Why Linux Isn’t As Good As Everyone Makes It Out To Be [Opinion]

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linux softwareLinux is a highly developed, stable and advanced operating system – this, I will never question. It comes in every conceivable flavour – from server solutions that simply work (again, this cannot be argued with) to desktop releases with more software than anyone could possibly ever need.

So what’s the problem? Why, in the year 2011 is Linux still not ready for the desktop? It works – sure, but after a long time using Linux as a primary operating system I’m just about ready to buy a Macbook Pro and dual boot Windows. Read on to find out why I’m a sad penguin.

Ubuntu

Enough, I’ve heard it all. “You might as well be using Windows XP if you’re going to use Ubuntu LOLZ!” – but this never used to be the case. I’ve toyed with Ubuntu now for years, and honestly can’t remember the first release I encountered. My decision to install Ubuntu came with version 10.04, after trying out a live USB release and finally getting fed up of Windows.

linux software

I know that Ubuntu does not represent Linux as a whole, so why am I doting on it? Because it goes by the slogan “Linux for Human Beings” and is often referred to as the OS of choice for switchers. It’s never been the most attractive, streamlined or powerful of the many thousands of distributions out there, but for a bit of web, publishing and a brief foray into the world of Linux it generally worked, with great stability and few issues.

In my experience much has changed. Ubuntu 11.04 introduced a new interface – Unity – and I can’t stand it. Sure, I could turn it off but most people won’t – do you have to turn off the default Windows or OS X interface for it to become usable? The two machines running Ubuntu in my household felt noticeably slower after the update, partly due to sluggish animations which lagged on both installations.

Add to that the plethora of driver issues that appeared overnight with 11.04 – reduced wireless performance, graphical errors and the most annoying persistent sound sync problem and I’m done. Way to break a perfectly operable operating system. Which leads me on to…

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The Many Distributions

I’m not arguing with the server side of things. If you want a solid, reliable server and you’re comfortable with command line access then do yourself a favour and build a Linux box. However – for the newcomer, the dabbler and the experienced-with-Windows user there’s simply too much to choose from.

linux software review

Some people complained when Microsoft announced multiple versions of Vista and 7, stating it would “confuse the consumer” – but we all know that’s rubbish as the manufacturer generally sells Home Premium or Professional for a not-so-painful OEM price, and if you really need Ultimate then you can always upgrade. The many possibilities that exist for those looking to install Linux can be off-putting and confusing.

Of course once you’ve listened to 101 suggestions, ruled out the ones you don’t like and finally installed your distribution of choice you’ve then got the small issue of…

Linux Software

Free open source software isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes it’s worth paying for a quality product. Take GIMP for example, which after experiencing it, you’re either going to love or hate. If you hate GIMP, be it the workflow, interface or just general shortcomings in comparison with Photoshop then you’ve not got much in the way of alternatives.

linux software review

GIMP is about as good as it gets on Linux when it comes to imaging software, and even compared to the Windows-only solution Paint.NET it can feel outdated, messy and not particularly intuitive to the Adobe generation. There’s no Adobe line-up for Linux despite the community’s many pleas (Flash support is pretty horrendous at times too).

If you’re a musician used to Traktor, Cubase, Reason, FLStudio (I could go on) or even Garage Band then you’re out of luck there too. There are a few decent solutions, but there’s a reason most music is produced on a Mac or Windows machine.

linux software review

Serious video editing is a no-go too. Despite the many capable solutions out there that are built for Linux, there’s still nothing that compares to industry standards like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premier. Of course these are expensive software suites I’m mentioning, but they’re also widely used and bought for a reason. Linux software simply can’t compare when it comes to this level of professional software, and it also can’t compare when it comes to…

Gaming

Things have got better when it comes to gaming on Linux over the last few years, but “better” should not necessarily be confused with “good”.  Valve’s distribution service Steam has had a major impact on PC gaming, playing a pivotal role in delivering everything from small indie games to full price new ones. The bad news is that it’s probably never heading to Linux (and even if it did, most games would probably not see the journey through).

linux software

There are lots of free games on Linux, but if you’re into your hardware-testing first person shooters or any of the latest releases then you’re going to need Windows. Aside from the odd free-to-play title, very little in the way of recent releases make it to Linux.

Dual-booting is always an option, but if you’re into your games in a big way you probably won’t be bothered with that.

Conclusion

Linux is not a write-off, but as a primary operating system it’s got some serious problems. Not all of these can necessarily be fixed either, though that’s not to say the humble penguin doesn’t have a place where it can be useful.

If you’re lucky enough to find a distribution you love, don’t play games and couldn’t care less about Adobe’s Creative Suite or a powerful video editor then that’s awesome. And those old PCs or netbooks without a lot of grunt might just get a new lease of life with Linux. Good luck!

What do you think about Linux? Do you agree that Linux is not good? Disagree? Have a say in the comments, below.

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Comments (159)
  • Michael Mason

    You’ve awakened the beast.

    I’ve used Linux off and on since red hat came on floppies. It’s great for servers and programming.

    BUT you can do all everything in Windows or OSX you can do in Linux, and then some.

    It’s great if you like open source, or free software. It’s not great if you like a system being held together by hacks that work in one distro but not another.

    It’s great if you like being different. It’s not great if you want to share a file with a co-worker and expect them to be able to open it without errors.

    It’s 2015 and you still have to manually configure a second internal hd to mount correctly, with the correct permissions for the only admin account on the computer.

    Sure, there are distros specifically for making music or other media, but try to install that software on your everyday environment, and you’re most likely out of luck.

    I want the choice of a distro with the ability to install working software to do what I want to do. I don’t want the choice of having to fix bugs while I’m trying to do work.

    Until then, the only choice is Windows or OSX.

  • Branko Dodig

    The article is very true. I would like to add something: Linux is unlikely to be ever have commonplace driver + professional software support. The reason for that is very simple, and doesn't have all that much to do with windows monopoly. It's the fact that there is a lack of standardization and of backwards compatibility. Until this changes, nothing will really change. Dozens (hundreds) of distributions and different package managers, and the entire diversity ensures you cannot develop for linux and expect that you can just install your software on every linux box. If you're making embedded or grid-based software it's fine, but if you want to make software for the end user it's not fine. If you could write commercial software for Linux which will certainly install and work in a simple way on every major distribution, and be sure it will work in ten years time, it would be an interesting prospect. However, you can't expect either; which is why despite liking some aspects of Linux, I do not see it taking over any meaningful market share. On the upside it's relatively safe from viruses, just because this and this distribution is so incompatible with everything else that nobody bothers to :) My personal computers all have dual boot, but for getting things done, 99% of the time I have Windows booted up.

  • Kurt Hectic

    Just wanna start by saying anyone who disrespected you with uncivilized name calling and such for you simply expressing a non-offensive opinion even if it could be wrong, lost their right to be heard respectfully, and are as worthy here as the feces the birds dropped on the tree outside my place today.

    Moving on.

    Great article, the comments of which made me laugh to no end. It was clear readers had no empathy for the possibility of opinions other than their own what so ever, and kept not getting it by saying things like “a couple of searches would find you info easily, or the documentation is more efficient). Hahaha. My grandma and mother would never in a million years go through that to figure out a computer. They’d just leave it and buy a Mac.

    It’s funny some overly proud students in my Comp Sci college days in 1998 were saying windows is over Linux will take over soon. 17 years later. Still not even close to the user-friendliness of either Windows or Mac. Pathetic. Still, I prefer Linux desktop for programming work over Windows, and prefer Mac over both.

    As some mentioned, the best option is for a Linux guru to configure a machine for a noob and let them take over from then on. That way, they get the guru to figure out the best distro for them, and install all the right programs for handling MP3 and such.

    Cheers… An oldie but certainly a goodie

  • Hate Linux

    Well, four years later linux is still dead. Despite all the Windows 8 AND 8.1 stufupps.

    When I plug in the USB stick and it gives me “Error mounting …” message I insert the Windows 8.1 disk and hit re-format. We have desktops for 20 years and linux ‘gurus’ still couldn’t figure how to mount a USB stick automatically on insertion.
    Then they want me to type in some convoluted rubbish into the console … as I said, I insert the Windows disk.

    “… Linux is primarily for people who want to learn…”
    No. There is no point learning it because it is useless. It is DEAD knowledge. Might as well learn the Afghan phone-book.
    Linux is a toy. Like the old Ford, we used to take off the cylinder head, cleaned the carburetor then put it back together. We NEVER used it to GO somewhere. Around the block perhaps for a ‘test-run’.
    Same with linux. They fiddle with it, recompile and see if it worked. If it did, they have a stiffy. Also they have a stiffy when they can talk gobbledygook on a party and everybody listens to them.
    That is good but still, linux wasn’t meant to be used.
    If one wants to GET somewhere, one gets Microsoft Windows.

    • Spam Hater

      You, sir are an idiot. If Linux is such a toy, explain why it’s the go-to choice of NASA, Wall Street, and MOST of the world’s most power supercomputers? How about Google, and Facebook, and most of the Fortune 500? All of ‘em use Linux and Unix (as well as Windows and MacOS). See, the thing is that these days, every operating system has plusses and minuses, but they ALL do basically the same shit in the end. You use each one for the things it does best, or if your needs aren’t too complex, then you use the one that suits YOUR personal preference and need. As to plugging in a USB drive, I plug in anything from a FAT32 thumb drive on up to a multi-terabyte NTFS drive and every Linux machine I have straight up automounts it without issue. Same thing on the Mac machines at work. Half the USB drives I have ASK FOR A DRIVER CD when plugged into ANY Windows machine. Go figure…

  • hp

    Well, I’ve been using GNU/Linux based OSes exclusively on all my machines (home and office) since 2004. Not even once had I the urge to go back to windows. Why? There’s barely any maintenance needed in linux world. You install it, set it up, load your data, and… you are done playing bob-builder. Windows? Oy. Maintenance never ends. I see people struggling with trivial problems on windows as they were life-or-death issues. Even nowadays in win7 and win8. Did I update my antivirus? Oh, there was a blackout and now my pc doesn’t send documents to my printer. Is Microsoft looking over my shoulder?

    • Joseph Salesi

      The reason there’s little maintenance is because it’s not widely used as a desktop computer. If you had to support the amount of applications and users that are on Windows/Mac, you’d see a big changes in the need of support.

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.