August 9, 2005 1:02 PM PDT

Linux on the desktop--almost there again?

SAN FRANCISCO--Despite their best attempts, Linux software companies say they are still having a hard time luring average consumers away from the Windows environment--but that may not necessarily be a bad thing.

Windows still dominates the PC world. About 90 percent of all desktops, laptops and even PDAs are powered by Microsoft, according to reports by Gartner and IDC. Even with all the hoopla last year about Linux progress, the buzz over breaking the Windows stronghold has died down considerably.

When it comes to the enterprise desktop, companies like Novell and Red Hat are making some progress, thanks to open-source projects such as Evolution, Firefox, KDE, GNOME, OpenOffice and Wine. But the companies still report adoption problems in the consumer space.

"(Linux on the desktop) is not the sexy story that it used to be. However, there are some very steady and irreversible trends."
--Jeremy White
Vice president, Novell

"We feel like it is a long road for us. It certainly has not a been an overnight shift," David Patrick, vice president and general manager of Novell's Linux, open-source and platforms services group, said during a press briefing at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo, which is taking place here this week.

Novell seems to have made more progress than other companies, with its Suse Linux Professional edition for home users and Novell Linux Desktop for the corporate office.

Patrick said the company has the best success in fixed markets, as with the company's retail win with Ritz Camera and its new education contract with the state of Indiana, both announced Tuesday.

The company also released its OpenSuse project, which Patrick says will differ from Red Hat's Fedora project in that it will let consumers help identify key open-source projects before they are professionally developed.

Red Hat continues to dismiss any idea that it will offer a consumer version of its Enterprise Desktop Linux product, according to a company representative.

Expert Jeremy White, who wears a double hat as the go-to man at the Desktop Linux Consortium and as the founder and CEO of CodeWeavers, says the biggest roadblock to average-consumer adoption seems to be lack of hardware support, especially for gadgets like MP3 players.

"Last year, there was a lot of smoke but no fire when it came to Linux on the desktop," he said. "It is not the sexy story that it used to be. However, there are some very steady and irreversible trends. There are a lot of customers that tell us that they would adopt Linux in theory, but say, 'Gee, we would use Linux if only if it could run this one application.'"

The other barrier, according to White, seems to be the lack of software support by key manufacturers like Adobe Systems and Macromedia, which are strong supporters of Windows and Apple Computer's Mac OS X but rely more on third-party companies to help their applications run on Linux.

White also suggests that crossover products like AJAX, ThinkFree, VMware and Wine are actually creating a world where Windows and Linux coexist in harmony on the desktop. Such tools allow people to run Windows programs on non-Windows systems.

In some cases, Linux is working to the advantage of corporate buyers who, according to White, are not shy about having employees working on Linux-based operating systems when the Microsoft account managers pay a visit.

"They use it like a leveraging tool, kind of like threatening Microsoft to give them better discounts or lose out on their licensing accounts," White said, but added, "it's still Microsoft's game."

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"In some ways," adds Brian Proffitt, editor of and co-author of "The Joy of Linux," "Linux on the desktop is almost irrelevant because of the shift towards Web-based applications.

"Linux in the enterprise is where you will see the most work being done these days because companies don't want all of those applications open at the bottom of a Windows tray. Ultimately, it comes down to what you want the Linux desktop to do."


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
My problem with Linux on the desktop
I have installed a number of Linux desktops beside my Win2K/XP installations over the past few years, but I didn't keep any of them.

It wasn't that they couldn't provide me with the tools I needed (I only use my computer for wordprocessing/web/email/spreadsheet/web design), it was that if I wanted to find a program to solve a problem for me I had to go through a bunch of programs with short non-descript names.

I always felt that the program I needed was in the distribution, but I had no easy way of finding it.

I believe if the names of the applications were more descriptive then it would be easier for new users to accept.

User friendly doesn't only apply to the use of the software, but every aspect of it's interaction with the user and this begins with the name.
Posted by ahickey (177 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I'll second that.
I have never understood the need to name software with names that have nothing to do with the software. Most of their names look like the file names you give to windows files. Of course when you learn their names and uses it's a lot less of a hassle, but better descriptive names would be good.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
You have a point, but
I agree that many Linux application names are either silly or opaque as to its function. People crack jokes about "K-everything" or "G-everything" all the time. However, you say you use Windows for web design, spreadsheets, word processing, email. Tell me, without having experience with Windows, what will a program named Excel do? Outlook? Flash? Dreamweaver? Point is, the advantage of Windows application names is familiarity. Linux application developers obviously can't use names that are taken. To help users out, many distros have an application menu that is categorized into 'Office', 'Internet', 'Networking', 'Media' and the like. Many come with OpenOffice (guess what that does) or AbiWord (hmm, seems like MS Word). What I typically do is explore my computer and try out every program that's on the application menu.
Posted by (30 comments )
Link Flag
I like the unique names
I use debian with synaptic.

When I am looking for a particular functionality
I do a search on the description.

If I want to do a google search the unique name eliminates all of the unwanted chaff.

Naming a program with a commonly used WORD (no pun intended) is a BAD idea.

You only have to learn the name once.

For example "perl" is not "pearl".
I could call it "scripting".
If I did called it "scripting"
I would have miserable time googling for it.

If I write my own program call "print"
and ran "print" would I be using my print or the systems print?
If the system's print is called "lpr" then there is no confusion.

Imagine if everyone name their dog "dog".
Posted by cyber_rigger (70 comments )
Link Flag
Finding what you need
Here's a good place to poke around.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

Most of the other distros will have a lot of this too.

Debian also has a one word search
(scroll down).
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

For example "spreadsheet"
<a class="jive-link-external" href=";searchon=all&#38;subword=1&#38;version=stable&#38;release=all" target="_newWindow">;searchon=all&#38;subword=1&#38;version=stable&#38;release=all</a>
Posted by cyber_rigger (70 comments )
Link Flag
Descriptive program names
I have to agree with another comment that the only reason this is not a problem for most Windows users also is that they are so familiar with it. If you were to invest anywhere near the time in learning Linux that you've invested in Windows, this would be much less of a problem.

However, several distributions have taken another step to reduce the confusion for new users. I don't have recent experience with any other distributions, but SuSE Linux Professional not only has menus such as Office and Graphics, but adds sub-menus for application classes such as word processing and image editing, giving the user a better idea of what is available for a particular need; and Ubuntu Linux includes program descriptions on the menu for many programs with the actual program name in parentheses following the description. This results in wider menus and is of limited utilities to experienced users, but is good for new users. My brother has just installed Ubuntu for our mother, and she was very impressed with how user friendly it appeared to be, even though she has almost no experience with anything other than DOS and Windows.

I've come to the conclusion that most of the Windows users that complain about how difficult it is to use Linux have been using Windows for so long that they've forgotten how steep that original learning curve was and they've never bothered to learn anything else. From my limited experience and reading, it seems that people with limited computer experience or experience with multiple operating systems have relatively little trouble learning Linux. The biggest problem is getting it installed, although most people that can't install Linux either wouldn't be able to install Windows either or they have too much hardware that only works with Windows. But I don't see any way to overcome that problem on a large scale until manufacturers begin pre-installing Linux on a larger scale and include better tools for completing the setup by the buyer.
Posted by acrider (14 comments )
Link Flag
no easy way
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
Software is my problem
Linux and Mac just don't have the software support I need. It's not their fault, but until either I can convice those companies to port their software or Linux can make them work I am stuck in Windows.

(Here is a statement the linux guys can beat me up on)

The next thing linux needs is the ability to create an install disk that only has what I want on it. I need to be able to create it and then install it. I don't want to wade through 3+ cd's to install the OS. In my opinion you can cut out all the instant messangers, office apps, games, dns/dhcp, mail server, etc. and create a clutter free OS. I know you can do this, but it requires going through the setup process and take for ever. The next problem is you still have to install from 3+ disk. It took me 2 hours to install Novell Linux Desktop. Thats about 1h 50m more than it took me to install a custom version of Windows XP on the same machine.

Not to end this on a sour note. I really do like Gnome, YaST, Evolution, and Red Carpet. I am looking forward to the day I can toss Windows out the windows, but that day isn't today.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Network install
I don't want to wade through 3+ cd's to install the OS

Have you tried a network install?
(I highly recommend broadband for this)

I have installed Linux with as little as 2 floppies.

Several Linux distros have a network install option.

You usually start with only 1 boot CD that has a basic system and network drivers.
The boot CD finds the ftp sites that the installer and package manager will need.

You install your system using the most currently patched packages.
In other words you don't have to go back and patch your fresh install because of some recent security change (since the CD came out).

Here's the network install for Debian
to give you an idea of what to look for.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by cyber_rigger (70 comments )
Link Flag
Wait a minute
#1 Remember the first day you turned on a Winblows machine, did you know what was what right off the bat? No you did not. So you spent the time learning what did this and what did that. That is known as becoming experienced. Linux is no different just new to you, so go get some experience.
#2 The difference between load times is; with Winblows is you get hardly anything, with Linux you can get more stuff than you will know what to do with. As for the long time to load, thats your lack of experience with it.
#3 There are some single LIVE cd disk Linux distros, that will boot from the cd player, run from the cd, so that you can take the distro for an test drive. Some of the Live cd will have an install icon on the desktop, so if you like, you can install it. All from one cd rom.
#4 Linux is about choice, the more experience you get, the more you will understand choice.

start with

#5 With Linux one does not have to re-boot every time you think you want to do something.

Go, get some.
Posted by (16 comments )
Link Flag
Any time I've installed Linux I have been bewildered by the amount of applications included with it.

Other than the gamers most peopel I know just need the standard applications so a Linux install with OpenOffice, Firefox and Thunderbird would suit over 90% of their needs.

If a simple single disk distro was created with JUST these applications with excellent hardware support (Wifi and WinModem being the current issues) I think you would have a real user friendly environment.

With an easy automated network install for extra applications and features this basic install would suit most peoples needs.
Posted by ahickey (177 comments )
Link Flag
What software do you need?
Posted by Thrudheim (306 comments )
Link Flag
If you can afford the $50 a year you can get everything you've said with Linspire. I can install the OS, openoffice, firefox, thunderbird, gaim, evolution, deviant wallpaper, snort, real player 10, acrobat 7, quake ii, bittorrent, xdvdshrink, g-rip, nessus, mysql, apache and about 50 other apps in about an hour... (An in probably less than 100 keystrokes as all the application installs are "aisled" of course a new user would have to type "acrobat 7" in the search field and click the green button.)

Not to mention "map" drives automatically to windows servers, print to network printers, play mp3s, download pictures from usb cameras
Posted by Lanman1 (15 comments )
Link Flag
Mac User Response
What software do you need to run?

I dumped my PC 2 years ago and run Mac OS X exclusively.
Most "productivity" software is cross-platform these days. I
have Mac OS X equivalents to all of my old Windoze software (i.e.
PhotoShop, NeoOffice/J, FileMaker Pro, FireFox) and have not
had any problems exchanging files with colleagues and friends.

If I need to run an "oddball" program that requires Windoze, I
fire-up Virtual PC (I really should switch to something else since
Microsoft bought them out).

I wrote several commercial applications in Delphi for Windoze
and have a special "drive image" set-up for Virtual PC to run a
special Windoze install just for Delphi develoopment. It works

I copy my Virtual PC drive images to DVD-RAM just in case any
of my Windoze installs gets corrupted. Just delete the corrupted
drive image, copy from backups, and I'm back in business. Try
doing that with DriveImage...!

I have Mac Office 2004, but have not used it in ages. I use
NeoOffice exclusively for everything. I do use MS Entourage as
my Email client just because I have a Hotmail account and I
migrated from Outlook Express.

My PC running Winoze XP died several months ago -- it
succumbed to a trojan horse virus while performing a "Windows
Update." I ripped the hard drives out, put them in USB 2.0 drive
enclosures and hooked them up to my PowerBook G4. Mac OS X
recognized the NTFS volumes without any problems...

I have no plans to buy another Windoze machine -- ever!

If Apple ever does go under, I will go back to paper and pencil
before I use Windoze again!

P. S. I can't wait to get one of the new MacIntel computers when
they are released next year!
Posted by jollyruss (12 comments )
Link Flag
I know just what you need...
Ubuntu Linux.

One CD has most everything the average user needs and if that's not enough you can easily install anything you can think of via a nice
GUI-based app. The default desktop is GNOME.

Don't like GNOME? Try the sister distro - Kubuntu. KDE is it's default desktop.
Posted by angrykeyboarder (136 comments )
Link Flag
Gnome, YaST, Evolution
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
Boycott Dell, HP, Gateway
The major computer OEMs such as Dell, HP, and Gateway are refusing to offer CONSUMERS a non-Microsoft choice.

These OEMs are anti-competitve and anti-consumer-choice.
They continue to maintain Microsoft's desktop monopoly.

I suggest not doing business with these companies
until they offer a serious non-Microsoft choice to CONSUMERS.
Posted by cyber_rigger (70 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Do you really think...
that M$ has nothing to do with the OEMs being anti-competitive and anti-consumer choice? Historically, anyone who doesnt play Bill and Steves game will find themselves shut-out or bought-out.
Posted by Nathan Lunn (113 comments )
Link Flag
Linux Desktop Isn't For Everyone
If most users were offered a choice, I don't think they would use Linux, even though it has significant advantages in some cases. Why not? People don't generally buy something they're not familiar with. Also how many people would like not being able to buy the latest game/whatnot and have it work?

To counter this, the practical advantages of the Linux install would need to be more visible through screenshots, price difference, installed software, etc, and the disadvantages clearly laid out.

I feel a Linux desktop is great for people who do specific tasks (i.e. email, office stuff) but not for people who want to use the latest packaged software.

Even when companies offer consumers a choice, I don't think many do a very good job explaining the pros and cons of the Linux choice.

I use Linux and Windows in my daily routine and see pros and cons to each.
Posted by bluemist9999 (1020 comments )
Link Flag
Are you kidding?
...The reason they don't is that they don't want to have to support another OS, especially one that's as "user friendly" as Linux. I don't blame them either, if I was selling machines, I'd offer the OS with the least amount of likely callbacks to my support line. Most support calls they (Dell) get are software related. They have their hands full just getting Windows running and that's a lot more friendly than linux. I run desktop linux on one machine, so don't get me wrong. It's got a purpose, just not for everyone. I still can't find any applications I really want to use on it. I want great video and photo editing (and don't say the gimp). The day the major apps run on it, they'll be all set. Application developers, especially for general purpose ones, should move to Java and make their apps play anywhere. The problem is most have very established code bases that are platform specific.
Posted by alskiontheweb (160 comments )
Link Flag
Boycott Dell? Are you kidding!! THEY SUPPORT LINUX!
ck your facts... You need to browse around the Dell site - I'm looking at a number of systems right now that I can order with Linux.
I don't know what you're talking about.
Posted by IntenseTech (2 comments )
Link Flag
Buy a Macintosh!
I agree totally!

However, add Sony to the list... If you buy one of their PCs and try
to load a non-MS OS and something happens, you void your
warranty! Forget any king of customer support!

Bottom line... Dump your PCs and buy Macintosh!

(BTW: I was not paid by Apple in any way...)
Posted by jollyruss (12 comments )
Link Flag
Boycott Dell?
You obvisouly did not do much in the way of research, Dell, HP and IBM all give you the option of linux or no OS at all.

Next time check it out before opening your mouth.
Posted by mayerjr (8 comments )
Link Flag
non-Microsoft choice
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
That didnt help much
After reading the article there seems to be no real big push on how much better linux on the desktop is reaching, i have tried Mandrake, Suse, Fedora, several live distro's in search for something closer to being more friendly with my hardware and my collective software... 1.) Once Wine or more software vendors add more support for linux so i can use more of what i already have bought and also not worry about if the next game or application will work, that alone might make me throw out windows for linux for good, 2.) Not all hardware is supported, i have a Lexmark 3150 AIO that i cant find linux drivers for, lexmark refuses to make them for linux and states you can make them yourself or turn to someone who has or can make them for you.... with those 2 points in mind seems im stuck using windows a little longer or least untill Vista forces me to make the change.
Posted by (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Some help
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Johnny Mnemonic (374 comments )
Link Flag
next game
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
Tired of hearing that I have to learn it
I have tried hard to work with Linux. I like what it stands for and how it works. That said, I'm tired of being told that I have to learn it just like I learnt Windows / MacOS. The fact is that when I plug a Bluetooth stick, say, into Windows then it works well. My XP at home never crashes and, when it does, it recovers well. My Ubuntu, on the other hand, regularly fails to shut down properly or goes slightly wrong in some other way.

I'm pretty computer literate, but the fact is that I've had to spend hours if not days on the net trying to resolve problems with Linux. Perhaps the commercial versions are better set up, but then I lose one of the Linux advantages - it's freely available.

I still use Linux because I'm confident that once I've worked it out, I can set it up for other people so that they never need to work out the nuts and bolts of it. As BeatrIX says, most people only use 4 applications (Web, e-mail, office, messenger). It is cheaper and more effective to do this with Linux than with XP, plus it can be installed on ancient computers, but boy is it hard to get started!
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Recovers well after never crashing
"My XP at home never crashes and, when it does, it recovers well." Sheesh, how can anything compete with that logic?
Posted by (30 comments )
Link Flag
slightly wrong
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
It's Called Thin Client...
If a company is concerned about desktop maintenance or too many toys to play with on a computer it doesn't mean that Linux is the only fit. Thin Clients of multiple platforms are available to facilitate this purpose. This is not news, it's fluff.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thin Clients
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
It's called Linspire (Debian)
I know what everyone thinks - Linspire sucks cause they charge $50 a year for updates. This is true, but...

Can you open up a webpage - search for firefox - click a pretty icon, and magically have the firefox icon appear on the desktop? This works with many program - from satan - to rdp clients - even to smp kernel updates.

All versions of desktop linux need to emulate this ease of application install, which is better than XP even, if they ever want to crack the PC market.

But we can already to that with appget!! That's what you're thinking right? Well maybe _you_ can, but can your bosses, bosses, boss? Or you kid? They can with Linspire.

Linspire also remembers every program you've loaded. That way when you reinstall, you can easily (and nearly as fast as they download) reinstall all of you favorite open source apps.

Personally the $50 a year is too much for me. They should bring back the $100 lifetime memberships, that had some value.

If you like Ubuntu - you'll really like Linspire.
Posted by Lanman1 (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
lifetime membership
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
All I want is better support from hardware manufacturers
I had been a Unix user on workstations and mainframes for many years before I ever started PCs, so Linux was a natural for me, although I did use Windows at home for several years because of a lack of applications for Linux, and I've been forced to use Windows on the job for about 12 years now. However, I basically stopped using Windows at home over five years ago, only occasionally installing a copy in VMware when I absolutely have to use a Windows-only application.

I do wish that it was easier to setup and use some multimedia features in Linux, but I can live with it the way it is as long as it enables me to do without Windows. My biggest complaint is the lack of support from hardware manufacturers. My latest bad experience in this area has been with scanners. I bought an Epson scanner in January because it was the only one I could find that had the features I wanted at a price I could afford and there was downloadable software for it from some Epson division. As it turned out, the software they provide is missing a lot of features and has no support, and now that I'm apparently experiencing hardware problems, Epson won't provide any support at all for Linux users, so I can't determine whether it really is a hardware problem. I'd go out now and buy a comparable or better scanner (at up to twice the price I paid for the Epson) from another manufacturer if I could find one that provides better support for Linux users, but as far as I've been able to determine, there are no such manufacturers at this time.
Posted by acrider (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You have to do your homework
to get compatible hardware.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

I think it's funny
when people get bent out of shape
because Linux doesn't suport some XYZ device

yet when you say I can't get Windows install on my SPARC station or G5
they look at you like you are crazy.
Posted by cyber_rigger (70 comments )
Link Flag
Getting Linux software on Windows.
One thing I would really like to see is more Linux software ported over to Windows. Because it will make the transition for many a lot easier. If you get use to it on Windows the move to linux would probably be simpler and less resisted by some.

Just a thought.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Easier - how?
How is the migration of applications from Windows to Linux easier?

There is such a differentation between the Linux distros, that I sometimes have trouble getting OSS software from source code to compile properly. And don't even start with precompiled binaries...
Posted by wiley14 (39 comments )
Link Flag
I think there are efforts like this already...
But doing so should also guarantee how well it is expected to work in Windows. I don't think it will sell to Windows users if the applications are not performing well.

I've seen Java based applications that perform well in Linux but not in Windows. I've seen open source applications run so good in Linux but not in Windows. I've seen tools and utilities that are so good in Linux but not in Windows.

There goes the wrong message to an average-Windows-user-never-used-Linux...


I wonder if there're program codes in Windows like:

if (isJavaBased) { runSlow() };

Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Link Flag
AJAX a cross-over product?
The author of this story obviously doesn't know what they're talking about with this comment: "White also suggests that crossover products like AJAX, ThinkFree, VMware and Wine are actually creating a world where Windows and Linux coexist in harmony on the desktop. Such tools allow people to run Windows programs on non-Windows systems."

AJAX isn't a product, nor is it a "true" technology (in it's own right, I mean), NOR does it help people run Windows programs on non-Windows systems! AJAX is a methodology built on existing technologies (JavaScript, XML, and XMLHTTP objects).

When is CNET ever going to learn to hire some journalists who actually know what they are talking about?
Posted by wiley14 (39 comments )
Reply Link Flag
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
It's simple, really
People don't buy operating systems, they buy a machine to run applications to solve problems. And if the platform that supports those applications is Windows (or MacOS), that's what they will buy.
To buy Linux for Linux's sake is just silly.
Posted by aemarques (162 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Linux for Linux's sake
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
Just installed Ubuntu - notes
I have installed many distros of Linux for "fun" over the last year, and wanted to try Ubuntu because so many touted its ease of use. I have now installed and ran Mandrake, Red Hat, Suse, Gentoo, Fedora 2&#38;3, and now Ubuntu. Now originally I had problems with every distro because they could not or would not recognize my archaic monitor on my spare computer, or ignored my bios which turned off my integrated graphics. This involved editing the FreeX86 file on many of them. Since I am running this on a very new computer now, this didn't happen.

The install for Ubuntu is quick, but not as intuitive as Suse. The partitioning of a dual boot system was rather advanced if you want normal users, which they do. Wiping it out and building a whole new system would be simple. It didn't install too much crap, which was nice. After booting is where my problems began. I assumed my network was set up properly because it downloaded some packages during set up. So when I opened up Firefox I expected it to just load right up. Wrong. Everything seemed in order, I could ping and download packages, but no browsing or Gaim. So apparently kernel 2.6 has some problems with certain routers and dns etc. I had to install a different dhcp client and turn off ipv6 in Firefox. It then worked fine. I had this same problem with Suse if I remember correctly.

After restarting I wanted to make sure windows booted properly. It didn't. An error about xmnt2002 missing came up. Quick search showed that it is because the windows partition was hidden. Apparently Ubuntu for some stupid reason does this by default. After finding out how to fix this I went into Ubuntu and manually edited the grub boot loader file to load up windows.

Now, things like these might seem simple to a avid computer user, but an average user will just freeze up at the sight of words like DHCP, or Grub boot loader. This contrasts with my clean installation of XP Professional last week in which I loaded it up in around 15 minutes and everything worked without manually typing anything but a username and password. Now, I still like Linux for many things, and will keep Ubuntu for a while. I like having Apache and Mysql right there, as well as built in ssh and other things like the compilers and the overall programming environment. However, Linux desktops have a long way to go before an average word/IM/outlook user like my wife can set it up and use it. With Windows I could give the install disk to my wife and let her go at it. With any of these distros of Linux, no way! Macromedia and Adobe need to get on board with Linux too. I like Fireworks and Photoshop too much. Gimp just doesn't do it for me.
Posted by tsm26 (81 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My experience thus far...
with ubuntu.

Let me say that the average users probably wont be dual booting a system. Of course Windows hates dual boot systems if they aren't Windows OS. However, Ubuntu shouldn't hide the Windows partition after finishing the install.

Now I had no problem installing ubuntu. It asked me for a computer name and a user name and password. I didn't have any problems with graphics or networking either. Sound is a little flakey (integrated). Network card and video are not integrated. Updating the system was probably the easiest I have ever seen. Installed drivers and software updates with little effort.

One of the things I did notice during installation was that it copies and then uncompresses the software. That made it take awhile.

So far though I am really liking Ubuntu. I hope to keep liking it, but I don't see it or any other Linux Distro replacing Windows on my desktop just yet.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
Linux on the desktop
I use Linux almost exclusively. I have run Red Hat 9, Fedora Core 1 &#38; 3, SUSE Personal 9.1, &#38; Ubuntu. And I also have one machine that runs Solaris 9 (Sparc). All have their pros and cons. On the upside Red Hat/Fedora and SUSe have lots of books one can refer to. All have the Internet as a sort of reference manual. All of these distros accomplish what I need and I have become good enough with Linux to figure out how to add what's missing. But, I must point out Linux is not for everyone. Editing config files can be daunting for some users, installation is not always easy, gaming is limited. Details can vary from one distro to the next. Though I must applaud Novell and others for making great strides in improving Linux.
As for me and Windoze : ) ..... I booted Windoze off my desktop for good about 4 years ago. I still use Windoze at work and fix the PC's of friends. I have no intention of returning to Windows anytime soon.

Lou Barrio
Posted by (1 comment )
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Details can vary
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
Linux desktop is not yet ready for the masses
I have been using Linux exclusively for about two years now and I am pretty much up to date about new developments and what is going on in general in the community.

I love Linux and it meets all my requirements with flying colors. Nevertheless, what attracted me in the first place is the freedom to use the OS and all the wonderful software that are available on it. I would rather not use a particular software or technology (unless it hurts me financially not to do so) than switch to a proprietary OS.

However, this freedom comes at a price to me. It takes me one full week to install it from scratch and configure it to my liking with all the software I need for my work and personal use. I am pickier than most people but I am also quite knowlegable too. So I spend one week from my life once every 18 months or so just for the privilege to use Linux. Lately this is becoming a somewhat frustrating experience because my time is becoming more valuable to me and I am simply wasting my life on addressing basic problems that should not have been here after all these years of maturing of the OS. In fact I am postponing my long due hardware upgrade because I cannot afford a one week disruption of my work during the switch.

Here are some of the major things I do in this one week time. The first is the fonts. The initially installed fonts look bearable at best and horrible at worst. So I have to hunt down Microsoft Windows fonts, recompile FreeType2 package with bytecode interpreter turned on, configure XFree screen resolution to 100dpi which all sound easier than done. Even after that there are many applications that require separate configurations. One example is the Evolution e-mail client. No matter how hard I tried and spent time I still get smaller fonts than I like in the message body.

Other things that I deal with are programs that worked fine in my previous installation that do not work the same in a similar configuration. So I reconfigure them - mostly through configuration files. Or sometimes I hunt down substitute software.

Most computer users, rightfully so, do not want to go through all this. It is either their time is more valuable than the $80 or so bucks they pay to buy Windows or that they simply do not have the enthusiasm or skills to do it.

Unfortunately these problems I mention will probably never go away because of the nature of free software development process. It is very much decentralized and since there is no one controlling/coordinating entity the chaotic nature of open source software will persist.

So what should average users do ? I think they should pay for support services. They should either purchase distributions like Xandros or Linspire or pay a local person to provide support. Many potential users think that this would bring Linux on equal footing, from their perspective, with Windows in terms of cost. However, the freedom they will get is priceless, at least in my opinion.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Not for the masses yet...
What really makes a product so good is the fact that you know (and will easily know) how to use it even if it is entirely new. Documentation is important; that is: a really good help and documentation system, offline or online.

There's a poor "evangelism" effort to really advertise the features of Linux. Suffice to say, there's a poor effort to reach out and get in touch with the masses.

Mac is also Unix based but even new users are happy with it because it is easy to setup and use. Add to that the great marketing hype they use to show off Mac (so that users know what to expect).

I think that it's not that Windows is better, it's also how Microsoft markets it...
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Link Flag
LINSPIRE 5! best Linux desktop period.
Linspire is the only Desktop Linux I'd feel comfortable giving to my grandmother... seriously.
Linspire is pretty nice. Get the Live CD and ck it out yourself. It's the closest, nicest, Desktop Linux I've seen. And you can't beat it's east app install. god, I sound like I commercial... kill me quick..
anyway, it's very cool - very well done.
Posted by IntenseTech (2 comments )
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kill me quick
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Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
Desktop Linux = Jumbo Shrimp
Tired of waiting for "geeks" to make a user friendly (as in not for
geeks only) UI.

What happened to those Apple guys who were trying to do this?
The Open Source/Linux people need "outside" help with this.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
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geeks only
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
Linux under attack!!!
It is not surprising for Microsoft to have <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>. In one of the case studies, Radioshack's experience directly attacks their rather unsatisfactory experience with Linux.

There are few of these kinds in favor of Linux. I've seen some of them but I don't think Windows NT to Linux success stories still count -- too outdated.
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
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Of course
Of course it doesnt help that these little case studies (written and published by a big name PR company rather than any sort of scientific approach to begin with) fail to include the little details.

Such as: "Switching to Windows would cost less" because Microsoft is giving us a huge discount for our endorsement.

"Linux is riskier than Windows" because Microsoft is attacking Linux with everything they have plus the kitchen sink.

"Microsoft Windows Services for UNIX version 3.5 gives us native support for our existing Unix software" if you call emulation software running on top of a Windows kernel "native support".

Oh and its not very convincing to me when you look at their "Get The Facts" marketing website and nearly every document is corrupted with ASCII characters sprinkled liberally throughout (let me guess.. Windows based web servers? MS should know better by now).
Posted by Fray9 (547 comments )
Link Flag
Been there, done that... it isn't pretty
I have Suse 9.2 running on Thinkpad T22. Difficult to get WPA security for wireless working - have to use windows drivers and ndiswrapper. Luckly I do programming for a living.

Then, I decided to upgrade KDE version, it stopped allowing root login thru' UI. Posting message on suse usergroup elicited responses like - "you should not be logging in as root through UI", "you are a novice so don't login as root" - all very helpful.

I have critical patches that I need to install every week. Redmond has it once a month.

I hate to tell the penguin folks - the guys from Redmond do a better job.
Posted by shikarishambu (89 comments )
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About that root thing
They were right - you shouldn't be doing that, you should be
logging in and either su'ing or sudo. If you REALLY like to login
as root through KDE's login manager (maybe you like that 'living
on the security edge' you get from Windows), then edit /etc/

(I didn't know this off the bat, but Googling for 'kdm disallow
root login' got me the answer).
Posted by (30 comments )
Link Flag
Suse 9.2
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
My Problems With Linux
I cant wait for the day I can turf windows for good.

My two biggest problems with current linux (among the many pleasures)

Installing Programs.
There needs to be a standard solution so i can in a click or 2 have something installed (no compile this, make that, dependency error etc.)
The community has to come together on this.

I suspect that since the kernel is always updated, they should try to make compiling easier. Make compiling a behind the scenes sort of thing that handles itself and fixes problems automatically.

RPMS and the like are nice but need to be updated frequently as distros progress.

The Biggest problem with migrating to Linux is this, The DirectX Problem:

If windows games were easily played on Linux then the flood gates could open for migration to Linux.
Currently great strides have been made but the process is still quite hard and tedious for most games to work. Its not for the faint of heart, or those with merely minutes to spare.

Its no problem writing my reports in Star Office instead of Office XP but if World Of Warcraft or the like wont work... then theres no use.

(Also it would make things easier to be able to read / write to NTFS disks as fast as Windows)

Really thats all that needs to be solved to get anyone to migrate... those are the major anchors.
Posted by (27 comments )
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