Linked by Eugenia Loli on Fri 7th Dec 2007 06:34 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu "Many people are looking to Ubuntu to be something that it is not: A mass market ready operating system designed to work with the same level of compatibility as Microsoft Windows. Where people get confused is in believing that if Ubuntu, king of the Linux distros, is not able to take the marketplace by storm, then something must be broken with desktop Linux. In this article, I'll explain what it will take to dethrone the mighty Ubuntu and gain a market share so large that it will eclipse anything seen by Ubuntu to date." More here.
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elanthis
Member since:
2007-02-17

In reality, the only reason people seem to think linux isn't ready for the desktop is that it's different from windows.


The only reason people seem to think that Linux is ready for the desktop is because they're too disconnected from what regular people want out of their computer.

Linux is ready for my desktop - has been for 5 years. It might even be ready for grandma's desktop, since all she does is check email and play Yahoo card games.

I've done a number of Linux installs for people, and every single one of them has been "upgraded" to Windows XP (or even Windows 98 just a few days ago - the friend in question didn't own a copy of XP) because Linux failed to do any one of the following:

- Run popular games actual gamers want to play
- Run unpopular games actual gamers want to play
- Run popular games wanna-be gamers want to play
- Actually have acceleration on the popular games Linux has native versions for or which Wine supports at Gold status on hardware than accelerates the games just fine on XP/98
- Install Linux-native games like NWN without requiring to open a command shell, copy a shell script off the install CD, open the script in an editor to update it for various differences in system configurations distros ship these since NWN was released, and manually execute the fixed script
- Watch any of the hundreds of thousands of WMV9 pr0n^Wmovies people put online without weird skipping, audio codec issues, color space corruption, etc.
- Have a system that crashes less often (I kid you not, my roommate's XP machine has not crashed once in the last year, while my Linux box manages to hit driver bugs, X.org bugs, GNOME bugs, or various other bugs that force me to reboot or at least restart X, which on a desktop is really no different than rebooting; and no, none of these are hardware issues, it's just the "new features are more fun than bug fixes" development cycles)
- Run cool games
- Run goofy little freeware download games that casual gamers want to play
- Actually be able to install the OS (I can't get the stupid-ass Ubuntu LiveCD to work on a number of machines for which the ancient XP pre-SP1 CD works just fine for)
- Boot up in under 10 seconds (it takes longer for GNOME to start after enterting my password in GDM than it takes for XP to get to a usable desktop from the moment I power on the VirtualBox VM it runs in)
- Run popular games that real gamers want to play
- Run games

To sum up... no games. Also, more bugs.

The idea that Linux protects you from viruses is also laughable at best. Linux is safe from viruses because we users know not to do anything stupid. Windows users who don't do anything stupid also have absolutely nothing to worry about from viruses. I know people (roommate included) who have run XP since it came out without virus protection and have never once gotten a virus. Don't download stuff you don't trust, keep a firewall in place, and install updates and an XP machine will stay malware-free. It'll also crash less and run faster than a Linux desktop running tons of bloated half-finished always-in-development desktop apps that add almost as many new features as they do bugs with each release.

It's almost embarassing to show people my Linux desktop. I constantly have to make excuses like, "well, that's still in development," or "it's bleeding edge cool stuff, so still a little buggy," or "that might just be a config problem on my end, just ignore the crashing window manager," and so on. Sure, Linux the kernel is usually rock solid, but everything else we call "Linux" running on top of the kernel is total crap.

I used to be as much of a "you should be using Linux!" fanboy as the next geek years ago, but these days reality has sunk in: Linux is NOT ready for the average person's desktop. It doesn't do what they need and it isn't nearly as stable as we like to pretend it is. Your friends and loved ones would be better served by just shelling out $100 for XP than they would be by wasting countless hours of their life with an OS they're just going to replace to XP in the long run anyway.

Reply Score: 33

archiesteel Member since:
2005-07-02

Many PC users don't care about games apart from Minesweeper and Solitaire. Many serious gamers now get their fix from Next-Gen consoles. Many of the hit PC games can be played on Linux with Wine (albeit with a few months' delay).

Those who *require* Windows for gaming are a dwindling minority.

WMV9 movies? No problem - and I can play all video files from a *single* app, and not have to switch between WMP, Quicktime player and Realplayer.

XP more stable? Sorry dude, but it *is* hardware related. I've got 3 Linux PCs at home (two desktop and one laptop), each with different hardware, and they are *all* rock-solid. One acted funky for a while, turned out to be a problem with one of the memory chips.

Linux *is* ready for the average user's desktop, if that user doesn't require some specific software that only runs on Windows.

I have to say I am highly dubious that you have in fact done many Linux installs for people, or that you use Linux as a desktop, especially considering your comment about how the "idea that Linux protects you from viruses is also laughable at best". I'm rather of the opinion that you've falsely made these claims in order to bolster your FUD's credibility. Either that or you don't know what you're doing.

Personally, for having installed Linux on two friends' computers, and seeing them use their computes without any problems since (and not having to worry about spyware and viruses *at all*), I can tell you that Linux is ready for *a lot* of desktops, much more than you give it credit for.

Reply Parent Score: 15

ssa2204 Member since:
2006-04-22

Enough with your bullsh*t line about consoles, you are so far off from reality I have to question whether you even know what the hell is going on in the world of gaming.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that if anything consoles have now separated the casual from the hardcore. But please do just ingore the whole reality that most of the games for consoles are targeted to kids. Please do ignore the simple fact that the people most serious who get involved in the different communities would laugh their collective @sses off with your statement. And while you are at it I suppose you can also just ignore the fact that some of the biggest games today are PC only, and will remain that way for years. And let us not forget that almost every true strategy game is for PC only. Let's chose to also ignore that any game for console will always be far limited compared to it's PC version. Oh wait, I guess I can play Forgotten Hope on console right? Or maybe some of the excellent work done by After-Hourz, those are all....no wait they are for PC as well.

But wait, I can just get Call of Duty 4 for console and play the AWE mod right...nope sorry, out of luck. So who do you think is buying the console versions? If you still think the PC is a dead platform, you are sadly mistaken. Casual Joe who buys a console to play the latest hyped games like Madden are not serious, they are just fools who need to follow trends (hence why it seems every year a good number of people are f**king dumb enough to actually camp out waiting in line to get the latest console). These people are not "serious", they are just idiots. I really do invite you to go out and visit some gaming sites with this argument, it will be good for a laugh..at your expense.

And one last thing, don't spread such bullsh*t that many of today's hit games can just be easily run through Wine. That is the worst kind of representation. You wish to imply that people can just drop Windows and move to Linux and run all their games and such is just pure bullsh*t. You either know this and knowingly lie, or have truly never used Wine.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Robocoastie Member since:
2005-09-15

"Personally, for having installed Linux on two friends' computers, and seeing them use their computes without any problems since (and not having to worry about spyware and viruses *at all*), I can tell you that Linux is ready for *a lot* of desktops, much more than you give it credit for."

I'd add to that even more so now that game consoles have become powerful computers. No longer is a windows computer needed to game. But there are still too many proprietary apps that only work in windows or run poorly in wine. Some killer apps for me for example is Dundjinni, and Fantasy Grounds 2 and Windows Media Center because MythTV is still a pain in the rear to use. All these "specialized" software adds up and made me abandon my Ubuntu 7.10 x64 partition because I was either dual booting into Windows too much still or having to fire up the virtualization software too often.

This isn't Linux's fault at all though; rather it shows just how good MSFT has been at promoting their SDK's for programs (including those that use java) to run in Windows instead of being programmed more generically and thus could run in other systems easier.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Clinton Member since:
2005-07-05

I understand your comment and agree with a lot of what you said. I do have a couple of contrary comments though (towards Windows, not you)...

"Actually be able to install the OS (I can't get the stupid-ass Ubuntu LiveCD to work on a number of machines for which the ancient XP pre-SP1 CD works just fine for)"

I have a lot of new machines that the XP CD won't work on because of SATA drives and floppy drives having become extinct from my life about 8 years ago. I mean how stupid does a developer have to be to require a floppy drive to load add-on drivers, especially when floppy drives were already disappearing from systems when XP first came out?

"...WMV Porn..."

WMV files are the crappiest excuse for a video codec around. If it isn't good quality and cross platform, it just doesn't belong. WMV just sucks in both the audio and video department as well as the cross-platform one.

"...rant on boot times..."

Windows users have to boot their machines more than once? ;)

Anyway, when it comes right down to it. Who cares? Use what you like.

Reply Parent Score: 2

JamesTRexx Member since:
2005-11-06

WMV just sucks

Which is why it's used for porn, dh!

:-)

Reply Parent Score: 6

Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

I have a lot of new machines that the XP CD won't work on because of SATA drives and floppy drives having become extinct from my life about 8 years ago. I mean how stupid does a developer have to be to require a floppy drive to load add-on drivers, especially when floppy drives were already disappearing from systems when XP first came out?


First off, try a USB floppy drive.

Secondly, there is no telling how old the install code is, and I'd guess it probably hadn't been updated since Win2000 if not since NT.

Just to spell out what I'm saying, it doesn't have SATA drivers because SATA wasn't a standard when the Windows Installer was written, and MS doesn't update all of their code when they release an OS.

Finally, you can roll you're own WinXP install disks with the drivers you need and current patches. Offically, it is called slipstreaming, and there are tools out there to do it.

http://www.maximumpc.com/article/How-To--Slipstream-your-XP-install...

Reply Parent Score: 1

J.R. Member since:
2007-07-25

"Actually be able to install the OS (I can't get the stupid-ass Ubuntu LiveCD to work on a number of machines for which the ancient XP pre-SP1 CD works just fine for)"

I have a lot of new machines that the XP CD won't work on because of SATA drives and floppy drives having become extinct from my life about 8 years ago. I mean how stupid does a developer have to be to require a floppy drive to load add-on drivers, especially when floppy drives were already disappearing from systems when XP first came out?


Well...I have given up installing ubuntu because of a bug in my desktop mainboard bios. Luckily for me this bug doesnt affect windows. Furthermore, I have given up running ubuntu on my laptop because it dies when I close the lid. Luckily for me this bug doesnt affect windows. See a pattern here? I love ubuntu and have used it for years, but the last couple of releases have made it impossible for me to use on any of my machines so I have been forced to go back to windows where at least it works. Unfortunately, these problems are not unique. I also used to be all "linux for the win!!" but then I just at some point stopped enjoying fixing problems and started to find that rather annoying since I didnt get any actual work done. Especially since all my friends and family which I managed to get to try linux distros instead of windows also had shitloads of similar problems which I had to fix.

Use another distro you say? Same or other problems.

Reply Parent Score: 1

MaxKlokan Member since:
2007-12-04

Anyway, when it comes right down to it. Who cares? Use what you like.

Amen!

Reply Parent Score: 2

Coxy Member since:
2006-07-01

Well said

Reply Parent Score: 1

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

To sum up... no games. Also, more bugs.


Most computer users aren't gamers.

Reply Parent Score: 7

wirespot Member since:
2006-06-21

Most computer users aren't gamers.


Furthermore, according to US gaming industry sales figures, most gamers are not PC gamers.

Reply Parent Score: 5

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

The only reason people seem to think that Linux is ready for the desktop is because they're too disconnected from what regular people want out of their computer.


Good thing we have use experts like you that can enlighten us. Funny how you make the same mistake as your alleged opponents: you generalize from your own limited experience to the whole computing population.

Reply Parent Score: 10

l3v1 Member since:
2005-07-06

The only reason people seem to think that Linux is ready for the desktop is because they're too disconnected from what regular people want out of their computer.


Thing is, your "regular" isn't everybody's "regular". My regular needs aren't your regular needs. My needs are almost fullfilled, and what isn't is work-related necessity (which also could be achieved under Linux btw).

The important bit is, what every "average" joe fails to see, that there should _not_ be an expectation that an OS is/should be good for everyone. Why should it ? Does anyone know how many different users are there ? Different goals, different skillsets, different expectations. You can't make a one size fits all OS. You can make one though which is good at many things, but there always be parts that someone will think sucks. You just can't avoid that. And remember, Linux comes from a coder's point of view (thankfully).

Linux is NOT ready for the average person's desktop.


One thing is for certain: the notion of "Linux" is what it is, and its definition won't quickly change, but what "average" means can change so quickly and frequently that keeping track of it will make you cry.

On a sidenote: on many levels Linux is "NOT ready for the average person's desktop" not because provides less, but because it provides more.

Don't download stuff you don't trust, keep a firewall in place, and install updates and an XP machine will stay malware-free.


You so easily contradict yourself. You expect that from those you call "average" ? Nice. And still you should add "hopefully" to the end of it.

everything else we call "Linux" running on top of the kernel is total crap


I'm sure many developers appreciate your opinion. I'm just using it, I still don't agree.

I've done a number of Linux installs for people, and every single one of them has been "upgraded" to Windows XP


Linux isn't for everyone, as like as Windows isn't for everyone either. If I'd had to count I probably recommended Windows more than Linux. Why ? Because if you want success, you should recommend them what they can use, not what you can.

Reply Parent Score: 8

Xaero_Vincent Member since:
2006-08-18

I find it strange that you insist on using Linux when you're so negative towards it.

I agree with you in the sense that Linux is sometimes unstable but these issues get ironed out as a distro matures during the lifecycle. From my observation, keeping up with the system updates dramatically improves stability.

But I definitely agree with your assessment about games and 3D applications. A combination of Wine and virtualization or a headless terminal server/thin client is nearly flawless at running non-graphical Windows apps. However, for 3D and games your stuck with Wine-type solutions and if they fail you are screwed.

OK... I take that back. You can use VNC to view 3D graphics because it just takes snapshots of the remote desktop and draws it on the client, without using any fancy lower-level drawing functions. So you could play 3D games at 1 FPS or so from VNC.

Maybe this would be a good time for someone to develop a cheap product that offers hardware accelerated OpenGL and DirectX access from Linux virtualization products and terminal server clients. Hint... hint.

Reply Parent Score: 2

wirespot Member since:
2006-06-21

No need to take this into hardware, at least not the way you mean. Virtualization efforts are directed at tying the API's directly into the kernel and achieving as near-native speed as possible. Already the VM products, both commercial and free, deliver such solutions. And as for hardware support, it comes with modern processors, but in a generic form, able to be used for emulation in general, not just specific software or OS's.

The only hurdle left is reverse-engineering API's that Microsoft keeps a tight lid on, most importantly DirectX, and tying them to native Linux graphic drivers. Work on both is already well in progress. Of course, Microsoft's weariness at this is understandable. The moment Linux becomes capable of duplicating DirectX capability well enough it will be a staggering blow to Windows. And since it's open software, the capability will most likely make its way to Mac OS X as well.

Edited 2007-12-08 07:08

Reply Parent Score: 2

gustl Member since:
2006-01-19

Not anything usefull?

Let me see:

I do:
- Email
- Web browsing
- Watching DVDs
- Transcoding music CDs to mp3 for my car player.
- Accounting household money transactions
- Word processing
- Spreadsheet calculations
- Presentations
- Photo editing (mostly red-eye removal)
- Stitching photos to form a panorama photo
- Sound editing (I sing in a choir)
- Musical score (notes) creation
- CAD drawing (2D) of furniture I build
- Backing up data on DVDs
- Play a round based tactical game
- Programming sometimes as a hobbie

I probably forgot something, but that is what I do with my computer.
Having to purchase commercial programs for all of this would cost me somewhere from 3000 on upwards - and I only have budget for 1000 every 5 years for my computing needs. Therefore open source software is my only legal way to get what I want. And using 98% open source software on Windows would feel awkward to me, so Linux is it in my case.

And when comparing Windows with Linux as a home-sysadmin, Linux fares far better.
Windows is like: OK all drivers are there, everything is installed, but for some reason something does not really work that well. Let's reinstall this, reinstall that.
Linux is like: OK, installed basic system + applications needed, but scanner/printer/whatever does not work. Browse the internet, learn something about the issue, change one or two lines in a file and everything works from then on. The machine is stable and I learned something.
Windows lets you try things, Linux educates you. Therefore Windows is easy for beginners who always stay beginners, Linux easily converts beginners to experts (which initially of course means some work).

Reply Parent Score: 12

Odisej Member since:
2006-05-11

Like others have stated, your post sums up a lot of stuff that linux (Ubuntu) is lacking. I would just like to add my own thoughts on this. I am running Ubuntu and Fedora on my two computers while I had to (re)install XP/Vista on my wife's and my mother's computer. Here is why:

1. Crappy support for a webcam which my wife uses quite often,

2. Couldn't get voice over yahoo network to, well, work at all,

3. Cannot guarantee that the games mother likes to play (and downloads from the net) will work. Even under the latest version of wine.

Ok, these are only three problems which will eventually be solved. But for now... sorry. Linux is not a good alternative for my mother or wife. And they are NOT gamers.

I wouldn't trade my Ubuntu for anything. It is a wonderful system. The same with fedora. But both still have rough edges which need to be taken care of before any kind of linux distro is a viable alternative for an average Jane or Joe.

Edited 2007-12-07 14:20

Reply Parent Score: 2

RawMustard Member since:
2005-10-10

Couldn't have put it better myself.
I've been running Ubuntu since Warty all those years ago and it just gets buggier and buggier with each release.

When I first started my path down the Linux track, it was on Redhat 6, I stayed with Redhat till version 9; then Fedora 1 was released, what a let down! Back in those days, once you got X and sound running on your flavour of video and sound cards, the rest was pretty stable.
These days the Linux desktop is a joke, Gnome and mono is a big joke and installing a buggy unpredictable Compiz by default is both irresponsible and stupid. How to drive away potential users in one fowl swoop.

The other thing that's become a huge pain in the rear end and something that was touted as one of Linux's best features, is upgrading. I think it went something like this. " Mate - Just install Linux, upgrading is a breeze, just apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade and you've got a whole new os and apps with no hassles". Well what a lie that's become! Not to say windows is any better in this department but the Linux fan boys will always bring up the argument of shared libraries and how upgrading and updating is made more efficient because of them. Well who gives a hoot if every time you do an upgrade your system breaks?

But in all honesty, I personally think one of the biggest hurdles for Linux in the desktop market is how to make money off of it? I know quite a few people that steer clear of it because they can't see how to make money if they write or port their software to it. Linux users are not renowned for paying for their software and expect everything for free - as in beer!

The free software community might work out ok for those devs working on big projects sponsored by the big corps, but it doesn't work for a small player, unless they're missing something?

Anyway, I'm still on Gutsy Gibbon even with all of its flaws because of moral reasons, but they're not enough to convince more people to use Linux on the desktop!

Reply Parent Score: 1

ichi Member since:
2007-03-06

"Linux users are not renowned for paying for their software and expect everything for free - as in beer!"

Not unlike Windows users.

Reply Parent Score: 4

trooper9 Member since:
2007-04-27

One of the most thought out posts I've seen here in a while. Good read and thanks. You've just pretty much summed up my frustrations with the current popular linux offerings.

Reply Parent Score: 1

valnar Member since:
2006-01-17

I agree, sort of.

I hardly play any games, but I use a plethora of Windows applications twice as long as any list under this topic to which there is *no* suitable alternative in Linux.

GNU/Linux has the potential to be the better operating system, but the very nature of it is too distributed and disorganized to ever manage a real battle against Windows. If Microsoft falls and Linux takes over, it won't be because Linux is superior. Mark my words.... it will be because Microsoft screwed up. That may be Vista, or maybe something later. But it will *not* be because of any superiority of Linux.

Reply Parent Score: 2

LAGNAF Member since:
2007-11-09

I agree fully with most of your comments. I like using Linux; I also like using Windows (in varying flavors).

I still use a Win98/Me system for music work; converting and burning music in different formats. I also use it for converting all my old LPs to CD. It works without any problem, and has for seven years.

I use Win2K for business and document/production work for a home-based business (two, actually). The OS and apps have worked well for almost eight years.

I use WinXP on two laptops (they both came with XP pre-installed or I would have stayed with Win2K). There is nothing on XP that I really like enough to have actually spent cash on.

I have used WinVista at college; same impression as WinXP. No big.

I have used several different Linus distros and they have all been fun, and productive. My only complaint with most is entirely personal to the old HP computer I have. For seven years I could not find a Linux distro that would recognize my odd-ball sound card.

Kubunto (latest release) did that perfectly, as well as all other hardware on my computer. Ubunto, however, gave me EXACTLY the same problem you mentioned. It would not successfully install on five different machines on which attempted.

Things happen. My feelings on the matter; there is no one OS or desktop which does everything I want or need; those wants and needs are too varied.

I use one for music. one for office work, one for drafting and house design, one for development work, and so forth. To me, the OS is merely a part of the tool-set I use.

Reply Parent Score: 1