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metadiscussion: Windows and Linux topics

By apotheon ·
I decided, on a whim, to compare the first page (first 25 threads) of the Linux discussion section with the first page (first 25 threads) of the Windows discussion section. I decided I'd divide each list into two sections: stuff where someone's begging for help with a problem, and stuff where discussion isn't a plea for aid.

I went into this with the hypothesis that, contrary to popular opinion about how "hard" Linux is, the number of pleas for help with Windows would outnumber those for Linux. I'll share my results with you, now.

WINDOWS: I discovered four non-help topics. One was about Microsoft response to piracy, one was about Microsoft claims that interoperability is a priority, one was a simple request for opinions on whether XP Pro or XP Home was better (for the record: go with Pro), one was an "open letter" to Bill Gates explaining how horrible Windows is, and one was just a general question about what NTFS is. The other 20 were pleas for help. I'll list the problems for you.
1. SP2 preventing network shares
2. executable files are "broken"
3. Office files won't open any longer
4. activation status was lost
5. need help with bootable thumb drives
6. help with remote desktop functionality
7. help with WinPE/OPK
8. lost product key
9. searching files locks up computer
10. virus problems
11. Windows not playing nice with keyboard
12. help roll back computer to initial state
13. scanner not working with Windows
14. computer crash
15. help restarting in DOS mode
16. won't detect hard drive
17. won't detect mouse
18. audio screwed up
19. lost user profile
20. print dialog not visible

BOTH: Yes, both. There was one topic in the Linux section that actually pertained to help with both Windows AND Linux. It was about setting up a computer as a dual-boot system. This reduces the first 25 Linux topics to 24. Such is life.

LINUX: I actually was intentionally harder on Linux than Windows. For instance, in Windows I put the "What is NTFS?" thread into the "not a problem" category, and with Linux I stuck the "What's the maximum file size for Linux filesystems?" question in the "pleas for help" category. I just decided to be really strict with Linux because I wanted to defuse claims of bias. Even doing that, however, I ended up with the 24 topics left after removing the "both" thread being divided evenly, with 12 each in the "problem" and "not problem" categories, as follows.

1. Novell business strategy
2-7. six threads asking what distro should be used (one was for a charity project)
8. a link to a funny video
9. antivirus software advice
10. TCO for Linux vs. commercial UNIX
11. Revolution OS movie discussion
12. a question about Solaris, which isn't even Linux (or, for that matter, open source at the time that thread started)

1. MS Access on Linux
2. setting up PHP
3. requested list of shell commands
4. removing software on Mandrake Linux
5. setting up mail server
6. terminal services help
7. fear of having been rooted (like a trojan on Windows, kinda)
8. question about user accounts
9. shell scripting help
10. question about filesystem characteristics
11. help wiping a Linux filesystem
12. advice for where to get help learning Linux

I can make all sorts of analytical statements about what this means, but I think you need to come to your own conclusions. It's not like my conclusions aren't going to be obvious, anyway, particularly since I'm posting this from my P4 2.4GHz Debian GNU/Linux system right now.

By the way, a recent uptime check showed 78 days without a restart. The last time this system was shut down was to move power cords. Can you say that about your Windows system? I know I can't say it about my Windows system (the computer I usually don't use), at the other end of the desk.

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UI Progression

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to metadiscussion: Windows a ...

The 'biggest' problems I've had with both OS's have been related to automatic configuration and hardware detection and the 'dumbing down' of administration.
Absolute time saver when they get it right, hideous when they get it wrong.

So I think the difference is down to the user community itself, as windows is far more prevalent, and enourages a much smaller personal level of knowledge. 90% of the technical questions posted here can be answered with Google, if they knew how to frame them and were capable of uderstanding the outline of the solution.

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google solutions

by apotheon In reply to UI Progression

There's probably about 50 times as much online documentation for Linux as there is for Windows. I'm not sure how that fits with what you said, in terms of its implications, but I think it's an interesting fact to ponder.

I'm not sure I agree that Windows requires less "personal knowledge", actually. Certainly, Linux users tend to pursue a greater level of knowledge of the OS as they use it, but I think that is in large part A) sort of a legacy effect, because it is only in the last couple years or so that Linux distributions with the same level of "user friendliness" as Windows (or even a greater level thereof) have started appearing, and B) because Linux users tend to want to do more with the OS than Windows users.

Linux users often want to personalize the OS more (because they have the option), include software written for other OSes (think of all the attempts to port Windows software via Wine and CrossoverOffice), set up firewalls from scratch, actually customize IDSes for their networks, and so on. With the vast availability of new types of software (new to new Linux users, that is), they tend to find themselves faced with more stuff they can do even on desktop systems: the GIMP is free and easily acquired, for instance, while Photoshop still costs hundreds of dollars, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

So: I guess what I'm saying is that the only reason Windows seems to require "less personal knowledge", these days, is that people don't try to do as much with it. If you think Linux requires "more personal knowledge" to be used for web surfing and word processing, you should try out MEPIS, Xandros, or Linspire some time. These distributions are actually far easier to use, in my opinion, than Windows.

Granted, my favorite distribution (Debian) generally requires more personal knowledge to use than Windows, but that's not really a fair comparison, either. It's designed more with the "power user" in mind: it has far greater flexibility of design in exchange for a greater need to know what you want to do with it.

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Indeed windows does require

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to google solutions

a lot of personal knowledge in my opinion as well. However the marketing strategy is as a turnkey solution.
Plug in and play as it were. As such they've tried to hide the complexity behind wizards etc. As I said great if they work. I don't have a problem, but I'm a twenty year professional.

I do, do a lot with with windows, what I need to address is how to do similar things with linux.

My next project is my own Linux box, I'm pretty much of a newbie at it. Set up some MySQL Servers for work, but the only desktop work I do is run emacs because I can never figure out VI.

The only distro I've used is Mandrake, the only linux work I've done is MySQL, PHP and a bit of Perl, so I definitely feel lacking in the environment as my experience in windows and other OS's seems to trip me up more often than it helps. Climbing on to this wagon quite late in the day, but it's a lot fun as I consider any day I don't learn something as a waste of oxygen.

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just an idea...

by Jaqui In reply to Indeed windows does requi ...

for a setup and configuration very similar to windows, Xandros.

issues are:
it is designed for basic home user only, not a "power" user. it will integrate with windows software easily, but doesn't always seamlessly install linux software.
( A friend just tried installing kdevelop and got errors on latest Xandros running kde, a neigbour installs ie and ms office on his Xandros system )

full distro that isn't as windows friendly, but is more user friendly than most is mandrake.
recommend waiting until 10.2, or using 10.0, but not 10.1 older than 10.0 is fine, just don't use the .1 releases, and 9.0 is not well done.

I've noticed over the years since starting with linux that mandrake is best with the .2 releases, the .0 and .1 are often buggy when first released, and sometimes even after they have gone on to next release.

but, mandrake has excellent wizards, which gives you working examples of configuration files for use in learning the server config systems for linux. it is the most user friendly full distro.

a full distro is a 3+ cd distro, with server software as well as desktop software.
the single cd distros are usually desktop only targeted. Red Hat, when they created Fedora Core, broke thier server distro away from thier end user distro.

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by ksac3 In reply to google solutions

i first installed winxp 1 1/2 yrs ago did'nt know anything about any os at all.
then i got spyware,viruses,trojans,popups that overwhelmed me .then i read ,hmmmm,Linux? i installed a dual boot setup sucessfully using "Linux for dummies".i now prefer MEPIS DEBIAN as it can do all the things windows can do and more.long live GNU/linux !!!

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The trouble with statistics is...

by jdmercha In reply to metadiscussion: Windows a ...

You can pick and choose what statistics you want in an effort to prove your point.

What time frame are you looking at? These same statisitcs might also be used to show that Windows has fewer problems than Linux. The 12 Linux problems might prove that 20% of Linux users have problems, whereas the 20 Windows problems might show that only 1% of Windows users have problems.

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WHAAA ????

by jdclyde In reply to The trouble with statisti ...

So because there are more people on windows there should be more people having problems? Just want to make sure I understand where you are coming from.

What would be interesting to find would be what percentage of TR members are windows vs linux, to test that idea. I find it unlikely that it would be more than a 3:1 ratio.

As many of the windows questions could have been answered quicker with a google search rather than a TR posting, what does that show for the level of the windows users? That they are quicker to run and ask someone to hand them a solution than to get the gratification of solving a problem on their own?

MANY of the "problems" for the linux weren't actually problems. Just asking peers their opinion on different flavors or other tasks. Not "how do I" but a "which do you like and why"?

Yes, stats can be twisted to back just about any story. But when you are even harder on your own point of view than the other side it goes a long way towards validating the sample and the person that put the sample together.

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by apotheon In reply to WHAAA ????

I appreciate the vote of confidence.

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There for you

by jdclyde In reply to Thanks.

I don't know half what I wish I did about linux because of work and family demands, but I do know enough about it to give it it's fair shake.

I have also read enough of your posts to know that while you are a linux advocate, you are not a rabid windows hater who is screaming to whoever will listen.

If I could get rid of a few of the hats I wear at work, I could get more serious about weening myself off Windows for my desktop. But when I am it for security, learning the cisco, all hardware/software support as well as new technology implementation it just doesn't leave as much time for "I would likes" as I would like.

Soon. Until then I will just hang around the outside of the discussions and learn what can be learned.

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They certainly can

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to The trouble with statisti ...

For instance you are less likely to write buggy software if you wear odd socks.
I have a lot of 'How do I' questions to answer in linux being a newbie. But I know I'm a newbie, I'll assume someone has had the problem before and I'll google an answer. I don't expect any OS to be a turnkey solution, and even if it was I'd want to make sure it was the solution I needed. This is not an attitude that's encouraged in the general windows community.

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