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-   -   Make Linux easier for the general population! Please. (

Paul Parr 04-10-2003 10:14 AM

Make Linux easier for the general population! Please.
Why are things that should be so simple, so complicated on Linux...its times like this I find myself praing Window XP for its user friendlyness and no brainer installs.

I know the hard core Unix/Linux users want to keep it complicated to protect it, and keep ther skills in demand but its never going to make it mainstream and overtake M$ marketshare if it does not become a scaled back OS for dummies. Which all us newbies are. We have been brainwashed into the windows way of things that it makes converting to Linux very hard at times...

Don't get me wrong I think Linux has the potential to over take Windows, its does everything they can, I think its far more flexible, powerful, secure, the list goes on an on...but there has to be an easy starter linux for newbies with all the full blown power user options...I have wanted to migratate to Linux several times over the last few years...and I found my self always giving up and going back to the enemy, M$ Windows.

But I also find myself continually going back to test the Linux waters in hopes that this time it will meet my expectations as a Windows user. One thing is for sure because of the complex nature of Linux it painstakenly forces you to learn the thing in depth. Which I really don't care to become a Linux engineer, just a happy enduser. I don't want to spends hours everyday trying to solve problems or figure out complicated setup routines. I just want to install it, and use it. I want to spend my time enjoying the system, and being productive with my time. If I wanted to Learn how to become a Linux Engineer I would take a Red Hat certification coarse.

Maybe if one of the leading distributions adopted a interviewing style setup and configuring method it would really boost Linux past Windows and into the majoring or homes. (You know the way some of the Income tax service companies (ie. Quicktax) help you do your taxes on line for example, think about it if they can make doing takes a breeze then it can make using Linux a breeze too, just have to OS ask the user logical questions that branch out like surveys do.)

Make Linux easier by reinventing the way we interact with it.

**Together we can make a difference**

tcaptain 04-10-2003 10:41 AM

Listen, I don't know what you've tried, but my SO who isn't a geek when it comes to PCs has made the switch. The Mandrake 9.1 install is soooo smooth anyone can try it.

I know some people have had technical problems now and again (myself included) but for the most part, these can be fixed (and lets not kid ourselves...I've had just as much problems and more installing ANY windows version...)

The fact is, for the average user who doesn't have to install linux, linux is just as easy to use as windows. I prove this time and again when either my parents or my inlaws come visit and surf the net using KDE or Gnome without any problems. They click around, they play games...easy.

Now installing linux is a bit more difficult, but not as hard as it used to be, especially if you use Mandrake, which goes out of its way to make it easy.

That being said, linux will never be THAT easy because it requires something from you...some thought, some effort (not that much) and a willingness to learn.

You said it yourself up above "I find myself praising XP for its user friendliness and NOBRAINER installs" ...You are being trained to NOT use your head. So break free, use it! Gain control. Use your head a bit (that's all anyone ever asks) and gain the control over your system that Microsoft is taking away from you.

I have no problems making linux easy...I find many distros do exactly that. But it will never let you be a zombie like windows does.

Your interview style idea is very good IMHO...however, I don't think that linux is hard to install as it is.

bananaman 04-10-2003 10:45 AM

Don't like the options
I have been a computer professional for fifteen years, and I don't think I am a bad one - I have many very happy clients and have set up some sophisticated systems in my time.

However, I still find myself wasting days getting simple stuff to work on Linux sometimes. It drives me nuts. And I'm what you might call a "OSS zealot" - I really wouldn't use Microsoft products at all if I could. However, there are just too many things on linux that make life very complicated.

neenee 04-10-2003 10:57 AM

well said tcaptain. your post makes mine almost obsolete,
so i have removed all the bits which are in yours already.

but here's my personal opinion.

if someone wants to try linux for the first time, i will
first point them to a distro such as knoppix, which they
can try without making changes to their current setup.
then, if they like it, and are aware of the patience needed
to switch to a new os and learn new things, i will point
them to the distrowatch site, and have them check out
the major distributions, explaining that there are special
windows-like distros for those who want an easy switch
without much change, like xandros, lindows and lycoris,
and if they want to go a bit deeper, i will advise mandrake,
redhat and suse.

if people want unix with the options of windows, i suggest
they use windows 2000 or xp, since it is built on modified
unix architecture.

all new things require time getting used to. if you really
want to use linux as a new user, be patient, keep an open
mind and be sure to have some time to allocate to it.

as for linux and the need to beat windows; linux does not
need to beat it at all in my opinion. it should just be there,
for those who want to use it. let windows keep it's quirks
and perks. and let us have linux the way we like it; with
us in the drivers' seat, happily rolling along at our own
pace, instead of the car having no steering wheel.

where do you want to go today?

i want to go nowhere. and if i do, i will do it in my own time
and when i am ready. just give me the steering wheel and
the keys. and i'll let *you* know where i will be going.

(i can't seem to get that end-rant straight, but i'll leave it)

infamous41md 04-10-2003 11:05 AM

i think there is something all of you are missing. there is a certain, ummmm, balance u could say i guess. There is a tradeoff between ease of use and power/functionality. The greater the level of abstraction from the real nuts and bolts of a computer, the poorer it will perform. Instead of asking, why is Linux so hard, perhaps ask yourself, why do you want to learn Linux? Is it b/c Windows "sucks," or is it b/c you have a burning interest concerning what makes a computer really work? If ur answer was the first one....well, um, go buy a Mac!

tcaptain 04-10-2003 11:06 AM


Originally posted by neenee

where do you want to go today?

i want to go nowhere. and if i do, i will do it in my own time
and when i am ready. just give me the steering wheel and
the keys. and i'll let *you* know where i will be going.

Heehee, this reminds me of a great .sig I saw:

Linux: Telling Microsoft where to go today since 1991


tcaptain 04-10-2003 11:13 AM


Originally posted by infamous41md
Instead of asking, why is Linux so hard, perhaps ask yourself, why do you want to learn Linux?
I think you hit on a good point here...and a problem we see day in and day out when someone tries to use linux.

They DON'T want to learn. They want to be treated like 4 year olds because that's how they are conditionned!

Now I'm not saying that's you Paul...far from had a good idea for a style of install...but I'm seeing this a LOT, whiners who b*tch because they DON'T.WANT.TO.THINK. waaah! waah! When I use windows, it does all this for me! Waah wahh! I have to read a 2 page 'man page' WAAAH! Linux is HARD!

Or my favorite:

"Just TELL me, I don't have time to use google!!!"


Me, I'd be happy if everyone used linux...that's fine by me because the fun thing about linux is that you can put all sorts of tools on top of it that make it neat, shiny and easy....and it doesn't take anything away from me.

BUT, I'd be a whole LOT happier if some of these users would get off their duffs, turn off "Survivor" or whatever pablum is being force-fed today and actually fired up some neurons.

They don't have to be smart, or even proficient...they just have to TRY...I'll help! Gladly! As long as my answers aren't requested (and sometimes DEMANDED) because those people can't be bothered to think.

Paul Parr 04-10-2003 11:15 AM

Thanks for your comment Guys

Your absolutely right as far as an enduser goes just sitting down and crusing the net or running existing programs its as easy as windows, as long as someone who knows what their doing has installed and set it up properly. Thats the pinch.

I should have clarified that my gripe is primarily on the side of Installation and Setup, compared with M$ Windows XP for example. For me the Linux distros I have tried are still overly complicated when it comes to things that should be simple. Linux is how many years old now? Why keep it in the dark ages just to protect the interest of the experts. I have no problem learning, but after hours of getting nowhere with somethings one has to just give up at some point after hitting your head against the wall repeatidly. I say give the users what they want. Have dumbed down version for us newbies, a middle of the road version for the experienced users, and an overly complicated one for the Pros. (This could even be in one singe distro asked during the Interview Install, the very first question at boot up.)

BTW - Thanks for acknowledging my Interview style Install and Setup idea.


Thank You, you have outlined my same feelings exactly. I too have 15 years of computer experience, mainly with M$ products, and I don't have the huge amounts of time to spend trying to learn to do things the same things on Linux that I can do on Windows XP in a fraction of the time. Sure you can run into problems on any system, but the question is how often and how many bumps in the road must you hit before you get to where you want to go and get on with your life. regardless of if we are talking about Home use or in a Business enviroment (Even more importantly in a business enviroment) Time is money, you need to get things working fast and easy. At home, I would rather spend time with my family then 8 hours with Linux trying to figure out whats wrong, why its not working for me.

Even performance wise my Windows XP system are lightning fast compared to Redhat 8. I can reboot and be back in the despktop in seconds, where Redhat taken several painful minutes to get there....My Windows XP runs circles around it.
(I just wish that some bias people in the linux community would try to refrain from Flaming Windows and its users and stick to the facts.) Yes Windows is easier for the novice, and yes it is faster, and yes it supports the most popular hardware and software. They last thing I want to do is get into a headbutting debate over which is better in general, because you ask 100 different people and you'll get 100 different opinions, because they all have different experiences and needs.

bananaman 04-10-2003 11:16 AM


You say, "linux is just as easy to use as windows."

You really are kidding yourself if you think that.

The main problem with Linux is installing application and configuring them. Even installing things that should be relatively simple can waste hours of time.

And with respect to Linux being somehow "better" because you have to use your head, I would rather use my head just programming the applications that my clients need, rather that spending hours working out trivial configuration issues and dependancies.

I'm not bashing Linux. I think it's great. But if you think it doesn't need improving when it comes to ease of use, you've got your head in the sand.

dai 04-10-2003 11:17 AM

When I started using Linux (May 2002) I didnt have a clue but I thought Id give it a try.

I started with Red Hat 7.2 I installed easily (nice simple gui install).

I however didnt even know how to mount a Floppy disk :) but
I thought well Id "Use Gnome to sort the problem" how wrong was I. Once I worked out how to mount the drives etc... things got a lot easier. Soon after I went over to Slack 8.1 and wouldnt go back to RedHat, or any other distro because I like the way Slack works.

From May 2002 Knowing very little to now (still knowing little:)) Ive become confident in using the O/S so much so Im doing my MSc Dissertation using Apache 2.0 (Still learning) PHP (still learning), MySQL (Still learning), OpenSSL (definitely Still learning) and Slack 8.1 in order to produce a Secure E-Commerce website.

All of this within a year of tinkering and fiddling.

Linux is more powerful than Windows because it uses the Command line to do the simple things and thus allows you more flexibility.

Linux isnt difficult to install or use The secret to it is you have to sit down work out what you want to do and do it (then when things go wrong post here to get help :)).

For every day operations yes Linux offers a lot of functionality of Windows but it seems people are just scared of the command line and/or used to Windows only software such as Photoshop, MS Office etc...

tcaptain 04-10-2003 11:42 AM


Originally posted by bananaman

You say, "linux is just as easy to use as windows."

You really are kidding yourself if you think that.

The main problem with Linux is installing application and configuring them. Even installing things that should be relatively simple can waste hours of time.

I'm not kidding myself, for *ME* Linux *IS* easier to use than windows. I've used windows forever, I still have to use Win2K at work.

For developping at work, I find that until I installed Cygwin...I just was wasting time in windows.

For docs, I use OpenOffice...and yeah, it ain't perfect (If you compare it to the latest wizzzbang MS Office) but for what I need, basic memos, charts, works fine and no one knows I'm using anything different.

Now...I never said Linux didn't need improving. It does. A lot. However, it really isn't as bad as you say...unless you just don't want to think.

Yeah, there are some things that just need a lot of praying and working and reading to get to work...for me it was DVD playback on my machine...but you know, Windows has some things that don't work right out of the box and you have to dig and tinker to get to work TOO! If you're saying Windows is always easy and flawless, You, sir are the one kidding yourself. Also, you're kidding yourself if you say that Windows installs are just soooo easy. Win2K included. The only easy install we've had here was by restoring a disk image :D. If you compare a linux install (and I'd suggest Mandrake, or RedHat...because SOME installs *are* harder than others like Debian or gentoo) with a Windows install, you'd see they are about the same when it comes to complexity and bugginess (they both have quirks).

To me, its like working in Vi instead of in first, MAN it was tough and it didn't make sense, but once I figured it out and practiced....WOW...what a difference!

I don't want to start a war on who crashes the most...both Win2K and Linux are rock stable in my opinion, but in MY experience, my uptime is a lot better in linux than any windows machine I work with...and its the same experience with our network guys when it comes to the very few linux installs we have at work.


The main problem with Linux is installing application and configuring them. Even installing things that should be relatively simple can waste hours of time.
HOURS? Man, what have you been trying? Unless you're including compile time on large apps or something. I mean sometimes there's RPM-dependency-hell, but speaking of improvements above, this is one area that's gotten a LOT better with URPMI or if you want, Apt-get (both awesome)...or even portage. Compiling from source is hit or miss, sometimes its easy sometimes its hard...but you know what? The toughest installs I've had are the installs where I didn't read the README docs FIRST!

busbarn 04-10-2003 11:53 AM

I don't understand why people get so upset about lnux being terribly difficult. I have no education in computers. Ipicked up a copy of suse 7.3 from bestbuy just over a year ago. I had just gotten a new computer so I had an extra to toy around with. It took a couple of installs with the manuals glued open but I figured it out. From there, it was smooth sailing...learning wise. I've tried many different install and noticed the different ways distros deal with stuff. Mandrake is close to the interview style of things...but it's pretty close to being "no brainer." Red Hat is also very simple. Slackware is easy if you know what you are doing...and if you don't, it's a great way to learn! Gentoo isn't just point and click but the documentation is so excellent that if you can follow directions, it's simple.

I don't think some regular joe is going to switch from xp to linux just because. If someone likes to tinker with stuff and learn about computers, the switch will happen. If someone is always hearing about this great linux thing, and has somebody to walk them through...okay rescue them when something goes wacky...then they might switch also.

I think it's great that there are "simple" distros like mandrake. I also really enjoy the "tinkering" distros like gentoo and slackware. No distro is "brainless," all you have to do is follow directions.

infamous41md 04-10-2003 11:54 AM


Originally posted by tcaptain
The toughest installs I've had are the installs where I didn't read the README docs FIRST!
exactly! comprehending Linux means reading! i have 1000 page book, RH8 LInux Bible. there are so many dogeared and highlighted pages it looks like its years old, but guess what? i bought RH8 3 weeks ago! if u think u can learn linux just by using it, u are crazy! at the least u need some online resource if not a book or two. LINUX IS NOT POINT AND CLICK! I'm gonna make my own distro, it'll be called: LIW = Linux Isn't Windows (oh yeah recursion im so 1337). It's read and type! And as far as not being as fast as Windows, yes perhaps on the GUI side u r correct, BUT: try and backup ur hard disk on windows, and then do it on Linux! my newby ass was able to write a simple script consisting of only a dozen lines, and my hard drive can be backed up weekly without me even being at the terminal! that is the power of Linux, automating system tasks! let me see u do that in Windows! well actually, yes i could do that, i could sit down in MSVC++ and in about 12 hours (straight) i could write a program that automatically backs up my drive...lets' compare the work there...

tcaptain 04-10-2003 11:57 AM


Originally posted by busbarn

I don't think some regular joe is going to switch from xp to linux just because. If someone likes to tinker with stuff and learn about computers, the switch will happen.

I have to confess, that one thing that drew me to linux is that I can tinker a LOT more than in Windows and make things just right (for me).

(It was the ethical nose-dive Microsoft took that kept me with linux tho hehe).

I admit to enjoying tinkering with my personal system, even if it isn't broken.

Paul Parr 04-10-2003 11:59 AM


If Windows is like a Car without a Steering wheel then Linux is like a car that requires a 10 page manual for starting the Ignition, using the Turn signal, and stepping on the gas or break.

Would you want to drive a car that took 8hrs to learn how to drive just to make a 15 minute trip?

I couldn't resist... :)

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