Saturday, May 30, 2009

Linux Not Ready For The Masses

This is the argument Microsoft always wants to win. I think they are still winning the war of the desktop for now will for sometime to come. I really like Linux and I have to state upfront this is not a bashing Linux argument but hopefully will enlighten and encourage more people to experiment with Linux. First off Windows will always be the majority desktop on new computers until Linux distros fully support out of box functionality. Some would argue that it is the manufacturer's responsibility to supply the drivers but I argue that the differences from distribution to distribution is what keeps the manufacturers from creating the needed drivers. While this is improving in recent kernel releases, Ubuntu, Fedora, Puppy, Slax and Debian, to name but a few, all have slightly different methods for installing drivers and slightly different directory structures. While the basics are the same in each, differences do exist. We can't expect a video card manufacturers for example to create drivers for all these different distributions when the methods for installing and configuration is slightly different in each one. The Linux community could come together on this and start creating some standards. Secondly Microsoft has for better or worse, kept plenty of configuration standards from version to version only making some minor changes along the way. As computer use grew this familiarity has helped the novice users. It is this group of users that make up the majority of users. Would Linux be right for them? A qualified maybe is my thought on that. Installed I think anyone can use most Linux distributions. It is when installing new software or hardware that will cause a novice to reconsider and return to the safety of Windows. I am a geek and I am learning more everyday about Linux but when I wanted to install the Flash plugin in Fedora I went to Adobe's download page and was presented with four choices a yum, a tar.gz, a deb and a rpm file to install Flash. Which one do I need? I had to stop and research what Fedora would want to install. Not too hard for me a geek but most users might give up. That brings me to package mangers which help quite a bit but still need tweaking for repositories and are not consistent amongst distributions I regularly use Puppy, Ubuntu, AntiX and Fedora. Puppy's package installer has the most differences from the others. AntiX has two different installers and of course all can install from the command line. Confusing? I will end this saying that I like Linux and enjoy the challenges it provides. But I recognize that this challenge is not for everyone. I hope to see Linux to continue to grow and perhaps move towards creating environments anyone, including my Mom, could enjoy what Linux offers.

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