Linux

Can we please stop talking about the Linux desktop?

Linus Torvalds wants the Linux desktop. Too bad no one else does. This is never going to get any better, so let's give it up.

Linux desktop

Linus Torvalds may still want a Linux desktop, but no one else does. And even if they did, by the time the requisite ecosystem could be developed, the need for a desktop -- Linux or otherwise -- will largely be gone.

So, why this persistent fetish for a Linux desktop?

Linus wants the Linux desktop

Linus Torvalds, founder of Linux, has a knack for provocation. The man who can blister bad ideas with furious broadsides on Linux kernel mailing lists also has a penchant for seeing past immediate technology roadblocks. But where the proverbial "Linux desktop" is concerned, Torvalds may have a blindspot.

At LinuxCon in Chicago this past week, Torvalds reinflated dashed desktop hopes with this comment:

"I still want the desktop. The challenge on the desktop is not a kernel problem. It's a whole infrastructure problem. I think we'll get there one day."

I don't. The briefest glance at market share data suggests that I'm not alone, either. While hundreds of millions of people want Linux powering their smartphones, and millions of businesses are content to let Linux run their servers, virtually no one wants Linux running their laptops and desktops.

What they do continue to want, however, is a better personal computer experience.

Still haven't found what we're looking for

Greylock venture capitalist (and former CEO of Mozilla) John Lilly calls this out in a recent blog post, arguing that "our software and systems were mostly not delivering on the promise" of personal computing. For effect (and because it's sadly true), Lilly quotes tech visionary Mitch Kapor, writing in 1991 about the sorry state of personal computing:

"Despite the enormous outward success of personal computers, the daily experience of using computers far too often is still fraught with difficulty, pain, and barriers for most people, which means that the revolution, measured by its original goals, has not as yet succeeded."

As Lilly notes, Kapor's lament is as true in 2014 as it was when he penned it in 1991. Or close.

While we in tech like to assume that technology, including personal computing, is easy, the opposite is actually true. It doesn't take long to figure this out, either. All you have to do is talk to people who aren't actively involved with technology each day. They're the ones that call you to ask how to print out a PDF, or install a router, or whatever allegedly menial technology task they're trying to perform to get through the day.

As Wes Miller, research VP at Directions on Microsoft, humorously tweeted recently:

Wes Miller

Apple has been successful, in part, because it has reduced the complexity of personal computing. But even Apple has largely failed to overcome the PC's clunky interaction with human experience.

Linux's turn?

Could Linux do any better? Probably not. Linux, developed historically by and for geeks, may be the least likely candidate to improve the consumer experience. While companies like my former employer, Canonical, are focused on streamlining the user experience, a pretty UI is just one of many, many things that needs to change.

Torvalds hints at this when he says the Linux desktop problem is one concerning the "whole infrastructure" around Linux. In other words, the Linux desktop needs to remove all complexity associated with third-party software, drivers, etc. Jack Wallen covers three key things that business users would need from a Linux desktop, but once you factor in the more consumer-y things, like support for preferred music and app stores, Linux is a bridge that's much too far.

I ran a Linux desktop for years, including Fedora, Ubuntu, and SUSE distributions. Each had its share of glitches. None of these was something that I couldn't figure out with a little time searching Google, but most users don't have that kind of patience or even that level of expertise. It needs to "just work." The Linux desktop, quite simply, does not.

So, let's move on, just like the rest of the world has. No one outside geeky events like LinuxCon pines for the Linux desktop anymore. We should be content that they're pining for something even better: the Android smartphone, which makes the Linux "desktop" relevant for the next 20 years, even if it wasn't relevant for the last 20.

About

Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. He is currently VP of Mobile at Adobe. Previous positions include VP of business development and marketing at MongoDB and COO at Canonical, the Ubu...

173 comments
webdoc
webdoc

I see mobile and tablet traffic visitors in my web stats, but no one I know actually shops online using their phones, including those who have iPhones and iPads. When they want to get something done, they pick up their laptops.


Also, you can't really work on a mobile device. You can't make documents, edit spreadsheets, do your business accounting.


For these reasons the desktop is still vital, and will remain so, and therefore Linux has a chance at being a desktop OS.

Deep Blue
Deep Blue

Yup, you're dead right.  

I used Linux Mint for quite along while previously because I was interested in trying it out and seeing if I could get it the way I wanted it as an alternative to Windows.
Eventually I stopped using it for a variety of reasons, the main ones being (i) completely erratic wi-fi connection (Google Mint wifi and you'll see I'm not alone!) - sometimes it worked sometimes it didn't, and eventually it didn't at all, (ii) crap Office suite - both Libre Office and Open Office are like something out of the 1980s compared to MS Office, plus the document layouts are frequently all over the place, (iii) nightmarish command line software installation.  Plenty of other gripes, but that's enough.

Anyway, I though I would revisit and downloaded Linux Mint 17.  Guess what, still no wifi, amateurish-looking GUI, etc etc.  Nothing much has changed.

Linux fanboys have been going on for years about how Linux was going to make a big impact on the desktop market.  Never happened, never going to happen.

Linux is a great server OS, but way, way behind Windows & Mac for usability on the desktop (and I'm no lover of Macs!)

mikef12
mikef12

These posts are interesting as a social display: it seems linux users know mostly lots of linux users, while most other people know few linux users. 

gosgog
gosgog

Microsoft & Apple pay IT stores to install MSN or Apple Distros. Linux isa non-profit outfit & doesn't do that. If a Linux Desktop had been available many folks would have bought one. Most of us therefore bought an existing Desktop, dumped and installed Linux/Ubuntu ourselves.

So stop bullshitting for MSN.

jw00ten
jw00ten

To each his own (opinions obviously included, and I certainly would like to respect those of this author), but sometimes there are posts that are so seemingly vacuous of valid points that I actually feel they are purposefully contrived to stir up the ire and angst of readers, fomenting voluminous commentary just to drive their seo analytics... plenty of perfectly "spot-on" comments provided here on this issue so there isn't much point in my rehashing all that has been so poignantly positioned here, but... 


My job really involves solving technology problems to directly address a given use-case, irrespective of personal (or even market) opinion on what to use (and where/when), so I really don't care what ultimately gets deployed; as the author puts it, "it just needs to work."  I consult with large corporate enterprise to governmental agencies to smb/solo practitioners to non-profits - not only have these clients heralded their basically painless adoption of Linux on their desktops (to go along w/post-mortem crying over having been ridiculously hampered and hamstrung by Windows for decades), one of the most recurring themes in helping them migrate to Linux is that they actually "have fun at work" while using it. When increasing amounts of data and the architectures driving our data centres are all built upon linux, a natural progression and extension is Linux to desktop/mobile device(s).

When you are talking about enthused and elated adoption by entire organizations - from Systems Administrators to C-levels to Sales/Business Development/Marketing to Secretaries/Receptionists?  I have not dealt with any other technology implementation so easily, and globally adopted by organizations than with Linux on the desktop.  That's not hyperbole or unfounded personal opinion; this is just real-world in real-time actual experience.

Further extended into my own home, when our 11 year old bricked his Windows machine I handed him a Linux distro on bootable USB for him to try and repair/restore his old system.  Without instruction or any related commentary otherwise from me to do so, on his own accord he instead adopted/installed the linux distro as his preferred OS, tossing his Windows 7 and 8 licenses out for the weekly trash pickup.  Our 8 year old daughter, not wanting to be "left out" by something her big brother thought was "super cool", also wanted to adopt linux as her new desktop OS.  I doubted she could use it, but obliged to "just let her try it".  She did, and Windows was punked out again.  When 11 and 8 year old children install, and fully operate with glowing adoption, a seemingly foreign OS as their preferred choice for desktop use?? This all with nary a word on how to use it... the most seamless adoption I've ever seen. 


If you prefer using Windows so be it; continue to do so while everyone from the sophisticated IT to elementary school children readily adopt the obvious Freedom, and Relief, of Linux on the desktop!!!

marcushh777
marcushh777

I dumped Microsoft in 1998. That was the year for personal computer freedom, for me. Since that time i have helped dozens of folks (family and other non techies included) make the switch to freedom. 

The best personal computer experience in the gnu/linux world of free choices is the Mint  debian|ubuntu variant. Mint Qiana 17 is fabulous. I do all I do computer-wise (including write this) from the Mint Cinnamon desktop. The graphical user interface is sweet, and the system can't be beat. 

To answer Matt's question whether anyone wants gnu/linux on their desktop, well,  I DO. Also, my college kids (I have a couple of them), my wife, my folks, and several of my good friends....  we all want gnu/linux on our desktop computers (some of which are notebooks) I even want it on my mac... that's right, I am typing from an Apple Mac Mini running Qiana Mint 17...  gnu/linux all the way baby... 

Oh, sometimes I fire up the mac side just for kicks, but I never boot Microsoft Windows (ever).

Matt,  please,  give it a rest.  Thanks.

LinuxDave
LinuxDave

Your quite the Microsoft tool

larrybradley
larrybradley

And as for your reprint of Wes Miller's tweet, seriously? To get any kind of enjoyment or productivity out of Win 8, 8.1 or even 7 requires much more technical knowledge than using and enjoying Ubuntu Linux. Sure, I can and do use the Terminal in Ubuntu, but that is solely because it is a valuable tool in addition to the basic OS, not because it is something that I am required to use. Miller's tweet is moronic, sophomoric and ignorant, which does not say much for Mr. Asay's re-tweet.

larrybradley
larrybradley

I have been using Ubuntu Linux for five years now. I am your pretty-average home user. I have a really nice pc that runs Win 8.1 and an older machine that runs Ubuntu Linux. The Windows 8.1 machine sets there virtually unused most of the time. Why? Because Ubuntu is simply a much better user experience. If Mr. Asay and his fellow Microsoft sycophants could bring themselves to quit dissing an operating system about which they obviously know little, desktop Linux might get more traction. But when your livelihood directly or indirectly depends to a significant extent on propping up Microsoft, expect a healthy dose of unfounded bias.


As I write this, I am once again impressed that I am using an OS that has not popped up a single "Not Responding" message since I sat down in front of the screen a couple of hours ago. Nor do I expect to see such a message. With Microsoft, I would go into cardiac arrest if I went an entire day or week without a "Not Responding" or equally annoying message using ANY version of MS's OS. 


Not many people own or drive a Rolls Royce either, but if you had even the slightest chance of providing everyone in the world with a FREE Rolls Royce, wouldn't you give it a try? Or would you just keep buying a re-styled Yugo every year because that's what everyone else is driving and parts are easy to come by?

Gisabun
Gisabun

Linux [or whatever you may call it] is too fractured. how many distros are out there? 200+?

How do you tell someone to use Ubuntu when someone else suggest Fedora and a third suggest some lesser distro.

Too many glitches in each of them. Too many variations to install software.

And yet, to this day, the Linux community accounts for around 1.5% of the total computer market share.

nuarge
nuarge

First of all, as a former COO at Canonical - the driving force behind the most popular PC (and not yet mobile) GNU/Linux based operating system and ecosystem – you must at least realize and respect the fact that what you’re referring to throughout this article is not Linux, but GNU/Linux. Yes GNU, as in the letters and philosophy behind the very license your community chose for MongoDB.


Look around the office – no meter if in New York City or London - how many GNU/Linux users do you see? Approach the developers, engineers… talk to them. Don’t you think there’s a reason why these bright, if not outstanding individuals choose to use GNU/Linux every day on their laptops/workstations? Is it simply convenience? I strongly believe that it will turn out to be more than this (though there certainly is a very strong convenience factor in using a modern, if not bleeding edge, Unix-like operating system on the desktop). Should THEY simply give up GNU/Linux because you’re tired of hearing about it? I’m sure many of them contribute regularly, if not daily, to the improvement of GNU/Linux and will gladly offer their opinion. But I respect your opinion, the FREEDOM to express your ideas!


This brings us to the most important point that for some unimaginable reason has completely escaped your radar – freedom! GNU+Linux offers users FREEDOM (as in speech, not just as in beer) to practice computing the way they see fit NOW – not in an unclear distant future belonging to ultra-portable computing devices. It offers this on workstations they use at work and on “legacy” computing devices residing at home! No other mainstream vendor offerings provide this core/strategic capability (incl. products from M$ and “the fruit company”). How do you suggest filling this gargantuan gap? Or is freedom of computing something not respected or part of the culture at either Canonical or MongoDB?! [Being rhetorical of course... I doubt the respective communities would agree!] The idea of free computing, as manifested in the multitude of FOSS projects (incl. various GNU/Linux), has largely contributed to the establishment of the culture of freedom online and has helped raise generations of technically savvy people that respect and expect freedom in computing (any computing)! These are the people that helped shape today and should help shape the [ultra-mobile] future. I'm sure this includes many of the contributors that move Mongo forward.


A good recent article that covers another side of this topic:

http://www.datamation.com/open-source/why-linux-isnt-a-desktop-alternative.html


kevinb
kevinb

Celebrating 36 years in the IT business. Over the past 2 yrs I have converted over 100 average users from Windows to Linux. I'm not selling Linux to anyone or convincing them to switch. They have sought me out to learn and use Linux. Not sure what this author is trying to say really. The only complaint I've had so far from the converted users is they can't watch Netflix (reliably) simply because Netflix uses MS Silverlight which I have explained to them that it is a Netflix problem NOT Linux. 


The authors statement that "It needs to "just work." The Linux desktop, quite simply, does not." is a little confusing. Obviously the author hasn't used Linux. I've used Linux for over 8 years and it works just fine. I've never had a virus or malware issue or a BSOD or constant rebooting after numerous updates or updates that have toasted my machine or applications, so it seems the author is either a MS sales rep or he's never really used Linux.

burfoot1
burfoot1

It makes me want to cry, for the last 16 years I've used Linux So I haven't had a good desktop and I guess it doesn't do what i want it to.?

And sadly even with MS available free from work, I'm stupid and never switched to a desktop that does work. think of all i missed! malware, spyware, crapware, viruses, reloading an OS every 6 months, hours being spent running cleaners ect instead of doing what i want. Oh and paying $ for buggy programs, yeah I missed out by using Linux :P


"It needs to "just work." The Linux desktop, quite simply, does not."

I have no idea what your comparing it to? windows? if so, your full of it! compared to windows Linux just works (a lot better.)


janitorman
janitorman

I finally got what (I think) the author is blithering on about, and never made his point. From the original quote from Linus: "I still want the desktop. The challenge on the desktop is not a kernel problem. It's a whole infrastructure problem. I think we'll get there one day." the author goes on to talk about totally unrelated items.

From Linus quote, we see that he's saying he'd like to see an official, or integrated, desktop for the Linux kernal. Any extrapolation which doesn't make this perfectly clear, is pointless.

THERE IS NO "LINUX desktop!" There is Gnu/Linux, KDE, Unity, XFCE, LDXE, etc... but NO Linux Desktop. It's a kernel. Maybe his headline is valid after all, but the article itself is pointless.

If he were to validate his point by saying "there is no NEED for a Linux Desktop" as there are many desktop  interfaces such as KDE or Gnu/Linux, etc. it would have been correct.

MrGrave
MrGrave

Just because you have electric viable cars now, does that mean that those are for "engineers" only or eco-aware people? When do you choose to buy an electric car instead of a gas one?   Oh! is it because there are gas pumps all over the place and not so many electric outlets to connect for a recharge?     Linux is already a viable Desktop for whomever chooses to use it, it is the "user" friendliness that is perceived (specially with Windows users) what people are reluctant to give up, the millions of dollars poured by MS to vendors to have their drivers shipped Windows-ready, and the installed base of course,     But when the desktop becomes just the "User Interface" there are options galore, Windows, OSX, Linux, ChromeOS, all are options, and then we can choose to call that our current Desktop.


For Desktop intimately and intrinsically designed applications with Enterprise Ecosystems, well it is understandable the shift is a daunting concept to digest.   But where the simplest of uses come to be the only thing needed, there are options.... is not that Mac never hit the enterprise world as a Desktop it was a minority because the way it related with the enterprise ecosystem in a given company, when more and more apps are taken to a cloud-like environment, or provisioned as SAS or HAS even, then we won't be talking about how Windows ruled an won the "Desktop Race" a long long time ago, and the other article following will be:  "Windows as a Desktop is not needed anymore - Let's move on"  or "Windows as the Dominating Desktop Environment - Give it up already"

mike4401
mike4401

We started offering Linux desktop conversions last year for small businesses and I have not had one company go back to Windows. Considering the current questions of integrity surrounding Microsoft and the on going security issues with Windows people seem more willing than ever to give it a try. Libre Office can now easily replace MS office and people are saving a ton of money on licensing fees and OS fees. Right now we are trying to get our local Government to hire Linux programmers to replace Windows. It will save our taxpayers millions of dollars annually and create good paying local Linux jobs.

ps.techrep
ps.techrep

I don't understand why there's a problem.  If reluctance to alternatives to wimpdows was so high, why would there be chromebooks, or for that matter macs?  both are desktops buit on top of a *nix. The only impediment to business adoption besides ignorance is a way to lock down business machines to prevent well meaning clueless users from trashing their business appliances or work.  Make all desktops virtual, file formats public domain, and no one would have a reason to care what desktop was used.

magrimm
magrimm

In my experience the only groups that can benefit from using a Linux desktop are geeks and everyone else.

Seriously.

Android is a Linux desktop and it gets used by zillions daily. The only thing keeping Linux off of laptops is inertia and fear of the unknown.

I'm a former MacOS user who turned to Ubuntu in 2009. Lenovo W series laptops make MacBook Pros seem a little sad. And using Ubuntu is a dream.

CorkyBills
CorkyBills

Seriously, Matt?  How much capitalist d**k must you kneel-worship to to not realize for many people, Linux desktops provide access both with low hardware requirements (pro-environment) and no OS end user cost.  Anyone who needs just basic access to the web and email can get by with a Linux desktop with little or no learning curve.

mikebartnz2
mikebartnz2

Having just wasted hours sorting out a malware ridden Windows 8 box for someone I love Linux.

Told him that if it happens again I will install Linux on it.  Would have taken a fraction of the time.

jqbecker
jqbecker

Whoa. Did you clear this article with Jack Wallen first?


johannestaas
johannestaas

Why is this even a discussion? We have tons of desktop distributions that work fine, and the most popular mobile OS is basically a Linux distribution. There are a ton of companies who support their workers using Linux (eg. Google and Goobuntu), there's a Linux gaming platform SteamOS and tons of popular games have come to Linux, and Germany started to migrate its 14000 desktops to LiMux way back in 2003.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Linux_adopters


And you still think that Linux hasn't broken into the mainstream? You haven't kept up with technology then.

jim_0237
jim_0237

I am the Tech Director for a School District and we have about 300 Linux desktops being used daily by kids from K-5th grade. I guess Linux isn't to difficult for them to use because they have been in place for several years.

Mi Pen
Mi Pen

What a load of bollocks. The thing that steam has lacked is triple A game support, with Steam getting people onboard that is changing. Linux is easy to use now despite Gnome 3 being a disaster. Their is plenty of other was gui's to choose from. With a disk (which you can buy for a few quid pre made online or off a Linux mag) and Ethernet cable you can install and auto update in a few very simple steps.

Its not hard to do. Its actually easier than a windows install.

The days of Linux being hard to do is long gone. Unless you actively chose a grow your own type. This guy goes on about how difficult Linux is, yet talks like a noob that tried a hard version 5 years ago and gave up.

Sorry but I use Linux daily and apart from gaming try not to touch my win 7 partition. I'm close to spending almost all my time in Linux thanks too Steam for Linux just waiting for the 2 games I play to Linux port soon. I also have a pure Linux media PC. China and Russia both planning to push their versions of Linux hard. That will create a large Linux Market and with that software will increasing come too Linux.

I want and use Linux desktop. Windows sucks..only gaming keeps me using windows. If you don't want Linux desktop, p### off and leave us alone and stick to your cancer riddled Windows that requires constant repair to even work.

malcolmdean
malcolmdean

BJ Rosen is right. Positioning Linux as a Workstation desktop is a good idea. But who is going to do that advertising and marketing? That's a problem.


I started with minicomputers and Intel-based systems before the IBM PC existed. Basically, the desktop situation has not changed since then. We have been going around in circles, albeit on faster and better hardware. Each time a vendor comes up with a bright new vision, we lose what we have gained.


The Open Source community has been good at addressing the needs of engineers and admins, but lousy at refining the rough edges for ordinary users. And Microsoft is very aware of this advantage. All they have to do is turn up with an offer to smooth a few problems for free, and they capture the minds of the executives ranks, who do not pay for the desktop out of their own pocket. See Munich.


So, no, we cannot please stop talking about the Linux desktop! But people like Mr. Asay could please stop trashing desktop users every few years, and discouraging efforts to finish the job.

raphael.mil.sanches
raphael.mil.sanches

1-  When the new "structure" of Ubuntu Touch (App/Package Managing, etc) gets to the Desktop I think Linux might finally have a good shot at the Desktop!


2- All the people that use Desktop PCs, at home or work, cares! ... PC's will always exist and will all be the "real" Computer when you need things done...


3- Once Linux  Desktop has all the easiness of the Linux Mobile (Android) I think people won't think twice before abandoning the sinking ship (Windows).

perlwonk
perlwonk

Desktop computers may go away, but large displays and keyboards won't. There may come a day when our only computing device is a cheap cell phone, but we won't be happy unless we can dock it. Fat fingers and hard to focus eyes are a limiting factor that's OS independent. If you consider the "desktop" to be whatever OS you're running while sitting at a desk getting work done, the desktop is here to stay. It's always going to be important. 

mgrondin
mgrondin

If users just want "a desktop that works" .. why are there so many Windows user .. none of which I know don't have tons of issues .. yes many can be solved with a google search (techno or not) it's the same old story. 
However, in my experience - once given a shot at a simple, well done desktop : like LinuxMint-16/17  with Mate.  They have all LOVED it - and do not want to go back !

rollersk4te
rollersk4te

I just want to let you know that I think this is a very well written and thought out article. Sure it doesn't delve in to all the aspects but for an audience that doesn't normally have time to read a long essay, it's perfect. 


When someone says "you're wrong, Linux is great as a desktop OS" and then the next sentence is something like "I installed Ubuntu a few weeks/months ago and I'm really good at it now..." my eyes kind of glaze over and I skip the rest of the comment (as I'm sure many of us do that have been with the community for a while). Sigh. The issue goes a lot deeper than the initial install or setup, as you semi pointed out in this article with the mention of the public not being able to buy software in a store and install it on Linux with ease. Yes, there are ways to emulate a Windows environment, but the average joe isn't going to know about it and even if they do know about it they're highly unlikely to want to mess with it. Especially the technical mess that is WINE. 


But this article I noticed pointed out a bigger problem that isn't exclusive to Linux - despite ALL the different OS' best efforts, people just do not like desktop computing at ALL. It's not a Linux vs. Windows debate but a desktop vs. gadgets debate really. 


When I talk to people, they want smart phones, they want tablets, but no one ever really mentions desktops any more and they only marginally mention laptops, usually for something like work or school. Computers mostly remain magic boxes. Everyone wants a piece of the magic but no one actually wants the box itself because that means they'll actually have to learn what they're doing with it. 


Linux will live on without widespread public support, in the hands of the folks that are best equipped to nurture it: geeks and nerds. And honestly, I'm glad of that. I don't think I'd like it quite as much if it was designed more for the general public any more than I currently care for Ubuntu. Just give me something that works, please, and the keys to modify it at will, and I will be one happy camper. That's all.

randall.d.gibson
randall.d.gibson

Windows 8.x may be the best thing Microsoft has ever done for the LINUX desktop, but the article is correct.

The subject line "Can we please stop talking about the LINUX desktop" is prejudicial and wrong. We here are techies, and we take the time to research how to do things. I can't remember how many computers I've built for myself, friends and family. For me I use whatever OS I feel like at the moment. For my family and friends it is almost always Windows because that is what they are used to. I've tried pushing Ubuntu and Debian a couple of times, but it didn't work when they wanted to install "fill-in-the-blank" software that they had just gone and bought at WalMart, BestBuy, etc.

The title is wrong, but the article is right. Computers have failed to live up to the promise. When plug and play truly works, when computers can diagnose and self-correct their issues, then the general population can breath a sigh of relief and be comfortable with them.  And we will all be out of our jobs.

Fortunately that won't happen in my life time!

For now, LINUX is great for techies. And Windows used to be OK for the masses. Now is the day of Android!

Craig_B
Craig_B

Do we need a new or 'official' Linux Desktop, I don't think so.  We already have several distributions that do a really good job for the new/basic user and of course many more for the advanced user.  I have setup an old computer running Xubuntu and my family really likes it.  I get more questions about our Windows setup than I do about Linux.

my_bit_bucket
my_bit_bucket

Uh, wrong.


I'm an Ubuntu desktop user and so is my dad. I had to help him with a lot of stuff when on Windows and got pretty tired of it so I decided to let him try Ubuntu out. This was my best move ever, almost no problems at all.


So my experience is completely the opposite, Ubuntu works better than Windows. It's true that some parts are unpolished but stating that it's hard to work is total nonsense.

Greenknight_z
Greenknight_z

I just built a new computer (not technically challenging, bought a bare bones kit on sale, plus a couple components it was missing, slapped it together in an evening. Any idiot could). Dual booting Win 7 and Linux Mint on it (also not a challenge, just install Linux alongside Windows, the GRUB bootloader automatically adds Windows to the boot menu).

 Issues with Mint? None - it was easier to install than Windows. Installing software is easy and painless through the Software Manager, and everything gets updates automatically through the Update Manager, just have to click "Install updates". Games? Got lots available on Steam.


All this blather about the challenges of using Linux is way out of date.

atroxmons
atroxmons

Ad an other user on Linux desktop here (or actually 3 laptops).

Recently my dad (I usually do everything computerised for him, but I insisted he do it himself) installed ubuntu with lxde on his old laptop without any of my help.

He was finished way before I was finished setting up his new Windows 8.1 laptop and was already browsing the web before I even started installing the webbrowser.

I actually found it practical that he was finished way before me, because I didn't understand the new menu thing and had to look up some information about that....

Tinman57
Tinman57

Since I've dumped Windows for Ubuntu, I've been one happy puppy.  I have NEVER used any form of Linux, and yet I installed Ubuntu and within a few weeks I knew the system pretty well.  Within a few months I have gotten proficient with the technicalities.  I continue to read and learn about Linux not because I have to in order to use it, but because I like to know an OS like the back of my hand, in other words an advanced user.

  It's only apparent that the author, Matt Asay, is a MS fanboy and has issues with his former employee, Canonical.  Having this kind of biased opinion isn't doing the community any good and pretty much makes for a one-sided story.  He complains that he doesn't have "time" to search for Linux answers when he runs across a problem, but my god, I have LIVED on the MS self-help site for weeks and months at a time trying to find answers to my problems with Windows.  I gave up on asking MS for answers because their Indian or Pakistani technical support specialist (a term used very loosely) answer to everything is to "Reinstall Windows".

  Installing Windows is yet another adventure with problems and normally takes weeks to months to get everything installed again, bugs worked out and operating and re-configured.  I installed Ubuntu with no issues and was up and running in under an hour, this is something that you can't get accomplished under Windows.

  Speed - Whatever Windows OS you have installed on whatever computer, if you install Linux your old computer will spring to life like you've never experienced with any version of Windows.  Not to mention booting up in under 20 seconds and shutting down in 4 seconds.  With Windows, booting or shutting down usually can be done in the time it takes to make a pot of coffee.  I would always turn on the computer on ahead of time so it would be ready by the time I sat down to use it.  Don't have to do that with Linux.   Sometimes I would return to find my computer had been sitting there warming up stuck in the Blue Screen of Death or frozen, which happened quite often with Windows Vista and below.  I suspect it happens often in Win 7 and 8 though I don't use either of them.

  So go ahead and keep on hating Linux, it won't change the fact that it's an excellent OS that runs circles around MS.

MrGrave
MrGrave

@Gisabun Just keep using Windows and google.  Not worth explaining your comments nor clarifying your stats. Have a beer or two.

jackhandsome96
jackhandsome96

@kevinbMaybe you are not proficient in Windows? Being 20+ years in IT I don't have any of the problems you propose such as virus, malware, BSOD or constant rebooting.

MrGrave
MrGrave

@janitorman Right, but sigle-view to what people that have only been Windows users, is obtuse if lucky, they are in this satellite spaceships they call Desktops and waiting for the mothership they wall MS to get them to the next thing they are suppose to have.   You are right, in Linux a desktop strictly is only another application of a powerful and better DNA-ed kernel, it is the way it interacts with the rest of the "enterprise" what they rant about that Linux has not been able to meet, they just don't get that Windows is "not" an standard, is a popular choice but that doesn't make it a standard.   Good comment, kudos!


StevenAbaby
StevenAbaby

Hey, don't talk smack to Matt Asay. He's got tremendous Linux/open source credibility. Check his bio. Check his writings from over the years.

I don't know that I'm in agreement with Mr. Asay. I see no mention of Google's Chromebooks, a Linux platform getting adopted quite favorably, plus, we're still early in the game. We might see Android, or a Chromebook running apps making inroads.

Mr. Asay may be venting frustration. He should hang in there. It ain't over. It's just getting started.

chakr
chakr

@Mi Pen Nowadays you don't need a CD/DVD. You can download an ISO image and write it on a small SSD (thumb drive), then boot from it.

ShadowSnake
ShadowSnake

@Mi Pen  You and your cohorts are the ones who need to piss off and leave us alone. Ever since Windows 95 was introduced to mainstream, lousy Linux zealots like you has been harping on the same old shit against Windows and those who use them. 

And by the way, gaming support is not the only thing that keeps me using Windows. Several of the software and hardware I use on a daily basis exclusively depends on Windows. So yeah, Linux desktop sucks in that regard.

Mi Pen
Mi Pen

PS: Sorry about the errors in grammar. I'm typing on my Android touchscreen keyboard.

Gerry_z
Gerry_z

@rollersk4te Not "everyone" wants a smartphone or tablet. I detest  both.  Maybe it's just my fingers, but I find touch screens  very inconsistent.  I use  a cell phone as a phone, nothing else.  For computing of any kind I want at the very least a netbook or light weight laptop.

janitorman
janitorman

@Tinman57 Says he was CEO at Canonical. With this attitude, no wonder it's "former employer." I bet they PAID to get rid of him.

I think he's deliberately misinterpreting and skewing certain things, in order to create (this blog) debate.

I agree with others.. If Android (with the Linux kernal) isn't the future of computing for the consumer world, what is? It's certainly not Windows Phone or Windows 8 mobile...

You could debate that Android isn't a desktop. You might be right. It might also be the desktop replacement most people are looking for...

If Linus is looking for a single desktop, such as the disaster that was Windows 8 "metro" with a desktop tacked on, well someone will do it. I think it will be just about as popular, though.

I notice he uses a 24 year old quote to show the desktop itself doesn't work. Well, we've come a LONG WAY BABY.

Gisabun
Gisabun

@jackhandsome96 Those people who make comments like KevinB haven't touched Windows since Windows 2000. Maleware on my systems? Never. Virus? Never. BSOD? Never/ "Constant rebooting"? Oh once a month 99% of the time. "Toasted" updates? Never.
As for Netflix, isn't there a Silverlight equivalent for Linux? Since Linux likes to create their own apps when something is missing, then I guess the Linux community is at fault for having no Silverlight for Linux.


ps.techrep
ps.techrep

@ShadowSnake chicken and egg situation -bad apps built on a bad is with bad hardware that requires drivers and you want to perpetuate it? Makes no sense, just dollars for the monopoly that Bill built.

Mi Pen
Mi Pen

Windows starts slower. Constantly needs fixing and is riddled with malware. I'm not a zealot I'm a user of computers. I've used everything from Mac OS ,win Dos to Win 8 and Linux since Mandriva was called

jackhandsome96
jackhandsome96

@Mi Pen I don't understand why a lot of people are claiming that windows is "riddled" with viruses, trojans, spyware etc. I have managed a simple 20 computer network for over 15 years and have really never had many problems outside of hardware failure. If you know how to put computers together and configure them the correct way then there is no reason to have issues. These days I use Avast for a free anti-virus and windows 7 which runs very smoothly. I honestly cannot remember the last time I have had to deal with any spyware or the like. I have also seen people posting regards to windows starting up slowly. I use ssd drives in each computer and they all boot up in 10 seconds or faster which really isn't an issue due to the computers never needing to be restarted unless there is an update or power outage. The computers I manage all run programs such as Photoshop, Autocad, Corel etc as we are a design/printing company. As far as I know there is no Linux version for those programs, not to mention the pain that I would incur having to teach all user how to run Linux if I did switch over and used programs such as Gimp or Open Office or whatever Cad equivalent there is these days. In my opinion Linux has no business being in a real-world business environment other than running servers. I think most of the people that complain about windows simply do not know how to set them up and maintain them correctly. 

Mi Pen
Mi Pen

Mandrake. Windows is naturally virus prone and Malware prone. Linux isn't. Linux is compartmentalized to make it near impossible for viruses to work.

In 15 years I've had 1 Linux virus, compare that to Windows which requires constant repair. Only thing that has kept windows going is inertia and and some software lock in. Even gaming is now changing. Windows is an awful system. Linux people are not zealots, they are users escaping the godawful windows experience and Trying to get others to switch too. If you have a android tablet or phone then you use a variant of Linux already BTW.

PS: this post and one above are one. The original post glitched and posted then refused to edit. So I had to add rest in second post.

Editor's Picks