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Is Linux Out of Touch With the Average User?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the games-may-have-something-to-do-with-this dept.

Linux 1067

MrSmith writes "Is Linux's less than impressive market share an indication that the movement is out of touch with the average computer user? ZDNet examines five reasons that could explain why people are still willing to pay for (or pirate) an operating system when free alternatives exist. One of the reasons seems to be that despite what many Linux advocates claim, Windows users aren't on the whole dissatisfied with their OS: 'Despite what you read on websites and blogs, newspapers and magazines, people on the whole aren't all that dissatisfied with Windows. There are millions of users out there who just get on and use their PCs without any real difficulty.'"

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Yes (1)

hal9000(jr) (316943) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235677)

But so are many commercial and opensource programs.

Re:Yes (3, Insightful)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235757)

Is Linux's less than impressive market share an indication that the movement is out of touch with the average computer user?

No, Linux's market share is a matter of vender lockin, monopoly abuse, aligned with the fact that Linux is still quite a bit younger than windows.

Re:Yes (1, Insightful)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235887)

And the fact that it has a reputation as being something only computer geeks "can" use. And the fact that if you want to use any programs on linux you usually have to compile the source yourself. And the fact that there are no human interface designers working on the linux project. Microsoft may not do function very well, but their form is getting better, and they have a comparatively simple interface for users.

It is fair to say that while linux is out of touch with the average user, so too is the average linux user out of touch with the average user.

Re:Yes (1)

BiggyP (466507) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236055)

there are no human interface designers working on the linux project
I can't think of anywhere less relevant to HI people, what's "the linux project" when it's at home? Where do human interface designers come in on the kernel development front?

if you want to use any programs on linux you usually have to compile the source yourself
Riiight, of course, and the last time you used a modern desktop linux distribution was?

Re:Yes (1, Insightful)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236331)

Um, human interface designers come in at the point where you want the average person to be able to use it. You better believe M$ has a small army of them that they throw at every project that comes through their system.

Well, lets see, if you want to use anything slightly less than a "everyone and their grandmother has this" kind of program (such as firefox, open office, ect) then it will likely have both a windows executable, and a source that you can compile to whatever version of linux you currently have.

Re:Yes (0, Flamebait)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236119)

"And the fact that it has a reputation as being something only computer geeks "can" use. And the fact that if you want to use any programs on linux you usually have to compile the source yourself. "

I think it is simpler than this. The "average" user...hell, the average person on the an idiot.

Anybody that has worked a job that deals with facing the public (waiter, bartender, sales, etc) can easily attest to this fact. I have to say..I'd never thought that the majority of people out there could be so stupid, but, once you spend some time dealing with the general public, you can without a superiority attitude say honestly that the general public are morons on the whole, and you wonder how they actually live long enough to reproduce.

The average computer 'user' has pretty much only seen windows or if lucky..maybe osx. They do not separate computer hardware from software. The browser, probably IE *is* the internet to them. And their first major accomplishment in the computer world was figuring out how to turn it on.

Linux, like most anything else that might take a bit of intelligence, and motivation to self teach and research, is and probably will be beyond the 'average' user.

Remember how many people you came across that had VCR's with clocks that blinked 12 over and over...'cause they couldn't figure how to set the clock? I rest my case.

Re:Yes (5, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236211)

I think it is simpler than this. The "average" user...hell, the average person on the an idiot.
Yes, I imagine its easy to call people idiots when they aren't interested in the same fields you are. I'm sure lots of scientists think I'm an idiot because I don't understand what they take for granted. Or perhaps they're not so elitist.

Re:Yes (0, Troll)

Dorkmaster Flek (1013045) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236489)

No, they really are idiots. I'm not talking about people who can't compile source code or fix registry problems by themselves. I'm talking about people who really do think IE (or Google for that matter) is "the Internet"; people who can barely check their email; people who don't understand that turning off the monitor doesn't turn off "the computer". These are the same people who somehow manage to stumble through life and reproduce only because our society is built upon catering to the lowest common denominator all the time.

Re:Yes (5, Insightful)

Kenshin (43036) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236373)

Last week I installed Ubuntu on my boss' old laptop, and it installed pretty easily. I was having trouble getting the wireless going, so I looked-around online. I found a 14-step manual process (complete with command lines) to get it going, and thought that was simple enough...

Until one of the steps was a completely vague "now write a shell script to enable all the attributes".

At that point I gave up and walked-away, and remembered WHY I haven't personally used Linux in years.

I'm the go-to guy for computers for most people I know. I have a 4.93 GPA in the IT course I'm taking. But Linux... it's just a pain in the ass.

Re:Yes (1)

Kenshin (43036) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236447)

(Before anyone jumps down my throat, I meant to type 3.93 GPA.)

Re:Yes (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236407)

I had a VCR that blinked 12:00 over and over, but only because I'd got sick of setting it. It had no battery and would reset every power cut. And living in the middle of the Norfolk countryside, power cuts happen in every half-decent storm. We were without power for nearly a week once. Good job we had a gas oven, or the food wouldn't have been very good. At least the VCR didn't blink.

Normally though, people who "can't figure out how to set the clock" just can't be bothered to look in the manual under the section "setting the clock". Nine times out of ten it involves a button with a picture of a clock and the up/down buttons.

They'd rather complain about it than do it.

Re:Yes (2, Insightful)

Mountaineer1024 (1024367) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236179)

How is nonsense like this:

And the fact that if you want to use any programs on linux you usually have to compile the source yourself

My wife browses the web (complete with flash for her all time favourite site YouTube) with Firefox, sends and receives email with Thunderbird, reads and writes documents with OpenOffice, NONE of which I had to compile from source or even drop to a command line to aquire.
Making claims like this is on par with Linux fanbois still decrying Windows for BSOD's.
I suggest that for the
  • average
user who's interested in media, document and web a distribution such as Ubuntu is fine.

Re:Yes (4, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236313)

And the fact that it has a reputation as being something only computer geeks "can" use.

Undeservedly. My non-geek wife gets by on Linux just fine without much help from me at all.

And the fact that if you want to use any programs on linux you usually have to compile the source yourself.

Um, no. Not one application program on any of my three Ubuntu boxes at home is compiled from source. Most were either installed from the Ubuntu CD, installed via 'Add/Remove Programs', or installed via Synaptic.

And the fact that there are no human interface designers working on the linux project.

On the kernel? No. Kernels need human interface designers like Alaskan Eskimos need air conditioners. On GNOME and KDE? Yes, there are several professional human interface designers working on GNOME and KDE.

Microsoft may not do function very well, but their form is getting better, and they have a comparatively simple interface for users.

And GNOME and KDE are getting form much, much better, modeling their environments by combining the best features Windows has to offer with the best features Mac OS X has to offer, blending them into unique, consistent, stable GUI environments.

Re:Yes (0, Troll)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236507)

So what you're saying is that you like to nitpick on the difference between the linux kernel and an actual build of linux, without refuting what I said. Good argument form *golf clap*. But basically, to sumarize your horribly long, double linebreak argument, linux builds look the same as average windows, almost, but arn't quite as compatable, and the one person you know who does have it, has someone with technical competance as her repair-guy because theres not a snowball's chance in h___ that she can get it repaired at a normal computer shop.

Re:Yes (1)

skeletor935 (790212) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236427)

I'd agree whole heartedly. I'd best most Windows users have never seen a linux distro with a GUI. They all probably think Linux users live in a command line world only. they've probably never seen red hat or gnome or kde desktop and how familier looking it is compared to Windows.

Re:Yes (0, Flamebait)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236461)

And the fact that if you want to use any programs on linux you usually have to compile the source yourself.

BS, they are called repositories.

And the fact that there are no human interface designers working on the linux project.

This is highly offensive, to user interface designers that work on Gnu/Linux.

Microsoft may not do function very well, but their form is getting better, and they have a comparatively simple interface for users.

Microsoft's user interface is not anything unique or special.

And the fact that it has a reputation as being something only computer geeks "can" use.

All software has a reputation as something only geeks can support. You are blurring the difference between "use" and "support". Your post is flamebait and nowhere near informative.

Re:Yes (1)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236471)

And the fact that if you want to use any programs on linux you usually have to compile the source yourself.
Maybe you should try debian or red hat before jumping to gentoo.

Re:Yes (1)

lanswitch (705539) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235997)

There are millions of users out there who just get on and use their PCs without any real difficulty

Mostly because they are not aware of the problems. How many of those pc's are zombified, infected, or otherwise compromised?

Re:Yes (2, Insightful)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236389)

How many of those users would understand or care if they were?

Re:Yes (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236133)

aligned with the fact that Linux is still quite a bit younger than windows

That argument doesn't hold water anymore. Linux is approximately 16 years old and is based on a design that is ~40 years old. The original Windows codebase would be 22 years old this year if it weren't dead and buried. Windows NT technology replaced the original Windows line in the 90's, making the current Windows platform only 14 years old. So in actuality, it's Windows that is the young'un.

Re:Yes (3, Insightful)

GovCheese (1062648) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236321)

Don't forget that a computer is a big ticket item for many families. One of their most important considerations when they buy is "what programs are out there for the kids?" Compared with the wealth of solid education and kid entertainment software for Windows, Linux is a dry desert. It may not be your calculus when you chose your OS, but it is for many families. Port Freddie Fish (as one example) over to Linux and you might have a deal.

Ignorance? (1)

Mr.Intel (165870) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235685)

Apart from games, which the clueful use as an excuse to not convert at least one box to Linux, I'd wager Ignorance (capital I) is the leading cause of high Windows market share. There's legions of bot nets for a reason... If the average computer user is satisfied with windows, it follows that they are blissfully unaware of the pornspam spewing from their infected PC.

Re:Ignorance? (3, Insightful)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235975)

Most people I know have never heard of linux. In fact, the only people were IT people.

I think the average person is also entrenched in the windows paradigm. They really don't want to know how things work, but they have built up a certain level of knowledge in windows and might not be too inclined to start over again. Most windows users know how to load a new driver for example - you download it, then you double-click it (they are usually in executables that do all the work.) There are a lot of little things like that are big "achievements" for the average user, and he doesn't want too feel stupid all over again learning a new system unless he's REALLY been sold on the advantages.

Re:Ignorance? (1)

nharmon (97591) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236297)

Not only that, but for a lot of average computer users, a computer that freezes up and doesn't work right is the status quo. Thus they have no reason to be dissatisfied with it.

Re:Ignorance? (1)

sticky_charris (1086041) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236347)

Exactly. I use linux and use a VMified XP install occasionally (photoshop, dreamweaver etc) and am very happy with it. I am IT manager of a small company and a few of the desktops and all of the servers are linux based. I am happy with this because I can help out when required. I found that users put (forced) onto openSUSE were very nervous to begin with. Any problems were immediately blamed and the OS and in turn, myself. I one by one ironed out all the little problems and now these users (one of them an old lady) doesn't like using XP because she "doesn't know where everything is". That said she doesn't touch a single setting (I have to do it for her). The Director also runs linux (multiboot). He is quite techinically competent, and on his laptop not having to run antivirus has made everything a lot faster for him. However he does feel a bit stupid every time I have to make any changes - it is just too different from XP for him to know how to do things himself. For this reason I wouldn't casually recommend linux to people who would be left to sort things out themselves. Everyone has someone nearby that has basic competence in XP. For now (and things are changing) this is not the case with linux. However, put it in the workplace (this is going to be a real growth area) and users will slowly find their feet in it.

Re:Ignorance? (1, Interesting)

gplus (985592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236011)

The day I can walk into a shop that sells games, and find a section with "games for Linux PC's" containing all the cool new games, is the day I'll switch to Linux.

Re:Ignorance? (4, Insightful)

sootman (158191) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236043)

"Apart from games, which the clueful use as an excuse to not convert at least one box to Linux..."

The average user only *has* one box.

The fact is, there are a *lot* of computer users out there. Most--I'm not exaggerating when I say it's probably 95%--don't care to know anything about their machine other than which icons to click to launch IE, Word, and Solitaire. Most users don't know what an OS is, or that Windows is one; they certainly don't know that there are options. They don't know the difference between memory and storage, they don't know the difference between the desktop and the hard drive; if you change their wallpaper they freak out that their computer is broken, etc etc etc. Computer runs slow? It's been two years, buy another.

To respond to the question in question, yes, Linux is light-years out of touch--not that it's unusable, but that most users don't know what it is, where to get it, or why they'd want it. The fact that it's bulletproof against malware isn't enough--they fear change more. Don't underestimate the power of inertia.

Re:Ignorance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19236465)

>>Computer runs slow? It's been two years, buy another.

With Dell bargains sometimes around $300, that is sometimes the best advice. More advice would be to not load crap and "free" toolbars on your computer. Don't load AOL. Stick to a few porn sites that you know won't load malware. Don't try to "customize" your display with a bunch of animations and cute screen elements. Don't... Nevermind. Buy a new computer.

Re:Ignorance? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19236079)

Typical linux fanboy attitude. Which, by the way, really doesn't help convince people to switch.

I've been a linux user for 10 years and I think it's a great OS for many tasks. But my main machine is a Windows box.

Why? Because it has all the apps I need and I have to spend much less time maintaining the system. Tinkering linux config files can be fun for a while but after a while it gets boring and for normal people it's NEVER fun.

A few years ago I did a presentation of BeOS and linux to a bunch of "normal" users at a computer club. The simplicity and speed of BeOS was very appealing to them and most of them would have been willing to switch if enough apps had been available. They weren't very interested in linux, though, none of the technical arguments nor the philosophy of open source made much of an impact.

Re:Ignorance? (2, Insightful)

Mr.Intel (165870) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236235)

Not so much a fanboy of Linux as a detractor of windows. They both have their uses. My point was that the average computer user is ignorant of Linux for many reasons, including being ignorant of the threats that face a Windows machine connected to the internet. That's not fanboying, that's just how it is.

Re:Ignorance? (1)

SlayerofGods (682938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236359)

Only the ignorant can be satisfied with windows? I'm personally pretty satisfied with windows. Why wouldn't I be? What exactly does linux do that windows can't that would make it worth converting? And there is a price to converting in the time it takes to relearn all the skills, shortcuts, and tricks picked up while using windows.
Especially considering the old argument that linux is safer is simply not true for me. I run no firewall and no virus scan but have no problems with virus simply by applying the updates and not downloading anything from the dregs of the internet.

So please enlighten my ignorant self. Why should I covert to linux?

Why I don't use Linux (4, Insightful)

overcaffein8d (1101951) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235697)

yeah, I use windows. I love Linux, but some games don't work on it except with more tweaking that i can frankly handle. Other than gaming, Linux is pretty good, though.

Re:Why I don't use Linux (1)

FredDC (1048502) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236385)

If you think Linux is pretty good, why not use it? For gaming you can switch to windows... That's what I do, it's not that hard to set up a dual boot on your system.

It sometimes looks that way (4, Insightful)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235701)

I can't tell you how many times I've see a question like "What's the best linux for a newbie?" or "Will linux run on my laptop?" answered by a fair amount of mockery, and the advice to "Try it, and see what happens."

This is not reassuring to the average user.

Re:It sometimes looks that way (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19235981)

What's the best car for a newbie?

Re:It sometimes looks that way (5, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236127)

I recommend buying a kit. Not a complete one - just the chassis, engine and transmission. Once you get that running, there are lots of places to buy a body, wheels, tires, windshield, etc. Oh, and it should be a stick - don't get an automatic 'cause you'll never really learn to "drive" in an automatic.

Sorry, I just couldn't help myself. *hangs head in shame*

Thanks. (1)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236151)

Sometimes the purpose of your life is just to be a counter-example to others.

Re:It sometimes looks that way (1)

trippeh (1097403) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236091)

It's a generalisation that most Linux users are camo-wearing cybersurvivalists who do not suffer either fools or noobs. Unfortunately like most generalisations, it has a base in fact. The reason I don't use Linux is the same reason I don't go corporate-paintballing. It is so completely inaccessible to the layperson and as far as I can see, will only end in pain and embarassing stains.

Besides, I've heard so many horror stories about dealing with Linux. I've got a half-dozen Open Source Operating Systems sitting on my desk, waiting for the day I'm brave enough to try 'em out. Even if I DO try one of them out, odds are I'd get frustrated when something went wrong and I was unable to fix it. I wouldn't even bother trying to find an answer on forums, or the ircnets or anything, because I would assume that the camo-puter geeks would all beat me with their keyboards for asking a silly question.

Linux may have come a long way from the days where you had to run a command-line of code a screen long to start up a word processing program, but it's still too arcane for someone with my low self-confidence in the dark arts of coding.

Re:It sometimes looks that way (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19236253)

Right. Here's the thing: When people are confronted with choices of this nature they don't really reflect on what they actually want and need, but what the "right" choice is. The choice everyone else is making. There's like a subconscious fear to be one of the people who bet on betamax.

Thus the noobs will ever haunt the forums in the quest for a definitive answer. But the free software world lacks such a center of gravity, and almost everything boils down to preference. I'm an Xfce on debian guy myself, and that's what I recommend.

The only solution I can see is that we make an agreement among free software users like: "Everyone endorse Ubuntu whether you like it or not" so as to present the appearance of a "mainstream", a less confusing picture with less choices that's easier for the noobs to grapple with.

But, you know. Good luck with that.

Because it comes with a spell checker... (2, Informative)

gillbates (106458) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235703)

why people are still winning to pay for (or pirate) an operating system..

Ok, Windows doesn't really come with a spell checker. But Microsoft Office does, and people think that if they use Linux, they'll end up sounding like some hacker-type...

While I said it in jest, I think there's a point to be made. People tend to use the operating systems that best suit them (or from another perspective: that they deserve). Linux users and Windows users have different needs. Surprise, yawn.

It would be more constructive to talk about how Linux users can improve the experience for Windows users. I know of quite a few people who hate computers altogether because of their experience with Windows, and, tragically, because of this, are unwilling to try anything different because they fear it will be more of the same.

Re:Because it comes with a spell checker... (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235881)

I know for a fact KDE (and I think Gnome 2.18) has a desktop-wide spell checker that works in pretty much every kdelib (or libgnome) app (I've noticed in Konqueror, Kopete, Firefox and G^HPidgin)

Out of touch with most end users? (1, Insightful)

Orclover (228413) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235705)

Thank you Captain Obvious! We'll take it from here.

#6 (5, Insightful)

grev (974855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235721)

The average computer user doesn't know what Linux is.

Re:#6 (1)

RedHat Rocky (94208) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236013)

Not only that, the average home user (read, non-IT) equates "Computer" with "Windows".

Many times I've gotten the blank stare when I mentioned there are other operating systems than MS-Windows and the followup question is often "What's an operating system?".

Aye sir! (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235759)

If the "average user" is a Windows user!
Apart of jokes, there's still a long way, especially if you think about the number of different distributions with very little in common!

Sure.. (1)

Number6.2 (71553) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235765)

And all of those people in "The Matrix" lead happy, contented lives, completely unaware that they were being used. Problem was, any one of them could be "Agent Smith'd" at any asvn;sc;' v./.........

Nothing to see here, citizen. Just move along.

The simple truth (5, Insightful)

gosand (234100) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235801)

I think that Windows is good enough. Yes, it can be frustrating at times, but let's not kid ourselves. Linux isn't a walk in the park either. Granted, it has come an *extremely* long way over the years, but there are still things that annoy me about it, and I use Kubuntu. Look, I have been using it on my main PC since Redhat 6.2. I love it, and prefer it. However, my wife doesn't want the hassle, and I don't want the hassle either. We recently got her a new laptop, and it has XP on it. (thank goodness Dell Small Business will install XP, I didn't want to wrestle with Vista). XP is installed, wireless works great, it all just works pretty well. She is already used to it, and we have all of her programs tranferred over. Once of those is Quicken. I know there is GnuCash and others, but when I started using them I found them to be cumbersome, and for some reason it wasn't able to import any of my bank statements. Finally got fed up with it, and turned the finances over to my wife and Quicken. It's been great ever since.

Look, why does Linux have to take over the world? Can't you just use it and enjoy it? I understand being passionate about it, I promote it where it makes sense. But honestly, it isn't a replacement for Windows. And there is no need for it to be.

Re:The simple truth (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19236069)

>it isn't a replacement for Windows. And there is no need for it to be.
If Windows didn't threaten the freedom of its users, there wouldn't be. But with Microsoft having shown themselves willing to do whatever the *IAA want to restrict users from their fair rights (such as fast-forwarding through commercials on legally-purchased DVDs) there is a need to change the situation. The only way to do this is a credible threat from free software.

Linux is great, but does it run under Windows? (4, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235809)

A little sarcastic, but honestly I see the reason the average user isn't using Linux is either because they don't care or because, they really don't care.

Take my parents as an example. No problem with viruses, hacks, or whatnot. Why? Because I set them up right and told them what not to do. The rest of the relatives? All using Windows (one heretic uses a MAC - but she is a California girl so we let her). Kids, they want games, games run under Windows. Who cares if WINE can make their game run, thats one EXTRA step they aren't going to take.

So, basically unless Linux runs windows software seemlessly and comes preinstalled it ain't going to make a dent. People run Windows because it works. Regardless of the FUD you hear here it does what people need it to do. People don't care what makes it run, just that it does. If a virus takes them down they get their friends to fix it or some store.

Really, why would you expect them to take the extra STEPS to change something that is adequate for their need? what does Linux do that Windows can't? (and don't go on about security - they don't care)

It's not Linux's fault... (4, Insightful)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235817)

...that the majority of people have never heard of Linux before. They've lived in a world where Microsoft software is installed on a new computer by default, and about the only thing they know about this Linux thing is that it is just something their kids told them the kid down the street likes to play with. The bulk of the software on the market that people are exposed to is either Microsoft or created to only run on Microsoft operating systems.

The answer is to just do what we do best. Show people, educate them, and let them see what Linux is. Keep up the grassroots movement. It will take time, but as long as we keep educating people that they have a choice, Linux will catch on. Microsoft started in 1975 with some stolen code on paper tape, and they didn't become a household name overnight, either.

Re:It's not Linux's fault... (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236251)

Therein lies the problem though -- we're trying to compare an operating system (Linux), to companies (Microsoft/Apple). There is no true "Linux Corporation". There are of course distros from people like Red Hat, but how many average users have even heard of them? Unless we start seeing a series of "Hi, I'm a Mac... Hi, I'm a PC... Hey there, I'm a PC running Linux", where the Linux PC is played by some buxom playgirl, I don't think Linux will make headway with the average computer user.

Re:It's not Linux's fault... (1)

BiggyP (466507) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236397)

The trouble is that we have people around who expect Linux to gain industry support without gaining market share, how do people expect game developers, for example, to target Linux before the users are there to make it worthwhile, eggs, chickens, etc. And these are the people who have some awareness of Linux in the first place.

It's on track. (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235821)

When my girlfriends XP laptop went to the big electronic place in the sky, she started using my computer (Ubuntu box). Took her about an hour to figure things out and she's not very computer savvy. Now I'm building her a computer and she requested I put "that Lenux thing" on it, because she liked how it just worked smoothly and didn't have freeze ups. To me that said a lot.

Re:It's on track. (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236273)

The casual user is the perfect convert. In fact, anyone who is willing to switch from a windows box to a mac is a good candidate to switch to linux. The key is finding someone who isn't tied to a particular suite of windows-centric software (i.e.: has not spent years "learning" word, excel, photoshop, autocad, whatever). If you can survive the application switch, the OS is a piece of cake. I say this because every new windows release completely fucks up all the usual places and operations that you were used to in the old version (which is why my XP desktop still looks like NT3.51 as much as possible). If you can migrate up though a windows upgrade, you can migrate to linux. Or mac. As long as you don't need to concern yourself with application continuity or back catalog compatibility, you're probably golden.

Yes, of course they are satisfied! (1)

rumith (983060) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235833)

Especially now that Vista decorates the BSOD with lighting effects.

I'm one of those people (1)

coldfarnorth (799174) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235851)

for whom windows works just fine. All of the software I run works in windows, and as a student, I can get upgrades at a reasonable price.

I recently decided that I have a moral responsability to give Linux a fair shake, So I've been running Ubuntu on the home computer. It's been fun, but is still unintuitive (and will remains so for a while, I suspect). I could see how someone less interested in change would rather pirate than switch.

"Better the devil one knows than the devil that one suspects"

Eat crap, 10 zillion flies can't be wrong... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19235855)

In my experience, Microsoft has most users well-trained to accept shit, basically. They put up with ridiculously poor performance, astounding flakiness (I'm sorry, you wanted to copy a file? I can't let you do that, dave...), hostile we-own-your-soul-and-its-our-right-to-spy-on-you vendors (more a feature of the windows ecosystem as a whole than just microsoft) and just think it's normal. They're not dissatisfied with windows because they don't know any better, they mutely reinstall every 6 months to clear the crud, and are happy. Like a well-off illiterate irish peasant in the middle ages might be happy with his lot, considering himself fortunate with his 2 cabbages a day for his family and 1 day a week shared use of donkey.

It's why even if you don't give a crap about eye candy, having the gee-whiz beryl eye candy turned on your linux desktop can be a good thing - users get interested by the superior eye candy (even if they say they're not), try out linux for a while, and some proportion stay for the superior stability and system coherency (that is to say, everything on linux ultimately makes sense. Yes, it might be only loosely integrated sometimes - but it always does what it says it will, without simultaneously sending your credit card details to korea or something).

Can the average user spell 'willing'?? nt (1)

Papatoast (245525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235867)

I'm willing to bet that most Linux, Mac, Unix, BeOS, BSD, and hell, even Windows users know that winning is not a suitable substitute for willing.

This is a good thing (4, Interesting)

rtkluttz (244325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235873)

It is good that it is out of touch with the average computer user.

Average computer users don't care about security. The attitude that average computer users take towards security is the reason why ISP's take it upon themselves to do security on behalf of the user. I don't want to have to search for a decent ISP who doesn't block ports or make security decisions for me. It should be my responsibility to secure my own machine and if I fail at than, then they have the right to boot me off the network.

Linux expects a certain level of proficiency, but it takes the correct approach in that it doesn't mandate it.

Re:This is a good thing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19236265)

This is exactly the reason Linux isn't taking more ground.

When you buy a car, you expect certain things - the fuel mixture to be appropriate for the engine, the doors to open and close, the sunroof not to leak, etc. I have several gearhead friends, and they all tweak everything on their cars. None of them, however, says I should drive a GTO because I'll have an excuse to be under the hood every weekend changing how the carb is functioning to make it run better. I'm an average car owner - I have no idea how to change my fuel/air mixture - and I "just want it to work". Car manufacturers take great pains to make sure when I turn the key on my Acura, it turns on no matter what, without my having to pop the hood.

Same thing with the OS. Average users really do care about security, but they don't know, or want to know, how to get iptables to properly function. Windows, largely, will handle this for them (maybe not as well as we'd like, but better than when it started). To state that it is a good thing that Linux is out of touch with average users does a disservice to those trying to bring the system to the "Common man". We make it easier for Grandma to use and see pics of the grandkids, without her having to drop to a shell every time she turns her printer on, the system will gain more ground.

Asked and answered, your honor (3, Insightful)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235913)

Is Linux's less than impressive market share an indication that the movement is out of touch with the average computer user?

The question contains its own answer. Most people - even most technically adept people - are not interested in installing "the movement" on their PCs. They want an operating system. They aren't interested in making a statement, bringing Microsoft to its knees, or sacrificing their souls on the altar of RMS' inevitable apotheosis. They want an OPERATING SYSTEM.

Linux is a great operating system, with - IMHO - just a few minor hurdles that must be overcome before it can be seriously offered to an average person (most importantly, AAA games and hardware support - like USB 802.11x dongles). And those hurdles can be worked around if the average person knows someone with some knowledge of the OS (much like the hurdles of Windows can be worked around if they know someone with some knowledge of the OS).

But yes, "the movement" is out of touch with the average computer user. As long as it thinks of itself as "the movement," it always will be.

i think they are missing the issues (4, Interesting)

noldrin (635339) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235943)

What are the numbers of people who install windows via CD VS people who install Linux via CD?

The main reason is that under Linux your hardware won't work as well, more internet stuff won't work, and you can't play your games like Evercrack and WoW. People who use Linux generally are either really care about freedom, or are computer hobbyists who like messing around with their computer. Average users often just get frustrated and move back to windows if they were curious enough to switch anyways.

I think Linux would be better off targeting the computer hobbyists rather than prematurely going after average users. We are prematurely slapping an easy to use GUI on top of a system that you need to know about in order to maintain, translation: we are giving people enough rope to hang themselves before they know how to use rope safely. Once Linux has most of the computer people using it, the casual user will follow. This is how it worked in the world of DOS vs Mac

Re:i think they are missing the issues (1)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236015)

I think your comments are more reflective of the situation a few years and ago and less so today. Recent distro's targeted towards the non-tech end user tend to work just as well, if not better, than Windows as desktop replacement. That includes gaming to a limited degree.

Re:i think they are missing the issues (1) (741064) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236459)

That includes gaming to a limited degree

The last sentence says it all.

care with disatisfaction claims (1)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235959)

Many of the Windows users that would be disatisfied aren't because they have a friend of family member that takes care of things for them when the box goes to hell because of malware or other disfunctionality. I however, and I imagine much of the readership here, am getting tired of supporting these boxes. It's not bad when it's just routine preventive maintenance but when it becomes corrective maintenance and happens often- that's when I reach for the Ubuntu distro. If I were to cease their Window support and force them to either fend for themselves or almost as bad attempt to get support from the box vendor- I'd expect that their disastisfaction would become all too obvious. Of the users that I've converted (all non-technical but open to learning a new desktop), the only negative feedback that I've received is that they miss their iPod application. It's my understanding though that a little Wine fiddling addresses even this.

People are afraid of change! (1)

FredDC (1048502) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235983)

It's very simple, people are afraid of change! Especially with that which they don't fully understand.

Most people don't know how their computer works, it just does. If they click a button it does something. The moment it does something else they panic! Change the way the button looks and they won't click it anymore, because it can't possibly do the same thing as before: it looks different.

I notice this every day with people who have used a computer for many years every single day. I've been trying to get some to switch to Linux, but most people just freeze up completely. They can't accomplish even the simplest of tasks because it looks a little different. It's like because they have new shoes on, they have forgotten how to walk...

The current generation of these kind of users are lost to windows forever, it's the new generation(s) that other OS's must aim for.

Of course it is (2, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#19235987)

Is Linux's less than impressive market share an indication that the movement is out of touch with the average computer user?

Of course it is. What we're really arguing is whether that's a bad thing. Remember when AOL users all piled on to the internet?

"Winning to pay?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19235993)

Is it too much to ask the someone literate post these things? Don't be so damned reliant on your spell checker!

And there's no need to RTFA since we know the answer - "no". The main reasons Windows is on most computers is because that's what OS is installed when you buy it. Duh! Most people would no more install an OS on their PC than they would on their phone. You and I are not normal. Normal people don't even know what an OS is or that they have an alternative. They blame Windows' shortcomings on themselves, "I'm too dumb to use a computer" and you, my fellow nerds, encourage this! YOU are the reason that Linux doesn't have more "market share".

And speaking of "market share", why in the hell should "market share" matter to a FREE anything? Capitalism has become the world's dominant religion. Most of the world's denizens worship the almighty dollar. A mammon worshiper is usually easy to spot, he wears Satan's leash, the necktie, symbol of wealth and power.


Why there are more windows and mac users (3, Informative)

emil10001 (985596) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236037)

"There are millions of users out there who just get on and use their PCs without any real difficulty.'There are millions of users out there who just get on and use their PCs without any real difficulty.'"

Yes, and my bet is that many of them wonder why opening their web browser takes 5 mintues.

Q: Why are there so many windows and mac users campared with linux users?
A: Because MS Windows and Mac OS X both come pre-installed on cheap/pretty boxes that the customer doesn't need to think about. MS and Apple also both have large, highly visible marketing efforts behind their software to make people aware of the brand, and attract them to the product. There is also the fear of something different that I'm sure many windows/mac users feel towards linux, they don't understand it, and it looks different from what they've seen before.

I think that the most effective way to get linux out to the people would be a large, highly visible marketing effort. As well as an easy way for people to get a linux distro onto their box without them needing to think about it too much.

Linux is not there yet Window DOES work better (1)

Petkov (1011081) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236051)

this is the 3rd time I been trying to convert to Linux. I tried Kubuntu last month but for whatever reasons it ran very very slow while my pirated XP Professional runs fine.
I was testing Mepis; it is FINE but it is filled with tons of small annoying bugs that finally made me switch back to XP this week. Can't copy and paste in numerous programs the way I can with Windowze. XMMS for example wont let me modify ID2 songs names. I have to had to read numerous sites to figure the Unicode thing since I want to be able to read and write Cyrilic and kanjii besides English and I still dont have that sorted out. The most often reply I get is RTFM Well Why should I?
As it has been said, the majority of user view the PC as an appliance, not some LEGO toy which you can play with and modify to make it work. I don't have time to modify, I want my PC to work. XP does that.
and Before you ask, I been working with computers since the late 1980s.

Number 3 nailed it (4, Informative)

niloroth (462586) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236071)

Quite frankly, i think the 3rd point was one of the biggest. I am rather good with computers, and networking, but getting my acer laptop to work with the wireless b/g card in it under any distro is more than i am willing to do. I can NDISwrapper the drivers, and have a card that will only work in b mode under linux, if i go in and mess about with the conf files. But even then there are seemingly random times where it will just stop working. And going between multiple networks without stopping and restarting the service is simply an exercise in futility, something windows doesn't have a problem with at all. I realize that without driver support from the manufacturers this will continue to be a problem, but non the less, it is a reason for the lack of market share, because if i don't fell like going through the hassle, i feel most users wouldn't even get far enough along to realize that all this work is far more than should be needed.

They are right! (1)

RumpleForeSkin72 (1106083) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236077)

I am a pretty good technician in my own opinion and I have used Linux on occasion. There is nothing wrong with linux but it is not for the average user! Most people buy software that they find at a retail store and you can bet your butt that it won't support linux If my mother wants to install something she can do it without issue (well mostly)on windows and it will be integrated into her OS without her having to have a degree in CS.

Inertia (1)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236085)

Microsoft figured out (via a combination of legal and illegal moves) how to ensure that consumer PCs shipped with MS Windows. They also ensured that the system gave a good first impression. Once the average user has used a system for a few days, they
  1. cannot generally see the drawbacks of the system: they assume that the quirks and problems are just an inevitable part of computing;
  2. do not want to learn something new.
In developing countries, if software piracy can be stamped out, there may be an economic incentive to use of Linux and other free (as in beer) products. In richer countries, the MS tax is not a serious issue (and, as implied above) users do not understand that the more serious economic effects of malware are a Windows only phenomenon.

Get Back To Me (1)

asphaltjesus (978804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236111)

When _most_ users can distinguish between the box under their desk and an operating system.

This is not Linux's problem. Linux is a good tool whose value is not slavishly following Redmond's design decisions.

It's value is it offers something(s) that can not be had on Windows, and maybe even a Mac.

Naming (4, Insightful)

Snap E Tom (128447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236117)

I've always believed a big problem for desktop, mainstream linux adoption was the naming of popular applications.

Imagine using Linux for the first time.

Noob: What do I use to play CDs and MP3's?
Linux Teacher: XMMS
Noob: What do I use to edit photos?
Linux Teacher: Gimp
Noob: What do I use to play movies?
Linux Teacher: There's xine and VLC.
Noob: How about for IMs?
Linux Teacher: GAIM
Noob: Email?
Linux Teacher: Evolution

What the hell's an XMMS, Gimp, xine, VLC, or Gaim? Those names are awful, and they're often acronyms. If you ask any average Joe what a Gimp was, they'll tell you it's a guy who walks funny. How the hell are you supposed to know that that's an image editing application? Evolution's for email and not something to do with biology?

Photoshop. You have an idea what that's for. Internet Explorer. Same thing - I probably use it to explore the internet. Those are good names. If you're new to Windows, and you want to do something but can't remember the name of the program you're supposed to use, just look around in your Start menu or Programs directory. The names will probably clue you in.

Marketing and branding can definitely help - more and more people are hearing about Firefox, but that gained popularity first in Windows. Access and Excel aren't that descriptive, but they became household names because of marketing and bundling with Word, which is descriptive.

If people want to make Linux more "user friendly" developers should think a lot about the name they give their programs.

Not in Kansas! (1)

Dareth (47614) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236403)

Noob: Email?
Linux Teacher: Evolution

This "Evolution" thing will not be tolerated in great state of Kansas.
We demand "Intelligent E-mail" like Outlook!

Five crucial things... (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236135)

The average user doesn't understand about Linux:

  1. It isn't slowed down by anti-virus software. Most Windows machines will run faster with Linux installed because it doesn't have the added burden of needing an AV client running. Windows is the only major OS platform for which anti-virus software is a de facto requirement for use.
  2. You only need to install and configure it once. The annual wipe and reinstall is a Windows-only tradition.
  3. Explicit mount and unmount are preferred to the cross your fingers and hope strategy of Windows volume management.
  4. It is immune to those stupid popups Windows users can't seem to get rid of.
  5. It is easier to use, once you understand how to use it. Try copy and paste with a single mouse click. Try command completion sometime. Try multiple desktops.

No (1)

hodet (620484) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236139)

The average user is out of touch with all the options. Many don't even know it exists.

It's only because "other" OSes use marketing (1)

zukinux (1094199) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236193)

MS uses marketing to their OS, what nearly doesn't exists in open sources OS based.
If we all grew up on Linux, like we all grew up on Windows, actually Windows would have looked like not user friendly with missing features.

It sometimes seems that Microsoft doesn't protect their OS to be hard to crack because they actually want the people who won't pay (pirated copies) to actually use their OS, why? because the exact people will use MS OS in their office/business where they have to pay for copies.
That's why MS are making relations with each country's education office to put MS software (with near to 10$ per office/windows) in each's country school's computer, TO MAKE PEOPLE USE WINDOWS AND TO NOT KNOW ANY OTHER OS so it will look harder to use Linux and these students will only get familiar with Windows.

Vendor lock in. (1)

streetphantom (1075615) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236195)

I was speaking to a guy last night. He uses a certain CAD program, so does his customers. But i just googled for it.. and solidworks has done a linux port. But i know what he'll say next.. "I can't play hi def dvds...."

Re:Vendor lock in. (1)

streetphantom (1075615) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236291)

oh no they haven't done a port after all. Pah.

if it's not first, it never will be at all (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236199)

For many people, if it's not what they train themselves with (I hesitate to say "learn") first, they'll never be comfortable using it. These people don't really learn how computers work, or how to work with computers. They learn which buttons to click when. Anything outside that comfort zone is too much for them to handle.

That said, Linux needs to make inroads in the education market. Many universities have computer labs with Windows sections and Mac sections...and there needs to be a Linux section too. Not as a segregated part that only the CS geeks enter, but as a regular student workstation.

If Linux wants to be in touch with the "average user", they need to be exposed to it early.

The hassel factor (4, Insightful)

simm1701 (835424) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236213)

I'm a linux user and admin. By most peoples standards (ie in the developement department of a bank in which I work I'm a linux/unix expert).

My home laptop (which is my main computer) is dual boot XP/ubuntu.

What do I boot to 95% of the time?


Simply because its less hassel.

I've used wineX, cadega, etc. I've built it from cvs, submitted bugs and the occasional patch to it, I've contacted game devs and worked with them to get new games to run under it (and had screen shots from my PC posted on developement group walls after they were impressed about it running under linux)

I only have 1 game even installed under windows, morrowind, and I know for a fact I could get it running under linux.

Why don't I?


It would take me an hour or two of messing around to get it working under linux.

It would also take me that time or more to get my wireless networking working how I like it under linux (ie knowing the WPA key for several different areas and using whichever is available at the time).

I'm a very busy person and I just feel no need to do it, when its already working without the hassel on my windows partition. I'm not fond of windows, but cygwin covers me for most things I need to do, if its really desparate I'll boot to linux, but thats a pretty rare occurance.

My home file server runs linux, my firewall runs linux, my personal IMAP server runs linux - I dont have an issue setting these up.

But when someone like me tends to use windows as a desktop it points to the fact that there still needs to be moreease of use put into linux on the desktop.

Users are lazy, until its actually easier to run linux in 99% of cases then its not going to happen. (and I don't mean better, I'd argue in general linux would be better for almost all things I do, but it isn't easier)

They dont want to be like us. (4, Insightful)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236227)

Arrogance personified.

The sheer arrogance displayed by the majority of us who want the world to take a look at Linux is miles beyond what is going on by those pushing Windows or even Macs. To most of the world, we come off as intemperate assholes who hate anyone dumb enough to not agree with us. Never mind that the world has managed to function pretty well in spite of Linux not running everything, we act as though all wisdom and knowledge reside strictly with us.

Hate Microsoft, hate Apple, but those organizations do not treat potential customers as primordial slime until they have evolved into dual booting at the very least. We talk down to our audience, we cringe at the thought of making adoption the slightest bit easier for noobs, and if you are a hardware vendor that balks at creating a driver for our benefit, well, we just might shoot your mama in the head.

Someday, our community may figure out that Marketing wins, period.

Nope, we wont, we have had enough time and evidence to know this, and we have rejected that argument.

Microsoft has another record quarter, while we just stay pissed off.

Take your best shot, I've got karma to burn, bitches.

Because maybe Linux is only just now usable?? (2, Insightful)

lawaetf1 (613291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236263)

How about the fact that for the average user Linux was all but unusable due to driver support / app support / features up until *maybe* a couple years ago? Give it time. It's absurd to ask the question "why isn't everyone using Linux??" when Linux is only just now becoming a viable desktop. There is a powerful inertia in OS usage due reasons including what's already installed, what people know, people simply not upgrading, etc. IMHO Linux still has a couple years to go before it is really mass-market friendly. Maybe then we will start to see some movement in its direction.

not out of touch - just want different things (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236281)

"Linux" (the online community?) came about because the contributors wanted to do some neat work that others could use. The point that what they wanted to do isn't necessarily what "end-users" want is not really relevant.

If you have a hobby, you don't do it as a way of making money. You do it because you enjoy it. Same with Linux. Most of the community regard it as a hobby, that also allows them to more-or-less do work, or play games, or whatever. This however, is a side-effect.

It's only when you get commercial interests coming in and trying to make Linux into something it is not, i.e. a competitor to a commercial product, that you get criticisms like "out of touch". Since the developers are donating their work, they are free to donate whatever they like - and to ignore things they aren't interested in.

REALLY stupid title. (1)

crhylove (205956) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236301)

Linux is a blanket term describing tons of various Operating Systems, based on a specific core: Gnu/Linux.

Saying it's out of touch with the average user is ludicrous. Who is the average user anyway? How is it out of touch?

There are several great windows replacement distributions out now, I recommend Ubuntu, however some n00bs might prefer PCLinux or some other more windows looking distro.


It's the marketing (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236317)

If Linux was marketed as aggressively as Windows, it would be a different story. As it is, Linux doesn't come pre-installed as THE default operating, nor does Linux have the Rolling Stones doing commercials for it, or countless articles about it in consumer friendly magazines. Linux does not have lobbyists or sales people pushing it like Microsoft has. It's really no surprise Linux is not that popular with the average person.

Linux and rebellion (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236323)

Kids love to think differently (or love to *think* they think differently) from their parents, and Linux would be a great way to "rebel" against the established guard. Unfortunately, many kids use PCs for gaming, and that's a hard nut to crack, since the whole gaming thing offers a means of separation all its own.

Different language (1, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236341)

I've recently tried Feisty Fawn because I heard that it "just works" with wireless. I eventually got it to work, but it involved changing settings on my router (and I'm still not comfortable with having to broadcast my SSID), after doing research online (a Catch-22 when your network connection just isn't working).

If this is any indication of what "just works" means to the community, then yes, Linux is very much out of touch with the average user (as well as a few non-average users). At least I didn't need to modify text files, however.

Eh.... (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236357)

I'm dissatisfied with Windows, because I work more like UNIX / Linux does. I could do without quite a bit of this desktop-oriented stuff. It just gets in my way, and it assumes I want a machine that works more like a Windows or Mac machine. No thanks. (And damn it, STOP STEALING MY KEYBOARD FOCUS! Sorry. Ahem.)

I see only a couple main benefits to me coming from Linux's recent desktop focus:

  • Getting a critical mass of users so that vendors produce hardware and software we can use.
  • Simplifying installation and package management. After all, I care more about the software I'm running than how it gets installed. (Sit on your hands for this one, Gentoo.)
  • More users == more testing == hopefully fewer bugs.

I'm not a big fan of many of the "usability" changes GNOME has made in the name of "desktop users." It seems that "desktop user" means "someone who just gets by in Windows." For instance, it always annoyed me that pop-ups stole keyboard focus in MS Windows. I finally found a way to disable them there. Why did GNOME (a) copy that crappy behavior, and (b) not give me a way to disable it? It'd be less annoying if GAIM and various package managers didn't pop up all these silly keyboard-focus-stealing dialog boxes whenever they're doing stuff automagically in the background. (Ok, as antidote to those who might say "Oh, that's fixed in x.yy!" Well, I'm on Ubuntu 6.06 LTS. LTS == Long Term Support. I am actually happy to upgrade less than once every 6 months. I guess I lean more towards UNIX than Linux on that point?)


If you have to ask (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236369)

Most Linux fanboys are like audiophiles. They'll never understand why regular, "less powerful" products appeal to the masses. They'll dismiss them as simpletons with simple tastes. In reality, Windows works very well for many common tasks. Today, most of its problems are more of a function of bad third party software and user habits than the OS itself. If you coded Windows apps to use the same security model that is expected of Unix apps (nothing in the registry, all settings in the user's home folder or read-only in C:\Program Files) and made users run as a hybrid of admin and unprivileged user, Windows would actually be a very, very competitive platform. A lot of the dissatisfaction has been the result of the crap that has been attracted to it by external sources.

And I say this not as a Windows fanboy, but as someone who is counting down the months until I can afford and justify buying a new MacBook.

Yes - and that's a good thing (1)

npsimons (32752) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236383)

This will probably be modded troll or flamebait, and maybe it is (flamebait - I'm honestly not trolling), but it must be said. If the average user can't even be arsed to know the rudimentary basics of how to *operate* a computer, then we don't want them as users of Linux. Linux thrives on competition and contribution, and someone asking questions that have been answered a million times before is not contributing anything, they are in fact detracting. You say they are "winning" to pay for Windows? Then why aren't they willing to pay to have someone hold their hand for using Linux?

I don't want my software dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. I want it to be powerful, flexible, and above all, not insulting to my intelligence. I know some smart ass will say "well, software should just work." And Linux does! Because incompetents can't use something doesn't mean the thing is broken, it means the incompetents need training.

"But Linux wants to take over the world, and they can't do that if they snub users!" they say. I've got news for you: most people probably use Linux and don't even realize it. Ever used a Tivo? Or Google? Those are just two major examples. There are probably thousands of other places Linux is being used and people don't even know it.

Are there places Linux could be improved? Sure, and there always will be. I'm all for compassion and lending a helping hand and attempting to see it from someone else's point of view. But there's a huge difference between "usable" and "trying to fit an old and broken model (ie Windows)", which is what most people mean when they say "Linux isn't easy".

Is Linux out of touch with the average user? Does the average user misspell simple words such as "willing"? Then, yes, Linux is probably out of touch with them. And that's a good thing. What's that signature I've seen around here? "How come BSD is allowed to get away with expecting a modicum of intelligence from its users?" Answer me that.

moUd Up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19236409)


Its simply (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236439)

down to a relative lack of awareness and advertising.

From many conversations I have come down to the following conclusions:

a) The vast majority of non-techical PC users (read consumers in the street) still have not even heard of Linux or at least really know what it is. They generally still are not prepared to believe that professional grade software can be totally freely available with no hidden costs or other catches. You can thank Microsoft for hardwiring that expectation.

b) People are sheep and will follow the majority mindthink, which is largely determined by mass-media advertising. For example there are plenty of cheaper and technically better media players out there, but nearly everyone has, wants, or only thinks of an iPod. Microsoft spend billions on advertising. There are commercials for Vista all over the TV daily. I've never ever seen a TV advert for Linux.

c) Still the major reason that most people use Windows is that it was already on their PC when they bought it. Most non-technical types don't even realise that they could uninstall it and run something else. Jeez I know people who buy a new PC every year because their windows partition gets too bloated.

We need to get information about Linux and general PC OS awareness out there through advertising, not just hope people wake up to it one day on their own.

Marketing (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236451)

That ZDNet article by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is written like a true geek. The most important reason determining which OS people buy is marketing, not any of the technical/aesthetic reasons intrinsic to Linux.

People buy their OS by buying a PC with it installed. That means buying a Dell, with Windows preinstalled, or a cheaper brand, with Windows preinstalled. The beginnings of preinstalled Linux on mass-market PCs will help reverse the total Windows momentum. But no one even knows to ask - and they have to ask - for "Linux instead of Windows". People don't even know that it's a "PC", they think they're buying Windows from Dell with a PC included - which they are. No one ever heard of "Lindows", which just sounds like "Windows", anyway, so why bother mentioning it, or asking about it?

Other people get Windows because they have it on their office machine, or on their last machine, and they just want the easiest transfer of their apps and data. They don't know they can use their data on Linux, because they never heard of Linux, and the idea of transferring is totally unknown. Most don't even know there is an alternative.

And others get Windows because someone sold it to them, or that in combination with some or all of the above. OS'es don't sell themselves, and Linux is usually "sold" to new users by some Linux geek. Either facelessly in an online discussion as a solution to some Windows problem, or perhaps a friend (of a friend of an aunt...). Most of those people aren't salespeople, and many are socially unskilled, let alone persuasive. Meanwhile, everyone sees $million ad campaigns every day, everywhere, defining "computers" as "Windows". And the most $incented salespeople run by the most ruthless global $marketing org with every advantage.

Ubuntu could compete directly with Windows for marketshare. But it needs opportunities to sell, many of which are hampered by Microsoft's proven, manifold, and ever-increasing monopoly abuse. And it needs ad campaigns directing consumers to skilled and equipped armies of salespeople.

Given the real reasons people don't "buy" Linux instead of Windows, it's testament to the quality of Linux and its community that it competes at all. That is the basis, but far from the full extent, of a way to get people "in touch" with Linux enough to replace Windows with it.

The reason is user attitude (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236455)

When someone gets Windows, he installs it, starts it up and starts clicking around. Some things will work, some won't, but those that won't don't discourage him. After all, everyone says Windows is so easy to use, every dumbo can work it out. So they try. I mean, who wants to be dumber than... And they try. And putz around and finally (maybe after reinstalling, when they managed to click somewhere they really, really shouldn't) it works.

When someone gets Linux, he installs is, starts it up and starts clicking around. Some things will work, some won't, but those that won't discourage him. After all, everyone says Linux is a geeks-only system, nobody but a true blooded geek can figure it out. So they don't even try and toss it as "too complicated".

The main problem is ... (1)

Durkheim (960021) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236473)

... GAMES!!!
Games make more money now than movies, can't you realize how important its become? I'm not prepared to give up that anytime soon.
Even if some distro has everything I need but games (and most have), I'm not going to boot under windows to play then boot a linux to browse the web. I'm just going to do everything on windows because its more convenient, and because it gives me the freedom to play if I want to, then switch back quickly to what I was doing.
What really saddles me is that I already use mostly OSS, so switching wouldnt be a problem. I'd love to. But I'm not going to if I dont have the choice of paying the games I like.

It is easy for most people to say.... (1)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 7 years ago | (#19236479)

"Drop to a terminal window".

At this point you've already lost the 'average' user. On a desktop OS, you shouldn't HAVE to drop to the terminal for ANYTHING. Click and Run technology is going to be one of the biggest things to hit Linux, IF it's widely adopted. I understand that the ability is great to have all packages listed in a Yum repository or using apt-get, or whatever, but frankly... there's no simple way to download say, Firefox and install it off of the web. Trying to explain to a user how to uninstall the old version first, then making sure the main icon points to the NEW installation and not the old one is quite a task.

When Click and Run becomes a standard, and people follow the "double click --- next next next" mantra that makes Windows so easy to use, then will Linux start making inroads to the desktop. Until then, it's a nice OS with no real productive software that people know of (try explaining what Gimp is compared to Photoshop, or GAIM to their MSN). Beryl is another step to make inroads to the desktop.

Contrary to popular belief -- people LIKE pretty. User interface with Linux apps is sometimes an afterthought, because the community the produces the applications thinks of function over form. This is generally a good practice, but to the average user who likes pretty buttons and icons well... they will think it to be archaic.

A great example of this is using Lotus Notes compared to Outlook. It's like I welcomed myself back to 1975 when using it. I still get jealous when consultants come in and open their Outlook windows, and then I look at my archaic email and cringe.

Make it pretty, make it easy, they will come. Development on Linux isn't a lot more difficult than Windows, but the developer tools again, lack comparatively. The amount of free training Microsoft offers pales in comparison to what Linux offers. The Linux training is pricey, but very in depth. But nobody's going to send their employees to training for desktop application development in Linux, because it's useless.

How about the holier than thou attitude? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19236497)

A lot of Linux supporters come off as either implying or outright saying that unless you use linux you are somehow a dumb slave. Most people don't like being called dumb slaves, and they really aren't even if they use a "non-free" OS as it were, but Linux users seem to think that it's their job to shove their, ahem, religion, down other people's throats.
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