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A Glimpse at the Linux Desktop of the Future

timothy posted about 9 years ago | from the irxillent dept.

GUI 759

hisham writes "Every now and then we see articles pointing out "what's wrong with Linux on the desktop." This one gives a nice overview not only of the problems we all know, but also where to look for solutions (app dirs, smarter filesystems) and what's out there (projects trying to change the face of Linux, like Klik, Zero Install and GoboLinux). Still, it usually boils down to things that Mac OS X already has or that are/were touted for inclusion on MS Longhorn. Fortunately, the major desktops stopped playing catch and are focusing on forward-looking Linux projects, like KDE Plasma and Gnome Beagle. Interesting times ahead."

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I HATE ALL OF YOU! (-1, Troll)

News For Turds (580751) | about 9 years ago | (#12984236)

Go to hell. Rot in hell.

Love Always,
News For Turds

Dear Linux (5, Funny)

Seumas (6865) | about 9 years ago | (#12984239)

Dear Linux,

At first, I really admired your lofty goals and pure-hearted ambitions. You spoke of freedom. You spoke of choice. You spoke of a world without limits.

But over the years, you have stagnated. Sure, you make a robust server and I'll always have a place in my heart (and my production racks) for you. But you have failed to thrive on my desktop.

Why, just last year, I tried to get you to work with my 23" Apple Cinedisplay. I was ready to return to you full-time after a long desktop-linux hiatus, if only you could have displayed properly on that Cinedisplay without screwing up the resolution. I didn't want to run you in 1024x768 on a 1920x1600 screen. Nor did I want to run 1920x1600 worth of desktop in a 1024x768 resolution where I'd have to roll the mouse all over the place to screen-off to the rest of the desktop.

And should I even mention the fiascos with various sound cards that you just didn't want to play nicely with? Or of the hardware that you were supposed to be "known-good" on that you chose not to work with at the most inopportune moments?

After seven years of courting, you still didn't achieve desktop prominence in my life. In fact, the only switch you encouraged me to make was away from you and toward a platform that "just works".

See, I've recently decided to shove you off the desk and turn you into a fileserver for my massive collection of porn, MP3s and ripped movies. Apple has found a way to give me a beautiful, slick, useful, enjoyable interface that makes everything you offer look like a rejected Fisher-Price prototype. And it slaps this onto a powerful BSD core. It's the best of both worlds. More, when I plug something into it - be it an iPod, 23" or 30" cinedisplay or anything else, it just works. I don't have to spend five days playing with LineModes in x86free.conf or massaging device drivers. I don't have to spend more time configuring and installing things than I do using them anymore.

As I said, you'll always have a place in my production racks. There, we'll always be friends. But when it comes to my desk... I think we should really stop seeing each other. In fact, I already have. I've moved on. And my new desktop is more than you could ever hope to be. Maybe someday you'll grow up and realize that "free as in freedom" and "screw the corporates" rhetoric, nice as it is, doesn't justify sub-par computing.

Maybe we can try again some day. For now, I need my space.

Re:Dear Linux (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984290)

Mod this up, he speaks the truth.

Re:Dear Linux (5, Funny)

TheViffer (128272) | about 9 years ago | (#12984295)

The executive summary of this goes something like this ..

"X-Windows Sucks"

Re:Dear Linux (1, Informative)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | about 9 years ago | (#12984407)


X-windows allowed me to make modlines for very odd displays with very unusual resolutions..

I have yet to hear why that can't be done for this specific one..

Re:Dear Linux (3, Informative)

Markus_UW (892365) | about 9 years ago | (#12984463)

I have my 1280x800 working just fine... If I'm not mistaken, thats a rather similar aspect ratio, and a bizarre resolution. And my sound chipset doesn't work on a clean install of Windoze, but Slackware and ALSA found it just fine (and so did Fedora, Ubuntu, and SuSE).

Re:Dear Linux (2, Insightful)

Elenyon (790257) | about 9 years ago | (#12984365)

I love it how people blame linux for manufactures xnot suporting their hardware on it then say it is linuxs fault for not having someone that could properly reverse engineer the hardware to their liking.
Also it is fun to watch people complain about How they cuoldn't get a monitor to display in 1920x1600 while i type this on my monitor displaying in 1920x1600 funny what a google search and not being an idiot will do for you

Re:Dear Linux (4, Insightful)

^Sarge^ (126834) | about 9 years ago | (#12984417)

Why should you have to google for something though ?

Re:Dear Linux (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984432)

Why should you have to google for something though ?

I guess you have never installed or really used MS Windows.

Re:Dear Linux (1)

Smiffa2001 (823436) | about 9 years ago | (#12984486)

I guess you have never installed or really used MS Windows.

Never really had to Google for something to install or use Windows...

Re:Dear Linux (1)

Markus_UW (892365) | about 9 years ago | (#12984489)

I installed XP Pro on my laptop the other week, and *nothing* worked, that was when i decided to switch to Linux as my principal OS (except on my gaming rig, of course, but that's ATI and the game developers' faults).

Re:Dear Linux (-1, Troll)

inode_buddha (576844) | about 9 years ago | (#12984502)

" Why should you have to google for something though ?"

Because you're interested in making something work? Oh, wait, you're *not* interested? Never mind.

Re:Dear Linux (4, Insightful)

^Sarge^ (126834) | about 9 years ago | (#12984574)

Not really, I'm at the stage for leisure I like to plug it in and "It just works". Last thing I want to do is type into google "How do I make my monitor work pretty please", then read through 12 pages of other people saying "me too, omgwtfbbqlol", to find on page 13 ohh this isn't able to be used with video card y due to z problem, feel free to write your own code... etc etc. Bugger that, plug monitor in, open system preferences -> displays -> select res I want and settle back to do something "useful" with my time.

Re:Dear Linux (5, Insightful)

zootm (850416) | about 9 years ago | (#12984475)

Sibling brings up the good point. If someone has to go to the internet and search for a way to get around a problem, the system has failed him or her and he or she is working around it. Fair enough it's difficult for open source projects like Linux to get these things to work, since it often involves reverse-engineering and the like, but this is not the user's fault, and blaming them for not wanting to use something that's horrible to use is far from productive.

Re:Dear Linux (-1, Troll)

Seumas (6865) | about 9 years ago | (#12984477)

love it how people blame linux for manufactures xnot suporting their hardware on it then say it is linuxs fault for not having someone that could properly reverse engineer the hardware to their liking.

The monitor and videocard were both selectable options from the Graphical installer. The good that did was fuck-all, because it simply didn't work. The manufacturer (nvidia) provided a tested linux driver.

Also it is fun to watch people complain about How they cuoldn't get a monitor to display in 1920x1600 while i type this on my monitor displaying in 1920x1600 funny what a google search and not being an idiot will do for you

I guess you're relatively new to linux. If you've used it for any reasonable length of time, you know exactly how finicky it can be. You know how you can have the exact environment replicated on two seperate machines and the same linux distro will work flawlessly on one and refuse to work on the other (say, the infamous gripe with many videocards).

Funny what being an ignorant trolling slashdot dick will do for you.

Re:Dear Linux (1)

Markus_UW (892365) | about 9 years ago | (#12984538)

I don't know, both my laptop and x64 box have been running stable on their first installs of linux with everything working perfectly for over a year now. My only problems in the beginning were to to the shotty ATI driver support. But that's ATI's fault, and since I dont game on Linux, I don't really care about 3D rendering. On the other hand, I've had to reinstall Windows 3x this last year, and even less works on a clean install (windows didn't even include drivers for my RAID controller, which caused me no end of pain for awhile) and, worst of all, my laptop's ethernet contoller didn't work on a clean install of winxp. so i couldn't download drivers for anything, and had to boot into linux and burn them onto a cd. So don't go complaining about Linux's hardware support, I've had way, way more problems with Windoze.

Re:Dear Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984520)

I like KDE myself, & am more of a "Windows Zealot" than Linux... some of you guys may 'beat on me for that' but it's how it is here @ least. Why?

Wealth of applications & quality (here is where you'll beat on me, the latter term no doubt), but the fact of the matter is, there just is MORE out there for Windows folks' to choose from & use, with more hardwares. NOT only in commercially produces wares, but also shareware/freeware ones too!

E.G.-> Linux has come MANY A MILE since I used it in Slackware 1.02 iirc, around 1994, especially in terms of driver support/hardware & mostly imo, having Plug-N-Play.

Kernel function re-entrancy's a reality, thus enterprise-class competition from Linux is possible.

Using the ANCIENT Unix SELECT functions @ the kernel level for thread scheduling (correct me if I am wrong here, because I remember it was being used to 'work-around' asynchronous scheduling of threads I/O & less "wait-states", rather than using what NT-based Os' did in completion ports, no upper limits theoretically here) has been corrected afaik also!

I am TRULY impressed by what's been done from say, 2.2 to current 2.6 builds of Linux's core in effect.

However, I'm going to say (and use) what I wrote here, years ago, IF you care to read it, in regards to the old MindCraft tests (Linux vs. Windows NT etc.): +Kowalski%22+and+%22Linux%22&hl=en []

One of the Linux dudes said one of the SMARTEST things I ever heard from the Penguin crowd, and to his peers, when I stated something along the lines of "NT: Inevitable it will win" due to the tremendous ca$h & talent resources MS can acquire, & to my 'naysayers' he stated:

"SHUT UP, and start coding"

(And I heartily agreed.... talking accomplishes squat, building creates what you need!)

This IS what Linux needs: Less spreading of gossip like women spouting slogans & "F.U.D.", & more development & contribution to it by guys like yourselves. And, imo?

Making Linux & Windows interoperate SEAMLESSLY as is possible. Neither one's going away.

I.E.-> Learn to code, get into it (since it is an 'open-source effort', you truly DO have every opportunity to contribute...

(& before you say to yourself "I could never code as good as those guys do", don't bullshit yourselves: You could come up with something really nice that others have overlooked! It IS possible, & something folks would really like & use!))

Plus? I personally think KDE is wonderful. The best UNIX type desktop there is imo, is MacOS X's Aqua based stuff, but KDE is nice.

Easy 'turn-around time' to learn, especially if you came out of a Win32 based OS (9x-2003) type shell, as it is VERY like it.

KDE's going to grow/improve, not only by being modded further (e.g.-. Plasma etc.) & how? NOT only modding KDE itself, but building apps for & around it.

With folks contributing to it via the REALLY nice tools out there for development for it nowadays, which imo, for application building, are:

1.) Kylix


2.) RealBasic

Problem is: I think LINUX folks are TOO C/C++ (or even PERL) centric! Way too much so!

BUT, this makes sense: The OS is written largely in those languages/tools... but, for "RAD" app creation, which is what this OS needs imo @ least?

You cannot TOUCH rapid application development tools... why? Faster turn-around time, with pre-built "LEGOS" you can use to build interface functions that are PROVEN & STABLE/WORK, leaving you to concentrate on engine/algorithms work, rather than building the interface (or, other non-visible functions) by hand/from scratch! THAT, takes time, time you wouldn't waste by using RAD toolsets!

Linux's STRONG already @ the server level, it just needs higher-quality freeware for it imo.

That's what's driven ME back each time to Windows, point-blank: more application availability for more purposes.

* To each his own, take potshots @ what I write all you like, you are entitled to your opinions, but that's mine...


P.S.=> Personally, on a "positive pro-linux note" I do really think MS 'fears' Linux, more than anything else... it's a strong free server, has decent desktops like KDE now, & it has tools that are "RAD", & THAT?

That means apps will come faster for it...

(& guys, that is the secret to HOW Microsoft 'captured' the hearts & minds of developers worldwide, via the Win32 API, & making tools that nearly ANYONE could grasp & use quickly ala VB, & Borland's Delphi &/or C++ Builder products).

You get coders, you get apps to end-users, & the cycle keeps speeding up... & you end up with desktop dominance because of folks having tools that do nearly ANYTHING you can imagine, you build it? They WILL come, so-to-speak... apk

Re:Dear Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984537)

Hey. Guess what... OSX doesn't have a "BSD Core". It's an XNU core with BSD services. It's NOT BSD just like Linux is NOT BSD. Have a nice day.

aarrgghghg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984243)

I'm a gnome you insensitive clod!

GoboLinux? (0, Troll)

Basje (26968) | about 9 years ago | (#12984252)

Is this the minidistro of OrcLinux? Does it turn your desktop green?

Re:GoboLinux? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984393)

No, it's a community-based version of FraggleLinux.

Klik? (1)

TuataraShoes (600303) | about 9 years ago | (#12984425)

I was willing to put the Gnome/KDE dispute aside. But if they start spelling Click with a 'K', I will not forgive.

Re:Klik? (2, Interesting)

SComps (455760) | about 9 years ago | (#12984488)

What is with the linux (and OSS world in general) with picking the most godawful, unprofessional and embarassing names possible for their stuff?

Come on! Can you imagine going to a professional conference and admitting that you run "gobolinux?"

not me. hell most of the time when asked I tell 'em I'm forced to be a mostly windows shop and have a few *coughcough*fedora*coughchoke* machines on the network. All these cutesy application names just serve to make boardrooms and administration folks not take the otherwise perfectly fine application seriously. No it's not right because they should be judged on their merits, but it is the way of the world none the less.

Pre-Loading Linux (5, Insightful)

bigtallmofo (695287) | about 9 years ago | (#12984253)

The biggest stumbling block to Linux on the desktop is that it is not pre-loaded by computer manufacturers such as Dell.

The average user would do just as well with Linux pre-loaded as they do with Windows pre-loaded. Add to that the lack of viruses and spyware and any productivity lost due to being in unfamiliar territory would possibly be more than made up for by the less-attacked environment.

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (5, Funny)

Seumas (6865) | about 9 years ago | (#12984310)

The average user would do just as well with Linux pre-loaded as they do with Windows pre-loaded.

Until they had to install an application, wanted to play their favorite videogame or upgrade their hardware.

"Hi grandma. You did what? You bought Quicken at OfficeMax today? Um... You do realize that doesn't work on linux don't you? No, I'm sorry grandma, that only works on a PC or a Macintosh. No, you totally wasted your money. But it's okay, you can totally get the same kind of program for free on linux! You just have to download it and install it. Well, your bank probably won't support it and it probably won't even connect to your bank and you'll have to do everything manually, but... it's free! . . . . Okay, grandma. You have to su to root and then apt-get update; apt-get upgrade. But first, make sure to edit your apt.sources file to point to the security branch so you'll recieve all of those updates. Okay, done? Good. Alright, now you wanted to get an account ledger application to track your banking, right? Okay, apt-get install aptitude and then run aptitude from the command line. After it loads up, start scrolling through the list of applications until you find something that sounds like it will do what you want. Oh - found one? Awesome, grandma! Now you need to press + and then g and g again . . . . . . . Huh? Wait, what'd it say? . . . . Oh, crap. No, apparently one of the dependancies didn't update properly. Okay, we need to remove and purge it and start all over again. Do you know how to use dpkg grandma?"

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984330)

Some big distros like SuSE come with Crossover Office, which runs a decent number of important apps. Sure, they're a little slower than on Windows and don't look as nice, but at least they work. And most importantly, at least from a desktop perspective, clicking on the Microsoft Word icon works just the same as clicking on an icon to launch a native app.

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about 9 years ago | (#12984400)

But then you're just ripping off the competing desktops out there. Worse than that, you're essentially just emulating them and running their apps (more or less). So what is the point of not using them in the first place? Other than "no viruses (yet)" and "it's free-(ish)", there's nothing.

And both of those are easily answered in favor of Windows right now:

Computers come with anti-virus suites and Windows. And as far as the user is concerned, it was "free" with the hardware. And as far as the OEM is concerned, they passed the cost on to the customer - so they couldn't care less.

There's just no reason to bother. Windows is "good enough" for everyone involved. Linux is not about a "great desktop experience". Linux is all about tolerating a (currently) inferior experience in support of ideaologies. Those who continue to use it in the face of so many problems and frustrations do so out of stubborn rebelion. Nothing wrong with that, but face it - when you are running Linux on your desktop, it's more of a statement than an experience.

Look at VoIP. It's taking off like mad. I know clueless AOL people who have signed up for and use Vonage (or similar services). Why? Because they want a good cost/performance benefit. Their phone bills drop from $200/mo to $20/mo and their services and benefits expand (they can now call anywhere in America/Canada without additional costs and outside of the country cheaply). They see the benefit immediately and VoIP, at this point, pretty much "just works". You plug the adapter in. You plug the phone in. You're done.

If Linux was truly a better experience, people would flock to it. All the moreso since it's free. The idea that people won't try linux because "if it's free, it has to suck" is laughable. When was the last time you knew someone who hated a bargain?

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | about 9 years ago | (#12984464)

If Linux was truly a better experience, people would flock to it. All the moreso since it's free. The idea that people won't try linux because "if it's free, it has to suck" is laughable. When was the last time you knew someone who hated a bargain?

Logic would agree with you, history doesn't really.

There have been better alternatives for PCs running a MS operating system for as long as the PC exists. Yet, people have been using PCs running a MS operating system anyway.

If 'better experience' was what people used for their choices in technology then we would have had betamax instead of VHS, Macs would have surpassed PCs in marketshare more then 15 years ago (or people would have been using Amigas or Atari STs or such) etc etc.

Sadly enough, most people have no clue and just use what they know and what others around them happen to be using. Better experience plays little if any role in that whatsoever.

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (2, Insightful)

PeteDotNu (689884) | about 9 years ago | (#12984347)

"Hi grandma. What's that? You're having trouble running Quicken? What's the error message? An error occurred? Right, I'm afraid I won't be able to help you out from here. We could try setting up a remote desktop. Okay, right click on My Computer... no, not MY computer, YOUR computer. Sigh."

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 9 years ago | (#12984415)

"Quicken isn't working, Grandma? Okay, here's the tech support phone number at Intuit" .......

"What's that grandma? KLedger isn't working? Okay, fire up your favorite usenet reader and subscribe to the group and post your problem in there. With any luck, they should have you sorted out in a few days."

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about 9 years ago | (#12984458)

"What's that grandma? KLedger isn't working? Okay, fire up your favorite usenet reader and subscribe to the group and post your problem in there. With any luck, they should have you sorted out in a few days."

And, I've heard that's STILL faster and better than Intuit's tech non-support. :-P

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984465)

A few DAYS?

With quicken on windows, my mother gets tech support in a few minutes, no more.

PS: your grandma can successfully navigate usenet? Mine can't!

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984559)

"What's that grandma? You didn't pay the extra $500 for phone support? Silly grandma!"

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (1)

ettlz (639203) | about 9 years ago | (#12984507)

"Hi, Grandma. What's that? You're having trouble running Quicken? ...Are you laundering money [] again?"

one click (2, Informative)

zogger (617870) | about 9 years ago | (#12984389)

one click app installs exist on linux from places like Linspire, so it's possible that other distros could do it as well. And a front end like synaptic makes it pretty darn easy, and is more advanced than what redmond offers.

Linux is ready for the desktop,*especially* for grandma, it just needs to be preinstalled and sold like that in the big retail shops. And frankly, with hard drive sizes like there are now, getting a computer with dozens/hundreds of apps preinstalled and available in the GUI menu tree would tend to negate any reason for grandma to even go looking for more apps. And people who actually have a need for more exotic apps usually have the wherewithal to go find them and install them, on any platform.

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984430)

Tell me about it.

About a year ago I persuaded a client who was setting up a new branch office (about 30 workstations and a couple of servers for mail, web apps and databases) to go with Linux (RH9).

Never Again! Not Ever! The amount of support I needed to provide was exceptional and cost me a lot. The client wasn't happy. The staff weren't happy.

None of this was because Linux didn't work, or the applications didn't work. They worked perfectly well for the most part.

It was just too unfamiliar to them. They couldn't just install stuff and customize stuff they way they could with Windows. When a hot new application came out that took their fancy, suprise suprise - it only worked on Windows or OS X.

They were mostly engineers, not dummies, so it was reasonable to let them install and customize stuff.

When I was unavailable, they didn't know where to get support. Please don't tell me about the 'community' because you can't usually get the answer you need, right then and there, just a bunch of idle speculation from know-nothings and "oh yeah - I have that problem too - I wonder why" responses.

The upshot of all this was that the client insisted on Windows XP for the desktop, and W2003 on one of the servers (for Exchange). Suddenly everyone was happy again!

I lost a lot of good will over this fiasco and although I really like Linux, and use it myself a lot, I'm not so keen on recommending it to clients now.

Maybe it was my fault, but I've thought about it many times and I don't really know how I could have made it turn out any better short of convincing the client to spend a fortune on Linux training courses for the staff. Even if they were willing, I couldn't find any suitable training locally and I wasn't in a position to offer it myself.

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (5, Interesting)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about 9 years ago | (#12984451)

It's only funny because it's true, sadly.

For projects that use it, one click installs do exist on Linux, via the autopackage installer [] . And they are actually one click too (well, OK, two clicks) because there's no Next->Next->Next style wizards involved. Why not watch the Flash demo [] to get a feel for how it works (it's a bit out of date now, things are slightly slicker these days).

One of the biggest problems autopackage has is simply that developers don't know about it. Whereas every Linux developer has heard of RPM, virtually none have heard of autopackage because it's so new (it only went stable in April).

If you like what you see there, spread the word or even better, write patches! The best kind of product is the one that sells itself, after all, and whilst autopackage is already quite nice for the end user we're still busy untangling the ball of wool that software distribution on Linux has become.

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (1)

poningru (831416) | about 9 years ago | (#12984524)

Hi grandma. You did what? You bought Quicken at OfficeMax today? Um... You do realize that doesn't work on linux don't you? No, I'm sorry grandma, that only works on a PC or a Macintosh. No, you didnt totally wasted your money, you can return it. Dont worry, it's okay, you can totally get the same kind of program for free on linux! You just have to download it and install it. Just click on system->Administartion->Synaptic Content Manager Ok, now put in your password, that I told you, yes the one on the sticky pad. now click on search and put in GNUcash. now click on it and mark for installation. Okay done? Good. What? yes grandma all those extra stuff that it will add are free too. Now just press apply. All done? Yes Grandma that was fast. Now just type in gnucash on the little white thing on the top. it will open up gnucash.

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (3, Insightful)

McGiraf (196030) | about 9 years ago | (#12984561)

Well I use GNU/Linux on my desktop and i like it better than windows. it's faster more stable and looks better. I know how to use dpkg. I don't care what anybody's grandma uses. Sure GNU/Linux is not completly ready for the "mainstream" desktop buy for sombody like me who's been using using computer since the apple ][ , looked under the hood of all computer and OS I used, GNU/Linux is actualy easier to use than Windows. Windows confuses me , it behaves in inconsitant ways and the logs are mostly useless to figure out why it's behaving wierd. The longer it's been installed the slower it runs, why? don't know. etc, you see my point.

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (2, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | about 9 years ago | (#12984363)

### The biggest stumbling block to Linux on the desktop is that it is not pre-loaded by computer manufacturers such as Dell.

I doubt it, installing Linux never was a problem, you could even install a Debian for *years* by simply holding the Return-key pressed, its actually quite a lot easier then installing a Windows system from scratch. Partitioning is the only thing that might be hard, but even that is only hard when you want to let the Windows partition survive.

The hard part is maintaining, using and configuring a running Linux and finding applications that actually do the job.

The 'hard install' problem of Linux is long solved, the 'make Linux easy to use' problem however is still far far away from being solved. Beside from that you basically install Linux only exactly once, it might take you a day or two, but its something you won't have to do again for a long long time, using Linux on the other side is something that you might be doing for the decades to come. Focusing so much on the install is only ignoring the real problems.

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (1)

m4dm4n (888871) | about 9 years ago | (#12984373)

Lets see, a month ago, my father AKA "the average user" bought a digital camera.

He put the CD that came with it into the drive and it automatically popped up the install menu for all the software that came with it. Once he had taken some photos, he plugged the camera into the machine via usb. It automatically copied the pictures to a folder and opened the editing software with that folder shown.

He bought a simple little B&W ink jet printer before that. After plugging it in, the drivers were installed before he sat down. In fact installing that printer was so simple that it caused a problem, he was absolutely sure he still had to do stuff to get it working, it couldn't have possibly been that easy.

Linux is great, but it can't yet claim to be that easy. Yes sure windows XP sometimes stuffs up with drivers, sometimes it isn't just plug and play. For the most part however, with the simple add on bits of hardware that "the average user" might purchase, it is.

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (1)

burner (8666) | about 9 years ago | (#12984423)

I just got a new camera myself.

With Ubuntu, I didn't have to insert a CD. I just plugged the camera in and was done. Indeed, I went to my parents' place (also an Ubuntu household), and didn't need to worry about carting around any CDs to give them a few choice pictures right off the camera.

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (1)

SComps (455760) | about 9 years ago | (#12984545)

I don't have that particular joy unless I tell my camera it's a HDD device. Works great in windows as a camera, not linux.

I also have a fairly recent, but not brand new Logitech webcam that linux won't use. Won't use a webcam from about 2 yrs ago either (I can't remember the brand)

Device support in linux is getting better, but it's far from good. It seems that if you want a device to function in linux, it's got to be geek friendly--meaning if the geeks aren't drawn to it, it won't be supported because of attrition.

This opinion is my own, make me an offer.

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (0)

Seumas (6865) | about 9 years ago | (#12984446)

My big breaking point with desktop linux was when I tried to plug a $3,000 monitor into it.

On OSX and Windows, I plugged it into the computer. It worked instantly. With linux, I spent a week and a half researching on the internet and tweaking config files and recompiling drivers when the official drivers wouldn't work and speaking with other gurus and reading support sites. Even with very precise "it worked for my exact same monitor on this exact same setup with this configuration" instructions, it didn't behave properly for me. No real reason why. It simply just didn't work. Even though my videocard was supported and the manufacturer provided their own linux driver for the card and the monitor was supported by the distro (it was even a selectable monitor/videocard combination in the Display section of the graphical installer)... it just would not work.

So let's see: Time involved on OSX/Windows - one second to plug the DVI cable from the monitor into the videocard. On Linux: 10 long days without any success.

Gee, whyever hasn't linux taken off on everybody's desktop?

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | about 9 years ago | (#12984540)

A while ago I installed Debian unstable on my workstation. Connected to it are:
A logitech trackball (recognized and configured correctly)
A HP PSC 1200 "All in One" printer/scanner copier combi (recognized and configured correctly)
A 21" CRT (recognized and configured correctly)
A 105 key "international" keyboard (recognized and connfigured correctly)
An external USB card reader (recognized and configured correctly)
An Olympus digital camera (recognized and configured correctly)

Of course the network card and video card were recognized and configured correctly as well.

All software I needed was included on the distribution CDs, and worked without needing any complicated configuration. I could scan and use the camera, got a nice 1280x1024 desktop at the highest refresh rate my display supports etc etc.

Now, Debian isn't exactly the most desktop friendly linux around, so I would expect others to do better.

To me it seems that your complaint is depending on the distro you tried, and there don't seem to be technical obstacles that prevent Linux from being as easy as Windows in this.

Installing applications from random CDs is another thing, but this is often more a cause for trouble then anything else.

Re:Pre-Loading Linux (1)

chrisnewbie (708349) | about 9 years ago | (#12984482)

COME ON, people in the office have already a hard time understanding Windows desktop and almost everything is IN YOUR FACE!
Switching to Linux would kill them uterly, imagine the wasted hours explaining to each and everyone of them where to find their application, printers,e-mails and other stuff .Companies just dont have the money or time to teach people how to use a computer and even less changing an O.S because some dude have a thing against PAYING to get a software like Microsoft.

As for less attack, i'm sorry but Linux gets attacked as often as a windows desktop, the only difference is there are less holes, but again it depends on the knowledge you have about Linux and what you installe with the O.S., because ex;some version of red hat comes fully loaded with software that could be a hazard to the user and could be used by a hacker.

There is too much confusion in linux and all their different distributions. Compatibility issues is the most critical of them i think, since not every hardware is supported on Linux.

Sorry but going with linux is like going back to windows 3.11 and dos where you had to run memmaker and modify you config.bat and autoexec,bat just to get some software to work and i'm not even talking about hardware setup here.

(I'm not bitching against Apache or server application but only for regular desktop)

Great idea! (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 9 years ago | (#12984254)

Now how about fixing the things that I and others see as the real PITA of linux. Lack of standardization adoption for filesystem layout, software installation and configuration?

Dont believe me those problems exist? go ahead and enable MDKKDM to allow remote X terminal logins. It's massively different from XDM, GDM and KDM on it's own, oh and where the hell are the config files? certianly not where most other X configs reside (the fault there started with KDM's decision to create a new standar for themselves.)

to hell with pretty, clickey, easier to use interface. Fix the problems we have that cause even seasoned vetrans to pull their hair out.

Re:Great idea! (1)

janoc (699997) | about 9 years ago | (#12984511)

MDKKDM is at least one year obsolete and Mandriva (former Mandrake) uses standard KDM now. So do not complain about lack of standardization when you opt to use unsupported and obsolete software.

Whats wrong? I (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984255)

Linux needs to get its act together

Linux is *not* user friendly, and until it is linux will stay with >1% marketshare.

Take installation. Linux zealots are now saying "oh installing is so easy, just do apt-get install package or emerge package": Yes, because typing in "apt-get" or "emerge" makes so much more sense to new users than double-clicking an icon that says "setup".

Linux zealots are far too forgiving when judging the difficultly of Linux configuration issues and far too harsh when judging the difficulty of Windows configuration issues. Example comments:

User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Linux?"
Zealot: "Oh that's easy! If you have Redhat, you have to download quake_3_rh_8_i686_010203_glibc.bin, then do chmod +x on the file. Then you have to su to root, make sure you type export LD_ASSUME_KERNEL=2.2.5 but ONLY if you have that latest libc6 installed. If you don't, don't set that environment variable or the installer will dump core. Before you run the installer, make sure you have the GL drivers for X installed. Get them at [some obscure web address], chmod +x the binary, then run it, but make sure you have at least 10MB free in /tmp or the installer will dump core. After the installer is done, edit /etc/X11/XF86Config and add a section called "GL" and put "driver nv" in it. Make sure you have the latest version of X and Linux kernel 2.6 or else X will segfault when you start. OK, run the Quake 3 installer and make sure you set the proper group and setuid permissions on quake3.bin. If you want sound, look here [link to another obscure web site], which is a short HOWTO on how to get sound in Quake 3. That's all there is to it!"

User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Windows?"
Zealot: "Oh God, I had to install Quake 3 in Windoze for some lamer friend of mine! God, what a fucking mess! I put in the CD and it took about 3 minutes to copy everything, and then I had to reboot the fucking computer! Jesus Christ! What a retarded operating system!"

So, I guess the point I'm trying to make is that what seems easy and natural to Linux geeks is definitely not what regular people consider easy and natural. Hence, the preference towards Windows.

Re:Whats wrong? I (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984283)

q3 in linux? simply run the installer on the Linux Q3 install cd. DUH.

same for Doom3, UT 2003/2004 alpha centuri and other games released for linux.

come back with real problems, like software dev's being incredibly stupid and not releasing staticall built binaries for that distro. there is NO good reason for not offering staticall build binaries, the dipshits that argue against it obviousally do not realize that there is such a thing called the "internet" so updated binaries can be downloaded and installed when a "secret backdoor that will kill billions" is found like they like to toute...

static binaries, ir works for 99% of all the commercial apps for linux.

Re:Whats wrong? I (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984286)

silly ass... you actually edit the /etc/X11/XF96Config... I mean if you're going to critique get it right...

Also you are unfairly representing windows.. I mean after the reboot you also have to press CTRL+ALT+DELETE... I mean you'd need 3 hands to get that right...

Re:Whats wrong? I (5, Funny)

obender (546976) | about 9 years ago | (#12984289)

you have to download quake_3_rh_8_i686_010203_glibc.bin, then do chmod ...

If only all Linux applications were that simple to install.

Re:Whats wrong? I (1)

CleverNickedName (644160) | about 9 years ago | (#12984306)

I agree 100% with your point. Linux is just not ready for the home yet.

But... Did you just invent a conversation between two imaginary characters to exemplify your point? Whoah...

Re:Whats wrong? I (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984361)

But... Did you just invent a conversation between two imaginary characters to exemplify your point? Whoah...

Could not agree more, I have huge amounts of difficulty just talking to myself

For someone to have the sheer scale of imagination to produce lines of dialogue between TWO people just boggles the mind.

I still find it difficult to believe that there can be such a thing as fictional books. I cannot quite understand how anything can be written that isn't merely a reproduction of real life

Personally I believe the title fiction is actually fictional, and is merely some form of spin to add the 'WOW' factor to an otherwise uninspiring story.

Re:Whats wrong? I (0, Offtopic)

iBod (534920) | about 9 years ago | (#12984485)

Ha ha! Excellent!

Best post of the day.

Re:Whats wrong? I (1)

CleverNickedName (644160) | about 9 years ago | (#12984573)

I didn't think it was possible to miss the point as much as you did. :)

What I found mind boggling was the fact that he would submit this as evidence. Fiction is not example.
That's why imaginary friends are rarely called as character witnesses.

Re:Whats wrong? I (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984335)

You have a reasonable point, but please stop reposting the same comment on every linux-on-the-desktop article!

You are oh-so-right. (5, Insightful)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | about 9 years ago | (#12984342)

Sadly, you and I are probably going to get nailed with "flamebait" or "troll", but you are essentially correct. If we were still in the day of DOS where we have to fight with IRQs and DMAs, what you mention would probably be more tolerated by new users. When I taught Solaris, I found that the people who adjusted to it the easiest were (no surprise here) mainframe users! I even taught one lady who was in her 70s how to use Solaris, and she did better than most of the rest of the class!

As would be expected, the Windows generation had the most difficulty converting. Thanks to Windows' dumbing down of the interface, people have come to expect the simplicity of throwing in a disc, letting it install, reboot if necessary, and the app is there. Issues like permissions, libraries, kernels, and so forth are going to be completely foreign concepts to the last majority of computer users that are out there.

And can you imagine what most people will think when you tell them that Linux runs X? "You mean, Linux is pornographic?!!" (That's called humor. I know that that's a foreign concept to many Slashdot mods.)

Obviously, education is the key, but that also assumes that the user is willing to learn. Not all of them are, and that's fine. Let them eat Windows. But until Linux does dumb itself down for those who fear the command line, people will look at it, them look at Windows, and switch back to Windows because of the sake of simplicity.

Alternately, I wish that more companies would offer PCs with Linux preinstalled right there in the store with a Linux desktop right there. Let the people see what Linux can do; let them get a feel for it in the store. Maybe they wouldn't feel so afraid of it. The Linux desktop is very nice as of late. MEPIS Linux v3.3.1 has one of the best desktops I've seen when it comes to user friendliness. I've actually been able to convert a few people to give Linux a try because of it. (Not many, mind you, but it's better than none.)

Re:You are oh-so-right. (1)

DenDave (700621) | about 9 years ago | (#12984469)

So it's linux bashing season.. big deal.
I have Macs and I have been running Linux for over 5 years, desk, rack and laptop. Most of the linux-on-mac folks don't know their tits from their arse (*) so I hardly see how a slash-tit author has any authority to rant about linux.

Get some real geeks and then we'l talk.

(*) if they DID, maybe linux on a mac would actually work properly! Just scroll throught the linux-PPC maillists for any major distro and you may notice the level of posting equates roughly to the "going postal" section on!!!

Re:You are oh-so-right. (1)

hcdejong (561314) | about 9 years ago | (#12984484)

... until Linux does dumb itself down for those who fear the command line,

Making Linux easier to use is NOT about 'dumbing it down' (losing features in an attempt to appear less intimidating). If anything, the opposite should be true: the OS should become more intelligent, taking care of the tedious stuff so the user can concentrate on doing his job.

OS X is a good example of how this can be done: you can install some (most?) applications by dragging an icon to the Applications folder. You can still do it the hard/manual way as well, but that's now an option.

Re:You are oh-so-right. (1)

iBod (534920) | about 9 years ago | (#12984534)

Issues like permissions, libraries, kernels, and so forth are going to be completely foreign concepts to the last majority of computer users that are out there.

But surely, that's exactly how it should be.

As an ancient (ex) mainframe sysprog myself, I like to know the technical details, but the majority of users just need to get their work done, or be creative, or enjoy their games or whatever.

Windows and OS-X let them do this, and Linux doesn't, really.

I don't consider making something more usable and/or accessible to be "dumbing down".

Re:Whats wrong? I (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984550)

Linux is *not* user friendly, and until it is linux will stay with >1% marketshare.

Windows has >1% marketshare too.

Greater than, less than, what's the difference?

Re:Whats wrong? I (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 9 years ago | (#12984569)

You're comparing apples and oranges and leaving out the orange. "I had to install Quake3, and it said to go get the updated drivers, so I did, but then my screen would only run in 640x480, and the virus software started complaining, and MS Office wouldn't run!"

No kidding, this is what happened on my game system. It took several rounds of updates and yanking out my good video card and using a cheap one to get the machine bootable with the resulting mess.

Re:Whats wrong? (1)

SammyTheSnake (630196) | about 9 years ago | (#12984579)

I was going to attack your reasoning on your other points, but figured others would do that (and quite possibly better) but this struck me as interesting:

Linux is *not* user friendly, and until it is linux will stay with >1% marketshare.

(I'm assuming you meant <1%)

Since surveys are starting to put linux at over 3% of desktops (and in any case, comparable numbers, or even more than Macs, which few people would not call "user friendly") it must, therefore, be "user friendly"?

I would submit that at the least that 3% has been convinced it is...

Cheers & God bless
Sam "SammyTheSnake" Penny

PS. have a look at sp [] , []

AppDirs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984257)

Those people who do not understand GNU stow are cursed to reinvent it. Possibly even more poorly (though that would take some doing).

Re:AppDirs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984377)

Does xstow count as a re-invention?

Beagle == Spotlight? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984265)

Am I missing something? How can it be forward looking when its already integrated into Mac OS X (Spotlight) and an add on for Windows (Google Desktop search)?

Re:Beagle == Spotlight? (2, Interesting)

thm76 (718345) | about 9 years ago | (#12984525)

Well, I am not sure about this, but I think Beagle was available first. I think it is included in the latest SuSE which was earlier on the market than Mac OS 10.4. Don't know about Google Desktop search.

I have to admit that Beagle is not yet finished (no 1.0 yet) but it'll be ready earlier than Longhorn, I reckon.

For me Beagle is an example for Linux not playing catch up with Windows anymore but Linux having a useful (probably killer) application first to market.

Furthermore I think that Linux is in many regards more consistent and more polished than Windows. It doesn't get into my way so much and lets me do things faster and easier, that's for sure. Since using the last few iterations of Gnome I find myself swearing at stupid Windows more often. Explorer cannot even dream about being a match for spatial Nautilus, for instance.

And I prefer Linux to Mac OS though I'd recommend Mac OS for new computer users.

Oh no (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984272)

A /. troll writing a stupid article about what linux needs to do to succeed on the desktop. Just what we've been waiting for.

And you don't even have to read far to know that it's not worth reading the whole thing

"Installing Applications is complicated"
No, it isn't. It's different than what people are accustomed to, but it sure isn't complicated.

"Directory structures can be confusing to navigate"
Yes, Joe User and my mom don't use linux because of its confusing directory structure. Please...
And don't tell me the directory structure of other systems make more sense, it doesn't.

"Interface is confusing and inconsistent"
While I agree that it is far from perfect it sure isn't more confusing or inconsistent than the alternatives.

"Steep learning curve required to understand system functions"
As is the case with any OS out there.

Seriously, linux has to compete against a system that has an installbase of more than 90% on PCs world wide, against a system that comes preinstalled with about every new PC, a system that most people associate with computers.

Did it ever occur to people like batsy that being a hughe success on the desktop in this kind of cirumstances might take some time, no matter what the directory structure of Linux might be?

PARENT TROLL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984292)

Nice try [] , dipshit.


Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984308)

Honey, did it ever occur to you that it could have been me who made the comment on osnews?

My last Linux problem: (1)

British (51765) | about 9 years ago | (#12984274)


For some reason IPV4 was non-existant on all 4 Ethernet cards, but ipv6 worked. Tried everything, eventually enlisted the help of 2 friends for a total reinstall. But I had no precious data to backup. Ugh.

Choice (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984278)

Linux...the CHOICE of a GNU generation!

Re:Choice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984529)

First people laugh at me, and then they beat me up and then Lunix wins!!!


Some good points here. (5, Insightful)

filesiteguy (695431) | about 9 years ago | (#12984285)

I can see some of the points here. However, for most applications, I do not go about the ./configure, make, make install routine. I simply load my app manager (YaST), choose the app I want and it is installed.

I think the KDE and Gnome desktops are very usable with a few minor tweaks. As I often mention, my 60+ year old mother uses KDE just fine. And, hey, she's not gotten any viruses or adware.

Now, I realize that the *nix desktops are not perfect and there are some serious hardware issues, due to manufacturers bending over for big Bill, but these things are slowly changing.


Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984298)

OS X is closed source. This means that it is the work of the devil - its purpose is to make the end users eat babies.

Linux is the only free OS. Yes the BSD lincenses may appear more free, but as they have no restrictions, they are actually less free than the GPL. You see, restricting the end user more actually makes them more free than not putting restrictions on them. You must be a dumb luser for not understanding this.

And you obviously dont have a real job. A real job involves being a student or professional academic. You see, academics are the ones who know all about productivity - if you work for a commercial organisation you obviously do not know anything about computers. Usability is stupid. Whats wrong with the command line? If you cant use the command line then you shouldnt be using a computer. vi should be the standard word processor - you are such a luser if you want to use Word. Installing software should have to involve recompiling the kernel of the OS. If you dont know how to do this, you are a stupid luser who should RTFM. Or go to a Linux irc channel or newsgroup. After all, they are soooo friendly. If you dont know how the latest 2.6 kernel scheduling algorithm works then they will tell you to stop wasting their time, but they really are quite supportive.

Oh, and M$ is just as evil as Apple. Take LookOUT for instance. You could just as easily use Eudora. Who needs groupware anyway, a simple email client should be all we use (thats all we use as academics, why cant businesses be any different).

And trend setters - Linux is the trend setter. It may appear KDE is a ripoff from XP, but thats because M$ stole the KDE code. We all know they have GPL'ed code hidden in there somewhere (but not the things that dont work, only the things that work could possibly have GPL'ed code in it).

And Apple is the suxor because they charge people for their product. We all know that its a much better business model to give all your products away for free. If you charge for anything, then you are allied with M$ and will burn in hell.

Semantic Desktop is a research topic (1)

aharth (412459) | about 9 years ago | (#12984315)

There is research going on in Europe in the area of next-generation PIM and collaboration. One project is the networked social semantic desktop, there's a workshop about the topic in November 2005: []

Desktop icons (3, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 9 years ago | (#12984320)

In the bit on desktops he writes:

Everything else should be kept off the desktop. In particular, it is rather important for the system to NOT have desktop shortcuts in order to prevent the common glut of special offers and installers.

But everybody I know likes to clutter their desktops with icons. My wife does it in Gnome. My workmates to it in windows and KDE. Everybody does it.

Yes it may look ugly and cluttered but so is the physical desk I work on. That's life. Shouldn't we stop telling users how to organise their data?

Re:Desktop icons (2, Insightful)

cyclop (780354) | about 9 years ago | (#12984492)

Mod parent up.
I'm really, really fed up to listen to people that think that making things easy for the end user means imprisoning it inside your questionable usability decisions. Users must have maximum flexibility. They want it, they need it, they love it. It is obvious they need reasonable defaults, but they must be free to change them as they like.

Frankly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984350)

... the man apparently also known as "I'm Batman!" doesn't know what he is talking about.

Running before walking (1)

BenjyD (316700) | about 9 years ago | (#12984367)

I don't think you need to look at such revolutionary changes as the author suggests to produce a great Linux desktop. The three areas we need to look at first, in order of importance, are:

1) Bugs
2) Usability
3) Performance

GNOME, for example, seems to be shifting its focus from 'revolution' to these points. The frameworks of several great desktop environments are there, they just need to be finished off,

The future's here baby !!! (4, Funny)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 9 years ago | (#12984375)

My plan9 desktop [] , (at 50% zoom) the open window is a vnc to my X desktop with 9wm running.

The problem with some users... (4, Interesting)

ratta (760424) | about 9 years ago | (#12984384)

is that they do not want something that is like windows, they just want windows. I've seen people that prefer to do very complicated things on windows rather than running a couple of unix commands. Most people do not "choose" to use linux, they just learn one way to do thing, and this will be "the way" to do things. They are more sure to use windows than you will ever be to use linux, as a superior entity (the computer seller) imposed it to them. Instead you choosed to use linux, you know that there are many OSes, so you'll never be 100% sure that linux is the right choice over all other OSes. How strange is world we are living...

Oh no. Not the Dock. (3, Interesting)

brainstyle (752879) | about 9 years ago | (#12984403)

I've never been a big fan of the Dock on OS X. It has a lot of problems, famously enumerated by Tog [] . I'm a big fan of OS X for a number of reasons, but the Dock should go.

If you want the user to be able to determine what Taskbar/Dock type thing they want, you might want to check out DragThing [] as a third option, which lacks the visual style of the Dock but works a whole heck of a lot better.

I'm not a big fan of highly customizable interfaces, but man I wish I could just turn the Dock off once and for all.

Change the people, not the software... (4, Insightful)

Arthur B. (806360) | about 9 years ago | (#12984405)

I know they are various issues for linux on the Desktop, hardware beeing the most proeminent. I remember the first time I tried to install linux... The installation program asked me: "Do you want me to set the symbolic link ?" ( ln -s /usr/linux-blahblah /usr/linux I guess ) Well, install has gone a good way since. The real problem is not here, the real problem is people. Yep. Most people don't understand crap using a computer... They use learned sequences of actions to use their apps but have absolutely no clue of why they are doing so. Most people WILL get very confused if you switch their windows taskbar from botton to top. Try that, really. They don't know how to orientate in the city, they just know that to go to work they should take right right left left right straight ahead for 100 meters, left left and right. Should they take a wrong turn they will be completly lost. Most people have a hard time with mac or with windows... geez, most people have a hard time with a microwave ! You can't be ahead in technology and easy to use for everyone. It's like asking a quantum physic book to provide new theoretical breakthroughs and then complaining that your grandmother can't understand it.

It's Gnu/Linux you insensitive clod... (1, Insightful)

Wubby (56755) | about 9 years ago | (#12984410)

I'm not normally a rabid Gnu-phile, but I do agree that there should be a distiction between discussing the OS's that are based on the Linux kernel and the kernel itself. Context isn't always enough, and while Linus is a super code monkey, he did not create an OS, just a kernel. (Well, not these OS's, anyway).

Seamless Vs Extensibility (5, Insightful)

spockvariant (881611) | about 9 years ago | (#12984411)

One seldom commented disadvantage of tightly integrated desktops like Gnome/KDE is their lack of extensibility. Yes, you read that right:) As a 10+ year Linux user, the biggest advantage I've felt of using Linux is its extensibility in the 'UNIX way' - using pipes, scripts and files. The more you change these interfaces into object-oriented/middleware derived ones, the more difficult and annoying it becomes for UNIX hackers to script them - which destroys one of the main purposes of being on UNIX.

With the evolving desktop, people stop writing general purpose tools that abstract data and functionalities as simple files and scripts, and instead write their stuff for specific desktops. One good example is synce [] - a program to sync WinCe devices with Linux, which integrates well into Evolution, but has no 'dangling interface' where you can just snoop in, get your data and do what you want with it. File-oriented interfaces were a given with most Linux apps till very recently. And as their number/dominance diminish, I wonder if Linux hackers will slowly switch to other UNIXes just because they'd be more UNIX-like.

I used to care about the "Linux Desktop" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984447)

First of all, why is it the "Linux Desktop". There's Gnome and KDE, which are Unix desktops, but nothing about Linux.

Anyway, I used to care about the "linux desktop" about 5 years ago. But in my opinion, KDE choosing Qt as its toolkit basically ruined any chances of a dominant desktop that could be a standard. Because of that, Gnome was started and now you've got a fractured unix desktop.

As soon as OSX on intel comes out, I'll be using that and triple-booting into windows and something like GoboLinux and E17.

I just have no interest in standard Linux desktops when there is no standard Linux desktop

My Biggest Linux Complaint (3, Insightful)

LordKaT (619540) | about 9 years ago | (#12984448)

My biggest complaint isn't with the distributors, but with the software developers: they still hae this 1990's mindset that it's perfectly acceptable to ask the user to compile their package (and about a million obscure dependencies you've never heard of) in order to get their software to work.

If you want to target your software to the desktop (and I mean the windows audience), then give me a goddamn binary and let me use the damn software now, not three hours from now.

Already posted on Linux Today (2, Informative)

kbmccarty (575443) | about 9 years ago | (#12984467)

FYI, this article has already been ripped to shreds in the comments at Linux Today:

here []

Two stories (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | about 9 years ago | (#12984487)

1) I recently decided to get with 2002 and buy a USB memory stick. Trying it out on the three platforms I use:
  • MacOS X -- Plug it in, and it works.
  • Windows XP -- Plug it in, and it works.
  • Linux -- Plug it in, grep dmesg for information, create a mount point, guess exactly which partition to mount, and it works. And then I edited /etc/fstab in vi so it'll be even easier next time!

The crazy thing is that that actually was a huge win for Linux! Dealing with USB devices didn't used to be nearly that easy! But it still is a long way from being usable for any normal person.

2) My Linux Waterloo, though, is updates. I have two Linux systems: a TiBook with Yellow Dog, that has an irretrievably corupted RPM database, and a Gentoo whitebox that I can't push through to Xorg and 2.6. (The latter was switched to Gentoo after Mandrake package management imploded.)

It's been a fun ride, but I've spent enough time on treating my computer as a hobby. OS X has pretty much taken over for all my actual computer use outside of work.

Welcome to the land of fairytales (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984548)

Any USB stick will be automounted with any modern linux distribution. If it isn't automounted on your gentoo box, you simply didn't configure gentoo to do it. (Yes,you have to configure gentoo yourself, which makes it pretty irrelevenat for this discussion, but still a fun distro to use)

Re:Two stories (2, Informative)

ncw (59013) | about 9 years ago | (#12984557)

Linux -- Plug it in, grep dmesg for information, create a mount point, guess exactly which partition to mount, and it works. And then I edited /etc/fstab in vi so it'll be even easier next time!

That's been my experience up until quite recently too.

However I got a new laptop for my wife recently, so I thought I'd have a go with ubuntu. Ubuntu was a dream to install, and everything just worked with two small exceptions (suspend and xv) which is pretty good for a brand new laptop.

I was extremely impressed when I plugged my Crucial USB memory stick in, and it just appeared (by magic) on the backdrop.

I believe linux has now caught up in that area!

I don't normally notice this sort of thing though, since I only really use x-windows so I can fit more rxvt & emacs on the screen ;-)

OSX and Longhorn have something like Klik? Uh uh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984491)

That's a hell of a presumption to suggest that a system that gives even a total newbie access to the majority of free and open Debian packages is redundant.
Oh yeah, that's already available on OSX and Longhorn except for the tiny detail that it's not FREE!
It's the same thing, except for the thousands of dollars that a person would have to spend. That's just a trivial detail though, eh?
What the fuck king of moronic oversight is that?

Learning curve too steep (4, Insightful)

Durzel (137902) | about 9 years ago | (#12984493)

I recently installed Fedora Core 4 at home to run a local DNS server, DynDNS daemon, MythTV and a few other things. I'm pretty savvy with Linux and sysadmin for a living (as well as programming) so you could say I have an affinity for problem-solving.

That said, I have struggled in recent days getting everything I've wanted to install working correctly. Largely this has been due to GCC4.0 incompatibilities (many apps just don't compile at all from source without patches), but also because lots of exotic RPMs (Myth being a prime example) have not yet been built for FC4.

A lot of things I have had to compile manually from sources when I had originally set out to use yum to manage everything (I've recently been converted to the ease-of-use and practicalities of RHEL and Redhat Network).

Another poster commented that Linux is perfectly capable as a desktop OS - until you need to install an application, play a game or upgrade their hardware. Joking aside, this statement is 100% accurate.

In my endeavours trying to install all of my "exotic" applications like a movie player (xine), NZB downloader (klibido) I have either run into problems where the currently available RPMs are buggy [] , or the sources just don't compile out of the box. How can any non-technical person be expected to deal with this?

If you contrast this with Windows, I think the only time I have had a failed installation with a piece of software I have downloaded has been when it has required .NET Framework, and I haven't got it installed. At no time have I ever downloaded something and it started telling me that various specific versions compiled against specific architectures are missing, and I cannot continue.

Linux will need to standardise itself a lot more if it is going to be a force on the desktop. RPM/yum/apt-get and so on is a step in the right direction, but its still voodoo for most people. Unfortunately I beleive this standardisation is in stark contrast with what most techies (myself included in some way) believe the strength of Linux to be - i.e. diversity and the "joy" of compiling things manually.

Linux hardware support is a mess. (4, Insightful)

corneliusagain (810256) | about 9 years ago | (#12984496)

My experience is that linux hardware support is the killer issue - and it betrays an expert-only attitude in the linux community. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Mostly it almost does and there's some trick you need that, in a commercial OS, would be taken care of, but which in Linux is buried on some website that you might find if you're good at using google - and which will then require, at the very least, command line use and text file editing. The comments will imply that it's a common problem, not to worry, just edit this file... run that command... etc. It's not a bug, it's a feature. Bollocks.

If I need a new version of a driver, I need to be able to grab it as I can on Windows without recompilation. That's unacceptable. The NDIS wrapper implementation is a good example: it works and mostly well, but to get support you have to mess with the command line and text files or even scarier stuff. What you should do is be told to insert the CD that came with the device and have linux do it for you.

The office apps are already on linux; it's already fast; much of the UI and desktop is already user friendly. Installs have issues, yes, but they're down the line and mostly hidden from the user. The user is neatly kept in their home directory. Hard disk management is complex, but not much more so than Windows and partitioning is nicely automated in most installs.

I like linux a lot and use it regularly. I don't actually believe, though, that it can currently compete against commercial OSs without a massive change to some of the attitudes about what's acceptable, and a resulting change to the way Linux works. Hardware is the area where those attitudes seem to be totally exposed to the end-user.

This guy hasn't tried Debian or Knoppix. (3, Insightful)

kesuki (321456) | about 9 years ago | (#12984518)

Knoppix is a linux distroy anyone can use, the automated hardware detection etc is supurb. The DVD 4.0 version does demonstrate a lot of the incompatability issues he's talking about though. because knoppix has ~6 gigs of applications (they're compressed on the DVD image) many of the applications are broken.

Debian is the distro Knoppix is based of of, so it has really good hardware detection, but the 'stable' version is using the 'older' proven stable detection routines. That means it doesn't configure everything perfectly, for instance I had to enable DMA on my dvd-rom, and I had to use k3b to 'configure the system' for cd/dvd burning*.

I also have the advantage of having prior experience, So I know how to install flash support for my secondary browser, and how to configure java, which isn't included in debian because it's not FOSS. Plus I knew that the FOSS drivers suck compared to the proprietary ones, so I knew where to find them, and I knew what settings to set in the 'install' script for them, because I've been messing around with X11 config files for years now...

So basically, initial set up is probably beyond most users, but the same is true of windows. Most windows users can't even install applications by themselves, and when they try to the end up with a million spyware programs.

Debian is 'ready' for the desktop. The installer is painless for geeks, and simple enough for rice boys. A few noobs might even get lucky with it. The stable version while old, has a very simple gui based app finder that anyone who can use can learn how to use.

*= Because i'm lazy. I wasn't going to muck about trying to figure anything out.

A glimpse of the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12984521)

The most interesting "future linux" distro I've seen so far is 'Foresight Linux' -

It has a changeset based source or binary (you choose!) package management system that offers features more powerful than the efforts of either apt, or portage, designed by the original authors of RPM.

It has Beagle, all the freedesktop integration stuff, some wicked new kernel patches and a boot up time of under 20 seconds! The splash screen is also a thing of beauty, rivalling anything you see on a Mac.

I really can't believe that this hasn't been mentioned on ./ more often, particularly given the nature of the posters here.

the best of all worlds (2, Informative)

mnemonic_ (164550) | about 9 years ago | (#12984558)

Why doesn't someone try to combine the best of linux and make a decent distro? Something like:
  • Gentoo's portage
  • Knoppix's auto hardware detection and configuration
  • Slackware's BSD-style rc.scripts
  • Mandrake's installer and partitioning tool
There's a lot of stuff in the Linux world that could tackle the most common Linux concerns, but no one has tried combining them. Why not? Linux will not advance on the desktop without some realization that no distro is perfect, but by taking from multiple distros one can get pretty close.
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