Sunday, December 9, 2012

A retraction ... of sorts ...

    Yes, it's true. Back in August of this year I posted my disdain for the Linux Desktop environment. In my post titled "Did Linux miss the boat? or did it take the train instead?"I hammered the Linux community for not living up to its potential, for being the ugly kid at the back of the classroom. You know the type, the loner, the kid who plays games in his mom's basement until he's in his mid-thirties. "Those guys".

    Well, its still true, mostly. I will explain.

    I have received a number of emails complaining that I was wrong, or ignorant of the topic. I also received a few that are not suitable for this blog. In fact, many of the desktop screenshot's that were presented were indeed very attractive. Some, not so much.

    What I failed to mention in the previous post was just how customizable Linux is. There is something for everybody, and really, this is very true. However, that was not the point of the Article. I was talking about the out of the box experience that a non-Linux user would get from a major distribution and in that regard, I stand by my original post.

    There is nothing revolutionary about any of it. In fact, most Linux desktops still seem to be stuck somewhere between 1998 and 2002. If had to pick one, it would be Ubuntu's Unity Desktop. Out of all of the competitors only Ubuntu has the foresight and guts to try something new. You can complain about spyware all you want. The fact is only Ubuntu can do what Ubuntu does, and they do it well.

    Personally, after browsing the various Linux forums (usually looking for a way to make Linux do something I probably shouldn't be doing) I get the sense that Linux is becoming the new Apple. They have been the underdog for so long, pushed aside as a bit player so many time that the community must learn to first come to grips with success.

    If you don't believe me, just act like you know little to nothing (for more than a few people this would be true) and ask a few questions about getting something installed. You will generally get the following:

  • Flamed for being a newb: 20%
  • The "How dare you ask such a thing when google knows all" reply: 40% (Not realizing the original poster found the forum using Google in the first place)
  • An answer that is way to complicated for a beginner to understand: 20%
  • Truly helpfully answer that actually answers your initial question: 10%
  • Various sorts of mocking and profanity: 10%
    That's really about how it works a more than a few forums. Granted I have learned a lot about the "under-the-hood" parts of Linux because answers were either incomplete, withheld or otherwise not easy to find. That's part of the reason I started this blog, to put out clear concise information that anyone could follow. 

    So yes, Linux is versatile in the extreme, but until the "average user" can just power on and go with little to no hassle it will never replace Windows or even be taken seriously in the desktop world. Then again, that's exactly where a lot of elitist snobs wish to keep Linux, in the back of the classroom. 

Until next time ...