back to article GNOME hacker: Culture isn't holding desktop Linux back

Open source bigwigs like Alan Cox, Miguel De Icaza, and Linus Torvalds can bicker all they want, says GNOME hacker Michael Meeks, but changing developer culture won't do a thing to attract more consumers to the Linux desktop. "I happen to mostly agree with [De Icaza's] conclusion – that we're still facing a huge uphill …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    That's the most common sense I've heard in a long time.

    Give that guy a medal.

  2. LaeMing Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Last two paragraphs

    Enterprises well and good. This HOME USER wants those things too.

    While an attractive UI can enhance the experience, mindless bling is for yuppies and widdle babies. :-)

    1. Fatman Silver badge

      Re: Last two paragraphs


      For the most part, enterprises don't give a shit about eye candy, they want stability, an easily understood UI, and the ability to move from one version to another without having to retrain the staff.

      WindblowZE 8 is an example of what enterprises detest - a new UI for the sake of a new UI.

      To be fair, one can toss that grenade (`a new UI for the sake of a new UI`) at Canonical for its adoption of Unity (which is, IMHO, a royal clusterfuck on a standard desktop.

      Getting rid of Unity is the first thing I did after installing the beta of Ubuntu 10.10, 11.04, 11.10, 12.04 and 12.10 for testing purposes on my dev machine. I can't stand that fucking thing (Unity). I have had some of its capabilities by the use of a left side panel with launchers since 7.10.

      Canonical, may I suggest that you leave Unity to everything but desktops, where, again IMHO, it is a fucking hindrance.

  3. Ian Johnston

    LXDE all the way now.

    How about the GNOME decision to dump the interface users knew and introduce a completely new one? Who thought that was a good idea?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: LXDE all the way now.

      Microsoft did the same several times and nobody died because of that.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: LXDE all the way now.

        IMO Microsoft has made incremental changes. The Windows 8 new UI is the only jump off from that. Granted Windows Media thingy already exited since Vista or XP Media center version.

        But I've never used it myself, so shows how much use/need there is for me. I'd guess very few others use it either. That's the only reason I can assume MS are forcing it on people now, as they did not get the adoption they wanted.

      2. Ian Johnston
        Thumb Down

        Re: LXDE all the way now.

        After the W3.1 -> W95 jump, MS has only made incremental changes, and they were in the dominant market position. Throwing away your established interface for something entirely different is ... brave, as Sir Humphrey might have said.

    2. brooxta

      Re: LXDE all the way now.

      > How about the GNOME decision to dump the interface users knew and introduce a completely new one? Who thought that was a good idea?

      Me :-) It's precisely the thing that GNOME should be doing _because_ it's open source.

      If enough people think the new direction is no good, then people will pick up with the old code and go forward with that instead. But if there's something good about the new code and way of doing things, then more people will jump in and hone it to something better and better ... until the next big new idea comes along. Distros generally have the resources to maintain old code if it suits their objectives. Debian built a huge reputation by managing this dynamic with their stable/testing/unstable streams. And Redhat has grown a billion dollar business out of their approach.

      Personally I think the GNOME 3 interface is great, and I'm glad major distros have picked it up. I find it far superior to Unity and going back to GNOME 2 seems so clunky, slow and restrictive now. Who wants to carry on doing stuff the way they've always done it when new hardware capabilities open up so many more possibilities?

      1. Vic

        Re: LXDE all the way now.

        > Who wants to carry on doing stuff the way they've always done it



      2. Ian Johnston
        Thumb Down

        Re: LXDE all the way now.

        It's not the introducing new ideas bit that's crazy, it's the dumping the old ideas one.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you're going to write for the Linux desktop, don't write for gnome use GTK or KDE. Either way it'll run on any of the major desktops.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hang on there

      Gnome is based on GTK and KDE is based on Qt. Go do some reading before you make an even bigger fool of yourself.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hang on there

        GTK != Gnome

        Build as gtk app. and it'll run on LXDE, XFCE etc. and gnome.

        All major distros let you run GTK or KDE(yes QT) apps........twat.

        1. Neil 7

          Re: Hang on there

          All major distros let you run GTK or KDE(yes QT) apps........twat.

          Qt != QT

          Get it right, ffs.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hang on there


        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hang on there

          There is that thing that qt programs tend to look pretty obviously different on anything other than kde. And kde programs tend to take a while to load up especially on low powered systems like older netbooks and the Rπ.

      2. Vic

        Re: Hang on there

        > Gnome is based on GTK and KDE is based on Qt.

        Yes. But if you write for GTK+, you can run that app on Gnome or KDE or Windows (Or OSX, I think, but I haven't done that personally). Similarly, if you write for Qt, you can run on the same variety of desktops.

        > Go do some reading before you make an even bigger fool of yourself.

        Oh, the irony...


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    There's one simple issue Linux has (apart from Unity)

    Fonts. GNOME 2, GNOME 3 and KDE Plasma all look like they're being displayed on a monitor running at the wrong resolution. It's very unprofessional-even Windows 98 looked better and if I were a corporate buyer with no technology knowledge this would make me question whether Linux was really ready for desktop deployment.

    It could also be fixed very simply. Love or hate Unity, Canonical has at least hired some real typeface designers. Everyone else seems not to have noticed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just to add

      What makes me particularly sad is that KDE is otherwise pretty much perfect: Windows users can jump right in and feel at home, and they have a great design team especially in the icon department. It's a shame when you open up a browser all the websites look wrong. I realise they can't copy closed source fonts, but fixing this should be their next priority.

      Unfortunately, to a Windows user, KDE doesn't look finished and Unity despite its many, many flaws does.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just to add

        Not interested in anything with Gnome as default desktop. Had Kubuntu 12.04 running on here before removing everything to go RAID. Disabled RAID and reinstalled everything and put Kubuntu back but took it off again because I'd forgotten about what a pita updating from a clean install was with Muon. Did at least find out that the way to easily overcome the RAID meta data remnants installation problem was delete each partition in turn backwards until only the disk itself is left, at which point all the existing partitions appear. That is, after dmraid -x wouldn't run even from the live cd.

        Had openSUSE 12.1 on the laptop, which while never working with the Edimax wireless adapter on here, worked flawlessly with the Broadcom on that, but updated it to 12.2 and the unpheasant plucking release could suddenly no longer go online. Bugger fixing it. Bollocks to running ndiswrapper to maybe get around it, it certainly didn't pigging work with the Edimax! So I reinstalled 12.1.

        Decided to try Mint (Mate). Quite impressed, even like the DE which is apparently based on Gnome 2, though also tried but rapidly removed xfce. And the Edimax works in Mint, though the signal is weak and can drop, and disconnects if you click on the network icon in the tray and it seems like you have to reboot to start it again.

        So, now got Mint 13 Mate and openSUSE 12.1 updated and Samba working on both and both are running quite reliably atm. I like the way you can easily switch DEs at Login on Mint. I could almost recommend it.

        But I've also got Windows7 Pro, Home, and XP x64, and there is no contest. None whatsoever. Not that I don't recognise the difficulties of writing drivers for Linux, though why you can have a device working perfectly in one release, then not at all in the next is beyond me.

        What bugs me are the endless claims that Linux is superior to Windows. The only real point the Linux fanbois have is security, but the overwhelming majority of _my_ customers don't get re-infected after I've explained it to them in terms a non-geek understands. I guess because unlike the Linux geek I don't think everyone who isn't a Linux geek is stupid.

        It isn't a steep learning curve to run Windows without getting pwned, certainly nothing like as much as getting the average Linux distro to run on the average hardware.

        Here's a thought. Any confectionary manufacturors reading this, bring out a bubblegum series with cards of different distros, and different penguins. Maybe you could include stick-on tattoos as well. The fawning twats'll go crazy for them!

        For an Apple series you can just include different large denominations of money. Not sure what Bill Gates loves. Different gates, perhaps (due credit to Linehan).

        Fucking fanbois.

        1. Gorbachov

          Re: Just to add

          Yes, let's all switch to MS so that our stuff "just works!". Like how I spent the last two days fixing an issue with buggered roaming profiles (random app crashes, including Outlook). Or the recent SP2 for the Windows Update server that dies in the process of upgrading. And the MS official solution? Reinstall WSUS. And reboot. A production server. Several times. If you think using the *nix console is close to black magic you haven't seen anything untill you try to do stuff in Powershell. Incantations galore.

          Honestly I don't care about consumers adopting Linux. After all they are called "consumers" for a reason ... we wouldn't get much back from them. The secondary effect people talk of (big OEMs investing in Linux development bcos of all the people using it) is always just out of reach and is probably not worth the effort.

          IMO the primary desktop focus should be on power-users and integration of clients into some kind of a backend (AD / LDAP / messaging server). Personally I'm happy with the state of the UI for the moment. KDE is good enough, Gnome 3 will be in a few years and there are several other good, stable options out there.

        2. Will Stephenson

          Bollocks to Broadcom

          Too busy to pick nits with you but here's a link to drivers for recent Broadcom hardware 12.2 driver: . Oh and you can select DEs at login in openSUSE's KDM by clicking the spanner (of course) icon.

      2. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: Just to add

        How true. You can change all sorts of things in kmail (which I love) but then you get things like text almost flat up against a border, which looks terrible. It looks as though underlying data structures have made it into the gui with grouping headers, boxes and lines around gui elements, and so on. It would probably be better to have fewer features and better looks. That's no bad reflection on the devs, but we do need some more influential aesthetic designers.

        The gnome 3 gui may put off linux devs and tifkam may be a flop, but in the end its

        about the apps. Put ms office on the desktop and the year of the linux desktop in business would be here. It isn't the features, its about risk and confidence.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Closed source fonts"

        They started by banning reading, they finished when they banned writing...

    2. frothing

      Re: There's one simple issue Linux has (apart from Unity)

      This is nothing to do with Linux. Android has some of the most beautiful font rendering around.

      As far as it being "fixed very simply", how do you propose that happens? GNOME doesn't buy the rights to use various typefaces, it just uses ones that are available on the system. There's nothing to stop you buying your own fonts as an end user, and fontconfig will render them just fine.

    3. Vic

      Re: There's one simple issue Linux has (apart from Unity)

      > Fonts. GNOME 2, GNOME 3 and KDE Plasma all look like they're being displayed on a

      > monitor running at the wrong resolution

      Well, I'm sat in front of two monitors. The right-hand one is attached to a computer running Windows XP SP3, the left-hand one to a computer running Fedora 14. The monitors are identical

      Of the two, I'd say the Fedora display is much nicer.


    4. DanceMan

      Re: There's one simple issue Linux has (apart from Unity)

      Just looked at Linux Mint XFCE on an older Thinkpad because of Win 7 driver issues (there aren't any) with mini-PCI wireless G cards and the first thing that struck me was how ugly the fonts were. Getting truetype fonts may be the current answer, but why hasn't this basic issue been dealt with long ago, instead of dicking around with eye candy?

  6. pip25

    Agreed, but...

    " Instead, they should work to build systems that are secure, easy to manage, integrate well with existing network services, upgrade smoothly, and require little retraining(...)"

    What on earth happened to requiring little retraining in Gnome 3 then?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's what I commentarded on the last article...

    "Consumers won't come to Linux until they're sure they'll have access to a wide range of applications, and developers won't write applications for Linux until they're sure there will be a large market to buy and use them."

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Open source bigwigs like Alan Cox, Miguel De Icaza, and Linus Torvalds can bicker all they want, says GNOME hacker Michael Meeks, but changing developer culture won't do a thing to attract more consumers to the Linux desktop."

    Linux has failed to take a large share of home users for 4 reasons:

    (1) There is no, or very little marketing. Your average user barely knows what Linux is Let alone the different brands, with the exception of maybe Ubuntu and Mint. And there is no reason for the average, non techie, home user to want to find out more. Linux may be far superior to other OSs, but who is telling people this?

    (2) Being free is a double edged sword. Sure, the advantage is the user saves money. But then, buying something gives the user a sense of security, even if it is false. i.e. if they are allowed to sell it, then it must pass some quality control checks, they must have some customer support, there must be someone who takes some responsibility off my hands if something goes wrong. Yeah, that sense of security is often false, but it is still there. That's why even after average users learn about Open Office (for example), and see it, and see it has more or less the same features as MS Office, even after playing with it, liking it, when it comes down to the wire, they'll still buy Word.

    (3) No advertising or marketing arms mean stupid names get released. Yes, Ubuntu means friendship in some language, or whatever. That's great. It doesn't sound very good though. By which I mean it doesn't roll off the tongue. Techies often don't understand this point, because they don't understand people. "Natty Narwhal"? Please. This naming convention is cute, and hip in a geeky kind of way. It is not marketable though. Google and Android get away with it, because they have a marketing arm, and Windows 8 aside, they have the market to themselves for non iPhone phones. Ubuntu may be a great word, with a great philosophy behind it, sharing and working together or whatever. But it is not marketable.

    (4) Linux is still not as user friendly as Windows or OSX. It's getting there, but it can still be confounding for new users who ask a question about how to do something and then be told they need to run a bash script, install something with apt-get. Yeah, no big deal for techies, but for an average user, running a bash script, installing something with apt-get is about as annoying as you can get. Trying to configure PPPOE on Linux is like being shoved back into the 80s. Average users don't need this hassle. They want simple GUI solutions to their problems. Linux still relies to heavily on the command line.

    Anyway that's my 2 cents.

    1. Goat Jam

      One of the main reasons they stick with Windows is because it already comes for free when they buy a computer.

      Yes, you and I know that it is not free at all but as far as the consumer is concerned the price of the computer is $X and there is no option for a cheaper one sans Windows therefore Windows comes free.

      When one of your main selling points is "it is free" (as in beer) then you don't get any competitive advantage against an incumbent product that is also "free", especially when the incumbent is familiar, and does not require any extra effort to install because it is pre-installed for you.

      The main advantages Linux has are that is free, Free, more reliable, faster and easier to maintain (once you have overcome the initial learning curve)

      As far as consumers are concerned, Windows is also free, they don't care at all about such esoteric concepts as Freedom, have no idea that the myriad of trials and tribulations they constantly endure with Windows need not be and assume that any alternative will be similarly afflicted, just buy a new PC if they want faster and finally they don't care about maintenance because they get other people to do that for them anyway be it the local PC shop or an enthusiastic nephew or whatever.

      So really, what is the incentive for Joe Sixpack to switch to Linux?

    2. Anons anon

      Absolutely right on 3, lol!

      What consumer In their right mind would install so etching called 'GIMP' or 'Natty Narwhal' ?!?

      Sure it's geeky and kinda cute in a really weird way, but as Linux has come to know,nthe market for programs with slightly disturbing names and acronyms is a very small one.

      It's just ANOTHER example of the canyon that separates Linux geeks from normal people/consumers...

      1. Nigel 11

        Forget Joe Sixpack ... think businesses.

        I'd say that the main reason people who know as little as possible about computers don't use Linux is far simpler than any of the above.

        Linux can't run Microsoft Office (or some other MS-only package to which they are attached by advertising, brainwashing or addiction ). Yes, they could switch to LibreOffice with less trouble than switching from Word 2003 to Word 2007 ... but they won't unless someone tells them that they have to, because of inter-operability issues. (If I said peer pressure to conform, I'd not be too far off the mark).

        The question we should be asking, is why are big businesses and governments almost all still wedded to Microsoft, when one might have thought they could save huge amounts of money by switching to Linux?

        One answer is "support costs too high". A more likely one is "migration costs too high". Once again, Microsoft Office is the moat Linux would have to fight its way across.

        I don't know the answer, but I'm certain that arguing the minutae of font design on a particular Linux desktop option isn't the least bit relevant.

        1. Vic

          Re: Forget Joe Sixpack ... think businesses.

          > A more likely one is "migration costs too high"

          Hactually, it's more like "perception of migration costs too high".

          I've migrated a number of organisations. It's *astoundingly* cheap in most circumstances.


    3. eulampios

      user (un)friendliness

      Your #4 sounds wrong to me. If you do not know that everything you install via apt-get (aptitude) can be done in synaptic (as well as app center in Ubuntu), than it it is your problem. There's NOTHING wrong about a bash script or a cli command. The user does NOT have to know bash. It is much easier to send user a bash script or instruct him/her to copy-paste a command , than to ask a Windows user to either open the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shmindows\BillGatesIsAnIdiotAllRightreserver\... or to follow a lengthy sequence of left-clicks, right-clicks, middle-finger-cicks, countless OKs, Options etc....

      Windows is still a crap and unfriendly. You'd like to connect multiple Win7 via an Ethernet router, you can't as easily as with any GNU/Linux, *BSD running a dhcp client daemon, and who the hell cares why....

      As far as other points are concerned, I can see that one of the major obstacles in making GNU/Linux more popular is the current education system. No, I am not blaming its unquestionable rapid demise by itself, but the fact that IT classes are not offered there yet, there are Windows/Apple classes. Yes Schools strive to prepare consumers, not users. That is one of the main problems.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: user (un)friendliness

        With regards to the original point 4. I have seen numerous occasions on Linux forums, where a simple "n00b" question is answered with some bash scripting answer, or using apt-get or modifying bashrc. Linux techies need to understand that the general population has no idea what bashrc means, and they don't want to know. It's not important for 99% of users.

        I like Linux. But calling it user friendly, in the general sense that even a beginner can learn quickly, is living in cloud cuckoo land. Linux has many good points - security, customizability, cost, adaptability, great programming language support - but user experience is not up there.

        I don't think calling Windows crap cuts it anymore. Maybe a few years ago you could get away with that, but Windows 7 is pretty good. In fact, ignoring the obligatory comments about poor security (I'll concede that point), Linux devs should take a long hard look at Windows 7 to see how to make a truly user friendly OS.

        Yeah, I don't know what MS is thinking with Windows 8. They're crazy. But, they can afford to be. Because even if everybody hates Windows 8, what are they going to do? Apple is too expensive, and the best alternative is Ubuntu (or Mint). Both are in permanent beta test mode, with all kinds of flavours. I mean, go to the Mint download page. There's dozens of options. Given that an average user doesn't even know if his/her PC is 32-bit or 64-bit, how are they even going to begin to choose which version to download? And then, for Linux environments, there's Cinnemon, KDE, GNOME, Unity. Too much choice is a bad thing. There is minimal help to beginners to help them decide. And bear in mind that a beginner doesn't even know what "desktop environment" means.

        Why doesn't Mint settle with one environment and preach the virtues of that?

        1. eulampios

          on the Windows forums

          I get my own permission to copy-paste a story I told on about both my friends' and my own experience of Windows forums and the peculiar user-friendliness à la Rougemont:

          "What if a Windows box starts to malfunction? Like it happened in a few months after a friend bought a Toshiba lappy for her daughter? It shuts down with Win7 would spit out some enigmatic message "Windows has encountered a system error f3-f100-0010 and will have to shut down" Her dad was not able to decipher the message and could only find out in some forums that it could be a malware related issue. The offered solution was a harsh 3 hour exercise of running AV, deleting and countless rebooting. Well, it did not help. I tried to help too. I wen to the same forums and MS websites, where people politely kicked off, since "it was a Toshiba related" prob. Toshiba never offered any solution either. Some "knowledgeable" Windoze users warned that it was a faulty hdd. I booted off out of Linux Mint and tried hdd health test with smart-tools --- all went well.

          Guess what? Her dad installed Ubuntu 12.04 and it has NO PROBLEM now. She can be safe, thanks to 30k+ of freely available packages form the canonical repos and if a similar problem happens it would provide more informative, easier to troubleshoot errors for a more competent community to understand than that lame one around MS Windows. Were there no Linux, what would you do if you get your Windows desktop frequently shutdown with an error f3-f100-0010 with neither MS, nor the manufacturer, nor forums being of any help?"

          Disclaimer: That very dad, a 2 year-without-Windows-that-broke Linux user, who installed Ubuntu on the kids laptop had successfully installed it on many other machines. He knows no shell cli whatsoever. I should teach him some day...

  9. stolennomenclature

    continual change and too many distros

    Nothing is said in the article about the proliferation of distro's and the lack of any stable api's, which are surely two of Linux main problems.

    The OS marketplace is not IOS, Windows and Linux - but rather IOS, Windows and Fedora, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Gnubuntu, ANotherBuntu, Debian, Arch, Mageia,l OpenSuse, CentOS, Redhat, PCLinuxOS, etc, etc, etc, etc. I cannot believe that anyone can seriously make the case that this proliferation of distros, whose most important common characteristic is that they never work properly, does Linux no harm. Linux is not an OS, its a whole family of ever different, ever changing OS's. The main things they have in common is lot's of bugs, ever changing api's, and the family name of Linux.

    The fact that all of the major api's are continually chnaging hardly helps. There is no stability whatsoever in most of them. It's a moving target. At least Windows is stable for a few years between releases, and maintains some degree of backward compatibility with older api's. Linux's answer to the ever changing api situation is to bundle the applications with the OS, so in effect the OS and the applications are a single entity. Upgrade the OS and you have to upgrade all the apps to go with it. I doubt this is considered an advantage by most people outside of the Linux community.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linux will never succeed, at least not commercially.

    First, let's clear up the terrain so I'd like to be very clear on this: I'm a Linux fan, I made my teeth with Linux From Scratch (fine piece of work, by the way) and I despise Microsoft (I always spell their name properly) as much as I can without going into extremism.

    Now getting to the real business, I have a bad news for anyone hoping and waiting for a Linux desktop success: it will never happen. The reason is very simple, nobody is taking Linux for what it is. The desktop computing device market right now is dominated by two powerful species. On one side we have Windows, a somewhat dull but sturdy and reliable workhorse across all industries and in all homes. On the other side we have MacOS, also powerful and reliable but stylish and elegant, destined to those who want to differentiate themselves from the Windows users mass. In order to occupy a relevant place between the two, Linux must bring something that the others don't have. It is not enough to be as good as Windows or MacOS.

    Incidentally Linux had something to offer, it is something that has been built in it but there are tow major obstacles which locked it out of the enterprise and consumer market. Linux is unique, it is the only OS that gives you a PC that you can fully trust as your own and more important than that, a PC that fully trusts and obeys you as its owner and master. No other OS would even come close to that and this is something no software and/or hardware vendor will tolerate. The two obstacles I mentioned above are large masses of users who don't care about their digital rights and enterprises who freak out at the idea of consumer having a choice or any kind of rights.

    The Windows (TM) of opportunity (pun intended) for Linux on the desktop is closing faster than ever. UEFI and secure booting will fire the last salvo into our beloved penguin.

    By the way, Michael Meeks forgot to mention two more reasons for Linux desktop failure: Microsoft's total control of computer OEMs and retailers.

  11. david 12 Bronze badge

    Win 98/EEEbuntu

    I've still got some Win98 and Win2K machines, to which I can add and remove features and applications, they still get (old and office) automatic updates.

    On the other hand, the EEEbuntu machines are now out of support, add/remove/update (apt-get) is now broken, pain in the butt reconfiguring them to point to alternate update servers etc.

    It's not just the installation point that is painful. Linux is painful at end-of-life too.

    Maybe in 15 years time, old Ubuntu machines will be as easy to maintain and use as old Win98 machines are now, but I haven't seen any sign of it yet. And -- for crying out loud, I'm comparing a 2 year old laptop to Win98. That is not a high hurdle.

    1. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge

      Re: Win 98/EEEbuntu

      "On the other hand, the EEEbuntu machines are now out of support, "

      AFAIK the netbook remix is no longer supported because Asus got the necessary bits into the kernel.

      I recently installed Xubuntu on a eeepc 900, everything worked out of the box and it's fast.

      The only tweak I made was to edit fstab so that the BIOS partition did not appear on the desktop or in the file manager.

      #mkdir /mnt/asusbios

      #nano /etc/fstab

      LABEL=BIOS /mnt/asusbios vfat noauto 0 0

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Win 98/EEEbuntu


      I installed Linux Mint on a netbook just a couple of years ago, and now it's frozen in time as far as software goes. The 'repository' is a walled garden of software that has had its gate welded shut. I get errors on major websites saying my browser is out of date, there's a new version please upgrade, and I can't do anything about it other than

      a) become an elite hacker

      b) save all my data, wipe the disk, reinstall a new version, copy back in all my data.

      Not really acceptable to me, and I suspect most other users!

      1. Wensleydale Cheese

        Re: Win 98/EEEbuntu - upgrading Linux Mint

        "I installed Linux Mint on a netbook just a couple of years ago, and now it's frozen in time as far as software goes"

        I can feel your pain.

        "b) save all my data, wipe the disk, reinstall a new version, copy back in all my data."

        Linux Mint does provide a backup and restore utility to address a wipe and upgrade, and will also save then reapply your software selection to your newly installed copy.

        However. While this is fine if you keep all your data in your home directory and only have one user, for those of us who have installed LAMP or other server type apps have to identify all the config files to bring across and/or start from scratch.

        It's a pain in the neck.

        "a) become an elite hacker"

        If I am going to do that I might consider taking a step back and rolling my own distro. I doubt I'd find time to do that though.

    3. eulampios

      Re: Win 98/EEEbuntu

      I've still got some Win98 and Win2K machines

      Got any slide-rules around as well? There is nothing to brag about. Actually, slide-rules are the ones to be respected.

      EEEbuntu machines are now out of support

      Get Linux Mint 13 (LTS) *buntu 12.04 . Installs in 10-15 minutes. Problem's solved.

  12. tempemeaty

    ...the forest through the trees

    When I ran windblows I could always put the same program/disk back in the next machine and install the same software again even though it's a later version of windblows. This customer/home users like.

    On Linux I have to find all new recompiles of every fscking program every time because the compiles for the last version of that Linux wont install and run on the next. Customer/home users hate that.

    So until programs will install and run across multiple versions of a chosen flavor of Linux without a recompile for each I'm not expecting things to change.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ...the forest through the trees

      Not quite so! I had to trash my perfectly functioning Canon LIDE scanner and buy a new one because putting the disk in my Windows 7 to install drivers and software was a no go, it was no longer supported. On Linux I could still have the option to recompile the whole damn thing.

      One thing I don't quite understand, if you despise Linux why don't you like Windows ?

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: ...the forest through the trees

        You can hack the install config file to report win 7 as Vista . As long as it has vista drivers you will be ok. I've done it before and had no issues.

    2. eulampios

      Re: ...the forest through the trees

      On Linux I have to find all new recompiles of every fscking program

      Recompiling the Windows mentality and fscking internet connection might be an option too. Only once I remember installing something from a cd. It was my first Linux distro Fedora Core 4 in 2004. Fire up your favorite front-end to the package manager, search for the app, tick-mark it, commit to install. You're done! Also install a printer, you most probably need no driver to find and install. It is there with all other drivers supplied with CUPS. Likewise, most hardware divers are loaded on demand by the kernel and hence are not sought out for either by you, or by the system.

      PS. Ever tried installing old 32-bit Windows apps on 64-bit Windows? The same app that installed in all of my 64-bit Debians and FreeBSDs ... with WINE

  13. Anons anon


    Linux biggest problem isnt the fact that it offers poor usability/user experience compared to Windows or OSX, though that is surely a part of it... The biggest problem is, that LINUX OFFERS NO INCENTIVE TO SWITCH!

    There is no need for it on the desktop, no huge group of disgruntled users whose problems aren't solved better in a different way over switching to Linux.

    The biggest advantage for Linux is that it's supposedly "free". But if we're talking "financially free" first of all it's not true (though the costs are different than plopping down 50$ for a user fee) and secondly: OSX or Windows can also be "free" for the user with a torrent download.

    The other "freedom" that Linux is trying to promote: Freedom to see the code and tinker with it, is a freedom that nobuser in their right mind cares about. Or rather: The one percent who DO care about it have already switched to Linux. The other 99% couldn't care less. And THATS why Linux will never win on the desktop. (Or even just have a sizable install rate.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nope...

      You missed one last freedom. Freedom to have your computer trust you. In order to give you a taste of what it means take a look at this: you decide to block some websites in your hosts file and Windows 8 is silently modifying the hosts file to unblock those sites because Microsoft doesn't like you to do that. This is exactly the kind of scenario Linux was designed to prevent.

      1. Oddb0d

        Re: Nope...

        "because Microsoft doesn't like you to do that" sounds like a conspiracy theory to me, especially as the truth is much more mundane. Windows Defender & MS Security Essentials (so not just Win8 then) remove HOSTS entries for doubleclick, twitter & facebook (probably others as well) on the basis that these are commonly targeted by malware for browser hijacking. This mechanism has been in place since 2008 and is also built-in to security products from Kaspersky & McAfee.

    2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: Nope...

      But if we're talking "financially free" first of all it's not true

      How so? Assuming we're talking about home users here and not business of course.

      OSX or Windows can also be "free" for the user with a torrent download.

      But downloading those for 'free' does carry the (small) potential of landing you in court. ISTR though that some have correctly pointed out that piracy of Windows does also hurt Linux's marketshare.

      Personally, I'm not overly bothered if 99% of the public don't want to use it, it suits my purposes perfectly well and they're welcome to use what suits them.

    3. TraceyC

      Re: Nope...

      "(Or even just have a sizable install rate.)"

      It seems every time this kind of discussion comes up, someone has to remind people that the desktop arena is not the only place you can install an OS. In the webhosting business, the majority of servers are running Linux. It has a very sizeable install base.

      The arguments about the setbacks to Linux succeeding on the *desktop* are valid. Just don't make the mistake of thinking it will fail completely or has no user base because it's not on the majority ofdesktops.

  14. Sovielenamen

    Myself and most of my friends, artists, galerists and more, if they are not able to afford to use Apple, would love to switch to Linux and actually see the urgent need to do so.

    Whats the problem?

    - Ubuntu is as patronizing as Win 7, so no step in the right direction

    - Linux requirers the commandline in the same way Windows 95 required it due having to use DOS for about everything. There is no difference between the Linux commandline and DOS, not really, both consisting of cryptic commands completely non-intuitive and abhorrend to everybody but a freak or professional.

    - Installing packages consistently breaks the system and installing stuff IS using a computer too.

    - The Linux horde is pseudo-elite and mostly unhelpful and arrogant with an attitude.

    - man-pages are for masochists (or freaks or professionals).

    Nobody I know has a problem with getting accustomed to another interface and everybody knows Linux so there is no problem with PR. The problem is that it sucks. The day the commandline is past even for users who want to install software from time to time and nobody has to know what "sudo" means, the day packages won´t break your system anymore (a working compatibility check cannot be impossible) that will be sday Linux rules the desktop. The people are ready for it since quite some time, it is the Torvalds and other elitist geeks who block this for the sole reason to keep feeding their egos.

    Sad but true.

    1. James Hughes 1

      You mean "Sad but not true"

      I have an Ubuntu machine at home. I rarely go to the command line - Unity just works for most things I need to do (the other stuff is dev work and I assume a dev person would be vaguely competent on the command line).

      The Ubuntu help forums, when I do have a problem (infrequently) are generally polite and, usually, any answer I need is already there)

      My father has an Ubuntu machine, he doesn't even know what the command line is and yet uses it most days for net and email, plus doc editing with no problems whatsoever.

    2. eulampios

      disproving "0=1"

      Linux requirers the commandline in the same way Windows 95 required it due having to use DOS for about everything.

      There is no difference between the Linux commandline and DOS, not really, both consisting of cryptic commands completely non-intuitive and abhorrend to everybody but a freak or professional.

      Installing packages consistently breaks the system and installing stuff IS using a computer too.

      man-pages are for masochists (or freaks or professionals).

      I won't even attempt disproving your claim "1=0" . I am dead-tired of doing that over and over again.

      I'll negate your Sad but true predicate to result in: Gay and untrue, no double meaning here :)

  15. TechnicalBen Silver badge

    I thought the problem was...

    in that Linux does not want, need nor is made for consumers. It's made for people wanting to use, build and make information, computers etc. Not consume!

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Can't See The Wood For The Trees

    I know what I'm about to say will set me up for a right royal doing over from the Linux evangalistas. But it is based on years of actual, day to day Linux use.

    Whenever the uptake of Linux on the desktop is discussed it very quickly degenerates into talking about the merits, or not, of Gnome, KDE, XFCE, LXDE, etc, etc. Then it moves on to which distro provides the best implementation of aforementioned WM's/desktops. There will be talk of Cinnamon, Mate, Unity and voila! Right there you have one of the main reasons Linux desktop uptake is so poor. The over riding impression of a day to day computer user reading such stuff will be complete and utter confusion. No wonder they stick with what they've got. "Why should I get involved in all this alien terminology and arguing when what I've got just works for me?"

    So many desktops, so many distros, that not even the evangalists can agree which someone should use. "Try a few and decide which suits you best." Only the geeks, like us, will do that, your day to day user doesn't want half a dozen or more trials of what to them is "a computer".

    The day there really is just one major distro to rule them all is the day that Linux use on the desktop will start to look more hopeful.

    The open source ethos is open source's achilles heel. I'm not saying it's a bad ethos, but looked at from the perspective of getting more people to use Linux it's a ball and chain round the ankle of that ideal.

    It may not be a palatable thought to the purists but if we want to really start displacing Windows on the desktop then we need to approach that goal as Microsoft and or Apple would. Not like sandle wearing, bearded, long haired tech hippies bickering and throwing hissy fits over the finer points of which desktop/distro to use.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can't See The Wood For The Trees

      I don't understand how did you get those up-votes. According to you we, the Linux users should have stayed with Softlanding Linux System (SLS) because too many distributions are confusing for the poor Windows users looking to jump ship to something that should be some kind of a free Windows. SUSE, RedHat, Debian, Ubuntu, Mint and others are just rubbish and confusing.

      Anyway, to me personally your statement about being a day to day Linux user doesn't hold much truth. You can't be using Linux for so much time without understanding it. I guess you were staring too much at a weird desktop theme on your Windows PC.

  17. Robert Grant

    The change won't come from Linux itself

    The ONE reason I ever kept Windows in the past was games. If Valve ever makes most games available on Linux, then it becomes much more viable as a fast gaming platform.

    The other major way to allow Linux is to have MS make an official port of Office to it. Then suddenly all the pseudo-tech business people start talking about Linux "coming of age" and the hipper ones give it a try. No-one (including Mozilla, apparently, with Thunderbird) cares about office tools on Linux that will interoperate easily in a corporate environment, so it's up to MS :)

  18. PBelc

    My opinion

    I am a Windows Sys Admin but I "try" to run some Linux machines at home to get used to it incase one day my job requires it.

    My experience:

    To much choice, what flavour do I pick, I had to install 4 or 5 distros before I settled on Mint, the average user wont do this when they can just install Windows. The enterprise most likely doesn't have the resource to go through all the testing and user acceptance to do this (I know we wouldn't) especially when we have a platform that already works.

    Applications, Windows I download, double click and follow the wizard, easy. Linux I need to use apt-get (Or the software repository in Mint which goes some way to solving this), hope that the dependencies are correct, edit some "unknown" file to set the application up how I want it to work, if I want it to start with the system I have to jump through hoops (still cant get deluged to start at startup) rather than set a service to automatic or put a shortcut in startup. Then what if the app I want isnt in the repos for my distribution, I now have to run some commands to add them, I cant just go and download the app from a website and click to install.

    Applications part 2, I have several times at work tried to get to grips with nagios, this generally entails installing nagios then finding it wont run, or the install completely buggering up the system, start again and the same happens. I guess this is version compatibility, fine but if its in the repo and available then it should "just work"

    Mapping/mounting a drive, horrendous time to get this working, once you know the commands its fine but the first time I think it took me over an hour and I had to install packages to get smb working properly, alternatively I can click Map a Drive and fill in the GUI. To make it persistent in Linux was easy but no where near as easy as checking a box on the GUI in Windows.

    I dread to think what setting up a printer would be like, thankfully I don't have one.

    Enterprise level control, no i don't mean "just run a script on your clients", I want centralised control, organisation of my assets, I want constraints set set if I make a mistake it wont propagate to my client (With a script, you don't get this), delegation of control for certain task (I am sure this exists at the client level but what about the enterprise) basically I want a Linux version of AD with all the tools that comes with it.

    Thats some of my experience

    Linux isn't User friendly for the consumer or the enterprise, running command line to perform simple tasks may be quicker for the elite but it is a dark art to the end user. The Linux community seems to be incapable of seeing this point and believes because their way is faster or considered "correct" then anyone who wants a simple tool/GUI needs to read the manual and gtfo of their forum (I have experienced this nearly every time I have asked for help in a Linux forum, Windows I get a polite thread with helpful responses).

    Microsoft provide both command line and GUI for all but the most high level of actions, the GUI is just a wrapper for the command line but it covers all the bases, people are scared of the command line because it allows for mistakes and is harder to remember than looking through control panel for an icon. In the Windows world everyone can do what they want to do with little effort i.e install a printer, new hardware, software, change settings etc in Linux they can't and saying search google/read the manual is not acceptable to perform a simple task.

    No matter how good Linux gets unless it becomes more user friendly and the community start to accept that not everyone understands the OS and most just wants things to work, it will never take any significant portion of Microsofts empire.

    That way way longer than i meant it to be.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My opinion

      I couldn't agree more with your analysis.

      We are an OS/2 shop here but I see some of the linux problems because people are porting linux apps to OS/2. While that extends the application base for OS/2 it also raises the linux dependencies problems.

      As you say the average person using a computer does not want the aggravation of messing about when installing a program, they just want to double click on an icon or a file and have the thing install. Until linux can get to that position it will never be more than a geeks playground.

      I have a computer at home with linux on it (suse) that I use to try and learn how to use but invariably I give up in disgust because I can't get something to install or I can't do something simple like edit a text file because I don't have the necessary permissions.

      When linux grows up it might be a good alternative operating system but to do that it will have to have a simple way of installing programs no matter where they are from as long as they are for the linux operating system. There also needs to be a simple way of adding drivers for things like network cards, wireless adapters, video cards etc. I don't need, or want, to be told to recompile the kernel.

      1. Vic

        Re: My opinion

        > I don't need, or want, to be told to recompile the kernel.

        1992 called. It wants it's meme back.

        You will not be told[1] to recompile the kernel to add drivers. That hasn't been necessary for many a long year. Aside from the fact that most drivers are already bundled with the stock kernel, those that aren't are available a plugins. You add or remove them at will (which is why we can upgradfe so much without needing to reboot the machine).


        [1] except by morons. There are always shouty people who like to tell you stuff, and are simply wrong. This happens throughout computing, but it seems especially prevalent when newbies are looking to switch to Linux, and are given scare stories by people who have clearly not seen a Linux distribution this century.

      2. AJ MacLeod

        Re: My opinion

        Nobody is claiming Linux is perfect but your comments sound like they're from a decade ago. Any major consumer-targetted distro makes it easy to install video / network / wireless drivers, usually even those awkward binary-only ones too. EASIER than having to track them down for Windows or OSX (although Win 7 and 8 are vastly better from this point of view as more are supplied through Windows Update)

        As for permissions problems... I'm afraid file access restrictions are a necessary evil - you'll find exactly the same thing on Windows and any other non-prehistoric OS. Can't say I ever actually find myself having problems with them mind you, and they're not exactly hard to change in any case...

        I can't recall having had to recompile a kernel on any consomer-oriented distro for years (and many of them.)

        1. PBelc

          Re: My opinion

          I agree about Drivers, with Mint all my drivers worked Out of the Box except my sound because it was HDMI built into an nVidia card. I found the Mint driver updates really help for this, I don't know if its the case on all flavours, but it was really just select and install, if only everything was so simple!

      3. eulampios

        Re: My opinion

        When linux grows up...

        When you grow up, you'll see that Linux could be your father.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: My opinion


          Indeed when linux grows up.

          At the moment the community appears to the outside world as a load of children squabbling among themselves.

          I have asked questions on linux forums and have either been totally ignored or given answers that require further translation and heaven forbid that you should ask a question about some other distribution - it's either linux or it isn't.

          1. eulampios

            @ respected Ivan4 (hopefully not related to that terriblle Иван Грозный dude)

            I'd say that "when Linux grows up" is not the most polite attitude for person that is learning. I'd also say that never I had encountered hostile treatment of any sort of newbies on Linux forums, I've been too probably lucky ...

            Please accept my apologies and read, what my friend had to face with Windows shutdowns and error f3-f100-0010

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @PBelc - Re: My opinion

      Sorry but your comment is totally rubbish. I'm in no position to speak about your Windows skills but you're far from being even a half-competent Linux sysadmin. And no, trying 3 or 4 distros at home doesn't count as experience. You seem to have no idea about enterprise class distributions, long time support editions and software and system maintenance and this for sure does not qualify you to formulate an opinion. It is obvious from your entire post that you don't want Linux at all and in general you have nothing to do with it. My advice to you is to stick with Windows. You want a system that just works because you hate to understand how the system works.

      As one great man said, Linux IS user friendly, it is just very selective in choosing its friends.

      1. PBelc

        Re: @PBelc - My opinion

        I don't think at any point I claimed to be competent with Linux. My post as clearly stated is my experience of Linux in an effort to learn and understand it in case some day my job requires it, my post is also a reply to Linux desktop penetration in the enterprise and consumer markets not a "bash Linux" type post. Your post reminds me of the animosity I see when ever I try to get help from the Linux forums.

        Your right I have never used an enterprise class distribution (SUSE 9.0 I think was the only one because the Filesystem was so much faster than NT4), do they allow the same flexibility and tools that Active directory does, giving me centralised management? I didn't think so, if I am wrong correct me rather than go of on a rant.

        I am well aware of long term support editions but I don't see how knowing about them would counter any of my experiences with the operating system, care to enlighten?

        You are wrong, I do want Linux I would love to be able to say to my bosses lets walk away from Microsoft, especially now with the new licensing models, but I just don't see it as viable with my experience.

        Even if I did know everything there was to know about Linux I would still want things to just work, I would still want things to be simple and not require additional steps to get things going and I can guarantee that my users would require that.

        Your last statement is exactly the reason why Linux will never penetrate the desktop market with any real impact.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re: @PBelc - My opinion

          Pardon me for replying to your reply but from what you are saying, you don't want Linux. You want a free Windows (i.e Windows functionality, look-and-feel etc. in a Linux-like free package). If this is the case, then don't bother with Linux, go nagging Microsoft directly.

          1. PBelc

            Re: @PBelc - My opinion

            I dont want any specific product, i want the best tool for the job. I am having to compare it to the Microsofts toolset because there is no other product (that i know of) to compare it to.

            Look and feel is irrelevant, it doesn't take long to get accustomed to the way a system works.

            Functionality, of cause I want what I have today or better, why the hell would I switch to something inferior??? It doesn't have to be the same, just get the job down as simply as I can today.

            Free, well nothing ever is, it always costs time and no doubt a new technology will cost consultants and training also, so no free isn't a requirement either.

  19. bediwin

    In the current form? No chance

    In its current form, Linux on the desktop is a pipedream. Not gonna happen.

    There's simply too many people pulling in too many different directions; a problem that's endemic to every single distribution, whether commercial or community driven. Canonical have made great strides with Ubuntu but fundamentally, the whole concept of "distribute every application with the operating system because otherwise the amount of work someone will face getting them all working well together is astronomical" is just too much for any one company to do, and every application that's included but proves to be a pain in the a*se reflects badly on the distribution vendor.

    Pretty much the only companies that have a hope of providing everything are the Microsofts of this world, and they probably spend more than Canonical's entire budget just on coffee.

    Really what desktop Linux needs is a vendor to produce a distribution that does JUST the basic OS tasks - a kernel, a functioning network stack, peripheral management and a means to configure them - and then get ISVs on the bandwagon to produce applications. It's a tried and trusted method to grow marketshare - Microsoft did it years ago when they first introduced Windows; Apple do it today and Google do it with Android - one of very few Linux-based platforms, I would note, that requires a lot of user interaction and has enjoyed real success.

  20. AJ MacLeod

    Linux on the desktop isn't going to happen?

    The funny thing is, Linux has been a great desktop OS for over a decade now...

    As I commented elsewhere on this article, Meeks is pretty much spot on; the thing I miss most when deploying Linux desktops in business is software that makes it easy to configure large numbers of user's desktops and applications at once, and to lock them that way.

    Yes, it's partly possible already with the major desktop environments but it's also far from quick or easy to do and that's a shame.

  21. Trevor Marshall

    Just to say ...

    ... that Linux works for me, on the desktop, server and laptop (and as Android on a phone and tablet). There are some things it's good for, and some that it's not so good for. But if it doesn't float your boat that's OK, you can use something else, I really don't mind. The operating system is just something that enables you to run your applications, right? So pick the one that best supports those applications and relax.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    De Icaza blames Torvalds over too much change?

    Well that's the pot calling the kettle black!

  23. Stevie Silver badge


    People calling for a corporate switch from MS Office to OO or one of it's forks need to understand that they are *not* compatible office suites, and switching may not be an option for offices that have heavilt developed MSOffice infrastructure.

    You can do many of the easier jobs with the free alternatives to MSOffice, but formatting in Write is nowhere near the clever stuff you can do in Word 2003. Calc runs slower than Excel when heavily loaded with functions, uses a cursor-movement shorthand that is not derived from the Lotus 123 standard that everyone knows and loves, has a different function language punctuation standard and "imported" Excel workbooks lose macro functionality. Not disabled. Lost. I'm impressed with the database, but it ain't close to being as clever as MSAccess - a useful tool for small systems and for prototyping/proof-of-concept work of larger scope. Slide shows are of no interest to me other than in their simplest form so I cannot comment knowledgeably on that.

    Fair Disclosure: I use OpenOffice for all my personal projects and MSOffice 2007 for all work-related stuff.

    You cannot discuss Office Suite compatibility if you think people use MSOffice just for memos and balance sheets any more than you can discuss Windows Vs Linux is you don't understand the semantics of the Kernel Model and the difference between root and user accounts.



    Kill "real value"!

  25. W. Anderson

    Michael Meeks and several other commenters on the Linux desktop adoption challenge "supposedly" due in part to problems with Gnome never addresse two critical aspects of this vital discussion.

    One is that there is "another" Linux desktop choice in KDE, which is omitted as if this alternative does not exist. What role that plays in the "adoption" moniker is yet to be considered or known.

    The second point concerns talk of the apparent difficult situation of Linux adoption here in USA specifically, and does not necessarily address or mention larger Linux deskstop adoptions outside the USA in places like Germany, several countries in Central and South America and Russia, for examples.

    The conversations on this topic are too vague and chaotic.

  26. fork23
    Paris Hilton

    it's simple

    Gnome,GTK,LXDE, XFCE, KDE && other interfaces I've only seen on screenshots [and I don't use].. ordinary users simply don't care. You want to get some traction with ordinary users? Aside the nice comments from the author look at Apple's direction [again I don't use -for other reasons].. nice Aqua GUI on Unix..which again the ordinary users don't realize (as they view it as a singular product) and even they did, they don't care.. Oh, and ordinary users are more or less like clones of Paris Hilton.. If you are comfortable creating something she'll like, you will succeed..

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