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Old 08-15-2005, 11:07 PM   #1
opnickc
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A newbie's take on Linux


This isn't a Linux question, these are my opinions of Linux in general and a couple of specific distros from a newbie perspective.

First, I'm going to say my non-distro specific gripes.

KDE - I just don't like it. Not only does the GUI feel inefficient and uncomfortable, but it doesn't seem stable. Programs will take forever to load, and then just quit without starting. I never had any such problems with gnome. Which brings me to my next point.

You can't customize the menus in gnome. What's up with that? I'm more baffled by the fact that nobody made a menu customizer than inconvenienced by the lack of one.

Installing software. You know how everybody (who doesn't use Linux) thinks Linux is really hard to use? Well, this is about where a Linux newbie says "It really is hard". I can practically install windows software blindfolded. Installing Linux software, on the other hand, is quite a task to undertake.

Ok, I'm going to go into some distro specific stuff now.

Ubuntu
The was the first Linux distro I tried, and I liked it enough to really start to embrace Linux. The installer wasn't pretty, but was still user-friendly and easy to get through. After the installation completed, I was presented with a completely clean gnome desktop and a full working OS. I had no trouble surfing the web, playing (and ripping) a cd, or even viewing shared folders on my otherwise windows LAN. What was more impressive (though I didn't even realize it at the time) was the graphical package manager, which actually made it pretty easy to install software from the large database. Of course, it wasn't perfect. Like most free distros, it lacked proprietary file types like mp3 and DVD. And enabling DMA so that DVD movies could play smoothly was no easy feat for a Linux newbie. Plus, universe and multiverse in the repository were not enabled by default. Not a big deal, but I don't see any reason not to enable them. One last complaint - lack of a graphical 'control panel' so to speak.

Overall, a pretty good experience.

kubuntu
It's ubuntu only with KDE, so about 10x worse (I really don't like KDE for some reason).

SuSE 9.3
The big advantage to this distro has to be it's support of proprietary file types like mp3, as well as browser plug-ins to give you the complete multimedia experience without hunting down packages. I also like that it includes a full graphical 'control panel', YaST. Not to mention SuSE's graphical and user-friendly installation process. These things would make it great for a Linux newbie, but it's not perfect. Aside from defaulting to KDE (yes, I think that's a disadvantage), SuSE doesn't have ubuntu's easy to use package manager which makes it easy for a guy like me to install programs. I know that's because it's not a Debian based system, but I'm doing this from a newbie/non-Linux user perspective. and without an easy, graphical way to install software (Linspire's CNR is probably the best example, though I've never tried it), there's no way Linux will ever take over windows. I didn't have so much of a 'everything just working' experience that I had with ubuntu the first time SuSE started up. I had to fiddle with some stuff in YaST to get sound working, and even now I always get two application running (SuSE plugger or something) at startup which I have to close. On top of that, I can't seem to access shared folders from windows pc's over the network like I could with ubuntu. SuSE doesn't seem like "The best engineered Linux" to me.


So, IMO, Linux still has some work to do before it can really compete with M$. Here's what I think, from a newbie perspective, what a Linux Distro would need to do just that.

1. Customizable Gnome desktop (with customizable menus)
2. Built in control panel
3. Support for proprietary file types, including mp3, DVD
4. Automatically detect and configure DMA for DVD playback
5. Firefox browser plug-ins
6. Something like CNR, only free and maybe better
7. A good marketing budget
8. Agreement to have a large PC manufacturer offer your Linux distro to its customers as a cheaper alternative to windows.

The last two may still be a while off, but I think the rest a perfectly feasible for the Linux community. You may look at this post and think that I am just saying how Linux is nowhere near ready to really take over, but my impression is that it is VERY close.

So, that's it. Comments?
 
Old 08-15-2005, 11:33 PM   #2
DeusExLinux
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Quote:
1. Customizable Gnome desktop (with customizable menus)
2. Built in control panel
3. Support for proprietary file types, including mp3, DVD
4. Automatically detect and configure DMA for DVD playback
5. Firefox browser plug-ins
6. Something like CNR, only free and maybe better
7. A good marketing budget
8. Agreement to have a large PC manufacturer offer your Linux distro to its customers as a cheaper alternative to windows.
You can customize Gnome's desktop quite easily. There are some menus, but I do believe the menus are customizable through GNOME's text files (yes, not at all good for a newbie, but once you catch on, it's as easy as editing HTML.. )

Some DE's have built in control panels (GNOME has one, KDE has one, XFCE has one, hell even E has a basic one), but those are only for the DE settings. Because Linux is only a kernel, and the who distro is built on top of it, it's hard to have great tools like YaST standard in all distros.

Auto DMA support would be awesome, but can be fishy!

What firefox browser plugin couldn't you find? Quicktime? I know that works through crossover, and might work in wine (thought I'm not too sure about that last one)

You hit the CNR thing on the head with the Debian Repositories. Synaptic and KPkg are both great tools if you want a GUI to help you install programs, or you can just use the terminal/console to run apt-get manually (if you are running a Debian based system, other distros their tools... Arch has Pacman, gentoo has portage, slack has slapt-get..etc) But you are right, there is no uniformity between distros, which can be a killing factor.

Makreting budget, again is out of Linux scope, in my opinion. Certian distros, like mandriva and SuSE, and Xandros, do advertise. While their bugets don't rival Microsoft's, they are big for Linux. DO I think it would be wonderful if every distro could advertise like Microsoft, hell yeah, one of the big reasons I find people don't use Linux is they know NOTHING about it!!

I do know PC manufactures are offering Linspire as an alternitive to Windows, but as far as i know no major pc manufactor is, again, would be a wonderful help!! Hell, the GNU say you can install it, at no charge, and distrobute freely.
 
Old 08-15-2005, 11:34 PM   #3
aysiu
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Re: A newbie's take on Linux

Quote:
Originally posted by opnickc
So, that's it. Comments?
SMEG
Blag
XFCE
Synaptic Package Manager

Last edited by aysiu; 08-16-2005 at 12:02 AM.
 
Old 08-15-2005, 11:45 PM   #4
volvogga
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Hrrmm.... everyone is different. I personally can't stand the way Gnome operates, and will take KDE every time. Rejoice in that some of your gripes have solutions/answers, or some are coming.

3.
This is supposedly due to the technology being owned by a company, and Linux being free. If you hear about a distro being "politically correct", it is in reference to that they won't support some of these codecs and such "out of the box". But, none of the distros (as far as I know) prevent you from installing support for the codecs yourself. Its just a legal thing from what I have read.

5.
I have never had much of a problem with firefox plug-ins. Flash, Java (ok, that was a pain to install, but it installed flawlessly), and Mplayer plugin all are working for me. What more do you need?

6.
I have heard that there is supposedly some new package manager soon to be implemented that isn't supposed to care about your distribution (was it quickpackage, maybe?), and it should be really easy. I use yum and rpm to install a lot of my software, and after the learning curve (should be expected when OS's are switched.... hell, sometimes there is a learning curve just going from one software app version to the next one up) I found that to be easy enough.

Number 7 I don't think linux has the cash for (we need more rich Linux users, so donations can be made!), and 8 needs for more linux users I think. I thought that for a while Dell was offering FreeDOS, but last I checked I couldn't find it.

There is my comment. Your question answered.
 
Old 08-16-2005, 12:07 AM   #5
craigevil
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Desktop environment/window manager is a matter of personal taste. Personally I don't like KDE or Gnome.

SMEG will allow you to edit the Gnome menus. GUI control panels are a pain, plus you never know if you make the right choices. I like to be able to edit text files myself, they are automatically backed up so if you make a mistake you can always go back.

Multimedia on Ubuntu is simple just use the Add-on cd. It installs Flash, Java, RealPlayer, Mplayer+codecs. For anything else checkout the Howtos at www.ubuntuforums.org


Synaptic/Apt are great, using ALL of the Ubuntu repositories they give you access to over 16000 packages; all installable with a couple of clicks.

Firefox plugins are very simple to install. Most if not all are install automatically when you install the plugin via Synaptic.

Plugins (8)

* Helix DNA Plugin: RealPlayer G2 Plug-In Compatible
* QuickTime Plug-in 6.0, Windows Media Player Plugin are supported by mplayerplug-in
* DjVuLibre-3.5.14
* Shockwave Flash
* MozPlugger 1.7.1
* VLC multimedia plugin
* Adobe Reader 7.0
* Java(TM) Plug-in 1.4.2_06-b03


Welcome to the wondeful world of Linux.

Smart Package Manager

Last edited by craigevil; 08-16-2005 at 12:12 AM.
 
Old 08-16-2005, 01:53 AM   #6
tkedwards
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1. Customizable Gnome desktop (with customizable menus)
GNOME is already very customisable in general. But you're right about the menu editor - I think its going to be in the next version.

2. Built in control panel
This is up to each distro at the moment. Mandriva and Suse probably have the nicest and most fully featured. You could also look at webmin which provides a web-based control panel.

3. Support for proprietary file types, including mp3, DVD
It already does. You sometimes have to install extra packages (eg. for DVD playback) because they can't be included in the distro for legal reasons. This is not a big thing as you have to do the same for Windows - eg. Divx, real player, quicktime etc.

4. Automatically detect and configure DMA for DVD playback
Did so on my box - Mandriva 2005LE. Hardware detection is a rapidly improving area with Linux.

5. Firefox browser plug-ins
They work fine on all the Linux computers at my home and work.

6. Something like CNR, only free and maybe better
Suse, Mandriva and Ubuntu, among others, already have this. They have easy to use GUI installers and huge software repositories available. And yes its free.

7. A good marketing budget
Novell, Redhat etc. spend on marketing just like any other company. As they grow no doubt so will their marketing budget. There is no single product called 'Linux' (except for just the source code of the kernel itself) nor is there one single organisation or company behind Linux.

8. Agreement to have a large PC manufacturer offer your Linux distro to its customers as a cheaper alternative to windows.
Some already do - eg. Linspire has some agreements along these lines. The main problem is that in many countries Microsoft signs prejudicial agreements with most PC manufacturers that basically say that they can't sell computers pre-installed with Linux otherwise MS will not allow them to sell Windows or will sell Windows to them for a much higher price.
 
Old 08-16-2005, 04:20 AM   #7
harken
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Re: A newbie's take on Linux

Quote:
Originally posted by opnickc
This isn't a Linux question, these are my opinions of Linux in general and a couple of specific distros from a newbie perspective [...]
So, that's it. Comments?
How long have you been using Linux?
Have you thought of starting this thread in Forums->General instead of here since "This isn't a Linux question"? I guess it belongs there.
Thanks for telling us that Linux isn't good enough, isn't desktop ready, MS is better, blah, blah...we already knew that:
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...hreadid=334161
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...threadid=98023
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...threadid=73397
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...hreadid=344527
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...hreadid=350380
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...hreadid=116958
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...hreadid=206234

and there are more.
 
Old 08-16-2005, 06:40 AM   #8
PeterRJG
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Re: Re: A newbie's take on Linux

Quote:
Originally posted by harken

Thanks for telling us that Linux isn't good enough, isn't desktop ready, MS is better, blah, blah...we already knew that:
Who's we? The OP is not telling me that at all.

Very valid points either way.
 
Old 08-16-2005, 06:55 AM   #9
rollo
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Quote:
SuSE doesn't have ubuntu's easy to use package manager which makes it easy for a guy like me to install programs
You missed something here. SUSE's YaST is an incredibly powerful package manager. You just need to get the RPM sources installed properly (listed on a sticky here), then you're away. No command line, no switches to remember, it's all graphical and intuitive. With common programs I would say it's better than Windows - it's more transparent and the uninstall is cleaner. The only problem is when you get unavailable dependencies, but this doesn't happen to me very often and then it's just a question of hunting down the RPMs manually.

YaST is what has allowed me to stick with Linux. I agree that Firefox plugins can sometimes be an issue, but even here I have been saved by YaST: once I spent several hours going around in dependency circles trying to get mplayer-plugin installed manually before realising that it was in a YaST source. The plugin was installed in 30 seconds.
 
Old 08-16-2005, 08:34 AM   #10
harken
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Re: Re: Re: A newbie's take on Linux

Quote:
Originally posted by Johnnycab
Who's we? The OP is not telling me that at all.
Then how do you interpret this statement:
Quote:
Originally posted by opnickc
So, IMO, Linux still has some work to do before it can really compete with M$.

Last edited by harken; 08-16-2005 at 08:35 AM.
 
Old 08-16-2005, 08:49 AM   #11
sundialsvcs
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Well how about taking such comments at face value? Seriously. Some of the original points are simply expressions of "this is different from what I'm used to," but perhaps other ones genuinely do reflect areas of potential improvement in "the Linux user experience," particularly for a .

One thing that was not obviously fully-considered is the fact that Gnome and KDE are only two of half-a-dozen Window Manager / Desktop combinations that I can readily think of ... and there are more. You can select the one that you prefer. Of course, even that is unheard-of to Windows users, who have never had such a choice.

The issues of "installing software" are always tricky, and I do agree that Windows installers are often a good bit cuddlier and friendlier than "an RPM," but once again you can get installers like that for Linux. Commercial packages and distros are actually pretty darned good about that. Still there is no-doubt room for improvement.

Many Windows users also have a very different perspective on "installing things" ... they don't. They never do. They purchase the machine with Windows and a gaggle of other stuff already-installed on the machine and they never, ever change it. When you use Linux, these issues that you could avoid completely (thanks to the questionable talents of the red-shirted underpaid kid at the CompUSA store), can no longer be avoided. They're intense. They're intense for Windows, and they're intense for Linux. I find them to be about the same, starting the moment you step off the primrose-path of "use all defaults."

When you do switch from Windows to Linux ... or, as I recommend, buy a separate (perhaps older) computer and clean-install Linux on it while leaving Windows untouched on your main workhorse ... you are going to have a culture shock, and I think that most people seriously underestimate how intense it is and how long it lasts.
 
Old 08-16-2005, 08:56 AM   #12
aysiu
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Quote:
Originally posted by rollo
You missed something here. SUSE's YaST is an incredibly powerful package manager.
Quote:
The only problem is when you get unavailable dependencies, but this doesn't happen to me very often and then it's just a question of hunting down the RPMs manually.
I'm glad YaST works for you, but I've never had to manually hunt down .deb files to resolve dependencies using apt-get Synaptic. I think the original post-er has a point.
 
Old 08-16-2005, 08:58 AM   #13
aysiu
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Quote:
Originally posted by sundialsvcs
The issues of "installing software" are always tricky, and I do agree that Windows installers are often a good bit cuddlier and friendlier than "an RPM," but once again you can get installers like that for Linux. Commercial packages and distros are actually pretty darned good about that. Still there is no-doubt room for improvement.
Call me a Synaptic Package Manager crazy, but I don't think it's "always tricky." Sure, if I can't find something in the repositories, it can be tricky, but that's a rare occurence. The only room for improvement I can think of is non-repository apps being as easy to install as Opera.
 
Old 08-16-2005, 09:03 AM   #14
IsaacKuo
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If you want a more sensible package selection default, you could try out Debian instead of Ubuntu. Ubuntu/Kubuntu is unique among Debian based distributions in that they use their own non-standard software repositories instead of the standard Debian repositories.

With Debian Stable, your default software repositories will be much larger and unlike Ubuntu/Kubuntu they will be TESTED. There are reasons why Debian Stable is called Debian Stable and why it's so popular among servers and software developers.

The downside to Debian Stable is that you don't get the latest and greatest versions of software. Personally, I find it a small price to pay for a stable software base.

OTOH, Debian's default desktop is rather spartan. Maybe you'd prefer "Debian Pure" which is essentially a Debian installer that also puts in some more of the typical desktop applications. I haven't tried it, since I'm already used to a plain old Debian install and then adding in some extras myself.

Another possibility, if you like GUI tools, is Mepis. A Mepis install is essentially Debian Testing plus a BUNCH of extra applications and some Mepis specific GUI tools.
 
Old 08-16-2005, 10:27 AM   #15
PeterRJG
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Re: Re: Re: Re: A newbie's take on Linux

Quote:
Originally posted by harken
Then how do you interpret this statement:
Who is "we" though? Do you speak for everyone on this forum? Obviously not, as nobody else seems to be sharing your sentiment.

You definitely don't share mine, which makes your "we" neither here nor there.
 
  


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