Linux

Linux: The big misconceptions

There are two misconceptions about Linux that have plagued the open source platform from the very beginning. Jack Wallen tries to assuage the doubts of those hesitant to learn something new, user-friendly, and powerful.

I get a lot of emails from users of various types of users, from various industries, and from various levels of skill. But there are two types of emails that I get the most:

  • I want to learn more about Linux, but there's no where to start.
  • I can't use Linux because it's still archaic and won't do what I need.

In some ways and in different blogs, I have tried to address both topics. But I thought it time to address both of these topics directly here on TechRepublic. Why? The main reason is because I feel this to be the best podium from which to tackle these issues. The secondary reason is that I feel a certain loyalty to the TechRepublic nation that I do not have with any other site. With that said, let's see what can be done about these two misconceptions.

First misconception: No where to start learning about Linux

This is probably the request I get most often -- users asking me where to learn Linux. Honestly, I get this -- it's not like a young college-bound student is going to be able to hop into a comp sci degree where the vast majority of classes will be Linux. And CIS degrees? Those are mostly working at the application level -- and most often you'll be lucky to have a class with MS Office. Open source? Not a chance. So a great many students are coming out of college knowing of the existence of Linux, but not knowing how to go about using it. Oh sure, the comp sci programs most often have the uber-intelligent who will use Linux so they can hold it over their fellow students like some odd trophy. But even these students aren't learning Linux correctly -- it is no longer a niche platform best suited for developers and web servers.

But, with that in mind, where do you turn to learn Linux? Believe it or not, this sort of feeds into the second misconception (in an indirect way). You use it. Most people are quite surprised, when they sit in front of a Linux desktop for the first time, just how intuitive it is. And like any new desktop -- the more you use it, the easier it gets.

Linux isn't what it was five or ten years ago. Back then, you'd have to use the command line on a regular basis. Now? The command line could easily be little more than an after-thought.

I would imagine -- if you were to sit a user down with Windows 8 and Ubuntu Linux 12.04 (not having ever seen either), that user would probably struggle more with Windows 8 than with Ubuntu Linux. That same user would probably get up to speed on both platforms at about the same rate.

That is probably the best way to learn Linux.

But, that doesn't always cut it when you're looking to learn Linux at a level to seriously compete in the already overly-competitive IT world. For that, your best bet is start training for Linux certifications. There are a few:

And for those looking at trying to get in on the ground level -- again, I refer you back to simply using Linux, but would also add that you should, early on, join the users mailing list of the distribution you choose. Mailing lists are one of the best ways to not only get your Linux questions answered, but also to interact with other Linux users going through the same issues you are experiencing.

Second misconception: It's archaic

I am always floored when I receive an email from someone who says they can't even bother trying Linux because it's archaic and just won't do what they need. To those users I have to ask this one, simple question:

Have you bothered using one of the latest distributions?

Linux defines modern. Linux has advanced the desktop just as much as any other platform. Linux works with hardware (with some exceptions); for the most part, Linux software is compatible with its proprietary counterparts, and the Linux interfaces are just as elegant (if not more so) than any other on the market.

For those people that still believe Linux to be archaic, I would challenge you to install Ubuntu 12.04 and use the Unity desktop. The second you log in you will find something not only incredibly user-friendly, but something designed with simplicity and beauty in mind. Unity is a work of art among desktops and will continue to improve at an exponentially faster rate than any other desktop available.

How is that archaic?

There are a lot of naysayers out there, but to all of those 'saying nay', please... do a little testing before you jump to conclusions. Why? Because those conclusions do more to continue spreading the FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) that has plagued Linux since the late nineties than they do to help you find answers.

I've been with Linux since the early days. I've watched it evolve, grow, and morph into something incredible that everyone can use. I took it upon myself many years ago to help spread the word of open source and Linux and I take that vow very seriously. And every day I can convert someone is a win.

What about you? What has been your experience with users proclaiming Linux to be X or Y? How have you reacted? Or, do you still believe Linux to be hard to learn and/or archaic? If so, what is it about Linux that makes you draw that conclusion?

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

159 comments
andrew232006
andrew232006

I just want my desktop to work with as little of my time and effort as possible. Time spent learning how to edit the xconfig file to get my tv-out to work is time that I could spend working or learning something else. And as the OS changes, whatever I've learned becomes obsolete. Of course windows has it's idiosyncrasies as well. Although, it seems to me the solutions are usually simpler and implemented faster. But the main reason I'm going to stay with windows is I have to work on windows and I'm not interested in investing time in both.

jkm2a
jkm2a

I've been using Linux for about 6 years now. I see a lot of commentary about how it's too hard for the "average user", there's no good place to get started or to find help, etc. I work in tech support full time and I work with techs every day, so it stands to reason that I'm more tech-centric that most of the people I meet on the street. I think, as tech people, we tend to overlook the fact that the "average user" never wants or has to worry about installing Windows, or installing very much in the way of software, or resolving printer issues, etc. They just want to use their computer. They buy Windows machines pre-loaded, take 'em home and plug 'em in, step through the very few, very basic initial setup wizard, and just proceed to use the machine. Let's face it, this is an option that doesn't really exist in the Linux world. I know there are a few vendors selling and supporting pre-loaded Linux systems, but unless you know where to look, you'll never find them. I have yet to see a Linux system for sale at Wal-Mart or Best Buy. And oddly enough, even though Dell does preload Ubuntu, you have to pay a $200 premium to buy a system pre-loaded with a free OS! I haven't quite figured that one out yet... Truth is, if you take an already loaded and tweaked Linux box and put it in the hand of a non-techie and spend about 30 minutes going over the basics with them, they will be able to do almost everything your average user needs to do. Case in point, I have a real good friend who is extremely non-technical, and who has two teenage children who like to do the kinds of things with computers that almost guarantee malware infections on a Windows box. I take care of his computers for him, and a while back he brought me his desktop, which was suffering from a crippling infection for the third time in as many months. I didn't have available time to work on it as the moment, as a complete wipe and reload was the only cure, so I took him a Fedora box that I'd been using (I have several around the house), plugged it in to his network, set up a user account and printer for him, and showed him how to navigate Gnome 2 well enough that the could get around on the box. It took about a month and a half before I could find the free time to reload his system, during that time he called twice with simple questions that I could easily answer over the phone. When I finally called him to tell him that I had his system ready, he kinda hesitated for a minute, then asked me what I had put back on it. When I told him I had reloaded Windows on it, he hesitated again and then asked, "Can you put this stuff on it? The kids and I have done anything we wanted to do on it since you brought it over, and we haven't had a minute's trouble out of it." I loaded Fedora on his desktop and took it home, and the only time it's been worked on since then was to add a new printer he bought. It's been running trouble free for over two years, where before I was having to disinfect his system at least every 3 months regardless of whatever antivirus and antimalware software he was running. I think that's why Linux is catching on much faster in the enterprise world than on the home desktop. The enterprise has IT staff to handle the difficult stuff and a phone number to call when things go wrong, and all the user has to do is use the machine. If some of the larger vendors would get serious about supporting the Linux desktop, instead of the few that sell Linux preloaded systems acting like they're embarassed to do so, the percentage numbers on the Linux user base would skyrocket.

a.kumaaran
a.kumaaran

Well., I understand it costs money in developing applications but why do the opensource developing community demand, I repeat DEMAND money for what is called opensource. Instead they can request for donations where the users/organisations will be glad to do so. Am not naming so-called opensource software but they should learn if they read this. Thankss

Robynsveil
Robynsveil

...who cares? Those who use and love GNULinux are too many to count. And we will keep it not just *alive* but dynamic and growing and cutting-edge that other OSes will copy and steal from but will never ever match because freedom of thought and expression and creativity will *always* be richer and more profound than some dude in an office punching a clock and trying to develop new ideas for an OS. Which is evidenced quite vividly by the completely banal Win8. Sure, it might have something smoking under that bonnet, but bottom-line, it *looks* pov. Whatever. Not something that is an issue to me. Not here to slam Windows or Microsoft. They have their place, certainly. And most KNOW that place. Most actually only know OF that place. Which is fine, too. I have some nursing students who are disenchanted with all the frailties of Windows but who don't have the king's ransom to pay that other mob. I do have a solution, but it comes with a few caveats. BTW, VirtualBox is pretty awesome. So, one [b]can[/b] have ones cake and eat it too!

zkdnet
zkdnet

If you want to use some form of linux my advice is to revive an old desktop, download and install Debian Squeeze from the install iso. This is simple and quick. Forget about networking for the moment and install the gcc compuler suite. That should enable you to write, compile and execute your own programs. There is always the assembler (nasm) just an apt-get away for the geeks, gfortran for numerical work and hundreds of other packages in synaptic. From there the world is your oyster. Remember! Command Line rules, you don't need the GUI.

mekuranda
mekuranda

Correct me please - I must be wrong... to configure network settings you still have to start terminal or similar to set things like domain etc. In Windows you do this in a GUI - there are other similar examples but when ever I set up a friends Linux to work in their home network I have to look up how to get this done using a text based system (some distros use a different text application to add to confusion) - if security is the reason - then perhaps online banking should re evaluate their virtual keyboard inputs!

jmaschle
jmaschle

I used unix in various flavors for 15 years. Being able to command rsync to synchronize a file, folder, or application across the world was done with a single intuitive command at the command line. Same with global substitution, data search, file compression, etc. Regular expressions are a must know for any IT pro and adding perl is invaluable - especially in any high-tech design shop. Besides that built-in mastery of the network and command line simplicity, all flavors of unix have color schemes which are much less problematic than any version of windoze. For example, in SQLserver 2012 they finally have a 'dark' color scheme. But all the numbers default to white, making them hard to read when pasted into outlook - even using the black outlook color scheme. Similar problems have always occurred with every version of Windows 'dark' color schemes. I have never seen anything close to that on unix. switching from the black on white of windows, to the default green on black in unix is refreshing (and probably healthier). Now that we can run free VMs, loading a windoze OS to boot (for the wife/Outlook), and an ubuntu vm for me keeps everybody happy with little or no performance hit.

radams36
radams36

I can competently navigate in the KDE interface - I can run and use Linux apps. But my last real experience with Linux was as follows: Have a spare laptop - Pentium III with 512 MB RAM (IIRC, maybe 1 GB). Had a copy of SUSE 10 Pro a friend had given me (commercial package, manuals, and all). Should work fine on the hardware (Toshiba Portege 7200). Slapped in a PCMCIA WiFi card and installed everything. Everything works great EXCEPT WiFi, which I realistically need to make the machine usable. So, after working with it for a while without success, I go online to a Linux forum to ask advice. The advice I get back is: Use newer version of SUSE (probably not going to work on the older hardware) Get newer laptop AND newer version of SUSE (not going to happen for money reasons) The one that floored me: You don't have enough RAM to run a GUI. Say WHAT?!! I'd already provided a LOT of detail, including what I saw in KDE (which is, last time I checked, a GUI), so WTH?! It's hard to ask advice and then dis the free advice you get, but if the community wants to grow Linux, there has to be more than that. After that last 'you can't run a GUI' response, I saw no more responses to my queries, leading me to believe that the frankly stupid and superficial advice made everyone think, 'Well, that guy's question has been answered.' Yeah, with a stupid and irrelevant response, but how much help you gonna get if you complain about the poor quality of the again, FREE, advice? That pretty much made me give up. I'd been fooling with Linux off and on for about 7 years or so, but that experience finally pushed me off the cliff with Linux. Maybe someday I'll try again, but I can't help feeling like my experience was PROBABLY not that unique.

AES2
AES2

An argument can be made that Unity is easier for a Windows XP or 7 user to learn than Windows 8. Pro and anti screamers on both sides will drown out any reasonable discussion, so I'll stay away from it. And just as many Linux distributions now come with easy-to-learn GUI controls, with PowerShell and Server Core Microsoft is providing command line controls. On Linux or Windows you can use GUI or command line controls as you see fit. The deal breaker for my clients is one or more of QuickBooks, Photoshop, the rest of Adobe CS, and AutoCAD. There are respectable open source and web-based products that do those kinds of work, but those products have no serious competition that runs on Linux.

bowieb
bowieb

I use Linux servers on a daily basis. I tried having a Linux desktop (Mint) at one point, but I gave up on it. I wanted it to work, but there were just too many annoyances. I use Photoshop Elements for adjusting photographs. Gimp is ok, but I found I had to jump through many more hoops to get things done. It also didn't have nearly as many smart tools as PS. I like playing games. Not much else needs to be said here. Lots of games are available for Windows. Most of them are not available for Linux. I ran some Windows apps with Wine, but PS and most games do not work well. My printer worked, but as someone else mentioned, there were far fewer print options available as compared to the same printer in Windows. After living with it for a few months, I finally gave up and went back to Windows.

RMSx32767
RMSx32767

Perhaps these folks are too MS, Apple, centric?

techrepubliclist
techrepubliclist

My first Linux experience was with early Red Hat, before it went commercial. It was a lot like MS-DOS and a few other CLI OSes of the time, although they were dying out. Red Hat was a fun toy, but I couldn't do any work in it - and I had a job to perform. Tried several distros since then, and yes, Linux is getting better. But I've still had to spend about a third of my time with CLI as superuser. I don't mind a command line interface, per se, but it is irritating when /d means seven (7) different things for six (6) different commands. And I have to login *again* for each of those commands. Or, relearn what /xxx means on a different distro. What Bill Gates (MS) brought to the party was standardization. Everything written for the platform had to follow certain constraints, but all could count on certain [support] elements being present. That's not true of Linux distros. Too many variant dependencies, depending upon which desktop you choose for whichever distro. If you need a new application, all dependencies must be present or must be installed. In a corporate environment, that likely means a call to IT staff. And in that environment, IT is prolly gonna be overworked . Linux is simply too splintered to be effective competition to Windows on the desktop. If everyone in an office/business/industry is using the same version of the same distro, stuff works. But let a few upgrade to a newer version of that same distro, and communication suffers, things break (just like Windows). And let someone in that same group go to a different distro - communication could be truncated. This is not theory. I've seen it happen. Bottom line, for me, is that Linux is a fun toy, but when I have to get work done, I must revert to Windows. Performance and collaboration issues require it, as do certain applications (e.g., MS Publisher).

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I rember the first time I opened office with it's new ribbon thingy, spent the next ten minutes trying to figure out where Print went. It's not that you don't want to learn Linux, it's that you don't want to learn KDE or Gnome. You are an appliance user, fair enough, but the only myth I see is the idea that the rest of us are, as well.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

you have to learn them for Windows. Many versions like Ubuntu and Zorin you just install and use - easier too if you have a friend who can install it for you. Recently set up a system for a friend's daughter with Zorin OS 6 and the Win 7 interface for her. She says it's easier to use than the Win 7 laptop she has. That's from the daughter who has a learning difficulty and is hard pressed to remember to connect on the Fire Fox logo to get the Internet.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

little that very few even manage to make the rebuild / backup discs as so many of them can't work it out bow it's supposed to be done by the user so the supplier can save a few cents by not including the discs.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

code is open to view. The fact that many open source developers give their products away free is another matter to the way it's developed.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

not free as in beer. You aren't complaining about them wanting to be rewarded for their efforts, you are whining because you couldn't get something for nothing. -1 for being a hypocrite

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I submit NOTHING at the command line (or any other interface) is 'intuitive'.

jgm
jgm

...is definitely good advice. With Linux the drivers are in the kernel, and if the kernel you're using predates the release of your wifi chipset, that's going to be a problem. On top of that, I don't know how long your copy was eligible to receive updates/support. You would probably have had the best luck going to opensuse.org for your help.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Back when I was putzing around with Linux, I received decent support with a minimum of attitude at Linuxquestions.org. This place is pretty good, too!

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

would have us believe. Aside from the usual collection of muppets, (they give you bad answers about windows with equal aplomb), it's a part of the windows is not linux difficulty, there's a huge range of assumptions made, and like many uber geeks they have great difficulty explaining the "obvious". That's a geek fault not a nix one though, see it everywhere.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I agree with you, but I see that as only half the real problem. The other half is the inability for the average user to purchase a system with Linux pre-installed. Replacing an OS and apps can be daunting tasks to the average schmoe, as intimidating as replacing the car's engine, and one for which that user is similarly ill-equipped.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm strictly a 'casual gamer', but I find more of my favorite games (Plants vs. Zombies, Zuma, etc.) are available for iDevices than for Linux systems, despite the relative ages of those platforms.

RMSx32767
RMSx32767

DIFFERENT to learn? Yes. Then again so are DOS, VMS, JCL, AOS, OS X, versions of WIndows, etc. The subtle (or not) differences between various various distros are similar to the dialect differences that exist in human languages.

jgm
jgm

>But I've still had to spend about a third of my time with CLI as superuser. What the heck are you doing and what distros are you using? I've been using OpenSUSE now for two years of 8+hours a day business and home use and I've had to edit precisely one config file during that time. You can't possibly be spending that much time on the CLI as superuser if you're using the system for desktop purposes, which is what we're talking about. Not even if you're running Gentoo or Arch... well maybe Slackware. :-) At the least, you might want to think about changing the permission levels on your login account. >Too many variant dependencies, depending upon which desktop you choose >for whichever distro. There's three major desktops, KDE, Gnome and Unity, and two or three minor ones. They're either based on Qt or GTK+ libraries, and a desktop based on one can run the software developed for the other. There's no complication with users running different desktops, even on the same machine. >If you need a new application, all dependencies must be present or must be >installed. In a corporate environment, that likely means a call to IT staff. And THIS is where your understanding of Linux has to be called into account. You seem to suggest that installing programs is a complicated process requiring IT experts. You either don't understand modern Linux or you have even darker motives (or again you're a poor unfortunate soul running Slackware). Barring Slackware, every other Linux distribution offers package management out of the box. A user simply clicks a checkbox to pick the software they wish to install and the package manager automatically determines whatever other dependencies are required and selects them for install also. If there's a conflict, the package manager will be able to explain it and offer possible solutions. Modern package managers like OpenSUSE's zypper employ a mathematical technique called a "SAT Solver" which mathematically guarantees being able to find a solution to package/dependency installation if one exists (which in practice is rather awesome). No one needs to "call IT staff" to install software on Linux. In fact, Linux software is much, much simpler to install than Windows software, including quiet installs. One can simply select all the software desired and then walk away while the package manager handles everything. The file system can even change (or delete!) files that are still in use by queueing up the change for once the file is closed, making reboots almost totally unnecessary. To tell readers who don't know better that software installation is so complicated on Linux that one needs IT staff to do it is absurd and hard not to call a blatant lie unless you're simply completely ignorant about modern Linux and haven't used it since "before Red Hat went commercial", which was in 1999. >And in that environment, IT is prolly gonna be overworked . Meanwhile, the city of Munich, Germany is completing the transition of about 12,000 desktops to their own distribution of Linux which they've dubbed LiMux. "The maximum number of [IT] complaints was 70 per month before the beginning of the switch to LiMux. After the number of LiMux workplaces increased from 1,500 to 9,500, the maximum number of complaints per month dropped to 46. This leaves Ude to conclude that the decline in complaints was due to the migration to LiMux." They've not only saved money, but their IT support staff is now LESS busy with user problems than when they ran Windows. >Linux is simply too splintered to be effective competition to Windows on the >desktop. More FUD. Linux is Linux; they all run the Linux kernel; Linux software runs on any Linux distribution. Windows boxes have all sorts of different software installed on them, but they're all still Windows, aren't they? It's no different than with Linux. Also, Windows is a monopoly. Nothing can compete with a monopoly; even the Apple marketing juggernaut and its billions only gives it about a 5%-6% market share vs. Linux's 1%. Until vendor lock-in ends (and the "post PC" era in which cross platform, Java, virtualization, the cloud and web apps is making that happen) nothing can compete with Windows on the desktop. That's the elephant in the room no one talks about when discussing desktop figures. >If everyone in an office/business/industry is using the same version of the >same distro, stuff works. But let a few upgrade to a newer version of that same >distro, and communication suffers, things break (just like Windows). 1. If we're talking about a business, how can a few machines magically upgrade on their own? OS upgrades are carefully planned (and tested) in businesses, which makes your scenario silly. 2. "Communication" doesn't break when a Linux distro upgrades, or anything else for that matter. Again - it's all still Linux and everything's still compatible. I really don't follow what you're even saying, but it sure sounds ominous. > And let someone in that same group go to a different distro - communication >could be truncated. This is not theory. I've seen it happen. No, you haven't seen it happen, because you haven't used Linux in this century. What is this "communication" that gets "truncated"??? The words you're using don't even mean anything in the context you're using them. :-( Are you talking about networking? And "truncated" means to cut short - something that makes no sense at all in that sentence. The reality is every Linux distribution is Linux and distros can and do play nicely with each other, as do other desktops. You're making vague claims that are so meaningless that no one can refute them because they don't actually mean anything (like a health food huxter claiming their product "promotes well-being" or something). >Bottom line, for me, is that Linux is a fun toy, but when I have to get work >done, I must revert to Windows. Performance and collaboration issues require >it, as do certain applications (e.g., MS Publisher). Linux performs as well as, or better than, Windows. Tom's Hardware benchmarked Ubuntu vs. Windows 7 and found the ext4 file system could copy large files around the hard drive 20% faster than NTFS, for instance. Valve is porting Left 4 Dead 2 to Linux and found that after only a few weeks of tweaking they already have a Linux test system pumping out a few more frames per second than Windows. That's not even taking into account the slowdown that occurs from running a real-time virus scanner under Windows. As Tom's concluded, on the benchmarks that really matter a Linux OS matches or beats a Windows system. Collaboration issues? Linux supports open standards so you can collaborate better than Windows. Heck, out of the box my Linux desktop supports reading and writing to both NTFS and OS X's HFS+, while Windows can't read anyone else's file systems by default. Heck, Windows' partition manager will report Linux partitions as "unknown", even though every partition has a two byte code associated with it that identifies the file system. Like Voldemort, Microsoft considers Linux it which must not be named. :-) As to MS Publisher - a Windows program requires Windows... I'm shocked. :-) But the problem is that you've chosen to use an entry-level desktop publishing program that only runs on Windows - in other words, vendor lock-in. In fact, it gets even worse, as Wikipedia outlines.... "Publisher's position as an entry-level application aggravates many issues (particularly in older versions) such as fonts unavailable and embedded objects not available on service providers' machines. Instead, Publisher comes with tools to pack related files into a self-expanding application. Compatibility Publisher's proprietary file format (.pub) is unsupported by almost all other applications, including other Microsoft products, although Corel Draw X4 features 'open only' support, and there is an ongoing work on converter for LibreOffice with support for 97—2013 versions of the PUB file format. As such, Publisher is generally recognised to be of limited functionality where multiple-user electronic editing or dissemination is concerned. Adobe's PageMaker software saves files with a .pub extension but the two files are incompatible and unrelated. Publisher supports numerous other file formats, including the Enhanced Metafile (EMF) format which is supported on Windows platforms. The Microsoft Publisher trial version can be used to view .pub files beyond the trial period." Your "performance" issues have led you to choose an entry-level program, and your interest in "collaboration" has led you to choose a Windows-only program whose default file format is proprietary and unreadable by most other software. Essentially you've locked yourself into a prison and then in the name of "collaboration" require everyone else to lock themselves into the same cell to collaborate with you! It's not a shortcoming of Linux, but rather an unbelievably shortsighted software strategy that mandates you use Windows. Your collaboration problems are all self-caused because you choose single-platform software and proprietary file formats. A check of Wikipedia's comparison of DTP software shows that you've chosen one of only about 3 major programs out of the 18 listed that are Windows only and one with one of the shortest lists of import and export capabilities, including no support for PDF, postscript, Latex or SVG, which are open and universal formats. Meanwhile, you could have chosen Scribus, saved yourself $140, gained cross-platform compatibility and basically the largest set of supported export formats of them all. You only need to "revert to Windows" because you've attached a chain between it and yourself. The rest of us have no problem embracing real performance and collaboration.

andrew232006
andrew232006

It's not just the interface. It would be if the GUI always did everything for me but I still need to install software, connect to network shares and get new hardware to work.

jmaschle
jmaschle

certainly more intuitive than powershell. And its all there out of the box - no need to download anything else.

radams36
radams36

When I tried to install then current versions of a couple of different distros, they wouldn't work because they apparently didn't have drivers for the older hardware anymore. The WiFi card was also an older one pretty much contemporary with the laptop, that should not have demanded a newer distro. I'm sure you mean well, and that's appreciated, but you're basically giving me the same advice that did not help to resolve the issue before. It shouldn't be a Sisyphean ordeal to simply get basic WiFi going on a laptop. I did try opensuse.org and got no help there. My larger point remains - I was trying to accomplish something that should be simple to do, put substantial effort in to solving the problem on my own without success, then got no real help from the Linux community. Am I complaining about the quality of free advice I got? No, not really. My point is that not being able to get the problem resolved mostly removed me from the community. The Linux community will not grow under those conditions, and I can guarantee most people would not have plugged away at the problem as much as I did. That's a large part of why the OS remains marginalized.

radams36
radams36

Hey, Charlie, Been a while, and it was multiple forums, so I don't remember for sure. I'm about 85% sure LinuxQuestions was one of them, and I'm about 80% sure that it was where I got the idiotic 'can't run a GUI response'. Used to run KDE on a Pentium MMX with 96 MB of RAM, so I knew that was dead wrong from the get-go. I actually spent a fair amount of time futzing around with that WiFi card in the Portege, never did get it to work. Still have that Portege, still got SUSE installed on it, might try again some day. On the somewhat humorous flip side, I currently work at a Help Desk. We have a separate Unix/Linux Help Desk, and I try to get as much helpful info as possible before passing tickets over to their side. Far and away most of the time, when I ask a user what Linux distribution they're using, they don't even understand that question. D'oh!

tbmay
tbmay

No issue with your comment, I'm just commenting on all of them in general and I closed with yours. Just reading some of the comments of people who gave it a go and decided against it, many of them made the right decision. Please don't take that the wrong way. All I'm saying is if my career weren't tied up in using unix toolsets, and I hadn't been doing it for longer than I want to admit, I wouldn't just up and say, "Hey, I'm going to wipe my machine and put another OS on it." Jack, and others who think the world should convert their desktops, are acting pretty darn irrational about what amounts to bits and bytes. Linux is not marginalized. I make a good living as a Linux Engineer working on key nix systems in a very secure environment. It's out there in datacenters and it's not going anywhere and it and other nix flavors have super toolsets. But it is NOT going to be the primary OS on most desktops, including my own work desktop.

Robynsveil
Robynsveil

...for instance. That's not going to come with a completely flat learning curve, by all accounts.

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

"[i]One can simply select all the software desired and then walk away while the package manager handles everything.[/i]" That is only true if the program you want is in the Repository. If it isn't then it's "off to do battle" with the Terminal.

Robynsveil
Robynsveil

GNULinux is indeed not Windows. The very arguments that Windows users offer to defend their sticking with Windows are the key points why some GNULinux users chose a free (libre/freedom) computing environment. And whilst some free software behaviour might resemble that of the non-free (again: liberty/freedom) variety, it is quite by nature entirely different. Which in use becomes more and more apparent. Which is actually a good thing. :)

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I'm not saying you are wrong to stick with windows because you know it. I'm not saying there's something wrong with you because you don't want to make the effort to move away from it. What I am saying is Linux is not windows. It's the expectation that "you won't notice the difference" that gets most first (or even 2nd and 3rd) attempters.

Robynsveil
Robynsveil

... to state "US corporate IT". In other parts of the world, corporate IT actually prefer Linux - desktop support is relatively painless. And then, of course, there's google? They use Linux on the desktop. Aren't they a corporation?

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

look around and find which version has the look and feel you prefer, kind of like finding out which car has the seating you like best - shop around. For those who love the Windows look Zorin OS offers a range of GUIs that include Win 2000, Win XP, Win Vista, and Win 7 so you immediately feel at home with the GUI as it's like your current system.

radams36
radams36

When I refer to Linux as marginalized, I mean specifically as a desktop OS. I know it's got a strong foothold in multiple other areas. It's a shame that it can't be a better desktop OS than it is - from my perspective (which I'm confident is far from unique), it's tantalizingly close, and could be there, but just isn't quite. As long as it's support structure is as erratic as I've found it to be, it's not a real contender. I like Linux as a concept, and it's made great strides from what it used to be in terms of usability, but I've worked in corporate IT for 17 years, and I can tell you, most corporate IT can't switch until it matures a bit more on the desktop side.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

If you squint a bit linux is out of scope, Windows is a non linux distro. :)

radams36
radams36

Although Jack's demeanor in print is reasonable, he doesn't approach these things from a logical perspective. He has decided to back the Linux/Ubuntu horse no matter what, and will find justifications to support his pre-determined point of view - completely independent of logic or sound judgment. Just like most people do, unfortunately.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

To me the differences between say a well set Ubuntu and windows box, aside from the availability of familiar applications to stick on the desktop are irrelevant. In fact they are quite frankly boring. If you are an appliance use pick your flavour, go do the things that float your boat. I'm not always an appliance user, neither windows nor Ubuntu meet my needs at that point. I want to try, to learn, to investigate, to experiment, to float my boat. All Jack can see is Ubuntu's popularity helping him finally "win" the Windows versus Linux debate. He's completely lost sight of the fact that while Ubuntu is Linux, Linux is not Ubuntu. So now I treat his advice and opinions with same amount of respect I would a Window's fanboys. None.

eM DuBYaH
eM DuBYaH

I have Windows 8 Professional, which I downloaded from my school's software store. Release version has been available for the past 2 months for us. So, enthusiastically I installed it on my Acer netbook. Two days later I took it off. I seriously don't get the purpose behind Metro. I've told everyone on my campus, that OS doesn't belong on ANYTHING that doesn't have a touchscreen. Certainly not on the business desktop. Unless Microsoft wants another Vista where the only people using are the one's that had it forced down their throats because the computer was preloaded with it, they NEED to make Classic and Aero available with the first patch Tuesday that happens after it's official unleash.

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

I thought that it was for that reason. :) I don't know enough about kernel objects, libraries, etc. for it to be much help to me. I don't like using those "kill this message box" options (in any software). Once you've killed them how do you get them back? "Murphy's Law" also suggests that once you've killed the message box, you'll miss an important message. :D IMO, operating systems should have an option that determines the size of error messages: - Detailed: Multiple paragraphs - Standard: One or two paragraphs - Brief: One or two lines - Alert: "I did this" message - None: Terminal-style (for experts who hate messages)

jgm
jgm

...letting you know about extra dependencies because you may want to change your mind and not install once you know about them. OpenSUSE doesn't hide anything from the user or ever do anything without the user's informed consent first. However, I believe you can check a box and turn off the dependency notifications.

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

Ubuntu 10 vs OpenSUSE 12 (on my PC) In Ubuntu 10 you: - Click on the notification - Click on Install - Enter your password In OpenSUSE 12 you: - Click on the notification - Click on Install A new window appears saying you have to install these other items(!?) - Accept the extra items - Enter your password It does that every time on my PC (just like Fedora 14 & 15 did). The Open Build Service sounds like a useful tool. :)

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

It's interesting how the same software behaves differently on different PCs. "[i]Terminal prompts you *ONCE* for your password (since you're doing something admin level, not all the bloody time, whenever it feels like it, even if you're still on the same task, like Windows does)[/i]" I've never had that happen on W7 (GUI or Command Prompt). At least in Windows GUIs you can pre-provoke "Rights Elevation". OTOH, I played with 2 Vista laptops. One behaved just like the Apple ad (the UAC went off constantly). The other behaved just like W7. Talking about random password demands, it's fair enough that I have to enter my password to install updates, but why do I have to enter my password to [b]check for updates[/b] (in Ubuntu 10)? What you describe isn't any easier than: - Locate the program - Download it - Start the installer - Give permission - Follow the prompts It is easier to update [b]everything[/b] in Linux than Windows though. :) BTW, I do use copy and paste for Terminal instructions (once I've located them).

jgm
jgm

OpenSUSE has a few features that make this scenario even easier. The first is "one click install". If I want to distribute an OpenSUSE package on my website, for instance, I can just include a "one-click" button image. This downloads and launches a small file that provides the repository information and launches the package manager, which will then ask if you want to keep the repository (for future updates). Either way the package manager then proceeds to download and install the required files and possible dependencies. No copying, pasting or command line involved. OpenSUSE also created what was originally the OpenSUSE Build Service which later became the Open Build Service and open to other distros (including Ubuntu, but sadly most Ubuntu packagers don't make use of it). This provides an automated solution for building and distributing packages. Anyone interested in creating a package for OpenSUSE (like the latest version of Blender, per your example) can use it to do so. Users can search the OBS and find the package easily (OpenSUSE even makes a Firefox search plugin, and OBS can detect your running OS and highlight the appropriate version). With OBS users can not only download the package and/or add the repository, but OBS also generates "one-click install" links for packages as well, so generally a user just needs to search for the package name and then click the one-click install button to download, install and optionally permanently add the repository. OBS automatically rebuilds packages when dependencies are changed as well. Because of this, compiling or installing outside the package manager is rarely necessary. And if it is, the first person to have to do so can just add the requisite files and set up a package on OBS and then no one else will have to do so again, which again makes needing to manually install software quite rare. There also semi-official repositories that always contain the latest kernel, latest desktop, latest Mozilla or LibreOffice software, etc. This makes it easy to keep the system as stable or cutting edge as one desires, again without needing the command line.

Robynsveil
Robynsveil

That copy and paste this is definitely advanced technology. Let's say I want to have the latest version of Blender (I do 3D modelling and rendering) on my system at all times. -- I google "Blender ppa". Top of the heap is "https://launchpad.net/~irie/+archive/blender" -- Scroll down to the section that says "Adding this PPA to your system" -- Open Terminal (graphically, from a menu... LOL) -- The instructions are all right there in that 'Read about installing' section. Really complicated, too... copy and past this line into terminal: sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gwibber-daily/ppa Terminal prompts you *ONCE* for your password (since you're doing something admin level, not all the bloody time, whenever it feels like it, even if you're still on the same task, like Windows does) -- Now issue a "sudo apt-get update" (you won't get the password prompt this time: GNULinux knows you're still working at the same task here)... you can copy and paste *this* from the ppa instructions. I'm lazy. I do. :D -- Now do your software update from the GUI as usual. Voila, you have the absolute latest greatest clean build of your favourite software! AND - something Windows can never claim - whenever the system prompts you... just a wee icon change that politely lets you know that new stuff is out there to update your system with, won't rudely interrupt what you're doing BY DEFAULT (unless you change the Windows update behaviour). After the update, you have not only OS updates but *software* updates! Oh, yeah. This is how an OS *should* behave.

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