Skip to comments.Tech Gurus Still Don't "Get" Linux
Posted on 04/09/2014 7:48:00 AM PDT by ShadowAce
Its been my experience that, despite any progress, Ubuntu and distros like it have made in gaining new users, those in the tech media continue to get it wrong. In this article, Ill examine how the tech media continues to spread misinformation about Linux on the desktop, why it happens and what we as users can do about it.
Years ago, merely installing and configuring Linux for the desktop could be extremely difficult. And while recent technologies such as UEFI have added some extra hurdles for distribution developers, the end user is able to install Linux relatively easily nowadays.
Realizing this, one must ask themselves -- why are so many tech writers claiming Linux is too difficult for the average user? The first stop in this view is that you need a geek to install a distribution like Ubuntu. Heres a reality check -- most people dont install their own operating system. And yet every time I read an article about how hard" Linux is to use, this is the first complaint on the authors list.
Whats actually happening is that many folks are trying to install Linux onto systems in a dual-boot environment. This alone adds a new challenge when dealing with the bootloader, as Windows doesnt always cooperate as it should.
Another challenge Windows users face when trying to install Linux is that some components arent supported that well under Linux. Technologies such as certain wireless chips and GPU switching are still touchy on the Linux desktop. So when a Windows user discovers these challenges on a new Linux installation, they immediately assume it must be Linux that is at fault. In reality, this couldnt be farther from the truth.
Linux has far greater desktop hardware compatibility than most people realize. But the problem many people run into is trying to install Linux onto a computer with a "Made for Windows" sticker on it.
Under most circumstances, installing Linux onto a Windows based PC shouldnt be too eventful. But there are times where certain components arent as Linux compatible as others. What might surprise most people is that this isnt a Linux shortcoming, rather, this is a limitation of what the individual PC was built for -- Windows.
Since most hardware works out of the box, I think Linux newbies tend to take hardware incompatibility for granted. See, when installing Windows you can always download a missing driver easily enough. With Linux, usually youre relying on the distribution to handle the hardware compatibility. So if something isnt working, youre generally left trying to find a work-a-round.
When a technology writer review's a Linux distribution, they have the belief that their PCs hardware should work out of the box, no excuses. Unfortunately with some notebook hardware, sound or video can be flaky...the same with wireless networking. As mentioned above, this is rare, but it happens. And its at this point, the writer will report back that a distro isnt compatible and therefore, isnt ready for the masses. They miss the point that if had they used a "Made for Linux" notebook (they do exist), their experience would be completely different.
Another common complaint I hear from technology writers is that there isnt any good software for Linux. Personally, I think this is a matter of perspective. While I would agree that there are some areas where legacy software titles are missing on Linux, there are some great applications available. Software like Skype, Firefox, LibreOffice and so on are all available for most Linux distributions. As a matter of fact, the software most people use is readily available on Linux.
Regardless, the absence of being able to use some Windows software titles (without WINE) seems to be enough to turn off tech gurus completely. Apparently lacking Adobe titles is enough to sour the experience for some folks. Now to be fair, yes, I agree that itd be nice to be able to render cool effects or edit photos using Adobe titles. I can even understand the benefits of relying on Microsoft Office in some instances. But the idea that the lack of this software makes using Linux intolerable seems a bit over the top.
With more applications becoming available as web based titles each day, I think the above issue will eventually resolve itself. In the meantime, Im generally satisfied with whats available for the Linux desktop with regard to software.
Now that weve addressed the areas that technology writers and gurus think Linux is failing, lets look at some solutions to address these issues.
Installation -- If at all possible, try out Linux on a machine designed to run it. Obviously this isnt always possible, but judging hardware compatibility by trying out a distro on incompatible hardware hardly seems fair. At the very least, consider researching hardware compatibility lists before jumping to conclusions.
Software -- Unless youre tied to specific legacy software for work purposes, there isnt really anything youre not able to do with the Linux desktop. Using tools like "AlternativeTo" can provide good open source software alternatives to most legacy software applications that keep one tied to a Windows mindset.
Will these solutions work for all those naysayers in the tech media? Probably not, because the real problem isnt Linux or a preference for other operating systems. The bigger issue comes down to drive-by reviews. These are reviews where someone creates the idea that they know what theyre talking about, when in fact they dont actually run Linux on the desktop, full time.
My suggestion to those who read or watch media where "drive-by reviews" take place is to call them out on these practices. Unless the review or opinion is given by someone who "lives and breathes" the Linux desktop, realize that you're only getting part of the story. Until we stop giving credit to people who dont even run Linux full time, nothing is going to change and FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) will continue to flourish.
On the flip side, I hope that those who pump out these drive-by reviews will look at my suggestions, reach out to companies who provide a Linux installed computer out of the box and actually take Linux on the desktop a whole lot more seriously. Until this happens, its going to be up to us to read Linux reviews with a heavily critical eye.
Will be going to Linux for my desktop..not going to pay Winblows for upgrade.
While it is different, Linux is no more difficult than any other OS.
** those in the tech media continue to get it wrong**
Mainly because those doing the writing are old farts that quit learning years ago.
Linux works as well or better than any windows distro to date, at a far less cost per seat.
For 99% of what laptop and desktop users do, Linux works better than anything from microsoft.
No, it is not the same, and a newbie may take a couple of weeks to get fully up to speed, but it is well worth going to school on the minor differences.
How is it anyone ever figured out Android phones or Ipads? They are nothing like windows, yet millions are sold and put into use every month.
I’m using Zorin OS 8 on this laptop and it installed like windows . Unlike windows ,when it updates it updates all software installed on this laptop , D’oh
How do yo like Zorin so far? I’ve heard some good things about it.
I have a question for anyone really knowledgeable on Linux...which distribution would you recommend for a Linux beginner? In my case, I have a system that I got in the early days of Vista, and it is barely capable of running Vista. I would like to switch to a leaner operating system that could actually work effectively with my limited hardware.
very Windows 7 like
There's also a list of LiveCD distros that may be able to help you make a decision--try out a LiveCD before you install a distro on your hard drive.
I'll disagree with that; it also depends on what you're purpose for using it is:
1 — Text is not a bad form for reading, but it is terrible for storage and computation of programs as it essentially surrenders all syntactic and semantic knowledge (which then have to be recomputed), and they can be accessed/modified by anyone/anything at any time, meaning that a perfectly compilable file may not be compilable in any subsequent compiling (and this is unknowable, again forcing the recalculation [compilation] previously mentioned).
You do need adequate physical memory for a happy experience. I have a 10 year old laptop running Ubuntu with 500 megs physical memory. It does fine normally, but would be better with twice the memory.
I am thinking of switching to Mint or Lubuntu because of the age of the hardware. I have had this system up and running for 2 years now.
That is why I chose that word.
** There’s also a list of LiveCD distros that may be able to help you make a decision—try out a LiveCD before you install a distro on your hard drive.**
These are self contained disc systems that will run linux without any change to or use of your hard drive. You just pop th disc in your disc drive and “boot from disc” and you are up and running.
It is slower than an installed version because cd/dvd reads are slow compared to HD reads.
One aspect of Linux I love over Windows is that the support community is not confined to TechNet or other Microsoft-supported entities. You can find Linux adherents all over the world who run their own little Wikis.
Yup—When I do need some assistance on whatever it is I’m working on, I find the answer in little/local/unofficial sites about half the time.
While windows is the dominant home computer brand, out in the data centers making up all the servers we all interact with when we go online are tons and tons of Linux computers. While I use windows for my home computer so I can play games, I would not want to be stuck with one to do any software programming (unless I were designing an application specifically for windows, which is not the kind of programming I do).
That is why I chose that word.
Except that its command-line / help really is more difficult. At the very basic end of things you can get to the help-system in VMS (or even DOS) with help — this is vastly easier than having to know/guess that the word you're looking for is manual, shortened to
The help-systems are also quite different, the old DOS help is much better than man simply due to being self-hyperlinked and allowing navigation (mouse or keyboard) to related articles.
In that sense I'm confident in saying that linux is more difficult to get started on than old MS-DOS.
This article ends up making a compelling case about why “tech writers” are absolutely correct as to why Linux is completely unsuitable for the average home PC user, 99.9% of whom don’t even know what a folder is, much less what UEFI or a driver is.
As I used to tell people "If it was any better I wouldn't give it to you, If it was any worse, you wouldn't drink it"