linux first impressions


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Quethrosar

i installed debian, mandrake, and pclinux so far on virtual pc 2004. debian was too troublesome complaining about losing hd interrupts every 5 seconds. manadrake and pclinux installed fine. my useability impressions of linux is low. I like being able to just run a program and have it installed and run correctly. I downloaded firefox on the mandrake box and didn't see setup create a start menu item for it. Many of the open source software programs are of low quality. menu bars half hidden, owner drawn menus not vertically straight (fonts unaligned) are just a few of the visual problems i've seen.

I will continue to play with mandrake but i see no way for it to be used over windows. The open office suite doesn't compare to office 2003 in my honest opinion. lack of activex is very annoying. and even firefox on linux displays things wrong compared to firefox on windows for website layouts.

I'm goin to continue checkin into mandrake more to learn it better but so far i'm not impressed.

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Jelly2003

Linux usually runs really crappy on Virtual PC, Virtual PC is now owned by MS and I suppose MS will optimise it to run Windows first and foremost.

I just downloaded Fedora Core 2 a couple of days ago, and installed it on Virtual PC. It ran really slow, and crashed all the time. I did a proper install last night and boy was I supprised. It runs really well and really fast.

Debian - If you are Linux noob I definatley do NOT recommend installing, as its a highly complecated distro and you need prior Linux experience to make the most of it.

Mandrake - good for beginners but its poorly presented IMO, and it's primary desktop is KDE.

PCLinux - havent tried it, so i cant judge it.

Fedora Core 2 - Excelent distro, great package (software) management, good configuration tools, and it's well presented from boot up to shut down. It also has a great version of Gnome.

I can definatley say that Fedora Core 2 is excelent, runs really well (aside frim a minor network issue that I had, which is now resolved).

IMO you will not get a good Linux experience until you install it onto your PC (instead of Virtual PC).

I suggest that you try Fedora Core 2, its really well presented, and well worth checking out.

Go to http://fedora.redhat.com/ for more info on Fedora.

But judging an operating system via an emulator is not a good idea, unless you have tried it on a real PC.

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Fred Derf
Debian - If you are Linux noob I definatley do NOT recommend installing, as its a highly complecated distro and you need prior Linux experience to make the most of it.

Installing Knoppix to your hard drive is an easy way to get to Debian.

Debian's apt-get repositories link to over 17,000 packages which makes it easy to add and remove software or just to keep your system up to date.

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Quethrosar

i'm not saying the operating system isn't good. I haven't played with it enough to know it's ins and outs yet, hell i'm still learning the file system layout, but from what i've seen it's good for tech savy people or people just wanting to have a free word processor or something. I am not impressed with alot of the software that runs on the os though. I still don't trust giving out passwords and things to programs such as GAIM that could compromise my whole MSN account security. I have also seen alot of visual anomolies as i mentioned above with programs written for linux. I am even surprised firefox touted as the cross platform browser doesn't display pages consistent between windows and linux. While i was in linux i wrote a little c program to test out the development environment that comes with it and was that convoluted, had to build the project 4 times just to get the debugger to find the executable. I am biased though since i like Microsoft software mainly because you don't have to mess with anything to make it work, and also it integrates together the best.

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+virtorio

If conformity and consistence is for you, then Linux is not. The GUI and GUI applications are, and have always been Z-grade in quality (with very few exceptions) but for an OS designed to sit their in console mode as a server (and such) you can't except too much. Just my opinion.

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Jelly2003

I agree that Linux is not ready for the masses yet, but it's only a matter of time.

Linux is definatley not consistant, because everythign is open and every man and his dog can develop for it. Its Linux's strength and major downfall. Windows is controlled by MS, and it is a constant product, and everythign is integrated really well. Linux on the other hand has a bunch of developers going in 50 different directions, with no centeral control making sure everything confiroms to certian standards.

If you are running Linux through an emulator (especially Virtual PC 2004), you can't judge the OS. I know for a fact that Virtual PC 2004 does a horrible job at emulating Linux, in fact Fedora barely runs, but, if you actually install it you'd have a different experience.

If you want to see a good distrubution then I suggest that you try Fedora. Its not a complete beginner's distro, I'd probably call it the "power users" distro. Overall Fedora also has the most consistant feel of any Linux distro.

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raid517

Linux is far from perfect - but for me it's just a hobby. Things don't always work - but I get a kick out of making them work - even if that involves a little extra effort to do. If you are prepared to take that approach and not expect the earth from it you can eventually gain a lot.

Just my view.

GJ

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n3wt

Wait a second, you can code in Windows, I had heard of such a thing, but always assumed it was a myth.

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vhane

Open source *nix are definitely lacking a bit in polish interface-wise. However, if you spend some time customizing everything to your taste, then you can achieve some good results. If you are anal with your configurations and want everything "just so", then you'd probably enjoy working with *nix. The level of control that you get is higher with *nix. However, the learning curve is steeper too.

The flexibility of *nix is also the reason why it is complex. Give people choice and they also have to be able to make the choices. Give them the choice of having different GUIs and you sacrifice the ability to integrate stuff as much as you would have been able to if you only had one GUI. Some window managers may have the concept of a "start menu", while others use different methaphors. How then do you ensure that a program that gets installed also gets listed in the "start menu"? How about using *nix as a server? There would be no GUI running on a server. These are the kind of complexities that *nix has to deal with.

In the end it comes down to choosing between flexible but complex, and easy but more rigid. For example, Windows Firewall is brain-dead easy to use but you soon hit a wall if you want to have more complex packet filtering rules. On the other hand, linux's netfilter/iptables is hard to learn, but it is very versatile.

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yayaba

Some people have customized their UI's to look awesome... easily comparable to Windows. It just takes time and effort.

The default GUI's that you get through Mandrake or other distros are already preloaded with settings and bloat. I agree though that many apps lack style in that there are misaligned graphics and basically shoddy widgets.

Still, Linux can look decent. ;)

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okraits
I still don't trust giving out passwords and things to programs such as GAIM that could compromise my whole MSN account security.

You better not trust Microsoft. They don't care about your privacy. And what about the security issues of windows? Security holes, viruses, ... Linux is more safe than windows.

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karma_police

I trust more on GAIM than MSN :p .

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Alex Shenoy
I agree that Linux is not ready for the masses yet, but it's only a matter of time.

I agree sort of. I think that Linux could still come further to satisfying the masses, but I don't think it can come much further. I mean the average person on the street will never be able to use Linux the way a power user can. I think that instead of Linux growing to accomodate the masses, the masses are going to have to accomodate the Open Source community.

Linux can't get much easier for these people. I mean their are literally thousands of distros out there. I can think of several(as can everybody else) that have made Linux easier for the end user. However, in the end, the end user is going to have work a little harder if he/she wants to use Linux.

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ootput
in the end, the end user is going to have work a little harder if he/she wants to use Linux.

That's pretty much it.

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Rob

I applaud the posters in this topic for not turning this into a flame war, as it so easily could have done and I have seen countless times here on Neowin.

My two cents: I installed Knoppix as I wanted something to give me a little taster of Linux without going to the trouble of installing it. I now use it as a system recovery tool as it invariably "works" without hassle.

I agree that GUI-wise, integration-wise, user-friendly-wise, Windows is and will be for the foreseeable future better. For the power user, Linux allows greater customisation, and there is definitely a social, geeky kudos attached to using Linux!

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raid517

Well I can agree insofar as the way Linux is currently constructed there is a limit to how 'easy' it can be made to use. That ease of use might not ever come quite as close to being of the same standard as a Mac or Windows. However I still think it is wrong headed and elistist to say that 'it isn't Linux that needs to change it's the user.'

Most users just don't have that kind of dedication or determination to learn - at least not about computers.

So if Linux is to gain in poplularity, some efforts must be made to make it significantly more accessible to the masses - and if not to the masses - at least to many more people. Because there may be many more talented people who could benefit from it.

But there is a line - and unless the Linux kernel is rewritten from the ground up over the next couple of major kernel releases I can't see right now how that line will ever be crossed. I can't see how little Joe User could turn on his PC and be just as happy and comfortable using Linux as he would be using Windows.

I don't know about 'elite' - but it's certainly a nieche and maybe one that can still find a valid place in society.

Supercomputing, sciences, education and medicine are all areas that spring to mind. But Linux for everyone? Who here can say they really believe that?

GJ

Edited by raid517
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raid517
I applaud the posters in this topic for not turning this into a flame war, as it so easily could have done and I have seen countless times here on Neowin.

My two cents:  I installed Knoppix as I wanted something to give me a little taster of Linux without going to the trouble of installing it.  I now use it as a system recovery tool as it invariably "works" without hassle.

I agree that GUI-wise, integration-wise, user-friendly-wise, Windows is and will be for the foreseeable future better.  For the power user, Linux allows greater customisation, and there is definitely a social, geeky kudos attached to using Linux!

Mmm... I think 'better' is a relative term here. 'Better for who?' I think that's really what's being said - and if you missed that then you may have misread it.

Is it better for the 'average user'? Possibly not. Is it better for the power user with some technical savy and a mission critical tast to achieve? Possibly yes.

As with all technology, it's all about how you apply it. Would you expect a plumber to know best how to employ and engineer's tools?

If not then perhaps the critisicm doesn't really apply.

GJ

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betasp
But Linux for everyone? Who here can say they really believe that?

I have to agree with that statement. I am one of those that believed Linux may NEVER be for everyone. I have not touched it since I quit admin-ing servers.

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Fred Derf
Supercomputing, sciences, education and medicine are all areas that spring to mind. But Linux for everyone? Who here can say they really believe that?

Once upon a time they said that computers weren't for everyone.

30 odd years ago some IBM executive was quoted as saying something like "nobody would ever want to have a computer at home".

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Jaded

you could also continue that with it being said quite a while ago that people wouldnt need more than 640k-4MB of RAM or more than a 20MB harddrive.

But if you want try out Linux in a virtual machine, if you can use VMWare. I personally find it slightly better for OS's other then Microsoft. The flip side is Vitual PC is better for Microsoft OS's.

And as far as Linux being ready for mainstream users, the answer is no. There are some distro's that are pretty good, but they are still not ready for the average user. This is especially true in the corporate environment where you need 100% compaibility for office products and ease of use. Sure you can use Openoffice or Crossover office plugin, but you would still be left with the learning curve.

Edited by Jaded
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raid517

Yes but comeone. If you really understand how Linux works right now you couldn't possibly say that the masses will somehow all spontaniously adopt a facination with computers and opt to spend endless hours simply learning how to correctly mount a CD drive now do you?

All of these little things took me a while to figure out - and it takes an undoubted level of determination, stubourness and curiosity to get anwhere very fast in Linux - at least for the first few months.

Now if you are saying 'it could be different' well that's pretty meaningless. Of course it could be different, the kernel developers could completely rewrite the kernel from scratch, application writers could enmass decide to coportate to make linux applications more accessible an less cryptic - and any day soon now we could see the second comming. But the point is it isn't going to happen in any hurry. If you truly believe it is the public who must educate themselves and come to us, then you are either deluded, a fantaic or both.

As I said it is like giving a plumber a slide rule and a specification and expecting him to understand how to repair a jet enjine. Why can't different things in our society have their own different and unique roles?

Sometimes some things just aren't for everyone.

It doesn't mean Linux can't be popularised, it doesn't mean it can't be 'user friendly.' It just means that it might be a little more choosy about who its friends are.

Which is all good. Where and why you see a problem with that I don't know.

GJ

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Rob
Mmm... I think 'better' is a relative term here. 'Better for who?' I think that's really what's being said - and if you missed that then you may have misread it.

Is it better for the 'average user'? Possibly not. Is it better for the power user with some technical savy and a mission critical tast to achieve? Possibly yes.

As with all technology, it's all about how you apply it. Would you expect a plumber to know best how to employ and engineer's tools?

If not then perhaps the critisicm doesn't really apply.

GJ

When I said that integration-wise, user-friendliness-wise and GUI-wise Windows was "better" i meant just that - it has better integration. It is better at being user friendly. It is better at providing a consistent GUI to the user. I think "Better" is an applicable term in the context I was using it.

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rezza

I have a quote which pretty much sums up my views on this subject. I have no idea where I got it from, it has been sitting on my hdd for years. But here it is (or the relevant parts of it, at least) for your reading pleasure:

All of this exemplified the "dumbing down of America" (which is really the dumbing down of the developed world, something Europeans are just starting to wake up to, I think, as this phenomenon is certainly no longer limited to the United States, if it ever was), and the pervasiveness of the mindset that ignorance and laziness should be pandered to, rather than fixed through education, epitomises this.

The point being that, yes, freedom does entail the responsibility and the requirement that you think for yourself. And yes, thinking is WORK. In other words, is Freedom antithetical to laziness? Absolutely. But it is far better to give up the allegiance of the lazy and illiterate than it is to give up our freedom of choice simply to make their lazy lives a little easier.

Of course, the reality is that this false dichotomy is exactly that: false. GNU/Linux neither requires, nor would benefit from, having less choice ("one desktop"), nor does failing to do so make it impossible to appease the lazy and illiterate if that is one's goals (and there are distributions which aim to do exactly that) ... it is sufficient to have one or two defaults (KDE and/or Gnome), which is exactly what we have. I give my friends and family KDE and they are happy with it. I myself generally use KDE, but sometimes I get bored and decide to try out Gnome, Enlightenment, Windowmaker, Flux, or something else. I enjoy that freedom, and I'm not going to give it up (or negate it) just to pander to the illiteracy or laziness of some reluctant ex-windows convert.

A default is enough, and almost every distribution under defaults to one desktop or another. Beyond that, the user can educate themselves and make a choice, or stick with the default, but the idea that those of us who prefer something other than the default (whatever it is ... KDE or Gnome most likely) should give up our projects and devote our energy to working on or testing what others have chosen "on our behalf" is utter and complete nonsense.

1) We aren't out to destroy Microsoft, we're out to enhance our own freedom. Microsoft has become the enemy because they are out to destroy us, and to take away our freedom.

2) It isn't our responsibility to pander to the ignornance or laziness of others. It is their responsiblity to learn, or not, as they see fit.

3) Freedom has built into it responsibility ... it is neither designed for, nor applicable to, those too lazy (or uninformed) to excersize it.

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raid517
I have a quote which pretty much sums up my views on this subject. I have no idea where I got it from, it has been sitting on my hdd for years. But here it is (or the relevant parts of it, at least) for your reading pleasure:

That still doesn't mean better for everyone, or for every purpose.

If all you want to do is shove how pretty you think the GUI is in our faces then clearly you are missing the point. I for one say scr*w the GUI, for all the use it is to the 'average' proficient Linux user.

So where does a GUIless world leave your arguments then, other than you think that it's better for you and the few limited uses you might have for it? Oh I know it might seem that windows can do a lot - but there is a whole other world out there, one that may even live above your head in which Windows has no place at all.

Each to their own. When I want someone to print me some pretty leaflets to distribute to my workmates I'll call a Windows user - but when I want a crtical task achieved or when I want to build a supercomputer to simulate the forces experienced by a superfast space plane as it blasts into space, I'll call a Unix or Linux engineer.

The problem is you are comparing chalk with cheese. There IS nothing to compare. So why even try?

GJ

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