The Linux Desktop: We've Arrived.

Linux Desktop articles are all over the place. I can hardly open up a browser without tripping over one. Most of them are negative whine-fests, complaining that Linux is too hard for new users, or has become too dumbed-down for technical users, or the fonts are ugly, or the next generation desktop environments are too different, or... well I could go on, but I think you get the point. So today, I feel like whining about the whiners.  Give em' some of their own medicine, and bring something a bit different to the table: A positive viewpoint on the state of the Linux Desktop. Don't look so shocked, just keep reading.

We have what we need folks! The Linux Desktop has arrived. The solid foundation of GNU's tools and the Linux kernel; topped with many desktop environment choices and all the wonderful Linux desktop applications has got us there. Due to the hard work of the entire Linux developer community there is now a viable, open, free, full desktop computing alternative for those who seek it out. There are user friendly distributions out there for non-techies, and highly technical ones for those who prefer to build a custom desktop experience. Available in your favorite distribution's repositories are three modern and beautiful desktop environments to choose from. Ubuntu's Unity is becoming more polished and user friendly. KDE is mature and highly configurable. And Gnome 3 takes the minimal, "get out of my way so I can get stuff done" desktop philosophy to new heights.  For those that prefer more classic desktop experiences there is the fast, stable, fully featured xfce4; and the super-fast lxde desktop. For the nerdiest of the nerds there are multitudes of fully configurable window managers out there; from tiling powerhouses like Xmonad, to flexible floating window managers like Openbox. Linux users have never had more choice and quality available for their desktops. 

Desktop applications on Linux have also matured greatly in past few years. No matter what your task is, Linux truly has an application for it. In many cases I find that I can get what I need to do done faster on Linux than the other two popular desktop platforms. For text editing, scripting, light programming, and writing I use Geany; my favorite text editor. For music management I use Quodlibet. For editing and sending documents to those other two platforms, Libreoffice does the trick. The latest versions of Thunderbird and Firefox handle email and browsing duties flawlessly. And for the curious, I use two different laptops, my work lappy runs Arch Linux and Gnome 3, and my personal lappy runs Arch and Xmonad. 

Is the desktop experience on Linux perfect? I reply to this question with a question, Perfect for whom? Apple's OSX is perfect for folks who can conform to that restricted environment.  Windows 7 can be perfect for some folks, that is until their computer falls prey to malware or a virus. The flexibility, configurability, and numerous distributions and desktop environments on Linux give you the greatest chance to find or create the perfect desktop for you. Some call it fragmentation, but I call it choice.  As a multi-community driven open-platform, Linux is a different beast than the closed platforms offered by Apple and Microsoft. Different in the best ways possible: user focused, community contributions encouraged and essential, and the only price of admission is a bit your time. So why all the whining about the state of the Linux desktop? I'm smitten with what our community has achieved, and I'm ecstatic about the future. 


Kevin Bush is a Linux systems admin, dad and book-lover who spends far too
much time tinkering with gadgetry.


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famicube64's picture

I see you've taken the liberty of keeping all of Linux's flaws in the shadows. There's no use even pointing them out, since anyone who complains about Linux is a troll in every regard.

How can anyone argue your point?

BobSongs's picture

It's ambiguous at best. Linux's flaws? Do you mean "flaws" as in "Linux doesn't measure up to a particular release of Windows"-kind-of-flaw?

Are you referring to a lack of Linux drivers (as if hardware companies really felt free to release them under Microsoft's scrutiny)?

Or is it really just an itch to stir up a tired old flame war?

I think we've had enough to last a lifetime. I've read them before: Windows users extolling the virtues of their system while denouncing Linux for not being the perfect Windows clone. The war is old and tired. Forgive us if we don't take the bait.

When it comes to flaws, you gonna talk about Windows boxes that won't start because of some infection? Will you discuss a damaged registry? You gonna mention the countless number of "Joe Sixpacks" who threw out perfectly good PCs because Windows slowed down -- not realizing their hardware wasn't the issue?

You missed the article's point. The Linux community has a system that is "Desktop Ready". We Linux users have had to endure reading countless articles asking "Is Linux Ready For The Desktop?" knowing these articles would end badly.

Windows is considered "Destkop Ready". Does it have flaws? Is it susceptible to attacks? And are you proudly boasting about these flaws?

Trust me: your post makes me facepalm.

I think every OS has some

Anonymous's picture

I think every OS has some potential mishaps or difficulties within, including but not limited to Linux(some distros more than others).Personally, I love Linux and the stability, security, and efficiency that it has to offer but I don't think I'm ready just yet to make it my primary and only OS for everyday use. Of coarse that's simply a matter of subjectivity, as my computing needs will differ greatly from John Doe's and Doe's differ greatly from Smith's. In the end it's a matter of choice and the convenience that one sees fit. I often find it amusing when OS X users are flaming the heck out of Windows users while Linux users are readying their gloves for the victor. With each OS comes a different approach in build, quality, need, as well as philosophy, in the end, it's a matter of choice, something that the Linux community is most definitely familiar with.

This article is not

Jeshua's picture

This article is not discussing why Linux is perfect, but where it's good points are. The author us merely avoiding being schizophrenic by not saying "Linux is good because it has flaws here, here and here."
No one is saying Linux is flawless, and it is even stated in the introduction that this article just wants to offer an alternative, optimistic viewpoint since everyone else is saying that Linux is hopeless.
For that matter, at least these naysayers point out these flaws specifically. Developers and maintainers can end up being so caught up in work that they miss the point sometimes, and that's why open source is great. Someone out there will agree that someone needs to do something about it, and something will eventually be done. If all you can do is to come up with this revolutionary observation that Linux has flaws, well, I'm not sure if you are a big picture kind of person, trolling, or just very stupid.

Linux is DIY

Kevin Bush's picture

Folks who just complain about Linux in blog posts or comments, without making any effort to file bug reports or contribute to fixing problems are exactly that... trolls. Linux is created, maintained, and evolved by a community, or more precisely, mutlple communities. When folks start whinining about it as if it's a commercial product like Windows or Mac OSX, they are completely missing the point, and missing opportunities to be valuable contributors.

Kevin Bush is a Linux systems admin, dad and book-lover who spends far too
much time tinkering with gadgetry.

This bugs me!

BobSongs's picture

Bug reports are an important part of Linux use.

It's easy to think we've got nothing to contribute to a project because we have little coding experience. Regular bug reports help a team to tighten up their code. Users can explain that some piece of equipment (such as a pen tablet) doesn't work correctly, etc.

Oh, I thought it was commercial too...

Anonymous's picture

You mean like Red Hat Linux or SUSE Enterprise?

Not Exactly...

Kevin Bush's picture

Red Hat and Novell commercialize and provide services around what the community has created. That's far different than a commercial product like Windows.

Kevin Bush is a Linux systems admin, dad and book-lover who spends far too
much time tinkering with gadgetry.

There is a difference between

Anonymous's picture

There is a difference between whining and pointing out flaws on a fact basis.
The fact that commercial products benefit from huge amount of cash and resources (such as Windows) does not invalidate feature comparisons. What it would invalidate is value judgment on quality of progress for example. I think you invited somewhat the controversy a bit with the reference to "non techies". I don't think that anybody would argue that Linux has not made great progress in the last past year if looked in isolation of other factors. If one considers all the resources that go into all distributions as well as all the contributions made by commercial projects to Linux (they are very significant as well), it is also legitimate to ask if the progress made was efficient, or the right ones, etc, without being just whining...

To understand Linux relationship with non techie, it is useful to look at linux under the angle of a "product". It is very difficult for people in the IT industry to stay aware of where non techies come from, how they interact with product, what they want from them. The smartphone/OS battle, or new web products are clear illustration of challenges in understanding how difficult it can be to make a good product for the common person.
Newbies have been told for years by the Linux community things such as RTFM, "come on, it is not that hard, just drop to the command line and type these few cryptic command and all is well", etc. This is not realistic. Expecting a non techie to fill a bug report is not really realistic either, unless it is made very easy for them. Linux does not have to cater to newbies. But techies telling newbies they are "wrong" for not wanting to use Linux after trying and failing is not understanding what could be wrong in Linux as a "product for newbies".
I am sure it is frustrating for volunteers whom have generously shared so much of their time, creativity and work to improve Linux when they hear complaints, but the complaints have to be put into context.

Last, as a techie, if there is anything I find regrettable but that may be unavoidable with the speed of progress in Linux, is the fact that it feels the efforts are so scattered, and often duplicated, slowed with so much politics, ego fights that they are slowed down. The eternal issue of balancing freedom of trying and productivity.... If -and I know this is unrealistic- the work on Linux has been fully efficient, Linux would have been further it is today but 10 years ago, and Windows would not be here today. So I think there is some frustration even in the techie camp about seeing a lot of wasted resources and efforts which makes delivery promises slip time and time again. One can be frustrated but not have a solution in mind or not one that can be implemented considering the complexity of Linux development universe :-)
In other word, not all whiners are trolls, and the whining usually reveal some real issue underneath... often worth considering, if not addressing.

You may still be missing the important point here...

Kevin Bush's picture

What I'm trying to emphasize here is that Linux is a community driven tool. So whining about it as if it were a commercial product is a waste of your and my time. Some of this whining is inevitable, but that doesn't make it constructive. If you need a feature... contribute, contribute, contribute. Not a developer? Donate some cash, write documentation, or file bug reports.

I could care less whether Windows "is still here today" or not. The important thing is that we all now have a modern, community driven, free, open desktop alternative; and the price of admission to this community is zilch. Don't whine, contribute!

Kevin Bush is a Linux systems admin, dad and book-lover who spends far too
much time tinkering with gadgetry.

Pointing out **real*** flaws

Anonymous's picture

Pointing out **real*** flaws that seem to be misunderstood may be constructive as well....
Some people you complain about in regard to their whining (some of which legitimate no doubt) may think you are whining about whining....
I totally think your point about positive contribution is very valid, but.... your article (and answers) still feel partisan and underestimating of the problems the "whining" highlights... JMHO ;-)

Pointing out real flaws can

Kevin Bush's picture

Pointing out real flaws can be constructive... in bug reports. ;-) And yes, I am proudly whining about whining.

Kevin Bush is a Linux systems admin, dad and book-lover who spends far too
much time tinkering with gadgetry.

You missed the whole point,

Anonymous's picture

You missed the whole point, didn't you?

Linux desktops have made tremendous strides

Mike M's picture

I got my first computer around the time Internet access started to become widely available to the general public in the mid 1990s. It was a hand-me-down 386SX-16 with 4MB of RAM and came with Windows 3.1.

Having got a taste for the Internet at school, I wanted to be able to access the 'net at home during the summer too, but my computer didn't have enough memory to run Netscape 1.2. I had heard about a text-only web browser called 'Lynx'. I obtained a copy of the DOS version of Lynx, but was unsuccessful in configuring it for Internet access.

My room-mate at school, a computer science major, had shown me a Linux CD, so I decided to look into the possibility of installing Linux on my machine so that I could run Lynx.

After downloading several sets of Slackware 3.0 floppy disk images using a Windows 95 machine with a 28.8 modem that I had access to in the evening, I set about making the installation disks.

My computer had two floppy disk drives, a 5.25" drive (A:) and a 3.5" drive (B:). The 5.25" floppy drive was configured as the boot drive, and not knowing how to change that, I decided to use the only 5.25" floppy disks I had available that evening, which just happened to be the install disks for Microsoft Windows, to create the Slackware boot disks. Out came the scissors to cut a notch into the side of the MS floppies to make them writeable.

After lots of waiting and inserting floppy disks, I had my Linux machine up and running. Next, I configured my 14.4 modem and a script to make the SLIP connection to my Internet service provider with a little help from the 'minicom' program. I was on-line and delighted to be using Lynx to browse the web and Pine for email.

After discovering that my 386 did not meet the minimum system requirements to run a CD-ROM, I decided to save up for a new system. The new machine was a 486 DX2-66 with 16MB of RAM and was able to run X.

The only 'desktop' I can recall at the time was a commercial package called 'CDE'. I ordered, for a nominal fee, an academic version of SCO Unixware in order to try out this desktop. While it was pretty and had more features than FVWM, which was what I was using on Linux, I found Unixware wasn't as flexible and didn't have as good support for my hardware.

If my memory serves me correctly, changing the look of the window title bar buttons in FVWM involved editing the source code and recompiling. (I think. I compiled lots of source code back in those days. I hardly ever do now, as binaries for just about everything seem to be easily available.)

The next 'desktop' I recall was called 'Looking Glass' and it came with Caldera OpenLinux, which I had obtained a free copy of at a COMDEX show. Like CDE, it was proprietary and did not come with the 'Lite' version of OpenLinux.

I think the first Linux distribution I tried that had a graphical environment that I didn't spend much time fiddling with to make it look better was Red Hat 6. I also tried SuSE Linux 6.1 around the same time and it had a good desktop as well, but the book that came with it did not have the greatest translation from German to English.

I have read lots of articles about distributions and desktops, but one thing that I think that has improved the graphical experience greatly but doesn't necessarily get the spotlight are the various sets of widgets. When I started using Linux, most of the graphical programs used either the Athena widgets or the proprietary Motif widgets (e.g. Netscape and GIMP). Widget sets like Lesstif, GTK and Qt have made Linux graphical applications much more attractive and easy to use.

Today, I think we Linux users have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to our choice of Linux desktops. I think they're all quite excellent and I would be content using any of the ones I have tried.

Wow, what a wonderful look at

Kevin Bush's picture

Wow, what a wonderful look at where we have come from. Thanks for sharing this Mike.

Kevin Bush is a Linux systems admin, dad and book-lover who spends far too
much time tinkering with gadgetry.

"friendly" and "non techies" ??

Anonymous's picture

"There are user friendly distributions out there for non-techies " (highlight is mine)

To clarify something I was reacting to, I am quoting a sentence from the author. It all goes to define what "friendly" and "non techies" means, and to which tasks they apply.

Linux Mint which was listed as part of rebuttal arguments by people does not qualify as a friendly distribution to install and maintain by non techies user because one still need to dig down in configuration file and play around quite a bit to fix some issues that should be trivial things to fix for the user (such as setting a max resolution and frequency for a monitor). So what is significantly better than Linux Mint at dealing with configuration issues? I actually want to try a couple more distributions...

Linux mint once installed and configured properly with all the hardware it will be connected to may well be user friendly in everyday usage... :D

I think that Linux Mint

Daniel Jonsson's picture

I think that Linux Mint doesn't like your graphics card. I didn't need to mess with configurations files when I installed Ubuntu and Mint on my computer.
When I installed Gnome 3 on Arch it even set up graphics driver and my two monitors with the correct resolutions right out of the box, which even Windows doesn't do. So I didn't even had to open the window where I change screen resolution.

I pushed my own experiment

Anonymous's picture

I pushed my own experiment further and tried Mint on a couple more PC's (inc a laptop). In both cases, Mint fails to detect properly the display at some point in the setup (not all..). It is obviously not Mint but the automated driver and X detection that fail in some process (but not others!). Once the detection process is mangled, it is not easy to fix it. The max resolution for the display is locked in and only careful hand crafting and editing of text configuration files will do. It is quite paradoxical that in trying to be more user friendly by doing automated detection, the designers made the same mistake as some other OSes, i.e. preventing the user from easily override failure in software "intelligence".

Better and better...

Bemis's picture

For those who use Linux it is getting better and better, and it is becoming somewhat more accessible to new and novice users... but prime time?

Ignoring obvious differences like cost, fuel usage, size, relative safety, etc, let's make an analogy...

Cars today are VASTLY more complex than cars from 100 years ago, they are easier to use and safer... 100 years ago you need to know spark advance, shifting gears, fuel ratios, etc... So let's imagine Windows is like a car. It's much easier to configure and use Windows today vs. 15 years ago. Windows (and the car) feels nicer, looks cooler, it's safer, etc... but the best part is that the basic principals of operating it--steering, gas, brake, start/stop engine, drive, reverse, etc, are all basically the same. People are comfortable with know how to drive a car, knowing how to operate said car on the roadways to get from point A to point B.

Ok, so if Windows is a car, then Linux is a helicopter... the helicopter is clearly more versatile then the car, but because of the perceived complexity toward operating a helicopter most people simply won't even consider buying one--even if there are new models of helicopter that are easy to fly as a car is to drive.

To carry it further... when you get into just about any car you know how to use it.. sure it might take a moment or two to figure things out, but basically it's easy to use and the features are similar. A helicopter is not quite the same, there might be bigger differences between the controls, etc...

So really the problem is how to get people to understand and want to use a helicopter for their daily transportation instead of a car...

I love your analogy and can

Anonymous's picture

I love your analogy and can relate to it 100%, thank you for shedding some light here, this is exactly how I have felt in the past about Linux and still regrettably feel today. I would think that's to further the point of the complexity of Linux and the user unfriendliness of the OS relative to the non-techies.

I think a better analogy

Anonymous's picture

I think a better analogy would be a Mac being a Mercedes, luxurious, aesthetically appealing, more expensive.

Windows is the Volkswagen, not free but not expensive either, fairly versatile but the most popular for the general population.

Linux would be a Soviet era Lada car, people claim that it's 'faster' more 'agile' etc. but simply isn't. It is also prone to breakage, a bit like Linux.

A poor analogy. Unlike

Kevin Bush's picture

A poor analogy. Unlike Linux, flying a helicopter has a high cost of admission and a high risk. The cost of admission for a new Linux user is zilch, nada. And the risk involved is the same, nada, especially with live cd's. You can try before you have to not buy. :-)

Kevin Bush is a Linux systems admin, dad and book-lover who spends far too
much time tinkering with gadgetry.

Linux desktop still failing, here's why... rebuttal

Anonymous's picture

First of all, there's no perfect anything- OS, app, desktop, etc.- so that's out of the way.

I started computing in 1981 with MS-DOS and have done punch-card programming on an IBM System 370. Have worked extensively with every version Windows since 3.11 and Linux since 2000. Have taught on the community college level, have a couple of MS certs, can do db driven web stuff, have held a few IT jobs, blah, blah, blah, nothing a million others can't do. Point is, I've been around the block a few times.

As recently as 3 years ago you were right, at least to a degree, about Linux. In the last couple of years, though, everything has changed. You can install Linux Mint on most any machine- takes 20 minutes, tops- and it just works. No fuss, no muss. Are there distros that don't work as well? Sure, but I can say that the last 3 versions of Linux Mint have just been stellar.

Currently have a small IT business servicing individuals and SOHOs. Windows XP behaves decently well but Windows 7 has some issues, especially with printing over a network. The biggest thing will all versions of Windows is the malware issue, for which there is apparently no real cure. I've cleaned a number of machines in the last couple of months, most of them Vista and 7 machines, and it's getting harder every week. As IT pros have said for years, "I love Windows... it's job security."

Every customer I've migrated to Linux Mint has loved it and never looked back. The downside is that I lose a customer when I do so- they just never have any more trouble.

Linux desktop still failing, here's why... rebuttal's rebuttal

Anonymous's picture

You make my case actually with Mint, out the three debian distribution I installed and try to fix, I got to fix debian and ubuntu, thanks to some arcane config file editing, but Mint is the one that still won't boot and display properly.... :D
Better, sure, infinitely better than 5 years ago. Ready for non techie? good luck to them if anything goes wrong....

Install Windows on a computer from scratch.

barton's picture

I think you would find that installing Windows 7 on a "white box computer" would be every bit as hard or harder than installing Linux distributions like Ubuntu or Mint. When you buy a new system from Dell or HP or others the OEM has provided all the drivers for the box and installed Windows. Anyone who has tried to install Windows on a "white box computer" knows that it is often impossible. Your chance of being successful with Linux are much much better.

Install Windows on a computer from scratch.

kylea's picture

Amen to that comment - a base Windows install is very time consuming and painful.

Comparing pre-built tailored Windows boxes to a Linux Distribution is a waste of time. The hardware would have been individually specified to the Windows version installed.

I am not sure what we are all trying to prove with this thread - it is a bit of an adolescent pissing competition, 'mine is better than yours - so there !'

The amount of heat generated by fans of any type should be applied to reducing Global Warming - who cares if you think this or that Linux Distribution - and I stress Distribution - Linux is not relevant - Android runs a version of Linux - does anyone care? Nope. MacOSx is a version of Unix - anyone care? Nope. I love Ubuntu 11.04 with Unity and I love the free apps and the almost endless enthusiasm of people to contribute free software to the various communities.

It works for me and I can run windows XP and 7 and Server 2008 all concurrently on my Laptop if I need to and easily backup the whole lot in one simple action for free - other than the MS License costs.

the year of the linux desktop

thewildpendulum's picture

the year of the linux desktop will arrive when i can watch netflix on my mint box

Or when Netflix becomes

Daniel Jonsson's picture

Or when Netflix becomes available outside US. :|

Linux Desktop still failing, here's why......

Anonymous's picture

Here's IMHO a single and sufficient issue that illustrates why Linux desktop is not ready:
drivers, drivers, drivers..... & configuration

I just took a couple of vanilla computers and installed a few of the most recent distributions (ubuntu, debian, mint, etc).
Only one of the distribution was somewhat able to configure my displays half correctly (debian) and only after I picked the expert install. I have not have any display problems with a window install in what, 10 years? Even running dual displays....
Ok so install does not work properly, but I can easily change the configuration, right?? Well, good luck on the "easy" part. Took me two days of trial and errors and saw on the way forums littered with the same issues as mine, unresolved, or resolved in ways that even sometimes startle would educated IT people.
While one can not expect linux to detect correctly all devices since nobody pays for the drivers to be written to start with, simpler tools to correct the configuration and a system of collection of device and settings that work does not exist, which means that the same problem has been lingering for years.
There are tons of "good excuses" that explains drivers issue, but at the end of it, until configuration detection/modification issues are resolved, linux desktop will only be reserved for IT techies, and even then, one has to be willing to still gets its hand really dirty on a regular basis...
Eye candies ....? Will be great when I can SEE them ;-)

How old are you?

JoeG's picture

OMG, Linux has the BEST driver support on the planet. You can't pick up a new Laptop or Desktop anywhere and expect to install a Windows OS on it without Googeling for drivers.

I just bought a new computer from Best-buy last week and blew away Windows and installed Linux Mint on it. EVERYTHING worked without issue - camera, check, network, check, wireless, check, HP printer (Networked), check, there wasn't a piece of hardware that was not detected and installed AUTOMATICALLY DURING INSTALL - try that with Windows 7 my friend.

Now, I had to click on the driver install icon to set up my nvidia card, but it was a click, download, reboot away.

Don't know what planet you are coming from, but Linux has had superb hardware recognition for at least 5 years now.

Go back to troll land where you belong...

You don't know what your talking about.

Anonymous's picture

Dude, your laughable. I've used Linux since 2003. The only reason I still have a windows machine around is because of it's driver support. How old are you? I built 40 windows 7 machines in the past year and every new component you buy for it basically only comes with windows drivers. What are you trying to do install some no-name $12 video card from 8 years ago?

I love Linux, but nothing has better driver support than windows. Christ all 3 of my network printers didn't need any special drivers installed. You just select your brand and it figures out for you!

Now Linux on the other hand has the worst driver support although it's much better. If I had a list for every scanner, webcam, and printer that Linux wouldn't support over the years I could fill a book.

Also regarding Best Buy Laptop genius, I just bought an HP-dm1-3025 2 weeks ago from Best Buy. Why don't you post instructions how I can even get something as simple as the track pad and wireless working in Fedora or Ubuntu. No, kernel 2.6.39 doesn't work either. BTW, I'm on 64 Bit so even manually trying to compile the horrible wireless driver doesn't work either. Guess what? It works amazing on Windows 7. Quit talking like you know what your talking about because I could school you all day with facts and examples.

You don't know what your talking about.

kylea's picture

Discussion of this type fascicle - Windows does come pre-installed with a heap of drivers - and Linux does support a lot too but not as many as Windows. So what? Buy hardware that suits the task. No one is forced to purchase any particular brand of PC/Laptop/ Smart Mobile Device (BTW these are mostly Unix or Linux, funny that).

If you want access to a huge array of free software and generally excellent support with a seemingly never end array of new ideas then Linux is the place to be. If you want to be 'protected and controlled' or you have special editing needs - MACOSx is the way to go. If you want what ever Windows offers (what is that again?) or the program you use only has drivers written buy (sic) the vendor for Windows - then buy a Windows device.

The issue is not "Linux", in most cases it is the hardware vendors not making code available to incorporate into the kernel.

I am glad it worked for your

Anonymous's picture

I am glad it worked for your laptop, and i may be that linux has the best variety/collection of generic drivers loaded on the disk - when they work. But it obviously did not on my two vanilla computers TODAY, with the latest debian based distrib, including Mint (computers about 2 years old, home made, nothing special to them). You can google xorg.conf/grub2 display issue to see how many people are in the same boat as I have been. And you are missing the point as far as my reference to display/install on windows -not comparison, even though on these two computers, it happens that windows 7 and 2008 loaded with no issue at all, display drivers being only the tip of the iceberg as far as drivers are concerned. I will find you cases on both side that will crash your install, windows and linux. But... fixing the windows display install for example is quite easy compare to the linux one. I can remote guide a IT dumb friend fixing most display issue on windows. On linux, good luck...... the advantage is with Linux, you can dig down and see what's wrong when thing are really screwed up but you have to be a techie for that. Sure you have to download drivers from manufacturers for windows, but even my one finger typing father can do this and fix his display.
The point is that Linux desktop issues (mainly driver related) still require to be a techie, and resolving issues on Linux, even what should be relatively simple one also require to be a techie.
So no need to call people names, reading carefully first may help, unless you really want to prove you are a linux fanboy, are you??

You got to be kidding me!

Kevin Power's picture

Try installing windows 7 or any other variety of Microsoft operating system ( Win 1.0 to win 3.3, win95, winme, win98, win 2000, win NT,win XP, win Vista, and the variety of win 7) and you will be looking for drivers, dll, and what ever other piece of config file needed to get it to maybe be useful. Not to mention, you have to have some type of anti-virus package to prevent it from being manipulated and grind-ed to a halt after a mere 3 months to 6 months.
As for Mac, that is another mystery that has to be handed over to the oracle to get it to work.

I have and when drivers are

Anonymous's picture

I have and when drivers are still available, it is a very easy fix.
Again, linux is a gem for so many things, but it is not overall for non techie people, or at least for people not supported by techies - and good one at that.

Try this then.

Kevin Power's picture

Then why does microsoft have such a big tech support system for their already installed systems. Asus has express-gate for people who can not wait for windows to boot, and it is linux based and you be amazed at how self initiative it is.
I believe if you took someone, who has not tech ability, and gave them the opportunity to install a linux distro like ubuntu or pclinuxos on to a current technology system that they would have no problem doing it. Then try to install win 7 on the same thing for the same system that has no prior microsoft installed on it, and just see if it is as easy to get up and running. I mean hooked up to the internet prior to install to check on how everything is working.Then after install to reboot and log in and get on the net and watch videos, do word processing, edit video, play music/edit music and yes play games too.

>Then why does microsoft have

Anonymous's picture

>Then why does microsoft have such a big tech support system for their already installed systems

They represent 90% of the desktop market, any problem, whether hardware or 3rd party software goes to them. Their size is not really relevant in this argument. Most of the problems with windows happen after the machine is booted and functional! That being said, I am not arguing that MS is nice OS (I don't care really), but they did some homework when it comes to running with decent default and allowing easy fixing of elementary issues such as display (and many OEMs work a lot as well). I have yet to have that experience with Linux... when it fails, the experience to fix it is still often a major headache.
As far as the experience you mentioned, the two computers I was mentioning are home built and have not been designed for windows. So in this particular case, your point is moot.
Again, my point is not to say Linux is bad, or comparing the OS, but I have been hearing every two years or so, linux is ready for desktop and non techie... well, sorry, it has improved a lot, but it is still not ready. this goes straight to the author point about non techie friendly distribution, and I believe mint is considered one of them, well, it is still not there yet, really wish it were....

Linux for non-techies

Utah's picture

I have to disagree with your post. I have worked with Linux of and on for the past 15 yrs. When I first started using Linux I was using an old 33 megahertz processor and 8 meg of ram. I knew nothing about computers. My children who where young showed me how to turn it on. It was running windows 3.1 and froze up the first night I used it. It took me 2 days to get it back working. Later on bought gateway 200 megahertz and had win95. Always rebooting,driver problems editing reg. and on and on. I was even using dual monitors and the system suddenly crashed for no reason. I never figured out why. That is when I switched to Linux and started using it. Yes my first version was RedHat 2.0 I think. Yes back then it was hard and you did have to learn how to edit a config file and driver support was terrible, but I did not give up. When I wasn't crashing the system because of trying something on my on, it ran with no problems.
As for the distros that are out today, My hat is off to the community and the hard work that they have done. I have LinuxMint, Ubuntu, and Debain on my computer and they all run flawlessly and on no name system built out of parts from China. I leave it up and running and seldom reboot, usually due to power failure. I quit using windows in 2004 I think and never looked back. Yes it has flaws like all OS's so what. I'll take Linux any day and am happy to have a system that I can use as I want.
Oh! By the way I'm just a dumb old bricklayer and construction hand who is not IT wizard or guru. Yet I have to be IT for my wife's windows laptop when it goes down.
I hope that one day you will be smart enough to put Linux on your vanilla computers and have a nice experience.

The argument was that Linux

Kevin Power's picture

The argument was that Linux was not ready for the usual masses, funny how android is taking the world by storm. Microsoft has their OS installed by the manufacture under agreements that do not allow competition. Yes Mac has their system too, and they are even more anal. Both systems have been around longer getting a good foot hold, but now that Linux has arrived(20 years plus) it has evolved to be able to adapt to any format or configuration thrown at it. So to say it is not ready for the masses, really means that the masses need to open their eyes and realize the opportunity to get out from virus problems and restrictions.

Linux certainly has the

Anonymous's picture

Linux certainly has the potential to be ready for the masses. Google and OEM are building an environment around a small linux core and it is the environment that makes it successful or not.

It is not to the Mass as you say to wake up to Linux, it is to the development community to realize what are really the barriers that prevent the "Mass" from using it, if they wish it for the "Mass" to use it. Most people do not care what is running underneath a gadget or computer. Does it work or not for what people want to do with it? If if does not, can it be fixed easily without spending 2 days googling for answers, because most people won't spend or don't have the time to spend for this. iOS and OSX make a lot of thing easy for regular people, that's why it is popular.
I have been using Unix/Linux for ages and I can see the tremendous effort that went from so many volunteers and developers to improve distributions. And they did improve it, I'll make up number, but if 10 years ago 20% of distrib would install right of the bat, may be 85% install now, which is great. The issue, like for speech and face recognition is that the percentage that does not work is the issue, especially when no easy fix is provided. It turn regular people off, they do not have the knowledge or time to deal with it. Tell me an easy way to fix drivers and configuration issues in Linux in these 15% cases (or whatever the % may be) and I'll eat my words. The silly thing is that it really does seem that providing an easier configuration "fixer" per say should not have been so difficult if all linux distrib had worked together on it and did a bit of crowd sourcing collecting result automatically from all installs. I am sure 100x more work went into making fancy graphic interfaces and all, which are nice to have, sure, when the rest works....

% what?

Kevin Power's picture

As you quoted "Tell me an easy way to fix drivers and configuration issues in Linux in these 15% cases (or whatever the % may be) and I'll eat my words." Ditto for windows too.You can not tell me that windows is easy to maintain and install, especially for the regular Joe and Doe out there.

Windows is a mess/nightmare

Anonymous's picture

Windows is a mess/nightmare to maintain when not locked down, I'll agree with this 100%. But as far as installing, I'll disagree with you from experience, especially when it comes to Windows 7, Microsoft IMHO did its home work in order to let non techie be able to handle most basic issues, which for installs are drivers. Just compare the steps involved in troubleshooting and fixing a display driver issue with Linux vs windows and the case is made.

I'll say the following and may be you'll see where I am coming from, as far as IT techies are concerned, Linux desktop has been usable for quite a while, a few years actually... it all comes to whom is your target audience...

I am beginning to think you

Kevin Power's picture

I am beginning to think you are arguing just for the sake of arguing. I would have to say that I am done as you seem not to understand my argument.

KDE Highly Configurable?

Shane's picture

How on earth is KDE 4.x highly configurable? How can I get Konsole to show up on the right click menu?

A desktop for everyone

humberto's picture

Users should RTFM! and choose their desktop and customizing it in the way they want.

If you are a mainstream user you can use any distro that fits it's desktop for your needs.

I'm very confortable with my e16/Debian/Ubuntu box so you must search the right for you instead of imposing any other option.

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Anonymous's picture

I would have been worth to mention the Enlightenment desktop manager, as well as its reference distro, the Bodhi Linux.

Yes, agreed! Enlightenment

Kevin Bush's picture

Yes, agreed! Enlightenment is a wonderfully different DE. My list is by no means comprehensive.



Kevin Bush is a Linux systems admin, dad and book-lover who spends far too
much time tinkering with gadgetry.

Benefits of Ubuntu

e8hffff's picture

I use Kubuntu for my main desktop mainly due to the fact Canonical keeps releases modern. I've tried other releases but they always have old packages.

Here are some of the reasons that would break my loyalty toward a release!

* Stale or old KDE. Example I installed CentOS to find it only installed KDE 3, WHAT THE HELL. Yeah I know it's choice for web server use, but if someone selects KDE then it should be latest. Shouldn't have to dick around finding up to date repositories.
* Old version of wine. Another point of no reason to be old.
* Lack of access to proprietor software, like Adobe-Flash. Ok to be in secondary repos.
* Restrictions in general.
* Buggy.

I agree with the sentiment of the article

mikesd's picture

however, to be honest, Linux is not ready for the Desktop (prime time). But it's not Linux's or the developers fault completely. The community needs to put pressure on hardware developers to release drivers and port software over so Linux can be taken seriously for prime time use.

We all obviously have Linux on our desktops, but until hardware and software (big names) start really embracing it, it won't ever go any where. HP has started, Dell has started, but we need more.

Until all this happens we will not have "The Year of the Linux Desktop". But you are right, we are making big strides in the technology and development evolution of the DE's.

That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

usual negative crap from posters

Anonymous's picture

"Linux is not ready for the Desktop (prime time)" - bollox bollox bollox. I've never had to worry about a driver for any of machines over the years.

"The Year of the Linux Desktop" - this will never happen, its a detractors statement. It'll be a slow migration, Windows is too entrenched by inertia to try other OS's.