Linux is NOT Windows


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Syanide

An excellent article I just stumbled upon in the ubuntu-release-party chat room. The author goes on about some fundamental differences in the approach of software development, user-friendliness, customer support and much more, in a pretty straightforward language. I'd recommend anyone who's thinking about trying out Linux to read it first. It is a bit outdated, but most of the things are still relevant.

tux.png!= windows.png

(Linux is Not Windows)

Problem #3: Culture shock

Subproblem #3a: There is a culture

Windows users are more or less in a customer-supplier relationship: They pay for software, for warranties, for support, and so on. They expect software to have a certain level of usability. They are therefore used to having rights with their software: They have paid for technical support and have every right to demand that they receive it. They are also used to dealing with entities rather than people: Their contracts are with a company, not with a person.

Linux users are in more of a community. They don't have to buy the software, they don't have to pay for technical support. They download software for free & use Instant Messaging and web-based forums to get help. They deal with people, not corporations.

A Windows user will not endear himself by bringing his habitual attitudes over to Linux, to put it mildly.

The biggest cause of friction tends to be in the online interactions: A "3a" user new to Linux asks for help with a problem he's having. When he doesn't get that help at what he considers an acceptable rate, he starts complaining and demanding more help. Because that's what he's used to doing with paid-for tech support. The problem is that this isn't paid-for support. This is a bunch of volunteers who are willing to help people with problems out of the goodness of their hearts. The new user has no right to demand anything from them, any more than somebody collecting for charity can demand larger donations from contributors.

In much the same way, a Windows user is used to using commercial software. Companies don't release software until it's reliable, functional, and user-friendly enough. So this is what a Windows user tends to expect from software: It starts at version 1.0. Linux software, however, tends to get released almost as soon as it's written: It starts at version 0.1. This way, people who really need the functionality can get it ASAP; interested developers can get involved in helping improve the code; and the community as a whole stays aware of what's going on.

If a "3a" user runs into trouble with Linux, he'll complain: The software hasn't met his standards, and he thinks he has a right to expect that standard. His mood won't be improved when he gets sarcastic replies like "I'd demand a refund if I were you"

So, to avoid problem #3a: Simply remember that you haven't paid the developer who wrote the software or the people online who provide the tech support. They don't owe you anything.

READ FULL ARTICLE

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Southern Patriot

Here's my favorite part (and it applies equally well to OS X and Linux):

It is logically impossible for any thing to be better than any other thing whilst remaining completely identical to it. A perfect copy may be equal, but it can never surpass. So when you gave Linux a try in hopes that it would be better, you were inescapably hoping that it would be different. Too many people ignore this fact, and hold up every difference between the two OSes as a Linux failure.
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Charisma

That is an amazing article. Thanks for posting it.. I've bookmarked it!

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argonite

This article seems to be trying to combat shots made against Linux by Windows users. I honestly expected a balanced comparison, or at least, less bias (for example, it clearly makes shots back at MS: Inefficient is friendly)

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Rob2687

Everyone should read this before trying out Linux for the first time. Especially those that are expecting to be able to dump their current OS and make the switch to Linux happen overnight.

In recent times these so called "Training Wheels" are can hardly be called bolt on extras anymore. There are more and more apps getting work on the GUI side. SMPlayer is an excellent example of this. For a long time mplayer did have only a few half assed GUIs but somebody finally decided to sit down and code a good front end for it.

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tablet_user

Nice read but linux will NEVER surpass windows. I know in technology never say never but im saying NEVER.

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Solid Knight

Wow. Do these people honestly believe what they write? Most Windows users are used to using paid for help on forums? Really? That's the minority of windows users. Windows users expect working releases? Shouldn't releases work? What's the point of alphas, betas, and RCs if the release isn't expect to work either? This is utterly stupid. The excuses Linux zealots give hold Linux back. Their low standards because "it's free" hold it back. Sane people expect working products. Sane people expect others to not be a complete dick when you ask them questions and the solution treads into unknown territory for them.

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Marshall

Wow. Do these people honestly believe what they write? Most Windows users are used to using paid for help on forums? Really? That's the minority of windows users. Windows users expect working releases? Shouldn't releases work? What's the point of alphas, betas, and RCs if the release isn't expect to work either? This is utterly stupid. The excuses Linux zealots give hold Linux back. Their low standards because "it's free" hold it back. Sane people expect working products. Sane people expect others to not be a complete dick when you ask them questions and the solution treads into unknown territory for them.

I couldn't have said it better!

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shockz

It might not be the same as Windows, but it shouldn't require countless hours of searching and tons of tries in terminal to get something as simple as a wireless network to work.

I used to use Ubuntu pretty frequently, however I got a new laptop two months ago and was holding out installing Ubuntu until 10.04 was released... now I've had countless headaches trying to get basic things to function correctly.

I agree that people expecting an overnight transistion to Linux will most likely be disappointed, but when you hear slogans like It's that easy, or Linux for regular people/humans, or year of the Linux desktop... I just have to shake my head.

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rawr_boy81

I think the big problem I find is people expecting Linux to work like Windows or Mac OS X - Linux is Linux and should be have like Linux; it is up to the user to change not for the operating system to change for the user. The only gripes I have about Linux go as so far as the lack of big name commercial applications and issues relating to hardware support. Quite honestly I don't think Linux is as bad as some detractors make out - rather what it needs is is more commercial backing by way of drivers and software which is very difficult because you're stuck with the chicken and egg scenario; they won't provide software until there is more market share but more market share won't be obtained unless those applications are made available for Linux. Then to add a layer of complexity is if it works flawlessly on wine then more Windows versions are sold but the result is the vendor no longer seeing a point to port when wine does a good job already.

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alfaaqua

Do note that there are distributions which you can "buy" and recieve tech support just like in Windows (thats why you "buy"; You simply buy the tech support not the actually complied code)

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Solid Knight

Also, just because something works doesn't mean that the design is good. Having to manually edit Xorg.conf (somewhat resolved) worked but its far from an ideal solution especially given that Xorg.conf is just a text file that you can type anything into. Anything. Linux suffers from this in many other areas. Oh yeah, some stuff works, and in the grand scheme of things its not that hard but getting it to work or interfacing with it is unintuitive or completely moronic.

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Fish
Linux is not interested in market share. Linux does not have customers. Linux does not have shareholders, or a responsibility to the bottom line. Linux was not created to make money. Linux does not have the goal of being the most popular and widespread OS on the planet.

All the Linux community wants is to create a really good, fully-featured, free operating system. If that results in Linux becoming a hugely popular OS, then that's great. If that results in Linux having the most intuitive, user-friendly interface ever created, then that's great. If that results in Linux becoming the basis of a multi-billion dollar industry, then that's great.

It's great, but it's not the point. The point is to make Linux the best OS that the community is capable of making. Not for other people: For itself. The oh-so-common threats of "Linux will never take over the desktop unless it does such-and-such" are simply irrelevant: The Linux community isn't trying to take over the desktop. They really don't care if it gets good enough to make it onto your desktop, so long as it stays good enough to remain on theirs. The highly-vocal MS-haters, pro-Linux zealots, and money-making FOSS purveyors might be loud, but they're still minorities.

Great read. This last statement wrapped it up nicely. Unfortunately, some people just don't get it.

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markjensen

Also, just because something works doesn't mean that the design is good. Having to manually edit Xorg.conf (somewhat resolved) worked but its far from an ideal solution especially given that Xorg.conf is just a text file that you can type anything into. Anything. Linux suffers from this in many other areas. Oh yeah, some stuff works, and in the grand scheme of things its not that hard but getting it to work or interfacing with it is unintuitive or completely moronic.

It may not be ideal, but what other way allows such ability to customize and configure?

Even Microsoft has regedit to take on some advanced configuration options. And I would put forth that a text file to edit is better than a compressed binary blob file that is decoded only with a special tool (regedit32.exe).

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fix-this!

Nice read but linux will NEVER surpass windows. I know in technology never say never but im saying NEVER.

+1 and either will osx.

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iamwhoiam

Wow. Do these people honestly believe what they write? Most Windows users are used to using paid for help on forums? Really? That's the minority of windows users. Windows users expect working releases? Shouldn't releases work? What's the point of alphas, betas, and RCs if the release isn't expect to work either? This is utterly stupid. The excuses Linux zealots give hold Linux back. Their low standards because "it's free" hold it back. Sane people expect working products. Sane people expect others to not be a complete dick when you ask them questions and the solution treads into unknown territory for them.

That's was my point in that Linux sucks thread. I've seen some very nasty and vulgar replies towards new users asking simple questions.

expect working products

I have a friend that switched to *buntu and he tinkers more with his computer now than he does actually using it. Every time he updates to a newer version, something inevitably breaks and he repeats the cycle all over.

As a server, it rocks. As a desktop environment, it lacks sorely.

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blueavenger

Linux does surpass Windows in some aspects. It is free for a start. It is also quicker. Quicker to start up and to load programs. Of course the speed improvement is partly down to having to run a anti-virus all the time with Windows. Which leads me to the lack of viruses with Linux which is another way that it surpasses Windows.

Of course there are many ways in which Windows is better than Linux. There is still nowhere near the vast array of quality programs for Linux. There is also generally less fiddling with setting it up.

But my main point is that there are ways that each beats the other and the same probably goes for Mac OSs though I haven't used them much. If I want to browse for info quickly when I am in a rush then I will boot Linux. If I need to do some design on Photoshop then it's Windows 7 that I start. Sometimes I just fancy using one or the other. I can see the benefits and weaknesses of both.

They are not football clubs to support. Which is a good job because Manchester City cannot be surpassed. Now that is a fact. :)

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Negi

Windows users expect working releases? Shouldn't releases work? What's the point of alphas, betas, and RCs if the release isn't expect to work either? This is utterly stupid.

"Utterly stupid" sums it up nicely.

I wonder why the OP bothered posting the article at all. While it pretends to try to explain Linux to newcomers, the only thing it's really useful for is to brush aside criticism towards Linux using the "we don't care, la la la" excuse.

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boogerjones

I've seen some very nasty and vulgar replies towards new users asking simple questions.

The maintainers sometimes put nasty replies in legitimate bug reports, too. Those jerks are a minority, but you won't see something like that on the Technet forums or Connect bug submissions. Ever. And I guarantee Microsoft gets a lot more bogus submissions than Linux does.

Like others have said, the article is full of the usual "not-our-fault-you're-an-idiot" excuses for the fact that Linux desktops, though they have certain advantages, are simply inferior to Windows for the vast majority of users. And I disagree that developers owe the users nothing; those users are your customers, whether you offer a free product or not, and your reactions to legitimate criticism brings out your true colors. Given that Linux bills itself as superior to Windows, they'd better be ready to take the criticism and comparisons without calling us uninformed idiots and tossing aside all criticism simply because the OS is free. But this is exactly what happens when you put programmers in a public relations position; it's the same thing that happens when you put programmers in charge of designing a user interface: things get ugly.

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Charisma

There are a few of us (admittedly the minority) who get a real joy out of tinkering and figuring out how to make it do exactly what we want. Windows might be easier, but there's only so much you can really do. I have a Windows box but I use it less and less these days because I'm so absorbed with my Linux machine. I really think it just depends on the type of person. Sure, I'm a self-professed geek, but having/getting to work with it is what makes it fun for me. And once you master it, the possibilities are endless.

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Aaron Olive

Windows is not OS X

jk lol :rofl:

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Kreuger

An old article but very true. This should be like the EULA for new users haha.

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SaltLife

It's a very good read, however it is still missing some key reasons why people 'complain' about linux. Ones in which I feel have the deepest implications in becoming a mainstream system (as the likes of Microsoft, Apple).

First the Good: Linux is a great operating system, my love for linux started with slackware 7 running KDE. I can remember the installation as it were yesterday, god Just the attempt of the installation was a mind blowing experience (learning wise). It took some work to get everything up and running, but it paid off. I joined a great linux community who helped me out a lot. And for the software, there was not a single commercial application I used that I couldn't find a linux variant, it might not have been as good, but it worked and I obtained it legally and freely. I even became one of those ANTI-Micro$haft guys... But those days are passed, and I've grown. Speaking of grown, Linux has come a LONG way since then (maybe 2003) and it is only growing stronger in the mobile, desktop, and server environments.

And the Bad: If only these tiny little imperfections could be alleviated, we would see linux take off like a rocket......

1. Wife and Kids -

1a. Occasionally simple things break.... Yep, that's right. Occasionally little inconveniences occur (not that they don't happen in ANY OS) but to try and explain how to fix something to my wife, kids, or even grandparents in linux is just not worth the hassle. If it was a problem and I was home, sure I could get it done but that's not practical. And trust me when I say that the wife/kids/whom ever do not want to wait around for dad or some tech friend to come over and fix the problem. (This was somewhat discussed in the article, but it was mainly around h/w support and software installations)

2. Commercial and/or FOSS Application Support

2a. School - I know Open office is great, but it just doesn't cut it when 90% of elementary/middle/high and colleges expect you to be running some variation of Office and Internet Explorer/Safari (yes, it still does happen). Let alone if your child has to take a computer class and they REQUIRE Microsoft Office (no if's, and's or but's). - I know that you can use a virtual machine, but at that point, what is the point.

2b. DRM Protected sites... Face it, doesn't work.

2c. Admitting that you run linux to a customer support hotline(cable internet, internet services, etc.) = no service. This has been improving over the years, but still not practical and takes me back to reason number 1.

Honestly, if it wasn't for those reasons, I think Linux stands a great chance at becoming highly successful especially looking at Ubuntu/Canonical track record thus far. But until then, Linux is designed for the person who is willing to take the time to install it. And that is typically #1 (yourself).

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Solid Knight

It may not be ideal, but what other way allows such ability to customize and configure?

Even Microsoft has regedit to take on some advanced configuration options. And I would put forth that a text file to edit is better than a compressed binary blob file that is decoded only with a special tool (regedit32.exe).

Regedit isn't designed so you can customize Windows. It's there if you need to make changes to the registry. And yes, the tool is slightly more intuitive than a text file. With a text file you have no way of knowing what is and is not invalid data and formatting; you don't even know what your options are. With Regedit you at least have some idea of structure (and format is handled automatically) and what kinds of data you can put in.

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Growled

My biggest problem is i expect linux to work.

I started using Linux about 5 years ago. I loved it. All that tinkering was right up my alley. As the years went on and the tinkering continued I grew weary of it. I honestly boot into Windows 7 more than I boot into Linux these days. I played around with 10.04 and the wireless doesn't work. I really don't know if I want to continue tinkering.

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