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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Companies like Mandrive, Connonical and Novell focus on non-tech user distributions as those are core goals of those product lines. I see anyone being able to take the commodity parts and lego together there own distribution based on different goals as a strength though. You have non-geek focuses and geek-focused distributions and this is how it should be.

OSS development speed depends on the project but in general, seems to be a bit faster. Windows Vista did things that Linux based systems where doing years before with less hardware requirements. The kernel began in 1994 publicly and has exceeded Microsoft's 30 year old experience in platform design based on stability and hardware support. The last development report showed that the kernel is accelerating it's development rate each year. OpenOffice went from a twinkle in the milkman's eye to something quickly matching Office function for function. Creative started drivers for the XFI line then handed source and specs over to the Alsa project; XFI drivers are pretty solid in the testing build I'm running and that's for all platforms that happen to use ALSA not just Windows. There are examples of slowly developing projects of course but based on meritocracy, the better projects tend to have a much faster development rate.

To look at your examples specifically for existing technologies; every office suite has been a copy since the first word process or and spreadsheet applications, the latter being one of the first applications ever developed. Mono is an implementation of .NET so obviously, it's going to be limited to keeping up with MS development direction. It's not all copy and wait though. USB 2.0 was implemented natively in the kernel before other platforms caught up. Aero came second and a distant second at that. Bluetooth was standardized across adapters within Linux platforms yet I still can't get either a dlink or Motorola re-branded bluetooth thumbdrive working right on Windows. The flexibility and open license of the platform makes it a preferred environment for developing new technologies.

The platform has it's issues but I see these being more to do with things like the forced need to reverse engineer hardware support due to vendor imposed conditions rather than slow development or only a copy of existing technologies.

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