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Linux Truths, Half-Truths, and Myths

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When people find out I run Linux on my computer instead of Windows or even Mac OS X they sometimes have funny ideas about what it must be like. Some of it is historical; Linux used to be quite difficult to administer in its younger days. Some of it is misinformation, or no information at all. I hope to dispell some of the misconceptions.

Linux is difficult to install – Myth. For the most part. Depending on the distribution, Linux is much faster and easier to install than Windows is. A smooth install of Linux takes me about an hour including installing updates, and even less sometimes. This includes installs of Red Hat (before it was Red Hat Enterprise Linux), Fedora (after it was Red Hat), Mandrake (now Mandriva), and Ubuntu (still Ubuntu). Of course, there are some distributions aimed at more experienced users that seem to go out of their way to make the whole installation process a little more, shall we say, complex. I'm looking at you, Gentoo.

I just recently re-installed Windows on a friend's computer that had become so infected with god-knows-what that it was completely unusable. I didn't keep track of how long the install took, but it was hours and hours, not even including when I had to go to bed and continue the install in the morning. Downloading and installing updates, rebooting, downloading and installing more updates, rebooting again. On and on it went.

Of course, after the install all he had was Windows with some minor applications like Notepad and Wordpad, and some games like Solitaire and Minesweeper. Don't get me wrong, I've wasted plenty of time on both of those, but it's a pretty sparse selection.

When I install a Linux distro I get a complete, usable desktop. An office suite, CD and DVD burning software, image manipulation software, full featured email suites, and lots of games. All for no cost. And lots more easily available. Which brings me to my next point…

Programs are difficult to install in Linux – Half-truth. Most distibutions give you on-line access to repositories, large collections of programs picked and packaged by your distribution maintainers for easy installation. Installation this way is actually easier than in Windows. On my Ubuntu box I open up Synaptic, type in a search for the kind of program I want, select it, and it installs. And again, for no cost.

Compare this to Windows where I have to search the web for the program I want, check forums and review sites to see if anyone has been infected with spyware with it, download it, scan it with my anti-virus program, install it, and then find out it's a crippled trial version of what I want.

Where it can be more difficult to install software in Linux is when the software you want isn't available in your repositories, or you need a more recent version. Sometimes the writers of the program have made a package available for your distribution, in which case installation is still pretty easy. Sometimes you have to compile the program from the source code, though, which can be tricky.

There are very few games for Linux – Truth. Compared to Windows, there aren't many commercial games available. Games such as World of Warcraft can be run under Wine, a program that allows Linux to run some Windows programs, but if you are a hard core gamer you'll either have to dual-boot with Windows or use a game console to get your fix.

That's not to say there are no good games available. PlaneShift, Alteria, America's Army, Sauerbraten, Battle for Wesnoth, and Frozen Bubble are just a few of the great games you can get for free.

I need an anti-virus program for Linux – Myth. One of the most common questions from Linux newcomers is which anti-virus program to use. They simply can't believe that one isn't needed. That's not to say viruses don't exist for Linux, there must be dozens and dozens of them. Very few exist in the wild, and those that do fizzle out very quickly.

One of the common arguments against this is that Linux has such a small share of the desktop that not many are written for it; if there were more Linux desktops there would more Linux viruses. This argument ignores the fact that Linux is fundamentally structured so that you have to work very hard to allow a virus to thrive. If you're interested, this guy goes into a lot of detail as to why that is.

The one time you may want to run an anti-virus is if you're running a Linux server that has Windows clients, for example an email server. This is not to protect the server, but rather to protect the Windows boxes from email borne viruses. 

The people you find recommending Linux anti-virus software are usually working for the anti-virus software companies. I'm sure they have your best interests at heart, and aren't only interested in selling more product.

Linux is hacker proof – Myth. Just like any piece of complicated software, vulnerabilities appear and need to be fixed. You must keep your operating system updated, and if you're running servers you must understand how to configure them securely.

Having said that, when vulnerabilities are reported they tend to get fixed very quickly. And keeping your system updated is actually very easy.

Linux users are a bunch of commies and hippies – Truth. I needed to get one more truth in this list.

Getting hardware to run on Linux is difficult – Half-truth. Linux actually supports more hardware than Windows does. There can be problems with some newer hardware when the manufacturer hasn't released Linux drivers, but often times there are Linux gurus working hard to get it working. You may have to wait.

There are also devices that are designed to use Windows to do some of their work. Cheap modems (called winmodems by Linux users) are particularly infamous for this. It is possible with some work to get some of them working, but you are probably better off getting a real hardware modem.

Linux is difficult to use – Myth. There are those who say free (that is, open source) software is hard to use. If you're used to doing things a certain way there may be an adjustment to learning a new way of doing things, but that doesn't make the new way more difficult, just different.

One small example is the difference between OpenOffice and Microsoft Office. In OpenOffice if you want to insert a header or a footer into a document you go to the "Insert" menu, then select "Header" or "Footer". In Microsoft Office if you want to do the same thing you have to go to the "View" menu. One isn't necessarily more difficult than the other, but to me the OpenOffice way makes more sense. If you were used to the Microsoft Office way, though, you may find that hard to get used to.

My programs won't run in Linux – Half-truth. No, your Windows programs probably won't run (although they might under Wine or Crossover Linux) but chances are there exist replacement programs in Linux.

The Gimp will replace Photoshop for 95% of people, although it does take getting used to. I've already mentioned OpenOffice as a replacement for Microsoft Office. There are dozens of different media players, many different web browsers and email clients, peer to peer file sharing programs, DVD and CD burning programs, and so on. All of them are free, and many of them actually better than the ones you've already paid for in Windows.

What are your experiences with Linux like? Do you disagree with me? What else do people get wrong about Linux? Let me know in the comments, or by email.

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About Steve R.

  • robert

    Getting hardware to run on Linux is difficult – Half-truth. Linux actually supports more hardware than Windows does. There can be problems with some newer hardware when the manufacturer hasn’t released Linux drivers, but often times there are Linux gurus working hard to get it working. You may have to wait.

    I don’t know where you get this from. There is much less hardware support for most free linux distros. My experience is the add/remove and other similiar programs cause system problems.

    Robert using ubuntu.

  • bali

    Getting hardware to work in linux is neither ‘less’ nor ‘impossible’. It just depends on what level of lunacy you are willing to go through to get it.

    A humble gentoo user.

  • Mepis fan

    I’ve installed Mepis on 7 laptops and 2 desktop pcs so far and have not found any hardware that it did not just automatically run on. I use it exclusively at home and there is nothing that I can’t do with it. VNC, VPNC, Wyse60 emulator, telnet and ssh, all of which I use to access my work network from home.
    I share printers and data with my wife’s XP PC using Samba which was also all set up and running at install.

  • I run a variety of computers at home, I have Windows, and I have Linux (Fedora and Debian, oh there may even be a touch of Unduntu on a laptop or two, oh and a couple of Apples.

    Linux has moved forward a great deal in the last couple of years. It is easy to install, and it does not need the 27 reboots to perform the install.

    On the downside, it is still more complicated when it comes to installing programs, in the Windows world you click on ‘Install’, in the linux world you have to deal with many other issues, Do you need an RPM or a source module?

    It is my guess tho, that the linux world will fix this very soon.

    I am a fan, but I must admit that I am writing this comment on a Windows box, I am not quite ready to make the big change. My web server is linux, my TV is an Apple, but this computer is WinTel!

  • I took the Linux leap just a year and a half ago. I really have not looked back. It took some learning and there was some challenges….the kind with rewards of course. After the drastic change from Windows98 to XP I had to toss out most of my old hardware (a lot of it expensive) and fork out the dough for some new stuff. Unfortunately XP was not quite ready for USB2 unless I allowed service pack 2 to be installed. This is where my romance with my new expensive PC ended. After the install of SP2 my operating system did not exist and I was left with that lovely shade of blue that we all have heard about. New PC, new hardware, no recovery discs? Did I not buy XP with my new PC? At this point I was not aware of Linux..so my only option was to spend another $150 on XP, go back to Windows 98 and loose my new hardware, or bootleg XP. I chose the lesser evil and had a friend download XP on his 56k File sharing program. I tolerated not being able to use the USB2 on my new PC but my operating system continually collapsed under the weight of virus attacks which because of lack of crucial OS updates I was prone to. I had spy ware programs constantly running in the background, my PC sending all in my address book the same virus. Why did i have to put up with this? I needed a new OS. I knew OSX was out of the question…I had a new PC and new hardware and couldn’t afford that direction. This is when I discovered Linux. I started with Kanotix Live CD ,at first as a rescue disc to save my crucial files and clean up some bad stuff. Soon enough I decided to install to my hard drive and dual boot. I loved it. Yes it was a different world to learn about, but I preferred to spend my time and energy to educate myself with this free OS rather than waste it fighting viruses and using an OS that I might have paid for but would never own. I only dual booted for 1 month then allowed XP to slip into its blue purgatory. I have used PCLinuxOS for a year now. I fell in love with it after it automatically connected & installed my HP printer and wlan. That is something my XP could not even do with 700mb of additional HP software. I now have a circle of close friends that have eliminated XP off of their laptops and replaced it with Linux with absolutely no problems. Some continued to use their Adobe Photo Shop under WINE simply because they had paid for it but they also rave about GIMP’s abilities. I give them 3 months.

  • Thy

    Another positive comment to add towards Linux: Certain live CDs, such as SystemRescueCd can actually be used to recover data from damaged Windows partitions, or to create a complete image of both Windows and Linux partitions. Not sure if Microsoft has the courtesy to provide similar tools.

    As for the difficulty of installing programs under Linux, as far as Debian is concerned I can simply say: “apt-get…” 🙂

    Finally, if you must have Windows installed for specific reasons, VirtualBox is an excellent alternative to a dual-boot.

  • segphault

    I’ve had some bad experiences with Linux hardware support. Any hardware that isn’t entirely mainstream is going to create problems. Wireless support is very bad and there are a lot of problems with graphics hardware. I have three monitors, so I have to use xinerama, which breaks about a dozen different things.

    I also disagree with your assertion that linux users are a bunch of hippies and communists. There are definitely a lot of hippies and communists, but I’m definitely not one of them, and I very few of my linux-using colleagues fit into that category either.

  • Robert – What I meant (and didn’t make clear) was that Linux supports more hardware out of the box. This means not having to install additional drivers from CDs or download from the net, but simply have the hardware work. Also, Linux has far more support for older hardware than Windows does. If you’re running newer hardware, you’re more likely to have problems.

    Mepis Fan – My personal experience has been close to yours. Running Ubuntu on my desktop, and remotely running a Fedora server, and I have had great success with getting things working the way I need to.

    Simon Barrett – I’m surprised that you’re having problems installing programs with Debian. apt-get or Synaptic is about as easy as it gets. Debian has a huge amount of software in repositories. Even yum with Fedora is comparable.

    The only time it can get tricky is when there is something not in the repositories, which may be what you mean. There are a couple of projects to make a “universal packager” (Linspire’s CNR is one that comes to mind). We’ll see how they pan out.

    segphault – Lighten up! It was just a joke!

  • I really liked this article. It reads close to how I would have put it myself.

    I found the pros and cons to be honestly told.

    A note about the hardware section of this article:

    I have read in various linux related articles and books that the number of supported hardware devices are indeed more than what windows has/does support.I’m just vouching for the author in respect to that being a common view.

    I was going to write more in this comment but I don’t think I need to.

    I agree with what you’re saying.
    I assume the commie/hippie thing to be a joke for the most part. I found humor in it anyway..

    Take it easy.

  • Stu

    I started running Linux in 2003, and now I’ve reached the point where I don’t even bother with windows anymore. When my windows using friends come to me with their problems, I just hand them a copy of a live distro, tell them how to salvage their data, and let *them* decide what OS they want to use.
    Curiously, the people who seem to get the most out of Linux and tend to stay with it are the typical non-computer savvy “Joe Sixpack” types. When they run into a Linux problem, they’ve generally been able to figure it out for themselves. It’s always been the ones who brag about their High-Zoot Overclocked XP computers and the IT “gurus” who run into problems and decide Linux is too difficult to use. When I told one of our IT people that I have a “Windows Only” laser printer working under Linux, and he was shocked! He seemed to think it was impossible to do. Sure, I had to Google for the driver, download the source code, and compile it myself (which took me all of five minutes), but it really wasn’t that difficult.
    I have to admit it scares me a bit that the Windows Experts can’t get a live Distro to run properly, while a Blue Collar like myself can Net-install Debian Etch on an obsolete Laptop, and get it working without any major issues.
    The only real MYTH I see about Linux is that millions of competent, intelligent potential Linux users believe they are too stupid to make it work, and thats a shame. People should give themselves more credit, because Micro$oft for sure won’t.

  • Josef

    That “Truth” about hippies and commies was probably meant as a joke 🙂
    I use both Linux (at home) and Windows XP at work and find Linux more and more mature and ready for mainstream. As for the difficulty with app installation – it depends. If you try the Windows way (searching the Internet and looking for installers) you end up disappointed. If you check your distro repository you might be pleasantly surprised, though.
    Not that I do not compile from time to time from source (you know – all that sweet stuff at kde-apps) but I do it only if I can actually create the .deb with checkinstall.
    And the hardware support – well – if you don’t buy the latest and/or cheapest you should be safe.
    On a side note – ever tried to change a failed motherboard on a Windows PC? If the new one has a different chipset – bad luck, you will have to do the “Repair Windows Installation” magic.

  • Richard

    I’ve been using Linux for years and it has gotten SO much better at the ease of install, hardware detection, etc. I think the myths come from people who tried Linux a long time ago and then held on to their experiences. I’d like to sit those people down and show them a new openSUSE or Ubuntu install. It’s a whole new world from Red Hat 5 (good times!). Hardware detection in Windows only appears better because vendors usually install everything for you. When I tried to install Windows Vista on my brother’s computer recently I couldn’t even start the installation program because it said the DVD-ROM driver (Pioneer DVR-111D) was missing! I couldn’t believe what was on the screen. I’m sticking with Linux. Great post.

  • Max

    I Pais $89. for Suse Pro V 9.2. All it gave me was 10 hours of total nightmare. Never getting past go .Loss of all data and a necessary restore to OEM to salvage the situation. To suggest “read the manual of over 700 pages is rediculous

  • kuriharu

    *SIGH* Installing software on Linux is considerably more difficult than Windows.

    With Windows, you download an .exe, double-click on it, and click “Next” a few times. That’s it. What’s more, it will ALWAYS show up under your “All Programs” menu.

    With Linux, you can search for items in your repository and most of the time they’ll install. In my experience about 10% of the time I get “Package needs library file but it is not going to be installed”. Huh? I thought Debian/Ubuntu’s package managers fixed this! And it’s not limited to Debian/Ubuntu. I’m not going to mention what installing from source is like.

    Even programs that DO install from your repository don’t always show up on your desktop or in a menu. FOr the ones that DO actually show up somewhere, they often end up in the weirdest places (TuxPaint under education?)

    Linux has come a long way, but it still has a ways to go. I wouldn’t want my parents, aunt or grandmother to have to go through this. It’s nutz.

  • slonkak

    I need an anti-virus program for Linux – Myth.

    Wrong-o. Despite the lack of virii in the while for Linux, virus proctection MUST be taken into consideration. While I do agree with what you said, you give the false impression that you don’t need to worry about it, and that’s not true. Not true at all.

  • Duki

    The fact is simple: Linix is harder to use, there is no replacement for a A LOT of software (give me a decent and often updated RAW converter, where i don’t need to issue commands to rotate an image), or give me simple one click DVD->Divx conversion apps, or DVD mastering software, etc.

    2) Linux is still not ready for prime time due to it’s retarded dependencies system and application installation headaches. For some odd reason they still don’t want to immiate the best install system – that of Apple Macs!

  • angaino

    I’m not sure how you tend to install XP, but I’ve never had it take hours and hours and hours like you suggested. It takes maybe an hour to do a base install, then install the patches from an Autopatcher CD, and you have all of the critical updates. Another 30-45 minutes of letting XP download and install updates, while you are able to use your computer for other things, and you are up to date.
    Also, if you know good places to find free software, like sourceforge.net, or any of the thousands of free software lists out there, you can find good, free, reliable, easy to use software for windows.
    I’m NOT dumping on Linux, since Linux has much of this, but I suspect that some Linux users are unaware of some easy tricks that make Windows a lot easier to use. Also, as long as you have a few basic precautions in place, viruses and trojans are virtually a non-issue.

  • racekarl

    slonkak is right about anti-virus software.

    Even if a virus can’t infect your computer, a linux computer could become a vector for transmitting it. For example, you forward an email containing a virus to your friend running windows who then becomes infected. AV on Linux isn’t so much about protecting yourself, but being a good neighbor and preventing your system from spreading virii to others.

  • I use Linux – deb, ubu, FC, etc. work and home. [Edited]

  • As far as the hardware issue goes, Linux only really supports more hardware in the sense of older, obscure, and non x86 h/w.

    I’ve had a hell of a time installing Linux on a laptop, and finding the required graphics chipset drivers, and following the directions.

  • Ubu

    Linux doesn’t work well with wireless networking: Mostly-truth. I remember my very first experience with Intersil Prism 2.5 hardware in 2003, and it was an incredible ordeal getting it working properly. Fast-forward almost _4 years_ and it’s still every bit the chore, every bit lacking built-in tools, every bit NDISWrapper’d drivers silently failing on top of already-installed-but-lacking-firmware kernel native drivers.

    What a freaking nightmare. For many people wireless networking is the only public network access they have. Is there any excuse for returning us to the classic chicken-and-egg problem Linux used to have, wherein most wired NICs wouldn’t work out of the box? Is there any excuse that during the span of 4 years so little progress has been made?

  • Tim

    I’ve tried several flavors of Linux, including those ones you don’t install, you just run from CD. In all my attempts and all my hours of work, I have never once gotten any Linux version to successfully boot.

    I do some computer consulting for Windows and Mac and am not a novice. I’m sorry, it’s no myth that Linux is hard to install or even run off a CD.

  • Matt

    Windows has support for more hardware. It’s just economics. No hardware manufacturer will ever release anything without Windows drivers, and this has been the case for many years. Linux support is optional for them, and in many cases you wind up with base functionality for the chipset the device uses. Third party and community written drivers are often available, but depend on the willingness of the manufacturer to allow access to some pretty low level proprietary stuff – that’s why it took years for there to be Linux drivers for Intel network cards, for example. Windows supports everything. Old stuff gets rolled up into monolithic drivers, but the devices still work fine.

    You need antivirus. The fact that so many Linux users claim they don’t is the number one sign that Linux is becoming mainstream (along with all those OS X users thinking they are using a Linux based operating system). The argument of course is that Linux viruses struggle to survive in the wild because Linux is naturally more secure. Consider this: If you were a real live hacker, not a script kiddie but someone who can actually code, and you wrote a virus that could take control of machines remotely, or gather information that might be quite valuable from them, why would you tell anybody? And wouldn’t you target operating systems that people brag about leaving unprotected? There are guys out there who have written viruses that could gain control of any *nix system, and breed and go undetected while doing it. So it is likely that there are not only viruses out there that are living and breeding on your Linux machines, but that they are actually more dangerous than most Windows viruses because they are well written. And they go undetected because there is no market for Linux AV software.

    So far, I’ve stuck with Windows because every time I try a new flavor of Linux it is either too much of a pain in the ass to deal with (is Slackware still around?) or it has become Windows in a different box (RedHat). I use BSD for my servers, and will probably switch to OS X on my desktop if Apple ever stops screwing it up.

  • bj

    Agreed. I knwo of only three things that would turn people away from linux. Intel i810 / i915, and JMICRON PATA cnotroller. JMICRON is fixed in later version of the kernel, but i810 and i915 support still blown chunks. You ALWAYS have to manually reconfigure xorg (with xorg.conf) in order to make it work. Given you only need to add a couple of lines. Then if you have a widescreen monitor, you need to use a kernel hack. And finally Wireless.

    Aside from those (and video card drivers) i have never had to install drivers. Hardware support is amazing in linux. ease of use and logical placement of everything is MUCH better than windows. It amazes me all the time why people still use windows.

    Too bad opengl doesnt compare to Directx10 :(. Hopefully it gets a huge update that is comparable. I am really going to miss linux when good directx10 games start coming out.

  • justin

    the only real hardware problem i’ve encountered so far with ubuntu was trying to get my dual-monitor setup working right (halfway there, they both work, but can’t rotate yet). other than that, it’s been very good.

  • Matt – Are you suggesting there are super secret undetectable viruses that will be detected by antivirus programs? The truth is there are many firms in the business of Linux security that scrutinize potential attacks on Linux very closely. And they find them. Hackers are an issue, viruses are not.

    “There are guys out there who have written viruses that could gain control of any *nix system, and breed and go undetected while doing it” is pure fantasy. There is no market for antivirus programs because there is no need. There is a huge market for security because it is important. If none of the firms and individuals who make it their business to find attacks on Linux have found any “undetectable viruses” I would be surprised if you have any evidence.

  • I’ve had many experiences with Linux over the years, starting with Slackware 2.x which came on a 5 1/2′ floppy or two. Now, Linux has gone through Monumental improvements and I appreciate all of the hard work that volunteers have done to make it so, but I still don’t think it is good enough…eh, simple enough for mainstream use.

    I typically build my own boxes (ie. I go out and buy the case, motherboard, cpu, memory, hd, etc.) and I rarely have a problem installing and running WindowsXP with all of the drivers running at full capability. My experiences with Linux is that I have to do research to find out if my video card is supported, find out if all of the modes are going to be available for that chipset, and if not, will I have to do more research to find out how to build a driver for that shipset to take advantage of its full capabilities. I think this will continue to be a problem as long as Manufacturers consider Linux to be a not-for-profit venture.

    Software installs…OMG!
    Most of the software is installed out of the box with Linux = True! …but, a lot of the software I want/need to use is not, like the Streaming directional control software that came with my Smilecam (www.smilecam.com), or my now outdated Kodak Camera. I have a video capture card that I can’t use on my Linux box because Linux does not have an Overlay capable driver for the SIS chipset video card in my motherborad. Non of this was an issue when I installed XP on the same machine. Not to mention that IF I found a driver for linux for my devices, I would have to find the source for several different packages and try to build them (of which 90% wouldn’t build without an error of some sort).

    The software I have seen for Linux Distros (I’ve tried Ubuntu, Red Hat, Fedora, Suse, Dynebolic, CentOS and several others) is not as pristine as the software for windows. The buttons look like something a 5 year old created in windows paint, the menus are basic and don’t offer the functions you need and the graphics just don’t cut it (prbably because the drivers can’t handle the full modes of my video equipment, see above).

    Web Browser plug-in support in Linux = null
    I just had to throw that in there.

    Installation is easy…well, in most cases. Here is a problem I encountered with Red Hat9.x and up for the longest and was able to get no help from the online community. Anaconda would just freez-up during the install. No error messages, no nothing. It did this on two new machines I was building. Then one day, just out of curiosity, I swapped out the DVD-ROM drive with an older model…and it worked! What’s up with that?!

    Windows is diging itself a big hole with being a stickler with it’s CD-Key codes (see KB905474) so I know a lot of businesses won’t be able to use GHOST to image their machines with the same code, so I know Linux is going to get a boost over the next few years. But I still won’t install Linux on the computers I built for my mother, father, sister and some friends…just yet…

  • Hedgecore

    I’m curious as to what distros people were trying when they encountered ‘difficult’ installs. I used Slackware in the early 90s, Mandrake/Redhat/Xandros/FedoraCore early in this decade, and finally went to Ubuntu 3 months ago because Fedora Core 6 simply failed to load the installer. (True that’s a difficulty, but I rectified it by grabbing a different distro) The installs became successively easier in that order. For Ubuntu I put the CD in the drive, it booted, I 2x clicked on the install, set one or two settings (like my timezone) and within 15 mins I was booted and ready to go. Way less than that XP requires. (Mind you, I think given how often OS installations are performed this is a bit of a BS metric to grade against)

    Also: Dependencies are ridiculous? Howabout a 30MB file full of system settings that’s succeptible to malware? That’d be way worse. If I developed something like that I think I’d call it a Registry. Has a nice ring to it. … erm wait.

  • matthaus

    I am a linux user, but find it anoying when people say its hard to install programs on Linux compared to windows. well each indeervidual distrobution of linux is diffrent, and even through they share the programs they can be consided as inderviulal OS and therefore o course its harder to install somthing unpagaed for your system.
    Saying that i have a LFS (linux from scrach) at homw, this is baicly my own distro of linux, and therefoe i had to compiel the hole thing in, and still have to do so when ever a ne program comes out that i wont, bu to my i can no recolect using more than four lines that are allmost allways identical to insatll a program ftom source:
    make install

    Those are the typical compads needed. not hard is it?

  • Duki:

    1 – Try digikam or picasa for linux, they do what you want with RAW images, for dvd authoring you can use (will juts name a few) k9copy, kmediafactory,qdvdauthor,devede for dvd-divx(or h264 or flash or any other codec under the sun) you can try kmencoder or dvd rip-o-matic or several others i can’t remember from memory. you are uninformed an biased about the current status of linux software. also i would like to add that nowadays linux IS in the cutting edge of video editing/mastering, don’t believe me? ask pixar or lucasart.

  • Kahis

    Matt: “Windows has support for more hardware. It’s just economics. No hardware manufacturer will ever release anything without Windows drivers, and this has been the case for many years.”

    Can you point us to modern Windows software/drivers for Mac computers? Amigas? Sun SPARCs? Crays? pre-Pentium Intel processors?

    Windows supports only a limited subset of computer hardware, ie. modern x86-derivatives and associated peripherals.

  • Jeeves

    I have to say that the Application support for Linux is fantastic. I found programs in Linux that I found and used for Windows, running them in Cygwin if necessary. That being said I had issues.
    As a gamer, my use of Windows has been consistent and long lasting. However after dealing with inconsistent older computers which have failing optical drives, I decided Linux was easier to install than Windows. Mind you, this was because of the lack of an optical drive. Imagine my surprise, when I run smack into installation issues. I dont know if anyone will agree with me, but Linux is great if you do everything in commandline, X-Servers in Ubuntu, Fedora and Suse all failed on my installation. After hours of searching and questions, the hardware support of an ATI 9550 Card was finally fingered as the issue. So no Linux is just not ready for the mainstream world. Unless you like Unix Dos environments, which will always work.
    I have seen the psychedelic screen of death, and it is not pretty. Kernel faults are not nice either.

    And when people complain about UAC in Vista, I laugh /cackle, because Fedora’s insistence on superuser priviledges to copy files, install apps, LOOK ACROSS the BLOODY NETWORK, drove me nuts. That and using the built in File Explorer, rather than the Gnome Commander(more useful, less flashy) was singualry useless, and insane. Windows Explorer worked better, and that is saying something, since it has barely changed in 8 years.
    Linux gurus am I just cursed, or run of the mill Wintel believers?

  • Tom

    I just installed my first version of Linux (Ubuntu) last week from a LiveCD. The last time I attempted a Linux install was Red Hat 5.

    I had absolutely no problems running Ubuntu from LiveCD. It ran all my hardware from the beginning and was fairly easy to navigate, though different from Windows.

    After playing with Ubuntu for a week, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I could game in Linux I’d leave the Windows world behind. As it is, I’m formatting my laptop and installing Ubuntu on it as I don’t use it to game. I really like Beryl (love the eye candy) and am sufficiently impressed with the OS that I intend to use it for work as I can run my product demos in the Linux version of VMWare.

  • Terry Lechecul

    I shudder when I hear computer ‘consultants’ say that they havent been able to install any Linux distro or even get one live CD to work.
    No one can be that incompetent.

    My retired father ran about a dozen live CD’s I gave him to see if he liked Gnome or KDE and he NEVER had a problem. Maybe my dad with less than 5 years on a computer should take over some consultants job.

    As of yet, I havent found one distro that didnt install properly. I had one live cd last year, Kororaa( spelling?) which couldnt recognize my laptops wifi but over the past year, nada.
    Ive installed distros on my AMD box with the latest bells and whistles, my laptop and even my P2 with 700megs of ram. I built my own desktops so no cheapo brands used for my video cards, motherboards, ram, HD, etc.

    My father even asked me once what the differences where between the distros because he couldnt tell some of them apart (gnome with gnome and KDE with KDE). He found his Firefox, Thunderbird, OO, VLC and other programs he used every day on his WIn box so there was no difference but lets be honest, anyone with half a brain who has used IE can use Opera, Firefox or other browser, they do the same thing.

    Ive installed SUSE, Ubuntu on about 15 peoples computers the past 16 months, most of them retired folks who had little computer knowledge and I get less calls per month from those people than from family members who use Windows.

    Is Linux perfect? Far from it but Ive noticed
    progress every year and decided last year that while I would have never installed Red Hat 6.0 on my dad’s machine years ago, Ubuntu was ready.

    For browsing, emails, writing, listening to music, porn (dont act shocked, LOTS of people look at porn), shopping which is about 90% of stuff people do online, it is great.
    The last 10% will come but it is not a deal breaker anymore (I can use wine for Windows must have apps but still have a dual boot just in case).

    Would I want to edit video with Linux? Probably not but like I said, for the general use people have (I used to work part time in a small computer store so I know what our customers did with their machines) Linux is ready.

    Oh yeah, I hate jews and blacks (hey, looking at other posts I take its ok to hate on this forum, right? Or is it just some groups?)


  • John

    “Of course, there are some distributions aimed at more experienced users that seem to go out of their way to make the whole installation process a little more, shall we say, complex. I’m looking at you, Gentoo.”

    Have you installed Gentoo 2006.1? It has an installer now (that doesn’t crash). It may require more options that people are used to but that’s what Gentoo is about, besides the Gentoo installer lets you save your configuration as an XML document to be reloaded for future installs, or on other machines (that are similar). Gentoo used to be not easy to install for the GUI oriented people but that simply is no longer the case, a new article should have it’s sourced straight and up-to-date.

  • Simon

    Liunx is programs are not difficult to install? please… usually you have to download few different files and compile them. Users don’t have to know how to compile files if they are running Windows.

  • Whether or not your linux experience is a good one depends entirely on your Distro choice.
    LINUX whoops windows’ ass.
    Unfortunately, all linux DISTRO’s SUCKED in my personal experience.

    Ubuntu doesn’t get past the loading screen on any system I’ve tried it on with any of the ubuntu versions I’ve tried.
    Only a handful of ancient versions of knoppix worked.
    The version of Sabayon prior to the current one worked WONDERFULLY…but then they had to go and convince me to upgrade to the new one which was a nightmare, nothing worked, had to change mouse speed in 2 different gui settings and edit 2 text files just to make my mouse work..etc..really really crappy experience for me so far. I’m not wasting my time on Linux again for at least 6 months.

  • tr

    Good reading,
    But what about sharing documents (eg. MSWord and Photoshop) between Windows and Linux?

  • Timothy L

    When it comes to hardware on Linux, if it is a mature driver, the hardware works much better, sometimes with extra config options and wotnot, than on Windows. If the driver is still in early stages, you can probably do some of whatever you’ve been bitching about.

    But if the driver doesn’t exist, you can have a hard time requesting someone make a driver.

    For both cheap and niche hardware, it seems to be pretty hard to get a Linux driver.

    I don’t understand the cheap hardware though. You would think companies would use cheap, open standard, easy-to-program-for hardware. Apparently it is more like the winmodem situation.

    Ahh well. More and more you are hearing about Native Linux drivers. It’s only going to happen more and more, especially any vendor that’s sellin to the enterprise. There will be a day when hardware debuts default with Linux drivers somewhere on it’s install disk. I just hope that happens before 2020.

  • Linux is a piece of cake to use! As far as sharing documents tr, it is easy, they are compatible.

  • Dynesh

    You seemed to have overly complicated how to get and install programs for windows. You acted like it was hours work to find out if it has spy ware. I certainly have never had a problem downloading a bunch of stuff with spy ware. If I have any sort of question about a program, say with certain p2p programs, I just Google the program named and the word spy ware, and in all of bout 30 seconds, I can get an idea of whether I need to get that program or not.

    Downloading, double clicking, and following directions is a lot easier then this mess you have to go through with Linux.

    Linux is fun to mess with as a secondary operating system, but I’ll stick to Windows.

  • From someone who spent the weekend installing Windows XP pro and Kubuntu (Drake) on my desktop AND my laptop, I can agree somewhat with the author. Windows is a bitch to update once installed, but it was easier to get online and update than with kubuntu. This is mainly due to the fact that i am trying to wirelessly connect to my network in kubuntu (and still havnt figured out how) which isnt an ‘out of the box’ feature. The biggest problem when switching to Linux is understanding how it works so as to properly set it up (i am a first time linux user).

  • I personally use Fedora 6 for all my Desktop machines in my company (being the SysAdmin) and I have so many people complain about the “getting used to” factor.

    Once they are over that, I’ve had no one ask for Windows back!

    Proof is in the pudding!

  • MK

    Linux is mostly the same as it was 5yrs ago,even my win98se comp can run almost any wireless card or bluetooth dangle, and the truth is after putting many computers together, Linux indeed does not boot on all computers

  • KiL

    I have to admit that now Linux is in most cases less of a pain than Windows, but that simply means it’s better than the worst. I still don’t understand why so many distros try to be like Windows. Why setting your standards so low? One of the phrases I often hear is “Linux is a easy to use as Windows”, so you mean it’s a usability nightmare?

    C’mon I know you can do better than this GNOME has taken the first steps in the right direction, but should get some more advice from some real usability experts. Backasswards concept like a spatial desktop are just not in line any more with the reality of computing in the 21st century. We have to handle so many files and computers got much more complex so that the spatial approach is really not cutting it any more. It’s a concept of the childood days of the Macintosh.

    The day Linux will match OS X in usability and ease of use, consistency (universal drag and drop, cut and paste everywhere) and feature wise (core graphics, linkback, core audio etc.) is the day I will really consider switching. I do want to love Linux, but for now it’s just not there yet.

    Also about the GIMP. Yes it is a capable program. If you say for 95% of the Photoshop users it will be enough. I say, yes, but for 95% of the people who have not only a copy of Photoshop but have actually paid for it (!) and using it for work it just doesn’t cut it in any way. Ask any non hobbyist designer, about the GIMP and most of the start screaming in agony.

  • Agon

    I use Win2k in the office and Slackware 11.0 at home. (I used to use Mandrake, and have tried Ubuntu) Both Win2k and Slackware are kinda outdated, at least in terms of popularity. I do admit that when compared to the Windows users counterpart, Linux users are more frequently forced to DIY stuffs (if there are ways which work out) and thus, more difficult to get things work.

    I bought a new mouse for my Slack-box recently (Logitech MX400) which has more buttons (the thumb buttons on the side) than the old scroll-wheel mouse. It worked perfectly except for the thumb buttons. I searched a bit on the net and learned that I have to install a mouse recognition program (driver) and a key binding program in order to get the buttons work. However, I didn’t have the time to bother it so I just left the new buttons alone.

    Well, all I wanted to say is, getting hardware to run on Linux is INDEED difficult. Even if there are supports/workaround for those new hardwares, you still have to have the time to figure out how. For people who use their computers as using TV set, just forget Linux and stick with Windows or Mac!

  • Henry S.

    This is the most accurate Linux description I have ever seen. I agree with it 100%.

    I especially agree with “Linux users are hippies” and that WinXP installation is difficult. Although I would say (with a little less humor) that “Linux advocates are hippies.” I’m sure there are plenty of Linux users, like myself, who use it because it works, not because of the license…but we just aren’t as vocal.

    I just did a WinXP reinstall for somebody and I have vowed never to do it again. I spent days trying to get it to accept the new motherboard & CPU, installing basic applications, installing anti-virus & stuff, installing drivers, getting hardware to work, etc.

    And I agree with the hardware. What I do is treat Linux hardware buying like I would treat buying hardware for a Mac…I don’t just buy anything random Windows hardware…I usually check that it is Linux compatible, just like I would check that it is Mac compatible. If the only way to get some hardware to work is to compile…then I don’t consider that Linux compatible. Perhaps one day hardware manufacturer’s will be able to certify their hardware as “Linux compatible” and label the product. That would eliminate the majority of hardware problems, because then people would know what to buy.

  • regeya

    Henry S. has it. The Linux experience, especially with a distribution such as Ubuntu, is a lot closer to the Mac experience than anything else. It works good, but it might not support every random piece of hardware/software you see. Once you get used to that, though, you’ll do fine.

    I’m not a vocal Linux advocate IRL, largely because people I know tend to treat computers as appliances, and tend to think of Windows as the OS that comes free with computers, so why use anything else?

    As a Linux user, I tend to pick out my hardware myself, after research. This includes everything in the computer case. So no, I make for a lousy advocate, though I can say with perfect honesty that Linux on the desktop is a lot more vialbe than it used to be.

  • larry

    a good overall piece, have been using linux since 1997, not an expert yet…but going that direction.

    on my shop computer, linux only..on the ones i build to sell, Windoz and Linux, dual boot.

    years ago, video was the hardest part of a linux install, now it is mostly a breeze. have used most of the distributions, like Mepis personialy.

    it’s hard to believe how hard folks will work to keep M-S in business.

    I own a small computer shop..work on Windows daily.

  • Dave

    Don’t forget that someone switching from Windows to Linux might incur loss of personal data due to a change in one’s hard drive’s file system. That’s why I’m so reluctant to switch.

  • j

    you fool- how would you lose data changing filesystems

    the drive is formated- when you format a windows drive do you complain that you “risk” losing data-

    stay on windows- your just a fool fool fool

  • Me

    Linux is easy to use? Hahahahaha. So umm, which pakage manager do I use debian? RPM? or do i have to compile the app or is it do I have the right libs? what’s a fucking lib?

    It took you hours and hours to install windows? You’re a tard.

    I remember how Linux nerds used to always love how “we never have to reboot”. Well, I installed Ubuntu the other day and immediately after downloading the latest services packs, guess what I had to do…

    Gnome is still not as good as the Windows interface. Sorry. It’s close.. but Windows has more features.

    It has gotten easier to install, but it’s still a turd because it was based on Unix. /etc for config files. That makes sense. Does the /usr directory have user files? no that’s /home. Is my binary in bin or sbin or under /usr/bin?

    Linux has it’s advantages, but stop trying to compete with windows. Give it up already.

  • Just a few points. I’ve been using Linux since 2000 and exclusively (no dual boot) since 2003. No, it’s not difficult to use. I configured KDE for my girl friend to look and behave like Windows and she even does her Office courses (for MS Office) on Linux/OOo.

    However, installation and administration is something different. Although you don’t have to be a techie to install and configure it, it certainly helps. And when buying any piece of hardware it is recommended to check first whether Linux is supported one way or another.

    Adding programs from the installation DVD is a breeze. Updating those programs is something else. The first eighteen months you can get away with packages (for SuSE in this case), but you have to resolve dependencies yourself. After that it gets increasingly difficult and you have to resort to compilation (configure/make/make install). E.g. compiling KOffice 1.6.1 took me hours and I had to patch the code several times in order to get it to compile. Obviously, I don’t think that updating to KDE 3.5.x or even 4.0.x is a real option that way.

    I don’t like reinstalls and even updating to a new SuSE version is too tricky for me. Why? Because it is first and foremost a machine that I use for real life work and the only and most important thing is that it keeps on functioning for as long as the hardware can bear.

    Even updating the system using the official SuSe repository is too tricky. I did it until my Gnome applications stopped functioning and I had to do several months without Gimp, Dia or Firefox. Finally I found out where the update had gone wrong and fixed it.

    Note that this is still several times better than Windows, that slows down and corrupts until a reinstall has become unavoidable. When I still used Windows a tiny change forced me several times to go back to my backup and do a full restore of all system related files. And Windows hasn’t become any better since in my experience. Virusses, Infections, Spyware, Trojans, Adware. And now, with the introduction of WGA and DRM, it’s not even your computer anymore – just read the EULA. With Linux I can regard my machine as just a workhorse, with Windows I can’t.

    In short, yes, Linux has its minor annoyances – just like my DVD recorder. Windows can outrage a person – and usually does. Given a choice, I choose Linux. No comparison.

  • I have installed Ubuntu on my laptop (and discarded windows: no fear :P)
    Installing ubuntu was dead easy, fast and painless.
    Adapting to the interface, relatively easy: everything is clearly explained.
    Customzing your desktop: a bit of both, i still cant get what I want. I am not sure about how Gnome works and I have followed advices not to use automatix. Gdesklet feature is very confusing, i cant understand how the whole thing works.
    Understanding Linux architecture is difficult too. Although you do not have to worry how it is installed at first, you do not have a program file , therefore it is hard to find stuff on your hardrive.
    Compiling: with ubuntu, at first, you do not need it. But somehow, you will have to learn.
    Ubuntu community: hyper active. You get answered if you post, but to look for answers there is a headache: Not one person has the problems you have. I guess this should be the same for windows thought.
    Gaming: still have a problem with sound in battle of wesnoth, a really good game. Its not a clear sound, lots of crrr crrrr.There are other games linux based, or that you have to import from windows with wine. The thing is i do noty have windows anymore on my laptop.
    Image editing: Gimp: Not up to the task really. photoshop is million times better. Although i need to work more with it.
    I also feel very nervous about upgrading to the new version of Ubuntu which will come out on the 19 of april.

    Overall, i am very keen on using linux. Of course, i expect to know everything about it in 2 weeks. It took me years to master windows.
    My gf hates linux and she is begging for windows xp back asap. (my other box with win xp is under repair)
    I am trying to set up the whole Linux thing as i want, no luck so far,i am not happy with any desktop config,with gdesklet very confusing, and i am not doing what i am supposed to do, writing my blog, editing my website…
    I have lost my gf bday pictures with linux, i hope my second pc wont need a formating, otherwise she will kill me.

    One thing is sure with linux: now, it can only go better. I expect 6 months of struggling though…

  • Peteh

    I’m generally really happy with Linux – I use it on older machines and sometimes as bootCD’s for recovery (Slax).

    One thing that is still way behind windows (and I know windows isn’t perfect either) is installing/removing software.

    Great strides have been made in installation but it’s time these got standardised to avoid duplicated effort and documentation. Its also about time some standards were set for software removal, especially compiling sources, often they dump files all over and forget to mention what and where in the docs.

    Don’t get me wrong I can cope but I can see why windows users think it’s complicated.

  • Kev

    I’m a fairly new user to Linux – less than a year. I run Kubuntu and while it’s not perfect I wouldn’t go back to Windows for anything now.

    Seriously… Worst case senario if I screw something up with Linux, I back up my Thunderbird folder, and my home directory.. insert the CD and reboot the computer. less than 2 hours later I have my desktop back with exactly the same setup as when I left it… that’s worst case senario…

    I’ve spent days just getting Windows to LET me back up SOME of the valuable data before I format the drive.

    I’m sorry Windows guys but the article is true. Linux isn’t harder, it’s just different. In most ways I’m finding it’s easier and better. Sure the world revolves around Windows so it looks like Linux isn’t the easier solution.

    But as a noob user I do everything on Linux. It’s secure, safe, AND I have all the software I could ever want without breaking the bank or becoming a pirate.


  • Amby

    I had to re-install one Windows XP Pro on an Acer laptop. Took me 10 hours out of which 5 was spent on struggling to get the wireless to work with no avail.

    I installed Ubuntu on an identical Acer laptop and it took me 30 minutes. Add another 30 minutes fetching and installing all the latest and greatest thingamajig and voila. The machine was ready, with wifi and everything working, “out of the box”!

  • Mario

    How about the fact that most of the people who criticize linux are the ones who wont even go out and pay for windows. They use pirate software defend windows but wont pay for it, that doesn’t make sense. At least with linux you get a free OS and a multitude of apps for free. I think the open source guys deserve a much respect for their effort. So my point is if you have a paid copy of windows you can come to the table and speak. Windows is not open source so if you defend it make sure that you bought it.

  • Amby

    …and I never installed any additional software. It was just a plain Windows install, and a “plain” Linux install. Guess which was more usable after setting up.

  • What is good with linux is that if you loose or break the cd, you can download it again… but if you break the windows cd (ie: my csituation), then you are doomed to buy a new one… 🙁

  • WJM

    In my experience, Windoze is the single most furstrating thing I’ve ever used on a computer. Every time I am forced to use it, within 10 minutes of sitting down at it, I remember why I switched from it over 7 years ago. And having looked at XP enough times, I am sure that I made the right decision (who the hell needs a little cartoon doggie to go searching for your files? COME ON!).

    I came from the Amiga world, and it’s OS is not lonly very stable (at least 3.5 sure was), and has an underlying basis very similar to Unix. So it’s not a difficult thing for me to have called hard drives hda, hdb, hdc, etc, instead of C:, D:, etc., and the CLI or shell doesn’t scare me, either. In fact, I consider it a major shortcoming of ANY OS to not allow that easily.

    I have no difficulty doing whatever I need to do in Linux, and that includes audio multitracking, mixing and mastering for CD’s, all business needs, and YES, even video editing and DVD production. And with the exception of video editing (I use MainActor, a very capable editing program that cost me $199.00), every program I use is not only free, but came with the OS. Tell me that Windoze does THAT for you!

    I prefer linux. I don’t have to reboot all the time, I don’t have to swear at the machine while trying to get it to do the most basic things for me, and without telling ME what it is that I want to do instead of ME telling IT what I want IT to do. The software works, or I find a different FREE program to use. I can’t tell you the amount of money I have WASTED on windoze programs to get things done, only to find that they didn’t function as advertised, they crashed, locked up the whole computer, etc.

    Thing is, if you are the type of person who doesn’t mind actually LEARNING something, you will like Linux. If you are the type who doesn’t care about learning, don’t give a damn about how the machine fucntions, and think that paying for a program (that you DON’T own, BTW) gives you some kind of recourse, then I suggest you read that EULA and stick with Windoze. Be happy, but don’t insist that those of us who ARE capable of learning and thinking for ourselves be and stay as uninterested in new things as you are. We don’t want to be like you, otherwise we WOULD be. Use what you like, and be happy with it. Or switch.

  • People who think installing Windows is easier than installing Linux usually do not have a lot of experience installing Windows. They just pop in a restore CD and BOOM, Windows is there. That is not an install, but an imaging program. Backing up a disk and restoring it using an image program works with ANY OS.

    However, if you take several “bare” computers, including laptops, and including both newer and older computers, and try to install both Windows and Linux on them, normally the Linux install will be easier. Frequently with the Windows box I am left hunting for odd drivers on driverguide.com in order to get the sound, or on-board network card to work. Some older computers I have are impossible to install any Windows on – a Vaio Laptop and an AMD K62 desktop with 20G hard-drive for example. All version of Windows (98, 2000, XP) choke on these machines due to hardware incompatabilities. The Vaio keeps issuing the HLT command which causes it to shut off (Pentium II bug). On Linux, I just add NOHLT to the boot process. On the AMD box, the BIOS incorrectly identifies the hard drive as a smaller hard-drive. Windows barfs on this, Linux figures out the bios is wrong and proceeds.

    The bottom line is installing OS’s can always be a challenge, but I do not believe it is any harder with Linux, and often is much easier due to larger OUT-OF-BOX hardware support.

  • irlandes

    On the whining about GIMP vs. Photoshop, a year or two ago, a high school teacher in Australia had a class on photography.

    He started the year with half his class using GIMP, the other half using Photoshop. Halfway through the course, he told them to swap.

    He got rants and rages from both groups, insisting the first one they used was the best, and the one they were changed to, sucked.

    He concluded most such complaints were that things were done differently, not any inherent superiority.

  • anon

    Wireless user interfaces on Linux are crap – but they are slowly getting better and it is a problem being targeted by teams for improvement. Amen.

  • not a newb

    You know I don’t even know how a desktop linux installation goes these days, it’s been 3-4 years since I had to, because the last time I installed it was just that, the last time. Its worked since. Yes there are distros that are that old and still supported..it’s one of the decisions you need to make when you choose a distro.

  • Methuselah

    I’m facing with dread the prospect of upgrading my XP HDD on the Thinkpad T40, having been defeated by Ghost last year when I attempted this, so I’ll probably install the ubuntu 6.2 I BTed. But first I’ll audition it on a TP570 I have handy. Maybe I’ll keep a Win system on the other 570 that’s always tied up with dubbing and burning: why change?

  • Congratulations to a great article. There are so many misconceptions out in the world of OS. Remember most people never chose their OS, they got it provided by their company or the hardware manufacturer.

    Here is a tip for those that are afraid of using OpenOffice.org, because they are not used to it. Visit Plan-B for OpenOffice.org. This site offers many, many screencasts (short videos) and a smart search engine helping you to find the right help topic.

    P.S.: I really like the design templates of this site, refreshing.

  • You can come up with cases where Linux has less trouble than Windows does for hardware support. And that’s with common hardware. Assuming you have an adequate kernel you generally won’t have trouble with much aside from possibly the latest and greatest hardware features that companies throw out to testing grounds in Windows. By the time they work in Linux they generally at least as well as they did in Windows, and let’s face it: the average consumer doesn’t go nuts buying the latest ATI graphics card or most obscure piece of hardware.

  • Brandon Hartshorn

    I installed WinXP on my mother’s friends’s computer just last week. It was only 3-4 years old, 256Mb ram, 1.2Ghz AMD processor. Took over 30 minutes just for a reformat, then another hour for install. That’s without updates. Bare system entirely. Another 20 minutes later, and I have her printer working. 10 more minutes and there’s MS Word. Still no updates, since she doesn’t have internet yet.

    Given the extra 3 hours of downloading and restarting after every update, that would put me at 5 hours put into a computer with a word processor, working printer and WinXP. Wow.

    Ubuntu was up and running on my SIX year old computer, 600Mhz, 190Mb, in less than an hour. Meaning internet (DSL), printer, word processing, 10 stock games, browser, etc. + 30 minutes for updates (With absolutely no restarts) and all of it from repos. No compiling. Nothing technical. My 7 year old sister now uses it.

    Duki – “linix’s” dependency structure beats Window’s by 299%. In Windows, every program installs it’s own driver in it’s own place. By the time you have your 100 programs, there’s a good chance there’s several drivers and the sort with over 25 copies on your computer. All working for only one program. In Linux, every program uses the same software, therefore there is ONE copy of everything you need. very program has acces, once you have them, you never need anything else.

    Anyway, these are just my experiences. So far I’ve replaced everything but Photoshop – I have a hard time with Gimp. Things are in different places. 😛

  • I agree with almost everything, but consider an opinion from a linux advocate is not neutral.

    For example: you can find many games for linux, but if you love soccer…

    Hardware really works in linux, but later than it does in Windows.

    And about commies and hippies… well I wear a tie ! 🙂

  • Hi,

    A great article and a more great bundle of comments!

    I’m going to switch to Linux (Kubuntu) from WinXP on by Tablet PC laptop (currently I’m waiting for my external HDD to back up my data).

    I feel that I need to switch because I use more and more ports of UNIX applications, such as GNUPlot or TeX and I need to do some things using Cygwin or MinGW (similar to Wine, but for Windows) for my scientific research.

    The thing that I hate about Windows is that even with my Top brand laptop with Core Duo proc and 2 Gigs of DDR2-667 RAM it still hangs. Though Windows is doing a great job with handwriting recognition .

    I like macs because they seem to be very stable, but I won’t switch to mac, because they don’t produce tablets. And I’ve got used to my TabletPC and can’t do without it when reading lectures or having meetings and so on.

    With Linux it seems that I will get “it just works” like with mac. But it will be free on my hardware and will support Tablet PC and will be highly customizable.

    I agree that “Linux is for commies and hippies”! I am the one and also a freak! 🙂

    I will add link to this article in my Wilki about migration to linux to the “pre-swtch readings” section.

  • Webcameras are a pain to get going in Linux, unless they are name brand I’ve found. I have Ubuntu, but run XP too.

  • Kaj

    #18 racekarl.
    Are you trying to tell us, that your freinds’s windows machines can’t detect vira, when they come in e-mails sent from Linux machines?

  • funny

    use a mac ..best of everything.

  • funny

    in all fairness, linux would indeed be my second choice to a mac. games?? if they are worth while they have made it to mac.. but seriously, a ps2 is how cheap now? ..lol! Microsoft systems are for the clueless consumer zombies of the world. Vista is a CHEAP knock off of osx! and even though its a blatant rip off of macs osx MS still couldnt get it right! secure? ya right, about as secure as passing out copies of your private info..lol! Stable? pfft! enjoy upgrading, updating, and fixing your computer every week or so! Better game performance? haha! take a look at the benchmarks on various sites. You know if i had billions of dollars for marketing and a monopoly on the market im sure i could sell you about anything. BUY A MAC!! they are easy to use and very secure. if you cant afford it.. build a nice cheap ‘kit’ computer and install linux. /// and someone above posted that they bought linux!?… omg! are you insane!! go to the friggin library and download it for free for gods sake! if you like it ..then donate to the publisher. admittedly i bought mandrake(linux version, now mandivia(i think)) ..but i knew exactly what i was doing. thats the beauty of linux ..you can try before you buy. oh and being able to turn a free or cheap antique junk computer into a working modern computer is pretty friggin awesome too!!

  • Webcameras are a pain to get going in Linux, unless they are name brand I’ve found. I have Ubuntu, but run XP too.

  • Octopocky

    I’ve tried loading Ubuntu/Xubuntu onto about half a dozen systems. It loaded without hardware issue on all but one, a no longer new P4 system. The odd thing is that SimplyMepis works on the one that Ubuntu didn’t. Go figure.

  • Kahlil Robinson

    MYTH: Linux is an operating system, created by Linus Torvalds.

    REALITY: Linux is a monolithic kernel, created by Linus Torvalds, for the GNU operating system, which is why we call it “GNU” or “GNU/Linux”.

  • Jason

    Anecdote time regarding hardware: The reason I switched to Linux (instead of just messing around with it in my spare time) was because my printer stopped working in Windows. It was after some Windows update (it happens; you can expect MS to tailor their updates around every piece of hardware on Earth), but HP couldn’t be bothered to update the drivers. Yet, the printer works perfectly fine in Linux. Apparently the Linux people who make generic drivers designed to make every printer work with every Linux distro in their spare time are better at it than the paid programmers at HP who only have to make one printer work with one operating system.

    With fewer and fewer people using modems, and simple work arounds for compatibility issues with PDAs, digital cameras, and iPods (and possibly Zunes), the last big hardware hurdle for most people is wireless cards. There are still a limited number that work in Linux and even they are (a lot of times) very annoying to get working right.

    Anything that syncs to your computer is going to be an issue. Most music players are a non-issue at this point, as are Palms (and to a lesser extent Pocket PCs). However, as gadgets, like cell-phones, get new features, they will need to sync with a computer. That means more drivers are needed and more issues to get in the way of abandoning Windows completely.

    Also, ATI needs to stop sucking already and make with the non-crappy Linux drivers.

    While I wouldn’t say Linux is unbearably difficult for even the computer illiterate, it is more difficult to use than Windows. In many areas it’s no different than Windows, in some it’s easier, and in some it’s harder. Overall, I would still say it’s a bit harder than Windows.

    You really should ditch the link to this as the guy really doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s true that there are very few Linux viruses as a result of superior design (not userbase size). However, when he starts talking about worms and trojans it becomes very apparent that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Worms work in Linux for the same reason that they work in Linux – through unpatched security holes. Same thing, however, he blames Windows worms on the OS and Linux worms on the user. The fact of the matter is that they are basically the same thing. Now, Linux security holes tend to get patched more quickly, but that doesn’t make Linux immune at all.

    Trojans are another instance where he tries to obscure the difference between it and viruses, while blaming the user for any problems. Trojans work because the user gives the OS permission to install it. All of the security in the world won’t help you, because you just bypassed all of the security. It’s equivalent to having the strongest locks on your house door but still getting robbed because you opened the door for what you thought was the mailman. So yes, it’s the users fault, but in no way demonstrates the superiority of Linux. In fact it shows a shared weakness with Windows. One that can never be fixed, because trojans work by tricking the user, not exploiting the operating system.

    He then tries to claim that trojans never work on Linux system because network admins don’t do things with root permission unless they’re sure. Fine, that might be true. However, he uses this as evidence that Linux is better for home users. It’s not, because home users are not network admins so they might not know any better.

    The claim that all Linux viruses are just lies by the evil AV industry is just a load of crap. He offers no proof, just baseless accusations that you would only believe if you already thought that the industry was evil. Linux is perfect, therefore anyone who says there might be a flaw in Linux must be up to no good. Bull. He really comes off as a conspiracy nutcase here.

    Basically, he’s just a Linux zealot who thinks that getting Linux to run on his home machine makes him an expert at network security. His article is fully of holes and attacks to be taken without a large pile of salt.

    He (and you) seems to dismiss all claims about Linux viruses without regard to who is actually making them, by claiming that it’s just the AV industry trying to sell a product. Do you not realize that many of the people saying there are no Linux viruses are trying to promote a product? They may not make money off it, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t so hell bent on getting everyone to use it that they’re being objective about it. Also, do you not realize that Linux AV software is free?

    Aside from that article and the fact that you seem to believe it, _your_ article is pretty good. I’m glad to see somebody be honest about the shortcomings of Wine (though it is a good project), rather than claim that you can just run all of your Windows apps through Wine like so many people do.

    However, I do have to disagree with this statement: “Linux users are a bunch of commies and hippies”. Not all of us a trying to lead a revolution against the Evil MS Empire. Some of us are just too cheap to buy software and, due to having no social lives, have plenty of time to mess around with Linux.

    Hmmm, longer response that I thought it would be. Sorry about that 🙂

  • Jason – Thanks very much for taking the time to comment. Glad you liked the article, but I’ll have to take issue with a couple of things you said.

    “You really should ditch the link to this as the guy really doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

    Umm, “the guy” is Rick Moen, who is certainly not “just a Linux zealot who thinks that getting Linux to run on his home machine makes him an expert at network security.” Google his name, and you’ll find he’s an extremely qualified Linux system administrator, well known in the Linux community, who’s given lectures at LinuxWorld and written many articles, and collaborated with Eric Raymond on the classic article How to Ask Questions the Smart Way. He is certainly much more qualified to speak on the subject than you or I.

    You are correct, however, a home user who simply runs everything as root would be susceptible to trojans and viruses. Proper distros are not set up for a user to run as root, unlike Windows XP Home (I won’t comment on Vista security, which may be effective but is so intrusive that many people simply turn it off), so a user would have to work harder to trash his system with malware. Rick Moen states as much in another article about the Linspire-runs-as-root controversy here.

    So, yes, I believe him, based on both my own experience with Linux, the authority of the author of the article I linked to, and the experience of thousands of other Linux users. The fact that Linux antivirus software can be free (there are commercial packages available) does not mean that it is needed.

    The exception I would make is for a mail server, as it would probably have Windows clients that would need protecting.

    Having said that, if someone still wants to run AV software I certainly wouldn’t tell them not to. It’s a waste of CPU cycles, but if it makes them feel more secure then by all means.

    Even though we disagree on that point, I did enjoy your comment. It’s good for people to see another opinion. Thanks for your thoughts.

    Steve Wild

  • Stu Capon

    So much of this chimes with my experience. I dabbled over the years trying to dump windows even paid for Mandrake 7.0 but always something (normally a CAD program) stopped me jumping each time.

    The mental tipping point for me was getting WPA wireless working on an old IBM X20 laptop running Win2k (has to be fully legal, not prepared to try Xp) tried Ubuntu and it worked, suddenly not a single reason to be using windows (admittedly CAD is not used on that old IBM)
    Happiness is having “enough” and Vista/MS is totally aimed at convincing us that what we have is not enough, buy faster bigger, more RAM more CPU cores to just send some emails??
    That old IBM running Ubuntu is enough to email, browse the net office stuff, simple image editing and saves me the cost of an Asus Eee.

    In work mode my biggest problem is Sarbanes Oxley compliance, most people looking after that stuff just don’t get the whole Linux thing. First question, does it run the corporate approved antivirus program? er no then it is forbidden…… fingers in ears “We only talk Windows” can’t hear you….
    Maybe we need a SOX-Linux

    Every time I use the X20 I feel positive, maybe even a sense of “Ubuntu”.
    Every time I get a user bitching about how slow windows is while antivirus is working or some other expensive program coughs due to updates/incompatibility leaves me longing for the day when Linux is at last enough.
    And that is not even using Sloth-Vista thank heavens.

  • Jane

    I support Linux 100% but I feel that people should make an objective decision for themselves after reading The Truth About Linux.