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28 October 2005

Linux: is it awesome or is it totally wack? [More:]
Linux is *not* user friendly, and until it is linux will stay with >1% marketshare.

Take installation. Linux zealots are now saying "oh installing is so easy, just do apt-get install package or emerge package": Yes, because typing in "apt-get" or "emerge" makes so much more sense to new users than double-clicking an icon that says "setup".

Linux zealots are far too forgiving when judging the difficultly of Linux configuration issues and far too harsh when judging the difficulty of Windows configuration issues. Example comments:

User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Linux?"
Zealot: "Oh that's easy! If you have Redhat, you have to download quake_3_rh_8_i686_010203_glibc.bin, then do chmod +x on the file. Then you have to su to root, make sure you type export LD_ASSUME_KERNEL=2.2.5 but ONLY if you have that latest libc6 installed. If you don't, don't set that environment variable or the installer will dump core. Before you run the installer, make sure you have the GL drivers for X installed. Get them at [some obscure web address], chmod +x the binary, then run it, but make sure you have at least 10MB free in /tmp or the installer will dump core. After the installer is done, edit /etc/X11/XF86Config and add a section called "GL" and put "driver nv" in it. Make sure you have the latest version of X and Linux kernel 2.6 or else X will segfault when you start. OK, run the Quake 3 installer and make sure you set the proper group and setuid permissions on quake3.bin. If you want sound, look here [link to another obscure web site], which is a short HOWTO on how to get sound in Quake 3. That's all there is to it!"

User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Windows?"
Zealot: "Oh God, I had to install Quake 3 in Windoze for some lamer friend of mine! God, what a fucking mess! I put in the CD and it took about 3 minutes to copy everything, and then I had to reboot the fucking computer! Jesus Christ! What a retarded operating system!"

So, I guess the point I'm trying to make is that what seems easy and natural to Linux geeks is definitely not what regular people consider easy and natural. Hence, the preference towards Windows.
Remember clunky old MSDOS? Windows grew out of it.

Give Linux time.
posted by Hugh Janus 28 October | 14:09
Mac people think you're both retarded.
posted by keswick 28 October | 14:10
Every intelligent unix-on-the-desktop proponent I know has switched to OS X.
posted by mosch 28 October | 14:11
I prefer not to have all my apps made by one corporate entity.
posted by Hugh Janus 28 October | 14:18
I vote for wack. When I ran linux, getting anything to run on it was pretty much as you described - a giant pain in the ass. Corporate entity or not, running windows is easy and simple. And it's easy to fix. After trying to run a game on linux for a week, I gave up and went back to windows, which ran it fine in a few minutes.
posted by puke & cry 28 October | 14:24
Oh, I agree about Windows, puke & cry.
posted by Hugh Janus 28 October | 14:31
I'm really into punch cards. They're gonna make a big comeback.
posted by Divine_Wino 28 October | 14:35
punch cards are the wave of the FUTURE!
posted by joelf 28 October | 14:37
Nother vote for wack. And for hopelessly biased advocacy by linux zealots.
posted by dreamsign 28 October | 14:39
Macs are proof that Linux doesn't have to be, as you say, wack.

Linux remains proof that that compsci nerds can't choose to save their OS.

Sometimes a nazi in a black turtle neck is the best thing that can happen to a functional butt ugly product.
posted by bonehead 28 October | 14:49
What makes Linux powerful are the open-source services. If you want to learn Linux for the reason that 95% of professional (i.e. real) system administrators use Linux, without the pain and agony of recompiling kernels to get features you need, just get a Mac Mini, which runs Mac OS X for about $450-500. If you want to run Linux for bragging rights, stick with Windows.
posted by AlexReynolds 28 October | 15:08
Linux is awesome, but not for desktop use -- unless you're an enthusiast or a developer/engineer type who needs the power it places at your disposal.

That said, some of the more user-friendly distros are getting closer to basic acceptability for basic users. I try them periodically and am most impressed with the latest Ubuntu iteration.
posted by killdevil 28 October | 15:51
linux is wack if you don't have a reason to use it. I'll installed several distros for different reasons, it is powerful and free (in most cases.) It is a hassle, and needlessly complicated (or complexity is needed, when you have a specific purpose in mind.) Saying this with experience in dos, winbloze, several linux flavors, and now OSX; It's unrelated, but I really dig on OSX. Beautiful marriage of ease and complexity. My 2
posted by AllesKlar 28 October | 17:43
I'm with the "Linus just ain't for reg'lar folks" crowd, here. There are some very sweet distros these days -- it isn't all "type random string of characters to find out what the command is that will let you perform the next stage of the install".

Ubuntu, VA Linux, Gentoo -- all are a lot closer to being out-of-the-box usable, but none of them are really user-friendly in the way that a monolithic OS vendor can achieve.

OSX is very, very sweet. But it isn't Linux, and doesn't really try to be, either. Linux is here to stay and will continue to improve, but don't expect it to compete directly with Windows. You can find OS advocacy threads where $GEEK argues for as you have argued against, but anybody with real experience will have a more pragmatic view of Linux. Most of those pro-Linux ranters are mainly doing it out of political imperative.
posted by stilicho 29 October | 02:26
Calexico + yousendit = happy people. || Improving Bittorrent speeds?

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