apatheon, I'll agree with you about the stability of Linux and the increasing availability of applications, but I must differ about getting help.
On-line help via forums or newsgroups is okay but my own experience with them has been frequently unsatisfactory. Despite pre-searching the site for answers and giving as detailed a desription as I can, I often receive condescending replies even in a "Newbie" forum. I have the impression that a large portion of the Linux community still enjoys running in "High Priest" mode.
Don't ask a question on line about integrating Linux with Windows. It's guaranteed one of the first three replies will tell you to ditch the Windows system. That isn't always an option.
Just as bad is the reply "There are a number of apps / distros that will do what you want. Just keep trying them until you find one you like. See ." I frankly don't know how to measure satisfaction with an operating system, or what benchmarks to use to compare them. I suspect the average end user doesn't either. I don't think the small office / home office user wants to keep loading OS and apps. One of the advantages of the Windows / Office defacto standard is that it gives a user a firm starting point. Hopefully OpenOffice will reach that point in the next couple of years.
There's some fee-based support available for larger businesses running Suse or RH, but there's also third-party fee-based support for MS, so that's a wash.
My limited experience with local user groups was terribly disappointing, as documented elsewhere in this topic. I'm sure not all user groups are the same, but I get the impression if you aren't in a major metropolitan area with a population of several hundred thousand, you aren't going to get much help that way.
Books? The local Barnes and Noble, Book-A-Million, and Waldenbooks all stock over three times as many books for Windows OSs and apps than for Linux. Yes, there's more available on the web, but when I'm looking for a printed reference, I like to flip through several before making a decision. (Unlike an OS, I know what I like in a book.)
MAN pages? Info? New users don't want to have to take a tutorial on how to use a help system. Has anyone written a GUI-based help system (for the OS, not the apps)? One of the few flaws my ignorant self sees with the open source model is that nobody wants to write clear, consise, on-line documentation aimed at an end user with no previous Linux experience. Windows help may not be everything it could be, and maybe I've just learned how to navigate it over the years, but I feel it's easier than what's offered in the distros I've tried.
Have I missed any resources? The search for quality help out here in the sticks is one of the reasons my progress with Linux is so slow and my interest level waxes and wanes.
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