linux first impressions


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vhane

Rezza, I don't agree with the quote. Choice is good. Along with choice comes added complexity. This, I agree with.

However, I don't agree with the general put-down tone of that quote. It just reeks of self-serving elitism. Why should people have to learn an OS to get work done? The OS is just a means to run other applications - those that the user actually wants to use to get work done. People don't use an OS for the sake of using it. How does using linux make the author of that quote smarter than say a windows user? The author mis-guided himself in his hurry to label himself smarter than the mere mortals who use Windows. Basically, the drift I get from reading the quote is that the author uses linux because it makes him feel superior.

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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:

Erm.... that's a tad too much zeal for my tastes. When people start printing manifestos and becoming almost religeous about their interests then I think that is where they cross the line.

There are two kinds of people I despise in this world, and that is Linux zealots and Windows weaners.

They both harp on endlessly about how much better their OS is and how great they are until it decends into a meaningless and energy consuming stream of mind numbingly empty drivel.

What can anyone hope to achieve by it? In what sense does it progress anything useful to anyone at all?

It doesn't. It isn't even interesting.

GJ

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Vlad

I've said this a thousand times to other Linux nerds, and they never seem to understand it: Regular users will *not* understand the need for two gui tool kits. Choice is a double edged sword, and it's a sword that Linux developers and users tend to flail ineptly and violently around them like a fat man at a renaissance fair.

For an OS so *absolutely* focused on "standards", Linux users and developers (mainly developers) seem to think asking the user "Gnome, KDE, $INSERT_WM_HERE?" is the greatest thing since sliced bread. News flash: Choice is confusing. People don't like confusion. People like telling their grandmother to open up Internet Explorer to get onto the internet without having to assault her with a barrage of questions to identify what Distribution, what kernel, what distribution version, what desktop environment, what browser, she has installed.

Linux users/developers/community/whatever need to pick *ONE* X server and ONE Desktop Environment and RUN with it. Any developer will tell you that part of Microsoft's success has been an *awesome* API and uniform/uncomplicated UI (including the GDI used to draw it).

There's no reason to have 10 different media players. Or file managers. Or web browsers. Seriously. Offering help to people running linux is a technical *nightmare* because of the differences in distributions and software. Redhat or Mandrake? Gentoo or Slackware? Debian or Lindows? KDE or Gnome?

Imagine you're an IT guy working for a moderately sized company, say, 100 employees, all with computers. Most companies (running Windows) probably have a fairly mixed environment ranging from Windows 98 to Windows XP systems. But when a user calls in asking for assistance, you can easily sort out the differences between various platforms of Windows in your head (98, NT4, 2000, XP), and since they are all VERY similar, most of the stuff is redundant. Drivers are easy to get. Software is easy to install. VNC and remote desktop allow you to easily connect to a users PC and (seeing what they're seeing) give them help from your 8'x8' help desk room. You have four flavors of Windows, all of which are very much alike "Ok, click Start, then Shutdown, then select Reboot...". Most Lusers are familiar enough with computers to handle themselves, and generally rely on you only when things go wrong or they need some serious help.

Now imagine admining a Linux network. Maybe you only have one distribution - say Redhat - but are running different versions ranging from 5.2 to Fedora Core 2. UGH. A user calls and wants some help installing a program; in a Windows world, you could either quickly VNC to their machine and do it yourself, or guide them to the server the setup program is on (recall in Linux, VNC starts a new "virtual" X-session. There are no applications I know of that actually "share" a desktop - if anyone knows of one please let me know). Unless the application is an ancient DOS app - unlikely but possibly - you don't need to worry much about compatibility. But not in Linux Land. In Linux Land, this user tries to install an application on a lab machine "It installed fine on my Workstation at my cubicle (which runs fedora core2)" she whines to you. Shortly after, you discover the application she's trying to install can't possibly run on a Redhat 5.2 box - either the dependencies, or the kernel, or permissions, or some other compatibility (glibc anyone?) - are preventing it. I wont even get into the "How do I...?" questions; you can just imagine the questions you'd have to ask "What distribution/version? What desktop environment? What version of the desktop environment?"

Imagine if these people had root access to their machines. Just imagine.

Linux might be secure and fast and stable. But it has a MASSIVE lacking in usability, user-friendliness, simplicity, backwards compatibility, etc...the list goes on. The way linux is right now, it's changing too fast, too much, and in too many ways to be an effective desktop for *anything* other than hobbyist/server use. And it is an awesome hobbyist desktop...and the second best server you can get for free (The *BSDs got it beat in this department). People are going to look at you cross eyed and green faced when you try to explain to them why application A doesn't run on Distribution Y because it lacks kernel 2.Z, Glibc 8.74.234.734-rc2-build-128213a, and library libannoying-2.1.0.11 (not 1, 2, and not 2.0-2.1.0.9, because those had that buffer overflow exploit) - understand my point yet?

And yes, I'm a hard core Linux user - I started using Redhat in highschool in the Fall of 1998, and have been using Gentoo for years now.

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vhane
Erm.... that's a tad too much zeal for my tastes. When people start printing manifestos and becoming almost religeous about their interests then I think that is where they cross the line.

There are two kinds of people I despise in this world, and that is Linux zealots and Windows weaners.

They both harp on endlessly about how much better their OS is and how great they are until it decends into a meaningless and energy consuming stream of mind numbingly empty drivel.

What can anyone hope to achieve by it? In what sense does it progress anything useful to anyone at all?

It doesn't. It isn't even interesting.

GJ

Amen.

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Zerosleep

Vlad: You are a moron. Gentoo suits you.

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raid517

Well as i said all that depends on whether you think Linux needs to be for the average user - or for your granny. What if it doesn't? What if it can't? What if it doesn't matter if it does? What if it could happlily just carve out it's own neiche without having to worry about all these things?

Can you see your Granny compiling a kernel? Well if she is ever going to become a long term Linux user she may well have to.

If you just give up worrying about all that you can tend to find that the whole thing is much simpler to understand.

We may not need to pander to anyone - because doing so may only get us so far - in which case we can have as much choice as we want.

And how do you cordinate all these people to get them to cooperate for long enough to put the grand plan into action that you envisage? Linux isn't a company, you can't order people to cooperate, you can't sack them if they don't, so why should they? If anyone even tried, within hours there would be a branch, then a branch of that branch and then a branch of that branch and so on.

You are asking for everyone to coporate and agree, which again is empty eutopian nonsense - exactly because it is never going to happen.

That's not the way people - or this world works.

GJ

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Spawnbut

If you ask any novice/average user who's tried installing programs in Linux many would tell you that the experience doesn't compare to Windows. With Windows all you have to do is double-click on the install file and wosh your off! With Linux you have to open a commmand prompt and type in a bunch of jargon to install anything, even then you have to deside where to put the program (in usr, bin, lib? What the @#!!), sometimes enter admin mode (again at the command prompt), etc.. In Windows all of the above is done pretty much automatically. In Windows it's the experience that matters more, in Linux it's more about technology. Linux will need to do serious catch-up to Windows in the UE (User Experience) front if they expect to gather a much larger user base.

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Zerosleep

I don't believe in this "dumbing down the OS so the user can understand" ****. The general public needs to be better educated. How can we call this the future.

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Spawnbut

You won't make any money thinking like that. The user doesn't want to pay hard-earned money to use a system that they can't use well (in some respects).

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Spawnbut

Windows has already set the standard, you can't compete unless you meet of exceed that standard.

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Zerosleep
You won't make any money thinking like that. The user doesn't want to pay hard-earned money to use a system that they can't use well (in some respects).

Money?! Get out of here.

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markjensen
If you ask any novice/average user who's tried installing programs in Linux many would tell you that the experience doesn't compare to Windows. With Windows all you have to do is double-click on the install file and wosh your off! With Linux you have to open a commmand prompt and type in a bunch of jargon to install anything, even then you have to deside where to put the program (in usr, bin, lib? What the @#!!), sometimes enter admin mode (again at the command prompt), etc.. In Windows all of the above is done pretty much automatically. In Windows it's the experience that matters more, in Linux it's more about technology. Linux will need to do serious catch-up to Windows in the UE (User Experience) front if they expect to gather a much larger user base.

You make a lot of valid points.

However, using these commandline instructions to get a program will install it nicely for you - you don't need to do all the extra stuff you talked about.

Plus, you can use something like Synaptic to have a GUI interface for your programs, so no commandline needed, either. :)

And, these tools will update your WHOLE system, not just the OS parts - much more convenient than Windows Update + updating programs individually.

Although soe of your details were a little questionable, the message is accurate in the larger sense. Linux is primarily for those people willing learn to do the extra steps that are currently needed.

Oh, and none of these points are an issue in Lindows Linspire, but no one wants to consider that when they talk about the difficult points of Linux. ;)

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n3wt

I always saw this as being a pretty simple matter.

UNIX based OS's are more powerfull, but more difficult to use.

The Windows OS's are less powerfull, but much easier to use.

This trade-off can be seen everywhere, in everything, and the way I see it, it will probably stay the way it is now, the masses will continue to use Windows, or whatever other easy OS's come along, and the few will continue to use UNIX, but, as long as the few continue to develop Linux BSD etc. I don't see this as being a problem.

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rezza

I think a lot of people missed the point I was making with that quote.

I wasn't trying to shove how pretty the GUI is down anyone's throat, I wasn't trying to say that everyone needs to learn a lot so they can use linux.

What I was trying to put accross is that maybe these useability arguments are a little pointless, and the fact that I don't much mind if linux never gets more market share than it has today. It doesn't bother me if it continues to be the domain of the geek. Why does it matter to me if linux becomes more mainstream? There are other options available for those who so desire.

And someone pointed out a few posts back that attitudes like this won't make any money, well guess what, buster - I don't give a rat's backside about making money from linux Some groups might, like redhat and suse and the rest, but my views don't coincide with theirs.

Most of all the point I was making was that we shouldn't dumb down linux as a whole to try to entice new users. I say keep it powerful and flexible, even if that means keeping a learning curve which is too steep for the majority of users. If some distros want to make user-friendly commercial variants to make money with, then go right ahead, it really doesn't bother me. As long as your simplifications aren't moved upstream into vanilla linux setups, then you can do what you like. Only allow Gnome or KDE to be installed on your version, only allow one of each type of app, create windows-like installers for apps, etc. Just don't f**k around with linux as a whole.

Linux is definitely not for everyone, nor do I think it should be. Linux already does what it does well, and thats enough for me.

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MrStaticVoid

I couldn't have said it better, rezza. Frankly, I'd be upset if my distro, got any easier. I like the control I have.

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CaKeY

Great post rez!

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+virtorio
I don't believe in this "dumbing down the OS so the user can understand" ****. The general public needs to be better educated. How can we call this the future.

If I told someone in the 40+ group that had no interest in computers some of them would say something like "so why do you buy your clothes when you can make them for 10% of the price, all it takes is a little longer", or "why do you buy fast food when home made food is much better for you' and so on.

Fact is most people don't care how their computer works, doesn't won't to know how it works nor has the time to figure it out.

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toadeater
I couldn't have said it better, rezza.  Frankly, I'd be upset if my distro, got any easier.  I like the control I have.

Why not both? Why not easy-to-use GUI settings for basic things, plus the same detailed config options for the advanced things? As long as it all isn't obfuscated or hidden outright as M$ loves to do I don't see what the problem is with something being easy to use.

Until ease of use and consistency are addressed, Linux will not be ready for the masses. I pretty much agree with what the poster of this thread said, except for the fact that he used Virtual PC for his testing, which I think is a bit unfair since it's guaranteed to introduce bugs.

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MrStaticVoid
Fact is most people don't care how their computer works, doesn't won't to know how it works nor has the time to figure it out.

Then those people don't need to use Linux. I certainly would be happier without them!

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MrStaticVoid
Why not both?

It's easy to say that, isn't it. Well it might start out that way, but in the end half the world will do to Linux what its doing to Windows if that's the case.

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vhane
Windows has already set the standard, you can't compete unless you meet of exceed that standard.

Depends what you are measuring when you talk about "Standard". If you're talking about user experience, then I'd say OS X wins. About ubiquity? Windows (desktop versions). Number of applications? Windows. Security? Certainly not Windows. Probably OpenBSD. Overall? Depends on your specific needs.

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raid517

@Spawnbut

I have to go along with this. It is not needed for Linux to get easier. Though there is nothing to stop people trying to make it so. I am not so adverse to 'ease of use' improvements as some of the guys here, but largely I can take them or leave them.

The same applies to those who say that Linux is too hard for the 'average user'.

And your point is?

I mean would you noramally expect an average Windows user to be able to sit down in front of a govenment based supercomputer and to be able to track a fault in the kernel, or to know how to debug a specific program? Most 'average Windows users have enough trouble trying to work out how to turn their PC's off and on.

Why then expect it of Linux? You are asking Linux to be something it isn't - and what is more given it's current set up it might never completely be - which is something that needs to be directly compared to Windows. It doesn't, because in truth - hype and hyperbole aside - they are two unique things that are capable of inhabiting two seperate and unique worlds. Linux doesn't need to change to be another Windows, because that is what Windows is there for. Similarly, no one is in any hurry to see Windows become more like Linux.

The point where 'choice' comes into play is whether or not you have the will, the determination - and in the right environment, possibly the need for something that offers you a more advanced level of control than Windows. Like I said, screw how the Gui looks (or even if there is one) screw whether or not you have to type in a few extra commands to get things done. To the average technician, engineer of researcher such considerations are meaningless anyway. What is significant is how well the system is capable of executing the task it is given and how able to are to control any changes that may need to be made - and that's what really matters. There are lots of tasks out there that don't require silly little bouncing icons, or the latest uxtheme.dll patch to make them look pretty - or whatever, since such considerations are essentially empty.

But anyway I can see that you don't get this, so it is fruitless to continue.

The point is, if Linux is too hard for you to use, don't use it. Windows may be a better choice for you anyway. But it doesn't mean that it's a 'better choice' for everyone in all conditions. Therefore your definition of what 'better' is is also quite meaningless. They are simply different.

GJ

Edited by raid517
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Zerosleep
Fact is most people don't care how their computer works, doesn't won't to know how it works nor has the time to figure it out.

That's what eMachines are for.

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LaNcom

@quite a few people

Really, I can't stand a lot of those common 'Linux is too complicated'/ 'Linux is too inconsitent' stories anymore. You know why? Because they are mostly wrong, it's as easy as that. See:

Argument:

Linux has to standardize _one_ X server!

Fact:

There is only _one_ X server, but there are different implementations (there are 3, not counting experimental stuff). But that doesn't really matter, because the user wont see any differences anyway, because 99.9% off all desktop Linux systems run either XFree86 4.x or X.org X11 r6.7.0. Those two server share the same codebase, are completely compatible, look the same, feel the same, use the same naming scheme, the same config files,... X.org is a fork of XFree86, and the latter is dying. So there's really only _one_ X - granted, there's also some strange commercial X server out there, but this one is very rare and the only people using this one are professionals with 3DLabs WildcatVP graphic cards, and it's becoming obsolete anytime soon.

Argument:

Linux has to standardize _one_ desktop environment!

Fact:

There are only two major DE's (KDE & Gnome), and it's up to the distro to choose a standard DE. And that's KDE for most distro's. It doesn't really matter, you can use KDE apps in Gnome and vice versa, and there will be a lot of integration work in the near future (shared menue, shared IPC, shared multimedia framework).

Argument:

It's hard to install software. There's no 'setup.exe'...

Fact:

Not really. Using distros like SUSE, you download a RPM to your Documents folder, fire up Konqueror, click the RPM, KPackage opens, you enter your root password, done (using Debian or gentoo, it's even easier). Maybe it's just me, but this _is_ easier than (worst case): extract zip, start setup.exe, click 'Next', click 'Next', click 'I agree', click 'Next', click 'Choose directory' or click 'Next', click 'Customize setup' or click 'Next', wait, click 'OK' to install DirectX, click 'OK' to install Acrobat Reader, uncheck 'View Readme', click 'Next', click 'OK' to restart your computer, pray that the setup didn't f*ck up your registry...

Oh, and if it was the bleeding new game that just hit the shelves you installed, you shouldn't forget to visit ati.com, creative.com, via.com etc., download 200MB updated drivers and reboot your computer five times, because the game will crawl, crash, or not even start at all without those... ;-)

Argument:

Linux looks inconsistent! There needs to be a single, standard toolkit(, like on Windows)!

Fact:

Windows is completely incosistent. There are zillions off more or less similar looking toolkits. Office XP for example uses a different toolkit than Office 11 or Office 2000 (even the naming scheme is inconsistent...), Adobe and Macromedia use different toolkits, everyone and their dog uses different versions off different toolkits. Like I said, they look similar to some extent - but not really. But wait, it get's worse: a huge number off software developers use custom toolkits (or at least custom widgets) nowadays. Compare Windows Media Player, Real, Winamp, and Quicktime for example. Or Photoshop, Mirage, PhotoImpact, PSP and Fireworks. Or Frontpage, GoLive and Dreamweaver. Nero, Alcohol, Gear and CDRWin. Be honest, compare the apps - that's about as inconsistent as it gets...

With Linux, on the other hand, there are only two major toolkits, in two different looking versions each: Qt3, Qt2, GTK2 and GTK. But Qt2 uses Qt3's colors and font settings, and Qt2 and GTK are pretty rare these days. Sure, there are other toolkits, but these are usually very rare (fltk, XForms, Motif, TCL/Tk), or they use one off the common toolkits to render the interface (wxWidgets for example, and Java use GTK2). But wait, there's more: using meta-styles like GTK-Qt or Metatheme, GTK2 and Qt3 apps use the same widgets, the same fonts, colors, icons, and, if things go well, they'll also use the same filerequester and print dialog soon...

Argument:

Linux lacks integration!

Fact:

Check KDE 3.3. It's about as integrated as it gets...

Argument:

The Linux directory structure is strange/ stupid/ whatever!

Fact:

No. It's just different, but it makes sense if you understand it. The Windows structure is neither more usefull (the 'Documents and Settings'-hierarchy is much more complicated than '/home', for example, and since most applications install files in quite a few different directories, the 'Program Files' directory doesn't really help, either - because half the app is in 'Common Files', other files are somewhere in 'Windows' or 'System32'), nor more logical (why on earth should anyone use letters to identify drives? It makes adding/ removing/ changing disks much more complicated, and if you use three removable drives, you have to remember which drive was E, F or G. On Linux, the drive has a real name).

There's more, but I think that's enough for now...

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Zerosleep

This is the thread that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend.

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