Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/03/30/letters_3003/
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.
Moving on from all things open sourced, we find ourselves wandering down spyware lane. A refreshed Spyware Doctor  has the users up in arms:
What Michael Greene fails to mention (or maybe notice) is that we never had these problems with any previous version of Spyware Doctor. And many people (if not the majority), who try the program out and have problems, won't go to the forums and post concerns. They will just stop using it, write it off as unreliable and move on to something else. So the number of those who have experienced trouble with version 5 is probably much higher than he is letting on. Spin doctoring is not the way to success. To keep a program available that is causing users this many problems is a slap in the face to those who have supported the company for years.
From your article about Spyware Doctor 5 I noticed the following point "He apologised for the inconvenience suffered but suggested that only 50 people were posting about issues with the product. "
That may well be true but I'm sure there are many others like me who had just got a new vista machine or upgraded. I tried the beta, it froze my system so I uninstalled it waiting for the full release. When it came out I reinstalled it.
If I was lucky it just stopped my mail arriving. If I was unlucky it stopped all internet activity and froze my browsers. If I tried to double-click the tray icon it froze the machine. I uninstalled it and went to the forums only to find it was full of people having the same problems as me. I could have posted bringing the number to 51 but I didn't as my problem seemed to match those already reported.
I hope they get the software fixed soon as 4 was a very good piece of software. Sadly unlike the XP users suffering I can't revert to the good version under Vista.
Mind you if you want to see truly upset customers try the Creative forums for people waiting for Vista drivers. I've got a new webcam sat on my desk doing nothing as it appears the whole Vista thing took them by surprise. Maybe I dreamt the betas, RCs and tonnes of print about it.
Next, a stolen laptop brings out the silly in you:
Kid's details, eh? Who'd've thought there would be such a palaver over the addresses of a few small goats.
Get your coat...Oh, we see you already have.
"Security experts, never slow to engage in a spot of ambulance chasing, said the case illustrated the need to use full disk encryption in order to protect sensitive data from prying eyes."
Well, yes, security experts are a bit of this type, but, frankly, they have a point, no ? Nothing is better than disk encryption + good passwd practises and shutdown of PC at night to protect from data theft, since anyway, laptops are stolen and will be stolen !
If you guys pushed the point harder, as compared with the always laughable "it was passwd protected" routine the embarassed company always propose as an downplay schema, we wouldn't have massive data theft problems ...
My 2 humble and respectfull cents :-)
Herve (my professionnal laptop is encrypted, and fixed to my table, and I lost the key !)
Then, we all got scared about losing our jobs to robots . Except here at El Reg, where the threat is always from those big rooms full of monkeys:
You did forget the _most_ important one: politician. Robots are the perfect marionettes, mimicking all the daily junk we are used to digest and learned to ignore. Just like our current politicians, across international borders I might add, garbage in, garbage out. It would actually be no surprise if most of the them already were mechanised, electronicised and computorised internally. The skinjob is of fantastic quality though (see also cylons #1..7). -- Greetings Bertho
Conspiracy or cock-up. It is an eternal question and one which was examined first in print , and on the comments board below. The conclusion? We'd tell you, but then we'd have to kill you:
Did you make up all those posts in the comments section?
Dear me, I can't tell who I'd like least to have a pint with between the liz^H^H^Hdebunkers and the ... others.
PS. Am I allowed to make up theories about IR35 and Ms Primarolo not having gotten over her hatred of, and complete failure to understand, freelancers? OK, I have my coat...
Anybody with the word 'chemtrails' on their website needs to a) take GCSE physics or b) start wearing one of those comfy jackets with the pockets in the back that you get from the nice men in white coats.
What conspiracy theorists never seem to think of is that the "people in charge" are just like you and me (frightening, isn't it?!) and you should never underestimate the people's capacity for incompetence. Obviously, that's not to say that there aren't any conspiracies, just that most of them a cock-ups. If you change your story, it'll be a conspiracy for ever.
Braininess is not required, you say, to work out which lawyer is behind the hunt for filesharers  at Davenport Lyons:
r.e. Games firm pursues 500 pinball 'pirates' through UK courts. I find it funny the partners didn't want to be named. Considering the partnet list for Davenport Lyons (http://www.davenportlyons.com/html/about_us/partners.html) only lists two who work in information technology/intellectual property it's quite clear who was speaking from there. It wouldn't take Einstein to work how who they are, what a load of pointless twoddle on their part.
'Letters sent to 500 file sharers in recent weeks recommended paying a £600 fine for sharing the £16.99 computer game on a peer-to-peer file sharing networks. Failure to pay would result in prosecution and potential court costs of "tens of thousands of pounds"'
That sounds an awful lot like extortion to me. Isn't there a term for using the courts to commit extortion? "Barratry," isn't that the word?
New Jersey gets on the safety bandwagon  with a proposal to ban simultaneous texting and driving:
Once again the Man is trying to ruin driving for the rest of us.
Part of the fun of playing "Driving" is surely the uncertainty of it all.
Will I make it to work this morning, or will some dick with a cell phone kill me?
For a long time now I've been convinced that politicians aren't aware that driving is a video game, with only one life but many cars. Here in Alaska we've known this for years, our weather makes for the absolute funnest version of "Driving" you can get outside of a console.
But besides all that, these guys are playing with fire. Natural selection will weed out most idiots, and we should do nothing that discourages them from being unselected for life.
Anyone that's actually driven in New Jersey knows that "rush hour" traffic tends to move at around 5mph, and it's perfectly safe to send a text, eat a bagel, and wash it down with a coffee all at the same time - you're not missing much happening on the road.
You seem to think that doing away with the less than technically minded would make the world a better place, at least when it comes to cars. But what fun  would we all have then?
It would seem ridiculous that luddites would inhabit the web, but your letters section always seems to find them! The latest was from a person responding to the satnav article, saying that the EU ban on remote starters was a good thing. First of all, the EU has banned these? Is that why this isn't a factory option German cars that are otherwise rife with the latest technology?
Second of all, the author's objections are ludicrous. You can either install the remote starter only on automatics, which can't be started when in gear, so no problem, or insure the remote starter, when installed on a manual, won't operate unless the car is out of gear and the emergency brake is engaged. Surely in the 21st century mankind has the capability to do that. Anyway, true manuals will be almost completely replaced with computer controlled sequential manuals within a decade, and this problem would be avoided.
Perhaps they can add a "paranoid luddite" option for him that has the car shout "get away from this car, it is about to start and may jerk forward if its driver is an idiot and can't remember to take his car out of gear and engage the parking brake before leaving it!" for 15 seconds before starting, to allow children under the car looking for their ball time to escape to safety!
Which is all we've got time for today. Check back next week for more. ®