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What Linux needs to improve for the desktop

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  • User profile image
    Sabot

    I follow Locutus on ITToolBox as he has a high signal ratio about what's good, the easy part, and honest about what isn't so good about Linux.

    As we've had a spate of Linux post recently I felt it was important to show what happens when a good Linux advocate has a debate about a hot topic such as improving the desktop ... the main reason why I no longer use Linux ... and where Linux needs to improve the most to compete with Windows IMO.

    http://it.toolbox.com/blogs/locutus/what-linux-needs-to-improve-for-the-desktop-32533?subtype 

  • User profile image
    LeoDavidson

    I've not used Linux much on the desktop, and haven't used newer distros like Ubuntu at all on the desktop, but one problem I remember from messing around with Debian a few years ago was documentation and standardisation. That sounds like two problems, but let me explain...

    I'd wonder how to do something and find some documentation about it, either in the Linux distro itself or on the web. That documentation often didn't match up to my system. It'd tell me to edit a config file in one place when it was somewhere completely different or didn't exist at all (because a completely different system was in place for that feature).

    That's true to a degree with Windows as well... Not all documentation applies to every version. But it seemed a much worse problem with Linux, back when I tried it. It was especially frustrating when man pages which came with the distro didn't apply to it. I think it's also worse for Linux vs Windows because in Windows you can find a lot of settings just by clicking around in the UI, and didn't have to find docs to do things as often, but newer distros like Ubuntu may have evened things up there.

    ---

    From what's mentioned in the article, I'd say that Program Installation is better on Linux than Windows in some ways. (It's also more complex in other ways, mainly due to all the needless differences between distros, IMO, which touches on what I said above.)

    A friend of mine is a big Linux user & developer and often bemoans the fact that Windows lacks a package managment system. I think he has a good point. It'd be brilliant if there was a central, standardised way to install and update all components on the system, not just the Microsoft ones. It'd also be great if vendors could specify dependencies of their installers without having to actually include them, and have the OS handle downloading/updating/installing the dependencies as needed.

    I'm sure there would be some problems with vendors using the packaging system in a dumb way but it seems to me that's one thing Windows could definitely take from Linux. It'd be good for developers & end users and help make the platform more stable/secure by keeping things up-to-date.

     

  • User profile image
    ManipUni

    The main problems with Linux can be summed up in just two words: Consistency & Easy of use.

    Generic Forum Image

    Both Windows and OS X have a very consistent design. But that isn't a surprise given how they are each created by huge companies with just one vision. Linux is created by tens of thousands of volunteers sometimes using different, even competing, technologies.

    By consistency I am not simply talking about how forms and buttons appear, it is deeper than that. For example if I single click this or double click this what happens? What about the control next to it? What about these two applications?

    Ease of use just speaks for its self. Does this preference box really need dozens of options? Does the average user need or want this level of customisation? What is a terminal and why do I need to launch one?

  • User profile image
    ZippyV

    ManipUni said:

    The main problems with Linux can be summed up in just two words: Consistency & Easy of use.

    Generic Forum Image

    Both Windows and OS X have a very consistent design. But that isn't a surprise given how they are each created by huge companies with just one vision. Linux is created by tens of thousands of volunteers sometimes using different, even competing, technologies.

    By consistency I am not simply talking about how forms and buttons appear, it is deeper than that. For example if I single click this or double click this what happens? What about the control next to it? What about these two applications?

    Ease of use just speaks for its self. Does this preference box really need dozens of options? Does the average user need or want this level of customisation? What is a terminal and why do I need to launch one?

    You're comparing a dialog box to an application window.

  • User profile image
    ZippyV

    LeoDavidson said:

    I've not used Linux much on the desktop, and haven't used newer distros like Ubuntu at all on the desktop, but one problem I remember from messing around with Debian a few years ago was documentation and standardisation. That sounds like two problems, but let me explain...

    I'd wonder how to do something and find some documentation about it, either in the Linux distro itself or on the web. That documentation often didn't match up to my system. It'd tell me to edit a config file in one place when it was somewhere completely different or didn't exist at all (because a completely different system was in place for that feature).

    That's true to a degree with Windows as well... Not all documentation applies to every version. But it seemed a much worse problem with Linux, back when I tried it. It was especially frustrating when man pages which came with the distro didn't apply to it. I think it's also worse for Linux vs Windows because in Windows you can find a lot of settings just by clicking around in the UI, and didn't have to find docs to do things as often, but newer distros like Ubuntu may have evened things up there.

    ---

    From what's mentioned in the article, I'd say that Program Installation is better on Linux than Windows in some ways. (It's also more complex in other ways, mainly due to all the needless differences between distros, IMO, which touches on what I said above.)

    A friend of mine is a big Linux user & developer and often bemoans the fact that Windows lacks a package managment system. I think he has a good point. It'd be brilliant if there was a central, standardised way to install and update all components on the system, not just the Microsoft ones. It'd also be great if vendors could specify dependencies of their installers without having to actually include them, and have the OS handle downloading/updating/installing the dependencies as needed.

    I'm sure there would be some problems with vendors using the packaging system in a dumb way but it seems to me that's one thing Windows could definitely take from Linux. It'd be good for developers & end users and help make the platform more stable/secure by keeping things up-to-date.

     

    Ubuntu has a decent packaging system but that doesn't mean the applications are up to date. For example Transmission shipped with Ubuntu 9.04 is still at version 1.51 while the official website has 1.72 available. Sometimes it's not possible to provide the latest version if the application uses a newer library that is not compatible with the library on the OS but Transmission doesn't have this problem at the moment.

  • User profile image
    Erisan

    I like Linux how it is now. I understand that a lot of people (especially "newcomers") wants it to be more like Windows or Mac though. I don't personally care if Linux will have 0.1% of market share on desktops for the rest of its existence.

    That blog post was well written though - gentle (he obviously knew what he is doing Wink)

  • User profile image
    ManipUni

    ZippyV said:
    ManipUni said:
    *snip*

    You're comparing a dialog box to an application window.

    I am comparing two items I launched that look entirely different and work entirely different. The reason why is besides the point.

    Linux doesn't need to be like Windows or OS X to be successful but it does need to be like its self. It needs a set of standards both in look and behavior that work across the board.

    PS - That is also a huge misuse of a Dialog Box.  A Dialog Box exists either to inform the user or to request spesific input. That is clearly a full application since it is requesting at least a dozen pieces of information.

  • User profile image
    Ubuntu

    Let me comment on the article you linked:

    1. Sound - good point

    2. Games - Blizzard has got its WoW client running on OSX, their 3D engine supports OpenGL with a hardware mouse pointer and it runs on Wine - yet they haven't released a binary version for Linux - why? - because they don't care like so many other proprietary software companies - is there a version of AutoCAD for OSX? - their devs didn't even bother to check if it runs under Parallels - devs working for most ISVs are lazy as hell and this is the bottom line - and that includes MS.

    3. Program installation - the guy doesn't understand what he's writing about

    4. Proprietary Drivers - we need to wait for Intel to show nVidia and AMD-Ati how lame they are with their products and drivers

    5. Hardware - great out of the box support compared to what was the case when Vista was launched.

    6. Company Integration - comes with market share

    7. Speed - Linux has 10% of the footprint of Vista - do I need to say anything more on that note?

    8. File Formats - we need standards

    9. Marketing - I'm not a fan of marketing - call me a backwards, lame geek... whatever - I'm a believer in technology and not in marketing

    10. Windowing system - again the guy is incompetent

    11. Proprietary Programs - addressed in point 2

    12. System settings - again the guy is incompetent

  • User profile image
    Ubuntu

    LeoDavidson said:

    I've not used Linux much on the desktop, and haven't used newer distros like Ubuntu at all on the desktop, but one problem I remember from messing around with Debian a few years ago was documentation and standardisation. That sounds like two problems, but let me explain...

    I'd wonder how to do something and find some documentation about it, either in the Linux distro itself or on the web. That documentation often didn't match up to my system. It'd tell me to edit a config file in one place when it was somewhere completely different or didn't exist at all (because a completely different system was in place for that feature).

    That's true to a degree with Windows as well... Not all documentation applies to every version. But it seemed a much worse problem with Linux, back when I tried it. It was especially frustrating when man pages which came with the distro didn't apply to it. I think it's also worse for Linux vs Windows because in Windows you can find a lot of settings just by clicking around in the UI, and didn't have to find docs to do things as often, but newer distros like Ubuntu may have evened things up there.

    ---

    From what's mentioned in the article, I'd say that Program Installation is better on Linux than Windows in some ways. (It's also more complex in other ways, mainly due to all the needless differences between distros, IMO, which touches on what I said above.)

    A friend of mine is a big Linux user & developer and often bemoans the fact that Windows lacks a package managment system. I think he has a good point. It'd be brilliant if there was a central, standardised way to install and update all components on the system, not just the Microsoft ones. It'd also be great if vendors could specify dependencies of their installers without having to actually include them, and have the OS handle downloading/updating/installing the dependencies as needed.

    I'm sure there would be some problems with vendors using the packaging system in a dumb way but it seems to me that's one thing Windows could definitely take from Linux. It'd be good for developers & end users and help make the platform more stable/secure by keeping things up-to-date.

     

    one problem I remember from messing around with Debian a few years ago

    And one problem I remember from messing with WindowsXP a few years ago... - dude - these issues are out of date by now - get the newest disto and then comment on the state of the art.

    That documentation often didn't match up to my system

    It's like you found documentation on WinMe or Win Mobile and complained that it didn't match Vista

    when man pages which came with the distro didn't apply to it

    unless you are a hacker typing 'man' in BASH won't help you - go on the web for some help on the forums for your distro.

    I think it's also worse for Linux vs Windows because in Windows you can find a lot of settings just by clicking around in the UI, and didn't have to find docs to do things as often, but newer distros like Ubuntu may have evened things up there.

    That's exactly the case.

    From what's mentioned in the article, I'd say that Program Installation is better on Linux than Windows in some ways.

    You are right on that one as well.

  • User profile image
    Ubuntu

    Erisan said:

    I like Linux how it is now. I understand that a lot of people (especially "newcomers") wants it to be more like Windows or Mac though. I don't personally care if Linux will have 0.1% of market share on desktops for the rest of its existence.

    That blog post was well written though - gentle (he obviously knew what he is doing Wink)

    I understand that a lot of people (especially "newcomers") wants it to be more like Windows or Mac though.

    That's often the case - if they hadn't used the other systems before there wouldn't be a problem.

    I don't personally care if Linux will have 0.1% of market share on desktops for the rest of its existence.

    The number 1 bug in Ubuntu in the official bug tracker is its low market share. 90% of problems in Linux are the direct or indirect result of its low market share: lack of drivers, lack of software support, file format issues etc.

  • User profile image
    Erisan

    Ubuntu said:
    Erisan said:
    *snip*

    I understand that a lot of people (especially "newcomers") wants it to be more like Windows or Mac though.

    That's often the case - if they hadn't used the other systems before there wouldn't be a problem.

    I don't personally care if Linux will have 0.1% of market share on desktops for the rest of its existence.

    The number 1 bug in Ubuntu in the official bug tracker is its low market share. 90% of problems in Linux are the direct or indirect result of its low market share: lack of drivers, lack of software support, file format issues etc.

    The number 1 bug in Ubuntu in the official bug tracker is its low market share. 90% of problems in Linux are the direct or indirect result of its low market share: lack of drivers, lack of software support, file format issues etc.

    Well, yeah true. I belong to minority that doesn't care about closed source drivers / applications on Linux (there's a "gray area" like firmwares). I'm a Fedora user myself ( Fedora release 11.90 (Rawhide) ).

    Ubuntu's situation is not easy because most of its users uses a closed source video driver (1) and updating projects like X.org or kernel can cause trouble. It seems to take a quite long time to get new proprietary drivers from NVidia / ATI.

    (1) The Secret Lives of Ubuntu and Debian Users

  • User profile image
    ManipUni

    Ubuntu said:

    Let me comment on the article you linked:

    1. Sound - good point

    2. Games - Blizzard has got its WoW client running on OSX, their 3D engine supports OpenGL with a hardware mouse pointer and it runs on Wine - yet they haven't released a binary version for Linux - why? - because they don't care like so many other proprietary software companies - is there a version of AutoCAD for OSX? - their devs didn't even bother to check if it runs under Parallels - devs working for most ISVs are lazy as hell and this is the bottom line - and that includes MS.

    3. Program installation - the guy doesn't understand what he's writing about

    4. Proprietary Drivers - we need to wait for Intel to show nVidia and AMD-Ati how lame they are with their products and drivers

    5. Hardware - great out of the box support compared to what was the case when Vista was launched.

    6. Company Integration - comes with market share

    7. Speed - Linux has 10% of the footprint of Vista - do I need to say anything more on that note?

    8. File Formats - we need standards

    9. Marketing - I'm not a fan of marketing - call me a backwards, lame geek... whatever - I'm a believer in technology and not in marketing

    10. Windowing system - again the guy is incompetent

    11. Proprietary Programs - addressed in point 2

    12. System settings - again the guy is incompetent

    Actually scratch what i said, this is the No. 1 problem with Linux. The fact that instead of taking one on the chin, you blame the user for not being a Linux Power User with a high degree of computer knowledge.

    I want a platform my mom can use... With that attitude Linux will never be that. You'll just call my mom stupid and suggest she learn to use the system as is. Instead of, you know, making it easy or logical...

  • User profile image
    Sabot

    Erisan said:
    Ubuntu said:
    *snip*

    The number 1 bug in Ubuntu in the official bug tracker is its low market share. 90% of problems in Linux are the direct or indirect result of its low market share: lack of drivers, lack of software support, file format issues etc.

    Well, yeah true. I belong to minority that doesn't care about closed source drivers / applications on Linux (there's a "gray area" like firmwares). I'm a Fedora user myself ( Fedora release 11.90 (Rawhide) ).

    Ubuntu's situation is not easy because most of its users uses a closed source video driver (1) and updating projects like X.org or kernel can cause trouble. It seems to take a quite long time to get new proprietary drivers from NVidia / ATI.

    (1) The Secret Lives of Ubuntu and Debian Users

    The point of this thread isn't really about Linux ... but Linux Advocates ... and what makes a good one.

    Locutus doesn't make any personal attacks, isn't rude or abusive. He uses the force of his arguement to successfully get his point across.

    Locutus comes across as a nice bloke that you may not actually agree with on many points but still want to have a drink with down the pub ... and the main point is you are more likely to actually listen to ... and try what he is talking about.

    People like Locutus make people like me want to try Linux again.

  • User profile image
    Ubuntu

    ManipUni said:
    Ubuntu said:
    *snip*

    Actually scratch what i said, this is the No. 1 problem with Linux. The fact that instead of taking one on the chin, you blame the user for not being a Linux Power User with a high degree of computer knowledge.

    I want a platform my mom can use... With that attitude Linux will never be that. You'll just call my mom stupid and suggest she learn to use the system as is. Instead of, you know, making it easy or logical...

    you blame the user for not being a Linux Power User with a high degree of computer knowledge

    Could you point out the place I did that? I complained on the review guy who came up with a list of things he thought needed improvement in Linux and pointed out his suggestions which in some cases were completely ignorant - it's like coming to a C9 forum and writing a post about why you think the DirectX 10 architecture is rubbish because you needed to buy a new graphics card to run Crysis - it's that level of ignorance this guy has on certain points.

    I want a platform my mom can use

    I think that my mom will do just fine running Firefox under Ubuntu and reading her mail in Evolution. Does she need AutoCAD or Photoshop or WoW or Sims? - hell no.

    You'll just call my mom stupid and suggest she learn to use the system as is.

    She doesn't need to know anything system related - she couldn't install or configure Windows so why should it be a problem that she cannot install or configure Linux?

  • User profile image
    Ubuntu

    Sabot said:
    Erisan said:
    *snip*

    The point of this thread isn't really about Linux ... but Linux Advocates ... and what makes a good one.

    Locutus doesn't make any personal attacks, isn't rude or abusive. He uses the force of his arguement to successfully get his point across.

    Locutus comes across as a nice bloke that you may not actually agree with on many points but still want to have a drink with down the pub ... and the main point is you are more likely to actually listen to ... and try what he is talking about.

    People like Locutus make people like me want to try Linux again.

    He uses the force of his argument to successfully get his point across.

    His argument is pretty weak and not thought through to the least extent.

    Locutus comes across as a nice bloke that you may not actually agree with on many points but still want to have a drink with down the pub

    To the ignorant reader he comes across as a Linux guru. But to a technical person like many here on C9 he's a clown and if we don't point that out then people will take the guy seriously while in fact he's a joke.

    People like Locutus make people like me want to try Linux again.

    He criticized Linux unfairly in at least a couple of points - don't know how this is supposed to encourage people to try something that they have just read to run so poorly.

  • User profile image
    ManipUni

    Ubuntu said:
    ManipUni said:
    *snip*

    you blame the user for not being a Linux Power User with a high degree of computer knowledge

    Could you point out the place I did that? I complained on the review guy who came up with a list of things he thought needed improvement in Linux and pointed out his suggestions which in some cases were completely ignorant - it's like coming to a C9 forum and writing a post about why you think the DirectX 10 architecture is rubbish because you needed to buy a new graphics card to run Crysis - it's that level of ignorance this guy has on certain points.

    I want a platform my mom can use

    I think that my mom will do just fine running Firefox under Ubuntu and reading her mail in Evolution. Does she need AutoCAD or Photoshop or WoW or Sims? - hell no.

    You'll just call my mom stupid and suggest she learn to use the system as is.

    She doesn't need to know anything system related - she couldn't install or configure Windows so why should it be a problem that she cannot install or configure Linux?

    You bashed him for pointing out areas that USERS are finding the platform hard to use. It might be ignorance but perhaps Linux requires so much knowledge that it is difficult for any normal person not to be ignorant unless they have a degree in CS and several years of Linux development under their belt.

    If my mom got a new computer and had to setup her Internet, Printer, and a wanted to set a certain background she would struggle more with Linux than either OS X or Windows. Some of the printer installations still contain compile instructions only.

     

  • User profile image
    Erisan

    Sabot said:
    Erisan said:
    *snip*

    The point of this thread isn't really about Linux ... but Linux Advocates ... and what makes a good one.

    Locutus doesn't make any personal attacks, isn't rude or abusive. He uses the force of his arguement to successfully get his point across.

    Locutus comes across as a nice bloke that you may not actually agree with on many points but still want to have a drink with down the pub ... and the main point is you are more likely to actually listen to ... and try what he is talking about.

    People like Locutus make people like me want to try Linux again.

    Second try. I managed to delete my first post. Yeah, sorry I hadn't mean to trash this thread with unrelated Linux discussion.

    I like the way he express his points. The Linux advocates has a bad reputation and for a good reason... unfortunately. There's a lot of sane advocates but unfortunately the bad ones are much more noisy.

    I must admit though that nowadays I don't give a poop about these "What Linux should do" type of blogs. I found it much more productive and interesting to read posts that has been sent to mailing lists direct to developers. Those are the places where the magic happens. Of course the developers' blogs are really interesting also.

  • User profile image
    Ubuntu

    ManipUni said:
    Ubuntu said:
    *snip*

    You bashed him for pointing out areas that USERS are finding the platform hard to use. It might be ignorance but perhaps Linux requires so much knowledge that it is difficult for any normal person not to be ignorant unless they have a degree in CS and several years of Linux development under their belt.

    If my mom got a new computer and had to setup her Internet, Printer, and a wanted to set a certain background she would struggle more with Linux than either OS X or Windows. Some of the printer installations still contain compile instructions only.

     

    You bashed him for pointing out areas that USERS are finding the platform hard to use

    The rationale that guy had was the following: I wonder why so few people use Linux? Bing ( Wink ) I bet they find it hard to use. Let me blog about that. This is the force of his argument that you are referring to. And while most people have years of experience with Windows when they switch to Linux they are suddenly on a level playing field with the noob that is learning to use a PC for the first time in his life.

    If my mom got a new computer and had to setup her Internet, Printer, and a wanted to set a certain background she would struggle more with Linux than either OS X or Windows.

    Setting up a printer in Linux comes down to connecting the USB cable and the power adapter.

    Some of the printer installations still contain compile instructions only.

    While some other printers do not have any drivers for Vista.

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