back to article Linux desktops grow and grow and grow

Use of the Linux operating system on desktop machines is continuing to grow with small and medium business showing the most enthusiasm for the open source software. The Linux Foundation annual survey really runs till the end of the month but entries are drying up, and they've already received 20,000 responses, so they've …


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  1. alain williams Silver badge

    Where to go to complete the survey

    If you want to participate in the survey, go here:

  2. Joerg

    The truth is way one uses Linux other than on servers...

    ...that's the only truth. What growth rate ? There is no adoption growth rate among the general public. Those using Linux for anything different than a server are just a a few thousands worldwide, a very small percentage, absolutely smaller than OS X (which is a real Unix) on Apple hardware.

  3. Pete
    Thumb Up

    I moved to Linux

    a few years back, after dabbling with it for a while, I'm not particularly a geek, but I am a computer programmer, working with PHP and MySQL

    It suffices, I do miss some of the toys with windows, like Paint Shop Pro for example.

    I switched mainly as I was sick of paying for Microsofts insecure OS, since switching I've had no problems worrying about viruses or malware, which is worth the inconvience of some things not working correctly, such as the BBC media player

    I know if I could be bothered I could read up on, and sort out, many minor irritaions such as WINE suddenly deciding to crash KDE but really, what matters to me is my computer works, and keeps on working, never crashes (except if I run WINE) and does the job it's supposed to do.

    What helped me switch I think, was that I was already using alternate browsers (Opera) Open Office and such, so there was little pain involved in switching over as all the tools I needed remained the same.

  4. steven
    Thumb Up know its going to happen

    With the releases that Ubuntu give and with some of the amazing desktop effects that now come with it (its what vista should have been - but runs low spec machines), is it any surprise that more people are willing to give it a try?

    Having made the shift from windows to ubuntu as my main machine - I do not miss any applications - the only thing that I thought i would miss is playing games - but I have a PS3 for that, and guess what I use as the 'other OS' on that....yup, you guessed it...Ubuntu.

  5. Richard Austin

    Nice to see.

    As a recent convert to linux as my main operating system, this is interesting to read. Windows really does have such a stranglehold on the public, but its time that this was relaxed.

    Driver issues really are a pain and could do with being simplified to enable end users to be more at home with using the alternative.

    As I'm still a new user myself, being told that I need to recompile the kernel to make a driver work, then to be told I don't have the libraries required is frustrating. For somebody less masochistic, this would be a nightmare.

    Well it's a step in the right direction and I, hopefully like many others will not be turning back.

  6. James Le Cuirot

    Eee and N810

    With the Eee and N810 flying off the shelves, Linux adoption by Average Joe is hopefully on the up, at least a little.

  7. Radix
    Paris Hilton


    I followed the links thinking I might complete a survey form as I've been using Linux for several years but couldn't find anything later than August 31st.

    Am I merely being a duffer or is there some other mystical process required to complete this quest?

  8. Chris Cartledge
    Thumb Up

    Good news

    It is all good news and also lots of internet cafes now use Linux.

    But what I want is speech recognition. Sadly the linux edition of IBM's Via voice disappeared some time ago but the availability of a Mac OS X version suggests that it could be revived.

  9. Hugh Cowan
    Thumb Up

    Switched 6 months back

    I switched to Linux 6 months ago and I haven't look back since. I started using openSuse but after I upgraded my video card on my desktop I was getting an error that I couldn't fix so I decided to look into Ubuntu. Much better!

    I recently started a new job and was given a company laptop with XP on it. Man I never realised how slow XP was!! Especially shutting down!

    The only program I really miss is iTunes. Although I can manage my iPod with other programs there is something I miss about the overall feel of iTunes.

    By the way why isn't there an icon of Tux here? You have Bill G as an angel and the devil and Steve J as angel and a devil but no Tux. Is El Reg anti-Linux? ;-)

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    for Pete

    Sorry, Pete I think you are incorrect.

    That new eeePC from Ausus is the way its happening - its top of the hardware lists in

    I moved mum and pop to Lunux as an experiment (Mum had ECDL, some windows 2000 and office experience). After a couple of days, they have used the Ubuntu box for shares/banking surfing and real audio radio (dads thing). They dont use much else, and havent 'missed' the move.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Statistics can prove anything

    20,000 Respondents? From a global perspective of billions of computer users, 20,000 doesn't even register as a blip and yet this survey shows just how well Linux is doing getting onto desktops? Please stop being sensationalist

  13. Stephen Pegrum

    Info Sources

    As a linux convert with 5 PCs at home I was particularly irritated by the comment "There is no adoption growth rate among the general public. Those using Linux for anything different than a server are just a a few thousands worldwide, a very small percentage, absolutely smaller than OS X."

    Based on What? Is there really any reliable data on numbers of linux users?

    However one interesting place you might like to look esp if you are a Skype user is in the skype forums here:

    I would suggest that it is possible to judge platform usage from the numbers of posts for each type of platform,

    If so, at time of writing this (23Nov2007) the proportion of desktop platfoms is like this.

    Windows: 76%

    Mac OS X: 14%

    Linux: 10%

    This may well focus on domestic users and you may even say Linux users need more support, but I would have though it is reasonable to say that 5-10% of domestic PCs are runnig Linux and that they are only slightly behind MacOS. That's a huge number!

    Good weekend everyone!

  14. Ash

    Wireless on Linux

    I've yet to find a distro which will support my wireless connection. It's not some dodgy USB key either; Belkin 54Mb PCI card (identified as Broadcomm chipset in xp64). Wireless has never worked in over a year that i've had this card, using RedHat (Fedora Core), Knoppix, Ubuntu, and Mandriva.

    It's the only reason for me not changing, and not recommending any home users I know change.

  15. Edward Rose

    Damn shame....

    I only moved to Linux to be different.

    Realising that it was getting popular I quickly jumped to Debian (okay, to be honest, I hate Redhat - my first distro). Spent a few years with Debian and then that was getting too popular. Off to Gentoo.

    Will I need to switch back to MS Windows in a few years time just to be different?

    And, on a more serious note, being the type who enjoys hacking things I hope Linux doesn't get too MS Windows user friendly. It'll take half the fun away. People will see the standard desktop style and never realise there is more to play with in life.

    How long unitl companies start rolling out scripts which automagically re-jig the kernel .config file and produce the modules you need? Or, hell, produce the drivers...

  16. Simon Greenwood
    Thumb Up

    re: Nice to see

    The thing that has assisted the growth of Linux has been the removal of the need to compile almost anything for most desktop or laptops in modern distributions. I've used Mandrake and now Ubuntu for the last seven or eight years and usually it Just Works (well, I switched to Ubuntu when Mandrake stopped Just Working, but that's by the by). Of course, you can continue to go with the compiling route but it's not compulsory unless you have esoteric hardware or like a bit of control of your apache build. As Mrs Doyle said, 'some people like the pain'.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Unreal Unix!

    "Those using Linux for anything different than a server are just a a few thousands worldwide"

    ...says someone who considers OS X "a real Unix".

  18. Chris Rowson
    Gates Horns

    Linux is Go!

    You've only to look at some of the up-and-coming products like the asus eee PC and the Walmart gOS Linux PC to see that Linux is going starting to go mainstream.

    At the end of the day, money talks, and if someone can get themselves a cheap PC that browses the net, and runs a word processor, they're happy.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    The Important Stuff

    A few years ago I was introduced through a friend at work.

    The routine my family have settled down too is central login and home area management, web browsing, email, graphics creation, file retrieval and storage of things you want to be sure your are going to get back if something goes pear shaped are all done on Linux.

    Windows is used for certain work related apps that are windows specific, and games. Creation of documents is done on whatever is convienient at the time.

    In short Linux everything important or where security is needed. Windows everything else. Says it all really.

  20. Roger Greenwood

    AutoCad should worry

    Although using SuSE and Ubuntu at home, work is still restricted to M$ due to Autocad. But not for much longer. We have just moved 2 machines to Bricscad - an Autocad clone, and they do a Linux version. As well as being 1/3 the cost of Autocad, the lack of dongles and registration makes it easier to live with. So far I reckon its about 98% of Autocad, with updates coming out all the time. Next desktop could be without the M$ tax.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Joerg is a plonker

    I can't really imagine what this fella motice for this silliness is, but the recent debacle occasioned by equally silly comments from the BBC's management should make it clear even to Joerg how wrong he is.

    In case you missed it, Joerg, when said manager reckoned that only a few hundred Linux users read BBC news website, it was very rapidly shown that he was out by at least a couple of orders of magnitude.

    But don't let facts get in the way of a good prejudice.

  22. Aaron Harris
    Thumb Up

    Live CD

    Do these numbers include people like me that have to run Windose for work stuff but use Ubuntu of a live CD for everything else. Best of both worlds, I get to play with Linux and still get paid for my real work.

  23. Steven Hewittt


    The survey is ran from a Windows 2003 powered box! It's in ASP.Net! ROLF!!!

    Seriously though, the numbers don't really mean anything as it's the Linux Desktop survey. Forgive me if i'm wrong here, but if you don't run Linux on your desktop, you wouldn't take part.... so it's going to be filled in by people running Linux.....

    The 5th comment is about someone recompiling a kernel. Sorry, but I want my OS to work for me, not the other way round. Quite happily explain to some idiot user / grandmother / boss how to install Java on Windows Vista - but forget it when it comes to Linux.

    As a matter of principle I refuse to have to edit configuration files to install something as simple as a runtime environment from an out of the box platform.

    Servers = it rocks. (Well, for DNS, Firewall, DHCP, certian POS / critical apps etc.). However for generic server use and for desktop use it's still a joke. Desktop works great till it breaks and your faced with a flashing cursor at a bash prompt, and generic server is fine until you compare it to a Windows network. Just hasn't got the integration and management tools there yet.

    My 2 pence worth!

  24. Shaun Sheppard

    Load of tosh

    To the bog standard computer user Linux is too difficult...simple as, and until this changes there will never be a massive uptake.

    All my PC's run windows, can't say they ever crash and nor have I ever got a virus, and I never get spyware either.....I look after my PC.

    I've tried Linux, but as a web developer I missed photoshop and dreamweaver, and then visual studio and the .net framework....yeh there's wine, but it's such a pain to setup.

    Windows seems to be a common platform, if someone gives me a file or application, it's likely it'll come from a windows machine, simply because there are more windows machines around than Linux machines, and if I wanted to get half the stuff I was given to work on linux it would involve re-compliling the kernel and looking for dependencies or something like that.....which is a really time consuming task.

    I'm not bashing linux, there's a lot of effort going into building each distro, but the facts are plain to see, it's not as easy to use as windows, and getting stuff to work can be too difficult or time consuming for people with busy lives.

  25. Chris Rowson

    I love you guys...

    I love all of the 'Linux is too difficult for bog standard users and no one is using it comments' - You guys crack me up!

    Watch this space, as the cheapy PCs without MS tax start getting more and more popular, you'll bow down to your penguin leaders Mooooowahahahahahahahaha!

    Footnote. I've migrated my missus, older family members and a guy who fried his graphics card, because the fan ended up full of man hair and kebab leftovers to Ubuntu and I don't get nagged to fix their computers anymore. They just work!

  26. Alex

    I honestly hope...

    ...that Linux doesn't end up as winblows. there are plenty of idiots as it is demanding "windows likeness" and "better integration" of individual gui components. piss off and read a manual/use the console, you bloody noobs!

    and to the killjoys saying that this is sensationalist news: where the hell are there billions of people using windows? oO I'd be amazed if even one billion people had a PC/mac/whatever connected to the interwebs,

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Open Group seems to think that OS X is Unix

  28. janimal
    Thumb Up

    New Users

    Personally I run a dual boot, mainly because I still have a few windoze games and for certain graphics progs & for visual studio.

    I have however in the last couple of weeks installed Mandriva 2008 free on a friend's machine (a single mum with 3 young boys who used to constantly destroy windows with malware) and on my Mum's machine (also constantly nerfed by malware using MS)

    Once I had Mandriva installed & turned on 3d desktop my friend's kids were instantly in love with it, with the eldest vowing to ditch windows on his laptop at the first opportunity. The only game the kids played on the pc was The Sims and they just didn't care that they wouldn't be able to play it anymore, for everything else they use consoles.

    My mum only needs it for web browsing and a bit of word processing, how many other people's parents only use the web, word processors and maybe skype?

    There is a massive market for Linux desktops out there.

    The only thing I have to do is make sure they let me check how easy it is to install drivers for any given hardware they are thinking of buying & make sure they get something we can get working.

    So that's two less windows users and potentially 3 more when the kids get their own machines.

    Penguins rule

  29. Cameron Colley

    Harder to use.

    I assert that Windows is harder to use than Linux. I know this to be the case because I managed to install Linux on a laptop, and it just worked, I then went to install Windows on the same machine -- and needed to look around for these things called "device drivers" to get my display to work correctly.

    I also tried to install windows on the new Linux machine, and found I couldn't do so without wiping Linux off it.

    Then there's the fact I can't get Windows to connect to my server using sftp -- it doesn't recognise the protocol, apparently,

    I think you will find that both Linux and Windows are "hard to use" when installing on hardware not supported out of the box, or trying to do something the operating system wasn't designed for. The fact is, though, that once installed there's not difference at all in the "difficulty" of using them -- you just move your mouse over the menu and click. It might be the case that individuals who learned computer use parrot fashion "Click Edit-Preferences every time you open Word" may struggle at first -- but that doesn't mean the new way of doing things is harder.

    Re: Wireless on Linux

    Yup, my biggest pet-hate at the moment when it comes to this issue -- lazy, greedy, MS supporting manufacturers.

    For the record -- most wireless chipsets are supported under Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) but, due to the aforementioned manufacturers, you need to activate them via a click-through agreement. Same goes for some video, and possible other, drivers too.

  30. Charles

    In related news..

    Surveys indicate that Linux desktop users now exceed CP/M users.

  31. A J Stiles
    Gates Horns


    The proper way to fix the driver issue is to write to your elected representative and call for it to be made law that if a company wants to sell computer hardware, then they must make available sufficient documentation that would enable a competent programmer to create a software driver capable of using the full functionality of the product -- or be banned from selling it altogether.

    Linux will never, ever have a stable kernel ABI -- binary compatibility is not at all part of the Linux design philosophy. The emphasis is on source compatibility (and yes, that means that some drastic changes may require recompilation of applications, which is not a problem if you have the Source Code -- and the Linux developers expect you to have the Source Code).

    The whole practice of withholding Source Code from users has to stop. The Source Code to Windows is not generally available, and yet this has done almost nothing to limit unauthorised copying of Windows -- whilst forcing thousands of businesses to alter the way they do business to suit the software they use because they were unable to modify the software to suit their established workflow, and costing inordinate amounts of of time dealing with problems that could have been solved quickly and easily with access to the Source Code.

    Now, please, since El Reg runs on Debian, can we please have a penguin icon? Maybe a Debian swirl, too?

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Photoshop My Arse

    Don't get me wrong, I love Linux. I use it in work (as a development machine and on servers), I play with it at home and so on.

    But those who are waiting for heavyweight commercial apps like Photoshop and AutoCAD to be ported, I would say don't hold your breath.

    Apart from the old argument of the installed base being too small to make it worth their while (which it is), what GNU/Linux distribution would they actually write apps for? I mean, which packaging system (apt, rpm, ...), which desktop, which kernel, which compiler version?

    It works OK when there are loads of people willing to port the sources to different distributions, but that isn't going to happen in the world of closed source.

    The problem is all that choice - when there's a squillion different flavours of everything, your support problems get out of hand. And Adobe et al certainly won't see a need to throw money at that for a long time to come.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @ Steven Hewittt

    > ROLF!!!

    Rolls On Laughing Floor ? The floor is laughing at you ? Probably about right judging by the content of your post.

    > The 5th comment is about someone recompiling a kernel.

    Cant remember the last time I had to build a kernel. Probably pre-2000. Decent distros with GUI installers ended the necessity

    > As a matter of principle I refuse to have to edit configuration files

    Cant remember the last time I edited config files either. They have GUI tools these days.

    > However for generic server use and for desktop use it's still a joke.

    Huh ? I've been using it as a desktop with GUI tools for 6 yrs min (and for many years prior to that with minor intervention with config files). "Generic server" is what it is used for in the majority of businesses.

    Please try to keep up.

  34. Darren7160

    My Wireless

    Hi Ash, I hope you read this. I tried numerous flavors of Linux and settled on the 64-bit version of Ubuntu for my Acer laptop. None of them would recognize my Broadcom wirelss... I found out how to get it to work.. I aped the instructions give and could not tell you how I did it... but there are forums out there that can do it! Please don't give up. I was also able to get my actual ATI graphics card to work instead of using a vanilla driver.

    I love my Linux! It boots fast, runs fast and does everything I want it to do. It makes it possible for me to enjoy the benefits of my memory and dual core processor. My Vista boot sucks... it takes forever to load, seems to lose my preferences so I have to continually set them for directory sharing and other options.

    After downloading and installing CA protection software available through my ISP my Vista no longer boots. Sigh. I could never get my old Win XP on my desktop to go past SP1 and it crahsed and burned so many times I have to call India to get a license number to reload it. Why bother? I have Ubuntu on it too now.

    Growth is the same issue as with game machines. If there aren't a lot of machines progammers don't want to make games for it. Without the games, people don't want to buy the macine. Give Linux a chance... it will only get stronger and bigger which will attract the hardware venors and push them towards supporting Linux. They are not going to want to lose customers who buy based on some other companies being able to support linux.

    It will not happen over night, but that is fine.

  35. Dougal


    Have you tried Ndis wrapper and the windows drivers?

  36. Paul

    The futility of trying to count active users

    The truth is there are no accurate figures for use of *any* OS.

    If you try to think about all the combinations of downloads, purchases, piracy, installs, upgrades, removals, retired hardware, multiple-booting systems and so on which ultimately add up to the number of active users of each OS right now, your head might just explode from the concentrated futility of it all.

    Anyone claiming to know exactly how many people run any given OS is lying. They don't know, because there's no way they possibly *could* know.

    The nearest I can get is our web server logs. This is for a non-techie e-commerce site, so I'd expect the OS figures to be about representative of the world at large, not skewed in favor of any one OS, and it's safe to assume that these are pretty much all *desktop* users. Of course we don't know how many active OS installs are represented by 100% of PCs in use worldwide, so it still doesn't get us a definite number.

    Last month, 89% of visitors ran Windows. 4.2% were on Macs, and 1.5% Linux. The rest are "unknown", or "other". If that 1.5% was all of Joerg's "few thousand" then there would be no more than a couple of million PCs in active use worldwide. I think we can safely say that his numbers smell like the place he must have pulled them from! :-)

    More relevant though is that's about double the number of Linux visitors compared to a year earlier, about 3-4 times the number of Mac users, and about a 6% drop in the total for Windows. Which supports the desktop Linux growth claims, and should make the Mac faithful smile too. :)

    For the record, claims 436,740 registered users just now. Some of those will have ended up back at Windows or moved to the Mac, others will be overlord of multiple successful installs of Linux, and some Ubuntu users won't ever have registered there in the first place.

    100% of statistics are crap. ;-)

  37. Captain DaFt

    Linux rising...

    If nobody is using, or switching to Linux based OS's, then why was I burning Puppylinux disks this Thanksgiving holiday for family members that wanted a copy?

    Seems if nothing else, a lot of "Joe Normals" are actually starting to suspect that there may be other/better alternatives out there.

  38. Anonymous Coward


    I have a Belkin 54G card and 2 Belkin 54G USB keys. Each one has a different chip set (even though the USB keys have the same part number and were bought from the same store on the same day). All my machines run Linux - 2 on Ubuntu 7.04 - I plugged in a long ethernet cable to get Internet access, Googled 'automatix 7.04' and followed the instructions - the other is running Mandriva 2008 Free. Mandriva just worked, way easier to install than any version of Windows, all the drivers and many of the apps are available on 1 free to download CD. I Googled 'easyrpmi' and followed the instructions. No cli, no recompile, GUI install of 1000's of apps from the Internet and it's legal too.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WLAN drivers

    I managed to use ndis wrappers to even get my WLAN card working under Solaris x86 years ago...gotta be a doddle on Linux surely???

    For all of those WinDoze users that need Photoshop/Dreamweaver/whatever there must be 1,000 others that would benefit from keeping old/slow hardware running on Linux for basic stuff like web/word processing.

    Viva choice, at last.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Linux Desktop.

    My opinion is that Linux needs to become easier to install applications from the web and to try to support more hardware drivers. I know its not going to be easy since some companies won't release code for Linux drivers. I recently converted all my computers over to Linux and have tested at least 20 distros. I have found TWO that work right out of the box (including WiFi) and that is PCLinuxOS2007 and Granular2007 which is based on PCLinuxOS. I was through paying money to M$ to upgrade and all the viruses and malware. Yes I have used M$ Windows since Windows 3.1. I decided to give Linux a try although I am no computer geek I do know somewhat about the linux system from doing a lot of reading but the average desktop user is not going to do that. I know all you computer geeks are just totally against a Linux distro like M$ Windows, but that is what needs to happen for Linux to go mainstream and for the average computer user to WANT Linux. The Linux geeks can still have there distos to play with we just need a couple of distros that just works.

    My list of just works distros.

    1.PCLinuxOS2007 and Granular Linux2007

    2.Mandrivia One 2008


    This includes Wifi for Broadcom and Zonenet wireless cards.

  41. Leo Maxwell

    My family use linux,no problem

    I run a mixed network. Linux, Mac, Windows

    Last week, I had to shut down all of our servers at work to install a big new UPS system.

    Windows main server took 25 minutes to shut down- redhat server carrying a similar workload-6 minutes.

    I never need to reboot my Linux servers after an update!

    We run linux and windows servers and desktops, linux and external servers, Mac design stations- and we use the Linux boxes to share stuff to windows.

    At home we are a windows free environment-Linux does everything we want, reliably and securely.

    Linux is not "hard to use" unless you have to forget all the MS stuff to learn something different.

    The Linux traffic on formerly windows only forums is increasing almost daily

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still Waiting for Linux

    I was hoping that my last M$ OS Purchase (win2k) would be my last. At the very least i intended to skip XP as i do tend to skip out a generation of an OS as i did with ME.

    However currently i see myself having to buy Vista as Linux still seems not quite friendly enough for me. That said though it is a while since i played with a Linux distro and therefore this is an impression rather than a decision and when i build my new PC ill put Linux on this one and maybe just maybe Vista will be the last M$ OS i buy.

    Here's hoping :-)

  43. Leo Maxwell

    And just to belabour the point

    Next time you use a photocopier, 95% chance it runs Linux or NetBSD :-)

    Along with a lot of other hardware, (routers, PVRs, HTPC,etc) Linux is where it's at.

    Nobody has used windows for an embedded hardware OS since 1998.

    Oh, and apparently 95% of the world's supercomputers run Linux.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Darrin

    Your first mistake was to download any CA products! If given a choice between using CA and nothing at all, I'd opt for a tunable firewall and go without the AV, as stupid, as stupid as that sounds... Their AV products blow, as do the vast majority of their enterprise products.

  45. GrahamT

    More people run (embedded) Linux than they think

    My Panasonic LCD TV uses Linux. Down deep in the menus is the GNU license and a URL to find the source code. This TV has won Which and other best buy awards, so presumably is quite popular.

    (this posted using Ubuntu Linux via wireless - oh my BT router is Linux too)

  46. John

    re: The truth is way one uses Linux other than on servers...

    quote: "just a a few thousands worldwide"

    Hmmm, reports around 5,000 people active on the forums at any one time on average (I am there most days so I kinda see it)...."Currently Active Users: 6112 (721 members and 5391 guests)" @ 12:39am GMT thats not bad going I'd say.

    Thats *just* on Ubuntu forums, not withstanding all the other linux forums at any one time. Uptake on linux is growing slowly, but I rather suspect that growth will accelerate as more do change, word of mouth etc, popularity does drive growth after all its not a one way street in that respect.

  47. fred base


    For anyone needing to run windows apps on their linux box and for whom Wine is not a suitable option, virtualisation is the way to go. Have a look at Virtualbox ( It sets up a completely independent area of your disk that can run alternative operating systems such as windows XP.

    Or you could set it up on your windows box and run linux from within virtualbox.

    I agree that some linux distros are harder than others to maintain, but the ends really do justify the means. lists many of the alternatives - there's something for everyone. And you can also try out many of them without affecting your hard disk by booting from a "livecd" version of the distro you're interested in.

  48. BitTwister

    @Linux Desktop

    > My opinion is that Linux needs to become easier to install applications

    Er, how much easier can it get - telepathic installers, perhaps?

    With KUbuntu I can select from a shedload of the more popular applications available within the provided installer GUI - even select multiple packages - then click one button to install them or, with Ubuntu being Debian-based, having downloaded a .deb file I can select right-click|install on its dinky little icon in the GUI - or failing any of these, I can search the list of oooh, 20,000-odd goodies shown at using basic search parameters ("mp3", "DVD player" etc.) and having found the package name, at a console type a whole 21 characters followed by the package name to get it installed.

    Last time I checked, plenty of other Linux distributions provided similar one-click installation methods too - SUSE certainly did 5 years ago, and a rudimentary but usable GUI method existed in a 2001-vintage Redhat distribution.

    Where *have* you been, man??!!

  49. Ole Juul
    IT Angle

    Windows is too hard

    I'm not a nurd, but I often put computers together in my own inimitable when I needed a "normal" computer for my girl friend, in order to get some perceived compatibility with the rest of the world I purchased a new pre-configured Windows machine with XP-home. That was a big expense and not really worth it. I'll never do that again. It mostly works, but when I went to copy the disk to run XP on another machine everything went wrong. I kept getting messages which obviously had nothing to do with the hardware. I eventually gave up and just installed a convenient version of Linux. For an old guy who knows little about computers except DOS and hardware, windows is extremely difficult. You need to know a lot of non technical stuff. I don't know much about Linux either, but ALL the linux distros I've installed since I gave up on DOS 5 years ago, have had installation scripts so I didn't need to. Nor did I have to know anything about company business models or popular politics. (What the **** is a product key and what does it have to do with computers?... anything?) People who say that Windows is easy and Linux is hard are not telling the whole truth. They find it that way because they are used to the style and they understand the business model. They are not including a huge skill set which they already have. Not everyone has the basic skills to understand MSWindows. People are different. Call me stupid, but I can't for the life of me figure out what a "EULA" has to do with computers or electronics, or anything else that I might have an interest in. I think that sort of thing is for lawyers and hairdressers, Each to his own, but if I have to learn about that kind of crap then I'd rather just donate my computers to a museum (or art gallery) and find something more interesting to do.... or just load linux and be done with it because I honestly don't care how many other people are useing it.

  50. Geoff

    Desktop linux is growing...

    although some might say it has been trending down for some time now.

  51. vaithy
    Paris Hilton

    Don't shattered their dreams!!


    Please, don't hurt the feelings of Windows users,who believe the world is only made by M$ empire, and others are secondary citizens!!Afterall, the so called 'Linux users are once windows supporters' so you know, how it pained, after paying to mindless slavery TAX to M$ empire for decade, then suddenly free, feeling the fresh air of Linux 'freedom..

    I also agree, that the statistics are wholly a junk products, whether it is sponsored by M$ or others..

    Remember, Linux or FOSS is not merely a software issues..It is more than that.If you are happy with Linux or BSD than share the joy with other windows users if they want. If they don't want.. then leave them alone.. there is no use to harping they are suffering under M$ forced slavery...

    They are happy with windows system.. it is what matter now.. If they are attacking Linux in forums,blogs,(ordinary windows user never do so) let them do their saying..Don't shatter their dream of M$ empire and their useless products!!

  52. J


    "To the bog standard computer user Linux is too difficult..."

    "All my PC's run windows, can't say they ever crash and nor have I ever got a virus, and I never get spyware either.....I look after my PC."

    Well, I happen to see, sometimes, how the bog standard computer users look after their malware-riddled Windows PCs... Too bad most of them are not like you, eh?

  53. J

    Re: The truth is way one uses Linux other than on servers...

    Thousands... Figures courtesy of the OOYA Research Institute, I'm sure.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder...

    ...what the MS policy is on MS employees contributing to discussions like this.

  55. Martin Usher

    Linux is easier to use than Windows

    Honest. The curves have crossed. Compare Ubuntu 7.04/7.10 with Vista for a non-sophisticated user who just wants to do mail, web, music and some word processing.

    Microsoft is going to learn the hard way that bigger doesn't necessarily mean better. They'll fight back using the traditional tools (typically making sites that don't work) but in the modern desktop the browser is king, not the OS, so they're in a fight they'll ultimately lose.

  56. xjy

    valuable thread!!!

    Lots of useful advice here - and a nice tone to most of the contributions. The usual blinkered bile though from the Windozers who used to hate GUIs when their homogenized world only offered DOS. Makes you wonder if they're paid for their efforts or just born boneheads.

    It's good that M$ monopoly gouging is called a tax. Shouldn't be long before capitalist profit itself is labelled a billionaires' tax (especially in places like the ex-USSR, Britain, Sweden and New Zealand which have seen the rise in prices and fall in services accompanying privatization). Open Source and Science show that cooperation and openness get things done and stand up well against the pressures applied by the big corporations and their running dog government goons. Even some governments are getting out from under the lead blanket.

    The M$ man of war was never solid oak, but now it's wormier and spongier than ever. Every Linux enthusiast represents a growth node of family members and mates, too. And just think about the number of slightly older Windoze machines screaming out for replacement with Vista hardware OR a Linux system... Just think...

  57. Anonymous Coward

    Level playing field

    If Linux hits the desktop, it will do it like Windows did - by coming ready installed (or bundled) with new machines. I hear the Wallmart gOS PC has sold out, and that will give Ballmer & Co a big fright right now.

    The distros are slick but not as slick as Windows out-of-the-box. If Linux becomes out-of-the-box, the playing field will become level, and then, I suspect, not even the biggest Windows fan would put money on Windows' survival. Windows may go open source. Linux may see viruses, though it is hard to envisage how.

    Personally I switched from Windows to Linux when my PC disk went down. I had a Windows 98 license but no CD. PC World were asking £80 or so for a Windows upgrade. Meanwhile Tesco were asking £6 for a magazine with a Linux CD on the front. No contest. I have to apologize to the Windows crowd for the fanboyism that accompanies Linux, but it is hard not to be a fanboy of a thing when that thing is free.

  58. Homard

    Tools For The Job

    At the end of the day, computers are just tools for the job. Which job you want to do largely determines the computer/OS.

    That said, lets just say my dogs prefer it when I use Linux ! Instead of cursing bill gates up down and sideways (which they hate cos I'm yelling), I just settle down and surf, chat, e-mail, or get some work done. In windows things are not good/intuitive ....

    From what I've seen, microsoft instability has reduced. All well and good, but the price is still way too high. The dogs still say it isn't good enough. In fairness, it's not only instability that narks me - idiotic design choices and 'wizards' really get me going too....... I just don't find this in Linux.

    Why is it that only recently microsoft now supports tabbed browsing ? I've been using it for years (that long - can't remember) with Opera, and then Firefox. Every Linux desktop I've ever used supports multiple desktops (up to 16) in any GUI, and if you want to run up another GUI, you can easily do that. If you've never used multiple GUI/desktops on a single machine, you don't know what you are missing ! To go back to windows is like working in a straight jacket by comparison. If anything, even the vista desktop is stoneage by comparison to say KDE. With multiple desktops you have very precise task navigation. Task mamager leaves a lot to be desired : ALT-TAB ad infinitum as the order is forever changing. Don't get me started on ie7.

    Now some statistics. wNT performing the same function - 3 crashes per week, one of those with serious consequences. Solution : Linux install on same machine. No crashes, no major problems and 950 days uptime till someone powered it off by mistake ..... Seems Linux was the right tool there. I also used to leave a firewall machine, and a server machine on at home 24/7. >6months uptime, until I did some electricity they're off most of the time ! But they were and still are the right tools.

    If you have a wireless connection, and the windows drivers, you should be able to use these through ndiswrapper. My laptop wireless connection is via this mechanism on Linux. Flawless.

    If I'm online, I use Linux. To be free from the worry of all the malware that is out there ready to infest a windows machine is wonderful ! Hmmmmm and Linux is not ready for the generic server arena - Google anyone ? How much data does Google Earth stream ?

    So pick the right tool for the job. If you just want to surf, wordprocess, spreadsheet, chat, e-mail, etc. then windows is not what you need ! If you want to play the very latest games, maybe it is. Linux for me then.

    A big thank-you to all the Open Source developers and community out there for the fact that we have a choice.

  59. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    What people forget is ...

    (or at least those in the "Linux is hard to install" camp) ...

    Windows is 'easy to install' for one reason - most people never do it !

    They buy a box from a shop, switch it on, and the manufacturer has done all the hard work of gathering all the obscure drivers etc. All the drivers are available to the manufacturer because the big PC manufacturers simply won't use hardware that isn't supported by the device manufacturer. Anyone who's tried installing Windows from scratch with a generic Windows disk will know that it can be just as hard trawling the net for all the required drivers as it is when installing Linux.

    When Linux as a pre-installed option become popular we'll see the same thing - and vendor driver support will improve. Just about all the driver problems we have now are caused by manufacturers that refuse to produce and/or refuse to allow to be produced Linux (or any non-Windows) drivers for their products.

    And why has no-one mentioned the Vista effect yet ? Because of the way the Digital Restrictions Management stuff cripples a machine, the (for example) video card manufacturers are no longer allowed (by their licence with the big studios) to make information available to use their Vista compatible cards - so that's going to make life even harder. I bet M$ didn't fight that one !

  60. Tom

    Critical Mass... rapidly approaching. We see store bought machines with Linux pre-installed, and 'novice' users (geeks Mom & Pop) starting to find it acceptable.

    One of these days large companies like Autocad, and Adobe will make Linux applications (Adobe already makes Acrobat reader). Then the decision becomes much easier.

    Remember the real "Vista Killer" is Vista itself.

  61. Karl Lattimer
    Thumb Up

    RE: Load of tosh

    I'm trying to deliver dreamweaver to the masses :) CS2 will follow shortly, and CAD should be do-able.

    Check out

    We are still battling a few bugs, and are going to be refactoring the code base to be more solid soon. In the future we hope to provide a far better experience but we've already gone way further than winetools and it's easier than standard wine.

  62. Aditya Krishnan
    Gates Halo


    As I see it, a lot of Windows users who shift to the Penguin Parade do so because they want to be free of malware/viruses etc. Well, most malware is written for windows just because the majority of users have Windows as an OS. Then as Linux usage increases (if it ever does) isn't it logical to assume that we'll start to see malware written for Linux surfacing? Oh, and I've been using Windows ever since Win95 right upto the present.. I have never suffered data loss or any other damage because of viruses or malware. The most infuriating OS I ever used was RedHat, in my college computer labs.. all the machines which had a net connection were Linux boxes and everybody at college HATED them.. the only reason they were there in the first place was because a former student and penguin worshipper convinced the administration (which is clueless on IT issues) that Linux was actually capable of being used by laymen. Funnily enough the entire student body was made up exclusively of electronics and IT engineering students. Right now I use Vista Ultimate for most of my tasks and XP for some games but overall I see no significant problems. All my everyday tasks (.NET coding, VC++, VB, ASP coding, serious Counter-Strike and sundry others and also lots of eBook reading) are painless and easy on Vista. Why should I shift?

  63. Daniel B.


    I just cracked up. Yeah sure ... only servers.

    I cannot tell who, but there is a major finantial institution with branches over most of Latin America that's switching from OS/2 to Linux. That's a crapload of PC's to the count.

    And even those who don't switch entirely to Linux have at least tried it. I know about at least 4 non-techies who have set up some kind of Linux distro inside a VM for playing around.

    I just don't see OSX doing the same bang, at least over here where average income is US$500/mo (even "good" jobs are on the $1500/mo. mark) and Mac pricing is too bloated for that kind of income. Oh, and OSX is as much a "real Unix" as Windows might be "a real POSIX", in that case. Search "Interix subsystem".

  64. tony trolle

    re:Wireless on Linux

    I used Puppy Linux on a old PC thro a Broadcom wireless card to update it so I could load ME on it. The other clunker runs win98; their users like all four major IM's running (same time) with all the 'pretty' stuff. Last time I looked Gaim was not up to the job.

  65. Anonymous Coward

    DIE vista DIE

    As a windows power user since about 1998

    (prior to which i was a mac user)

    i tell you that in all my years of successful electronic music production among the zillions of other tasks done at work or play, i have never seen such a big piece of shit as WIndows Vista. What incentive do i have to bash Microsoft needlessly? i would prefer to continue using the same tools and systems i have been using!

    the problem is that Vista comes preloaded on all the new hardware. it appears very difficult to use XP with new hardware (and poor xp driver support)

    this means i have a choice-

    i can purchase a macbook- and run XP as well as MacOS on it and slowly transition my way over to MacOS, and hereby at least keep using Cubase - my primary audio creation software.

    i can also check out Linux again.

    in my previous experience with Linux- Laptop, Desktop, Server...

    it was easy enough to install and configure.

    i didnt find the pro-audio app that could replace Cubase,

    but for web browsing and the stuff most computer users do,

    it was a no-brainer. really easy. loads of cool fx, loads of cool UI features, etc...

    for getting other internet related work done (web stuff, file transfer, remote mgmnt...) the apps were all built in and easy to use.

    its ready for primetime in that regard-

    i dont think its a problem for a normal computer user to work with this OS if they spend a few minutes poking around and clicking to find out where the things are.

    i DO think Vista is fucking impossible for a new computer user to use.

    i have seen many novice users stumbling over the millions of popup clicky things that ask them obscure questions (sometimes seemingly twice!) and dont allow them to do the thing they just clicked ok on...

    plus i know too many people that have caught weird new vista virii

    plus its slow. plus its bloated. plus they built in TONS of new stupid shit and took out all the good stuff... fucking morons.

    microsoft are fucking IDIOTS for making the file browser go away from the standard "explorer" and make it look the the shitty thing it is now.

    i'll bet the morons who designed and built vista made it from cheesypuffs and duct tape. are you listening? I HATE VISTA and you fucked up bigtime.

    xp was ok for me. this vista went toooo far- in the wrong directions.

    they have pissed me off for the last time.

    im out of here MICrosoft

  66. Risky
    Gates Halo

    Some strange stuff here

    After all the wibblign above it's hard to know where to start but:

    1. Virus-issues. I haven't had any to speak of in many, many years of PC-use. Maybe I don't browse enough porm, or open enough email attachments, but it hasn't been an issue for me.

    2. Vista. I suspect many of those requiring the smelling salts at the mention of Vista, had their opinions set long before it was released. I've used it in a few flavours for nearly a year and it's a pretty well-sorted OS, certainly a progression from XP, but then people used to compain that XP was pointless and the preferred Win98!

    3. nix. I've had to use solaris at work which sarved to remind me why a GUI is a good thing. I installed Kubuntu on and old box recently and though it a pretty good effort, though I'm dammed if I could get it the screen settings sorted. I'll fix up a ubuntu box at some point, but find it hard to get religious about this like the zelots on here.

    4. The greater world. Would I build a *nix box for a relative - no way, I don't fancy their chances of finding other help and I don't want the support job. Do I see it catching on in the workplace - not much chance. I contract a large investment bank, I can't see open office being a hit here. MS Office has a huge base of experience users and developers. And yes these guys do use a lot of what others will call bloat. The MS approach of giving the user 90 ways to accomplish the same thing works here. Can't see unix winning desktops in this world.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tesco sells Linux PCs

    I'm surprised that no-one has mentioned this, despite pointing out what Wal-mart in the US sells:

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Ubuntu -- so easy that even my children uses it everyday.

    Ubuntu Rocks!. I loaded it on 2 laptops and 2 desktops at home, dual boot to XP. These systems are used my 9 and 10 year olds (and my wife who just use internet). I found some of the math/education SW to be reasonably good, so get my children some free math help.... The cool thing is that my children just started using it as quickly as XP. My children now asked me to change the boot order to linux as the first default!.

  69. Pum

    @Joerg wrong!

    I am about to install Linux desktop for home use. 4 of my friends also run Linux as their desktop, and I know no one that runs OSX.

  70. BitTwister

    @Aditya Krishnan

    > Then as Linux usage increases isn't it logical to assume that we'll start to see malware written for Linux surfacing?

    No, it isn't at all logical. This old chestnut only serves, as usual, to underline the typical blinkered view of many Windows users: they think that all the 'bad things' which happen to them will happen to the users of *any* OS.

    It would perhaps be more logical for Windows users to ask Microsoft "why are we still having to deal with all this malware nonsense - why have the fundamental Windows security issues *never* been properly addressed?". The answer (if any) may just possibly involve something other than the usual spin and waffle about each version being more secure than the previous, but going by the track record that's unlikely.

    Since Microsoft is apparently <kof> "an innovator and market leader" I think it's a perfectly valid question to ask if security of data matters to you at all. It's a shame no-one seems bothered enough to ask (it should really be DEMAND) - but that partly explains the prevalence of Windows' malware problem in the first place...

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Vista... [is] a pretty well-sorted OS"

    Just read this then:

    "Would I build a *nix box for a relative - no way, I don't fancy their chances of finding other help and I don't want the support job"

    Funny how many people (including me) flatly contradict you on this one - just read previous comments. Just what support job are you talking about? Most computer users will not use more than Firefox and OpenOffice, both of which work splendidly. Peripherals? Digital cameras, MP3 players, printers and scanners mostly work out of the box but if they don't, it's a setting-up exercise, not a source of support calls, and if they ask before purchase you can advise them as to Linux-friendliness. If they want to be a bit more adventurous and do DTP for newsletters or whatever, then let them use the fabulous Scribus (or Inkscape). If they want to knock up a web page, then there are plenty of things out there that will do that, too. I don't think you can have built any Windows computers for relatives either, because you simply haven't experienced the malware-riddled messes that they can so easily become in the hands of the unwary (the inexperienced and unwary being the problem, as you acknowledge in your comments about viruses). And remember that those messes don't just cause their owners grief, but are what clog up the internet and further crime with their generation of spam and phishing emails.

  72. KarlTh

    Linux' problem

    Is, I'm afraid, Linux users. Well, some of them anyway.

    Linux forums are full of helpful people, who like to make their help as difficult to use as possible. The following exchange is based on a real one I saw a few days ago (details may be technically wrong because I can't be arsed to get them right for the purposes of this illustration).

    LinuxNoob: I have a problem getting a garbled screen display on Virtual PC 97 running Ubuntu. Can anyone help?

    DisparagingLinuxUser: Huh. Anyone could have solved this with ten seconds googling.

    NotVeryHelpfulLinuxUser: You need to reconfigure your GUI to 16 bit colour.

    LinuxNoob: Thanks, but I'm a noob. How do I do that, step by step?

    NotVeryHelpfulLinuxUser: You need to edit the xorg.conf file

    Get the point? What use is that last comment to a Linux noob? What changes should he make? How does he edit the file? Where is the file?

    Linux adoption risks plateauing out where it needs to move from technically adept new adopters to the non-technical masses. The above exchange might be just enough clue to someone who isn't terrified of a command line and experimentation, but is no use to the putative grannies who are allegedly adopting Linux in their millions - but notably only when grandson is a Linux fanboy who is able to set it up for them. Yeah, it's easy once it's working and doing what you need, but there's the rub - getting it working.

    So the biggest booster for Linux will be existing Linux users who drop the "you wanker, you must be a total idiot if you're using Windows" attitude, and learn to be helpful, even if it seems like you're talking to a three-year-old.

  73. Keith Doyle

    MS and anti-use features...

    MS is saddled with features designed to make things not work. Not work if you change too much hardware. Not work if you try to install it on a second machine. Not work if the media has DRM and you don't have a license. None of these "features" are features that benefit users. And MS programmers have to be careful when they write or fix features designed to actually benefit users so that they don't break the not-work features and allow the wrong things to actually work. Not everyone is willing to put up with this culture of "defective by design." Linux is not impaired by designed-to-not-work features. There are only two "problems" people seem to have with Linux. 1) the redundant features that make them have to decide which to use-- which distro, which GUI, etc., and 2) lack of a port of their favorite application. WRT #1, I'd have to say, which problem would you rather have? Features designed to not-work or more features (that work) than you need? WRT #2, many of these "favorite" apps have free alternatives, may work under Wine, and more and more existing apps are being ported-- give it time, and look around as perhaps your favorite app has a competitor with a Linux port. Yeah I know, you're stuck in your ways, you old dog...

  74. Cameron Colley

    Re: Linux' problem

    As a Linux user, I have to agree, somewhat, with what you are saying. What you should remeber, though, is that these people are giving their help free of charge (and the OS is free too), also I have generally found that, by googling, you can find a step-by-step set of instructions to solve your problem.

    I have to admit that, to my shame, I'm one of those people who believes that if you're going to use something you should damn-well research how to use it correctly -- expecting ANY OS to "just work" is laziness in the extreme, and is the main reason for all those zombie nets out there. If you can't be bothered to learn how a computer works, then don't use one.

    I apologise to my fellow Linux users for being an example of an elitist snob, but I got this way by learning how to secure Windos and providing IT support to "customers", including some people who think IT is beneath them.

  75. Anonymous Coward

    bootnote: Try Linux again, it get improved constantly

    Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) works out of the box with my 64bit laptop made by HP, with Java installed with just one click, wifi (inc WEP) detected and installed ok.

    Photoshop installed without hitch in wine (which was also a point and click in install - no messing with config files). I can even install plugins for photo shop without any problem. Printing has been better with this machine than with a colleagues identical machine but with Vista!!

    I am happy to edit config files and recompile a kernel, but i just don't need to these days.. if you had problems with getting Linux installed in the past, try again.

    Unlike windows there is new version of Ubuntu EVERY 6 MONTHS!!!

  76. BitTwister

    @Linux' problem

    > Is, I'm afraid, Linux users. Well, some of them anyway.

    Having said that and provided evidence of the usual suspects in action, it's a shame you didn't then balance it with one of the helpful responses - many of which would have likely given a step-by-step and detailed answer as would, as ever, a quick Google. (is there *really* anyone who doesn't know how to Google for answers?) Although surely, in this case, the best responses would have simply pointed to the provided GUI which would achieve what this user wanted.

    Every OS has a number of tossers who have nothing better to do than hang out in the support forums, snapping at raw users - I don't see how this is news/shocking/unique to Linux. Ever tried getting support directly from Microsoft for one of their PURCHASED products? I have, and it ain't pretty - or worth bothering.

  77. KarlTh

    Helpful responses

    The reason I didn't balance it with a helpful response was that in that particular exchange there were none - just more techspeak. I honestly think that many Linux users just can't think down to the level of the newbie. They're used to speaking to other techies, and really don't understand that "just unzip it with tar, compile and make sure you edit the conf file for your flavour of linux" is NOT a step by step instruction!

    Fine, believe that people should "put in the hard work". But don't expect the vast majority of Windows users to transfer if you make it difficult.

    IME, the help offered by other users in Windows forums is more detailed, less sneering, and a lot friendlier. I run both (because contrary to Geek WIsdom(TM) there are times when Windows is the best solution just as there are times when Linux is, and the reasons for either aren't always technical ones) and have to glean solutions from both. I agree that MS' support stinks, but so does every bloody company's.

  78. Henry Wertz

    @several people regarding wireless drivers

    Yep, the big achille's heel to quite a few Linux distros is the Broadcom wireless drivers. The broadcom chips are very common, but not properly supported (due to broadcom refusing to provide programming information.) The bcm43xx driver supports older broadcom chips fully, and newer broadcom chips partially (they're slow, and have bad range with the bcm43xx driver.) My Dell's Broadcom 4318 is one of these badly supported ones 8-(.

    However, those that are saying these distros are unusable because wireless doesn't work off the bat are being far too harsh -- try out a fresh XP install, or Vista for that matter -- you will have no working wireless!

    Luckily, the solution at least in Ubuntu is very simple. Instead of having to know about ndiswrapper etc., what you end up really doing is picking "Windows Wireless drivers" off the adminstration menu. It lets you either pop in a windows wireless driver CD, tell it where you have a driver already sitting around, or I think download a driver automatically off the 'net. It's quite easy, and only has to be done once.

    I certainly think Windows will be around for decades -- there's still stuff knocking about running DOS after all -- but I do think it's days are numbered as being the dominant OS rather than just being one among many.

  79. BitTwister


    > I honestly think that many Linux users just can't think down to the level of the newbie.

    Many more can and regularly do. But a depressingly common problem with the newbie is that having come from Windows, it's seen as "a problem" that they need to understand at least a *little* of how their OS works in order to tweak it a little. Some fight against this occasional requirement and drop into bitching about Linux being "difficult". They miss the point: it's simply NOT WINDOWS. One could hardly class a pedal cyclist as a proficient motorist on the basis that both use the road and know the Highway Code.

    In Windows it's common to regard "the command line" as primitive and somehow vastly inferior to the GUI. Perhaps within Windows this is true, but it's certainly not the case in Linux - but unfortunately, mention of using "the command line" often results in the newbie digging in and complaining that "this is the problem with Linux... (etc. etc.)". A little juvenile, considering they often don't yet have any idea what they might be expected to type and with distributions issued within (say) the last 3 years there is less and less reason to go near the "command line" for most of the obvious & common tweaks - yet still there are complaints about "difficulties" for anything else. Again, it's NOT WINDOWS.

    > "just unzip it with tar, compile and make sure you edit the conf file for your flavour of linux" is NOT a step by step instruction!

    Actually, it is - just not good as the only explanation for a newbie, although it's no more complicated than getting a Windows user to hunt down and edit a CLSID using Regedit. Who would expect a Windows user to understand "fire up Regedit and change the key ItemMoniker value for {00000304-0000-0012-C100-0001200A01FF} to false". I've seen this sort of thing offered on Windows support groups. But it's also extremely rare to have to resort to this sort of 'make/make install' thing and would normally be required in some special situation with an application not being available "ready wrapped" for immediate installation into a distribution. Taking the case of KUbuntu, there are over 20,000 ready-wrapped applications, libraries and other goodies - ready for immediate use.

    > But don't expect the vast majority of Windows users to transfer if you make it difficult.

    It's not difficult; just NOT WINDOWS and as far as I know, Linux users don't really *have* any expectations of Windows users transferring to Linux - theres no "battle for hearts & minds" going on. If they want to use Linux: meh, great; if they want to stay with Windows: meh, great. It's not like there's a commercial organisation dependent on hoovering up new users to remain successful.

    > IME, the help offered by other users in Windows forums is more detailed, less sneering, and a lot friendlier.

    Well, I'm bound to state that the opposite is equally true and for some (most?) really nasty Windows problems, the universal fix-all is invariably "reinstall the application" or "reformat and reinstall Windows" - which tends to shock yer average Linux user dabbling with Windows who would have been (rather naively) looking for an answer and a proper fix. But perhaps you've looked at the wrong forums? (Usenet is a well-known nutter magnet). The Ubuntu, Redhat and SUSE forums are exceptionally useful although, as ever, tossers are always lurking nearby - rather like in real life.

    > I agree that MS' support stinks, but so does every bloody company's.

    Oh God yes!! Adobe too - really poor quality. I've used direct MS support a couple of times and both were deeply unhelpful and depressing experiences. The problem seems to be not enough brains and too many "fault-fixing" flowcharts. With Microsoft's, as I dropped off the end unresolved, I was prodded in the direction of a full reinstall or get a virus scanner. Hello? How would either help resolve something which was clearly a problem within Windows?

  80. KarlTh

    Yeah but no but yeah but

    >> But don't expect the vast majority of Windows users to transfer if you make it difficult.

    >It's not difficult; just NOT WINDOWS and as far as I know, Linux users don't really *have* any expectations of Windows users transferring to Linux - theres no "battle for hearts & minds" going on. If they want to use Linux: meh, great; if they want to stay with Windows: meh, great. It's not like there's a commercial organisation dependent on hoovering up new users to remain successful.

    I think a lot of people are getting the impression that they do. A constant problem on Windows forums is Linux Fanboys telling everyone that the solution to every problem they have is to "install Ubuntu".

    But I take your points. I've often seen Windows users, when presented with a solution, say "**** this, I'm going to install Linux!" - because, unfortunately, the Fanboys have made them think that they won't have driver issues, bugs, problems to solve and so on on Linux - that it will "just work". It'd be interesting to see if a month later they're bitching that they can't get their mouse to work on Ubuntu (which they won't if they've got an SiS chipset, a PS/2 mouse and haven't edited the kernel line, for example). Presumably the next thing they do is buy a Mac. Or a Speak and Spell.

    So, where are we?

    I think we'd agree that there *are* some Linux users who enjoy parading their superior knowledge rather than actually helping. There *are* some Fanboys out there who think they're on a mission from Linus to get everyone using Linux, and that is best done by implying that all their woes will be gone the moment they slide the Ubundu DVD into their drive. There are newbies, mostly from Windows, who have swallowed the crap and start acting like divs when they find that *they've still got to learn how to use it!*

    The question is, then, how to tone down the Fanboys, since they're the root cause, along with Lusers who expect to be able to use their computer - Windows or Linux - whilst knowing bugger all about how it works? We need to make people aware that Linux is *not* a Windows replacement - it is a different approach, a different OS which *may* suit some users better. To me, as an IT professional, it's a tool - I'm currently evaluating a Linux solution and a Windows server solution to the same problem, and it's far from clear so far who's going to win. But if your idea is a PC which works *out of the box* to play music, watch telly and surf the web, then actually I'd point at a pre-installed Vista Home Premium (with Firefox, naturally ;) )

    But enough musing. I've got to try to build this bleedin' thing I need on OpenSuSE now.

  81. BitTwister


    > I think a lot of people are getting the impression that they do. [Linux users expecting Windows users to transfer]

    Ah yes - that's likely to be certain sections of the media at work, busily quoting fanboy hype as fact...

    > A constant problem on Windows forums is Linux Fanboys telling everyone that the solution to every problem they have is to "install Ubuntu".

    Yep, that drives me mad too! But these rabid fanboys pop up on SUSE-related groups saying the same thing so they're just trolls - not even fanboys.

    > XX this - I'm going to install Linux!" - because, unfortunately, the Fanboys have made them think that they won't have driver issues, bugs, problems to solve and so on on Linux - that it will "just work".

    That's an unfortunate end result because although very many Windows problems simply don't exist in Linux (and for most users requiring 'ordinary' email/browsing etc. it *does* "just work"), there may still be the odd tweak required - witness the situation you commented on about the garbled display. Certain manufacturers don't help much by anally refusing to issue any details on their chippery (yes Broadcomm, I'm scowling at *you*) which leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the newly-converted Linux user - the very last person who should suffer from this deliberate information drought. The solution is simple, but I can appreciate that for a Windows user who would have this support built-in (since Broadcomm won't speak anything *but* Windows) it would seem an additional complication to apply the sideways step of having to ask, find and install the wrapper which make the Windows drivers work under Linux. (once past that, the Wireless setup's about as quick & dull as it is with Windows)

    > which they won't if they've got an SiS chipset, a PS/2 mouse

    Hmm - quirks with various SiS chipsets seem to pop up all over the place. There was a similar thing with the early SATA implementations too, unless the motherboard used a particularly well-documented chipset (the name of which escapes me now!).

    > Presumably the next thing they do is buy a Mac. Or a Speak and Spell.

    Well I'm sure you've seen Mac fanboys trumpeting the life-enhancing aspects of the Mac in Windows groups - they're a regular "attraction" in Linux groups too. But I can't say I've seen any Speak-n-Spell fanboys. Too busy thumping the keys with their knuckles, I expect :)

    > there *are* some Linux users who enjoy parading their superior knowledge rather than actually helping.

    Absolutely; they're a royal pain in the sit-upon. Er, but I've known more than a handful of MCSE's who like to tell us how *easy* it is to just click a button - they're generally silenced the next time the wheels drop off the (Windows) print server and an office floor is left without printers.

    > There are newbies, mostly from Windows, who have swallowed the crap and start acting like divs when they find that *they've still got to learn how to use it!*

    This is by far the most difficult obstacle I've encountered, and I often feel like sticking pins into a little Gates manikin for being responsible for a whole generation of computer "users" who have been encouraged to have absolutely no understanding of any aspect of it. But they always seem to forget that once, they had to learn how to use Windows...

    > The question is, then, how to tone down the Fanboys, since they're the root cause

    My weapon of choice would be a flame-thrower, but I can't find an IP-enabled one.

    > We need to make people aware that Linux is *not* a Windows replacement

    Absolutely, if all they expect to do is flop down in front of the keyboard and assume everything will be identical. Much of it is very similar (same with switching to a Mac, really) but they still need to be aware that although it's just a tool and they can make it do everything they're used to doing with Windows, it's still a different tool which needs a modicum of re-learning to achieve the same ends.

    Hmm well, do everything except games - but they're heavily wrapped up in the proprietary DX9/10. Once upon a time MS was all behind Open/GL: how different things would have been if they'd continued. Which, of course, explains why they didn't.

    > But if your idea is a PC which works *out of the box* to play music, watch telly and surf the web, then actually I'd point at a pre-installed Vista Home Premium (with Firefox, naturally ;) )

    Heh - Firefox GOOD! Actually (and having fairly recently installed WinXP), I'm amazed at just how *bad* a Windows new installation experience still is. On the same hardware I'd installed KUbuntu and aside from supplying a few bits of LAN-related information, I didn't have to provide anything else before being rewarded with a 1680x1050 24-bit desktop with my three sound cards, Bluetooth, DVD/CD writers etc. all working perfectly. For the "domestic" user, there will always be issues with immediately playable commercial DVDs because of the licensing situation wrt CSS: with Linux being open-source, there's no company with which to strike a deal and have the support built-in. Distribution suppliers will probably always fight shy of including it by default (especially in the USA and Germany, where to do so would be illegal) until the media pigopolists finally realise they're shooting themselves in the foot. But... it's a simple download and a right-click|install to add the necessary support to play commercial DVDs.

    > But enough musing. I've got to try to build this bleedin' thing I need on OpenSuSE now.

    Nah, it's easy! All you need to do is make/make install and then edit the... Oops, sorry!

    Thanks for the chat, and have fun with Linux.

  82. Mike French
    Thumb Up

    Number of Linux users hard to account for...

    The problem with determining the true numbers of Linux users is due to the fact that the OS is free! When someone buys a Window$ License they are accounted for, however when a new user installs Linux there's no way to know about it since it's free and freely distributed.... I suspect that the true numbers of Linux users are greatly underestimated. In my case, of the 40 or so people I know who acquired a new laptop within the last year or so, 23 of them paid the M$ tax but reformatted the drive to install a Linux distro. That translates to 40 M$ licenses, but 23 new Linux laptops! Then there are all the people who share a Live CD and either install a dual-boot or single distro of Linux. At home I have 3 desktops and one laptop for the family and all are running Ubuntu 7.10 then there's my 40 yr old sister who converted a few months ago to Ubuntu as well as my 70 yr old mother who uses Ubuntu on her desktop as well as on the dual-boot laptop she takes to Florida for the winter, and aside from a few calls to me everythings fine, in fact Mom requires less phone support from me since she's using Linux (I admit I was with her for the install)... I have burned a dozen Live-CDs that are in circulation in my area schools. The numbers of Linux users are increasing every day but not everyone gets on the soapbox to proclaim it... Most people are not serious gamers and find most if not all of the bundled software covers all their needs... If this trend continues Linux users may eventually become the silent majority... ;)

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