"Five crucial things the Linux community doesn’t understand about the average computer user"

I wrote “The end of the Mac road”???, as a response to [stag]Ian Betteridge[/stag], now it seams that things have happened in "choose your OS" world....

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes from ZDnet have written a comment to "why does people still use Windows" discussion.

First installment: Five crucial things the Linux community doesn’t understand about the average computer user, second installment and follow up: Three more things that the Linux community doesn’t get.

The sad thing is that he is mostly right, how do you convince anyone to change to something they do not know anything, and btw. cannot promise that it will work.

Over the years I've have many and quite intense discussions with both sides of the fence so to say (I can be quite good at playing the devil advocate).

And what I have found is that, for the common user it is most of the time it's ease of use which is the main thing, and there after applications, most people do not mind OpenOffice>, FireFox, and Thunderbird, but they want their OS to work - that is with all the weird hardware addons they can buy in the local hardware store.

For the corporate user; it a different story all together, companies mostly rely on applications which are not available for any other OS than the one they use. Sometimes they can get around it and move the applications to a web based solution, but that is not always the case, and in some cases that does not even help, as some web applications require Microsoft Internet Explorer (version x.xx, and not y.yy, with Microsoft JVM, and not Sun JVM, and specifically not IBM JVM).

As Adrian points out, there is a huge thing which most advocates for [stag]OpenSource[/stag] sometime forget; Support (not only the free variant), no one is willing to pay for support, that is the end user, corporations know that they need it, I know that for RedHat and Novell SuSE (SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) provide pay for support, and if one buys a box distribution for specifically for consumers there might be 90 days phone installation support, but it is not always the case (correct me if I'm wrong). And in most cases the support is based on installation only, not support for X usb device, or Y harddisk controler.

Then we are back at "what does Microsoft provide", not much I'm afraid, but most hardware works with Microsoft (they probably sponsor hardware vendors), and "everyone knows Windows", which means that if you buy into the Microsoft family you know that the next door neighbor probably will have a 15 year old kid who can help you for a small amount of money, or just for the kick of helping you out.

So what do we have left; we don't want Microsoft Windows, and we cannot really get people to use GNU/Linux as it not ready for consumer use (I'm playing the devils advocate here), well there is Apple, they have a nifty thing called [stag]OSX[/stag] (pronounced: OS 10), which is Unix, with a (in my eyes) cool graphical interface, it works, and in many cases it's very stable. Yes there might be some issues with hardware addon's and other things, but in general terms it works. As Adrian points out you pay for it, it's not being sold separately so you'll have to by the hardware from Apple for a fairly high price - read: you buy in to Apple, and stay there, well that is a truth with modifications, these days you can run Microsoft Windows on your Mac (and also Linux), so do as the [stag]Apple[/stag] PC looks cool - a very expensive way to look cool, but we all have our faults.

Back to the question of [stag]GNU/Linux[/stag], well it have come a long way, someone pointed out to me the other week that Microsoft Windows 1.x wasn't that workable either, and that it have come a long way - yes it have, and yes it does work in an environment where everyone plays by the rules, that is follow the standards, do not use any extensions which a specific to one OS only, then GNU/[stag]Linux[/stag] will work just fine, and when ever the Graphic Card vendors get around to write drivers which are working, then things would be even better. But we do not live in a perfect world (wouldn't that be nice), so we have to adapt. I use GNU/Linux on one desktop as I have applications which only run on that, and I use Microsoft Windows when I need Microsoft Internet Explorer, and mostly I use OSX as that is the common nominator where most of everything works (in some way, with a bit help), and because I still have a terminal which can do what I need.

I wrote this on my Macbook Pro, using Firefox, sitting on my balcony - how cool is that:-)

As I was reading Slashdot I saw a link to this article on LinuxWorld AU about driver support on GNU/Linux, and it seams that things a moving forward on that issue.

And I did not even get around to moan about stability, viruses, and what ever other nasty things are out there, and why it's "GNU/Linux" and not "Linux".


Ian Betteridge said…
One of the things that I didn't really talk about when I posted about moving to Ubuntu, actually, was driver support: so far, everything I've thrown at it has worked fine, which I'd expect given that I'm coming from a Mac world where you don't get the incredible diversity of hardware you have coming from a Windows world.

But more importantly, I suspect that one of the things that prompted my move was also upgrading one of my PC's to Windows Vista, and finding that my 18 month old Sony laptop didn't have full drivers for everything. Although the Microsoft-supplied video drivers worked, they don't support OpenGL - and the Nvidia drivers (which do) were flaky. Part of the sound hardware had no driver. The MemoryStick reader had no driver. A couple of months after Vista's release, not all of these have been fixed.

And all of these were things which had perfectly good working drivers in Linux. The irony that a commercially-developed operating system from the world's leading software vendor had worse driver support than something put together by thousands of coders working independently wasn't lost on me :)

Addressing one point you make about video driver support, Nvidia's Linux drivers certainly seem to be in a better state than their Vista drivers. In Ubuntu 7.04, all I needed to do to use them was check a box in the Restricted driver manager, let it download and install, and that was it - pretty simple. And the only reason I even bothered with that was because Second Life refuses to run with it - otherwise the default, open source driver would have been my preferred option.

Anyway, this comment is getting too long - I'll write a post instead :)
[...] Casper’s Life Life really hates me…. mostly around tea time on a Sunday… « “Five crucial things the Linux community doesn’t understand about the average computer user&... [...]

Popular posts from this blog

Kviknet and IPv6

Apple AirPort Express and Digital Jitter..

MacOS: Disable start of xterm when starting XQuartz