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I'm Going Back To Windows

No. Not me personally. It's the threat that we, as Linux users and developers, hear constantly. It's on the forums, mailing lists and IRC. These ridiculous threats, that if something in the Linux operating system is not fixed or handled to their liking, they're running back to Windows. To me, it seems to be getting worse and worse.

If I may, I'd like to discuss this for a second. First, I'd like to discuss what Microsoft is doing to the computing world. I give my respect where respect is due, and recognize that they have had great success, but wish to conjecture, that by making an operating system more user friendly, you reduce the mental challenging of a computer user. I'm not calling the user 'dumb', just not challenged.

Because, apparently, if there is no *.exe file to step them through an installation process, then it's too hard to install software. Obviously, if there is no Start Menu, then the system isn't user friendly. Of course, if there is no Control Panel, then the system can't be maintained. And, by having to use the terminal from time to time, you have to be a programmer. So why bother? Obviously, Linux is just too hard of an operating system. Linux is demanding just too much from the user. It will never replace Windows on the desktop.

It's almost as if, we as Linux developers, package managers and users even, are supposed to dumb down the operating system, so we can accommodate Windows users. Well, while I do agree with user friendly design, consistency and overall flow of an operating system, making the end experience much more pleasurable, end users don't always know what they want in an OS, and having a parent company, such as Microsoft, let the users control the design of the operating system, isn't necessarily a good idea.

So, as we see with each Windows release, computer users are challenged less and less to the point where using anything else, especially if it challenges you a bit mentally, is alien. Fortunately, there are people in this world who don't mind being challenged mentally. As such, they make up great computer users and advocates. They also find, that, using Linux as an operating system isn't necessarily hard, but just different.

Especially with Debian/Ubuntu. For example, you find that installing software is actually easier in 99% of cases than Windows. Start menu? Please. You see that you have panels that you can customize to your liking, and that menus exist all over the place, and ready at your command. You learn quickly where and how to control your operating system, and find, even, that there are just as many, if not, tons more, ways to keep it maintained. All of the sudden, you find that using Linux requires learning the terminal, but you find that you're better off for it, and you didn't have to learn how to program. So why bother? Because obviously, Linux is a solid operating system and platform. Linux isn't demanding too much from the user, but just stretching your mental muscles. It should replace Windows on your desktop.

So, now we look back at the threat "If you don't make Linux easier to use, I'm going back to Windows". All I have to say, is if you're not willing to take the time to learn something different (it's called 'work'), then don't let the door hit you on the way out.

{ 117 } Comments

  1. Jake | April 4, 2007 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    I will admit my bias up front. Selling Microsoft products pays my bills.

    But what Microsoft set out to do was to make computers something that anyone can use. It seems to me that Linux users want the computer world to go back to the days when there was no internet. There was not a computer in almost every home in the US.

    But it really comes down to any product becomes more user friendly as it matures. Think of how much easier it is to take care of a car today then it was 50 years ago. Microsoft is doing the same thing. If Linux wants to really compete with Microsoft, Linux needs to step up to the challange and do the same thing as well.

  2. Aaron | April 4, 2007 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Jake- See? This is exactly what I'm talking about. With your comment "Linux users want the computer world to go back to the days when there was no internet" tells me that you don't, and haven't used Linux at all. You are the perfect example of my post. Thanks! 🙂

  3. Christer Edwards | April 4, 2007 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    I always laugh when I hear people threaten to 'go back to windows'. I don't care one bit if you want to pout and go back. It's not like you're paying my bills so I have no vested interest other than at a volunteer level.

    We do try to make it a very user friendly experience and I would argue that it *is* easier, just different.

    Go back to windows.. you'll be back. There was a reason you tried Linux in the first place and you'll quickly be reminded of that.

  4. Joel | April 4, 2007 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I rarely if ever need to use the command line in Linux especially for Ubuntu (but I like to occasionally). I also occasionally need to use the command line in windows to do stuff like ipconfig when there are network problems.

    I find that Ubuntu is making Linux easier and easier to use and I haven't seen Windows get any easier to use. In fact I find it rather frustrating. At least when people say that "Linux is hard to use and they are going back to windows" often people listen and actually work on making Linux better. Microsoft doesnt't care if you don't use Windows.

    Jake you must be a patient and smart person to be able to figrure out windows. I'm lazy and just want my computer to work. Ubuntu linux offers me that but Windows doesn't.

  5. Florian | April 4, 2007 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Hey Aaron, thank you for this Post!

    Greetings from Germany, Florian

  6. matthews | April 4, 2007 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    It is unfortunate when a user resorts to threats rather than file a bug report/feature request or at least describes their issue intelligently. I still use windows alongside my Linux I usually recommend keeping a copy of windows around to people. After 20 years of os and software development it's bound to have some good stuff and user familiarity with that way of doing things.

  7. nixternal | April 4, 2007 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    I love the fact that if hardware doesn't work then it is Linux's fault. That is another favorite of mine. If people want to go back to Windows, go for it, I could really care less anymore. I made the "intelligent" decision to use Linux, get to know Linux, and get to love it. I have been using Linux religiously since 1994.

    OK, before I go to far off, quit blaming issues with hardware not working on Linux. Just like stupid ass Microsoft, hardware manufacturers don't release the source of their drivers or the specs of their hardware so somebody can reverse engineer a driver. The only thing that Microsoft does better than Linux, gaming and viruses! You can't disagree with that at all, if you do, then you are uneducated! Sorry if I hurt feelings with that one, and I will say it, Microsoft has dumbed down their products so much that infants and grandparents who have never seen a computer can use it, while the so-called power-users are left in the dark. A power user really isn't a person that uses all aspects of Windows, sorry there isn't shit to use! A power-user is really a person who is in tune with their hardware, overclocks it, and games. That is it. argggh, Windows users chap my ass. I am out!

  8. Wes Medlin | April 4, 2007 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Let me just say that I hate Windows. I've been using computers since 1982, and I've used every version since 2.11. They all suck.

    But, as much as I love Linux, the Windows crowd does have a point. There have been several times when I could not install a program because of obscure documentation, missing files, etc. Linux needs to be usuable by both ends of the spectrum.

    If we want Linux to take over the desktop, we have to court the lowest common denominator. They buy and use the greatest number of computers.

  9. TuxGirl | April 4, 2007 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    It comes down to the definition of "user friendly". I know I've mentioned this before, but I honestly don't find checkboxes, dialogue boxes, menus, etc., to be user friendly. In fact, I find it a ton harder to change a setting via those methods than it is to just change one line of a config file.

    I will agree that it's good that Linux users and devs have worked toward improving the systems that provide a more windows-like environment, since that provides an option for people to consider, and eases the transition from windows to linux, but I also think that it's important for people to understand that, if they are going to use linux, they will need to be willing to use their brain.

    No matter how far Linux comes toward being more user-friendly, Linux-users will still need to use their brains. The reason for this is that Linux users generally have to be able to support themselves. If you're using Linux, unless you're in a corporate environment, you really can't just call up your local tech support for help whenever you have a problem. Instead, you will be working with volunteers who are not getting paid to help you. That's a great thing, but I don't think it's unreasonable for unpaid volunteers to expect a certain level of effort on the part of the person they are helping.

    I also think it's good for Linux users to be willing to use their brains because brains have started becoming unused in larger and larger portions of society. Our educational system is a failure. People don't understand why brains are important. The zombies are getting tired of eating unused brains... er... uh...

    Anyway, Linux isn't for everyone now, and perhaps never will be, but that's just the truth of life.

  10. Jordan Peacock | April 4, 2007 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    On the other hand, I've been using linux primarily for the last 4-5 years, and I have genuinely struggled returning to Windows machines on my new job; the amount of clutter, the disparate installs and crap I have to deal with is incredibly frustrating. Some things have uninstalls, some don't , some applications require dozens of clicks, some two or three...if nothing else, simply the application management of Ubuntu/Debian system so thoroughly beats down Windows that I find it painful going back. OS X does this well as well, but I would never willingly subject myself to software installation on a Windows machine...

    this and other reasons are why I stay with Linux.

  11. Joel | April 4, 2007 at 8:59 am | Permalink


    I'm going to play devils advocate here. I know there are programs that are a pain to install on linux. Is that Linux's fault (or Ubuntu) or is that more the fault of the application? Certainly applications should install easily but who's to blame if it doesn't install nicely? Some of these applications get ported to windows and can even be more of a pain to setup (ie eclipse)

  12. Baka Bomber | April 4, 2007 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I don't get the notion that Linux is actively less user-friendly than Windows. Personally, I find having to search for tons of .exe files across the internet and on CDs to install cool new junk an annoying and contrived process. I think I've only had to do that for 2 programs in Linux so far, neither of which I had to open up a shell for (gdebi ftw). And there may be some people that prefer typing crap in all the time (I'm okay with it as long as it's not a daily routine and instructions are spelled out somewhere), but in my view when that's necessary, it's just a sign that something needs a little more work done on it, and making loud, whiny threats to "go back to Windows" won't speed that up at all.

    I'm not sure that Microsoft has dumbed down Windows significantly more than Linux (or at least Ubuntu). It seems more like people are so used to doing things a certain way, they're either too afraid to (my dad -_-) or just can't do things a different way, even if that way makes more sense.

  13. Feneur | April 4, 2007 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    While I don't have much to add to this discussion I would like to write a little about this quote from the first reply:

    Think of how much easier it is to take care of a car today then it was 50 years ago. Microsoft is doing the same thing.

    I guess that depends on what you mean by "take care of your car", if you're just talking about driving around in it and perhaps clean it (or, maybe even change tires) at times, then you're most likely correct. But if by "take care of" you mean things like changing broken parts or even to change the oil, that is not true. I am too young to have any experience, but I am not too young to listen to those older and wiser than me, and my father has repeatedly complained about how much easier it was to take care of cars earlier. Nowadays there are lots of electronic components, and even computers, in most, if not all, cars.

    I am not saying that this is something only bad, but it's certainly not making it easier to take care of your car. And also some things seems to be made to be difficult to do without special tools only available at certain places certified by the company. Perhaps required when cars get more sophisticated, but not making things easier 😉 .

    Back to the general issue: I'm not sure if I want Linux to be too widely adopted. I do think it's possible for both those who don't, as one of the earlier commenters wrote, want to use their brains and those who do to use Linux. But if too much effort is spent on making things "easier" I'm afraid things might get less effective. An example (not a very good one, but I hope you get my point): It might be very easy to change the font-size or make the text centered by clicking on an icon, but compare that to just pressing a few keys on your keyboard (which at least to me is much faster, as the keyboard is just in front of me, but my mouse is a bit away, and you have to move the mouse-pointer to the correct place) and perhaps you begin to realize that easy is not the same thing as effective.
    If Linux, or individual programs for that matter, focus too much on making things easy it might be negative. As always there is a need to find the delicate balance between to opposite alternatives, let's hope that the future brings a good balance and not one of the bad alternatives. (Either an OS that only geeks can use, and only then with a lot of effort, or an OS that everyone can use, but which is of use to no one.)

  14. Sokraates | April 4, 2007 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    I use Linux as my productive (and entertainment) OS since early 2005 and I know the "I'm going back" sentiment. Been there, done that and came back for more.

    A lot has changed since my first attempts at using Linux, my adopting it and now. And the biggest change happened in usability. Everything is easier to configure and you can do most of it graphically.

    And that's just the reason, why more and more people are even considering to use Linux. The new system is alien enough, but new users at least try to adapt to the new system.

    So there is no need to further hinder their progress by forcing them to use something even more alien than Linux: the command line.

    So while I don't like these kind of threats either, it is also important to remember, that we want more users to adopt Linux. And that means honoring new user's motivation to switch and give them a system that doesn't feel to far away from what they already know, so that they can explore it step by step. This requires good default choices and graphical configuration utilities for the higher level thing. And in the end, when the users want to change lower level things, even the command line won't scare them.

  15. bma | April 4, 2007 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Hear hear. I've had people (trying to set up a server, no less) tell me that "if you [Linux devs] want people to use Linux, then you should make it easier to use".

    Well, frankly, I don't want "people" to use GNU/Linux, or FreeBSD, or anything else for that matter. I want to keep using them myself, and I want people who care about them to keep using them, but if all you're going to do is whinge about how much easier such-and-such is under Windows (hint: no it isn't), then you can sod off back to Windows.

  16. Ben | April 4, 2007 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Well again all these comments turned into a flamewar "Is Windows or Linux better?". I dont want to say anything to that...

    More interesting on this post are 2 things, usability and the "attitude" of a lot of linux users.

    I am using both, but I like free software and use it also on windows.
    But I really hate the attitude of some people, that sounds to me like "everything is cool, linux rules, properitary is shit and everything should stay as it is".
    Ok, it might be a good system, but I like the attitude, that everything has to change an move on, and that you can ALWAYS make something better.

    Linux is in some areas less easy (and in some more). But to say "hey people just have to learn computer stuff. they have to adapt to the OS not vice versa" is stupid.

    I/We like to work with Computers, we are interested in how the work and what can be done. But many people have no clue and no talent for technical stuff and dont want to either.

    Imagine you would have to know about business economics to do everyday actions like buying a pizza. I HATE business stuff, my brain switches off on that, its BORING.
    So why bother people who want to communicate or work on some text with details they dont want to know?

    FOSS was always about choice for me. There are always different way to do things. I think that every GUI should have hidden expert options like VLC or should be editable through a text file, but should also have a (seperate?) n00b GUI that even my Mother can use. And damn, she raises her hand off the mouse to push it somewhere and click, and she needs my help to check mails with thunderbird.

    Long story short:
    Make an OS usable for people who have NO clue about computers and dont want to and make them suitable for geeks like me 😉

    just my humble opinion...

  17. Aaron | April 4, 2007 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Ben- This certainly has not turned into a flame war. I find that this discussion has been rather enlightening, however.

    I do agree with the general attitude of "X is better than Y" fanboyisms. That attitude, hopefully, has not been reflected in this post. The point of the post, was to show, that if you're not willing to work on your operating system, regardless of what it is, then keep your idle threats to yourself.

  18. Ben | April 4, 2007 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Well I agree, that these "threads" of changing back are totally silly.

    On the usability thing, maybe I misunderstood your posting a bit. If you meant that usability means not that the OS looks/feels the same as Windows, I agree.
    But the console is not really a good alternative. Changing a config file might be good if you know what you're doing, because you can type very fast and have more freedom. But a normal user maybe wont even type with 10 fingers (means, very slow) and does NOT know what he is doing. Some config files are rather complex and you need to read documentation. If a user wants to change something fast, to do his actual work, he does not want to study documentation.

    So I think usability on Linux should be created by eliminating the need for the user to learn "background" things just to do his actual work.
    He/she/it might need to adapt to the new look and feel, so its not like windows, but they should be able to do what they actually want, surfing, mailing, chatting etc, without the need to open a black window and type in commands they have to look up.

  19. Cyrus Jones | April 4, 2007 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    I agree. People want Linux to be Windows. I think this is a great thing to read as well- Linux is not Windows ( I really think that in many ways Ubuntu is easy to learn than Windows, just people are so set on making Linux in general an imitation of Windows, but somehow better. Apt-get and its frontends (like Synaptic) are much better than Windows installers, yet some people consider apt-get and Synaptic too hard and want installers. Windows is taking away control- at the expense of what Microsoft calls user-friendly (though I personally think Vista and Office 2007 are harder to use).

  20. arbulus | April 4, 2007 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I don't see how you can say that something even more alien than Linux is the command line. Linux IS the command line, and the GUI is just fluff. Yes, it's nice to have the GUI and to have a GUI tool for things, but I do not believe that you can say that you are a knowledgeable Linux user unless you can use the command line, at least to some degree. I don't mean one has to be a guru or anything, but knowing how to navigate around the system and do fairly basic tasks in the command line is essential. If you say "I'm a big Linux user, but I have never used the command line and I don't want to", then you're not really a Linux user at all.

    So, honestly, I don't think Linux is for everyone and maybe it won't ever be. But if the sacrifice is that we must forfeit wide marketplace acceptance in order to keep the OS we use intelligent and useful as it was always intended to be, then I'm willing to accept that. I don't think stripping Linux of true functionality just so the lowest common denominator can sit down at it and use it right away is a sensible thing.

  21. Alan Pope | April 4, 2007 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Meh. Stuff them. If they are the kind of people who can't spend a short amount of time helping us to help them then "let" them go back to Windows.

    They'll either stay there and be happy (good luck to them), or switch later when the time is right for them.

    You can't force someone to use Free software, you can just show them what the alternatives to proprietary software are and let them make their own mind up. If you try too hard you can easily end up making people feel bad, and that's not what we need.

    If they thinly veil threats of leaving to windows then I have to wonder if I really want their contribution in the first place.

    I suspect that this may sound arrogant, elitist or even egotistical to some, but that's not my intention. I am pragmatic, and whilst we could all spend days trying to convince one person to "stick with us", most of us have better things to do, such as report and fix bugs, write documentation, and in other ways help those who will help themselves.

    (just my 2p).

  22. Derek | April 4, 2007 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I Dual Boot Win XP Pro and Ubuntu (set up as a web server to test apps) and still find interruptions to my work flow on both.

    IF Linux developers want people to use their software they should look as to why MS and Apple have so many users. Adapt and grow.

    DOS was around back in the day, but not a lot of people I know used computers back then. Switch to now where there are easy to use GUIs, and most people I know have a computer and the internet.

    I think usability is key here. Options are good. Software should be easy to use for those who need to do simple things while allowing for advance users to get what they need done. And this idea where everyone has to be a CS major to run a computer is completely wrong if you want your software adopted.

    The whole package manager thing doesn't work well when you have dial up (I know I am not the only one) and the the modem doesn't work in Linux. If I could download a single installer file from a site I would have twice the programs I do now since I have to use the Edgy DVD.

    All in all I want people to learn how to use a program from the program itself (documentation and usability), and have fun with their computers.

    Easier is not bad if your program is still powerful. I say, we should show the world what these machines can do.

  23. GoatTuber | April 4, 2007 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    One of my coworkers recently gave me the "I'm going back to Windows", but it wasn't a braining problem, he was having issues with a Linksys wifi card on his laptop. NDISWrapper couldn't even get it to work, and we tried a few other workarounds. Nothing. He was happy with the look and feel of Ubuntu, how easy it was to use, and how he could configure it to look and act however he wanted, rather than being locked into the Windows desktop. After re-installing XP, he said "I know it's not Linux's fault, but if they can get the driver problem fixed, then I'll switch back in a heartbeat. I really like Ubuntu, it just doesn't work for me right now." So, I'm hoping for his sake that the Feisty release will have better pcmcia wifi support.

    As for me, all my home computers are happily running Ubuntu, and all my work computers are running various versions of Windows (even the servers). Kinda backwards, huh?

  24. jmf | April 4, 2007 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I never succeed to install and configure a "Linux".
    I never succeed to find a real confirmed "Linux" user around.
    I never succeed to find answers to my questions on fora (about installation).

    If you do not know what ip, dns and these ppp* things are, you are just a dead man on Linux.

    As an hobbyist programmer, I prefer to spend my limited spare time with Python, Lua or Haskell on my Win platform than reading documentation on how to put a wifi to work.

    "Linux", a very appealing system, too bad it is just so complicate to set up.

  25. Aaron | April 4, 2007 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    jmf- You don't need to configure Linux like in days of old UNIX times. Linux is easy to install and 'configure'. For looking for answers to you questions, just go to You're bound to get answers to any question that you ask. And, you don't need to know ip, dns and ppp* things on Linux, but, using your brain, and figuring them out is what this post is about. You won't be sunk in the water if you don't know them, but it should wouldn't hurt to learn. Definitely if your a programmer. It sounds like you have the skill, you just lack the motivation.

  26. Sokraates | April 4, 2007 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I know very well, that the GUI is not Linux but the system beneath, that can be run from the command line.

    But for Windows users a new GUI is already strange enough. Take that away from them and they are bound to run back to Windows screaming. Heck, I wouldn't use Linux if I had to do most of my work from the command line.

    No one wants Linux to sacrifice it's individuality. Quite on the contrary: Linux should develop it's strengths to the fullest. Linux is all about choice and customizability. So it's easy to hide complexity from new users using simple GUIs while experienced user are free to use the command line, because it's still there.

    And as I have already said: once users grow acustomed to Linux, they will eventually learn to use the command line to manage low level things. And if not, than they will hopefully find some friendly user who will walk them through the changes they want to make.

  27. EmyrB | April 4, 2007 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Well I for one am sticking with Linux. I have a triple boot PC (Ubuntu, Windows XP and Vista) and the one I spend most of my computing time in... Ubuntu.

    I am an IT professional and at work I have to use Microsoft products all the time, but I have 4 VMware Linux distro's on the go. I even managed to persuade my boss to do a SMEServer install for a local charity even though a rival IT firm said that Linux was a no-no. Do you know what? The people who log into that server don't even notice it is not windows based, all they know is that they can log in, get their docs, surf the web and read their mail. And bar the small inconvenience of a 40GB hdd dying in the server the server has been up for the best part of 6 months with no crashes, or reboots. I wish I could say the same for the myriad of Windows 2000 and 2003 servers we look after.

  28. Rob J. Caskey | April 4, 2007 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I'm afraid it is you who is going to be hit on the door on the way out if you go into any home/organization and explain to Mom or the secretary that she is going to need to read up on the terminal.

  29. Casey O'Donnell | April 4, 2007 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    its sad when new users run into legitimate bugs and its one that will stump most of the people in the forums and irc.

    and if they have a problem which stops them from installing the distro most often they will tell other not to try linux, advice good or bad has a way of staying in the mind for a long time.

    people not using their brains have no excuse though, learning is a major part of life.

  30. Maurice Green | April 4, 2007 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I would not want to use Windows again but I can't blame those who do. A computer is a tool and you can't expect all users to be toolmakers.
    How do you define a 'good' tool? In terms of simplicity, reliability and usability. Most people I know would rather pay for something that is simple to use than spend their precious time working out how to use it.
    I am lucky that I have an understanding family - and another pc they can use (running xp).

  31. Baka Bomber | April 4, 2007 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Hey, I've been thinking since reading this... are there any examples out there right now of the command-line actually aiding the user in understanding it? This is just a feeling I'm getting and I don't know for sure, but it seems like the GUI is a fix for people that don't want to memorize all these different text commands. Do you think that maybe it's the CLI that should be improved upon to make it easier for new users, instead of relying solely on a GUI for user-friendliness?

  32. Tyler | April 4, 2007 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    While I agree with much of what you say, I should point out that you sound just a little hostile. As a recent convert (who has literally no technical knowledge) I feel a bit put off with your somewhat aggressive language.

  33. Aaron | April 4, 2007 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Tyler- Thanks for your feedback! However, what's aggressive about telling lazy computer users to step up to the plate and start learning stuff? What's aggressive about saying that Microsoft is dumbing down their own operating system, and as such, hindering their own user base? I guess I just have no patience for the idle.

  34. Aaron | April 4, 2007 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Maurice- I'm not expecting everyone to create their own tools, I'm just expecting that everyone learn the tools.

    Rob J. Caskey- I'm not the one going to them. Your mom and secretary are coming to me. I didn't enter their place of residence, they entered mine.

    Sokraates- I'm not asking anyone to live in the terminal. Use the GUI. That's fine. Just spend the time to get to know your system. That's all I ask.

    GoatTuber- I understand that some hardware issues keep people from using Linux. If you've done all you can do, and your hands are still tied, then you're miles ahead of those I am ranting about.

    Derek- I'm not going to go into the reasons why Microsoft has so many users. Suffice it to say, it was not operating system design, or Apple would be the market leader.

    arbulus- Well said!

  35. Ben | April 4, 2007 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    You mentioned "challenge" three or four times in that post. I'm don't think anybody is interested in having a challenging time using their computer. Perhaps I have misinterpreted your use of the word.

  36. Daniel | April 4, 2007 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Aaron...i am a full linux user (feisty beta), has windows just on virtual box. I think that if we want to fix bug number 1, we have to leave the idea that an operative system is something that should challenge user's mind. Imho this attitude ( very generalized in the hardcore) is an advantage we are giving to the company that has the major portion of the market.

  37. ozp | April 4, 2007 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Hello! I dont think anyone will read this but anyway...

    The main reason linux wont get to the desktop is not because start menu, exe and control panel

    but its because BUGS, alpha software and the eternal beta state

    since linux is not made for the general user, there is always a work around for the geeks and hackers

    Im using ubuntu for some months
    after years waiting to have a linux that I was able to use in my computer

    Im getting tired of so many bugs and alpha software

    I love linux, I love free software
    I support linux, I spread,

    I have linux ubuntu working on most of the machines that I control

    But it sad to see that it wont make to the masses
    by the time it get stable enought, google will release it almost web based OS

    when this happends, free sofware movement will be gone
    because it wont be about software anymore, it will be about services

  38. Aaron | April 4, 2007 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    ozp- alpha software? Ubuntu? Linux in general? What? Are you kidding? You must be.

    Listen, in all honesty, Linux is more stable than any operating system I have used. BeOS, Solaris UNIX, Windows, MacOS, etc. I'm not going to be ignorant, however. The Linux kernel has bugs, but please. Alpha software is definitely what it is not.

    Heh. I won't even bother commenting on the rest of your comment. You've already shown me your lack of judgment, and that's pretty much sealed it. 🙂

  39. Velvet Elvis | April 4, 2007 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    A link that deserves to be plastered as many places as possible:

    Why Linux is not windows:

    OZP: Try something other than ubuntu. It's supposed to be bleeding edge. You might have better luck with PC LinuxOS.

  40. Velvet Elvis | April 4, 2007 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Hey, I’ve been thinking since reading this… are there any examples out there right now of the command-line actually aiding the user in understanding it? This is just a feeling I’m getting and I don’t know for sure, but it seems like the GUI is a fix for people that don’t want to memorize all these different text commands. Do you think that maybe it’s the CLI that should be improved upon to make it easier for new users, instead of relying solely on a GUI for user-friendliness?

    Maybe not what you had in mind, but if you really want to learn it, Slackware is pretty much the same as it was ten years ago. It's very simple and minimalistic. There are not a lot distribution specific tools complicating things. It's pretty much just you and bash. Anything you pick up using it can therefore be taken to other distros. If you want to learn the shell, a desktop oriented distro is probobly the worst place to do it simply because it's got all the extra crap running by default to make the desktop work right.

  41. Blake | April 4, 2007 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    It took me several tries on different years to get Linux up and running on a computer. I first tried around '99-'00 with Turbo Linux, then later with Mandrake (installing Quake 3 from a CD brought the system down permanently somehow, then SUSE (which worked fine), and now I'm on to Ubuntu.

    I simply don't understand why anyone would expect Linux to be Windows with improvements, but many people do. The concepts boggles my mind. When I saw my first Mac OS (back in '94), I knew it wasn't Windows.

    There are valid complaints (e.g. Linux has games, but a lot of the mainstream ones are missing -or- "Photoshop runs slowly in WINE.") Installing and using a distribution is not one of them, unless you're a first time user installing Gentoo. Likewise, what do you need the terminal for? I use the terminal for almost everything I do, but the needs most people have can be met with a package installer, built-in menus, etc. There's a GUI for almost everything they'd seem to need.

  42. Sokraates | April 5, 2007 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    @Aaron: I didn't mean to imply that you would rather see Linux users working with the terminal.

    But the fact remains, that the more people switch to Linux, the less technically savvy the average user becomes. So you can't expect any Linux user to become acquainted to the command line over time.

    People who switch themselves will maybe learn about the CLI. But others who have the switch made for them (e.g. my parents) won't ever bother to learn the details of Linux. They didn't even bother to understand Windows.

    Does Linux work for these people? Of course! All they need is an office suite, a browser and e-mail. Have security updates done automatically and your set. They may still need help from time to time, but less so than with windows (I'm speaking from my own experience).

    Less technology ignorant people will even post to forums. And even though I detest having people cry wolf (or "i'm going back to windows" in this case), the community's first inclination should be to breath deeply and then try to help them. After all, they did their best (which doesn't mean much these days) to use Linux and become part of our community. If they can't be helped, noone can blame it on an unfriendly community and as Linux improves, they'll be back. As Christer Edwards said: there was a reason why they tried to switch in the first place.

  43. Aaron | April 5, 2007 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Ben- I'm not suggesting that the operating system be a puzzle that they try to figure out step by step. What I am suggesting is that an operating system encourage growth and learning. I propose that Linux is doing just that, while Windows is doing it less and less. As such, when you come to the Windows camp, be prepared to exercise a little brain power and work. The operating system isn't going to baby you through everything as Windows does.

  44. Richard | April 5, 2007 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Good post. It gets frustrating sometimes when you read post after post of people giving up on something that you completed successfully (like switching to Linux). But it's important to realize that the average user doesn't want to be mentally challenged. They want an appliance. An email reading, web surfing, word processing, pr0n viewing appliance. You wouldn't want to be mentally challenged by your TV or toaster, would you?

  45. Kim | April 5, 2007 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I hear this and I know they haven't really tried to use Linux. When I first wanted to look at Linux, I set as my goal to try and use it as my desktop for a reasonable period of time (a week or so, not ten minutes). I believe that was back in 2000 and I'm still using it. I connect to z/OS and z/VM sessions with x3270 easier than the Windows people do. I write memo and spreadsheets and share them with others with no problem

    I've found *very* few things I could not do, and those I couldn't, Ive found ways around. One, I later found out, has the exact same problem under Windows! BTW, I'm not some kid just trying the new thing out, I'm in my early fifties, and have worked with computers for over thirty years!

    My wife and son use Windows (my wife is too set in her ways - is running Win 98 still) and my son has games that run under Windows, although he's been getting interested in Linux too. At least he is open to using it.

  46. VoltRabbit | April 5, 2007 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    When it comes to linux I am a noob. No, worse than that, a sub-noob. However, I know enough to say it is not hard to use "just different". If you want to limit yourself to just using a mouse and right-clicking your way through life, stick with Windows and keep your "anti-virus" software up to date. I"ll keep XP around for gaming though. LOTRO FTW!?

  47. kuriharu | April 5, 2007 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    So here we go again with "blame the user". I use both Linux and Windows and wouldn't impose Linux on anyone who didn't explicitly request it.

    The fact is that MS listens to their customers and their OS upgrades reflect this. We shouldn't blame users for wanting an easier computer -- it's just evolution. Should cars go back to using cranks to start the engine or do most of us like our electronic ignition? Should we go back to the days before anti-lock brakes and power steering?

    Computers being easier to use means people use their computers for specific tasks. Microsoft gets this, as do a lot of Linux companies now (SUSE, Ubuntu, etc). It seems some of the Linux users do not.

  48. joel | April 5, 2007 at 11:12 am | Permalink


    I agree with you I don't force linux on anyone. My parents and most of my siblings use Windows. (One brother uses linux)

    When users have issues the Linux community should listen, try to help and try to make the linux system better. (It doesn't have to be exactly like windows but it should be easy to use).

    However, I'm curious where you get the idea that microsoft listens to its customers? In what areas do you think they do? Are there things in Vista that work much better than Windows XP (I haven't used Vista). I've seen steady improvements in Ubuntu, but I haven't really seen many in Windows.

    I find windows XP a pain to setup and with 5 different versions of Vista I don't see how that makes things easier for the customers. I wish Windows was easier to use and worked better so that people could have a better time using their computers. However, I think this will only really happen when Microsoft faces real competition on the desktop (most likely from Mac and Ubuntu).

  49. ozp | April 5, 2007 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    There are a lot of alpha software around.
    How many software do you use that is below 0.5?

    Beryl is 0.2

    So many famous software are hitting the 1.0 release

    mplayer did not release 1.0 yet

    kernel is stable, the system behind the GUI is stable

    The GUI is unstable, the software over the GUI is very unstable

    I say this from my own experience

  50. Aaron | April 5, 2007 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    ozp- So, you're saying that unless software hits a 1.0 release, it's alpha? What version number does it have to be for a beta release? I hate to say it, but your discernment is way off.

    Firefox is at a version 2 release, yet, they've release a version 3 alpha. Also, Beryl, mplayer and the 'GUI', as you refer to it, are all at stable releases, according to their respective documentations. Both cases showing that software is deemed stable by the developers, and not the version numbers.

  51. chemicalscum | April 5, 2007 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    I think alot of those people that "threaten to go back to Windows" with a list of spurious reasons why Linux is so difficult are really MS astroturfers trying to deter potential newbies from trying out Linux.

    Like a lot of people I use Win XP at work and Ubuntu Linux at home, Ubuntu is easier to use than Windows. I remember back in the days when I used Red Hat 6 a good few years ago and it was a fight to make your system work, the ability to use the command line and to edit config files was essential but those days are long gone. Ubuntu just works and is easier than Windows.

  52. Me | April 5, 2007 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Aaron, no offense, but you're saying Linux is more stable than Solaris, and that simply isn't true. And you are also forgetting the *BSD's when claiming that Linux is the most stable.

  53. Aaron | April 5, 2007 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Me- no offense, but in my experience, Linux has been more stable.

    I had a large Sun Microsystems Enterprise 1 UltraSparc server running Solaris 9 for about 3 months, using CDE as my desktop manager. I couldn't keep it up for more than a week, due to constant crashing. Eventually, I wiped it clean, put Gentoo on it, unsuccessfully, then decided to sell it. It may have been hardware related, but I'm not sure.

    Also, I ran FreeBSD 4.11 on an x86 custom built box, that is now running Ubuntu. It too had many issues. Constant crashing, and multiple bugs in software packages, that were supposedly stable.

    So, in my experience, which is all I can speak from, Linux has been more stable and reliable.

  54. Jonathan | April 5, 2007 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    En mi opinión, linux es un sistema operativo sólido, fácil de usar y con más prestaciones que otros sistemas operativos basados en código cerrado y propietario,

  55. Aaron | April 5, 2007 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Jonathan's translation, for those who don't speak Spanish:

    "In my opinion, Linux is a solid operating system, easy to use and with more benefits than other operating systems based on closed and proprietary code."

  56. Kosh | April 5, 2007 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Try using an nvidia 8800 series card on xp 64 or god forbid vista and tell me how easy windows is to use. The linux drivers for these cards came out on the day the card released and have worked flawlessly for me.

    My experience running windows on a high end machine (dual opteron with 8G of ram) is that windows is a royal pain in the neck to setup and keep running.

    Linux is definitely different to run but I definitely find it easier and at least it works. Stuff like kubuntu makes installing software much easier then windows and for updating there is no comparison. Kubuntu can update all the software on the system installed via the package system which is usually close to everything and windows can only update windows not any app that you install. I have been using linux for about 12 years now and I definitely find it easier to use then windows.

  57. Patric Conant | April 5, 2007 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    I take issue with most of the traditional viewpoints cocerning Linux and Windows usability and "zealotry". Some things are better then others, for instance, typing "apt-get update && apt-get upgrade" is better than running windows updates, then pulling a list of installed software from add/remove programs (you'll note that the contents of this menu cannot be highlighted/marked, and therefore cannot be copied and pasted) finding the installed version of each program and comparing it to the current version from the vendor's website.

  58. helios | April 5, 2007 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    I love to hear people threaten to go back to windows. I leave them with two statements. "Linux isn't for lazy or dumb people so you have a nice trip back" then I smile and say...Oh good...another defenseless computer to hack. What was your IP address again?


  59. Ken H | April 5, 2007 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Let me say upfront that while I personally prefer Linux, I do use Windows and have no problems with it.

    I think that overall, the problem is that you are dealing not with stupid people but people that do not have much understanding of how computers work at all and have no interest in learning about computers. They simply view them as something to send emails from, surf the web and play games on.

    This is the real reason that there are some many Windows computers hosed with viruses and spyware.

    If Linux was preinstalled on computers, there would not be any harder for those users than windows and many would not even know that there was difference.

    That said, it is always worthwhile learning how to use any system that you run.

  60. tony | April 5, 2007 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    I use linux ubuntu and Linux is ready. Now the big giant software companys need to port their app like Autocad, Microstation ,Adobe photoshop and other big apps that companys use to make the switch. Until those apps are around businesses wont make the switch.

  61. Allen | April 5, 2007 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    I appreciate the post, too. I'm not sure what anyone is actually talking about when they complain that you have to know the command line, or know how to compile, or be a programmer to use Linux. I've been using Linux now for about three years. I started with Linspire and moved on to Ubuntu. Yes, there is a learning curve, but there is one with everything new in life that you try. yes, I use the command line on occasion, but only if I have to do something that a "normal" user would call a tech/geek for, like getting Ndiswrapper working, for example. The same as in Windows. My wife uses Ubuntu on her system as well, and she has no idea how to use the command line. My kids also do for their games. None of us knows how to compile anything, and my programming skills are limited to writing a very simple script now and again.

    What I'm trying to say is that we use Linux for almost everything we do as a family on the computers we have. It is just as easy as Windows if not more so, and it's not the fault of the programmers if the proprietary companies won't release code for hardware drivers or compile high end games for Linux. Most "normal" computer users just use it for internet browsing, email, wors processing, etc. anyway. All of which is easily handled by any modern Linux Distro and none of which requires any knowledge of a command line or any other "Geek" wisdom.
    The truth is that anyone who returns to Windows from Linux either hasn't tried the right distro, or it wasn't set up properly for them, because there's absolutely nothing wrong with Desktop Linux itself and a lot right with it.

  62. Rick | April 5, 2007 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Ok a few things that your uneducated pc user doesn't know:
    1.Microsoft's Windows OS is not built as good as Linux.(I call the whole GNU/Linux thing just Linux so deal with it)
    2.Microsoft's way of doing business and how it treats others is wrong and that's final.
    3.Linux has some very easy distros out there. They are just different NOT harder.
    Aaron, your article is worded better than my response to that threat. I just tell them to piss off and go back then.

  63. rgtaylor | April 5, 2007 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    I just want to say to the guy who thinks Cars are easier to maintain today than 50 years ago... You obviously have never worked on 1957 Chevy... Cars couldn't have been simpler than they were then... I was born in 1970, I learned cars in the driveway, and computers in the closet... MS takes away your options, your freedom of choice and you power in exchange for user friendliness... It is NOT a sign of a "mature" application, it is a sign of a "one size fits all" mentality... Linux has 10 ways, more or less, to do everything... So each users can get used to what works best for them... MS can't say that about Windows... Linux users and developers refuse to give up that freedom, those choices and that power to anyone ... Like they said in the movie "You've Got Mail"... people buy complex and crazy coffee drinks so they can feel they have made decisions when they are basically going through life day by day with the rest of the world dictated to them... We don't want to be dictated too, it is that simple...

  64. rgtaylor | April 5, 2007 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    People may see my post and notice I am using Windows... this is true, as I am stuck with what my company bought me while at work, but I run my own company on the side, trying ot make it larger, and we use Linux OS on servers and laptops... Also, I can't get Dell Japan to provide me with a Linux Laptop like are doing in Dell France, so I just have to wait...

    BUT, I have an old Compaq Presario which came with Windows 98 SE SR2, and the 98 OS got worse with each Windows update... I tried ME in it, but that never quite worked right... I sidelined it for a few years, but dug it out 2 years ago and installed Linux on it... I have had ZERO problems running Linux, even newer versions and EVEN my Elementary School son enjoyed working with it...


  65. fritz | April 5, 2007 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    I have converted some friends and family from Windows to GNU/Linux and I find that this leads to a definite stress reduction for them. They no longer worry about viruses, trojans, worms or spyware. No more 'disk defrags' or 'disk cleanups' to worry about.

    As a result they have a more enjoyable and useful computing experience. And once all the applications that they require are installed, there is not much else to do on the support side due to the stability of the GNU/Linux environment.

  66. Me | April 5, 2007 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Aaron: I understand that Linux has been more stable in your experience. In fact, I am a Linux user myself. But the Solaris servers that I have worked with can take 3 years of up time (and probably more), something that I have never seen Linux do. As for FreeBSD, I cannot offer a plausible explanation for the crashes you experienced, but as far as I have seen, if you want a solid server and don't like Sun (or IBM for that matter -- AIX anyone?), then really some kind of BSD is the way to go. Just my $0.02

  67. blue | April 6, 2007 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    I like linux. I like it alot. I don't hate Windows, I hate the MS license. My hard drive failed. I had to re-install, it required a call to activate. How lame is that? I wouldn't say Linux is harder...not today at least. It wasn't so easy 5 years ago though. Its pretty user friendly. Even distros like Gentoo which take forever to build is not that hard if you read the manual. Personally, I don't care to do that much work to install an OS. I love Ubuntu but don't care to install all the extras...thankfully there are other distros to choose from. That is the beauty of Linux isn't it? Choice? Linux Mint works for me pretty well out of the box...nothing else I really need to install. Installation is a breeze, and everything but my wireless worked out of the box but that is to be expected with the Broadcom model I have. In any case, Ubuntu has a strong support community and it was pretty simple to get it up and running. This could happen in any OS. I know I've spent countless hours getting some hardware to work in Win or Mac. I don't see the argument about exe, synaptic seems to take care of business pretty simple. So why do I boot into Windows? Well, there are some programs I just can't run in Linux namely the digital audio workstations. Yes, there are nice DAWs like Rosegarden, its just a beast to get working with audio along with VST. Where would I like to see Linux going? I don't know if it is Linux per se as it is vendor suport for Linux. I can get drivers for things like my Netgear 101 file server, I would convert my whole family to Linux.

  68. blackhole | April 6, 2007 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    "The whole package manager thing doesn't work well when you have dial up (I know I am not the only one) and the the modem doesn't work in Linux. If I could download a single installer file from a site I would have twice the programs I do now since I have to use the Edgy DVD."


    You're fundamental problem here is that the modem doesn't work. But even here Linux gives you a work around, but it involves the (dreaded by some) command line. If you choose the package(s) you want to install with Synaptic, under the "file" menu, Synaptic offers to provide a script for using wget to download the needed .deb files. Here you might have several files instead of one to download from another computer (or the same one dual booted) and transfer over, but it shouldn't be much more difficult than downloading a single installer file. Since wget is available on MS Windows you could even use that for your download. Personally, I always found double clicking on a .exe file for installation rather nerve racking since I never knew what it was going to do when I clicked!

  69. Bobby | April 6, 2007 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    It depends on the what one sees as user friendliness, ease of use etc. Linux has made a lot of inroads in these areas in the past few years but it still has to do more if the Windows and MAC crowd is it's target. If somebody started out with Linux then that person would most likely have problems using Windows and the other way around - it's all about habit. I see that on myself if I haven't used Windows for some weeks and then suddenly have to deal with the illogical XP start menu layout. Well Vista improved in that area. I almost accused MS of copying KBFX in some ways in it's Vista start menu design. Look at the way the new Vista start menu works and you will understand what I mean.

    Linux is on the right track and Ubuntu is taking it's user's experience to places that no other Linux distro has ever before. Things just work!
    Yes I am presently using openSuse 10.2 (a very powerful, stable and user friendly OS btw) as my main OS but I also have Vista, XP (for educational reasons) and KUbuntu Feisty installed so I can make comparisons.
    With a a bit more multimedia support and a little more support from hardware vendors Linux will be ready to replace Windows on the desktop.

    Whoever wants to go back to Windows can go. I will be so happy to earn a few bucks cleaning up their virus infected OSs.

    PS: My wife, who only knew Windows before uses Linux without a problem and she didn't spend hours learning like some claim.


  70. gsprs | April 6, 2007 at 1:57 am | Permalink

    There are a few problems with the logic, but I see that several posters and the article writer have already reconciled this.

    Some people do NOT want to work on their machines; others can push themselves to work, as long as its with familiar problems and solutions. You can't ask these people to up and LEARN a new operating system...even if you claim that they will have an 'easier' time in the future.

    Some of you guys realize this, and then you say, "Oh, I don't want any lazy users." Right here, you kill linux's chance of every have more than a marginal share of things. The perception is that linux is work. The perception is that linux is supported by rabid fanboys. This article and its posters don't do much to dispel the argument.

    I am more enticed to work with a problem (so I'm not the absolutely lazy user), but ONLY IF IT IS FAMILIAR. I've worked with mandriva, one of the older editions of Ubuntu (which I want to try the feisty beta for some of the things they are doing), and now I'm with gentoo. I still find something wrong with each of these fundamentally.

    They want me to learn a new system by throwing me into it. I first learned how to work ndiswrapper with Mandriva, because I had discovered that the software couldn't automatically detect my linksys wireless adaptor. It was almost NOT worth it to learn, because it wasn't easy. There was little documentation, despite the fact that there was A LOT of documentation.

    That's the problem. You see, there are hundreds of forums (for each distro, even!), and there are hundreds of guides, and there are even IRC channels, but these all have a gap and disconnect with users. They don't convey information well, or even worse, advice doesn't work.

    EVERY TIME I've had a problem on linux, the first method to fix it hasn't worked. The SECOND method I've tried to fix it hasn't worked. The third, even not. If I ever fixed a problem, it was through repeated trial and error. And although I realize now, "Oh, this problem was SOOOO SIMPLE," linux is not. Havin things not work is the worst thing in the world.

    When I first tried ubuntu, it was dapper. It wouldn't detect my laptop's 1280x800 resolution (unacceptable!), and it wouldn't detect my laptop's broadcom driver (unacceptable!) Even worse, I couldn't fix the broadcom problem because I didn't understand yet that linux simply has a broken driver for my particular broadcom! So, the kernel module being loaded for it was doing NOTHING good and preventing me from doing anything as well.

    When a friend first encouraged me to use gentoo, I thought, "Why would you ever subject someone to this pain?" I initially installed improperly and had to reinstall everything after a month; I hated the constant maintenance, etc.,

    BUT, I learned everything from my suffering. I learned, "Oh, if I personally write some lines to xorg.conf, then I can set my resolution to 1280x800 in ANY resolution, even if the gui tool won't let me select it!" And I finally learned, "Oh, yeah, linux's bcm43xx kernel module does NOT cooperate with have to BLACKLIST it first and THEN use ndiswrapper." It's not been easy (I've had to have a system CRASH and burn and reinstall it), but now I see what people say about linux's ease of use. And because I know LINUX (the kernel, some of the files and some of the CLI), I should be able to go to any distro and adjust to it.

    I want to try Feisty Beta because I hear good things about its method of handling drivers as well as restricted modules. Of course, I am frightened because I also hear that it tries to load a broken broadcom module ONCE AGAIN when ndiswrapper is suitable. I have no problem with mandriva, which allows me to use ndiswrapper FROM THE START over a kernel module, but other distros refuse to do this saying that they won't support ndiswrapper because that supports proprietary drivers.

    There are definitely problems with the linux system. If you have to learn through hardknocks, then computing isn't fun anymore. Yes, there may be also problems to work through in windows, but that's already a familiar environment. To ask someone to adopt a new system and then advertise it as can't then say, "well, it's superior IF you work at it." Even though it's true, it rubs people the wrong way.

    I hate linux for all that I don't know, because I know that it will be a problem. I don't expect anything to 'just work,' and most linux users says that that's not the 'goal' of linux. Because BOTH of my printers are made by companies that don't provide drivers to linux, I have to suffer. Because ATi has atrocious drivers, I have to suffer. Because Bcm4318 is the exception to what should be a posterchild of linux progress in wireless recognition, I have to suffer. And if I suffer enough, then I'll get through it all. But that's what life is about. That's what work is about. I don't want my computer to be work.

    Now, I like to use linux whenever I don't have anything to do. However, I am increasing perturbed by Beryl (let that other guy talk about alpha software though...). Furthermore, I realize that I still have to go into Windows every time I have to print something, which is more and more. Some linux users would inconsiderately say, "Maybe you should have supported vendors who support linux." Well, geez! Telling that to a new user (or even an old user) is asking for people to get discouraged.

  71. Lancest | April 6, 2007 at 3:03 am | Permalink

    Been using Linux off and on since 1997 Red hat. It has progressed alot! I now use Linux 90% of the time. I teach here in China and use Linux with (3D) Beryl on the projector. My chinese students are impressed and don't even know yet Linux is the official operating system of their government. WTO, (Microsoft licensing) and the DRM are forcing change soon!. Linux is a worldwide phenom.

  72. Bobby | April 6, 2007 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    I agree with you to an extent but you also pointed out the problem yourself: hardware driver support which can't be solely blamed on Linux. Be fair, the hardware manufacturers and not Microsoft write drivers for WINDOWS so that Windows is what it is even though one has to curse hell and the devil to get drivers installed on Windows sometimes - it's not always easy to install a driver on Windows and not all users know how to. Not to mention Vista, which still don't support some hardware including bluetooth devices. It's a bit ironic that Windows users don't even mention these problems. On the other hand, Hardware manufacturers (the most) don't write drivers for Linux. Can you imagine if they would? That's what holding back Linux more than anything else.

  73. Tim | April 6, 2007 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    It's a matter of laziness.

    The "learning curve" for most modern distros is no more difficult than that of Windows.

    It is however different. Many people I've run into already "learned" how to use Windows and they are not willing to to invest in learning something different. Far too many people who are new to linux seem to expect it to be a Windows clone. They become frustrated and complain. I would argue that we don't want or need these people.

    Frustration of new users is understandable and we should go out of our way to help noobs who are willing to put a little effort into learning about their new OS.

    Once people become comfortable in their use of Linux they will realize benefits which are not available to Windows users.

  74. Sgt_Jake | April 6, 2007 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    I've seen a lot of comments about how windows is easier, linux has obscure documentation and install problems... Let me share. Roxio's cd software caused me blue screens and an unbootable system for 3 days - because of the cdrom.sys file. I almost reformatted. I apparently NEED the roxio driver for the dvd burner in my dell laptop to work. Windows, my friends, is far worse - there's not a readable error log on the whole system. Windows listens to its customers? Maybe... if you're a fortune 500 company with an enterprise contract [I am, they told me to re-install roxio]. When is the last time that YOU - THE USER - spoke with anyone from Microsoft without a support contract? And as for Linux being a step back (cars with cranks, the days before the internet... !wow! there's a gem of ignorance), why then is Microsoft finally offering a usable command line without a graphical desktop in Vista?
    I'm working today, on my windows machine, because I have to patch 10,000 other windows machines due to an animated cursor vulnerability. ~An animated cursor~ vulnerability. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
    Let me just thank God for IBM's Tivoli software running on RED HAT's LINUX - I'll be done in about 20 minutes (so I can go home and finish my new MYTHTV box).

  75. Tex Arcana | April 6, 2007 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    It's interesting that I have this very same discussion with one of my best friends, who's a "Linusti" (Linux programmer, or expert, or fanboi), and we go round and round on this all the time.

    Simply put: computers are complex machines, and the programmers (geeks) haven't gotten it thru their heads that the average user is incapable of the complexity and understanding required. This is partially why Windows has gained such a huge following, because they made it "easier"; problem is, Windows isn't inherently "easier", because of the holes and security issues it has. It requires time and work, and every time an exploit is used, the machine is broken and you're spending literally hours fixing it.

    Linux ain't easy, either: in fact, it's bloody impossible to the average person. To wit: how many actual commands are there in Linux?? "Thousands" would be a conservative estimate; you think ordinary people are going to be capable of even remembering ten of them? I think not. And when you delve into scripting and program changes: you're so far beyond the capabilities of even the advanced Windows user it's not funny. And yet, the Linux crowd *EXPECTS* people to be capable of not only using the command line, but to hack scripts and files and programs?? A case of excessive expectations, indeed.

    The issue goes back to the geeks, on both sides of the fence: what's "easy" for a geek, is bloody impossible for Joe Ditchdigger, or Sally Secretary, or even Andy Accountant: they just cannot, and justifiably will not, go further into complexity than they have to. Yet, the geeks say, "OH THAT'S EASY!!", dive into an explanation that makes no sense, and the Average Joe stands there nodding dumbly because it's all he can do. And, of course, Sally S. feels like an idiot because The Geek just *made* her feel stupid. And all that happens on BOTH sides of the fence.

    Of course, the next question is, "why is it so easy for the geek??" Answer: because (s)he has spent so much time *using* things and doing things that they become second nature, no matter how truly complex it is; they memorized all the steps, and their minds are conditioned to memorize or find said sequences, so it's inherently easier for them. But the average appliance user isn't like that, cannot be like that, and cannot be expected to behave like that.

    And it still comes down to this: computers are *not* made to be user-friendly. Apple has gotten closest to accomplishing this feat, but even they are guilty of doing things that are non-intuitive and "geeky". Microsoft has made strides, but they still have things that confuse th crap out of people, even advanced users, and when you factor the security issues in, turns it into a dangerous proposition indeed. Then there's Linux, which is more like expecting a person to program in machine language when they can barely string a coherent sentence together in English class with a pencil.

    "Ergonomics" and "Usability" should be the watchwords here. What people want and need out of their computing devices are "appliances": just like a microwave or a stove, you should be able to walk up to it, and just *use* it. You can use *any* microwave, or *any* stove, even if they are in another language, because they are designed in such a way that they meet the minimal set of recognition and usability standards. So should a computing device (or an operating system) be done. It should install and run, every time, without fuss. The interface should be simple and easy to figure out. The basic applications should be simple to use and have a progressive complexity that depends on the tasks and the needs of the user.

    Using the automobile references that were mentioned earlier: cars are simple. They all have a steering wheel, a brake pedal, a gas pedal, a mirror, and a gear selector. I can get into *ANY* vehicle in the world, and be able to drive it. If there are added functions (outside the MS/Linux-like iDrive of BMW), they are laid out in such a way to have relevance and recognizability to other units of similar functions.

    What that means is that operating systems need a set of standards that ALL programmers must adhere to. If you expect the average user to use a computer, then you must make it so said user can understand it and use it without a phD. ALL THREE major OS's fail at this, currently.

  76. Tex Arcana | April 6, 2007 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    As an aside: if Linux is to survive as a viable OS, the authors/programmers *MUST* take ergonomics and usability into account; they must make it work out of the box, on all hardware; and they MUST clearly document their work. They also MUST understand that the user should not be expected to use to command line, ever, unless there is a major problem.

    And before you Linusti go crazy over this, please understand that I, too, am trying to move over from Windows. I'm deathly afraid of the direction MS is going, and I won't be held hostage by them. Linux is about free speech, and freedom of computing. But, when my SUSe install completed on my laptop the other night, X didn't start, and left me with a command prompt and no bloody way to know what to do next--no hints, no commands, nothing. And if i did not have an Internet connection, I would've been completely stuck; if I didn't have another operating system to fall back on, I'd've been in deep doo-doo.

  77. vi | April 6, 2007 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    The math is simple in the fiels of desktop usability - 2 clicks is more productive than 7 clicks; knowing what behind you and whats to come is productive; any software, any feature that makes one (certain percentage of ones)being totally lost frustrated and hopeless is a usability bug. Linux is cool, but bloated "cool" attitude is also a usability (as part of CRM) bug. To conclude: command line is a USABILITY bug; the concept of a package (versus application) is a USABILITY bug. And IMHO, just off the record - GNOME is a bug, Konqueror is a bug, the concept of Root is a bug on the desktop.
    Linux is growing up fast. Lets talk again in two years.

  78. vi | April 6, 2007 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Almost forgot. Yes, I completely agree with the author - Linux is good for your evolution!
    Look elsewhere if you want productivity on your desktop.

  79. Aaron | April 6, 2007 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    vi- Your comment in on the record, I hate to point out to you. 🙂

    Seriously, you think Linux is bloated compared to Windows? Have you compared the resource requirements between Windows and anything-non-Windows?

    The command line is a usability bug? I get more done on my system, with the command line, than without. Using the keyboard, over grabbing the mouse, is more usable to me.

    Packages are a set of applications. So, how is installing software using a set of decent tools, a bug?

    Gnome and KDE a bug? How so? Because it isn't like Windows? Because there is no start menu and control panel?

    The concept of root is a bug? Man! I'm really having a hard time following your logic. So, making four operating system secure is a bug. Interesting.

    Just goes to show, I guess, that you do not and have not used Linux. Your ignorance towards some of the very basic concepts rat you out as someone who has no clue what they are talking about, and has obviously never used the system.

  80. vi | April 6, 2007 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Dear Aaron,
    You completely misread my post and stretched out my statements too much.
    I didn't say that Linux is bloated. I said just that the "cool" attitude of some (many hardcore) linux users is totally bloated.
    I didn't say that KDE is a bug.
    I didn't say that idea of a Package is a general software bug.
    I said it is a USABILITY bug.
    Please, remove my posts and please, use word "logic" as little as possible (or as much as you your are able to be logical)

  81. Aaron | April 6, 2007 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    vi- How did I stretch out your statements? Rather than make personal attacks, why aren't you defending your arguments? Reason would dictate that defending your arguments would be in defining what a 'usability bug' is, as I have obviously misinterpreted it.

    You say "Linux is good for your evolution! Look elsewhere if you want productivity on your desktop." I'm telling you, that the items you brought forth as 'usability bugs' and not good for production use, are in fact very usable and make working on the system productive.

    Now, what does it mean to be a 'usability bug' if I have misread your comments?

  82. Roger Louis Gundberg | April 7, 2007 at 4:07 am | Permalink

    When the elephants clash, only the grass suffers.
    Ubuntu [not the software]

  83. Bobby | April 7, 2007 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    @Tex Arcana
    Where have you got your information? Are you talking about Linux today or back in 1991?
    When was the last time you used Linux btw? Stop spreading FUD, grab an actual Linux distro like openSuse 10.2 or better yet Ubuntu Feisty Fawn and then you can come back and try to strengthen your argument.

    My wife and I use Linux EVERYDAY without a problem and I only use the terminal to "play around" not to install things (unless it's a bleeding edge programme packed as tarball or a bin file, which come with a step by step installation guide) or work. Still I can't understand why people are afraid of the terminal. People used to use DOS to work and they weren't complaining so what's the big deal? Is our evolution reversing?
    I would be lying to say that I have 10 Linux command in my head but I am not ashamed because I rarely need them.

    One has to be an expert to install and use Windows because you have to know that you need an anti virus programme, a firewall, which you have to know how to set up. You need anti spam, anti God knows what. Then you have to know which programme you need to open a PDF file because Windows donesn't come with that. You can't burn CDs or DVDs out of the box and you have to know which programme you need to do such. You have to know how to defrag your hard drive. How to clean up bits and pieces of uninstalled programs that's spread all over the OS.
    I almost forgot about installing drivers, an adventure that can easily turn into a nightmare on Windows. What does a poor newbie do when Windows doesn't even know the name of a particular device? "Unknown device found", which driver should I install?
    And you have to know a few things more in case you have to repair or reinstall your Windows that just got broken by a wrong driver or a programme that it didn't like or simple wrecked by a malicious virus.
    This whole thing about Windows is easy is totally blown out of proportion.

    Well yes, OSX (has Unix under the hood) is easy and pretty but not as powerful as Linux. As for the former, we are on the overtaking lane.

  84. Michael Hoskins | April 9, 2007 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I will start by stating my experience with Ubuntu. I found it to be the most user-friendly of all distros (even Xandros), but not in the sense that everything is stupidly easy. User-friendliness, to me, is how easily you can accomplish a task in any given environment. I don't mind going to the terminal once in a while (and indeed, is much easier for server management than a GUI), but this assumes that most commands behave in a rational and consistent manner. I have found this to be mostly true with Linux in general.

    There are Windows-based programs that are atrociously user-unfriendly, and even many portions of Windows itself. If you've ever wished, "if this freaking thing just had an easier way to ____" then you know what I'm talking about.

    The problem for me is what Linux developers actually want Linux to be. On the one side, you have the purists who don't believe any compromises should be made for users who are less familiar with the system. I typically refer to these as the Linux "zealots" (though this does not imply that persons in the other camp are any less enthusiastic about the OS). The other side is the "Linux on the Desktop" movement, which aims to do exactly what you're talking about in your post, attempting to make Linux unchallenging for new users to pick up and use.

    I think for any headway to be made on this debate, specific distributions need to straighten their priorities and direction first.

  85. TaZMAn | April 10, 2007 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    I was using Windows for many years. Always was interested in Linux and tried various versions and styles but always seemed that a piece of hardware was left behind. Never really took the time to try and fix it. Instead I went back to using Windows.
    But I always felt something was missing.

    I wasn't being challenged. I was becoming brain numb.
    I also started to notice the amount of time being spent on maintaining anti-virus and spyware software.

    Then one day I tried Ubuntu Dapper. I had previously tried Ubuntu when it was first released and wasn't impressed. It made a mess of my system. But I decided to give it another try.

    Just what I was looking for! It found all my hardware. I recently installed Edgy on my newer system and had the same results except that video playback on my surround sound wasn't working. After about an hour of Googling and some of my own tweaking I got it working properly.

    I was happy. I actually got to fix a hardware issue instead of depending on the OS to decide what was best for me.

    I can make my own decisions and select my own options and preferences. I'm no longer brain numb.

    I also have 'introduced' 6 of my co-workers and friends to Ubuntu and all of them are extremely happy with it. As one friend put it when he emailed me..."It does everything I want it to do! What more could I ask for?"

    Is it Ubuntu specifically?
    Not really. It's the philosophy of Linux that we are now free to choose and make our own decisions.

    I haven't swapped back the hard drive containing Windows in over 2 months and I sure don't miss it.

    No wasting time on anti-virus and spyware scans, no WGA'ing my system everytime I want to get updates, no headaches at all!

    I'm finally free and loving it!


    Bye-Bye Windows

  86. Razmataz | April 12, 2007 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    While your article (and the users) here do make some very good points it [the article] is written in a very demeaning manner.

    You write it in a way that you consider yourself "better" than the average joe because you are not a complete idiot when it comes to computers.

    An OS that wants to be mainstream should cater to both ends of the spectrum and despite the great advancements that have been made by the Linux community (Ubuntu springs to mind) there is still a (large) crowd that it fails to attract. Namely the "gaming enthousiast yet computer savvy crowd" which is actually a very large crowd.

    If only Linux could run all the games that windows can. If only Linux natively supported them all I would have switched a loooooong time ago. And many more with me... people are not afraid to experience new things or look for the solution people just don't want to lose functionality (gaming) when switching. Please do not try and convince me with a list of games that Linux can run natively because chances are I can make a list that is 3 times as long with games that Linux can not run.

    Don't get me wrong, I am actually reading up on Ubuntu/Linux at the moment and getting ready to install it on my home computer (I rather learn to swim before jumping into the deep end of the pool) because I hardly play computer games anymore, I switched to mainly console games. And I am already convinced that Linux IS the superior OS in MANY ways.

    But I know a lot of computer savvy people who would jump to Linux instantly if it was only capable of providing their fix for gaming. (AAA commercial titles) without having to resort to extra and 'expensive' solutions (cedega)

    It is all too easy (and very un-linux like) to put all the blame on the developers of said games. A community effort should/could be made from withing the linux crowd to deliver a platform on which developers could easily make games playable on both Linux and PC.

    True, MS is to blame for making it hard on "us", (DirectX is patented and close source) Cedega and Wine are a few steps in the right direction but those programs just emulate a "windows environment" which is not really a solution. (let alone having to pay extra for getting a means to play games -cedega!- )

  87. Aaron | April 12, 2007 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Razmataz- Wow. What can I say? I don't think I've ever been called demeaning or arrogant before...

  88. Razmataz | April 13, 2007 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Well I might have worded a bit harshly but still I'm making some good points (as are you)

    If Linux wants to get a strong foothold in the computerworld (marketshare) then they need to attract different crowds than the computer-adventurer and the die-hard programmer.

    They need to attract average joe so they gain marketshare and become a force to be reconed with.

    Because Linux sure as hell deserves it, and MS needs a strong OS competitor so they too have to become more innovating and stop directing the user with "their vision" but rather provide an os so the user can realize their vision.

  89. moreorless | April 15, 2007 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    This post and most of the responses to it are a total joke and just reflect on the immaturity of most of the people in the so-called "Linux community".

    Face the reality people. Most people use computers to perform work. They don't want to have to work to set the thing up.

    So until Unix-based operating systems (apart from Mac) become more user friendly they are going to be ignored or rejected by the vast majority of users.

    Most people have better things to do than battle a "challenging" operating system just to perform simple tasks.

  90. Matthew Kimber | April 19, 2007 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Hey Aaron! It's been a while since I've read your blog. It is true that things are easy to do (i.e. install software especially) on Windows and I believe that they should be easy to do on Linux as well. The mission isn't to prove one's "leetness" but rather to improve computing for humankind, right? The ideal operating system would cater to multiple levels of knowledge. Installing software should rank on the lower end of the knowledge scale as many desire to do said task (and often).

    However, this doesn't just come down to "ease" or "user friendliness" but rather a learning curve causing inefficiency for the user. Most people live a hectic life and feel there isn't enough time to learn the in's and out's of Linux let alone the most basic functions. It is for this reason and this reason alone that they run back to their knowledge of MS products so they can get back to their lives.

    Linux just isn't for the masses (in it's current state), it's that simple.

  91. Rigbie | April 23, 2007 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    um... I think maybe I'm the average schmoe that many of the contributors here are referring to. I'm admittedly lazy, I always "just want things to work" and normally don't much care to read too much that I don't have to (it took me damn near three days to get from Aaron's orginal post to the bottom of this thread). But MS has been rubbing me the wrong way since Win 95 and Vista seems to be the last straw, the one that pokes me in the butt and makes me jump up and do something. Having read all your comments about how linux options are not "well" documented, that maybe its an exclusive (no n00bs welcome) community, or simply isn't for the lazy (that'd be me) I see that perhaps the odds of my success aren't all that great. But you know what, the advent of Vista (and among other things its requirement that I re-purchase MS products that I already legally own) prods me onward. I may crash and burn, but at least I'm not just bending over and grabbing my ankles. From talking to other folks in my boat (folks who couldn't script themselves out of a paper bag) the sentiment is similar, "I don't know what I'm going to do, but I'll be a monkeys f'd up uncle if I buy Vista." So, purists beware you're about to be inundated with techno idiots who will bug the crap out of you in a pathetic attempt to stick it to the Gates camp!

  92. Aaron | April 23, 2007 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Matthew Kimber- Welcome back! I was beginning to wonder if you had fallen off the Earth or something. 🙂

    Agreed- The mission isn't to prove one's leetness, but rather, get the task at hand accomplished. As a human race, we are inherently lazy, and would like accomplishing that task to be as easy as possible, with the most minimal amount of effort.

    Disagreed- Linux *is* for the masses, in it's current state. There is absolutely no reason why *not* to make the switch, minus 1 or 2 applications, such as CAD or video editing, but then, those users aren't the "masses", now are they?

    Rigbie- Yes, this comment thread is getting quite lengthy, and I'm not helping by replying.

    Documentation is the Achilles heel in the Linux community, no question. However, I would dare to say that it is 10x better than anything existing with any other operating system.

  93. S_Williams | May 1, 2007 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    I'm going back to Linux...(but my new pc isn't willing) I was so excited to get the Dapper Drake CD's, the real deal,(I didn't burn them... 🙂 unfortunately I can't get them to boot, I have a Compaq Presario, (HP) with Pheonix award bios. something in the bios forces a reboot after the ubuntu cd begins uncompressing. tried different cd's, I have downloaded, burnt iso's of several other distros, same result. loads on an old box I have ran puppy linux and dsl on but need more ram,I searched the forums there at Ubuntu,(and googled it) and found a couple more posts with similar problem but no solution. there are many of these pc's out there, hopefully more will convert from windows and need the fix as well. I have tried changing all bios setting I can think of, pwr mgmnt. plug and play etc...If anyone knows the fix, could you please post it? or over at the Ubuntu forum I mean, #(sorry to post off topic slightly here)
    Thanks 🙂

  94. mike piasecki | May 24, 2007 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    The mentality that I see over and over again, especially in the post, is that if GNU/Linux isn't the solution for you, you are less of an end user because of it. This is not the users fault. Usually in my experiences it has nothing to do with the quality of GNU/Linux its self, but the lack of backing by big name applications. In this I whole heartedly agree. Most applications of GNU/Linux, though usually a quality product, lacks accessible documentation besides the man pages. There aren't very many applications that really go into the detail of how to get the most out of using them. Read up on Scribus for example. Their site has sparse documentation and running $man scribus..well yeah iy'd helpfull to know where the config files are and how to file a bug report, but once developers stop squashing bugs and start adding features I'm sure the influx of users or in your case, respectable human beings worth anything, will steadily rise. Then and only then can you reap the fruits of chastising "noobs" anytime anywhere to further feed the notion that the majority of GNU/Linux users and developers are immature blowhards.

  95. Amy Rose | June 6, 2007 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    I know I'm not a CS or IT geek or anything, but I use Kubuntu as my only OS and would never dream of saying "I'm going back to Windows!" Why?

    1. Speed: The latest release still works on my older computer (c. 1998) and my decent (made in 2003) laptop.

    2. Stability: I couldn't dream of going back to an OS that crashes when I open more than 5 windows! M$ says Windows has preemptive multitasking, but that's not at all what I saw on it...

    3. Efficiency: The CLI is a very useful tool if you get used to it. 🙂 But I know how to do pretty much anything without touching it, but it's easier than clicking on 10 different icons sometimes. So yes, I use the terminal a lot, but it's because it's what I want to use. Even compiling software from source can be done without the terminal with programs like "kompile" and "kconfigure", but it's just easier to use the terminal.

    4. It looks better. KDE has a very nice set of themes for it, and the Luxi Sans font makes a beautiful UI font.

    5. More free software for it. Seriously, if I need a new program, chances are I'll find something in the package manager.

    And the one that many won't believe...

    6. Darn it, KDE is SO much easier to use than Windows ever was for me... I'm dead serious. ^_^ Why doesn't Windows normally have a "no to all" button, for example? Why doesn't Windows have Konqueror's file filtering tool? Hmm?

    Linux is great for Windows users, but people need to learn to get used to it. They need to learn to look up their applications on or some other equivalency list rather than moaning "Why isn't Photoshop on Linux?" or other related things...

    That's just my 2¢ on the subject.

  96. Chiron613 | August 30, 2007 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    There is no more reason to require a computer user to know computers, than there is a television user to learn electronics. That should always be an option, not a requirement. Much as I love to program and play around with my OS, this is not generally considered a good time by most people. Really - it's true. There are actually some people who just want to use computers, without having to learn shell scripting or Perl or C.

    What I like about Linux is what I dislike about Windows. Linux allows you to get under the hood and play around with things, tweaking and hacking to your heart's delight. Windows "protects" you from such things, meaning that if something breaks, it's much more difficult to fix it.

    Unfortunately, Linux has historically *required* you to learn far more than necessary about your OS, just to make it go. That is neither necessary nor even desirable. There is no good reason to require the use of the command line. Make it available, great. Force people to use it, and you'll lose them. That's kind of like making TV's that don't quite work, but you can easily add a capacitor or coil to get the right frequency. Those TV companies encourage users getting dumb about electronics, by doing it for them.

    This problem has basically changed with Ubuntu 7.04. That was a snap to install, and did not require more from me than knowing what time zone I was in, and choosing a user name and password. A user would not be compelled to use the command line, at least with the hardware I had. This is the first Linux distro I could recommend to a friend in good conscience, someone who didn't know or care about computers.

    As for going back to Windows - like that's going to hurt me somehow... It's like saying, "I'll show you, I'll stick a cigarette in my eye." I don't like to see people hurt themselves, but hey, it's their eye...

  97. Randy_thedrummer | September 10, 2007 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Great post. Due to having a Music Digital Audio workstation, that requires windows, i'm pretty much forced to use it. I have to be careful though. I like to think of my windows/recording computer as a little, immature child that is not allowed to go out and play on the dangerous internet because he or she could be in great danger. What i mean, Is when it's time to record on the Windows box, i pull the network plug, just for sure safety. I'm a newer linux user, and i recently installed Ubuntu on a new hard drive. While Windows XP Couldn't even recognize my new SATA Hard drive, Linux formatted it and now runs off it! That alone, blew my mind. My wireless network USB device, that has a bunch of required drivers for Windows also SIMPLY WORKED immediately after the intstall. I honestly don't think it can be any easier than that - And keep in mind, I'm a total Linux NOOB! I think everybody should re-read this post and think before you make any negative comments. This is well-written. Nice Job, Aaron.

  98. Ed Waters | September 11, 2007 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Sorry to burst your bubble "Jake" but Microsoft didn't set out to make computers easier to use. Ask anyone who was forced to use crappy MS compilers when Borland compilers were around. And that's just one example.

  99. Website Design | September 11, 2007 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I've heard it a ton before as well. But at the same time, being a linux user, there have been plenty of times where running windows would have just been easier. But I simply enjoy linux, and that enjoyment I find clearly can't be for everyone. To each his own. (same with mac users) LIVE AND LET LIVE

  100. Andrew Ward | September 12, 2007 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    The argument that Linux can't have a windows like control panel is rubbish. The Apple Mac OS X operating system is built on top of a classic UNIX foundation. Artists use it, Scientists use it my kids use it. It works just fine and there is ample evidence that the Linux community is going this way. Windows is losing market share to Apple and Linux and to open software in general. So lets drop the IQ test standard for what is a good operating system and look at the simple metric of what quality work product can I deliver with minimum hassle and minimum cost. To me this equates to VALUE. Mac OS and Linux have been proven to deliver high value to a vast number of individual users and a rapidly swelling group of corporate and university users.

    From another perspective, the roots of Mac OS X and Linux are true mainframe computers that required a robust and reliable OS. We all reap the rewards from the increased performance of CPUs that they now can run somewhat involved OS's. the roots of MS Windows is MS DOS which was derived from CPM an OS used on hobby computers and its origins still haunt us today. No Main Frame OS would be acceptable if it required rebooting as the first diagnostic step. Yet millions of Windows users do this every day. I haev a Linux box at home that has been up and running for over a year (It is in Houston and I live 8,000 miles away. Way too far to reboot). My windows server running on comperable hardware can't stay up for more than a few weeks without a reboot. These are simple xeroxable facts. Windows has market share but its losing share to easier to use and more robust operating systems. One final note in this rant... one of the reasons MS windows corporate technical "hand holding" service is necessary is that the OS is source of the hidden. With open source much is revealed enough in most instances that the staffing required for OS level support is much less... user support will persist and in a linux / mac environment may even be a greater, but to the bean counters the net cost will be less. And, that is what matters. Again... VALUE. Linux and Mac OS X add value to the enterprise. they provide an opportunity and foster growth.

    Nuff said.

    MS Windows must become more Linux like to survive.

  101. Justin | October 7, 2007 at 2:49 am | Permalink

    I switched from Windows to Linux many times.. until about 2004, after that I stayed on Linux.

    Sure Linux is different but I have choice and I do not have to worry about what is going to happen from my machine in a week from now - I know that it will be working (save for a hardware failure) unlike Windows which keeps you in a constant state of panic...

    With Windows if it's not Virus'es it's spyware - if its not that it's strange errors or shutdowns.. problem after problem..

    Viva la Linux!

  102. trademark registration | November 10, 2007 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    It frustrates me to no end that software is so hard to install on Linux. You’d think somebody would have come up with a better way.

    For all of Windows’ flaws, painful software installs are not among them. While this does open the door for installing something sinister, it does allow most users to install software and work. When I encounter these types of issues in Linux, I spend more time configuring my software than actually using it.

  103. t-shirts | January 24, 2008 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Well here's my two sense. I bought a new laptop with VISTA pre-installed, expecting to see it do (and operate) like I saw on the adverts, videos etc.
    Only to find out that I don't get any of the cool features because I only have 'home' edition (like, there's some major difference? and why?)
    So I have to pay a fair amount of money just to get some extra security, usability, and cool features? why?
    Now, after 6 months, I've finally taken the leap and installed Linux Ubuntu on my laptop.
    Here's what I have to say : WOW. Not just because of the cool features that Compiz brings (this is the first time I've used virtual desktops – and they're brilliant. Why the heck did they bother not even putting virtual desktops into Vista?) But it's also brilliant because everything just WORKS. Seriously. Fine, I've had some trouble with my suspend, but the operating system just works easily. Installations have been seamless. Getting my 3G Vodafone card to work, seamless (it took some trouble on Windows), getting networking to work, simple. Any slight issue i've had has had quick and simple answers on the Any problems I had with windows had NO answers on Microsoft or their unhelpful forums.
    Why anyone would go back to Windows is beyond me. I think it's because they were wanting something 'new' in an OS, but in actual fact just wanted Windows with a cool desktop. With Ubuntu, I'm getting FAR more than that!
    As someone else said about Ubuntu vs Vista : Ubuntu goes out of the way to get out of your way. Vista goes out of it's way to insist on it's way. 'Nuff said.

  104. Oil Portrait paintin | April 23, 2008 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    You just hit me bull’s eye. I was once using Linux. I admit I found it a little difficult to handle compared to Microsoft. But the truth is, it was difficult because I was resistant to change. Resistance towards change makes something new difficult for us to handle. Are these people who are threatening Linux people to go back to Microsoft long-term users or are they just newbies? If they’re newbies then expect that they will really look for something that’s as user-friendly as Microsoft.

  105. portrait paintings | May 8, 2008 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    If Linux is really true to its promises, threats such as this one shouldn’t be a bother. Linux and Windows both have their advantages and disadvantages. The important thing is, one must carefully determine whether or not Linux would best serve his/her desired purposes or jobs to be accomplished.

  106. an anteater | April 18, 2009 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    I think it is really a shame that one often hears the old stupid stories of how software on linux is hard to install and you have to use the cl constantly.

    Today the cl can usually be used as a fallback for times when a frontend fails to do something or if you just feel more comfortable with it. Linux has come a long way in recent years and I'm sure it will get a "better" reputation some day...

  107. Raul | April 19, 2009 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I have to admit Microsoft did something great for the desktop... But man, that was back in 1995. It's only about "friendly" propaganda since then. Even my cellphone has a friendlier way to operate, way better than Start Menu, so does any (GUI) operating system available. I think right now it's more of a monopoly issue, with Adobe and like big companies only supporting Windows and OSX. I think the war for the desktop should be one to defend the user from being "used" by those mafia bosses.

  108. Warp | April 20, 2009 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    I dumped win95/98 after contant loss of data because of FAT.
    I went to OS/2 and for years I was very happy, but hey, talking about a lack of software and hardware support 🙁 , that's what drove me into using misc. Linux distro's.
    The peace and productiveness it gives me is beyond believe.
    I'm hooked on ubuntu and puppy linux.
    So @raul: the best thing MS has done was the development with IBM of the OS/2 desktop.

  109. _khAttAm_ | April 20, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I don't care of people threatening of going back to windows. Who told you to come here in the first place. Go enjoy your Windows stuff while we enjoy Linux.

  110. The Doctor | April 28, 2009 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    * ahem *


    That is all.

  111. moto | July 6, 2009 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    The problem is, that many softwares don't run under Linux, with Wine neither.

  112. teletrabajando | October 21, 2009 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    Windows will stay an important OS. Maybe they gain ground again with Windows 7.

  113. Lawyers Smithtown | November 19, 2009 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    I don't want waste my valuable time to spend in linux. Why I do hard work for nothing? I always love windows. And I use and will use this Microsoft windows.

  114. severedsolo | December 9, 2009 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    I went back to Windows, but it had nothing to do with me not being bothered to learn linux, i installed Ubuntu Karmic Koala, and in principle, i had no problem with it, after a few teething troubles (1 driver issue, but it turned out that was my fault i cant blame ubuntu for that, i just didn't know you couldnt have 2 synaptics open) i got it all working, and spent a month getting to know how to use it, obviously i know i hadnt even scratched the surface, but it did what i wanted it to do, it let me web browse, email IM and torrent (which is "normal" use for me, if i'm not tweaking, fiddling and generally doing things i know might break the OS, i do this on windows too, i do it to learn from my mistakes) it was a good stable operating system, and i had taken the time to learn it, any issues i had were solved by either a quick google search, or a post on the ubuntu forums.

    so why did i go back to windows?

    1. Grub2, possibly the WORST boot manager i have ever seen.... install an update? now you get 2 ubuntu entries (discarding recovery mode) and you cant delete the duplicate, (i understand you could on legacy Grub, but grub2 was complicated to configure... and to be honest, i dont want to spend 2 hours trying to delete a single entry from the bootloader)

    2. I just didnt like the look of it, yes i know this is a really shallow issue, but even with different themes and such, it just didnt appeal to my aesthetic tastes, now thats personal choice, and as i said ubuntu did what i wanted it to, but if im going to spend 5 hours or up staring at a screen, i want it to look good....

    3. no way to fix it if you c**k up except a reinstall, seriously? i managed to corrupt my graphics driver install the first time i installed it, as i said above, my own fault, and i went on the ubuntu forums, and just said "look. i know iv messed this up, is there a "system restore" type feature so i can just get rid of this one dodgy driver, the answer came back "no sorry youll have to reinstall" now thats all very well and good because that was a fresh install, but what if it had happened a year down the line? iv got programs and files everywhere, and i have to reinstall? does the "average" user want to reinstall every time an update corrupts? hell, most average users dont even know HOW to install an OS,

    5, i know this one isnt ubuntu's fault but the developers, but gaming, i love to game (when im not trying to break my OS) and rebooting into windows to do so every time i want to play a game is just annoying... Wine doesnt work for alot of games, (including one which WINE HQ said it did, but it just turned my screen black....) as i said that isnt Linux's fault, but its annoying

    Now i have no problem using the command line, i often use it in windows, and i took the time to learn how to do basic tasks in CLI, i actually found it easier than using the GUI for certain features, (i find drag and drop very time consuming compared to using CLI for instance)

    so, there are my reasons, these are just personal choices, and i did take the time to get used to Ubuntu and learn how to use it, and i completely agree with your point that people SHOULD do so, even with Windows (having said that if they did i wouldn't make any money) but i just didnt like it, its a good OS, and i have no doubt it suits alot of people, but it just wasnt my cup of tea,

  115. ste a b | January 2, 2010 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Listen. I have a computer so I can make music, edit my films, write documents, browse the web. I have just installed ubuntu because of all the positive talk about it. Now I have spent the last 5 hours trying to find instructions in ordinary English of how to install the f-ing display driver. I've had to type my password in around 9 times already. In XP, I double-click an exe, that's it. Now I know why most people use windows. Which I will now re-install.

  116. Aaron | January 3, 2010 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    @ste_a_b Have fun then. No one cares what operating system you're running. That's kind of the point of the post. If you don't like Ubuntu, then don't run it. No one cares about the choices you make in life unless they affect others. Your choice of operating system doesn't affect anyone around here.

  117. Jo | January 5, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink


    Can you please shed some light on the reasons for not including an easy way to select from a larger list of screen resolutions.

    I've gone into creating/editing as well as using 'xrandr' and don't seem to be able to get it right. The forums are helpful, but most people seem happy with the resolutions they've got and don't need this level of configuration.

    This is the only part of Windows I admire. Just select the resolution you want and you're done!

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