Linked by Howard Fosdick on Mon 24th Jun 2013 03:00 UTC
Linux I volunteer as tech support for a small organization. For years we relied on Ubuntu on our desktops, but the users didn't like it when Ubuntu switched to the Unity interface. This article tells about our search for a replacement and why we decided on Xfce running atop Linux Mint.
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RE[4]: I'm in the minority but
by Laurence on Mon 24th Jun 2013 08:00 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: I'm in the minority but"
Laurence
Member since:
2007-03-26

Too true, however most Linux distributions have problems with some of the most basic things. With OS X and Windows, say for wi-fi, it's simple. Install the driver if necessary, connect. With Linux, you may have to tinker with the wi-fi drivers just to make them work and this is not user-friendly, nor should it be necessary.

The very fact you even have to install drivers in Windows is still unnecessary tinkering. You don't need to do so with Linux - drivers are shipped with the ISOs.

But I do agree that when wifi doesn't work out of the box in Linux, then it's a complete pig to get it working. And sadly that can leave many users helpless and with a bitter taste in their mouth ;)

Thankfully I think the instances where users have to do so are quite rare in comparison to the number of times wifi drivers work out of the box (or at least that's been my anecdotal evidence - I'm willing to concede that I've been lucky in that regard). and the one time I did have to play around with ndiswrapper was because Asus annoyingly rebranded my laptop wireless chipset - so the hardware was reporting the wifi chip as being some bespoke thingymebob when in fact it was a bog standard Atheros chip. In those instances I don't think Linux stands a chance (though I'm not trying to blame every driver problem on the OEMs nor dismiss that there's room for improvement. Just commenting on my own experiences).


It's even worse when an update breaks the working drivers you've already set up, and this is far more common in Linux land than in Windows or OS X.

That depends on the distro. With bleeding edge distros like Arch, then that's a real possibility (again, I've been quite lucky in that regard despite being an Arch user - but I'm not blind to the possibility). But with distros like Debian, CentOS and Suse, that shouldn't be an issue.

What really annoys me is how frequently Ubuntu breaks. That's completely unacceptable given the target audience and it's market presence (and one of the reasons I don't have high opinions of Canonical)


I wish it weren't so, but it is and until this is resolved you will never be able to consider any distribution to be user-friendly. Power user-friendly, certainly, but never for your average user unless they've got a techie friend to maintain it for them.

There's a different things there: operational user friendliness, ease of install and longevity. Some Linux distros are definitely user friendly from a day to day basis. But I do agree that they can be tougher to install. However that's a tough one given that hardware is built for Windows and ships with Windows pre-installed. I don't think Linux could ever compete until it's shipped pre-installed like Windows is. And lastly, the longevity. While you do raise some excellent points about the issues of Linux, I don't think Windows is any better (case in point: it's standard practice for Windows users to do regular reformats and reinstalls).

I honestly do think the biggest issue that faces Linux is the lack of support with OEMs. And that's the same reason why Android (and to a lesser degree, ChromeOS, webOS, etc) have proven popular: because it's shipped preinstalled so the hardware support is a given. It's also why OS X works so well despite UNIX traditionally being more finicky with hardware than Linux is.

Reply Parent Score: 4

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

The very fact you even have to install drivers in Windows is still unnecessary tinkering. You don't need to do so with Linux - drivers are shipped with the ISOs.

And if they're not, you are completely screwed unless you know how to compile source code. Are you really trying to equate installing drivers in Windows to the unnecessary, sheer pain in the ass, process of getting drivers installed in Linux when they're not provided for you?

Reply Parent Score: 0

Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26


And if they're not, you are completely screwed unless you know how to compile source code. Are you really trying to equate installing drivers in Windows to the unnecessary, sheer pain in the ass, process of getting drivers installed in Linux when they're not provided for you?

I'd already answered those points in the very next paragraph of my post!

Reply Parent Score: 3

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

No, if its not in the "ISO" you can install it a few ways that do not involve source code which depend upon the distro.

With red hat/Suse you can use a rpm to install a driver. With debian/Ubuntu a .deb There are official repositories full of these rpms/debs that are constantly being updated as bug fixes and new features are added.

For proprietary things like printer drivers or video drivers, manufacturers (like HP) can provide easy to install rpms. Its not difficult. Hasn't been for a while...

Reply Parent Score: 2

lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

I've haven't had to install a driver with Windows unless I was swapping in a new graphics card.

Windows pretty much just grabs hold of the appropriate driver off the net now in seconds.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[6]: I'm in the minority but
by kwan_e on Mon 24th Jun 2013 10:27 in reply to "RE[5]: I'm in the minority but"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

I've haven't had to install a driver with Windows unless I was swapping in a new graphics card.

Windows pretty much just grabs hold of the appropriate driver off the net now in seconds.


Unless that required driver is an ethernet driver, which is amazingly what I had to do when I reinstalled Windows 7 on this current laptop.

Reply Parent Score: 8

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

I've haven't had to install a driver with Windows unless I was swapping in a new graphics card.

Windows pretty much just grabs hold of the appropriate driver off the net now in seconds.

Yeah, but that's just a little bit difficult if your networking driver doesn't come with it. I'm not disagreeing that Windows will usually pull down the correct drivers (though I've seen it misidentify the correct driver on a few rare occasions) but sometimes installing wi-fi drivers is still necessary. It's kind of hard to grab a driver off the net if you can't get connected to it. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[6]: I'm in the minority but
by Morgan on Mon 24th Jun 2013 11:25 in reply to "RE[5]: I'm in the minority but"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

That's been my experience too, in fact Windows 7 even downloaded the graphics card driver when I started using a GeForce card. I still went to Nvidia's site for the more current and complete driver as some games complained about the Microsoft provided one though.

The interesting bit happened when I decided that the Intel Sandy Bridge GPU built in to my machine was good enough for the simple games that I play, and I gave my GeForce card to a friend in dire need for his 3D modeling courses at school. My machine has built in VGA and DisplayPort outputs, and my LCD monitor has VGA and DVI inputs. In Windows, I got native resolution using VGA, but in any OS that uses Xorg I could only get 640x480, if anything. After days of tinkering to no avail I gave up and decided to pick up a DisplayPort-to-DVI adapter. That fixed the issue immediately, and even improved the picture quality on Windows (all OSes now saw my LCD as a "built-in" monitor and defaulted to its native 1600x1200 res).

All of that tinkering and research should not have been necessary. Intel is the most "open" of the GPU manufacturers when it comes to alternative OSes, and I would think that any GNU/Linux based OS would instantly support it. Supposedly a fix for this obscure issue is coming, but as most people don't use VGA connectors these days I don't see it happening in the long run. Sandy Bridge is "old" tech and the trend in the open source world nowadays is beating Microsoft and Apple to the finish line, not supporting old 2011 era tech like mine.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[6]: I'm in the minority but
by gilboa on Mon 24th Jun 2013 13:47 in reply to "RE[5]: I'm in the minority but"
gilboa Member since:
2005-07-06

I've haven't had to install a driver with Windows unless I was swapping in a new graphics card.

Windows pretty much just grabs hold of the appropriate driver off the net now in seconds.


When trying to install Windows 7 on a number of brand new Asus laptops (different models, all using Atheros GbE NIC) we had to manually install the drivers.

Granted, building the alx driver under Linux is more complicated than double-clicking on setup.exe under Windows (at least to a non-veteran user), but Windows is far from perfect non-the-less.

Oh, even though the alx driver under Linux is still a beta driver (required out-of-tree drivers) it seems to perform better at long range compared to the Windows 7 (and 8) driver. Go figure.

- Gilboa

Reply Parent Score: 4