Enthusiasm Lost For Linux On The Desktop


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+Majesticmerc

I understand that this is probably going to be a controversial topic, but I hope it will be a productive one. Please let's not turn this into any kind of religious war.

 


 

So, I'm bailing on my Linux desktop install.

 

I find it quite upsetting that it's come to this, because I'm an avid supporter of the Linux desktop, but I'm sick to the teeth of fighting with the graphical UI components of Linux. I've been running XFCE + Compton as my Desktop environment in Linux for three years now, and it's a combination that's worked very well for me until lately. So much so, in fact, that for the majority of that time, Linux has been my primary desktop, strictly only booting into Windows for gaming. I even have Steam installed on Linux for some games.

 

Nvidia Sucks

 

However, Nvidia updated their graphics drivers this year, and introduced this bug:

Nvidia has, as far as I can tell, refused to acknowledge this bug, and so the issue persists to this day. This isn't a minor bug either, the screen corruption that occurs can render a lot of applications unusable, and the workarounds are unacceptable (disabling V-Sync on the desktop is not a solution). The thing that probably annoys me more is that Nvidia are supposed to be the good one. ATI driver support sucks on Linux (although my understanding is that they're slowly turning that around), so I picked Nvidia for it's "better Linux support". I feel cheated.

Nouveau Sucks (a.k.a. Nvidia Sucks Part II)

 

In the wake of Nvidia's crappy drivers, I attempted to fall back on the FOSS Nouveau driver, which promptly got uninstalled due to this bug:

I appreciate the work that the Nouveau guys do, and I know that they have tried very hard to get hold of proper Nvidia documentation, but to mostly no avail. Again, I believe Nvidia are to blame for this, sharing documentation would benefit everyone, and at least get some decent open source drivers working correctly.

X Server Sucks

I think this one is fairly self explanatory. The X server system is so unbelievably archaic in design that it desperately needs replacing. Wayland intends to do exactly this, but in three years, we still don't having any meaningful wide support for it, so we're mostly still stuck with X. For basic use cases, X Server does a perfectly fine job, but it still concerns me that in 2014 we still don't have decent multi-monitor support. It mostly works, but it seems inevitable that eventually I'll end up screwing around with various settings just to get two monitors to exist peacefully side by side. This sort of stuff works out of the box on Windows, why can't we have the same thing on Linux? Maybe it's a driver thing again, I don't know.

 

Lots Of Other Things Suck

 

Among which:

  • Gnome, even 14 releases after Gnome 3.0, still sucks in it's default configuration. The idea that you have to open a "start screen" in order to switch to a non-visible Window is plain stupid. Tabletification of UI's has to stop for desktop users. I'm convinced that the people that enjoy using Gnome are suffering some kind of Stockholm Syndrome.
  • KDE is still ugly. KDE 5 looks very promising, but it's still not complete yet.
  • Games opening on random monitors in multi-monitor configurations is still an issue.
  • Flash on Linux still sucks (a.k.a. Adobe sucks).

 

It really is a shame that this is the case, because all of my issues at present are user interface related. For the mostpart, I much prefer the "Linux way". The filesystem makes more sense to me, the terminal is much more powerful than the Windows command prompt (not moreso than Powershell, but to me it makes more sense). Simple things like the ability to SSH onto the box, and more complex things like set up a simple FTP server, manage printers, manage VPNs, develop, compile code, all make more sense to me in Linux; and frankly, I like having an OS that I built myself (from large building blocks). It's a hobby, something that I can tinker with, but if I can't navigate a UI without coming across significant usability issues that are out of my control, what's the point?

 

My Linux partitions aren't going anywhere, but I'm saddened to say that I'm setting my UEFI default boot back to Windows until things get sorted.

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francescob

ITT: everybody will have plenty of things to hate about their OS, whatever it is. The neighbor's grass is always greener.

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Colin-uk

Honestly I think a major reason for this is because windows no longer sucks (mostly).

 

"Linux on the desktop" (Ubuntu especially) became popular when XP had been out for a long time and Microsoft were being slow about creating a new OS. this led to a lot of users becoming fed up and decided that creating their own OS (with blackjack and hookers) was the way to go. (This is also partly why Firefox gained a lot of ground over MS because they were slow at releasing updates to IE6 too.)

 

now that Microsoft are a lot more frequent with their OS updates, Linux is no longer needed as a desktop OS by the majority. 

 

Before XP, there was barely any drive by the Linux community to get "Linux on the desktop" because it was mostly used by geeks who knew what they were doing.

 

It'll be interesting to see how long this thread lasts :p 

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+Majesticmerc

Honestly I think a major reason for this is because windows no longer sucks (mostly).

 

"Linux on the desktop" (Ubuntu especially) became popular when XP had been out for a long time and Microsoft were being slow about creating a new OS. this led to a lot of users becoming fed up and decided that creating their own OS (with blackjack and hookers) was the way to go. (This is also partly why Firefox gained a lot of ground over MS because they were slow at releasing updates to IE6 too.)

 

now that Microsoft are a lot more frequent with their OS updates, Linux is no longer needed as a desktop OS by the majority. 

 

Before XP, there was barely any drive by the Linux community to get "Linux on the desktop" because it was mostly used by geeks who knew what they were doing.

 

It'll be interesting to see how long this thread lasts :p

 

The thing that annoys me the most is that the majority of the issues that I have at present are down to proprietary stuff like the Nvidia drivers. The other stuff is mostly okay, but being treated as a second class citizen by the likes of Nvidia, ATI, etc is hurting desktop Linux. Which is a shame because I much prefer it when it works.

 

I mean, this isn't to say that Windows doesn't have it's fair share of problems. I'm not going to go into them here, but the fact that I have to choose between vertical sync and a functioning desktop on Linux is basically a show stopper. There's so much stuff on the Horizon for Linux (Wayland, KDE5, SteamOS) that has so much potential, but it just isn't arriving quick enough of late :(.

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+Frank B.

I've had the same revelation like the OP about 15 years ago. 

 

Back in the late 1990s I used to be one of those who thought Linux was the bee's nipples, and Windows sucked. Which to be fair it did back then - remember Windows 98 or Windows ME?

 

Then Windows 2000 was released and it didn't suck. On the contrary. It worked just fine, all the apps I needed worked fine, drivers weren't an issue anymore. The latter two were definitely an issue on Linux, and still are to this day. As an example: Run Firefox on Linux and on Windows on the same hardware. See the latter run circles around the former in terms of performance.

 

The Linux community had its chance on the desktop. They blew it by producing sub-par desktop experiences as well as not getting the applications up to snuff. 

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Max Norris

"Linux on the desktop" (Ubuntu especially) became popular when XP had been out for a long time and Microsoft were being slow about creating a new OS.

That's pretty much my biggest stretch of "Linux on the Desktop", all thanks to XP, hated it, crash-happy inefficient POS. Nowadays I still use *Nix daily, but it's a server role, got a bunch of machines mostly running a mix of BSD and Linux. Desktop still hasn't wowed me enough to make me want to switch my primary desktop over, doesn't really add anything that I don't already have/need.. out of the box Windows is kinda "meh" but once you add onto it it's a whole different ballgame. (Terminal, SSH server, etc etc, whatever desktop changes that do it for you, etc.)

I personally wouldn't call KDE ugly though.. out of the box maybe (KDE 4.. 5's actually looking nice), but *shrug* most every OS is fugly out of the box anyway, tweak it up and it's pretty spiffy looking. If I did switch back full time, it would be KDE, as far as I'm concerned it's the only real complete desktop out there that isn't plagued with stupidification, inane regressions in usability, or just too lightweight to be worth while. My only complaint would be the whole "QT vs GTK" thing, kinda tricky to get them to look nice together if you're into non-default looks, but that's a minor complaint, overall very usable.

Zero argument about what was said about Gnome though, it's like they've gone out of their way to make it as dumbed down as possible. Unity's not much better, especially with the launcher, who thought it was a good idea to require even more clicking to use the thing? Seems like they make each version less customizable as well.

Never had much luck getting dual monitors to play nice either, kind of a crapshoot, at least with my AMD stuff, haven't used nVidia in quite a few years now.

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123456789A

I don't really use Linux "desktop" as much as I use the command line.

 

Slackware Linux

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+Majesticmerc

That's pretty much my biggest stretch of "Linux on the Desktop", all thanks to XP, hated it, crash-happy inefficient POS. Nowadays I still use *Nix daily, but it's a server role, got a bunch of machines mostly running a mix of BSD and Linux. Desktop still hasn't wowed me enough to make me want to switch my primary desktop over, doesn't really add anything that I don't already have/need.. out of the box Windows is kinda "meh" but once you add onto it it's a whole different ballgame. (Terminal, SSH server, etc etc, whatever desktop changes that do it for you, etc.)

I personally wouldn't call KDE ugly though.. out of the box maybe (KDE 4.. 5's actually looking nice), but *shrug* most every OS is fugly out of the box anyway, tweak it up and it's pretty spiffy looking. If I did switch back full time, it would be KDE, as far as I'm concerned it's the only real complete desktop out there that isn't plagued with stupidification, inane regressions in usability, or just too lightweight to be worth while.

Zero argument about what was said about Gnome though, it's like they've gone out of their way to make it as dumbed down as possible. Unity's not much better, especially with the launcher, who thought it was a good idea to require even more clicking to use the thing? Seems like they make each version less customizable as well.

This is sort of my position as well at the minute. I still can't find a terminal on Windows that I can get on with, whether it be the actual console application itself (e.g. cmd.exe, Console2, etc) or the shell (e.g. Cygwin, Powershell), and a lot of the stuff I add to Windows makes it "almost as good as Linux, but not quite". Modern apps and charms bar aside though, Windows has the benefit of much better desktop UI (at least in my opinion).

I'll be more than happy to switch back to a Linux desktop full time, I feel more comfortable around Linux frankly, but the modernized UI's and Wayland need to be finished proper first. KDE5 is the one I'm looking at most closely, and when it drops I'm hopeful that I'll be able to switch back. Nvidia also needs to start acknowledging it's issues on Linux too. I'd be happy to continue using XFCE in it's current state, but driver bugs are holding me back, and it's all Nvidia's fault :(

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Mindovermaster

Give it time... Wayland will be out soon enough, GFX drivers, nvidia/amd, will come to their senses one day. You ever try open-source over proprietary?

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Prince Charming

I've had the same revelation like the OP about 15 years ago. 

 

Back in the late 1990s I used to be one of those who thought Linux was the bee's nipples, and Windows sucked. Which to be fair it did back then - remember Windows 98 or Windows ME?

 

Then Windows 2000 was released and it didn't suck. On the contrary. It worked just fine, all the apps I needed worked fine, drivers weren't an issue anymore. The latter two were definitely an issue on Linux, and still are to this day. As an example: Run Firefox on Linux and on Windows on the same hardware. See the latter run circles around the former in terms of performance.

 

The Linux community had its chance on the desktop. They blew it by producing sub-par desktop experiences as well as not getting the applications up to snuff. 

 

This is basically the crux of it. Warning; huge generalisations and stereotyping abound. Still, I'm going somewhere. Hold my hand;

 

The Linux community (herein 'Linux' as if it were hivemind) has been mindlessly pursuing the goal of Linux on the Desktop/Linux accessibility so that even your grandmother who doesn't know what a computer is can use it. This is a lofty, and quite a noble goal - a free operating system the world can actually use sounds great on paper. Kind of like communism. The problem is, the question needs to be asked and answers as to whether the Average User who is otherwise perfectly happy buying a PC/Mac actually wants Linux. It's not on the Average User's radar, and frankly, free just isn't that much of an attraction, as one doesn't (usually...) pay boxed cost for Windows/OS X, one buys a device.

 

So Linux has come leaps and bounds in terms of actual usability, visual attractiveness, software/file compatibility, and drivers. It's fairly good these days. Problem; it's still by neckbeards, for neckbeards (you were warned). Linux needs to stop trying to shy away from this and just embrace it as what it is; significant amount of effort is being wasted trying to please a demographic that just doesn't give a flying ######. Focusing on the power user, enthusiast (to say nothing of embedded/mobile/server) market instead of pursuing a pointless goal is the way to go here.

 

Back in 98/ME days, Windows was fairly rubbish. Linux was fugly, but at the time arguably superior from various technical and architectural aspects; certainly from a stability perspective. Linux-people (self associated or labelled as such, it doesn't really matter) are kind of stuck in these glory days and need to accept a simple truth; Windows isn't just OK these days, it's actually very good. Microsoft has absolute buckets of cash and world-beating engineering talent, which is not something that's easy to compete with.Bigger problem; from a consumer perspective it [Windows] ticks far more boxes than the nearest alternative. It's nice to aim high, but a reality check would probably result in better Linux for everybody.

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adrynalyne

Give it time... Wayland will be out soon enough, GFX drivers, nvidia/amd, will come to their senses one day. You ever try open-source over proprietary?

First post says he did.

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Mindovermaster

First post says he did.

 

Oh, must've missed that, oh well...

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+Majesticmerc

Give it time... Wayland will be out soon enough, GFX drivers, nvidia/amd, will come to their senses one day.

Here's hoping :)

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JustGeorge

Linux's freedom of choice is its greatest weakness. Too much chaos. Someone working on a FOSS project wakes up in a bad mood, they throw their hands up and say Fork it! All it does it divide resources and create more chaos.

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francescob

Honestly I think a major reason for this is because windows no longer sucks (mostly).

I think it's more because the only linux distro that was getting an enormous traction and having a true chance to be a Windows replacement (Ubuntu) went south with all that hybrid OSX-tablet-whateveritis nightmare of an UI. Once that happened and all the previous combined efforts were thrown away everything went back to the usual chaotic state and the masses no longer cared.

 

nvidia/amd, will come to their senses one day.

I still see Windows laptops where you can't upgrade the drivers or everything black-screens or BSODs, not to mention all the rendering issues browsers have on Windows due to the horrible AMD/Intel(and to some extent also Nvidia) drivers, what hope does an OS with a fraction of the market have? Microsoft went as far as offering complete software 3D acceleration on Win7 (that works perfectly and is pretty damn fast providing it can get access to the framebuffer), I think that says it all on how much "faith" they have on current graphic drivers.

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Max Norris

not to mention all the rendering issues browsers have on Windows due to the horrible AMD/Intel(and to some extent also Nvidia) drivers

Hrm? Haven't had an issue with AMD drivers in years, and on that rare occasion it does crash, it gracefully recovers without bringing anything down. Can't comment on Intel's.
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remixedcat

Umm my hubby has a radeon card and it crashes all the time the draivers are so unstable he getting an nvidia soon. 5 days till he'd done with that crap. nothing but crashes and stuff.

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francescob

Hrm? Haven't had an issue with AMD drivers in years, and on that rare occasion it does crash, it gracefully recovers without bringing anything down. Can't comment on Intel's.

I said rendering issues, not crashes. See all the endless amounts of recent Firefox updates.

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Max Norris

I said rendering issues, not crashes. See all the endless amounts of recent Firefox updates.

Sorry, still not seeing it, and I use Firefox daily on my AMD systems. Not saying it doesn't exist as no two systems will be identical, but..

As far as the drivers themselves, nothing fancy just using the latest from AMD. Zero issues and games like a beast. Last time I've had problems with back in the XP days and then a bit later when I experimented with a beta. If we want to get anecotdal, I've had nothing but problems with AMD under Linux though, especially when they dropped support for some of my older systems and the open source versions were still fairly lacking in speed.

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francescob

Sorry, still not seeing it, and I use Firefox daily on my AMD systems. Not saying it doesn't exist as no two systems will be identical, but..

Different series have different drivers, I had nothing but problems with my 4XXX series card. They wouldn't go as fas as releasing tons of out-of-band updates if those weren't pretty severe widespread issues. I had the blurry text problem for months before they fixed it, the recent updates were due to much worse rendering bugs though, luckily now they used a blacklist to exclude the cards with broken drivers.

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remixedcat

Hubby has to use opera till the new nvidia card comes in 5 days. firefox and chrome have a lot of crashes and problems with rendering. also kerbeal space program has issues

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Max Norris

Different series have different drivers, I had nothing but problems with my 4XXX series card.

*Shrug* my daughter's 4890 runs like a champ, but again, different systems and all that.
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remixedcat

well hubby has a radeon 260 and it sucks. it's not even good enough for an HTPC

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+Red King

Different series have different drivers, I had nothing but problems with my 4XXX series card. They wouldn't go as fas as releasing tons of out-of-band updates if those weren't pretty severe widespread issues. I had the blurry text problem for months before they fixed it, the recent updates were due to much worse rendering bugs though, luckily now they used a blacklist to exclude the cards with broken drivers.

This is a reason to avoid AMD - not Microsoft.
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Colin-uk

The thing that annoys me the most is that the majority of the issues that I have at present are down to proprietary stuff like the Nvidia drivers. The other stuff is mostly okay, but being treated as a second class citizen by the likes of Nvidia, ATI, etc is hurting desktop Linux. Which is a shame because I much prefer it when it works.

 

I mean, this isn't to say that Windows doesn't have it's fair share of problems. I'm not going to go into them here, but the fact that I have to choose between vertical sync and a functioning desktop on Linux is basically a show stopper. There's so much stuff on the Horizon for Linux (Wayland, KDE5, SteamOS) that has so much potential, but it just isn't arriving quick enough of late :(.

 

Agreed, drivers used to be a huge problem in earlier windows version. Spending countless hours trying to fix IRQ conflicts was always a little frustrating. 

 

Microsoft fixing this is what pushed windows into the success it is today. Linux however, never got over that hump, there just wasn't enough demand or engineering resources to fix this for all of the distro's and hardware out there, and like you say, there's even less enthusiasm now so I doubt it's going to get fixed any time soon, which is unfortunate. 

 

The Linux community had its chance on the desktop. They blew it by producing sub-par desktop experiences as well as not getting the applications up to snuff. 

 

Most definitely, windows may have had its share of sub-par desktops /apps in the past but Microsoft had the resources to improve that and still does. 

 

I think it's more because the only linux distro that was getting an enormous traction and having a true chance to be a Windows replacement (Ubuntu) went south with all that hybrid OSX-tablet-whateveritis nightmare of an UI. Once that happened and all the previous combined efforts were thrown away everything went back to the usual chaotic state and the masses no longer cared.

 

I still see Windows laptops where you can't upgrade the drivers or everything black-screens or BSODs, not to mention all the rendering issues browsers have on Windows due to the horrible AMD/Intel(and to some extent also Nvidia) drivers, what hope does an OS with a fraction of the market have? Microsoft went as far as offering complete software 3D acceleration on Win7 (that works perfectly and is pretty damn fast providing it can get access to the framebuffer), I think that says it all on how much "faith" they have on current graphic drivers.

 

True, it's a shame that companies dont want to spend the resources fixing their drivers in Linux, it could be a good operating system. 

 

 

For now, drivers problems and usability will always mean that windows will be ahead. 

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