The Lizard People are after your Linux distro
Only Ubuntu, though
Letters We hope you are all sitting down, for this first page is all about Linux. See, we told you. Take a seat.
We ran a piece in which a relative noobie has a go at installing Linux on the desktop. Plenty of comments from the floor on this. We've had to be fairly ruthless in deciding which to run, since the volume was so high.
Suffice to say, all the mails suggesting all your personal favourite flavours had to go. But we will mention to the author that he should try Ubuntu, SuSE, Novell Linux Desktop, Ubuntu, Mandrake, Desktop (open) Solaris, Ubuntu, Xandros 4.0, Puppy Linux, Knoppix, and did we mention Ubuntu?
And so to the commentary:
Sorry to say, but you are making a very unfair comparison, starting with the very geeky Gentoo and trying to compare that with the point-n-drool of Windows. Ubuntu or Linspire would be the most logical starting points for an end-user desktop, and Ubuntu does a great job of "just working". Especially true on common hardware like the Centrino platform. It's actually *easier* to get an Ubuntu machine to a fully loaded state than is the case with XP. Of course the other factor to consider in your next review will be the "stays working" factor which is where Windows falls flat on its face. I have spent the last several days battling 3 year old Windows XP machines that are suffering bit-rot and have become pathetically slow.
I was really pleased to read this article, and I think you've got the issue bang on. I see this as the premier issue facing Linux at the moment; making it actually usable. I recently installed Ubuntu, and while it's pretty good, it's far from perfect and I've only stuck with it because I'm a geek and don't mind, as you say, opening the bonnet and having a bit of a tinker.
Much as I love Linux and wholeheartedly hope it grows in popularity, I just can't see it as long as this is necessary - and too often, it really *is* necessary.
I find that in articles to do with Linux there are always complaints that under Linux hardware doesn't 'just work' whereas it does under MS Windows. This is not strictly accurate. The reason that hardware 'just works' for the end user under MS Windows is because there are manufacturer supplied drivers included with the hardware device. Most hardware devices work under Linux because the Linux community has developed its own drivers in the absence of Manufacturer supplied drivers. If Hardware Manufacturers supplied drivers for Linux then this would be a non issue.
Perhaps a true test would be to take two identical os-less machines and attempt to load MS Windows on one and Linux on the other without using any third party hardware driver disks. I guarantee that Linux would win this hands down. Try getting your Wireless Card to work under MS Windows without the Manufacturer supplied driver!
In truth the only reason that there is this myth of easy installation of Windows is because most people never do it! They buy the machine pre installed and never modify it. Kind regards
Not to minimize the hassle of Open Source OS installation, but have you actually tried to install Windows from scratch? I must admit that my FreeBSD laptop has not run X since the last "update". OTOH, when I and a Microsoft Developer friend tried to install XP on that same laptop, which came complete with a "Windows 2K" sticker, we also ran into a world of hurt and ultimate failure.
The reason folks don't think of installing Windows as a painful experience is roughly the same reason men don't think of childbirth as a painful experience.
You completely neglected to mention the fact that Gentoo isn't supposed to "go straight through to the graphically enhanced front end without a fuss" because it isn't intended for novices at all. I'm not being elitist here, different distributions are simply targeted at different people.
I totally sympathise with your point about the buggy disk partitioner. I am amazed that such stupid mistakes are still being made. There really isn't any excuse. As a seasoned Linux user, I find it embarrassing.
In the Windows world, your hardware bought at the same time as the OS should have a driver from the manufacturer, or you should feel miffed that they didn't*. In the Linux world, the manufacturer doesn't care about your system and it is up to the community to make up any difference.
PS how about asking "Installing desktop Vista"?
And while we're on the subject, how about Dell, and Linux right outta the box:
Call me cynical, but hasn't dell gone down this path SO many times before only to pull it from reality at the last second? What would be useful in the Linux area would be if you could buy Dell PCs without ANY OS saving the MS Tax that us linux users are forced to stump for if we dont build our own PCs.