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Year of the Linux Distro

By Dumphrey ·
Well, another year has come and gone, and Linux is still not a household name. Great strides have been made by many companies to put Linux in the hands of the masses, (Everex and Dell), but there is a long way to go.
Historically, Linux has been viewed as too "technical" for the average user, and "nothing will run on it".
Of these two "faults" only one can be laid at the feet of the Linux Gods, that being that "Linux is to technical". And, I would say this is no longer true. It is, in my opinion, less work to set up a Linux workstation (on bare metal) for office tasks then a Windows machine, and Linux window managers and desktops are giving a "windows-like" feel (though to be honest, was Mac not the first commercial GUI?).
All that being said, do you think Linux Distros are going overboard in their attempt to "dumb down" Linux in an attempt to reach the ?average? user? Should Linux remain ?pure? and in the hands of ?geeks??
Note: Please limit this to Linux Distros, this is not a Linux/Windows whine fest =\

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Let me rephrase

by Dumphrey In reply to No, There are plenty of ...

I get irritated by the horde of stuff that gets installed by default with every distro, with no ability to disable before or durring the install. Examples, compriz/fusion/beryl, hp printing services, bittorrent, bluetooth... and several more but they are not biggies. My point is that I should be asked if I want this stuff, not have it on by default. I should have better control over the package selection, install process if I want. I see the need to this stuff for many people, it prevents them saying "linux is broken on my laptop... Linux does not support my printer..." BUT Linux should not ignore the above average user who has strict requirements for their box. The Ubuntu install process is dead easy, and completely useless for anything more advanced then installing a pre-set system. Even Debian allows LVM and encrypted systems in their install, and this is a distro that has a GUI installer only as an option (and to be fair, I have found the gui to be buggy, even if its just prettying up a decent "text" installer)....
For me, this kind of install procedure is good for new to linux users, but horrid for stuck in our ways users. I guess I should have asked the question: "Do you think Linux is being Dumbed DOwn, and if so how? If not, what is the "Line THEY Should Not Cross" for you?

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I agree that

by The Scummy One In reply to Let me rephrase

the installer should ask what needs to be installed, not just to throw everything on there that is avail.
I think that is SUSE's biggest problem, it is full of un-needed and/or unwanted parts. There are tools on there that I will likely never use, and when I do, I will likely need to update them anyway. If I had a choice during install, many things would not have needed to install.

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In all honesty

by Dumphrey In reply to I agree that

I would be happy with an uninstall that worked... Ever tried to uninstall Gnome Games or Kde Games? They come out in one large chunk, and take tons of stuff with them... Ick.

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I don't get where you're coming from at all.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Let me rephrase

You make it sound like Linux is one big monolithic object like Windows.

I can understand your dislike for distributions aimed at neophytes (like me) that do a lot of hand-holding and "installation by default". But why do you want to deprive me of one of those if it's what I want? Would you rather I continued to run an unsecured Windows system, waiting for someone to turn me into a spambot? Would you prefer my first exposure on a desktop to Linux is a CLI-only installation, interface, and apps that intimidate me so much I'm reaching for my Vista restore CD within 15 minutes?

Incidentally, the two Fedora installs I attempted (6 & 7?) both allowed me as much control as I wanted over applications. Maybe they loaded more video drivers than I needed, but I couldn't tell. I hate having to identify components so I can get the right drivers. The only way I know how to do it in preparation for a Linux install is to load Windows first and see what Hardware Mangler says is on board. So I'd much rather it load them all and use the one needed than prompt me for what to load, and I sure as **** don't know yet how install one for myself. Load 'em all; drive space is cheap. As a newbie screwing with drivers is too much work for not enough reward.

Unlike a bloated Windows installation, you have other distribution options. Fedora, Ubuntu, SUSE don't exist at the expense of other distributions. If you don't like what I like, run DSL, Puppy, roll your own, or whatever. If you're stuck in your ways, stick with the distro you like; it's not going to go away just because yet another distro pops up. Unlike Windows upgrades, no one is trying to make you switch.

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Hmm

by Dumphrey In reply to I don't get where you're ...

I need to tone down.
"I can understand your dislike for distributions aimed at neophytes (like me) that do a lot of hand-holding and "installation by default". "

Its not that I dislike easy distros, on the contrary, what I dislike is the lack of control durring the install process. Example. I love Debian, but when you install Gnome in Debian, you get a monolithic package, unlike the Gentoo builds, which range from spartan to monolithic (choice). But, I just do not have the patients to install Gentoo anymore(pain in the @$$). Most of my complaints are not more then trivial to fix once the distro is installed, except for some file system options in Ubuntu (LVM, McryptFS, which need to be "finagled" at install time). The trend in installs is going more towards "5 clicks and done," which is fine, but please leave me some way to customize, and at MINIMUM ask me if I want beryl/compriz installed/enabled by default. Sigh. Its as bad as google toolbar. (Don't ask). Windows does not have the sheer number of options as a Linux install, as all of the Windows "options" are third party products and drivers (MS is trying to change that though, (Looking at you Media Center XP, Vista Ultimate). And while install routines do let you customize the Desktop installs, there is still something to be desired in the way they tie in to other bits.
Sometimes their choices are "more complete" then you may want.

" As a newbie screwing with drivers is too much work for not enough reward."

I completely agree. I hate driver issues, and lets be honest, a driver is only a few bits of code. Even "old" hard drives are 40+Gb now.
My concern is not with drivers, that seems to be a Jaqui thing but with services enabled at boot by default. Bluetooth, bittorrent, cups, hplip...
Really my complaint is that I have to do some minor work to secure my box... thats it really. Each of those enabled services not being used is an open source of attack, and consumes resources (even if tiny) while doing nothing for me. Its much like on Windows, you disable every service you can for security. And even XP does not come with bittorrent by default (im looking at you Debian/Ubuntu).

"it's not going to go away just because yet another distro pops up. Unlike Windows upgrades, no one is trying to make you switch."

No they won't go away, but the character is changing. And not all of it for the good. The trend is there to make Linux easy. Fine. But that ALWAYS means a compromise in security. IUt can be easy, it can be secure, but it can not be both (maybe this will change one day).

Mostly though, Im just dern grumpy. And was hoping to get some lively debate going here with some loaded terms. So take me witha grain of salt. Mostly it was just me moaning in much the same way everyone complains about their jobs. They aren't really unhappy, they (we/I) just like to bit*h.

"Bloated" or not, linux still runs as well as XP or better on the same hardware, and much, much faster then Vista (in my experiences). And even "Dumbed Down" it is a superior platform to Windows (In my opinion). And honestly, some dumbing down was required, to avoid those messy xfree configs and driver issues. I use XP and Ubuntu daily, and hade several web proxies built on Debian that i check out weekly or so. I look into other distros a smuch as I can, usually at least one a month, and try to give them a few weeks of use at home.
I would be happy to see everyone use linux, or at least try linux. I have had my dad on ubuntu for 2 years now. He loves it. After years and years of Windows, he is actually getting interested in computers as fun, not just work. He has even rebuilt his own computer, which he uses daily now :)
And on that note, I will take some more asprin, triple check our spam filter (crashed 2 times today), and drive out to get an estiamte on replacing the trunk lid, rear bumper, and driverside rear quarter panel and lenses.

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Red Hat 7.2 installer

by j-mart In reply to I don't get where you're ...

In my opinion Installer for red hat 7.2 is better than Fedora 8. You had more control over how you set up system, you had "default" choices or you could go through the options presented and install a system more as you wanted to. Even with the more hands on approach it was not an overly daunting process even for someone with limited Linux experience. If you had basic literacy skills you would have no problem.

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I will have to

by Dumphrey In reply to Red Hat 7.2 installer

dig out my 7.2 disks, but I remember that as well. I guess that is part of what I am missing in the current releases.

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There will always be different distributions and different goals

by Neon Samurai In reply to Year of the Linux Distro

There will always be a distribution for the technophiles and a distribution for the "it's too hard" croud. This is something everyone seems to overlook. Don't like PCLinuxOS; try Mandriva proper. Don't like Mandriva; try Redhat. Don't like Ubuntu; try Debian proper. If Redhat and Debian are too dumb down; try Slackware or go all out and try Gentoo.

While some distros will continue to get dumbed down, I'm confident that there will always be other distros for the server, techie and any other developer itch.

The real loss is the continued missconception that Linux based OS are all the same OS; "Linux doesn't do XYZ for me" - No, one of many different Linux based OS distributions doesn't do something for you.. try another one.

I think that continues to be more of a concern than a few distributions dumbing themselves down. Because of that, one bad distribution (and there are many just as there are good ones) represents the entire greater collection of non-Windows software turning users back too the smaller but mroe popular library of the Windows software world.

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I think its interesting

by Dumphrey In reply to There will always be diff ...

that you said,
"The real loss is the continued missconception that Linux based OS are all the same OS; "Linux doesn't do XYZ for me"
I guess this mindset haunts us all really. I know it does me to a good extent.

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I constantly run into people that tell me "linux doesn't work"

by Neon Samurai In reply to I think its interesting

They'll tell me how some wifi card or some other bit of hardware didn't work under one distribution so all distributions must be crap since, after all, Linux is all the same (in there minds).

This is why I'm tryign to use distribution names or, at minimum, the conveluted "Linux based OS" description. At least with distribution names, you can rely on the branding to help differentiate one OS that happens to have a Linux kernel from another OS that happens to also have a Linux kernel.

I guess it's just another symptom of our spoonfed "Math is hard" society where anything worth working at, isn't worth doing.

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