Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th May 2009 19:06 UTC
Linux We all know them. We all hate them. They are generally overdone, completely biased, or so vague they border on the edge of pointlessness (or toppled over said edge). Yes, I'm talking about those "Is Linux ready for the desktop" articles. Still, this one is different.
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"The fundamental problem with Linux is that, since most developers aren't paid, there's nothing forcing them to pay attention to the "little things", spit and polish. People scratch their itch but don't take the time to tie up loose ends and file down the edges. (Too many metaphors?)

Another problem is a lack of knowledge of or interest in cognitive engineering. Rather than adapting software to the user, Linux developers seem to have the attitude that users should adapt to them. Even the most basic, well-established tenets of HCI and UI design are completely disregarded. I've had it happen time and time again where I point out some UI element that is hard to use or flawed in obvious ways, just to be blown off by developers who JUST DON'T CARE. It's not that they have a counter argument. They're just not interested.

So when it comes down to it, Linux is not going to dominate the desktop because the developers don't want it to. See, it's not the developers who complain about Linux not dominating the desktop. (I develop open hardware, BTW.) It's the users who do all the complaining. Every now and then, some users become developers, and some small proportion of the time, those users have enough insight into psychology to design something usable. But that isn't the norm.

In Linux, just about everything user-oriented is an after-thought. And the unfriendliness isn't limited to the GUIs. Even the command-line stuff is hostile. Every app has its own unique syntax for its configuration file, which makes is impossible to do automatic merges between an upgrade's default config and your changes to the earlier version. Every app is spread across the file system, with things in /bin, /etc, and /usr. This requires complex (and often buggy) package managers that wouldn't be necessary if apps were mostly self-contained (config files and system libraries notwithstanding).

Inertia is a problem. Developers, even the big ones like Fedora and Ubuntu, just don't have the cojones to change things that are fundamentally broken. But even with the cojones, that wouldn't help much. If someone patched Apache with the ability to read XML config files, the upstream developers would probably reject it.

Everyone's in their own little world, with little interest in how their stuff might interact with someone else's or how things might fit together into a coherent working distribution.

And there are plenty of developers who are actively hostile. You'll recall the Red Hat employee, maintainer of glibc and how his dereliction of duty has recently come to light. Or how about the maintainer of KDE's clipboard manager, Klipper, that locks the clipboard and breaks so many apps. Another non-team-player.

People talk about the FOSS "community". Sometimes, I think that's a joke. Everyone's out for themselves. Everyone wants something for free. Few people are interested in contributing of their own time, and those that do want to do it in their own quirky way. Richard Stallman may be passionate about Free Software and the rights of users to modify the software on their own computers. But most of the users just don't want to spend money.

Ok, there's a fair amount of hyperbole in this comment, but you get the point. It's like 5% or less of people in the "community" are contributors, and a small fraction of them actually see what they're doing as a contribution to the growth of the community. A community requires compromise, cooperation, consideration of others, and vision. And there just isn't enough of any of that.

Exactly... (Sorry I cannot vote since I do not have votes left). Some one with common sense. Very insightful.

I would like to add: The main problem with Linux is fragmentation... Too much liberties, everyone is pulling in its own direction, there is no common goal.

Well I do not completely agree, while a lot of is true.

Linux is maturing and more and more apps are aiming at usability. As for the file system, I think there are good reasons to do that. one should not care where the application is located if the package manager does all the job for them.

For the developer comment, yes a good load of developers do whatever the f--k they want and well lets face it, in most cases ...they have the right to do so!!

There are good and bad developers everywhere anyway, be it proprietary or not. I should also mention that a lot of developers on Linux ARE PAID and paid WELL. A software being OpenSource doesnt mean that money is not involved.

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