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Linux: still not ready for grandma

September 14, 2007

Listen, I don’t hate Linux. Scottfeldstein.net was for years served from an old computer in my closet running the Redhat variety of Linux. I’d even tried it a few times as a desktop operating system, but always found it lacking.

Like clockwork, however, I could always count on a Linux user to tell me every couple of years that this time, with such and such version of Linux, it really was ready for primetime, ready for the desktop – ready, as it were, for grandma. And each time I gave it another try I quickly discovered that it most definitely was not ready.

But it’s been a while. Maybe it was time to give it another chance. Everyone’s talking about Ubuntu Linux being “ready.” But now, after having seen Walt Mossberg’s review of Ubuntu (see video), I wont’ waste my time. Clearly it’s the same old same old.

What’s wrong with Linux developers that they can’t make software that’s polished enough for the consumer market? Maybe they just don’t know what the consumer market wants. But I think the more likely problem is that they don’t care. What they do care about is making products that they like. And they, it hardly needs pointing out, are nerds.

Linux: by nerds, for nerds.

I predict that one day some flavor of Linux will make it big on the desktop. I also predict that it will be universally hated by the existing Linux community for being too… simplified.

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  1. I have looked at both the Server and Desktop flavors of Ubuntu…they are pretty slick, tho I’m not ready to declare them ready for prime time….

    My laptop has SUSE Enterprise 10 on it and I’ve been really pleased with it…when I get a distinct reason to switch (perhaps it will be a new laptop), then maybe I’ll go with Ubuntu….

    I’m told the wireless support in Ubuntu is MUCH better….


  2. What’s wrong with Linux developers that they can’t make software that’s polished enough for the consumer market? Maybe they just don’t know what the consumer market wants. But I think the more likely problem is that they don’t care. What they do care about is making products that they like. And they, it hardly needs pointing out, are nerds.

    I totally agree. The mindset of your average Linux developer and/or power user is that of someone very tech -savvy.

    Command line interfaces scare people. I have yet to use a Linux system where the GUI option for doing something was actually easier than doing it via command line. It’s a completely backward interaction that what your average consumer neither wants or has the time for.

    Microsoft could actually make a commercial in the style of “I’m a MAC. I’m a PC”, but have “I’m PC. I’m Linux.” Then Linux would just speak in Klingon or something, while PC has to reference a “PC-Linux” dictionary in order to have a conversation. And then when PC finds the right sentence, just have Linux reject it because PC is not logged in as “root”.


  3. I’m not very knowledgeable on the latest versions of Linux. When I think of Linux as an OS, I still envision something like DOS or Windows 3.0 (GUI on top of DOS) along with all the compatibility and conflict nightmares prior to plug n play. How do the newer Linux versions handle hardware swaps and upgrades, drivers, conflicts, memory issue, multiple running applications, etc? As much as Windows XP or Vista are bloated and inefficient OSs, they have come a long way in making hardware installation fairly easy as well as running simultaneous apps.


  4. I would say that Linux is as good or better than Windows at handling memory allocation issues and multitasking. *NIX operating systems have this going for them at least. Like the Mac OS these days. The rest of your list? Linux is not as good.

    It’s certainly better than Windows 3, though! Shudder.



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