back to article Red Hat scurries away from consumer desktop market

Linux and open source software giant Red Hat has abandoned plans to develop a consumer desktop product because it cannot compete with the might of Microsoft. The firm said in a statement yesterday: “As a public, for-profit company, Red Hat must create products and technologies with an eye on the bottom line, and with desktops …

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  1. Gilbert Wham

    Needs more BFG

    If they wanna get home lusers, then games need to run in Linux. Easily. Get the FPS crowd on board, and you've got an in.

  2. Erlang Lacod

    coherent approach is key

    The future of Linux as an accepted desktop OS is equally in the hands of the distro developers and the support bases that form around them.

    Few would doubt that the consumer needs and deserves choice here but the existing myriad of multiple Linux desktop distributions each with their options of KDE or Gnome front ends etc are serving to confuse the consumer - so its no wonder so many adhere to Windows.

    Though I run both and can see the arguments for both I certainly wouldnt wish much of the confusing and contradictory information thats on many of the Linux forums on my worst enemy. To expose a newbie non technical desktop user to this stuff as an example of the support thats available from the open source community would win few converts, apart from the odd masochist maybe.

    In an age where the cost of adequate desktop and notebook PCs is so low one now has to make a very convincing argument in order to convince the average non technical user to go out of their way to order a computer without Windows pre loaded.

    Every altruistic not for profit organisation there has ever been has always benefitted by benchmarking its processes and structures against those of commercial organisations.

    It's really now up to the Linux community to rationalise it's efforts behind the most sucessfull desktop distributions - and clean up its support forums in order to be taken seriously.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Roy
    Linux

    Desktop GNU/Linux

    I don't understand these suggestions that GNU/Linux is not ready for consumer Desktop.

    I switched to linux a year ago or so, having tried it unsuccessfully several times before.

    Today, it is not only ready, I daresay at least some Distros, like Ubuntu, Mandriva, PCLinuxOS are in many ways superior Windows in quite a few ways.

    Compiz-fusion and customization options are fantastic for those that want to personalize their experiance.

    OpenOffice, GNUCash and other programs are excellent, and more than enough for most consumers.

    Driver support is no longer a problem, especially if you buy from vendors like Dell, or other retailers who preinstall.

    It has alternatives to all major apps; Torrent Apps, MSN replacements, P2P apps, The Gimp.

    Major windows only apps, like Photoshop CS2 runs nearly flawlessly with Wine, in addition to many games, like Civilization4, WoW, Eve-Online, Supreme Commander, CS, Halflife, Unreal Tournament, Quake etc.

    And that's just the issues people think are lacking.

    The Package Managers, like .deb .rpm are way ahead of anything windows has to offer.

    In my humble opinion, Linux as a Desktop is superior to both XP and Vista, for most users, excepting only the most demanding gamers, or people who use such obscure win apps they simply won't run. And even then there is virtualization.

    My friends are continuously amazed at what Linux has to offer. I think the only real problem left, is getting people to realize what Linux can offer.

  5. Anonymous Hero
    Coat

    Maybe if they spent some money on usability

    The problem with Linux on the desktop is usability. Gnome and KDE still fall way short of Windows (couldn't comment on Apple's desktop) and believe me I've tried hard to live with both but they just feel clunky and I go back to Windows (classic look and feel) again.

    The problem is that Gnome and KDE try to emulate behaviour found in OSX and Windows but end up doing it badly.

    Maybe if the same amount of time and money that MS spend on refining the UI and doing a bit of serious research in this area then there might be a fighting chance, but until then Linux will be firmly placed as just a server OS.

  6. Chika
    Flame

    Let's face it, half the problem is label marketing

    @Roy,

    The biggest problem I can see with your comment is that too many lusers are content to sit with Microsoft because they want to use brand names rather than tools. They want to use Office, not OpenOffice, for example. I know that OpenOffice is easily as good as, in some ways better than, the M$ offering, but ordinary desktop farty out there doesn't want to stray off the beaten path. That's a large part of the M$ strategy towards marketing and, let's face it, M$ still have a pretty good handle on marketing.

  7. stew
    Paris Hilton

    Mac OSX is the biggest problem for Linux

    I don't think Linux has a huge problem with Windows. I think that Windows will be first choice for a long long time. When people consider leaving I think most people who understand computers look to the poilished interface on the Mac and they appreciate the UNIX underbelly. I think that if Mac OSX wasn't a UNIX based system desktop Linux would have grown faster. I left Windows last year and went to Mac OSX as I thought it was better than Ubuntu which was my first move away.

  8. The BigYin
    Flame

    Translation and mini-rant

    "Linux is intolerant of users who do not hold a BSc in Computing and who dislike hacking wads of configuration files by hand; and we don't care because we are elitist arses."

    The above is true for all versions of Linux (including Ubuntu). It is a real shame that the Linux world doesn't seem to want to create anything which can actually be used by normal end-users.

    I've installed Red hat and Ubuntu and them working - but I resent having to spend 2 hours hacking at files to get the mouse to work correctly before I could do anything like installing an app that any user could use. And USB support? Jay-zuz. Set a whole afternoon aside to try and get that going. HELLOOOO! It's USB, it's been here for years, why do I need to hack files and piss around to get it working? It's not as if it's vendor specific or anything.

    Cue the fanbois who will tell me to download the BSD and compile the bits I want (or some crap). Guess what, I don't want to do that. I want to do my job, and that means using apps hosted by an OS; not creating my own blasted OS or losing days surfing the web trying to figure out which .bash-frickin-profile I need to edit (again) because the install from the repository either doesn't work or did a half-arsed job.

    There are many things I like about Linux, but it just isn't there yet. Until the Linux mob address their serious ease-of-use limitations (hell, some decent documentation would be a start) in their model, it will only ever be useful as a server or niche OS.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like what Gilbert Wham said...

    Linux needs games like you get under Windows and not emulated using Wine.

    But this is the Chicken and the Egg approach...

    Game comapanies will not write games for Linux because there is little to no profit for them and gamers will not move to Linux because there are no games for it.

    It may take an Open Source approach to writing games for Linux but will the quality be the same like for example Call of Duty 4 on the PC where millions was spent on it's developement or will it be like the good old days of the ZX Spectrum/Commodore 64/Amiga/etc and 2D game play?

  10. Valdis Filks

    All our hopes with open source ended, opp for others.

    This is all I ever wanted from Linux, a desktop. I have used and been relatively happy with Mandrake, RH, Suse and Sun's Linux (JDS). My hopes have been dashed, will need to look at Ubuntu.

    We have AIX, Solaris and HPUX which scale to more cpu's, threads,better file system integrity, diagnostics, security, scheduling etc than Linux servers. One of the above is even open-source and has backward binary compatibility. Shame that the desktop Linux is dropped.

    Some of the above Unices, have lower licence fees than the Linux distros. Always well worth checking out, it is one of those falacies tht Linux on the server gives you a competitive cost edge. Costs more, can't migrate to another Linux without great pain. How many commercial organisation make/create their own Linux system, never met one, every distro tries to make a proprietary distro with lock-in. Where did all the open Linux promises dissappear, I hope the other Linux distros do not abandon the desktop.

    So if I install RH I still cannot easily migrate to Suse or any Linux distro. Can someone give me the cost of Linux distro A to Linux distro B migration. Takes me about 2 days for a Linux desktop migration, I would not like to guess the time to migrate one Linux server to another.

    This is what needs to be fixed, make it easy to migrate from one Linux to another, the discussion is always about open source. But we want choice, the Linux distributions tie you in and lock you in.

    Is the Linux community forcing every Linux fan to go MAC OS, which is a unix just like linux, but Mac admit lock-in. Well, this is a good chance for Ubuntu to take the lead and help us Linux desktop fans. NB I do have to use Mac and WinXP at home due to family pressure. Am I naove and expected too much from Linux, sad, sad day. I hope the other distros do not follow.

  11. James Pickett
    Linux

    Hats

    I thought that was what Fedora was for? My copy (at home) is the sweetest implementation of Linux I've tried yet.

  12. Richard
    Flame

    @BigYin

    > I've installed Red hat and Ubuntu and them working - but I resent having to spend 2 hours hacking at files to get the mouse to work correctly before I could do anything like installing an app that any user could use. And USB support? Jay-zuz.

    [rest of nonsensical rant deleted]

    Sorry I'm going to call you out here "BigYin". You are either just a plain liar or you are referring to a version of Linux from at least 13 years ago, because 13 years ago (1995) was the last time I had to hack at any files to get the mouse to work, and Linux has had excellent USB support for a larger variety of devices than Windows for at least 5 years.

  13. Rob

    Perspective

    I have an old Toshiba Tecra laptop that didn't have an OS. I thought this would be the perfect chance for me to get to grips with Linux and try some of the more 'consumer friendly' versions of Linux. I tried Ubuntu and a whole multitude of variants. Nothing worked and it wouldn't even load.

    I moved on to Puppy and DSL and a whole raft of others. I eventually got both Puppy and DSL working but couldn't get half the hardware working or the (most importantly) wireless card. I followed forums and guides and just couldn't get anything to work.

    In the end out of frustration I installed WinXP on the machine just to see how it handles. It went in first time, without problems and while it's a little slow does everything I want.

    I thought Linux system requirements were supposed to be low, but having XP running on a system that apparently is too old for some of the bigger Linux distros spoke volumes to me.

    I really wanted to try it. I really wanted it to be a walk in the park, but I have to tell you - it's NOT consumer ready for the average Joe in the street. And i'm a tech-head.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @Erlang

    Totally agree with you, but I'm sure you'll be flamed....

    The stupid thing is, Red Hat are kind of saying, "well it's Microsofts fault we can't design a competing user friendly system, despite MS currently being at the weakest for a long time"

    Eh? Run that by me again?

    It's Microsofts fault that YOU can't design something people want.

    Linux users may not like the following phrase, so close your eyes.

    Maybe people actually prefer the look and feel of Windows to Linux and are happy with what they know and like.

    Shock, Horror!

    An alien concept I know, but this may come as a suprise, but if people know Windows, and like Windows, why would they want to spend endless nights learning a completly new system, when they could actually be enjoying themselves?

    Yes I tried Umbongo about 6 months ago, it looked like an old Atari ST (maybe I choose the Umbongo Lego desktop instead of the Crayola one, or maybe I didn't download the Zckkrt 1.0.1.5.6.7.6.5.4 package or something), but when I came to set up my wireless (I some how gained an extra wireless adapter but lost my wired one, hey ho), it asked for the ASCI or Hex key. Yup that's user friendly alright.

    I spent an hour trying to get it working, removed disk and went back to good old XP.

    If Red Hat can't be bothered to get a decent system out there, I guess it's down to someone else.

  15. Darren B
    Stop

    Family fortunes

    Fingers on the buzzer

    In a survey of 100 normal people

    we asked can you name a computer operating system

    Non-Geeks!

    DaveYour answer is?

    Windows? Our survey says DING!

    You can play or pass - you want to play, ok

    Mary? Mac? Our survey says DING!

    Brian? Pong? Our survey says? AttAhh.

    Oh dear, well we can pass it to the Geek family -

    Stephen your answer please? Linux (Smug grin)? Our survey says? AttAhh.

    Oh dear, so the Non-Geeks win.

    Face up to reality people, Linux will only get in the minds of the average consumer when it has brand focus either from a PC manufaturer or it goes out there and advertises. And has been said it can play games, average consumers don't want to dual boot they just want things to work.

  16. Dave

    Normal users cope just fine as USERS

    At the radio station i used to run, we had a Gentoo box with XFCE for presenters/guests to use to browse the web/check email.

    Everyone coped fine with being able to find the web browser and email client and use the machine.

    The problem with linux is ease of installation and configuration (X is still a nightmare to do multimonitor with even after all these years - that said, the new nVidia tools available now make it much easier).

    You can't rush linux into the desktop market - its taking time, but it is getting there. Two years ago i'd never have been able to let go of windows on my desktop machine - now i can, it's reached a stage where most things work properly.

    the EEPC ships with linux, the OLPC ships with linux, Dell are shipping Ubuntu. Major public services around the world are switching to linux desktops. It's only matter of time, but it's not going to happen quickly.

    For the record, my ideal OS would be as follows:

    Ease of use and hardware support of windows

    Filesystem and RAID management of Solaris

    Software availability of Linux (packages etc)

    Multimedia support for high end audio and video production of OSX

    I don't have a clear favourite, i run all 4 :)

  17. The BigYin
    Thumb Down

    @Roy and @Chika

    Wrong on every almost every count.

    "Driver support is no longer a problem"

    No, it still is a problem. When you have to hack config files to convince you mouse to work, that is a problem. When USB drives are not recognised out-of-the-box and require more hacking, that is a problem.

    I use and MS OS as that is the one which lets me do my job. End of. If I could install what I need on Linux without losing days to bad installs or the need to constantly hack config files and compile source code, I would. Really, I would. There are features of Linux which are fantastic and it does seem to run faster than Windows.

    But I can't do my job on it. The Linux experience is so anti-end-user as to make a grown man weep.

    As to this "The Package Managers, like .deb .rpm are way ahead of anything windows has to offer."

    What utter rot. My biggest problem is with the installs! They assume that you know Linux inside and out (assuming they even work - many don't). I want to run the install, select a few options (all users, run as service, whatever) and be done with it. Just like I can with most Windows installers.

    "In my humble opinion, Linux as a Desktop is superior to both XP and Vista, for most users"

    And you'd be wrong. Insert a USB drive into your Linux box. Where is it in the file system? You and I both know it's buried under /mnt somewhere. But what about a normal end-user? They'd have no clue. None. At least Windows pops up a little window and tells you where the hell it mounted the device! It's that fundamental concern for the basic, non-fanboi end-user which Linux totally lacks.

    "My friends are continuously amazed at what Linux has to offer."

    I agree. And if it wasn't so anti-end-user I'd switch like a shot.

    "too many lusers are content to sit with Microsoft because they want to use brand names rather than tools."

    Wrong. So wrong it is painful, and a stereotypical fanboi comment. I use and MS OS (and I'll type this slowly so you can keep up) because is lets me do my job. Linux does not as it does not support me as an end-user. The number of MS tools I use is minuscule, most are OpenSource!

    "I know that OpenOffice is easily as good as [MS Office]"

    I use OpenOffice at home and I like it (I suffer MS Office in work), despite the various display, UI and formatting glitches it suffers from. But I would never use it for serious spreadsheet work. It is a minnow compare to Excel. I look forward to OO3 as I hope that this will really improve things.

  18. The BigYin

    @Richard

    Nope, not a liar at all. Installed RedHat about 2 months ago - no USB support until I'd hacked around with it. I had to follow these steps to get it working

    http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,1256701,00.asp

    (there are probably others available, but that was the first one I found at the time).

    Installed Ubuntu 7.10 last most - had to hack about to get the mouse to work.

    Typical fanboi - when a non-expert user complains of problems with Linux they get labelled a liar. Seems the elitist Linux attitude pervades more than just the OS.

  19. Tim Stephenson
    Thumb Up

    Just buy a Mac...

    Switched to MacOSX following running out of patience with a "fast" Vista install. Now I have a machine that just works, and haven't looked back since!

  20. John Widger
    Unhappy

    @ The Big Yin

    My sentiments exactly.

    One of the advantages with MicroShaft is I can use it straight out of the box.

    I have no interest in the command line as such. I just want to use the computer without the hassle of a command line. If you want to convert M$ users to Gnu/Linux it needs to have similar abilities. I have a penchant for some games which, unfortunately can only be played on M$ Windoze. All my other need/want programs run quite happily on Ubuntu so I, regrettably, use a dual boot system.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    what a bunch

    Look, if you claim you are a tech head type of person and can't get your head around a simple (yes simple) OS like a Linux distro, then you are no tech head. You are a Windows head. If you can't draw a parallel between a dialogue box config and a text file config, then you are just plain stupid. You might say, "why should I have to?", I say, "If you want to move to Linux, why the fuck shouldn't you?"

    I have more problems with Windows than I have ever had with Linux. Yes, I class myself as a bit of an expert with Linux, but for goodness sake. You people just whine and bitch about Linux when what you should do is just get on with what you like to use and what you are good at. If you are good at Windows, then you should use it and enjoy it, if you are good at Linux, then use it and enjoy it.

    I am from the latter camp and know both quite well. I know Linux to a high level and left Windows behind for anything serious years ago.

    Stop bitching and use what you like. If you don't have the aptitude for the current incarnations of Linux distros then don't fekin bitch about it just stick with Windows until Linux has moved to your own level of ease of use. Everybody has their own level. I certainly wouldn't moan to a kernel developer that I couldn't hack at the kernel without some special gui tool simply because that isn't where my skills lie and I'd quite rightly expect to be told to, "shut the fuck up" and move on to where my skills actually matter.

    Expand your Windows skills to Linux if you want to and will enjoy or at least appreciate the path that it takes you down. If you don't enjoy it, just do what you do and don't try to put others off it.

    :) Smiling really, I just get pissed off on a slow day in the office when I read about Windows users that moan that Linux doesn't do things the way that Windows does. All I can say is, "good".

  22. Matt

    Well

    I installed Ubuntu and it worked fine with USB devices and even wireless on a laptop which is a couple of years old. I did have to edit a config file to get a really old laptop to work on wireless. I also had no problems with various mice and keyboards.

    I'm not denying the problems some have reported, but for balance I'm pointing out my success, which was achieved without "hacking config files".

    On the other hand I still can't get my XP machine (my normal PC) to work with a USB attached HP printer so it seems XP has it's problems too. I found the MS help to be a joke and the Windows forums are contradictory and sometimes dangerous. I imagine that's just a feature of forums though!

    Coming back to this article it's a shame they're delayed as whatever ones views on desktop OS, it would be nice if one of the alternatives to Windows got up some momentum and was worth having.

  23. Antoinette Lacroix

    It's not about the OS

    It's about uniformity. If you once installed a KDE based distro, and only selected optional KDE packages, you might have noticed that a lot of Gnome stuff get's installed anyway. Gnome based distros usually install lots of 3rd party stuff, as well. That's because there's no complete single desktop environment for *Nix. Gnome and KDE are fine for everyday tasks, but if your needs are somewhat specific, you end up with apps, made with Motiv, Nextstep, CDE . . . If apps are made with different toolkits, there's no consistent look-and-feel. Clearly, that's not what RedHat wanted, since Joe User prefers looks over functionality. I think RH picked out a single DE, and had trouble to plug it's holes.

    [insert BSD icon here]

  24. Anton Channing
    Linux

    @Translation and mini rant

    I have three computers. One is a dual boot machine with XP and Ubuntu. Another is an Asus eee PC with the original linux OS. The most recent is a 20inch iMac.

    I've never used Wine or virtualisation. I suspect if I did I wouldn't need the XP partition anymore. In fact I am not even sure why I do need it. Occassionally I use it to test what my websites look like in IE. But overall I find it slow and unresponsive.

    In my experience XP takes a hell of a lot more configuration to get it 'working' (if you can call constantly having to manually update spybot, adware and clamwin anti-virus just to keep it secure 'working'). With Linux everything has just worked out of the box, and when I'm at home I am pretty much always in Ubuntu.

    I use the Mac almost exclusively for editting film using Final Cut Studio 2. Although its also portable enough to be moved into my bedroom for the purpose of watching DVDs in bed. Overall though I get frustrated by the single button mouse and the lack of right click context menus. I still find myself trying to right click sometimes, and then wondering what I'm supposed to do instead.

    Overall I like Linux. And I know plenty of people using Ubuntu now whose degrees are in the Arts. I've never had to configure anything for them. Things just work out of the box. At least they do for me. Not with XP though. And the only copy of Vista I've seen was running at a crawl. Maybe there is a way to configure it, but non-technical people don't want to be bothered with that. They'd rather an OS that just worked. Like Ubuntu.

  25. IanPotter
    Flame

    @Stu Reeves

    "An alien concept I know, but this may come as a suprise, but if people know Windows, and like Windows, why would they want to spend endless nights learning a completly new system, when they could actually be enjoying themselves?"

    The same could be said of Vista and Office 2007 though, or OSX. Most people don't like change, many can't cope with it at all because they are relying on rote learning rather than having an understanding of how things work. I've seen people clearly having learned one way to do things in Windows 3.1 and and continue to work in that way to this day.

    Ignoring all the flamage and bluster unless someone produces a Distro that totally copies the XP interface and can run all Windows software transparently muppits like BigYin aren't going to be satisfied. Actually they'll probably still find something to complain about. But at that point you might as well have a Windows sytem so what would be the point.

    The way that Linux will penetrate the casual user market is more likey through integrated devices like the Eeepc and the Nokia webtablet where the user is more likely to accept an altered/simplified interface as it doesn't interfere with their conditioned responses.

  26. V.Srikrishnan

    Geez...

    Some people here want an OS, which, going by their expectations, would be able to divine what is going on in their minds! maybe they also would like to flame GM or Toyota for not yet producing a car which would sense their presence as they approach, open the door and read their minds and take them to their destination...

    there are of course issues with GNU/Linux and if you do not like it, stay away from it. Certainly you need to point out the shortcomings at the forums etc. but certainly the developers/contributors do not get encouraged if you call them "elitist". maybe some distribution of GNU/Linux will get so "user friendly" that one only need to look at a file for a moment and lo! all will be done. and maybe the developers consider it a waste of time in programming eye candy.

    then there are lunkheads who still complain about the look and feel of GNOME and KDE and feel that nothing is "standardised".

  27. Shadowslayer
    Thumb Up

    Ubunto is great

    I installed it on my compaq v2000 notebook and it autodetected all the hardware except the wifi card and installed drivers for them all. I plugged in my linksys pcmcia card and it installed automatically too. No script editiing at all. dare i say It just works. Hell it even downloaded codec on the fly when i tried playing divx files. So if anything dethrones microsft it'll be ubuntu. I mean after all you don't get much more properitary than big brandname notebooks.

  28. Conor Wynne
    Heart

    my kids see no difference in operating systems

    My daughter smashed my ibook last month, and I replaced it with an eeepc.

    I asked my daughter (10 years old) what OS was on it. She said, what?

    So I asked about the desktop and how she finds it compared to the XP box, the vista box or the mac. She said she prefers the eeepc, but they are all the same at the end of the day. They all run firefox, and she actually prefers the UI on the eeepc.

    Regarding games, this is a non-starter, as consoles are now king.

    Who still plays games on a PC anyway?

    All games are played on either the WII (the kids favorite) or the PS3 - for myself.

    I have not bought a PC game in years. I tell a lie, I bought CIV4 and crysis recently.

    Apart from that, all games run on the consoles. Far better IMO.

    I see linux as a superb server OS, and so so for the desktop. As long as OXML does not become a standard then linux has potential, otherwise its foobarred.

    Personally I only run linux on servers, but all four on the desktop, I agree with my kids that they are all the same for what we use them for at home.

    Regards

    Conor.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Ease of use

    I use Windows Vista at home, it installed quickly, it updates properly and (touch wood) I have never had a problem with it. Does everything I want and just works.

    I installed Ubuntu (Gutsy Gibbon) on my Toshiba Laptop and it installed just fine, it detected everything including USB and Wireless then it re-booted and presented me with a log on screen with HUGE graphics, couldn’t log in since I didn’t seem to be able to move from username to password boxes with the tab key. Went to the Ubuntu forums and was met with ridicule for the most part "Go back to Windoze if you can’t figure this out" "You shouldn’t be using Ubuntu" etc but then a couple of quick searches later and I found the solution. OK I had to boot into a command prompt and edit a file and hey presto, everything works.

    Used Ubuntu for a while and it works just fine, does everything I want it to do but, like a few people have said it has it's own quirks and to repeat the Ubuntu mantra "Linux is not windows" this means learning a new menu structure and all it's little quirks. Not an altogether onerous task but you have to understand the average user - They are LAZY.

    Now if Ubuntu could get Microsoft to agree to let them copy the windows menu structure and behaviours they would be on to a winner........

  30. Pheet
    Gates Horns

    A FreeBSD Fanboy writes...

    I think *nix is now usuable on the destop for most users. The problem is installation and initial configuration (and I've had some tricky experiences installing windows too, average Joe or Jane user would also have problems).

    A desktop PC, which has supported hardware, pre-installed with Ubuntu+FF+OOo is not more difficult to use than the windows equivalent. If everybody had to manually install Windows+IE+Office everytime they bought a PC from Dixons/etc, then they'd be on a equal footing.

    It's at least equivalent with Windows for user-friendlyness. Real life example: Friend running WinXP (no SP) buys USB webcam. The software refuses to install without SP2. Dowload SP2 - won't install because of vendor bootsplash screen. I have to edit boot.ini in notepad (as per MS's KB article), and reboot before the SP will install - yes, editing config files by hand....

    The problem is hardware manufactors. Buggy or properietry implementations of "standards" such as ACPI (yes, I'm looking at you Mr Dell), flaky BIOS's and USB controllers, and proprietry drivers (c.a. 50% of wireless cards for example). Apple gets around this (despite MacOSX's BSD/Mach base) by using very specific hardware. I think it's a fallacy to blame open-source OSs for bugs in firmware, or for the lack of device drivers - that's down to the manufacturor. Compare Nvidia that releases drivers for Linux & FreeBSD for their graphic cards, with ATI that doesn't (yet).

    I use PC-BSD (www.pcbsd.org), nice GUI installer, sensibley pre-configured, and has a nice easy GUI Push Button Installer system for most software (that also avoids dependency hell). I've installed and configured on totally non-technical friends' machines, and it's not a problem. They click on the FF icon to websurf, .doc files open in OO Writer, etc.

    "Insert a USB drive into your Linux box. Where is it in the file system? You and I both know it's buried under /mnt somewhere. But what about a normal end-user? They'd have no clue. None. At least Windows pops up a little window and tells you where the hell it mounted the device!"

    Err, on my machine KDE also gives the nice pop up box (and the USB drive icon appears on the desktop). And it's mounted under /media. I don't see the difference from a user-freindly POV.

    "In my humble opinion, Linux as a Desktop is superior to both XP and Vista, for most users"

    Personally, I think they're pretty much on a level these days. Main difference is in price and security.

  31. Gareth

    Not a question of skill, it's a productivity issue...

    @"If you don't have the aptitude for the current incarnations of Linux distros then don't fekin bitch about it"

    I've run Linux/BSD servers for years and currently run a business which makes use of a custom Linux distro for kiosks.

    However, I still run Windows on the desktop if I want to get any work done (perhaps OS/X if I could afford it).

    Linux plain sucks for desktop use. It's great for servers and it's great for nerds who want to get their hands dirty, but I really don't have the time to compile, patch and recompile every variation of a basic app (MP3 player, accounting software, etc) trying to find one that's functional and not a half-finished University project.

    I limped along with a Linux desktop for two or three years when I was in University and had plenty of free time, but doing that now would cripple my business as my productivity would drop like a stone.

  32. CyberSword
    Linux

    Missing the point

    It seems that many people are missing the point here, Windows installations are in general a nightmare because none of the devices work out of the box at all, you need to download drivers from the manufacturer to get anything work.

    I'm sure that if manufacturers would give as much effort to make Ms drivers as they do making Linux drivers you would end up with worse problems for Ms then Linux. (Can anyone imagine Ms reverse engineering drivers from Linux?)

    If you want to make valid comments in an argument about whether Linux is desktop ready you should compare OEM installations for both platforms and then complain that for example Open Office is not as fully featured as Ms Office (bring on the flames)

    My self I use Ubuntu on a Thinkpad without any issues (everything worked straight out of the box, compared to installing loads of drivers on Windows) and I'm pretty damned pleased with it, although I still use Ms Office through Wine.

  33. Stern Fenster

    @Anton Channing

    "Overall though I get frustrated by the single button mouse and the lack of right click context menus. I still find myself trying to right click sometimes, and then wondering what I'm supposed to do instead."

    Macs have had right click for years. Just switch it on in the mouse control panel. Or use Control-Click for contextuals if you wanna be really retro.

  34. Joel Clark
    Paris Hilton

    OSX is UNIX that doesn't suck

    It's the best of both worlds. A pretty desktop that easily runs wifi, hardware 3D, word/excel/powerpoint, etc--but that still offers a full UNIX implementation under the hood. Not sure why more people don't get that, even Paris gets it.

  35. 4a$$Monkey
    Linux

    Games

    Its been said already but I'd second the more games point. I wouldn't put Linux on my home PC because of the lack of game support. I'm rebuilding my main machine at the moment and it looks like it going to have to be Vista. Bah.

    Note to self: order extra 2GB ram.

  36. Brian Miller
    Boffin

    AC: devices and ease-of-use are important

    AC, your experiences are unfortunately par for the course. And the average user isn't lazy, its just that us geeks don't realize what geniuses we are.

    An aunt of mine bought a PC in the days of MS-DOS. I helped her quite a bit, and it took a good bit of explaining that the files on the hard drive stayed the same, even though two different programs displayed them in different formats on the screen. Sure, its obvious to us. But it isn't obvious to them.

    I recently bought a MSI K9A2 Platinum motherboard. I installed CentOS, and I found that I needed ethernet drivers for the Realtek chip. Ok, off to find drivers. Compile drivers. Install drivers. Try to configure drivers and fight with GUI "helper" which overwrites my edits. Find out that said drivers are flaky and don't always pick up MAC address from the card. Finally installed old 10/100 Intel PCI NIC, and no more problems. And I also had to buy a video card which had Linux drivers for it. But after it was all said and done, I am running Vista in VMWare and scoring 4.9 for CPU and memory.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Re: Perspective

    @Rob: This has been my experience with linux as well, for the last 5 years. Partially working installations with annoying flaws - EVERY time, thus forcing me to go back to Windows. I'm no computer expert, but I'm certainly no newbie either.

    @AC "Used Ubuntu for a while and it works just fine, does everything I want it to do but, like a few people have said it has it's own quirks and to repeat the Ubuntu mantra "Linux is not windows" this means learning a new menu structure and all it's little quirks. Not an altogether onerous task but you have to understand the average user - They are LAZY."

    If by "quirks" you mean sound or networking or printing not working, then yes I agree those are quirks! I'm not talking about a new menu layout here.

    The fact that Red Hat, with the finances of a corporation behind it, has admitted defeat should be a sign that linux STILL is not ready for the average home user.

  38. Alan Donaly
    Linux

    This is stupid

    of course it's ready for the desktop it's been mine for two years now no editing required works perfectly has since I installed it RH bailed on their desktop product because Ubuntu is too far ahead and they are still trying to swallow Jboss they are brilliant guys over at RH but they seem to be a bit slow.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    @BigYin

    ``Insert a USB drive into your Linux box. Where is it in the file system? You and I both know it's buried under /mnt somewhere. But what about a normal end-user? They'd have no clue. None. At least Windows pops up a little window and tells you where the hell it mounted the device!''

    So does Ubuntu.

  40. James O'Shea
    Dead Vulture

    'Quirks'? Them's not 'quirks'...

    I have been working with computers since 1984. I have worked with mainframes, minis, superminis, and various desktop systems. I worked with DOS, early Macs, early Windows, and on up to the present. I used, I repeat, USED TO, have Ubuntu Linux on one of my machines. I no longer do because, quite simply, it was too much trouble.

    I don't want to wrestle with my own personal computers; I get enough of that at work. I want them to do what I want, when I want, and how I want. Yes, Windows (XP and Vista) and Mac systems sometimes have to be beaten into submission, but it's a lot easier to do that than Linux systems. The Ubuntu system formerly installed on my machine had numerous problems, with, among other things:

    1 two different wireless cards, one from D-Link and one from Linksys. Both cards worked perfectly with XP and Vista. On the exact same hardware.

    2 two USB thumb drives and an external USB hard drive. All three formatted FAT or FAT32, all three work without problems, with the same hardware, with XP and Vista. All three also work without problems with Macs, both OS 9 and OS X.

    3 Ubuntu did not recognise the full range of resolutions available on my video card, an unremarkable NVIDA low-to-mid-range card, purchased at Wal-Mart. Vista works on that card.

    4 Ubuntu did not recognise my Logitech USB mouse. Period. Fortunately I had a cheap Taiwanese PS/2 mouse; Ubuntu worked with that one. Vista and XP both work just fine with my Logitech, as does Mac OS 9 and OS X. (I have the Logitech connected to the Mac this is currently being typed on.)

    5 Ubuntu did not recognise my Logitech USB web cam. XP, Vista, and OS X do.

    6 Ubuntu would not print to my HP inkjet MFD, and of course would not scan from it. I got a new Brother inkjet MFD; Ubuntu doesn't work with that one, either. OS 9 and XP work perfectly with the HP, as do older versions of OS X; Leopard (OS X 10.5) and Vista don't like the HP. Everyone likes the Brother. Well, everyone except Ubuntu.

    7 Ubuntu will not print to my Brother laser printer if attached via USB; it will work if the printer is direct onto the network, with a fixed IP. (Ubuntu doesn't do Bonjour either, so it has to be a fixed IP.) XP, Vista, OS 9, and OS X all work fine via USB, and OS X, XP, and Vista all work with Bonjour without problems.

    8 Ubuntu won't work with my Logitech USB headset. Or my Logitech USB trackball. Both of which work with XP, Vista, and OS X.

    It appears that Ubuntu has numerous problems with USB in general, and Logitech products which use USB in particular. It also doesn't like printers, MFDs, hard drives, and video cards. And wireless cards.

    Ubuntu is, simply, not ready for prime time. I reformatted the partition it was on, and installed Vista on the same partition... and everything that was not working with Ubuntu is now working with Vista. Think about it: VISTA GIVES LESS TROUBLE THAN UBUNTU. if that's not enough of a condemnation, I don't know what is.

    And I didn't even bother to list the problems I had with application software...

    Until I can go over to Wal-Mart, buy a video card, a mouse, a printer and a thumb drive, and take 'em home and expect them to work with a Linux system out of the box, then Linux is not ready for the consumer desktop. Period. It's a dead duck... and so I'm using the dead bird icon.

  41. paul
    Go

    The desktop is dead.

    Come on, who uses the desktop anymore? Everything is done in a web browser.

    Windows, linux , mac , ps3 , wii , set top boxes blah blah blah.

    Look at the eeePC. All that is really is a web browser.

  42. Roy
    Linux

    @ The BigYin

    Then we disagree.

    When I install ubuntu, the process is easy, intuitive, and painless. All my devices work, all drivers are automatically installed, and the only "tweaking" I do, is making changes to my GUI.

    Granted, some processes could be made easier, but as it stands, I spend far less time configuring everything to my liking on ubuntu, then I do on XP.

    If I add a USB stick, it pops up on my desktop, along with any external drive. It detects my phone via bluetooth effortlessly, and .. everything!

    I know what you refer too, and I had alot of issues like that in the past.

    First time I installed linux, was Slackware back in 99. I spent two weeks getting the graphic and sound card running.

    Then I tried Mandrake 6 or 7 later. Both times, I gave up.

    Now? What can I say? I find it easier than windows. It automatically updates every app I use, I never worry about viruses, spyware or malware. And when I want to play a game, wine works well for the most part. Maybe it needs some minor tweaking, but the amount of how-to's and community support makes it a breeze.

    I'm sorry your experience is less. But the community is doing everything it can to adress such issues. Hopefully, in a year or two, those issues bothering you will be gone :)

  43. Martin Usher

    Linux *is* ready for the average user....

    But not necessarily as a general purpose OS. It really starts to score when you get it on devices like the eePC. Its obviously a threat because Vole had to tweak their XP to get it on the system (there's no way Vista will get on a small system).

    Day to day I don't find much problem with Linux. It just lacks games support. That's what killed Warp, after all.

  44. Mad Hacker
    Joke

    @ Conor Wynne

    Quote: "PS3 - for myself."

    What?! There are no decent games out for the PS3! XBOX 360 all the way baby!

    Sorry, it was the only flame war that hadn't been brought up in this meandering thread, so I had too.

  45. Daniel B.
    Boffin

    USB support

    "Insert a USB drive into your Linux box. Where is it in the file system? You and I both know it's buried under /mnt somewhere. But what about a normal end-user? They'd have no clue. None. At least Windows pops up a little window and tells you where the hell it mounted the device!"

    Um ... it basically "pops-up" in my desktop, or even does a "What do you want to do..." very much like windows, of course I use KDE, this is with Fedora 6. It even has a nice "Safely Remove" option in the right-click menu, so I never have to worry about arcane things like "unmount" (which is also there, by the way.)

    Hey, its even able to recognize my Blackberry SD interface with no more effort than enabling "mass storage support" on my BB... which I have to do on Windows anyways. This is one of the main reasons my BB 8300 has practically substituted my USB pendrives as my "mobile file mover" of choice. Oh, and the w300 also was able to do this ;)

    Even the nVidia drivers, which used to be a pain to install, are no longer that bad (though it *does* require having the kernel-source packages installed!) and I got to use my geForce 7600GT without problems. Videogaming would not be a problem if the other FPS/game devels had followed id software's example of using OpenGL; id remains up to this day the only one capable of releasing games for Windows, Mac, *and* Linux without much hassle. Hey, even the "Linux version" of some games are actually the sole binaries, and you only have to drop-in the .pak files (Quake2, Quake3) so buying the Win version enables me to use the Linux one too! =)

    Really, the gaming industry is the one that has least worries about what frickin' UI the OS uses; they are usually fullscreen and have their own UI, so they look good by themselves. Only when the UI can't be fully reproduced do ports fail to sell, but this is something more common in consoles, where competing platforms have unique advantages and disadvantages making it impossible to transfer all details/features to rivalling consoles. PC's are the same hardware, and by now most OSen support the same stuff.

    My only gripe with Linux would be the near-impossibillity of using most WiFi adapters, winmodems, and "fakeraids" without doing some heavy duty console work / kernel recompilings. I sure felt let down when my SiI "raid" didn't work at all under Linux, and most info on this talks about poor support for this. =(

  46. James Penketh
    Boffin

    I'm confused...

    ... All you lot complaining you have to endlessly tweak config files and compile every piece of software you want to use... are you just repeating random crap you've heard, or what? (Maybe you installed some ancient version of something...)

    Because I've been running linux in various forms on all of my desktops (From Ubuntu through Debian, Slackware, Fedora and now at SUSE) with very little problems. (OK, the older versions of ubuntu had a fairly ugly and complex installer. Very Debian 4.0 like... )

    All the newer distros (Fedora 7 and 8, and SUSE 10.3) all installed using a GUI, and all I had to do was (a bit generalised, Fedora and SUSE install in slightly different ways.)

    * choose what language I wanted to use

    * the layout of the keyboard I was using (actually, that part was optional, but I use a foreign layout keyboard.)

    * what software I wanted (optional part again, you can leave it to install a default set of software)

    * how the machine was networked (static IP, rather than DHCP which was the default.),

    * made sure the sound worked,

    * set the admin account password and created the first user account.

    That took about an hour, including updating all the software I wanted.

    Every USB device I plug in is detected and works fine, (note, I don't have any webcams, so I wouldn't know about them.) and I don't have to go hunting the filesystem to find out where they are. I get an icon on the desktop.

    My TV tuner card was detected and I get to use the remote to control the PC. (Can't watch TV as I believe the card itself is broken. It didn't work under XP either... :| )

    I had dual monitors working perfectly, and I didn't have to compile anything to do that, as it was all done for me.

    And, as to ease of use, the family PC is running Fedora very well (albeit without sound, although I believe the hardware for that has finally flaked out, as it was dodgy under XP.)

    I actually have had comments that Fedora is easier to use than XP from various family members.

    So, draw your own conclusions from that, although I suspect you will keep on complaining that "teh Lunix" is only for people with PhDs and geeks with inch thick glasses. (No, I don't have a PhD, and I don't wear glasses. Although I *am* a geek.)

    Some people will complain about anything, facts be damned.

    Mine is the black straightjacket with the tail stitched on it...

  47. Solomon Grundy
    Linux

    Venture Capital and Silicon Valley

    I'm not sure why this is news in the springs of 2008???

    The big three VC firms in Silicon Valley decided to halt future investment in desktop Linux products in early 2007. I guess it takes some companies 1.25 years to realize that the money dried up but hey, the Linux people haven't ever been accused of listening to common sense.

  48. Ian Loveridge
    Linux

    more @theBigYin

    I installed Ubuntu 7.10 alongside XP and apart from having to edit a file to get my side mouse buttons to work, nothing could have been simpler. Everything just worked out of the box. My mobo needed 6 different downloads to get graphics, ethernet and sound working correctly for XP (3yr old Asrock board), not only that, I needed to know how to check out device manager to find what was wrong...XP 'just' works...WRONG!

    The thing is we have made allowances because this is what we are all used to. As they say 'Linux is not Windows' and we are resistant to change. Quite rightly when we just want to 'do our job' or whatever. I tried Linux again because I wanted to learn something new...but was disapointed with what I actually needed to learn nowadays as very little needed to be learned.

    From a fresh install;

    Play an mp3 or Avi - a prompt told me to click a button to get the drivers and also why they weren't included. Windows on the other hand just fails until you understand about codecs and where to get them.

    AntiVirus and Firewall - still haven't found them in Ubuntu, but then I am told I don't need them. There are a multitude of add on products for XP to do this and many are malware masquerading as functional software. Fact is, you need to know about this stuff for windows, but don't for Ubuntu.

    I must admit to trying many Linux distro's over the last ten years but always took them off after getting frustrated. Ubuntu has stayed on and apart from gaming XP and VisualStudio it doesn't even get loaded anymore.

    I tried Vista but put XP back after finding my logitech webcam wouldn't work (cheers for dropping driver support Logitech) and the fact that with 2Gb it felt like it was running through treacle after using XP, let alone Ubuntu.

    The real thing is that once they are setup, everyone seems able to switch between them without much comment. Except to ask what the equivalent software is called. Messenger or Media Player are what they are used to, so Pidgin, Movie Player and Amarok are not what they look for. Quite happy once they are told though, with quite a few still looking for Amarok for windows <smug smile>.

    The point is (and I have never installed OS X so can't comment) that EVERY OS needs quite a bit of setting up. Once it is done, they seem roughly equivalent and as long as they do the job... in my case I believe Ubuntu took a lot less setting up.

  49. Cyfaill
    Linux

    Linux desktop user for 12 years

    I am a Debian Linux user who has come from using distributions from all major Linux family groups. Additionally I have made over 2000 computers over the years.

    With care anybody can be taught to use Linux and when that happens they never go back to using MS products.

    People were not born knowing how to use Windows®, they learned it.

    Linux is no different... it can be learned.

    Linux is logical and as far as intuition is concerned, start with the basic set of instruction as to how it goes together.

    A modern Linux such as Debian... Lenny-Sid practically falls together with a net install (requires broadband) and a basic understanding of what quality hardware is all about.

    Yes it requires a little intelligence to use... but are we not talking about a computer Operating System and thousands of applications.

    Is it for everyone? No, it is for those who want to learn.... know then that self responsibility and knowledge is the secret to all existence.

    It is for those who just happen to need to use a computer, that is very resistant to crashing and want something that kicks butt. It can be made to look as austere or as beautiful as you wish it to.

    And do keep in mind it lives and thrives on the internet, of course it is resistant to infestations... that is in fact the world in which it evolved. Think about it.

    It can be made to do almost anything... and do it very well.

    To use a now popular metaphor... They will have to pull my Linux from my cold dead fingers before I give it up.

    Does that mean that it is the only solution... of course not. but it should be noted that given a genuine chance at use, long enough to learn about it... few go back to a lesser world. Yes some do, but in my experience those are few and far between.

    Loyalty is earned by deed and not just because power mad corporations marketing an inferior product try to dominate the world by force.

    Linux as an idea will survive and in time much of the world will learn what it is all about, both from a technical perspective and from the ideological one which is a valid part of the driving force behind its revolutionary approach.

    In the mean time, try to enjoy life and don’t worry about it, Microsoft will collapse by its own hand as it is an old worn out thing shriveling in the light of new ideas.

  50. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Puzzled

    I dont understand the difficulty installing a latest version of Linux, even me a real newb in terms of geekdom could manage a Fedora 6 installation on this PC

    As for not mounting USB stuff, Fedora 6 just gets on with it, and displays nice little icons even a windows user could understand, and as for the trouble with a USB keyboard, well this is being typed with a USB wireless m$ keyboard and USB mouse.

    Ok setting up the install options can be a bit confusing , but no more confusing than a windows install, plus the advantage that you dont have to reboot the machine 15 times a minute when you do install the OS.

    Thats not the say its all heavenly in the Linux world.... getting hold of a DVD player and making sure you had the right plugins could be a bit better , but thats mainly due to the fact that you are using a free O/S as opposed to shelling out cash for it.

    But if you gave the majority of computer users a PC with Linux preinstalled with DVD/MP3 support, a copy of Open office, firefox and thunderbird then that would be enough for them and they would'nt notice the difference between that and a machine with windows installed.

    Boris

  51. E

    @Pascal Harris

    Basically the problem with Ubuntu is it has no serious corporate backing.

    RH & SuSE have a lot of tools for LAN deployment, *and* phone numbers the punters can call for support. Ubuntu afaik does not.

    Also, Ubuntu is irritating, like it's boosters. I once read a thread about Plan 9 that was discussing some problem with accessing the shared file system from one of the compute nodes. Sure 'nuff some twit posted "Why not use Ubuntu? It's more friendly".

    It's like if I started posting hither and yon "Why not use Slackware? It's simpler!". Well, yeah. it is simpler. But it's just beside the point.

  52. KarlTh
    Jobs Halo

    You know what?

    Person 1 with his hardware finds XP or Vista works out of the box and Ubuntu doesn't. Person 2 with a different set of hardware finds Linux works out of the box. Why does Person 2 have to call Person 1 a liar?

    For my part, and this was with Gutsy Gibbon, I found that the builtin wireless card in my laptop would only work under NDISWrapper, and even then could not, even with WICD, be made to automatically connect on startup - I could have written a shell script, but just plugged in a spare dongle which was properly supported (well, after I'd downloaded a driver from an obscure place on the web because the m/f of the actual chip had stopped offering web downloads or somesuch, and this was a mass market Belkin dongle, not some car boot unbranded thing from Taiwan). On my desktop Vista works almost flawlessly, except for an annoying habit of losing USB HID devices on waking from sleep which comes and goes. In 1 GB of RAM.

    Different people have different experiences in different circumstances.

    OK. Work head on. I have to manage desktops for around 2000 users, and there's pretty much just me to configure them, for people who mostly have to be talked through getting to the control panel. I manage this by using group policies and SMS. How, exactly, would one manage 2000 Linux desktops in the same way? For me, Linux will be ready for the desktop when it natively (Samba, yes, but in my experience it's slower than native Windows on given hardware, and even then its domain and group policy support is only where NT4.0 was) supports an equivalent to active directory (for group policy) and SMS (for scheduled automatic software installation and publishing), without having to give users the keys to sudo. That's where MS is making its killing - whatever gripes you have about the OS (and I share them, believe you me), the fact is that I can do these things with readily available tools which I can learn to use without spending hours reading obscure manuals* in my Copious Free Time (TM)

    I'm willing to be sold the wonders of a Linux desktop, but until it's got the manageablility that MS' domains and management software give me, I don't see how I could support it. Yes, I know about Zenworks, but question the wisdom of swapping one paid for solution for another.

    I wonder which response I'll get? It's either "You idiot, you're too thick to do systems support if you don't know about <insert management package here>", which translates as "because I live and breathe Linux you should too or you're not a real techie" or "You should trust your users to manage their own computers", showing breathtaking naivity about the fact that Joe User (a) doesn't know that much about computers and couldn't find his way to the Add Programs part of Ubuntu no matter how easy it is once you're there and (b) doesn't want to either because he wants to use the computer, not configure it.

    Go on. Wow me with the Open Source alternatives.

    *Average Linux man file "Recursion: see Recursion".

  53. E

    @Richard

    Speaking as someone who wedged his first Linux install into 5 MB on his mom's PC in about 1993 complete with X and GCC...

    I still occasionally run into problems with mice and X after installing Fedora or SuSE, current version. Most often not all three buttons are recognized or the scroll wheel does not work. It's not a show stopper for me but I do have to rack my brains to remember the solution.

    For a non-UNIX/Linux aware person this really would be a big problem to solve.

    But, hey, it happens on Windows too sometimes. It's a bear for the non-tech Windows user to fix that too.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    @ All the Linux Fanbois

    You whining fanbois sound like the astroturfers who defend Vista. People do have problems installing and configuring Linux whether you like it or not.

    I use Slackware on the desktop, not because I particularly like it (which I do), but because it is the _only_ Linux distribution in my experience that reliably installs on everything you chuck at it (except some older Dell hardware). However it requires a lot more manual configuration and the WiFi support is considerably worse out the box than other distro's. But at least it never pretends you won't have to configure things at the command line like the so-called user-friendly distro's.

    Another thing that bugs the hell out of me is that Ubuntu, Fedora, Suse, Mandriva and other distros can all create LiveCDs that recognise all your hardware and correctly configure it, yet their GUI installers are often incapable of doing the same, sometimes to the point of not even recognising USB mice and keyboards! Yet if you force them to use the text-mode installer usually hidden on the install CD it often recognises and configures the hardware not reconised or configured by the GUI installer. Talk about the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

    And no, I'm talking about the latest versions of all distros in all cases, before you get snotty.

    So, unless you have a pet techie to install and configure it for you, or you buy it from Dell, Linux is not ready for general use. And don't say "but that's the case with Windows!" Do you really want Microsoft to be the standard you hold for yourselves?

  55. John Bailey
    Linux

    Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

    Linux isn't a universal cure for computer problems. But neither is Windows, or OSX. Its an operating system. What would be the point if they were all the same.

    I'm typing this on Fedora 8 right now, and I'll be downloading Fedora 9 soon, when it comes out of beta. After two years on Linux, I'm still having a blast. Way more fun that Windows ever was. I've had hiccups and problems, but who doesn't. I'm a self confessed geek and proud of it. Why shouldn't we have an OS aimed at us.

    As far as degree level computer knowledge, Sorry to disappoint. I don't have a single letter after my name. Didn't even finish secondary school to be honest. I did go on a short programming course once. Basic COBOL. So not very useful for hacking around with Linux. I just have enough interest and curiosity to learn how to do stuff.

    in reference to the topic at hand.. Red Hat not wanting to get involved in making a consumer grade desktop distro is spot on. I don't blame them one bit. Its too expensive to support, and most people would not be willing to pay a subscription fee. No profit, no point. Especially when there are so many good distros out there already. Let them stick to what they know. The corporate and workstation biz. Leave the consumer desktop to the community based distros who know their users already.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Desktop Linux Needs Support to Work

    Typical end-users don't install windows on their systems. Why should you expect them to be able to install Linux?

    Microsoft has had working partnerships for decades with Intel and major desktop vendors to ensure that the hardware plays well with windows.

    I have used Linux Desktops in corporate environments but they were standardized builds that were pre-tested for the list of supported laptops issued to employees.

    Linux will be viable on the Desktop when RedHat or Suse or whoever is serious about doing it. They can't just throw it out on the street and expect "the community" to take up the slack. Picking one desktop manager as the primary and sticking with it would help as well.

  57. Trix Bronze badge

    Seconded AC @ 5:00 GMT

    Yes, all these people moaning about how Windows just "works out of the box" obviously haven't done a real install from scratch. Firing up the machine you just bought pre-built from Dell, waiting for the image to run through the rest of the setup and setting your timezone does not count.

    Any Windows system requires a bunch of drivers to operate properly, most of the time, and if you don't have the vendor disks to hand, you have the pain of downloading and configuring them. Ubuntu and other desktop Linuxes manage this process without requiring extra vendor files 95%+ of the time. I'd say Windows does this less than 1/2 of the time (I'm talking about stock hardware too).

    For what it's worth, all the Linux installs - of consumer-oriented distros - I've done in the last two years, on modern (not bleeding-edge) desktops and laptops have required no extra drivers, downloads or configuration all. I've never touched a kernel in my life. I can even plug in my SE phone and have the storage recognised - complete with a cute little icon on the desktop - with no hassles whatsoever. On Windows, I need to install the driver. Rinse and repeat for just about any other non-generic portable storage device out there.

    So, yes, the problem is fear of what's new (and listen to the chorus of screams from a certain minority of Windows users if you happen to move their icons on their desktops), and enterprise-level support for Linux desktops, not any fundamental functionality or usability problem is what's holding back uptake. The most technophobic people I know have no problems with the ASUS Eeepc and its cute icons. And, ZOMG, it's Linux - but it's an interface that doesn't really require "learning", despite its unfamiliarity.

  58. Andraž Levstik

    YMMV

    The title says it all. No matter what OS YMMV... I've had win installs that I had to spent days figuring out why things don't work as they should and I spend days on linux problems.

    The bottom line is there will always be issues but generalizing like BigYin is the worst of the lot...

    Here's a few examples:

    installed ubnutu on my mom's craptop and it took

    a) much less time(start to end of install 30 minutes)

    b) stuff worked and still works out of the box

    c) nothing to do

    admin @work did the same on same model craptop but with winxp

    a) took about 2 hours

    b) half the devices didn't work

    c) had to adjust a lot of things to get it working properly in the end

    friend installed xp on desktop

    a) same time

    b) all worked out of the box

    c) nothing to do

    friend installed ubuntu on desktop

    a) 30 minutes

    b) nearly everything worked - he had to install some proprietary drivers for his vid card

    c) no config file editing

    As you can see YMMV no matter what OS you go with...

    ---

    A bit about me:

    I've been a gnu/linux user for 10 years. Used various distros, have been a distro developer for the last 4 years and maintain a mixed system environment at work(rhel, solaris, win) and other variations at clients... I have at one point or another used OS/2 Warp4, QNX, BeOS, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, dos, win3.x, win9x, winnt4, win2k, winxp, winserver2003, sylable, reactos, and others... And have had various experiences with each of the systems...

  59. KarlTh
    Thumb Up

    That's the phrase I was looking for!

    "enterprise-level support for Linux desktops"

    Ta.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    This some up all fanboys Linux / OSX / Windows

    "After two years on Linux, I'm still having a blast. Way more fun that Windows ever was."

    If running an OS is your idea of fun, or you get so passionate about it, please leave by the nearest exit, go to the pub, talk to human beings and get wasted! You need to lighten up a little in life.

    I'm getting my coat ready, under 3 hours to 1 hour of freedom

  61. Aditya Krishnan

    Huh?

    I don't get it... I've installed XP on any number of machines in the past and have never faced any probs... insert media, reboot, format, install, insert driver CD, autoinstall go, done. Never took me more than 90 minutes. And I've been using Vista on my XPS 1530 laptop for 3 months with nary a problem.

    Why would I want to emulate my games under Wine anyway? There's definitely going to be some amount of performance degradation.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If this was a car ....

    I wonder if people would have the same aversion to learning if it was say a free car.

    Imagine some car company releases a totally free car, the caveat being it has a revolutionary new sterring system which takes 3 montsh to learn... would you bother leanring it, OF COURSE YOU WOULD ITS FREE.

    the whole idea of average joe not being able to learn Linux is a myth. If programming and i mean basic programming was taught in IT classes rather than how to play Solitiare we might get somewhere.

    Furthermore i am average joe, i learn't slackware in 3 months in my free time. Actually learning how something works under hood is fun, kinda like building a kit car. The point is if we'd all had proper IT lessons at school MS would eb bankrupt end of.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another install anecdote...

    I wouldn't normally join in this, but at the moment I'm trying to get XP to run on a new Vaio which came infected with Vista.

    I tried running Ubunto from the live CD, it booted fine, sound worked, usb memory sticks were recognized without a problem, and brought up an icon on the screen.

    I partitioned the disk and prepared to use EasyBCD to set up multi-boot XP and Vista.

    Tried to boot off an XP-pro SP2 disk. First problem, it doesn't see the hard disk. I had to find the SATA driver. OK, it gives chance to load disk drivers early in the install. Try it. It wants the drivers on a FLOPPY!!!

    Next stage, use Nlite to make an XP install disk with the SATA drive. Success, it boots and installs XP. Drivers for ethernet, sound, modem, and a couple more just aren't there. Sony aren't making them available for this model, so I'll have to trawl through the component manufacturer's websites.

    It looks as if Windows is the harder to install, particularly because MS seems to be leaning on manufacturers to stop them helping users downgrade.

    Usabity? It's the programs that matter, and the reason we need XP is because we have programs that won't work on Vista. Probably due to DRM crippling. I've not (yet) tried them with WINE though.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Heart

    @Kirk

    "Imagine some car company releases a totally free car, the caveat being it has a revolutionary new sterring system which takes 3 montsh to learn... would you bother leanring it, "

    Where do you live again? Just need to aviod the area thats all....

  65. Andy
    Paris Hilton

    @Another install anecdote

    Had that problem as well. Tried to install Xp on a new mobo, need SATA drivers. Had to use win95 machine to get the drivers off cd onto floppy. Yes floppy! Now, some machines these days don't come with a floppy drive installed. Screwed or what! Mine does have one.

    Linux on the other hand (Slackware, my fav), installs no prob. Doesn't that say something? Maybe m$ should get that sorted, add SATA drivers to their install CD/DVD.

    And as for Slackware, edit /etc/inittab to change the runlevel and install the Nvidia driver. Piece of cake. I find Linux easier to use/tweak.

    As for Redhat not doing the desktop right now, that's their choice. They are good at the server stuff so they are sticking with it, with what they know. I am sure they will get a desktop version out in the future, when the time is right.

    Paris, 'cos I bet she gets tweaked.

  66. James O'Shea
    Pirate

    new 'free' car

    Actually, Kirk, not only would I NOT take that 'free' car, I would avoid areas where those who have taken it are known to frequent. At least for the first three months. I have to drive on I-95 and Florida's Turnpike in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties in Florida every day. I have _seen_ what morons who have no idea what their vehicles can do are capable of. Large numbers of them splatter themselves all over the highway on a weekly to daily basis. This would be a Good Thing(tm) (Darwin at work, all hail Darwin) except that they often take innocent 3rd parties with them.

    If you get that free car, do the rest of us a favor, and drive only on surface streets, would you? That way, when (not if) you lose control and kill yourself, you cause only a local problem.

  67. crayon
    Gates Horns

    Windows' useability?

    It makes me sneer to hear people mention Windows' useability (lack of). Features that I take for granted such as auto-focus (on the window under the mouse) and multiple virtual desktops, and which I have been enjoying since my Amiga days, are still missing from Windows. Major time saving conveniences such as having your session saved when you log off and having it restored it when you next log in (which even the old OS/2 had) are obviously non-existent in Windows - it is all the more strange considering that a Windows user would benefit from that feature much more so than a Linux user, since the former would encounter BSODs (or whatever MS disguises it as these days) so many times a day.

    Little things like text highlighted with the mouse being automatically copied to the clipboard (and can be pasted using the middle mouse button) are major time savers - and I don't need to worry about accidentally overwriting the clipboard because klipper allows me to keep a clipboard history.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    DISTRO TALK, FUN

    I'm definitely a GNU/Linux, BSDs newbie, but installed PCBSD and Asolute Linux ( a Slackware distro desktop) on computers at home with little or no trouble. Both detected all my hardware, including the 3 button mouse and the USBs.

    Too be fair though, I've formatted and re-installed XP and previous Windows versions a few times. Never had any real trouble there either. Could be because my hardware is typically middle of the road technology, so there's lots of time for drivers to be created.

    I agree with several of the people who've commented that they play with these distros for fun. I too am doing this and having a hoot. Just trying to get Slackware 12 going next. Something about configuring X, oh well, I'm in no hurry.

  69. Stuart Castle

    In response to "What a bunch"

    "Look, if you claim you are a tech head type of person and can't get your head around a simple (yes simple) OS like a Linux distro, then you are no tech head. You are a Windows head. If you can't draw a parallel between a dialogue box config and a text file config, then you are just plain stupid."

    I *am* a tech head, and can offer one degree, an HND and 10 years of support experience on PCs to back it up. Before you dare to call me a "Windows head", I have offered support for DOS, Windows (3.1, NT 3.5 and 4, 2000, XP and Vista), Mac OS9, various types of Unix based OSes (Mainly Solaris and OSX. I have used various versions of Linux (Redhat, Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Mandrake).

    Linux is not as easy as Windows to configure Linux. Last time I tried to install Ubuntu at home, it would boot from the CD, but would not boot from any of my SATA hard drives (although it would access them when booted from CD).

    I am using an onboard Intel Chipset. My Motherboard is an ASUS P5B, which in terms of chipsets doesn't included anything unusual.

    After three days of trying to persuade the system to boot Ubuntu, I gave up and re-installed Vista. This went pretty much without a hitch, although I did have a lot of drivers to install to get things like my sound card and video card to work properly.

    It's exactly this sort of problem that Linux has to overcome if it is to become a mainstream OS. You may argue it is OK to bugger about with config files to get the OS to work, but the average punter knows little about computers beyond how to turn them on and fire up the word processor, their favourite game or browse the web.

    You may argue that Linux has to fight to gain acceptance (and support) from the major PC manufacturers. It does, and has had 15 years to do so. So far, apart from IBM and Dell (who both seem to be doing the minimum possible to promote and support Linux), it has singularly failed to do this.

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