One of the reasons why Linux will not reach widespread use

For years, Linux and Unix in general has struggled to gain widespread acceptance in the consumer PC market. Its best chance of widespread use was with the introduction of netbooks but Windows XP has managed to dominate that market as well. Part of the reason for widespread rejection of Linux is that it’s not intuitive. As much as people want to knock Microsoft Windows, Windows just works the way you expect it to. Let’s take the example of software updates. Every Windows software I have used are either updated automatically or requires a one or two click update by either going to a menu item to search for update or going to the company’s Web site to download and install the update. Now let’s see what it took to update one of my software on Ubuntu. Normally, you can just go to System-Administration-Update manager to update all your Ubuntu supported software but this particular package is not distributed by Canonical so it won’t update. Here are the steps I had to perform to get the latest update of this software.

  1. Go to the software Web site and click download.
  2. Instead of being presented with a single link, I see a dozen links showing all different flavors of Linux.
  3. Track down Ubuntu and I now have a 3 choices. The first choice is Canonical which is outdated. I choose option 2 which is PPA (I have no idea what PPA stands for and the page does not offer a clue. I don’t really care)
  4. Choose the version of Ubuntu I’m running.
  5. Copy two lines into System > Administration > Software Sources.
  6. Tell Ubuntu to authenticate PPA by copying a code. This is done by opening your terminal and entering sudo apt-key adv –keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com –recv-keys 12345678
  7. Tell Ubuntu to re-load the details of each software archive it knows about by typing sudo apt-get update in terminal.
  8. Run System-Administration-Update manager and run a partial update if prompted.

So I ask you this: Can a soccer mom do this? Until crap like this gets easier, Linux will stay a niche product.

  • don

    please. tell me that you’re being sarcastic.

    ubuntu updates are done in the background, requiring only a click from you. They tell you exactly what they are downloading and why, are smaller and speedier than windows. Oh, and did i tell you that you dont have to restart the pc every fricking time?

    • patyuen

      Reading comprehension is key. You missed the part where I specifically said Canonical does not provide updates to many software. Clicking update will do no good and Linux does require restarts for some major updates.

      • Cy_coe

        As you mentioned: in windows you go to the developers website, download and install the update. Do that for dozens of programms- I don’t think that is convenient. A linux package management can do that for hundreds (or more) of pakets at the same time with only one click.
        If you have to add another repository you do it once- then it works as long as the repo is online and matches the version of your linux distro.
        By the way: if there is a security hole detected the update is available within 48 hours or less- don’t have to wait for a patch day to close the hole- again it’s the package management what makes that so easy even my 76 year old granny can do that.
        But I see your problem: Linux is not Windows. And when someone is not willing to learn he should stick with the OS
        he is used to. I really don’t care which OS you or anybody else prefers but be fair. Don’t blame a OS just because you are not willing to learn and because it is not similar to Win. It isn’t and does not want to be a better Windows. If you don’t like it don’t use it.

  • don

    please. tell me that you’re being sarcastic.

    ubuntu updates are done in the background, requiring only a click from you. They tell you exactly what they are downloading and why, are smaller and speedier than windows. Oh, and did i tell you that you dont have to restart the pc every fricking time?

    • patyuen

      Reading comprehension is key. You missed the part where I specifically said Canonical does not provide updates to many software. Clicking update will do no good and Linux does require restarts for some major updates.

  • I have to agree with Patrick. I took the Ubuntu plunge earlier this year because of Vista issues. No matter how I did it, Flash just wouldn’t work right. Learning navigation was so confusing. It did get me by with MUCH help from coworkers and friends. But finally, I got the Windows 7 Beta and will use that until it expires in May 2010. I think Ubuntu is a neat platform, but reading manual after manual to understand the most basic functions is beyond my stamina right now. One day I’ll return to it.

  • I have to agree with Patrick. I took the Ubuntu plunge earlier this year because of Vista issues. No matter how I did it, Flash just wouldn’t work right. Learning navigation was so confusing. It did get me by with MUCH help from coworkers and friends. But finally, I got the Windows 7 Beta and will use that until it expires in May 2010. I think Ubuntu is a neat platform, but reading manual after manual to understand the most basic functions is beyond my stamina right now. One day I’ll return to it.

  • Roy Hubbard

    I’m fine with things staying the way they are. As you said, Windows just works. In spite of its drawbacks, it more than fulfills the needs of the vast majority of PC users. Unix wasn’t created for the desktop, but Windows via DOS started out as a commercial entity marketed toward the home user. I’m comfortable with that dividing line. With the way things are now, I wouldn’t be comfortable recommending any flavor of Linux to one of my non-technical friends. As much headway as Ubuntu and other distros have made, they’re still just too far removed from the simplicity and familiarity associated with Windows for the average user.

  • Roy Hubbard

    I’m fine with things staying the way they are. As you said, Windows just works. In spite of its drawbacks, it more than fulfills the needs of the vast majority of PC users. Unix wasn’t created for the desktop, but Windows via DOS started out as a commercial entity marketed toward the home user. I’m comfortable with that dividing line. With the way things are now, I wouldn’t be comfortable recommending any flavor of Linux to one of my non-technical friends. As much headway as Ubuntu and other distros have made, they’re still just too far removed from the simplicity and familiarity associated with Windows for the average user.

  • Hi, Pat its Tony from MM.

    I would agree, as much as I like Linux its a pain to
    use at times. I use Ubuntu, Xubuntu and PC Linux.
    A recent install of Xubuntu on a older Dell proved to
    be a pain. It works but certain sites like Youtube
    won’t work right.

    One of my friends who I let borrow the machine.
    (older Dell with 512 ram) found some things a bit
    confusing. Linux is cool for people who like to
    tinker and read but its not for most people.
    Windows for all its faults is simple and easy to
    use. Same for Mac OS.

  • Hi, Pat its Tony from MM.

    I would agree, as much as I like Linux its a pain to
    use at times. I use Ubuntu, Xubuntu and PC Linux.
    A recent install of Xubuntu on a older Dell proved to
    be a pain. It works but certain sites like Youtube
    won’t work right.

    One of my friends who I let borrow the machine.
    (older Dell with 512 ram) found some things a bit
    confusing. Linux is cool for people who like to
    tinker and read but its not for most people.
    Windows for all its faults is simple and easy to
    use. Same for Mac OS.

  • Anonymous

    Linux will not reach widespread use?

    ha!

    I have to admit this is more than average techy for a photograpgy & imaging blog!

    keep up your enthusiasm maybe one day you will get to where I am with 1 desktop PC that has not had a full reinstall in 5 years. I wonder when was the last time a windows user could say that?

    Yes I remember, since they took years to release wonderful Vista? Haha!

  • Total, utter, bullshit.

    “Part of the reason for widespread rejection of Linux is that it’s not intuitive”

    It is not intuitive to you because it does not work like Windows, and *Windows* — not computers — is what you are familiar with. Place Ubuntu in front of a user with very little experience using Windows and they will actually have *less* trouble using Ubuntu than Windows.

    The problem with “techie” users is what Yoda said: “You must unlearn what you have learned”. Windows-centric bias founded on Windows-only knowledge.

    Try using Ubuntu but before comparing it to Windows, try pretending you have never used Windows, ever. Also, skip past the installation step. Ubuntu is incredibly easy to instal 9 times out of 10 but that 10th time is a killer. OTOH, Windows users *almost never install Windows* — it comes pre-installed. (Another apples-oranges comparison that gets my goat)

    Finally, as a photographer, Ubuntu is not for you. You will have specific requirements that only commercially available software written for Windows or Mac will fulfill.

    But please don’t say, with your Windows bias, that Ubuntu is not right for a soccer mom. It is PERFECT for a soccer mom. It is, in fact, much better than Windows, in a lot of ways, for a soccer mom.

    Thank you good night again