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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RE[4]: Comment by ven-
by Wrawrat on Mon 24th Aug 2009 16:19 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by ven-"
Wrawrat
Member since:
2005-06-30

If installing software outside the main repositories of a distro was such a non-issue, people wouldn't raise it as an issue.

Repositories are great, but you are at the mercy of the maintainers. They work quite well when you stick with popular software, but you are pretty much left on your own when you need less-known or new programs. Even if your software is packaged in the repositories, it doesn't mean they are up-to-date (take Ubuntu/Debian with its 3-years-old Eclipse).

Of course, you can compile/package the software you need, but how user-friendly is that?

It's not because you don't need something that nobody needs it... If there is something I am missing from the Windows/Apple world, it's a package system that doesn't rely on central repositories.

Edited 2009-08-24 16:20 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by ven-
by vivainio on Mon 24th Aug 2009 17:10 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by ven-"
vivainio Member since:
2008-12-26

It's not because you don't need something that nobody needs it... If there is something I am missing from the Windows/Apple world, it's a package system that doesn't rely on central repositories.


Ubuntu is not dependent on central repositories either. Anyone can create a PPA where you can build and upload your "unofficial" packages. Or just upload the .deb you built yourself somewhere people can find it.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by ven-
by Wrawrat on Mon 24th Aug 2009 18:08 in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by ven-"
Wrawrat Member since:
2005-06-30

Relying on PPAs doesn't really solve the issue, as you still depend on whoever maintains the PPA and its choice of distribution. As for building your own packages, you shouldn't do that unless you want to be their maintainer.

I'm not saying that standalone packages is the way to go. However, pretending that everything is solved by using repositories is burying your head deep in the sand. There is room for improvement.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by ven-
by abraxas on Mon 24th Aug 2009 18:07 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by ven-"
abraxas Member since:
2005-07-07

If installing software outside the main repositories of a distro was such a non-issue, people wouldn't raise it as an issue.


Another strawman. The only people who raise it as an issue are the anti-Linux crowd, most of whom haven't spent more than 30 mins using a Linux distribution because if they did they would realize that it isn't a problem.

Repositories are great, but you are at the mercy of the maintainers. They work quite well when you stick with popular software, but you are pretty much left on your own when you need less-known or new programs. Even if your software is packaged in the repositories, it doesn't mean they are up-to-date (take Ubuntu/Debian with its 3-years-old Eclipse).


Using Debian Stable as the basis for your argument about old software versions is laughable. It's not an operating system that focuses on having new software. It's focused on having stable software. It isn't something a new Linux user is going to be using as a desktop OS. It's just another bad argument.

Of course, you can compile/package the software you need, but how user-friendly is that?


Like what? What are these magical missing programs on what linux distro? I find it very telling that these arguments are always generic without anyone specifying what package is missing.

It's not because you don't need something that nobody needs it... If there is something I am missing from the Windows/Apple world, it's a package system that doesn't rely on central repositories.


If there is something I don't miss about proprietary operating systems it's the awful security nightmare of decentralized package installation.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by ven-
by Wrawrat on Mon 24th Aug 2009 18:57 in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by ven-"
Wrawrat Member since:
2005-06-30

Another strawman. The only people who raise it as an issue are the anti-Linux crowd, most of whom haven't spent more than 30 mins using a Linux distribution because if they did they would realize that it isn't a problem.

Your argument is a strawman, as you assume that only unknowledgeable people would be in favour of decentralized packages while everyone else would agree with you.
Using Debian Stable as the basis for your argument about old software versions is laughable. It's not an operating system that focuses on having new software. It's focused on having stable software. It isn't something a new Linux user is going to be using as a desktop OS. It's just another bad argument.

Red herring. It was merely an example. Now that you mention it, Ubuntu is not based on Debian Stable, Debian Testing is still packaging that archaic version while Debian Unstable/Ubuntu Karmic got a mix of recent (3.4) and archaic (CDT at 3.1) versions.
Like what? What are these magical missing programs on what linux distro? I find it very telling that these arguments are always generic without anyone specifying what package is missing.

Up-to-date packages for Eclipse on Ubuntu. Many console emulators on Ubuntu and Fedora. Hotkey utilities for my previous laptop on most distributions. Hundreds of small libre programs or libraries you can find on the Internet (either on Freshmeat or SF). Needless to say, most proprietary software are not in repositories, even if there is no libre alternative. I could go on.

Now, you won't have to go beyond repositories if you merely use your PC for mundane tasks. Obviously, some people have different needs. To be honest, not all software deserve to be in a centralised repository... yet, they do exist.
If there is something I don't miss about proprietary operating systems it's the awful security nightmare of decentralized package installation.

There is no doubt that updating these systems is quite a chore. That said, a centralized system is not necessarily more secure, as it could become a central point of failure.

Edited 2009-08-24 18:59 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2