Weblog:   Linux Made Easy
Subject:   really that easy?
Date:   2003-08-13 07:33:09
From:   anonymous2
Are you going to provide support for all the computer illiterates who switch to Linux based on articles like this which work on fear that know nothing about their systems?

They'll be coming to ask about how to get their cable modem or winmodem hooked up (but not here of course, as they'll not be able to get online...), getting AOL 7 (or whichever version) to work, playing the games they had, etc.
Their ISP most likely won't offer support either, there're just too many distributions around each of which works just so slightly different to make it practical. "go ask in a newsgroup" will be a much heard response, a newsgroup they can't get to because they can't get online (and they would likely not get a useful response anyway, probably being told to RTFM pages for some package they need to install without being told how to get that package installed in the first place).

Linux is nice for the techies among us, but not for the average user.
"Linux on the desktop" has been heard shouted for many years as coming "this year", and it's not a bit closer than 5 years ago when I first dabbled with it (dabbled, because until recently I couldn't get a machine working stablely enough to be of much use, mainly hardware that wasn't recognised and even the machine I now have running Linux needed new hardware because there was no way to get it all working together due to broken support for some of the devices in different kernels).
It took me 2 weeks of research (lucky for me I have a machine running Windows as well so I could get online to do it and download the stuff I needed) to find the solution, which lay in a different network card with a different driver and a new version of the kernel.
I severely doubt my mother would have been able to do that...

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Showing messages 1 through 4 of 4.

  • Kevin Bedell photo really that easy?
    2003-08-13 07:40:27  Kevin Bedell | O'Reilly Author [View]

    I believe your experience was much more common 12 months ago. These are the reasons I recommended these particular distributions - I've either installed them myself or spoke to people that have and they really are much better.

    • really that easy?
      2003-08-22 01:20:14  jwenting [View]

      Maybe, yet it was a 4 year old computer with a 5 year old network card and a 3 months old Linux distribution.

      I can understand that hardware support isn't instant like with Windows (after all, the userbase is small enough that it may not be worth the effort to delay release of the hardware until a driver is ready for all OSs that could conceivably be used with it), but this was old hardware.
      And weirdest of all of course was that support for some of that hardware worked in an older version but not the latest making me wonder about regression testing.

      As this was a kernel issue, I doubt it would have worked for you either (in fact, I tried to install Mandrake on the machine before installing Debian and it wouldn't even boot the installer).
  • really that easy?
    2003-08-13 10:27:25  anonymous2 [View]

    You wrote:

    >lucky for me I have a machine running Windows as well so I could get online to do it and download the stuff I needed.

    Funny, I had the opposite experience this week. A friend of mine had misplaced his driver disks for his Ethernet card and so couldn't get online when Windows decided it was time for a routine OS reinstall.

    Using Mandrake 9.0 disks I legally gave him (after having legally downloaded them) he was online in no time and ultimately decided not to bother reinstalling Windows.

  • really that easy?
    2003-09-26 09:15:22  anonymous2 [View]

    Linux is much more than a bit closer that it was 5 years ago. Just going from Mandrake 8.1 to 9.1 was leaping light years ahead from an ease of installation standpoint. When I installed Mandrake 8.1, installation was not the absolute horror I had heard about from other Windows users, but it still asked me what version of XFree86 I wanted to use. At the time I didn't know, nor would any other linux newbie know, what XFree86 was. I also had to lie to it and say that my ATI Rage Mobility wasn't really an ATI Rage mobility, but a Lynx video card because of driver issues. With 9.1, both of those issues are gone, and installation is an absolute breeze. I also upgraded my NIC and it recognized it automatically.

    Is it perfect, hardly, but I'll take stability and no more patches over an easy install and a lifetime of crashes and the !@#$ing screen door that is Windows security.

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