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Old 06-16-2005, 06:11 AM   #1
icehot
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Why linux is still not up to the job for desktop and home users.


Ok i've posted this message on a couple of other boards and got a response typical of people who think this thread is about hating linux and loving windows. I want to emphasize some points before you read this:

1. I love the open source idea, and would very much like linux to succeed, and be a viable alternative desktop operating system.

2. I REALLY want to be able to use linux and ditch windows.

3. I am posting this in the hopes that my experiences will help steer the linux community in a direction where they can see what problems users are having and possibly sort them out for future releases.

4. This is not a dig any kind of way at the kernel, the stability, or any distro's in particular, linux has improved leaps and bounds since I last used it, and can see that it still is.

5. From other articles I have read it is clear that linux is wanting to compete in the desktop/home user market against windows XP/longhorn. This I think is great, but this article following, is why I dont think it's there yet.

So please dont flame me for writing this, I am writing it with the best intentions at heart, in the hopes that one day I will be able to do away with Windows. Here it is:

I'm a fairly technical person, have a degree in computer science, work as a computer engineer, and have a background in C/C++ programming, network support, and IT support. The last time I tried linux was approximately 5 years ago, and it wasnt very good back then, however I could see the appeal to "hackers", back then however, trying to get the latest hardware to function was next to impossible, huge lack of drivers. So since 5 years have passed and have been using XP since it was released, I thought "Let's see how Linux is getting on? I keep seeing the odd article around the web about how it's ready or almost ready for the desktop - so, let's give it a go".

So after a couple days of research I picked a distribution, and no, i'm not going to name names, because overall I think it is a very good distribution, and the problems discussed in this article I believe to be irrelivant to who packaged it all up. Suffice to say it was one that had a LiveCD so I could test it out first.

Asside from that I picked a boot manager and a partition utility to allow me to dual boot and resize my windows partition.

So first things first, I pop the livecd in the drive, and it boots up almost to the point of starting Xwindows, however it just sits there doing nothing apparently on a black text screen whilst it says it's trying to probe my usb devices. Ok that's not a great first impression, waited about 30 minutes on that screen before rebooting it and unplugging my usb devices, that worked! So I was in, and apart from that problem, it did kinda work as you'd expect running off a CD, low res, but a few things worked like sound support etc.

The interface is nice now with KDE 3.4.1, so I was quite impressed with that. So decided to install and give it a proper try.

Installing is definately improved from an interface perspective, partitions, formats, detects where i'd want to install, however after that the installer wanted to format my swap partition, but again that didnt work, and just hung there, however this time, it caused linux to crash. Another reboot down the line, I turned off the format swap partition option, and it installed - YAY!

Rebooting, and it all seemed fine, went straight into KDE, no USB problem this time, so perhaps was just a livecd problem. Looking through the boot log, all my hardware looks like it was picked up during boot time - I'm impressed so far!

Now for an OS out of the box, it's great, things like openoffice is a very nice application, the other apps are good too, so you can see why maybe for someone who isn't going to play around much with it, it's all fine, you get a nice looking interface, and some office apps, a few games, and some other things which was all nice.

Now, say you're a bit more of an advanced (windows) user, and you'd like the latest drivers to make everything run as fast as possible, perhaps for gaming, multimedia, or other such things, this is where it's still falling down.

Firstly my onboard sound didnt work out of the box, fair enough I thought it rarely does in windows either. However this is where windows and linux still differ, far too much imho, whereas in windows you'd put in a CD, or go to the website and download sound drivers and just run them, they are good enough to find my hardware (which windows will put in one convenient location - aka device manager), and simply install, a reboot later, and it works - pretty much. Now I know in linux the advocates will say "you dont have to reboot", well I couldnt agree less!

I had no idea how to install the sound card on my linux box - I went to my motherboard home page, and of course, no sound drivers for linux - ok i thought, but then as you all know, linux uses 3rd party drivers for a lot of stuff, and after about 1 hour of searching the web, I found out that sound support is done thru a system called ALSA. Cool, so I ran alsaconf, it detected my sound card, and said it set it up correctly and that I can now play music etc.

Well that's complete rubbish, it detected my soundcard as I said, and installed some lines in modprobe.conf (whatever that is?) However after restarting the sound system in KDE it kept saying that my sound device doesnt exist. Well I'm pretty sure it does, I can see it through my transparent case, and it works in windows. So after 2 more hours of searching, I found that alsaconf messed up modprobe, and needed another line that someone in a forum gave me, after doing that - and yes rebooting, sound now works! Hrm difficult for a first time linux user? Yes, impossible for someone who's not a computer buff? Yes I'd say so.

But I was still happy at that point, sound was working, and in the process I did learn a little bit more about linux. Next time I'll know what to do, and wont take me as long.

So now I thought it's time to get some more of my hardware working - surprisingly my digital camera was painless to install, and could be installed through the kde gui interface.

My scanner caused some problems, but after an hour of poking around on the web, and finding there's some hacks with other drivers and some files from the windows drivers, you can get it to work, and it did. However again, hardware support was bad there, but at least the community could help me out, and get it working. This would not be an easy job though for a computer n00b.

Linux also had direct support it seemed for my webcams, as I found gnome meeting icons on the desktop with a connection to both my usb webcams - so went through setting them up, although that didnt work either, and I was left with a green webcam image. I must admit I was getting frustrated by this point, so left them for later, as I wanted more of a gaming machine at that point anyway, so moved on to graphics drivers, to get opengl working with hardware acceleration.

I have an ATI radeon X800 pro in my box, so I went to the ATI site, and proceeded to install it, the installer went through, detected I was running xorg, so installed the drivers for that. Great! I thought, finally something easy as ATI support my card properly. But when I got to the end, it said I had to run kgfrlxconf (or something to that name, i'm in windows now and cant remember the name of the file). Thought that was odd, in windows I just run the installer, reboot, and it works, full 3D, full gaming, full access to all features of my card.

But ok, this is linux, it will do things a bit differently, and I'm all for that, so I ran the configuration. There were several options in there which took me some thinking before I could answer the questions, but got through it - there is no way in hell that a computer n00b would have any clue about this, but I suppose a n00b doesnt really install new drivers, or do they? But anyway I got through it, although I was quite concerned as it kept going on about firegl cards and I dont have one of them! But ok, I figured it may just be reading from a text file and forgotten to include the radeon cards in there.

Gave the computer a reboot after this, and got back into KDE, although it had messed my trackball settings up and now my mouse wheel wasnt working, although luckily I knew how to fix that pretty quickly. Tried out opengl, but surprise surprise, the drivers werent installed properly, and I was running using software emulation which was VERY slow. So tried reinstalling, several times, to see if it's some options I got wrong, but no, never worked. Then I tried the xorg RPM installer from ATI, this also had the same effect. I then had to scour the web again to find a solution, couldnt find many solutions to this, found some thing about kernel sources and recompiling the AGP support or something, but that wasn't working correctly either, so all in all after 10 hours of trying to figure these drivers out - nothing! No open-gl.

Now some people might find this fun, and some of you might read this and think, the sort of person I am, ur surprised why i'm not enjoying this "hacking". Well if I wanted to have to recompile a kernel to get something as simple as AGP, and my graphics card working, or have to try and fiddle around with text files to get things configured correctly (in windows u never have to touch the registry or any ini files unless u want to, things still work) then I would have been on the kernel development team - but no, i'm not interested in that, I want my hardware to work, and work fast, I want my operating system to operate the computer correctly, and not require hours of frustration and work just to get simple things to work right. I want to do the things that I enjoy doing on computers, like gaming, or writing programs for the operating system, or internet use, or video editing etc.

By this time, I was in such a mood with it, that I wiped it, and went back to XP, and I was so happy to be back as well! Everything was working!

So that is my experience with linux, and although it has improved leaps and bounds since 5 years ago - it is still a pain. And not as easy as some articles might lead you to believe. Now will it ever be? I think so, looking at the improvements, and maybe by the time KDE4 is out, and another year down the line, it could well be competitive to longhorn - but is it competitive with XP now (for desktop use)? I'm afraid not.

I am aware as well that a lot of these problems are down to manufacturers supporting their hardware on linux, but as you can see the biggest problems I had were with ATI who do claim to support it. Also and my last point, although it can be fun, and should definately be an option to tweak your system by going into the shell and editing config files. It should not be a necessity for the home user.
 
Old 06-16-2005, 06:29 AM   #2
Marius2
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I believe what you really wanted to say is that it didn't work for you - for whatever reason - and that you have no idea whether linux is ready for the desktop or not.

Last edited by Marius2; 06-16-2005 at 06:31 AM.
 
Old 06-16-2005, 06:34 AM   #3
icehot
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Nope, as I've tried to say in the article, is that I am an above average home computer user, and that someone installing it out of the box to use on their home system with their latest hardware etc that it's not simple enough to get the installation of it all done, and working exactly how they'd want it to work - for the AVERAGE home user. I posted this in hopes that problems like these can be improved upon, so that it IS one day suitable for that market.

I have tried and tried to make this not sound like a linux bash (pun intended), but people just dont seem to see it that way, i'm trying to let the linux community know, that a home user has tried it, and had a lot of frustrating problems, in order that the home user can one day just get it to run, and do what they want with it.
 
Old 06-16-2005, 06:39 AM   #4
Bruce Hill
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You did right by sticking with Windoze. Since I"m an above average
computer user, and can install and configure in about 30 minutes, I
think you did right by staying away from Linux. After all, what would
you do without worms, virus, trojans, malware, BSOD, etc.

Last edited by Bruce Hill; 06-16-2005 at 06:41 AM.
 
Old 06-16-2005, 06:58 AM   #5
oneandoneis2
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I have three critiques to make:

- Most people couldn't successfully install Windows on their own either, they'd run into very similar problems if they didn't buy a PC which had an OS preinstalled. So that's not a valid critiscism

- Being unable to download drivers/instructions from the webasite of the manufacturer of your hardware isn't anything to do with Linux, it's the hardware manufacturer's fault.

- Linux is not intended as a Windows replacement
 
Old 06-16-2005, 07:02 AM   #6
helios17
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Well, I'll tell you what I think.

I am the founder of Lobby4Linux and a member of the PCLinuxOS Team. You want to know what I think of the article you produced?

I agree.

Gasp!!!

However, there is one point you and I see differently. Many of the problems you encountered, the "blame" can be put squarely upon the hardware manufacturers. Now as far as ATI, Richard *********, a middle management type within the driver development division told me flat out that ATI was highly aware of the problems with the Linux Drivers. In a running gunbattle via email that lasted over a month, his final attitude and stance was "be thankful for the little bit the driver support you do have."

Screw Richard *********

I really don't care if they ever open source the drivers, I just want them to work on the level that Nvidia drivers do. While PCLinuxOS is probably one of, if not THE best newbee distro's, it is badly hamstrung by driver issues at some levels. I run a three city, 3 office, 29 computer network with PCLinuxOS, and I made sure my hardware was compatable before I made the move. Every computer runs flawlessly, and with a minimum of tweaking and fuss. Yes, I bought hardware to insure PCLinuxOS would work for us. Not everyone has that luxury, or should they have to.

I believe it is the duty of every Linux "Soldier" to remember the hardware manufacturers that supported us in the early days. It is only a matter of time until they will be forced by money numbers to provide working and complete drivers. We need to stay with those who have helped us. Companies like Canon and Brother, while their driver support does exist, is minimal. How does that old saying go? "You dance with the one that brung ya?" HP and Samsung are definately on my dance card. It is my pure pleasure to send receipts totaling in the thousands of dollars to the marketing directors of companies such as ATI. Receipts for Nvidia hardware.

helios
 
Old 06-16-2005, 07:02 AM   #7
icehot
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Registered: Jun 2005
Distribution: PCLinuxOS
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Well if that's the case then, I will stop reading articles about how linux is getting ready for the desktop to compete with windows, i guess they've got that wrong. If it's still just meant as server software, then that's answered my question, cheers.
 
Old 06-16-2005, 07:03 AM   #8
Marius2
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Quote:
Originally posted by icehot
Nope, as I've tried to say in the article, is that I am an above average home computer user,
Everyone can say that.

Quote:
and that someone installing it out of the box to use on their home system with their latest hardware etc that it's not simple enough to get the installation of it all done, and working exactly how they'd want it to work - for the AVERAGE home user.
Strange. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of not even AVERAGE home users out there, for whom it worked out of the box - just read in this forum. Everyone started as a newbie under any system once. Doesn't the fact that you are the only user far and abroad claiming that linux is not ready for the desktop rise some doubts on your side as to the validity of your claim?
Well, it does on my side.
Before you ask: I'm a guru linux user, operating thetan level IV developer, guidance of the newbies, divine commander of the gcc and ... eh... adept of the cult of vi , so my expertise in such matters is lightyears above yours. Resistance is futile, you big bad AVERAGE home user troll, you.


Quote:

and had a lot of frustrating problems,
My deepest regrets. Really.
 
Old 06-16-2005, 07:16 AM   #9
icehot
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Registered: Jun 2005
Distribution: PCLinuxOS
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Re: Well, I'll tell you what I think.

Quote:
Originally posted by helios17
I am the founder of Lobby4Linux and a member of the PCLinuxOS Team. You want to know what I think of the article you produced?

I agree.

Gasp!!!

However, there is one point you and I see differently. Many of the problems you encountered, the "blame" can be put squarely upon the hardware manufacturers. Now as far as ATI, Richard *********, a middle management type within the driver development division told me flat out that ATI was highly aware of the problems with the Linux Drivers. In a running gunbattle via email that lasted over a month, his final attitude and stance was "be thankful for the little bit the driver support you do have."

Screw Richard *********

I really don't care if they ever open source the drivers, I just want them to work on the level that Nvidia drivers do. While PCLinuxOS is probably one of, if not THE best newbee distro's, it is badly hamstrung by driver issues at some levels. I run a three city, 3 office, 29 computer network with PCLinuxOS, and I made sure my hardware was compatable before I made the move. Every computer runs flawlessly, and with a minimum of tweaking and fuss. Yes, I bought hardware to insure PCLinuxOS would work for us. Not everyone has that luxury, or should they have to.

I believe it is the duty of every Linux "Soldier" to remember the hardware manufacturers that supported us in the early days. It is only a matter of time until they will be forced by money numbers to provide working and complete drivers. We need to stay with those who have helped us. Companies like Canon and Brother, while their driver support does exist, is minimal. How does that old saying go? "You dance with the one that brung ya?" HP and Samsung are definately on my dance card. It is my pure pleasure to send receipts totaling in the thousands of dollars to the marketing directors of companies such as ATI. Receipts for Nvidia hardware.

helios
Wow! Thanks for the decent reply, I was beginning to think everyone in the linux community hates n00bs, and hates anyone who has any down points to say about linux in the slightest! But no you've just restored my faith!

Yes you are probably right, it is just down to manufacturers, and like i said in the original post, the kernel is rock solid, KDE looks damn nice. And you're also right, that if I had the luxury of buying equipment for my system that has linux support then it would work a whole lot better - unfortunately i dont have the money to rebuild my system like that. And the ATI thing is gonna throw a lot of people off, before even deciding to give linux a try, I did actually first check out whether my graphics card is supported, and according to their website it is - so I guess that's the first mistake/assumption I made!

It is such a shame that it doesnt have this support, as I can really see potential, and as you could see from my posting, it was just a few bits of hardware that stopped me from migrating!
 
Old 06-16-2005, 07:21 AM   #10
icehot
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Marius2
[B]Everyone can say that.

Well yeah but I didnt just say that did I? I backed it up by providing my background - you might all think I know nothing just because I couldnt get linux to work correctly on my system. But then I dont know why i'm replying I don't exactly need to prove myself to anyone, this article was not about attacking people as you lot (aside from one courteous user seem to want to do). So as you said further down in your reply, if you cant see that I was trying to be polite, trying to be constructive and support linux, then you too have my deepest regrets.
 
Old 06-16-2005, 07:25 AM   #11
ethics
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On my first install of linux i had no clue what i was doing, but a bit of reading and trial and error and i was rocking, it sure went smoother and quicker than my windows 2000 installation. It wasn't ready out of the box, it was useable but there's alot of tweaking/customization to be done, but that's what i was looking for, something to challenge me and learn on.

I agree that the Linux distros i have tried (only a few) are not ready for the desktop market, because i believe the whole market is wrong, all this talk about average joe not being able to install/use etc. etc., don't dumb down the OS, educate the users, people have become lazy with windows executables and yes/no menus and the like, they have learnt a repetition of key clicks to achieve a task, not the underlying principles of WHY it works, take IE/Firefox, IE on desktop, people are fine, no IE on desktop, replace it with firefox and someone will call you over and say "i can't find the internet". There are so many factors that contribute to this, the SW vendors, the lazy users, the institutions that implement software ( i HATE schools who use MS Office and nothing else, educating people at that age of alternative software would be ideal).

You mention about sound drivers and things, and on windows you'd go to a website and download the files. Well... whose fault is it if they don't supply Linux drivers?? it is down to the hardware vendor to provide support for their product, not rely on OSS to give a solution, i don't pay 80 for a decent Mobo with onboard sound for some kind soul to write drivers for me, i expect the company who got my money to do it. There have been work arounds and things but if vendors won't supply alternate OS drivers till the OS has more of a market share, and the OS can't get more of a market share since people have problems with drivers ,it's a catch 22 and something needs to give.

Nvidia have managed to do ok with their drivers (based on my observation, i have an ATI card myself) why can't other vendors?.

I do think more and more people are becoming aware of and trying out Linux, some people it works for, some it doesn't for various reasons.

Anyway, trying not to dither around here, but my opinion is the users need to learn how to use computers, not Windows, that way minus the OS specific things (which can be learnt through reading), people stand a much better chance of operating any platform regardless of any software it may/may not have.

I'm only providing my opinion on the topic of Linux and desktop use, your post just made me think is all

Last edited by ethics; 06-16-2005 at 07:26 AM.
 
Old 06-16-2005, 07:41 AM   #12
Marius2
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by icehot
[B]
Quote:
Originally posted by Marius2
Everyone can say that.

Well yeah but I didnt just say that did I? I backed it up by providing my background - you might all think I know nothing just because I couldnt get linux to work correctly on my system. But then I dont know why i'm replying I don't exactly need to prove myself to anyone, this article was not about attacking people as you lot (aside from one courteous user seem to want to do). So as you said further down in your reply, if you cant see that I was trying to be polite, trying to be constructive and support linux, then you too have my deepest regrets.
You are of course very well aware that if you start a thread with the title "linux is not ready for the desktop" in a linux forum that you're going to harvest harsh words. BTW I've seen such "above average technically experienced user for whom linux failed and who is now trying to help the linux community" threads three or four times here during the last two months. The first thing I thought when I saw the title was: oh it's you again, but of course you don't know what I'm talking about. But I bet that when anyone tries to nail you down with what exactly you did (exact descriptions of the failures, versions of the software, configuration file settings you used), then you're not going to answer anymore, just like all the last times.

BTW this forum is called linuxquestions.org (where users come for help), but all you've posted was a rant. So why don't you just move on to linuxrant.org?
 
Old 06-16-2005, 07:41 AM   #13
trickykid
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Moved: More suitable in General where the countless of other threads just like this one that don't think Linux is ready are residing and belong.
 
Old 06-16-2005, 07:46 AM   #14
Kdr Kane
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If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.



Honestly, this "article" does not provide any helpful information. If you think "Linux" should work on any hardware, you're asking for something that no operating system provides. You wouldn't identify your distribution. And it's the distribution that supports the hardware and install. If you really were capable in this field, you might know that.

Did you check the hardware compatibility list for your distribution before you tried to install? You certainly do that for Windows, don't you?

bah humbug.. I'm going to say it.

Windows FUD again.
 
Old 06-16-2005, 07:48 AM   #15
oneandoneis2
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Quote:
Well if that's the case then, I will stop reading articles about how linux is getting ready for the desktop to compete with windows, i guess they've got that wrong. If it's still just meant as server software, then that's answered my question, cheers.
You're confusing "alternative" and "replacement".

A new car can replace an old car, as they both work the same and do the same job.

A motorbike doesn't replace a car, but it can be an alternative to one.

Linux doesn't replace Windows on the desktop, it provides an alternative to it. That's an important distinction.

But really, look at your article, will you? You are one person who tries one variant of Linux, it didn't work flawlessly and so you conclude "Linux isn't ready for the desktop". Are you aware of what a "significant sample" is?

I put a live CD into a PC, it installed flawlessly and detected all my hardware. It didn't have the drivers to run my graphics card, so I went to Nvidia's website, downloaded their Linux driver and followed their instructions. Boom, I had a fully working Linux PC.

So can I conclude that Linux is TOTALLY ready for the desktop, and anybody who says it isn't is anti-Linux?

No. But that seems to be your attitude. For God's sake, grow up! You are not the world, you are one tiny part of it. You had a problem, so you conclude the whole world has a problem? That's the conclusion of a child or a megalomaniac.
 
  


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