What's preventing mainstream adoption of Linux

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What's preventing mainstream adoption of Linux

Postby kfcrosby » Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:04 pm

I want to throw an observation in here. An apology for the long post, but I have a story to tell. I've heard all of the old tried and true arguments that Linux is:
-To hard to use.
-Lack of programs
-Not user friendly

This was true when I started with RedHat 12 years ago or so but I truly believe this is going away quickly with each new release.

Now on to MY observation.

I recently had the opportunity to take several 6 year old Dell machines out of service at a company I do work for. Naturally they had WinXP loaded on them and like most companies had misplaced their proprietary driver CD. These machines were in relatively good condition and had been updated with a larger hard drive, memory, DVD drives etc., so I knew they would make great starter machines for someone. I took them in and gave them a fresh load of Ubuntu, which naturally installed all of that pesky proprietary hardware (NIC, Video, Sound). Load up a bit more software from the package manager and I am off to donate these machines.

Got them installed in their new homes, people were using them, getting photos and music collections organized, playing with the Open Office suite etc. Then it came time to connect to the Internet. Piece of cake right? NO. Here in Memphis, TN (USA) we have the privilege of having two choices for affordable Internet, AT&T or COMCAST cable. I had new users on both. AT&T refused to talk to my user if they were not running a version of Windows. LINUX is not supported by AT&T, and they will have to load a copy of windows before they can get Internet thru AT&Tnad not only does MUST it have Windows, one MUST use IE, no exceptions, no discussions. COMCAST, same thing, although they did have Apple MAC support. Now imagine the frustration, the anger; “What kind of POS have you given us that will not connect to the Internet?”

This is the type of behavior by these large companies that is going to have to go away before LINUX desktop can flourish. I understand the additional technical support required to support another operating system, but to tell a user that their machine “will not work” because it is running LINUX is totally inappropriate.

My new users are now happily up and running on their LINUX boxes after a visit from me, and hour on the phone with the various tech support clowns, and my portable netbook running, you guessed it, Win 7.


This to me is clearly where the focus need to be placed to get LUNIX more widely accepted.

Thanks for indulging me, and again I apologize for the length of this post.


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Postby johnhudson » Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:03 pm

There is a simple mathematical explanation for why people aren't adopting Linux in the PC area (n.b. only 10% of computers are PCs) - catastrophe theory.

This shows that there are only certain conditions in which things change smoothly from one state to another; in most cases, there is a catastrophic shift - such as when one party wins a landslide in an election or the iron curtain came down.

In most situations, as when a bridge stays up in high winds or floods, the forces on it are insufficient to reach the tipping point when it collapses.

It looks as if we may have reached a tipping point in mobile 'phones with a switch from proprietary to FOSS development of most mobile 'phone operating systems in a very short period.

But who would have guessed this two years ago?

It is possible there may be a smooth transition to FOSS on the desktop but my hunch, partly because the shift has been so slow, is that it will be quite a dramatic shift when it comes.

And I predict that all the same arguments that have been used for NOT moving to FOSS will be trotted out for moving to it - because people like to think they have rational reasons for emotional decisions.
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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:50 pm

Yes, it is a pain, will it go away soon? Probably not.
However, the slowly increasing support for Linux on hardware, where it actually mentions Linux support on the box, is a good indicator that things are moving in the right direction.
Most large hardware manufacturers now actively support Linux, the consumer helpdesk will probably be the last bastion.
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Postby ollie » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:55 am

Unfortunately most "large" ISPs employ call centre staff who can only read the on screen prompts for troubleshooting. They have no real understanding of networking or the actual configuration of ADSL "modems" (there is no such thing) or the protocols used.

I have had a technician from Australia's "largest" ISP - Bigpond who abuse their telephone network monopoly telling consumers that other ISPs can't even offer a connection on the same phone line - tell a customer that their computer was broken because he could connect to the Internet through their "modem" and they couldn't. I had a one hour argument with him that the modem was the problem because Bigpond had changed their DNS servers but the modem wasn't picking up the new DNS settings. It wasn't until I "broke" his laptop by removing the hardcoded DNS settings from his laptop configuration that he realised the problem was the modem. He went out to his truck and got a brand new "modem" and everything worked, because the "modem" picked up the new DNS setting. They also only supported Windows and IE until the FBI (US nothing to do with Australia) recommended using Firefox for security. I have connected a number of "unsupported" Mac users to Bigpond after they had been told it was impossible.

The only routers I know of that must be connected to with IE are some Cisco boxes and some Netcomm boxes, every other ADSL router works with any web browser. The problem with these boxes is that they use a Java front end that "looks" for specific Windows configuration details.

I've been teaching Linux for nearly 10 years and most people are amazed at how easy Linux has become in the last 4 years. They are amazed that you don't need "driver CDs" and just about everything works as soon as it is plugged in.
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Postby kfcrosby » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:53 pm

I guess it is going to take IBM, Novell, Canonical, RedHat and the like to "nudge" these other corporations into submission. It's just frustrating...
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Postby ajgreeny » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:42 pm

Surely the biggest reason here in the UK at least, is that the very largest majority of people simply buy their computer with the OS (windows) ready installed and ready to go. They believe they are getting windows for free.

Most people would never consider installing a complete OS; let's face it, many find it hard to just install a program without a lot of hand holding. There was just a glimmer of hope at one point when netbooks first appeared, and places like Currys and PC World in UK sold some machines with linux on them, only to quickly stop selling them, because some came back to the shops with customers complaining that they could not install the programs they expected to use, (windows apps, of course), and generally there was no person in these shops to help them out.

If more computers were sold complete with a linux distro installed, and the sellers became more able to help purchasers with their machine, I am sure linux would start to gain more ground. If things remain as they are, there will never be a large uptake of linux as everyone will still only be able to purchase a machine with this "free" windows already on it.

Do you know what? I'm not sure I care very much; it's quite nice to be one of the minority that is using an OS that we know is superior to the run of the mill MS offering.
Xubuntu 12.04 user, and loving it!
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Postby badger1000 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:48 pm

I don't think linux is ready for desktop use, not enough hardware vendors are writing drivers for linux, devices such as blackberry's are just about impossible to sync properly on linux, i've tried many diff distros, the vast majority of free programs are not as good as the windows versions, which is why you have programs such as wine and crossover

i don't know why people have to go through , this, linux is superior or windows is superior, at the end of the day all the OS does is provide access to hardware resources, so you can use your pc or laptop and get stuff done, if it's linux or windows i don't care as long as i can do what i need, at the moment i don't think there is enough support for linux to enable people to use it as a windows replacement.
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Postby Dutch_Master » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:58 pm

badger1000 wrote:I don't think linux is ready for desktop use, not enough hardware vendors are writing drivers for linux, devices such as blackberry's are just about impossible to sync properly on linux,....
I disagree here. Linux is ready for some time yet, the rest of the world, and especially in the US, aren't... Fact is that, out of the box, Linux supports more hardware then any competitor. The problem is, as you've correctly identified, hardware vendors that don't open up their products for OSS dev's, to enable them to write a driver for it. At one time, these drivers will come, as some geek has an itch and wants to scratch it. Frankly, that's what made Linux in the first place ;)

As for the original question: Linux will only take off if and when a 'must-have-killer-app' gadget (like the iPod, etc) appears on the market that only runs on Linux. Problem is that these days the various dev's are so used to cross-compile their stuff over to the M$ platform there's no need for the user to switch: it'll run on their M$ boxes, so why change?

Besides, many people use Linux every day w/o knowing it as embedded Linux is widely spread: routers, switches, the internet itself (!!), TV's and probably many other commodity stuff have a Linux kernel ticking ;)
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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:52 am

Well I have several PCs that only run Linux, including a MythTV PVR.
Hardware support is improving almost daily.
I use Windows at work, but not at home.

I don't consider it a "windows replacement", mainly because Windows cannot do some of the things that Linux can.
If I installed windows and paid for applications on all my PCs it would cost me over a thousand pounds, and I would be worse off in terms of functionality.
Plus windows lacks flexibility, it doesn't scale well.
Windows 7 for example takes 9.5Gb of space, so no good for my netbook, which has an 8 Gb SSD, and MS are only interested in netbooks to stop Linux being installed on them.
Windows phones are poor in general (I know, I have tried several), and TabletPC is a joke.
At the other end, just ask the stock exchange why they are dumping it.

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Inertia

Postby engless » Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:32 pm

I've installed Linux for a lot of people over the years. They are often surprised by the way, it just works. They also like the number of programs available from the first moment and the speed. The are increasing tired of you-know-who... but often they won't make any effort beyond point-and-click.
Inertia is weighing them down.
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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:13 pm

One thing that puzzles me is the CLI thing.
My wife never uses it, yet she has happily used Linux for 3 years now.
I do use the CLI on Linux, but I also regularly have to use it at work on Windows and even Macs.

And the windows users who complain about the CLI on Linux seem quite happy to edit the registry, or open a DOS box and type <service name>.msc when a tech tells them to.
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Postby johnhudson » Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:57 pm

wyliecoyoteuk wrote:One thing that puzzles me is the CLI thing.
My wife never uses it, yet she has happily used Linux for 3 years now.


Doesn't that prove that the Linux desktop is ready for everyone whether or not they use the CLI?

And if users still have to edit system files in Windows, that shows how far behind the competition Windows is now.
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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:28 pm

Very true, it is just that it is always trotted out as a reason for not liking Linux....
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Postby guy » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:00 pm

Somebody snuck a debian box into my all-Windows client's emporium. Recently I found out about it and he gave me an account. Oh, joy! A Linux desktop where I can run unapproved apps and create SVG graphics for the in-house wiki. Heck, Linux is more ready for my desktop that Windows 7 ever will be.

I'll be interested to see the download stats on Ubuntu's new music store. Might actually let us figure out how many installs are out there.
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Postby nelz » Thu Mar 25, 2010 12:36 am

I don't know if they still do it, but Ubuntu used to set the system to default to using their time server, which gave a pretty good indication of how many people were using it.
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