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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Comment by Mark Williamson
by Mark Williamson on Mon 24th Aug 2009 15:56 UTC
Mark Williamson
Member since:
2005-07-06

Aside from the usual argument for powerful but not-easily-discoverable interfaces (such as the Unix CLI or emacs) of "It's user friendly. It's just picky about who its friends are.", I think Linux user friendliness has come a long way.

I think it's been the case for a *very long* while that Linux has been easily friendly enough for someone to use for work tasks on a daily basis, as long as someone else administers it.

I think it's been the case for quite a long time that Linux can actually be "friendlier" to both many undemanding users and many "extreme" users. An undemanding, novice user will need a machine with pre-installed Linux and good hardware support (nb. these users would have the same requirements with Windows) but then typically find all the software they need already there and have no wish to install random other things off the internet. "Extreme" users will benefit from the extreme tweaking opportunities Linux provides.

But there's a large band of power users in between who I think are not sufficiently well served. To a certain extent these users will probably have a lot of power tweaks on whatever OS they had before, which will not transfer, making Linux less attractive anyhow. But I do think that the market of people who, say, want to use a GUI but also to configure conceptually advanced or esoteric things is possibly not so well-served under Linux. Also, these are the kind of people who are likely to want to download particular versions of particular apps and install them, yet will see compilation as a waste of their time since they don't *need* the flexibility of working with source code (lets face it, most of the time few of us do).

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