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A Peek Into Tomorrow's Linux

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the window-of-the-future dept.

Linux Business 126

jellybeans writes "MadPenguin.org takes a peek into the world of Linux as it looks going forward. "I hear this argument all the time. How companies trying to make Linux more accessible, through any means necessary, so long as they abide by the GPL, are working against the vision of Linux from the beginning. This is asinine. The vision, based on my own interpretation of Linux was always about choice."

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126 comments

Good article (5, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415042)

TFA makes a good point: the more desktop-friendly linux becomes, the less it loses its no-nonsense technical power. But I don't care what everex is doing with linux.. I have it configured the way I like it and even if they're putting out some watered down linux I can still get my flavor anytime I want.

Re:Good article (4, Insightful)

sirmonkey (1056544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415156)

good point. but to add to it, i recently switched distros (after 5+ years with one) just becasue i didn't like how watered down it had become. with that said i've tried some of the newer linux's and like that -on some- i can still get my 'linux' tools, like mc, ifconfig, and a bunch of other console tools.

guis are nice for tools i'm not fimilar with.... but it takes 3 commands for me to setup a network. and i'd rater add them to a boot script then look for -then figure out- a gui tool.

however i do like the push for more gui and windows friendly stuff. i think its good for linux as a whole. i'd just hate to see all the console tools removed. i'd like to see the gui tools have a built in "files to edit and commands to enter" help page. yea its the old way but its also the less resource intensive way... basicly what helps keep my 700mhz 256meg laptop in business. i can't help but of think of the money i have saved not upgradeing.

Re:Good article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22422062)

basicly what helps keep my 700mhz 256meg laptop in business. i can't help but of think of the money i have saved not upgradeing.


Do you think it offsets the amount of time you've wasted^H^H^H^H^H^H spent keeping the old dinosaur running?

Oh btw, "time is money".

Re:Good article (1)

Unoti (731964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22423556)

You make a good point, but the savings probably do offset the amount of time. because the time he spent is also keeping his admin skills sharp. And perhaps his skills already were sharp, so the amount of time spent wasn't so substantial. An expert who does something every day can knock something out in a moment that takes someone unfamiliar hours or days of googling and experimenting.

Re:Good article (0)

flajann (658201) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415186)

"Make a tool easy enough for even idiots to use, and only idiots will use it."

Dont forget... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22415664)

...to pay your $699 licencing fee you cock smoking teabaggers

Re:Good article (5, Insightful)

kusanagi374 (776658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415802)

Oh, stop this fallacy already. If easy of use is such a bad thing, why don't we all migrate to Hurd and use command prompt only since Linux now is becoming user-friendly?

User friendliness (aka usable by idiots) is a GOOD thing because it allows us to do what needs to be done, faster. I don't want to take 5 minutes to do something that could be made in 30 seconds, and I guess other people think the same way, geeks or not.

Guess I should be answering this from Lynx and not Firefox.

Re:Good article (4, Insightful)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415896)

Exactly, I really don't want to bother with getting something as simple as wireless networking is a pain in some distros, I can use a "power user's" distributions like Gentoo or Debian and spend a few hours getting my wireless up or I can get Ubuntu and connect within a few seconds. I honestly don't see how everyone thinks that easy to use == loss of power and I think that Ubuntu shows this. Even though Ubuntu is easy to use, it still retains almost all of the features of Debian. We should never have to choose between freedom and functionality but until we can get fully free drivers for everything I don't see how including them is a bad thing, and if that equals a loss of power, im fine with that and so would most people.

Re:Good article (3, Insightful)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#22416010)

Conversely, with a 'power user's' distro, you can learn the bare-metal way to configure your wireless. You know it once you've done it once, and can do it again anytime. And since you've reached down deep into how it works, you're able to secure it and understand what you're doing.

Whereas if you use the latest 'control panel' busybox to configure wireless, you've got your wireless... until the next shiney-thing distro comes along, and you have to learn a whole new set of buttons to press.

There's an inherent advantage in knowing how to read Man pages. It can take a LOOONG time to learn how to slow down and read them, in our clickety-click gui-driven world. It's very much worth the effort. The best software is convergent. It just keeps getting better and better, not more and more different. I have Unix books that are fifteen years old that are still very much so the definitive references on how to do some pretty awesome stuff.

Re:Good article (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22416088)

I don't mind using the command line to configure my wireless but when the distro doesn't detect it, it kind of makes it hard to download the madwifi packages. Yes I know I can compile them, however some distros don't contain compilers. I don't mind doing things via the shell, in fact sometimes I prefer to do things via it, however when it comes to including drivers for wireless cards, the "user friendly" distros usually contain them while the "power user" ones do not.

Re:Good article (4, Insightful)

fluxmov (519552) | more than 6 years ago | (#22416224)

This might be true for basic concepts like finding files etc., but the "bare-metal way" won't do you any good in a couple of years, when all of the underlying infrastructure has changed in your distro and you simply don't know what the "best practice" is. Until last week, I had an Ubuntu (7.10) install which still used configuration files that I had hand-edited for Debian potato. Then I finally decided to try all the automagic features of that same Ubuntu distribution - and I don't regret it. As long as the distribution will still let you have that look under the hood like Ubuntu does, I don't see any disadvantage to autodetection and "ease of use". (It's nothing more than a Debian variant, after all...)

Re:Good article (2, Insightful)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22416666)

Whereas if you use the latest 'control panel' busybox to configure wireless, you've got your wireless... until the next shiney-thing distro comes along, and you have to learn a whole new set of buttons to press.
There is no reason you can't turn nm-applet off and do things yourself.

Re:Good article (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420130)

There's also cases where you want to do something the gui doesn't provide for, or if something breaks in a way not fixable by the gui. If you have done a manual setup before, then even if you ordinarily use a graphical tool, you can still use the command line if you need it.

And it's not just linux this applies too, i've encountered windows and mac problems where it was necessary to use the cli or edit the registry to make something work or fix a problem.

Re:Good article (4, Insightful)

manifoldronin (827401) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420864)

Conversely, with a 'power user's' distro, you can learn the bare-metal way to configure your wireless. You know it once you've done it once, and can do it again anytime. And since you've reached down deep into how it works, you're able to secure it and understand what you're doing.
Actually it's not that rosy in reality. See, the thing is, for most of the desktop users, many of these "sys config" tasks are not what they have to do very often. Sure, you'll learn "the bare-metal way" to configure your wireless, but the next time when you have to do it again is probably going to be the next time you upgrade to a new laptop, which for most people is like 1 or 2 years later. Do you honestly think most of us would be able to remember "how I did it last time?"

I think, while by now people have learned to distinguish between "users" and "power users", there is one more level of distinction to be made. That is between "power users" and "system admins". I use command line a lot for my daily tasks, I custom and build some of the software I use, and I constantly tweak my ubuntu installation, so I consider myself a power user. OTOH, I don't consider myself a system admin, not when all I have to manage is 3 ubuntu desktops. For a system admin, yeah, learning how to do things in the bare metal way can be really beneficial, because it's cost effective when you have 278 system to amortize your effort with. It's a completely different economy for desktop users.

Whereas if you use the latest 'control panel' busybox to configure wireless, you've got your wireless... until the next shiney-thing distro comes along, and you have to learn a whole new set of buttons to press.
You say that as if "the bare-metal ways" don't change as often, if not more often. 8-)

Re:Good article (3, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22418008)

You obviously have no idea what power user distros are there for.

They strive for user friendliness just as much as other distros.
However their targent audience is power users, not your average computer user.
People who dont mind opening a text editor to add a wifi key and people who want more power and control than what pretty guis can ever provide.

A few hours to set up wifi is somewhat incorrect.
On Gentoo I had to emerge madwifi-ng and then create a new symlink for the new init entry.
Out of the box it scans for the best open wireless network, connects and runs dhcp.
Adding a WEP access point is just a matter of telling it which AP uses which key. One simple line.

Not for your average user but its certainly not difficult.

Re:Good article (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 6 years ago | (#22419392)

For me (10 year slack user recently converted to Ubuntu on desktop, RHEL on server), a "power user" distro is anything that doesn't get in your way.

I loved Slackware for that. As I learn Ubuntu, it's getting just as easy to do things in it. RH is the same way. I can still run my environment (WindowMaker) on Ubuntu, and just by importing my GNUstep directory I get the same interface I've had for the last 6 years. All my key maps are the same, and it's like an extension of my mind at that point.

Because of curiosity, mostly, I switched about a month ago to KDE, to see if I could make it work in a way that I could live with. Previously I hated KDE, because it got in my way. I found that with some time configuring things correctly, (and even now, a month later, I'm still tweaking) I can get it to a usable interface that stays out of my way. Granted, it is a lot slower than WindowMaker, but there are a few niceties that are thrown in.

Anyway, the point is that with some configuration, most distros are capable of being useful to power users. I'd still never touch Linspire with a 10 foot pole though.

Re:Good article (1)

monkeySauce (562927) | more than 6 years ago | (#22423078)

Adding a WEP access point is just a matter of telling it which AP uses which key. One simple line.

If you're adding a WEP access point in 2008, then you're doing worse than your average user.

Re:Good article (4, Insightful)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 6 years ago | (#22416766)

That depends on what you mean by user friendliness. Generally people refer to user friendliness as a metric of how easy it is to learn how to use a program, and not how productive one will be with said program. The latter is often sacrificed for the former (because it's less work to remove a feature than to make it easy to learn), but it doesn't have to be.

User friendliness (aka usable by idiots) is a GOOD thing because it allows us to do what needs to be done, faster.

Now you're mixing the two up, assuming that making something easy to learn will instantly also make that program the most efficient way to get something done. This is an incorrect assumption. A program that is easy to learn does not imply that it is efficient, nor does a program being efficient imply that it is easy to use. Similarly, a program that is difficult to learn does not imply that it is efficient, nor does a program that is efficient mean that it is difficult to learn.

Obviously, making a program both easy to learn and efficient to use is the ideal. However, if you can actually figure out how to do so in any non-trivial case, you'll probably be able to retire by the time you're about 30.

For example, Notepad is a very easy to learn text editor. Notepad, however, is hideously inefficient for actually editing text with. In comparison, Vim is a difficult text editor to learn how to use, but once you know how to use it, you'll find yourself several orders of magnitude more efficient at editing text than someone who only uses Notepad. If you think that comparison is unfair, replace Notepad with your favourite word processor, but the large gap in efficiency does not change (though the ease of learning how to use it dips).

So yes, ease of learning is good, but efficiency of use is more important, especially for people who already know how to use the program. Unfortunately, ease of learning a program is more flashy and marketable than efficiency of use, and keeping in mind the quickest path to making something easier to use (removing features, as noted above), you can understand why people who already know how to use something really don't want developers to take the short road to making something easier to learn, as it gains the experienced user nothing, while possibly giving up feature(s) in return.

Re:Good article (1)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22417070)

This isn't about productivity software though, this is more about system configuration. Why should a user have to learn command line options to configure a network when it's likely going to be the only time he'll ever need to do it. It simply makes more sense to use an intuitive configuration tool to get things working.

If you're a system administrator, you might consider it more efficient to do it differently. And then there's those who just do it the hard way cause it makes them feel good about themselves. Most users however just want to get the job done and over with.

Re:Good article (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 6 years ago | (#22418866)

it is more efficient to use a config file to set things up - when I'm setting up a new linux server, I tend to copy a bundle of pre-configured conf files across to the new machine.. and I'm pretty much done. That's really quick and efficient, I only have to set something up once.

However, I like a nice GUI to twiddle the settings after that, preferably one that's web based as all my servers are located physically far away.

So: support webmin, then you get to keep the config file, and have a gui to edit it with if you prefer, and you can still edit the config file if you like.

This approach doesn't solve the complexity problem. I can't see much of a way out of that, unless someone wants to create wizards to produce pre-defined config files of the most common settings, with just a few user tweaks.

eg, setting up sendmail once, I was foolish enough to leave the default settings in there.. and ended up being a spam relay for a couple of hours. If I could have found a resource for pre-configured conf files I'd have dropped one in, or a wizard to guide me through a 'configure but with this hostname and a couple of simple options' than I'd have used that and been much happier.

Windows uses wizards a lot, but you have to use them (or the gui they provide for advanced options) becuase the settings are scattered through the registry, custom DBs and files instead of being in 1 handy place (in /etc). The fact that Windows uses them after they spent a lot of money figuring out what was the best means of usability does suggest that they are a good place to start to make Linux easier to use.

Re:Good article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22422150)

It simply makes more sense to use an intuitive configuration tool to get things working.
Show me this mythical "intuitive configuration tool", if you please. Because I sure haven't ever seen one. Windows' network configuration tools are anything but intuitive: they're a twisty maze of confusing little dialog boxes, all different. OS X's network configuration tools are little better -- they use a weird GUI that consists of kind of nested tabs only using dropdown lists instead of tabs, and unless you know what "ethernet", "TCP/IP", "PPPoE", "DHCP", etc all mean, you're basically screwed. So much for Apple's "intuitive" reputation.

Basically, network configuration is a binary thing. Either it works completely automatically, or it requires tedious configuration using some more-or-less nonintuitive interface. And, frankly, given a choice of a non-intuitive GUI whose creators mistakenly believed that GUIs don't need much documentation, and a non-intuitive config file that's filled with explanatory comments and examples and accompanied by a detailed manpage... well, I know which one I'm going to choose, and I wish you joy with your GUI.

Re:Good article (1)

information_retrieva (1058952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22419870)

For example, Notepad is a very easy to learn text editor. Notepad, however, is hideously inefficient for actually editing text with. In comparison, Vim is a difficult text editor to learn how to use, but once you know how to use it, you'll find yourself several orders of magnitude more efficient at editing text than someone who only uses Notepad.
I believe you are using a rather narrow definition of efficiency. In particular, for software that is only used occasionally, the learning curve is the dominant reducer of efficiency. The same reasoning applies to the aspects of your example that are not used every day (the configuration process, for example). Furthermore, like it or not, there are plenty of users who rarely edit text; for them, vim is far less efficient than notepad.

Herein lies the fundamental OSS challenge on usability. Most OSS authors are writing software for themselves. If they are at all qualified to write such software, they are probably an expert (in some general sense) in the domain they are addressing. Therefore, most OSS software is written for experts.

Personally, I have tried to switch completely to OSS many times over the past 10+ years (started with the 0.94 kernel), but I always tire of repeatedly having to pay this "learn the application" cost for every little thing I want to do. I'm just too busy to become an expert in more than the 2-3 applications I use all of the time.

Gotta run...

Re:Good article (2, Funny)

R_Dorothy (1096635) | more than 6 years ago | (#22417974)

Guess I should be answering this from Lynx and not Firefox.

You must be new here: telnet to port 80.

Re:Good article (2, Interesting)

hahiss (696716) | more than 6 years ago | (#22418664)

Actually, this strikes me as even more, um, interesting:

http://lwn.net/Articles/262570/ [lwn.net]

RMS:
For personal reasons, I do not browse the web from my computer. (I
also have not net connection much of the time.) To look at page I
send mail to a demon which runs wget and mails the page back to me.
It is very efficient use of my time, but it is slow in real time.

Re:Good article (2, Insightful)

piojo (995934) | more than 6 years ago | (#22418336)

User friendliness (aka usable by idiots) is a GOOD thing because it allows us to do what needs to be done, faster. I don't want to take 5 minutes to do something that could be made in 30 seconds, and I guess other people think the same way, geeks or not.
I think that when people raise objections to the user friendly stuff, we really don't know why we don't like it (so we make up bullshit, as humans are prone to do). I don't actually object to things that are easy to use, but I hate ubuntu. Why? I'm not entirely sure, but I suspect it actually has to do with these "easy" systems having more complexity than I can understand. I don't like it. I prefer package management systems for "power users", because I can understand them. I like config files for the same reason. For somebody who likes to tinker, debian/ubuntu is positively *daunting*, compared to arch linux or gentoo.

Re:Good article (1)

thanatos_x (1086171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22418656)

I in general agree with you, however if we play devil's advocate...

The new office was designed to be easier to use by everyone. My understanding is that it is easier to use if you've never used it before, however experienced users found it less intuitive. I've yet to do anything terribly advanced with it, however I suspect it may have made the best case slower, but improved the average case.

That having been said, I find keyboard shortcuts for most tasks to be quite invaluable; I'm very glad the latest beta of firefox now easily allows you to do press f6 and type "w [search term]" enter and open up the wikipedia page for it. Opera did that for a year or more and I always loved that feature.

Re:Good article (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 6 years ago | (#22419494)

No, the so easy an idiot can use it so only idiots will use it can be true. That's why there are often more then one tool to get things done; you choose the one that works for you. User friendliness differs from user to user.

Re:Good article (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420086)

"user friendliness" as usually discussed, allows users with no experience to do something quickly. For experienced users, command lines are often much quicker.
What's good is to have the choice, a watered down gui for new users, while having a capable command line for experienced users.

To give an example that annoys me, a graphical "installer" program which requires you to sit there and keep hitting next is very annoying, compared to a package manager where i can type a single command and not be bothered by it until the install finishes or fails.

Re:Good article (1)

tubapro12 (896596) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415230)

Exactly, Linux is pro-choice.

Re:Good article (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22416738)

Could you explain your .sig, please?

Re:Good article (1)

Kyle (4392) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415240)

Yes, we just have to make sure there are always enough developers for the Slackware's, Debian's and Gentoo's to make sure the power side of the OS is kept as powerful as we need it to be.

Re:Good article (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415926)

Yes, we just have to make sure there are always enough developers for the Slackware's, Debian's and Gentoo's to make sure the power side of the OS is kept as powerful as we need it to be.


I honestly haven't seen a loss of power from Debian to Ubuntu. Really the power side is stable, and good, its the user-friendly part that could use a bit of help. Linux has a stable kernel, stable shells, stable package managers, stable GUIs, a few stable browsers and many stable programs, however to say that from Joe Windows-User's standpoint they aren't really easy to use and until Linux can shed the "free copy of Windows" syndrome that happens when people don't understand there are OSes besides Windows and OS X, I don't see that changing.

Re:Good article (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22416712)

I honestly haven't seen a loss of power from Debian to Ubuntu.
Power might not have been lost, but it certainly isn't getting any stronger. When WPA2's replacement comes out, I want it to be as easy as possible to set it up from the command line. The presence of Gentoo and Slackware help prevent unnecessary steps in the process.

Re:Good article (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#22416030)

Most of the prettied-up versions of Linux draw on one or the other of the core distributions. They very definitely need to be maintained and have a strong user community. Otherwise the 'core' that the pretty-versions rely on will hollow out. All that shine has to be backed up with something, after all.

Re:Good article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22415400)

So then use Slackware or Debian or FreeBSD or NetBSD. Hell, if you really want uncomfortable, use OpenBSD. It's a rock-solid and secure system, but it has the most unforgiving installer ever, and isn't much nicer to configure once (if?) you've got it up and running.

Re:Good article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22415468)

It might be good now but when 3rd party applications start requiring all those desktop-friendly services running it will not be as fun.

Summary (3, Insightful)

Aehgts (972561) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415518)

Choice quotes from TFA that sum it up:

2008: Year of the Linux Desktop
and

Click here to get the latest prices on Linux distributions!

Re:Good article (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415742)

I really don't think that any distro has watered down Linux. Sure Ubuntu may be user-friendly but its still Debian and you can do just about anything with it that you can with Debian with more software. Personally, I prefer the user-friendly distros because its not an absolute pain to get wireless networking to work right. I have to work with a wireless card, if Gentoo doesn't detect it, I really don't want to spend the hours compiling everything when Ubuntu works just fine. It also helps with a user-friendly distro is if you break it, its not too hard to install it compared to say Gentoo. Really, don't think that making a distro user friendly has to alienate the power users, it just makes it much easier to do simple tasks. Please, show me one distro that has achieved wide popularity that takes Linux and makes it watered down and its not easy to do all the power user stuff.

Re:Good article (1)

kamatsu (969795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22419170)

Please, show me one distro that has achieved wide popularity that takes Linux and makes it watered down and its not easy to do all the power user stuff.
Whenever Linux is connected to some form of package management, power-user stuff is available. It's about whether it is encouraged. In ubuntu, it is not. I mean, hell, it doesn't even include build-essentials by default. As far as I'm aware, there aren't any distros that water it down to impossibility, because, for that to occur, you would have to make a linux system incompatible with the power tools, which would require major rework of the operating system. Why bother when you can just put friendly GUIs on top? PCLinuxOS though seems like a pretty good candidate for the antithesis of power-use, to the point where it turns into crap.

Re:Good article (1)

Neil Jansen (955182) | more than 6 years ago | (#22422986)

I really don't think that any distro has watered down Linux.
You obviously haven't seen the default OS that ships with the Asus Eee [eeeuser.com] notebook -- a dumbed down version of Xandros [eeeuser.com]. You'd better hope that you can find the applications you need in the collection of huge 2" icons, because that's all there is. You don't even get a normal desktop until you install some packages from an added repository.

Re:Good article (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415950)

You are right to a point. However, there used to be some stand-alone projects/products that I enjoyed and made good use of (several a looooong ago, admittedly) that got pulled into being part of big conglomerations. A few of them suddenly had a 'k' prepended onto the name of the program and needed KDE to even run. When massive bloated desktop metaphors become the dominant norm, the light duty no-compromise Linux/freenix that we like can get steamrolled.

As a certain chair-flinging goon is wont to say: 'developers, developers, developers.' And if the developers get diverted into projects that make heavy use of shiney-thing widgets, stuff no longer runs on our lean Slackware boxes running fvwm.

Re:Good article (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22421166)

When massive bloated desktop metaphors become the dominant norm, the light duty no-compromise Linux/freenix that we like can get steamrolled And if the developers get diverted into projects that make heavy use of shiney-thing widgets, stuff no longer runs on our lean Slackware boxes running fvwm. .


Yes, there's often a lack of low-dependency alternatives to the newly desktopized applications.

Re:Good article (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22421808)

Gnome is actually going the opposite direction in some respects. They are moving gnome-dependencies into GTK packages, I remember printing from a while ago, and now gnome-vfs is being deprecated in favor of a GTK equivalent. Many GTK programs from Gnome already run on non-gnome, even non-linux environments. I have several GTK applications running under Windows (Gimp, Pidgin, Dia, etc.), and hopefully this move will make others available (Evolution would make me very happy).

I don't know if KDE4 is moving things into QT libs or not, but I would think KIO and KParts (the API at least) could be moved into QT.

Crappy article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22415960)

TFA is written by someone with the attention span of a two year old. He's having a conversation with himself apparently and speaking every other paragraph out loud.

$.02

Re:Good article (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22417818)

Your point is well-taken, but there's an important difference between Windows and Windows-like Linux. The latter is open source, so security holes and bugs are addressed rapidly and efficiently by a huge community that includes some of the best programmers in the world.

Microsoft, on the other hand, will pretend there's nothing wrong until somebody rubs their nose in the problem. At that point, they'll come up with some patch that only an idiot would install without waiting for a few days to see if the brave people who keep "Automatic Update" enabled die horribly when their PC blows up or something.

Re:Good article (2, Insightful)

MichailS (923773) | more than 6 years ago | (#22418426)

That is ridiculous. If someone takes Linux and puts a simple GUI on it, they aren't depriving the power users of any functionality. You can still pull up xterm and install any application your heart desires.

Further, if someone makes a simple distro they aren't ripping Slackware from your hands. Rest assured that you will always enjoy the availability of elitist distros.

If anything, they just add to the pool of choice.

I wonder if the real gripes about simple Linux isn't about that the 1337 h4X0rZ feel that the unwashed masses are treading their turf. "It took me a decade to learn this crap, it should take you as much as well!"

I have seen teh future of teh lunix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22420914)

I have seen teh future of teh Lunix! Just yesterday, I booted up a machine running Windows 98!

No longer do we have to be shackled to the tail lights of Windows 95! In the near future (probably within the next 10-20 years) we can shackle ourselves to Windows 98 instead!

The really spooky prognostications come when you find a machine with Windows ME... That's like looking at Teh Lunix, but a Lunix 50 or 100 years from now!

"about choice" (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415128)

Uh huh. I thought Linus said it was "just for fun".. and he even penned a book by the same title.

Were you talking about GNU/Linux? Cause we all know what GNU is about and it isn't "choice".

Re:"about choice" (1)

ricegf (1059658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415672)

we all know what GNU is about and it isn't "choice".

Precisely. GNU is about "freedom".

gPC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22415198)

Does Wal Mart really sell them? It's always out of stock and not available locally. It does not look good.

As long as I can get it the way I can like it (2)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415298)

Others can have it the way they like it as well. The problem I have with other solutions such as Windows is that it makes it more difficult to have things the way I want it.

Burger Linux. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22416240)

"The problem I have with other solutions such as Windows is that it makes it more difficult to have things the way I want it."

So how his MacOSX keeping you from having things "your way".

Linux Excuse #27 (0)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415502)

I would show you my latest version of Linux but Im still compiling it.

It is about choice... among other things (3, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415650)

In the beginning I saw Linux as a kind of 'hey, this will work too' kind of thing.
Then it was "hey, look... it's like a baby Unix"
Then "wow, it's actually usable if you don't need tight compatibility with MS.
Now... there are 5 different ways that I personally can use MY computers as I see fit. I'm only talking about flavors of GNU/Linux here. Each of them has free apps that are all compatible, more or less. Each of them is comparable to Windows. Each of them will work for many users, all save those few who use apps that will ONLY work on Windows or Mac. Each of them is fairly user friendly, and I mean that in the same way that managing an XP install is user friendly for your average user. (I don't care whose coolaid you drink, Windows set a fairly low standard for user friendliness in terms of how many people can actually manage a windows system out of the box... Think I'm wrong? then explain Geek Squad and other businesses like it)

Right now, it is EASIER to get and install GNU/Linux than MS Windows. The applications work as good or better 90% of the time on a strict is-it-as-good-as-windows scale, which I think is a bogus way to compare them anyway. If you have ever had to teach your parent/uncle/friend how to use e-mail then you KNOW it would not matter what OS they used.

Being able to say, hey, I want to throw a new motherboard in that case, move it to the upstairs family room, add a video tuner, blah blah blah... you are only dreaming unless you have a licensed but unused copy of Windows hanging around.. UNLESS you are using one of the other choices for OS.

Personally, based on inconvenience alone, I will never use windows again by choice.

Re:It is about choice... among other things (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415780)

It may be about choice to you, and that's fine, but the problem comes when the "about choice" people start weighing in on matters that are more important than choice.. like freedom and the cohesion of the community.

Re:It is about choice... among other things (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415782)

Exactly, not to mention the price point. Even though back when the mac was coming out, most people went with the (more primitive) DOS computers because they cost quite a bit less. Linux will be the same way, even though people think that Linux is worse then Windows (those who know nothing about Unix and use Linux like a free copy of Windows) it will achieve popularity via the low price. With an OEM edition of Windows costing $50 thats 25% of the Everex $200 PC and when people realize that, exect Linux to take off quickly.

Re:It is about choice... among other things (1)

Jaktar (975138) | more than 6 years ago | (#22415834)

I agree with you on all points except...

Being able to say, hey, I want to throw a new motherboard in that case, move it to the upstairs family room, add a video tuner, blah blah blah... you are only dreaming unless you have a licensed but unused copy of Windows hanging around.

I'm not sure where you're going with that statement. If you want to throw in a new mobo and add a tuner you can do it, you just have to phone the Microsoft authentication line. I've done it about 4 times now. The only painful part about it was getting past the obvious Indian accent that the reps had. They pretty much only ask you for the Key and how many machines it's installed on and then give you the new activation number.

Is that easier than a clean install of a media centric Linux distro? I suppose that's up to your time, budget, and setup requirements.

Re:It is about choice... among other things (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 6 years ago | (#22416312)

"If you want to throw in a new mobo and add a tuner you can do it, you just have to phone the Microsoft authentication line"

Unless the new mb has an incompatable IDE (esp RAID/SATA) controller, in which case it can be a lot more work (often a reinstall) to get windows to work than linux (which usually at most requires adding the driver to the kernel if it's not already there). There can also be ACPI incompatabilities that can require a reinstall or some tricky fiddling (as anyone who's tried to boot their vmware machine on bare metal or vice versa will have discovered).

Re:It is about choice... among other things (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22416408)

If you go with a new motherboard, all you have to do is find one registery key (I obviously don't know which one by heart), delete it, shut down the computer, switch the mobo, and when you boot it up it will redetect it.

Yeah, we all get caught by the blue screen thing until we figure that one out, happened to me too the first time I had to switch to a totally incompatible board...but thats all there is to it. One tiny key.

Re:It is about choice... among other things (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 6 years ago | (#22417240)

If you get that far. If you get "inaccessible boot device", then it doesn't matter what you do to the registry, as that's not even being read yet.

Re:It is about choice... among other things (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22419622)

Indeed. Except that by that point, Windows itself hasn't been read either...so I think you have a different problem then :)

(I've switched motherboards with the most incompatible setups you can imagine, and never had this issue).

Re:It is about choice... among other things (1)

Spacehog320 (985368) | more than 6 years ago | (#22418148)

or you can use sysprep, and have it delete all the driver info..unless it's gone in XP. i haven't had to do anything like that since 2000.

Re:It is about choice... among other things (1)

robzon (981455) | more than 6 years ago | (#22418554)

And how is that easier and more user-friendly than switching MBs on Linux?

Re:It is about choice... among other things (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22419580)

Oh, no no. My point was simply that you didn't have to reinstall the entire thing.

Re:It is about choice... among other things (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420996)

Yup, finding and deleting a registry key is real user friendly...

Re:It is about choice... among other things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22418022)

Sure ... so long as you pick your tuner very carefully based on what drivers are available for Linux.

Left behind:The Linux story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22416414)

Tomorrows Linux hasn't arrived and the present one while useful (old code never dies). It will be increasingly left behind because hardware in general is changing rapidly underneath it.

I love desktop Linux (2, Insightful)

Murrquan (1161441) | more than 6 years ago | (#22416614)

But putting it on my Windows PC was like making a Hackintosh. Even with Fedora / Ubuntu's Live CDs, I still had to rely on the community for help in getting everything to work right. And some things just plain won't work, period.

Don't get me wrong, I think Fedora and Ubuntu are great! I love how they have such friendly communities to turn to for help. But when The Year Of The Linux Desktop comes, it's not going to be like this -- it's going to be from preinstalled systems. And I, for one, think that this trend is awesome.

Kudos to Everex, Asus, Zonbu and Dell. Let's see some more of these PCs!

Linux in a Windows world (2, Insightful)

MSDos-486 (779223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22417630)

The problem with the Windows entrenchment is that people have adopted the mentality that Windows is a integral part of the computer. Another thing is that there is now clear definition of what "Linux" is. We can all identify a Windows box in a heart beat because they all look the same. On the other hand one machine with a Linux distro may look/feel completely different then another. That hinders adoption because you cant say "Ok in Linux to change setting A, click Start->Control Panel->widget. You cant guarantee that the users desktop is the same as yours. For us advanced user this isn't much of a problem because worse case scenario its down to editing config files, but for Joe User its a pain in the butt. An interesting measure of success for usability would be the ability to remove any terminal emulators from the default install, with no issues. So i think 2 things need to be done to increase usability * Create a distro that completely abstracts the system configuration and provides a consistant interface. Heck call it Linux so people will finally have one OS they can call Linux and be sure that my Linux is the same as your Linux. * Make (real)Linux or said distro completely Windows compatible, hey if can convince someone that all there apps will run on a OS cheaper then Windows, you can bother them with all the cool Linux features latter

Just call it by the distribution name (1)

Nurgled (63197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22417684)

Don't say "in Linux", say "in Ubuntu" or "in Fedora". Ubuntu itself very rarely mentions the name "Linux" in its stock UI. End-users don't need to know that Ubuntu is Linux any more than they need to know that Windows Vista is Windows NT.

Re:Just call it by the distribution name (1)

MSDos-486 (779223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22417724)

I helps identify the OS and provide better insurance to the users of compatibility. If you call it Fedora or Ubuntu you create a distinction between the two. Most average users would attribute such a distinction to mean complete system incompatibility. The real problem you run it to is people who know(or think they know) to much, but understand very little.

Re:Just call it by the distribution name (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 6 years ago | (#22422356)

If you call it Fedora or Ubuntu you create a distinction between the two. Most average users would attribute such a distinction to mean complete system incompatibility.
What, like they assume XP and Vista are completely incompatible?

Look, people cope with different Windows systems behaving very differently every day. Different Linux distros are more different from one another, but not by all that much. The solution is education, not dumbing down.

Re:Just call it by the distribution name (1)

Lingerance (1117761) | more than 6 years ago | (#22419688)

> Don't say "in Linux", say "in Ubuntu" or "in Fedora". It would be better to mention the WM/DE instead, as Fedora might have Gnome or KDE as the DE which will confuse the shit out of both the support person and the user at the desk. A better solution would be something like remote assistance, which the user can kill at anytime by hitting the ESC key. That tends to be much more educating then just instructions over the phone, the voice communication needs to be there though.

Re:Linux in a Windows world (1)

GordonCopestake (941689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22417718)

Who would be the one to decide what this "LINUX Distro" would be though? "The whole point of Linux is choice" Although that being said out of the box Fedora and Ubuntu look identical to Joe Sixpack as Gnome is used on both. KDE based distros also look very similar. Getting Gome and KDE to merge would be like getting cats and dogs to live together but if that happened the majority of distros would use "Knome". But then it would be as bloated as windows perhaps?

Re:Linux in a Windows world (1)

MSDos-486 (779223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22417770)

Exactly. I know most users couldn't give two pennies about the crazy configurability of Linux. Heck most people i know don't even use bookmarks, they resort to scrolling through the recently visited sites in the address bar.

What would be the point of introducing these types to Linux. None I guess, other then cheaper software. I would more be for us UNIX/Linux guys/gals who don't want to use Windows at all, even thought everyone we work with does.

You underestimate Joe Sixpack, he could have used Windows for years and been very used to a consistent interface as is the case with 75% of all people who use Windows.

Re:Linux in a Windows world (1)

skiman1979 (725635) | more than 6 years ago | (#22418526)

Perhaps it would be better if people would not refer to what you see on the desktop as the "operating system". It's just a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to the OS. The purpose of an operating system is supposed to be to handle low level tasks like managing memory, providing kernel resources, performing I/O operations with peripherals, and executing applications on behalf of the user. It should be up to the application to decide how the information from the operating system is displayed (or not displayed) to the user. You should be able to customize the look and feel of your desktop how you see fit. The underlying operating system is essentially the same among the various Linux distros. Sure, in Windows you can customize things by changing your screensaver, icons, and moving the taskbar to another part of the screen. Why can't there be more (without 3rd party software)?

OS X doesn't even do that... (2, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22420630)

An interesting measure of success for usability would be the ability to remove any terminal emulators from the default install, with no issues.

Mac OS X doesn't even try a damnfool thing like that.

Hell, even Windows doesn't try a damnfool thing like that.

Re:Linux in a Windows world (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22421470)

That hinders adoption because you cant say "Ok in Linux to change setting A, click Start->Control Panel->widget.
That is why most of the help you find is along the lines of "Copy the below text into your terminal", because by and large most distros are the same at the terminal level. This has the added benefit of being a single instruction, instead of a series of "Are you there yet? ok, now..." instructions, and it doesn't rely on possibly confusing terms (i.e. "How can I click on your computer?" when you tell someone to "Click on My Computer"). And if you think you can use the same point-and-click instructions from win95/98 in 2000, 2000 in XP or XP in Vista you're sadly mistaken.

Create a distro that completely abstracts the system configuration and provides a consistant interface.
We already have freedesktop.org and LSB, they're not perfect, but for the most part they provide a common configuration for all distros. With those two, you can do just about everything you need to "help" someone without caring what distro it is.

Heck call it Linux so people will finally have one OS they can call Linux and be sure that my Linux is the same as your Linux.
I don't want my Linux to be the same as your Linux. I want my Linux the way I want it, regardless of how you want yours. I don't even wany my Ubuntu to be the same as someone else's Ubuntu, I want it _my_ way. Why should you have a say in how I use my OS?

Make (real)Linux or said distro completely Windows compatible, hey if can convince someone that all there apps will run on a OS cheaper then Windows, you can bother them with all the cool Linux features latter
That's like saying we should make airplanes completely compatible with cars. If you want to use the same UI as everyone else, and you want it to be 100% compatible with Windows, then use Windows. That's much easier than turning Linux into Windows. People should use Linux when they don't want to use Windows, they shouldn't use Linux if they want to use Windows. Linux isn't a "cheap windows", just ask Microsoft's TCO marketing. Linux is a better OS, that is _not_ windows, that just happens to be available for little or no money (from *some* distributors).

Re:Linux in a Windows world (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 6 years ago | (#22422302)

That hinders adoption because you cant say "Ok in Linux to change setting A, click Start->Control Panel->widget.
But you can't say "in Windows..." either, because it keeps changing between versions. (You can't even say "in Windows Vista..." or "in Windows XP...", because you don't know which mode the user's control panel is set to display in.)

The real problem is that people are much more forgiving towards Windows. When they can't get something working in Windows, they shrug resignedly and assume that God never meant it to happen. When they can't get something working in Linux, they assume Linux is crap and go back to Windows. And the only way we'll ever escape that is if we stop trying to sell Linux as a free or cheap replacement for Windows, because that makes people automatically assume it's going to be worse.

Re:Linux in a Windows world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22422786)

The Linux desktop is absolutely identical given the desktop being used (Gnome, KDE, XFCE, WM, Ice, etc). This holds true the lower down the "technically inclined" scale you go. Your quest to, "Create a distro that completely abstracts the system configuration and provides a consistant(sic) interface" is unnecessary.

Show me 10 Gnome users. I'll show you 8 Gnome desktops that look identical except for their wallpaper and 1 desktop that looks exactly the same way that it did when I installed it. That 1 user won't even be able figure out how to change their desktop wallpaper, but they couldn't figure that out in Windows either. The last Gnome desktop that you can't identify will be mine, because I have no problem editing config files, but any user at this level of technical aptitude won't need your help anyway.

"You cant(sic) guarantee that the users desktop is the same as yours." Why would I even want to try to keep it the same? The newbies you're talking about can barely change their wallpaper and you're worried about them editing their xorg.conf file in Vi or something? Hardly.

The worst thing that anyone can do to Linux is to compare it to Windows or try to make it more like Windows. People turn to Linux when they've had enough of Windows. Why would you want to say, "Oh, you've had enough of Windows? Try _______ OS ! It's just like Windows...."

Look at what happened to Open Office. The developers started whipping out their code and comparing it to MS Office. Now OOo is exactly like MS Office - it too is an over-bloated, bug ridden POS!

No thank you.

Of the 12 computers that I installed Linux on last year, all 12 of their users were sick of Windows, Office and the like. They love FireFox, Icedove, Amarok, VLC, Abiword and even Planet Penguin. Most of them won't go back to Windows simply because they love Synaptic so much.

A couple of them have re-configured KDE in ways that I can't even begin to describe to you without a screen shot, but those two never call me on a Sunday night at midnight needing help restoring their presentation for the big meeting Monday morning because they think some Virus ate it. That is a huge breath of fresh air, considering that that used to be a regular occurrence for all 12 of them.

Now I get calls on Sunday night at midnight asking what program they should install to do ________ .

So it's not all win-win I guess.

Related Articles (3, Insightful)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 6 years ago | (#22417984)

Look at the "Related Articles" at the bottom of the page. They sure do like to pit their subjects against one another. Talk about dramtization...

        * 2008: Year of the Linux Desktop 02/05/08
        * Top 3 Brands That Refuse to Support Linux 01/19/08
        * Linux Users to Blame for Lack of Linux Popularity 01/15/08
        * Linux Time Machine Alternative Reviewed 01/05/08
        * Fedora 8: An Assault On Ubuntu 12/30/07
        * Restricted Codecs Mess in Linux 12/26/07
        * Kernel Developers vs. Mainstream Users Duel 12/20/07
        * KDE 4: The Latest In Linux Improvement 12/18/07
        * KINO Developers Impress With Unconventional UI 12/10/07
        * Ubuntu Gutsy Release Candidate Review 12/02/07

asinine? (2, Insightful)

cas2000 (148703) | more than 6 years ago | (#22418292)

Matt Hartley writes in his, for want of a better term, "article":

> I hear this argument all the time. How companies trying to make Linux more accessible,
> through any means necessary, so long as they abide by the GPL, are working against the
> vision of Linux from the beginning. This is asinine.


no, this is a straw-man.

it's also a bizarre tangential rant. he was writing a (fairly lame and light-on) review of little linux-based desktop/laptop devices - and then suddenly goes off on this weird rant to pre-emptively address an entirely unheard criticism followed by an even more bizarre attack on imaginary "crazy whack-job" linux dudes who happen to be trapped in the 1990s for some unexplained reason.

Hey Matt, don't look now but your inferiority complex is showing! it must be way past time for your medication.

Waste of time (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22421192)

That entire article should be modded down, -5 for flame bait. What a waste of time. It offers nothing on the topic of "The Future of Linux". /. should be ashamed for posting it as such.

Nothing new here... please move along or wait at the bar.

the great thing about Linux is ... it Linux (3, Insightful)

qoquaq (657652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22423304)

Linux or GNU/Linux is customizable. Use what works for you. Change what you don't like, support what you do like. These user friendliness discussions are great. Someone is taking the platform forward. Its a good thing. More people are involved. You want to stay away from things which make the software non-free, don't install proprietary software. Not every distro or configuration of Linux is right for you. The beauty is that you have a choice, a large involved development community, several groups which help provide direction, ... its all good! Arguing this type of stuff is purely flamebait.
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