Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 1st Mar 2009 17:26 UTC, submitted by kaiwai
Hardware, Embedded Systems Long-time OSNews reader Kaiwai has written down his experiences with his Acer Aspire One, Linux, and Windows. He concludes: "After a hectic few weeks trying to get Linux to work, I am back to square one again - a netbook running Windows XP SP3 as it was provided by Acer when I purchased it. I gave three different distributions a chance to prove themselves. I expected all three distributions to wipe the floor with Windows XP - after all, these are the latest and greatest distributions the Linux world have to offer. There has been at least 7 years since the release of Windows XP for Linux to catch up to Windows XP and from my experience with Linux on this said device - it has failed to step up to the plate when it was needed."
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Ah, here we go, more off-topic trolling about how Linux just needs to be given a chance. Guess what? It was given a chance, and it fails because it lacks end-user polish. It's fine for geeks or other enthusiasts, but when it comes to the end-user experience it is severely lacking.
No, things don't "just work" on Windows or OS X (though OS X is often better at just working than Windows due to its tightly controlled hardware requirements). Most hardware requires drivers, and any system can experience some unforseen problem. You know what you do? You go to the vendor's web site, or better yet insert the provided driver disk, and click a few buttons. Boom, 99% of the time your driver is ready and installed. Know why the tech support lines are there? Because most people don't care, and don't want to, about how to fix their computer or evenhow to perform an unfamiliar task. Tech support gets called, as often as not, for simple questions about how to connect to their home wireless.
You know what you do on Linux when it comes to a driver you don't have? If you're lucky, it's in your distribution's repository and it's up to date. If not, you do these steps:
Install the kernel source, if needed
Download the driver source,
Read its installation file for the required steps needed to compile,
Perform the steps required,
Hope you don't get any compile errors,
Then perform the steps to install the driver,
Then add it to any hal policies or boot-time module loading.
Hmm, which has the easier experience, you think? And that's not even considering how you find out if there is even a driver for your said device, and where to get it.
Linux was designed by a hobbiest, for hobbiests and geeks. I think some companies, like Canonical, understand this and yet there's not much they can do, all things considered. Even if Canonical goes one way with Ubuntu, the individual projects may pull in another direction, and it doesn't change the fact that there are very few standards. There's no standard packager (choose from rpm, deb, tgz, source, etc), no standard ABI, and no standard way to install drivers, and the end-user experience falls on its face. True, the end-users don't care about the stable ABI in and of itself, but they do care that version x of their software, as long as it says it's compatible with some version of Linux, can run on their system without any messing about.
Here's hoping Opensolaris gets polished and gets more basic drivers. It has the potential to be everything Linux is not and will never be--standard, stable, well-integrated, and easy to use.

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