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Is usability breaking Linux adoption?
ComputerWorld ^ | 3 August 2012 | Dennis Mbuvi

Posted on 08/06/2012 8:15:49 AM PDT by ShadowAce

I have been a Linux (Linux in this article refers to Linux based Operating System) user for a quite a number of years, actually, since I owned my first PC about four years ago. All through I have been using Fedora Linux , and it has not been an easy ride all along.

Linux users have to learn how to use text editors, and how to work their way around configuration files. Initially, the issue was that Fedora Linux ships without a number of drivers, so called proprietary drivers and software. Proprietary drivers are drivers that do not conform to open source licensing terms. This means that the operating system ships lacking support for common media formats including MP3 and will also lack firmware drivers required for the functioning of some hardware such as sound cards and graphics drivers.

The missing proprietary software can however be installed by the user from the Internet, or one can opt for a Linux distribution that includes such proprietary drivers by default, such as Ubuntu or Mint Linux. Some flavours of Fedora such as the Russian Fedora Remix also include them.

Sadly, it just doesn't stop here. Once in a while, mostly every six months when most distributions release new versions, a major issue will most likely crop up.

Fedora 17 shipped with a bug that left some users unable to connect to the Internet through an ethernet cable. The issue was quickly fixed. This however required downloading of an update to fix the bug in NetworkManager, the app that connects network connectivity on Linux.

Today, after five days of trying and Googling everywhere, my Nokia Bluetooth headsets finally worked with my Linux. The issues here was PulseAudio, the default sound server for most Linux distribution is missing an audio configuration files with two lines of configuration. Bugzilla, which tracks such bugs and issues has a well documented report on the issuehttps://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=827629but there is no update yet to fix the issue.

While Linux has arguably the best software distribution system, all packages are held in online repositories and can be downloaded to one's PC according to needs. However, on Fedora, the RPM Package Manager which does this job suffers from a flaw too. While one can choose to update all out-of-date applications, and easily upgrade from one Linux version to another, RPM has an irritating issues known as "dependency errors"

On Linux, applications usually depend on other applications to provide some functionality, requiring both to be installed. Usually, the dependencies are usually tied to a particular version of the package since newer versions can result in changes or even no longer provide the required functionality. RPM usually checks for such dependencies and resolves them. However, the checking of dependencies does not work as intended at times, and this might lead to packages requiring packages that no longer exist after a previous upgrade. A package may also be required by two others, each requiring a different version.

Setting out to update your applications might leave you poring through bug reports and forms hours later on how to sort out your dependency issues.Other issues that have left me poring through forums for days include broken graphics on a version upgrade and poor video playback quality after a version. This excludes the long running suffering endured by Linux users due to Adobe Flash issues. It does not help that Adobe has given up on newer Linux versions of Flash, only promising to issue bug fixes.

Linux market share is estimated at between 1 percent and 1.5 per cent. Android, the hugely popular mobile operating operating system has a share of between 2 percent and 4 percent while rival iOS has between 3 percent and percent.

Android is based on the Linux kernel, same as other Linux based operating systems, however is quite easy to use for many.

Linux on the other hand, has seen usability vastly improve over the years. However, it looks like usability is yet to become a critical factor in Linux development, yet remains a stumbling block for many adopters, despite being free. This leaves Linux a preserve for technical users who can figure out the many configurations that need to be tweaked time and again.

Android is proof enough that a more usable linux experience would lead to more Linux users. How long before we get there?


TOPICS: Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS: hitech; linux
I personally use Fedora as well. Since I've had it exclusively on all my computers since Fedora Core 1, I've pretty much forgotten how Annoying configuration of it can be to others.

It doesn't take me long to configure a new installation to be the way I want it, and--for me--it just works.

I also tend to configure portions of it as I need it. Network comes first, obviously, and the Desktop just gets adjusted as I perform various tasks on it. It doesn't seem like a long time, but it may be once you take into account everything that gets done over the course of several days while I'm working with it.

1 posted on 08/06/2012 8:15:57 AM PDT by ShadowAce
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To: rdb3; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; Salo; JosephW; Only1choice____Freedom; amigatec; stylin_geek; ...

2 posted on 08/06/2012 8:16:43 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: ShadowAce

Linux is a very expensive operating system, once you add in all the hours you have to spend tweaking it.


3 posted on 08/06/2012 8:19:45 AM PDT by Zhang Fei (Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.)
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To: ShadowAce

Just. Use. Ubuntu. I installed Ubuntu 12.04 on my grandparents’ crappy laptop and it’s working like a charm.


4 posted on 08/06/2012 8:21:29 AM PDT by 14erClimb
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To: ShadowAce

After decades the Unix and Linux geeks dreams of havingt everyone love their fave - they have yet to figure out that gramma just wants to turn on the computer and see the email button light up that there are new photos of the grandkids there....

Until that happens Mickeysoft will continue to dominate and Linux will continue to be for geeks

Superior operating system or not, you just cant turn it on and go the way you can with a Windows machine


5 posted on 08/06/2012 8:23:19 AM PDT by Mr. K ("The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum [of good]")
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To: ShadowAce

I use Bodhi Linux ,Zorin and Xubuntu ,all easy to install and use and work great ,Distrowatch has dozens


6 posted on 08/06/2012 8:24:09 AM PDT by molson209
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To: 14erClimb
I son installed Ubuntu on his desktop several years ago.

I can't stand to use the thing.

Mostly due to unfamiliarity, I think.

7 posted on 08/06/2012 8:24:17 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: Zhang Fei

I’d rather spend the time than the cash. Personal preference.


8 posted on 08/06/2012 8:25:46 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: ShadowAce

I was using RedHat in the late 90s for a while.. Went away from the linux systems for a while. When my XP laptop HD died, I put Ubuntu on the new HD.

Today’s Ubuntu is light years ahead of what I was using before.

Couldn’t fer Adobe Flash to work, so went with the open source flash, it works great.

The only other major hitch was getting DVDs to play. Downloaded the needed 100 meg files, and all is good.


9 posted on 08/06/2012 8:25:53 AM PDT by wrench
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To: Zhang Fei

Oh please. Any decent admin with a few years under their belt will have kickstart or autoyast or preseed scripts that need but a few minutes of “tweaks” to get an OS ready to go. If you are installing via local, menu driven media and manually “tweaking” in today’s age, you’re doing it wrong.


10 posted on 08/06/2012 8:32:00 AM PDT by Michael Barnes (Obamaa+ Downgrade)
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To: Mr. K

>>gramma just wants to turn on the computer and see the email button light up that there are new photos of the grandkids there....<<

Actually, this is exactly how my Ubuntu system is working now. With the in-house Wi-Fi no need to even sign on to the internet, it is on 24/7, just hit refresh on the browser or check mail when it shows that there is new mail.

Microsoft is fine when it works, when it doesn’t, resources are thin for finding the problem. Linux has lots of online resources for problem solving.

Plus you do not have to re-boot under linux every time you move your mouse like you do under Windows.


11 posted on 08/06/2012 8:32:32 AM PDT by wrench
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To: Mr. K
"...they have yet to figure out that gramma just wants to turn on the computer and see the email button light up that there are new photos of the grandkids there...."

Oh, man, I just ride in 'em. I don't know what makes 'em work ...


12 posted on 08/06/2012 8:34:08 AM PDT by BlueLancer ("No friend ever served me, and no enemy ever wronged me, whom I have not repaid in full" (Sulla))
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To: molson209
Distrowatch has dozens

Therein lies part of the problem. If the geeks who develop these distros put aside some of their personal preferences and created three superior and gramma-friendly products, they'd be singing a different tune and have better "market-share". People other than them might bother using them and learning about them.

Before the Linux/Unix folks start on their rants about their superior product, here's my take: if you have to click on an .msi, .rar or other file extension (except .zip or .exe) to launch your product, it's not user-friendly.
13 posted on 08/06/2012 8:37:25 AM PDT by tenger (It's a good thing we don't get all the government we pay for. -Will Rogers)
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To: ShadowAce

“I have been a Linux ... user for a quite a number of years, actually, since I owned my first PC about four years ago.”


14 posted on 08/06/2012 8:39:27 AM PDT by Paine in the Neck (Socialism consumes everything)
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To: ShadowAce

My impression is that Android succeeds, in part, because hardware designers are obliged to accommodate it, rather than the other way around. I’m not sure this will ever be true for desktop Linux.


15 posted on 08/06/2012 8:43:50 AM PDT by rightwingcrazy
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To: tenger
If the geeks who develop these distros put aside some of their personal preferences and created three superior and gramma-friendly products, they'd be singing a different tune and have better "market-share".

You're missing the intent of the number of choices.

Sure there are hundreds of different distros out there, but most of them are special-purpose. ie DVR, database, gaming, etc.

There are much fewer GP distros--Fedora, Ubuntu, and Slackware--along with their derivatives.

Compare that choice to what MS gives us--Personal, Home, Business and Enterprise (or whatever they're naming them these days). All of those actually have the software on the disc--they're just not "turned on." With Linux, everything's turned on by default.

BTW--file extensions mean nothing in Linux. Literally.

16 posted on 08/06/2012 8:47:09 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: Mr. K
Linux is still primarily for hobbyists.

There are too many varieties and versions for it to be considered practical for ‘real’ computing.

I tried several ‘distros’ a few years ago. One would not recognize my wide-screen monitor. None would recognize my PCTV card. They had a few standard programs — browser, etc., not not enough programs for serious use.


17 posted on 08/06/2012 8:48:35 AM PDT by TomGuy
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To: ShadowAce
As a user who has both Windows and Kubuntu on the desktop I must say that, purely from a usability perspective, the best part of my day is when I hit the button on my KVM switch and shift to Kubuntu.

Most modern Linux distros provide a more sophisticated and nuanced working environment than Windows, which is exactly what I want. I'm sure other folks are perfectly happy with what Windows offers, and more power to 'em.

My next install with be the Linux Mint distro, with KDE as the user interface (as I understand that support for Kubuntu is about to disappear).

18 posted on 08/06/2012 8:49:12 AM PDT by The Duke
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To: Paine in the Neck

I met Linux online in 1991. I’ve made a lot of money off of Linux over the years.


19 posted on 08/06/2012 8:54:06 AM PDT by isthisnickcool (Sharia? No thanks!)
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To: TomGuy
What do you consider to be "real" computing?
20 posted on 08/06/2012 8:55:10 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: Zhang Fei

[Linux is a very expensive operating system, once you add in all the hours you have to spend tweaking it.]

My Fedora web server has been running for three years with little intervention, I use it as my backup desktop. I’ve saved many $1000s going to LAMP and Java. Tweaking hours are nothing compared to what I spend cleaning up windows.


21 posted on 08/06/2012 9:00:20 AM PDT by DaxtonBrown (http://www.futurnamics.com/reid.php)
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To: ShadowAce
As long as consumer computers come with Windows installed, Linux will never have a prayer of competing with it on consumer PCs.

You've already paid for Windows. Why replace it?

22 posted on 08/06/2012 9:08:30 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Government is the religion of the collectivists.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
You've already paid for Windows.

No, I haven't. I make sure to buy my computers from places that will sell me one without an OS and will not charge me for Windows.

Why replace it?

So I can actually accomplish what I need to accomplish without the OS getting in the way.

23 posted on 08/06/2012 9:11:25 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: ShadowAce

That’s basically the issue. Casual users want something that’s going to work right out of the box, not something they’re going to have to tweak with until they get it just right.


24 posted on 08/06/2012 9:12:44 AM PDT by Random_User_250
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To: Random_User_250

I know—they want an appliance, like a game console, when in reality they are getting a complex tool that really requires training to use properly, even if it isn’t used to its full potential (which it rarely is).


25 posted on 08/06/2012 9:15:20 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: ShadowAce

I was referring to most consumers, not you. No offense.


26 posted on 08/06/2012 9:22:23 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Government is the religion of the collectivists.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Oops. Sorry. I shouldn’t have jumped on you.


27 posted on 08/06/2012 9:31:20 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: ShadowAce

Here’s a personal example of why I’m probably done with Linux. I put Ubuntu 12.04 on a friend’s computer because his brand new HDD quit working. A brand new HDD that I had just put in. It’s a Gateway all-in-one type machine. The computer is built into the 23” monitor and the HDD is not easy to replace. I suspect the problem is with the SATA controller on the motherboard. I have it working with Ubuntu 12.04 off a flash drive. Internet and email is his only use for the compute so as long as the flash drive holds out he’s good to go. I put Ubuntu on my Toshiba 17” Core I7 laptop at the same time. It installed ok and looks pretty and all but I can’t go online with it. It says it has a WiFi connection to my router in the living room but when I launch a browser, any browser, it never connects to anything. Everything looks fine it just doesn’t connect. I’m sure with enough digging I could find the problem but I don’t want to have to do that digging. And while I might be able to do it less technical people may not get it even with effort. I just removed it entirely and am not likely to ever try it again without extremely pressing need.


28 posted on 08/06/2012 9:34:40 AM PDT by MtBaldy (If Obama is the answer, it must have been a really stupid question)
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To: DaxtonBrown
... Tweaking hours are nothing compared to what I spend cleaning up windows.

I recollect an entire weekend, starting Friday evening fixing a security update for XP. And ... The only reason I was able to fix it was that I am conversant with DOS.
29 posted on 08/06/2012 9:42:17 AM PDT by khelus
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To: All; ShadowAce
Usability and open source software do not go hand-and-hand. Try injecting some usability knowledge and you'll be rebuffed by a mind-think that equates simple with simpleton or simplistic rather than empowering. Complicated helps them feel secure and expert. It's sad really but it's also taught in the university classroom as "job security."

The writer neglects to note Android isn't Android. There are a myriad of versions, many handsets cannot be upgraded and cell phone carriers or handset makers offer their own "experience" which can differ from default Android.

30 posted on 08/06/2012 9:53:27 AM PDT by newzjunkey
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To: ShadowAce

Linux distros are plagued by fragmentation of components. Developers have no guarantee that an application written on distro “A” will work on distro “B”. Each distro may have different “best in class” components to handle different functionality (network management, audio, graphics, etc.). While you can usually get an application to run it is often a hassle for the user.

IMO typical Linux distros represent user-space “anarchy” where nothing is very standard, this is why Android is succeeding. The user-space stack is well defined (by a controlling entity - Google) and provides what developers and users like to see. Developers like the defined platform and tools, users like the consistent experience. These are things that Linux distros just don’t do well.


31 posted on 08/06/2012 9:57:58 AM PDT by fuzzylogic (welfare state = sharing consequences of poor moral choices among everybody)
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To: ShadowAce

Seems every one of these “when will Linux be ready for the desktop?” assumes that “we” want market share. I want something that works the way I want it to. I don’t care if it doesn’t work the way windows users are used to.


32 posted on 08/06/2012 10:04:52 AM PDT by Darth Reardon (No offense to drunken sailors)
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To: Mr. K

“After decades the Unix and Linux geeks dreams of havingt everyone love their fave - they have yet to figure out that gramma just wants to turn on the computer and see the email button light up that there are new photos of the grandkids there....”

gramma? Many people just want to use their PC for work without any drama.


33 posted on 08/06/2012 10:05:56 AM PDT by ari-freedom
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To: wrench
"Plus you do not have to re-boot under linux every time you move your mouse like you do under Windows."

Now that is just silly.

Look, I write software for a living- I KNOW Linux is superior operating system, unlike Microsoft bloated crapware... But it is like buying a car or TV- do you want the whole car or TV or do you want a kit to assemble it?

34 posted on 08/06/2012 10:10:52 AM PDT by Mr. K ("The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum [of good]")
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To: ShadowAce
Having geeked around with a Gentoo Linux years back, and installing and tweaking that distro for speed (basically compiling it from scratch), I felt real good about myself and my geek cred. But I knew this was way too much for 99% of the users out there.

Finally Ubuntu came out, and it was amazingly simple. I installed it on some obscure old laptop without a hitch and was amazed. I thought surely THIS was the distro to take off (and/or one of its many forks).

Linux is still languishing, and truth be told, I am using Win 7 right now and it does all I need, so why change?

As for the cost of Windows over Linux, I can tell you that anyone remotely geeky enough for Linux can get windows for no charge.....

35 posted on 08/06/2012 10:26:14 AM PDT by Paradox (I want Obama defeated. Period.)
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To: ShadowAce
All through I have been using Fedora Linux , and it has not been an easy ride all along.

I find it remarkable that the poster is calling Linux hard to use because he has chosen to use one of the more cutting-edge distributions.

Fedora is supposed to be hard to use; the Fedora Project, unlike most distributions, has a large community of system developers who are more than willing to subject the Fedora user community to all sorts of untested experiments.

If this person would like to criticize a user-friendly distribution for such shenanigans, I would think that to be a more fair criticism. But if he chooses to subject himself to Fedora, then I don't think he should blame all of the Linux community for Fedora's predilections.

36 posted on 08/06/2012 11:26:18 AM PDT by snowsislander (Please, America, no more dog-eating Kenyan cokeheads in the Oval Office.)
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To: ShadowAce

I copied this from a link in the ComputerWorld article just in case anyone might be wondering why the average user isn’t adopting Linux on the desktop:

Major Linux Problems
or Why Linux is not (yet) Ready for the Desktop,
2012 edition

Preface:

In this document we only discuss main Linux problems and deficiencies while everyone should keep in mind that there are areas where Linux has excelled other OSes (excellent package management, usually excellent stability, no widely circulating viruses/malware, complete system reinstallation is not required, free as a beer).

This is not a Windows vs. Linux comparison however sometimes I make comparisons to Windows or MacOS as the point of reference (after all their market penetration is in an order of magnitude higher).

Probably you’ve heard many times that Android thus Linux is conquering the entire world by occupying the most of smart phones (which are indeed little specialized computers but not desktops). However there’s one important thing to remember - Android is not Linux. Android contains the only Linux component - the kernel. So this document is not about Android, it’s about Linux distros and Open Source Software included by these distros.

Attention:

Greenish items are either partially resolved, or not crucial, or they have workarounds.

This list desperately needs to be reorganized because some of the problems mentioned here are crucial and some are not. There’s a great chance that you as a user won’t ever encounter any of them (if you have the right hardware, never mess with your system and use the software from your distro exclusively).

Desktop Linux problems and major shortcomings:

(For those who hate reading long texts, there’s a TL;DR version below). So Linux sucks because ...

Hardware support:
Video accelerators/acceleration (also see the X system section).
! NVIDIA Optimus technology and ATI dynamic GPU switching are not officially supported on Linux, and they aren’t even remotely usable with the implemented hacks to support them. At most you can switch GPUs using BIOS settings or change an active GPU on boot before running the graphical subsystem. Optimus issue is now semi-solved by Linux hackers (but still it’s not supported out of the box by any Linux distro).
! NVIDIA and AMD graphics proprietary drivers don’t work reliably for many people (crashes, unsupported new kernel and X server, slow downs, extreme temperatures, a very loud fan, etc.).
! No high quality open source NVIDIA and AMD drivers: 0, 1, 2, 3 (NVIDIA drivers are reverse engineered and provide only incomplete and slow 3D support, open source AMD drivers have quite poor 3D performance, newer AMD GPUs are often unsupported, like the current HD6XXX GPUs).
Proprietary NVIDIA/AMD graphics drivers don’t support KMS/VirtualFB and lag in features implementation (proper and full Randr support, full 2D acceleration, support for new X.org and kernel releases, etc.)
The complete OpenGL stack cannot be legally implemented in/imported into Linux because many OpenGL features (like S3TC texture compression and floating point textures) are patented.
No unified API for H.264 AVC/Microsoft VC acceleration. VDPAU is only supported on NVIDIA GPUs. Intel’s VAAPI is still immature and it’s not yet merged and accepted (by mplayer/ffmpeg/xine/etc.) AMD doesn’t yet have a working implementation.
Audio subsystem:
No reliable sound system, no reliable unified software audio mixing (implemented in all modern OSes except Linux), many old or/and proprietary applications still open audio output exclusively causing major user problems and headache.
Too many layers of abstraction lead to the situation when the user cannot determine why his audio doesn’t work (ALSA kernel drivers -> ALSA library ( -> dmix ) -> PulseAudio server -> Application).
(Applies only to certain sound cards, e.g. Creative Audigy series) Insanely difficult to set up volume levels, audio recording and in some situations even audio output. Highly confusing, not self-explanatory audio channels names/settings.
(Almost resolved in 2012) By default many distros do not set volume levels properly (no audio output/no sound recording). Linux primary audio subsystem ALSA also “forgets” to set sane defaults upon initializing audio drivers.
(Linux devs don’t care about backwards compatibility - OSS is mostly unsupported nowadays, OSSv4 is no longer being developed. ALSA FTW - like it or not) Changing the default sound card for all applications (i.e. for old applications using OSS or ALSA directly) if you have more than one of them is a major PITA.
Printers, scanners and other more or less peripheral devices:
! There are still many printers which are not supported at all or only barely supported (amongst them are Lexmark and Canon).
Many printers features are only implemented in Windows drivers.
! Some models of scanners and (web-)cameras are still inadequately supported (again many features from Windows drivers are missing) or not supported at all.
Incomplete or unstable drivers for some hardware. Problems setting up some hardware (like sound cards or TV tuners/Web Cameras/Wi-Fi cards).
Laptops/notebooks special buttons and features often don’t work (e.g. Fn + F1-F12 combination or special power saving modes).
! An insane number of regressions in the Linux kernel, when with every new kernel release some hardware can stop working inexplicably. I have personally reported two serious audio playback regressions, which have been consequently resolved, however most users don’t know how to file bugs, how to bisect regressions, how to identify faulty components.
! Incomplete or missing support for many power saving features modern laptops employ (like e.g. PCIe ASPM, proper video decoding acceleration, deep power saving states, etc.) thus under Linux you won’t get the same battery life as under Windows or MacOS and you laptop will run a lot hotter. Jupiter.
Software support:
X system:
X.org is largely outdated, unsuitable and even insecure for modern PCs and applications.
No high level, stable and standardized API for developing GUI applications (like core Win32 API - most Windows 95 applications still run fine in Windows 8 - that’s 17 years of binary compatibility). Both GTK and Qt (incompatible GTK versions 1, 2, 3 and incompatible Qt versions 2, 3, 4, 5 just for the last decade) don’t strive to be backwards compatible.
! No true safe-mode for X.org server. Misconfiguration and broken drivers can leave you with a non-functional system, where sometimes you cannot access text virtual consoles to rectify the situation.
! Keyboard shortcuts handling for people using local keyboard layouts is broken (this bug is now 8 years old).
! X.org doesn’t automatically switch between desktop resolutions if you have a full screen application with a custom resolution running. But since Linux is not a gaming platform and no one is interested in Linux as a gaming platform this problem importance is debatable. Valve is going to release Steam for Linux and they are now porting their games for Linux - but that’s a drop in the bucket.
! Scrolling in various applications causes artifacts.
! X.org allows applications to exclusively grab keyboard and mouse input. If such applications misbehave you are left with a system you cannot manage, you cannot even switch to text terminals.
Under some circumstances GUI becomes slow and unresponsive (video drivers performance, video drivers breakage (thus using software accelerated VESA drivers), notorious bug 12309 - it’s ostensibly fixed but some people still experience it)
! Adobe Flash player has numerous problems under Linux (badly supported/unsupported video acceleration, video tearing, crashes, frames dropping at 100% CPU usage even on high end systems). In 2012 Adobe announced that Adobe Flash player wouldn’t be supported any longer for any browsers other than Google Chrome.
! X.org server currently has no means of permanently storing and restoring settings changed by the user (xrender settings, Xv settings, etc). NVIDIA and ATI proprietary drivers both employ custom utilities for this purpose.
There’s no way to replace/upgrade/downgrade X.org graphics drivers on the fly (simply put - to restart X server retaining a user session and running applications).
KMS exclusively grabs video output and disallows VESA graphics modes (thus it’s impossible to switch different versions of graphics drivers on the fly).
Font rendering (which is implemented via high level GUI libraries) issues:
Quite often default fonts look ugly, due to missing good (catered to the LCD screen - subpixel RGB full hinting) default fontconfig settings.
Fonts antialiasing is very difficult to implement properly when not using GTK/Qt libraries (Opera had been struggling with fonts antialiasing for a year before they made it work correctly, Google Chrome has had fonts rendering broken for the last eight (!) months already and the issue is still not resolved).
(Getting better but we’re not yet there) By default most distros come without good or even Windows compatible fonts.
Fonts antialiasing settings cannot be applied on-the-fly under many DE.
By default most distros disable good fonts antialiasing due to patents - more or less resolved in 2012 (however even in 2012 there are still distros which forget/refuse to enable SPR in freetype2).
Problems stemming from the vast number of Linux distributions:
! No unified configuration system for computer settings, devices and system services. E.g. distro A sets up networking using these utilities, outputting certain settings residing in certain file system locations, distro B sets up everything differently. This drives most users mad.
! No unified installer/package manager/universal package format across all distros. Consider RPM (which has several incompatible versions, yeah), deb, portage, tar.gz, sources, etc. It adds to cost of software development.
! Distros’ repositories do not contain all available open source software (libraries conflicts don’t even allow that luxury). The user should never be bothered with using ./configure && make && make install (besides it’s insecure and can break things in a major way). It should be possible to install any software by downloading a package and double clicking it (yes, like in Windows, but probably prompting for a user/administrator password).
! Applications development is a major PITA. Different distros can use a) different libraries versions b) different compiler flags c) different compilers. This leads to a number of problems raised to the third power. Packaging all dependent libraries is not a solution, because in this case your application may depend on older versions of libraries which contain serious remotely exploitable vulnerabilities.
! Two most popular open source desktops, KDE and Gnome, can configure only few settings by themselves thus each distro creates its own bicycle (applications/utilities) for configuring a boot loader/firewall/network/users and groups/services/etc.
Linux is a hell for ISP/ISV support personnel. Within the organization you can force a single distro on anyone, but it cannot be accomplished when your clients have the freedom to choose.
! It should be possible to configure almost everything via GUI which is still not a case for too many situations and operations.
! No polish and universally followed conventions. Different applications may have totally different shortcuts for the same actions, UI elements may be placed and look differently, etc. E.g. KDE’s start menu can become a bloody mess.
Problems stemming from low linux popularity and open source nature:
! Few software titles, inability to run familiar Windows software (some applications which don’t work in Wine have zero Linux equivalents).
! No equivalent of some hardcore Windows software like ArchiCAD/3ds Max/Adobe Premier/Adobe Photoshop/Corel Draw/DVD authoring applications/etc. Home and enterprise users just won’t bother installing Linux until they can get their work done.
! Very few games, and no AAA games for the past five years. Cedega (now dead) and Wine offer very incomplete support (besides open source AMD and NVIDIA GPU drivers don’t offer enough performance and compatibility, and stuck on OpenGL 3.0 - 2012, trailing the specification for 5,5 years already).
Questionable patents and legality status. USA Linux users cannot play many popular audio and video formats until they purchase appropriate codecs.
General Linux problems:
!! There’s no guarantee whatsoever that your system will (re)boot successfully after GRUB (bootloader) or kernel updates. (Also see compatibility issues below).
! Fixed applications versions during a distro life-cycle. Say, you use DistroX v10.10 which comes with certain software. Before DistroX 11.10 gets released some applications get updated, get new exciting features but you cannot officially install, nor use them.
No native or/and simple solutions for really simple file sharing in the local network.
Glibc by design “leaks” memory. Firefox for Linux now uses its own memory allocator. KDE Konsole application uses its own memory allocation routines.
! Just (Gnome) not enough (KDE) manpower (X.org) - three major Open Source projects are seriously understaffed.
! Linux/open source developers are usually not interested in fixing bugs if they cannot easily reproduce them. This problem plagues virtually all Open Source projects.
! A galore of software bugs across all applications. Just look into KDE or Gnome bugzilla’s - some bugs are now ten years old with over several dozens of duplicates and no one is working on them. KDE/Gnome/etc developers are busy adding new features and breaking old APIs, fixing bugs is of course a tedious and difficult chore.
! Steep learning curve (even in 2012 sometimes you need to run CLI and complete some non trivial tasks).
! Poor or almost missing regression testing in Linux kernel (and, alas, in other Open Source software too) leading to a situation when new kernels may become totally unusable for some hardware configurations (software suspend doesn’t work, crashes, unable to boot, networking problems, video tearing, etc.)
! Network management in Linux is a bloody mess. Consider yourself lucky if NetworkManager works reliably for you. In too many cases NM won’t see your existing eth0 connection, nor it’ll be able to detect it, even this connection has never been configured before. NM cannot change your NIC hardware parameters, even the most basic ones like MAC address - MAC address can be changed now, in 2012. You cannot establish PPPoE connections over WiFi. (To be resolved in 2012 in most recent NM releases) In Windows and MacOS you can have IP address/mask/default gateway assigned using DHCP and a custom DNS server(s) - NM does not support this configuration.
Poor interoperability between the kernel and user space applications. E.g. many kernel features get a decent userspace support years after introduction.
! Linux security/permissions management is a bloody mess: PAM, SeLinux, Udev, HAL (replaced with udisk/upower/libudev), PolicyKit, ConsoleKit and usual Unix permission (/etc/passwd, /etc/group) all have their separate incompatible permissions management systems spread all over the file system. Quite often people cannot use their digital devices unless they switch to a super user.
No application level firewall (to clarify this point - there’s no way to block or allow certain applications to access the Internet, e.g. /usr/bin/firefox) - SeLinux doesn’t solve this problem because SeLinux policies by default don’t apply to normal user applications and SeLinux is not a firewall solution - it can control networking but you cannot tune firewall policies with it.
No (easy to use) application level sandbox (like e.g. SandBoxie) - Fedora is working hard on it.
Observed general slowness: just compare load times between e.g. OpenOffice and Microsoft Office. If you don’t like this example, try running OpenOffice in Windows and in Linux. In the latter case it will be much slower.
! CLI (command line interface) errors for user applications. All GUI applications should have a visible errors representation.
! Very poor documentation and absence of good manuals/help system.
Questionable services for Desktop installations (Fedora, Suse, Mandriva, Ubuntu).
! A very bad backwards and forward compatibility.
! Due to unstable and constantly changing kernel APIs/ABIs Linux is a hell for companies which cannot push their drivers upstream into the kernel for various reasons like their closedness (NVIDIA, ATI, Broadcom, etc.), or inability to control development or co-develop (VirtualBox/Oracle, VMWare/Workstation, etc.), or licensing issues (4Front Technologies/OSS).
Old applications rarely work in new Linux distros (glibc incompatibilities (double-free errors, memory corruption, etc.), missing libraries, wrong/new libraries versions). Abandoned Linux GUI software generally doesn’t work in newer Linux distros. Most well written GUI applications for Windows 95 will work in Windows 7 (15 years of compatibility on binary level).
New applications linked only against lib C will refuse to work in old distros. (Even though they are 100% source compatible with old distros).
New libraries versions bugs, regressions and incompatibilities.
Distro upgrade can render your system unusable (kernel might not boot, some features may stop working).
There’s a myth that backwards compatibility is a non-issue in Linux because all the software has sources. However a lot of software just cannot be compiled on newer Linux distros due to 1) outdated no longer available libraries and dependencies 2) every GCC release becoming much stricter about C/C++ syntax 3) Users just won’t bother compiling old software because they don’t know how to ‘compile’, nor they should know how to do that.
DE developers (KDE/Gnome) routinely cardinally change UI elements, configuration, behaviour, etc.
Open Source developers usually don’t care about applications behaviour beyond their own usage scenarios. I.e. coreutils developers for no good reasons have broken head/tails functionality which is used by the Loki installer.
Random ramblings: 1) KDE: troubleshooting kded4 Bugs. 2) A big discussion on Slashdot as to why people still prefer Windows over Linux. 3) Another big discussion on Slashdot as to why Linux still lacks. 4) Any KDE plasmoid can freeze the entire KDE desktop. 5) Why Desktop Linux Hasn’t Taken Off - Slashdot. 6) Torvalds Slams NVIDIA’s Linux Support - Slashdot. 7) Are Open-Source Desktops Losing Competitiveness? - Slashdot (A general consensus - No). 8) Broadcom WiFi adapters under linux is a PITA. 9) A Gnome developer laments the state of Gnome 3 development.
(Being slowly resolved: google for gold linker) Slow (libraries) linker. Braindead slow linker. Intolerably slow linker. Win32 OpenOffice being run from Wine starts in a less time than native Linux OpenOffice. Microsoft Office 2003 starts from Wine in a matter of few seconds even on 1GHz CPUs with a slow HDD. Still gold’en linker is not universally used.
(Being resolved: systemd) No parallel boot of system services. No delayed loading of system services.
(Being resolved: systemd) Huge shutdown time.
Software development under Linux
! Stable API nonsense: you cannot develop kernel drivers out of the kernel tree, because they will soon become incompatible with mainline. That’s the sole reason why RHEL and other LTS distros are so popular in enterprise.
Games development: no complete multimedia framework. Flaky OpenGL support. In 2012 open source GPU drivers support only OpenGL 3.0 (DirectX 11 level graphics require features implemented in OpenGL 4.0, DX10 - OpenGL 3.2).
A lot of points mentioned above apply to this category, they won’t be reiterated.
Enterprise level Linux problems:
Most distros don’t allow you to easily set up a server with e.g. such a configuration: Samba, SMTP/POP3, Apache HTTP Auth and FTP where all users are virtual. LDAP is a PITA. Authentication against MySQL/any other DB is also a PITA.
! No software policies.
! No standard way of software deployment.
Unix permissions systems is absolutely outdated and unsuitable for the modern world. Posix ACL system is quite often disabled by default and not transparent. Also ACL is very tough to configure without GUI but there are no DE level implementations/no standard console utilities for graphical/pseudo-graphical ACL editing.
! No CIFS/AD level replacement/equivalent (SAMBA doesn’t count for many reasons): 1) Centralized and easily manageable user directory. 2) Simple file sharing. 3) Simple (LAN) computers discovery and browsing.


37 posted on 08/06/2012 11:49:09 AM PDT by catnipman (Cat Nipman: Vote Republican in 2012 and only be called racist one more time!)
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To: Zhang Fei

You must not be using some of the newer Distros


38 posted on 08/06/2012 12:48:45 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?)
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To: Zhang Fei
Linux is a very expensive operating system, once you add in all the hours you have to spend tweaking it.

Really? How much time do you spend tweaking your Linux system?

Compare to the amount of time you deal with anti-virus scanners, malware and other issues with any windows computers you might have, including annual reloads of the OS and applications.

39 posted on 08/06/2012 12:49:42 PM PDT by zeugma (Those of us who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.)
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To: TomGuy
Aw....come on Tom....the distros are really making it easy.

And what is your serious business?

Linux is the one for serious internet browsing....

Just keep Windows off of the World Wide Web....it is antiquated.

40 posted on 08/06/2012 12:57:37 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?)
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To: Darth Reardon
Seems every one of these “when will Linux be ready for the desktop?” assumes that “we” want market share. I want something that works the way I want it to. I don’t care if it doesn’t work the way windows users are used to.

The only reason I'd like to see Linux market share increase, is that it would make the internet a lot better place, with less spam-bots and zombies out there trying to either fill up your email box, or attack your network, so it can spread. Otherwise, like you, I don't really give a damn what other people use, or the number who use Linux. I try to move people away from the evil empire when I can, but if they don't want to, they get no sympathy or support from me for their choices.

41 posted on 08/06/2012 1:00:29 PM PDT by zeugma (Those of us who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.)
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To: ShadowAce

To the posters who say that Linux “just works” and that as the years go by that this is even more true with each passing year - I say “you’re right”.

To the posters who say that “Linux sucks because I couldn’t get blah to work” - I would say “From your point of view - you’re also right”.

I put myself in the first camp. To those in the second camp - you’re missing out - but that’s fine - doesn’t bother me none.

Obviously for those that use it and love it - sure there is a bit of tweaking involved.

For those that tried it and gave up on it - there was probably something fairly simple that you could have done to get things working.

These two points of view are likely never going to meet in the middle - which is why these threads will always exist.


42 posted on 08/06/2012 2:44:54 PM PDT by 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
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To: 14erClimb
Just. Use. Ubuntu. I installed Ubuntu 12.04 on my grandparents’ crappy laptop and it’s working like a charm.

I especially like the new Unity desktop UI. It allows me to launch apps the same way I do on the Mac: by just typing a few characters of the name. Unity still doesn't work as well as Spotlight, but it's a giant step in the right direction.

Start menus are an abomination. Docks are eye candy, suitable for reviving hidden windows, but not much else. On the Mac, I keep my Dock hidden past the right edge of the external monitor.

43 posted on 08/06/2012 2:59:37 PM PDT by cynwoody
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To: ShadowAce

The command line can be a pain, but Linux users are very friendly and helpful in the forums.

I got a command that allowed me to install a printer driver, the USB printing works like a charm. Getting it to work wireless is taking some thought.

but I am getting there with Ubuntu Linux, I am not afraid to try like I would have been with Windows


44 posted on 09/11/2012 9:23:47 PM PDT by GeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)
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To: zeugma
How much time do you spend tweaking your Linux system?

A fair point. These days, not much at all. Now, that didn't used to be true, as anyone who has to watch their kernel compiling after a minor tweak can attest.

Just installed Mint 13 and I have to say that from a pure user perspective, it's arrived. I showed it to a certain computer-naive user (sorry, Mom) and she picked up on the UI right away. A lot of stuff I used to say about usability - and it was perfectly deserved - appears to have been addressed.

Yeah, I love the CLI, always have. Model T mechanics used to love the buggy-whip socket (sob!)... ;-)

45 posted on 09/11/2012 9:33:19 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Billthedrill
A fair point. These days, not much at all. Now, that didn't used to be true, as anyone who has to watch their kernel compiling after a minor tweak can attest.

Yeah, it was a bummer. I haven't compiled a kernel in freaking ages though. The biggest problem I hve is keeping VMware workstation running. If you're running VMWare, don't upgrade your kernel until you know there is a patch for it ahead of time. I've been bitten by that beast so many times it drives me crazy.

Just installed Mint 13 and I have to say that from a pure user perspective, it's arrived. I showed it to a certain computer-naive user (sorry, Mom) and she picked up on the UI right away. A lot of stuff I used to say about usability - and it was perfectly deserved - appears to have been addressed.

That's good to hear. I've had similar luck with folks who aren't nerds. I have a guy that I set up on Fedora 12, and once he got used to it, he likes the fact that it just runs. i talked to him about upgrading to Fedora 16, and he just looked at me and asked "why?". I gotta admit, if it's working, why bother? I stay on the bleeding edge to stay sharp. Someday I'll just say "to heck with it", and run Mint or a similar low-maintennance distro, and just run it til it drops.

Yeah, I love the CLI, always have. Model T mechanics used to love the buggy-whip socket (sob!)... ;-)

LOL. I can relate. I live on a command line, because it is the nature of my job. Someday though, I'll probably cease to care.

46 posted on 09/12/2012 8:24:28 AM PDT by zeugma (Those of us who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.)
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