back to article The Linux Chronicles, Part 1

Last Autumn I volunteered to review Windows 7. But in the following weeks, I found Linux to be preferable in many ways. This is pretty significant progress, and outside the 'community' has gone largely unnoticed, too - I haven't seen all that many Ubuntu stories in the Wall Street Journal. But what comes next is going to be …


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  1. Leo Maxwell
    Thumb Up

    Me too

    I have to agree.

    My day job is supporting a multiuser, multiOS company network.

    Windows2003, 2008, XP,Vista, 7.

    Mac OSX

    Linux, Redhat server, and until recently, Suse desktops.

    We are now an Ubuntu 10.4 shop where Linux desktops are concerned, and the Windows users are becoming restless.

    At home, Ubuntu, UNR, and Mythbuntu.

    At least a dozen installs on very different hardware combinations, and no problems.

    Evolution even works well with our Exchange server.

  2. GregC

    Good read...

    ... which pretty much mirrors my own experiences with Ubuntu recently. However I have to take issue with this:

    "This is true of the window controls shifting to the left, Mac-style, in Ubuntu 10. You have to know, or Google it, or download an Ubuntu "PowerTools" app to put them back over to the right. A simple clear setting would help."

    The buttons move according to what theme you choose, so this is only a problem if you want to keep the default theme and move the buttons. A simple setting would be an improvement, I agree though.


      The GUI isn't that hard.

      > "This is true of the window controls shifting to the left,

      > Mac-style, in Ubuntu 10. You have to know, or

      > Google it, or download an Ubuntu "PowerTools" app to

      > put them back over to the right. A simple clear setting would help."

      I dunno. Mebbe you should use all of that experience using other operating systems and the inherent discoverability of the GUI concept to sort things out yourself. Sure, the bit with the window controls is a terribly annoying sort of apparently gratuitious UI change. However, finding the Ubuntu Theme manager is not rocket surgery.

      It's simply not that hard.

      Admittedly, some GUIs are harder than they should be and don't really aid the novice (Windows networking being a good example). However, this is not such a case.

  3. Mr Templedene

    I have been using

    Mandriva Linux as my primary OS for several years now, this PC "can" dual boot to windows but it's really so rare as to be months apart.

    Quite happy with it, because, as you state, it is "just there" doing what it should and letting me get on with my work. Occasionally I have to respond to an update reminder but it's less obtrusive and easier than the windows equivalent I see friends and family dealing with.

    I upgraded a friends laptop from a creaky vista install to mandriva and he's in non-techy heaven as his laptop is now so much faster.

    Unless there is no linux equivalent or wine compatible version of software you need to work, I really cannot see why a large proportion of people couldn't switch.

    (caveat, I don't play games)

    1. fandom


      Just in case I would like to point out that KDE works much better in Mandriva compared to Kubuntu.

      For example in Mandriva the app to configure network cards actually configures network cards, I guess every Kubuntu developer uses DHCP or something.

      I did skip a few Mandriva releases though so that KDE 4 had the time to became usuable

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Nicely realised

    I don't get this snobbery i have seen in the past, over Ubuntu. "I'm a diehard Linux head, I used Spazware v0.00001 when it had no kernel and we were hardcoding the boot sequence by hand! Ubuntu is just like Windows. I want my life to be hard and never get anything done than building software from scratch!" Jesus!

    As you rightly said, computers are a means to a end, a way to get things done. I work in IT as an Oracle DBA/Unix SA and I use Ubuntu as my main desktop, plonked in front of it for 8-9 hours a day almost always running dozens of simultaneous multi-tabbed terminal windows, it has never ( touch wood! ) let me down. The Windows machine I have to have for Outlook has to be rebooted every 7 days, company rules. My Ubuntu box get rebooted once a month, usually just to ensure kernel updates are taken up OK. Ubuntu is simple, quick and slick with Gnome, it's just the ticket for maintaining terabyte sized DBs and dozens of servers.

    These daft planks deriding Ubuntu as "too easy", I thought we wanted more normal people to use it?! Thanks to Shuttleworth putting his large wad where is his mouth is, we finally get something useful and worthwhile which even the "norms" are using without issue, yet the planks still come and keep slating it as being "Linux for Dummies!".

    Well I am happy to be a simpleton, using my Mickey Mouse version of Linux! More power to your elbow Shuttleworth!

    1. lurker


      +1 to this. I actually am a diehard "former Spazware user" (actually, Slackware back when it came on 20-odd floppies) and I have used most of the distributions out there, compiled my own custom distro, developed on and supported linux professionally for years, etc. etc.

      But I don't want to HAVE to compile my own kernel nowadays. I can't be bothered to ./configure the source of every application myself to get some insignificant performance/smugness benefit from having done so. I never liked having to hack around with XF86Config in the first place.

      Frankly a lot of people I see slagging off ubuntu are themselves (I suspect) johnny-come-lately script kiddies who would like to feel that they are *nix experts because they have downloaded arch linux and had their hand held through the process of downloading/installing their OS from source. The bottom line (for me) is that linux/GNU is linux/GNU when you look under the hood, and I've never come across any problem on ubuntu that I couldn't resolve with a little tinkering under the hood or research on Google. For servers i'll stick with 'raw' debian, but for a desktop environment I am very happy with 'umbongo' because it is nicely set up out of the box, requires minimal fiddling in order to get to the point where it does everything I want from a desktop, it's well supported by an active and friendly community and, yes, it looks pwetty.

      1. Orclev

        Somewhat agreed

        Personally I have no problem with Ubuntu (and I used it for a while on my laptop), but for my day to day work programming I find Arch to be better simply because there's less hoops to jump through to get the latest dev snapshot of libraries installed. Yes you can do it on Ubuntu, but it often gets cranky when you do. Now, for my relatives, I never install anything but Ubuntu (and the one time I made the mistake of installing Kubuntu thinking they might like the flashy graphics), and it keeps things nice and simple for them. On one of my servers I'm running Gentoo, but in retrospect I probably should have gone with Arch as the whole emerge system is slightly unstable in practice.

        I think it's one of the great features of Linux that you don't have to start with a "one size fits all" version and tweak it till it somewhat resembles what you want. Instead you can get whatever distro happens to most closely match the experience you want, and then perform few if any tweaks to get it where you like.

        In a related note, just so no one accuses me of being a fanboy, I do run Windows 7 on my gaming system (and it gets along quite nicely thank you), and my wife owns a MacBook and an iMac, which do very well (so long as you do things the "Apple way", god help you if you deviate from how Jobs thinks you should be using his hardware).

  5. Kevin Pollock

    Still no Powerpoint alternative

    Hi Andrew,

    I very much enjoyed Part 1, looking forward to the next part.

    When Vista became such an embarrassment a couple of years back I was one of the guys in my company (I'm in the user community, not part of IT) who thought "what a great excuse to look at Linux". It was even more applicable when Office 2007 came out and seasoned office veterans were turned into Newbies overnight by the feckin' "Ribbon".

    I'd played with various Linux implementations over the years, but never found anything to do with them. It seemed that people run Linux just for the joy of running Linux. I guess it's OK for developers, or as a server, but there are no world class apps for the general population.

    So I tried it for laughs. I got no further than Open Office. What a pile of dingo's kidneys compared even with Office 2007. Open Office was the reason I persevered with the Ribbon, and have sort of, kind of got used to it.

    I was amused to read your words about BeOS...

    "The only two things BeOS didn't do was view PowerPoint presentations from PR people and text retrieval. But that was a problem for PR people, who got a polite message requesting a PDF version."

    Powerpoint is actually used by quite a few people. And the Open Office equivalent - Impress - is literally a joke. It does anything but impress me. I tuned into one of the developer forums for Impress, hoping to find out I'd installed it wrongly or something. But when I pointed out that animations were poorly implemented the forum moderator politely told me something like:

    "We won't be fixing this. I never use animations."

    After I'd finished laughing at the arrogance of this remark I promptly wiped the Linux installation and went back to Windows - with a greater sense of gratitude that, whatever Microsoft's faults, within Windows there are good quality office applications that actually do far more than the users need.

    I know Open Office is free. But again, this is a symptom of the Linux mentality. People will actually pay for good software. You don't have to put up with crap software just because it's free.

    I also realise that a lot of people work very hard to produce and maintain Open Office applications. I apologise if my remarks have upset them in any way, although I hardly think they're anything they haven't heard a thousand times before.

    My prejudices remain:

    - Linux is for developers and servers.

    - Macs are for content security consultants, and people who like shiny, expensive toys.

    - Windows is for ordinary users who need world class applications for office automation.



    1. Anonymous Coward


      Yeah, the OpenOffice forums are exceptionally unfriendly through and through. It seems to have come from people constantly posting threads with feedback on OpenOffice along the lines of 'It's great so far, but I can't use it properly unless you {add MS Office feature/make certain feature more like MS Office}' or heartfelt complaints about parts of OO that are just a bit broken, really.

      Now even forum moderators are quick to tell you that it Works For Me (tm), and perhaps you just need to get used to it.

      Me? Oh, I wanted to switch to OpenOffice. I still do. But whenever I try to create diagrams, the drawing logic puts me off quite a bit. Every time I try and draw a line and then let go of the mouse button the line appears, but half a millimetre or so below where I actually drew it. This is exactly the sort of 'feature' that inspires Mario-Kart-blue-shell levels of pure, unadulterated, primal rage and anguish, and makes me want to run into walls and open a root terminal with command dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda until the bad software goes away. Right up there with the Windows Update 'you have not restarted your computer yet' nagger, truly.

    2. blah 5

      One forum moderator soured you?

      "Powerpoint is actually used by quite a few people. And the Open Office equivalent - Impress - is literally a joke. It does anything but impress me. I tuned into one of the developer forums for Impress, hoping to find out I'd installed it wrongly or something. But when I pointed out that animations were poorly implemented the forum moderator politely told me something like:

      "We won't be fixing this. I never use animations."

      After I'd finished laughing at the arrogance of this remark I promptly wiped the Linux installation and went back to Windows - with a greater sense of gratitude that, whatever Microsoft's faults, within Windows there are good quality office applications that actually do far more than the users need."

      Agreed, many people rely heavily on PowerPoint, although it has been cogently argued that they're doing it wrong. (see Edward Tufte's essay on PowerPoint at for one of the best analyses around.)

      OpenOffice has improved with every version, including Impress. I've been successfully using it for years as my primary office productivity tool in a company with thousands of employees on Microsoft Office. Yes, that includes Impress's animations. Version 3.x's are much easier to use than earlier ones. I'd have to say that your forum moderator must have been overruled at some point. :)

      In my view, OO's biggest weakness today is the database component. The forms designer is missing features that were available in Paradox 20 years ago. OTOH, being better than Access isn't too tough, so I have hopes that the OO dev team will eventually get there.

      BTW, if you're interested in keeping up with open source office productivity tools without going through a Linux install, keep in mind that many of the really good ones are cross platform. You don't need to load Linux to check out OpenOffice, Abiword, or others.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @blah 5

        "many people rely heavily on PowerPoint"

        I, for one, have never in my entire life, met a single person who "relied on Power Point" who wasn't completely superfluous to the organization. As a consultant, if a middle-manager is introduced to me as "our Power Point expert", that manager is usually the first to be fired. Power Point has wasted more man-hours, more CPU cycles and more meeting-dollars than any other line of purely corporate bullshit that I can remember in my over a third of a century of trying to get Corporate America to work efficiently with computers.

        1. Mark 65


          So how do you do your sales presentations then? Every one I've ever been on the receiving end of has been delivered in powerpoint.

          1. jake Silver badge

            @Mark 65

            "So how do you do your sales presentations then?"

            I don't. I stopped all "marketing" around thirty years ago. These days, I get a phone call from a company about a job that needs doing, draw up a contract[1], and submit it. I don't even advertise anymore. No point, I turn down more work than I accept, even in this economic climate.

            "Every one I've ever been on the receiving end of has been delivered in powerpoint."

            I sit thru' a sales presentation once or twice a year (for purely political reasons). Yes, most of them were delivered using powerpoint. HGowever, to date, not a single one of them has told me anything useful that I didn't already know. Most of them were flat out a waste of the time of everyone in attendance, filled with lies & inconsistencies.

            [1] Usually on a model M keyboard attached to a 3151 terminal, no GUI even. Sometimes I'll print it out on a Daisy Wheel printer, if I know the contract will be read by an old timer ;-)

            1. Mark 65

              @Jake (again)

              So you'd probably agree that you're really quoting for your subset perspective whereby you may or may not like it rather than "the enterprise" (not a Star Trek reference) where it is common-place. I don't see a problem with the software just its use - trying to polish a turd with an animation, but that's marketing all over.

              1. jake Silver badge

                @Mark 65

                As the proverbial "thinking man", it's not a matter of like or dislike, it's a matter of "why!?" ...

                Powerpoint does nothing useful ... unless you consider keeping a boatload of otherwise useless middle-management employed "useful", that is.

                That middle-management includes both the "powerpoint experts", and the drooling sycophants who mindlessly nod at each new slide[1], every one carefully embossed with the company logo so the brain dead idiots can remember the name of the company they are working for or thinking[2] of purchasing from ... Does the name "Pavlov" ring a bell?

                And people wonder why Windows is endemic to the corporate desktop ... Boiling it down to basics, people don't want to think for themselves and Microsoft has the best marketing.

                [1] When I worked for Bigger Blue, back before the days of VisiCalc and Word Star, if middle management wanted to know how long it'd be before any given project would be finished, the stock answer from us techies was "We're still waiting on the results of the Perk Test[3]" ... the manager would mindlessly nod his head, usually slack jawed, and wander off. Many of them actually had open-ended bars on their hand-drawn Gantt charts labeled "Perk Test" ... the mind boggles.

                [2] For small values of thinking ...

                [3] Computing's a hurry-up-and-wait kinda career. Sometimes we need coffee ... but actually, I coined the phrase after a soils engineer came out to my property to evaluate the location I had chosen for my new leach field ;-)

          2. Kevin Bailey

            We use a TWiki

            You get a really easy to use page editor and you can set up links to other pages.

            You get to concentrate on content rather that messing about with form.

            You can upload images etc.

            But the key bit is that you don't have to follow a linear series of slides. You can link to different parts and jump between any parts you want. You can even allow your clients to have access to the doc from their own PC's.

            There are even much easier wiki's which can be used instead of TWiki.

          3. Bruno Girin

            @Mark 65 @Jake

            You actually talk to people and demonstrate your product rather than showing wizzy Powerpoint slides that tell them nothing.

            The best presentations I've ever seen either included no slides at all or if they did had a small number of slides with a small number of bullets on each that were just there to support what the presenter was saying. In any way, they didn't need any fancy animation stuff and could have been produced with anything like OpenOffice Impress or the Apple presentation software (can't remember the name). I have even seen some that were a set of HTML files displayed in a full screen browser.

        2. Kevin Bailey

          That's why Scott McNealy banned it from SUN

          He could see it was a waste of time.

          I seem to remember that Sun then went from losing hundred of millions of dollars to making a profit.

      2. RISC OS


        "Agreed, many people rely heavily on PowerPoint, although it has been cogently argued that they're doing it wrong. (see Edward Tufte's essay on PowerPoint at for one of the best analyses around.)"

        Yeah, I'll I'm sure my collegues well be pleased to hear that some dude called Tufte thinks that they are using PowerPoint incorrectly... they'll be sure to stop and change there ways just so that OOo could be used instead of MS Office.

        1. Mike Moyle

          Edward Tufte

          Ummm... Edward Tufte isn't, AFAIK, connected in any way with OOo. His book, "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information" is -- or should be -- a bible for anyone creating informational graphics (including PPT slides).

          And FWIW -- if people are using PPT inappropriately, moving them to Impress won't help them. They'll still be making useless slides and reading them out loud to the audience. Tufte's point is about making them GOOD, after first determining if you actually NEED to make them at all.

    3. RISC OS

      Great post

      my experience and views on Linux/windows are the same as yours.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down


      Just one of the many things that is also *very* wrong with Powerpoint, along with things like the built in templates (another symptom of Microsofts legendary lack of taste). Powerpoint isn't a bad piece of software (it's not the best either; see Apple's Keynote for the contender to that title), but it is abused by too many people. To be fair, it's hardly Powerpoint's fault. In my experience, most people don't know how to present. With all due respect, mocking Impress' 'weak' animation presets would put you firmly in that camp. For those unsure of when to use animation in a presentation; that'd be *never*, along with not using bullet-points, over-crouding slides and clipart. And no, the corporate brand doesn't need to be on every slide.

      Gates Horns

      Windows is all about the vendor lock

      My prejudices remain:

      - Linux is for developers and servers.

      - Macs are for content security consultants, and people who like shiny, expensive toys.

      - Windows is for ordinary users who need world class applications for office automation.


      Windows is for people that feel they can't live without some bit of Windows only software.

      Everyone else can be easily acomodated by Linux or Macs depending on their comfort level with each or their willingess to pay for a Mac. Windows is still a mess when it comes to usability. MacOS has a better thought out design in many ways and Linux is built by users for users (perhaps not your sort though).

      Any time I try to do anything non-trivial I only end up with a renewed respect for Apple and a deep seated desire to erase Windows. Windows makes even simple stuff like network setup unnecessarily bothersome.

      If I haven't used Windows in some meaningful way for awhile I forget just how crappy it is.

      Here's to forgetting this weeks experimentation with Windows 7 MCE. '-p

  6. Chemist

    One of the nice things with Linux..

    is that there is variety. OK it may seem that there are too many distros but I, for one, welcome the possibilities. I use OpenSUSE 11.2/KDE 4.3 for my workstations, server and laptop but am happy to use Eeebuntu on my netbook.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      It's also one of the worst things about Linux

      I'm no expert with Linux so when I'm outside my comfort zone I ask my friends who are die-hard Linux users ( some sysadmins ) to take a look and they are invariably stumped when they come up against a distro they aren't familiar with, does things just a little bit different.

      "Under KDE you do this ...", is no good when it's Gnome ( and vice-versa ), "use RPM" is no good when that's not an available installer. And that's before we get to the plethora of user apps; "you are in a maze of tiny, twisty passages, all alike", but slightly different.

      At least most Windows users are all using a roughly similar base installation with a good commonality of the major applications. Linux, in the past, and to a good degree now, is like a mish-mash of running different versions of Windows, except worse.

      People are generally most familiar with what they use, no matter what it is they use. Ubuntu becoming a de-facto standard does go some way to relieving the issue, but only if people jump on-board, and it does appear that some are resistant to this. I can understand why, but it creates a disparate community ( especially a larger divide between techies and users ) which Windows and Mac do not seem to suffer so much from.

      Linux's big advantage can also be read as Linux's big disadvantage. My crystal ball suggest the desktop market will split into four camps; Windows, Mac, Ubuntu and numerous variants of Linux used only be techies, specialists and 'weirdos'.

      Mine's the one with pockets full of down-votes for daring to speak an uncomfortable and unwelcome truth :-)

      1. jake Silver badge

        @Jason Bloomberg

        Actually there is only one version of Linux. That would be the Linux kernel.

        There are various distributions of GNU/Linux, and derivatives, though. To be precise, three major varietals: Slackware, Debian and RedHat ... although I'm pretty sure that most folks would agree if I added SuSE to that list, as it left it's Slackware roots behind quite awhile ago. Yes, there are many other stand-alone distros out there, but they are bit players behind the Big Four.

        As for administration, a un*x is a un*x is a un*x. If you know what you are doing, admining them is pretty much the same. I admin my Mac OS[1] boxen the same as my Slackware boxen and my Vaxen (running BSD) and my Sun 3/470 "Pegasus" running a pre-Solaris SunOS (there are others, AIX, HPUX, Solaris, etc.). As a hint, I don't use a GUI for administration ... why bother slowing myself down?

        Remember, installing *buntu (or any other distro) doesn't make you a systems administrator any more than installing the "server version" of Windows makes you an admin. Likewise, the user interface is not the operating system ... Knowing one's way around a GUI or GUIs doth not an OS expert make.

        [1] Most people running Macs don't know it's a un*x ... and almost universally they freak out when you boot into single user to reset a forgotten password (for example).

  7. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik


    I won't step on the bomb that is waiting to happen here. But I'll put it this way... if all you want to do is use your computer the way you want it and if the Ubuntu or Fedora or whatever else formula works for you. Great! Nice that you found your solution... Calling it the one true distro... no... we each have our own wants, needs and desires. I'm generally happy with most things packaged... but sometimes there's that one small tiny feature that nearly nobody will use and the maintainers won't enable and then... you need to build the stuff yourself.

    I guess I coud go on... but choice is good... so lets all have our own choices on how we want to run our systems and agree on that ;)

    1. Quirkafleeg

      One True Distro?


      With many One True Derivatives.

  8. Anonymous Cowherder

    I'm cutting out windows too

    I'm fairly OS agnostic, I'll use whatever is "best for the job in hand", got a firm windows background but have been using linux every day for coming upto 3 years now.

    But I have decided to stop using windows where possible. I have used it since 3.11 and ran every version since apart from ME. I used to know 98 like a pair of well worn slippers but then loved 2000 before succumbing to XP. I didn't mind vista too much, it did what I needed it and Win7 is ok, better than vista but it isn't the user experience I want anymore.

    I don't want an action centre nagging me as it hasn't been able to run my AV, or that there are 4updates on top of the updates I installed the other day and you need a reboot now too do you? What do you mean libraries? I was happy with simple folders and directory structure, jeez, windows defender updates oh and you want to scan now do you? Well I only want to nip online for a second to find out which bins I need to out tomorrow and don't want to have to wait for you to scan, I'll do it next time I logon.

    Train of thought there but every time I turn my Win7 home pc I have to do something in addition to the thing I turned the pc on for in the first place. I work in IT, I fix computery things for a living, when I go home I want something that works so I don't have a busman's holiday every night.

    I use fedora during the day but it disagrees with my home pc so I stuck ubuntu on there the other night, dual booted with win7, just in case and I am addicted to my itunes play counts so still need windows sometimes.

    So far so good, I'll put up with a bit of config to get the pc how I want it then I can just leave it, will get the odd update but will get a much more hands-off experience and I will be in control of my pc not my OS telling me what it needs to do to just sit there.

  9. vegister

    university vs workplace

    linux is probably the most heavily used OS in universities (particularly in science faculties). the larger the network, the better, and far easier to manage than windows domains.

    windows is dominant in the office.(although not too long ago, Sun workstations were heavily used on trading floors, even with the high hardware costs of the time)

    so what happens between uni and the workplace? is it a desire to use the format everyone else is using (doc, ppt), or decisions made by pointy haired bosses, or fear of being different? or the vendor-installed windows-tax on PCs?

    1. Leo Maxwell

      trading floors?

      Read about MS software being dropped by the Uk stock market because buying a Linux company and writing their own app was actually cheaper by a factor of ten compared to paying MS license fees.The new app is an order of magnitude faster and more reliable.

      1. Mark 65

        @Leo Maxwell

        Not really a trading floor app though is it? It's the order management/execution/matching system used by the exchange. Why they used MS in the first place for this sort of thing puzzled me but they seem to have found a particularly poor vendor for the installation either way and might want to ask the NYSE who did theirs. However, what's used in the exchange matters not to what is used in the wild which will doubtless remain Windows - mainly because financial institutions have no impetus to change.

    2. Doug 3

      business decisions are no longer made by Lead Technologist

      previous to around 1995, businesses had on staff a lead Technologist position which management would rely on for software and hardware decisions. Management would hash out what they thought they needed or lay out the problem at hand and the Technologist would take that and build a plan from it. The plan was made based on using the best technology for the task and with and eye to solving the problem. These people were not afraid of making the wrong choice because they knew how to research the problem and provide hardware and software choices for a solution.

      In the middle '90s, Microsoft started flooding management magazines and journals with THEIR solutions and since it was marketing fluff, it only had a fraction of truth to it but it was the beginning of the end for the corporate Technologist position. Managers could throw together Power Point presentations based on Microsoft marketing materials showing how great things will be using Microsoft X, Y, and/or Z products. They could whip up an Access database and then tell their tech guys to make it better and start using it in the division. Managers even started dictating what programming languages and tools projects were to use. Who needs a Lead Technologist when Middle and Upper Management knew how it can be done.

      To some extent, these managers knew they knew very little but when their people could get an Access database to keep track of this and that and use it in the 12 person teams, these managers looked like super geeks at meetings. Now try to bring in something different than a nice pretty Windows machine to solve a problem better, faster, and cheaper and what you'll get is shown the door. You're a threat to that manager and you are probably now a threat to the whole department because it too is made up of people who only know one tool, Microsoft Windows.

      That is what happened between universities and the workplace. And because every now and then a business does find themselves with a closet geek who'll throw Linux and a LAMP stack on an old box somewhere, they signed deals with Novell to keep Linux inside of Windows hosted virtual machines. They also put aside millions of dollars to be used to help these businesses decide Windows was the better choice. I think sometimes, they even help get these rogue geeks fired as in when a certain security expert spoke out of turn.

      In the '90s, Microsoft was also doing things like talking to Intel and advising them to close various unfriendly software projects. They enticed HP to pull a dozen or so PC's from a computer showroom floor the night before the opening of the show because it ran an unfriendly OS. Little things like that happen on the way from the University to the Workplace.

      da granade, because so many have no clue what really hit them.

    3. Marvin the Martian

      What happens between uni and workplace?

      What happens is that there's just many years between uni and "can decide wholesale tech change for company", and luckily in those years either realism sets in or you get fired.

      Many uses still cry over the appearance of the "ribbon" in Office, upsetting their whole working lives, so good luck making them use OpenOffice and the whole kaboodle.

      Yeah, not all users have gone to uni, and those who did may have hated the unix they got subjected to there. I hated the Oberon ("It's a programming language --- and an OS!") I got subjected to, and its crashes especially during practical exams, as well as the linux (pine, netscape, and badly configured latex as only used software) and some other stuff in other years/locations.

  10. Uwe Dippel
    Thumb Up

    Yep. But 'no' on KDE

    I fully understand the passage about KDE and 4.0. Though it shows that you haven't actually grasped the 'serious, solid, German engineering' concept. And you're not to be blamed. It is kind ahead of its time; and it is implemented in a lousy, quite unstable, partially inconsistent and absolutely not 'serious, solid, German engineering' quality.

    It does offer the traditional, overflowing, one-dimensional, easy-accessible and desktop-cluttering panel as well, that you're used to. Though maybe the future is different? What about a 2-dimensional or even 3-dimensional interface?

    That is a serious paradigm shift. Maybe it will take you another 10 years, to see this in retro-perspective.

    As a hint: I for one have no more panels; no, no auto-hide. No panel, not at the top and neither at the bottom of the screen. It was an experiment on myself. My head hurt. But after some months, I'm most happy to have dumped the cluttered crutches that used to help me operating my system for the last 15 years, called panels. To me, it's history, and happily forgotten.

    1. Chemist

      Re : Yep. But 'no' on KDE

      KDE 4.3 is rock solid on all my machines. (5)

  11. TecTerra
    Gates Halo

    Not for me it doesn't

    It seems that everybody has no problem whatsoever installing Ubuntu.

    Now, I'm no newbie but I couldn't get it to work on my hardware.

    As Kevin Pollock 12:23 already pointed out: My prejudice remains

    1. Chemist

      Re : Not for me it doesn't

      Sorry you are having problems.

      You've not given any indication what they consist of. It's really rather rare to not be able to get some kind of running system

      3 suggestions

      1) Ask on an Ubuntu forum - giving as much detail and saying that you are new to this

      2) Use a LiveCD and see if you can get a running system without committing to an install

      3) Install Virtualbox on Windows and install Ubuntu to that. - this should remove any problems with odd graphics cards or wifi

      1. Mark 65


        I'd just add that the live cd trial isn't always convincing as I've seen several installs (mainly laptops, but one desktop) work on it then have a missing network connection (usually wireless) requiring a firmware install once the OS is on the hard drive. It shouldn't happen, but it does.

        1. Chemist

          @Mark 65

          Using a LiveCD is a good way of finding that out. I had a laptop where the wireless didn't work straight off - so I put a PCMCIA wireless card in - that worked fine - so I carried on with the install. I'm writing this on it now.

  12. Mountford D

    Ubuntu is NOT for geeks and here's why

    I went Windows-free two years ago and can honestly say I have not had a single problem since. The machine gets switched on and it works. Just like turning on the TV, which works until you switch it off.

    For that reason, it is the ideal system for the novice user as they will never have to fix it or rely on the plethora of anti-this and anti-that. Naturally, this will be too boring for geeks, anyone who likes investigating system malfunctions and those who see malware removal as the challenge of a lifetime.

    On the other hand, if they used Ubuntu or some other flavour of Linux, they could devote their free time to the Open Source community and fixing the diabolical Mail Merge facility in Open Office and give us an Access compatible equilvalent instead of us having to rely on CrossOver Office.

    1. Tony Smith 1

      Defo not for geeks!

      My kids used to have a Windows PC.

      Every 3 months it would be 'Dad, the PC's gone funny'.... cue a format and reinstall to get rid of all the spyware/virus'/toolbars etc that had installed themselves. Followed by a backup of all their files and an apology cos I could never figure out where IE stored their favorites.

      3 years ago I switched them to Linux.....

      Since then I've not had ONE SINGLE CALL for support :-)

      It just works :-)

  13. ske1fr
    Thumb Up

    Who are you and what have you done with the real Andrew Orlowski?

    Have you changed your meds, Andrew? This isn't at all like you, arch-castigator of all things freetard-like. I actually resurrected my dormant Reg account for this. Looking forward to see where you go with this.

    KDE 4. Sigh. Yes, as a long-time user of Kubuntu since 6.06 and a lover of 8.04 with KDE 3 I'd got everything I needed (apart from decent photoprinting support but let that pass). Then I decided to move on and installed 10.04. How long did it take me to realise that I couldn't get the date in the clock display to become a readable size while the time display stayed suitable for someone without a visual handicap, or wrapped around to the top of the screen while the rest of the bar stayed at the bottom? Too long. Where is everything? Why is the launcher so pants? why can't I find any of my old programs in KPackagekit

    That chuffing cashew nut.

    I tried the netbook variant on my netbook and was underwhelmed. The Ubuntu variant though? Nice. Likewise the Ubuntu desktop version. Even the Lubuntu desktop looks and acts like something you can work with, not a lifestyle accompaniment.

    Dear KDE developers, stop trying to be Mac-like and be yourselves. Lead, don't follow. And let a few civilians see what you're planning before you throw the baby out with the version 3 bathwater.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Who are you and what have you done with the real Andrew Orlowski?

      I don't believe you. You're new here, aren't you? :)

  14. andy 103

    Still got a long way to go

    My first experience of Linux was in 2002. I was studying for a degree in computer science and it was on the lab PC's. I remember downloading Redhat (version 7.3 I think) and couldn't even get it installed on my laptop, so never bothered with it on my own machine!

    Things have moved on a long way since then and the installation process is much easier. Being able to try a "live CD" is convenient too - all of that wasn't available 8 years ago. I think people like Mark Shuttleworth have done good in getting rid of stupid messages and asking people stuff they don't understand just to get it installed.

    But there are still several key problems which existed with it in 2002 which haven't changed at all. Firstly, and to repeat some of the comments above, it's fine to use it if you're a developer or are dealing with other people using Linux. But if this isn't the case it's not practical for real life, every day use in an office/workplace environment. I know people have done loads of work to get file converters working so you can open files from a Windows machine on a Linux machine, but there's still a long way to go. Also this thing about there being equivalent apps for Linux and Windows or MacOS - is just not the case, otherwise of course more people would bother with it. The second point is that the attitude and mentality of hardcore Linux users is that their way is always right and they will often justify their arguments without thinking about the real-life, every day practicalities of using such an operating system.

    Compared to using Linux 8 years ago, it's in a much better place. But there is still such a long way for it to go, in both technical terms and the attitude of its community (as will probably be noted by people modding down this comment!).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This is largely, but not solely...

      an issue about open standards. We've seen how money can pervert a standards body.

      The corporations that cause these issues understand, very well, that without OS lock in many customers would move to other mostly more secure OSs.

      So, unless and until there is a government elected in a large enough country, economically powerful enough country, to demand that open standard are functional and implemented there will be no change.

      Unless an open source office system surpasses that other wide used office system. I truly hope that day is sooner that later.

      1. carlleigh

        Simply require support of standard file formats.

        ppsx should look and work the same in Microsoft Office as it does in Impress, if it doesn't it is probably the fault of Microsoft, the programs are saving files with a slightly modified format - remember standards may be published binaries are not or a feature in the Powerpoint file format hasn't been implemented yet in Impress. Being standard and published it should be added by the programmers at OpenOffice.

        Do you get it? Create in Power Point test in Impress. Create in Impress test in Power Point.

        If you are a company I own stock in you better be working on saving money. If you have a person that can't do it with Impress maybe you should be retiring the old fellow or gal and hiring someone that is more flexible/capable/younger.

        If you are a Government agency it is obvious that incompatibility is a part of the Microsoft offering. My advice - require standard and open file formats. 100% of your users should be able to open it now and probably 100 years from now. If you go with proprietary and slyly changing formats you will find that many of your users cannot use your service or open your files.

        For example: in the United States I suspect that Obama could publish an executive order directing the executive branch of the Government to use standard open file formats and that would be it.......

    2. Leo Maxwell

      Not practical in the real world?

      Our customer service staff have been using Suse Linux, with various applications, including Evolution and OOo, for 4 or 5 years now.

      With NO issues at all, apart from the advent of office 2007 and its new file format, which also caused problems for our Windows users.

      Now they use Ubuntu 10.4, and love it.

  15. Al fazed

    Can you stand the insults

    when you use the forums ?

    I got fed up with standing in penguin shit whilst trawling for solutions that just aren't there.

    How happy am I running a PC that won't; play MP3's even after installing the codex, fucks up printing documents from Open Office, shows Flash ads in Seamonkey but not Google maps !

    Maybe Ubuntu 10 is better than earlier versions, but I don't really care any more. I wasted far too much time and still saw my OS disappear, far too many times for a "stable" release.

    Compared to Windows, I was saving money, but I was burning far too much midnight oil, just trying to fix basic things like getting music files to play, without flaws.

    I'm now suffering the slings and arrows of OpenSuse 11 rather than buy a new machine with another Microsoft mash-up OS, but OpenSuse 11 is still wanting when considering the basic requirements of most Microsoft Windows users.

    Maybe like MS, only the latest hardware will comply ? But I doubt that is the reason.

    I think that when any Linux distro finally does get it together and provides what the Microsoft and Apple user wants, without quibble, be that MP3, M4A, or whatever, flying the flags and lighting the fireworks should be saved until then.

    Otherwise, there is the chance that people will think that the penguin brotherhood are just crying wolf.

    Again !


    1. vegister


      my dad has windows7. i sent him a video file the other day, in some regularly used format avi. he said that he heard the sounds but got kaleidoscopic pictures for the video. windows didn't offer to download a codec or tell him that it was unsupported or anything.

      try this in ubuntu and it tries to download the codec you require if it doesn't have it.

      most criticism of ubuntu is out-dated and also short sighted - how did you get the right codecs on your windows machine and how did you know they were safe?

      1. Peter Simpson 1
        Thumb Up


        It runs on Windows. Our IT guys swear by (not at) it to view stuff sent by clients using who knows what codec.

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Thumb Up

          VLC rocks.

          VLC rocks on all platforms.

          It doesn't matter if it's Windows, MacOS or Linux that's giving you the trouble.

          It's one of those great cross platform apps that makes every platform better.


      You generate your own bad karma.

      > when you use the forums ?


      > got fed up with standing in penguin shit whilst trawling for solutions

      > that just aren't there.


      > How happy am I running a PC that won't; play MP3's even after installing

      > the codex, fucks up

      > printing documents from Open Office, shows Flash ads in


      I can see why you get abuse. You sound like a troll.

      You can only get out of a help forum what you choose to put into it.

      No one that isn't getting paid to put up with you will put up with your crap.

  16. batfastad
    Jobs Horns

    Really really want to use Linux but...

    ... There's some software I just have to use.

    Until GIMP has CMYK support, I'll still be stuck using Photoslop. Until PDFs die as a format, I'll still have to use Acrobat.

    For 95% of my day-to-day work, my trusted open-source applications do the trick... Filezilla, JEdit, Firefox, OpenOffice, GIMP, Inkscape, Scribus, Thunderbird, VLC

    But there's always that one document or format that I have to fire up WinXP for. So I end up just using XP most of the time.

    Really like the idea of running Linux then firing up a WinXP VM though, might look in to doing that soon. Unfortunately none of my machines would really cut the mustard for that at the moment.

    I admin 7 Linux servers and it's truly awesome compared to the old MS SBS 2003 / Win 2k Server boxes we used to have.

    Used it a fair amount on desktops too (Ubuntu, CentOS) but always ran into the odd driver issue with laptops though that seems to be improving with laptop-specific distros.

    IMO there are 2 key concepts that make Linux the future (in one variant or another):

    - package manager and repos (not some sort of app store, pfft)

    - a home directory where programs keep all their settings (the Windows registry is just so brutally aweful)

    With Ubuntu I've noticed a worrying trend towards bundled software, including loads of stuff that you probably don't want by default. But that's ok... because with Linux there's always another distro with a different philosophy and that's great!

    Personally I'd like an OS that has pretty much nothing apart from driver/I-O support and a basic graphical shell, then I install the burning/IM/photo-video-media player/browser/office suite etc that I want.

    One day hopefully we'll have a world where the OS is a complete irrelevance.

    Most software created is built on open-source frameworks and can then be compiled to run on any OS.

    1. blah 5

      Bwuh? PDFs are easy!

      Since Adobe gave up control of the format, finding alternative apps to create PDFs has become trivial. Just fire up OpenOffice, Microsoft Office, or your favorite word processor of choice. Anything that is even a couple of years old has had this capability built in for years.

    2. A J Stiles

      Acrobat not required

      "Until PDFs die as a format, I'll still have to use Acrobat." <-- Wrong.

      Ghostscript, part of the Linux printing system, can create PDF files natively. And both KDE and GNOME have their own PDF viewers.

    3. Quirkafleeg

      GIMP & CMYK

    4. copsewood

      PDF viewers on Linux

      Evince is more capable than Acrobat because you can cut and paste out of password protected PDFs with Evince but not with Acrobat.

      1. batfastad
        Jobs Horns

        Not looking for PDF viewer!

        Just as a followup to all these "duh there's loads of alternative PDF viewers for Linux" replies to my original post.

        Yes there are! But I'm talking about Acrobat, not Acrobat Reader. There's a huge difference!!

        I already use Foxit and SumatraPDF to view PDFs.

        I'm not just talking about creating new PDFs from a source document either!

        Most of my use of Acrobat is advanced manipulation of existing PDFs.

        So what Linux program do I use if I:

        - need to export all comments from a PDF (preferably in an XML format)

        - export/summarise all changes (insertions/subtractions of text) made to a PDF by users

        - downsample all images in a PDF that are over a certain dpi, down to a different dpi

        - change the document view settings/meta

        - change the font sub-setting to ditch unecessary glyphs

        - optimise PDFs to different PDF spec versions

        - insert individual pages/page ranges into an existing PDF, combine PDFs, extract pages as separate files

        - draw box/custom shape hyperlinks to websites

        I've been aware of the experimental CMYK separate plugin for GIMP for a while. It can separate an image into CMYK colour layers, but it doesn't do the one-stop CMYK->RGB->CMYK->whatever colour space conversion that the Photoshop "Mode" menu does.

        The suggestions here haven't given me a way to switch ALL of my day-to-day work tasks onto Linux, so until that happens I'll have to continue using Windows.

        And that frustrates me, I want to use Linux!

        But I also don't want to have to fire up a different OS just to convert an image from RGB to CMYK or run a quick Pivot chart on a spreadsheet (in my experience OpenOffice seems to spectacularly dislike making pivot charts)

  17. McBread


    "This actually was a blessing for Linux, because with one of the two desktop environments removing itself from the picture, development focused on the one that was still waggling its little legs."

    Really? Despite KDE4's difficult gestation, and premature adoption by Kubuntu et al, I haven't noticed any large scale shift in support. For the most part, the pro-KDE camp carries on being pro-KDE, and the pro-Gnome camp carry on being the pro-Gnome camp.

    I've carried on using KDE out of habit; while I regreted the initial switch to KDE4, it's come on a long way, and I only find small niggles now. On a plus note, nobody has tried to move my window buttons to the wrong side...

  18. jpark

    About the Menu Buttons - There is an easy option

    For moving the Ubuntu menu buttons to the right, all you do is:



    go to apps>metacity>general>button_layout

    change the value to:


    And you are done. No powertools needed.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: About the Menu Buttons - There is an easy option

      That sounds easy! Thank you.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      I like it, I must be the only one!

      Using OSX in my free time and Ubuntu for work, I actually like the buttons on the left. I became so sad I flipped the Ubuntu keyboard map to Macintosh so the layout felt more comfortable. Such is the beauty and ease of use of Ubuntu.

      As Troy McClure would say, "Have it your way baby!".

    3. RISC OS

      That's the easy option?

      No wonder ubuntu failed to get on non-nerds' desktops!

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. JEDIDIAH

        The easy option is stability over time.

        > No wonder ubuntu failed to get on non-nerds' desktops!

        How do you do that on Windows exactly?

        While the gconf version sounds kind of registry-like, it's using remarkably more human readable keys.

        It would be nice if Windows had as much consistency through time as either Linux or MacOS does. This issue is ultimately about rolling back annoying Microsoft style UI changes. It's stark and shocking because that sort of crap usually doesn't happen on Linux to begin with.

        The "easy way" is just to use the Appearance section in the control panel.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    let down by the small things

    I have used the latest Ubuntu, and it was pretty good. But, that said, there was still too much wrong with it for me to be happy using it as my main OS.

    I don't know if it was driver related, but videos were very poor performance, even dvd's stuttered occasionally, when i got all the dodgy illegal stuff installed to allow me to actually play them.

    I don't know if it is a component of open source, but the impression i got was that when it works, it works, and when it doesn't work, it really doesn't work! As long as everything was chugging along normally, it was fine, but as soon as anything went outside that it went badly wrong. I got cryptic, meaningless error messages, software that would freeze up for minutes at a time with no explanation, to software that would just quit. Never mind the dialogs with controls off the bottom, because no-one would ever use a screen that was only 600 pixels high.

    It's a similar experience to the software that i get back from people i work with offshore, it does exactly what it's supposed to do, in the way it's supposed to do it. As long as you only do exactly what you are supposed to do, but the slightest thing outside of this, and it starts behaving randomly. With the developers i work with, it's because nobody said explicitly what should happen in that explicit circumstance, i'd like to hope that these developers don't just implement the functionality they want, but that they think around it as well, and check what impacts it might have.

    However, that's certainly not the impression that comes across to me as a user, while I don't go out of my way to break things, i also don't go out of my way to use things in the, specifically intended, fashion!

    1. Leo Maxwell

      "meaningless error messages"? WTF?

      Linux has no patent on meaningless error messages, Windows is full of them:

      "Connection failed, error 243, more data is available"

      Or OSX "an error has occurred because: An error has occurred"

      The difference is that Linux has a comprehensive logging system that can be used to track that error down and solve it, Windows has the morass of Technet..

    2. mikebartnz

      AC: 30th June 2010 16:06

      Quote "Never mind the dialogs with controls off the bottom, because no-one would ever use a screen that was only 600 pixels high."

      Hold the Alt key down and click and drag anywhere within the window.

      If it is one used regularly click on the menu button on the title bar, go to Advanced/special window settings/Geometry and force position or size.

      Those two have no equivalent within Windows.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Ah, BeOS....

    A beer to Andrew for a killer thought-provoking article.

    I miss BeOS, NeXT and AmigaOS. BeOS died because they made it extremely proprietary and "MY toy, not yours", not unlike Sun's NeWS and Ted Nelson's Xanadu, so they lost out to Linux, X11, and HTML because of it.

    I use Linux instead of Windows because on Linux, I can diagnose problems and fix them, and once they're fixed, they *stay* that way.

    Windows will just crap out for no apparent reason at any time without warning, which make it difficult to get shit done. I'll think I have it fixed, then it'll do it again. So it's relegated to a VMWare image that I pull out every couple of weeks when I must.

    Anyway, I use Debian with a homegrown FVWM config. There's neither KDE or Gnome on my system, because both are crap.

  21. Kevin Pollock

    @ blah5

    A couple of comments...

    I will take your advice on trying OO again on XP, thanks for that reminder.

    I know Edward Tufte's essay very well. It's a good read, and he makes some excellent points. But crap presenters are still crap presenters with or without Powerpoint. :-) I think it's an excellent observational piece though.

    I freely acknowledge Powerpoint gives crap presenters some interesting new ways to screw up! A bit like Desktop publishing software gave people who had no intrinsic document design skills interesting new ways to write ransom notes.

    I'd also like to re-interate that I said "a lot of people use Powerpoint", not that they are dependent on it. Nobody should depend on any specific application to do their job (unless they're a developer for that application). Powerpoint is a useful way to store, organise, and present information, and it does those things better than anything else on the market today (even the Apple thingy - Keynote?).

    As for being soured on Impress by one moderator. Well he was the moderator of a developer forum. I saw many comments about the poor graphics capabilities of Impress. And to be honest it was pretty par for the course for those kind of techie-focused forums. Anyone who mentions a customer-related issue tends to be dismissed as a "marketing dweeb".

    In fact it makes me laugh that the Linux community has managed to develop a totally useless, but very pretty 3D desktop in the form of Beryl, but can't even get simple Powerpoint animations right.

    My comments are focused on the Powerpoint/Impress "feature gap" because I tend to push Powerpoint to its limits. If I was a power user of Word or Excel I'm sure I'd be able to list reasons why the OO equivalents are not up to par. You pointed out the database deficiencies, for example.

    I suppose you could argue that with OO being "good enough" for a free office application it becomes a barrier for a commercial company to create a real MS Office killer.

    To be successful on the desktop, Linux needs a truly professional Office suite. Open Office is not it. End of story.



    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Apple's thingy?

      At the risk of starting a presentation program flame war; Keynote shits on Powerpoint. Impress is perfectly serviceable, heck if you know what you are doing Google Doc's presentation module does the job! If you are relying on animations and effects et c. to make your presentation "pop", you are doing it wrong. Dismissing and OS based on the fact that you couldn't work with the office suite is a wee bit asinine...

  22. Random Coolzip

    re: "PowerPoint is actually used by quite a few people"

    PowerPoint is the current "golden hammer" of the not-quite-ready-for-business-software set. Much like early users used to type documents in 1-2-3 or couldn't send a screen capture without wrapping it in a Word document (after saving it as a bitmap, of course). The majority of .ppt documents I get sent are just containers, apparently prized for the animations between slides and the clip-art more than the actual ability to present anything.

    If you actually *need* animation and sound effects to present some information, I question the need to share the information in the first place...

  23. Citizen Concerned


    "But I was impressed that Linux had found the benevolent dictator it needed to sort out the UI mess..."

    Ach. So was it him that made you write that 3G dongles (not one, not two, but three!) work with Ubuntu.

    I get it now. Pfff.

    Btw. The boy is a dictator to his own sorry cult. Not to "Linux". I use another Linux distro, and would rather start using Windows than have something like Shuttleworth make decisions on how I use my computer and what its interface looks like.

    1. James Hughes 1

      You sad bastard

      If you cannot see the benefits that Shuttleworth has brought to Linux then you must be blind as a bat.


      Shuttleworth is irrelevant.

      Shuttleworth is irrelevant and at best a minor nuissance.

      He does not control the platform like Gates or Jobs. No matter how much he might try to micromanage Ubuntu itself, it still remains a collection of projects controlled by other people. Anything that is in Ubuntu is the same stuff that's in any other distro. A few notable exceptions are special Ubuntu specific management niceties that have probably gotten ported elsewhere by now (one would hope).

      I can dump a Gnome tool for a better one any time I like. This even applies to the login manager.

      The "chaos of choice" is very helpful in that respect.

      I am not stuck using Powerpoint or iPhoto if I despise them.

  24. Jamie Kitson

    I Do!

    > I don't know why I hadn't started with Ubuntu.

    Because you're a cantankerous old man! ;)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linux Chronicles - Ubuntu and Others

    Fedora 12 and Fedora 13 have both been COMPLETELY painless for hour each to install, and everything just worked (including the Broadcomm wireless card). So there are at least two pretty good distributions out there which just work.

    Incidentally, Fedora 13 installs the latest version of WINE, and - much to my surprise - various Windows XP and Windows 98 apps installed and ran cleanly with no problems. Not that I need Windows apps, but its interesting that they are available if needed.

  26. filter-boy

    Mind your language

    A great article and well written, but please, get your expressions correct!!

    It's not "I could care less about ..." It's I *couldn't* care less"!! Why is everyone suddenly screwing this one up? Seriously, it's like the idiots that don't know the difference between "than" and "then"! WTF people?!


    (For those who don't see the difference: If you COULD care less about something, surely you ARE caring about it, whereas if you COULDN'T care less, then you obviously DON'T care about it!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mind your language

      ...not in America, where Andrew lived for several years.

    2. sam bo
      Thumb Up

      WHO CARES ?

      Agree, I used to have the same problem with it....but then ,the more I thought about it , I realised that what they were in fact saying was - I could care less ( but it would be extremely difficult, thus placing it at the negative end of the caring scale). Makes sense if you look at it that way.

      1. RJ

        Could be....

        My dad, who is a bit of a language buff reckons that the phrase came from the apparent Jewish use of sarcastic rhetorical questions.

        Basically imagine someone saying "I could care less" in a hugely sarcastic tone (Lord BlackAdder anyone?) and the meaning matches up to "I couldn't care less" spoken straight.

        Of course since it relies on intonation the effect is totally lost on the internet and perceived to be incorrect to those of us who know "couldn't care less" but don't have exposure to "Could care less" spoken in the original manner.

  27. Anomalous Cowturd

    Would the Real Slim Orlowski please stand up, please stand up.

    @ ske1fr

    My thoughts exactly!

    Come on Andrew, next you'll be shedding a tear over my long lost friends DR/DOS and OS/2!

    Whatever next? Swapping your MacBook for an Eeebongo laptot? iPhone for an Android?

    I need a drink.

    P.S. My "Reply" and "Report" buttons have disappeared too. Links are still there. elReg?

    Latest preview of Opera. Build 6368. Running under Umbongo 10.4. Worked fine in 10.10 and 10.53. Bleedin' Bleeding edge... Fast as feck though! Even on a single core 2GHz.

    Opera/9.80 (X11; Linux i686; U; en-GB) Presto/2.5.29 Version/10.60

  28. OmniTechnoMancer

    A small note about your "BeOS" screenshot

    That screenshot you have of "BeOS" is in fact a screenshot of Haiku, an OS inspired by BeOS that seeks to improve what BeOS had. It is working toward binary compatibility with BeOS R5 for its first release R1. It already has this compatibility and can run most BeOS programs. After R1 compatibility will likely be broken to fix some problems and to allow for moving forward.

    There have already been two alpha releases, you can get the latest at however be sure to read as some things did not work out perfectly as happens with software.

    Thank You

    1. Rabayn
      Thumb Up


      I was going to mention this as well. If you liked BeOS, or want an open source OS that feels like it was actually intended to be a desktop OS, Haiku seems to be something to keep an eye on.

      An OS that is actually.... an OS; not simply a kernel with a hodge podge collection of libraries/apps poured on top.

      A preference for licenses that are friendly to ALL developers, not just those wearing open source blinders.

      An emphasis on backward compatibility.

      Yes, I am excited to see where Haiku goes from here.

  29. elderlybloke
    Gates Horns

    I will stay with Ubuntu

    It is not perfect,and tests my limited technical knowledge.

    However being a persistent and perverse fellow , I persevere and manage to keep solving the problems.

    I realise that most Windows users are not likely to use a Linux OS, like Ubuntu until a some more of the rough edges have been smoothed out.

    The great Leader is making steady progress and I thank him and his team for the improvements I have seen in the past 3 years.

  30. Tom Chiverton 1 Silver badge


    I just put KDE4 via Kubuntu on a new ThinkPad edge, and it all worked out of the box <shrug> I get the impression you only tried it on the old hardware, or didn't spend the time to look at it - for all the fluff it's still much the same really.

  31. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Good article

    Well written and sums up most of what I think. I haven't actually used Ubuntu enough to know that it's finally the one to pit against Windows but I have heard good things about it. My only concern is that in my experience people like the author are in the minority. Most of the xIX community /still/ spend too much time squabbling amongst themselves.

    I can several kicking off in this thread.

    C'est la vie.

  32. Jim 59


    An enjoyable article and well written. But you are barking up the wrong tree.

    Linux will overtake windows on the desktop as and when it is factory integrated on a majority of new PCs. The niggles discussed in the article come down to integration and you would experience similar problems with Windows if you had to install it yourself. The reasons that Windows is no.1 are political, not technical. Both Windows 7 and Ubuntu can offer a good user experience. But Windows 7 makes a lot of money for a lot of industry players, and that will not change soon.

    1. RISC OS
      Jobs Horns


      'Linux will overtake windows on the desktop as and when it is factory integrated on a majority of new PCs.'

      Yeah, Linux WILL overtake windows on the desktop, when MS move to Cloud only OS, or when the userbase of Windows migrate to Apple and MS's share collapses, then you'll be right. Linux will then have a larger user base than windows.- but it still be about the 1% mark.

  33. Martin Usher

    Dual purpose

    The nice thing about Ubuntu is that its a nice, well polished, easy to use OS that still retains the bleedin' edge capabilities of a full-on Linux distribution for those who really want to experiment. Its installation, upgrade and peripheral support has been superior to Windows for years now -- Windows is fussy and frustrating, Ubuntu "just works".

    One thing I am starting to really resent about Windows is the amount of downloading and upgrades it does -- everything's a fix for the previous fix. Most of this -- starting with AV software -- is just MSFT refusing to fix basic design flaws, instead using a patch 'n kludge mindset to keep filling the cracks. I can trace a lot of contemporary WinWeirdness back to MS-DOS!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Powerpoint not more Impress-ive for everyone

    All discussion I've seen posted so far on this particular aspect of things argues whether or not OpenOffice Impress is really good enough to compare with MS Powerpoint. They're not the same, and many will prefer Powerpoint. That's fine. But I thought it would be good to give input from someone who can use either any time, but chooses Impress because of the work experience not because of principle. Some of us have both available on our desktops and use both all the time (and even have Keynote too), and of the three will use OpenOffice (actually NeoOffice in my case) when possible. I find making presentations on Powerpoint much more troublesome and less pleasant. When making a presentation to give myself I default to NeoOffice. When forced to produce ppt or pptx for sharing, I use NeoOffice and save as ppt. Then I run it through Powerpoint just to make sure nothing weird has happened. Similarly, I know people who truly like to compose documents in Word, but I find it excrutiating. I frequently must produce something in .doc format for work. When this is so, I compose the document using emacs and then convert it to Word.

  35. emk

    Its not about the tech!

    As you admit you did not get it back then. Still don't. THe success of Linux in the marketplace is not about the technology, how many desktop environments, ease of use, the UI etc. We long ago passed that point.

    Even back in the era of Redhat 5.1 when I got started with it, Linux was just as good, and even better than Windows 98. That is if you could get it already installed, tested and configured on a desktop computer.

    The reason Linux has never conquered the desktop has to do with Microsoft's market power, consumer inertia and ignorance and the oligopolistic nature of the tech industry. It has nothing to do with whether Linux is technically better than Windows or not.

    I was reminded of this point some time back when I ran into woman at a computer store in the US (Bestbuy as I recall). She had taken her computer in to be fixed and we struck up a conversation. She told me that she had just spent over USD200 on her computer at Bestbuy, because it was running slow and here she was again, having to bring it in for another tune up. I gently told her that her problem was all the malware and viruses that accompany Windows and that a switch to Linux or even a mac would cure that. All I got was a blank stare. Instead she wanted to know which was the best antivirus that she could buy. After all the money she had thrown away getting her computer repeatedly cleaned, she wanted to know if she could throw more money at it. Getting rid of the basis of the problem, the operating system, did not even register with her.

    That in a nutshell is why its so hard to get a bottom up groundswell of Linux adoption, particularly in marketer subservient cultures like the US and to a lesser extent Europe. The consumer ignorance and inertia in places like the US supports a rich business ecosystem composed of places like Bestbuy that will take any amount of money off you to clean your computer, sell you antivirus and ultimately a new computer, but will never tell you, get Linux. Companies like the big vendors, HP, Dell etc who make the faster computers so you can run Windows+apps+malware without any noticeable slow down.

    Large scale Linux adoption on the desktop will come, not when Linux is technically better than Windows, which I believe it already is, but when Microsoft's death lock on the industry and the large computer vendors is broken. Its happening very slowly.

    In the end though, Linux is at a serious disadvantage in the consumer culture of the US and Europe. Linux is a hacker operating system and hacking is the opposite of consumerism.

    The basic principle of consumerism is that somebody else produces and the consumer consumes. The producer or marketer is active/dominant and the consumer is passive/subservient always waiting with bated breath for the next wonder product from Apple, Microsoft etc.

    In contrast the basic principle of hacking is that the hacker is their own producer and consumer. They consume as they produce. They are therefore active and dominant in both consumption and production.

    The burden of responsibility that a hacker OS places on the computer 'consumer' may well be a bridge too far for consumers in places like the US and will likely be the greatest long term limiting factor to Linux adoption on the desktop.


    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Not just about money

      Okay so USD200 for a tune up is a silly price but if it did indeed result in a faster running computer maybe it was worth it for her. How long would it take her to install, configure and get to grips with Linux? How much time would she waste trying to integrate with external systems?

      Perhaps she's an office worker. In that case attempting to integrate a Linux machine into a set up that is based around Windows could be hell. Her employer may not even allow her let alone assist in the transition. Better yet her employer may well pick up the bill in which case what does she care?

      Granted the woman you describe sounds to be technically inept - sure we'll agree on that. But do you really think that someone stupid enough to allow her computer to slow down, then stupid enough to pay some store to fix it will be able to administrate her own Linux box?

      I don't.

      Maybe (just maybe) it would prompt her to get technical, learn in which way of what and come out as a highly skilled competent Linux buff. Unfortunately if her job is regional sales director for a company that sells rubber dolls I would suggest all that effort is a complete waste of time.

      USD200 and an hour waiting at Bestbuy could well be the sensible decision.

      ESC key:Because sometimes I just want to escape from IT.

      1. emk

        My point

        My point was not that this lady was stupid. Far from it. I think she was just totally oblivious to her alternatives either Mac, Linux or anything else. She certainly knew that BestBuy was not giving her the best deal as she had spent more than $200 there over several visits with no joy.

        She simply assumed that computing==windows. Most consumers do that.

        There are certainly Linux distros that are easy for a complete newbie to install and that would have taken less time and effort to learn than her repeated taking apart and transportation of her computer to BB took.

        LinuxMint comes to mind.

        She might even have investigated a Mac. Given all the problems, infections,epidemics etc in the Windows world I think only consumer apathy can explain 8-10% market share for the mac.


  36. ArmanX
    Thumb Up

    OpenOffice is not Linux

    Some people don't seem to realize that, I guess. If you really want, you can run Microsoft Office in Linux (google CrossOver Office); yes, it costs money, but so does MS Office, right?

    It takes time to get used to Linux, regardless of GUI chosen; just like those hints for StarCraft won't work for Final Fantasy, those years of Windows tricks you've gathered are pretty useless in Linux. Besides, a fresh install of Windows doesn't even HAVE an office program; notepad isn't exactly the best presenting tool...

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Paris Hilton


      It has Word Pad. Okay so it's still very rudimentary but it would be enough to let you pen a letter to someone or write a simple report.

      Paris:Because she's rudimentary and possibly quite simple :)

  37. Anonymous Coward

    "Until PDFs die as a format, I'll still have to use Acrobat."

    You do know that there's an Acrobat Reader from Adobe for Linux, do you? It may not be as recent as the latest Windows one but I still get by with Acrobat 5.1 even on Windows, never failed to read a PDF yet and it's faster/lighter and more secure than the recent bloatware.

    And if it's PDF creation, OpenOffice and others already mentioned fix that for you.

    Suse comes with Acrobat on the list of things you can install if you wish.

    Suse is the low-geek-factor Linux for people who just want to get things done.

    This is being written on a Suse 11.whatever box; I think I'm using KDE but I neither know or care (I do know Suse ships both so punters get the choice).

    I also know that on another box six inches away I run a high speed serial comms data acquisition system. 920kbit/s on multiple ports, no flow control, on an ancient Dell. We did try WIndows but it wasn't expected to cope and it didn't. This app was initially targeted on a lovely little Taiwanese ARM 8serialport comms box, but the vendor wouldn't tell us how to reflash their kernel to incorporate our homebrew serial driver and some other kernel stuff, so now it runs on x86. It runs on x86 on Suse (10.something because it was around at the time). It's realtime enough for this, it might even be realtime enough for Andrew if he were to try it (though tbh I'm not sure there's much Suse-specific in it except the simple configuration process).

    Suse. The non-trendy low-geek-factor Linux for people who want Linux to work for them, rather than to make work for them.

    ps for Suse above, please read OpenSuse and use whatever capitalisation pleases you. Thank you.

    pps no connection with Suse or any related organisation.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Mint Linux

    Title is all.

    1. El Richard Thomas
      Thumb Up


      Slightly less cryptically, it's ubuntu with a load of extra multimedia stuff added so all the mp3/video/dvd functionality is there right from the word go. And the default colour scheme is a lovely green rather than shitty brown ;-)

      Main reason I started using it was that I was given a Tosh netbook by work that included Windows 7 Starter Edition, and I found a nice web page with step by step instructions for replacing that pile of shit with linux mint and making the wireless, bluetooth and 3G all work :-)

      1. Bruno Girin

        @El Richard Thomas

        > And the default colour scheme is a lovely green rather than shitty brown ;-)

        You do realise of course that Ubuntu is now purple and no longer brown? Anyway, Mint is very good too.

  39. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    PDFs, OO, gentoo ricing

    Regarding PDFs, evince views pdfs, gv views PDFs, and there's a "print to PDF" option as well.

    Regarding Office, there seem to be people here coming across broken bits in OpenOffice. I'm not about to claim you're doing someting wrong or whatever.. but, in general, I've actually seen higher compatibility going from Office to OpenOffice than going from, say, Office 2000 to 2003. OpenOffice's current state of development, I'm sure it's not *100%* office compatible, but it's pretty close, I've seen many many people use it with no problems.

    Regarding the comment "I don't get this snobbery i have seen in the past, over Ubuntu. "I'm a diehard Linux head, I used ..." etc. I get this snobbery. Talk to some gearheads, they wouldn't be caught dead driving around in some off-the-shelf Toyota, they'll have a small block chevy, Holley projector fuel injection, custom cam, custom plugs, wires, distributor cap, and coils, maybe turbocharging, and so on (well for those who prefer big iron. For a Honda or Toyota, rather than a small block chevy they'd put in the higher-performance Honda or Toyota engine, and then put the other stuff on it.). . It's the same thing, in fact among the gentoo users people even refer to "gentoo ricing" to refer to the gentoo users that add more and more compiler flags to try to get that extra 1%, and maybe break their install.

    *ricing in the car world is when someone takes some cheap Honda (usually, although it could be any small car), adds a giant exhaust tip, oversized spoiler, body kit, and maybe oversized rims -- i.e. make the car flashy but don't add a tihng to actually improve performance. For the gentoo ricing, the extra flags usually don't add performance either, but it's like "OMFG, look how many flags I have! So custom!" 8-)

  40. Anonymous Coward

    MS-centric ecosystems

    "market power, consumer inertia and ignorance and the oligopolistic nature of the tech industry"

    In other words, the MS-centric, MS-dependent ecosystem of IT departments, high street retailers, AV producers, etc. There is much truth in what you wrote.

    At the time you wrote yours you won't have seen me say:

    "Suse. The non-trendy low-geek-factor Linux for people who want Linux to work for them, rather than to make work for them"

    But that's what the Linux industry needs, something that's low hassle, ready to run, and lets the IT departments and end users concentrate on the apps and not the foibles of the OS (be it Windows or whatever).

    For reasons I don't understand, Ubuntu gets all the publicity despite still having issues to sort (eg KDE vs Gnome) that Suse brushed to one side years ago (you can't "solve" KDE vs Gnome, but you can make it a non-issue).


    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up


      >But that's what the Linux industry needs, something that's low hassle, ready to run, and lets the IT

      > departments and end users concentrate on the apps and not the foibles of the OS (be it Windows

      >or whatever).

      Exactly. It doesn't matter to end users how efficient they are. What matters is that their employer earns enough money to keep paying them every month.

      We all put up with crap in our lives rather than addressing it. Be it the old computer under the desk that somehow manages to keep serving data despite it's age. The old car that always gets you to work despite the rattles. The girlfriend that still says 'yes' even though she's known about your wife for years.

      It all gets in the way and we all put up with it. That applies to operating systems as well. Windows is crap, fine. Maybe it is. But it's always there when I arrive at work and it always allows me to develop applications that my bosses pay me for. I need nothing else. I'm certainly not going to stick my head above the parapet and start a Linux-drive. Tain't worth it.


      Save SUSE for the server room.

      Suse is great if you need a server to run Oracle on. As a desktop system, it is nowhere near "low hassle" enough when compared to Ubuntu or even Debian. It's basically not what Linux office partisans are going to be giving to co-workers (that's how I first got Ubuntu BTW) for their desktop machines.

  41. AnonymousDareDevil

    the error margin

    In my experience, one of the biggest obstacles to a wider use of desktop Linux for businesses are the legacy applications.

    People can be retrained in a different office suite/OS, and the savings in licensing plus all the recent traumatic experiences with Vista/Office ensure that isn't really a problem for most medium to large organizations.

    But migrating/developping new applications to support the new Desktop OS is just incredibly expensive, if not simply impossible.

    And even recent "Web" applications turn out to only run properly in IE (sometimes version 6!) or require a component installed in all the Desktops that only exists for Windows.

    Microsoft has been very good at nurturing its developper comunity, while ensuring real technology lock-in.

    Now that we're living the last days of the PC era, this will certainly change, but to what? And is the end of the PC more of a threat than an opportunity for Linux/Open source?

    This is what I'd like to see in part 2 of the Chronicles.

  42. little
    Thumb Up

    lol, recently i heard ...

    someone was "using ubuntu because it's bling" nearly crapped my pants, never thought i'd hear some one refer to linux as BLING!. cant use linux fully coz it really heats up the laptop & xfire doesnt support it :( i'll wait another bit. wrt OpenOffice, last version is brill though i use it on windows (charts in excel finally started to look good)

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Freedom is not for the masses

    There are good reasons for why Linux have very low overall market share -- and it is paradoxically because with Linux you get freedom, and while freedom and democracy area great ideals they also brings responsibility and need for thought -- 99% of common folk don't really want tot think for them self -- which is why Apple is vastly successful in providing devices which are essentially locked down, but have the functions everybody want -- applications have to be vetted, somebody is doing the thinking for you, which means that you don't have to and you can use your time on your day-job instead.

    Windows actually used to give you too much freedom, which is why we have all the virus and malware problems today -- the only reason we still use Windows, is due to (1) old habits die hard, (2) Word/Powerpoint/Excel don't work on Linux (and OpenOffice only gives a 99% approximation), and Video and Music CODEC (mp3) does not ship on todays Linux distros due to patent and ideological reasons.

    Freedom in any dimension is only important for a subset of people in each dimension -- for software, the freedom is mostly important for software developers (i.e. me) and software companies -- hence software developers do care _a lot_ about Linux, and I would argue that if somebody was to make a market research for what the footprint of Linux would be in the software developer community it would be a lot higher than the general average, and a probably above 40%.

    I would argue that there is a business to be created which both Ubutu and Fedora have failed to capture; the making making a Commercial Non-Open Linux Desktop Distro -- similar to what Redhat have done for the server market -- which would include Licensed MP3/Video software as well as some effective way of running the MS Office (wine/crossover is not effective or trouble-free), and sell that distro as a commercial answer to Windows 7 -- once installed Linux UI and Gome is far better than anything Microsoft have ever come up with.

    PS. I have used Linux as my Main desktops for close to 10 years -- and I love it

  44. gliderpilot

    road tested fedora?

    I used to use ubuntu but after trying out about 10 different linux os have settled with fedora - once you get over the updates problem it has proved to be the most stable, easy to use os of all. I hate days when I have to sort out any MS product it so convoluted and obviously stuck together. I like apple but the cost is so much more for basically the same machine. Ok battery life and power management is for fedora not so brilliant but over all 9/10 generally

  45. cazbym

    Linux Mint is the One

    Definitely not a nerd, but really got fed up with Microsoft and Office. Started to use OpenOffice (mainly Base - the database program, but also the spreadsheet and word processor), which then led me to look at other similar opensource programs/operating systems. I was intrigued by Linux and decided to give it a whirl. Did the backup of my XP stuff in preparation for the anticipated disaster, downloaded Linux Mint, burned it to cd and used it as a live operating system. Everything appeared fine. Eventually installed it permanently alongside Windows on my laptop.

    Since then, 4 months ago, I have been into Windows once just to check it was still there. Masses of updates needed. I have long since moved all of my original documents to the Linux system. PDF's open fine. Everything just works. My wireless card was quite slow and eventually I ended up using the original Windows driver using an ndiswrapper, but this is made simple from the control centre in Linux, called Windows Wireless Drivers. The two programs that really need Windows, which I am loathe to give up are PDFEdit which I use to add a stationery letterhead to my documents prior to emailing and TurboCAD which I use for Kitchen and Bathroom designs, (not problems for most home users at least) and I use VirtualBox to install these inside Linux Mint. It is much faster; I am not plagued by popups and updates; and my Wobbly Windows option for the desktop makes me smile! Sad, I know! I would definitely consider this to be a replacement for Windows.

    Would hazard a guess that the vast majority of home users, have never opened PowerPoint and wouldn't ever want to. Would agree that presentations always appear like packaging fluff. A lot of effort, containing very little substance.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I walk out on powerpoint presentations.

    Nothing witty to add, they just bore the crap out of me.

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