back to article 'Lenny': Debian for the masses?

The venerable Debian Linux distribution has experienced a significant new release with its latest update, dubbed Lenny. While Debian is still not the easiest Linux distro to install and use, Lenny makes significant leaps forward and remains one of the most powerful Linux options. Many Linux newcomers stick with popular distros …


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  1. Alex

    I remember a time...

    ...when people took pride in the fact that Linux was hard to install and use. The idea being that the harder it is the more you learn and the better off you are for it. Sadly now everyone is trying hard to copy the winblows approach and just make everything as simple as possible. I think it's the wrong way to go.

    If you aren't willing to put up with the learning curve and want something "that just works" then feel free to go to hell and use windows or whatever is trendy these days. It's morons like you who help spread malware and other crap.

  2. David Hicks
    Thumb Up

    Also a nice slim netbook

    Debian on eee (901 in my case) runs quite nicely too, though you'll need to follow the wiki and, now I'm going to use that dreaded sequence of words) **compile your own** wireless driver. That said it takes about two lines using module assistant and then you're golden.

    My nVidia card worked pretty easily, though I can't remember if I had to install the driver explicitly using apt-get, it comes so naturally these days that I forget if I had to do it or not.

  3. Michael Fremlins

    Tried it in Virtual PC 2007...

    Debian crashes during installation.

    I know Virtual PC is not a real PC, stop whining at me. But it is a widely used program so I would expect it to work.

    Don't bleat at me that it's Microsoft's fault either. Virtual PC existed before Debian Lenny, so a 1 minute test would have shown that it crashes. So now I'm having going out of my way to try it.

    Imagine for two seconds that I haven't been using UNIX and Linux for the last 12 years, instead I've been brought up on Windows. My first impression as Bob the User is: Debian/Linux doesn't work. It doesn't matter too much why not. All the reasons and excuses in the world are meaningless. First impressions count. I would go back to my XP box and forget about Linux, refusing to believe the (not inconsiderable) hype, the year of the Linux desktop and so on. And I would probably tell my XP-using mates that Linux doesn't work. And we would make ourselves feel a little better by playing a few Windows games.

    Oh boy. I went the extra mile and tried Debian in Sun's xVM. Debian installed. I rebooted. Guess what? Kernel panic. Yep, there's a lot to be said for Windows, I would be saying to myself.

  4. Mike Gravgaard

    Debian hard to install?

    Do you really find installing Debian difficult? I don't really understand how.

    I personally don't see much difference between Debian "Etch" and "Lenny". I'm sure there are changes but your on the most just package updates. I do like Debian but choose Ubuntu on the whole not because it is easier but because the packages are more up-to-date and more frequent releases (I mean you should watch a smallish bounder erode through wind erosion before a Debian release comes to fushion).

    I do like Debian though as it is rock solid.


  5. David Hicks


    "Imagine for two seconds that I haven't been using UNIX and Linux for the last 12 years, instead I've been brought up on Windows. My first impression as Bob the User is: Debian/Linux doesn't work. It doesn't matter too much why not."

    Yes, because Bob the 'tarded user knows all about virtual machines and installing operating systems.

    You might want to check the compatibility list for Virtual PC before spouting off about linux being broken.

    "Oh boy. I went the extra mile and tried Debian in Sun's xVM. Debian installed. I rebooted. Guess what? Kernel panic. Yep, there's a lot to be said for Windows, I would be saying to myself."

    Personally I think you're a liar. Debian is vary stable and supports more hardware variations than any other OS *ever*.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Tried it in Virtual PC 2007...

    A quick look at the Virtual PC 2007 documentation would have shown that Linux is not a supported guest OS and the last version of Virtual PC that supported Linux was Virtual PC 2004. Sadly Virtual PC 2004 does not behave nicely on Vista.

    It's odd that Debian doesn't work in xVM but the newer versions of that seem to be less than stable as PCBSD also goes titsup in xVM.

  7. Hollerith


    In the dear old days when PCs were shiny and new, we all had to wrestle with operating systems, weird software, and be half-programmers, half hardware guys, to write and print out even a letter. This was kinda fun when it was a cottage industry. But now PCs are like toasters or TVs,and I've lost interest in making them work the way they should. I reserve my love of learning for something other than what I was doing in the 1980s. I don't expect, twenty-plus years on, to have to go through what I did back then. I just want a hassle-free installation and a 'don't make me think' interface, because I have a lot more things to do now. It's why I given up on so many open-source things: I just don't have the time, and I just don't want to learn. I'm probably a pretty average punter, so if I were the makers of O/S and other software, I know who I'd cater for if I wanted to get big-time.

  8. John

    Some Clarifications

    First off, there aren't different "versions" of Debian. Debian itself contains Gnome, KDE, LXDE, XFCE, and the like. You don't have to install something like Kubuntu to get KDE, Eeebuntu to get the Eee version. Debian main scales from everything from a N810 to a massive server.

    Secondly, there is no "CLI installer". I don't know what the reviewer was referring to there. The text-mode is the same installer as the graphical one, just presented... as text. Not command line. There is cdebootstrap, which lets you bootstrap a new Debian installation from within a running one, and that is a fully-automated command-line tool, but I don't think that's what they were thinking of.

    If you want to manually select which desktop environment you use -- or none at all -- you can just not select the desktop environment task and install the kde, gnome, or whatever packages you like yourself. It is not hard, and they are not mutually exclusive, either. You can have both Gnome AND KDE on your system at once. They will integrate into each other's menu systems even.

  9. John

    Network install speed

    I guess I should also add this: the comments about the netinst images are a bit misleading.

    The network install should never be slower than downloading a massive ISO and using that. In fact, it should almost always be faster, because you download only what you really need. It would only be slower if you're going to be installing a whole bunch of machines -- in which case you could opt for the DVD, or a caching proxy, or a mirror.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When I hear 'Lenny'...

    ...I immediately think of a crappy little car repair place in Brooklyn somewhere, with someone yelling, in a really thick New York City accent:

    "Hey, Lenny! What the -fuck- is wrong with you? Get over here, we've got customers!"

    Anyway... still better than 'Xenophobic Xylophone' or whatever the latest Ubuntu moniker is.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    While there are ways to install KDE and such from the GUI installer, it requires passing command-line parameters at boot-time, which is definitely not user friendly.

    Right or wrong, Debian is VERY friendly with the FSF/GNU (hence why they are one of the only Linux distros that follow RMS's stupid "GNU/Linux" naming policy). And the FSF/GNU is heavily tied w/ GNOME, so GNOME is what gets shoved down your throat.

  12. Sean Groarke

    OK. Tell us then.

    Two tantalising comments, but no details at all.

    1) "...there are plenty of CLI-based system configuration tools that you won't find in Ubuntu."

    Uh-huh. Interesting. And some examples are....?

    2) "...but for the seasoned user grown tired of Ubuntu's hand-holding..."

    Uh-huh. Interesting. And some examples are...?

    I like Debian & Ubuntu. Yet I cannot immediately think what you are referring to.

    So could you elaborate please?


  13. Brezin Bardout

    @ Alex

    And its quite possibly morons like you who give people such an inaccesible and elitist perception towards Linux and its users.

    It is quite possible to have a simple to use interface and something "that just works", whilst still retaining advanced functionality for those who wish to make use of it. It does not have to be one or the other.

    As for 'The idea being that the harder it is the more you learn and the better off you are for it.', is it perhaps not more like 'The idea being that the harder it is the more you can say everybody look at me aren't I so clever.'.

  14. Gary Turner

    Debian hard?

    I keep hearing that Debian is difficult, but that hasn't been my experience at all. My last install was Etch, and I found it to be much faster and easier to get going than Vista, tho' YMMV. At least I didn't have to sit through a bunch of reboots for each application or update install.

    It is possible to simply accept the defaults offered, or make simple choices, and have a fully functional desktop 'puter.

    The odd bit is that I originally chose Debian, and I've run/administered other distros too, because it was the easiest to get going; everything was where it was supposed to be and did what it was supposed to do. Then there was apt, no doubt the best package manager of any distro.

    Now it's time to upgrade my servers from Etch (stable) to Lenny, and my desktops from Lenny (testing) to Squeeze, the new testing version. it will be painless and quick; update, upgrade, point my list to the new version, and dist-upgrade. A few minutes for each machine, and not a reboot to be seen.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But I installed OpenSuse 10.1 on VirtualPC

    It works quite well too, including networking. Not sure where this compatibility nonsense is coming from. If Debian didn't work on VPC, then something is wrong.

  16. mrmond


    However on a supported product like vmware or virtualbox it runs fine.

    Even runs on an acer aspireone netbook. But I'm still using ubuntu cause I'm obviously a lazy virus loving malware spreader who can't be bothered with a real os.

    Jeez. Get a life. Debian wasn't the first and isn't the only non ubuntu gnu/linux os out there.

    I don't ever recall Linus Torvalds never said it had to remain hard to install or use forever, or that you had to use the terminal for some tasks (Even if it is faster a lot of the time)

  17. Drak

    you got to try Elive

    If you want to try a Debian fork that is smoking fast, doesnt freeze up all the time (like Ubuntu) and not needlessly difficult for the average linux noob, than you you have to try Elive

    Its really a shame that Shuttleworth who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, runs a distro coded by slacker/freetard ner'dowells. If you want to experience a Linux distro with commercial quality, you have to try Elive.

    Im just a fanboy, not part of the dev team

  18. Doug Glass

    They'll Just Never Learn

    To the vast majority of automobile drivers, fluid flow and thermodynamics is not only uninteresting, it's hard to master, takes a dedicated effort to learn, and then once it is learned its uses are relatively few. I learned a bit of it as a nuc boat mechanic in 1969; been no good to me since. And yet I drive a truck daily that takes advantage of the principles of fluid flow and thermodynamics... among others admittedly. But do I care how heat is generated and how it's used? Do I care how pressures are created and put to use? Do I care about how energy is extracted form a fuel? Do I really care about all the engineering that has to go into the creation of a usable engine to meet my transportation needs? No, and neither do 99.99% of the other drivers on the road all over the world. And it's always been that way; all they want to do it get from point A to point B in their version of style and comfort.

    The same applies to the OS. It's a frakkin' tool to simply get a job done for 99.99% of the world's home computer users and 99.99% of them don't give a tinker's damn which one it is or what it's called or named. If the tool works they're satisfied.

    The IT world simply can't come to grips that when it comes to the OS on the platter the non-tecky types (the buyers of home computers) just don't give a damn...they want it to work and they expect those of you who revel in the OS and its nuances to install it when needed, fix it when needed, and then silently take the money and slink away back to where ever it is you come from until needed again.

    Guys, nobody but you cares about the OS and the fact that this type conversation keeps happening is proof that you're just not getting your story out and into the heads of your intended audience. On this site, and other arenas like it, your preaching to the choir; everywhere else you may as well be speaking Martian 'cause ain't nobody caring or listening. You enable nice toys, but after that nobody gives a damn what you think or want. You're their fix-it man when it breaks and invisible the rest of the time.

    Now you have to understand, I love it. I love a good clown act and I love to see people beat themselves up over stuff only they understand. Kind of like watching a fireworks factory explode. Oh wow! Man that was awesome! The fireball was magnificent and the sound was deafening! Huh? There was somebody in those buildings? Damn, that's gotta hurt! Wow did you see that green fireball!!!

    We need more green explosions guys, so keep the fires going.

    <End of Thread>

  19. Michael Fremlins

    Lies? No, the truth...

    David Hicks, prove me wrong.

    Install VPC or xVM, then try and install Debian Lenny. See what happens. I have several versions of Linux and FreeBSD installed in VPC 2007. They all work fine. The latest Debian does not.

    As usual, the Linux fan boys can't stand a little criticism. I don't need to check any compatibility list for VPC. It is Debian Lenny that does not work on it.

    I know Linux is not a supported guest OS. So what. That doesn't mean anything.

    I haven't said that Linux is broken. I have said that Debian Lenny does not work in VPC or xVm. So instead of trying to spread some FUD, go and see for yourself.

  20. BlueGreen


    Attitudes like yours push people into windows. Attitudes like yours will ensure linux remains for the arsy-tempered minority.

    I've better things to do than fight with low-level stuff just to prove something to something about my testosterone levels to you. I have work to do that involves doing useful stuff.

    (BTW a for-example, if I had to configure my iptables by hand rather than a point-and-click gui it would have taken much longer, leaving me open to malware for much longer. Just something to consider).

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    One more thing that's better than Ubuntu

    It's not brown.

  22. william henderson
    Thumb Down

    @ I remember a time... By Alex Posted Monday 16th February 2009 18:01 GMT

    your attitude is a perfect illustration of why i can't be arsed with Linux.

    the same l33t157 attitude i encountered on the "help" forums.

    if Linux is so good and so free and easy to use why isn't it a distro on all new PCs?

    no licence fee, no activation/ re-activation, genuine disadvantage etc.

    the truth is, its a geek toy, nothing else.

    get back in yer closet.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Elite my arse

    I confess to getting a kick out of Unix guys bashing each other over who's the hardest. They're all limp-wristed C programmers as far as I am concerned. I stopped programming in disgust when assembly language went out of fashion. Now that was coding for real men. Just try doing recursion in assembler. Heck, it practically does itself in C, sometimes when you aren't even expecting it. Of course assembler is a bit soft for those of us that started out programming in raw machine code instructions, but it is undeniably convenient not to have to calculate all those hexadecimal jumps and offsets in your head. The beginning of the end, I suppose. Script kiddies these days don't know they're born.

  24. Anonymous Coward


    @Michael Fremlins - Why on earth would you want to run Debian in a Windows VM?

    I worked at a major european telco where debian which was the defacto distro was deployed across tens of thousands of production servers running core infrastructure and services. They like it because is rock solid, very secure, adaptable and facilitates development of super fast apps that run close to the metal.

    And in a large corporate or ISP hosting setup's where linux slices are virtualised it is similarly unlikely that Windows would feature.

    In userland license & software costs are the main driver in encouraging the shift to open-source. The trend isn't users trying out linux in a windows vm - it is folks ditching windows completely for linux distro's like ubuntu and debain. For those who still wish to use Windows only software (and haven't already shifted to OSX) its more likely they will be running a win32 emulator under linux.

  25. John Sanders

    Leeny for the masses (at least the IT educated ones)

    @Michael Fremlins

    I do have 3 xVM Debian Lenny Virtual boxes running on my lab, the three of them seem to be working just fine.

    Honestly, I build Debian Linux VM´s all the time and never had any version crash on xVM or VMWARE

    @Doug Glass

    Thanks god no sane IT person pays attention to arguments like these, because computers are not cars you know.

    If anyone followed your arguments computers would still be black and white terminals, and you won´t be ranting against the people who over the years make things possible.

    I bet you do not run Windows 3.11.

  26. vincent himpe
    Thumb Down

    oh goodie

    'The latest brings some nice new features like hot-swappable support for input devices such as mice and keyboard and enhanced support for touch screens and tablets.'

    Wow. even DOS could do that in 1984 ... Support for wireless networking and bluetooth should be right around the corner. Real soon now. Yes , i can almost smell it. It'l definately be less than 25 years ... On a cosmic scale that is infinitesimal. In the mean time we will make do with pieces of wood and bearskins in the cave...

    Come on guys, it's 2009. Get with it !

  27. brad
    Thumb Down

    whats the big deal with a distro being easy, or hand holding?

    some people JUST want an alternative to windows, and install whatever JUST works.. for the more knowledgeable tweakers out there, there's always debian, gentoo, slackware, arch for the rest of us, that dont care bout a few seconds of boot time or 1 more second of application startup time, we have distros like mint, ubuntu, kubuntu, pclinuxos, and others..

    if someone wants to spend HOURS configuring for a few more fps, or 2 seconds boot time, more power to you. I personally wanna be up and running as fast as possible, if I want to learn more, then I'LL deal with debian,or the others mentioned above.. but LINUX is LINUX (package management,talkinb about how long it took you to get this or that .2% faster, and tweaking are just for forum, chatroom, blogging braggin rights.

  28. brad

    watching flies screw, paint dry is more exciting..

    then using cli to get your rocks off for braggin rights, linux is linux.. who CARES??? i mean really..

  29. Anonymous Coward

    'Lenny': Debian for the masses?

    "We wouldn't recommend it for Linux newcomers since it requires more command line know-how than most, but for the seasoned user grown tired of Ubuntu's hand-holding, Debian makes a powerful step up on the Linux ladder."

    Hmm... apparently not (for the masses).

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Anonymous Coward


    What a complete moron you are!

    Computers and their associated operating systems are designed by humans. That means if they don't "just work" as they're supposed to, then they've been badly designed! There is no spiritual enlightenment to be gained by struggling and toiling away to make some opaque machine behave itself. You seem to be comparing the daily chores of maintaining an OS to something akin to scientific discovery! Idiot.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Debian on VPC

    Oh NO, Debian doesn't run on VPC 2007? Think of the CHILDREN!

    How dare the developers not make sure it runs on something intended to "maintain legacy (Windows) applications" (Per Microsoft's description of VPC) and instead wasted their time on making a bare-metal installation less painful and all of the other work they did.

    I'd demand my money back if I were you.

    Really now, you run Linux on a Microsoft virtual machine product that only claims to support MS operating systems, and you're going to conclude it's the Linux flavor that is the issue? That all the people who are hyping Linux are just quietly ignoring the fact that it doesn't even boot? Your XP buddies are really that in awe of you that they'll think "wow, if Fremlins can't get it to work, it must be *really* hard to do"?

    I can't even blame Microsoft here (and I'm no MS fan), since they're upfront about what VPC is for!

    Or, look at it this way: Microsoft Word sucks, it can't open MP3 files. Yes, I know the MS Fanboi's will harp on me that it's not a supported filetype, blah blah blah. I don't need to read the documentation, it's Word that just doesn't open MP3s!

  33. Trix
    Thumb Up

    *applause* @ Doug Glass

    Too right. If you want to experiment with low-level OS or programming skills, great, fire up the Assembler or Lisp and have fun. For the rest of us for whom the computer is a tool, or, god forbid, an appliance, we'd rather spend time actually *using* it.

    And given the fact that this distro apparently still can't get to grips with Nvidia (without pissing around in config files, by the sound of it), I'll be giving it a miss.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PITA installer

    Does Debian still do that utter pain in the arse trick where it does the following:

    Slackware might say "Do you want to use option a, b, c, d or e? [c]:" - ie a choice of 5 things with the default being c. Nice and logical. Whereas Debian would do this:

    "Do you want to use option a? y/n:" No. "Do you want to use option b? y/n". Well maybe - if there's not going to be a c!. "Do you want to use option c? y/n" Ah, okay, the best of the three. Hang on, I would have picked d if I'd know it was available in the first place!

    It drove me mad. That, and the way that during install, instead of flowing from one bit to the next it would ask "You can now either install your network drivers or configure your display" Well if I don't configure my network drivers here will it ever ask me again? God knows! Is there some obscure bit of config which can only be reached by using a particular set of choices? God knows!

    I was always left feeling that I might have made better choices, or missed something which contributed to later problems. And I'm not thick. I tried to like Debian so many times, and each time it really pissed me off with its installation workflow.

    If this has been fixed to either make it linear, or detail unfinished parts, then it might be worth another look. Otherwise, life's stressful enough and Slackware flows very nicely by comparison.

  35. Neoc

    As a typical user...

    (ok, not so typical, but what the hey) I find automation useful 90% of the time, but still want to be able to override it for the last 10% when I want to do something "outside the norm".

    Windows has the automation, but boy does it ever try its hardest to keep you from "going manual".

    Linux distros have the Manual route covered, but are lagging behind in the "automation" stakes. The distributors that are trying to make things simple (I'm looking at you ASUS) seem to want to achieve that by going the Windows way and disabling the manual controls.

    What I want (eventually) is something which has the ease of use of Windows, but with an easily-triggered trapdoor to let me get at the guts of the system.

    Most linux distributions are *almost* there... Almost. But not quite.

  36. Ubu Walker

    Failed net install on VirtualBox

    I wanted to try out Lenny on a VirtualBox before putting it on a production froze up while installing. It got stuck while "retrieving file 811 of 811". FAIL.

  37. David Kairns

    Become Programmer to Use Left Hand Mouse

    While back, my first Linux try. Idiot told me to just switch hands -- or creat this little program and install it somewhere. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight!

    I want to COMPUTE (word process, browse, email, run Delorme maps - the best by far).

    I DON'T want to return to a university for programmer's school in order to run my fucking mouse left handed.

    I don't want to personally manufacture a car in order to drive to a store.

    Linux will become useable or it will die (remain dead) in *all* but super-specialist zones.

    You want me to learn to program? Fuck You.

  38. David Kairns

    Linux Method For New Car Rims

    Buy or manufacture mining equipment

    Mine back yard for iron ore

    Erect steel manufacturing facility (get permit first)

    Order casting form

    Smelt steel (add alloys now)

    Pour new rims

    Dip in water to cool (wear gloves)

    Set up machine shop

    Do final machining

    Use new rims

  39. David Kairns

    That Place

    Use Win - Puke for numerous reasons.

    Use Linux - Puke over expense of hiring programmers.

    Rock - Me - HardPlace

    Solution - Buy pencil, buy paper pad, move to cave, write notes to self, enjoy simple networking.

  40. David Kairns

    Why Linux Might Remain Dead

    I ain't stupid -- I used to reformat a floppy to 1.8 megs, compress it, and thus get 3-4 megs of certain types of data on a single floppy disk. Did it for fun.

    But, I REFUSE to become a semi-programmer merely to do some simple daily computing.

    Get over it, fix it -- or see Linux DIE (for real people with lives).

    (I hate MS as much as anybody - bunch of broken, but painted well, Yugo salesmen).

  41. carlleigh

    Don't feed the troll and don't reviewers do basic research.


    As for Alex. "Please do not feed this troll"


    The reviews biggest error:

    KDE, XFCE, Bussiness Card, Net Install, Live and etc. etc. etc. - Left hand column choose: CD ISO Images.

    Down the page click link: Download CD/DVD images using HTTP or FTP.

    # Great Britain: FTP HTTP

    # Great Britain: FTP

    # Great Britain: FTP HTTP

    # Great Britain: HTTP

    CD's 1-20.iso












    Etc. etc.

  42. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    @william henderson

    If some unpaid volunteer was sharp with you on a support forum, either read or buy support for one of the commercial distros. You can always pay Microsoft $100 to report a bug. They like to get $100 from many users for the same bug, and perhaps they might fix it next year.

    "if Linux is so good and so free and easy to use why isn't it a distro on all new PCs?"

    Distributors like to sell antivirus software. If they do not get that sale, they like to sell an adware cleanout service. Most people do not need to buy extra software to do what they want with Linux. If you talk to a PC World employee, they will parrot last year's FUD about Linux so their employer can shift some high margin crapware. OEM's have said that Microsoft will not allow them to ship Linux. They certainly get discounts for being Microsoft only shops. They have started using Linux as a stick to beat down Microsoft's prices. They are not that enthusiastic about Linux because it does not require an expensive 140W CPU and two graphics cards to send an email.

    Imagine a world without Linux: Home users would be spending £200/year for a DOS/95/ME derivative, businesses would be spending £500 per seatyear for Vista and XP would be dead. There would be no netbooks. Routers would cost the earth, and home users would have to pay extra for software to share their internet connection among multiple computers. Satnavs would need the latest Pentium, a large battery, a noisy fan and would only be useful for 30 minute journeys. There would be separate internets for Windows and Mac users. Google and wikipedia would be replaced by Microsoft Live and Encarta. PVR's would only record what the TV networks want you to record, would delete it within 7 days, and adverts would be mandatory - not even a mute button.

    The truth is, Microsoft users are completely dependent on Linux. Get back in yer closet.

  43. Andrew Rodland

    Why the GUI love?

    I really don't understand why everyone goes crazy over the GUI installer when Debian's text installer (d-i, the one it's had for six or seven years now) is not only incredibly easy to use and incredibly flexible (supporting all kinds of machines, partitioning setups, and network setups without manual intervention), but also twice as fast because it doesn't have to load an entire GUI off of the CD? I can get a new machine installed, online, security-patched, and rebooting into the live system before the Ubuntu CD finishes booting for the first time. "GUI installer" is the "word count" of linux distros, apparently.

  44. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Good god, are we really trying to stop Linux!

    This comment trail is painful to read, and infuriating.

    I am a self confessed geek, and have been for 40+ years, and also a 30 year+ UNIX user (and Linux since it has been around). I've supported UNIX systems at a source code level, and have worked in a major vendor's UNIX support Centre as one of the senior techies.

    I have NOT got the spare time to fiddle with Linux to get it working on my day-to-day system. I do NOT want Windows. So, I use a major distro expecting this to do most of the hard stuff, and this has become Ubuntu. It's quick to install, supports pretty much everything on mainstream PC's and provides the necessary apps. for close on 100% of users who are application agnostic (not everyone, I know).

    But I can tweak it if I want. It's close enough to Debian to allow me to put most .deb packages on. And I can compile the stuff up if I need it (e.g. the airprime module to speed up 3G USB dongles). If you want to use the bleeding edge Nvidia drivers, you can, but if you don't, what is in the repository will suffice. But I won't deny other distro's the right to exist, or peoples right to use them. Nor will I deny the rights of people to use Windows when they know no better.

    It's important for Lenny to be produced, because it feeds through to other distros, but it is not the OS for the masses, and the Debian core team probably know that. Ubuntu could be, but the jury is still out, waiting for mainstream app. and game support. Normal users want stability, confidence that the system works, the apps. they need, and maybe a good update and patching process.

    Also, it would not be the first time that a Microsoft product deliberately offered poor support or artificial barriers to alternative technologies. I used to use the Microsoft tools Virtual Desktop (on a work provided laptop, please note) which used to lose windows when switching between desktops. But only the Firefox ones!

    To all of the Linux proponents out there, get with this message. We need a DOMINANT Linux distro for the masses. Stop squabbling in public, it's ugly, and makes people turn away.

  45. Jamie Kitson

    Ubuntu vs Debian

    Ubuntu boots quicker than Debian. Remove Gnome and Network-Manager and Ubuntu isn't nearly as annoying.

  46. Anonymous Coward

    An OS that "Just Works..."

    I love how all you Windows guys say that as if you know what it means!!! Keep up the good work et c...

  47. Alexander


    I Disagree that any of the distro's are anywhere near truly "multimedia at one click" especially for games and home network streaming, it is hard enough for most users in a simple clicky win environment never mind the funny land of linux distro's.

    But i do agree the linux needs a dominant distro or it will go on for ever as a geek fest, what i find really funny is i help people over skype with distro setups and installs as well as linux for webservers and gaming servers. now i must spend 5 hrs a week at least explaining and doing talk-through’s of installs and problems , not that I am a super genius just experienced in using the little black and white devil.

    But then see the same people post on forums and newsgroups about how great and easy Linux , and how it is better than this or that .....lads grow up .

    No Brainer

    " it would not be the first time that a Microsoft product deliberately offered poor support or artificial barriers to alternative technologies"

    what like sony or apple or 100 other big players do, market forces I am afraid as well as product protection. it's linux that leans on MS backoffice platforms then it has to have it's own.

    @Flocke Kroes

    You sir are why linux will stay in the land of the tweaker and tinker, MS actually paid $20 000 for the latest IE exploit , and to burst you delicate little bubble "Imagine a world" actually MS does dominate the market home and office and handheld .....and in case you did not notice hardware is nothing to do with an OS ..wop de do linux can run my fridge ..but can it play games in HD for my son or stream HD to 2 laptops and my TV as well email, web browse, can I vpn in with less hassle , how easy is a NAS setup..blah blah blah ..all with little pain ?

    Linux is fecked until one main distro takes over and it become windowfied with one click and wizards galore of course the evangelists will have a heart attack and claim treason ...It must be tough being a fan boy........not.

  48. Bruno Girin

    @Peter Gathercole

    Completely agree!

    I use Ubuntu because it supports everything on my laptop out of the box and I was up and running with it in not time at all. It doesn't prevent me from tinkering with it though: I can tweak it to my heart's content, install, un-install, re-install stuff, be a geek by writing my letters with LaTeX or automating some photo manipulation using Image Magick in a nifty shell script. And if I want to go the uber-geek route, I can alway tinker with Gentoo in a VirtualBox VM. But the important thing is that the starting curve is very smooth. Linux needs the whole spectrum of distributions: from the easy to install ones like Ubuntu to the hardcore ones like Gentoo, and everything in between.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I just hacked one of my arms off to make Linux more difficult to install - so much harder to type. I was really proud when I rebooted and it all worked!

  50. william henderson

    @william henderson By Flocke Kroes Posted Tuesday 17th February 2009 06:06 GMT

    not being an l33t haxxor of the various o/s's, what your comments suggest is that; linux needing no antivirus/malware programmes and having none installed, could be passing on such like to others, without even being aware of it.

    the assumption that black hats have not written and disseminated code to do this is almost as nieve as those that use windows unprotected.

    given the surprised that continue to jump out at us over rootkits etc. in long established and well known windows variants, what of little known linux?

    all the talk of vitrual PCs etc. is so much fog.

    totaly irrelevant to 99% of PC users.

    i say it again, though in a different format; if linux is that good and free, why insn't it the no. one distro?

    because it is not what the fanbois claim it is.

  51. David Hicks


    Shut up.

    Seriously, STFU. You have no idea about anything, do you? You're the most cluesless asshole that ever graced the internets.

    OMG! Linux doesn't play $LATEST_GAME!!!!

    Would that be because it's not made for linux, by any chance? And before you spout off about "well that's another reason linux is TEH SUCK", I advise you once more to STFU. Linux isn't dominant so nobody targets it with games, and nobody targets it with games because it's not dominant. it's a catch 22, not license to yell about linux not working. If you don't want to install it because games are important then fine, but really, shut your goddamned piehole when we're talking about one of the geekiest distros in town.

    "what like sony or apple or 100 other big players do, market forces I am afraid as well as product protection."

    Microsoft is a convicted monopolist on at least two continents. Someone complained about debian not installing on MS VPC. It is perfectly valid to say it's not a suitable platform for trying linux and it's perfectly valid to suspect MS of deliberately making it that way.

    "it's linux that leans on MS backoffice platforms then it has to have it's own."

    What on earth are you talking about? MS Backoffice platforms are godawful and linux does fi ne without relying on any of them.

    "can it play games in HD for my son"

    Some, yes. Others, no, it's a matter of getting manufactures interested and not a problem with linux itself. Though do go ahead and confound the two again in another sweaty, frothing rant because we know it gets you off.

    "or stream HD to 2 laptops and my TV as well email, web browse,"

    Yes, no problem. In fact it's been able to do that for longer than windows. Using synaptic (gui), install mediatomb. Add directories to share through its web interface. Simple. Don't like mediatomb? There are three or four alternatives including a commercial, closed-source one.

    "can I vpn in with less hassle ,"

    My VPN software works fine, thanks. It was written by AT&T and install on debian with no problems.

    It's also worth noting that there are free (and easy) vnc and remote desktop clients, vnc servers etc available.

    " how easy is a NAS setup..blah blah blah ..all with little pain ?"

    Places -> Network.

    Sharing things requires samba, which also has a nice gui these days.

    In fact it's significantly less hassle to set up under linux, IMHO, than under windows, which is always complaining about security and popping up "you are not allowed" notices for little to no reason.

    I'm sorry if you're not familiar with it, or your users need help because they're used to windows monoculture, but taking out your anger on anything that does anything the slightest bit different is counterproductive.

  52. TeeCee Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    @Flocke Kroes

    "Satnavs would need the latest Pentium, a large battery, a noisy fan and would only be useful for 30 minute journeys."

    Funny that. Mine runs on, er, Win CE and works rather well. No Pentium or fan and runs on internal batts for several hours between charges. But then, I suppose that if one were to build a satnav using a full Linux distro rather than a cut down embedded kernel designed for the job, that would require a hefty CPU et. al. too.

    Of the home routers I've owned over the years, only one has run Linux under the bonnet. It's the one I have now and it's a right sodding dog to configure, 'cos the muppets who built the nice web GUI front end left all the clever bits to their Byzantine CLI. It is cheap though. I guess you get what you pay for.

    I found the rest of your arguments equally as fatuous and factually inaccurate and the "closet" remark at the end to be the most delicious irony.....

  53. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    @Alexander and William Henderson.

    About the only thing I had to fiddle with for my latest Ubuntu re-install was the DVD codec's. And even that was not difficult, and only not installed initially because it is patent-encumbered. It picked up my wireless card, prompted me for my initial key, picked up address, gateway and nameserver from DHCP, already had installed Firefox that then installed the flash and other bits as required as it would have on Windows, and even discovered the printers in a similar manner to Windows. OpenOffice was configured out-of-the-box. Sound worked, as did USB devices, scanners, and Cameras. Without a single additional CD.

    This was significantly easier than the last XP install I did from generic media, where I had to license and activate the OS, and install a whole load of drivers and apps from multiple CD's (including the wireless drivers CD). All with loads of re-boots in the process.

    But most users don't do this. They unpack their system from its cardboard boxes, stick it on a desk, and turn it on. This could be achieved by vendors pre-installing ANY Linux distro just as well as they do with Windows. But at the moment, this does not happen. For a brief instant, it looked as if this may have happened in the UMPC and OLPC spaces, but Microsoft crashed those parties by changing their self-imposed rules, and extending the life of an OS they had been desperate to kill a few months earlier.

    I state again that I believe that for an application agnostic user (i.e. one who does not need Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, PowerDVD et. al.) but can use OpenOffice, Firefox, and Totem, that Ubuntu installed out-of-the-box will satisfy them, and can be easier. I would state that a gamer does not fall into that category, as they want a particular OS locked application, their games.

    For streaming multimedia, flash just works, and Silverlight (and WMP based delivery methods such as those deployed by SKY) fall into the category of artificial barriers raised by the vendors. Only Windows will ever satisfy that, even if Moonlight takes off (BTW, try using the ITV streaming service that even though it installs Moonlight, fails to work). Artificial barriers.

    For media serving applications, you should try a packaged MythTV or use the Medibuntu repository, just like you probably would use Windows MediaCentre, rather than using a generic user-targeted Linux distro like Ubuntu or Debian. I don't know whether this would surprise you, but Tivo boxes run Linux under the covers.

    OpenOffice does have it's own, internationally agreed document formats. It also understands .doc as well as several other proprietary formats. No prop needed there.

    Oh, and by the way, William Henderson, I understand rootkits, and have followed many of the ways they are deployed, and most of them require very specific vectors to get into a system, which probably will not be on an end user's Linux workstation. I know it's possible to compromise a Linux system, but it really is not as easy as a Windows. And the information to fix these is not obscure, just rarely needed. I welcome the day when there is no need for copious tools and web-pages to protect and disinfect Windows systems, when they become unnecessary. They are only out there for Windows because the exploits are there. Supply and Demand.

    And anyway, there are Virus and Trojan scanners for Linux. Clam, F-Secure, Kaspersky, Trend and Grisoft all have products you can install/buy, just like Windows.

    Linux is not out there in the pre-installed space, because Microsoft threaten vendors who ship systems with Linux installed with withdrawing their OEM status for Microsoft products. This is not hearsay, but a matter of historical record (see recorded cases about Netscape, and Lotus and WordPerfect office suites). This is enough to put a system builder out of business in the current climate, at least until Linux is widely accepted. But this sounds like a circular argument to me.

    So Linux is not being judged on merit, it is hamstrung and hampered by those who would lose out if it really became successful. This is why there has to be a unified front from those who know, and why Microsoft should be picked up on all of their anti-competitive practices.

    OK, I'm off my soap-box for now, I'll wipe the froth from my mouth, and will pick up my coat as I leave.

  54. Gary Turner

    Elegantly argued

    @ Peter Gathercole Posted Tuesday 17th February 2009 15:05 GMT

    Thank you for a nicely turned argument. I have used Debian since 2000. With the exception of needing Win for IE (I'm a web developer), haven't found a thing in Win that I couldn't do in Linux—usually more easily, more configurable, and certainly more straightforward.

  55. Alexander

    @david(silly boy) @peter (smart man)

    You need help mate. linux is good so calm down or you willdo yourself an injury.

    "What on earth are you talking about? MS Backoffice platforms are godawful and linux does fi ne without relying on any of them."

    eh what are you on about, is that so maybe in your little world , but reality check here which industry do you work in ?

    If you actaully read your post it high lights the problem with linux distros 4 ways to do that 6 ways to do this tweak this script, mess with that .

    this one statment tells me your one of those i need help fan boys

    "In fact it's significantly less hassle to set up under linux"

    total rubbish what my new dell pc with a fis image on it which take minutes is harder than installing a linux distro ..see sense man your deluded.


    you make good points peter, but which OS is easier to install is mute as you rightly say until linux comes as a fis image on your new unit it is doomed.

    "MythTV or use the Medibuntu repository" they are ok but not as good as Tversity or the likes yeah linux distros with a bit of work can get to the point there are just as functional as windows but then again when you get to that , they also become as bloated and a lot harder to maintain

    I am sorry but open office as a business package is crap full stop. okay if your cash strapped we tried in 35 pharmacies it lasted 3 months then VL MSOffice 2003 replaced it at all locations.

    But i do agree peter that linux is held back champions if you can call them that .

  56. Lu


    "Of the home routers I've owned over the years, only one has run Linux under the bonnet"

    Er, I'm not sure about this. I'm a support tech, and have worked with tens of different routers over the years, from Cisco to Dlink; Diginet to ADSL to ISDN etc. - never seen one with anything other than some Unix derivative "under the bonnet", and for home routers, definitely Linux.

    Sorry, not trying to be a troll or anything, but that comment was totally inaccurate.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @elegantly argued

    Second that

    thanks Peter Gathercole for your post: erudite, reasoned and accurate

  58. Kwac
    Thumb Down

    Command line

    To all you Wintards complaining about using the command line, how about this:

    Get-Process | Where-Object {$_.VirtualMemorySize -gt 104857600}

    You too can have more control; just install MS 'Windows Power Shell' - works in Vista too! I wonder why they developed it?

    Of course, you no more have to use this (but you will need commands like like 'FIXMBR" or "/SFC" sometimes) in Windows than you have to use command line in Linux - but don't let a little thing like that get in the way of your prejudices (ignorance?).

  59. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    @Alexander again

    I obviously can't comment on your pharmacy install, but I would expect that the reason why it failed was either the 'it does not look like Word and Excel' argument, or the 'It doesn't run all of the VB code I need' argument.

    The first is a matter of training. If your users will only accept MS Office, then OpenOffice will never do. But I would be interested to see how the same users react to MS Office '2007, with it's new look.

    The 'it doesn't run all of the VB code' is an example of a user locked into MS products, not the application agnostic users I was talking about. I have this issue in my work, where my work issued laptop has Lotus Symphony (a repackaged OpenOffice), but I need to be able to run a heavily scripted Excel application. So I can understand it, but it is not what I was talking about.

    I have other personal experiences of this. My 14 year old son recently was asked to do a PowerPoint presentation for a piece of school work. I suggested he use OpenOffice (installed on pretty much every system in our house), but was told that it had to be done in PowerPoint, because that is what the teacher had demanded. This is an example of the MS monopoly becoming institutionally reinforced, for no good reason. And this is because of the special licensing agreement Microsoft have agreed with most education authorities (== almost free in most cases).

    I capitulated, and bought a copy of MS Office Home and Student 2007, which I installed on his gaming rig (see, I run Windows in my home network). It made me feel dirty, as well as a bit bitter about spending money that was not strictly necessary, especially to Microsoft.

    But for the average user, buying a system for home use, chances are that they will not buy MS Office anyway. Even at £50 (which is what I paid for Home and Student), this is a significant part of the £300-£500 they pay for the complete system. More likely, they will end up with some variant of MS Works. And even this will provides more function than they will need. I don't see what this can do that cannot be done in OpenOffice, and I use both OpenOffice and MS Office (and also several versions of Works).

    Please understand this, I am not, nor have I ever in this comment trail, been talking about corporate or business users. But even if I were, I believe that OpenOffice can hack it as long as there is no other application tie-in. If you disagree that strongly, please give an example of what a user needs that cannot be done in OO. Merely being different does not count, however.

    It is interesting you mention Tversity. This appears to be a freeware (for personal use) application, a model that is not that different from that which most Open Source software is published , although a little more restrictive. Yet you have difficulty with Linux and OpenOffice? I detect a degree of hypocrisy here. And it is a stated aim of the Tversity developers that they intend to support MacOS and Linux eventually. See the General FAQ. And for similar functionallity, maybe Elisa may be a better fit on Linux, as it supports DLNA, and is in the Ubuntu repository.

    I really don't know what points you are trying to make. If you want to run Windows, I'll let you. No big. But I really feel that Windows is not essential, and a Linux like Ubuntu can currently fit the same space for many or most home users. I know this, because I am doing it. I know exactly how hard it is, and how much of my 1337 Linux haxor skills I have used, and I believe that an ordinary user could do it as well. Can you say the same?

  60. Steve Evans
    Thumb Up

    Lenny vs Ubuntu

    Well I've had my Thinkpad R52 dual booted for some time with XP and Etch... My only complaint was I couldn't get WPA2 wireless encryption to work.

    When the latest Ubuntu appeared, with an improved network manager, I thought this might be my saviour and eagerly burnt off a DVD... It booted, and then hung on the front menu no matter what option I picked.

    So I didn't hold out much hope for Lenny... I downloaded and burnt the network install CD and plugged in the CAT5... I wiped the Etch partitions and crossed my fingers.

    It installed.

    A couple of aptitude installs later (guided by some pages I found via google) and I had the centrino wireless working, and the new network manager, complete with WPA2.

    So much for Ubuntu being consumer friendly version of Debian...!

    Well done Debian, good installer!

    Certainly far less of a battle than I have had with the other-half's Vista laptop and it's nForce chipset!

    And before the wind0ze fanbois start chewing on me, I'm a window developer who only plays about with linux out of curiosity, but I'm long enough in the tooth not to be frightened of a command line, I used to program in MS-DOS after all.

  61. Matt


    I'm waiting for Karl, maybe Homer if it ever get released.

    That way I can sit in my cave claiming to be the greatest ever because I use <Insert type here> Linux.

    It isn't wrong to not understand how or why something works. If my car breaks down someone who knows what they are doing fixes it, same with my boiler, anything really. I don't feel the need to learn everything to do something.

    It's a good thing that distro's like Ubuntu are out there, but in the same way it's not a bad thing that there are harders one's if that's what floats your boat.

    One flavour isn't just better than the other, it depends on what you want to do with it. Stop all this bitching and get on with life.

  62. Alexander


    openoffice problem is it not free, re training over 200 staff is not free our problem was the NHS reufsed to accept OO docs as well as a ton of pharmacuitical suppliers.

    Peter i detect one problem that stumps me when talking linux . firstly (not directed at you) the average user is not stupid because they dont want to install a distro them self or get involved with anal support groups just to get a OS on a device , they want the OS already on it.

    Imagine you new dvr gets delviered it has no code installed to run , you have go online choose which one of 6 or 7 main choices then go through a process of dl intsaling configure and learn how to do thing all over....this is linux on the other hand Win and Mac os's are one clicky pre installed and they work and the support is miles above the murky support of linux.

    All products which staturate a market and create an almost monoply like MS do so becasue their products are BETTER than their compeditors, Shuttleworth of Ubuntu claims the cheap pricing of XP to the OEM market is not fair play..excuse me LINUX IS FREE and if a product which is free cannot overturn a pay for prodcut like MS . then the problem is ubuntu is not good enough "YET".

    I am sick of linux people who think they are some how intellictual power houses becuase they use linux , or that anyone using anything different is some how less informed than them or becuase they like a product means it must be the best product.

    You peter are as bad , you seem to be ANTI MS as if everything MS does or charges for is somehow bad that is a little bit polarised and not an "OPEN" attitude yes i use many opensource or freeware apps hamanchi, tversity etc..i take the postion of what functions best no matter who makes it.

    Ubuntu is not ready for the home user and the market knows this otherwise it would use it , linux is a far cheaper alternative and the reason it is not yet made the in roads into mainstream desktop with the average user is because it is not ready yet.

    People are not stupid and money is to tight to mention ,And coming from the SME and corparte market i can state we like six sigma and ITIL be dammed if we can save the dollars. but linux still cant quite meet the standards required.

    I like linux it is my chioce for web servers but as a desktop OS it is to fiddly to time consuming and the community around it stinks with eltieism i have not seen since the days of BBS.

  63. A J Stiles

    What's wrong with command lines?

    What exactly is so wrong with the command line anyway? I grew up when that was all there was, and I've found GUIs to be a backward step in some ways. It's like going to Spain and never learning a word of Spanish. Oh, you can get by with just pointing and gesturing for awhile, for sure, but that eventually gets frustrating to the point of unbearability. Even learning to say just "Una cerveza, por favor" and "¿Donde son los servicios?" makes life that much more bearable.

    Show me just *one* person who *wouldn't* rather type

    $ [ ! -d thumbnails ] && mkdir thumbnails; for PIC in *.jpg; do THUMB="$(basename $PIC .jpg)_mini.jpg"; convert -resize 200x200 $PIC thumbnails/$THUMB && echo "Shrunk $PIC giving $THUMB"; done

    into a terminal, than drag-resize (to the same size each time: 200 pixels in the longest dimension) a whole folder's worth of jpeg images in turn, saving them to another folder, using any graphics editor, even their most favouritest one.

    You don't have to understand it (I already did the understanding bit for you). You just have to type it exactly as it's presented, and it'll work like magic. You can always learn to understand it later, if you like.

  64. Rex Alfie Lee

    Wireless on Linux

    I don't use Lenny or Debian per se but I've got 6 comps at home, 2 of the 7" EeePCs for my 2 girls & a 10" EeePc for moi, an ASUS 15" with Windoze Me #2 (aka VistaCrap). Mine dual-boots XP & now UserOS as none of the others including Eeebuntu recognised the wireless card. OpenSuse recognised it as a network device but that's as far as that went. The other 2 are desktops of fair grunt & both run OpenSuse 11.1 with KDE 4.1 the desktop manager.

    One of the desktops is having trouble accessing wirelessly, the 2 little EeePCs work brilliantly, the other desktop works brilliantly & I'd suggest that my own will now work on wirelessly as well. For the dork who claimed that this is 2009 & Linux might get there before 25 years are up it has taken a lot less time getting the Linux boxes to work wirelessly than it has VistaCrap. It works, then it doesn't & so on. Shut it down & it works again for a while then it doesn't. It's crap.

    While I know that Ubuntu (UserOS) is "I can't install Debian" & OpenSuse is too easy for many of you, for those of you out there who care about Linux becoming something you need to get over yourselves. I tried a long time ago & have never gone back because I want to install it & be able to use it rather than spend my life & money trying to work out some stupid piece of software that doesn't work properly. I want Linux to just work so that I can get on with it. I can program too but I'm not interested in programming an OS.

    I WANT LINUX TO JUST WORK! I wonder how many of you also have XP running somewhere to make up for the shortfalls in Debian & the time taken to get it running. By shortfalls I mean fixing hardware drivers & the like. Just get it to work for the masses rather than being a bunch of wankers. You can always have your "better" version that you chopped up so that it was perfect for your own box.

  65. vincent himpe

    @aj stiles...

    tsss. have you used any decent kind of photo editing software lately ? In Adobe or Jasc Photoalbum ( now corel ) you just select the images you want , do the resizing once ( unsign a nice gui ) and then hit the apply to all button. done. and you even get an undo.

    if you make one typo in that commandline fo yours who knows what will happen.... wake me when command lines get an 'undo function'. 'k ?

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Yep, thanks I think I will.

    I have a life, I wear closed toed shoes, shave and have a wife and family.

    Presumably you're pissed off that you aren't listening to the radio, sorry wireless, using a cats whisker any more.

    I've moved on a tad and strangely I do want a computer to work rather than be a challenge.

    "and that's why Linux will NEVER succeed on the desktop."

  67. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    @Alexander again again

    You have not read my post properly, nor have you answered my challenge. OK, the NHS refused to accept OO documents. You have not said why. Reading between the lines, and from experience, it is probably because although the documents looked OK on the screen in OO, they ended up being formatted poorly in Word. This is a fixable problem that also happens Word-to-Word if you end up with a different printer driver. Tell me if you can say that you have never changed the destination printer in Word, and suddenly found that the layout of the text has changed. If you havn't, then you have been very lucky. Try adding the Microsoft TruType fonts to OO and see whether it is better.

    And with regard to training, I think that you have reinforced my argument. I said, and I quote "If your users will only accept MS Office, then OpenOffice will never do". As I said before, I was commenting on home users, and application agnostic users (agnostic in this sense that they are not tied in to an application). Your users were obviously tied.

    And again, on the installation. I was proposing having Linux installed, and then explained why it will not happen all the time Microsoft are dominant.

    I will admit to being averse to buying Microsoft products myself. And I admit that I do not like Microsoft's anti-competitive practices, as they are morally wrong, and may be illegal. But I do not deny them a position in the market place. Again, I quote from one of my previous posts: "If you want to run Windows, I'll let you. No big."

    I question your comments about Microsoft's products being better than their contemporaries. OS/2 was definitely better than Win3.1, and at least as good as NT3.5. DRDos was better than MSDos4 Amipro/Wordpro and Wordperfect were better than Word. Netscape was better than IE. Linux is better than XP/Vista in almost all respects with the exception of application availability.

    In almost every case, Microsoft was able to kill their competitors products by means other than technical merit, normally by threats, but also by loss-making pricing by cross-subsidy from other products.

    I was not talking SME. I have said this several times, and I say it again. I'm talking SOHO, to use the acronym. SME's have other requirements which definitely make them non-application agnostic.

    And I cannot see how ITIL has any bearing on this discussion, either for home users, or even for SME or Bluechip customers. The required procedures with associated documentation when correctly produced will be ITIL compliant regardless of the underlying OS. You could argue that the product documentation needs to be referred to, but Linux has documentation.

    And what has six standard deviations from the norm on a distribution curve ("six sigmas") got to do with anything talked about in this comment thread? Do you really know what you are talking about, or are just using buzz words.

    As I said. I use Ubuntu because I don't want to spend all my time fiddling. I state that it is possible, because I do it. It's no more difficult that XP.

    It is not technical merit that makes system builders decide not to install Linux on new systems. It is the fear that Microsoft will remove them from the OEM list, meaning that they have to buy Windows at list price (£100+) rather than OEM price. This would make the cost of installing Linux very expensive in collateral fallout.

    Microsoft can now give XP away, because they have recovered all development costs. They are not competing with themselves, as small systems can't run the bloat of Vista. What they have done, however, is a U turn, because XP was dead in their eyes, and they were trying very hard to make sure it died before UMPC's came along.

    And I would clam down if I were you. If your lack of spelling is an indicator, you are stressed.

  68. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    @Rex Alfie Lee

    Don't go on at the community. Rant at the Wireless card manufacturers. If they did their work for Linux as well as they do for Windows (and I don't believe that any version of Windows up to and including XP had ANY wireless drivers at all), then every card would work under Linux.

    It is not the Microsoft software that makes the wireless cards work it's that CD that rattles around in the box when you buy it. Most modern Linux distro's will, when installed off the generic install CD, support many of the common wireless chipsets. Not all, I grant, but definitely the Intel Centrino set, the Prism 2 set, and some of the RTL chipsets.

    I must admit that I struggled with Ubuntu 8.04 on EeePC 701's. I don't know what they did, but you have to install a modded driver to get it to work. There is a thread on the Asus Community threads that tells you where to get it.

  69. This post has been deleted by its author

  70. Anonymous Coward


    1. What fucking part of "You can set the default file format to Word .doc" do you not understand?

    2. Why oh why, in this day and age, do you have to "retrain" people to use a fucking word processor or spreadsheet. Truth be told hardly any of these users have has formal Office training, In fact they should all be banned from PowerPoint as a result! The differences ain't like Vi and Emacs!!! Lame excuse from apologists that are too lazy (or stupid) to move outside their own comfort zone. What are you going to do if you have Office 2007? For fucks sake...

    3. ODFO!!! That's it, roll out the Anti-MS line, my heart bleeds. HELL YES! They have been producing un-secure, mediocre shite for years, the Vista debacle being the latest example. XP was the same for those that remember, wasn't until SP2 turned up that it developed this fabled "rock solid stability". Seen you do it to Apple and Linux, hypocrite.

    4. This bit is in capitals, so you understand. MICROSOFT ARE A MONOPOLY BY DEFAULT. NOT BECAUSE THEIR PRODUCTS ARE "THE BEST". Many factors contributed to this. Mainly Microsoft strong arming OEM's with threats, the MS tax and unreasonable bully-boy business practices, of which they have been convicted. SQL wasn't invented by them. Neither was the internet. Or word processing. Or the spreadsheets. THEY DIDN'T EVEN WRITE DOS THEMSELVES! Active Directory is basically Bind, LDAP and Kerberos bundled together. All available opensouce, all for free. All, to pay a little respect to the original topic, on Debian.

    Oh, and learn to use the fucking shift key.

  71. Steve

    Lenny without the straitjacket

    But what about the rabbits George!

    Maybe Paris would get the reference...

  72. Daniel Barnes

    I love reading these windows/linux bash threads

    they're funny. Both Windows and Linux have legitimate uses but Linux will not become mainstream until it is unified, having 100 different distros all claiming to be the best does not help anything. Different package managers, different package types, different repositories (and not just one repository, lots of different ones, in different places holding different bits of the puzzle needed to install something).

    Users simply won't be able to get their heads 'round it.

    For example I want to install a piece of software, in windows or mac I go to the website, download it and install, that is it, job done. In linux I have to google for a bit to find what repositories I need access to, create/modify the repository list on my computer, run a package manager which will download the source, compile the source and finally install. why!?!

    I can't be arsed with it, and I like to tinker. How are my grandparents going to do that, or my mum or most of my friends! It simply wont happen until there is one linux, or at the very least one way of doing everything, one type of package, one package manager and one big repository( or just an install file you can download from the programs website). I like linux, but I'm not devoted to it, like some people, I can just take a step back from it and see it for what it is, flawed.

  73. Alexander


    peter they point blank refused to accept OO doc in any font or tweaked format ,end of story.

    Here we go again

    Six sigma = lean operations and a cheap and free OS like linux fit's right in.

    ITIL = Best parctice Text book

    Most comanpies play between both and try too find some middle ground cost v's service, linux is hardly an ITIL stalwart the back end support is just not there.

    You claim linux is better is than XP/Vista, how would you know if you don't use them. i use linux and MS products And I and millions of others would say microsoft is better. and that is what the market and industry says so, so beacuse a small minority of so called computer enthusiasts claim different it is so?, really solid reasoning.

    linux is trying to look like a Mac OS or and MS OS and not the other way about.


    "And I would clam down if I were you. If your lack of spelling is an indicator, you are stressed"

    Actually English is not my first langauge, And I was just trying to help some of my delusional linux friends understand reality ;)

    @Mac phreak

    1. you don't understand , so shhh

    2.It is called business..... training staff is just a responsible requirement of a proper buiness model( you still dont understand)

    3.? Relax and take a deep breath.

    4. i keep forgeting how open apple are?what are you talking about the discussion was is debian ready for the mass market , and the answer is no nethier is unbuntu,

    And i suggest if you don't like other people opinions then stay away from the internet, actaully judging by your post i would suggest stay away from sharp things.

  74. Krystan Honour

    @Alex and stuff

    Alex, your comment is ridiculous and elitist and typifies why people stay away from linux, you are the supposed "hardcore" which stops true acceptance on the desktop.

    Debian is and always has been a very stable linux, it doesn't pretend to be the easiest linux to use either. I used to work with some guys from the debian project and they are pretty engrossed with the debian movement (Ones DPL), I remember saying to people in 2000 that debian needed to offer a graphical installer etc just to make it a bit easier, in those days you had to resort to escaping the installer at certian points and installing packages and restarting.

    I agree that linux isn't necesarily a "just works" product, but I do not support the elitist attitude that only the computer elite should have access to high quality software, that is stupid just like your attitude. Linux is a great OS and if someone wants to install it they should be allowed to. And when these users need help they should try themselves and then seek help from those in the know who should supply the help so they can become part of the so-called faithful. To keep people way because they are not up to your existing standard defeats the object of producing an OS for people to use in the first place.....

  75. Anonymous Coward

    @ william henderson

    Linux is a geek toy!?

    Hardly. Most of the companies that you've heard of will be running critical systems on Linux. Get a real job *then* tell us which OS is the toy.

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "And I would clam down if I were you. If your lack of spelling is an indicator, you are stressed."

    There's a scientologist in there somewhere!

  77. This post has been deleted by its author

  78. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Fight Fight Fight...

    This stuff is gold dust.... so funny...

    Who would think people could feel so strongly about bits of tin and low voltages...

    I bow to you all :)

    By the way I do rather like debian :)

  79. David Hicks


    So your arguments have gone from "Linux is worthless" to "some of my users are too belligerent to give up MS Office".

    Way to back up your assertions there.

    Nobody is forcing you to use Linux, if you and your users don't like it then don't use it. But just because your pack of morons are so invested in MS tech that they refuse anything else doesn't mean that everyone is.

    Also, you know that "Linux is crap because everyone knows MS" doesn't actually make sense as an argument? If you want to argue that linux won't gain acceptance due to cultural inertia - spot on.

    Your little "choice is BAD" thing up the top is very funny too. So because I could choose a few different media sharing programs, depending on my needs, linux is rubbish? But MS is great because media player 11 does it with some features missing and you have no choice?

    That's just, like, your opinion maaaaan. Fighting monoculture in computers is one of the major FOSS motivations. There never will be a time when there is one true linux and one true browser/media play etc. People have different needs and preferences, and different uses for computers.

    As for UI, they all borrow from each other. Linux has been ahead of MS in terms of interface for some time now, imho. It might not seem that way if you're not used to it, just like I found the jump from XP to Vista painful.

    I find it very hard to take anyone pro-MS seriously these days, after the vista debacle and the fact that Win7 has already been shown to take even more control of the computer away from the user in the name of DRM.

    Anyway, enjoy your monoculture, I'll be off programming on lots of different OS's for money and running linux at home because it's easy, reliable and it helps me learn about real computer systems rather than how to click a box over and over again.

  80. Anonymous Coward


    My aren't you an arrogant little twunt.

    1. Good comeback n'all, me not understanding. Really imaginative! The thing is I do "understand". You see, unlike you, I have investigated the options. How much is the support that microsoft provide worth? How much is it actually used? (look out, here's the 'business' bit) am I getting a good ROI? Citing a failing government organisation as an examplewas stupid. They (the NHS) should be forced to look at because they are massively over spending. No training is required. Internal Support call may increase in the short term, but the majority would find the tranisition seemless. You patronising dick.

    2. Business in 2009 expect people to be able to use a speadsheet and a word processor. They do not expect to have to train people in their use. The last 3 FTSE 100 companies I worked for thought that anyway. They expect them to be able to use the software that they supply be it Word or WordPerfect (still massively popular on the legal profession). Training for updating skills is important I grant you, but you've already nullified your argument there, so I won't bother. Oh no! Looks like I do understand after all!

    3. That was more of a dig at you, you plank. Whining about how hard done by microsoft are with all us mean freetards bashing them. Twat.

    4. The OSX kernel is open source. That's how open Apple are. Maybe if Microsoft were a little bit more decerning there'd be fewer viruses about. The discussion was about whether debian was as easy to install versus ubuntu, not an excuse to get all sweaty over how much you love the Microsoft cock.

    I don't mind others opinions if that's what they are, but you were spouting bollocks under the guise of being a pro. Now, where did I put my juggling knives...

  81. Brian

    a "advanced CLI-based installer."

    I'm far from a Linux guru and that's why I read your review. Unfortunately it didn't help me with anything I didn't already know.

    As far as terminology there isn't a "advanced CLI-based installer." It's either graphical or text-based.

    You wrote, "The main problem you're likely to encounter with Debian is installing proprietary Nvidia graphics drivers. Unlike Ubuntu's "restricted drivers" option or OpenSUSE 11's "one-click install," getting the Nvidia drivers installed in Debian requires some manual effort." If you think that is true you should stick with Windows XP, Vista, OSX, and Ubuntu! In fact, forget I even mentioned Windows XP because that is very similar to how Debian installs its driver! For example, visit, select your OS, click the driver you want to install, download the driver, find the downloaded driver on your PC, install. whew!

    Consider that you could help new Debian users by writing how to get the Nvidia Drivers. Why not use a link to Nvidia? Why not also mention the three or so different driver versions they have for latest Nvidia cards, older Nvidia cards and the legacy; each with their own driver? Simple, simple and more simple.

    I've heard that Debian has many thousands of packages (18,000 or so). So, how come it doesn't have Avidemux?

    So, consider explaining how to add repositories to the system. You wrote, 'you can always add the repository... grab all the multimedia codecs...Flash, MP3 and more." ... Great! But, how?

    Also, There's no mention of the other included repositories:

    - DFSG-Compatible Software with Non-Free Dependencies

    - Non-DFSG-compatible Software

    I hope you improve your writing!

  82. vincent himpe

    @david hicks

    quote : "it helps me learn about real computer systems rather than how to click a box over and over again."

    That is the whole pivoting point. Linux users are ( more ) inclined towards learning about how computers work.

    Win/Mac users don;t CARE !. they run APPLICATIONS. The computer ( hardware + Os) is only a tool to get their real work done. ( writgin a book , publishing a paper , organising their photo's , making a presnetation , doing some math using matlab , designing a board , chip , bridge , drawing a plan for a home bridge , mechanical piece. )

    Linux users are the type that like having a 'classic' car in the drivewy , that is in perpetual state of disarray , parts laying around, set on wooden blocks. It'll get finished some time, at which point they envision themselves driving around and gloating at passerby's with a smuggness on their face 'look at what i can do / did. i restored / built this car from scratch. It took me 20 years and my entire savings. And yes. you are entitled to that. Bravo. I couldn't do it. I don;t have the patience / time or interested.

    I go to the dealer and buy a car i like. It gets me from home to work / grocery store / beach / airport or any other place i want to go. I do not care , who makes the injection system, who welded the exhaust pipe, and if they used leather from organic or hormone treated cows for the seats. I just want to drop the roof when the sun comes out and drive it to go to a restaurant at the beach.

    My only questions are : is the trunk big enough to hold 2 suitcases and the golf bag , can it fit 4 people, can i connect my MP3 player to play through the sound system, how does the navigation system work, and will the wife like the color...

    That is the fundamental difference between linux advocates and windows/mac advocates ( with mac advocates driving it further : can only use 'approved' dealers / gas stations / roads , and it only comes in white. At least windows users can change the sound system / color / wheel rims and may install a trailer hitch themselves.)

    Until the 'linux world' does not 'understand' this, they don't stand a chance 'selling' ( or even giving away ) their product to the 'windows/mac world'. The win.mac world doesnt care that you can install different colors of lights for you dashboard illumination, that you can remove the fuel manifold and replace it with a hand built one, or install a mr-fusion. All they wan to do is DRIVE the thing !

    You can lead horse to water, but you can't make it drink !

  83. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    To anybody who is still reading.

    I'm not going to make another post on this thread after this one.

    I don't think that Alexander and I are actually commenting on the same thing. I did not say that I don't use MS software. I said I try to avoid it where I can. But... I currently have 7 systems running XP, 2 running Windows 2000, and a couple running older versions of Windows. Hardly MS free.

    This is mainly because they came with Windows. The rest of my family use Windows, except my daughter, who uses MacOS. I am their technical support department, so I get to see lots of Windows problems, with networking, printing, Office software and many other obscure problems, including the normal gamut of viruses and trojans. Linux definitely wins here.

    I have not used Vista, I admit, but I would say that in this case 'better' is subjective. I read C very well, and I have looked at Genetic UNIX source (AT&T derived), BSD and Linux. I know much of the philosophy behind UNIX development, having worked inside AT&T and IBM. Generally speaking the code is very, very good in in all cases. I have not seen the Windows code, but from what I have heard and seen, some of the Windows code is not actually understood by Microsoft (one rumor I have heard is that IBM still provide support for some of the OS/2 derived code in the UI). Obviously, this is information by proxy, but what I've heard can't all be wrong.

    Of course, Vista is supposed to be a significant re-write, and if the reported resource use is as bad as it sounds (even now), then there is something quite wrong in Vista. Do you think that Windows 7 would be getting as much exposure as it is if Microsoft had not finally recognised that at least the perception of Vista was flawed, even if they do not think the OS itself is.

    My personal thoughts about Windows is that the design itself is flawed, in it's security, and it's resource use, and also in the way that users use it. Trying to make Vista secure broke applications left, right and centre, because apps expected to be able to write to strange parts of the filetree.

    25+ years ago, Sun came up with a model for using networked computers where a system was never personal. If you used a NFS connected diskless workstation, or even a shared server, your environment moved with you. The systems could all be near identical, and you could log on to whichever one you wanted, and use it as if it was your home workstation. The UNIX security model needed almost no tweaking to make it work, even the split between users and administrators worked. All that was needed was a little segregation of system data into read-only, read-mostly, and read-write data. There was even an application deployment method that allowed you to install the software just on the servers, and have it used on the network workstations. There was even a model that allowed heterogeneous systems in the same environment. This was a sys-admin's dream.

    Microsoft in the elapsed 25 years have not managed to come up with a model that works nearly as well. A Windows desktop system is still a Personal Computer in 2009, even with roving profiles, sharepoint, Active Director, and all of the other technology they have rolled out. This is because the basic design is flawed, and there is no point in building on cracked foundations. This makes it basically unsuitable for business, even though much effort has been put in to try to make it so. Just go to a desktop Windows system, log in, and see all of the junk left behind in the copies of all of the profiles of users who have previously used the system. And application deployment? After installing MS Office on every desktop, even with scripted installs, one would have thought that someone would have realized that something could be done better.

    And what is being rolled out now? Windows 'Mainframes' accessed via Windows Terminal Server, or Citrix XenApp. Hardly progress. It's almost exactly like IBM's VM/CMS environment (in concept, I'm not suggesting that 3270 terminals ran a GUI).

    The world has moved on, and I know that the UNIX NFS model is now dated, particularly the network security. But replace UNIX with Linux, NFS with Kerborised NFS 4, or GPFS, or even CIFS, and the model still works. Linux plugs straight in to this environment, and is bringing in new developments.

    It is this type of design that I think is superior. It needs to evolve, and be pushed forward, and I think that groups like are making this happen (the UI has needed a re-work for quite some time), but with the render extensions, and integrated GL in the Xserver, this is happening. Look at Compiz Fusion, and there is scope for UI's to be as pretty and as functional as anything Microsoft or Apple can push out. And guess what. Much of this is being done for free, often by people who code in their working life and contribute on their own time, so can produce good code. Debian is a good distro, and is proved to be so by being selected as the bas for so many other distro's.

    This is turning into an essay, so I'll shut up now. To the moderator, sorry I had to put you through all of this. If it is too much, I'll not be too annoyed if you choose not to post it.

  84. nicholas22

    A very different view

    You know what?

    IMFHO, there is no decent operating system.

    They are ALL crap.

    From Microsoft, to Linux, to Unix/BSD, Solaris and s***.

    Let's build a better one: With consistent APIs that make sense (no unix/win32 derivative), commands that accept similar if not standardized command-line arguments (again no unix derivative), drivers that work (not linux), open source (no windows/osx), snazzy interface (no ReactOS), etc. etc.

    Who's up for it?

  85. Schroeder


    wow, way to go there with the out of date FUD .... I think you got your whole argument the wrong way round (as for lumping windows in with, only in Billy G's mind ).

    Windows users only want to use their machines? Would be nice if they could do so, in between the virus scanning, defraging, installing another malware scanner, the latest video and sound drivers as that new game they bought locks without them etc.

    Been running Windows since 3.0, Linux since Suse 6.4, and sorry, whilst I may be a classed as geek, Linux is the OS I think of when people talk about things just working. Once again you use the strawman of having to install Linux yourself, when windows comes pre-installed and pre-configured. Funny isn't it that Microsoft is still fighting tooth and nail to stop Linux being pre-installed on systems like netbooks so that people can make the real comparison. As for clean installs, I know I'm not alone in knowing that the majority of Linux distros have been wiping the floor with windows on that score for a good while now.

    And once again you fall into that shill trap - unlike Microsoft, Linux users don't want to force Linux on everyone. Bill G is the one with the 'a computer in every home and Microsoft software on it' quote.

    As a Linux user I just want to ensure that hardware companies support it, after all its very popular in the enterprise sector where I work, and feel it would be nice if certain convicted Monopoly is no longer allowed to charge a tax on very computer I buy, when I don't wish to use their software.

    @Peter Gathercole

    Some good arguments there, but you have to understand Alex is either a shill or a troll, he enjoys sticking his fingers in his ears and going 'I'm not listening, I'm not listening'. At least if he's being paid to do so, that makes him slightly less of sad individual.

  86. Ari
    Paris Hilton

    Do you value your time?

    This one is to the "it's to simple these days" crowd.

    Is your time worth anything?

    if no, you are unemployed and have nothing better to do than spend hours wrestling each new install into shape. Wrestling with drivers is not my sort of fun. Especially if parts of the wrestling cannot be automated. Holding off on kernel updates because I can't be bothered to rebuild a tvtuner or graphics drier (and finding out whether it works on the new kernel) is not fun either.

    I like DOING STUFF on my computer. Making things, designing things, communicating and playing. I also have hobbies and obligations in the real world. Any time spent maintaining some ass backwards system functioning is time taken away from the things I enjoy.

    Which is why I (and most people, even most of those with technical knowledge) use platforms that work with a minimum of fuss.

    Thankfully, Ubuntu seems to have the righ idea, giving the options of Linux and letting people control their learning curve themselves. Other distros are working better.

    Windows is simple

    MacOS is simple.

    On both these you start up, and start getting work done (less time spent on maintenance on MacOS, in my experience).

    The various Linux distros are getting there, but still lacking in many areas, especially basic usability.

    But some of these self described tech geniuses would probably like to have to enter phonenumbers in hex into their phones, before compiling the rx/tx driver for the phone.

    Which would probably work out fine, because I get the feeling that people with these priorities don't need to use the phone that much. And you could run a script for calling Dominos.

    Paris, 'cause none of those guys will be able to receive the call from her while compiling..

  87. Anonymous Coward

    RE: Elite my arse

    ... ha! programming in hex ? Hard.

    Try writing microcode for bit-slice processors !

  88. Anonymous Coward

    Can we please just say,

    " Use want you ****ing want and leave the rest to their choice?". I use Ubuntu cos it works for me and it does what I want. I used to use Windows but now I dont. A choice made by me for my reasons. I have tried other distros and still do, I have a wallet full of cd's from Arch to Zen but up to now Ubuntu is the one that suits. so off you go children and play nice together.

  89. vincent himpe


    you make some interesting points

    first of all. there is no such thing as 'linux'. There are distro's like Suse, red hat , debian , slackware , ubuntu and 25 gajillion different ones out there. Get your shit together and first finish ONE system before forking and building more. The problem with all these distros is that applications have to be ported. Yhis distro uses that package manager , that distro uses another , this installer doesn't run on version yaddayadda blabla.

    So this raises the question : if computer manufacturers would sell computers with linux preinstalled : which distro ? Mac : MacOsx of course. Pc ? XP or vista ( i have not found a single program that is 'vista only') Wanna go the linux way ? That is a whole different can of worms .... al off as sudden your support goes from 2 Os's to 500 ... your helldesk will get SWAMPED.

    As for paying the Microsoft 'tax'. I have built over 200 computers . I buy OEM versions of MS when i need them to run MS. i install Whatever distro of linux / solaris / BSD when i need those.

    So where is this fabled 'microsoft tax' ? Here in the valley there are plenty of computer shops that sell prebuilt and tested machines without OS installed , or will install your choice.

    As for usablitiy. I have a couple of maxhines running XP SP3. All are solid stable. No crashes. I have an installed base of programs like Adobe Premiere , Altera Quartus , Office 2007 , Photoshop , Paintshop , and about 10 or 12 other frequently used programs (some cad applications, Visual studio 2005 and 2008). And some tools (Nero, printer driver for my networked printers). I run Norton Is2009. I do NOT have to wait for this 'endless scanning' , or whatever. My machines boot in under 30 seconds and are very snappy. My quad core zooms through HD video editing.

    and those viruses you speak of ? i don't download crap from 'tuh interwebs' like illegal software , filesharing, flash video and other 'junk' . I have a good spam filter like google mail, For browsing I use Opera and have java, flash and other crap disabled. As far as i know there is no such thing as a pure HTML virus ... My network router has built in firewall and all unneeded incoming ports are closed. Only one machines sits in the DMZ : my LAMP box and if that goes titsup i simply re-image the drive. There is no mission critical stuff on that one, only my collection of vacation pictures and movies for friends and family. In other words : i use common sense.

    And as for the comment : installing drivers for the latest game. Of course you never have to do that on Linux, because there are no games for linux. It's as simple as that. As for me : i dont play games. I'd rather take the car out for a spin, take a walk in the mountains or on the beach. Life is too short to sit inside by the monitor light... The computer is a tool like a screwdriver , knife or fork. I use it when i need it. My life does not revolve around it ( at least not my private life). My professional life does 'literally' revolve around it. I develop harddisk technology : The chips that make the platters spin.

    Linux on the desktop ? sorry it's not ready for prime time and as long as the development community cannot stop their 'twit race' ( monty python sketch where every runner takes off in a different direction : read the endless forking of os and applications so that they never get completed ) then it will never get to 'showtime'. The whole community is in a race with itself, who can bring some gadget first, who gets the 'bragging rights' so to speak, and endless discussions of gnome vs kde or vi vs emacs, firefox vs iceweasel. Move on ! Go do something usefull, like actually finishing a piece of software that people can use.

    choice is good. too much choice leads to confusion and spending a lot of time figuring out what you really need and or want. Life moves fast, if you don't stop once in a while and look around ,you may miss it (F.Bueller)

  90. Alexander

    like a thick fog

    @peter ok maybe your not as bad as guys like MACPHREAK, and such but still you say "I said I try to avoid it where I can" WHY , i will tell you why personal preference and that is ok, however mines and the majority of people personal preference is Windows based OS's.

    I have never once called linux users , stupid, thick or idiots ..but it seems a lot pro linux posters love to call anybody using MS and let me quote some posters"morons"?

    the queston was is debain ready for the masses ok send me my 5 dvd's or 30 cd's..okay you only need one dvd for basic but 5 dvd's the word bloated springs to mind and a few others like complex and time wasting.

    What most people and you peter fail to grasp is ICT is not the product of most companies, but just another department which supports the main business of the company in question.

    It gets dicated too, and not the other way about

    I like your little trip down memory lane , but the usall nonsense how great this was in the past (being an ex sys admin) if a 25yr old system was so good how come is still not king?... I mean god the BBS was so much better than the internet where have all the nodes gone , long live Fido even when it is runnig from a floppy from some ones bedroom., peter very nice if slighty skewed history with lots missed out, but hey what has that to do with the question is debain ready for the masses?

    to end i will quote you

    "linux could"

    yep it might, but just not yet.


    "I know I'm not alone in knowing that the majority of Linux distros have been wiping the floor with windows on that score for a good while now."

    if you can vaildate that little nugget with some facts? i would be greatful

    oh yeah i am troll because i disagree with you , why not just burn me at the stake while your at it.


    finally sense, whole heartly agree while good a OS ,a linux distro like debian still has a way to go and it is all about time and motion.

    My pc is a tool that is all and like my car i want it just to work , what OS is on it MS, apple, Linux,os2 yada yada yada.... i am really not bothered, but it will be the quickest and most simple to use that wins ,

    My point is Windows is king wether you like it or not ( does not bother me one way or the other) all i am intrested in is my time and using linux takes up more of it and the same goes for business.

    And using linux does not somehow make you a computer god that's pour scorn on anything MS at every opertunity, though it's a few posters here think being able to install a distro makes them a boffin .

    To say it again I like Debian it is ok , dont like unbuntu much but what ever floats your boat.

  91. Cerretelli
    Thumb Up


    I've only been using Linux for about 2-3 years, and still see myself as a newcomer. My first distro was Debian and I still use it today, but the reason I chose to use it was as Alex said "The idea being that the harder it is the more you learn and the better off you are for it.". I find the best way to learn something, is to jump in at the deep end.

  92. David Foster

    Yay! Flame war!

    Its always the same. I found the comments much more entertaining than the article. Keep up the good work kids.

  93. vincent himpe


    Please do remind people not to drive over the first suspension bridge you build, or live in the first 100 level apartment building you design.... people will get hurt...

    Luckily the engineers at boeing and airbus don't have that mindset....

    A step by step approach is more controlled and overal more effective.

  94. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linux is for losers that don't want to pay for a quality product - i.e. Windows.

    No seriously.....

    Ahhhhhhhh Ummmmmm I LIKE computers, I like "getting stuff done" but I just don't want to have to carry an encyclopedia of manuals and coding around with me to "get the stuff done".

    I also don't want to have to play IT skullduggery and clairvoyance to get the shit up and running.

    Vaugeness, ambiguity and guessing games are not the hallmark of competent programmers or companies - they are the products of stupid people who have their heads so far up their own arses that they think programming for themselves and their buddies is just fine - while wave upon wave of "try outers" - varying in capabiltiy from utterly vacuous and lazy to the fairly intense - will have to either give up or undertake a course in linux programming to get it all up an running.


    Are the linux programmers to fucking stupid to be able to even grasp this fundamental principle?

    Most people want to PRODUCE instead of program.

    Everything that has to be included between the idea and the outcome, slows down the profitability by increasing the time and the effort to achieve the outcome.

    Not so good.

    After a squilllion rebuilds and software installations etc., I am really looking forward to the day that I can have a totally portable OS and SOFTWARE unit, that I can simply transport from PC to PC... without reinstalling everything to get back to work again.

    Everything on a huge backup drive and copy it all across and the NEW PC is up and running...

    No more bullshit.

    Especially of the linux programming variety.

  95. Midas

    Moral Balance

    As a long time windows user (still) and a recent (5 years) Linux convert, the violence of these OS debate/wars deeply puzzles me.

    For one, I am unable to understand how convict the windows camp can rationally be in their defence of MS practices and products, carrying the burden of knowing all that is public (and partially re-stated here) about them.

    On the other hand, even if their designs where really so flawed, how can you so damningly criticize the joint effort of millions of programmers on behalf of the common (computing) good, instead of praising them?

    It really tells loads of the modern moral climate.

    Guess I'll jump back on my ship now, and go back to where I came from...

  96. Rory Campbell-Lange

    What was painful 6 years ago

    Having run scores of Debian servers and laptops for the last 7 years I'm intrigued to know why the writer considers that "our experience with Debian was not nearly as painful as when we first tried it out five or six years ago". The installation process, famously, can be generally described as pressing "enter" repeatedly and that has not changed in the interim, although hardware support certainly has certainly improved.

    Rory Campbell-Lange

  97. Alexander


    What are you on about?

    So because someone says Windows OS's are better than linux distro's makes them an MS lover ?

    to quote your brilliance "even if their designs where really so flawed," your kidding right ?

    I dont see linux as flawed just messy and awkward, just to many flavours to many options that is all.

    I personally dont care about the ethics or ethos of MS or any company not my concern, but then again I am not naivie enough to think the Linux distro makers like shuttleworth are in it for the love, the wole point of linux was the open source "FREE" ethos seem to have went slightly astray in the minds of shuttleworth and the likes, but then that is just business.

    Sorry no disney happy ending here.

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A simple lesson in Linux.

    Projects like Debian embrace the notion of open source fully, AND they like to give their work away at no charge! This should be applauded, not derided. It's important to understand the distinction between the two; open source being open to modification and potentially bug fixing; and free meaning gratis, you don't pay a penny. There are plenty of free closed source projects out there. Sure, there maybe some cynicism behind Shuttleworth and Ubuntu, he has even said that he'd like Canonical to be profitable, so it's not as if it's masked. Linux is as messy as Windows, truth be told. There realistically are 3 distributions on which all others a based. They are in no particular order; Debian, Redhat/Fedora, and Novell SuSE/OpenSuSE. Ubuntu is based on Debian. Not too difficult to grasp, eh? There a three main desktops; Gnome, KDE and XFCE. With Gnome (loosely based on the Apple gui) slightly edging KDE (loosely based on Windows), both really easy to "learn", in fact I'd go as far as saying that they are all fairly intuitive (what do you click in Windows to shut down? How many types of hibernation do you need?) and that no training would be needed, just a little extra support. The thing to understand is that Windows is actually quite hard to install. One of Vista's few good points was it's much improved installer. Hardly any average users ever install Windows from scratch, most think its a case of using the utility to reinstate the original image. This could/can be done with Linux quite easily, but what's the point? Ubuntu, and now Debian, is a piece of piss to install.

    @Alexander: Wow, what a hard nosed business man you are! I bet everyone is really impressed! I know I am... My original beef with you was your assertion that staff would need retraining if an organisation were to move to OpenOffice (which the French Gendamerie have done VERY successfully, *without* training). My company (FTSE 250) are currently migrating from one email system to another. How much training is going to be done do you think? That's right! None. These two systems are both extremely well known and very different from each other, however, bracing ourselves for a little bit of extra support and a pdf guide on everyone's desktop, it'll be a smooth transition. You see we, like every other big company, expect all our employees to at a certain level of understanding, essentially ECDL, so we don't have to waste money paying for them to learn how to use a basic tool, choosing instead to pay them to learn useful and important things that concern their respective professions. The same would be true if we were to convert to OpenOffice. Oh, the majority of people don't prefer Windows, in my experience they don't care and go with the flow...

    @callmeshane: Some of us *actually* know what we are doing with a computer, and back in the old days when being in IT meant more than just having your MCSE, everyone could write a program. That's the beauty of OSS! I can tinker if I want. Like you would with a car. It's not hard to understand really. In fact before Apple and Oracle and Microsoft, nearly *all* software was essentially open source. Oh, BTW, Ubuntu installs in 7 (that's this many: * * * * * * *) clicks, no "programming" needed.

  99. IT Department

    @Alexander: seriously, WTF?

    5 DVD's is for the OS plus a ton of applications: media, serving, editors, all that jazz. You can make your own CD/DVD image with jigdo, if you have some non-networked machines you want to roll out with specific apps, you can download a 40MB business card CD or a 180MB net-install CD (my personal preference) and go from there. There are many ways to get Debian on your system, and for many people, a single CD is all that's required.

    You obviously don't understand quite a few concepts, but like to trot them out: is it to sound clever? Your ITIL and six sigma rants, along with your weird pre-conceived notions about what `Linux' is like, are bizarre, particularly when commenting on an article about Debian, which you claim to have used and like. You don't seem to understand that `Linux' doesn't *need* more users in the same way that e.g. Windows or Mac OS X do. You also don't seem to understand the concept of "free as in freedom". If you were to do some small amount of research before posting, you'd sound less like you were on a rant.

    If one of your objections is too much choice ("choose which one of 6 or 7 main choices", "4 ways to do that 6 ways to do this tweak this script, mess with that"), then Windows is crap because there are too many media players (WMP, AIMP, Winamp, QuickTime, VLC...), too many text editors (Notepad, EditPad, WordPad, EditPlus). Can you see how fatuous this argument is?

    You haven't addressed any questions to you, you haven't responded to those of your unusual claims which are demonstrably false (OO.o .doc file support, media streaming, the `Microsoft tax', etc). This is the behaviour of a troll.

    In short: what the fuck are you talking about?

  100. Anonymous Coward

    Joe User - a little story

    In 2007, I was working in Mozambique helping with the start-up of a large scale HIV/AIDS project. As part of the start-up, laptops were distributed to district managers for document creation, statistics tracking, etc. The laptops had come pre-installed with Vista, but, for some reason (the week before I arrived in-country), they were sent to a Mozambican shop to have XP installed. There turned out to be (*clearing throat*) licensing issues with some of the XP installations.

    A middle class salary where we were working was the equivalent of about $70 USD per month. In that context, new retail XP licenses were very expensive. I happened to have an Ubuntu iso on my laptop, and I received permission from the country director to install Ubuntu on a trial basis on the affected machines.

    There were a couple "gotcha's" (ex. I had to set-up OpenOffice to save in .doc, .xls, .ppt, etc. formats by default; multimedia codecs that I didn't think were necessary really were), but, overall, it was a great success. My users loved their Linux + GNOME systems. We used both English and Portuguese as the working languages, so the ease of localization and changing input method was very nice. During the course of the year that I was working there, the users with the Linux machines required much less support than the XP users, and, when they did require support, the problems were usually resolved more quickly. The video clip of Nelson Mandela in /usr/share/examples was also popular.

    Why was deploying Linux so successful in this case? I think some of it could be attributed to technical merits; However, I think the most important factor were the users. In this case, the users were Mozambicans and Zimbabweans with very limited computer experience. As a result, instead of bitching about things being different, the users just got on with being productive.

  101. James

    @Doug Glass

    Too True. My dad is always complaining that the end users (lusers you call them) don't (can't) give a dogs arse about the OS and if you can configure XYZ in the command line or not.

    Not everyone has the time or interest to spend learning and configuring some OS or other. What they want is to press this one big green button that does it all.

    This is why Mac is getting so popular. Its generally more simple than Windows to do things like networking.

    Its like me saying the new SPSS doesn't do ABC like it used to when the HUGE majority of people just want a fucking calculator to do 9x2 and don't care about normal distributions and the like.

    Developers have to understand that their line of work is not everyone's line of work to become successful.

    @John Sanders

    "Thanks god no sane IT person pays attention to arguments like these, because computers are not cars you know.

    If anyone followed your arguments computers would still be black and white terminals, and you won´t be ranting against the people who over the years make things possible."

    No because some people may SPECIALISE in IT whereas others may SPECIALISE in Gynaecology. The IT boffin doesn't give a shit about the inner workings of his fantasy gf's Vagina and the Gynaecologist doesn't give a shit about the inner workings of IT.

  102. C



    and for the record Debian and PCLOS are my favs.

    XP waaay better than Fista..

    Cheers kids.

  103. zeke

    which KDE?

    You spend three sentence teling us about Gnome 2.22 and that it doenst use Gnome 2.24

    but dont bother telling people if its KDE 3.5 or 4.x?

    The difference between the two KDE's? HUGE.

    The dif. between the Gnomes? Not so much.

    Get your money back from the online journalism school.

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