Home > Geeky stuff > The state of the Linux Desktop

The state of the Linux Desktop

Linux has come a long way in the 9 years I have been using it.  I have seen it go from very difficult to set up to a breeze to set up.  I have gone from X windows with some minimal menus to beryl  running gnome.  We now have a halfway decent office suit in open office.  A lot of people say that it is ready from the average user.

I have to say it is no where near ready for the average user.  I have come to this realization while trying to install feisty on my Dell Inspiron laptop.  X windows didn’t work out of the box so I had to use the text install and get the fglrx driver installed. That problem is nothing compared to my wireless problems.  The built in card is an unsupported broadcom card which can be made to work without WPA support with ndis wrapper, but I need native support for WPA and also to use in kismet.  So I found a spare  linksys WUSB54GC card which is supposedly supported.  I see access points but I can’t connect to any so I do some googling and it seems you need to recompile the driver.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get it to compile in Fiesty but apparently it worked in edgy.

Where am I going with this?  If I with 9 years of linux admin experience, a RHCE, and a CS grad can’t get a wireless card working what chance does my mom have?  The open source community has failed at making the hardware easy to setup and configure.  The community bickers and fights and is all ego driven, and projects fork when someone gets their feelings hurt.  I am all for the open source movement, but just like communism human nature will always get in the way.  Linux has been around for over 10 years and still the desktop percentage must be less than 1% of the total desktop market.  Just look at the leaps and bounds apple has made coming out of no where with OS X.  Just think how much bigger the open source development community is.  If we could have been this focused and driven we could be much better off.

The number 1 thing I think that has hurt the linux community over the years is the number of distributions.  We have fedora core, Ubuntu, suse, and many many many more.  None of which have a consistancy of where system files are located.  The biggest hurtle to linux adoption is lack of commercial applications.  The small business of the world needs to be able to run office, access, excel, quick books, etc.  I know it is a chicken and egg problem but it is made that much worse by all of the distributions.  A company looking to release its software on linux will have to support dozens of different distributions, instead of just 1, like when they ported their software to OS X. This also makes driver support a nightmare as now you have to have the user compile their own drivers every time they upgrade their kernel, not to mention all of the different versions of libraries that are out there.  I don’t blame the hardware and software companies for ignoring the linux desktop market.  It just doesn’t make since at this point.

Do I think that linux is doomed?  No not at all it is a great server product and continues to get more and more market share, and better support of enterprise level hardware.  If the open source community could get its act together and stop bickering, get some consistancy as far as the distribution are concerned.  Also the state of drivers is key.  I am not a developer so can someone tell me why do all the kernel modules have to be recompiled each time a new kernel is installed? I don’t have to reinstall all my drivers when windows updates its kernel.

Categories: Geeky stuff
  1. Anthony
    June 20, 2007 at 11:25 pm

    I have the same wireless problem on the same laptop. I wanna love linux and ubuntu…but you´re right…if we(geeks who dont mind spending time figuring stuff out) cant get the basics easily up and running, how or why would anybody else when windows just handles it.

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