Linked by David Adams on Mon 24th Aug 2009 09:21 UTC
Linux A reader asks: Why is Linux still not as user friendly as the two other main OSes with all the people developing for Linux? Is it because it is mainly developed by geeks? My initial feeling when reading this question was that it was kind of a throwaway, kind of a slam in disguise as a genuine question. But the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I felt. There truly are a large amount of resources being dedicated to the development of Linux and its operating system halo (DEs, drivers, apps, etc). Some of these resources are from large companies (IBM, Red Hat, Novell). Why isn't Linux more user-friendly? Is this an inherent limitation with open source software?
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Joined Up Thinking
by segedunum on Mon 24th Aug 2009 10:49 UTC
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The reason why this is is because Linux distributions are collections of different, autonomous pieces of software that don't always work well together or want to work together. That's not their fault.

It's the fault of the people putting it together - the distributors. They don't seem to realise that they have to put something more in than just compiling and packaging up the latest releases. They have to have a list of what gaps need filled, have a long-term technical vision for how sound will work better for people and what to use, create a unified set of graphical administration tools that Windows and Mac OS users take for granted and start bringing things together.

Administration tools are a good example because it brings different parts of an operating system together in a way where it becomes obvious if things don't work well together. We've belatedly had things like NetworkManager, but quite frankly taking command line output and parsing it is never going to bring the integration and reliability required. YaST is possibly the best administration tool around on Linux but it is incredibly slow and why it's GUI interfaces aren't integrated properly with KControl of Gnome's Control Centre I have no idea.

The secret, once again, is developers. There needs to be a large set of easy to use and reliable APIs that developers can tap into from installing a service to reading log file output to enumerating network interfaces and settings. I did think D-Bus would have largely filled this gap by now but nothing has happened. Once software components start talking to each other things get easier and you can start actually using a GUI to manage your computer.

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