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Hardy Heron Making Linux Ready for the Masses?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the it-is-a-very-robust-bird dept.

Linux 1100

desmondhaynes writes "Is Linux ready for the masses? Is Linux really being targeted towards the 'casual computer user'? Computerworld thinks we're getting there, talking of Linux 'going mainstream 'with Ubuntu. 'If there is a single complaint that is laid at the feet of Linux time and time again, it's that the operating system is too complicated and arcane for casual computer users to tolerate. You can't ask newbies to install device drivers or recompile the kernel, naysayers argue. Of course, many of those criticisms date back to the bad old days, but Ubuntu, the user-friendly distribution sponsored by Mark Shuttleworth's Canonical Ltd., has made a mission out of dispelling such complaints entirely.'"

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Yes, and yes. (5, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096224)

Is Linux ready for the masses? Is Linux really being targeted towards the 'casual computer user'?

That's easy, and we've known it for a long time: Yes, and yes.

Convincing the masses to actually install it, now, that's the trick.

Re:Yes, and yes. (-1, Troll)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096276)

Hey, I was convinced to install it. Unfortunately, I was also convinced (by that HIGH RECOMMENDATION) to unnecessarily put GRUB over the primary HD's MBR, instead of just the secondary hard drive that Ubuntu was installed to, making the failure cascade to my entire system, and locking me out of it.

Yes, I was a dick to the forum. Doesn't mean the install CD/instructions combination are in order.

Re:Yes, and yes. (4, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096418)

Being "locked out" by "doing the way it's always been done".

That's certainly "very interesting".

It's not as if Linux hasn't had to play nice with other OSen since before 1994.

Re:Yes, and yes. (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096636)

Oh for crying out loud, how long ago was that? You've been bitching about that for YEARS. I don't even know how you managed to brick your system, I've put GRUB on the primary MBR of dual boot systems hundreds of times. I just did it with the new Ubuntu with a test server here in my office. No problkems. Last week I told my boss's boss how to help his kid do it. No problems.

I've read and followed the new Ubuntu dual boot instructions, a blind chimp could do it, you just clicky along 'till it's done, taking the defaults. It even resized my original windows partition with no problem.

Re:Yes, and yes. (4, Insightful)

Brad_sk (919670) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096330)

>and we've known it for a long time...
Not really. If that was the case, what was the necessity of Ubuntu? Ubuntu has definitely made Linux easier to install and use which was definitely not the case until like 2 yrs ago.

Ubuntu (7.10) still has its own shortcomings in configuring things like Bluetooth or Wifi which I hope will not not be there in 8.04 release.

Re:Yes, and yes. (2, Informative)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096406)

Wifi for me works great -- never a second's trouble. Bluetooth has gotten better, but I still can't browse my Blackberry. I can detect it, exchange passkeys, and connect very easily through the GUI, but the OBEX still barfs.

Re:Yes, and yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096338)

i consider myself a fairly advanced PC user but i have yet to find a linux distro that i can just sit down and use without a ton of problems. i do 3d graphics and i've have tons of problems with video drivers. this makes using my 3d software impossible. i can install linux fine and browse the web with it but getting the programs i need to work properly is way harder than it should be and i always find myself back in windows.

Re:Yes, and yes. (5, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096528)

wow, I've never seen a post by a graphics card before!

Re:Yes, and yes. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096356)

The best way to convince someone is when a non-gamer, non-technical, non-moneyed friend asks you to reinstall their Windows XP, if they don't have a valid license and don't want to spend 100 bucks on one, do NOT give them a pirated copy of XP. Tell them they can shell out 100 bucks for XP, shell out 700 bucks for a new PC with Vista, or they can get Ubuntu for free on their existing PC and they'll be able to do nearly 100% of what they could do before.

Re:Yes, and yes. (1)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096530)

I just did that last weekend. So far, no complaints. I even gave her the 8.04 pre-release, since it was due out in like 12 days or so at the time, and it's a lot more polished than 7.10.

The only question I got was how to set up a printer and whether 64 updates in a day is "normal". I told her it'd taper off in the next few weeks, and had her printer set up in 5 minutes on the phone.

(I went into that in a little more detail in another post a few days ago.)

I explained to her exactly as you said -- these are your options. You can always put XP back if you want to get it from someone (not me -- I don't even have it to give), but I heartily recommend that you just learn Linux or buy a new computer with Vista pre-installed. XP is going to continue to get infected with viruses -- especially when MS ends the security patches in the near future.

No, and No (-1)

copponex (13876) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096396)

Does it still require you to edit a configuration file in any situation?


It's getting better, but it's not ready.

Re:No, and No (1, Troll)

Quattro Vezina (714892) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096472)

Quite frankly, I don't want to use the same operating system as someone who refuses to edit any configuration file.

Marketing Linux to the average desktop is a bad idea. Leave Linux to the power users and the server market.

I agree (4, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096680)

You may enjoy three hours of tedium trying to get Xorg to display properly on a new monitor, or god forbid, two monitors. Most people don't.

Re:No, and No (5, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096646)

Does it still require you to edit a configuration file in any situation? Right. It's getting better, but it's not ready.
Umm... I was a Windows power user for awhile... and on countless times I was forced to hand-edit the registry, as well as a number of other files. Does that mean Windows (XP) isn't ready for the desktop?

Re:No, and No (5, Funny)

Professr3 (670356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096722)


Re:No, and No (2, Insightful)

plj (673710) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096688)

Indeed. Does Herdy already have a GUI for configuring all the buttons of a multi-button mouse? And a GUI for configuring all the features supported by Synaptic touchpad drivers (that already are in kernel)?

If not, users still need to edit xorg.conf, and there is still work to be done.

And does it have a GUI for configuring xrandr defaults on X startup, so that users (with compatible drivers,of course) can easily set multi-monitor setups (that have full 3D acceleration support, unlike with Xinerama)?

If not, users still need to edit xorg.conf, and there is still work to be done.

And there are perhaps other severe GUI shortcomings as well, but these two have made myself feel pissed enough that I always remember them.

Re:Yes, and yes. (2, Interesting)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096414)

Convincing the masses to actually install it, now, that's the trick.
No, its getting OEM's to install it that's the trick. Once dell asks you to pay an extra $50 for Vista instead of Hardy, we will start to see Ubuntu pick up some momentum. When there is a price difference, AND an alternative for the consumer when they purchase, the choice is in their hands. Until then, 90% of consumers are just going to work with whats already on their computer.

Re:Yes, and yes. (1)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096686)

Dell sells Ubuntu, and evidently they've been selling better than Dell initially expected. It's still in a different section of the Website, as opposed to being a direct choice opposite of Windows... but it's there nonetheless.

Ready for the masses indeed. (0, Troll)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096504)

Hey man, you should try out this latest version of Linux!

Oh ya I heard about that Linux thing, there are so many versions of it though, it confuses me - what is this one?

It's Ubuntu! The latest release, hairy hardon[1]! I mean.. oh.. bleh, nevermind.. *retreats*

[1] does this mean it's the 'porn browsing' edition?

Re:Yes, and yes. (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096556)

Getting them to keep it installed for more than a few weeks is a big hurdle, too.

Very few will install over MS (3, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096596)

Geeks aside, why would anyone install over an MS box?

What we do see, however, is that devices like EEE PC are making people aware that there is a choice and that Linux is real. Here in New Zealand we can buy laptops preinstalled with Ubuntu in regular retail shops http://www.dse.co.nz/cgi-bin/dse.storefront/48067b6603694d34273fc0a87f3b067e/Product/View/XC5822 [dse.co.nz] . These have been quite popular. They are still quirky: for example setting up wireless is a bit messy (not as slick as windows) and the power management sucks a bit.

I run HH on one of these laptop that came installed with GG. For the most part, I don't think that HH vs GG is much of an issue for adoption. What is important is that distros like Ubuntu are very easy to use/update and that devices like Eee PC are exposing more people to the option. Soon people will be asking for Linux preinstalled on higher spec laptops and we'll see more choice.

Re:Yes, and yes. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096658)

On certain ranges of hardware. Getting my sound, WiFi and network interfaces functioning under Ubuntu 7.06 has been an absolute misery. The sound works intermittently, and I've never got networking working. I'm hoping the next release cleans these things up, though I have my doubts. The worst part for me is that because Ubuntu is so much more a user-friendly distro than my old favorite Slackware, it's that much harder to cut through the crap and simply build the support when all the "easy" methods fail.

Re:Yes, & yes = NO & No (0, Troll)

netean (549800) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096678)

sorry but that's no and no.

Want to use your favourite software (photoshop, dreamweaver, GTA 4 etc: nope, that's for windows and/or mac only.
Want to buy new hardware... well you can if you scour the internet for days finding out if it's compatible; you can't just pop down pcworld one saturday afternoon and pick something up and know it'll work.
Want to use Ubuntu without broadband... nah it's not really designed that way, you'll be waiting days to install anything..

Want to install some software... sure... if you broadband no problem... oh, but it might install the software anywhere on your system... good luck learning to grep it. Fat chance if your friend has just given you a cdrom with software on it!

want to play games.... err... well... no.. not really, but hey we've got solitaire!!!

What about installing applications from magazine's cover disc (like what you can do with windows and osx)... err no, you probably can't do that either... as you'll have to compile something or other and you probably haven't got all the right library headers or something.

want to do anything other than surf the web and run openoffice... get used to using the terminal (still)

KDE and Gnome have come on in leaps and bounds, linux itself has come on enormously in recent years.. but it's still so so far away from being a user friendly OS for regular joes. (just looka the filesystem, it's still a throwback to the 1970s and is virtually unintelligible to non linux folk

WE might all think linux it's the dog's bollocks but we read ./ so by definition we're GEEKS and already technicaly minded... the rest of the world doesn't think like us!

They're doing great (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096228)

It's getting better all the time.

But, unfortunately, it's far from perfect. Ubuntu is and has been good enough for my completely non-computer-literate roommate to use when the system is up and running. But there's no way he could have gotten the wireless working on his own (even in the 8.04 beta, I still had to download and install drivers, then muck around with /etc/networking/interfaces file to make it work).

Still, the progress is outstanding.

Re:They're doing great (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096466)

Most people can't deal with wifi in general.

The OS doesn't really matter. It's a crap bit of technology all around.

This is why in any suburban neighborhood you will find plenty of open APs.

Re:They're doing great (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096580)

True, but if he was using Windows he'd at least be able to connect to one of those open APs with little trouble. ;)

Though at least for my specific case this might be a temporary thing in the beta. Before you had to get a driver from the chipset manufacturer's website and took a fair bit of mucking with, now there's an open source project that delivers working drivers that support wpa out of the box and everything. I think there's even a bug on ubuntu that says they are using the wrong drivers for the ralink chipsets.

Re:They're doing great (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096612)

Oh, and here's another wrinkle that probably doesn't apply to many people, but damned if I can get Ubuntu to install in a mixed ATA/SATA environment. Well it installs, but it won't boot thereafter.

Re:They're doing great (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096634)

I couldn't agree with your post more. My experience with ubuntu on my desktop has been almost perfect, definitely better than windows. I went to windows, to dual boot, to just ubuntu in about three months.

However, I deal with linux every day at work, and I'm reasonably good at it. I don't balk at the command line and even enjoy using it as long as it's working for me. My wife, on the other hand, couldn't care less about what she's running. When I asked her if she's enjoying Vista on her laptop, she just looked at me funny and asked what I was talking about. She won't touch my desktop to save her life. I'm sure that she'd be able to do everything she needs on it, but that's only because I've already set it up. She's installed windows from an image onto her laptop before without any trouble, but I don't think she could do ubuntu.

However, for people like me and (presumably) you who are willing and able to put in the small amount of work, it's great to have a free, high quality, easier-than-windows alternative. I'd recommend it to my parents or my siblings without hesitation as long as they had someone around to help them with it occasionally.

did someone say (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096236)

year of the linux desktop?

Yahoo suggests, yes, it is... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096240)

I was reading this article [yahoo.com] and was astonished to find there is actually massive non-technical user backing behind the project.

Re:Yahoo suggests, yes, it is... (3, Informative)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096298)



Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096250)

.| |
gutsy goatse for the masses [goatse.ch]

Possibly (5, Interesting)

FoolsGold (1139759) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096256)

I would say it's quite possible, but until Ubuntu got something like widespread availability as a pre-installed on computers for purchase, then it won't matter how ready it is because few people in the masses will have any experience.

Right now, with a few exceptions, it's the geeks advertising it to others. There's not enough of us really to make an impact (and not all of us are evangelists). Ubuntu or an equally-suitable disto NEEDS to be pre-installed on a larger number of machines than we currently have. Simple.

Re:Possibly (1, Troll)

mweather (1089505) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096384)

That's hard to do when OEMs are forbidden from advertising anything but Windows.

Re:Possibly (1)

FoolsGold (1139759) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096548)

I'm just saying what I believe need to be done. Not saying it would be easy.

Not only casual computer users (3, Interesting)

javilon (99157) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096262)

Also regular linux users that do not have time for tinkering.

I run a Gentoo workstation for work, where I set up things exactly the way I want them, but this is quite time consuming.

I also have a "media center" type box with ubuntu that the family uses to get and display multimedia content. This box is almost maintenance free, no virus, no problems. A Windows machine would have given me a lot more work and it would have turned me into a pirate :-)

Re:Not only casual computer users (3, Funny)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096440)

I run a Gentoo workstation for work, where I set up things exactly the way I want them, but this is quite time consuming.
Might this be because you're compiling everything from source?

Re:Not only casual computer users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096752)

I run a Gentoo workstation for work, where I set up things exactly the way I want them, but this is quite time consuming.
Might this be because you're compiling everything from source?
No, it's because of magical time-stealing fairies.

Re:Not only casual computer users (2, Funny)

JackassJedi (1263412) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096570)

I also have a "media center" type box with ubuntu that the family uses to get and display multimedia content. This box is almost maintenance free, no virus, no problems. A Windows machine would have given me a lot more work and it would have turned me into a pirate :-)

TYoLotD (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096274)

This year's the Year... I can feel it!

(Not like all those other years -- those were totally different.)

Sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096284)

2008 is the... ah, the... year of... um...

The masses will switch when ... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096288)

The masses will switch when all computers come with Linux pre-installed. The masses aren't going to rip Windows off their machines and install Linux.

Having said the above, it should be noted that more and more computers are coming with Linux already installed. The Eee would be a great example. As hardware becomes cheaper, Microsoft will either have to start giving their software away for free or give up market share. Either way, Microsoft could start losing money and that could lead to the tipping point where there is enough Linux adoption to make it really take off.

People buy computer systems not operating systems. (4, Insightful)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096300)

Normal people don't install operating systems, they buy a machine in a box at the computer shop. While I agree that Ubuntu is the distribution that is closest to being ready for mainstream desktops, it has to get pre-installed on those machines in order to really break into the mainstream market. So far, it hasn't. Dell went with Ubuntu, but they aren't exactly pushing their Linux offerings. Asus chose Xandros for their Linux machine. HP have chosen Suse (Novell). Their machines are or will be on sale at the local computer shop. I don't think it's any coincidence that both those companies signed patent agreements with Microsoft. I imagine Microsoft's legal team can be pretty scary if 99% of your business is based on selling hardware to run their software.

Re:People buy computer systems not operating syste (1)

HW_Hack (1031622) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096694)

Mod the original poster up to 5!

Average users don't buy or install OS's ! In fact they can't keep straight disk size versus DRAM size.

In fact - if normal folks did install OS's we would already be using Linux because 95% of the time a modern Linux distro will load all the typical drivers for you. XP is so fucking brain-dead you have to go to the computers manufacturers web site to get the damn drivers and install them manually.

The masses will adopt a Linux based platform when it is spoon-fed to them and mass marketed by Dell - HP etc.

It is crucial that the Linux community / developers keep moving the OS and desktop forward showing leadership to both MS and Apple.

I stopped believing a long time ago in some "magic conversion" point for Linux to go commercial.

take some risks (4, Interesting)

prockcore (543967) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096306)

I think that in order for linux to be really ready, someone has to suck it up, and include mp3 and dvd playing out of the box.

Stop playing it safe and force Fraunhofer's hand. Make them come out as bad guys and demand you remove mp3 support.

I understand there are scary legal reasons for not having mp3/dvd support.. but as a user, I don't care what they are.

Re:take some risks (1, Insightful)

QMalcolm (1094433) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096430)

I agree totally. I installed Ubuntu about a year and half ago out of curiousity (first experience with linux) and was shocked when I couldn't play my mp3s. This is the kind of stuff that "just works" on WINDOWS, for chrissake.

Re:take some risks (3, Informative)

norminator (784674) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096446)

Some distributions do provide that, such as Linux Mint. Also, the Dell machines that ship with Ubuntu include DVD support, and mp3 support with Ubuntu is just a mouse click or two away when you try to play your first mp3 file.

Re:take some risks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096470)

LinuxMint, which is rebranded Ubuntu based out of Irelan DOES automagically play mp3s and DVDs, grabbed nVidia drivers and broadcom firmware and runs perfectly fine on my Dell Latitude D830.

Even have my 19" LCD plugged into the external jack and have dual x screens configured just like I like them, and I didn't even really have to do anything.

Actually being able to do work WITH my computer instead of having it in various states of disassembly all the time, constantly tweaking out options in FreeBSD and having to explain to my high school teachers (class of '02) why my paper was late because I had to email it to myself and print it in the library but hadn't had a chance to get there yet because CUPS was being a dick is actually a welcome change.

It's a Non-issue (1)

chammy (1096007) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096532)

First of all, a modern OS is centered around the internet. If you don't have a connection of some sort by now, you probably don't use your PC for much.

Ubuntu doesn't need to take any risks, as its a click to install mp3 if you need it. Just play a song, push a button on the dialog that pops up, and you're done.

This really is the best way to make both people who want proprietary stuff like mp3 codecs and people who value freedom happy.

Deja Vu (1)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096308)

I'm pretty sure that we've heard this before. http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/17/055201 [slashdot.org] Fiesty is what I actually cut my linux teeth/popped my linux cherry.

Don't take this the wrong way, I think the guys are doing a great job getting Linux to the folks (maybe not masses, yet). I'm still surprised when a live cd managed to find my hardware faster and get it working.

I am impressed depsite not getting compiz on my dual screen/x-server with nvidia driver running.

The community is doing a great job and I think they'll keep sharpening their edge as they move onward. It'll get more folks, were like me, are on the opposite side of the linux divide to try it.

Commercial Gaming (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096310)

As much as i hate games, and hate to admit it, until you can go down the street to your local big box store, buy a game and it 'just work', its not ready for "the masses". "the masses" want to surf porn, buy stuff from ebay and play their stilly computer games.

For actual useful work, in a company with an IT staff, Linux and BSD have been ready for a while now.

Re:Commercial Gaming (1, Insightful)

prockcore (543967) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096464)

By that token, no OS is ready for "the masses". Half the games out there won't run on my windows machine due to hardware and copyprotection issues. The ones that do run won't "just work" I have to install patches that came out before the software even hit the shelves.

PC Gaming isn't nearly the deciding factor it once was. A big hit on the PC sells 100k copies. A big hit on the consoles is 10 times as many.

Re:Commercial Gaming (2, Interesting)

CowboyNealOption (1262194) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096598)

The interesting thing about this is that as console gaming continues to grow (presumably some of it due to slurping away people from the desktop gaming market) this inadvertently helps linux. I wonder if we will reach a tipping point where developing for the various consoles is more profitable than developing for desktop PCs?

Re:Commercial Gaming (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096608)

"the masses" want to surf porn, buy stuff from ebay and play their stilly computer games.
Interesting that they can do all of that on a console these days.. :P I wonder if consoles becoming more networkable is having any direct effect on PC gaming, and possibly even some people are crazy enough to just use their console instead of their desktop machine, at least for the people you are describing who don't also use MS Word every so often

Re:Commercial Gaming (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096642)

For many, i agree that their pc will be replaced by a console of some sort in the near future.

Re:Commercial Gaming (1)

Gutboy (587531) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096692)

They also want to do their taxes, balance their checkbook, hook up their MP3 players to get music, etc.

Is there tax software for linux? Will the developers pay my taxes if there are errors in the code? Unless they will, it's not good enough for the masses.

Does my iPod, Zune and Zen software run on linux? Can I buy MP3s with an easy to use application that will automatically put it on my player(s)?

There is also the issue of legacy software. People don't want to give up all the software they already have, even if there are free alternatives they can download.

Its almost here! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096322)

2008: The year of the linux desktop... SERIOUSLY THIS TIME!

lol @ the targeted ads at the top of the page (4, Funny)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096348)

Linux - Get The Facts

In-depth 3rd Party Analysis Linux & Windows


Re:lol @ the targeted ads at the top of the page (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096518)

LOL @ you not using adblock. Especially since this is about open source software.

(Sorry for being offtopic).

Re:lol @ the targeted ads at the top of the page (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096574)

Yeah, I had forgotten that Slashdot has ads.

Re:lol @ the targeted ads at the top of the page (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096654)

In-depth 3rd Party Analysis Linux & Windows
Well, I guess they didn't say 'unbiased', so maybe it isn't quite as pathetic as it seems at first.. who would be enough of a moron to make their informed Windows Server vs Linux decision based purely on information on the MS website? -.-

Link to instructions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096354)

Here [ubergeek.tv] is the instruction video on best ways of installing and using.

This year... Again! (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096358)

okay okay, this has been said a few times over the years. I really thought Gutsy was a solid release - and it has been getting better since then! The only problem ... is that I still can't get it to recognize my pci-e wireless card.

Linux won't be ready until it has the compatibility that MS has with XP. (lets not talk about vista)

There is still the change barrier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096372)

The main problem for linux adoption is that people have to spend time to install and learn a new interface. Obviously this will never go away. However, if manufacturers started offering Linux as a preinstalled OS (and cheaper than windows) Many would buy it, simply because its cheaper. At that point, the money they would have spent on windows is spent on learning the new interface, and hopefully sticking with it. Designing a really easy to learn interface is possible, and that, in combination with preinstallation, is going to be the key to adoption.

I don't know if this has been fixed or not, but my father refuses to use ubuntu because it constantly annoys him to update it, and hes never sure if he has to. Ubuntu needs to do periodic patches for non-critical problems (IE: non-security) so that they don't annoy users so much. I'd go so fa as to compare this update model to vista's UAM system, and truly hope its fixed for this release.


My Dad uses it. (4, Interesting)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096386)

Granted, he's a retired rocket scientist, but he's nigh on 80 years old.

He's been on the previous release of Ubuntu LTS for years now and he hasn't a clue how the machine works, which is exactly how he likes it.

All I had to do was hook up his FIOS and tell him to always accept the patches when the OS asked him for permission to install them.

Almost (1)

calibre97 (1274362) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096390)

I was able to get Fiesty Fawn on my HP laptop, but it wasn't exactly easy. First was the wireless chipset debacle, but I eventually found instructions and was able to get it up and running. Then there was the codecs wierdness, getting music and movies to play. Again, doable but not straightforward. And finally there's the issue of mounting items like CDs and USB or Firewire drives. I had to reboot to get something loaded...AND I kept getting errors that I had to be ROOT to do something. To change a .list file, I had to open it, edit it, save it to my desktop and then in a terminal run 'sudo cp ...' because at least that was easier than trying to figure out how to load a text editor as ROOT. Still requiring the command line for what should be basic tasks (that, granted, like the Mac should require a confirmation dialog but I wasn't offered a credentials dialog. I was just given an error) for most people. So, they're close, but I don't know. Since I blew up my partitions and have to start over anyway, I'm eagerly awaiting Heron so I can do it again.

Re:Almost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096524)

So you're quite happy to use the terminal for a 'sudo cp ...' command, but not for a 'sudo gedit ..' or 'sudo kate ...' or even 'sudo vim ...'?

Re:Almost (1)

calibre97 (1274362) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096602)

The item was I'd borked the update manager with the GUI for adding resources. I just wanted to get a working list back so yes, since I was already having to type something, I went with the most expedient and that was to copy the .list file where it needed to go. So I'm not talking about every time. It was really for that one time. As for going forward, why should I have to type a command to launch an app? I'm not saying it isn't possible, it's just not easy to do some things that should be basic. On a Mac, you are prompted for credentials when certain operations warrant them. I don't believe the Windows way is correct, where too many apps just operate, or have to, as 'root', but come on, I think it could be easier is all. I don't mind learning and I get better and better but I guess I'm just speaking for general situations and most novice users.

Really? (1, Insightful)

mmcuh (1088773) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096410)

How sad is the attitude towards computing when "installing device drivers" is deemed to be an unsurmountable task for a human being of normal intelligence? Why is it that everything that has anything to do with computers is considered to be orders of magnitude harder than anything to do with, say, driving a car or cooking dinner?

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096672)

For a lot of new Linux users tho, it's never just "installing some device drivers" is it?

It's a question on the Ubuntu forums, met with derision by linux forum trolls ("Is linux too difficult for you?", "RTFM n00b"....)

It's endless editing of config files, on the advice you've gleaned from a forum until you manage to get the OS working with your particular hardware setup.

No one is saying that setting up Linux is particularly hard to do, it's just that there are two other operating systems (Windows and Mac) that make it a lot easier for the average user. Until a Linux desktop is as easy, or easier than it's competitors it will fail to get a decent market share. Fact.

It Depends (4, Interesting)

menace3society (768451) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096476)

It depends on which masses you refer to. Linux covers about 90% of the Windows world, and it's definitely the most importnat 90%. People can and do switch desktops to Linux. Maybe not as often as you'd like, but they do it.

The problem is that the other 10% is crap like Clippy and Activex that no one on Linux wants to have or implement, but makes a certain number of computer users more comfortable. Windows does so much hand-holding by default, and that's one of the things Linux users hate about it. But it's necessary for a number of people who can never remember the difference between business and friendly letters or for people who are to afraid to even click Settings... let alone dick around with it a bit.

It doesn't help that Linux is mostly marketed by the community as being "Almost-Windows" or "Free Windows", instead of as a product that stands on its own.

People have said as a joke that OpenOffice.org or similar programs will take over once they have their own clippy, but may a true word is said in jest.

Catch 22 for third-party developers (1)

RobinShuff (194579) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096478)

Linux is probably adequate for quite a number of computer users (when installed on compatible hardware) who only browse the web, e-mail, do basic word processing, spreadsheets, etc.

The problem is with the users who want(/need) to play the latest games or run a specific application for which there is no Linux port or alternative.

I'm using Ubuntu here and love it, but I have to keep Windows on my work desktop because I run acoustics simulation software. There's no mass market for this software and the cost to the developer of porting it just doesn't make sense. Maybe Wine will be able to run it in the future, I don't know.

The same is true for some hardware vendors. They typically won't invest in guaranteeing Linux compatibility until there is sufficient demand (economic forces) and that demand is restricted by the lack of hardware/application support...

Just keep asking (4, Insightful)

iliketrash (624051) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096480)

"Is Linux ready for the masses?"

I think that the fact that this question keeps coming up on /. every few months is some sort of indicator.

Wireless security is a huge weakness (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096496)

the terrible state of WPA in wireless support is a huge problem for Ubuntu. I've tried really hard to get WPA on USB wireless to work and it just doesn't. WEP works fine - WPA does not. This needs to be fixed for Ubuntu to able to be used in any properly secured wireless networks.

MP3s (1, Insightful)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096498)

Will it play MP3s as a fresh install? Yes or no.

If no, then it isn't ready for the masses. Period.

Re:MP3s (3, Informative)

soupdevil (587476) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096676)

yes, though you have to click through a couple of dialog boxes for legal reasons. No more difficult than installing a plugin on your browser for Flash or Silverlight.

Ubuntu on a laptop (4, Informative)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096516)

Ubuntu gets better with each release. When I first put Dapper on my Toshiba laptop, I had to fiddle around with the boot menu to get it to work correctly, and I had to remember to do this everytime a new kernel was installed, otherwise the laptop would stuff up on its next reboot. Subsequent releases didn't require this switch though.

The BIGGEST fix they've provided (and I'm sure everyone agrees with me on this) is the failsafe mode if X screws up. Who remembers about a year ago when XServer was updated and it killed the desktop? They quickly remedied the situation but for a lot of people I imagine that it either made them reinstall or switch back to Windows. Luckily I managed to downgrade my version because I hadn't cleaned out my archives in a while.

It's taken a while, but Ubuntu's getting there.

Ubuntu Webserver (1)

psychicsword (1036852) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096550)

When I was moving from a windows server 2003 server to a Ubuntu server I realized the main reason people refuse to switch to linux. I noticed that even though it will install everything I need right off the bat and there are nice guides on The Perfect Ubuntu Server [howtoforge.com] it was still more work then I was willing to do. I had been hosting 3 of my private owned domain names on my "server"(old P4 desktop) and in order to set up the Virtual Hosts I had to make configuration files and use command prompt. Until they make it so you don't need to read an entire manual on how to setup a simple configuration of the linux software then it will not be the year of the linux desktop.

Re:Ubuntu Webserver (1)

cens0r (655208) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096742)

We're talking about linux desktops here, not servers. I have not as of yet had to manually edit anything on my 8.04 beta desktop install. I will admit that I have manually edited a few files in the past for things like running a python script once a day and adding mounting a NFS share on boot. But those aren't exactly things that your average user would ever be doing.

You sound miffed that you had to edit config files to get apache working correctly. THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE. I don't want a gui installed on my servers. I want to ssh in, make the changes and get out. I would prefer to edit config file manually on windows servers as well (and they have recently made this much more available in windows). Did you ever stop and think maybe you don't know enough to be running a server?

No and No. I fought it earlier today. (1, Informative)

mosch (204) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096558)

I'm sure some Linux experts will say I'm just stupid, but I tried to install Hardy Heron on a fairly stock, high-end Dell desktop earlier today.


1) It was unable to use my RAID controller to install onto the existing RAID-1 array. It insisted on being installed on a single drive. To get it to boot at all, I had to completely break the RAID volume.

2) It was unable to use my wireless card. It didn't see it at all, so it wasn't in the "connections" menu.

3) It failed to notice that I have a dual-head video card with two screens attached. The second screen was a mirror of the first during boot, but after boot it turned into a fantastic mosaic of random-colored 80x25 random-ASCII.

As far as I can tell, none of these problems were addressable via the provided system configuration tools.

If there were solutions, they were too hard to find to even consider it being "ready for the masses".

Unix for the masses is here, and it's called OS X. Hardy Heron is difficult to use, poorly documented junk.

Re:No and No. I fought it earlier today. (5, Insightful)

unapersson (38207) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096638)

"Unix for the masses is here, and it's called OS X. Hardy Heron is difficult to use, poorly documented junk."

So did that detect your RAID array and Wireless card when you installed it on your machine?

Re:No and No. I fought it earlier today. (1)

isaac338 (705434) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096744)

Provided he installed it on a mac, most definitely :)

Re:No and No. I fought it earlier today. (1)

HeavensBlade23 (946140) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096750)

I pretty much had the same experience with Hardy. Wireless wasn't working out of the box on my laptop, so after digging my way through 100+ forum posts and websites, it seemed the best solution was to use ndiswrapper with a Win98 driver. I managed to get through all of that and get to the point where I could see local wireless networks, but wasn't able to connect to them after 3-4 hours of changing settings, flashing my router, and trying different encryption options. Standby didn't work correctly either. Honestly your average user would have given up long before I did. Even finding the non-working solution involved playing with different search terms on Google.

Ease-of-use not enough (1)

toppavak (943659) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096588)

While I tend to agree that Ubuntu (and many other distros!) have come a long way in terms of casual desktop user friendliness, its not going to push Linux into the mainstream. I may use it, many of my friends may use it, but until it becomes commercially mass-marketed Linux isnt going to be able to really gain traction in the sense that windows and even osx have. Offerings like Dell's definitely help, even the exposure Linux-based OS's such as the one on the eeePC will help to bring greater awareness, but as I'm sure many of you are aware, a great product great technology does not necessarily make.

Should we assume users are stupid? (2, Informative)

kylehase (982334) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096594)

To make an OS available to the 'casual user' you have to make some decisions for them.

Linus hates this and has sworn off Gnome because he feels Gnome makes too many decisions for the user. He feels that the Gnome project is taking the stance that the users are stupid [linux-foundation.org] but unfortunately this may be just the thing to get Linux desktops into the public mainstream and is part of why Ubuntu is so successful.

Users need a machine that just works out of the box and since Vista doesn't this is a great opportunity for Linux.

user friendly my foot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096614)

The first (and probably last) time I've tried linux, I installed a copy of feisty fawn ubuntu. It took a weekend of web searching to figure out how to get it to work with my dual monitors. Then I ran the update utility because it was bugging me about 140+ updates that needed to be installed. The system froze. I rebooted and tried again. Again, it froze as soon as I ran the updater.

Then I went back to good ol Windows, which I've never had such trouble with.

WTF (1)

DarkWicked (988343) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096624)

I'm pretty sure there's nothing more "casual" a computer user than my dear mother, nevertheless, she's been using Ubuntu for more than a year now at home (Installed by my younger brother following my advice on the phone, because he had no clue what Ubuntu was at the time...).

So why the hell do people still wonder if linux is ready for the casual user... IT CLEARLY IS and has been for a while now, mostly thanks to Ubuntu (I'm a Fedora user myself, so no fanboyism here...).

It's not ready for gamers however, but neither is the hardware config most "casual" "mass" people buy.

Re:WTF (1)

jopet (538074) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096748)

I disagree. Apart from all the hardware your mother obviously doesn't need but a significant amount of potential desktop users wants, the software problem should not be underestimated.
Especially for young users, games are important. The discrepancy between available games under Windows and Linux is enormous.
And there are little things that make a big difference, e.g. a MSN client that has feature parity with the one under Linux: this sounds stupid, but for many users its those things that make a difference. All their friends do video chats with MSN. If they use Linux, they can't do that.

The list is quite long really. We Linux users (I am using Linux for both work and private) should not ignore the reality just because we do not like it.

I really truely wish Linux was ready, but the truth is: only in rare, exceptional cases can you really have some average user use Linux.

Oblig (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096628)

Are you suggesting that 2008 is the year of Linux on Desktop?

Zero Zombies (1)

deanston (1252868) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096644)

Let see, at about 3 releases a year, currently at letter H, hopefully 5-6 years from now, before Ubuntu runs out of the alphabet, or before half of us compute on the clouds via a browser in a handheld, we won't have to talk about adoption of Linux on the common desktop anymore. I'm hopeful, but not holding my breath, having waited so many years. Maybe what Linux needs is not an 'available for all hardware' attitude but a special hardware built for Linux that everybody likes. Let's see how well the UMPC trend fares for Linux.

Not until ... (1)

jopet (538074) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096652)

Ready for the masses? Unfortunately not. Not until those who manufacture hardware provide Linux drivers of the same quality and functionality for their stuff as for Windows (and sometimes OSX). And not until the Linux guys do everything to support hardware manufacturers to create such drivers, if they wish, in the form of closed source software.

Yes, things have become much much better. There are more drivers available than ever, through reverse engineering, through silent help from manufacturers and a few companies even do provide drivers.

But the differences are still huge. In many cases the available features are much limited under Linux: for example even mainboard features like fan RPM sensorsm, CPU temperature sensors etc. are sometimes missing or only partly available.
Office combos: the majority does not work at all or only very limited.
Many mobile phones only work in a very limited way, no software for email/adress sync available, sometimes not even drivers to access the data somehow.
My Garmin tracking GPS only works under Windows, software only available for Windows.
External USB devices like record players, tv, radios, and many more exotic devices are completely unusable under Linux.
GDI printers are still a problem.

And there is one more issue: anything related to protected media content is a problem. Most players and encoders for DVDs and MP3s are currently still illegal or in a grey area under Linux. Player for HD-DVD will be even more of a problem. DRM media are a problem.

Personally I live with those limitations: I use a postscript B/W printer, I use a different (Windows) computer to get maps into my Garmin and I essentiall ignore other limitations. But for many users, these limitations are more important. For a significant number, they are unacceptable.

If Linux wants to become a real competitor to Windows, it will have to give up some of its ideological "pureness". That means: welcome closed source under Linux. Welcome closed source drivers. Make it so that they wont mess up the system, but welcome any attempt of third parties (hardware and software companies) to actually make money with desktop Linux.

Currently, hardly any company sees the potential of making money with desktop Linux users. This is the ONLY real problem. Ubuntu Hardy won't change that.

Fix that.

Same question as always? (1)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096666)

Will it run AutoCad?

problem is not the OS (1)

soupdevil (587476) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096668)

The Linux OS (and basic productivity tools like mail, media, browsing) are ready, but where the heck are the apps? As a sound designer and web developer, I have yet to find a polished pro-level application in Linux. Where is the ftp program to compete with Transmit, Flow or Cyberduck? Where is the web animation program to complete with Flash? Where is the audio production software to compete with SONAR or Logic? While valiant efforts are under way, they pale in comparison to the apps available for OSX and Windows.

Mainstream barriers (1)

Zack115 (1274374) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096682)

Lets look at why an OS wouldn't get adopted: Peripherials really need to be plug and play, so users can buy any vendor's gear and know it will work with their PC (and vendors then become your friends instead of brushing off linux as geek-os) Backwards compatible, lots of people buy lots of new gear, but forcing people to buy new printers is not a great adoption strategy (though Brother would love that, aka Vista) What are still the top 3 uses for a PC by most mainstream people? Surfing, watching/listening to media (mp3, dvd, whatever) and basic office like applications. But then tack on the 3 top add-ons? Wireless network, keyboard/mouse/monitor/printer, and drives (USB, firewire, DVD burners, whatever). Until a linux build can auto detect these, self-configure, and not a single text file needs to be opened or edited for it to work, we're a long way from mainstream - no matter how much i love linux running in my home office...

The masses are not the limiting factor (3, Interesting)

Dracos (107777) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096706)

The masses will accept nearly anything put in front of them which is intuitive enough, and familiar enough, for them to comprehend. Eventually, Linux will take over. When it takes over is up to the hardware manufacturers.

This has two components. When the OEMs gather up enough courage to escape Microsoft's shackles, and when the device makers decide that developing open drivers is worth their time, Linux will flourish. Until then, every year will continue to be the "year of the Linux desktop". How many of these are we up to, 12?

The two main culprits right now are Dell and Nvidia. Dell needs to release the sales numbers of their Linux desktop systems, and Nvidia needs to abandon their binary-only driver approach.

i'm running it (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096716)

My question is shorter: Is Hardy Heron ready? It seems major core packages (like xorg) are updated EVERY DAY! I would expect nothing but minor tweaks in the days before a release. What I am seeing is last-minute scrambling to get changes in. That's disconcerting.

Laptops = Average User (2, Insightful)

Gnodab (1072670) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096724)

I have a HP Pavilion laptop...fairly standard setup. Duo core, Geforce Go, broadcom wireless nic... On the latest version of Ubuntu, I couldn't even load into X because for whatever reason, Ubuntu didn't like my video card. I couldn't even get to the command prompt to download drivers, because whenever I would try it would freeze. I have never, not once, even with 10 hours or so of tinkering, been able to boot clean into ubuntu without video problems. The only Distro I HAVE been able to load into was OpenSuse 10.3. However, After hours with ndiswrapper, and pulling my hair out, I couldn't get the wireless drivers to work, and on top of that, I couldn't hook my laptop to an external monitor. Until Linux can run on laptops with minimal fuss, It won't catch on. There is no way.

The two bigest excuses now are... (2, Insightful)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23096728)

1. - "Why install Ubuntu when I can just use Windows for free?"
Note that by "free," I'm referring to the presumption that it was free with the purchase of a PC, not infringing copies.

This is why IE won the browser wars. Before the integration of IE4, Web browsers either had to be installed manually or were provided by the OEM. The OEMs usually bundled Netscape. Microsoft integrated IE into Windows and changed the OEM licensing so that Netscape-bundling OEMs were punished. You could still download Netscape manually, but why would you want to? Most non-nerds don't care about the browser but rather whether or not it is there at all. It is nothing short of a miracle that Firefox campaigns have been succeeding in getting ordinary folk to install and use Firefox over IE, especially after IE7 came out.

2. - "Windows is just fine. Why bother switching?"
This one is all too familiar to Mac evangelists as well as free OS advocates. This, along with ridiculous prices, is what keeps Apple in the minority. My statement about browsers applies equally to operating systems: people just don't care. They will most likely choose whatever runs what they need at the cheapest price. Ubuntu and other distributions have gone a long way in fixing this, but in order to "convert" someone you would not only need to get them to install Ubuntu but also get them to use Firefox instead of IE, OpenOffice.org instead of Microsoft Office, GIMP instead of Photoshop, Thunderbird instead of Outlook, etc. Yes, you can run most of this stuff in WINE, but the experience is so much smoother with native apps, and users will notice this quickly. Additionally, if everything they run is just run in WINE, there isn't really much of a point, from their perspective, of running Ubuntu over Windows. Windows gives them better compatibility than WINE and is already bundled by almost all OEMs. Might as well stay with Windows.

not while it's called "Ubuntu Hardy Heron" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096732)

It just displays how out-of-touch Linux is with the average user.

Anyway, the average user never installs Linux. He/she may have a sysadmin boyfriend/son to do so, but otherwise, he/she will use either Windows or OS X.

There is no reason for the average user to install Linux. Seriously. None. A well-maintained Windows XP-based Firefox system running Office 2003 (or 2007 if you really need it, or Office 2000 if your requirements are minimal) - and by well-maintained, I mean knowing how to use Microsoft Update and installing Kaspersky - should run smoothly for years. I think Linux users underestimate just how stable and fast XP runs on modern hardware; we are talking about a 7-year-old OS.

Of course, once MS forces everyone to Vista, I'll maybe begin considering recommending Linux - i.e. after 2012. Until then, it's XP all the way.

"Still not ready for mainstream" says I (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23096738)

I know this an entirely "Linux 4 Life" user base, so I welcome the flames, but I must say Linux is not ready for mainstream. When I say Linux, I of course mean one of the many distributions+window managers available to the general public.

A little background on me: I'm not a kernel hacker by any means, but I have a strong background with C++, RH, FC and networking(my profession). I started using Linux rather late in its life, late 90's to early 2k's and it was a great tinker toy! I was able to learn a lot about compiling software from scratch, patching kernels, fixing makefiles tinkering with services. Hell, after enough time, I turned it into a great replacement for the crappy M$ excuses for operating systems at the time. It was faster, more stable and offered all of the applications I needed at comparable speeds (good show Linux community!)

Then Win2k came out... Why should I continue to run an OS where my hardware (specifically my TV card) was not supported? Sure I tried to make it work. Browsed forums, used that new Google thing compiled code and drivers time after time. Why bother if I could just DL the Win2k drivers. I ditched Linux on the desktop and packaged it away to be a nice box to ssh into, use perl/wget/dsniff and other fun college tools. In fact, that box still lives today giving me unprecedented flexibility for scripting/networking/backup/etc.

2K7 rolls around....and my spiffy new Core2Duo arrives. Purchased to be an exclusive Linux box for a few niche applications I use, I wanted to stretch its legs and try some new things. On a whim, I installed a corporate copy of Vista for evaluation...just to try it out. It installed beautifully out of the box. Supported all my (rather basic) hardware. It played my MP3's, played my divx movies with a quick DL, printed, browsed the web, burned CDs...all normal user-y type things. First Impression: Cool OS. Don't have time to dig into this Vista thing though since I bought this bad boy for LINUX! Lets get Ubuntu and load up!

Formated the box.

Install Ubuntu. Oh wait..I can't have my install partition be larger than 200Gig..and my HD is 300 gig. Damn. Oh well...thanks ubuntu.

Damn this background is all dreary brown. Lets fix that. Looking looking...got it.

First, I need my dual line task bar. I have wayyy too many apps open at one time for a single line. Oh wait. Can't do that. Research research research google google google....still can't do it. *sigh*

Hmm wait. I can't play MP3's. Google that... Oh..its some silly license thing. Oh ok. "yum -get something something". Hey it works!

Time to play some Divx....lets make it work with totem. Research research...google goole... oh man. I'll just use my win box. I don't have time for this.

Hmm. I can't print. Lets make cups work.... ugg. Apathy sets in.

Upgraded my memory to 4GB. Uh oh. Ubuntu won't boot now. Google google google... oh... my MB has some hardware that *may* require some module to be blacklisted. wtf. *pulled the memory*

Remember now, I'm quite technically savy and *still* its taking me hours to do these most basic of tasks that Vista gave me in under 30 minutes. I ended up scrapping it as a desktop and use it now, primarily, as a headless box.

Microsoft set the bar for out-of-box usability. Can a bunch of incredibly tech savy linux programmers get there?

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