a good firewall and dont lick on everything some mandy sent you. I think windows will always be the os for non geeks and linux 4 those who care security and not about comfort.

To truly compete... (5, Insightful)

metalligoth (672285) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668079)

To truly compete against Windows, GNU/Linux needs to have a line of hardware, clearly marked, that it will work flawlessly with. Big distros like Suse and Mandrake need to focus on courting hardware companies to prominantly mark their products with Tux. Period.

Not just desktop computers, either. You need to have everything from laptops to USB thumb drives to MP3 players to digital cameras and camcorders. Your computer IS your digital hub.

Linux users need to get in the habit of acting like Mac users. They don't have the hardware support, so they need to make it blatantly obvious what hardware does work with their platform.

The other big thing Linux needs to survive (other than Quicken and TurboTax) is Office VBA compatibility. In the Enterprise, this is essential. There are plenty of BASICs out there, why hasn't OO.org incorporated one of them?

Let's all switch to Linux! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668088)

Patience, Grasshopper.

I recently had the same idea... (2, Informative)

gargan (4764) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668090)

I've run Linux off and on (more off than on, really) for the last 5 or 6 years. Started with Redhat either 4 or 5 point something or other. Only reason I quit was for games, I think.

Well, recently, I got the bright idea to try XP and long story short Windows won't even let itself install on my hard drive anymore. So I took it as a sign and switched to Linux again.

I recently received in the mail 4 distros, Knoppix 3.4, Suse 9.1 personal, Mandrake 10, and Slackware 10. I had used Suse 8.2 and kind of liked it, hoped they'd fixed the bugs, and I guessed it would have the best installer of the three as my machine was being quirky.

Well, I was right. It installed fine, everything worked. It installed a rather limited package selection, for example I cant get xchat installed because it depends on gtk2 which I installed but for some reason it's being a bitch and there is no xchat on the cd, but I digress.

Other than the limited package selection (however I did cheap out and get the download version on a burned cd, so I guess I got what I paid for) it's excellent. Other Linux distros have been crashy when I tried to do anything cpu intensive, but Suse has yet to crash on me under all the stress I cared to put it under. I have to say they did fix most of the bugs that put me off. And if I do grow tired of it, well, I have two other distros and an EXCELLENT live distro sitting in my desk just begging to see the light of day.

So, yes, now IS the time to try a Linux desktop.

Basic Assumption is False (3, Interesting)

MBoffin (259181) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668095)

The article's basic assumption is that Internet-related work is the defining factor in what OS I choose. Adobe hasn't released a Linux version of Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign. Many other apps I use on a daily basis are either just not released for Linux, or are at the status of someone's pet project on SourceForge. This is not to knock the wide array of software that is available for Linux, but the software needed for me to do all my daily work is not quite there yet.

In the meantime, I use Firefox for Windows which is nicely patched (and quite quickly patched at that).

Re:Basic Assumption is False (1)

toetagger1 (795806) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668227)

Why don't you switch to Macs? Arguably the best of both worlds, especially if you deal with graphics.

It's about damn time! (3, Interesting)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668098)

Yesterday I was working on my mom's boyfriend's computer, which I installed a fresh copy of XP on a couple days prior. Already, there were bluescreens during shutdown/reboot (due to IRQ conflicts with our precious plug-n-play system), Adaptec CD-Creator wouldn't print labels (but everything else would print fine), and right-clicking on My Computer to go to properties would yield a cryptic registry-based error before opening properties. He had AOL 9.0 installed as his only Internet connection. I was using that to download drivers, and search for other things (such as "workarounds" for the ever annoying XP Activation), and IE would hang at just about every other website I would go to, rendering everything else I was doing on the computer useless until it freed it's resources. I found myself getting completely frustrated after about 10 minutes of working on this hunk of *$&#, because I couldn't even browse the web to fix the original problems. I installed FireFox, and that helped a lot with the browsing issues.

All I want to say, is that I've been using Debian Linux for about 5 years now, and just switched from using the "ultra-elite" Fluxbox WM to Gnome 2.6 since it got uploaded to Unstable, and I have had absolutely 0 problems. It JUST WORKS. It's easy enough for my mom's boyfriend to figure out. Even the horridly cryptic "gconf-editor" is easier to get around than regedit. I don't see why anybody in their right mind would still fend for Windows when they have a completely usable, prettier, faster alternative with 99% of applications able to do what Windows apps can already do.


tunes (1)

viggen9 (192812) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668100)

trying to convert the average user to linux will only mean more work for yourself. They'll be all excited about the new system and go out and buy an iPod w/ iTunes. Within a few days of setting them up, just wait, the phone will ring..."but it says it works on PC and Mac!"...you will spend hours on the phone before, finally, you just give up and reinstall windows.

Too late. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668101)

Switched from Windows 2000 to OpenBSD two years ago. Mail server is a Sun Ultra 5 loaded with OpenBSD 3.5 runing QMail, courier-imap and SquirrelMail.

Workstation is an Athlon running 3.5 also, but with X, mplayer, xmms etc etc

File server is a Sun Ultra 30 running OpenBSD and NFS.

Firewall is an Epia 800 mini-itx with an extra network card running 3.4, configured as firewall and DNS and mail anti-spam/anti-virus gateway.

Linux may perform some of these functions slightly faster, but I'm happy.

It Happens (5, Interesting)

soloport (312487) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668105)

Just two days ago, a marketing VP I know called to bash Microsoft. He'd lost "thousands of e-mail addresses" (he's not a spammer, just well-connected) because he had answered "Ok" when Windows asked if he wanted to "repair" something.

He wanted me to walk him through installing Linux, right then and there -- over the phone. So I did. I said, "Well, what I recommend is you get your feet wet, first". I Asked him how he used his laptop; What were the applications he couldn't live without; What were the ones he liked but could live without, etc.

Then I said, "You know, all the applications you mention are ones that will run on both Linux and Windows. Why don't you download and install them, first on Windows, get to know them and then switch all the way to Linux, once you've adjusted?".

He agreed to give my recommendation a try, and that was it. Storm calmed. About an hour later, he called back to say he'd found the file containing his address book and had "reconnected it to Outlook". Problem solved.

Seems like, recently, I've run into more and more awareness of (at least the word) Linux. It's becoming a great "save" me" point when clients get frustrated with Windows. They just want to give Microsoft the big heave-ho! And, though I and everyone in my home and office have been Microsoft-free since 1998, I find myself talking people out of taking the plunge.

I wish there was a distribution that gave me the confidence I need to recommend it. Since all I know is DEC, Solaris and RedHat/Fedora, perhaps I should buy a copy of Linspire and try it out -- for clients' sake. Any other suggestions for helping people transition?

No, I'm sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668118)

The elitist attitudes, and the complete lack of aesthetics that Linux programmers posses will prevent them from releasing anything worth my time.

(Note: I used Linux exclusively on my desktop a year ago, then I got fed up and got a Mac. Now I sit here wondering why I wasted my time with something so pathetic)

The only real way to switch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9668123)

The only real way to switch people to Linux is to give them a new computer with Linux!

Heck, people don't explicitly BUY Microsoft-Windows. Instead, they GET it on their PC at the store. Most people don't know what Windows is, and they certainly wouldn't pay $100+ for a copy of it.

Linux has to be offered as an option when you by the PC at the retail store. If Linux were included, with a bunch of office software, for $50 less than the plain-jane MS-Windows bundle, then you've got a winner.

"Oh, would you like the Linux option? Sure... That'll save you $50 out of the gate, and then you won't need to spend $400 for MS-Office, because OpenOffice is included FREE".

Sure, Microsoft will have to compete. But as we know, competition is GOOD. It'll force MS to produce a higher quality, lower-cost product. And that's what capitalism is supposed to be about.

There's never been a lack of reasons to leave... (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668125)

...but those who could use Linux (i.e. using a limited set of common applications that are also available for Linux) simply aren't persons to "try out" anything.

Here, I set up a Linux desktop for my parents (actually, it was more of a Linux server for me, we simply added keyboard/mouse/screen), and it turns out they use it more than Windows. Properly set up with a cron job to update itself, it should be nearly maintenance-free.

Personally, I run Windows on my main machine (+ X server to run Linux apps) because there are simply so much I'm not ready to let go of, and emulation in Linux.... well, in my experience it's either a) very slow (typically VM solution) or b) difficult and buggy (emulation / system call translation ).

Linux is making big inroads in the corporate market. Don't expect to see any serious migration on the desktop until that has happened. After all, that is where most non-computer interested people get their computer experience and knowledge.


Addictive Linux? (1)

cloricus (691063) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668128)

I finally got sick of windows two months back. Tried mandrake 10 community and now half of the computers here run on several flavours of *nix. (Debian, slack and mdk.) Windows is now only used for directx games and that wont last long once we get a subscription to winex4.

I personally think linux is now good enough to challenge M$ in the desktop market.

Ok Grandma and Gramps .... (2, Funny)

jrl87 (669651) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668132)

First, this button turns on the computer.

Second, you use this board with letters, numbers and symbols on it to input, "type", information into the computer ... we call it a key board.

Third, you move this kinf of round object here to select stuff on the screen, "moniter", which we call a mouse.

Ok, you got all of that. Good. Here's a cd with linux on it. You have to install it to use the computer. I have to go.

All kidding aside, you know that's going to happen, most of my family is that way with the ironic exception of my grandma. I think she has worked on computers since they came out. She has a box with XP on it that she rarely uses and another on that is of the pre-pentium era that she uses frequently. In her case, I think she would do better with linux than windows, but I don't think she is savvy enough to install it herself. If this is going to work, computers are going to have to be shipped with linux pre-installed and be readilly availabe.

The Ghist (1)

LittleBigScript (618162) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668138)

I don't know about these articles. He starts by suggesting that some people would be better off abandoning windows for linux.

Then he finishes by offering ways to run windows, win4lin, within a virtual machine on linux.

I am getting tired of cheerleaders. Journals, I don't think this one, install, manage, or write code for any open-source projects.

He doesn't offer any solutions or ideas, just researches other peoples suggestions and reformats them.


Linux needs to be properly "marketed" to consumers (2, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668141)

We've got a problem with open source products - they're hard to "market." A significant reason that Linux hasn't overtaken Windows is that its hard for a consumer to purchase (try going to your local Best Buy or Radio Shack to buy a Linux O/S machine). Compare to Windows, which is everywhere. Since my mom or sister are no more likely to re-format their hard drives than swap out their car's transmissions, they'll remain in the Windows camp by default. A second prob is that "Linux" doesn't exist as a single product line like Windows XP and XP Home - instead, we've got countless distros that confuse people. Brands are hard things to build, and I see this as a serious problem for mainstream adoption of open source.

Perfect Opportunity! (2, Interesting)

Dolphy (569457) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668142)

Take the time; let's do a little experiment. Go searching through the archives for any and every newsworthy bug, exploit, or vulnerability which has affected any part or whole of the Windows Operating System. I absolutely guarantee you that half the comments and followup posts to the article will be some variant of "This is the perfect time to switch!". Like the tellings of crazed prophets, I now expect the "End of the World!" proclomation every time I see some bug or patch made public.

What am I getting at? It's simple: this *isn't* the perfect time to switch, and neither will the next exploit, nor the one after. There's are reasons (although, granted, few) that Windows won't go away. It's fine and good to set up a linux box for Grandma and hand over the controls when you're done padding the floors, but try getting Grandma to install Linux herself (just about any version here, folks), or Dad, or Mom, or Sis, or anyone else who hasn't been playing with Linux to begin with. Have fun (and make videos!) of them trying to admin their systems or set any options more advanced than Desktop Resolution in their DE. There's an idea as well: let's see them try to install and setup their windowing system as well.

Before your shouts of "Check the docs, newb" get too loud, let me point out that this is exactly why the "lesser beings" are slow to switch: they don't need the docs for Windows.

Now, don't get me wrong, we are headed in the right place. Gentoo and RedHat are decent examples of where administration and/or ease of installation/usability should be going. But don't turn a blind eye to the fact that we ain't there yet.

Too hard to install new software (1)

jensen404 (717086) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668147)

I tried Linux (Fedora 1) a couple of months ago. I found it very easy to install (better than the windows installer). I got used to the interface very fast. I was able to configure the UI.

The problem I had was installing new software from the internet. Aptget was confusing. I couldn't install the newest Linux NVidia drivers (needed recompiling of the kernal or something).

I tried installing a few FPS demos, but couldn't. (Ut2003, America's Army, Quake 3)

I am not a Linux geek, but rather a Linux user... (1)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668151)

I've tried several distro's and it seems to me that there are several very good ones available. I've used Lindows/Linspire which I found very easy to use and RedHat 9.0 was easy to get running well. I've had trouble with Fedora 1&2 and so have moved on. I carry a Knoppix Live CD with me and like that one very well, too. At home, I'm currently using SuSE 9.1 Pro and it's the best yet as far as performance and ease of use for my desktop applications. Yast seems to work well. I was easily able to d/l and install Opera, which is still my browser of choice. Now if I can just get my mom to quit using AOL!!

"Do the Right Thing. It will gratify some people and astound the rest." - Mark Twain

Mandrake 10.0 a Nice Suprise! (4, Informative)

MysticalMatt517 (772389) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668156)

I recently decided to give Mandrake 10.0 a shot, and I am pleansantly suprised! Except for a few minor glitches that were easy to iron out it installed perfectly on the first try! I would say it's equally as easy as a Windows install.

Also, after setting up the http mirrors I found that software installation was incredibly simple. I was able to install everything I needed in just a few mouse clicks. This included everything from Apache/PHP/mySQL to silly stuff like Gaim.

This is the first Linux install I've ever had where I didn't have to edit at least a couple text files to get it to run properly. I would reccomend it as a great "Linux Desktop" for the Average Joe user.

Sorry, not going to happen. (1)

OwP_Fabricated (717195) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668161)

Most Linux distros are now dummy-friendly enough at install, but until it's easy to install/upgrade software and drivers without touching the commandline at all, Joe Sixpack is going to want nothing to do with it.

Nevermind that no hardcore gamer is going use Linux as their primary OS what with the increasing number of DirectX only games. Half Life 2 will probably be the nail in the coffin for people claiming to be Linux gamers.

It's not really the Linux community's fault that developers are using a non cross-platform API though.

Why I don't use Linux (1)

WOSSquee (722543) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668167)


I love Firefox, I try and get it passed on to all my non-geek friends, but the only ones who pick it up really are the geeks. I'm sure that if I used Linux, I'd love it, because there would be a billion things to tinker with, and that's one of the things I love about computers. But my non-geek friends would all be like... whaaaat? Root? Huh? I forcibly install Firefox on their computers, and a month later I see them using IE again.

It's all about familiarity. If someone's been using Microsoft for years, they are simply not going to switch unless the alternative is easy to find, easy to try, and easy to master. Which means Microsoft is going to have to install Linux with Windows XP and have people pick. And when they choose XP, they have to say, "You should really try this other thing." Hell, I don't even know where to download a Linux distro, and I read slashdot on a daily basis. I don't even know which distro is the best, the one I should use. I do know that I'm using XP, and while it may suck, it does play Counterstrike and Vice City and FFXI and all the other things I want to play.

It's never going to happen. The only way you can get it to the mainstream is keep pounding away at the places where non-IT people work with computers. If enough people use Linux there, soon some of them will start to bring it home. Those people are your target market.

Microsoft tax (1)

blackhedd (412389) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668170)

As long as the vast majority of personal computer offerings come with Windows pre-installed, there's no reason for people to try Linux. I know you can get an MS-free desktop *if you try hard enough* but that doesn't cover enough of the users out there to matter. We still haven't figured out what is going to tip the scales.

You know... (0, Flamebait)

the_mad_poster (640772) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668185)

I just dumped Linux altogether for FreeBSD for one reason: it was a HORRIBLE desktop system.

I went to log in one day and then ran startx. Imagine my surprise when xinit took over five minutes to run. Imagine my surprise when it took several minutes to launch a single Firefox or Nautilus window. Imagine my surprise when, under Gnome, it took several minutes to resolve hosts on my cable connection.

Linux is NOT ready for the desktop. I dumped it for FreeBSD because I figured that if the desktop part was just going to stop working I might as well just run a BSD and forgo the prettiness altogether. Switching to Linux just because IE sucks ass is ridiculous. This is the sort of assinine nonsense that makes Linux supporters look like completely raving idiots.

One small problem (1)

ElectricPoppy (679857) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668187)

Yep. Switch to Linux. You didn't really want to use that Scanmaker 6000, did you? You just bought it for decoration. And you don't need to use Photoshop, After Effects, Encore DVD or Premiere. If you're lucky, in a few months, you can cobble something together that is roughly equivalent. Of course, that's assuming you don't use 3/4 of the functionality of those applications.

Sorry, but just switching to Linux isn't a viable alternative for most people right now.

I just switched to Lindows (1, Interesting)

Merdalors (677723) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668190)

Fed up with the absurd circus of Windows patches, anti-virus software that's lagging, anti-spyware that doesn't know where to find all the breadcrumbs, software firewalls, hardware firewalls, I switched to Lindows/Linspire. My 13-year old daughter was cruising the 'Net within ten minutes (she had to fuss with her desktop motif first...).

We are now surfing safely. However, it should be said that [1] the Mozilla-derived browser crashes regularly and unreproduceably. [2] In KDevelop, the wizard-generated "Hello World" program won't link (make) or run. [3] "Network Connection" program goes into 45-sec. loop, then crashes because the same entry is repeated several times in /etc/resolv.conf. Huh?

Still has a loooong way to go...

Did you notice the talkback section? (1)

Recovery1 (217499) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668220)

Did anyone notice that the talkback section of the site was filled with anti-linux posts. A couple of them were really nasty too...

And they complain about us, the /. crowd. Sheesh.

GNU/Linux is getting lazy (1)

citizen01 (785533) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668223)

At first, the *X systems were used by expert and entusiast of the computers, but at the moment that the system was accesible for all kind of people, this chaged.
This people have no time to learn C, assembly, *read* the "fine" man pages. The computer must be accesible for everybody, but at what cost?. I have seen this change with my own eyes. So, at this moment I use the Slackware, because it has been a good GNU/Linux distro with UNIX flavour for years.

In order to finish, I think that must be distros for everyone. Some of them for newbies like Mandrake, and some for who loves UNIX like Slackware. So the diversity must be defended. Would be fantastic that everybody used free software in a future, but this software should be *good quality* software :-) . -- One day, I'll be using a BSD system, but now I choose Slackware.

get a mac... (1)

sieb (749103) | more than 9 years ago | (#9668236)

I just tell people to get a Mac. OSX is the usability that Linux should have, plus its a more secure and stable environment. In the end though, it really doesn't matter, your machine is only as secure as you make it, and most people don't know how. MS gets all the grief because they are the most noticable. Guarentee you that if Linux or OSX were on top, they would get just as many hits..
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