Mar 142010

According to this post in the zdnet blogs, linux still “sucks”. It looks as though that the usual MS FUD team is still at work with the misinformation and blather spouted at random quoting non-technical types saying how “hard” linux can be.

To quote, “what I’ve done here is gone through the Linux-related emails I’ve received over the past few months and distilled the feedback down into the most common reasons why people end up feeling that Linux sucks.” As a rule, people in general are generally ignorant when it comes to new things, and I use the term ignorant in the sense of not having experienced something before as opposed to being “stupid”.

Just like any new experience, learning is required. That is a given. If I remember correctly, the reason I learned to use Microsoft products so well back in the day, was because it constantly broke and required repair. This is going back well before Windows 3.*.

In general, people have been spoon fed information and had their hands held by the large conglomerates in tech, because there has not been a better solution provided or information known about something better that is out there. As linux gains in popularity, the increase in usage will become more apparent.

In order to provide answers to the complaints given from the distilled replies of all those email messages, I would like to reply to each one.

Q: No gaming support
This is the number one complaint. Here people are usually talking about their existing library of Windows games, but a related complaint is that new games don’t support the OS.”

A: In response, I point you to this article from 2005. That’s almost 5 years ago people and this included people playing WoW, Diablo, bejeweled and other games using methods to implement the gaming software using linux. Cedega is a commercial re-implementation of the Windows API for Linux with a focus on gaming. Currently, there are 51 games certified to run on linux using Cedega with more than 1500 listed in their database that can be configured to run on linux. There are also implementations of Wine, like crossover that comes fully supported which will run 7,069 applications listed in its databases. A full list of supported software is available here.

Q: Second most popular reason why people think Linux ’sucks.’

How many Windows users are there who would have trouble setting up their PC if it arrived at their home totally blank? A lot. Being able to buy a computer that’s pre set up with Windows (or Mac) is a massively strong selling point that simply shouldn’t be overlooked. The hurdle of having to set up Linux on a system is too much for many to handle.

A: Oops, HP, Lenovo, Dell and hundreds of other vendors sell linux pre-loaded. No joy there Adrian… Oh, and if dropping in a CD and answering fewer questions than the Windows installation CD takes is difficult, then they should not be using a computer. if you have installed XP, you can install Ubuntu.

Q: No iPod support
This is changing, but for now, it’s a big sticking point.

A: In about 2 weeks, Ubuntu will provide out of the box support for the Ipod as a standard plug and play device. To give a little perspective, linux was being configured to use the Ipod back in early 2006.

Q: No migration tool
For most people, there’s nothing scarier than starting from a blank slate.

A: The only reason people have to start from a blank slate in the first place is because of the broken Windows distributions that are hacked, full of viruses, had dll failures or it simply ran too long… Luckily, free CD’s are available from Ubuntu, Fedora and Oracle simply by requesting them.

Oh and as for that migration tool you were looking for, it’s built right into the Ubuntu installer

Q: Driver/hardware confusion
Upgrading to a free OS like Linux is great, but if you have to buy new hardware, or run into problems getting your existing hardware to work, it’s better to stick with what you know.
Also, the fact that there’s no such thing as a “works with Linux” logo for new hardware means that people who might like to upgrade feel totally in the dark as to what future hardware they could buy.

A: I believe I can safely state that anything you can currently buy at any of the large computer retailers like Best Buy and Staples will work out of the box in linux. In order to verify this, please search the following resources in order to verify that your hardware is supported. There is not enough time or space to list everything located there… (hint hint)

I can also safely state that the win modem will definitely not work with linux. Oh, I’m not even going to address the badge issue… Please see 4 lines up, we work with everything, we don’t need no stinking badges…

Q: Free tech support dries up
There are a lot of people out there who are only able to keep their PCs running thanks to the kindness (and tech know-how) of others. Switching from an OS that has +90% dominance to one that has a 1% usage share means that much of those support avenues dry up.
Note: This used to be an issue for people wanting to switch to Mac too.

A: Oops, wrong again Adrian. As a simplified response I’ll just leave this here…
“Results 1 – 10 of about 82,100,000 for linux support. (0.17 seconds)”
Results 1 – 10 of about 172,000,000 for windows support. (0.13 seconds)

For an operating system that has about 1% of the market share as opposed to 90% of market share, there are approximately 1 for every 2 support sites for linux… nuff said…

Q: Confusion about distro differences
What makes one distro different to another? Since price isn’t there to help people decide (as it is with different editions of Windows), it’s difficult for people to understand the why there are so many distros, and what the differences between them actually are.

A: In the question lies the answer. Is price the best determination of which version of Windows is best? If that is the case, MS should be paying us to use it. There are many different distributions of linux because of its inherent ability to adapt to so many uses. Linux can be used on super computers, servers, desktop systems, laptops, notebooks, phones, routers, gaming platforms, notebooks and many other hardware platforms that can run embedded operating systems. Hell, Microsoft ran their webservers on linux up until it was pointed out and they had to switch to IIS… too funny.

Anyways, back to the question at hand. To decide what distribution is best, you can use the flowchart here to decide which is best for you. There are also online resources available to help, such as the Linux Distribution Chooser . There is also a Comparison of Linux Distributions located at wikipedia which can be a tremendous help in locating and specifying what is available for you.

Linux is also used by Governments, (US, China, Germany, Norway, Brazil) Schools, Companies and private concerns to power their business. Linux is also used by Google, the NSA, Yahoo, Industrial Light and Magic, Dreamworks, and I would not even begin to list all of the embedded systems that you use everyday that runs on linux.

So, if one distribution does not suit your needs, ask in the forums of each distro for advise. Most seasoned linux users will be more than happy to provide you with information to guide you in the correct direction. Use the live cd’s to test the ones which may best suit your needs and don’t be afraid to make changes. Linux is all about experience, learning and having fun while being productive.

Oh, and one last thing, don’t let anyone ever tell you something is bad for you without first checking it out for yourself. The fear, uncertainty and doubt campaign being waged by MS is simply another marketing tool to keep you fearful of change. Don’t fall for it!
Knowledge is Power.

 Posted by at 2:52 pm