Linux Flaws

May 2008
"It's free... Yes, I know."
- Jesse Phillips
  1. Pricing and Support
  2. Installing Linux
  3. Hardware Support
  4. Software Installation
  5. Windows Software
  6. I can do [this] with my OS
  7. Learning Root
  8. Linux falls short in user friendliness
  9. It's free
  10. The Crystal Ball

There are lots of things that get publish about "Why Linux is better than Windows," "Why Windows is better than Linux," "Why I don't run Linux," "What is a better Windows alternative," and what ever other combinations there are. For the most part pro Linux stuff is posted. I wish to cover a range of things here: flaws in the way people have produced arguments, and either complete them, correct them, or make my own; I want to state flaws Linux has from the user perspective, underlining structure, and community; and I would like to go over what I expect to see in the future with how things are moving. The predecessor to this article is OS War, where I just yell about all the crap that comes from Windows and Mac.

Pricing and Support

When you look at the numbers there is only on conclusion here and that is, Linux wins. However to overcome this dilemma Mac users have to come up with something fresh, "Theres more to it than straight up power, and as soon as you come to terms with that, the less you look like a complete retard." bocmaxima 2006. The basic idea here is that with a Mac your buying hardware, the OS, stability, and support. When buying a Windows machine, it tends to be missing the stability part, and I think this is really what this comment is pushing, people do like things to keep on running. With regards to Linux you miss out on the support, or at least the conventional support services.

Since there is little to stand on when comparing to Windows and since this is about Linux I should tackle the support issue. I should first state that Linux does have support, tons and tons of forum postings/posters just trying to help out its users. I get that most people don't like this, and thus prefer to stay away from it. But I should continue by saying that Linux does have support, there are companies that you can give your lonely money to and they would gladly talk to you on the phone about your problem. Now there is also the problem that you can't take it into the local Best Buy to get it fixed, which leads me into my next section.

Installing Linux

Installing Linux scares a lot of people and is a reason for complaining about Linux. The best answer to this has been, "and installing Windows XP is easy?" Ubuntu has actually made this pretty easy now, and it gets a lot of praises from Linux loves and skeptics alike. But in my opinion it does not matter how easy it is, people don't want to "break" their computer. And to this I say that the dislike of installing Linux is out of the communities hands. The shift needs to be made by hardware distributors, by providing Linux pre-installed like you see with both Windows and Mac.

Hardware Support

Now the big issue of will my hardware work. It is true this is laking and that one of the major detractors from using Linux is making sure all the hardware in the system works, which is much more of a trick with unpopular or non-standard cards such as TV-tuners, and Wireless. I wish to make the statement that this is not the fault of the Linux community or their responsibility, then again it's volunteer so they have no responsibility for anything (coders do take pride in their work though).

I will lay the blame on hardware manufactures for only developing on the Windows platform. As understandable as it may be, it is their responsibility to provide the needed drivers to their customers. This argument is sound when used as an argument for not choosing to run Linux or Mac for that matter, but it is all to often used as a reason Linux is bad.

Software Installation

I love this one. Windows has it easy, download a program run the executable, find a place to put it, and we're done. Mac not to bad either, download the program, drag into application folder, finished. And Linux, open aptitude (synaptic, apt-get install packages), search for package, get, and we're ready to go. Since I have no complaints on the Mac side of things (maybe I just haven't used it to formulate any), I'll move on to Windows. Did I say we were done installing after choosing the place to install to? I meant that we might be done, it could be that you have to shut down the entire computer first, that's not really any fun. The complaint with Linux is a little deeper.

The method of installing Linux software used above is used to argue against people's claim that Windows installation is easier. The flaw here is that you can't get everything from your repository, and when this is the case you run into many head aches. I shall only quickly list them and then through a shameless plug in for a Tag based Filesystem. If you come across software that is not in the repository you could get lucky and it will be packaged in the appropriate format for your distro. If not it might be in some other ditro's format (Debian can use alien for RPMS) and it might not be helpful. The worst part is just being given a tar.gz file. I'm sorry the file structure of Linux does not lend itself well to a common computer user even if inside that file is an install script.

I have a solution, but it wouldn't be easy to implement. TagFS is an idea that files get tags rather than a directory tree. This would allow files to just state what they are, and thus there would be no installing as long as the file claims to be executable it can be found. Program launch menus could use the tag information to construct a lovely tree for finding files. There is a lot of power in the way of tags, but most things currently don't use them correctly and I feel a good read is my ideas on a Tag Hierarchy being the missing link to make tags more than just something to search for.

Windows Software

This is an interesting one, much like the hardware complaint it is not Linux's fault. Still a reason to not switch, sort of. With the advancements of Wine and Virtual tools, most Windows programs can be run with an underlining Linux desktop. Note that I say underlining, you still need Windows if you're running it in a Virtual machine. Since I don't really have much to add to this, I wish to run around again yelling at the Mac advertising.

"Macs are great because now with boot camp you can run all your favorite Windows applications" WTF. Ok, so the statement is true, the problem I have here is that all their advertising bash PC, where PC is actually Windows. Their ads bash Windows, and now they want to claim how great their product is because it can run Windows. It wouldn't be so bad if their commercials were more like the commercials from Novell. The problem is they would loose a lot of thunder, and admit that Linux is a competitor.

I can do [this] with my OS

Yes, but I can do this and this with my OS. These are just stupid arguments. I can find many things that one OS can do that another can't. Just working inside of Linux you find this happens all the time. "KDE can do this, why can't you do it in Gnome." "I use XFCE because it lets me do things that can't be done it KDE and Gnome and it is less of a resource hog." I shouldn't spend much more time on this, but when looking at how the OS's are developed, I'd say Linux has the best chance of changing to the functionality that you want. Also if one OS really does have a good idea, it will show up in the others (Stop complaining about that, it really is just stupid).

Learning Root

Yet another catch for new Linux folks, a super user. This is pretty pointless as Vista now adds a super user, though you still run as him by default, you still get all the nagging, "are you sure messages". This really only works as a pro Mac argument, but if I recall this was how all previous Windows systems were used and now it is switching to a more Linux style, so is Mac really on the right track?

Linux falls short in user friendliness

This one is really a mixed bag because it depends on how you use it. Many people I know, just need some office software, browser, and solitaire. Since repositories are where most of the programs come from it is fairly annoying that not all of them are enabled to begin with. It's not hard to enable them, but someone new isn't going to know that is an option. I'm probably missing something more, but oh well.

Going back to installation again, another big problem that crops up is versions. Linux comes in parts, and many of these parts. This makes it possible for applications to be smaller by sharing resources. The problem comes in when these resources are updated. Normally this isn't a problem because newer versions are backwards compatible with their predecessor, but there are times that a package claims it needs an older version of something. Who's fault this is doesn't matter. Even so this is where being able to have multiple versions of the same package is helpful, but not so much when your distribution no longer has that version, or that version conflicts with something else...

I suppose the best way to shorten this down is, the only way to be sure that the program you want will work, is if your program is still being maintained. Proprietary software don't like to keep their obsolete software updated, and people don't like being forced to buy the latest to continue to use it.

It's free

Yes, we know. Here I would like to point out some of the stupidest counter attacks the Linux community uses when someone gives a reason not to use Linux. And the most over used is, "its free, your getting a pretty damn good product for one done on a volunteer basis." Everything said is true, but if Linux doesn't do what I want that really doesn't matter.

The Crystal Ball

I see a bright future heading the way of the Linux Operating System. Not only are their computer companies that are selling pre-installed Linux, there are companies that have opened their hardware specifications up to the community (ATI, VIA). Software companies are working harder on cross platform and porting of software to Linux (Adobe Flash, Google products, Source Engine by Valve). Wine is coming to its v1.0 release. With all of this work being done I see Adobe also making their suite of programs run on Linux. Splashtop will be bringing Linux even close to the public eye and have a better idea of what it can do for them. I see Linux getting a much greater amount of publicity and being a viable alternative to Windows it will be widely used in the next 5 years (people will have the same knowledge of Linux as they do of Mac). In 10 years there will probably be more availability of Linux support then there is for the Mac.