Linked by Eugenia Loli on Wed 23rd Jan 2008 22:07 UTC
Linux With Linux on the desktop going from a slow crawl to verging on an explosion, many have toiled with the question: How do we make this happen faster? A well-known Austin-based Linux Advocate thinks he has the answer.
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Why should someone *switch* to Linux?
by wkornewald on Thu 24th Jan 2008 10:07 UTC
wkornewald
Member since:
2006-08-23

I'm serious. Tell me one compelling reason to switch. Is it much faster? Is it much easier to use? Does it help everyone work much better? Does it have visual appeal? No. It's just cheaper than Windows and OSX.

But it also has a cost: you must learn how to use it and you risk wasting time on it in case you don't like it (let's just ignore missing software and hardware support). Before you can even decide whether Linux is worth the discount when buying a computer you have to use it, which costs time that not everyone is willing to invest.

Seriously, from a user-experience point of view, Linux doesn't add any value to my life and work (maybe you like exploring geeky stuff, but many people don't). What's the goal of Linux? Bringing *computer* open-source and *computer* freedom and *computer* choice to the masses? Who cares about that apart from a few geeks? You don't become a free person with political and personal freedom of choice. Stop fooling us with those bold statements. Many people get frightened when they have to choose something they don't know anything about (and actually don't want to learn anything about). You want to make Linux successful? Then create a paralyzing and real alternative. Really improve the way we use computers. Get rid of the applications concept and unlock our data from functionality [1]. Get rid of the folders and files concept and use semantic technologies [2] or whatever works better. Make software significantly faster and more responsive. Do something that really makes a difference! Stop copying others. Firefox innovates on its own and it makes a difference. People love it. Do the same for Linux.

[1] http://rchi.raskincenter.org/index.php?title=Home
[2] http://nepomuk.semanticdesktop.org/xwiki/bin/view/Main1/

Reply Score: 5

ichi Member since:
2007-03-06

Getting your work done faster and with less headaches? That's why I switched anyway.
I wouldn't be using it if it was just free.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Does it help everyone work much better?


Nothing helps *everyone* work better. I helps some, others not.

Does it have visual appeal?


To some it does, to some it don't. Personally I find both Windows and OSX visually unappealing.

No. It's just cheaper than Windows and OSX.


That's a pretty compelling reason to most

But it also has a cost: you must learn how to use it and you risk wasting time on it in case you don't like it (let's just ignore missing software and hardware support)


So, in other words, it's exactly the same as any other change in your life?

Seriously, from a user-experience point of view, Linux doesn't add any value to my life and work (maybe you like exploring geeky stuff, but many people don't).


You != everyone. It's quite possible Linux does nothing for you but that doesn't mean it does nothing for everyone.

Bringing *computer* open-source and *computer* freedom and *computer* choice to the masses? Who cares about that apart from a few geeks?


While most probably don't care about the first two they do care about choice.

Do something that really makes a difference!


Agreed. OSS and Linux is already making a difference though, perhaps not on the radar of the masses but that's not the same as not making a difference.

Then create a paralyzing and real alternative.


It's probably not a good idea to paralyze your users.

Get rid of the folders and files concept and use semantic technologies [2]


That's exactly what some OSS and Linux projects are doing. You might have noticed the "Mandriva" logo on the Nepomuk site.

Reply Parent Score: 5

wkornewald Member since:
2006-08-23

"Does it have visual appeal?


To some it does, to some it don't. Personally I find both Windows and OSX visually unappealing.
"

Well, I think it's pretty clear that Apple creates products with a great visual and emotional appeal. Why fool ourselves? Maybe it's nothing for you, but overall they're doing quite well.

"But it also has a cost: you must learn how to use it and you risk wasting time on it in case you don't like it (let's just ignore missing software and hardware support)


So, in other words, it's exactly the same as any other change in your life?
"

And what's your point? Do you change everything in life just because you can? It must be worth the effort, of course. That's where I see the problem.

"Seriously, from a user-experience point of view, Linux doesn't add any value to my life and work (maybe you like exploring geeky stuff, but many people don't).


You != everyone. It's quite possible Linux does nothing for you but that doesn't mean it does nothing for everyone.
"

If you're a network admin or programmer it might be better for you. But seriously, what does Linux do better than Windows for the general public (who doesn't have "computers" on their list of hobbies or as their main profession) if you take into account that the most important Linux apps are available for Windows? Put up two computers with exactly the same applications, but one with Windows and one with Linux. Now tell me which one is better as a desktop machine. If we pretend that all hardware is fully supported (and hibernation works, ...) then Linux is probably no worse. But it's not better, either, and that's exactly the problem. It's too similar to Windows to have any appeal (except for geek appeal ;) apart from cost saving.

"Bringing *computer* open-source and *computer* freedom and *computer* choice to the masses? Who cares about that apart from a few geeks?


While most probably don't care about the first two they do care about choice.
"

If you have the choice between "easy to use application X" and "difficult to use application Y" then people will be happy about choice, indeed. But how often is the decision so easy? Nobody wants difficult choice. Ever tried to find "the best" USB HDD? Or "the best" laptop for $1500? Somebody once commented here that he wouldn't even wish his worst enemy to have that burden. Choice can be annoying when there is no clear winner for you.

"Do something that really makes a difference!


Agreed. OSS and Linux is already making a difference though, perhaps not on the radar of the masses but that's not the same as not making a difference.
"

Great, but I was specifically talking about all this "the year of Linux" and "is Linux ready for the desktop?" whining (i.e. being on-topic). If you don't care whether Linux becomes successful on the desktop then please save our time and just say so directly.

"Get rid of the folders and files concept and use semantic technologies [2]


That's exactly what some OSS and Linux projects are doing. You might have noticed the "Mandriva" logo on the Nepomuk site.
"

I linked to Nepomuk exactly because I want more attention for its sub-projects (Nepomuk-KDE, etc.), so more OSS developers start thinking about new interaction concepts and making them real, so the choice between "Windows" and "Linux" becomes an easier and clearer one.

Reply Parent Score: 3

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I'm serious. Tell me one compelling reason to switch. Is it much faster? Is it much easier to use? Does it help everyone work much better? Does it have visual appeal? No. It's just cheaper than Windows and OSX.


Linux has the following advantages over Windows:
(1) Many eyes make bugs shallow
(2) You cannot hide malware in open source
(3) No DRM or WGA
(4) No single vendor lock-in, and so no monopoly prices
(5) No forced upgrades (after all, you do have the source for whatever version you are using)
(6) 1.5 million developers worldwide (equivalent full-time)
(7) guaranteed no call-home spyware
(8) you can remove anything you don't like, such as DRM
(9) developed in a meritocracy ... so it does what the people want, not what big business wants
(10) You have control over your own hardware

Some of those advantages you get with OSX, others not.

But it also has a cost: you must learn how to use it and you risk wasting time on it in case you don't like it (let's just ignore missing software and hardware support). Before you can even decide whether Linux is worth the discount when buying a computer you have to use it, which costs time that not everyone is willing to invest.


Myths. Linux is no harder to use and learn than Windows.

Seriously, from a user-experience point of view, Linux doesn't add any value to my life and work (maybe you like exploring geeky stuff, but many people don't).


So don't explore it, just use it. Enjoy.

What's the goal of Linux? Bringing *computer* open-source and *computer* freedom and *computer* choice to the masses? Who cares about that apart from a few geeks? You don't become a free person with political and personal freedom of choice. Stop fooling us with those bold statements. Many people get frightened when they have to choose something they don't know anything about (and actually don't want to learn anything about). You want to make Linux successful? Then create a paralyzing and real alternative. Really improve the way we use computers. Get rid of the applications concept and unlock our data from functionality [1]. Get rid of the folders and files concept and use semantic technologies [2] or whatever works better. Make software significantly faster and more responsive. Do something that really makes a difference! Stop copying others. Firefox innovates on its own and it makes a difference. People love it. Do the same for Linux.


What brought all that on?

Do yourself a favour ... pretend you had never seen Windows before. You are an utter newbie. Sit yourself down with two ASUS EEEPCs ... one with the default Linux install, and the other with Windows XP.

I guarantee you that you would get miles and miles further in a shorter time with the Linux variant than you would with the Windows XP one. You aren't going to be able to do all that much with Notepad, Calc and Paint, are you? And you are left a bit vulnerable without your extra security programs for Windows, aren't you?

To get anywhere near what you can do with the Linux EEEPC, you would have to spend on software two or three times the cost of the bare hardware for the Windows XP version of the EEEPC ... or you could run Firefox, GIMP and OpenOffice etc for a more reasonable outlay ... oh, wait. Those are in the Linux variant anyway.

Reply Parent Score: 9

wkornewald Member since:
2006-08-23

"I'm serious. Tell me one compelling reason to switch. Is it much faster? Is it much easier to use? Does it help everyone work much better? Does it have visual appeal? No. It's just cheaper than Windows and OSX.


Linux has the following advantages over Windows:
(1) Many eyes make bugs shallow
(2) You cannot hide malware in open source
(4) No single vendor lock-in, and so no monopoly prices
(5) No forced upgrades (after all, you do have the source for whatever version you are using)
(6) 1.5 million developers worldwide (equivalent full-time)
(7) guaranteed no call-home spyware
(8) you can remove anything you don't like, such as DRM
(9) developed in a meritocracy ... so it does what the people want, not what big business wants
(10) You have control over your own hardware
"

Most of your arguments are only interesting for geeks. It's also not true that businesses don't do what users want. If that were the case then people wouldn't be buying the products and new businesses would quickly replace the old ones. Also, Windows doesn't enforce upgrades, either. So that's not an argument.

(3) No DRM or WGA


While I think music should have no DRM lock the video-on-demand market depends on it. Lack of DRM is actually a disadvantage. It's a technology that creates new opportunities. The problem is that music-DRM left a bad impression in all of us, but DRM can and will be used positively and if Linux won't support DRM then it's just another reason to not use it.

"But it also has a cost: you must learn how to use it and you risk wasting time on it in case you don't like it (let's just ignore missing software and hardware support). Before you can even decide whether Linux is worth the discount when buying a computer you have to use it, which costs time that not everyone is willing to invest.


Myths. Linux is no harder to use and learn than Windows.
"

Where did I claim the opposite? I only said that if you already know Windows then you have to invest time to play with Linux before you can judge whether you want to use it. That's something not everybody wants to do.

"Seriously, from a user-experience point of view, Linux doesn't add any value to my life and work (maybe you like exploring geeky stuff, but many people don't).


So don't explore it, just use it. Enjoy.
"

I'd love to use it, but currently hardware support sucks. Hibernation and standby don't work. Sane crashes after scanning and I had to install my scanner driver on the command line. My color printer doesn't work correctly with Linux and my laser printer doesn't print images except if I hack some printer settings with GIMP (all other apps don't work). My WiFi connection doesn't always work. I hate the fsck that pops up much too often on boot-up and takes *ages* (>15min) to finish (some people reported >40min on their bigger HDDs). The list goes on, but I've forgotten the other problems. So, you want to tell me to enjoy Linux? Hah! ;)

OK, those problems can be fixed, but even then, compared to Windows I still don't see a real advantage apart from cost savings. Which is my whole point: go beyond cost savings.

" What's the goal of Linux? Bringing *computer* open-source and *computer* freedom and *computer* choice to the masses? Who cares about that apart from a few geeks? You don't become a free person with political and personal freedom of choice. Stop fooling us with those bold statements. Many people get frightened when they have to choose something they don't know anything about (and actually don't want to learn anything about). You want to make Linux successful? Then create a paralyzing and real alternative. Really improve the way we use computers. Get rid of the applications concept and unlock our data from functionality [1]. Get rid of the folders and files concept and use semantic technologies [2] or whatever works better. Make software significantly faster and more responsive. Do something that really makes a difference! Stop copying others. Firefox innovates on its own and it makes a difference. People love it. Do the same for Linux.


What brought all that on?

Do yourself a favour ... pretend you had never seen Windows before. You are an utter newbie. Sit yourself down with two ASUS EEEPCs ... one with the default Linux install, and the other with Windows XP.

I guarantee you that you would get miles and miles further in a shorter time with the Linux variant than you would with the Windows XP one. You aren't going to be able to do all that much with Notepad, Calc and Paint, are you? And you are left a bit vulnerable without your extra security programs for Windows, aren't you?
"

Someone else could as well argue that Linux is overloaded with software and he'd rather choose what he needs manually. You have to put the same software on both systems to make a real comparison.

Also, Linux would have the same security problems as Windows if it were equally popular. It does absolutely nothing that prevents people from being stupid. Linux's advantage is just that it's not (yet?) a popular spyware platform.

To get anywhere near what you can do with the Linux EEEPC, you would have to spend on software two or three times the cost of the bare hardware for the Windows XP version of the EEEPC ... or you could run Firefox, GIMP and OpenOffice etc for a more reasonable outlay ... oh, wait. Those are in the Linux variant anyway.


I could also run Firefox and GIMP and OpenOffice on Windows. That's not a reason to switch to Linux.

Reply Parent Score: 3

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Linux has the following advantages over Windows:
(1) Many eyes make bugs shallow

That's only true if the eyes looking at the code is actually any good. Not saying they arent but having many eyes doesn't automagicaly make things better.

(2) You cannot hide malware in open source

No, but you can run closed-source apps on OSS operating systems.

(3) No DRM or WGA

RHN.

(4) No single vendor lock-in, and so no monopoly prices

Closed source does not necessarily mean vendor lock-in. Closed and proprietary protocols and API's do.

(5) No forced upgrades (after all, you do have the source for whatever version you are using)

"You have the source" is not a good argument for the majority of computer users.

(6) 1.5 million developers worldwide (equivalent full-time)

I bet there are even more closed source programmers.

(7) guaranteed no call-home spyware

Really? Where do I sign up for this guarantee? And what do I get when it is violated, which it will be.

(8) you can remove anything you don't like, such as DRM

Just now you said there is no DRM so why would i need to remove something that isn't there?

(9) developed in a meritocracy ... so it does what the people want, not what big business wants

No, it means it does what the developers want and that is not necessarily the same as what the majority of the users want.

10) You have control over your own hardware

How do I not have control over my own hardware in closed source OS's and how does OSS magically give me control over it?

Reply Parent Score: 5

james_parker Member since:
2005-06-29

Linux has the following advantages over Windows:
[...]
(2) You cannot hide malware in open source


This is not true. Back in 1984, Ken Thompson how to do so, and this specific "malware" was in fact present in Unix for many years before being discovered:

http://cm.bell-labs.com/who/ken/trust.html/

Reply Parent Score: 3

tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

(1) Many eyes make bugs shallow

If the eyes are even looking, which is unlikely. The reality is that highly-valued components (ie. Linux kernel) get a lot of attention, but the majority of open source projects are poorly maintained.

(2) You cannot hide malware in open source

Nor can you hide it in closed source. No point.

(3) No DRM or WGA

This is actually a disadvantage: It means that media studios will not allow you to play their content. You have to resort to all kinds of hacks to get DVDs and other content playing, if you can even get it to play at all.

(4) No single vendor lock-in, and so no monopoly prices

As long as there are alternatives, there is no such thing as vendor lock-in. No point.

(5) No forced upgrades (after all, you do have the source for whatever version you are using)

I have a box running Windows NT that's over 10 years old. Strangely enough, nobody has forced me to upgrade it. It just sits there in the corner, running quietly and never complaining. No point.

(6) 1.5 million developers worldwide (equivalent full-time)

Are they working on code that you care about? Probably not. No point.

(7) guaranteed no call-home spyware

LOL. Here's where we get into hair-splitting contests on your side. I don't consider self-registration of software to be "call home spyware" like you probably do but, then again, I'm sane.

(8) you can remove anything you don't like, such as DRM

You're also free to completely hose yourself. No point.

(9) developed in a meritocracy ... so it does what the people want, not what big business wants

No, it does what the oligarchy of maintainers want, not what the people want. No point.

(10) You have control over your own hardware

This one is plain silly and meaningless. No point.

Reply Parent Score: 2

rakamaka Member since:
2005-08-12

I agree with every word you have written. There is absolutely no reason to invest time and money in linux. If I spend total of 50 hrs to tweak my favourite linux distro and still it is half baked (no printer or digicam working) then I am spending as well 50hr*10$=500$ of worth my time just to learn linux. TOO expensive for free software. I have never seen a ordinary user setting his linux box in less than 50 hrs.(install, tweak ugly fonts, monitor messed up, wifi not working, printer digicam not recognized, firewall? cut-paste across platform...and so on)
I have simpler solution. buy whatever XP or Vista pre installed laptop. Then use 100s of free softwares available eg zonealarm, AVG, Avast, comodo, ad-aware, spywareblaster, firefox, openoffice, You will NEVER get any virus or malware problems as linux zealots try to scare with.
and finally try these free Open Source softwares for WINDOWS.
http://osswin.sourceforge.net/
http://www.opensourcewindows.org/

Reply Parent Score: 0

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I agree with every word you have written. There is absolutely no reason to invest time and money in linux. If I spend total of 50 hrs to tweak my favourite linux distro and still it is half baked (no printer or digicam working) then I am spending as well 50hr*10$=500$ of worth my time just to learn linux. TOO expensive for free software. I have never seen a ordinary user setting his linux box in less than 50 hrs.(install, tweak ugly fonts, monitor messed up, wifi not working, printer digicam not recognized, firewall? cut-paste across platform...and so on)
I have simpler solution.


I haven't had any such trouble setting up Linux.

But if you do ... I have an even simpler solution. Buy a nice system that is certified and pre-installed for Linux ... just as you if you wanted Vista (for whatever unimaginable reason).

http://www.zareason.com/shop/home.php
http://www.system76.com/
http://www.mobilemag.com/content/100/334/C14405/

... then you will get a Linux system that you have to spend zero time on. It will cost about the same as the equivalent Vista system, but it will come pre-loaded with all the OSS applications you mention. That will save you the 50 hours or so you would have to spend on your Vista system getting a useful set of applications installed.

So even if you decided to get all OSS applications on your Vista machine, you still have saved 80 hour*$10 = $800 getting the exact same applications running on your Linux machine. (The reason why I put 80 hours instead of 50 is that on the Vista machine in addition to all your applications you also need firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware, registry cleaner and so on that you don't need with Linux).

Any way that you slice it or dice it, if you compare apples with apples (ie compare a pre-installed Vista with a pre-installed Linux) the Linux option is way cheaper, both for the original cost of software and for your time.

Reply Parent Score: 2