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Hi. I'm a Unix Administrator, mathematics enthusiast, and amateur philosopher. This is where I rant about that which upsets me, laugh about that which amuses me, and jabber about that which holds my interest most: Unix.
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Pull your head out of your....

Posted 09-03-2011 at 11:03 AM by rocket357
Updated 09-03-2011 at 11:11 AM by rocket357

There are times in life when it becomes necessary to say unpleasant things. Things you know people will disagree with, not because of a logical flaw in your argument, but rather because of an emotional attachment they have to the subject. Today is such a day.

Linux is failing on the desktop. I've heard it for years now (*years*...not months, not weeks, not days...*years*) about how Linux is going to take over on the desktop and we'll all live in GPL-enforced software "freedom". Ugh. Give me a break.

Here's a clue: Typical computer users do not care if they're running Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, Solaris, etc... as long as they can do whatever it is they set out to do on their computer. Lots of computer users play games, so they automatically default to Windows. Can you play $latest_MMO on Linux under wine? Probably...until an update comes out. And even if $latest_MMO works on Linux in emulation...what about $latest_MMO++? What about any other conceivable game out there? Wait...you want Joe User to have to *research* how to install the game he just spent $50 on? Pfft. Please. Joe User wants to run an automated installer and get to kicking someone's a$$ in a reasonable amount of time. This doesn't affect just Linux...it affects Mac OS X as well...any non-Windows platform, honestly.

And what of non-gamer computer users? They typically want to surf the web, read their email, etc... Linux can definitely do that, right? Have you been paying attention to what people are saying about systemd, pulseaudio, gnome 3, and Linux package management in general lately? Updates on Linux? You don't have to go far...look through *this blog* (not me, I'm biased...look at what other bloggers here are saying). The general consensus even among Linux users is that updates are dicey at best. I can't tell you how many times I've had to fix my daughter's Ubuntu install not because of some hacker or virus or worm or what have you...because of the system updater! What the hell? If it's going to be this much trouble, **why not run Windows?!?** But rocket! Security is *better* in Linux.

Ok, Mac and Linux don't suffer from virus problems like Windows...but have you researched security on Mac and Linux? Mac vulnerabilities read like "Problem: system hijack exploit for $some_wireless_driver. How to reproduce: Turn computer on." Linux vulnerabilities aren't much better. Really? Viruses are the only security threat out there now? That's good to know!

What is upsetting about this is that Linux *used* to work. Back before everyone got rabid about assimilating the Windows userbase, at least. (Ok, better hardware support. I get it...but Linux isn't ready (and is getting steadily worse), and all that's happening is people are trying Linux and going "wow, wtf? This sucks").

Look, Linux is cool because it's free (as in beer). But it's not the savior of computing. Not on the typical computer user's desktop, at least.
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  1. Old Comment
    you are right, linux in general has been a pain in the butt lately, ubuntu 11.04 is buggier than ever. my distro of choice was fedora, with the new fedora 15 release gnome3 , it has been a dissapointment, weird errors after updates, some errors didnt even let me login at all. i've been distro hopping to find one that is stable and reasonably modern, but i couldnt find one,
    so i've settle on windows 7. this year is a terrible year for linux.
    Posted 09-03-2011 at 02:08 PM by molossus molossus is offline
  2. Old Comment
    OK, I think I've spotted one part of the 'problem'. The only distros that have been mentioned by name in either the blog post or the comments are Ubuntu and Fedora. Ubuntu 11.04 is not an LTS release and is therefore in a lot of people's estimation pretty much a bleeding edge distro that is going to inevitably suffer the occasional update breakage. Similarly, any Fedora release is bleeding edge Red Hat... It's a matter of opinion, sure, but neither distro is what you might call stable! What 'Linux' needs is a stable distro aimed at general users. In my opinion/experience, that's Mepis. I'm sure there are others that are similar.
    Posted 09-04-2011 at 12:38 AM by rich_c rich_c is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Linux getting worse? Or people complaining and doing nothing to help? Honestly, I keep seeing it getting better. Never have serious problems with Slackware 13.37 and I've been reasonably happy with Fedora 15 in both gnome-shell and fallback modes. Both are quite nice. The only problem with gnome 3.0 right now is the massive changes to the libraries and braking old programs because they haven't been ported to gtk3.
    Posted 09-04-2011 at 01:13 AM by lumak lumak is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lumak View Comment
    Linux getting worse? Or people complaining and doing nothing to help? Honestly, I keep seeing it getting better. Never have serious problems with Slackware 13.37 and I've been reasonably happy with Fedora 15 in both gnome-shell and fallback modes. Both are quite nice. The only problem with gnome 3.0 right now is the massive changes to the libraries and braking old programs because they haven't been ported to gtk3.
    it is getting worse if compared before unity and gnome 3.
    i've used slackware 13.37, but for some reason firefox crashes whenever it tries to load the java plugin to play applets or just testing in the main java page to test if the plugin works, also netbeans, it wouldnt recognize i had the java jdk installed, note the jdk was installed straight from the dvd , the tgz package.
    with fedora 15(my favorite distro) i had a weird bug after updating, whenever i tried to login, this error came out: "On no! Something has gone
    wrong. A problem has occured and the system can't recover. Please log out and
    try again." , i had a perfect setup on my fedora box and this crappy bug ruined. also after virtualbox was installed suspend didnt work anymore, kernel panic, i had to manually shut down the laptop

    to me linux has taken several steps back compared to windows 7, linux was > than windows before this new changes took place. i hope they fix most of those issues with the kernel 3.x series
    Posted 09-04-2011 at 01:32 AM by molossus molossus is offline
  5. Old Comment
    To clarify, I have no "modern" experience with Mepis (I tried it years ago, around the time I tried SuSE). So I can't comment on Mepis, but I'll say that when a newcomer asks "What distro should I try?" the answer is inevitably "Ubuntu or Fedora". Those two distros are the "front lines" for Linux PR, and lately they've been much worse in terms of bugginess and stability than they have in the past.

    Should seasoned Linux users be giving different advice, or should Ubuntu and Fedora aim for more stability (instead of "OMG Look I have Firefox 17 before anyone else!")?

    And my main gripe here is against "user-friendly" Linux distros (that I've used...obviously I'm not talking about Mepis as I have no experience with it recently). Slackware, Gentoo, and LFS can produce very stable builds/installs...but they're hardly "newbie-friendly", either.
    Posted 09-04-2011 at 12:00 PM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline
    Updated 09-04-2011 at 12:03 PM by rocket357
  6. Old Comment
    For a newbie friendly distro, since '09 I started using Mandriva 2009 and didn't have any issues, that I can remember, even upgrading to 2010.2. It does have some fine tuning after initial install, as most distros, but after that no issues.

    I'm currently running Magiea 1, a fork of Mandriva, and so far no issues. I'm also running Linux Mint Debian Edition and it's running great also, but it runs Debian Testing version which needs constant updates to keep stable.

    For someone with an older computer and not real technical, I would install Debian stable on the machine, to me, less hassle to keep updated.

    As others mention, Ubuntu & Fedora are bleeding edge type of distros and one can expect breakage along the way of using them.

    On another thought about Windows, using the same machine, installed Win XP my ethernet usb gadget worked out the box. Using Vista, it didn't, using Win 7, it worked out the box...now I'm not sure why but at least it got fixed with 7.

    Just a thought!
    Posted 09-05-2011 at 02:04 PM by FredGSanford FredGSanford is offline
    Updated 09-05-2011 at 02:08 PM by FredGSanford
  7. Old Comment
    Thanks for the comment, Fred. I suppose what I'm challenging here isn't "Linux on the desktop", but rather "Ubuntu/Fedora as the default for newbies". Really, two people have pointed out somewhat obscure distros (Mepis and Mandriva) that I've not tried in years (Stock Mint is based on Ubuntu, I've used it before, and it has the same issues that Ubuntu does. Can't say I've used LMDE, but being based on Debian Testing I can only imagine).

    So the question stands...why do we point newbies to Ubuntu and Fedora *knowing* that there are issues involved that newbies likely wouldn't get along with? Sounds to me like we should point newbies to stable distros that require less setup and let them choose when they're ready to be tossed "into the shark tank" of having to research how to fix various issues.

    Just my thoughts on the topic. Thanks to everyone who commented.
    Posted 09-05-2011 at 02:12 PM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline
    Updated 09-05-2011 at 02:14 PM by rocket357
  8. Old Comment
    I think most people are steered toward Ubuntu & Fedora through Distrowatch and word of mouth, which up until recently, were pretty stable.

    Now days some distros are making drastic changes, using new and different desktop environmens, such as Fedora using Gnome3 and Ubuntu using Unity. I haven't tried either so can't really comment on them.

    I've been using Linux since early 2000s but wouldn't say I'm a guru. I used to distro hop alot, though I always used either Debian & Slackware during my early years. The reason for me, those two worked when the so-called easy distros didn't at the time.

    I finally got tired of hopping and tinkering with distros and decided to go for the newbie friendly ones, thus how I chose Mandriva.

    I also decided to stick with the main distros, which at one point was always in the Distrowatch top 10 list until the past few years:

    Slackware
    Fedora/Redhat
    Debian
    Opensuse/Suse Linux
    Mandriva/Mandrake

    I'm a big Gnome2 user but I guess eventually alot more distros will switch to G3 as default as time goes on. Maybe someone will fork G2 and keep it around. I've also been using other desktop environments such as LXDE and Openbox.
    Posted 09-05-2011 at 02:28 PM by FredGSanford FredGSanford is offline
  9. Old Comment
    It's looking like we can draw a pretty important conclusion here. That being, the most popular distros are not the most noob friendly and stable. They might be initially nice to look at and install easily but they soon break.

    I notice Fred mentions openSUSE. I'd (From experience) add that to the list of stable distros. I'm running openSUSE LXDE respin on my test machine. It was a bit trickier to install and get running as I want it but it has proved to be stable!

    So, maybe we should start recommending the distros we use rather than the ones everyone else suggests are good beginner distros...
    Posted 09-06-2011 at 02:44 AM by rich_c rich_c is offline
  10. Old Comment
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rich_c View Comment
    It's looking like we can draw a pretty important conclusion here. That being, the most popular distros are not the most noob friendly and stable. They might be initially nice to look at and install easily but they soon break.
    Bingo. It seems to me that the momentum in the Linux community that Ubuntu and Fedora have built up have people continuing to suggest them to newbies even as the forums get flooded with "OMG HALP WITH UBUNTOO!!" threads. We have to stay on top of this and continue to recommend the very best user-friendly distros that we can. I don't care if Ubuntu is a "household name" now, if it doesn't cut it, it doesn't cut it.

    Granted, this is all a rant from an OpenBSD user. Take it with a grain of salt. I'd love to be able to tell newbies "Hey, test drive OpenBSD...it's so nice, you don't need a calculator to determine disk geometry anymore!", but I'd be kidding myself if I did that, and I'd be hurting the chances that my favorite OS gets taken seriously by that person in the future.

    That's sort of what I see happening in the Linux community, only on a much larger scale. People are test driving Ubuntu and going "Wow...this is AWESOME!" Then one update later they're reinstalling Windows and never looking back. It's counter-productive both in terms of the Linux community and in terms of that user's opinion of *nix.
    Posted 09-06-2011 at 09:03 AM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline
  11. Old Comment
    Noticed your post here…

    Quote:
    I'd love to be able to tell newbies "Hey, test drive OpenBSD...it's so nice, you don't need a calculator to determine disk geometry anymore!", but I'd be kidding myself if I did that, and I'd be hurting the chances that my favorite OS gets taken seriously by that person in the future.
    I feel much the same way about Arch. Actually, I don't even really recommend any Linux to anyone anymore (even if I actually had people to recommend Linux to). I like Linux because it's interesting; it keeps my brain working (), and it has a sort of "geek appeal" to it that Windows doesn't really have (i.e. it's "different", so it's "cool" ). I'm not evangelistic about it; I just use what I find interesting.

    My attitude used to be quite different, though: when I first started with Linux (Ubuntu), I was having a ridiculously hard time getting my USB wireless adapter going (the dongle has no native Linux kernel module {AFAIK}, have to use ndiswrapper…*sigh*), but I would get furious whenever it was suggested that I boot into Windows just to do some basic troubleshooting or get some little mundane thing out of the way that required internet access.

    Anymore, I just say "Hey, whatever gets your work done/floats your boat". I'm definitely going to put Windows 7 (or maybe 8? ) on my next desktop build, if I can ever get around to it (don't have money; gonna need money), because a) I do still game with Windows-only games now and again, and I don't trust Wine to that sort of thing (though admittedly most of those needs are fulfilled by little cross-platform casual-ish games anymore, LOL), and b) just for the practicalities: my main desktop is dual-booting Arch and Windows XP, and let's face it; XP is a ten-year-old operating system. In fact, I think MS is going to end official support for it soon…

    Anyways, time to wrap up another monster comment, LOL.
    Posted 09-07-2011 at 10:23 AM by MrCode MrCode is offline
  12. Old Comment
    Yeah, I agree on the Windows 7/8 comment, MrCode. I've been trying to decide if I want to get an x86 compatible netbook that I can dualboot with OpenBSD/Windows, or if I want to get a more exotic architecture (loongson, perhaps?) for OpenBSD alone. meh. I dunno. I have enough x86/x64 stuff laying around that it'd be nice to have a few alternate architectures available...

    The people in my household are what I'd call "typical computer users". My wife's biggest complaint about Linux is that she doesn't want to screw around with fixing games when an update rolls out and breaks WinE. During the timeframe when Vista was on her primary machine she showed the slightest bit of interest in Linux, but even so she didn't seriously consider switching her desktop to Linux. She's been wanting a new laptop strictly for surfing the web and such...perhaps that'd be a good dualboot so she can check Linux out more thoroughly...it'd also give me a chance to get a "user's impression" of Linux that's more accurate than my own impression of Linux.

    My kids use Linux primarily, but that's more to do with Windows 7 not running on the older hardware than real choice. As long as my daugther can play her flash games, she wouldn't care what it was running under the hood.
    Posted 09-07-2011 at 10:48 AM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline
 

  



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