I rant. I usually rant about that other OS messing up or GNU/Linux making great strides. Today I am going to do a counter-rant. Batsov has a rant up about how miserable GNU/Linux on the desktop has made him so he is “going back” to that other OS after 8 years. He gives a litany of failings of GNU/Linux to justify his actions.
Needless to say, I find a wholesale defect in his reasoning. His underlying assumption is that his experience is somehow representative of the “desktop experience” with GNU/Linux and it is not. He is a self-proclaimed geek, trying cutting-edge stuff and installing multiple operating systems. Normal users, the vast majority of users of PCs, are not going to do any of that. They will buy a COTS (Consumer Off The Shelf) unit and run it with the software that came on it. They will not buy extra fancy stuff with GPUs that shift loads from manufacturers that do not supply working drivers for Linux and expect an installation of a random distro to work. They will not install that other OS on anything either.
After recounting his current problem with a driver he goes on to list many problems he has endured in the past. Like OpenOffice.org being a lousy office suite when 100million users find it quite satisfactory. Like finding problems with Ethernet drivers when Ethernet has always been better supported by Linux than that other OS. I remember a time when XP would not work on the secretary’s computer because the installation knew nothing about rev C of some Ethernet card but Linux had no problems. XP has been around for ages and anyone with the original installation medium is SOL when it comes to recent drivers. Sure wireless was problematic for a while but I have not seen any devices lately that did not work. These petty problems have nothing to do with GNU/Linux on the desktop and everything to do with people outside of Linux or GNU/Linux or particular distros not doing their jobs or not having finished the job yet. OEMs around the world are cranking out perfectly usable installations of GNU/Linux on COTS hardware. More than 100 million ordinary folks are using GNU/Linux on the desktop and a similar number are using Android/Linux on smart phones and tablets.
It’s akin to an alcoholic drinking because he has a headache. The problem will not be solved by going to that other OS. It has more problems than Linux with drivers. It has more problems than Linux with malware. It has more re-re-reboots and zero-day threats. It has higher costs forever. It is slower. I would think a true geek would appreciate these things and come to a decision to carry on with GNU/Linux. There are few problems with a properly installed distro and, in my experience, there is almost always a way to do the installation. Last year, I was having problems installing Debian Squeeze on existing hardware but all those problems were fixed by the time Squeeze was released. I was using it before it was released and had only one driver problem on 4 different machines from 1 to 8 years old…
No. This FUD doesn’t wash. GNU/Linux is quite a reasonable OS for ordinary users. I have introduced thousands of all ages to GNU/Linux and few of them had any such problems with GNU/Linux. They use PCs. They don’t try to destructively test an OS. Even grandmothers and little kids can use GNU/Linux.
see Linux Desktop Experience Killing Linux on the Desktop if you want to see a logical train-wreck of an essay.
see this video from 2005. GNU/Linux on the desktop has been a fun-filled experience for a decade.
UPDATE Gene has another take on Batsov’s article. He writes that if Batsov were a true fan of GNU/Linux, Batsov would switch distros or move back from the bleeding edge if he wanted reliable software. That’s true. He also writes that 20XX is the “Century of the Linux Desktop”. I like that.