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Old 10-28-2003, 11:59 AM   #1
maxpower3141
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Why is Linux great in personal desktop use?


I'm quite a newbie on Linux and so far I must admit that I'm a little (actually quite a lot) disappointed so I was wondering if someone could give me solid reasons why Linux is quite often said to be superior to other desktop operating systems.
In order to get some response I'll share some thoughts of what I've experienced good and bad in Linux as agitators..
(btw. I'm using a default RedHat 9 distribution on my desktop with KDE and and not so default RH9 on my laptop with Gnome)

Here are some pros and cons I've seen and the main point is that I want to think of computers as tools - something you use to get things done, not something you use for the usage itself. (Except for games). So I typically use computers for computing (isn't this what they were supposed to do?), coding (for work or to create programs that solve larger mathematical problems), typing documents etc.

1) Linux is slow - sometimes even slower than Windows XP and I think it's quite weak. Surely one can make it faster by doing tons of reconfigurations, but my schedule won't allow the time I assume it takes (a couple of days since I'm a newbie on Linux)

2) Linux (I've heard) is highly configurable, but I've found it quite hard and I don't have the time to get into it as I mentioned. One time I tried to configure my kernel (using the section kernel tuning in KDE's controls), I compiled it and it worked perfectly except that in GRUB it wouldn't take command line parameters the same way that my older kernel did and therefore I was unable to mount all my hard drives.. (this took me a whole night and I'm not doing it again)

3) Linux is stable. But as before a but comes in to ruin the day: My Windows XP is stable enough - I can keep it running approximately 2 weeks at a time and due to the fact that I've learned the basic rule of "save often, save now" using Windows OS:s for some time, it does not bother me that from time to time Windows crashes - so the real value of this feature is in servers.

4) An example of frustrating OS behavior in Linux:
In my laptop I have an USB floppy drive, which I sometimes use to transfer small amounts of data (since I don't have an Ethernet card installed on my desktop).
One time I took out the disk without dismounting it first and the next time I tried to mount the floppy disk Linux was in trouble - it could not locate the trash bin on the floppy and it used about an hour before it gave up and I could use the floppy again. (Of course I assumed before this that the process had crashed since it had taken like fifteen minutes without any indication of activity and I tried practically everything (including like a hundred of reboots) to get the drive working and I got it working by an accident (ie. when I got totally bored of trying, I just left the computer to do whatever it was doing and watched a flick - when I came back it was ok )) So in order to get a floppy working, I spent approximately four hours in agony - I refused to believe that in this day an age a modern operating system that had good recommendations could not mount a floppy drive - something that even the first version of DOS could do in seconds.

5) Linux is free - ok this is a nice one, since the MS-monopoly sucks.

6) There are very few (if none) viruses for Linux and Linux (presumably) is well protected - also nice.

7) Some Linux apps have nice interfaces. I like the fact that I can use the keyboard too once in a while and what especially bugs me in Windows is that the usage is practically entirely waving the mouse around.

So these were some of my thoughts and the conclusion is that although Linux is quite good, it's not something I'd praise - for me (or my use-cases) it is almost as bad as Windows and that's not much. And since I have better applications for Windows (that I do not want to buy again (they cost more than 2k dollars)), I'll mainly use Windows from now own unless someone can give me pointers on how to make my Linux much more usable (preferably with less than a days work). Does a good OS exist or am I just asking too much?

A colleague of mine (who knows quite a lot of computers) once said that "Linux is the Windows of UNIXes"
I've also heard a counter-quote that "Linux is not for those people that have the text 0:00 blinking on their VCRs", so maybe Linux is not the right choice for me since I don't see the value in changing the time of my VCR if it takes an hour to do and I do own a wrist watch..

Any comments?
 
Old 10-28-2003, 12:19 PM   #2
ranger12002
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well linux isnt for everyone but hey heres some good points to it

1. redhat is bloated try a different distro like slackware, vector, or peanut..also the window manager(kde especially) you use will slow it down try something like XFCE or blackbox and itll run a bit faster

2.it is very configurable it takes a little time but you can disable the services you dont need that are running and it will make it run a little faster

3. stability really isnt that big unless you use it as a server i mean it takes 1 minute to reboot

4.next time just mount the floppy use it then unmount it and you should be ok(if you did that then i have no idea why that would happen lol sorry)

you can also use most if not all of your windows programs in linux with the use of wine (www.winehq.org) and run alot of windows games in windows using wineX(www.transgaming.com) and dont choose an OS because someone else likes it choose it because you like it your the one that has to use it not someone else.... good luck
 
Old 10-28-2003, 12:22 PM   #3
m_yates
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You are correct that Linux is not as easy to use as windows, but improvements are being made rapidly, and some distributions, like Xandros, are very windows-like and easy.

The advantages of switching are many, however. Things I have observed:

1. Linux may be hard sometimes to do what you'd like, but it never does what you don't want. Ever try killing windows instant mesanger in XP, or receive regular annoyances to sign up for a MS passport account?

2. You don't have to sign a EULA when installing, patching, or upgrading just about anything in Linux. Do you know MS wants to be able to disable your machine if it thinks you have pirated software or music on it? Ever read the details in the EULA for MS service packs and software?

3. Upgrading is free. As I said above, improvement is rapid. Once you know how to use Linux daily, you can benefit from improved software without paying anything.

4. Most important. Cost! You mentioned spending 2k for software. Office suite? Free in Linux, $500 bucks otherwise. Creating PDF files? Free in Linux, $300 bucks otherwise. Editing images and converting image formats? Free in Linux, $600 bucks otherwise.

Finally, I realize that your post is likely bait, but I couldn't resist taking it.
 
Old 10-28-2003, 12:58 PM   #4
andrewstr
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Quote:
Originally posted by ranger12002
well linux isnt for everyone but hey heres some good points to it

1. redhat is bloated try a different distro like slackware, vector, or peanut..also the window manager(kde especially) you use will slow it down try something like XFCE or blackbox and itll run a bit faster
I have heard that installing Slackware is very difficult for a newbie. Is that true?

How much trouble it is to switch to a different window manager? I would like to try some other ones without destroying Gnome and KDE.
 
Old 10-28-2003, 01:03 PM   #5
maxpower3141
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Thanks Ranger for the tips - I'll try out Slackware + Wine when I have the time - speed is something I yearn (my Finland-based spelling says that it should be written like that ) in an operating system (both the actual speed and production efficiency (I mean that I get the job done quickly)) and hopefully this combo will meet my requirements..

And yes you were right Yates - of course it was a bait I wanted to get replies.. Your point number one is actually a good one that I forgot to mention and that is one of the major reasons for me not liking Windows quite a lot (I tried to point out in my start-up mail that I don't like Windows very much). So I've uninstalled Messenger and other useless apps on my XP. I use Mozilla and yes I constantly have to deny the access to Internet from various Windows components using my software firewall. It is frustrating since I did not ask them to do anything on the internet..

2) G-sus! Legal text is something I hate and I practically always just click YES to EULAs I "trust" - didn't know that one, but if one always read all the EULAs one encounters it would take a year...

4) Office suit - I use OpenOffice.org for windows, create pdfs with PDF-latex (miktex is free) and create Java with Netbeans IDE (free again).. Is there a free (and good) C-compiler for Windows? (Or perhaps even a workspace editor?) I haven't heard so I compile C/C++ with gcc.. The costly software I was referring to is Mathematica and similar products that I suspect will cost just as much that they cost on Linux, but Wine (as Ranger pointed out) could then be the solution for me..

Any other good pointers?
 
Old 10-28-2003, 01:45 PM   #6
Mirrorball
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Quote:
Is there a free (and good) C-compiler for Windows? (Or perhaps even a workspace editor?) I haven't heard so I compile C/C++ with gcc..
Dev C++
http://sourceforge.net/projects/dev-cpp/

"It uses GCC, Mingw or Cygwin as compiler and libraries set."

It's nice that you use open source software with Windows. I wish more Windows users were like you. Of course, if you switch to Linux, it's even better.
 
Old 10-28-2003, 01:46 PM   #7
Laptop2250
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i havent tried out slackware, but if it has the same root and user system like in redhat 9.0 i highly suggest that you, maxpower, make sure you always use a user account.. dont mess around in your root, because if you make a mistake, its reinstall time (thats why you use user accounts and root only if you have to)
 
Old 10-28-2003, 04:31 PM   #8
ranger12002
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slackware is pretty easy to setup even for a newbie it doesnt have an installer like redhat but once you get past making partitions its pretty straight forward you pick which partition is the / and which is swap and then you go on and pick the stuff you want to install and setup modem or ethernet and your window manager and your done pretty fast setup actually and it runs fast also

and changing window managers is pretty easy in slack it installs a couple by default and you just do "xwmconfig" in a console and pick the new one and restart X and your on the new window manager

installing packages is pretty easy too mostly just "installpkg blah.tgz" and it pretty much does everything else

and im pretty sure all *nix OS's have a root/user system

hope that helps....enjoy!
 
Old 10-28-2003, 05:41 PM   #9
Laptop2250
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ranger12002 do you need gcc in slackware also? or a compiler? for some reasons i can't gcc to work in linux redhat 9.0 people tell me i have to install everything on the development sections (on the installer cd) but i want to know what i need to compile gcc. i mean come on, this is linux, somebody has to know what i need to do to compile gcc without blindly installing things
 
Old 10-28-2003, 06:03 PM   #10
ranger12002
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install gcc from your cds im not sure about redhat ive never used it but in mandrake it lets you pick which packages you want to install instead of making you pick a whole set of packages so look on your cds for gcc and install it or you can search google for gcc and download it and install it that way but it is on your redhat cds

and gcc comes with every *nix distro i think...and yes it comes with slackware

Last edited by ranger12002; 10-28-2003 at 06:05 PM.
 
Old 10-29-2003, 11:42 AM   #11
tjwolf
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I'm somewhat in the same boat as you maxpower! Out of school and for the subsequent 10 years, my background was UNIX/SunOS. But in '96 I started programming in Java and the best IDE, ironically, wasn't made by Sun - it was Symantec's Visual Cafe - only available in Windows (and Mac.) So, for the next few years I was "forced" to use Windows on the job - simply because the Unix alternatives sucked. At home I've always ran Windows - initially because Linux just didn't recognize half the devices I had hanging off it - later, because it recognized the devices, but couldn't make complete use of them (my pet peeve being my wireless Logitech Mouseman Wheel - I cannot believe that as of 2003, Linux still can't recognize the friggin' thumb buttons on this mouse! Much less have applications make use of them!)

A couple weeks ago, I tried, for the 3rd or 4th time (yes, I keep coming back because I dislike M$ - the COMPANY - so much), to move from Windows XP to Linux (because the swiss cheese of security named Windows XP let someone infect my PC - and it was trying to launch DOS attacks on various IP sites :-(

So far, the problems (in order of perceived severity) I've encountered:

- Networking didn't work initially - had to search the net for a couple days
for a suitable driver for my Nvidia-based on-board networking chips. Had it working until I "upgraded" the kernel (for reason, see below) via RH's automatic upgrade utility...since there was no driver for this particular
kernel, I had to go back.

- Palm synchronization doesn't work "out of the box". Actually I still don't have it working - some discussion threads hint that my Tungsten T requires a n upgraded kernel...but can't do that because then my networking will stop working again :-(

- The everpresent mouse problem. No matter what changes I make to the XF86Config file, I can't get X to even see the side buttons on my Logitech Wireless Mouseman Wheel (using 'xev', nothing gets reported when I push them). Granted, the RH installer has finally managed to at least recognize the wheel on my mouse, bu I still can't use side buttons 3+ years after I've been using them in Windows.

- Fonts. Seems like many Gnome apps look ok nowadays, but I still can't get my main apps (Mozilla and NetBeans IDE) to look decent under Linux (and, yes, I've installed the core Microsoft fonts and fiddled with the font.properties file in the Java directory.. I'm sure if I invest another couple days, I can come up with halfway decent fonts for these apps, but it's becoming awfully stale.

I haven't even tried to use my Scanner, printer, USB Reader, and Pinnacle video capture cards yet. I shudder at the thought of trying.

Since I vowed to give Linux a chance this time, I'll wait another month or so before I once again put my tail between my legs and go back to Windows XP.

Before I get flamed, let me be clear: I realize that alot of my problems could be solved by fiddling with various configurations, kernel mods, etc. but I (and I suspect 99% of the PC users out there) don't have the time to fiddle with the OS (even though I love playing with computers, I have a 5year-old to raise that keeps computer time to a minimum) - when the "payoff" is to get something we already have in Windows (according to some recent survey I saw, people know NOTHING about security never mind having the ability to download the various security tools and patches from Microsoft - most don't care.) Stability on the desktop is a moot issue. I can attest to that. Most people turn off their computers at night and don't require prolonged "up-time". But even if they did, I suspect Windows doesn't crash as much as Linux folks would like to believe: I've had my W2k box up for about 2 months here at work. Granted, I don't do anything except write Java apps, surf the web, and run a few terminal windows...if I ran games or made use of a bunch of different devices as people do at home, the system would probably crash more often...but that's still preferrrable to not being able to make use of the games/apps/devices at all - which is what they'd have to do in Linux unless they're willing to fiddle for days on in.

...but then again, what do I know...
tom
 
Old 10-29-2003, 03:58 PM   #12
ranger12002
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tjwolf ive been searching around the net and alot of people have trouble with nvidia stuff on linux not sure why but everytime i search 10000000 links come up with linux and nvidia not getting along

you should try slackware instead of redhat...the installer isnt a nice gui like redhat but its fairly easy to setup and it took me longer to setup redhat than it did slackware
 
  


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