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Breaking Down Barriers to Linux Desktop Adoption

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the certainly-have-come-a-long-way dept.

821

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

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Henry Ford is dead. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14811798)

give the end users what they want or suffer their apathy.

Is the lack of drivers... (1)

BarnabyWilde (948425) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811807)

... an "illogical" reason?

Re:Is the lack of drivers... (0)

matth (22742) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811848)

Lack of drivers?! What are you smoking. Linux has more drivers out of the box then Windows does. I don't know how many times I've installed Windows and had to go hunt for drivers. Linux just 'works'. I was actually suprised.. the other week I installed Windows XP and on Windows Update found the driver! Granted it wasn't installed with the O/S but WU found it.. and installed it. Normally, however Windows sucks really bad for drivers out of the box.

Re:Is the lack of drivers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14811869)

So I spent about 3 hours trying to get sound working on my Linux box this weekend. Finally, sound worked. I try to play an mp3, and whatever program ubuntu sent me says that my mp3s aren't valid. Fantastic. Default ubuntu install and I can't play an mp3. So I finally find and install xmms, and it works. Why that isn't the default, I don't know.

Re:Is the lack of drivers... (1)

matth (22742) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811882)

What program did Unbuntu give you for default mp3 playing? Care to share? Perhaps someone can explain what might have gone wrong.

Re:Is the lack of drivers... (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811944)

Fedora doesn't ship with mp3 codecs either. That's because they aren't free - there's a patent. Its pretty simple: if you don't want to use free software (like ogg) then don't use a free O/S. Of course you can get the xmms with mp3 support but it may be infringing a patent.

Re:Is the lack of drivers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14812019)

Sounds like "upgrading" Firefox on Ubuntu.
Tried to show a friend how to do this, and the response was "where is the &#@% installer?!"

I got the impression that Linux is trying to convert the wrong people. Or it's trying to convert the right ones, with the wrong methods.

Re:Is the lack of drivers... (3, Insightful)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811888)

This "out of the box" argument has always confused me. Especially in light of the fact that the original poster was talking about absolute availability of drivers, not just whether it ships in the box.

There are a lot of devices out there without ANY Linux drivers, such as recent ATI video cards, various wireless chipsets (and NDISWrappers is only a partial solution to some of them, especially if you need to do more advanced things like netstumbler), etc.. that's not even counting the stuff like the USB video encoders and the like.

This whole "out of the box" argument seems to be a smokescreen put up by people that don't want to argue about absolute driver availability.

Re:Is the lack of drivers... (1)

matth (22742) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811957)

I guess the point is that you shouldn't (be it Windows *or* Linux) have to go out and find drivers for your hardware... it should 'just work'.

Re:Is the lack of drivers... (0)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811988)

Well, if that's your metric, Linux is much closer to being usable than Windows is. Try installing a retail copy of Windows somtime.

Re:Is the lack of drivers... (1)

BarnabyWilde (948425) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811912)

I gave up when I couldn't find a live CD yet that supports my laptop's Wi-fi card. That's what I mean.

Hey, I'd really like to use Linux. I'd end up with either a hardware problem like that, or not being abe to use a favorite program.

I don't like fixing my dad's Windows box (spyware, virus) any more than anyone else does for their parents/relatives. I am not a huge Windows fan.

Don't worry... universal DRM will push me (any many more) into Linux soon enough.

Forgot to mention: I do Apache devel... (2, Insightful)

BarnabyWilde (948425) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811974)

...so I am as pro-open-source as the next person.

It's just not easy "enough" to switch, yet.

Re:Is the lack of drivers... (1)

krunk4ever (856261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812009)

This is a very weak argument given the fact that tons of new hardware COME OUT AFTER THE OS has been released. With the release of each SP edition, new drivers are indeed added. There are also the fact that drivers aren't tested, certified, and sign and Microsoft won't install those by default.

What should happen though, is that Windows Update should either find the new drivers for me, or tell me where I can get them.

Re:Is the lack of drivers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14812050)

What about my iPod? What about my wireless usb stick? These are my last two hardware purchases, neither work with Linux.

It's a nice sounding excuse. (2, Insightful)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811813)

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

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

Re:It's a nice sounding excuse. (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811955)

For example, they fault Linux OpenOffice desktops for not having all the features in Microsoft Windows Office, even though few actually use all of the Microsoft stuff.
I was was ever going to make that point, it wouldn't be because I want "desktops cluttered with unnecessary features".

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

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

For some users, certain features are "clutter", for others, that feature might be a regular part of their job.

Re:It's a nice sounding excuse. (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812065)

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

Of course, the Mac development community doesn't have anything, either. :-\

Re:It's a nice sounding excuse. (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812054)

It's harder to go out on a limb and go open source if you are the person making decisions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Absolutely nothing.

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

Sorry the old addage is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14812066)

"No one was ever fired for buying IBM"

And it hasent been true for more than a decade, I personally know someone who WAS fired for buying 200+ IBM PS2's (and he deserved it) it was the LAST time IT let Purchasing buy any computing resources.

rejection (5, Insightful)

kc0re (739168) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811818)

People reject OpenOffice and reject even Mac, because they don't know any different. They have been "programmed" to use Microsoft Windows, therefore, until they are told different, they will continue to use Microsoft Windows.

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

It's just not true. People will switch when they are told to. Nothing else. Until Companies FORCE people to switch, there will be no switching.

Similar, but different. (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811858)

I believe it is because most people are comfortable with being part of the herd.

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

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

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

So, home users won't migrate until businesses do. And for a business, there are real benefits to migrating to Linux. Which is why more businesses and governments are.

Re:rejection (1)

jollyroger1210 (933226) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811876)

step 1: write book called "2007"
step 2: Make a tv commercial a la Mac (1984)
step 3:?????
step 4: people switch to Linux
*and, simply because its /.*
step 5: Profit!!!

Re:rejection (2, Insightful)

shaka999 (335100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811921)

I disagree.

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

Re:rejection (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811953)

People reject OpenOffice and reject even Mac, because they don't know any different.

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

But, I don't know different.

And no, I would not mind dumping Office... However, I love Outlook because of its highly configurable and programmable scheduling and task assignment capability, and Excel has many features I don't see anywhere else. Word has become bloated beyond what I'll ever use it for, however...

Um...Incompatibilities? (2, Interesting)

jyuter (48936) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811821)

While he makes some good points about "lethargy" and people not wanting to learn something new from scratch (esp those not techinically savvy), there are some programs which simply will not work on Linux. If you happen to need these programs, you're just not going to switch.

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

There gets a point where it's not so much of lethargy as it is a hassle to deal with and *still* not being able to do everything you need/like to do on your computer.

Re:Um...Incompatibilities? (-1, Flamebait)

matth (22742) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811860)

Ok.. not flaming here...seriously.... every time someone complains about a winmodem it just makes me fume. Get a real modem. Don't complain about it not working under Linux. Even under windows it doesn't work right all the time. And if you get an app that sucks the CPU down for a few moments, you might get disconnected. Get a real hardware modem, and your connections will be much more stable.

Re:Um...Incompatibilities? (2, Informative)

eldepeche (854916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812005)

Um...learn to read? "I couldn't get my non-winmodem or sound card to work" It's NOT a winmodem.

Re:Um...Incompatibilities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14812024)

Um...learn to read?

You must be new here.

Re:Um...Incompatibilities? (1)

untorqued (957628) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811952)

It's been a couple years since I last created a dual-boot system in order to test-drive the latest Linux - probably time to do it again. But dabbling on and off throughout the last decade, I've identified one behavior that typifies what's keeping Linux from widespread adoption: mouting and unmounting drives. If I insert a CD under Windows and then want to take it out, I push the button on my drive/keyboard and out it comes. Under Linux? I have to issue a command to the operating system to unmount it. This no doubt makes perfect sense to folks who write and maintain Linux, but it's utterly irrelevant to 99+% of potential users, and stands as a hurdle to usability. I hate to say it, but it's gonna take a Linux interface whose use requires no more technical aptitude than using Windows XP before I'm gonna feel comfortable as an IT guy going to my director and recommending a switch.

Re:Um...Incompatibilities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14812007)

I do not care to learn something new. The only question is why should I switch. I bought MSOffice 2003 Small Business Edition + Proofing Tools it works fine for me. OpenOffice doesn't bring me anything I need, that I don't already have. The proofing tools actually bring me something that OpenOffice still doesn't have...

And editing tables (border lines etc...) is still a lot more difficult and feels a little trange under openoffice...

So as long as it works for me I will probably never switch. But the moment ofcourse I would need to spend money again for office. That probably would be the moment I will be looking at openoffice again. (I don't need or want to switch to that new ms office, the old one is working fine isn't it...)

And until now I never have had any incompatibility problems ofcourse...

Interesting (1)

2names (531755) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811822)

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

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

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

Flawed reasoning (1)

LetterRip (30937) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811825)

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

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

LetterRip

I'm trying to switch, but... (1)

Noodles (39504) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811827)

The first thing I tried to do was create a presentation and export jpg images of the slides. Open Office couldn't do this, or I couldn't figure out how to do it. Back to PowerPoint, which does this easily. Damn.

Re:I'm trying to switch, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14811911)

File -> Export -> and select JPEG as the type. That has been around for a while.
Some things in Linux can be hard, but firefox, thunderbird, and openoffice are all very easy.

Re:I'm trying to switch, but... (0)

Murmer (96505) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811986)

I've never had to do that, so to me, that feature is unnecessary clutter. Might not be to you, though.

Not surprisingly, most features are like that. Allegations of bloat or "unnecessary" features always end up sounding like vague allegations you read on Usenet: "Some people believe", or "It is said that"... Which features, specifically, are "unnecessary"? Bearing in mind that unnecessary-for-me is not the same as unnecessary-for-anyone. You can argue all you like about frequency of use of those features if you like, but for every feature in those products that you care to name I'll bet you that there's somebody, probably lots of somebodies out there, who absolutely must have that feature on their desktops.

I, for example, strongly prefer to work with white text on a dark blue background, a feature pretty much nobody even knows about anymore. Is it unnecessary? Probably. I sure do like it though.

Re:I'm trying to switch, but... (1)

matthew5 (916509) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811996)

Actually there's a menu item for what you want to do. However, if you want to make presentation slides in OOo and embed sound in them, that is still impossible.

Re:I'm trying to switch, but... (1)

remorse_of_nero (957629) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812029)

hummm lets see

File --->
                    Export--->
                                        Select .jpeg

Volia ..... Just so hard ;)

If you cant figure that out then god help you changing the font or inserting a picture. lol

Chuckle (2, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811831)

Breaking down Barriers

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

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

(asbestos jockey shorts on)

Not just Linux... (1)

AnonymousPrick (956548) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811856)

Are you a freaking moron?

the F/OSS movement has a dual personality. One wants their stuff to be widely used, especially by the corps. The other personality is flipping those same people off.

Unnecessary (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811834)

Yeah, and nobody needs a car that can do 0-100 Kph in 4 seconds either. Not to mention that nobody needs a car that can cruise at 250 Kph.

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

Re:Unnecessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14811959)

There is a difference between "Need" and "Use." I don't "need" a motorcycle that can go 0 to 60 in under 3 seconds, but I still "use" that acceleration every morning when I get on the highway.

People complaining about lack of features they never use are different than those complaining about lack of features that they may not deed, but actually make use of.

Arguing (2, Insightful)

1point618 (919730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811838)

that someone is wrong won't make them see the light. Show them what the system can do for them and how easy it is to switch over, and they will. Until then, the arguments against switching might be stupid, but arguments against those are even worse. Many many people and companies use Linux, it is the most used OS in many academic pursuits (I know for a fact Astronomy), and has its great points. But it isn't Windows, and if people are happy with Windows and use it efficiently, even if it's just because they are familiar with it, to them that's the best possible reason not to switch, and unless you can show them they can do something new and much better, they just won't care to switch. And even then, the familiarity argument will keep many where they are. People don't like change, and arguing that not linking change is stupid won't get you anywhere.

Stop and think for a minute (2, Informative)

endrue (927487) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811839)

Normal, everyday people are not going to get as excited about Linux as most of the people here. Other than the price, they are simply not interested in the benefits. However most people will pay through the nose for something as long as it "just works". They don't care if it is Windows or Linux. Can they still email? Can they still write Word documents? That is all that matters and Linux seems to be too much of a hassle (and lets be honest, for Average Joe, it is).

So in order to sell Linux to Average Joe he must not be able to see the seams. He must be able to do everything and more in OpenOffice that he was able to do in MS Word. Even if he never uses the advanced features - the fact that he knows they are not there makes him think that it is not as good.

uh huh (1)

IIRCAFAIKIANAL (572786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811840)

Just because few people use *all* the options doesn't mean that the all of the options aren't used across the entire user base.

unnecessary features and slow as a turtle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14811842)

Don't forget to put large amounts of spin loops in all the code. That way the hardware venders will support you in that the users will have to replace there hardware more often.

Re:unnecessary features and slow as a turtle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14811961)

Someone, somewhere might listen to your insane paranoia if you weren't so illiterate.

Desktop Change (2, Insightful)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811843)

I agree with the article that a large reason that change isn't coming is lethargy. Most people have the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality. So as long as Windows suits their needs, they will think why change. There are also all the costs involved in any kind of change. I also don't think the average home user (outside of geeky types) will ever change to linux as long as Windows is what he is using at work. He doesn't want to worry about changing formats, he wants seemless integration with home and work. Most of the people I know that do use a different OS at home, they use a Mac because they say they can use it without thinking about how it works. Most of us Linux users, use it because we like to know how and why it does what it does.

Re:Desktop Change (1)

jcaldwel (935913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812069)

"if it ain't broke don't fix it"

Are you really referring to Microsoft Windows with that phrase?

"Breaking Down Barriers to Linux Desktop Adoption" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14811845)

... I don't know about barriers, but I hear breaking down chairs is as easy as giving them a good toss at the Redmond campus.

Back in the day (4, Insightful)

waif69 (322360) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811847)

when windows 3.1 was new, there was a saying that was going around. What sells windows? Three things; applications, applications, applications.

Re:Back in the day (1)

Zarxrax (652423) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811934)

Don't you mean, "developers, developers, developers..."?

They want pontential (1)

merchant_x (165931) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811859)

Users don't view the features they don't use as clutter. They view it as pontential. Just because they have never used a feature doesn't mean they won't some day, at least that's what they tell themselves. The mindset is better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

I also suspect that users saying open office doesn't have the same features is just user speak for it doesn't feel and act exactly the same as what they are used to. People don't like change, so if it's not immediately easy and familiar they are going to resist it.

Simple answer. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811864)

He said it all with this one line, "Unless I can see a big, perceived win that attracts me, I'm not going to change my current system for something else that doesn't really give me a straight-up benefit."
Windows and Office is good enough for most people. Why is Firefox doing so well? Easy IE isn't good enough. Yes I use Linux for my desktop but for most users what do they gain by going to Linux. For a company what do they gain? Forget about free as in speech as a motivation for a company. They don't care about the GNU religion. They want to know what they will gain. The only real benefit is getting of the Microsoft update treadmill. The cost is in training and potential compatibility issues. Yes I use Open Office but I sometimes have to use Office when dealing with Spreadsheets and some Word documents. OO isn't 100% compatible and doesn't add any features that make up for it's cost for many users.
I am not saying that Linux will never win big on the desktop but it has a ways to go. If I was starting my own company I would be tempted to start off with Linux on the desktop right now. For the current company I work for it just wouldn't be worth the cost right now.

Another reason people don't switch... (2, Insightful)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811867)

Many people don't switch because the computer they buy already has Windows on it. Whether its from Dell, Gateway, or Best Buy, the computer already comes with Windows and it works. Considering you can buy a pd from Dell for $500 with XP, why would anyone venture to Linux? I'm an of course asking that question as the average computer user. Obviously more tech gurus like Linux, but thats a small percentage of the user base. Windows works ok and already comes on the PC. That's about it.

http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

Games is the only reason for me (1)

jasonmicron (807603) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811879)

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

Drivers are another issue but ehh, whatever.

Re:Games is the only reason for me (1)

santaliqueur (893476) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812059)

do what i did. buy two hard drive caddies and fill each with a drive. put an OS on each, and boot to the one of your choice.

i love linux, but i tried cedega and was unimpressed, so i installed windows (and games) to one drive, and i only boot to windows when i want to play games. i like the setup so far. if games really are the ONLY reason, this works pretty well.

OSS's lack of concentration (2, Interesting)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811887)

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

I have been striving to use all open source or free software on my latest windows machine. I found that winamp had become problemsome for multiple reasons, and that I disliked windows media player 9 for certain reasons as well. So for video playback, I've attempted to use VLC (something I'm still trying to play with). Now, VLC seems all-in-all like a great player. However, it lacks very basic features that every single other player has.

One of these is a draggable on screen display so you can seek while you play full-screen video. While this may not be the most important item on the geek list, it's definitely important to an average person. We've grown accustomed to seeing a drag bar pop up when we move the cursor down to the bottom of the screen, and it's simply not there.

Another one, at least in windows, is the lack of reasonable playlist support. Not only does "play all" not work from windows explorer (which I honestly could say I wouldn't even expect as it is a multi-platform software project), but the playlist in general is buggy. About 50% of the time, when it goes from one video file to another, the program completely dumps and commits some type of illegal operation.

At the same time, VLC has plenty of options not in regular players that all work perfectly fine. This just goes to show me that the talent and the effort is there, but the priorities are out of line with the audience. They could fix the issues, but they'd rather work on geeky features like "background mode" instead.

I've noticed this with Linux as well. There is definitely more support for some really neat little gadgets, but then base functionality may not even work without a lot of tweaking. Not to mention, installing applications on Linux is something an average unknowledgable computer could even conceivably do without a manual or someone instructing them.

I understand that Linux and OSS is hobbyist stuff, that's why I love it. But being built by a hobbyist is a double-edged sword, you have to realize that if you are coding based on your own priorities, that your priorities might often be out of line with the average user. Which is fine if you don't want to convert everyone.

Which 50 features is that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14811889)

Sure, the software may have 500 features, of which nobody uses more than 50. What these people don't seem to understand is that everybody uses a different set of 50 features, otherwise those extra 450 would have never been written.

Many people have thought that all of those features create lots of clutter, so they created software without those features. People didn't use it. So then others created software with all of the features but only showed you the 50 features you use all the time. This was much better, but still confusing when you go to find that 51st feature.

It turns out that the only really good answer is to give everybody all of the features they may ever need, while making the most common ones easiest to find and the other ones put in logical places so they may be found when needed.

dom

Re:Which 50 features is that? (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811982)

Hmmm.. sounds a lot like Office 12.

Let's talk about irrational (1)

theCat (36907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811893)

Most people I know (including a lot of the office folk where I work) use their Mac or Windows PC 99% of the time for Internet related activities like email and web browsing, and increasingly for streaming media like Internet radio and iTunes. Some do compose text intended for print and when they do could get by with Wordpad or TextEdit for basic font control and text formatting. Excel is still an important tool for some, but fewer all the time, usually just the bean counters now. PowerPoint is simply abused. Anything more complex than an RTF file could be handled online by someone like 37signals.com.

In short: 99% of computer users could get by with a basic machine running the basic installed apps saving to broadly available file formats (RTF, TXT, HTM etc) so long as they have broadband. And they don't even know this because nobody pointed it out.

An interesting experiment would be to pull them off the M$ Office Koolaid and watch how they cope. After the initial world-is-ending tears and rending of garments, I suspect most wouldn't miss a step.

Re:Let's talk about irrational (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14812016)

I'm not bloody interested in "getting by." I want my documents to look good, and I want it to be easy.

You can bloody well "get by" with a 56k modem, what's this broadband nonsense? I hope your monitor is monochrome, mister "getting by". In fact, what are you doing on a computer? People "got by" for a jillion years without one.

Oh, I get it, sometimes "getting by" isn't good enough.

And my captcha is "misleads" - ironic, wot?

Its all about the apps, baby (2, Insightful)

bshellenberg (779684) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811894)

Being a long time linux user, I'd say most zealots (of the linux variety) tend to miss the most important point. People want the "real deal" applications. Despite the fact that it works to an acceptible degree, gimp (as an example) is NOT a suitable replacement for Photoshop. Right or wrong, people learn an application and unless a replacement is a mirror image of the original, they simply aren't interested. If the gimp folks would stop with all the chest beating and make the interface comparable to Photoshop whereas you wouldn't be able to really notice much of a difference, THEN it becomes a suitable replacement. Until that day, we'll be reading these sorts of stories over and over. I know this comment is a karama burner, but I just had to say what many think.

There's a ton of reasons... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811897)

...people think they need MS Office and Photoshop, who actually don't. Amongst others:

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

Personally I think 3&4 are the killers. If Dell started shipping with OpenOffice preinstalled with an MS "upgrade" for $$$ you'd see real uptake. Because well it's there, it mostly works and well... you thought you were going to upgrade but somehow you never got around to it...

I tried Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14811899)

It doesn't offer me enough. Nor does Openoffice. Heck, Firefox barely has any advantages for me. Tabbed browsing is about all I regularly use.

All the source code and such does nothing for me. I can't do anything with it. I never will. Installing programs? Sometimes it is easy, but there's a lot of times it isn't.

Re:I tried Linux (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812018)

I hear you and I aggree.

Ive installed ubuntu on my 'old' machine, with the hope of getting Mythtv up and running. Man, what a mission. It reminds me of the old MSDOS days except its now like learning it over, in French.

Once you are able to install everything without having to use the command line it'll be great.

I know some people like the command line, but I'm over it.

Changing the sources.list thing was hard enough the first time. Its ok now i've done it a couple of times, but how about putting it in a front end with some preferences! Sheesh.

Let users decide (1)

biocute (936687) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811904)

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

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

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

Open Source should really do more on marketing (finding out what consumers want) than sales (selling what you have).

MS Office is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14811909)

MS Office, is good .. and Office 12 (having seen the new Excel it looks like a huge leap). Check out some of the graphing etc.

The only barrier is price. And quite frankly this isn't a big barrier when you consider piracy.

So I think Office accomplishes just a lot and there's no big reason to switch.

On the OS front .. I think M$FT with "Vista Basic" .. IF they price it in the sub $50 range .. then it's low enough that someone won't see much of a reason to switch to Linux. Of course this is assuming they pull off the hugely hyped security improvements properly.

Although Open Office is good "enough" to the point where nobody is forced to buy MS Office for compatibility reasons. MSFT also makes a free Office reader for all their formats .. which further erodes a reason to get Open Office.

So .. to compete with M$FT the feature set has to equalize and offer something truly innovative beyond what MS Office has.

Traditionally (for me), the main reasons to switch from MS for me are stability and security. For most of the apps I use, they solved the stability issue with XP (especially after SP2) .. as for security I run the default firewall etc. and set active X to "prompt" and therefore disable it on websites I dont trust .. so havent had any probs. But yeah I am looking to see how M$FT improves security in Vista.

Anyway ..I'm sure a lot of you guys think there are gaping holes in MS Office feature set (besides saving to an open format .. solved in 12) .. but I havent thought of any major ones. Maybe I'm just good at using it.

So here's the challenge .. Open Office must produce some innovative features (like how FireFox introduced the tab concept to browsers .. and before u say it tabs exists already in Excel etc. so that's not one to add to open office).

Absolute Arrogance (1)

MrNonchalant (767683) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811914)

So you're saying you can tell users what they really want? And that currently they're wrong? Oh that will go over real well.

Some key applications missing (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14811919)

AutoCAD is still not replaceable. I've tried all the available Linux alternatives,
and nothing could be used to seamlessly read, write, and show AutoCAD dwg files.

We need the equivalent of OpenOffice in the CAD world.

6 Versions (1)

richman555 (675100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811924)

I say the best way to be adopted on the desktop by users is to provide 6 versions of linux. Here are the names - Linux Starter 2007; Linux Enterprise; Linux Home Basic, Linux Home Premium, Linux ultimate, and Linux Business.

GAMES (1)

jigjigga (903943) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811928)

Its all about games. Did regular people have 3d accelerators in the early 90s? Nope. It was after the gamer adoption that people (and businesses) saw the need for them. Linux will be the same. Until gamers adopt linux, there will be no mainstream attraction to them. I would be running it 24/7 too if I had support for my games, but alas there isn't. A lot of the fault is on the game developers and of course M$ but still a focus of linux for mass consumption requires gamers.

Bad logic (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811932)

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

Someone needs a wacking with the clue stick. I don't use all the unnecessary features of Microsoft Office. But at some future unspecified point, I may need one of those obscure features. If a client sends me a particular file that uses one of them, or if I have to perform a function that is part of one of them. People don't want desktops cluttered with things they don't need. But if there is a chance that they will need it, they'd like it to be there ready and waiting.

They've got it wrong. (1)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811935)

The reasons they give are reasons that engineers and other smart people might illogically reject Linux. You need to remember most people don't have a clue. They are not engineers and they probably don't want to know too much about computers. They reject Linux because they bought their computer for $1500 and it came with Windows XP installed and they click the AOL icon to get internet when they bring the box home. Little do they know that they could have put together the box theirselves for about $500 and installed Linux for free. I really question the assumption that most people are knowledgable enough to have a discussion of the benefits of Open Office vs. Microsoft Office. The other problem is that most people don't want to take the time to figure it out.

At Home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14811937)

At home I use linux. I do my writing in html.

Zealotry at work. (1)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811940)

What I'm gathering from general opinions of Linux users is "people are giving bad excuses for not wanting to use Linux!"

Well guess what: It doesn't matter if their excuses are bad (even if they really are!) as long as they HAVE excuses, and telling them they're idiots isn't going to get people to join the cause anyway.

People are looking at this from the wrong angle.

Re:Zealotry at work. (1)

trisweb (690296) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812012)

Exactly! Users aren't anything we can change, they're our measure of how well we're doing! Any excuses they have should be listened to. If we give excuses back, not only are we alienating them, but we're also failing to improve on their behalf, both equally bad.

"The customer is always right" is true. Anyone who thinks otherwise won't have customers anymore.

Why I don't... (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811945)

...use Linux as my primary OS: Because documentation is weak, support is nonexistent, and the interfaces--until recently--have not been nearly as intuitive as Windows and Mac OS. The biggest problem is documentation and support. I know dozens of people who have installed Linux, played with it some, and found themselves unable to do what they want to do and unable to find out how. They can't even find out how to get help inside the OS, and the only support they can get is via community forums, which are notorious for not answering tough or oft-repeated questions. Windows puts a "Help and support" link right in the start menu, making it a lot more user-friendly in that sense. ..use OpenOffice.org instead of MS Office: Let's start with an example. In OOo, start a blank document. Do the same in Word. Now let's change both pages to landscape format.

Word: Click file, choose Page setup, click landscape, click OK. Done.

OOo: Click file...hmm...no "page setup". Let's try properties. Nope. How about printer settings...not there either. Okay, try the help index. Type "landscape" and choose the "landscape and portrait" section. It says go to Format -> Styles and Formatting, then create a new style, set it as landscape, name it, and save it. I notice as I go into the format menu that there's a "Page" option which lets me set the document to landscape like I want about as quickly as Word does.

I went through this very process when a user asked me how to do that when we switched to OpenOffice. Now, OOo *has* an easy-to-use landscape option, but it's not where Word puts it and it's not in the documentation when you type "landscape".

Font smooth is critical for Linux/Desktop adoption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14811956)

If Linux/Xorg can make the font as clear as that of Windows on LCDs, I'd like to switch to Linux. There are too many screenshots to promote Linux, with useless themes, backgrounds and other eyecandies...

All it takes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14811963)

All it takes is one "must have" feature to be missing folks. One digital camera not supported. One person who needs Word document change tracking. One person who needs feature X in your organization and Linux is out.

We use Linux almost exclusively server side, but not on about 50% of our clients. Basically, if you need Word, you need Windows.

I LOVE Linux, but this fanboy stuff is just silly.

pretend it isn't so (1)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811968)

Bacon takes a look why some of the reasons people give for not switching to Linux might not stand up under closer scrutiny

Deja-vu?
Instead of pretending that people don't perceive Linux as a good enough desktop, why not just improve the Linux desktop? I mean, if Linux is usuable to users, then users will start using it. Period. I find the whole "Linux as a desktop is good" skew a bit of a twist on reality. It's like the article (Bacon) wants Linux to be a better desktop system and figures if it covers it's ears and keeps repeating the mantra it will just magically happen. Good open-source doesn't just happen. It takes hard work.

FOr me, its (1)

GmAz (916505) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811970)

Drivers and the fact that installing software and drivers are a huge pain. When I used to 'dabble' in Linux, everytime I needed to update my drivers, I had to recompile something. Or I had to type a boat load of commands into the command prompt just to install something. Try making a nice installer like windows for the less Linux savy people and it may take hold.

It just has to be better (1)

trisweb (690296) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811976)

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

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

I think it's just not better yet. By that I mean that "whole experience" thing has to be better than all the rest (because we know everything else works). This is why this is one of the better articles I've read about this—it actually says this in so many words. Linux is improving the user experience on all fronts (KDE, Gnome, XFCE, etc. etc) and it's on its way to possibly becoming better than the competition, and then it will start to get attention. As it stands, it has no chance, and we sure as heck can't blame that on the users. If anything, it's our fault for ignoring good usability for so long. Fortunately things are improving, and once it reaches that breaking point, where it offers a consistent and pleasing user experience from end to end, it could actually have a place on more of the worlds' desktops.

Why they don't switch (1)

Luminari (689987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811979)

The average person, who has little technical skill, will only switch to linux when linux gives them a reason to switch that benefits them. People switch to Mac because the interface is nicer and it's easier to use than windows (among other reasons). Linux has no such positive.

To the average user, the linux interface is inconsistent, the documentation is poor, and setting up hardware is a major chore. There is no consistent way to set up drivers that doesn't require editing config files and browsing through man pages. Applications also don't play well together. Things that should be easy are not easy. In short, the community doesn't really have standard ways to do things, everyone does their own thing.

Some of the reasons people switch to linux because its a stable operating system, or a better server platform, or because there are many more developer friendly tools. All of these are good reasons for technical people, none of these are good reasons for the average person.

Re:Why they don't switch (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812034)

the documentation is poor

      I think Microsoft stopped documenting with an actual "manual" somewhere around MS-DOS 2.0. The "getting started" blurb which basically tells you how to load the CD and use a mouse hardly counts as "documentation" does it?

      I'm mostly a Windows user but even I can manage to read the linux documentation that comes with knoppix, etc - not to mention the man pages.

Government Requirements (1)

DuBey79 (832295) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811980)

Working in the defense industry, it is just not feasible to use anything other than MS Office since *.doc is the required format on 95%+ of all contracts. If by chance it is not REQUIRED, it is very often prefered. Let alone the apparent dependance on MS Project for all your scheduling needs.

As a company we've looked at transitioning to Linux several times, but between the Office dependance and the lack of hardware design toolset support it just isn't possible.

M@

Subject is apparantly mandatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14811991)

Two Words: No Games

why i don't (1)

davez0r (717539) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811992)

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

http://jrv.oddones.org/x300.html [oddones.org]
http://chris.quietlife.net/2004/05/29/linux-on-a-d ell-x300/ [quietlife.net]
http://pof.eslack.org/blog/2004/01/06/linux-on-del l-latitude-x300/ [eslack.org]
http://www.irvined.co.uk/x300.shtml [irvined.co.uk]

long story short: sweet mary joseph mother of PETE! i guess it serves me right for buying a crazy little dell.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. And wrong. (1)

voice of unreason (231784) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811993)

There are a few things wrong with that features argument. For one, just because you don't need a feature now, doesn't mean that you won't need it in the future. Secondly, just because you don't need it doesn't mean that someone else won't. Picture this: You're in charge of getting a word processor. You decide to get OpenOffice instead of Word. It doesn't have feature A, but no one uses feature A, so you figure that you can go with OpenOffice. Fast forward 6 months. Your company starts a new project that requires feature A, and you don't have it. Now that purchase doesn't look so good to the boss after all. It's always risky getting something with less functionality, because you may need that functionality in the future. And making a wrong choice costs money. Open Source itself may be free, but the man-hours spent installing, configuring, and training people how to use it are not. If the product doesn't work out, all that money and time is wasted.

Secondly, this is the worst of all possible strategies. When someone says "I won't get your product because it doesn't have A", the solution is not to say that the customer really doesn't need A. Believe it or not, the customer usually knows what he needs better than you do. If the customer wants A, give it to him. That's the problem with a lot of Open Source software. There's an attitude that the developer is always right rather than that the customer is always right.

Do we need more converts? (1)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811997)

I'm comfortable with the number of fellow Linux users. Do we really need more Linux users? It might dilute control over the direction of the OS towards being more of a Windows clone. Linux already does just about everything I want it to, with the notable exception of really great prepacked data analysis like origin http:www.originlabs.com [originlabs.com] .

Sadly, much OSS works better on Windows (1)

onlyjoking (536550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14811999)

I use Linux and OS X almost exclusively, apart from checking web pages in IE, but I have to say that much open source software runs better on Windows than on Linux. I can't fathom why. OpenOffice is an absolute dog on Linux and spreadsheet columns frequently lose their settings. Font rendering is still inferior on Linux, at least with most out-of-the-box distros. Seen that wonderful flaky Courier Knoppix uses by default in dialogue boxes? Hideous. Default fonts in Mozilla/Firefox are appalling on Linux to such an extent that I dread Firefox/Linux ever being adopted within the company I've developed a large website for. Linux is still pretty damned ugly compared with Mac OS X and Windows and sadly it's eye candy that wins new users. Until the graphics and font rendering improve OUT OF THE BOX I can't see desktop Linux taking off.

Because installing/configuring Linux still sucks! (1)

MadHungarian (166146) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812020)

First of all - I've used Linux since early 90's Redhat/Cygwin back then. Up until last year I had at least one, and up to 5 systems running Linux - Mandrake, Debian, etc. I am not a novice. I upgraded my dual AMD system and had a devil of a time getting the system to power off when I shut down, but I got it to work. Upgraded later, had the same problem. But this time I could not get the system to power off no matter what I did. This was the final straw. If something as simple as powering off requires futzing with bios/boot scripts, etc. what is the average Joe blow going to do? I am now happily running windows with Open Office, GNU GIMP, Avast anti-virus, apache, and postgres - and powering off the system on shutdown just works.

Re:Because installing/configuring Linux still suck (2, Funny)

dookus (891928) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812042)

And people wonder why Linux gets such high uptime.

Sharing of files is not a available (1)

baggins2002 (654972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812027)

There are at least 2 other admins that I know of that are in the same boat as I am. Without the capability to create Shared documents it just is not going to work.
I see this over and over again in small and medium size businesses where they use shared documents for scheduling and such. So when it comes to adopting OpenOffice it becomes a dead end almost immediately.
Also if Open Office opens a MS Shared document that is shared it locks it up for all of the other users.
That was point number one. Point number 2 is that nobody knows how to code in Open Office and there is not extensive documentation on it.
Recently we had a process which came up that didn't need shared documents, so I requested that the user try doing the coding in Open Office and use that instead. He came back 2 days later and said that it was to difficult and that he was able to use code he found for MS Office.

Who cares about "need", this has it, this doesn't! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812031)

That's what it comes down to. I mean, look at all the features on your digicam. Or, worse, on your cell. Do you need half of them? No. But would you take a phone/cam that doesn't have those features?

Appearantly, not even if it's free. Then again, for most people, MS stuff is "free" as well. Stolen, but still...

Predictable possibilities are important (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812032)

It is user comfort that matters to many. I use Linux almost exclusively. That means I use Linux at work where possible and I use it at home always. I have learned how to do the things I want to do under Linux or I have learned how to wait until I can or I have learned that it takes a bit more work at times to make it happen. (Taking more work is becoming less frequent these days I am happy to say... as of FC5, my laptop's functions will be 100% supported 'out of the box!' It's a very exciting turn for me and a tremendous statement about the readiness of Linux or any one distro.)

Even if people never use a feature, they like to know they can do it if they need to. It's rather like gun laws. I am against any law that takes guns from the hands of owners. I am against removing the right to own a gun. I, personally, do not expect or intend to own a gun, but I feel VERY uncomfortable if the right were taken away from me. I'm not suggesting that this is a perfect analogy, but I do understand the feeling I get when a possibility or potential might be removed from me.

"We" are eroding against the Windows desktop. It's gradual but it's extremely persistant. I do very cool things with Linux and I do it without worries of the BSA or any other pirate agency knocking on my door. When people see that such a life is possible, it becomes a consideration when they begin to make choices. And we're a great many steps in the door compared to a year ago... a great many beyond two and three years ago. There will come a time when all hardware vendors will support Linux drivers or else be excluded from corporate buying decisions. That day is coming very soon... especially when WalMart IT departments decide to make the switch and save themselves even MORE money... and when they agree that it will save them money, there will be no stopping them.

KDE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14812035)

"So, in essence, they're saying they want desktops cluttered with unnecessary features." - We have that, it's called KDE.

All the features, huh. (1)

pkcs11 (529230) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812046)

So according to this guy, I should stop driving my car because I don't use the AM/FM radio. Afterall, a bike is much much cheaper and *IT* doesn't have an AM/FM radio.

Try "Linux on the LAPTOP" (1)

QuantGuy (654249) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812060)

Every time I see one of these articles about "when will Linux be ready for the desktop" or "what can we do to excite people about Linux on the desktop", I just substitute "laptop" for "desktop". Given that some analysts are reporting that a majority of PCs sold are in notebook form factors [com.com] , it's important that the user experience be seamless -- and in most cases, it isn't. Folks wanting to know what it will take to make Linux mainstream need look no further than the laptop in front of them.

There are still shortcomings (1)

airship (242862) | more than 8 years ago | (#14812071)

I'm a techie from way back, I hate Microsoft, I dual-boot Linux with Windows now, and I use OpenOffice.org, Thunderbird, and Firefox even on Windows. But I still find it next to impossible to set up Linux the way I want it. Here are the major problems with 'Desktop Linux' as I see them:
(1) Lack of drivers. True, this is generally because the manufacturers don't support Linux. So what? Sorry, but it's still a valid argument against Linux. My Canon scanner doesn't work, and there's no driver for my particular model of Canon printer, unless I want to spend $40 for a printer driver. Likewise, my USB thumb drive isn't recognized until I execute a command in a shell. While Windows doesn't autodetect and install drivers for absolutely everything, it does a helluva lot better job than Linux.
(2) Obscure stuff. My drives aren't automatically mounted, and I had to manually edit a well-hidden file and reboot to get them to do so. To run some programs I have to compile them, or apt-get then convert from rpm to deb with alien. Huh? I can do it, but can grandma?
(3) Hidden features. Where is the 'search' feature in my file browser? Nowhere. I have to use a separate program for searching my files.
(4) Zillions of distros. Don't get me wrong, I think this is gererally a good thing. You don't always want 'Desktop Linux'. But there are dozens of 'Desktop Linuxes', and none of them 'just work'. I would love to see a unified effort to come up with a single version that does.
(5) Redundant applications. Even your best 'desktop' Linuxes ship with 2 or 3 different wordprocessors, several shell programs, a half dozen text editors... for God's sake, people, pick ONE!
(6) Non-standard interfaces. Your average Linux distro has dozens of differents looks for the apps it includes. If something works in Gnome or KDE (whichever), there's a standard look. But there are always many more programs with their own look and feel.
(7) Incompatibility with the real world. I love Google Earth, and Google Desktop. I love Paint Shop Pro. I have to use Visio for work. No Linux compatiblity with these. Sorry, but Dia is no Visio, and the GIMP is IMHO user-hostile.
And tons of other small irritations too numerous to mention.
Sorry, but if I can't replace my real-world computing needs with Linux, what chance does a 'normal' non-geek have?
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