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Life Without Microsoft... NOT!

Some days I think about trying to move all of my daily activities I do on a computer away from Microsoft. We complain, gripe and grumble about Microsoft and Windows, but to be honest the alternatives are not quite there yet. I tried to load three different versions of Linux on my system (Ubuntu, Fedora and OpenSUSE) with vastly differing levels of success. Ubuntu was the most successful, but is almost impossible to setup a dual-monitor arrangement with. (Yes, I've RTFM'd myself to death, looked at the settings, tweaked and fiddled... with failure almost every time. The one time it was successful it went right back to the original setup on reboot.) Fedora installed and looked nice... up until sendmail hung for 2 minutes on boot and the X server died after installation. As for OpenSUSE, well, it wouldn't even install giving errors on attempting to install the GRUB loader. Compared to a Windows install, these are levels of frustration that the average user won't tolerate when it comes to setting up an initial system.

It's also because of these frustrations that Linux won't really make it on the desktop. Sure, there will be constant efforts to do so, and with Dell having finally begun to offer a few systems with Ubuntu on them, there may now be some movement towards making real progress. But until the average Joe User can simply put a cd in the drive, answer a few simple questions and install the software, it won't happen. Not today, not next year, not next decade. Make it as simple as Microsoft's "so simple an idiot can do it" and idiots will do it.

Not that idiots aren't screwing up Microsoft installs... what's the old saying? "In the battle between engineers making bigger and better idiot-proof systems, and the Universe making bigger and better idiots, the Universe is still winning."


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 28th, 2007 07:10 pm (UTC)
Which is why I have a Mac...OS X Tiger was installed when I got the machine. I'm waiting for Leopard to come out in October.
Jul. 28th, 2007 10:21 pm (UTC)
Yes, I know you have a Mac. Believe me, I know. The beast sat here for a few days, remember? *chuckle*

And yes, OS X is a lot more friendlier than Windows, but it too has its quirks and oddness. I'm just waiting for Apple to drop the other shoe and announce that Leopard will be machine independent... and watch Microsoft scream in agony as folks actively switch gears.
Jul. 28th, 2007 07:45 pm (UTC)
Those distros try to be friendly at the expense of autoconfiguration code that's more trouble than it's worth. Start with Slackware 12 or vanilla Debian 4 (Etch).

(The magic numbers for Desktop Linux: kernel 3, GNOME 3/KDE 4, OpenOffice 3.)
Jul. 28th, 2007 10:22 pm (UTC)
Well, I did manage to get OpenSUSE loaded on the drive. The key is that it has to think it's the only drive around, which meant disconnecting all of the other drives until the OS was loaded, then reconnecting. Not something that the average Joe is going to be capable of doing on his own... not to mention configuring the software to read/write to those drives after the fact. Ah well...
Jul. 28th, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC)

I'm not an idiot, but I don't think you should have to be a freakin' engineer just to get a computer you can use.
Technology is supposed to bend to our will, not the other way around.
This is a fancy way of saying I'm running Win XP. :)

Jul. 28th, 2007 10:25 pm (UTC)
True. This is why dealing with Microsoft, Apple and the various distros of Linux makes me want to throw them all into a large vat of boiling oil. The truth is that you do have to need or acquire some technical expertise with any of these systems simply to maintain them, much less fix the problems that develop. But what the Average Joe wants is something that just works... sorta like his VCR that plays despite the fact that the clock has been blinking 12:00 for the last six years.
Jul. 29th, 2007 03:21 am (UTC)
I had a machine where I last worked, I tried OpenSUSE on it, and it wouldn't behave properly, so I went back to using CentOS like I should have.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


Tal Greywolf

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