back to article Desktop Linux: the final frontier

Depending on who you talk to, 40 to 75 per cent of the world’s web servers are Linux-based. That is some serious market penetration. But even in organisations running Linux on their servers the operating system is on just 20 per cent of desktops. Despite its success in the back office, Linux has not yet made such an impact on …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “If it is there, people will use it,”

    Not neccessarily.

    I remember the netbook boom of 2-3 years ago.

    People bought the likes of the Acer Aspire One, then came to the likes of me wanting Windows on it.

    I politely declined, as I didn't have a USB CD drive at the time, and hadn't yet experimented with USB boot drives. Also, the fact that XP onwards really does need to have a licence bought.

    But it just showed that people had Linux but wanted to use Windows. Despite the £50 or so Windows tax saving.

    And this is coming from a Linux fanboy. When I eventually bought an AAO150, I liked the Linpus desktop (despite the detractors). I liked the speed of boot, the general lack of resource hogging of the OS, and the fact that most of what you want to do was on the desktop nearly immediately.

    Though I have to say, I did later put XP on it, but that was more just for the sheer heck of it (as I did also put OSX on it too).

    People were just used to their Windows clunkiness, and way of doing things (ie. in Windows download a piece of malware / yet another IE toolbar and you can double click execute the installer there and then. In linux, the install process is slightly more involved).

    On the prettier half's laptop, we did use Ubuntu for ages because Vista was mostly broken and unusable.

    However, I have noticed that since putting 7 on it (and an extra GB of RAM), it is the Windows partition that now gets most hits on the boot menu.

    So yes, if it is there, people will try to use it. But some are too entrenched in their Windows linear way of thinking. Hopefully the next generation of tablet based consumer machines will help abstract away from the Windows desktop way of life.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Linux is defacto server operating system then why not it come to desktop

      I do see a lot of potential in Linux to replace windows as preferred operating system they just need right design and implementation just like Apple did with there IPhone. Linux is defacto Server operating system and has earned a lot of credibility with everybody which will help him to do better.


  2. petur


    Aren't those the guys who screwed up by forcing this Unity crap down the throat of their users?

    They certainly lost me as user....

    1. James Hughes 1

      I've been using Unity...

      Since the official release.

      So, far, and against all my expectations, I'm getting on OK. There are a few clunky bits that need work - network shares are awkward to get to for example, you need to get to a standard apps menu more easily, rather than remember apps names, and I keep going to bottom of screen to the non-existent task bar. But, on the whole, it's pretty good for the purposes I put it to.

      Worth persisting with I think, and it can only get better. I hope.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Unity. What a pity...

      Yes, they are those guys --- and it will put back the cause of "Linux on the desktop" by several years.

      A great shame.

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  4. Victor Ludorum

    It never ceases to amaze me, but

    When someone buys a PC, laptop etc, they expect it to have Windows, because that's what they're used to. All it generally gets used for is browsing, email, letters and maybe spreadsheets. And sometimes a game.

    And yet, we will happily change our telly, car, mobile phone etc, because the new one has better features. And there's a new or changed UI to get the hang of. But because it's not a 'computer' people are happy to put up with it.

    Public perception has to improve. Until the major manufacturers start shifting boxes, laptops etc to HIGH STREET RETAILERS (so that Joe Public can plat with it instore before purchase) preloaded with Ubuntu/Mint/whatever-distro-you-worship, people will still look for Windows (or Mac if that's the way you roll). Dell even tried shifting boxes and Minis with Linux. They seem to have stopped selling them in the UK unless you specifically ask your Account Manager.

    Disclosure: I have run Ubuntu as my main OS since January, with Win7 and XP in VMs for those rare occasions I can't do something in Ubuntu/OpenOffice etc. Like play certain games...


    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Public perception is fine

      Why should public perception have to change? It's a tool. As long as it does what they want they couldn't care less. Nor should they have to care what's under the hood. I don't much care what's under my car's bonnet as long as it gets me from A to B.

      That's what's held Linux back on the desktop as much as anything else. Geeks trying to sell it to the public on the basis of technology. I have news for you - the public don't give a toss about computing technology. As for "Ubuntu/Mint/whatever-distro-you-worship" that just adds 'cliquey' to the list and probably alienates the small minority of the public who are vaguely curious about it.

      1. Duster
        Paris Hilton

        Public perception

        Point well made. Another fact is that many users don't want "flexibility." They just want _A_ way of doing things that accomplishes their goals. When someone like that encounters linux with all its distinct desktops, they can feel overwhelmed with the available choices. Showing the better half how to do things I learned long ago to leave out the "...or you can ..." parts.

    2. Zippy the Pinhead

      @ Victor

      Well there is a learning curve and there is all that purchased software... People hesitate to jump

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lost potential

    I would gladly trade performance for a netbook with a 10+ hour battery life running on Arm. Sadly, even though several were announced I have not seen an actual shipping product. Maybe HP's Compaq Airlife 100 will be the first from a major manufacturer.

    As for people choosing to install Windows instead, that's just inertia kicking in.

    People don't ask for Win mobile to be installed when they buy a phone/tablet with android/ios on it do they? I never thought I'd say this but it's mostly a marketing problem. A product marketed as a laptop alternative makes people think of, well, laptops. Since the vast majority have used laptops with windows that's what they expect. Small, 10" netbooks with 10+ hours of battery life are better marketed as mobile devices instead, with all the mobile device goodies people expect ('app stores' etc).

    1. Field Commander A9

      get you fatcs straight

      win mo can't be installed on an android phone without extensive modifying

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Neither can windows be installed on an Arm netbook. Which is kinda the point.. Also, I'm not Rafa, didn't mention any fackts.

    2. Number6

      Battery Life

      My AA1 with 9-cell battery and Linux Mint claims a 10hr battery life. I suspect it's closer to 8 but that's still good.

  6. Pointer2null

    The reason 98% of the worlds pc use Windows is Linux!

    Seriously though, Linux still is not as smooth and polished a user experience as Windows and for the average user it's not the best option. (I use both at work, but only Windows at home)

    1. James Hughes 1

      For me, the other way round

      Have to use windows at work, but use Linux at home, and compared to the other half's Vista desktop, I'm a very happy bunny indeed - even with Unity, which is quite polished considering its age.

      Also, my aged parents use Ubuntu on a Acer Revo and have no problems at all.

      1. Aaron Em

        "compared to the other half's Vista desktop"

        Would you also argue that a Lada is a perfectly fine car because it's more efficient and easier to operate than a Stanley Steamer?

        1. Lars Silver badge

          @Aaron Em

          How did you come to that impression.

        2. Number6


          Have you ever driven a Lada? I have, and while it's nothing special, it was a fairly solid performer. It was cheap too, only £300. I towed a trailer with it and it was very smooth and comfortable. It was eventually left in a rusting heap in the car park of the local garage, having been part-exchanged for something newer (and more expensive).

      2. Zippy the Pinhead

        @ James

        I work with people everyday who still have never heard of Linux.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge
      Thumb Up


      Cue downvoters there.

      I'm in the opposite position, Windows only on the desktop at work and both at home. I have to agree with your analysis though. The distros have come on leaps and bounds since I started with it, but it still lacks that end-user-suitable polish.

      ONe of my favourites: When the little context-sensitive help widget, invoked via the question mark on a KDE window, pops up saying there is no help and offering you the opportunity to contribute to the community by writing help text for what you're trying to find help on. I find that one even more risible than the "hit 'Start' to shutdown" of Windows.

    3. Schultz

      Smooth Linux

      Linux is quite smooth nowadays, but I had to replace the pre-installed rubbish with Linux Mint to enjoy my 1st generation netbook.

      1. Number6


        Yes, my netbook ended up in Mint condition, as did all my other Linux machines except the server, and that's only because I can't be arsed to rebuild that.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Windows is more polished?

      "Seriously though, Linux still is not as smooth and polished a user experience as Windows [...]"

      Where I work some of the more senior support people are moving away from Windows (and Windows 7 at that) because they're sick of fighting with Windows. I've been quietly extolling the virtues by having networking that works, printing that works and machines that run quickly and people have noticed.

      It's going to take a while for Linux to become seriously mainstream, not least because the corporate IT have chosen a voip solution that only works on Windows. Oh yes, and for some reason they seem to think running a server distro on a laptop is a good idea. And yet, in spite of the obstacles, Linux desktop usage is growing because it is more polished, not less.

  7. vegister

    pointy haired bosses

    the reason for choosing big name brands is that is what the salesman/consultant (with his own agenda) tells mr pointy haired boss what to do.

  8. Barry Tabrah

    Why Linux is not popular for home users

    It doesn't look like Windows, it doesn't run Microsoft Office, and it doesn't run iTunes.

    Remember that I'm talking about your average home user. They are using Windows at work. They've used Windows for years. It's friendly. It's familiar. It's what they know.

    You can't just chuck the Microsoft Office disk into a Linux machine and be using it 5 minutes later.

    You can't download iTunes from the Apple website on Linux.

    Basically if the end user can't do something on their own within 5 minutes then they're going to go running back to Comet to replace it with something that can. And they're certainly not going to go crawling around web forums in order to learn how.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      And nor should they have to.

      >And they're certainly not going to go crawling around web forums in order to learn how.

      And nor should they have to because it's a monumental waste of their time. When I bought my car I didn't have to spend hours calling garages to get it modified nor download specialist instructions. I just sat inside it, and drove off.

      That's what so many Linux fans still don't understand. Computing is only fun to a small %ge of the population. And here's a shocker - even those who thought it was fun once tend to grow out of that eventually. It becomes just an obstacle to what you really want to do.

      1. Aaron Em

        God bless you, sir!

        Someone talking sensibly about Linux on the desktop? In *my* Reg comments thread? It's likelier than you think!

      2. kirovs

        You are missing the point

        No, you took a lot of lessons to drive that car, remember?

        It just depends on how you started- why do you need iTunes, when there is Ubuntu One?

        So, yes, you could start your Linux comp and have everything you need and most of what you want.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Way to prove the point... I use Fedora, so no Ubuntu One for me. Also whichever way you look at it, Ubuntu One isn't iTunes, I don't use iTunes but that is what people who use iTunes want.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Linux is excellent but, as others have mentioned, inertia will prevent most people from straying too far from Windows. This is the same reason why people put Windows on a perfectly good Mac machine.

    When people are forced to use Linux on their office machines, things might change, but until then - when the overwhelming majority of people get most of their computer experience at work - windows will dominate the "computer."

    It is interesting, again as others point out, that a significant percentage of die-hard Windows on the Desktop people are happy to use Android / iOS on their phones and tablets.....

    Just as importantly, despite what some may think, there is more to Linux than Ubuntu. Its not even the best distro any more - since about 9.10 / 10.4 is has been pretty pants.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Gates Halo

      Inertia or Functionality?

      Name one thing you can do on Linux desktop which you can't do on Windows.

      1. Vic

        Re: Inertia or Functionality?

        > Name one thing you can do on Linux desktop which you can't do on Windows.

        Middle-click paste.


        1. Field Commander A9

          There're many uses for Middle-click in Windows that doesn't exist in Linux

          Like opening another tab, close a exsting tab, free scorlling etc.

          So this is not a function problem, it's just preference.

        2. AndrueC Silver badge
          Thumb Down


          > Middle-click paste.

          Posted in 2006. Oh and I can do it with my aging Logitech mouse. I push the scroll-wheel down and whatever is in the clipboard is pasted. Or is it something more complicated than that?

          1. kirovs


            Not part of the OS. Does not qualify. Also in Linux it is a different clipboard from ctrl-V- you have easy access to 2 instead of one.

        3. kirovs


          Eat your hard out MS boy

      2. Tom Sparrow

        rewrite/improve it?

        (no, I've never done that before you ask)

        Download it legally for free.

        Run it on a clapped out old PC.

        Give it to my kids without worrying they might break it.

        Those are the obvious things, I'm sure there are others, but you only asked for 1.

        Conversely, there's nothing I can't do on Linux that I care about, so why pay for windows?

        1. Field Commander A9


          "Download it legally for free."

          don't kid yourself pal.

          "Run it on a clapped out old PC"

          ever heard of something call Windows for Legancy PC?

          "Give it to my kids without worrying they might break it."

          suppose you don't run Linux as root, then Windows only does it better if you don't run it as Administrator.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            @Field Commander A9

            "don't kid yourself pal."

            What is being kidded here? You really can download Linux desktop software for free. Seriously.

            (does this surprise you?)

            "ever heard of something call Windows for Legancy PC?"

            Nope. But if you mean Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs then you have to be joking. Are you trying to compare that to a linux distro running on the same machine? Srlsly?

            "suppose you don't run Linux as root, then Windows only does it better if you don't run it as Administrator."

            I double dare you to make sense here.

            Linux has SUDO which wipes the floor with windows UAC

          2. Gilbert Wham


            "Download it legally for free."

            don't kid yourself pal.

            What? Linux IS downloadable for free. All over the bloody place. WTF are you on about?

            "Run it on a clapped out old PC"

            ever heard of something call Windows for Legancy (sic) PC?

            No, I hadn't, but upon googling it, it's hardly a fully-fledged OS now is it? I can think of at least three distros I'd rather use (you can get ones that will cheerfully run on a 486/dx266)

            No, I haven't as

            "Give it to my kids without worrying they might break it."

            suppose you don't run Linux as root, then Windows only does it better if you don't run it as Administrator.

            That's the *whole point*; Windows is hardly ever run as anything but Admin for home users, cos it's too much of a pain in the arse for them to use like that.

            If your argument was, 'You can't run high-end games on it' then I might kind of agree (there's no reason it COULDN'T, it's more to do with a dearth of money for development, as the market is admittedly tiny). Or, '[specific software 'X'] doesn't work on it'. Again, fair enough, but your counters to the above arguments make very little sense.

      3. Neil C Smith

        RE: Inertia or Functionality?

        Not pay for software that doesn't work properly.

        We get lots of our own stuff that doesn't work properly, for free! :-)

      4. M Gale

        apt-get dist-upgrade

        Or the pretty graphical version "click the button that says upgrade".

        I don't see any option in Windows XP or Vista that lets you upgrade to 7, outside of paying Microsoft a lot of money.

        Don't forget that UAC is a poor rip off of the sudo/gksu/kdesu commands.

        Oh and.. boot from a CD to grab files from a b0rked OS install. BartPE does not count, as it is illegal.

        While we're at it, I still have yet to see a Windows firewall with the functionality of iptables. Geeky and technical, yes. There are graphical front-ends though, and Windows still is hopeless compared.

        Oh, you also can't run Compiz in Windows.

        Also, plugging a wifi adapter in without fucking about with drivers.

        Also, connecting to a wireless network without having to right-click "troubleshoot problems" to kick the thing into life every other time you try to get online.

        That enough things? I'm sure various people can think of more things that various Linux distros do, that you can't do in Windows.

        1. Mark 65

          @M Gale

          "Also, plugging a wifi adapter in without fucking about with drivers.

          Also, connecting to a wireless network without having to right-click "troubleshoot problems" to kick the thing into life every other time you try to get online."

          I'd leave Linux and wireless internet out of the argument if I were you - Ubuntu is renowned for working as a LiveCD then not working with the wireless connection once installed. Normally fixed by downloading a .fw file but it's not an area I'd be boasting about.

          1. M Gale

            @Mark 65

            "I'd leave Linux and wireless internet out of the argument if I were you.."

            Two or three years ago I would have. These days a lot more wireless adapters will work with the various toy unixes. Quite a few of them say so on the packaging and if you can get one of those, it does tend to work straight out of the box with not so much as a "please insert driver CD" in sight.

            As opposed to Windows 7 which with the same adapter, continually refuses to chat with DNS properly when connecting to a new network unless the adapter is reset first. Edimax model EW-7711UAn, just in case you're wondering.

      5. bertino

        Browse grumble.

        Without any problems

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Inertia or Functionality?

        > Name one thing you can do on Linux desktop which you can't do on Windows.

        Run multiple desktops.

        1. Aaron Em

          "Run multiple desktops" oh ho!

          It's called 'Virtual Dimension'. It's free to download from Sourceforge, which is not exactly a barrier to the sort of person who uses multiple desktops. It doesn't suck.

          Try again!

          1. kirovs


            Not part of the OS, does not qualify.

      7. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Inertia or Functionality?

        "Name one thing you can do on Linux desktop which you can't do on Windows."

        I think you have missed the point a little here.

        It may well be that there is nothing you want to do on your desktop that cant be done in Windows and vice versa but this makes it more likely to be inertia that prevents users switching.

        You can do everything you want to do in Windows on a Linux desktop for free. Plus, you get access to loads of other odd things so that if you have the time and inclination you can actually learn to do more things. At best, windows is a halfway house between the hand-holding of Apple products and actually using the tool you have bought with Linux....

      8. PrivateCitizen

        Re: Inertia or Functionality?

        @ AC 13:23hrs

        How about recompile the kernel so that it does something different than it did when I downloaded it?

      9. the-phil

        Re: Inertia or Functionality -- ONE thing you can do on Linux .....

        @ Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 20th May 2011 13:23

        "Name one thing you can do on Linux desktop which you can't do on Windows."

        I can take my anti-virus protection off _and_ have all the unprotected internet I want without catching a virus.

        <italian mobster accent>

        Now... tell me, whose got a f***in' polished desktop?

        </italian mobster accent>

      10. candtalan

        Really *enjoy*

        using your PC

      11. Paul 129


        I spen all my time doing PC repairs, with Linux...

        Offline repair of BSOD issues, cloning, virus scanning, registry editing, reimaging, automated installs, most importantly of all scripting of the fixes so I dont have to fluff around, doing the same tings over and over again. Yes windows can do each task on its own with the right bit of paid for software but you just cant compile them all into a cohesive sinlge. Handling repetive tasks in windows for any task is a chore (autoit yukkiness). In linux however the only task that I cant automate is restarting a machine after its run through memtest.

      12. zelrik


        I can't work on windows. Have a good day.

    2. djs

      Name one thing ...

      Okay, I'll bite the troll-bait ...

      There is nothing you can do on *nix that you cannot do on windows without a little thought. However, if you know *nix WELL, there are things that you can do very easily and naturally that are neither easy nor natural on windows.

      Two examples from my real life:

      Several years ago, I was asked to rename all of the (few thousand) image files in a directory so that they had the string "_dpr" between the stem and the extension. I came up with a bash incantation looking something like this:

      cd /path; for ext in jpg png gif; do ls | grep "\.$ext$" | while read file; do mv "$file" "$(basename "$file" ".$ext")_dpr.$ext"; done; done; cd "$OLDPWD"

      (On windows you'd either spend all week on the task or install cygwin and use a *nix style shell to run a *nix style command, so it's possible, but not particularly natural).

      A few weeks ago, a friend and I wanted to exchange a few GB of data. With no USB sticks to hand, we fished out a length of crossover (because the wireless network would have been painfully slow) and used netcat (he typed 'nc -l -p 1234 >file.dat'; I typed 'nc 1234 <file.dat'; it took about a minute, maybe two)

      On windows you might manage to find a native build of netcat, or you might set up a one-off FTP server, or you might go out and buy a USB stick, so you could do it, but it would be neither easy or natural (and it would probably take you longer than a minute (including faffing about time), even with a length of crossover).

      I have a few more (increasingly boring) anecdotes in a similar vein. I tend to acquire one every couple of years.

      It may be that the converse of my thesis is also true, that there are things you can easily and naturally do on windows that are neither easy nor natural on *nix, but if there are, I am yet to find them. Perhaps you could furnish us all with an example or two, that you have experienced in your real life?

      1. A J Stiles

        Ah, yes, but

        Doing something in seconds via the Unix shell that would take hours if not days via a GUI isn't a feature if you are paid for looking busy. Repeatedly clicking "replace" in a search requester for several minutes looks more impressive to managers than a sed one-liner.

        Also, you have to actually understand stuff, which takes time. Compare becoming fluent in a foreign language vs. pointing and gesturing. You might get by the latter way for a fortnight's holiday, when all you really need to say is "Two beers, please" and "Where is the toilet?", but not if you were working there in some specialised field. Eventually, the time and effort invested in learning is repaid.

        I want my computer to do the repetitive work for me while I get on with more interesting stuff. But repetitive work is exactly what management like to see people doing. They'd rather see 6 people copying and pasting addresses from a spreadsheet into a word processor document, than 1 person learning just enough PostScript to produce a template which can be populated from an SQL database by means of a perl script. (Or ruby or python, if you're Young and Trendy.) And marketing companies would rather sell you expensive, proprietary systems to do what they think you want to do, than let you see how easy it can be to roll your own.

        I once took a b%//%cking for spending 4 hours writing a program to do something in essentially no time that I could have done by hand in half an hour. Something I knew I or someone else was going to have to do many, many more than eight times in future. And TTBOMK, people there are still using it.

        The first Industrial Revolution turned sour when those threatened by the coming age of abundance began manufacturing artificial scarcity. The second one is also turning sour.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        VBScript and SMB...

        A VB script can do whatever your bash script does, or a powershell script as well.

        If you connect two windows PC with a cable, and set both IPs correctly, you can do just transfer file from each other via SMB, no FTP, no netcat...

        Probably you need to learn to use Windows first, because it looks your average knowledge didn't improve since Windows 3.1

        1. djs

          VBScript and SMB?

          If you are prepared to arse about with substrings, VBS may well be able to do what my bash does. I'd rather not have to write it, though. Powershell may be a better bet (since it was intended to provide unix shell-like scripting capabilities to windows, which, in microsoft's estimation, were lacking. Make of that what you will), but you'd know better than me.

          We could have used SMB (via samba), but we didn't because only a complete tool would use SMB for a one off transfer, and it would have taken considerably longer (not in set up time, which is near instant, but in transfer time -- SMB/CIFS is very, very slow -- we might as well have used netcat over wireless if we wanted it to take an hour. We could also have used WebDAV (again, not fast) or NFS (absolute PITA)).

          AFAICT, windows hasn't improved since windows 3.11 (I have vista for work, which I try to avoid using. Not impressed)

        2. djs

          Oh, and a point of pedantry

          It wasn't a script. It was a command, typed on the command line, directly at the point of interaction. It could be made into a script easily enough, but it wasn't one.

  10. John Styles

    The best 150 million dollars Microsoft ever spent

    Was the 150 million they invested in Apple in 1997. This helped Apple get into their phase with OSX - this provided enough 'Shiney'!!!' for the Unix weenies to effectively kill Linux on the desktop by providing something (a) Shiney!!!!!! (b) not teh ebil Micro$haft (c) Unix underneath for people so inclined.

    The 20% of desktops on Linux figure seems deeply implausible to me, we have, I believe, been asked 3 times in 15 years if our desktop software runs on Linux. Maybe when the questions get down to one every 4 years or so we might consider it.

    1. Tom Sparrow

      I have 2 questions...

      1) What is your desktop software?

      2) Does it run on Linux?

      Maybe Linux users aren't attracted to your software, or maybe your website tells them it doesn't work and they don't bother to ask. Surely you should do some actual market research if you're really interested, rather than assuming customers will come to you.

      It's like only making Nikon fit lenses and not Canon because 'no-one asks for them'. Why would they ask when they can get them elsewhere? doesn't mean you wouldn't sell like hot cakes if you made them.

      That said, I use Ubuntu at home and at work and think it's great, but also find 20% a difficult figure to believe.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The 20% desktop figure is in relation to those enterprise who ALREADY use Linux on their servers, and not an overall general % if that is what you were thinking.

    3. penguin slapper

      Misguided much?

      Microsoft spent that money to keep Apple alive so that they (Microsoft) could avoid being accused of having wiped out all the competition.

      In 1997 Linux was serious hobbyist territory only and was absolutely no threat to Microsoft at all.

      "The 20% of desktops on Linux figure seems deeply implausible to me, we have, I believe, been asked 3 times in 15 years if our desktop software runs on Linux."

      Ah, the old "I haven't experienced what you're talking about therefore you're wrong" argument.


  11. Danny 14

    thing is

    home desktops are only part of the equation. It is the businesses that drive the purchases of cheap mass market desktops. Without a GPO based infrastructure it simply wont happen.

  12. Hayden Clark Silver badge


    That's what kills desktop Linux.

    While there may be drivers for the common HPs and Canons, what about the odder Brother copiers, P.O.S Lexmarks, and all the rest of the non-current, non-popular printing machines?

    Don't get me started about the rubbish job queuing, that has moved on only slightly since 1972 and lpd.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Printing no problem

      Well I've used Brother printers for some time (7+ yrs), and never had the slightest issue ...

    2. M Gale

      "and all the rest of the non-current, non-popular printing machines?"

      I seem to remember that Vista broke most of those.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There is a way

      Seriously, just swallow spending the extra money on a printer with PostScript in hardware. Not only will it be guaranteed support under any OS written since the Apple LaserWriter first appeared, it'll be better built and the toner will be cheaper.

      1. Hayden Clark Silver badge

        As long as it's your money, I'll buy one!

        However - I have no money, an old PC which would run some flavour of Linux just nicely, and a all-in-one copier/printer combo (from someone like Ricoh, I forget) that has Windows drivers.

        One of the points (I thought) of Linux was to make computing cheaper......

        1. Vic

          Free vs. free

          > One of the points (I thought) of Linux was to make computing cheaper....

          No. The purpose is to imbue the user with the freedom to use software as he sees fit.

          The fact that it *also* reduces costs is simply a pleasant side-effect.


    4. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      To tell the truth

      Lexmark ink-jet printers are a pain in the ass for Linux.

      But that is mainly because they use a propriety control language that nobody in the Open Source world really wants to use, because the printers IMHO are a complete waste of ink (literally, you use about a third of a cartridge just cleaning the head every time you turn it in). If they are not used, nobody bothers to write the driver.

      Lexmark do produce drivers, but only in source, and do not bother to build even for the common Linux distributions. I built them for Ubuntu 8.04 (hardy) and prefer to ditch the printer rather than go through that again!

      Lexmark laser printers are not so bad because they either use PostScript of HPCL.

      As an example of well-supported printers, I have some HP all-in-one printers on my network, hung off a NAS via USB, and it is HUGELY easier to set up to use from a Linux system than from a windows box (the NAS does not run Windows, so cannot hand out the driver). If you try to use the HP install CD, it assumes that the printer is directly attached to the system, and if it is not, it refuses to load the driver.

      Ubuntu 6.06, 8.04, 10.04 do not need a CD at all.

      I'm confused about the queueing. A home user, with a printer attached to their PC needs little or no queueing. If you run a Windows desktop as a print server, how does it differ? The only thing I can think of is remote job status, and to tell you the truth, if you use Windows (my experience is mostly XP) like that, the information you get back is of little or no use anyway. And even queueing locally on XP, I keep getting prints stuck at the top of the Windows print queue that stop and block the entire queue until you cancel them (holding them does not work).

      lpd - if that is what you are using, although CUPS is much more common on all current Linux distributions, when set up correctly gives you the same degree of control, it's just not dressed up as much.

      Oh, and I think that you'll find that not even UNIX had lpd in 1972 (a print spooler called lpd appeared on the V7 addendum tape, and the documentation says that it came from PWB [look it up], but what you probably mean is the BSD lpd with network support that appeared as TCP/IP developed slightly later). The System V print system in the 1980s moved this on, and CUPS is much more than that.

      1. Hayden Clark Silver badge

        CUPS is fairly pants as well

        The problem with the spoolers is that they are raw spoolers, not job spoolers. CUPS doesn't "understand" the printer, so it can't reset it when a job is cancelled. As a result, the only way to cancel a job is to stop the queue, cancel the job, power cycle the printer, then start the queue again. Since the windows print queue has access to the printer driver, it can perform the correct actions to reset the printer immediately.

        Last time I looked (and I did hunt about in the header files and whotnot) I could not even find a way of doing the modern USB equivalent to pulsing the Reset line on a parallel port.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    If Linux on the Desktop means Ubuntu then no chance

    of it succeeding. Franky, I'd rather point the users at Windows 7 than get them to use Ubuntu.

    Once upon a time I loved the look and feel on this upstart distro called Ubuntu.But recently their Quality control has... well bee sadly lacking.

    I actually recommend (and implement) CentOS with KDE on the desktop rather than Ubuntu. Yes it takes a bit more work but it is far more stable.

    1. doperative

      Ubuntu lacks quality control?

      > Once upon a time I loved the look and feel on this upstart distro called Ubuntu. But recently their Quality control has... well bee sadly lacking ..

      I'm puzzled by the term "Quality control". I find Ubuntu one of the most polished and stable desktops out there. From the base installation you get browsing, email, word processing and multimedia. And without the malware infestation that plagues the Windows universe.

  14. captain veg Silver badge

    Linux is increasingly part of the fabric of everyday life in organisations.

    Not here, it isn't. The powers that be won't even allow Linux machines to connect to the VPN.

    Did I mention that Microsoft is a client?


    1. Aaron Em

      Or it could be

      that suggesting they'd also be responsible for Linux support drove the helpdesk into outright revolt.

      1. captain veg Silver badge


        Do you really think that the sort of user wanting to connect using Linux will be troubling the help desk? We already know far more about computers than they ever will.


      2. A J Stiles


        The average Linux user has forgotten more about computers than the average helpdesk drone will ever know.

        It's mainly for the benefit of helpdesk drones that so many corporate Windows users are prevented from even rearranging icons.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AJ Stiles

          And you get the points for showing why Linux isn't used and that it isn't used at the same time.

          In saying that the average Linux user has forgotten more than the average helpdesk staffer will ever know you are:

          A) Massively patronising to helpdesk staff who have more than just knowing about computers to their skillset.

          B) Showing a very good reason that normal end users are put off Linux (pretending that it's really complicated, becuase you've got to be so cleaver to use it)

          C) Congratulation yourself on how cleaver you've got to be to use the OS that you (presumably) want everyone to use. Or is it that you want to keep it niche and just complain about people not using it dispite secretly not really wanting them to... At least you can kid yourself that it's becuase everyone else isn't as intelligent as you.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    "They've used Windows for years. ... It's familiar."

    That's bollox and everyone with more than five years history knows it. Some of us even know how to prove it:

    How familiar is Windows 7 to a Windows XP user? How familiar is Windows XP to an NT 4 user (and so on)?

    How familiar is Office <this year> to Office <five years ago>?

    How compatible is Visual Studio <this year> with Studio <five years ago>?


    Familiarity is not a factor in this comparison, the certified Microsoft-dependent folks are quite happy to foist something unfamiliar on their customers, they'll presumably flog anything as long as it has a Microsoft badge on it, regardless of what actually is best fit for the people who pay their wages.

    1. paul 97

      quite right

      Linux does not have an army of professional sales people.

    2. Field Commander A9


      How familiar is CentOS to a Windows XP user?

    3. Ben Holmes


      People don't care about the niggling differences between NT4 / XP / 7. All they care about is that they KNOW that if they go to the Start menu, they'll find the Office apps they just installed. And yes, the Ribbon interface might be new, but the little buttons and menus around that haven't changed.

      Familiarity has absolutely got everything to do with this. Microsoft know this. Hell, you could argue Apple know this to an even greater degree. No matter what the cumulative changes going on behind the scenes, someone who's been using Windows for any length of time know how to get stuff done.

      You just cannot say the same about Linux. IMHO, Linux's greatest failing IS the sheer volume of choice around different distros, UIs, apps, and whatever else you care to mention. For the user who is - yup, you've guessed it - familiar with how Linux is put together, this obviously isn't a problem. The Ecosystem has millions of users who revel in the amount of choice.

      However, for your average Joe Clueless, that choice is going to be terrifying. What if they get it wrong? What if that swanky new camera they've got just doesn't work with this weird new 'Linux' animal they've been conned into using? How the hell do they use their MP3 player with it?

      The point is that familiar is easy. Familiar isn't scary. Familiar doesn't present them with a myriad of options that mean that devices x / y / z stop working. Familiar will always do what they expect it to do. So no matter how much it pains the Open Source community, there simply won't be that mass migration to the Linux platform until everything looks - and behaves - like Windows / Mac OS X.

      And that's all there is to it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Ben: iPads were familiar, were they?

        Yes, there's lots of *fragmentation* in the Linux market. Choice can be a bad thing, choice can be a good thing.

        But please wake up to the fake that familiarity and fragmentation are different and unrelated things.

        iPads were not familiar. It hasn't stopped the Apple fanbois buying them in droves, and even non-fanbois seem to like them too.

        Ditto Android.

        What is the value of familiarity in the mobile market? Zero.

        What is the value of familiarity in the desktop market? Decreasing rapidly.

        What is the value of fragmentation in the desktop Windows market? Well, there they just call it "choice". Software in the desktop WIndows market doesn't come with any worthwhile guarantees of compatibility or familiarity or even functionality. Just like free software, in fact, except you may well have paid for it.

        Have a nice weekend.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Familiar indeed

          "iPads were not familiar. It hasn't stopped the Apple fanbois buying them in droves, and even non-fanbois seem to like them too."

          Actually they are bloody familiar to anyone who has either an iPhone or an iPod Touch - which is a lot of people and probably accounts for a significant number of those who bought the iPad.

          After that people buy it because it is very well marketed with legions of people advertising its value and selling its advantages - real or otherwise.

          Android goes out of its way to be "familiar" to users of iOS - why is that?

          Nokia users get used to the layout and foibles of a Nokia device and getting them to change becomes a nightmare.

          Familiarity is very important in the computer market. People would rather warez MS Office than get Libre Office even though the functionality is pretty much identical.

  16. GettinSadda


    OK - if you want to know why Linux has a major problem being accepted for general use, try the following test (it may be expensive, so you may prefer to do this as a thought experiment):

    Take two computer-literate-enough-to-do-email-and-a-word-doc average people. Build each one an identical computer. One running Windows, the other any version of Linux. Next, tell each of the people to go to a nearby computer store and buy:

    * A printer

    * A scanner

    * A DSL modem or router

    * A digital camera

    * A digital video camera

    * An MP3 player

    * A smartphone

    When they return, sit each at their computer and without any help from you other that verbal advice, see which one can get all of the peripherals fully working. If any come with software goodies such as video editing, ensure that software is also installed and working (after all they paid for it).

    1. bertino

      Not so hard, some of it easier

      * A printer

      System - Printing. Find printer on network, select type, print test page. Done. No loading crapware of a CD etc.

      * A scanner

      Xsane just finds the scanner on the network. Never used a USB attached one, but assume same.

      * A DSL modem or router

      Eh? Why should you need the crapware to set this up, which in windows XP/Vista leaves doubt as to which of the several icons on the taskbar actually control networking? How many times does it 'just stop working' on windows? Type into a browser and set it up. A bit more difficult than using a driver/installer CD but once it works less likely to break.

      * A digital camera

      Connect, open photo software when prompted, import new photos. Done.

      * A digital video camera

      Plug in via USB, Open folder when prompted, double click vid, plays with VLC or MPlayer. Easy.

      * An MP3 player

      Sync with Rhythmbox automagically.

      * A smartphone

      Drag and drop stuff to it, easy. Much easier than using iTunes. Easier to get photos off an iPhone too.

      Of course this comes with a couple of assumptions,

      1) You installed a distro with all codecs installed.

      2) All hardware is supported. A lot is these days out of the box, so is in fact easier to use than on windows. When the hardware is not quite working it does take a bit of tweaking to get it working, but then there are similar intallation problems with windows too.

      The main problem is that you have to start messing under the hood sometimes, e.g. mousepad is unusable, disable tapping of it in order to be able to use it. Which means hand editing config files. Or changing boot parameters so that you get something other than a black screen etc. I would like to say that once fixed in linux it stayed fixed, but this is not the case anymore. The EEPC901 wifi driver needs to be recompiled from source with every new kernel for instance, which for a non techie means no chance!

      So, to sum up, if you get lucky or buy wisely, then it is EASIER with linux. If not it is probably more difficult.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "You installed a distro with all codecs installed."

        Codecs don't have to come pre-installed to be simple to install; don't the decent ones (eg Suse) do one-click codec fetch+install if one is required but not present? A whole lot easier than on any Windows I've used.

        There are arguably sound legal/icencing reasons why both Windows and major Linux distros don't ship codecs which don't have licences that permit redistribution.

      2. GettinSadda


        OK - my experience with randomly bought stuff of my own or belonging to other family and freinds:

        * Printer

        Some do work, with a lot of effort, but many of the cheaper ones rely on Windows drivers and so will never work properly under Linux - if at all.

        * Scanner

        Do you really think that most people buy network-attached scanners? These days USB ones are cheap, cheerful and good enough for 99.9% of home use. Unless you expect to find one that works under Linux.

        * DSL modem / router

        Several ones that I have bought recently come with a CD-ROM that you insert into your PC to set them up. This runs a wizard that goes through all the required items. Windows only of course! Sure, they are not the best kinds of routers, but your granny will buy the one that the guy in Dixons or Walmart offers, not the one that got 5 stars in last month's Linux User Monthly.

        * Digital Camera

        Generally you can get these to work under Linux, but the CD-ROM full of goodies is basically just a coaster. Which is sad when some cameras come with loads of interesting and useful extras.

        * Digital Video Camera

        Yes and no. Again, you may be able to get the videos off and play them, but the supplied video editing software and the tool that automatically uploads your stuff to YouTube won't work!

        * MP3 player

        Chances are, most average users want an iPod. And iTunes. Oops! You may not rate these, but there is a reason Apple have stacks of money!

        * Smartphone

        My smartphone only came with Windows software. I know of several others that are tied to Windows and/or OSX.

        "Which means hand editing config files. Or changing boot parameters so that you get something other than a black screen etc. I would like to say that once fixed in linux it stayed fixed, but this is not the case anymore. The EEPC901 wifi driver needs to be recompiled from source with every new kernel for instance"

        Ah - now that sounds like the sort of stuff I end up having to do to get peoples machines running Linux - and trying to talk the mother-in-law through that over the phone when something goes wrong is not exactly fun!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re Peripherals

      @ GettinSadda

      I am not sure this is a good example.

      Any linux distro in the last two or three years will do all of that list without any effort at all (except, possibly the printer, oddly).

      However, try it with a Windows machine. Each one is likely to need disks installing, reboots and configurations - not to mention significant online activity to download the latest updates, iTunes or whatever RAW file converter is needed for the digital camera.

      Setting up a router in Linux is significantly easier than in windows and you get some good out of the box stuff for cameras like remote control functionality which needs some serious effort to get on Windows.

      The free software that comes with a peripheral isnt something the buyer paid for.

    3. kirovs

      Included software?

      Anyone uses the crap HP and others put in the box? For real?

    4. Anonymous Coward

      I see no Linux problem here

      All of these are trivial:

      * A printer

      * A scanner

      * A DSL modem or router

      * A digital camera

      * A digital video camera

      * An MP3 player

      * A smartphone

      A couple are worth mentioning though.

      Printer: A friend of mine connected his shiny new printer to his shiny new Fedora 14 installation and before he could fire up a browser to see if there was any chance it would work, Fedora popped up a little dialog box to tell him the printer was working now. Even among the Linux literati there's a perception that printing is hard. 90% of the time, at least, it's not hard.

      DSL modem or router: Anyone who buys a DSL modem should be doing so to connect it to their firewall/router, not to their computer, regardless of operating system. Any router/firewall worth the money is OS agnostic (and I have yet to find a home router that does not run Linux).

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The big question, for me at least

    Is "when I am next going to buy a computer, will I be able to do *everything* I currently do in Windows on a linux box, without having to run Windows in a VM?"

    And the answer is no. OK to be fair the answer is more like "nearly everything" but the result is still the same - As I can do everything I want in Windows and to move to linux would still involve me buying a Windows license to run in a VM / dual boot then why would I not just run Windows?

    Especially as I can guarantee the first time I have a problem with linux than forces me to ask a question on a linux forum I will be reminded of my n00b status and be politely given the suggestion that I go back to using Mickey $oft Windoze anyway.

    1. PrivateCitizen


      "As I can do everything I want in Windows and to move to linux would still involve me buying a Windows license to run in a VM / dual boot then why would I not just run Windows?"

      That is actually one of the more sensible decisions to make.

      If you are in the situation where everything you need & want to do can be done in one OS rather than another, its crazy to make the change.

      In the exact same way, if you can do everything you want to do in Linux (and for free) then why run Windows?

      Sadly, I dont think many people really properly assess the two situations - and where they do, some probably quietly ignore the fact that a lot of their Windows software is pirated....

      Yes, if you are used to Photoshop, learning Gimp can be quite hard but how many home users have coughed up the full asking price for Photoshop CS5? Despite this, almost everyone I know with a DSLR knows how to use Photoshop.... I suspect that the historical prevalence of pirated versions of Office, Photoshop etc have gone a long way to making it hard for people to move to other packages.

      1. A J Stiles

        Too bloody right, mate

        "I suspect that the historical prevalence of pirated versions of Office, Photoshop etc have gone a long way to making it hard for people to move to other packages."

        <-- for you.

        An army of Freds in their Sheds already trained on pirated software is an unbeatable marketing tool for selling software to businesses you can make sure pay for it. Adobe would rather you used pirated Photoshop than legitimate Gimp; because if you go for a job retouching photos, they can sell another Photoshop licence aot you showing the company why they don't need to pay for Photoshop.

        Nobody ever has to make a single pirate copy of a £50 office suite for it to fail in the market due to piracy, because it's competing against pirate copies of MS Office. Amazingly, nobody in power seems to have twigged to this.

  18. Clive Harris

    Linux penetration in the office

    Perhaps my like of work is not typical (electronic design), but the Linux penetration where I currently work is around 20%-25%. At my last job I would estimate it around 10% to 15%.

    Linux usage seems to be concentrated mostly amongst the software people, probably because a lot of the hardware design tools are still difficult or expensive to run in anything except windows. For example, the cheapest Linux version of Modelsim (an FPGA design tool) is about three times the price of the cheapest Windows version (but about 10 times faster). There doesn't seem to be a Linux version of Altium yet (a circuit design tool that I use a lot). This is a pity, because Altium tends to be quite brutal in the way it treats the computer, crashing several times a day when driven hard, and usually bringing Windows down with it. I think it would run much better under a decent "industrial-strength" OS like Linux. I'm currently trying to persuade my boss to let me try it in a Virtual Machine under Ubuntu, so only the VM goes down and I don't waste half the morning trying to recover the lost work from the latest crash.

    1. vincent himpe


      Altium 10, Win7 Pro, 32 bit , 4G, i750. Never seen it bomb out. Ditto for Summer 09.

      But.... here is the kicker : My machine is NOT touched by corp IT hands. I am off the grid with the machine and the sole user. And DEFINATELY NO corporate IT 'help' tools: no Landesk , Sygate or other memory and resource hogs, i don't even have a printer driver installed : i export to pdf and drop that one using a browser to a networked printer that sits inside my sandbox (we have a sandbox lan where only engineering machines from my group live : oscilloscopes , lab computers for measurements, It bridges email and web access but we are not visible outside this network, meaning corp users don;t see us and we don't see them. I regularly do large 10 - 16 layers , diff routing with ton's of rules. Each group has it's own sandbox. Just a matter of having a bunch of intelligent network switches that can create vlan's.

  19. Matt 33

    You want a tiltle?! You can't handle a title

    Repeat after me: until there is a credible alternative to Outlook, or rather Exchange, for email/calendar/managed mailboxes on Linux then businesses simply will not switch. And don’t tell me email clients such as Thunderbird with the calendar plugin are an alternative because they’re not.

    1. captain veg Silver badge


      You're right. Nothing available on Linux is quite so excruciatingly, hair-tearingly god-awful as Outlook or Exchange. That would take an industrial-sized effort well beyond the FLOSS community.


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Beg to differ

      Sorry but I'll disagree with you on Thunderbird.

      At a previous workplace I moved from an Outlook client to Thunderbird, still using Exchange servers via IMAP.

      All Outlook features worked 'out of the box' including calendar invites to and from thunderbird and thunderbird was faster at searching through an outlook server's emails than the outlook client itself.

      On the server side of things it's my opinion that it's better to leave the windows people deal with exchange rather than trying to find an alternative. Not that there aren't exchange compatible alternatives, there are, but implementing something like that company wide means supporting it. No one likes doing exchange support, with good reason..

    3. blondie101

      outlook & exchange

      so '90... nowadays email is a commodity that you order in the cloud. Especially if you want to hire some young folks.

    4. kirovs


      There are few things I despise as much as Outlook. It is slow, counter intuitive, tries to do everything, but fails at many things.


      1. Corruptions: 3 so far this year (don't tell me there is a new version or I do something wrong, there is always an excuse).

      2. No functional recurring meetings (warned not to used them, bad things happen)


      4. Meetings getting lost...

      5. Creating distribution lists sucks and lists are getting corrupted.

      6. Filters compared to Thunderbird suck big time.

      Should I go on?

    5. Martin Maloney

      You can't handle a credible alternative [chortle]

      Evolution is a clone of Outlook. Yes, full Outlook, not just Outlook Express. In addition to Email, you have Contacts, Calendars, Tasks and Memos. And it's free, of course.

      Moreover, backup and restore are a simple click-browse-click operation.

  20. digital_age

    Of 3 minds

    I've used Mac, Linux, and Windows and I think Windows is by far the worst OS. There are some things that I've missed with XP but Microsoft have been lazy in developing anything new.

    I feel that Linux and Mac would probably be best for office use as they run a lot quicker and seem to be more stable. However most office croonies aren't so tech savvy and they don't really seem to care to learn to use a new OS despite it having several advantages over others.

    Mac's uptake in the recent years should serve as an inspiration for Linux, as it seems to show that ppl aren't so attached to Windows anymore. I'm not particularly a fanboi of sorts, but I'd like some healthy competition to help push the OS vendors (ie Microsoft) to produce some better products. The future is looking better tho.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Linux version three times the price of Windows version (but 10 times faster).

    "the cheapest Linux version of Modelsim (an FPGA design tool) is about three times the price of the cheapest Windows version (but about 10 times faster). "

    Good for Modelsim? They've spotted that the numerate and logical engineering-oriented folks who make a conscious decision to use Linux rather than going with the usual IT sheeple are fully aware of the difference between productive, good value for money investments (e.g. fast tools on stable OS) on one hand, and on the other hand (allegedly) cheap (what most of the other poor souls outside Engineering have to put up with courtesy of the Clueless Ones in IT).

    1. Clive Harris


      The interesting thing is that demo copies of the cheap windows version of Modelsim (Modelsim PE) and, (so I'm told) cracked versions, work perfectly on Linux using Wine or Codeweavers. It actually runs a lot faster than under windows. Apparently the only part which doesn't work is the licence manager.

      This probably explains their unwillingness to release an official Linux version. It would run almost as fast as the Windows version of their very expensive flagship product Modelsim SE, thereby undercutting its market.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    "credible alternative to Exchange, for email/calendar/managed mailboxes"

    I understand exactly why you say this, having been there myself, but on the other hand the number of places where I have seen Exchange set up to make effective use of this can be counted on the thumbs of one hand (and that company was a serious MS partner).

    So whilst it may be a problem at a few places, there are a vast number of places where the Linux solution is no worse than what's in use today.

  23. Reality Dysfunction

    give me steam/games and adobe and im sold..

    Give me steam/games and adobe CS and im sold on linux desktop, people don't just use computers to browse the intertubes and fondle their mp3's no matter what the Ipad would like you to believe.

    How hard can it really be .... and no I don't want to bugger around with VM's or dual boot or Wine as that defeats the whole purpose.

    Without being able to get some real photo/web work done in those premier apps and blow off some steam on my favourite games in the same OS why would I bother with linux. Im still running some old win98 compatible games under win7 64 bit but I cant run pretty much every new game of the last 3 years on linux.

    Get the apps compatible or its always going to be a FAIL for the home user, and if it fails at home then there will always be more resistance at work.

    1. M Gale

      Steam is currently being ported to Linux.

      ...though god knows why I'd want it.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      @Reality Dysfunction

      So. Complain to Adobe and Steam, not to the Linux community.

      But I'm not sure whether many people would actually be comfortable paying for a full CS5 license to put on a free Linux system. I would be worried that casual readers would assume that "On_Linux" == "Free", which is really not the case.

      Unfortunately, we are in a chicken-and-egg situation. Adobe and other commercial software writers will not put their applications on Linux (particularly a single distribution) until there are enough people willing to buy it to make the port and their support infrastructure economically viable. Conversely, people will not consider Linux until there are sufficient applications that they need. And so it goes on.

      My hope was that something like Ubuntu (and I'm especially using this as an example rather than RHEL and SEL because of the procurement costs involved in wrapping up the availability of the distro. with a support contract, partially nullifying the Free aspect), would manage to reach a critical mass that would encourage the applications to be ported. Sadly, this is not happening, in my view, partly because of FUD, but also partly because Ubuntu appears to have taken a sharp turn (Unity et. al.) which has destabilized even the hard-line advocates.

      Looking at the alternatives, the other Debian and Ubuntu spin-offs do not have a large enough organization backing them, SELs future is a little uncertain due to the transfer of ownership of Novell, Fedora is not a suitable OS for commercial organizations without a lot of support effort because of the speed of change, and is completely unsuitable for any non-technical home users for the same reason, RHEL costs money, and Centos is probably too enterprise oriented for home users.

  24. Sander van der Wal
    Jobs Halo

    Fix the backup problem for users...

    ... just like TIme Machine on Mac.

    1) Buy a big terabyte USB drive

    2) Plug it into your Mac

    3) Start Time Machine and tell it to start making backups

    4) Done

    So easy, and so idiotic nobody else is doing it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You'd need to be replicating the time machine drive and keep it away from your machine (preferably off-site) to call it a backup.

  25. doperative

    Linux Desktop usability Test

    @Peripherals: Take two computer-literate-enough-to-do-email-and-a-word-doc average people .. sit each at their computer and without any help from you other that verbal advice, see which one can get all of the peripherals fully working ..

    Sounds like a test elREG could organize, how about it.

    1. M Gale

      Now that's an idea.

      See title.

      Only for a fair comparison, if the Linux distro is something awful and techie like Slackware or embedded-linux-for-routers, then the Microsoft option has to be MS DOS.

      Ubuntu vs Win7 vs OS X perhaps? All running on certified hardware to remove any issues over "oh but you were using dongle Foo when dongle Bar is so much easier to set up.."

      How many dear old aunties with the requisite lack of computer knowledge are there amongst Team Reg's relatives? And what tests would this hypothetical gauntlet to be ran contain?

  26. diego
    Gates Halo

    Driver, Peripheral support

    I think Linux is the best environment for working (I'm an embedded software developer), however I use windows at home, after using Ubuntu for three years. The reason I'm doing this is I bought an HP laptop, and use it connected with a dockstation, connected to a monitor, and use it as a DVD player connected via HDMI to an LCD TV. Not really a complicated setup.

    Without turning the computer off, I can connect and disconnect from any TV/monitor and Windows will work just fine, remembering all settings I did before for all the outputs. Playing DVDs is easy with Media Center.

    With Linux, getting the computer to do Dual-monitors is a pain, and disconnecting the monitor and plugging the TV screws it all up. I'm not saying that it's Linux/Ubuntu's fault, but until they work closely to ATi/NVIDIA and do some serious work, using it is a no-go for me, as I'm not up to edit conf files every time I want to play a DVD. Not to mention all the hassle with codecs/dvd playback encryption libraries, etc. So yes, Windows just works at many tasks, for whatever reason, and frankly when I'm at home that's all I want because I don't have the time to lookup in forums on how to do all these things. I'm really happy hacking all day long in a shell at work, but at home I just want to sit back and relax.

    1. Aaron Em

      Doesn't matter who's to blame

      Don't make excuses for the Linux kids; they're the ones with the attitude that Linux can never fail but can only be failed, they're the ones who have to put in the effort of explaining to me why it's my fault and not theirs that, out of five trials on five different laptops from three manufacturers, Linux has not yet been able to support all three of ACPI, audio, and a non-4:3-ratio screen -- even though bog-standard Windows 2000, without even any service packs, can handle all three of these features just fine.

      1. diego
        Thumb Up


        That was precisely my point. I really don't care who's to blame. That's how normal users (and I include myself in that group in my home use of computers) feel about their OSs.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


          You're aiming your criticisms at the wrong people. Don't blame the Linux community for not fixing the deficiencies of the hardware manufacturers and system integrators.

          I know it is changing, but up until recently, in order to get dual head support for a graphics adaptor in Windows, you relied on the adaptor manufacturer to provide a Windows driver CD. If you were lucky or had an integrated graphics adaptor in a laptop, then the system integrator would get it working in their pre-installed image.

          It all works out of the box. But consider this. Try taking the same laptop, and installing Windows from scratch. I can guarantee that it will not be so easy now, and in my experience, can actually be *MUCH* more difficult.

          Now I know that this does not fix the issues with Linux (all of which can probably be done, I've got dual-head support working in Linux in the past), but rather than pointing your finger at people who give their best effort support often in their spare time, pour your scorn out at the adaptor manufacturers and the people who supplied you with their hardware. Make it clear that you want a pre-installed Linux that works out of the box. Give them the same degree of vitriol that you put into forums such as these.

          Will it make any difference? Probably not, considering the fact the Microsoft can choose who to give their substantial discounts for Windows to, and have proved that they are prepared to financially disadvantage suppliers who ship systems with Linux installed. But at least try.

          And don't just blame Linux or it's user community.

          1. Vic

            Multiple heads

            > I've got dual-head support working in Linux in the past

            I once built a 5-headed machine for an ISP. It ran their graphing wall, giving a real-time indication of what was going on on their network.

            I stopped at 5 heads because I ran out of slots I could put graphics cards into...


    2. doperative

      Embedded software developer and Ubuntu

      > I think Linux is the best environment for working (I'm an embedded software developer), however I use windows at home, after using Ubuntu for three years .., diego

      If even an embedded software developer can't get Ubuntu to work, what hope is there for the rest of us ..

      "I'm really happy hacking all day long in a shell at work", diego .. ROFLMAO

      You know something diego, you really had be going there for a minute, I really though you were being serious. What design tools do you use at your company apart from a shell? Are they any GUI tools out there for embedded design IDEs and verification tools?

  27. Big Bear

    Finance apps

    the biggest problem for Linux is that the purchasing decisions are made by finance departments, and until there is an equivalent application as Excel, they won't be interested. I think this is even bigger than Word, and ranks up there with integrated email and calendars from Outlook in importance.

  28. Dave_K
    Gates Horns

    making linux easier...

    create more malware for windows ....

  29. Dexter

    Photo printing, scanning, iPods

    None of them work on Linux; that's why it's no good as a desktop for me.

    Printing normal stuff to my HP Officejet - no problem.

    Printing 6x4 photos? Nope. Works fine on WIndows. Works fine on Mac. Broken on Ubuntu.

    Scanning only scans at some terrible quality.

    Works fine on WIndows. Works fine on Mac. Broken on Ubuntu.

    Syncing your iPod - forget it. The encrypted ones can't work at all.

    The non-encrypted ones sometimes half work, and then occasionally trash your album artwork or make other random changes.

    Open Office is fine most of the time, but it still chokes on some Excel and Word documents, and it has bugs - formatting going crazy.

    So Linux is fine for web browsing, email and light document usage.

    But it's not fine for a lot of other things; I haven't even mentioned lack of device drivers for things like slide scanners (which tend to be Windows-only).

    1. kirovs

      You have never used Linux

      Or you are just a plain liar. I just scanned about 2000 old photos (negatives and positives) in a batch mode with excellent quality. Not to go even into the printing....

    2. Vic

      Your experience does not make something Absolute Truth...

      > Printing 6x4 photos? Nope. Works fine on WIndows

      Works fine on Fedora and Whitebox (the distros I usually use).

      I cannot determine why it did not work for you, but it's a commonplace activity in Linux.

      > Scanning only scans at some terrible quality.

      My scanner scans at the full resolution of the device. And it doesn't scan at all under Windows (which keeps telling me that the cable is broken).

      > Syncing your iPod - forget it

      gtkpod works fine with my missus' iPod. iTunes, however, keeps deleting videos that it hasn't put there itself. I've not tried other iPods or packages.

      > I haven't even mentioned lack of device drivers

      I've just done a Vista installation for a customer. The driver support OOTB is, frankly, shocking. Even once I'd started trawling various web sites for drivers[1], getting the hardware working was a painful experience.

      The same hardware was supported rather uneventfully by the Fedora 14 LiveCD I booted it with...


      [1] Sony's web site gave me a load of drivers for the particular Vaio I was sorting out. But Windows wouldn't install them.

  30. Dylan Fahey
    Paris Hilton

    Screw Debian and Ubuntu

    I've had several bug reports in on the Debian and Ubuntu. They are all over 3 to 5 years old, and never, NEVER been fixed or worked on.

    SCREW DEBIAN AND UBUNTU for the desktop.

    I've used linux since 1994 and I'm fed up with the morons that do bug fixes. When it comes to the desktop, the developers are all about the backend, not the front, WHERE THE USER lives.

    Then, when I ask for the status on the bugs after 2 years of NOTHING being done, they jump on me saying I was 'demanding'. Holy crap, 3 to 5 years, and you can't FIX SHIT. FUCK 'EM.

    For Paris: My bits get fixed, almost daily.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      You seem just a tad beffuddled

      I'm failing to find your name on any debian bug reports (although of course it's possible you reported the bug under another name, and we of course have some bugs that stay open for years for various reasons)

      On the other hand, I can find this demonstration of how vast an asset you could be for the US diplomatic corps:

      Is that the bug you think you reported against Debian and Ubuntu?

      You appear to be unaware that the University of Washington, Ubuntu and the Debian Project are completely independent entities, and don't necessarily inform one another of issues mentioned in forum posts.

      If you had this problem with Windows or OS X, having spewed abuse at some random forum for software that was nothing to do with either Microsoft or Apple, would you come here complaining about Microsoft and Apple support? (I'm guessing you probably would ;-)

      If you want to report bugs against Ubuntu:

      and for Debian: bugs.debian org

      but TBH if you plan of being as polite to us as you seem to have been to the folks over at Rosetta, Microsoft are welcome to you.

      move along

  31. Lars Silver badge

    The channel is occupied

    The channel is occupied, that is how is it. Apple would have reach nothing without its own channel, its Apple stores.

    The desktop has been occupied bye Microsoft for such a long time.

    Supercomputers, Datacenters, Web servers, embedded devices as cell phones are different.

    The buyer is different and if the buyer is a consumer she does not give a damn about the "OS".

    As the desktop king, MS will remain, weakened each year, though.

    Looking at all the hardware (running Linux) I have on my desktops, I feel most of it (including the noise) will go, and should go, and at that point MS will be just one contender, in a different world, if alive.

  32. Martin Usher

    Office is a Red Herring

    If you buy a new PC it will come with Office pre-installed but you will have to pay to unlock it. So the notion that people want home PCs "because they have Office on them" is bogus -- Office isn't cheap and for the small amount of writing and calculating that most people do Open Office works fine. (The 'freebie' that comes with Office to replace WordPad aren't very good at all.)

    I'd guess for day to day stuff most people are working in a browser. Once you're doing that it doesn't matter what platform you're working on (except that L. gets you more horsepower and security for a given platform).

    1. A J Stiles


      They will just get a pirate copy of MS Office, instead of using

  33. vincent himpe

    Opinions differ...

    People don''t 'USE' an os.. they use APPLICATIONS. And, until those applications are available for Operating system XYZ ng, they won't switch OS. What would be their incentive ? losing all the applications they are used to , having to learn a different app , different way of work and sadly, lacking some features of the Apps they used to work with.

    Personally i am in that category. I have work to do. I am using a small number of applications on a daily basis. (Illustrator, Altium designer, IAR, Quartus, Word, Excel, Opera)

    If i were to switch i would only be able to retain Opera. Inkscape is certainly no replacement for Illustrator, Openoffice can't open half of the documents people send me, and my recipients would have trouble with documents i produce. And apart from Quartus and Opera, the other software does not exist on linux.

    So, until all of these apps , or equivalents, are available on another os i have no incentive to switch since it breaks my productivity and interaction with my customers.

    My feeling is that Linux as a desktop OS only has a chance if the application developers that now develop 'windows only' develop 'cross-platform'. And as long as that does not happen desktop linux will remain a geek toy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You are correct that the applications are the key.

      However, I am curious if you have purchased fully licensed versions of those packages? If so you may well be in a minority of home users.

      Also, OpenOffice and LibreOffice will open pretty much any MS Word or Excel document (including 2010 versions) with almost no loss of functionality - unless you rely heavily on some of the theme bits. Has it been a while since you've used it?

      As previously mentioned, one of the things that ties people to Windows is the fact that so much of this software is available in pirated form. If every home user had to cough up for Office & Adobe CS its likely that a lot more would be using the open source versions and OpenOffice/LibreOffice on Windows is pretty much identical on Linux (etc).

      Interestingly, given the work you seem to do (based on the applications), I am surprised you dont use a Mac.

  34. Martin Maloney

    Name one thing that Windows can do...

    ...that Linux can't?

    Get infected.

  35. Rambler88

    But the desktop is dead, isn't it?

    Desktop Linux = Linux doing real work. Until recently, it looked like a possibility. But Ubuntu and Gnome have now made it their official positions that OSs will no longer be optimized for the desktop. Instead, functionality must be compromised so the same OS can run on handhelds. When you see entire corporations with people doing their work on handhelds, you will see Ubuntu and Gnome penetrating the office.

    For some other variety of Linux to do so on a large scale, to become a popular OS, they will now have to proclaim a total repudiation of the handheld as a primary device--and make a real and irrevocable commitment to that course, to assure a highly skeptical user community.

    Somebody once said, "It's the user, stupid." But nobody listened. Unix geeks love the idea of slab-fondlers as the users whose opinion counts, because it confirms their own fantasies of being the techno-elite. The notion that the users who make the difference in the computer market (as opposed to the entertainment device market) are users who do important tasks on their computers and can often run those computers for that purpose better than the IT department can (which, granted, isn't saying much)--that notion is totally unacceptable. But it still determines market share.

    That won't change no matter how much advertising Canonical buys in the Reg.

  36. MS Rocks
    Gates Halo

    Linux sucks balls

    Hah hah, look at how perky and optimistic the freetards are after reading this article. However, time to get back to reality guys.

    -Desktop Linux has a sub 2% market share, which if memory serves me correctly is actually decreasing.

    -Desktop Linux will never, ever, overtake Windows in the Western World (or certainly the Anglo Saxon world).

    -The only reason that Linux gets deployed is because some people cannot afford Windows. So yeah, a few people in the 3rd world will reluctantly use it but only because they are poor.

    -The comments under this thread once again explain why desktop Linux is an utter fail (oooooohhhhh, so I CAN connect to a printer after all, but only if I manage to find some obscure software with stupid name written by a spotty teenager. How fantastic!!)

    1. M Gale

      Nice posting history.

      And people accuse me of having a one-track mind.

      Question though.. if you are so confident of Microsoft's continued dominance, why do you feel the need to defend them so vociferously in practically every single post you have made so far?

    2. Martin Maloney

      @MSRocks -- what utter nonsense

      "-The only reason that Linux gets deployed is because some people cannot afford Windows..."

      A year ago, after getting hit with two drive-by infestations in the same week, I dumped XP and switched to Linux Mint 9 LTS x64. After setting AuroraMint as the theme and the desktop to solid blue, I got a machine that closely mimics Windows Classic. In other words, minimal learning curve.

      There are Web sites that list Linux equivalents of Windows apps, Search for "Definitive Linux Software Roundup" and you'll find lists and reviews of Linux software in various categories. You'll find high-end, professional-quality selections for CAD, 3D modeling and animation and music production, for examples. Finding and installing the programs is mouse-click easy.

      What fans of Windows (and OSX) don't understand is that is that people choose Linux voluntarily, as a preference. Core apps are bundled; install Linux and go right to work. It boots, runs and shuts down fast. No BSODs.

      People don't understand that it is Windows, not Linux, that is "geeky." To keep Windows running right, from time to time, you have to clean the registry. Ask a Windows user if he's cleaned the registry recently, and you'll draw a blank. To keep Windows running right, from time to time, you have to defrag the hard drive, something else that doesn't apply to Linux. Windows performance deteriorates over time; Linux doesn't have that problem.

      I'm not trying to sell people on using Linux; I don't care. What I'm getting at is that I'm tired of Linux bashing. Linux is an intelligent, sane and rational choice.

      And please lose the "freetard" attitude. The fact that Linux and most Linux apps are free is only one consideration.

    3. Vic

      @MS Rocks...

      > Desktop Linux has a sub 2% market share

      That's not what Steve Ballmer said. Of course, he might just be lying.

      > Desktop Linux will never, ever, overtake Windows in the Western World

      Ah. Hard Facts(tm). Reference?

      > The only reason that Linux gets deployed is because some people cannot afford Windows

      Nonsense. I install Linux for customers who could very easily afford Windows. They choose Linux because it does things for them that Windows does not.

      > only if I manage to find some obscure software

      You've clearly never seen a modern G/L distribution. You don't need to find obscure software for everyday tasks. A modern distribution just goes in and works.

      Compare that to the Vista installation I had to do this morning, which failed to see a significant proportion of the devices on the machine until I'd found and downloaded a goodly number of drivers. I'd have been completely stuffed if my Fedora LiveCD didn't support all[1] the hardware straight out of the box and give me Internet access so I could trawl Google for said drivers...


      [1] I didn't actually check the card reader - and IIRC, the TI chipset it uses requires a binary blob which is not available for Free Software. But I could be wrong in that. And I didn't need it anyway.

  37. MS Rocks
    Gates Halo

    @ M Gale

    Because I like Microsoft and I get sick of the freetards trying to delude themselves that the world is going to move to Linux on the desktop.

    Microsoft has a number of challenges. You will not see me trying to argue Windows is a superior operating system for tablets, or that they did not miss the boat somewhat with a decent phone operating system.

    But, the fact remains, Linux on the desktop sucks. I laugh at all the posts that try to say otherwise.

    And as for viruses and BSOD……. I have been using Windows on a daily for 15 years. In that time, I have had one virus (back in 2004/5). It was one of those phone dialer viruses where your modem tries to call a premium rate number. If you use AV software (which MS provide for free) and are not just plain stupid, you will not get viruses.

    And as for BSOD? I have not had a BSOD since Win XP shipped. Maybe once a year my system locks and I have to shut down and restart. But that is generally because of some badly written package that I am running. Of course, the difference between Windows and Linux is that no one would have bothered to write the package on Linux in the first place.

    Desktop Linux is a fail. The thing that will (possibly) kill MS will be the move to different device form factors, the cloud and/or mobile devices. In other words, the market evolving. Trying to re-fight the Windows desktop battle twenty years after it was won is never going to be a good use of time.

    1. M Gale

      You should really post as AC.

      "Microsoft has a number of challenges. You will not see me trying to argue Windows is a superior operating system for tablets, or that they did not miss the boat somewhat with a decent phone operating system."

      "a friend of mine was given 7 solid gold androaid phones by google. After 3 days of using them, he became depressed and developed an alchohol habit. And all his friends laughed at him for owning crappy android phones. So he threw them in the river and bought a WinPhone 7 for $100,000. He now has lots more friends and is married to a supermodel. So there."

      "The 2nd photo, page 1. I got that far before giving up. The OS looks like a childs toy. It is horrible, disgusting. Why do freetards deem this kind of rubbish to be acceptable? If you want a decent UX buy MS or Apple. Ignore this Google rubbish. It will die soon."

      "Why would anyone buy this......

      .......when Windows Phone 7 is just around the corner?"

      "You say MS completely missed new markets like mobile phones. Well, I was running around with a windows mobile device that had email/a browser in 2005, well before iPhone or Android were even rumored. Admittedly, MS got complacent and too their eyes off the ball, but they, along with RIM and Symbian, were one of the early innovators in the market."

      I'll ask again, why do you feel the need to so vociferously defend Microsoft in.. well, not practically every. LITERALLY every post you have made so far? Do you really think they are in so much trouble that they require you to come to their rescue?

    2. Anonymous Coward


      "And as for BSOD? I have not had a BSOD since Win XP shipped."

      Then you cant be using your windows box for much. I work in a large multinational which still deploys XP (urg) and, on average there is 1 BSOD per 300 users per day (during the working week).

      These are the ones that are reported so I have no idea how many are just rebooted.

      BTW - you used the wrong icon on your posts, I have corrected it here.

  38. Martin Maloney

    Were it not for Linux... source religion might never have evolved:

    It's perfect for us freetards -- no tithes that bind.

  39. The Flying Dutchman

    Slowly, a desktop at a time...

    ... the message appears to be getting through tho'.

    I just "claimed" two "conversions" last month.

    One, a musician whose kit (be it computers or guitar amps) I regularly fix, had me put Meerkat on a dual boot with XP when time came to rebuild his 4-year old laptop. Two weeks in, I inquired and he replied, literally : "Windows? Why bother?"

    The other, a friend who had a spare machine for guests to use. The machine is a fairly modest PIII with a mere 256M of memory. The people who will be using it are a rather international lot. Ubuntu having the ability to change user interface language on the fly and being much less of a pain in the ass security-wise, a significant improvement over the machine's native WinXP. I settled on 10.04 LTS, but changed to the Xfce desktop since Gnome does not run well with less than 512M of memory. My friend was somewhat sceptical about Linux in general but after having taken the machine for a spin she was absolutely delighted, and I expect further requests for Ubuntu installations will be coming my way pretty soon ;-)

    1. MS Rocks
      Gates Halo

      @ The Flying Dutchman

      Well done. You must be feeling very proud of yourself. However, unfortunately, MS will have sold hundreds of thousands/millions of new windows machines this weekend. So I doubt they are losing any sleep over your paltry efforts. And your 'converts' will almost certainly return to the fold in a couple of months.

      1. The Flying Dutchman

        converts "returning to the fold"

        I wouldn't put my money on that.

        Both machines are legacy hardware and came with XPHome originally. Which is pretty hard to keep secure these days. Botnets exist for a reason. The required AV software causes a huge performance hit, too (and is by no means a silver bullet).

        Maybe, if my "converts" could afford brand spanking new machines with a Win7 Ultimate license... but I doubt this will happen in the foreseeable fututre. And certainly not "within a few months".

  40. westlake

    Windows 101

    The geek can't let go the fantasy of the "Microsoft Tax."

    The OEM Windows PC - and the PC eco-system - benefits from economies of scale. stocks 292 Windows laptops, starting at $218, 156 desktops, 121 printers, 89 webcams, an improbable 921 flavors of the Windows keyboard, mouse and joystick and about 1,000 software products for the Windows PC.

    Including, of course, hundreds of PC games.

    The moral here being that the product which delivers strong after-market sales gets promotion and shelf space.

    The geek will waste still more of his time quoting list for the priciest edition of MS Office retail boxed.

    MS Offiice Home 2010 with a three-seat license is $110-$125.

    Academic Office Professional $80 at with student ID. If your employer is part of Microsoft's Home Use Program, the Office Professional Plus download is $10.

    The real cost for the home user in office productivity software, photo editing, ec., lies elsewhere. In the price of a lens.

    In consumables like inks and paper.

    --- and while your Linux repository may list 25,000 FOSS apps, it is of no help when the only apps the newcomer will recognizes and is likely to give a damn about have long since been ported to Windows or began as a Windows app.

    The first impression of the apt-get store is likely to be "Too little, too late."

    The US is in a sense a purely commercial enterprise. Free as in beer counts for little. Ideological purity or political correctness doesn't count for much.

    More often it comes as an intrusion.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Licencing Policies

      Interesting that you show how cheap Office can be - and it is true - although there is an implication that at least some licence rules are going to be broken.

      The cheapest licence relies on your employer subsidising some of the costs and even then its a $10 download.

      Set against that is LibreOffice, with word, excel, powerpoint and access equivalents for $0.

      Better still, if your circumstances change and you need to use it for work purposes, the licence is still valid.

      When it comes to photography, you make a good point. A good lens is indeed more expensive than Photoshop CS5. But you are saying the person should buy both rather than the lens.

      Free is cheaper than cheap. Spending less money on software means you have more money to spend elsewhere.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    Very simple reason why Linux Desktop is not ready yet

    I started using Ubuntu at 7.10 liked it a lot, went to 8.04, and then 8.10.

    Now my dual-boot PC (to XP) uses a wireless mouse & keyboard. This is important because I have long learned when using Linux, that any attempt to suggest a fault will result in the fanbois telling me it *must* be the hardware. Dual-boot means I can easily test that theory with Windows.

    So, after 8.10 I noticed an incredibly annoying bug. Every so often, the mouse-click would stop working. The only fix seemed to be to restart GDM, with the associated loss of session. It was possible to use the keyboard to navigate, but that is hardly a novice skill.

    That bug was still there, with 10.10. I notice odd references to it on launchpad, but no fix. After I posted my findings and suggestions on UbuntuForums, a few other people had noticed the same thing. We seem to have it narrowed down to a wireless USB mouse issue. The mouse click doesn't actually stop working - it's like a hidden window steals the focus, and you can't get it back.

    I've given up on Ubuntu for now - I run it headless as a server, so the mouse problem doesn't affect me, but for my desktop - no.

    True, I *could* change my mouse. But since it works fine with XP, which the Mrs uses, why should I ?

    So, bug *appeared* in 8.10, and was still in 10.10 - and checking my threads on UbuntuForums, it seems it's still in 11.04 - which hints at a very deep-seated hardware driver issue, as they've dumped GDM (which I told them wasn't the problem, as it still did it under KDE). 30 months, with a bug which makes the system unusable for a certain class (Labtec) of wireless mouse users. Not even in their most slack and useless mode, would M$ have let that run for so long.

    1. kirovs

      Legit issues

      This is one of the many legit issues with Linux. The problem is that if one of the gurus/devs are not affected there is a chance there will not be a bug fix. To be honest this is the reason I am going to Linux specific vendors (zareason system76) or check support/use for hardware before I buy.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        And to add insult to injury ...

        the *nix fanbois howl at *me* for daring to think such a bug is serious. "Get a new mouse" was a common cry, along with the "fix it yourself".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Mouse problems

          I know what you mean, it is annoying to have a hardware problem.

          About three months ago I bought a new wireless mouse and keyboard to work with my Vista PC but every few days, both suddenly stop working for no apparent reason. Also, almost at random they generate spurious keystrokes. I can live with that most of the time but its a nightmare in password fields.

          Interesting, about six weeks ago I tried out Ubuntu (10.4, not a recent one) - also as a dual boot - and I have never had a problem with either the keyboard or mouse in Linux ever since. I still get the problem in Vista.

          Now, what do you think I should do? Get rid of Vista or buy a new keyboard & mouse?

      2. Hayden Clark Silver badge

        "It works in My Dorm-Room"

        .. is essentially the usual response to a bug or problem you may have if your setup doesn't match the norm.

        Here's a good one:

        Set up an Ubuntu machine, with 2 or more LAN adaptors.

        Unplug one of the LAN cords.

        Now try to ping the machine via the other interface. Often it won't work. There is a fix for it (look for "source-based routing") but out of the box I can plug and unplug LAN cables on any old Windows box, and the remaining interfaces will work as expected.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Vic


          > Set up an Ubuntu machine, with 2 or more LAN adaptors

          Well, I don't actually use Ubuntu, but setting up multi-homed machines like that is a fairly standard operation for me.

          > Unplug one of the LAN cords


          > Now try to ping the machine via the other interface.


          > Often it won't work.

          That depends on how you've set it up.

          If you have not defined a route to the disconnected interface from the connected one, then the correct operation is not to route those packets - it is a significant failure to create routes spontaneously.

          If routing between the interfaces is desired, it is a trivial matter to turn it on.

          > (look for "source-based routing")

          Source-based routing would be the wrong way to do things in that situation. You're trying to achieve things based on the destination; switching behaviour according to the source would likely be a mistake.

          > I can plug and unplug LAN cables on any old Windows box, and the

          > remaining interfaces will work as expected.

          If you're doing what I think you're doing - expecting a disconnected interface to be pingable through an entirely different interface - then that is very much something I would consider very broken indeed. If Windows does that, then it is faulty.

          That Linux does something different from a broken implementation is a Good Thing(tm).


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