Linux

Time to compile the naughty list: Who isn't playing nice with Linux?

TechRepublic readers are taking organizations to task for not providing good accessibility and service to users of Linux and open-source browsers. Help us put together a complete "naughty list" for Santa.

So I might be a bit of a rabble-rouser, but since I brought up the example of Linux/open source discrimination in my last post, "You can't get there from here: Linux platform hurdles" and asked for your feedback, I keep seeing all sorts of complaints of the similarly disgruntled from all over the Internets/series of tubes.

From the discussion to my post, many of you brought up other instances of Linux discrimination. (Note to purists: I say Linux, but I am often using it as a term of convenience and including all things open source. Admittedly, I'm being squishy.) Here are just a few of the miscreants mentioned, who either clearly stated they don't support Linux or any browser other than Internet Explorer; whose services can be used, but not necessarily initiated by any other than a Windows system; or who are just generally difficult to get along with:

  • Citibank
  • AT&T
  • Illinois government sites
  • Verizon DSL
  • EarthLink DSL
  • Juno/NetZero
  • Juniper Networks
  • UPS CampusShip
  • Department of Defense systems (U.S.)

Now, the more important aspects of this discussion touched on the general laziness/dumbness of sites and their developers that are designed to work with ONLY one platform, whatever it may be. It's just that in the real world, the monopolizing platform does tend to be Microsoft/IE. Even if you can find a plugin or discover a work-around to make something work with Linux -- should you have to? Especially if it's supposed to be a public service? Of course, this brings up the ever-longed-for dream of Web standards -- an idea almost as popular as personal jet packs and flying-cars, and perhaps just as far off in the future.

Now my point, and I do have one (with apologies to Ellen DeGeneres), is that maybe it's time for us to compile a more robust list of corporations, sites, services, etc., that you feel need to get with the program and expand their accessibility/support to other platforms/browsers. And what better time to do it than just before the holidays when they can be put on Santa's Naughty List? That'll teach 'em. No Xbox for you!

Mull over those who you think need to be brought to account for their misdeeds (and share why exactly) and I'll publish a full list. Then we can vote on the top baddies. Maybe the new year will bring better behavior.

And just to confound you further, I'll leave you with this corker of a story from the Blog of Helios, who claims to know of someone fired from a project as a Linux consultant to work on Linux servers for using Linux/Firefox! (That requires an OMG, yes?) Sound weird? I thought so too, but you read and decide. The comments are pretty interesting too.

About

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

59 comments
sonicsteve
sonicsteve

I scanned through the list and didn't find this one. They are basically anti open source.

alzie
alzie

Sirius/XM Streaming Radio Music Giants

rwindsor
rwindsor

I can't believe that Microsoft has not headed the list.No MS updates without IE6 at least. Add The Australian Taxation department who won't let you file an online tax return without using WinXP

donbolle
donbolle

They require IE for their online registration and cookie sales entry.

tom.herrmann
tom.herrmann

I suppose we can all gripe about companies who don't support, and these are business decisions. Intuit is one of the most galling, however, since they even dropped Mac versions of Quickbooks. And they have a stranglehold on accounting software since most CPAs use it. The only reason I run Windows at all is for Quickbooks, it won't run under WINE either. Finally, they won't transfer a license if you get a used set of install CDs. Gotta make the switch to Gnucash eventually, and let my tax guy just deal with it.

Discusjon
Discusjon

My local ISP's, Shaw and Telus, dont cater for Linux users either... however, I think it's purely a business decision. Where should a company draw the line for support? What about BSD, or languages written in Cyrillic. Badly neglected. Think, however, about the staffing requirements companies would need in order to service all minorities. Not feasible. If you wish to use a fringe means of communication then you must be prepared to work at it. Be grateful that you do not have to use Morse code or flag Morse to balance your check book! I use Ubuntu Linux in one of my computers, and I believe that widespread commercial recognition and acceptance is just around the corner

notpublic
notpublic

Canon (try getting Linux drivers for a recent Canon printer -- look to HP for an example of getting Linux printer support right) Canon (try getting Linux drivers for a recent Canon scanner) Citibnk (CC account login interface locks up only on firefox and only under Linux, preventing login -- you must actually try typing a username at https://www.citicards.com/cards/wv/home.do to see what I'm talking about)

FXEF
FXEF

Just finished running the Acid3 browser test on my XP laptop and here is the results: Google Chrome (ver. 3.0.195.33) 100/100 Passed with a perfect score! Mozilla Firefox (ver. 3.5.5) 93/100 Not a perfect score.. but close. Microsoft Internet Explorer (ver. 8.0.6001.18702) 20/100 Fail Oops... not a good score!

mendtodd
mendtodd

Does not provide linux drivers for their printers.

bikingbill
bikingbill

Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) operates an export system through which all goods being exported must be registered. It runs only on IE on a Windows PC. Worse, it requires a locally-installed security certificate. Worse still, we are not allowed to have a second certificate on another PC as a backup. Even worse, the time frame for keying in and submitting the records is essentially the length of time it takes for the loaded container to drive to the port - often less than an hour for us.

sourcetx
sourcetx

Netflix continues to use streaming technology that is not supported on Linux for their online service. I had to go out and drop $100 dollars for a Roku set-top box to stream to my TV due to my media center running ubuntu.

pamindic
pamindic

for selling printers with claims they work with Linux, but drivers for which are neither maintained nor supported so that Linux forums are peppered with hapless buyers of Canon printers forlornly trying to get them to work. What a crud of a company.

pamindic
pamindic

Canon, for selling printers with claims they work with Linux, but drivers for which are neither maintained nor supported so that Linux forums are peppered with hapless buyers of Canon printers forlornly trying to get them to work. What a crud of a company.

AMusnikow
AMusnikow

For years I have used Citibank.com as a customer, for bill payment and transfers, on Firefox on Windows XP without a problem that I can remember. I have also used Citibank.com on Chrome since Chrome was brand new. Since June I have used Citibank.com on Firefox on Ubuntu Linux, both versions 9.4 and 9.10, without problem. Since the Chrome 4 beta was released for Linux, I have used Citibank.com on Chrome on Ubuntu without problem. I am not saying that others may not have had problems, but I have not.

vas2
vas2

Turbotax.com and HRBlock.com

xambassador
xambassador

Opera on a SuSE platform is my preference, but Hotmail rejects my password the first time around and then accepts it the second time (consistently). Further, when I log out, they say I can't, because I have blocked third-party cookies! Admittedly everything works as it should with Firefox, but I'm still annoyed.

jgeorge12001
jgeorge12001

I haven't tried Blackboard Vista Course Management Software with Linux, but that program complains when I try to use Firefox from Windows XP. Until they get with the program, I'm stuck with two browsers. Too bad as I really prefer the Firefox.

dbecker
dbecker

We've spent $700,000 and counting on something called "MyIT" which is a glorified time track system for some of the IT staff. I was curious, since all things here are IE. Not one of the other browsers works right [and some, not at all] with the application. Firefox, Opera, Safari all had problems. Try to expand, let's say, Journal Entries and, well, either you can't see the "+" for expanding it, or you try to click on it and it goes nowhere and does not expand. I've pointed this out to management without nary a word back, but, then, we don't care because we don't have to: Everything is Windows and IE as a standard. Except for the VM and Linux on the Developer's desktops. Your tax dollars at work.

joe.attaboy
joe.attaboy

You are completely off-base about Linux/FOSS use within the DOD. I worked as a civilian employee of the Department of the Navy in various IT positions (including management) from 1993 until 2006, and since 2006, I have worked as an IT contractor at DOD sites (my current one is that big five-sided building near the Washington Monument). Let me give you a brief history of my experiences: 1. In 1996, I compiled and installed Samba on an HP 9000 system (running HP-UX 10) to allow specific file directories to be shared with Windows NT serves and workstations on a Navy network. This gave access to critical text file to admin personnel *directly* from the Unix system. 2. At that same site, I set up Linux systems for various back-room utility, including network monitoring and file sharing. 3. At my next post (1998-2006), I ran Slackware Linux systems as web servers, firewalls (replacing crippled Windows boxes), mail gateways and DNS servers. I used Fedora for workstations, and experimented with a hot new distribution called Ubuntu. A major weather data system at that site used Red Hat on multiple Dell rack servers to perform massive data and graphics crunching...these were developed by a commercial company. All my internal websites (which I built and coded) ran on Apache, MySQL, Perl and PHP. 4. At my current site, I am transitioning a number of Windows-based web servers to Red Hat systems, transitioning from ASP-based sites with tons of static content to completely automated systems built in PHP and XML. A number of commercial applications are currently running in our back room on Linux boxes. None of this is trivial; this organization provides global support for critical DOD applications. Admittedly, the DOD is still heavily Windows-dependent, but the move to open source, while gradual, has picked up in pace in recent years and will continue in the future. Components of the DOD have established active open source portals, and all IT projects requiring new development are now takes with studying open source solutions. Change is hard in an organization as gigantic as the DOD. But they are making serious and forward strides.

Ross77
Ross77

Natwest in UK wont allow me on in Linux. What a set or merchant bankers...

techdude60
techdude60

No support for Firefox when trying to access account (except for webmail). Only IE and Opera (Mac only) can be used. When I have called them about adding support for additional browsers and Linux all I got was the usual "We're working on it" spiel. It appears they're going belly-up here so hopefully someone will take over and make it right.

ScarF
ScarF

After racial discrimination, religious discrimination, sexual discrimination, sexual-orientation discrimination, disabled people discrimination, smokers discrimination, and many others, now we have "Linux discrimination". What a sack of crap.

zclayton2
zclayton2

But I am annoyed by the number of companies that offer alternatives to MS products that ignore all other OSs than windows. Specifically Serrif comes to mind here. Great software, but only if you run MS.

parnote
parnote

Why would businesses get behind something that only alienates a portion of their potential market? Were I a business, I wouldn't want to alienate ANY portion of my potential market. An excellent case in point would be any site that uses Silverlight to present multimedia content. Or a site that requires a user to use a specific browser (IE), especially when that browser is the LEAST secure browser in the marketplace (IE). Using either (Silverlight or IE) exclusively limits your potential market, since those who do not use those "technologies" are not able to view/utilize/visit your site. What about those who use Macs? Linux? BSD? Do you not want their business and $$$? Admittedly, I am a Linux user. Virtually any business (web portal, hardware manufacturer, content provider, etc.) that makes an earnest effort to support Linux users will gain a faithful following of users. Granted, we may be a small fraction of potential customers, but why would you endorse platforms and technologies that alienate even a fraction of your potential market, when making earnest efforts to include them has so much more potential to develop a loyal following. It's only a matter of time before Microsoft goes the way of the monolithic, monopolistic Ma Bell. IMHO, anyone who hitches their ride to the Microsoft "star" are hitching their ride to a falling star, and will burn up in the atmosphere of discontent as Microsoft's falling star descends lower and lower, faster and faster, into the atmosphere during its decline. Microsoft has become too large, just as AT&T did before its divestiture, and just like AT&T, has become too out of touch and "too large to care" what its customers really want. Those failings are typically replaced by a "rah-rah-sis-boom-bah" fanboi attitude that focuses on hype and not reality.

Snak
Snak

We spend a lot of time making sure our site is browser agnostic. It's not easy, and the problem browser is ALWAYS Internet Explorer (pick a version - it's seperate code for each one). Any company that limits access to their services deserve all the bankruptcy they get. AND the laughter that ensues...

tim.clarke
tim.clarke

Investor custody systems; no support for non-IE browsers, the pages just don't work at all.

techr
techr

As soon as I find an app that prints online postage like stamps.com, I'm ditching windows completely in my business.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Note to purists: I say Linux, but I am often using it as a term of convenience and including all things open source." That may be your intent, but it looks like all you're addressing is web browsers. Are there other open source OS or apps affected by these companies? If there are, how? This is a good subject for discussion, but I wish you'd call it what it is: organizations that don't support open source browsers. Failing to support a browsers isn't indicative of a failure to support open source collectively or Linux individually. Many of these same companies that don't support non-IE browsers are probably running Linux servers on the back end. The terms 'Linux', 'open source', and 'Firefox' are NOT interchangeable. Using them this way contributes to the public's confusion on the subject.

rngunter
rngunter

Tell me about it.... I'm "fortunate" (loosely used)to have a M$ XP machine at home so I can stream Netflix but, I too am very disappointed Linux isn't supported. I even installed MS Silverlight (which is what Netflix uses) onto my Ubuntu machine to see if that would work... needless to say, i'm still pulling out the old XP whenever I want to stream Netflix.

PeterPac
PeterPac

Canon Europe and Japan have about every Canon Driver for Linux made. Of course the Japan site does not translate to English so you need a browser translator to see the drivers. Have no idea why Canon-USA does not support Linux drivers. I use AT&T with Firefox all the time and on openSUSE so do not know why they are on the list.

domirr
domirr

I know there are a few Canon products that are supported right off the bat (in my case, a flatbed scanner using XSANE) and also a few printers. Some of their ImageCLASS products, doubtless, are really a pain. Others worth a look are some of the Brother products (they have a link for Brother products plus they are also are automatically supported in various Linux distributions (I use principally Fedora and CentOS). HP, by far, is much better at support. My $0.02 worth plus a few battle scars and the t-shirt.

Ken Wolf
Ken Wolf

TaxAct, not the website (haven't tried the on-line filing), I use the installed software. No Linux version, only Windows. So I too have to keep an XP VM just to do my yearly taxes. Blah!

pmuhly
pmuhly

I prefer to keep my taxes on my computer and not file on-line. To do this, however, requires that I maintain a legacy copy of Windows. In fact, it must be at least XP+SP2. That really annoys me. If it were not for this, I would be completely Windows-free. I am doubly peeved by the fact that last year, Turbotax seems to have made it impossible even to use Wine or Crossover. Fortunately, I have a VMware installation with Windows on it. Still, how hard would it be for the folks at Turbotax to make their product run on Linux? After all, they have a Mac version. At least they could work to make it work under Wine.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't recall having any problems with my federal return using Firefox.

mrdt
mrdt

I had problems with Hotmail a few years ago when I made the switch to Linux - the best thing to do is dump it altogether and start using gmail or gmx (or whatever)- I've never had any problems since

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Don't expect to find Pepsi machines in the Atlanta City Hall, either.

jkiernan
jkiernan

The DoD mention was from one of my posts. It's not internal usage of Linux/FOSS that I identified. It's the public face via MyInvoice and WAWF. These systems only work with IE. https://wawf.eb.mil/setupmachine.htm

May1864
May1864

I have not had any problems with the dfas.mil myPay Web Site. I did have problems early with myTRICARE.com site as they would not even allow Firefox, but useragentswitcher got me by that, then they switched their site to Open Source and now everything works. I have also been on some DOD Navy sites without any problems.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

I have a family member in the DOD, and we've had conversations about how they're moving various systems to Linux.

ASBzone
ASBzone

Not every company can afford to produce and test applications that run on multiple platforms -- especially when they're not looking to give away the apps for free. Trying to sell apps to a market that generally expects those apps for free is quite counter productive. -ASB: http://xeesm.com/AndrewBaker

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Again, this isn't a Linux issue. It's a browser issue. I'm not defending these companies, but ALL users of non-IE browsers are affected. This includes those of us who run Windows but use non-IE browsers.

cgillioz
cgillioz

No way to download software or drivers without IE ...

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

Most of my problems with various websites are browser problems. Refusal to accept FF or Opera. Bite me, I say to those sites.

Slayer_
Slayer_

I read the blog and it looked like there was a lot of confusion. Now if this is truly the dawn of the web based world. Why would it matter what OS your running? Isn't the whole point of things being web based to be platform independent. I figured for sure what the blogger meant was browsers. And, the problem isn't limited to open source browser. So the entire entry is slanted and biased to the point where it is basically a tabloid. I hope the follow up is better.

Selena Frye
Selena Frye

My intent was actually to get feedback on other kinds of Linux resistance (say from consultants who find unreasonable refusals to implementing Linux servers or desktops, using proprietary software when a better Linux-based alternative is available, etc.,), but since browsers are the first and most annoying barrier people meet, it becomes primarily a conversation about browsers. I'll try to make it more clear in the follow-up. Thanks.

May1864
May1864

I found that using Firefox/Ubuntu Linux I was able to use H&R Blocks TaxCut without any problems. I doubt that their CD version would work with Linux. I am not going to spend the $$ to try it.

xambassador
xambassador

I actually gave Hotmail 'feedback' and threatened to switch to gmail, but that means coping with the task of changing my email address in numerous site-logins (craiglist, techrepublic, etc.).

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I used it not 20 minutes ago. No need to use IE Tab, it just works with Firefox 3.5.5.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm about to build several W7 drive images. In preparation, I spent a few hours yesterday using Firefox 3.5 downloading drivers from Dell's web site without any problem.

TNT
TNT

I was trying to download the beta of Office 2010 last night and it didn't mater how many times I clicked the download link, nothing happened. I switched from FF to IE and it worked like a charm. Okay, I understand MS makes IE but to make the download not work in FF is pretty lame. Shame-shame-shame! *waggles finger toward Redmond*

richmay
richmay

If I have a choice, I choose not to do business with them. Voting with dollars is more powerful than all the blogs and reasoning. There is no compelling security risk to being a multi-browser site so motivate them by just taking your business to another competitor.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I haven't decided if I'll actually install it, yet. Apparently my isp throttled my bandwidth sometime after 2 am, because when I got up at 6 I was still downloading. :( In the ISP's defense I was also downloading a 2 gig file, as well.