Linux

Open source still has a few gaps to fill to go mainstream

Linux has come a long, long way. But it still has a few gaps to fill before it will be considered by small to medium-sized businesses. Jack Wallen offers his take on those gaps.

I've been pondering the why of the issue regarding mainstream Linux adoption. Recently an article was spread around (and then copied and pasted onto every mainstream site that pushes Linux) that Big Business has embraced Big Linux. And it's true. The enterprise LOVES it some Linux -- and with good reason. But once you go below the oceanic waters of enterprise computing, and into the SMBs, you start seeing Linux being used less and less. Why? I strongly believe there are two reasons:

  • It's not what they are given
  • There are still a few gaps to fill

I'm going to be honest with you -- if a small to mid-sized business said, "We're switching to Linux," it would happen and probably happen with little to no issue. Problem is, not many businesses are saying that. So the end users aren't being given Linux to use. That is, in my opinion, a reason driven by a bigger issue -- gaps in the usability space.

These gaps aren't glaring, but they are enough to affect mainstream adoption. And I firmly believe that, should the distributions and developers (and anyone else involved with open source) take a long, hard look at the list I'm about to offer, they could easily fill those gaps and Linux would enjoy an adoption rate previously unheard of. Let's take a look at those gaps. You've certainly read about them here and there before -- maybe not all in the same location. You may also have experienced one or more of these gaps yourself. Let's take a look.

Better DOCX Support: I firmly believe this should be the other way around, that Microsoft should better support standards. But the truth is, they don't and they won't. So to resolve that issue, someone in the open source world (LibreOffice maybe) needs to find a way to better render documents saved in the .docx format. This needs to be a top priority in many areas, because the office suite rules medium-sized business. Exchange Support: Outlook is the King of the office in small to medium-sized business. Until Linux gets an alternative (and I don't want to hear about the incredibly challenging DavMail Gateway or Evolution -- both offer iffy connections and pose a challenge for many IT staff and end users), it will have to continue sitting in the corner, staring on at all the party-goers. I would love to see a fork of Thunderbird designed specifically for Exchange. Why Thunderbird? Because it already has a calendar plugin and is as stable as any mail client out there. QuickBooks: This is a real sticking point with me. As someone who has to deal with supporting QuickBooks on a daily basis, I have an intimate understanding of how much businesses rely upon this piece of software. Don't get me wrong, QuickBooks is GREAT when it works. But when it doesn't work -- it's a nightmare. Now, the easiest solution would be for Intuit to port QuickBooks to Linux. That will never happen. Instead, something like GnuCash needs to step up and add multi-user support. If GnuCash could gain that one feature... it would go a long, long way toward helping Linux gain momentum. NVidia and ATI Support: NVidia already does a fair job of supporting Linux -- but both the proprietary and open source drivers for the chips are still iffy at best. ATI support is a joke. The only graphics chipset I never have issues with is Intel. This needs to seriously change. Unfortunately, this change cannot happen from within the open source community -- it must begin with the companies themselves. This also must include dual monitor support. Over the last two years I have seen this blossom into something nearly everyone that sits behind a desk "must have". Niche software: There are a TON of niche software titles that are used on a daily basis that either do not have a Linux equivalent or the Linux equivalent is not up to snuff. One such niche is video editing. Though OpenShot is fun to use (and can do some quality, entry-level video), it's simply not business-ready. This space could change when Light Works is finally released. There are also a lot of applications that are industry specific that would need to find their way to Linux. That won't happen. Why? There's too many. For that to work out, Linux needs to have an auto-detection system for .exe installers to call upon the Wine system. And for that to work, Wine still has a way to go. Don't get me wrong, Wine is a remarkable tool, but it's not really end-user friendly. Marketing: This one is big -- but it would be a tremendous help to gain the public's trust and awareness. A single television commercial that shows, say Ubuntu 13.04, running in day to day business would help to make people aware that there is a choice. And if that commercial is run correctly, that audience would understand they could enjoy a daily life free of viruses, malware, and the common issues that plague their work. That gap is huge. Microsoft and Apple are the reigning kings of marketing -- it's why they have such a death grip on consumers and business. If Canonical could spend their dollars wisely with a little television advertisement, the game could be changed.

I spend nine hours a day supporting end users from what seems like an endless stream of companies. The problems are always so very similar and has made me come to the realization that Linux is much closer than everything thinks to being able to take over the world of small to medium sized business. With the above gaps filled, there's nothing that could stop Linux from world domination.

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.

62 comments
Rauno
Rauno

The article skipped the first point mentionned in the intro. Not a paragraph about [q]"It's not what they (customers) are given"[/q] but only listing technical gasps. Got too tired Jack? Frankly, you can fix all glitches and spend big bucks on advertisements but no one will use Linux if it is not available from the shelves. And change the title: open source has already gone mainstream as open source is not limited to desktop Linux.

arulsingh.p
arulsingh.p

Hi All I have 5+ in IT , and working on Oracle and PHP and .net. whenever I propose my higher officers for Linux, first think they say is 'NO'.. After analyzing the fact behind the "NO" was Money. Money can also be one among the factor for avoiding open source. If you go for open source , Company boss are ready to pour the money into it. If the middle man opt for open source , then they will not be able to get commission (freebies depends on the cost of the item they buy) in terms of getting the license from the vendor for the open source. Which in turn land in getting a open license for the company and no freebies for the middle man for the open source. To get the freebies they may opt for license copy of the product.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

DOCX - - I open docx document in Libre Office with no troubles and have since day one. But Microsoft always have things within their software that do things different to the set standards. I have a friend who has no trouble opening docx documents made in Microsoft Office 2010, but they have issues using MSO 2010 to open MSO 2007 docx files, while Libre Office opens them both OK. Libre Office works solely to the set standards, so if there is an issue there, I suspect it's in the way MS are handling things different. EXCHANGE - - this is a case of asking the open source community to make something to work with proprietary closed source without access to the original code. Also, you can bet if they do something along those lines MS will make changes to stop it working. There are Linux / Unix alternatives for mail servers, such as Sendmail and the like, but the issue you seemt o have here is you want it MS Exchange compatible which is a different issue to just a mail server. SOFTWARE - - why pick on the open source community when the reason a lot of the niche software is not compatible is it's been created to be compatible with an operating system that is not industry standard compatible like Win XP etc. This is not the Open Source community's fault, but that of the software developers who made the first version. They will often invest the resources to make a new version to suit the latest version of MS Windows every so many years, but won't invest time resources to make it Unix / Linux compatible. You need to ask the original developers why that is. Or ask them to release the full code to the Open Source community and you'd soon see a Unix / Linux compatible version. The same applies to ATO and nVidia drivers. All closed source copyrighted stuff, so talk to its owners. MARKETTING - - it matters not how any of the Linux / Unix people do any advertising, they can't compete with the mega millions pushed out by Microsoft in general advertising and in pressure on the vendors to stuff a Windows OS on everything they sell. Thus the few who do spend dollars advertising Unix / Linux tend to do it where they see the best return for their dollars, and that is not general advertising to the average user as it will be of no use there. The average user will go down the road to Walmart or Best Buy etc to buy a computer and just take whatever is the current vendor model being pushed, and that will ahve Windows on it because that's how the vendors send them out - end of story. Anyone who wants a system with Linux will usually get a vanilla system made and have it installed because they already know about Linux. The short fall is in the way the industry companies ignore standards and allow Microsoft to dictate where they want things to go. You need to change that first.

zyzygy
zyzygy

One killer for me is the inability to sync calendars and contact lists, send texts etc etc from your phone to the desktop. It is mainly why I still have to use windows.

alzie
alzie

"Wine is a remarkable tool, but it’s not really end-user friendly." Right, this Needs to be improved greatly. Then, most any windows app can be installed to cover that which the native apps cant / wont. Wine also needs to improve USB operation as well. A lot of niche SW must have this. Now VirtualBox as well as it works, can fill a lot of these gaps, but thats a level of complexity that needlessly scares a lot of people. I tell friends to do the VB thing for safer surfing in windoze, but they just wont try it. Fear factor in general is whats hampering linux adoption. Kudos to google for getting linux on the map big time, but theres a lot of phone people that dont even know (care?) that its a linux.

jqbecker
jqbecker

Jack, I am with you, but Linux will never succeed on it's own merits. It will always be "Plan B", unless M$FT wilfully kills Windows, which it seems to be doing with Win8 and "Blue", whatever that is. So Maybe. Big picture, QB is a big one that would sway quite a few users and SMB's. However, QB is but one of the couple hundred other "big" applications. I live in the SMB / medical field, and before I could ever start the Linux discussion with the Dentists, MD's, and Optometrists there are several major Healthcare packages that would need to be ported over.

frylock
frylock

I've been to far too many "support" forums for various FOSS applications where users looking for help are ravaged by supposed experts who are nothing more than intellectual bullies. This mean-spirited attitude drives away a lot of end users (including me; I've abandoned a bunch of FOSS for paid alternatives over the years out of sheer exhaustion). Developers seem to think that if it's free there is no customer, and therefore no need for customer service. Perhaps they're right, but if so I feel FOSS in general will forever be a niche player.

morgancoxuk
morgancoxuk

What the hell do you mean the propriety Nvidia drivers are 'are still iffy at best'. That is utter rubbish. FPS wise most most Linux games that exist are faster than on Windows7 on the same hardware as long as you do 3 things. - Avoid any gnome 3 based desktop - Unity is o.k as long as you do the next point. - Disable compositing for full screen apps - (in KDE there is a simple option in system settings), in Unity you need the compiz setting manager. - Disable sync to vblank (nvidia-settings) - yes you may get some tearing, however games are faster. If only these 3 simple things were done by DEFAULT the majority of Linux Nvidia gamers would know that Linux is a faster gaming platform. Valve also seem to suggest Linux is faster... http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/linux/faster-zombies/

xtuple
xtuple

Jack, have you seen xTuple PostBooks? It was the March project of the month on Sourceforge, and has been downloaded over a million times. As the name would suggest, it's intended as a bit of a step up from Quickbooks - but not necessarily a huge step. It's a full multi-user, multi-currency, multi-lingual accounting package - with fully integrated CRM, project management, time/expense, sales and purchasing, even lightweight inventory and manufacturing. Runs natively on Linux, as well as Windows and Mac. Take a look at http://www.thequickbooksalternative.com.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

There are many Nix Distributions that are Pay for where you pay for the Support that comes with the product and all of them require a Service Contract to get the product. What the big hold up is the simple fact that Linux is not Windows. What runs on Windows doesn't natively run on Linux. So the company who refuses to adopt Linux or BSD is just saying that they need certian Software [i]Insert Brand here[/i] to do what they want to and if it doesn't run on Linux/BSD then the Linux/BSD OS is of no use to them. Money in my experience is the last factor to be considered in any proposed migration to something different. The first is [b]Can I import my Data to it?[/b] Which over all is the Big Question as needing to reenter all your Data and then latter needing to setup another system to make your Data Readable to some outside source and needing to reenter is all yet again is the biggest Hold Back. Currently there are way too many instances where Data is held hostage tot he Program that it was made in so things like Quick Books or MYOB are necessary for that company to work and they are not going to move away from it till they can seamlessly move their data to whatever program that wish to use. Col

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

It's called "Crossover", it's Wine, it makes up for many of the usability shortcomings of Wine, works great, has lots of support, and is provided by the major corporate sponsor for Wine development (CodeWeavers, with which I have no affiliation other than being a happy customer). And it follows the Red Hat model: You have to pay for it (a small cost, really), but you get a good product, support, etc. and it takes the pain out of dealing with Wine.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Think of it the other way, how many stupid questions can you answer before you get pissed off? I just had the head of our support department ask me why he was getting an error trying to calculate an annual payment for 6 months. I had to explain to him that 6 is less than 12.

eldergabriel
eldergabriel

You're probably right about the benchmarks and overall nvidia video performance under linux as opposed to windows. But regarding hardware specs, APIs, and overall driver support, I would tend to disagree with the subject title of your comment. I have some nvidia graphics cards where their usability would be greatly enhanced (i.e. actually be usable) if nvidia would just gpl their damn drivers so they could be maintained by programmers who actually care. Besides, the Torvalds BDFL himself made his opinion of nvidia's level of cooperation clear in this youtube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_36yNWw_07g (F U nvidia)

Slayer_
Slayer_

He is notorious for his bad blog posts. And for not reading the comments to learn not to make the same mistakes.

jqbecker
jqbecker

...they want what their accountant tells them to get. (Quickbooks) They want what they know, they don't want to learn something new then find out that their Aaccountant can't use it. Good luck converting them.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

Why it is that MS constantly breaks with standards -- including their own. They're holding data hostage as another means to keep companies locked into their brand. To bad they can't use an ethical means, as much FOSS software does: That is, keep customers loyal because their product is low-cost, reliable, inter-operates to a high degree, adheres to standards, and avoids lock-in. (Hmm... If one fashions oneself as an advocate of Big Business, should one admire the fiendishness of MS at trapping corporate dollars so successfully, or rail against them in support of corporations being bled with endless inefficiency having to dealing with this? Would be so much easier to figure out if it were a level playing field with business supporting business through open choice & quality... Oh, well.. it's ultimately only the consumer who pays for it anyway, and what say do they have it in?)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Pay for the OS support, pay for emulator support to continue running the programs I've already purchased for another OS. Why bother switching?

dbmarketing
dbmarketing

I do understand the concern that "answering the same questions" over and over again is tiring, and frustrating, but I agree. I've seen some very negative reactions to new people. Every time that happens, it reduces the amount of marketshare for Linux, and thus reduces the amount of potential support. Look at Red Hat, do you think they would allow angry and nasty phone support? What about Canonical? But this goes back to the issue of sales and marketing. I know a few developer types, who are incredibly brilliant coders. But I wouldn't trust them with customers. :) The community needs to really start thinking about what they want to accomplish: market share or hobby?

frylock
frylock

I'm not talking about stupid questions, or at least what I would consider stupid questions. Questions will often appear unreasonable to the person who wrote the software, because developers tend to have difficulty putting themselves in the shoes of someone less informed (I know I have this problem). Too often I see things like: - "RTFM" - "ok, where do I find the manual?" - "the source code is the ultimate manual" And then it usually gets personal. This, in my opinion, is not helpful. Not to the user and not to the adoption of open source in general.

xtuple
xtuple

Including this one. I take your point - there are certainly plenty of people in that category. But we're finding plenty of others who aren't - see http://www.xtuple.com/about/news-room. Some of them are even accountants ;-) And btw, lots of real accountants HATE Quickbooks because of all the awful things it lets you do.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

But why should any user remain "loyal" to what the OS came bundled with? Is it really loyalty if they've not used it (or have little experience with it) to begin with? For example, Windows 7 comes with IE pre-installed. Many users prefer Firefox or Chrome. Is it being disloyal to IE to download & install FF after buying a Win7 system? Is there a difference if they've never used (the current version of, let's say) IE? Perhaps loyalty only exists if a user has had the chance to try various alternatives, then pick the one that works best for them and their situation, THEN sticks with that particular software from system to system, updates and new purchases, etc. FOSS, as you point out, allows the consumer & business owner the freedom & ability to try "different mistresses" until they've "dated" enough to pick one. Then what do they do? They marry the one that's best for them. Why support "forced arranged marriages"? Why support it when it comes to software and OSes? From the small sample of myself, my colleagues, and family/friends, I find that the tendency is to ultimately stick with what they find they like the most. Loyalty, not "software promiscuity". One reason: It's too disruptive and time-consuming to be constantly switching, like the exhaustion of the playboy who keeps a coterie of mistresses. Most people want to end up married, and married, they stay loyal. But they prefer to be the ones who choose their partners. So it is (and should be) with OSes and software. :^)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"To bad they (Microsoft) can't use an ethical means, as much FOSS software does: That is, keep customers loyal because their product is low-cost, reliable, inter-operates to a high degree, adheres to standards, and avoids lock-in." Do these FOSS principles actually generate user loyalty? My perception is that FOSS users have already demonstrated their willingness to jump ship. They've shown this by trying applications outside the mainstream of the Windows / IE / Office / Photoshop / whatever else hegemony. The features you mention make it easier to try new software with minimal adjustment. Just based on my observations of the browser wars and shifts software popularity (A/V apps, Linux distributions, etc.), I'd say FOSS users are less loyal than those who never venture away from what came on installed on their systems. Once a user gets over his fear of committing infidelity, it just gets easier to abandon one mistress for the next.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

I found the need to educate myself & deal with Wine vs MS DLLs and other associated "tuning" of Wine made it too low-level and techie for me -- not something I wanted to deal with to get a Win app running. I just wanted to run an app... That's why I suggest CrossOver: They have GUI installers that handle those low-level issues and streamline installation. So I don't have it crash (running non-first-person shooter apps), it doesn't want to be on top, it doesn't take down Linux, etc. They also rate apps in terms of the number of features that work properly, etc. and group them by fully supported, community supported, unsupported, etc. One thing I've found useful is using them & WineHQ to find the best OS version & app version, plus any other tip & tweaks needed to get good results -- which is a far cry from having to be a DLL expert & set up the low-level stuff based on my own expertise. But, as you might expect, I still have a Win install in a VM for fall-backs. Many games run well in Crossover, but many also run best in a native boot.

Slayer_
Slayer_

In playing with it, the only real issues I see are. Wine programs like to be always on top. Wine programs crash like crazy. Full Screen games on Wine, if they crash, tends to take down the Linux system entirely, requiring a restart (unless you want to play around at the command line killing the GUI and restarting it) Wine seems to function randomly. I can play Red Alert 1 (win95 version) on Wine, but sometimes it doesn't load, sometimes it gets the resolution wrong, sometimes the audio starts stuttering mid game. sometimes it just decides to hang for no reason. You would think, running the same code over and over, should give the same results, but it doesn't, you can run it 10 times and have it go wrong 10 different ways before even reaching the "new game" menu. It feels like there is an RNG in wine to make random lines of code not work.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

and put Xen or KVM on your hardware, then run anything/everything in a VM. (Only partly facetious.) It would allow you to pick whatever OS best suits the task at hand. The set of VMs can all communicate docs & data via networking. The only thing I don't like is that the MS portion of things can get expensive (and license juggling cumbersome) -- which might be another reason to put Windows in a VM. But being able to dispense with it and just run Win apps in Wine/Crossover is one way to deal with that. Hence the point in my first post...

Slayer_
Slayer_

Though the way things are going, you might have to run your windows programs on an emulator as well. So then you might as well switch to Linux.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

...without having to use a virtual machine for either. That way, if you prefer Linux or OSX, you can work in that environment (while using Windows apps). There are many tools that make it easier for me to do automation & admin tasks in Linux, for example. But the situation is not symmetric: Windows refuses to acknowledge the existence of the others (let alone play nice with them), but there's been good support the other way around for a long time. I like being able to use both tools at the same time, the 'right tool' for the job at hand. It's not so much a switch as an addition that's not overly complicated.. or expensive.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

Is what you're asking for, in that case. Not that I'm against that, as I have many of the same values & wishes that it were different. But it boils down to much the same thing, regardless of labeling: How do we change something as large as, and has such inertia as (human nature, societal values/culture, whatever-you-want-to call-it)...? Because you're not alone in wanting to make it better (count me in), but you're also facing segments of society that are actively fighting their fight to keep it the way it is (or make it worse) -- because they have a profit motive in the status quo. Marketing folks "prey" upon these characteristics of (human nature + social values/cultural norms) to lead the public further down the path that neither of us wants it to go -- making money from them as a result: a reward for doing it. So they're already "teaching the next generation" now. Others are teaching "a different way of seeing things". Who's winning? A quick look out the windows tells us, sadly. They're organized & get paid for their part... how about our side? Not so encouraging. (Most of my influence is within my home, and I do all I can there to help influence the next generation.) Why are these groups taking money to ruin society? Human nature? Or a learned behavior? Or both? (Eventually we can trace & deconstruct the learned parts all the way back to biological needs: we gotta eat, etc.) Be that as it may, how do "the good guys" organize & fund ourselves to *effectively* teach the next generation and turn the tide in our favor against those who want to keep society focused on appearances, adopting shallow values, and remaining vulnerable towards such manipulations? Or, as you would prefer, "How do you change human culture?"

dogknees
dogknees

First step is to stop assuming what we see is actually "human nature". It's almost all learned, not innate or genetically determined. If it's learned, then the possibility exists to teach the next generation to see things differently. Societal norms can and do change, maybe it's time to look at this one. What "we" see as the norm is not the case in all human societies, there are those that do not value personal property. For mine, this seems a smarter way to live than striving to have more stuff than others.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

I think the problem is that most people aren't pretending -- they really *do* make appearance matter more to themselves than content/quality. And successful marketeers understand that -- and play to it. Because it works. Because that's how people really are (politically correct admonitions notwithstanding). How do you change human nature??

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

It's not a marketing firm that decides what to emphasis, it's the client. If the client wants a campaign that emphasizes a vehicle's fuel mileage over how well it looks skidding across the desert, that's what it gets.

dogknees
dogknees

.. it's marketing that is wrong and we need to stop pretending that appearance matters more than content. After all the appearance can be changed, the fundamental reality cannot, and it's the reality that will bite you. The fact that a majority believe something says nothing at all about whether their belief matches reality.

rduncan
rduncan

you just went full retard, the url is one thing the graphic another, it's a well known and widely used graphic to illustrate bad development practices, like the one you are advocating

Slayer_
Slayer_

Hint: The website URL has the word project management in it. Good bye.

rduncan
rduncan

...in the world of IT a business Analyst IS a developer - otherwise what's the point??? - you may call them a developer with (special) social skills, they understand business concerns and know how they get that into the program, I am working in infrastructure - why am I talking to developers all the time? - you might say because it's absolutely fundamental to good software design, as for the link, maybe you should learn to read, it's about a software design project, not about project management.

Slayer_
Slayer_

You actually linked to a project management website. So, first, you should learn what a project manager is, and what they do. These are the people that deal with stakeholders (BA's do as well). Programmers are handed a spec sheet and told to build this. It is rare for a programmer to even be allowed to talk to a stakeholder.

Slayer_
Slayer_

There are many types of programmers. But to generalize (because I know how you love generalizations). There are the ones that sit in a cubicle and type code all day. And then there are others that have to do their own analyses in addition to programming. This is usually the small business scenario. The latter tend to be more sociable than the former. But both are in this world. For the first set, you have dedicated business analysts and project managers to deal with specifications and user requirements. A thousand nations of programmers descend upon you. Our poorly documented code will block out the sun!

rduncan
rduncan

I know what CentOS is, it is pretty cool and I do use, however it is not Red Hat, not maintained or preened nearly as much as it's front and center bigger brother

rduncan
rduncan

if developers lack the interpersonal communication skills to talk with and listen to end users then they are not fit for purpose

tbmay
tbmay

That's the first problem. Certainly there are a lot of jerks, but what I've noticed, in working in the IT industry for a LONG time, is users are just as angry about the fact that they have to learn something new, or that they have to do something at all, as they are about the jerkiness of the support personnel they are dealing with. They can't exactly admit that though. BTW - CentOS is RHEL. If you really don't need support, it's a one-to-one replacement.

Slayer_
Slayer_

And therefore don't always make the best impression on users. It's by no means a pedestal, it just that they are all asses (myself included) and should be avoided :)

rduncan
rduncan

I have a RHEL support (because that's the only way to get RHEL), most of them need an attitude adjustment, also I served my time in support - if people are asking stupid questions then that is a mirror image of the service you are providing, stupid is what stupid does- train your users fix things once if something is not a technical problem but, is perceived as technical problem then that's supports fault, fix it so it works like a normal person expects it to work "Programmers however should NEVER be let loose with End Users they are the wrong type of person to deal with people who don't understand what it is that they are attempting to do," a classical example of a required attitude adjustment, developers being put on pedestals - they cause most of the problems coming into support because they have next to zero contact with end users, programmers don't live in a vacuum, their understanding of what it is they are developing must stem from the business rules and use cases, they are trying to emulate a real word problem/scenario using computer programs after all - what do they know about it? as far as this article is concerned it's another Linux adoption article, Linux has it's evangelists, all it needs now is users - check you Google analytics Jack and show us a print screen of the users visiting this (technical) site on a Linux box - I will gasp if it's >1.5%

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Is a Paid Service the end users expect to get what they pay for and be told how to use that Tarball or why they have to enter a Password to open the desktop. If they where simply told RTFM they have a perfect right to get upset and hot under the collar which for some reason they do not when they get a very similar answer from Microsoft Support. They feel that as they don't have to pay for the OS they chose to use they should get everything free and faster than they would if they bought Windows. The fact that the Linux Community does such a great job if anything shows just how marginal Microsoft Support actually is. ;) Programmers however should [b]NEVER[/b] be let loose with End Users they are the wrong type of person to deal with people who don't understand what it is that they are attempting to do, Col

Slayer_
Slayer_

If every question was ignored (well not every question), then you still wouldn't get ahead. It seems the only way to help insure that people give good answers is to pay them for it. (not a certainty, but a better likelihood)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

If 'stupid' questions in a support forum are annoying, leave them unanswered.

Slayer_
Slayer_

I am going to guess you have never done support desk work. Never had a user call you to say their mouse doesn't work since they cut the wire to the mouse that was restricting the movement. After thousands of seriously dumb questions, you just don't want to help anymore. Programming is a battle against the universe, the programmer keeps trying to make bigger better idiot proof programs, the universe keeps making bigger better idiots. So far, the universe is winning.

tbmay
tbmay

at the end of the day people get what they pay for. As a guy who ran a business where I solved technical problems for people, I can tell you one of the biggest frustrations I had was people expecting me to do their research for them for free. There are plenty of people who should just keep their mouths shut, but the person who gets angry because he doesn't get free answers is just as guilty of the thing escalating.

jqbecker
jqbecker

Is that not also a generalization? Put my statement on a bell curve, and sure, the fringe 5-10% either side will go for something else. But my experience in SMB-land is they want mainstream stuff, and will not listen to otherwise. Believe me, I hate QB a lot. But everyone has this mind-set that as bad as QB is, it is more or less stable, has good dial-up support, and everyone else has it. You have to find a way to smash the bell curve: I tried and failed. Smarter minds must come to the fore to provide the compelling story that I cannot.

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