Linux, Rejection and "Best Year for Linux" quotes

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Postby Donfuy » 2009.11.24 (21:23)

http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=3372

Here. My opinion on this is that he's completely right.

I'd like to give an emphasis to the 1st and 3rd points.
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Postby scythe » 2009.11.25 (00:35)

Yeah, Jason Hiner's a real visionary, except when he's not.

So, as I've understood it from the various amounts of research I've accumulated: <hearsay>
The reason that Linux hasn't gotten very far on the desktop isn't because the multiple APIs and distributions are a pain for users, it's because the multiple APIs and distributions and the fact that the "best distribution" is a quickly moving target is a massive pain in the ass for software vendors.

On Windows and OS X, hardware manufacturers test their drivers against released kernel + released libc. On Linux, you get to test against loads of kernel + libc combinations, and since the driver API is usually in a state of flux your carefully-tested driver might still only work on certain combinations. This is why hardware support varies between distributions even though they're all based on the same hardware interface.

That's not to mention that if you have the audacity to try to make money off of your work, Debian, Fedora, and a plethora of others will immediately shun you and warn users not to install your software, which I'm sure makes the Linux software market look like a really nice target to develop for. Of course, this attitude is also why the first two problems don't get much attention. The first two issues don't affect Free Software because distribution maintainers usually compile those applications themselves, so they have a much better chance of working.

A lot of people think that Linux doesn't get developers because developing applications for Linux doesn't reach a large enough audience to be profitable, and that's simply not true. Since the Linux app market is less crowded, an application released for Linux has a significantly higher chance of succeeding in the (smaller) market. World Of Goo made plenty of money off of Linux sales, last I checked. The reason people don't develop for Linux is because Developing For Linux is a novel by Franz Kafka.
</hearsay>
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Postby SlappyMcGee » 2009.11.25 (00:58)

scythe33 wrote:Yeah, Jason Hiner's a real visionary, except when he's not.

So, as I've understood it from the various amounts of research I've accumulated: <hearsay>
The reason that Linux hasn't gotten very far on the desktop isn't because the multiple APIs and distributions are a pain for users, it's because the multiple APIs and distributions and the fact that the "best distribution" is a quickly moving target is a massive pain in the ass for software vendors.

On Windows and OS X, hardware manufacturers test their drivers against released kernel + released libc. On Linux, you get to test against loads of kernel + libc combinations, and since the driver API is usually in a state of flux your carefully-tested driver might still only work on certain combinations. This is why hardware support varies between distributions even though they're all based on the same hardware interface.

That's not to mention that if you have the audacity to try to make money off of your work, Debian, Fedora, and a plethora of others will immediately shun you and warn users not to install your software, which I'm sure makes the Linux software market look like a really nice target to develop for. Of course, this attitude is also why the first two problems don't get much attention. The first two issues don't affect Free Software because distribution maintainers usually compile those applications themselves, so they have a much better chance of working.

A lot of people think that Linux doesn't get developers because developing applications for Linux doesn't reach a large enough audience to be profitable, and that's simply not true. Since the Linux app market is less crowded, an application released for Linux has a significantly higher chance of succeeding in the (smaller) market. World Of Goo made plenty of money off of Linux sales, last I checked. The reason people don't develop for Linux is because Developing For Linux is a novel by Franz Kafka.
</hearsay>


I usually have mixed feelings about your crazy left-wing pander, but I love this post.
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Postby Donfuy » 2009.11.25 (01:04)

scythe33 wrote:Yeah, Jason Hiner's a real visionary, except when he's not.


Oh, I actually saw that article before this one, and I didn't really agree with him.

edit: And you know what? People complain about the fucking small keyboards and I get a little pissed when they say "they're not usable at all". I mean, I use my netbook on a regular basis, and I actually type faster here than on my desktop. And no, my fingers aren't hurting.[/rant]
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Postby t̷s͢uk̕a͡t͜ư » 2009.11.25 (01:06)

I generally disagree.

It's my understanding that while Linux is clearly failing to be dominant in the personal computing market, social trends like smartphones and Linux-based netbooks are showing people that there are alternatives to Microsoft and Apple products. I'm still optimistic in general that end users are going to trickle little by little into the Linux market.
Then again, Linux is also just generally popular for technical work, such as mathematics and the sciences. I work in the CS department of a graduate school, and Windows is pretty out of place here. Macs are used, but the bulk of the work is done in the terminal, so they may as well be using Linux. The cluster I administrate is running nothing but Linux. Our multi-million dollar supercomputer runs Linux. Our entire network infrastructure runs on Solaris. Businesses and government bodies in Germany have recently been very intent on switching to open-source software, which includes replacing Windows with Linux.

For any serious work, and especially for services for which reliability and raw power is critical, UNIX-based systems are easily the standard.
End users, on the other hand, like to Google "boobs" and play flash games. They use Windows because that's what's put into their hands, and for no other reason. That's where Linux's low usage numbers come from, but honestly, it's not like they're making a profit from more users because the whole sumbitch is free.

My take on end users on Linux is actually a more condescending one. I encourage people to use whatever appeals to their computer usage preferences, because I know that most of the dumb people will wander toward the shiny one even if it's broken, and the vultures who prey on stupid people naturally follow the stupid people. I, personally, am far more productive in Linux than I am in Windows, and I like being it total control of my operating system. If you don't want to learn how to make the most out of your expensive purchases, that's your problem, not mine.
Point is, if you want to be good at something, you have to put effort into it. If you're interested in being very productive on a computer, you ought to put work into it (learn some of the amazingly useful UNIX tools that have existed since the 80's that fancy graphical interfaces are only beginning to implement). Wanting power but avoiding actually putting effort into it is like wanting to be a theoretical physicist but avoiding college "cuz it's boring." If you can't be bothered to put the effort forward, you don't deserve it.

Back to the article, though. I don't trust this guy to really know what he's talking about right when he said that the target market for Linux is moving to Mac OS X from Windows instead, primarily because of ease of use. To me, that couldn't be right, because the target market for Linux is not filled with people who rush so hurriedly to the safety of ease of use so that they avoid being reminded of their own incompetence. Many more switch to Linux from Windows for financial reasons, and the move to Apple is exactly the wrong direction for that.

As for number two, I agree, though I still hold the "you kids get off my lawn" perspective, as I've described above.

Number three disqualifies the author as someone who could possibly know what he's talking about. Windows, and in less but still measurable part Apple, have set computing back by becoming an industry standard and moving at a snail's pace. Aside from gaming, you could do with FreeBSD in the late 80's / early 90's what you can today with Windows. The only difference is that it looks real purty when you do it in Windows. With the amount I know how to do in a UNIX environment, I consider Windows' offering utterly shameful, and I recognize that I still have some pretty frickin' enormous gaps in my knowledge of what Linux can offer me. Anyone who knows what they're talking about knows that it's just nowhere close to a fair competition. The "innovations" the writer of the linked article is caught up on are very probably insignificant interface features.
"Ooh, this transparent windows mode sure is innovative!" No, awk was innovative. curl was innovative.

I don't know about #4, because I'm going to college for a real major, and have successfully avoided gaining experience in the depressing inner workings of the superficial world of private business.

Although he does bring up another talking point in his #4: the whole "incompatible software" thing. For some reason, people judge Linux heavily on its China-quality knockoffs of proprietary software. OpenOffice.org pales significantly in comparison to MS Office, GIMP is no Photoshop, and Mono is just kinda depressing. The classic example of a bad user experience with open-source software is trying to open up a .docx file in OpenOffice and seeing the formatting screwed up. The realization never hits, for some reason, that maybe the whole system works better when it's not being used exclusively to emulate one it's not, and generally has little interest in being.
Internally, managing media, installed software, all manner of network tasks, and even documents for school and work are so breezy when working in a native format. After all, how much flak do you give Windows for failing to work with the standards of common software packages in Linux (or Macs, really)? If you just take a bit of time to figure out what you're doing (just like you did when you first started using Windows), it's easy to avoid the frustration of trying to kludge your way through a task the Microsoft way.
Example off the top of my head:
About a year ago, I took a linear algebra class and decided to be a pretentious dick by turning in my homework in a printed format. Once I solved all of the problems by hand, translating them to a LaTeX template took only minutes, and it came out perfectly. The realization of how little time it took brought back memories of high school assignments where I'd spend hours drawing shitty little diagrams in MS Paint to import into my Word document, or using Word's own worthless drawing tools, and having to mess with the layout of the entire thing every time I added a diagram to unfuck the damage it did. (That also serves as an example case for my statement about UNIX tools having more features in the early 90's than Windows does today, except that in the case of easy formatting for math equations that Windows still blows goats at, UNIX was doing this since the fucking 70's.)


But anyway, credit where it's due: the writer gathered that Linux is not popular for home users, but that's really the extent of the informed statements in that article. My general take is, like I said, that the problem is with the masses and their propensity for being stupid. An accurate measure of the worth of... well, of just about anything, really... is not going to be based on popular opinion (see also: religion).


As an addendum, let me attempt to clarify my feelings about Linux as an OS for home users with a simile.
A man is sitting around with a crate full of laser guns, and is standing around yelling, "Free laser guns! Get your free laser guns!" But most people pass right by, complaining that they're too complicated to use. The people who are capable of teaching themselves something accept the laser guns and put them to excellent use, and want to spread their joy. So they start trying to convince people, in some cases pleading with them, "look, just please give the laser guns a try. Please. I'll hold your hand all the while, and if you don't like it, it doesn't cost you anything anyway."
But me? I blink a few times confusedly, take a moment to ponder why people don't want free fucking laser guns, and then go off not worrying about people deciding to cripple themselves because attempting to learn something they don't have to requires too much effort.
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Postby Donfuy » 2009.11.25 (01:27)

Tsukatu wrote:I generally disagree.

It's my understanding that while Linux is clearly failing to be dominant in the personal computing market, social trends like smartphones and Linux-based netbooks are showing people that there are alternatives to Microsoft and Apple products. I'm still optimistic in general that end users are going to trickle little by little into the Linux market.
Then again, Linux is also just generally popular for technical work, such as mathematics and the sciences. I work in the CS department of a graduate school, and Windows is pretty out of place here. Macs are used, but the bulk of the work is done in the terminal, so they may as well be using Linux. The cluster I administrate is running nothing but Linux. Our multi-million dollar supercomputer runs Linux. Our entire network infrastructure runs on Solaris. Businesses and government bodies in Germany have recently been very intent on switching to open-source software, which includes replacing Windows with Linux.

For any serious work, and especially for services for which reliability and raw power is critical, UNIX-based systems are easily the standard.
End users, on the other hand, like to Google "boobs" and play flash games. They use Windows because that's what's put into their hands, and for no other reason. That's where Linux's low usage numbers come from, but honestly, it's not like they're making a profit from more users because the whole sumbitch is free.

My take on end users on Linux is actually a more condescending one. I encourage people to use whatever appeals to their computer usage preferences, because I know that most of the dumb people will wander toward the shiny one even if it's broken, and the vultures who prey on stupid people naturally follow the stupid people. I, personally, am far more productive in Linux than I am in Windows, and I like being it total control of my operating system. If you don't want to learn how to make the most out of your expensive purchases, that's your problem, not mine.
Point is, if you want to be good at something, you have to put effort into it. If you're interested in being very productive on a computer, you ought to put work into it (learn some of the amazingly useful UNIX tools that have existed since the 80's that fancy graphical interfaces are only beginning to implement). Wanting power but avoiding actually putting effort into it is like wanting to be a theoretical physicist but avoiding college "cuz it's boring." If you can't be bothered to put the effort forward, you don't deserve it.

Back to the article, though. I don't trust this guy to really know what he's talking about right when he said that the target market for Linux is moving to Mac OS X from Windows instead. To me, that couldn't be right, because the target market for Linux is not filled with people who rush so hurriedly to the safety of ease of use so that they avoid being reminded of their own incompetence. Many more switch to Linux from Windows for financial reasons, and the move to Apple is exactly the wrong direction for that.

As for number two, I agree, though I still hold the "you kids get off my lawn" perspective, as I've described above.

Number three disqualifies the author as someone who could possibly know what he's talking about. Windows, and in less but still measurable part Apple, have set computing back by becoming an industry standard and moving at a snail's pace. Aside from gaming, you could do with FreeBSD in the late 80's / early 90's what you can today with Windows. The only difference is that it looks real purty when you do it in Windows. With the amount I know how to do in a UNIX environment, I consider Windows' offering utterly shameful, and I recognize that I still have some pretty frickin' enormous gaps in my knowledge of what Linux can offer me. Anyone who knows what they're talking about knows that it's just nowhere close to a fair competition. The "innovations" the writer of the linked article is caught up on are very probably insignificant interface features.
"Ooh, this transparent windows mode sure is innovative!" No, awk was innovative. rsync was innovative.

I don't know about #4, because I'm going to college for a real major, and have successfully avoided gaining experience in the depressing inner workings of the superficial world of private business.

Although he does bring up another talking point in his #4: the whole "incompatible software" thing. For some reason, people judge Linux heavily on its China-quality knockoffs of proprietary software. OpenOffice.org pales significantly in comparison to MS Office, GIMP is no Photoshop, and Mono is just kinda depressing. The classic example of a bad user experience with open-source software is trying to open up a .docx file in OpenOffice and seeing the formatting screwed up. The realization never hits, for some reason, that maybe the whole system works better when it's not being used exclusively to emulate one it's not, and generally has little interest in being.
Internally, managing media, installed software, all manner of network tasks, and even documents for school and work are so breezy when working in a native format. After all, how much flak do you give Windows for failing to work with the standards of common software packages in Linux (or Macs, really)? If you just take a bit of time to figure out what you're doing (just like you did when you first started using Windows), it's easy to avoid the frustration of trying to kludge your way through a task the Microsoft way.
Example off the top of my head:
About a year ago, I took a linear algebra class and decided to be a pretentious dick by turning in my homework in a printed format. Once I solved all of the problems by hand, translating them to a LaTeX template took only minutes, and it came out perfectly. The realization of how little time it took brought back memories of high school assignments where I'd spend hours drawing shitty little diagrams in MS Paint to import into my Word document, or using Word's own worthless drawing tools, and having to mess with the layout of the entire thing every time I added a diagram to unfuck the damage it did. (That also serves as an example case for my statement about UNIX tools having more features in the early 90's than Windows does today, except that in the case of easy formatting for math equations that Windows still blows goats at, UNIX was doing this since the fucking 70's. The 70's, dude.)


But anyway, credit where it's due: the writer gathered that Linux is not popular for home users, but that's really the extent of the informed statements in that article. My general take is, like I said, that the problem is with the masses and their propensity for being stupid. An accurate measure of the worth of... well, of just about anything, really... is not going to be based on popular opinion (see also: religion).


What I see in your posts about OSs and Linux is that you affirm that people are too stupid to put effort in learning to make the OS work as they want. I believe I've said this before, but people want to get their jobs done, not mess with their computers - they want the OS to come useful out of the box, so they take less time to get working and do the shit they want to do.

I also believe the author is mainly talking about the UI, where Linux distros, imo, blatantly try to copy Windows or Mac's way of showing stuff. I myself tried to change to ubuntu once, and hell, I couldn't do shit with OO, it didn't play mp3 out of the box ;_; (had to mess with stuff to have a decent media player playing mp3s) aaaaand I felt like it was worse than XP - in the way that it was slower and had nothing better.

Of course, I'm only talking about ubuntu here, but I've tried Fedora too and... :/ it was even worse. There's a lot of distros out there, and I look forward to test some more.

I do know that Linux is used primarily for those technical stuff and huge computers blabla.

-----

Oh, and about Linux being free? Uhh most people buy PCs preloaded with Windows. And the others usually get Windows for free from those cute places.
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Postby SlappyMcGee » 2009.11.25 (01:36)

I think that Linux is essentially libertarian in Tsukatu's post; without gigantic paychecks and profit margins to lead them, Linux-distros actually just do what they think will be best for them, rather than what can appease the largest number of people.
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Postby scythe » 2009.11.25 (01:39)

Donfuy, if you'd like to try Linux, you won't have a good experience unless your hardware is well-supported and you don't use one of the distros that spends more time pontificating than developing software. Get something that includes all the codecs by default and doesn't hide non-free repositories and put it on something with an nVidia card supported by the latest drivers and Intel or Atheros wireless (where applicable), and you're likely to be happy with what you get.

Put Ubuntu on an ATI card with Broadcom wireless, and you're in for a world of pain.

Donfuy, re IRC: You're an impatient cunt, you know that? http://crunchbanglinux.org/
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Postby t̷s͢uk̕a͡t͜ư » 2009.11.25 (19:50)

Donfuy wrote:What I see in your posts about OSs and Linux is that you affirm that people are too stupid to put effort in learning to make the OS work as they want. I believe I've said this before, but people want to get their jobs done, not mess with their computers - they want the OS to come useful out of the box, so they take less time to get working and do the shit they want to do.

But that's the thing -- many old school UNIX utilities offer you that incomparable amount of productivity at the cost of learning to use them. There are extremes in the balance of ease-of-use on the part of the OS and expertise on the part of the user, and I think we're too close to the end with unreasonable expectations for ease of use to be truly productive. If I can bring back the theoretical physics analogy, it's like saying you want to search for the Higgs Boson but will only do it on a particle accelerator that does everything for you, including the acquisition of funding and write-up of the final report, so that you only have to push a button and then stare dumbly as it works, thinking "I'm doing science! :D" I see the common proprietary productivity suites (e.g. MS Office) as making this the standard. If you're in the "I want my computer to do everything for me" camp, then you're only going to be able to do exactly what the software wants to do, and in the way it wants to do it. Everything else becomes something arduous that "someone should write software for," preferably with an interface consisting of a single shiny button.

Donfuy wrote:I myself tried to change to ubuntu once, and hell, I couldn't do shit with OO, it didn't play mp3 out of the box ;_; (had to mess with stuff to have a decent media player playing mp3s) aaaaand I felt like it was worse than XP - in the way that it was slower and had nothing better.

Of course, I'm only talking about ubuntu here, but I've tried Fedora too and... :/ it was even worse. There's a lot of distros out there, and I look forward to test some more.

Yeaaah, like scythe said, the fact that some distro's are kind of idealistic is a bit of a problem.
I've never used the thing scythe tried, but I'd recommend Mint Linux. It's basically Ubuntu minus F/OSS ideology. It comes with proprietary codecs and drivers out of the box, and otherwise shares its repositories with Ubuntu.

Donfuy wrote:Oh, and about Linux being free? Uhh most people buy PCs preloaded with Windows. And the others usually get Windows for free from those cute places.

In the breakdown of the price, the cost of Windows is always factored in there. When I bought my laptop, for example, there was a price attached to the OS, and I was able to get better hardware for the same price by changing the OS option to their Linux offering. Obviously, though, the price difference is most noticeable if you're building your own computer, which I've also saved on by running Linux.

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Postby scythe » 2009.11.25 (20:14)

Suki: Crunchbang is a heavily preconfigured Ubuntu with Openbox that ships with working Flash and lots of codecs.

SlappyMcGee wrote:Just to add-on the the laser-gun metaphor: I pass by the free laser-gun aisle to the "expensive handgun that can play Team Fortress 2".

[see previous post about developers]
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Postby SlappyMcGee » 2009.11.25 (20:15)

Just to add-on the the laser-gun metaphor: I pass by the free laser-gun aisle to the "expensive handgun that can play Team Fortress 2".
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Postby Donfuy » 2009.11.25 (20:35)

Tsukatu wrote:
Donfuy wrote:What I see in your posts about OSs and Linux is that you affirm that people are too stupid to put effort in learning to make the OS work as they want. I believe I've said this before, but people want to get their jobs done, not mess with their computers - they want the OS to come useful out of the box, so they take less time to get working and do the shit they want to do.

But that's the thing -- many old school UNIX utilities offer you that incomparable amount of productivity at the cost of learning to use them. There are extremes in the balance of ease-of-use on the part of the OS and expertise on the part of the user, and I think we're too close to the end with unreasonable expectations for ease of use to be truly productive. If I can bring back the theoretical physics analogy, it's like saying you want to search for the Higgs Boson but will only do it on a particle accelerator that does everything for you, including the acquisition of funding and write-up of the final report, so that you only have to push a button and then stare dumbly as it works, thinking "I'm doing science! :D" I see the common proprietary productivity suites (e.g. MS Office) as making this the standard. If you're in the "I want my computer to do everything for me" camp, then you're only going to be able to do exactly what the software wants to do, and in the way it wants to do it. Everything else becomes something arduous that "someone should write software for," preferably with an interface consisting of a single shiny button.


But... if I can do all I'm asked to do in a thing that's easy to work on and needs close to no learning time to use it properly, why I should spend time learning when I could do other useful stuff?

School and enterprise ask for no more than the standard. MS Office is, as you said, the standard. Why should I do more/better than what's needed?

I do know that if we keep following the standards, things won't innovate themselves. But what people selfishly want is money. Faster and easier money.


I'm also afraid I screwed up my post with that last line there.
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Postby t̷s͢uk̕a͡t͜ư » 2009.11.25 (22:29)

SlappyMcGee wrote:Just to add-on the the laser-gun metaphor: I pass by the free laser-gun aisle to the "expensive handgun that can play Team Fortress 2".

Laser guns can emulate handguns (at certain tasks) at practically native speed through Wine, and are also fantastic at running handgun servers. Cedega works even better.

Donfuy wrote:But... if I can do all I'm asked to do in a thing that's easy to work on and needs close to no learning time to use it properly, why I should spend time learning when I could do other useful stuff?

School and enterprise ask for no more than the standard. MS Office is, as you said, the standard. Why should I do more/better than what's needed?

You can live a happy life parked on your ass in front of a TV between shifts at the local burger joint. If that makes you happy, then fine.
Like I said, Linux isn't for most people, because most people aren't motivated.

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Postby SlappyMcGee » 2009.11.25 (23:02)

Tsukatu wrote: practically native speed


wwwwwwwait. I know something faster than practically native speed. That's right! It's native speed!

You're confusing options and efficiency. While you have more freedom to do whatever you want in Linux, it is less intuitive and therefore less efficient. It's great that you spent the time to learn how to use Linux. The next time I have something that I can't find a speedy way to do something in Windows 7, I will remember to look you up, dog. But frankly, Windows 7 works for -everything- I need to do speedily with an instruction manual that's little more than a pamphlet with simple explanations of new features. Why can Windows stand to be so arrogant? Because everything is so God-damn intuitive. So, the reason that Linux hasn't taken off isn't fucking laziness. It's more difficult to do things that also take more book-learning. And it can't do things that Windows can, like Left 4 Dead 2. Doesn't Wine just pretend to be Windows anyway? Isn't it ironic that the only way you can play shit using the OS that 'sucks'.

This seems like a polyphasic rant. Fuck it. I love your beard, dude.
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Postby t̷s͢uk̕a͡t͜ư » 2009.11.26 (00:24)

SlappyMcGee wrote:
Tsukatu wrote: practically native speed


wwwwwwwait. I know something faster than practically native speed. That's right! It's native speed!

You're confusing options and efficiency. While you have more freedom to do whatever you want in Linux, it is less intuitive and therefore less efficient. It's great that you spent the time to learn how to use Linux. The next time I have something that I can't find a speedy way to do something in Windows 7, I will remember to look you up, dog. But frankly, Windows 7 works for -everything- I need to do speedily with an instruction manual that's little more than a pamphlet with simple explanations of new features. Why can Windows stand to be so arrogant? Because everything is so God-damn intuitive. So, the reason that Linux hasn't taken off isn't fucking laziness. It's more difficult to do things that also take more book-learning. And it can't do things that Windows can, like Left 4 Dead 2. Doesn't Wine just pretend to be Windows anyway? Isn't it ironic that the only way you can play shit using the OS that 'sucks'.

This seems like a polyphasic rant. Fuck it. I love your beard, dude.

I... wh-- er... okay.
If you can tell the difference between 60 fps and 58 fps, then it definitely sounds to me like your skills are best put to use in an environment that can support your gaming addiction habit.

And hey, it's still intuitive; it's just a bit more work is all, and more work does not translate into less intuitive.
For example, let's say that you have a problem, and that problem goes by the name of Saddam Hussein. Solving this problem in a straight-forward and generally intuitive manner would involve keeping aggression to a minimum while finding him and taking him out of the picture. That would be the general plan, but executing it requires knowledge of how to do a lot of complicated little things. Solving this problem the Windows way would be to first complain that no one has yet written software that has absolutely no purpose aside from effecting your solution: "just punch him in the fucking head." The rest of the method would involve a complete lack of motivation on your end to work toward your goal, but expecting your cabinet to scramble to put together a very unstable plan to root out Hussein's location, fly you in, and have the intern who is carrying you on his back to charge at Saddam so that your outstretched fist connects to his head. Yes, both plans work, but one is more elegant and involves expertise that is all generally applicable to a massive variety of problems, while the other is infamous for being unstable and requires far more resources even though it's much less work on your end.
I'm the sort of person who prefers to know things and to put his knowledge to use. But like I said, I'm really not being sarcastic when I say it's fine if you're of the head-punching persuasion. It does play to general human laziness, after all.

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Postby SlappyMcGee » 2009.11.26 (00:33)

Punching that fucking penguin in the brain would be satisfying.
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Postby T3chno » 2009.11.26 (06:12)

SlappyMcGee wrote:Punching that fucking penguin in the brain would be satisfying, imo.


Fixed.
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Postby jean-luc » 2009.11.26 (23:00)

Where I work (Free Geek), we sell computers (ranging from dual core to aging Celerons, and from desktop form factor to Eee 701s) running Linux, primarily Ubuntu 8.04 (we use Long Term Support releases). Because we're a nonprofit, work off of donated parts, and don't have to deal with licensing Windows, we sell these machines at prices ranging from $40 to $300, so we attract a lot of People of Limited Financial Means (read: poor people). Most of them are very happy with the machines they get from us, particularly when the also get the book Ubuntu for Non-Geeks which we sell, which has very simple step-by-step explanations of how to do all kinds of tasks in Ubuntu. Others, though, come back for tech support. I often hear or read about the trouble they've had, so I hear a good overview of the things that typical desktop users of greatly varying technical experience have with Ubuntu. Here's the things I tend to see:

Trouble with Proprietary Software
Various companies (particular among them Adobe) make Linux versions of their proprietary software, Flash in particular. While most software is an Add/Remove Software away, proprietary packages are usually complete crap. Flash is hard to install, finnicky to set up, and buggy at best case (lately it tends to crash Firefox a lot), and it unfortunately seems to be exemplary of most proprietary software on Linux. Why is this the case? There's trouble on both ends, I think. First, software makers don't see Linux as that big of a market and so don't devote much time or money to it. This yields a product that is simply inferior to Windows/OS X versions. Second, distros like Ubuntu don't like to include proprietary software in repositories, so you lose the option of just apt-getting it, even if the software maker chose to support that option.

General Bugginess
Someone, I regrettably can't remember who, it may have been Jeff Atwood, once wrote a blog post explaining that the trouble with open source is that volunteer developers like to work on things that are sexy. I see this as being the biggest problem with open source. Adding functionality is sexy. Fixing bugs in existing functionality is not. This is there are still so many minor issues and bugs with Linux: fixing them simply isn't interesting, so it's hard to get OSS devs on it. It's often not major bugs that are the trouble, but minor things like visual artifacts that stop Ubuntu from having the fit and finish that Windows and especially OS X have.

Driver Troubles
This issue is largely a result of interactions between proprietary hardware/software makers and the OSS community. Ubuntu's out-of-the-box support for previously finnicky devices like wireless cards has dramatically improved, but even now, if you have the bad luck of having an unsupported adapter you may be in for quite the trip.

Bad Support
Community support is great, but doesn't work perfectly. When you don't have a paid support staff, only a volunteer one, people tend to not be motivated to deal with uninteresting the issues (just like developers and unsexy bugfixes). This means that sometimes new users just don't get the help they need. Same issue with documentation writing: Linux tends to lack a cohesive help system for new users because it's just not that interesting to create, and a lot of software developers have notoriously writing and documenting skills.

Config Files
This is something that has greatly improved in the last 5 years or so, but there are still some linux packages that rely on the user interacting with config files. Inexperienced users really hate doing this.
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Postby t̷s͢uk̕a͡t͜ư » 2009.11.27 (00:53)

jean-luc wrote:Trouble with Proprietary Software
Various companies (particular among them Adobe) make Linux versions of their proprietary software, Flash in particular. While most software is an Add/Remove Software away, proprietary packages are usually complete crap. Flash is hard to install, finnicky to set up, and buggy at best case (lately it tends to crash Firefox a lot), and it unfortunately seems to be exemplary of most proprietary software on Linux. Why is this the case? There's trouble on both ends, I think. First, software makers don't see Linux as that big of a market and so don't devote much time or money to it. This yields a product that is simply inferior to Windows/OS X versions. Second, distros like Ubuntu don't like to include proprietary software in repositories, so you lose the option of just apt-getting it, even if the software maker chose to support that option.

Driver Troubles
This issue is largely a result of interactions between proprietary hardware/software makers and the OSS community. Ubuntu's out-of-the-box support for previously finnicky devices like wireless cards has dramatically improved, but even now, if you have the bad luck of having an unsupported adapter you may be in for quite the trip.

I have had zero problems with both of these since, like, Ubuntu 9.04 (8.10 worked beautifully on my laptop but was less tolerable than 8.04 on my desktop for some reason). I don't know who's responsible for choosing the version of Ubuntu to sell, but it seems to me they're making a mistake by sticking with something as old as 8.04. That's like selling Windows 2000 and saying that Microsoft needs to handle problems centered around DLL Hell if they want to expand their Windows 7 market.
To wit, the things you've just said about flash and drivers, I can totally remember being problems just a few releases ago, but like I said, I've had absolutely zero complications with more recent versions. Not a one. aptitude install abode-flashplugin and I'm set for Flash 10 support that has never done anything stupid or crashed my browser. System > Administration > Hardware Drivers, checking all the boxes, and a restart is the first and last time I need to think about proprietary hardware drivers for a new install.

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Postby jean-luc » 2009.12.03 (17:17)

Tsukatu wrote:
jean-luc wrote:Trouble with Proprietary Software
Various companies (particular among them Adobe) make Linux versions of their proprietary software, Flash in particular. While most software is an Add/Remove Software away, proprietary packages are usually complete crap. Flash is hard to install, finnicky to set up, and buggy at best case (lately it tends to crash Firefox a lot), and it unfortunately seems to be exemplary of most proprietary software on Linux. Why is this the case? There's trouble on both ends, I think. First, software makers don't see Linux as that big of a market and so don't devote much time or money to it. This yields a product that is simply inferior to Windows/OS X versions. Second, distros like Ubuntu don't like to include proprietary software in repositories, so you lose the option of just apt-getting it, even if the software maker chose to support that option.

Driver Troubles
This issue is largely a result of interactions between proprietary hardware/software makers and the OSS community. Ubuntu's out-of-the-box support for previously finnicky devices like wireless cards has dramatically improved, but even now, if you have the bad luck of having an unsupported adapter you may be in for quite the trip.

I have had zero problems with both of these since, like, Ubuntu 9.04 (8.10 worked beautifully on my laptop but was less tolerable than 8.04 on my desktop for some reason). I don't know who's responsible for choosing the version of Ubuntu to sell, but it seems to me they're making a mistake by sticking with something as old as 8.04. That's like selling Windows 2000 and saying that Microsoft needs to handle problems centered around DLL Hell if they want to expand their Windows 7 market.
To wit, the things you've just said about flash and drivers, I can totally remember being problems just a few releases ago, but like I said, I've had absolutely zero complications with more recent versions. Not a one. aptitude install abode-flashplugin and I'm set for Flash 10 support that has never done anything stupid or crashed my browser. System > Administration > Hardware Drivers, checking all the boxes, and a restart is the first and last time I need to think about proprietary hardware drivers for a new install.


My feeling is that things have improved on those two counts, but I still hear about issues with them from people that upgrade to 9.04/9.10 (we sell install discs for them, plenty of people choose to upgrade). For what it's worth, I too disagree with the choice to stick with LTS versions, I think it's more trouble than it's worth.
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Postby AlliedEnvy » 2009.12.11 (09:39)

Ok. I read the article. Brace for large post (~5 pages of text).

  1. I've switched my Mother's PC completely to Ubuntu and my Father dual-boots it with Win2K (With little trouble for both of them (well, more trouble in Win2K actually)). He's partially right. When things work (and a lot of the time, they do), they go very smoothly. Smoother than Windows. Plug in a device, if it's supported well, you don't even need to install drivers. Less well, you need to install a package. Not so much, maybe google something and twiddle the commandline. There's just a small percentage of the time, when things fail spectacularly. And usually, with a bunch of google-fu and patience, it can still be fixed.

    Compare to Windows. When things work, they work great. When something fails, you often have no idea why, because they try to hide the inner details. Maybe a reboot will fix it. Maybe you have to upgrade the drivers. Maybe you have to downgrade the drivers. Maybe you have to reinstall the OS. Maybe you have to wave a dead chicken over it. Now, I haven't seriously used anything newer than XP (just done some tech support for Vista and 7), so maybe Microsoft has improved this. But I doubt it.

    And talking about pain -- there's all sorts of extra shit you need to do to maintain a Windows install. Want to keep all your applications up to date? You have to check for each individual one. Want to be secure? Best install antivirus, antispyware, make sure you don't use IE.. etc.

    (Incidentally, I use Gentoo. Gentoo can be just about as nitty-gritty console-twiddling as you can get and still have a good package manager. Gentoo is not for "I don't want it to hurt" -- it's for "I want to get into the thick of things, learn a lot, and make it work how I like it". That said, if I found that too taxing some day, I would move to something like Ubuntu. I don't think I'll ever use Windows as my primary OS on my personal machine, ever again.)

  2. Again, partially right. There is a lot of choice when it comes to distro, desktop environment / window manager, and other software. Choice can be confusing. Choice can also be empowering. The developer effort is spread out, but look at how many people are working on it. Compare to the number of developers on Windows. Not really valid.

    (As an aside, as a newb, the choice of distro, etc can seem very important. Really, they're all the same linux, just with minor variations. The most important choice, for a newb, is probably desktop environment. You won't know enough yet to have a preference otherwise, usually. That said, some distros are more newb-friendly.)

  3. Bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit. Agree with Tsukatu, this disqualifies the author as knowing what he's talking about. If this dude has earnestly been using Linux since 1998, he knows what kind of innovation has been done in just the past 10 years, let alone in Unix previous to that. If all you care about are user-interface changes (how many people despise the ribbon, anyway), I could see how you could be led astray into trying to make this point.

  4. Fine. Buy a corporate linux distro with support from RedHat, etc. Not a valid point.
He brings up Chrome OS. For me, Chrome OS isn't really "Linux for the masses" but "Cloud computing for the masses". Chrome OS could have anything underneath that shiny browser shell.

And this is an interesting fact. A lot of consumer devices run Linux, hidden, underneath, or at least use open source / free software. All those smartphones, most of their users could care less what underlying OS they use, they just want to make calls and text and web browse and whatever. Tivo users, they just want to record and watch stuff. A friend of mine bought an HDTV, it came with a copy of the GPL and a list of free / open source stuff it uses. And all this stuff works splendidly. Fine. Not "Linux on the desktop", but "Linux for the consumer".

And Linux works splendidly as a desktopless machine. Not really all that relevant to this thread, and Tsukatu has covered some of that already. But something important to corporate IT is vendor lock-in. If you use Windows, you're pretty much stuck with it when things change. Use Linux and if your distro suddenly heads in a direction you don't like, fine, switch to another. All distros use the same source which is doing something you don't like? Fine, modify the source yourself, or hire someone else to. Linux's flexibility is wonderful here.

scythe: What you really mean is, "Proprietary software is painful with Linux". This is mostly true. Linux is a moving target for proprietary software and drivers. If you have a device, and you want it to be well-supported in Linux, you really need to have the driver in the kernel (and thereby open-source). Sometimes clever kernel hackers can reverse-engineer enough to have a working driver. Sometimes not, most often depends on the ubiquity and complexity of the device. For software, the libraries change very often, and can even be different from distro to distro, enough to make distributing a single binary which works everywhere hard with a capital H. "Developing For Linux" is a book by Dr. Seuss (honestly, developing for Linux is easier than for Windows, and it makes a better development machine to boot). The work by Kafka you were looking for is "Developing and Distributing Proprietary Binaries For Linux".

This is why Slappy will never use Linux as his main OS. Too many proprietary games. You can make money with open-source games, but it's not yet thoroughly proven. Most game studios won't even think about it. Games where a lot of innovation and work goes into the engine will probably never be open-source. Open-source multiplayer is difficult but not impossible, and certainly means security must be secure and not "security through obscurity is good enough", and therefore when done right less likely to be hacked and cheated, but harder to do right.

I generally agree with Tsukatu. It's kind of like getting around. Walking is very easy to do, just about anyone can do it. A lot of people, all they need is walking for what they want to do. And that's fine. That's all they need, and it's easier. They don't need to go very far. Learning how to drive is difficult. It can take some time. Once you've made that investment, this newfound power opens up opportunities you don't have with walking. Some people are even driving enthusiasts and spend a lot of their free time messing about with cars. Others just use the car to get places and don't give much thought to it. Yes, you might need to take the car to a mechanic sometimes (or even learn how to do some maintenance yourself), but for a lot of people that pain is outweighed by the benefits they get.

(I know there are some holes in this analogy, but still. It helps explain the point.)

As for UI -- like it or not, Windows is the standard, with OSX a distant second. Make the UI *too* innovative and users will turn it down, too unfamiliar, too unfriendly. Make it too much a clone so new users will find it more familiar (and clones could never be perfect, it's too complex) and you will get an "uncanny valley" effect, plus users will put it down for trying to copy someone else. This is a lose-lose situation for an underdog.

But really, Linux on the desktop would be viable for a heck of a lot of people who wouldn't know of its existence (people who use "whatever it came with" and take it to "Nerd Crew" when it breaks), except the commercial support infrastructure isn't there yet, and not viable for a number of people who *are* aware of its existence (for instance, Slappy). An interesting paradox.

More to come, later, perhaps.
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Postby scythe » 2009.12.11 (09:49)

AlliedEnvy wrote:scythe: What you really mean is, "Proprietary software is painful with Linux". This is mostly true. Linux is a moving target for proprietary software and drivers. If you have a device, and you want it to be well-supported in Linux, you really need to have the driver in the kernel (and thereby open-source). Sometimes clever kernel hackers can reverse-engineer enough to have a working driver. Sometimes not, most often depends on the ubiquity and complexity of the device. For software, the libraries change very often, and can even be different from distro to distro, enough to make distributing a single binary which works everywhere hard with a capital H. "Developing For Linux" is a book by Dr. Seuss (honestly, developing for Linux is easier than for Windows, and it makes a better development machine to boot). The work by Kafka you were looking for is "Developing and Distributing Proprietary Binaries For Linux".

This is why Slappy will never use Linux as his main OS. Too many proprietary games. You can make money with open-source games, but it's not yet thoroughly proven. Most game studios won't even think about it. Games where a lot of innovation and work goes into the engine will probably never be open-source. Open-source multiplayer is difficult but not impossible, and certainly means security must be secure and not "security through obscurity is good enough", and therefore when done right less likely to be hacked and cheated, but harder to do right.

The emoticon does not exist to describe the current orientation of my eyes; suffice to say, I can see my retina.

Selling software is a three hundred billion dollar industry. You do not win by betting that the three hundred billion dollar industry will accept vastly reduced margins. Even ESR admits this one. Yes, it's proprietary. In other news, I use Opera because it's good. In short:

What you really mean is, "Proprietary software is painful with Linux". This is mostly true.


And it is not acceptable. It is not fucking acceptable. It's going to keep Linux from gaining widespread acceptance for at least another ten years. I had the right Kafka novel. Saying "oh the problem only affects proprietary software" is the Linux version of Apple's iPhone application approval process: it places unnecessary restrictions on developers who then, justifiably, choose not to develop for the platform. And I'd rather not have the community I support turn into Apple.

This is why Slappy will never use Linux as his main OS. Too many proprietary games.


No, the reason the majority of otherwise computer-savvy people won't use Linux as their main OS is too much holier-than-thou pontificating. Jamie "I wrote Netscape in a day" Zawinski did not stop using Linux because he was dumb, or couldn't figure it out.

The reason developing for Linux sucks is not that developers who make popular things don't want to release all their code, it's because the current system is set up to force them to, so most just don't bother.
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Postby jean-luc » 2010.01.20 (16:56)

There's been occasional discussion of implementing the sale of proprietary software in the Ubuntu Software Center. I think this is bound to happen, although I don't see it happening in Ubuntu because of Ubuntu's strongly open-source philosophy (Ubuntu generally refuses to include any proprietary software in the main distribution, which is what initially led to the creation of Linux Mint, although Mint has now come to be a distro in its own right).

Regardless, there's plenty of thought that with a shift in thinking, FOSS can be profitable to the developer. Look at RHEL, Novell, or any of those sorts of groups.
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Postby SlappyMcGee » 2012.04.27 (04:12)

SlappyMcGee wrote: And it can't do things that Windows can, like Left 4 Dead 2. .


http://kotaku.com/5905251/looks-like-le ... y-on-linux

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Postby Donfuy » 2012.04.27 (13:26)

Kind of embarrassing looking back on this thread.
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