Poll 2014-06-02 Linux is awesome except for:
Linux is awesome except for:
Hardware support lacking
11 votes (29%)
Not enough apps
4 votes (11%)
The games stink
10 votes (26%)
Too hard for mere mortals
3 votes (8%)
Too many distros
10 votes (26%)
Reply 16 comments

Went with apps, but that's not really accurate (Score: 5, Insightful)

by zocalo@pipedot.org on 2014-06-02 10:59 (#205)

It's not that Linux is lacking software, quite the opposite in fact, it's lacking viable alternatives to commercial software for which there is currently nothing that can come close in terms of capabilities and/or is as convenient to use for which the vendor hasn't released a native version, or simply won't do so.

Re: Went with apps, but that's not really accurate (Score: 1, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-06-02 14:18 (#206)

So the deeper question is "what makes it not attractive to release a commercial linux version of most software?". Besides the obvious smallest userbase, the large number of distros makes support a very complex topic. Even among the top few, there are some quite big differences.

Re: Went with apps, but that's not really accurate (Score: 1)

by zocalo@pipedot.org on 2014-06-03 07:50 (#20F)

Having used commercial software on Linux in the manufacturing sector, support is usually only provided for a few main distros anyway (Debian, Red Hat and SuSE in my case). If you can get the binary to run on another distro, then that's great, but you are not going to get anything close to the same level of support as the officially sanctioned distros. For most applications I actually don't see that as a major problem, although RMS would certainly have something to say about the restriction of choice; it's still Linux, and in a commercial setting you are probably choosing the best OS/distro for your required apps anyway, rather than the other way around.<br><br>

Another problem was the issue of libraries, particularly when they were more obscure on one distro but bundled with another. A poke around in the dependencies for the various packages revealled that the typical solution here was either to statically link any such libraries across the board, or in a few cases to do so selectively from distro to distro, dynamically linking to the distro provided versions where available and statically linking the rest. Worst case scenario would be to just statically link the entire lot, which is an approach I've seen used for several Linux games - commercial or otherwise.<br><br>

So, it's not as if the problems don't have solutions, although they are not necessarily ideal, which leave me thinking it's more to do with the low return on the time and effort required. Unless you are working off the back of one of the major Linux desktop migrations that pop-up from time to time and making the binaries available to all, you have a much smaller userbase, split across multiple distros that are potentially different enough to be treated like different OSs from a compilation and support perspective. Each distro you support gets you more users, but adds to the cost of developing, compiling and testing the code, plus supporting it when you are done, and for many apps, particularly the more complication ones the numbers almost certainly just don't add up. So perhaps the real question is "what can the Linux community do to make the numbers add up?"

Re: Went with apps, but that's not really accurate (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-06-03 15:24 (#20G)

Unfortunately, making one unified decision is not really possible for a collection of community projects. I would love to see a set of standards built that distros could conform to, so you could test against that standard instead of a distro, but I can't see that happening anytime soon.

OT: Usability (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-06-02 15:33 (#207)

Almost missed that this was a multi-choice poll. Maybe some text to make that clearer would be helpful, like a "Choose any" on the line after the title.

Bad decisions (Score: 2, Insightful)

by engblom@pipedot.org on 2014-06-03 05:14 (#20D)

As someone that has been using Linux about 15+ years, I see the biggest problems like this:

Giving up OSS sound system.
Other *NIX system still uses OSS in one way or another and many programs are able to output sound. First Linux went all Alsa and you had many problems with cracking sound. Playing sound from many sources was nearly impossible so you had to use Arts, Esd etc (Yes, arts and esd was also needed at the time of OSS, but some development could have got rid of that dependency as *BSD did). All the drivers had to be rewritten. To complicate things even more they decided to slap Pu-pu-ppu-ppul-puls audio system to the already broken architecture. OSS was all about what UNIX should be: working with files (simple and elegant). Even to this date, when a Linux user wants Skype to work properly I might have to fight a lot getting the sound to work properly. Many times a growing noise appears which do not appear with other OS.

Broken desktops.
Early we had two competing desktop systems: KDE and Gnome (because of license issue). Every single time I tried Gnome, I had terrible crashes also it was quite sluggish. Opening a folder with pictures took forever as the thumbnails were created each time. It was also lagging terrible behind KDE in many other ways. Still it was the first choice in many distors meaning a new user got a really bad taste of Linux. KDE was still usable, but there was a small chance your distro was running KDE as default.

Then came KDE4 which completely destroyed the only really powerful and usable desktop at that time. Gnome had grown up at that time to be somehow usable. But Gnome also decided to mess up their desktop, which resulted into many new broken desktops got created (Unity, for example).

Now we still have some usable DE like Xfce, but they are still lagging behind what we have and they are not impressing on users coming from other OS.

Many more factors.
I do not intend to write a long article so I just conclude here that there are many more factors preventing Linux to be used in every computer.

Re: Bad decisions (Score: 1)

by alioth@pipedot.org on 2014-06-10 15:21 (#21M)

I'm not sure what all the hate for Gnome 3 was about. I've used Debian for quite a long time, and when Debian 7 came out it shipped with gnome3 as the default desktop. It took me all of half an hour to get used to and it seems to work well and doesn't get in my way. Granted, being a Debian user meant I missed out on perhaps any early horrors Gnome 3 had, but to be honest I find it a very competent desktop and have felt no desire to go back to a Gnome 2 like interface (in fact I always make sure the 3D drivers are working so I get a proper Gnome 3 desktop if I set up a new machine).

Re: Bad decisions (Score: 1)

by omoc@pipedot.org on 2014-06-11 19:48 (#21Z)

One of the many more factors for me is systemd. We go far away from any *NIX philosophy and just started breaking perfectly fine systems and merging all kinds of perfectly working projects to create a blob that interferes everywhere is now mandatory on almost all Linux systems. You even get binary logs, yay... all this just because originally someone wanted to boot a few seconds faster. If you go to OpenBSD, you'll be amazed how simple everything can be. Although it's getting better, it's in BSD land is where hardware support and commercial software is lacking the most right now

Still No Usable GUI Really (Score: 2, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-06-04 16:42 (#20P)

Yes, I know that sounds like BS from a bygone day, but as a mostly-Windows geek, every time I dive deeper into Linux, on desktop or server, I'm struck by the eventual need to go to the command line / terminal.

That's okay, for me -- I LIKE the command line and spend a fair amount of time there in Windows -- but reports to the contrary I don't see a way for a moderately technical user to avoid it under Linux. Far too many things are still VERY much dependent upon it, from daemons to drivers to fixes to patches to scheduling to startup etc. When something really goes wrong, you know the answer will not lie anywhere in the realm of the available GUI.

Sure, theoretically a user can steer apt-get or yum shells via a GUI, and can open up config files when necessary in a GUI editor, but who are we kidding? There's just no way you can live entirely in the GUI in Linux as you can in Windows, for technical or (to a lesser degree) non-technical users.

On the server side of course it's FAR worse. Using something like WebMin one inevitably ends up resorting to the command line fairly often.

Sure, every OS is just a thin veneer over what's going on underneath, and GUIs more so, but that surface is still too thin and shatterable in Linux distributions and desktops. My favorite desktop is KDE, and many distros shun it!

Re: Still No Usable GUI Really (Score: 2, Informative)

by billshooterofbul@pipedot.org on 2014-06-09 11:34 (#219)

Wow, I was kind of with you, until you suggusted servers should have guis.

I mean, maybe your right about moderate tech users not being able to do everything on a desktop via gui. I would suggust they were better off learning bash & related tools if they are going to call themselves moderately technical.


Re: Still No Usable GUI Really (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-06-09 17:10 (#21A)

I appreciate your thoughts, but I turned to WebMin/VirtualMin precisely because I don't spend enough time in Linux to be completely comfortable managing every server application at the terminal, even though I am otherwise aware of general administrative needs and procedures. The hope was that it would help me manage Postfix, sendmail, LDAP, user management, various webmail daemons, Apache, SpamAssassin, WordPress, SSL Certificate management, etc., without having to remember or cheat sheet everything. To an extent it does that, but very imperfectly. Without it, there's a huge nut to crack, as evidenced by a ridiculously long primer on setting up a personal mail server that Ars Technica recently featured.

There's no real reason a Linux mail server should be an order of magnitude more difficult to administer than an Exchange server. But without VirtualMin or something like it, it is. (There's a damn good reason that CPanel gets away with charging as much as it does.)

I don't particularly care if I lose massive geek points saying it and trying to rely on the server side tools, but I'm quite sure there are others like me who are otherwise competent but don't yet have the shell wizardry to go bareback.

Again, thanks for the feedback.

Re: Still No Usable GUI Really (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-06-09 18:50 (#21B)

There's no real reason a Linux mail server should be an order of magnitude more difficult to administer than an Exchange server
Job security.

More seriously, the GUI takes a non-trival amount of overhead to run, and those of us who can't afford new shiny hardware appreciate that. The vast majority of Linux sysadmins I know are more comfortable in a terminal anyway. Plus, the Linux approach gives you some more flexibility. I'd much rather have a steeper leaning curve than to be stuck to The Exchange Way.

Re: Still No Usable GUI Really (Score: 1)

by engblom@pipedot.org on 2014-06-10 09:43 (#21J)

I fully agree. GUI and servers have nothing to do with each other. I am all for GUI "control panels" for the normal home user, as Linux will not succeed if the normal user is not able to change some settings in their own computers.

As a server administrator I would hate GUI for servers. Instead I use a combination of scripting, salt-stack and direct ssh contact. Lets take this trivial case: In the fall when the schools begin, I end up creating user accounts for every single new student. I receive name lists. Those list I format into the way I want (sed/vim). Then I run the lists trough a script I made which will create random password, make their home directories and set up everything right for them. Out I get a csv file containing their usernames and passwords. That csv file I can use in any office application. How do you do that efficiently by GUI?

It is not a coincidence PowerShell appeared in Windows. Any administrator not able to script is pretty much a worthless administrator. A such person is wasting time (=money) by doing over and over the same task. Mistakes will creep in here and there as with any repeated task.

Another case: Lets say a service has hung. Now I am able even with my phone and a simple ssh client to take remote connection and restart the service. As soon you have GUI and VNC/RDP/Whatever GUI you need more bandwith and working over a slow mobile connection might be almost impossible. Take then screen size also into account.

Re: Still No Usable GUI Really (Score: 1, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-06-11 01:55 (#21T)

Huh? Why would a properly written GUI admin interface be any less capable of importing and acting on your new user file than your script would be? Why would a GUI admin interface, for that matter, be incapable of itself being scripted to customize actions for the administrator?

You're describing scripting or programming a task, something that is not the exclusive domain of a terminal session or bash shell. Windows itself has a few methods of scripting, though they can suck. I've used VBS scripts for exactly the user creation process you describe.

Absolutely, stuff runs faster and more efficiently without the GUI overhead, and once one is comfortable with one's scripting environment of choice one can program things fairly well. But some things, like selecting a specific set of names (or files) from a long list and selectively moving them to a new OU (or directory) are a royal pain by command line and trivial in a GUI. Conceptualizing and managing something like an LDAP structure is far easier and more accurate in a GUI.

There are pros and cons to both interfaces. The problem, again, is that Linux doesn't even offer you the choice.

Re: Still No Usable GUI Really (Score: 1)

by alioth@pipedot.org on 2014-06-10 15:25 (#21N)

I find the need is just as strong in Windows to dive for the command line. There are quite a few tasks if you're administering an active directory network that really can't be done in the Windows GUI.

The real problem with Windows is it *still* doesn't have a native ssh daemon in 2014 and the only effective way to administer a particular server is through a graphical rdp connection.