My personal history with linux
I decided to test my journal by reposting my comment on the Ask Slashdot: How Would You Fix the Linux Desktop?thread
(Warning, long ass post, I will try to put a tl;dr if I can)
I face the same bullshit in my country's politics, oh it's not us, it's the foreign secret agencies, our unfriendly neighbour countries that want to occupy us, the evil western countries whose aid we will still take, the global jewish conspiracy, it's everything else EXCEPT us that's wrong...yeah right.
Seriously, the day we admit this is the day we can start fixing it. (Admitting is the first step to recovery....)
First of all, my background. As my sig says, I am a student of accountancy, so as far away from the typical linux and computer sciences/programming as you can get. When I was in highschool, I was browsing the interwebz randomly one day, and came across this product called "Ubuntu" that was all in rage over the forums for some reason.
I googled for their website, and came across this product called "Hoary Hedgehog" (5.04, incase you are wondering). I said weird name, never mind I have windows, these crazy computer geeks and their crazy Finnish OS. I would have ignored it except for a link that said they would send linux CDs, for *free!*, to me. ( I am in a 3rd world country, and dialup was what I had back then, so the concept of downloading and testing couldn't possibly have crossed my mind) I said, what the heck, wouldn't hurt, and applied. Surprise Surprise, when Canonical actually send me five of those things! (and for which I am deeply grateful to Canonical)
Actually ten CDs, five installers and five "live-cds", I kept one setand passed the rest to my friends and the computer science teacher in my school. I don't know about the teacher, but I know none of my friends actually ever used them.
But I did. You see, I was insanely curious. I tried this "live CD" thingie, and despite the fact that the modem didn't work, the sound didn't work, a zillion things didn't work, I was still impressed by it to actually go ahead and install it! I didn't for the life of me know how drives worked in linux, and had never partitioned a drive in my life, but googling around, I understood how the SDA system works, and actually installed the damn thing! (oh and this was in the days before the graphical installer, I had to face this crazy command prompt interface, but damn it, come hell or high water, I was going to install the darn thing, and I did!)
That day and this day, I have never had a computer in which there wasn't a linux dual-boot of some kind.
But I have never kept any *one* linux install for more than an year either. And neither have I have I moved to linux completely even for my casual work.
Clearly something must be wrong. It's not like I don't like linux, or I wouldn't be installing it to every computer my family has, nor I would always be keeping a live-usb by me at all times.
I never blamed linux when I couldn't play mp3, or the sound didn't work for some weird reason, or the modems didn't work, or flash didn't work... I never blamed for problems that were caused by others not sharing code, drivers whatever.
I also never blamed linux for *not* having a feature in the first place, after all, you are giving me this gift free of charge, it's not my place to look a gift horse in the mouth.
I don't mind it asking to use the console, I understand that command prompt is a good way to effortless get data or implement instructions *exactly* as they should happen, and that GUIs can become cumbersome whilst troubleshooting. I perfectly understand, and this has made me learn quite a few commands and appreciate a lot of console-only programs, some of which have become my favourite (htop and bmon come to mind as my install-first-before-anything-else tools)
I don't mind linux is not flashy, given that I purposely go to "windows classic" mode on any windows I use, I prefer function over form anyways. I am also forgiving of the hodgepodge of GTK and QT based GUIs, if it can give me the certain functionality, I couldn't give a damn whether it looks like a duck or a swan.
And I realise that it's not the *big* things that bug me, oh no, it's the tiny stuff that makes me fed up and want to boot back into windows, despite it being a resource and battery hog.
When I am trying to do something, and it wants me to install a separate module for the for the functionality, I don't mind. But when it *links* to it, and the link is a non-functional carry on in the GUI from previous times, and it hasn't actually named the module, I am left without an option. Would it have killed you to atleast tell me the name? (In case you are wondering, there is a certain prompt somewhere in the networking section of Ubuntu, a certain functionality does this. I don't have Ubuntu installed right now, or I would have posted a screenshot.)
When I ask you for a certain problem, and you nonchalantly suggest "install samba!", what exactly am I to install? There is Samba, then there is samba4, then samba-qt and samba this and that, it wouldn't hurt you to be clear. Oh, and the worse part, when you install samba 4 thinking that's the latest version, and the you read that then you read a poster suggesting samba4 is buggy and and that you should just install regular samba and it will have this feature that isn't in samba4... (this used to be the case then, thankfully I haven't had to actually do any samba related stuff, so I don't know whether this craziness exists now or not)
When you ask me to "edit/copy/select the file in the program's folder" and I am like, where is the program installed? /usr? /bin? a hidden folder in my home folder? /whatever? or all of them? and which one of the many /[program name] folders spread all over the linux has the file? At least in windows, shit is usually either in C:\Program Files or My Documents. Now I am not *blaming* for the various install folders, I am sure there is a good reason for the diversification , but it wouldn't hurt to be clear. It's worse if the program itself doesn't know where the file it wants me to select is!
When I want to do something, and I know for certain this feature exists, but don't know how to avail it! In GUI, I can go looking around clicking various programs and buttons until I find something that does what I want it to, then go mad clicking it until it works [xkcd.com]. In console... how do I explore it? Man pages and -h are NOT the solution! Those contain language incomprehensible to novice users. Even worse if either the *actual* program name is different from what it appears, or worst of them all, you don't know which program to evoke in the first place! -h isn't going to help you if you don't know which program name to append it to!
Just because command is *quicker and efficient* does NOT mean there shouldn't exist a GUI to do the same task, not matter *how* cumbersome it is! Give us a GUI to explore, and we will not fill your forums with a zillion useless inquiries like "how do I change X" over and over again. Come on, if you *are* going to add a feature, it's not going to kill you to hash out a quick GUI for it too. Especially for simple things like adding repos, for example, why we edit files for that in this day and age, I cannot fathom. (Oh, and googling doesn't help, what works for one doesn't work for another, because you have a product from a different company, and the command doesn't have a solution for yours)
By far the WORST problem I have had is with GRUB. That damn rascal has crashed on me for absolutely no reason so many times that I hereby declare it worst linux item ever! It crashes, and then I am left with neither linux *nor* windows, and you can't even fix it, you are stuck to re-installing windows MBR, and then re-installing linux all over again... It's gotten so bad that I now install Easy BCD after every linux install, and use it to overwrite Grub with it's own loader on top. That way if grub crashes, at least windows will be there, unaffected. (and it's a sad day when *windows* is your stable, fall-back OS)
There are a zillion other niggles I could go through. Like if one distro has had a certain *basic* feature, but the other *still* doesn't have it! (and worse, you can't get it by installing it, either it would be incompatible, or not work as you wanted). What's the point of this open source bullshit if your over-inflated egos prevent you from peeking on the other's code! And I am not comparing some diverse distros like, say slackware and ubuntu, I am talking about something far more closer, like Linux Mint and Ubuntu, where the excuse is far less acceptable.
I don't mind the various different distros, of course you going to have different philosophies, but the whole "OMG, he chose blue! I wanted red! FORK! FORK! FORK!" and then never collaborating like as if the other killed your first born is what's hurting linux.
Ah, it's a long rant, and I am sure you couldn't care less. But I just wish there was a linux that didn't make me go stir crazy. Like, all these distros should go, okey, for one whole year, we are NOT going to introduce any *new* feature, but we are going to make sure the shit we have works like it should; it should be possible to COMPLETELY use linux via GUI, console should be our short cut but NOT our *only* cut; we are going to peak and cheat other distros' features to our fill, and we are not going to let our egos get in our way.
Right now, I have Puppy Linux (Slacko 5.3.3) installed. It works mostly alright, Barry made the WiFi work, so it's awesome. There's no way to change the screen brightness (xbacklight and acpitool work for toshibas and acers for some reason, but not sony vaios...), so it's it's not all fine and dandy, but for a quick-boot internet browsing machine, it works ok.
(I tried to spellcheck and grammar proof this as much as I could, my profuse apologies if any errors still pass through)