back to article Linux desktop freaks out Ubuntu man

Not many things make the founder of the Ubuntu distro Mark Shuttleworth nervous, but recommending people replace Windows with Linux on their desktop, it seems, is one of them. This coming from someone who's been catapulted out of our atmosphere to spend time in the freezing vacuum of space. Shuttleworth, though, reckons people …

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Coat

Substituting Windows for Linux ?

It hurts to say but I t'ink you may find what he actually said was "I'm very nervous of encouraging people to try and substitute Windows.... errrr... Linux for Windows"

..which *is* sort of the other way around.

Mines the one with 'Pedant' on the back..

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Happy

Redefinition of pretty.

Does that mean the wiktionary entry for "pretty" will read:-

adj. Composed of various shades of brown excrement like colours with angular shapes and mis proportioned fonts.

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Coat

Substitution

> "I'm very nervous of encouraging people to substitute Windows for Linux," Shuttleworth said...

Well of course he is... he would be the last person to recommend that people take out Linux and then install Windows in its place - or did he really mean to say ""I'm very nervous of encouraging people to substitute Linux for Windows"?

[Surreal] Or has Microsoft capitulated and produced a new version of Windows that runs on Linux? :-)

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which is it?

windows for linux

or

windows with linux

I think they are opposed...

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Thumb Up

I'm in agreement..

Don't replace Windows with Linux, dual boot. Have done it to all the PC's and Laptops here. The missus uses XP I use Linux, but we are not restricted to only using "The XP Laptop" or the "Linux PC".

Best way to learn and if you put Linux over Windows, you're gonna have forgotten to transfer something!

And lets hope the comments if/when they turn up don't end up being the My OS is better than your OS because......etc!

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Tom
Silver badge

He's probably right

I havent heard the podcast yet but people us Windows to say 'yeh we're computerised' but dont actually do anything other than redo the paper office on it.

Complete with all its failings - office software is the man with the red flag in front of cars in the 19th century. 'Which desktop' is arguing over the flags colour.

I've seen companies who, 15 years ago, could download several thousand orders an hour down a phone line straight into their erp system migrate to Windows and now need several hundred operators to type those same orders in document format into the same old computer system.

Most companies now are trapped in Windows - they cant get out - and will be overtaken by people who have the whit not to use office software from the start.

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He's right you know

Nearly everyone I know who's installed Ubuntu (mostly at my bidding) have initially raved about it. They've jumped from Windows desktop to Ubuntu...then after a few days frustration sets in...

"I'm used to doing this, but I can't with Linux"

"Why can't I just install....."

"Why can't I run this game...."

Like he intimates, you have to have a different way of working. And people are stubborn creatures of habit, unable to thik differently or act differently. Behaviour is learnt, conditioned and then ingrained. It's why people keep making stupid mistakes over and over again.

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Paris Hilton

@Tim Russell

>Don't replace Windows with Linux, dual boot.

Depends on need - if you want to run heavyweight windows apps (games heavy on the graphics, CAD etc), then I'm with you - dual boot.

If you just want desktop apps and can't be bothered tinkering with Wine, then virtual machines can be your friend...

Paris, simply because I agree with James Anderton - we all know Ubuntu is infinitely better than Windows, but you do need something attractive to look at after you see the default colour scheme, and Paris isn't bad (compared with the other icons)

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he just stated the obvious

What's with the "freaks out" bit in the title? All he seems to say is that it would be foolish to do a rip-and-replace of Windows desktops with Linux desktops without understanding your requirements. We all know that Microsoft has many many locked up protocols and non-standard formats in their documents and their communication interfaces. How could every one be working in Linux compatible software when even Microsoft's own software has problems with this sometimes?

That is a 'gimme' if you know anything about software and computer systems. So maybe this is new to some press people and to some CEOs, CIOs, etc but I don't think it is new to Mr Shuttleworth. It sounds like he is concerned that Linux has reached the point where it is getting quite acceptable and now too many are saying it's great and is an easy replacement for Windows. While true for many users, it is not true for everyone or every business without knowing what you need to transition. Hey, even Vista is not a slam-dunk replacement for Windows XP or Windows 2000 or Windows 98. Makes one want to say, "dah".

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Silver badge

I wouldn't

... recommend anyone changes - in either direction.

These days nobody cares, they just want to get stuff done. Provided the operating system doesn't get in the way (yes, Vista: I'm looking at you!) it simply makes no difference anymore. All options are pretty much stable. pretty much secure and will support your keyboard, mouse, network and screen.

There's little to be gained by going through the pain of working out how the "other guys" do things

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He's right ofc.

Not every situation or person is a prime candidate for switching their desktop to linux.

I have several relatives and friends who have gone the linux route and been incredibly happy with how much better their experience of using their PC has become. Conversely I have others who I wouldn't try to suggest they switch, they simply are not suitable either due to being gamers or using specific Windows apps for work and such.

There is little point converting a desktop to Linux if the user is going to become frustrated or unable to work with it, all you did was give someone a bad expereience who won't be as likely to try it in the future when in fact they may have been suitable.

Horses for courses, some people/businesses are better on linux, some on Windows.... I'm not sure about Macs but I guess same must apply.. maybe (only teasing I like the Macs, just I don't own one yet)

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Anonymous Coward

Shuttleworth is right

oh damn someone else just said it.

But, yes, he has realised that you don't want to bring people over kicking and screaming, you want them to come over for their reasons, and to buy support to help make those reasons a reality.

Plain vanilla, non support paying users, eugghhh who needs them, just a pain in the neck really. We got most of the good developers, so that ensures good developer level support in the unix world; those are the people who answer and ask the interesting questions.

Those with cash who just want a good computer user experience tend to go Mac. Ubuntu is sort of positioned for people who want to pay for some support, but don't want to pay the price Apple is asking.

The unwashed non paying freetards, well leave them in Windows seems like a fitting punishment.

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Linux

It depends on what you're doing...

I use both and I'm finding I'm spending less and less time on Windows. The Linux desktop is a bit naff, some of the apps are a bit sub-par but then you get what you pay for, right? If you ignore the eye-candy and just go for what works then Linux does, and it works well.

I find the Linux desktop a whole lot less frustrating than the Vista one.

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Paris Hilton

Self-sustaining?

... using what business model?

Personally I don't believe it. Their exit strategy is surely to get Sun (or another equally stupid company (re. MySQL)) to buy the brand.

Paris, because I bet Shuttleworth has her phone number.

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Flame

He's right ??

I'm used to... Well then You are not flexible enough. It is just like switching to a car with the steering wheel on the other side.

Why can't I just install...

Why can't I run this game...

You can't because the company making it doesn't provide a version for Linux, call them and complain instead of complaining about Linux.

This is just like "Why can't I use diesel in my gasoline car" or "Why can't I use this BluRay disc in my DVD".

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Substitute X for Y

"Substitute X for Y" is probably one of those expressions that means the exact opposite the other side of the Atlantic, like "move the meeting forward/back a day".

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Dual boot? Ugh...

Dual boot is so 20th century. Just run your favourite Windows apps on Wine or gawd forbid, use VMware server with ExPee.

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Happy

He is right!

Great point. at last someone talking sense!

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Replace... no. Complement, yes.

I've used Linux for years on my server at home and wouldn't dream of spending a fortune on a Windows server platform for the job. After all in the main it just is a web, file and mail server, with some databases. Don't need Windows for that.

However I've tried, and failed, many times to replace Windows with whatever the current favourite flavour of linux is. It's all very nice in many ways, but there is far too much that I depend on in Windows (applications that is), and a lot of things I like in Windows itself even if it doesn't look pretty.

My major beef with Linux on the desktop is lack of hardware support. Especially with laptops. Yeah, yeah, it's volunteers, they don't have time, "go and write the drivers yourself then!", etc. Well fine. But don't go around claiming it can replace Windows for everyone, because it can't.

There's a reason why Macs "just work" (i.e. hardware control). Likewise, there's a reason why Windows works on a vast amount of hardware.

When Joe Public can just slap on Ubuntu or whatever on ANY brand PC in the world and it works fine with all their hardware, *then* linux is ready for the desktop. It's no use telling people to buy Linux compatible hardware either. That's not going to encourage them at all (especially if it costs more).

It should be no nonsense install that is just install and go with all hardware supported, no messing with configuration files, packages, drivers, having to rely on nerdy linux forums for information, and GOD FORBID... recompiling the damn kernel!!!

Doesn't mean linux hasn't got a place though, and I have to say the majority of what I run on Windows is open source software that has mostly sprung from linux.

Oh, and as a developer, it's very hard to leave the world of Visual Studio and the delights of .Net development.

Some day though, things may be different. Although I strongly suspect that it'll be Google powering the desktops ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

@ John Doe

> I'm used to... Well then You are not flexible enough. It is just like switching to a car with >the steering wheel on the other side.

Excellent point! I suddenly feel foolish for having a car appropriate for the roads I use.

>You can't because the company making it doesn't provide a version for Linux, call them >and complain instead of complaining about Linux.

Another telling point. Rather than leave the WIndows install they already have on and use what they want to use they should switch, then waste a load of money calling a company to get them to do something they've already decided isn't worth it. Or maybe they'll get lucky and Santa will bring them it for Christmas. And please (I'm looking at all of you, zealots,) stop confusing a statement of fact with a complaint. Then you might not get so defensive and stroppy and stop descending into rants and namecalling. People might be able to bear listening to you then, instead of tuning you out.

> This is just like "Why can't I use diesel in my gasoline car" or "Why can't I use this BluRay disc in my DVD".

Yup, because people who want to use diesel buy a petrol car. Granted, the DVD one has a bit of validity as people not obsessed with telling others about their great HD systems probably don't look at every new medium that comes along. The poor suckers probably stayed with CD rather than getting the better sound quality from DAT too.

Hasn't it sunk in yet that it's not your place to try to convert people to doing things the way *you* want on *their* property? You're just being a patronising dick. Please stop.

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Bronze badge
Black Helicopters

World leaders have an investment to protect...

So have those who call the shots in this world fire a shot over his bow to tone it down?

World leaders have repeatedly invited MS to their global conferences indicating those on the who's who list of power politics and world banking in this world are collectively investing their plans and efforts in the use of MS and it's software to achieve their goals. You know what that means? Their plans can't afford to have alternatives out there sinking the putt.

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why can no one lead Linux into enterprise market?

Shuttleworth is a little too humble/timid for his own good. If he were to go to a billionaires luncheon and announce he needed investors to make a serious commericial version of Linux, not just another server distro mind you, but a distro for handleing an the entire needs of enterprise computing, well those billionaires would be falling all over themselves to put big $$$ checks in his hand. But no, Shuttleworth is at the mercy of all the Richard Stalhlman sock puppets for his resources. Balmer must be leaning back and chuckling at all the clowns we have trying to lead Linux.

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Anonymous Coward

Linux is a lot easier to install than windows!

A couple of my customers picked up some bargains when Evesham Micro's shut down, but they had all had Windows wiped. Linux goes on a treat - complete with open office - and these machines are ideal as additional workstations in an office environment. We don't need 'multimedia' just simple text processing which Linux is ideal for!

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Anonymous Coward

@Replace

I don't think you get opensource.

No one is volunteering, developers just write driver code for hardware when they need to. That is what developers do, we write code and buld systems :)

If you have a beef with Linux you have a beef with yourself. Just write the driver you need for the hardware, it is not that mystical and the Linux kernel framework is well defined.

I do worry that you think compiling a kernel is hard, but you claim to be a developer. That is odd, most people who aren't developers but use Linux (the techy hangers on) can compile a kernel no problem. It is like a car designer claiming they cannot change the oil - you're meant to be able to rebuild the engine, never mind the little maintenance tasks, and oh config files well that's sort of putting the cup in the cup holder isn't to carry on the analogy. :)

Look at the second 'Linux' email Linus sent out:

'Do you pine for the nice days of minix-1.1, when men were men and wrote their own device drivers?'

That is Linux, and it is still that way :)

Ubuntu sells support, that is their model, the forums I think are just there to convince people to get paid support, because the advice looks very shakey.

Ubuntu want people to come to Linux for the right reasons, e.g. in your case they want you to pay for support and they will show you how to run the programs you need. As they get more people on the support line, they could even write some code to replace your windows application. As for hardware well you could ask them if they will supply you a list if you pay for support.

But quite frankly most of us will either locate that which works quickly or roll our own, and hey most hardware does just work that is how wide this has become.

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The car analogy is good actually

for 99% of people who simply typ a few documents, browse the internet and use email switching to linux is no harder than learning the new configuration of switches and buttons on a new car, how often have you had a new car and turned the windscreen wipers on when you where turning left because car manufacturers don't have a standard interface?

hardware requirements and hardware support are admittedly a big issue as well, but once you have a linux desktop up and running I think three weeks to get used to it is all most users would need.

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Heart

UBUNTU + VIRTUALBOX.ORG = (MORE SECURE THAN bare metal O/S install?) W!NDOWS UPGRADE!

I've been transitioning from a bare metal single processor to dual/quad core systems running Windows2k and WindowsXPro installs on x86 and x64 AMD/INTEL systems over the last few years and have found the best combination for a W!ndows replacement on new(ish) hardware is with Ubuntu v7.10 + Bastille + Virtualbox.Org v1.6.x loaded with W!ndows2k + W!ndowsXPro = a happier Windows user since Sun's VM was released admin/config wise in my experience so far. Best yet the price is right (i.e. Free!) for the VM!

Since running this setup and pushing hard for the past 6-9 months to try and find issues when comparing the productivity experience on a Windows VM to a baremetal W!indows install I've found that running in a VM configuration vs. bare metal has proved exceptionally stable and virus free vs. the latter config. The only issue I've had that was easily fixed with a 'roll back snapshot image' from my LKG (Last Known Good) configuration on my W!n2k/WndowsXPro VM. If you have not checked out Sun's VirtualBox.Org and only have experience with VMware, I highly suggest looking into Sun's xVM suite.

HTH's!

-j

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Silver badge
Linux

Easy Installs and Long Term Challenges

Shuttleworth is correct in saying that businesses moving to Linux makes him nervous. The non-nerd end-user capacity of Linux is improving but it's still not business ready yet (for most businesses). If too many people get excited and make the switch, then run into the management challenges/expenses/geeks associated with Linux; it's going to make Linux look like a terrible product. I believe Linux will get there, but pushing for it now is terribly risky.

For most businesses if it doesn't instantly work just like Windows it'll become one of those myths you know...'any business that uses Linux is destined to fail' (or something).

For better or worse Windows and MS created the standard - it's up to Linux and the other open saucers to meet the current standard and make something better; but first they've got to meet the business standard...

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NB
Paris Hilton

@timM

I do see your point to some degree but have you ever actually tried a vanilla windows install on ANY hardware? see how good the _actual_ out of the box hardware support is then and then you can realistically criticise Linux. Out of the box Linux supports a vast amount of hardware compared to Windows. It's a fact. You may stop your internal dialogue.

Paris, because I wanted mind installing something in her box.

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Unhappy

Dual boot? why?

When I'm using my CAD and rendering apps, I'm stuck in Windows. Or, god forbid, OSX if I'm unlucky enough to have to use a Mac.

So, dual boot to Linux for my office apps... BUT WAIT!

I frequently need access to my office apps WHILE I'm using CAD, MAX, etc... so I either need TWO seperate computers, or run Linux in a VM or just...

oh, f*ck it, I'll just use MS Office. After all, at least it works properly with our Exchange Server.

*sigh*

Until you can do *everything* in Linux you can do in Windows, and this does NOT mean Wine... Linux is just a fancy toy.

Sorry. Speaking as someone with Ubuntu on my EEE by the way.

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Anonymous Coward

didn't someone say Linux wasn't for EVERYONE?

just like Windows is not for everyone, Mac is not for everyone, Tivo is not for everyone, blah, blah blah.

who else is going to show how Linux is not for them?

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jsg

linux facts

Linux dominates the server market.

84% of the top 500 supercomputers run linux.

Of all the websites you've ever accessed, theres a big chance that the majority of cms's you've touched were on a linux server.

The majority of ILM's rendering power comes in the form of linux server farms.

The NYSE servers run on Redhat.

Oh and by next year, Russia will have brutally forced all their schools and educational intitutions to switch to some form of linux...

So whats linux good for otherwise?

Games, you can practically forget about that. In the desktop world, Windows runs the best games.

Office software, possibly, I've had no trouble with things like Open Office, although I know many people who have had terrible messups with it...

So ya, for everything else, its alright. But, it is true about hardware compatibility. If you just slap linux onto anything, you can expect it to throw you endless trouble, and your getting what you paid for.

Do not expect to just ram a linux distro into anything and have a windows experience. Unless you have more patience than the average joe and are willing to get down in the mud, your wasting your time.

If you want, it to work "flawlessly", then just like Mac works, I'd recommend getting something like those Dell laptops that come with Ubuntu linux preinstalled. Just like a mac, you'll have no problems with that. And I've heard the Asus EEE PC can come with Xandros linux preinstalled.....

So, ubuntu works with certain dells, mac works with macs, and windows works on more less everything else.

All depends on what your needs are and how far your willing to go.

Speaking as an Ubuntu, Fedora, Centos user.

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Linux

About installs

People keep posting about the difficulty of installing Linux .

I have installed Linux (Ubuntu) a few times , and done Windows even more times.

I have found nothing difficult about Ubuntu-sure it is different to Windows, but it is faster to install than Windows XP. Have no intention of toying with Vista.

As Linux gives a great saving in cost of OS and programs , it wins hands down for me - and a growing number of other computer users.

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Linux

@NB

"I do see your point to some degree but have you ever actually tried a vanilla windows install on ANY hardware? see how good the _actual_ out of the box hardware support is then and then you can realistically criticise Linux. Out of the box Linux supports a vast amount of hardware compared to Windows. It's a fact. You may stop your internal dialogue."

Out-of-the-box hardware support is unimportant. Seriously, slap in the Windows driver disc for your hardware when you install the OS and that's it done for the lifetime of that install. If your hardware isn't supported out-of-the-box in any flavour of Linux then be prepared to enter a whole new world of pain.

Hardware support inherent in the bare-bones OS is unimportant when contrasted with the availability of drivers overall. Windows is the better OS for hardware support. It's a fact. You may stop your internal dialogue.

I spend most of my time running Ubuntu Herry Hardon at home but when I want to run any music apps (Reason, Pro Tools) or hook up musical hardware (Digidesign Mbox), I have no option but to boot into Windows.

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Gold badge
Flame

@NB

I have, many times. I also have many times with a variety of Linux distros. My personal findings:

1) Windows definately supports more hardware OOB than any Linux distro I've come across.

2) The vast majority of hardware comes with a Win driver in the box that is at least usable to get the machine up to a state where you can use it to go look for a better one. Linux provision is lucky lotto and the chances of there being one compiled for the distro you're actually trying to install is subject to Sod's Law. This is a bitch if the machine you're building is the only one to hand at the time and the missing piece is something critical like RAID or Network drivers.

2) Where such provision is lacking, tracking down a Win driver takes minutes whereas finding a stable Linux one can take hours of wading through forum threads if it exists at all.

@Everyone else. I apologise for feeding the troll.

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Coat

@Phil Endecott

>> "Substitute X for Y" is probably one of those expressions that means the exact opposite

>> the other side of the Atlantic, like "move the meeting forward/back a day".

You do realise that El Reg is on the same side of the Atlantic as South Africa? I suppose it is possible that Shuttleworth modified his language as he was speaking in Argentine

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One cloud to rule them all

The argument is going to be moot in just a few more years. Google (or something similar) will be the future. Chrome is just the opening salvo.

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Thumb Down

Please don't pretty up Ubuntu!

Not everyone wants a "pretty" OS. More important to me at least is speed, usability and simplicity. I fire up my computer to do stuff on it, not to look at it and go "wow aint' it pretty!"

Surely efficiency would win Ubuntu some friends, especially as the main alternative is pretty but sluggish?

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IT Angle

...By Anonymous Coward

> I don't think you get opensource.

This is just macho horseshit, with all due respect...

Either you're grandstanding over the magnificence of your e-penis, or I don't think you get people. It takes non-trivial skill to write a driver, which is why you're so smug about it. I can do it, but most of the time I'm too lazy. Most people are (reasonably enough) too lazy *and* unable to wield the necessary tools.

Your argument boils down to 'if you can't write a driver, you shouldn't cry when it don't work'. But, Linux on the desktop is competing with a couple of mature commercial products, and that raises the expectations of the naive user. There are more naive users than there are self-aggrandising e-horse-hung uberdevelopperen like yourself.

When it doesn't work, they're not interested in *why*, because that's a bunch of tedious technical detail; when they talk about it to other people, the message is 'It don't work', albeit much more rudely expressed.

It may surprise the elitists, but the technical wieners *do* have the power of speech, and they *do* talk to each other.

Who knew? Go figure.

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@Anonymous Coward

"I don't think you get opensource.

No one is volunteering, developers just write driver code for hardware when they need to. That is what developers do, we write code and buld systems :)"

If it's done for no monetary reward by non-commercial entities, it's volunteering. Whether they do it because they need the driver or not. They are volunteering their time, effort and resources.

Please don't get me wrong though. I've got nothing against open source and fully commend the efforts made. It's just the delusions some have that by some miracle all bases will be automatically covered, all hardware supported, and thus Linux can replace Windows for the masses, just by some organic evolutionary process. Worse when they think just because it works for them on certain hardware, that it's ready for everyone.

"I do worry that you think compiling a kernel is hard, but you claim to be a developer"

It's not the difficulty (to me it isn't that difficult), it's just simply that you *shouldn't* have to. Likewise I shouldn't have to go off and try and write my own drivers!

Particularly on a desktop operating system that some people seem to think even Mr.I.Diot can use. Especially in the case of Ubuntu which is aimed heavily at the type of people who don't understand linux or have the knowledge, patience or time to tinker around, but want an alternative to Windows.

This is if we're talking about Linux replacing Windows for the masses.

Fine if we are to keep Linux as a geek OS when it comes to the desktop, where it's great for those who like to tinker.

As I say though, as a server OS, it's great and it's definitely of Enterprise level maturity.

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Stop

Here's another angle

Currently there are legion malware trying to infect your Windows box and seemingly endless security holes are found in Windows by those writing the malware.

If Linux was to become a viable desktop OS replacement for the masses its likely it would be one distro that would emerge as the defacto leader. It would then become viable, indeed attractive for the malware writers to turn more of their attention to infecting that.

I'm sure that this new attention would reveal a plethora of vulnerabilities in Linux and that would be bad for the image in the server market.

Should Linux still be developed with the desktop as a target market - sure, but there's always going to be someone who wants to protect the "we're more secure than they are" image that exists.

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if i would swap operating systems

i will go back to dos , and retake ownership of my entire machine.

thinka bout the advantages !

- no drm

- no device driver problems

- no dll hell

- no 25 different file systems

- no memory allocation problems

- no load on the cpu besides my own program code

- minimalistic footprint

- boots in 1 second flat

- command line interface

all in all a programmers dream !

and if i can find an original IBM bios witht he ibm basica in rom i don;t even need friggin dos ! if the pc doesnt find an operating system it will land directly into basica. bliss !

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GNL (GNU's not Linux)

Linux is NOT tied to open source!! The fact that the kernel has an open source license does not prevent the rest of the entire Linux experience from being entirely commercial. The Richard Stahlman sock puppets who go around trying to get everyone to refer to Linux as GNU/Linux are liars. Linux does not have to be compiled from GNU compilers nor does it have to use GNU utilitys(which are just open source copys of UNIX utilitys). The tards who go around saying "we built Linux and only the kernel was missing" is a blatent lie, nothing the GNU foundation has done is done is directly tied to LInux. Im not against open source, Im a fan of it, but it is just an option. Too many commercial software companys are scared away from Linux because they think that they are forced to give away their software for free and open source it. The Stahlman sock puppets further confuse the issue by spouting their "free speech, not free beer" line. The bottom line is youre not forced to release your software as open source (confused with free speech) on Linux, and you can sell software (confused with free beer) on Linux rather than just recieve maitenaince fees.

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