Enterprise Linux Log

Sep 13 2007   10:48AM GMT

Linux: still too rough for the average joe (or jane)


MossbergWell known tech columnist Walt Mossberg reviews the latest Ubuntu build on some Dell hardware and comes away with mixed emotions. Like watching your ex wife go over a cliff in your brand new Mercedes, Mossberg sees Ubuntu as “easier to use” but still lacking the polish necessary to make it big with Joe User.

My verdict: Even in the relatively slick Ubuntu variation, Linux is still too rough around the edges for the vast majority of computer users. While Ubuntu looks a lot like Windows or Mac OS X, it is full of little complications and hassles that will quickly frustrate most people who just want to use their computers, not maintain or tweak them.

And tweak he does. In the column, Mossberg goes through a routine that’s now familiar to a vast number of people — tech-savvy or no. For example, there is no control panel for adjusting the way the touch pad works. It was too sensitive and unmodifiable. Every time the computer awoke from sleep, the volume control software crashed and had to be reloaded, he said.

“When I tried to play common audio and video files, such as MP3 songs, I was told I had to first download special files called codecs that are built into Windows and Mac computers. I was warned that some of these codecs might be “bad” or “ugly,” Mossberg wrote in his column. A Kodak camera and every hipster’s staple, the iPod, also failed to synch with the system. Video flickered and froze, seemingly at random. DVDs just don’t play. Etc etc.

Now, on the server none of this matters, obviously. But for the consumer it’s everything. If iPods don’t play then, well, it’s going to be the holiday apocalypse. Especially if dad didn’t find a Wii for under the tree. Linux’s time will come though, right? At least, that’s what every “year in review” article I’ve written for the past four years has said anyway.

There’s a different angle that reaches the same conclusion over at Brian Proffit’s LinuxToday blog. Entitled, “Ubuntu fails to impress,” the post is more about hardware drivers than it is the failings of Ubuntu.

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