Why Isn’t Linux Mainstream? 5 Flaws That Need Fixing

Joel Lee 24-12-2015

How much market share does Linux have? According to these operating system usage stats, you’ll see that Linux crossed the 5% mark some time in late 2010 — and has been stuck there for about five years, only spiking to 5.9% once in June 2015 before settling back down.


This is not a good sign. Linux has undeniably improved over recent years The Best Linux Operating Distros The best Linux distros are hard to find. Unless you read our list of the best Linux operating systems for gaming, Raspberry Pi, and more. Read More , so why has it failed to grow? The inability to grab at least 1% in five years is troubling at best, and perhaps points to the fact that there are some serious underlying issues that need to be addressed.

Are these problems inherent to Linux’s design? Or can they be overcome with proper direction and collaboration? It’s hard to say, but let’s take a look and see what could go right.

Note: This article is in the context of desktops only. Linux is actually very popular in other areas like servers, mobile devices, home theaters, and even education!

1. The Landscape Evolves Too Quickly

One of the selling points of Linux — and the open source software movement What Is Open Source Software? [MakeUseOf Explains] "Open source" is a term that’s thrown around a lot these days. You may know that certain things are open source, like Linux and Android, but do you know what it entails? What is open... Read More as a whole — is that it doesn’t stagnate. If there’s something wrong with the kernel, an application, or a software package, anyone can contribute a fix or addition.

This is open source software at its best, right? Well, in some ways, yes, but not exactly. In truth, it’s a double-edged sword — despite the benefits of rapidly evolving software, it comes with a huge drawback.


On the one hand, if you use a closed source application like Photoshop or Unity 3D, you’re at the mercy of the developers. If there’s a bug that impedes your workflow, you have no choice but to wait and hope that they fix it quickly. With an open source application, you could potentially fix it yourself.


But here’s the problem with rapidly evolving software: unless you’re plugged into the community, it’s impossible to keep up with all of the changes.

For example, look at the biggest name in desktop Linux: Ubuntu. They release a new version every six months where each version is named after the year and month of release (e.g. 14.10, 15.04, 15.10, etc). Contrast that with Windows (every 3-5 years) and OS X (every 1-2 years).


And Ubuntu is only one of many. Dozens of new Linux distros The Best Linux Operating Distros The best Linux distros are hard to find. Unless you read our list of the best Linux operating systems for gaming, Raspberry Pi, and more. Read More are released every year, and all of these distros are updated at different rates. There’s always something new and different around the corner, and the landscape is never the same.

This is great for power users, but overwhelming for casual users. It’s one thing to stagnate, but Linux is on the opposite end of the spectrum — an operating system that changes so frequently that users are unable to settle in and get comfortable.

2. Way Too Many Choices

Despite the many big myths about open source software 6 Myths About Open Source Software Debunked Open source software is awesome, but despite the growing popularity of FOSS alternatives, many people misunderstand the nature of the open source industry. Do you still believe these outdated and disproved open source myths? Read More that simply aren’t true, there are several criticisms that hold a lot of water, and many of them apply to Linux. But the one that needs most attention right now is the tendency of Linux to drift toward fragmentation.

Here’s the thing: just because a project is open source doesn’t mean that there are people who contribute to said project, and even when people do contribute, those contributions often lead to disagreements that arise over what to change, how to change them, and so on.


Most of the time, these disagreements are resolved and everything stays on track, but sometimes there are conflicts rooted in deeper issues like vision and direction. When that happens, resolutions are few and far between, and this happens more frequently than you think, which is why so many open source projects are forked Open Source Software and Forking: The Good, The Great and The Ugly Sometimes, the end-user benefits greatly from forks. Sometimes, the fork is done under a shroud of anger, hatred and animosity. Let's look at some examples. Read More .


For those who don’t know, forking a project is basically the same thing as cloning a project. The original project continues in the same direction it was going while the forked (or cloned) project takes off in a new direction with new developers. Forking is useful in a lot of ways, but it’s key reason why Linux is so fragmented.

Again, let’s consider Ubuntu, which has a number of official derivatives and variants like Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, and more. And then there are actual forks like Linux Mint, Zorin OS, elementary OS, and Deepin Linux. At this point, there are dozens of Ubuntu-based distros to explore.



What about all of the distros unrelated to Ubuntu? You’ve got the well-known names like Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Arch Linux, Puppy Linux, and a few Unix-like operating systems that aren’t even Linux 3 UNIX-Like Operating Systems That Aren't Linux Recently, people started to confuse "UNIX" with "Linux." Linux was influenced by UNIX, but UNIX systems have no relation to Linux. Here are some important UNIX-based systems worth knowing about. Read More — and that’s not even mentioning the hundreds of lesser-known distros out there.

Linux’s biggest obstacle is the paradox of choice 6 Mind-Blowing TED Talks About Psychology & Human Behavior The human brain is complex and confusing, which explains why human behavior is so complex and confusing. People have a tendency to act one way when they feel something completely different. Here are a few... Read More . The Linux community boasts of choices, options, and flexibility, but mainstream folks don’t have the time or patience for that. If you present too many choices, people will just walk away — as evidenced by the entirety of Linux’s history.

This is just one of many reasons why people say Linux has a steep learning curve. When you have to do hours of research just to pick the operating system you want to use, that should be a serious red flag.

3. Every So Often, Something Breaks

I’ve been an on-and-off dual-boot Linux user What's the Best Way to Run Multiple Operating Systems on Your PC? Undecided between Windows and Linux? It's possible to run multiple OSes on a single machine either by dual booting or using a virtual machine. Let's find out which one is best for you. Read More for several years, and while there have been periods when I’ve gone using nothing but Linux for weeks at a time, I can’t really say that Linux has ever been my “main” operating system.

Why? Because Linux is high maintenance.

I don’t mean that in the sense that Linux is prone to malware and other threats 4 Cyber Security Myths That Must Die Read More and I’m constantly having to watch over it in case something goes awry. Obviously that’s not the case as most distros are relatively stable, but when it comes to application setup and stability, it’s a completely different story.

For some reason, things tend to break on Linux — not necessarily in catastrophic ways, but certainly in ways that are inconvenient and frustrating.


Just a few weeks ago, I installed Gnome on Ubuntu through apt-get so I could compare desktop environments The 12 Best Linux Desktop Environments Choosing a Linux desktop environment can be difficult. Here are the best Linux desktop environments to consider. Read More . The procedure was as standard as could be — I did nothing out of the ordinary — yet somehow it ended up breaking my desktop. The result? Neither Unity nor Gnome worked properly, so I went back to Windows to cool off…

…and haven’t been back to Linux since. I know I could spend a few hours on Google, digging through outdated questions and answers (because Linux evolves too quickly), hoping to fix the problem, but I have more important things to do.

Now think about the average computer user and how much trouble they have with computers 10 Amazing Tech Support Stories That Actually Happened Tech support is important. It's also filled with life stories that need re-telling. Here are some absolutely amazing stories that give a glimpse into the lives of these unsung heroes. Read More . I consider myself to be tech-savyy, but Linux still frustrates me. I can’t imagine how annoying it must be for a mainstream user who has less experience. Is it any wonder why people gravitate to OS X?

I guess it comes down to this: Linux still requires too much technical knowledge. If everything worked perfectly 100% of the time, then Linux would be amazing — but it would be disingenuous to say that that’s true of Linux right now. It simply isn’t.

4. Not Enough User-Friendly Guidance

To be honest, all of the above issues wouldn’t be so bad if Linux had proper guidance for newbie users. We try our best to provide some level of help, such as these golden rules for Linux newbies 5 Golden Rules to Live By as a New Linux User How do you ensure that your transition to the new OS is smooth? Stick to the following five rules and you should do just fine. Read More , but the fact that we need to offer that kind of basic help says a lot about the ecosystem as a whole.

For example, when someone does decide to try Linux, they usually have a lot of questions 9 Questions New Linux Users Always Ask It's completely normal to feel overwhelmed when making the switch to Linux. That's what happens when you step from one world into another. This will help you. Read More : How do I install stuff? Where are my programs located? What about programs that aren’t in the Software Center? How do I make sense of the file system? Do I really need to learn how to use the command line An A-Z of Linux - 40 Essential Commands You Should Know Linux is the oft-ignored third wheel to Windows and Mac. Yes, over the past decade, the open source operating system has gained a lot of traction, but it’s still a far cry from being considered... Read More ?

The good news is that there are several helpful Linux communities 4 Helpful Communities for New Linux Users You might be wondering, "What do I do now?" If you're at that point, then it's time you joined a Linux community — even if you only intend to lurk. Read More out there. The bad news is that these communities alone aren’t enough. There needs to be some kind of central documentation that tracks and explains the entire Linux landscape — something that users can refer to without having to ask questions and wait for answers.


I’m not saying that Linux has no documentation, but I am saying that whatever documentation exists is far from user-friendly. For example, the man pages are quite thorough and comprehensive, but they’re overwhelming for anyone who’s new and unfamiliar to the command line.

Which brings up a separate but relevant point: Linux relies too much on the command line. Admittedly, it has gotten better over the years, and there are more GUI-based tools now than before, but the command line is still too prominent for things like troubleshooting.

But mostly, the community gives off the impression that Linux is only for power users. Veterans cling too tightly to traditions and roots, which alienates new users who don’t care for any of that. There’s a rift between “old Linux” and “new Linux”, and the former must go away if Linux is to really become mainstream.

5. Software Quality Is Mostly Sub-Par

One of the biggest and most common complaints against Linux is the quality of applications that are available on the consumer side. Notice I said quality of applications rather than availability of applications.

People like to say that Linux can’t do what Windows and Mac can do, but that’s just a big lie 5 Lies Linux-Haters Like To Tell Linux may have been a scary operating system before, but all of that has changed in recent years. These myths, which are more accurately called lies, are now dead. Read More . If you take the time to find the right programs and learn how to use them, you can do a lot of the same stuff. Indeed, we’ve shown again and again that there are many free alternatives to paid programs that run on Linux 14 Free and Open Source Alternatives for Paid Software Don't waste money on software for personal use! Not only do free alternatives exist, they most likely offer all the features you need and may be easier and safer to use. Read More .


So for the most part software availability isn’t an issue, but there are two cases where it is: 1) proprietary in-house applications that are only available on Windows or Mac Should I Use Linux Or Windows? 3 Deal-Breaker Questions You MUST Answer Linux. Windows. We aren't here to tell you which one is better; rather, we're here to help you decide which one is better for you. Read More , and 2) videos games that simply aren’t available on Linux. Linux is on its way towards becoming a serious gaming platform 5 Games That Prove Linux Is Now a Serious Gaming Platform Big-budget games are coming to Linux, thanks to graphic driver improvements and the arrival of SteamOS. Here are five, top-tier games which undeniably demonstrate the potential of Linux as a platform for gaming. Read More , but it’ll take another few years at least.

The real complaint is that these free alternatives just can’t live up to paid solutions. For example, GIMP can do many of the same things as Photoshop Perform These 7 Awesome Photoshop Tricks in GIMP Read More , but the overall user experience is far better in Photoshop than GIMP. Aside from a few rare exceptions (e.g. VLC, Blender, LibreOffice), this is a common trend in Linux applications.

What many Linux shills forget is that user experience is just as important, if not more important, than functionality. The unfortunate truth is that if you want professional and polished software on Linux, you’ll be looking for a long time. As far as software quality goes, Linux is lagging far behind.

Why Aren’t You Using Linux?

I’m sure there are many marks against Linux that I haven’t covered, but in my experience, these are the main gripes that keep coming up again and again. Of course there’s a lot to like about Linux, but until these core issues are resolved, it will never be mainstream.

Now, you tell us: do you think these gripes are warranted? If you aren’t using Linux, why not? Post a comment below and share your thoughts!

Image Credits: Ubuntu Family Tree via Wikipedia, Gentoo Family Tree via Wikipedia, Open Source Code by photovibes via Shutterstock, Terminal by Anton Khegay via Shutterstock

Related topics: Linux Distro, Ubuntu.

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  1. Sudhanshu Srivastava
    March 2, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    The points you quoted also have two sides like a coin. The most important point I would like to comment is Linux does not need to be mainstream. And in some way it already is "Android". But getting mainstream will not profit anyone because it's free and those who need Linux are mostly the tech related ones so they know there way around or eventually finds one and in that process they learn something new. And the topic that Linux is too much dependent on it's shell or terminal, that is what's special about Linux. That's it's identity. The power which it gives to the user is still unmatched. So we should accept Linux only if we are ready to learn something knew. I have also just switched to Linux because I want to become a cybersecurity expert. So I am ready to learn, to explore, to dive into the adventure.

  2. blah blah
    September 15, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Linux hasn't had a unified OS from top-to-bottom, which is why a lot of folks avoid it. The kernel is amazing, but the only thing most distros do is kit-bash a bunch of random software together with chewing gum and bailing wire... and often all the dependancies needed just duplicate each other b/c someone that wrote one piece of software decided to use their pet dependencies as opposed to someone else.

    EG: all the apps we see that use Qt vs GTK. Pick a UI dependency and stick with it.

    It's nice that Linux is open enough to get folks of all types developing on it. But, the end result is you get one application coded in Java running with another application coded in Python, using applications coded in C++ to try to communicate between the two, and One looks a certain way with Qt while the other looks different with GTK and then Python and Java have their own look to them, which means the UI doesn't look unified. And then you see weird decisions like ... let's put a really nice dining room and kitchen in the house... but let's make the house sit on 15 acres and the dining room and kitchen are on opposite sides of the house. Just absolute craziness.

    Because everyone and their uncle thinks they're a "software developer" when they slap together a distro with some bailing wire and chewing gum, and call it a day when they get it to work...

    When in reality, if there was a single unified Linux distrubiton that was created using real software design principles from bottom to top... it would be amazing.

    And there are such things.. but most often they're created by private companies for specific use via highly paid people.

    And that's the other problem... most folks working on Linux are just code monkey hobbyists. There's amazing teams... eg: Linus and the kernel team... but, a lot of software written for Linux is kit-bashed together by code monkeys .. which is why we have so much dependency-hell going on.. and then the distros are kit-bashed together by code monkeys.

    And, all the low-hanging fruit has already been picked. All the easy problems to solve... UI, web browser, etc.. has already been solved in Linux. So, the code monkeys just decide to try to reinvent some wheel that already exists... often poorly or maybe just on-par... and we end up with 20 different wheels of the same type sitting around.

    When in reality we need more advanced features and growth in Linux. But, that requires highly-skilled and educated folks ... who don't want to do that for free. hence tehy're off working for Google or Microsoft or whomever getting paid big bucks to create really innovative, high-level stuff.. stsuff that Linux desperately needs but can't get since nobody is paying folks enough to develop the next-level stuff Linux needs.

    This is why xorg has stagnated for so long. We've despeately needed a replacement. And while there's replacements on the way (I think Canonical and another group had a dustup over the whole Weyland thing)'s been put on the back burner for so long because xorg was this huge 800lb gorilla in the room nobody wanted to talk about because nobody had the skill to do anything with it. And the folks that did were off working jobs that got them paid... and not for Linux development.

    So.. linux has stagnated over the past decade with ...

    a) lack of skilled developers not knowing how to tackle the really hard issues that need to be tackled, or working on the next-level stuff that really needs to be worked on

    b) instead just working on "what they know".. which basically has everyone having a pissing contest trying to reinvent the low-level wheels that have already existed for a while

    Even the UI folks got stuck in this rut. Folks have been reinventing perfectly good UI's just to ride the "flat UI" fad that smartphones have kicked off. BUt, they have done it poorly. So, now we have flat buttons that blend into backgrounds making it hard to tell if you can click on them... and we have text floating on white space that looks like it's just text but is actually clickable. Just really awful usability. It's like they decided to take 20 years of tried-n-true usability and threw it out the window.

    And then we have distros that want to change their shirt every other update that comes out. For a while, Ubuntu kept swapping out apps every update. They replaced the messaging app like 4 times. They swapped in PulseAudio, poorly, and that required another 6 mo's or so for them to work out the kinks. Then they replaced Gnome with their own flashy UI whcih everyone hated b/c it made the PC look like a Fisher Price toy (trying to go for that Chromebook market... which clearly missed the mark with the Linux crowd, b/c folks on Linux are not looking to have their Linux PC look like a Chromebook.)

    So, even distros were just reinventing the wheel over and over by swapping in different softwares for wheels that were already invented and doing fine.. just for the sake of saying "look, we did something! we updated something!" Great.. did you replace xorg with something better? "Um... no.. we... we swapped out the messaging app, so you have to set that stuff up all over again." Jesus christ.. call me when you guys actually do something useful.

    With all this trash-talking.. there's 2 saving graces to Linux...

    1) Windows is falling out of favor ...b/c MS is letting it stagnage, it's getting bloated with each update, and MS doesn't give a crap anymore. They want everything is a SaaS, and tehy want to chase the chromebook model.. but are doing it poorly. So, folks are bailing on Windows for Chromebooks and Smartphones. That may not sound like a good thing for Linux.. but it actually is... because eventually as Windows stagnates enough Linux will keep evolving and eventually look like a viable alternative to Windows ancient bones.

    2) The huge data science movement around the world runs on Linux. Data Science is about machine learning, AI, data mining, etc.. and it needs to remove as much bias as possible from things. That means having complete control over the OS the stuff is run on... which means Linux is perfect for it. The Data Science and Comp Sci folks are highly-skilled and educated, and are pushing the potential of Linux as they push the possibilities with data science. Linux is a highly customizeable workhorse compared to Windows.

    The downside to #2 is there's a struggle in the IT world where they've been dealing with Windows comps for so long they're struggling to get a handle on employees wanting to use Linux comps for work. The IT world is lacking skills to manage Linux desktops (b/c folks knowing Linux are usually hired for server work, not desktop management). Companies want robust BI / Data Science departments, but those dept's want Linux desktops and their own linux servers to run stuff on. But the IT guys want to keep everything secure and not give everyone root access to everything and create a potential attack vector. So, everyone is butting heads over it.

    So... the age of the Linux desktop could be coming... but desktops in general are a niche / specialist thing these days. Most joe / jane avg folks just want to smartphone and chromebook their lives. Some folks doing advanced work are also moving to cloud systems (eg: using Amazon cluod to run processing). There will always be a power user group in corporations and at homes, though... and we're seeing a HUGE uptick in hobbyists data science.. as folks at home can crunch data sets to solve problems themselves.

    So..Windows is falling out of favor... and while that sounds like a good thing for Linux... desktops in general are falling out of favor. And as more and more folks want to smartphone and chromebook it, those companies are finding ways to make those types of devices more productive. And as Natural Language Processing keeps evolving... we can even see a push for hands-free devices.. just tell the computre what you want and it will process queries and analysis for you. That's still 10 years away, though. (NLP has come a long way, but they're just now merging it with advanced analysis on-demand via voice communication.)

    Linux is going to do what it's always done.. be the heart of research and development.. and the workhorse of back-end systems. And, it's going to be more and more of a front-end system as Windows falls out of style.

    But, there needs to be more of a unified Linux system. A unified standard library, package management, etc. The Linux landscape is still too divided. And while that's great for "everyone creates somethign and we let darwinism sort it out".. it's bad for moving on in the 21st century where a unified OS is still needed, and the two main competitors (windows / mac) are falling out of style and the next one up (android) is mostly a fisher price interface.

    As long as the Linux landscape is still like herding cats, then it will never become a force to be reckoned with. But, with the trends at home and industry today, we could see Linux unifying pretty soon.

  3. Shank
    August 30, 2018 at 11:13 am

    A few years back I had a small Asus laptop which I installed Peppermint on. It worked just fine and I used it until it died.
    What do I remember about it? To change the clock format from 24 hours to 12 hours I had to look up the steps to right click on the clock and change the clock format from %R to some other string I don't remember.

    I have an old Acer c720 Chromebook I installed Gallium OS on. To add a theme one would think downloading the theme and moving it into the theme folder would be all that's necessary.
    Folder privileges, command lines... all sorts of hoops to jump through.

    Those are just two very simple examples of simple stuff that should be easy and transparent but both ended up requiring time and effort.

    Installing both of those distro's was fun for a few hours but for day to day there's far too many little things that aren't worth the effort.

  4. Tery
    August 7, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    The article may be dated but the question is still entirely relevant and it's for the exact reasons that were mentioned. To add to this, Linux is not desktop/user centric ... it's solution centric and for industries and large corporations that require a specific task from a server without unwanted overhead, it is ideal. The more generalized a solution becomes however, the bulkier, slower and uglier it gets and you don't get more generalized than a desktop environment. Inject ideas and visions from a hundred different directions without a clear goal and you complicate the situation even further. Yet this isn't even the biggest issue in my view. The biggest issue is the fact that Linux wants the world to suddenly adopt Cherokee when the majority of the world is already speaking English as a universal language. Either accept Linux's role and strength as a solution centric server OS or get rid of the open source communities chip on their shoulder and start speaking English to the desktop users, albeit only on the surface. I'm talking about the fact that to most desktop users, the Linux world seem upside down to what they are used to and they are not going to change the way they view the world when they have a perfectly understandable solution already.

  5. John IL
    July 23, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    Consumers for the most part can't diagnose Windows issues well let alone deal with Linux a completely different OS with only forums and themselves to fix issues, install open source apps and get past the learning curve. Most people who want something other then Windows should consider a Chromebook, Mac, or try and make Windows work they way they want before switching to a Linux desktop. This is why Linux desktop has so few of users, because most PC users can't deal with any issues, and certainly don't know how to address problems with command line instructions.

  6. Lawrence Dol
    April 26, 2018 at 11:37 pm

    Simply put, it's too complicated and too much work. And I am a veteran software developer who taught himself to program BASIC at age 11 and Z80A assembly at age 12. Ironically, when I want to use my computer, I want to *use* it, not spend hours of time making it work. In my daily context, Linux (of which I have tried about a dozen distros over the years) is not my hobby and entertainment, it's a tool to get my real job done. If it makes doing that harder, it's out. End. Of. Story.

  7. pipsqueak
    August 14, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    I used Linux for about 4 years from Ubuntu then settling down with Xubuntu. I'd say my experience with the OS has its share of ups and downs. It breathed a whole new life on my not so old laptop then, but my biggest gripe is the lack of alternative application and compatibility support for Windows based software. The option to use wine or virtual box contributed more frustration than solution. I like the alternative apps Linux has to offer but most of these are sub par in terms of usability and functionality. I've learned a lot from my experience however I ended up going back to Windows as I'm not yet sold in using this OS for good. It's fast, secured, very customizable, easy to learn but hard to master. Maybe I 'll get back to it someday but I'm having a great deal of fun using the latest version of Windows atm. Kudos and wishing the Linux community all the best.

  8. Anonymouse
    March 17, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    Let me start by saying, I stumbled upon this post and immediately I thought, "Oh gawd..."

    Well, there's a lot I disagree with, but I had to acknowledge some points:
    1. The Landscape Evolves Too Quickly. I disagree. Debian's "Stable" branch (Jession/8) still uses Kernel 3.16 and XFCE 4.10. Debian releases are years apart. Further more, Debian still allows users to run a rolling release (rapidly-changing) by tracking "testing" instead of a specific version (like "jessie", "wheezy", "stretch"). But, arguably, the change between Windows 7 and 8 was more profound than any OS in computer history. However, unlike the nightmare UI Windows 8 forced upon consumers, most Linux distributions allow the user the choice to install a familiar UI (and LXDE, Cinnamon, XFCE, and even KDE will usually suffice for the average Windows user).
    2. Dozens of Choices. I cannot argue here. I fully agree there are too many spins. This is largely due to Ubuntu's rise as it was Ubuntu that made it easy to make respins and label them other distributions. Most generic distributions Ubuntu- or Debian-based, the irony of course being that Ubuntu is Debian-based (not the stable branch, Ubuntu 16.04 uses Kernel 4.04 and has some newer software like XFCE 4.12)
    3. Every So Often Something Breaks. Not only do I disagree, but I'd like to throw in that things break on Windows all the time, it's the nature of software. Back to Linux-based OSes breaking, it depends on your configuration: that is the distribution and hardware. In the example you cite an experience with Ubuntu. Ubuntu is not too stable, being based on an non-"stable" branch of Debian (it's either "testing" or "sid" -- perhaps a mix of multiple branches). Sadly newer software is often needed for newer hardware. This is where it becomes a point of debate. Yes, things can go wrong on the latest hardware, but a machine running on Debian Stable successfully will not experience things going wrong. It just doesn't happen. My older machine ran on Debian 7 for years and I only did a re-installation when changing to 8 because I wanted to change the hard drive and re-installing was easier. On the other hand, the few times I've tried seriously running Ubuntu on my other PC, I've had crashes and experienced an absolute nightmare installing other DE's like Enlightenment. Eventually I decided to stick with Debian and just "play" with Ubuntu now and then.
    4. Not Enough User-Friendly Guidance. Yes, this is true. It's an unfortunate self-propagating circle. There's not enough support because there aren't enough users, there aren't enough users because there's not enough support. In the defence of Linux-based OSes, there was a time when UNIX hardly had much support for the "everyman" and just look back at Microsoft's DOS (which I believe only shipped with a book from 5 up).
    5. Software is Mostly Sub-par. Gotta disagree here. This statement is simply wrong. There's software on most platforms that has no equal on others. For example, what most Linux OSes can do easily without third-party software may be a mission on a Windows OS. Think of all the file systems supported by most distros. Think of NFS -- a very well matured network file system which allows very simple sharing and remote home directories. Plus there's still support for "standard" file systems like NTFS, FAT, FAT32, etc. Now consider LibreOffice, a suite providing a more functional design than modern versions of MS Office. On the flip side, yes, not much holds a candle to Photoshop, and there will likely never be a Pastel equivalent or anything that'll run properly on Linux OSes. It boils down to what you use the machine for. There's certainly few of the base *nix utilities natively on Windows. By the same token, there's probably plenty software on a Mac that just won't work on Windows or any Linux-based OS.

    In conclusion, I'm not trying to start a debate, just shedding some light on things from the perspective of someone who only runs Linux-based OSes these days.

  9. Mike
    March 14, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    I had a laptop that windows crashed on so I thought I would try Ubuntu. It installed ok but had video problems. I went to Nvidia and downloaded an updated driver only to discover I had to create a script to install it. Reformatted and reinstall Windows. I am a programmer and have worked with Unix but in this day and age I shouldn't have to create a script. Until Linux is more user friendly it will never be mainstream.

    • James M.
      March 19, 2017 at 10:30 am

      there's already an app on Ubuntu and related distros called "additional drivers", just search drivers in the app menu. this will have to current stable driver available. although not the latest. for the latest drivers Ubuntu's official PPA is ppa:graphics-drivers/ppa.

  10. Gustavo
    January 28, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    I don't hate other OS's but I love Linux, and I'm using it 100% for some 5 years now.

    I hope it will never become mainstream, because becoming mainstream means adding requirements alien to the computing experience itself.

    Becoming mainstream means becoming hostage to ... being mainstream.

    There are people who simply don't care about the device they're using, like most of us don't care about our refrigerator: they just want to write something, print something or browse some web site, like for most of us we only want our refrigerator to cool food and drinks. For most of the people, a computer is just another machine. For those, please, go to mainstream OS's.

    For many people, a car is just a way of confortably going from one place to another. But for a few, a car is a raison d'etre. I think Linux users are like those few car lovers.

    Provided that there will always be an alternative like Linux to mainstream OS's, that fine.

    • Kian J.G
      July 14, 2017 at 6:51 am

      I don't see "user-friendly" and "open" as mutually exclusive labels. Provide the layer of abstraction to the user by default (intuitive GUI etc), but allow the power user total access to the low level sepcifics for customisation. If you want Linux to be strictly an enthusiast OS, don't complain when a certain piece of software isn't available, or hardware unsupported.

  11. Sollupulo
    January 25, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    I consider myself to be tech-savyy, but Linux still frustrates me. I can’t imagine how annoying it must be for a mainstream user who has less experience.

    I so get what you are saying here. I've dual booted since I was in college 15 years ago. I went over a year without using my Ubuntu side because a Windows update rewrote the boot sector making Ubuntu inaccessible. Sure the problem here was Windows, not Linux. But if Ubuntu had been a smoother, more pleasant user experience I would have felt a much greater need to get right back in there immediately.

    So now, I upgraded to Xenial Xerus and guess what? The Ubuntu Software app isn't working and I have to start troubleshooting right from the get go. (Probably just go grab Synaptic and carry on...) I'm experienced, so will get through this, but what about a casual user that can't figure out how to get their mouse click speed right? They would just give up. Linux needs a better user experience!

  12. Daffy
    January 21, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    I have use Ubuntu from Verzion 9 am using Verizon 14 now thinking of going to Version 16. Read the article on why Linux is not popular. I think one big reason is not being able to run things like iTunes store or the iTunes program easy. At least I cannot. There are about 3 other programs that cause me to keep a windows machine. But a lot of people do not want to have to have 2 machines.

    Thanks Daffy

  13. Prashant
    December 21, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Just to give a feedback, i know nothing about command line & i never have used command line except for installing apps from other sources.
    I use LinuxMint on my laptop as my primary os. For me windows is useless as
    1. I own a low spec pc and wiindows doesnt likes it.
    2. Windows politely intrudes my privacy with each update.
    3. my wifi automatically disconnect randomly in the flawless windows, and also then lowest screen brightness in windows is still very bright for me and i don't like it.
    4.i also hate to keep reminding myself for defragmentations, cleanups, antivirus scans, programme updates etc etc.
    5. I cant even sync 2 gdrives at the same time is the mighty windows 10.
    for me win10 is also free (as i use kmspico, like most of us in the east) but still i prefer linuxmint and can't even think to look back.

  14. Curt Piper
    December 2, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    Here's the issue that I have, and it's typical of why I periodically try Linux, and return to Windows...

    My company is looking for a cheap (or better, free) method of software imaging, so that we can image each new PC that we buy, or re-image PCs that fail. Started looking at SmartDeploy but gave up on it, and couldn't find anything else in the Windows market of the "try and buy" variety. So, I created a VM box in my Windows 7 PC, put a slimmed down version of Linux on it, then downloaded Clonezilla, which was too smart for me, and then FOG. I followed the minimally-written installation instructions for each, booted into Clonezilla, but not knowing what I was looking at, and not having any docs in front of me - I abandoned it rather than risk losing a partition on my Windows PC. I then went back into Ubuntu, extracted the FOG gz file (I guess, but I don't know where the extracted files went to), and don't have a clue how to proceed. This intimidation factor has precluded me from taking Linux seriously for almost 20 years. The software may have improved, but it isn't perceptive for me to follow, regardless of the Windows-like gui.

  15. Paul
    August 17, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    Linux is just too confusing. Just to give myself the ability to create a file in var/www, i had to open a terminal and type in like 3 or 4 lines of commands. commands that I had no way of knowing and had to go searching the internet. This was just so i could create a simple text file in a directly. If this type of thing doesn't change, Linux will never replace windows.

    To create a new user, there wasn't any obvious way to do it, searching on the internet again brought me back to the command line and typing in commands.

    Installing software... open the terminal, type sudo install Get some error that makes no sense. Go on the internet and try to find out what the previous command I found on the internet failed...oh I am using a newer version of ubuntu, so now it is a different command...sigh!!!

    If Linux is ever to be main stream they must basically do away with the command line. When you use a graphical interface, you see options that can be turned on and off. But with the command line, you don't know what options there are to turn on and off unless you go searching the internet, and many times you won't go searching because you don't even know you should be looking for the option because you don't know it exists.

    Users should basically never need to use the command line for anything except the most advanced things, things that the average user would never be doing anyways.

    • Jules
      September 30, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      Anytime something is "too confusing", please don't feel compelled to criticize it, it's not for you. It's that simple. If you like it, learn it. Otherwise, use something you do like and *can* use.

      Maybe it's time for many of you to ask yourselves why you chose linux in the first place. It's not a hipster trend, it's software.

  16. Anonymous
    June 16, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    I was excited when I first saw this article because I was hoping that it would help shed some light on why my laptop wants to cook itself everytime I try and run Linux on it, but when I got down further I noticed that the article was only geared towards desktops, it's sad because if you think about it there are way more laptops out there than desktops, and I've tried everything to try and figure out how to get my laptop to handle Cooling so that it won't bake my laptop.

    • Joel Lee
      June 19, 2016 at 3:57 am

      Hey, that's a good point, Brad. Sorry about that. Maybe there's room for a future article about Linux and laptops! As for the cooling issue, I'd first look to see if there's excess dust buildup. If so, it could impede air flow and cause heat to get trapped inside.

      • Anonymous
        June 19, 2016 at 3:51 pm

        Hey Joel
        Thanks for the reply, What you suggested about the dust buildup is a really good thing for people to be aware of with laptops.
        I actually repair computers from home and I've had to open up a lot of laptops for just that reason. But back to my laptop, yes I've had that machine for 5 years now and it has been opened up alot in order to clean out the fan. Back to the laptop cooling problems, My laptop is a Toshiba Satellite L305 with Intel processor and I've tried so many different things in order to get the cooling issues under control but nothing has ever help. what happens is the fan never comes on until the laptop gets really hot, then when the fan does come on it comes on at full speed, it sounds like a flying drone, then it never slows down at all. Under windows you can always hear the fan throttling its speed but never with Linux. I've tried all of the different drivers for Toshiba and all of the different cooling services but nothing ever helps. Through all of my searching for a fix I've come across a lot of other people who have the same problem but never a fix. I think that if the cooling problems were worked out a lot more people would stick with Linux. That's the case for me anyway. I'll keep my eye out for any new articles by you.

  17. RamaKrishna
    June 6, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Look at the figures..5.9% !!! It all says about how successful Linux is till now!! No matter how many features which philosophy all techies follows, but, it never won the people's heart!!
    Success will not come only by adding hell of technologies and making's just the matter of fulfilling user's needs in easy way. Just a simple question, why we need an OS, to LEARN it or to use and making things done?
    Finally, I would ask the techies involved in making gaming platform for Linux, why would you wasting your years of valuable time in failed eco system? Go with the emerging alternate technologies and be part of innovations which you really think that will work for masses.

    • Prashant
      December 21, 2016 at 7:02 pm

      if there would have been no kmspico than that figure would have told you a different story.

  18. David Figuera
    April 21, 2016 at 1:45 am

    I read this a few weeks ago and I agree: Linux usage has not grown more thanks to the possibility to crack Windows and use it illegally (and then using illegal copies of any program, starting with Office).

    Now, it is necessary to decide to use Linux. Problems will arise, but I prefer some challenge and a lot of learning rather than using an illegal copy of everything

    • Joel Lee
      April 23, 2016 at 10:44 pm

      Very good point. Free Linux is a much better alternative to pirating Windows!

  19. Bill S.
    April 12, 2016 at 12:35 am

    Very interesting article, and some valid points. I don't agree with one of the reasons, that things "break." If you're trying to install basic software from the software manager, you generally won't have a problem. If you try to hack your system to exec sshfs and fusermount and rsync for an encrypted off-site backup, then you might have more challenges....but these are options that you don't even have in Windows Powershell!

    Ironically, I switched from dual-boot to 100% Linux after my Vista wifi inexplicably stopped working. And, I never used Windows more than a handful of time since (except, of course, work).

    It's gotten a bad rap over the years, since the Redhat or Fedora Core 1-10 days. But it's come a long way, and anyone who would install one of the current distros - Mint, Mageia, Fedora, would be extremely impressed.

    The biggest challenge? People don't like change.

  20. ixu
    April 4, 2016 at 10:16 am

    I would argue that things break in Windows ever so often if you're not in luck with drivers etc. Also, in my experience, mixing DEs (as the author did) is generally is a bad idea. Make up your mind and, use one and all will be well and stable. I've been using Linux as the main OS for 10 years now, and it actually needed much less maintenance than Windows.

  21. Krytical
    March 29, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    But mostly, the community gives off the impression that Linux is only for power users. Veterans cling too tightly to traditions and roots, which alienates new users who don’t care for any of that. There’s a rift between “old Linux” and “new Linux”, and the former must go away if Linux is to really become mainstream.

    I had to stop here....

    Windows is point and click, double click this, drag and click that...
    It is easy... and user friendly.... BUT.. it teaches you next to NOTHING about the way the computer system actually works... it teaches you nothing.... you just click, and receive...

    In Linux, you may have to do more reading, but you will no doubt be learning more about how a system works.

    Why is Linux not so wide spread?
    Because Linux is so far, meant for people who know what they are doing with a computer, and need something more from their computer.

    Not just people who want a pretty interface, and buttons to take them to their YouTube instantly....

    Yes... you can give linux to those people too... and they have the ABILITY... to do way more than on windows.... because linux has more abilities... but it has less limitations... and the less you limit someone.... the more choices they have to make themselves... which requires knowing what you are doing...

    • Old Cat
      June 27, 2016 at 11:05 am

      At work you should do your job, not learn how your OS works. At home you want to relax, not learn how your OS works.
      Now, if your job or your hobby IS to know how your OS works, then yeah, it makes sense. But that's it. People are not obliged to know everything about every single tool they use. Simply because life is too short to learn everything about everything.

  22. Augusto
    March 23, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    1. The Landscape Evolves Too Quickly
    2. Way Too Many Choices
    These two are absolutely positive things about linux.

    3. Every So Often, Something Breaks
    This happens on any OS.

    4. Not Enough User-Friendly Guidance
    This could by the most wrong statement I ever read online.

    5. Software Quality Is Mostly Sub-Par
    This depends on what software you use. I find many software available for linux better than the windows alternative, and vice versa.

  23. Victor Dugas
    March 20, 2016 at 5:14 am


    I have been using Linux for about 10 years now. I used to use it eons ago but all of my customers moved to winblows so to be able to maintain my customers, I followed. After numerous certs, 3 engineering degrees and teaching computer classes in winblows, I found that the virus landscape on desktops was completely insane, and all my servers were under constant attack and it became a nightmare. So I went back to Linux.

    In the beginning, Linux was very difficult to navigate, I researched distros for weeks to determine which direction to go. And after what seemed an eternity, I settled on Ubuntu.

    After about 5 years, I did not like the new Windows Manager (Unity), not enough configuration options, takes up too much screen real estate, its wanting to scrap Ubuntu, I began looking into window managers. I settled on Gnome for quite awhile because it is about the best looking, tends to be resource hungry, so I switched to Cinnamon. It is very light weight and comfortable.

    My bottom line, Windows is dangerous...profitable is more profitable to keep my customers running a windows box...but is it ethical?

    In terms of Linux, is much better then winblows, cleaner, safer, less resource intensive and fun. Those are basically the pros, the needs centralization. It is too dispersed, confused. There are so many choices for the end user, but it takes 5 years to learn how to make things comfortable. I would compare it to Ghana, nice and multicultural, comfortable...but if you want to start a business there, you will be hard pressed as the communication lines are sparse.

    Summary: Linux is much better then winblows, it is much more secure, very fun, winblows cannot compete at the server level in any area, and Linux is very stable. However, 10 years in and I am finally getting good at using Linux properly. Linux needs at least $10 billion to beat winblows and winblows is not better because it is better, it is better because microstiff has the marketing dollar to make it look better.

    Linux needs:

    1) Centralized installation system similar to winblows.
    2) Remove Mint and other broken distros that make Linux look bad.
    3) Start charging even small amounts for software to put it in the realm of professional.
    4) Charge $5 for the operating system so distros can afford marketing.
    5) Tell your friends...Linux is great. I would never go back to winblows.

    • Zeitgeist
      February 17, 2017 at 1:56 pm

      Agree with most of your points. However, Mint isn't a broken distro though, and Mint is the force that is driving Cinnamon to be better each release.

  24. species8472
    February 21, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    The arguments made in this article rest on an unstated false premise; that the popularity of a product is a function of its quality. The validity of the technical criticisms is irrelevant because the underlying economic premise is simply not true. Windows became the dominant OS for personal computers not because it was a superior OS, but because Microsoft used monopolistic bullying tactics to force manufacturers to sell their machines with Windows preinstalled. Consumers did not install and test multiple OSes and make their choice based on some rational set of criteria. They were forced to purchase Windows as part of a hardware-software bundle. Since it was already paid for and preinstalled, Windows became the standard. Once a certain level of market dominance is reached, feedback processes kick in and push that dominance to near totality. On the supply side, profitability necessitates catering to the Windows market. On the consumption side, users are often forced to the Windows platform as a matter of practical compatibility. Consumer behavior is also heavily determined by a herd mentality in which people simply copy those around them. Improving the quality of Linux will at best have a minimal effect in countering Microsoft's history of monopolizing the market, or in reducing these feedback processes which favor the established standard.

    • Cedric Mamo
      March 14, 2016 at 8:18 pm

      I used to be a Linux user. Spent about 8 years thinking "M$ is bad!!! Windows sucks! Open source FTW!" Tried a ton of distros. I tried... I really tried.

      I'm now running windows and in retrospective, those 8 years were absolute hell. I know I have choice. I know I can set it up to be whatever I want it to. And I also know that with the next update something or another will *definitely* break. I once spent months trying to get 5.1 sound to work on my laptop, (the thing about outdated information online is just true) only to have it break again after an OS update 1 single freaking month later. How hard is it to get sound working? Me as a user don't care whether I have OSS, Alsa, PulseAudio, Phonon or any of that. I just want sound to come out of my speakers whenever I want it to. I don't want to have to manually configure xorg.conf to get my monitor working, which i've had to do multiple times.

      I have my computer and I want to use it. I don't care whether I have the choices or not. When I'm using my computer I don't want to spend *any* time configuring the OS. The OS is supposed to stay *out* of my way as much as possible. I want to get on it and do stuff. Install my apps and get going. And you know what? Nowadays I install Windows, and I don't have to install a single driver myself. It just works out of the box. And for all the hate it gets I haven't had a problem with it for years. Does it have its problems? Sure. Windows rot is actually a true phenomenon... but from a user experience perspective I still prefer that to linux. Maybe I have to format my PC once every couple of years... beats having to fight my pc to keep it working every couple of months.

      Also the Linux community can and does assume whoever uses it must be a tech enthusiast or something. That's why they think choice is a good thing. But most people *don't* want choice. Whenever a non-power user uses a Linux PC, they learn how to use their pc and theirs alone. They wouldn't have any idea how to use any other linux distribution, because every single one does something differently because choice is good right?

      Windows is ahead because, like it or not, it works. It's not the best thing in the universe... but it works... and more importantly, it works consistently! I can use my friends' PC just as easily as my own.

      • species8472
        March 30, 2016 at 4:17 am

        Your comment has no relevance to the points I made. This should have been posted as a separate personal opinion anecdote rather than a reply to my comment.

        To repeat my point: Windows users (probably upwards of 90%) did not choose the Windows OS as a result of a comparative analysis, but instead chose it because they were forced by hardware manufacturers (who themselves were bullied by MS) to purchase it as part of a hardware-software bundle. The vast majority of Windows users had never tried another OS prior to Windows. The ones who do try alternatives only do so after they have become accustomed to the Windows way of doing things.

        To use a car analogy, there are many possible ways to control the engine's throttle. But once a driver is used to controlling the throttle with a right foot operated pedal, it becomes difficult to adjust to any other method. How a new user is indoctrinated determines the future preferences for what is perceived as "correct." If you want to make the case that Windows is somehow better, you would have to expose large populations of people with no prior experience using a computer to different operating systems, and then judge the speed and efficiency at which they performed some representative set of tasks.

        Your personal experience is only a single data point which by itself is meaningless. You could be highly biased, have poor skills with Linux, or have encountered non-representative hardware issues. You can go to any Windows forum and find large numbers of anecdotal cases in which Windows failed to just "work." Anecdotal cases can be made for anything. Whether an anecdote is representative of a larger truth is an entirely different question.

        • Anthony
          January 12, 2017 at 8:23 pm

          Or you could be completely deflecting every valid point that he made simply because it doesn't fit your narrative. The simple fact is, most people don't want to be computer experts. They just want to use a tool to perform a task. Your response illustrated exactly what's wrong with Linux. The mainstream has no interest in something so difficult to use and Linux geeks hold onto the notion that the rest of the world should adapt to the way Linux works. If the narrative is ever to change, one of those two things has to change. I can promise you that between the Linux community and the rest of the world, it's not going to be the rest of the world. It's also pretty evident that the Linux community is not going to change either, so this topic is essentially an exercise in futility.

        • Derek
          March 3, 2017 at 9:43 pm

          So here I am, going around the intranet reading an old thread about Linux and potential programs as I am thinking of putting it on an old CPU to play around with.

          I understand I will have to install things that WIN 10 already has, that I will have to figure out which programs I like best, that it may be a bit frustrating and challenging. However I want Open Source to be successful, I want Linux to succeed, I like having options and I like having free options even more. One of the many reasons I am looking into Linux in the first place (the last time I checked into it was 15 years ago).

          Knowing all that, and then reading this:
          "To repeat my point: Windows users (probably upwards of 90%) did not choose the Windows OS as a result of a comparative analysis, but instead chose it because they were forced by hardware manufacturers (who themselves were bullied by MS) to purchase it as part of a hardware-software bundle. The vast majority of Windows users had never tried another OS prior to Windows. The ones who do try alternatives only do so after they have become accustomed to the Windows way of doing things"

          I have to wonder if you place a user in front of a base Linux system and a base windows system, which one will be more intuitive, let you figure out how to operate the system faster, learn how to use the native apps, etc... Which platform do people choose?

          Is your narrative that Windows was forced on people something that couldn't have been overcome in the last 15 to 20 years?

          "Improving the quality of Linux will at best have a minimal effect in countering Microsoft's history of monopolizing the market"

          Over 20 years? I think that it would have great effect. If someone told me, hey, there is this alternative to Window that cost nothing instead of $150 and it has programming to replace MS Office (another $90.00), Adobe, can support the games you want to play, is stable and its all free. Do you think I'm not interested?

          Quality and functionality do count. Intuitiveness does count. I'm willing to learn a new way to do things, heck I had a Win 8.1 machine. However learning a new way and learning to do basic programming... two different ideals. If you want converts, things have to work and be intuitive.

          We will see how things work out for me over the next couple of week as I return to Linux. But if it is more pain than it is worth... see you in 15 more years.

    • Anonymous
      June 19, 2016 at 5:06 pm

      I agree with what you are saying about how Microsoft got to the top, but I also agree with what Cedric said also. You see I'm an IT guy for a Dr office and one thing that I've learned from doing tech support is that most people just don't really care about all of the bells and whistles that come with Linux or even Windows for that matter. All they really care about is being able to use their computer without having to hack the thing just in order to get the computer to work just as a computer. Those same basic users don't care about computers like I do, they don't want to have to learn code or remember scripts to type in when they just want to do a simple task. To be honest I prefer a single click of an icon over typing a command out any day. Because when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter how you got your work done, it only matters how fast you can get your work done.
      I worked for a large CPA firm 10 years ago and my boss who was a young guy 10 years younger than me was so hell bent on the command prompt and one day he asked me how I finished setting up 4 new laptops for some of the accountants so fast and I showed him I just made some shortcuts for the programs that were on the company server and dropped them on my flash drive and all I had to do was click it instead of remembering some server file location or some silly script.
      Sorry if I went on to long there, but my point is, is that there are way more basic users our there then there are computer geeks like us so if there is an OS that is easy, simple, fast, will work on most computers and works out of the box more then most then that is the one that will come out on top and unfortunately that is Microsoft. If you think about it Apple only has a few different computer models so there are only a few different hardware configurations that they have to make sure that their OS works on. But when you think of all of the different brands of computers and then all of the different models from those brands that Windows will run on, well that is quit impressive. Now I understand that Linux can run on just about anything also but like what Cedric said and I have to agree with is that it doesn't run smooth right out of the box and it does continually break down more than it should.
      There is also one other unwelcoming factor that new Linux users have to face and that is that there are quite arrogant people out there that claim that they are there to help new users but when the new user asks for too much help they eventually get blasted and told to go do their own research which in reality is almost impossible for a new user because most of the information out there on the web is extremely outdated and that right there happens way more than anyone else realizes.

    • Dave
      August 17, 2016 at 10:11 pm

      LMAO! Linux Mint, imo, is way better than Ubuntu. I started the Linux journey in Ubuntu a couple of years back. It's an ok OS, definitely better than Winblows. After a couple of weeks test driving Ubuntu on a dual boot system, I accidentally stumbled upon Mint and freakin' loved it. Needless to say I ditched Ubuntu and Winblows 8.1 in favor of Mint, my go to OS :D. Occasionally, I test out other distros, but only in usb live. If anything Mint should be the poster child of Linux, but that is my opinion. After using 4 iterations of Mint 17.x and Mint 18 Cinnamon, speaks for itself.

  25. Rajiv
    February 3, 2016 at 9:50 am

    I used ubuntu in 2003 - one day it broke - and I have never went to Linux again.
    The fact that it's share is just 5% of total even though it's free & open source says a lot.

    Linux was never meant for newbies or novices, it's for he experts.

  26. bouette
    February 1, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    Number 3 is completely off the mark though, it broke because you changed something (installed new DEs, and you THINK you did it the correct way). If you don't update your working packages and all, Linux will be the most stable OS you can get. It's no wonders *nix is used in 70+% of servers that power this planet, it's because it's the only OS that can run 24/7 for years without breaking.

    Yes it's easier to break things up by modifying/updating, but that's because you actually can modify/update a lot more stuff than let's say Windows/Mac OS...

  27. David Hancock
    January 24, 2016 at 7:11 am

    Parts of this article resonate, but some bits are off the mark. You contradict yourself in the first section - "the landscape evolves too quickly" vs. "all of these distros are updated at different rates." - so why not highlight the stable distros? Even in Ubuntu you can stick with an LTS and get support for 5 years. Or go with Debian with its reputation as a conservative, stable, reliable distro.

    "Way Too Many Choices" - I think you have a point, but when you say Debian isn't related to Ubuntu, you lose a lot of credibility. From "Ubuntu is an open source project that develops and maintains a cross-platform, open-source operating system based on Debian." Back to my agreement with you - I really started getting into Linux less than a year ago after years of occasional dabbling, and it never ceases to amuse me how the community obsesses so much over the desktop environments, of which there are disconcertingly many.

    Re: #3, yes things break, but I haven't used an OS yet that didn't. So I think this point is a little unfair, but I do think Linux can be better in this area.

    Re: #4, just no. Help is everywhere, in app menus and online. I remember about 10 years ago the community was downright hostile to newbies. Things are drastically better today (unless you try to work on the kernel, I guess?)

    Re: #5, there is some truth to this, though I've also gained access to free, quality software more easily than I could get it in Windows (apt-get is the greatest. But I'm comfortable with the terminal.)

  28. Dess
    January 13, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    I think that this article is right on the spot. I started going to Linux without being very tech-savvy and I experienced all of that in certain measure.

    Another point is that it is so easy to "break the system". As a new user, you discover quickly that you are only a "sudo rm -r /" away from wiping all of your data. You just have to remove one wrong library to break everything.
    And it seems messy: when installing something, there are so many libraries. If you then remove it with "remove" instead of "autoremove", how can you then track the useless remaining libraries ? Windows is probably even worse but we don't see it, it gives an impression of cleanliness.

    In the end, I never had any major problem, but as a new user it is disconcerting and a bit scary. And almost systematically having to troubeshoot is really tiring. Even now, as I have been using Linux for some time, it frequently gets on my nerves.

    I think that another important point is that most computers are sold with OS X or Windows pre-installed. Both work very well, at least for basic users.
    People are used to them, why woud they change for another system where they can't even install most of the software they are familiar with ? Even if the alternative was as good, but it is not.

    If there was a bigger range of computers sold with Linux on it, at attractive prices since Windows costs ~100$, then more people woud try it and with Ubuntu becoming more user-friendly by the day, use of Linux would increase.
    I think it is already starting to get better on that point.

    Or maybe as Windows gets worse and worse, more people will do the jump.

  29. Ihatewindows522
    January 12, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    Joel, we call people like you trolls. This may be a new concept to you, so you might do well to pay attention and learn.

    "But here’s the problem with rapidly evolving software: unless you’re plugged into the community, it’s impossible to keep up with all of the changes."

    And nobody on this earth is going to keep up with EVERY SINGLE CHANGE in every OS release. Not on Linux, not on Mac, not on Windows. Ever. Moot point.

    "For example, look at the biggest name in desktop Linux: Ubuntu. They release a new version every six months where each version is named after the year and month of release (e.g. 14.10, 15.04, 15.10, etc). Contrast that with Windows (every 3-5 years) and OS X (every 1-2 years)."

    Contrast THAT with the truth that you so conveniently left out, Ubuntu LTS releases, CentOS/RHEL, and many more I'm sure that remain for all intents and purposes "current" for at least 5 years. Right now, there is no EOL in sight for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

    "Linux is high maintenance...not necessarily in catastrophic ways, but certainly in ways that are inconvenient and frustrating...Is it any wonder why people gravitate to OS X?"

    LMAO!! Yes, the truth is, stuff breaks no matter what OS you use. But you suggest abandoning a Linux installation that takes a few tweaks to work better in favor of Windows, which is renound for malware, spyware, bloat, requiring registry hacks, and updates that take half of forever. Or do you suggest using OS X, which has more bugs than an ant hill, and is again renound for being slow and bloated?

    "To be honest, all of the above issues wouldn’t be so bad if Linux had proper guidance for newbie users...but the fact that we need to offer that kind of basic help says a lot about the ecosystem as a whole"

    Um, you mean that thingie that says "Help" on it in the menus of every single app? Yeah, Linux has that. Or do you mean something like the videos that GNOME gives demonstrating how to use the desktop? Gimme a break. Anybody with half a brain and one eye can figure THAT out.

    "For example, the man pages are quite thorough and comprehensive, but they’re overwhelming for anyone who’s new and unfamiliar to the command line."

    I agree. Ever hear of Yelp? The help system that ships with most every common Linux distro? The one that gives you a quick and easy GRAPHICAL POINTY CLICKY guide to the desktop and what it does? Exactly how nieve are you? Never mind. If you read this far I think you get it.

    "the command line is still too prominent for things like troubleshooting"

    A little Star Wars quote for you: "You assume too much."
    1) That what needs to be troubleshot (it's a word now) can't be done via the GUI, and more often than not, it can.
    2) Other "user-friendly" operating systems don't need a command line to get troubleshooting done. This is not the case, especially with the watered-down Windows 10.
    3) That the Linux (and UNIX in general) command line is just as hard and nonsensical as the NT command line. It's not.

    "The real complaint is that these free alternatives just can’t live up to paid solutions...Aside from a few rare exceptions (e.g. VLC, Blender, LibreOffice), this is a common trend in Linux applications."

    A few rare exceptions? They may be rare to you, but they're commonplace on most any PC or Mac. Here's a few more that are used all over the place:
    Just to name a few. It can also run most Windows apps like WinRAR, Fallout 3, Photoshop, iTunes seamlessly through Wine.

  30. Carlos Sanchez
    January 3, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    i personally view these arguments in the original post as either false or exaggerations, and typically the type of stuff perpetuated by people who own stock in a major proprietary OS vendor, my personal opinion. i've known people personally who say these things, and for them, i stopped fixing their Windows machines. one wound up abandoning his Windows laptop. one wound up asking me to replace his Windows with Linux. and another replaced their ailing Windows PC with a Chromebook. all are happier. and now with Windows 10 being forced on people (even Forbes did a write up on it) and with major privacy issues that even top MS execs said can't be avoided, Linux is a very reasonable alternative. and there are enough extremely easy to use Linux distros that people have a choice. Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Ubuntu Gnome, Ubuntu MATE, Xubuntu. all easy to install and use

  31. Igor Šulji?
    January 3, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    I recently installed Mageia Linux for my 78 years old tech-impaired mother-in-law, after she couldn't cope with Windows for almost 20 years. I customized and simplified the Plasma DE for her needs, and finally forgot about day to day personal support. Yes, Linux itself is superior product. The kernel is second probably only to BSDs, the DEs are superior to OS X in everything but graphical design (though, when I look to Bodhi...), so the OS is perfectly OK. And the lack of standardisation and unification makes it even better. You take what you need, be it old hardware, Windows switchers, education, almost everything but making money. When you're about making money you must be ready to let others make money on you. Then the difference between Photoshop and The Gimp, and it amounts to couple thousand of dollars, comes to play. (Still wonder why no one compares The Gimp with, say, Paint Shop Pro.)
    As for Windows, we all know Microsoft bought its place everywhere with initially not always top class products, like SQL Server, IE, Windows NT, Silverlight... As a consequence, if you buy a piece of consumers PC hardware it is only guaranteed to work with Windows. And MS plays particularly foul when it comes to buying its place in schools, thus reproducing Windows addicts.
    Then, freedom is strange thing. It demands some commitment if you mind someone else making your decisions. I personally find installing some modern Linux distros more simple than mending old fashion thermal fuse, or shortening one's trousers using needle and thread. But what fuse and who does the needlework any more? So, if one is looking for the easiest way to connect to Facebook, because one feels it is an absolute must, then I guess buying an entry level Android cellular is the way to go. On the other hand if one feels about one's freedom, then whining about the world not pampering them is not the way to go. Linux support is supposed to be community of grown up people, not consumer relations management department. Which, by the way, usually relies to robots.
    And what is this famous freedom like? I tell you what is isn't. Ten years ago I met the guy who was trying to sell his G5 Power Mac in very good condition for couple hundred dollars with no success. At that moment the machine was still a beast due to PPC being superior to any Intel stuff. (Believe me I know what I am writing about, five years ago I was still using ancient G4 Power Mac @ 734 MHz, and only lacked graphical power. Compare this to, say, P3 @ 1,1 GHz with any Windows at that same time). In other words, not only did this guy not own his system, he didn't even own pretty expensive hardware he bought. Instead, Apple made the decision it is time to retire otherwise perfectly capable machine, and almost instantly it was cut out of any support, including free software like Firefox or (at the time).
    Better than that, when my wife was working on her PhD she was directed to use MS Word as the only accepted document format. (Don't ask me about university, or country, I just hope it is about corruption rather than stupidity.) So I bought her Windows Vista and MS Office. She spent about third of her time wrestling with this poor piece of software aimed at impressing some primitive boss with polished three page reports. It was trying to do the formatting job instead of her, and kept on doing it wrong way so she was virtually debugging damn thing and it took about third of her time. You know, it becomes pretty tedious work when there is few hundred items of bibliography to settle. And TeX, mature software for writing 800 page books was at hand all the time since 1964. But the Windows Vista is the true story. It was initially installed on 2007 Intel iMac (which is very soon going to be retired by Apple, even though there is nothing wrong with its Core2 Duo CPU, or PCI Express graphics, or indeed any of its superb hardware) as a Bootcamp machine. Then we had to move to OS X 10.9, because iOS on her iPad she carelessly upgraded over the web didn't support older iTunes any more. But at that point Bootcamp didn't support Vista any more. So I installed it as a VirtualBox VM. Then my first lady upgraded OS X over the web to Yosemite, and then to El Capitan. The system started freezing to the point that it was unusable. The only way out was clean install, and, as we already learned before, with Apple there is no way back. So I reinstalled the software including Virtual Box and Vista, only to learn that I can not activate it because my activation number is already in use. How many reinstalls allowed? Let's re-read small letters (it is about as much of EULA as New Testament). Now let's find our Microsoft Live IDs to start an argument about something I paid for, but is not at my disposal (see, I do not even mention ownership). That much about things that Just Work.
    Ah blessed Mageia! I wrote a thank you mail to their developing team and received at least seven kind answers. I feel like if I had any trouble with their product they would have programmed my way out of it.
    So, you may understand it is a Freedom Or Death matter for me. Huh! Having written all of this, yes, is is not at all about OS. OS is here for some software to spin on it. And freedom is akin to anarchy too. There is so many good and useful open & free software cleverly written to do some really useful and necessary work, only to remain totally undocumented, and then unmaintained. You get hooked on some fine program that perfectly suits your needs, and then suddenly you're an orphan. Go look for something similar until this too gets abandoned. Again, we once used couple thousand € worth Onyx professional Windows software at work that started behaving unpredictably. We called the support only to learn that they do not support Windows Server OSs any more, because debugging that security proved to be a nightmare. Without any notice, they simply dropped support to a class of OSs That Just Work, but was impossible to cope with.
    There are of course some permanent lights in any darkness, and TeX is a good example. But it has a learning curve, no matter how smooth Well if you intend to write an 800 page thesis there is some work to do. For Microsoft is not going to write it for you, and you are going to write it much faster on typewriter then on Microsoft. Still, volatility of application software is the only free and open software vulnerability I am ready to concede. All the rest is the matter of whose shoulders are carrying your head. And it is possible to cope with it, not necessarily by going mainstream. It is OK to be a minority. People seeking freedom always were, anyway.

  32. Eduardo Medina
    December 31, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Always the same outdated arguments.

    I saw people who use the same software I use for Linux on Mac (OBS, NetBeans, Firefox, Chrome, Megasync...), and for other operarting systems I don't have apps as useful as Ksnapshot. The apps shared with other operating systems works equal, so I don't understand where is the problem.

    I didn't to do anything to break my Windows 10, only updating it. If Redstone doesn't repair the problem, I will be forced to came back to Windows 7 SP1.

    About the issues, I always say the same thing. To repair Windows the error codes never helped me to find any solution, while the output of a Linux console helps me to find the solution on Google almost every time.

    I'm agree that Linux needs more standardization, one only init, only only graphic stack, it needs a standard system for bundles, etc.

  33. Anonymous
    December 31, 2015 at 5:37 am

    "Quite often when people call comments ‘sensible’ they mean the comments support their point of view".
    That goes for everyone, including yourself :-)

    "learning curve Linux steeper than Windows"
    That was not the point I tried to make. Linux may even be easier, but I do not believe that Joel sat down at his desk & decided to invent some points to make Linux look difficult & clunky. He has spent a fair amount of time using Linux (if you believe his statement about that, and I have no reason not to believe him), then my conclusion is that Linux is not as simple, easy & problem-free as you and your peers would have us potential novices believe. Thus I circle back to your remark above: "quite often when people call ...." proves that that applies to you too. No offence meant !!

    • Anonymous
      December 31, 2015 at 5:50 am

      @ fcd76218: see comments below of another experienced Linux user.

    • Anonymous
      December 31, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      "I do not believe that Joel sat down at his desk & decided to invent some points to make Linux look difficult & clunky."
      I said that he set up straw men and then proceeded to knock them down. He took minor points and make them seems like almost insurmountable problems. As Lazza implied, the article presents a Window-centric view of Linux. Since some feature of Linux is not the same as in Windows, it must be a shortcoming.

      "my conclusion is that Linux is not as simple, easy & problem-free as you and your peers would have us potential novices believe"
      I cannot stop you from coming to any conclusion. I don't think that any pro-Linux post in this discussion tried to say that Linux is simple, easy and problem-free. That has been my point all along, no O/S is inherently easier or harder to learn than any other. Also, when you change from one O/S to another, no matter which ones they are, you will have problems. However, the problems are not as drastic and insurmountable as the Windows proponents make them sound.

      • Anonymous
        December 31, 2015 at 5:22 pm

        I don't see why Joel would want to expound a pro-Windows ant-Linux biased view, to put it bluntly. Joel has no axe to grind, either way. All he is saying to potential novices: be aware, it is not smooth sailing, there are pitfalls & here is what they are from my experience.
        The fact that there are some many people in either side of the divide responding to this article means there is a certain controversy about Linux. No Windows is not the best, easy to take on board OS, but if Linux wants to make any serious inroads into Windows and/or OSX territory it will have change/adjust/amend a few things, as pointed out by Joel & others.
        Just arguing/debating that Linux is not so bad or is better than Windows is not enough. I for one am not persuaded to take the plunge at this stage , despite liking the principle behind Linux, even attracted to it & wanting to set myself free from Windows.

        • Anonymous
          December 31, 2015 at 9:06 pm

          "I don’t see why Joel would want to expound a pro-Windows ant-Linux biased view"
          I cannot speak to Joel's or anybody's motives.

          "All he is saying to potential novices: be aware, it is not smooth sailing, there are pitfalls & here is what they are from my experience."
          And all Lazza, Lard Taco, myself and others are saying to the same novices is It Ain't So. Why are you putting so weight into Joel's experience but are discounting the experience of the Linux users that have posted? Because Joel is a published blogger?

          "there is a certain controversy about Linux"
          Yes, there is a controversy. One side says Linux sucks because it does not behave like Windows. The other side says it doesn't suck because just because it isn't Windows.

          "if Linux wants to make any serious inroads into Windows and/or OSX territory"
          Now we arrive at the crux of the discussion. It is erroneously assumed by Window Fans and Apple Faithful that Linux is hot to take over the computing world because that is what Microsoft and Apple are trying to do. Linux community welcomes new users but it does not seek them out. You either want to use Linux or you don't. Linux is not just an operating system. It is a different way of doing things. It is a movement. Without spending $Billions on advertising, Linux has captured 5% of the PC user base. Apple, with its great products, great O/S, Apple Stores and huge advertising campaigns has not that many more users than Linux. Shouldn't we also be asking "What does Apple have to change to become part of the mainstream?" People that use Linux, do so because they choose to, not because their PC came with it installed. Users switch to Linux because they want to, in spite of all of its supposed warts.

          It is the vacillators and fence straddlers who worry about what Linux must do to become "mainstream" (whatever that means), and/or whether they should try it or not. As Yoda said to Luke Skywalker "Do or do not...... there is no TRY."

          " it will have change/adjust/amend a few things"
          Why should it? To accommodate a few fence straddler Windows users who may or may not want to try something different? Would Microsoft make changes to attract a few converts from Linux? Their attitude is "We are Microsoft. YOU adapt to us!" Are Microsoft products able to read and write Linux file formats? Because Linux and its applications can read and write most MS file formats.

          "I for one am not persuaded to take the plunge at this stage"
          I don't foresee any danger of you ever taking the plunge at any stage. You will always manage to find some real or perceived shortcoming in Linux that will convince you that it is not ready for prime time and will never become part of the mainstream.

  34. Anonymous
    December 30, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Speaking as an Linux outsider who has dabbled in several Linux flavors over the past 20 years, this article is spot on. The Linux community can work towards going mainstream, which means having one version everyone recognizes and promotes as the gold standard for casual users and newbies, with stability, solid support and easy out of box usage, or keep what they have now, and remain a niche geek toy in the desktop world.
    While I like the concept of Linux, and understand the rational behind having lots of different flavors, the resulting fragmentation is extremely frustrating. Add in the often less than helpful responses to questions from some segments of the Linux community, coupled with documentation that often sucks (which is why RTFM is not always helpful advice) and Linux community forums vary from helpful to very frustrating, and a newbie/casual user often ends up having a very bad computing experience.
    Linux may very well be a superior product, but, if the new casual user trying Linux continues to end up frustrated and walking away, it will remain on the outside looking in.

    • Anonymous
      December 31, 2015 at 2:14 am

      "which means having one version everyone recognizes and promotes as the gold standard for casual users and newbies"
      One-size-fits-all does not.

      "While I like the concept of Linux, and understand the rational behind having lots of different flavors, the resulting fragmentation is extremely frustrating."
      To use a hackneyed analogy, do you find the "fragmentation" in the automobile industry frustrating. Think of various Linux distros as nothing more than different car models. They all do basically the same thing, convey you from point A to point B in varying levels of comfort. Parts are not interchangeable between manufacturers or sometimes even between models from the same manufacturer. Unless you are mechanically inclined, the manuals, either from the manufacturer or after-market, might as well be written in Martian. Yet, car buyers have no problems buying cars. So tell me again why is a large choice a disadvantage for Linux but a big advantage for the car industry?!

      • Anonymous
        December 31, 2015 at 3:34 am

        Never said one-size-fits-all. I suggested one version universally recognized, and recommended, as the gold-standard for newbies and casual users, because of ease of use and high standard of documentation and support.
        However, really glad you brought up cars. Computers and cars have two types of users: enthusiasts, who tweak, customize, rebuild and pour time and energy into they product, and users, who are just looking for a tool to use.
        BTW, the car analogy fails when we talk what a user (rather than an enthusiast) wants. To a user, a Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fusion are pretty much interchangeable, To an enthusiast, they definitely are not.
        Finally, if you learn to drive on a Nissan Micra, you have the skill set and experience to immediately operate a Ford F-250 pick-up truck, because the basic user interface is pretty much standard: the key components required like the steering wheel, brake and gas pedals, turn signal switch, seat, etc are always in the same place. The majority of the others are usually easily found and recognized (transmission, ignition switch, etc).

        • Anonymous
          December 31, 2015 at 3:11 pm

          Before we start talking about gold standards, you need to define your terms. What do you mean by "newbies and casual users"? Are they current Windows users who want to dabble in Linux? Or are they people who have never used a computer? For the former Zorin would be recommended because the UI looks most like Windows. For the latter, Ubuntu or Mint would be the recommended distro.

          If you learn to drive one Linux distro, you can basically drive all of them which works for newbies and casual users. Only when you start to "tweak, customize, rebuild " distros that you run into differences. But then newbies and casual users are not inclined "tweak, customize, rebuild" distros.

          Just because Windows and OS/X exist with one, gold-standard version does not mean that is the best way of doing things.

          "the car analogy fails when we talk what a user (rather than an enthusiast) wants. To a user, a Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fusion are pretty much interchangeable"
          The analogy fails only if you manipulate the parameters so it does fail. If Malibu and Fusion were interchangeable then we would not have devoted Chevy, Ford and Dodge users.; people who always buy the same brand, come hell or high water. Add to that the "I will never buy the foreign/domestic junk" users and the analogy is stronger than ever.

  35. DrugaJin
    December 30, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    While it's not everyone's cup of tea, and certainly not a solution for every single person, a lot of the above is solved simply by using something like Ubuntu's LTS releases.

    I mean, they're supposed to be for "casual" users and others that want slower stability.

    Not saying they're a magic bullet that's going to solve all the listed problems above 100%, but they do go a long way towards it.

    I had many of the same complaints until I just started using LTS (or similar for non-*buntu distros). I think there's this idea that linux is bleeding edge all the time. That's only true if you decide to be like that. I, and many others, simply stick to the 5 year LTS cycle.

    • Anonymous
      December 31, 2015 at 4:57 am

      I agree with your comments. I only use Xubuntu LTS, currently 14.04. My software is really stable. I cannot think of a single bug, program crashing, or nagging issue. (Whenever a bug has come up, with my system I have the freedom to fix it or come up with a workaround.) I have also learned not to make major changes such as installing and uninstalling desktop environments or changing the window manager. If you want bleeding edge Fedora. If you're conservative Debian or Ubuntu LTS.

    • Dess
      January 13, 2016 at 1:02 pm

      I agree, Ubuntu is getting more and more user-friendly (was not so easy 7 years ago) and stable.

      It is the version for casual users. However, some of the critics still apply. In my opinion the biggest one is the non-equivalency of programs. No games, most software fail to offer as many functionalities in Windows.

      But that could be linked to the fragmentation in Linux: if a company wants to declare their software Linux-compatible,then it has to work on Ubuntu, Fedora, etc. and I bet that's easier said than done. They are trying though and I think we can hope for an almost equivalency in a few years.

  36. chris
    December 29, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    I think one of the biggest "flaws" is lack of standardization (the "S" word) on typical features - the biggest one I see is software packages.

    • Joel Lee
      December 30, 2015 at 3:28 am

      It seems like lack of standards is one of the key draws of Linux, but I agree, it's also one of its biggest flaws. A double-edged sword, if you will. If Linux is going to go mainstream, it really needs to standardize to a greater degree than it is right now.

    • Anonymous
      December 30, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      Completely agree. A standard application development framework and environment would help a lot for example.

  37. Mark W
    December 27, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    I have no love for MS or Apple software but it does something that Linux will likely never do. They work out of the box, there are professional applications that are supported and updated, there is a much larger group of users to share and learn from, there is only one current version, etc.

    The thing with a consumer operating system is that it needs to exist and work without the user having to think about it. Linux isn't that. Probably will never be...and that is fine. But the Linux community often comes off as a bunch of whiny little jerks (some even in these comments) hoping that by touting their favorite OS will somehow fix the problems. It doesn't.

    If Linux wants to be a consumer product, it has to change dramatically and it probably shouldn't. Yes...I've worked in Linux and understand it. It reminds me of my DOS days writing in Assembly. It was great...for a developer or a true geek. But my home computer is Windows. I turn it what I want...and turn it off without incident. Much like the TV or radio. Windows is an AM/FM radio while Linux is a HAM radio. Some people prefer to work with their HAM radio and will call it awesome. Some just want to listen to music.

    • Joel Lee
      December 30, 2015 at 3:31 am

      Thanks Mike, I think you hit the nail on the head. Maybe the fundamental ideas behind Linux make it impossible to go mainstream. Or maybe it will take another distro rising to the level of Ubuntu, but with a consumer-oriented focus. Something like Deepin or Elementary, but with a lot more manpower. Linux has a lot of good aspects, but "It just works" isn't one.

  38. Joel
    December 27, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    I got the opposite 'read' from most of you. You're blind if you don't see this article is an Ad for Linux.

  39. freddy lemmens
    December 27, 2015 at 11:55 am

    What about installing printer drivers and scanners... I had to use the command line. A good thing I have a Brother printer and found a good video on Youtube. I use Ubuntu - why isnt there an 'install.exe' for software not in the Software Center? And what about keyboards settings for non USA users? Reading (outdated) blogs is not good enough. I hope Youtube can help me with all these items.

    • Lazza
      December 27, 2015 at 11:59 am

      Brother provides DEB packages which are exactly "an 'install.exe'" for Linux, except that they work better and you don't need to press "Forward / Accept" 12 times.

      > what about keyboards settings for non USA users?

      If you didn't choose the right layout in the installation screen, you can press the nifty button in the applet area which reads "US" (or with an american flag, depending on the distro) and change it from there. This is how it works also in Windows and OS X.

      • freddy lemmens
        December 27, 2015 at 12:28 pm

        thank you for your reply... meanwhile, again I found on youtube how to change the keyboard. Now I need to find out how to get my cloud installed, they also have a linux driver, but again I need to look into the installation of it. I am not used to working with command lines and I do not know the commands.For me, the command line is a downside to Ubuntu.

        • Lazza
          December 27, 2015 at 12:59 pm

          According to the Hubic website, they provide a DEB file for easy installation. Download it and double-click it.

          I'm referring to this page:!

          > the command line is a downside to Ubuntu

          If you don't like it, don't use. You don't have to use it, it's there just because it's much more convenient to do repetitive tasks. The same goes for OS X. You have the terminal, but nobody forces you to use it.

    • Tom
      September 6, 2016 at 6:39 am

      For myself, I just can't believe you went to Youpipe to seek instructions.
      I also have Brother printer.
      Main 2 points are: its a well designed and easy to use battle tank of a printer. And Brother provides all drivers, install tools, instructions of install straight on their website.

      But I guess its that learned "windows experience" method: diss the official support, go to more or less reliable third party sources, get as much crap (adware, hissware, spitware, you name it) on the way as you can, and then moan and groan that something doesn't work.
      What I did on this was:
      Go to website
      Get driver
      Open instructions
      Type 20-30 characters into terminal
      Type printer model
      Pres "y" for "yes" several times.
      You wanted "install.exe"? How about looking for one instead of crying that noone put it in your hands?

  40. Seba
    December 27, 2015 at 10:11 am

    1 - True, but that would be the same as saying that smartphones sucks because they evolve too quickly. You can stand back and live happily with LTS releases or using Debian or similar, more stable distros.

    2 - True choices are like 5-6: freedom brings the possibility of creating unlimited distros, but that does not mean someone will actually use them.

    3 - Lol, this should be a Linux-specific problem? Windows has been a nightmare since the dawn of IT!

    4 - I've found way more friendly people and guides within the Linux world, all you need is just a little patience

    5 - This is the real problem: 99% of software in Linux sucks either badly or incredibly badly. I've been using Linux since 2004 without ever switching back, more out of being proud than being satisfied. The landscape only changed when a lot of closed-source software came into play, otherwise we would still be stuck with '95 looking software.

    One thing you are forgetting: Linux works flawlessly for 99% of users, the part of the world that only checks emails and Facebook. I've come to realize that probably Linux works better for my grandpa than me. But I still love it.

    • Anonymous
      December 31, 2015 at 1:50 am

      "Linux works flawlessly for 99% of users"
      But it is the very vocal 1% for whom Linux does not work every time, all the time that shapes the opinion about Linux.

  41. Lazza
    December 26, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    I'm sorry, I started reading the post with excitement, but lost it at the first point. I was expecting some nice views about potential pitfalls in open source software, because improving is always cool. Instead, I read the usual rants of a Windows user. Pardon me, but I can't agree. Your points are wrong in so many ways I had to analyze them one by one. Sorry, but it seems that you have very little experience with Linux and are applying the same racist argument as "what is foreign to me is necessarily bad".

    So here we go...

    1. That is not, as you stated, a defect. Having security fixes and bug fixes is crucial if you want your computer to actually work the way it is intended. Also, Ubuntu is the "wrong" example, because if you really want to stick with old software, then you can use LTS releases. You won't get one more frequently than every 2 years and they are officially supported for 5 years. Also, please note that 5 years in IT is like 50 years in real life... quite a lot!

    2. "[...] there are dozens of Ubuntu-based distros to explore"... if you want to. I personally don't, most of the time, so I stick with Ubuntu. Some people stick with Debian or Fedora, but this is also ok. Once you find something that you like, use it. If you don't want to be bothered by forks, just ignore them! Most forks are pretty limited in usage anyways, so why fear them?

    3. "Linux is high maintenance", no it's not. Well, I mean, usually you say something is high maintenance if compared to something else. The problem is that your example is flawed: you tried to change the entire DE of your distro (something you can't even do on other OSes) and failed. Then you conclude, from your single case, that Linux is difficult to maintain. Guess what, if you make BIG changes to the system configuration you risk breaking things, on any OS. You can install a distro and actually start working and be productive, something which cannot be said about Windows and, to a lesser extent, OS X.

    "If everything worked perfectly 100% of the time, then Linux would be amazing". Sure, but it still works perfectly "N %" of the time much more than Windows or OS X. Linux is not perfect but still the best choice when it comes to getting the work done. Windows? LOL, no way! You actually need to install drivers for a lot of hardware and (if you are sane) you will need to regularly check your antivirus and anti-adware software, letting them do their work and consuming your CPU time. Even worse, it's not UNIX based so you lose a lot of the stability and flexibility. OS X? Yes, it can be productive... if you open and start performing non-trivial tasks via the command line. But then what's the advantage wrt Linux? The only advantage is if you work as an iOS developer.

    4. Those questions are exactly the same for novices starting to use Windows or OS X. The fact that some people are more used to something else (say Windows) has nothing to do with if Linux makes sense or not. "Linux relies too much on the command line." no, it doesn't. My parents and many of my friends who use Linux cannot even *open* a terminal emulator, let alone issue a proper command. It depends what you need to do. Do you want to magically script the computer and let it do operations on 200 different files based on external sensors? You need the command line (but also on Windows and OS X). Do you want to surf the web, write documents and watch videos? Then use the GUI. If one wants to do operations that require expert knowledge, they should be able to use the command line. If they want to use the computer as any normal user, this is not needed.

    I personally use the command line because I am a MSc student in CS and web developer, but that doesn't mean "normal"/"non-tech" people need to do the same things that I do with a computer. I would use the command line also on OS X and on Windows, with the added difficulty that the command line in Windows is absolutely cumbersome and not powerful enough.

    "the community gives off the impression that Linux is only for power users" You are actually spreading the same FUD in this post.

    5. Regarding proprietary apps, in which way is this "Linux's fault"?

    • Metanis
      December 30, 2015 at 11:46 pm

      Lazza, you sir are a prime example of the "community" problem with Linux. Calling someone a racist for publishing an opinion that differs from yours? That's an awesome way to motivate converts! NOT!

      • Lazza
        December 31, 2015 at 12:37 am

        It seems either you have trouble reading my comment in English, or I have trouble writing in English. I assume the latter, since it's not my native language. I am sorry for that, I'll try to elaborate again. When writing my previous comments I used a rule which teachers taught me: in English an adjective goes before the noun.

        Hence, I wrote "you are using a racist argument", not "you are a racist person" because I was referring to the argument, not the person. I am not used to attack people (e.g. «you sir are a prime example of the “community” problem») because if one uses ad hominem arguments it means that they actually lack any strong point.

        Having said so, the author of the post was the one to criticize something he doesn't know. This, again, is a racist argument (or attitude, if you prefer) and also a missed occasion to discuss on actual fields of potential improvement (think about OCR technologies or advanced video editing).

        Imagine I didn't know you (actually, I don't know you) and I started to say bad things about you... because I don't know you so you *must* be bad. Would it be smart?

        Hell, no! It wouldn't be smart, neither productive or useful. It would be a racist argument, plain and simple.

        Regarding the Linux community, I spend time every week in real life helping people to make their lives better by switching to Linux. I am one of the founders of my local LUG (Linux Users Group). The no-profit activity includes organizing talks, events, IT projects in schools, etc all for free, for the benefit of the community. Personally, I write open source software and publish tutorials. I cannot link many of them since you probably don't speak Italian and mostly are in that language, but still I have a potential audience of 60M people so I think they might be helpful to somebody at least. But you can check out some of my scripts on GreasyFork, my user ID is Lazza (#2482).

        Everyone wanting to start with Linux shall feel welcome. This is why helping in real life is the most important step, but of course there are also other means. I get emails from people with questions about Linux (and other topics related to computers) almost every single day and I always reply (even if 90% of them I don't know who they are). I reply to comments asking for technical support even on FB pages and blogs which are NOT mine. As a matter of fact, I own a MUO T-shirt because the editors sent me one **for free** after I left "useful comments" (their words) on Linux-related posts here.

        But yes, as you might have imagined, I like more civil discussion than rants written by people who criticize Linux before knowing it.

        I am not entirely sure how you could have known a lot of stuff about me from a single comment on a blog post, jumping to conclusions and deducting that I am "a prime example of the community problem with Linux".

        You must be a wizard or something. ;)

        • Anonymous
          December 31, 2015 at 1:45 am

          Maybe instead of 'racist' you mean "biased", "prejudiced", "tendentious", "partial" or "partisan." The word 'Racist', especially in the US carries a lot of negative emotional connotations. I'm not sure you really meant to use it when referring to a comment.

        • Lazza
          December 31, 2015 at 12:30 pm

          Ah, right, «tendentious» is a very good one. :) Thank you for your suggestion.

  42. u976415
    December 26, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    The title of this article should be, "Why Isn't The Ubuntu/Unity PC Mainstream Yet?". Something more focused on a graphical desktop environment project.
    Linux, the kernel, is a sucess. Even though, testing of hardware drivers from Linux Foundation kernel builds should be more through; still a success. I wish it only used GPL'ed drivers from OEM's and didn't contain proprietary blobs and firmware, but still a sucess.

    I feel there are systemic, organizational issues in play here; mainly purpose and objectives of the projects. Unity, KDE, GNOME, LXDE, XFCE, etc. are different projects with different foundations; and they aren't distros. However; I am at a loss of how the monetary funding works to find and retain talented developers and get them to work on the un-desirable but necessary stuff. Work for hire, hardware sales, and copyright collectives seem to be missing from this ecosystem. Futhermore, strategic alliances with OEM's and desktop software companies don't seem to be a concern.
    What are the pre-installed OS computer sales numbers from any distro? How are vendors like Think Penguin, Purism, ZaReason, and System76 doing? What distros are they selling? Do any of the distros have a stake in computer vendors selling computers with their OS? How many distros actually contract programming work for hire to support the projects? How many are freeloading off of others work; that is, redistributing code they don't have the manpower to support, maintain, nor determine future direction; code they copied from another project?
    With this complexity, future uncertainty, and lack of investment should understand why one can't buy a GNOME all-in-one or a GNOME tablet from the local Best Buy.

  43. noblewolf
    December 26, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    One of the other issues I find, are vendor drivers. Lots of the big ones are doing better in this area, but there are others (Logitech I'm looking at you) still do not provide drivers for their products. Even if it was just source code so the community could package it. But alas, that doesn't look remotely forthcoming.

  44. Anonymous
    December 26, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    I am using Linux. The only problem I see is the software packaging. To many distro's have there own packages. Deb and RPM are probably the most popular. Ubuntu also has it's own PPA's. Compiling from source, using Alien and tar ball installation is to difficult for the average PC/Windoze user.

    I would like to see a standard packages for all Linux installations with a standard installer like gebi. I realize that would hurt security, as people could install software from any source. Smart users would still use the official repsotitories. Until that is fixed, I do not see Linux becoming "Mainstream".

    • Anonymous
      December 26, 2015 at 4:48 pm

      "To many distro’s have there own packages."
      You forgot to mention AURs which are the Arch equivalents of Ubuntu's PPAs. :-)

      " Until that (standard packaging) is fixed, I do not see Linux becoming “Mainstream”."
      Linuix community cares more about the O/S being secure than it cares about it becoming "Mainstream."

  45. omicronkappa278
    December 25, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    Linux to me is fascinating. I enjoy the new projects. But I lose it on issues I cannot resolve. So I have a love/hate. Mint seems to have solved that. I honestly think in this day and age with Browsers doing most of the heavy lifting... Mint 17.3 might be the ticket. I have not broken down and moved back to Windows. I like Windows 10, but do not love it..

    Hardware on Linux seems to work easier for me. I dont have to install camera drivers from Logitech. I dont need to install my Line 6 Guitar box. It worked with Guitarix. I did not need to install my printer, scanner, and have found great success using Openshot for video edits.

    I have installed Photoshop via WINE. GIMp is great, but it is no match for photoshop. I suggest going to and download there USB stick software and run it thorough WINE. You can run the hundreads of portable software there easily with WINE.

    Picasa... runs well. Google earth is buggy, but never really use it. Chrome 64 from Google (Not Chromium) is great and so on. I hate Windows licensing. I am in IT support at work and Windows Licensing is horrid. Some great things are getting done via Linux on our Campus.

    Try Mint. I rarely have to do anything. Seems to just work.

  46. Anonymous
    December 25, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to everybody!

  47. Kevin
    December 25, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    I like Linux, but mostly use Win8.1.

    My biggest issues are addressed , above: I like to record music, via multitrack software. On windows, there are great choices, both free and for purchase. My favorite that requires purchase is called Samplitude. I can use the basic features, connecting to a Firewire interface without too much trouble, and be up recording pretty quickly.

    Attempting to do the same on Linux, is a huge, inspiration-killing-chore. I can get my firewire to connect, but the digital signals from the firewire device will not work w/the linux machine. Scouring help forums, I've discovered I'm not the only one w/ the issue. Noone seems to have solved that issue. The other thing is trying to use the multitrack digital audio workstation (Guess I'm specifically talking Ardour DAW, the only one I've tried, so that figures into my lack of success, too.) I will try again, but the lack of plain English, easy to read tutorials/instructions is disheartening.

    Thanks for the great article, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!,

  48. Paul
    December 25, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Do a simple test before releasing a version, tell the geeks involved in putting it together, to give it too their parents or grandparents to use, and LISTEN to their comments

    • Anonymous
      December 25, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      Are you talking about Windows or Linux? From your use of the word "geeks", I assume you are referring to Linux. I freely admit that my no one in my family would be able to install Linux without help but, at the same time, I have to say that they would not be able to install Windows without help, either. As for using PCs with Linux pre-installed, my entire family is using them. The only negative comments I got was from my two daughters when they got to college. They were both complaining that they were forced to use Windows instead of being allowed to use Linux.

      • Paul
        December 26, 2015 at 12:16 am

        Im talking about how confusing it is for many to make the change, those who disagree can't give a reason why linux is on such a low %, there are versions for newcomers that include programs such as gimp?. When teaching to newcomers less is better. I teach computers to seniors and use Elementary because it is minimal and can be add to as needed. For example Libre Office may be great but if your learning a new OS learning a new office program can wait so I use Kingsoft Office

        • Anonymous
          December 26, 2015 at 1:39 am

          "Im talking about how confusing it is for many to make the change"
          Going from an O/S you know to an O/S you do not is always confusing. OS/X to Windows is not confusing?

          "those who disagree can’t give a reason why linux is on such a low %"
          As was stated couple of times below, the Linux community does not advertise. It is not a commercial enterprise that has to justify its results, or lack thereof, to the stockholders like MS and Apple do. For the most part, Linux spreads by word of mouth. Many new users stay with Linux, some go back to Windows.

          Red Hat, SUSE and Oracle, which are commercial enterprises, do run advertising campaigns but in the industry press. BTW - all three are doing quite well selling Linux to corporate clients.

          "there are versions for newcomers that include programs such as gimp?"
          Adobe has not seen fit to release a Photoshop version for Linux. Why, I don't know.

          "I teach computers to seniors and use Elementary because it is minimal and can be add to as needed."
          Elementary is no more minimal than a 100 other distros. They all can be added to as needed. In fact, in the non Ubuntu-based distros package can be uninstalled to reduce the amount of new software user has to learn.

          Both Kingsoft Office and Libre Office would be new to anybody learning Linux so I don't see how you are making things easy.

  49. Anonymous
    December 25, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    I'll add to number 4... I'd say that the majority of Linux users I've observed in commentary or interacted with personally spend more time disparaging other OS's, authors of articles that in any way comment against Linux, or making a smarmily-superior point than they do offering genuine help.

    There's a lot of passive-aggressive "help" out there... Plenty of advice on how my life would be so much better if I just didn't make poor OS choices. Most of the time when I respond to an overly-smarta** comment, I don't get a, "Oh, sorry, I didn't mean it that way", or, "Is there any way I can make things more clear for you?" I'm really not supposed to respond.

    So for me, Joel, it's about the condescension of a group of people...umm, 5% of you?...who don't really want to help, but only want to highlight their views to the pooh-poohing of mine.

    • Joel Lee
      December 30, 2015 at 3:26 am

      Yes, I share a lot of your frustrations, Kelsey. I wish Linux fans would spend more effort listening to criticism and adapting and less effort defending a good-but-obviously-flawed OS.

  50. Moem
    December 25, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Loaded question, your honour. I cannot answer it because I am, in fact, using Linux. And liking it, and finding it low-maintenance and very useable. Maybe that's because I did not build a Franken-install, but instead chose a distro and picked one of the desktop environments that it offers.
    This article reads like the author has not tried Mint. Maybe he should. He might like it.

    • Joel Lee
      December 30, 2015 at 3:24 am

      Just tried it this past weekend (after I had written the article) and I can't say my opinion has changed much. Some things are better in Mint, but a lot of my arguments are fundamental to Linux and not really isolated to any particular distro. That being said, if I was going to recommend a distro to a first-time, I'd definitely say Ubuntu MATE or Linux Mint.

  51. Phil Smith
    December 25, 2015 at 10:31 am

    A very poor and unbalanced article only interested in bashing Linux

    1. The Landscape Evolves Too Quickly
    Get a long term supported version e.g. Ubuntu LTS or Debian stable.

    2. Way Too Many Choices
    Agreed, but pick one of the top 10 and give it a go. It’s in the top 10 for a reason.

    3. Every So Often, Something Breaks
    This happens in any operating system, Microsoft and OSX included.

    Using a long term supported version helps alleviate this.

    4. Not Enough User-Friendly Guidance
    A quick Google search is enough to find guidance.

    5. Software Quality Is Mostly Sub-Par
    “The real complaint is that these free alternatives just can’t live up to paid solutions.”
    Are you seriously expecting free software to live up to paid solutions backed by big companies ?

    • Joel Lee
      December 30, 2015 at 3:22 am

      It's not about bashing Linux. It's about raising reasons why Linux is still too intimidating for average users. If Linux developers spent more time addressing these issues and less time with their fingers in their ears, maybe its market share would have bumped over 5% by now. :P

  52. Anonymous
    December 25, 2015 at 6:45 am

    All of the things the author points out is why I love Linux. I don't care if Linux never becomes mainstream, or doesn't have the latest software or games, that's not why I use it. I use it because of the freedom of not being locked down to one operating system, one company. I think people forget one thing, Linux is Free.

    • Joel Lee
      December 30, 2015 at 3:20 am

      "I don’t care if Linux never becomes mainstream"

      I think that's probably the best way forward for Linux as a whole: accept that it's hard and will never be mainstream. The weird thing is, whenever I see posts about Windows, the Linux users always crawl out of the woodworks to say "Just install Linux and your problems will be solved." So if anything, it's Linux users as a whole who want Linux to become mainstream. :P

  53. Anonymous
    December 25, 2015 at 1:56 am

    The #1 rule in advertising is people will not buy what they don't know. (Recognize.) Brand recognition is why people buy things. Linux advertising basically does not exist. So there's that.

    With Mint (I use Cinnamon on my laptops.) I can do anything. I know Adobe / Autodesk, etc products, say expert level with all operating systems and with the exception of Blender Vs. Maya, there is almost nothing I can't do the same in Linux. That said, gaming is coming along, but not at the point of Windows / Apple support yet. So there's that as well.

    I rarely use the command line, except for setup and the occasional apt-get, etc. Basically in Linux, you don't need to know, or memorize that many commands.

    As for software, there are many that work as advertised and just like in the pay world, many do not, but finding something that works really well - well that's easy. I have a long list of good stuff.

    Breaking down how to figure your best version of Linux is also easy. Do you have older, or newer hardware. What do you want to do software wise and what are those software requirements. Same question for any OS / Software purchase.

    Knowing how to search is key to any Hardware / OS / Software's success. (I never use google.) People who can't, or don't have the time to search well should probably stick to say Apples, or Windows. ;)

    Ars has a new today, pretty good and well written article on the new Mint 17.3 . Two of my 'go to' websites is this and them. :)

    • Bob
      December 25, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      This sounds like someone who really ought to write an article about Mint for users who are looking for a switch from windows. I, like others here, have played with Linux systems over the years and still use it for file recovery when windows throws a fit. BUT there are so many things that I (and others) have got used to over the years with windows that we need a simple layman's explanation without all the fancy words. Yes some of the Linux forum contributors are amazingly helpful but there are also a lot that have obviously swallowed a different dictionary from me and might as well be talking a completely different foreign language.

      Love or hate Micro$oft, at least they have a level of consistency in their systems. As far as I understand, when a new release of Linux is released, it is necessary to install the system from new. (Even if it is a bugger sight easier than windows generally!) Linux producers need to think of a way of updating the system without reinstalling it. I know that they are now moving in the direction of 3-5 year supported systems but look at XP, it may not be the best but it has been running generally successfully for about 13 years.

      These are the sort of things that the Linux community need to take into account if they are ever going to make a dent in the home-user computer market. Just my twopenceworth!

    • Joel Lee
      December 30, 2015 at 3:18 am

      It sounds like you're arguing that Linux is for a specific niche, one that doesn't overlay with a mainstream audience, and therefore Linux will never be mainstream. Please correct me if I'm wrong. But yeah, I think that's a fair position to hold! Maybe Linux just isn't meant to be mainstream. :)

      • Anonymous
        December 31, 2015 at 1:06 am

        Some Linux version(s) could reach mainstream at some point. There are a lot of large corporations that contribute, as well as individuals. If you look at Android & OSX, those derivatives come from Linux. Although Android is unfortunately now moving towards a closed source environment, which imho is wrong because it takes away from all those who are and have contributed.

        Personally, there is a part of me that hopes Linux will never become truly mainstream because it won't take corporations long in 'managing the fold' , which is totally unappealing to me.

        I recommended Mint Cinnamon as a good alternative to Windows, as much of the interface looks and feels like Windows, but is also great for customization. (Mine looks very different from Windows.)

        Also, for all those talking about how terrible Linux is, remember your mail & general internet is probably running on Linux server. I wouldn't get too carried away with bashing Linux. :)

  54. Anonymous
    December 24, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Congratulations, Joel. You have set up 5 straw men and managed to knock down all of them.

    "1. The Landscape Evolves Too Quickly"
    Only if you want to be on the bleeding edge; to keep trying the latest and the greatest. Even then the changes aren't drastic. If you use a Stable or a Long Term Support version of a distro the landscape remains pretty much the same for 3-5 years. However, you don't have to get a new PC every time a new major version of the kernel is released like you do with every new version of Windows.

    "2. Way Too Many Choices"
    Agreed. However, if you look at the Distrowatch list of active distros, you will find that out of 275 distros, at least 75 are some version or respin of Ubuntu. They are all basically the same, just like the 200 or so different pasta shapes. Another 175-190 are minor or esoteric distros that are used by very few people. So what you left with is 10-20 popular distros. Out of the 200 pasta shapes only 10 are used by most people. Windows and OS/X have only one flavor at a time. How bo-ring.

    "3. Every So Often, Something Breaks"
    Please! Like Windows or OS/X never break? If you try to make any O/S do what it was not designed or optimized to do, it will protest. Ubuntu has been optimized to use Unity Desktop. Ubuntu has also been designed to run best when used "as installed." If you try to make changes to it, you will have problems, as you have found out.

    "4. Not Enough User-Friendly Guidance"
    There are rude people on each and every O/S forum. It is not limited to just Slashdot.
    Man pages are as clear as Windows error messages.
    Linux, unlike Windows, is a conscious choice. Very few computer illiterate people, if any, decide to get a Linux PC as their first computer. Most Linux users have used or are using another O/S. So they should be familiar with finding guidance on the 'Net.
    Linux is in a checken-egg situation with user-friendly guidance. Just look at MUO articles. Most of them are written about Windows. Why? Because there are way more Windows than Linux users. The same goes for How-To books. If there were more Linux users, there would be more books written about it. But, OTOH, if there were more books and articles about Linux, there would be more users.

    All in all a very tendentious article because the same five points you use to praise Windows, can be used against it.
    In Windows the landscape evolves like the San Andreas Fault. Most of the time both creep along slowly. Then every so often MS releases a new version and the fault slips 20-30 feet.
    In Windows, you have no choice. To paraphrase Henry Ford, you can use any version as long as it is by Microsoft.
    Microsoft products NEVER break?
    I would not call Microsoft guidance friendly.

    • Anonymous
      December 25, 2015 at 1:18 am

      "Windows and OS/X have only one flavor at a time. How bo-ring."

      That sums up why I gave up on Linux. I want boring in an OS. It's the applications that count.

      I use Windows at home because I used Windows at work before I retired. If I needed to log in remotely, all the necessary security software was readily available and easily installable. Some enterprise licenses allowed me to install personal copies; again, readily available and easily installable.

      For my own use, there are no Linux programs I would want that aren't also available on Windows but there are programs I use that aren't available on Linux. And open source is alive and well in the Windows world.

      Linux is great for geeks who like to play around with their OS. For the casual user looking for an easy, cheap experience, Chromebooks are the way to go. For everyone else, Windows is what I'd recommend.

      • Anonymous
        December 25, 2015 at 7:19 am

        I found I was less productive in Windows. I spent more time getting Windows to work just right by addming more tweaks, in the end it made the OS I think that was the reason I left Windows.

        • Anonymous
          December 25, 2015 at 5:33 pm

          "I found I was less productive in Windows"
          Blasphemy! Don't you know Windows is the Best O/S in the world and the Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread?! (at least according to Microsoft)

      • Anonymous
        December 25, 2015 at 5:29 pm

        Nobody is holding a gun to your head forcing you to use Linux. As I said, Linux is a conscious choice. If you prefer Windows to Linux , the Linux community will not be diminished. But, like Joel, don't be disingenuous and try to justify your choice by pointing out the negatives, real or imagined, of Linux. Windows has enough negatives of its own to have made many people give it up and switch to other O/Ss.

        "Linux is great for geeks who like to play around with their OS. "
        That is one of the lies that Linux-haters like to tell. :-)

    • Joel Lee
      December 30, 2015 at 3:16 am

      @fcd: Interesting rebuttals. Here are my thoughts:

      1) I meant the whole Linux environment evolves too quickly. It's possible to stay on a single version of some distro without upgrading, but everything else is still zooming past you. The problem is that if you WANT to keep up, it's really hard to do so -- and most mainstream users don't want to feel like they're lagging behind.

      2) Even 10 choices is too many. Even 5 choices is too many. (Remember, I'm talking about average mainstream users.) I have Linux experience, but even I find myself struggling to pick between Unity, Gnome 3, Cinnamon, and MATE. Windows only offers a single desktop environment, but there's something appealing about not being able to make a choice. "Paralysis analysis", "paradox of choice", etc.

      3) Maybe I should have clarified: every OS can break, but Linux is by far the most difficult to repair. Maybe it's not difficult once you have months of command line experience and some know-how about the general architecture of Linux, but mainstream users don't have that. Linux needs to be more hand-holdy in that regard.

      I'd like to reiterate that this article is about "why Linux isn't mainstream and how it might become mainstream if it addresses certain weaknesses", not "Linux as an OS is terrible and needs to die".

      • Anonymous
        December 31, 2015 at 1:21 am

        "1) I meant the whole Linux environment evolves too quickly."
        Now, that's funny! On the one hand we want our software to progress as fast as possible, to constantly add new features. But OTOH when it does, we complain that it moves too fast.

        "2) Even 10 choices is too many. Even 5 choices is too many. (Remember, I’m talking about average mainstream users.)"
        I believe there is a misconception here. An "average mainstream Windows user" will not be interested in switching operating systems. As far as (s)he is concerned Windows is THE one and only O/S in existence. Users who want to try Linux are little advanced past "average." I find the "even 5 choices are too may" to be a specious argument. Users who say that do not have the same problem when choosing between all the office suites offered for Windows. They do not have the same problem when choosing between all the media players for Windows. They try one, don't like, go on to the next one. So why is it so hard to choose a distro? It's not like they will be forced to use a particular distro exclusively until the end of time. It's not like they will have to pay an exorbitant licensing fee for each distro. They don't even have to install the distro to their hard drive. Most distros are available as LiveCDs, something that cannot be said about Windows.

        "I find myself struggling to pick between Unity, Gnome 3, Cinnamon, and MATE."
        Maybe you should try KDE or LXDE or LXQT or Enlightenment? :-) If I am not mistaken, all 4 of the DE you mention are just various versions of Gnome. How did you pick the office suite or media player you are using?

  55. Jon
    December 24, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Because I have a MacBook Pro to scratch my *nix itch. It's BSD based, good enough. I spend a ton of time in the terminal. I do all my work in OSX.

    When I'm playing, I use my Win10 gaming notebook. There's zero alternative for gaming outside of consoles for PC. OSX hardware doesn't cut it. Linux performs far worse and has a far smaller library. Valve is trying to make inroads with SteamOS, but it's nowhere close to gaming on windows yet. Linux just doesn't fit in my world outside of using it for server instances.

    • Joel Lee
      December 30, 2015 at 3:04 am

      Your point is one that I don't hear much, but I think it's great. OS X is a much safer way to get a taste of *nix and command line experience. It happens to be really expensive, but definitely safer.

      • Jon
        December 30, 2015 at 10:58 pm

        Definitely. It's not exactly the same by any stretch, but it's good enough for me. I have 20 years of Linux experience. I was a Slackware fan in the mid 90's but had a ton of Solaris around the office due to Sun hardware. I had a HD I toted around with me to install it everywhere. :) Started using RH not long after that. I've tried more times than I have digits to make Linux work for me as a "it's the only OS I'm using" desktop solution. I gave up on that about 8 years ago. I just don't have the remaining minutes on my slowly running-out-of-time clock to dedicate to making it work for me like I want it to.

  56. linus
    December 24, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    Linux has more problems as a desktop OS than Windows. Simple as that.

    • Lard Taco
      December 25, 2015 at 1:37 am

      “Linux has more problems as a desktop OS than Windows. Simple as that.”

      All my computers run Linux. Some of them over 365 days running. Basically the only time I have to take them down is updating the kernel, etc.

  57. buzzrobot
    December 24, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    The invisibility of Linux in the marketplace is the real albatross around its neck. There's no place to go to buy a shrinkwrapped box. There's nothing online like Google Play or the Apple or Microsoft stores that provide vetted safe install images *and* guide you through the install, including burning the iso, something foreign to most potential users.

    Of course, distributions have download sites. But, many people are wary of what, from their point of view, is a site of untested and unknown virtue.

    The existence of hundreds of distributions is confusing. And deceiving. The fact is that relatively few distributions bring any new technology to Linux. Most are simple remixes of the same few big-time distributions.

    Guidance is a big problem. The web is full of inaccurate and outdated info. Plagiarism is rampant, with bad info regurgitate all over the place. Most how-to's offer copy-and-paste terminal instructions that naive users apple without a thought to the risks.And that adds to the notion that Linux is a command-line-only OS, which is palpably untrue.

    I've used Linux for about 20 years. If I switched to Windows I would use exactly the same set of applications 90+ percent of the time, so that seems pointless.

    But, I've also used OS X a great deal. If I had to buy new hardware today, I'd buy OS X hardware because the independent software developers who work in OS X produce more software that I find useful and innovative then either the Windows or Linux communities.

    • Anonymous
      December 24, 2015 at 11:08 pm

      "There’s nothing online like Google Play or the Apple or Microsoft stores that provide vetted safe install images *and* guide you through the install, including burning the iso"
      Yes, there is. You can download vetted, safe install images from All of the popular distros' sites have download, burning and install instructions.

      "many people are wary of what, from their point of view, is a site of untested and unknown virtue. "
      Spoken like Windows user. Popular distros have been around for 10 or more years. If their sites or software were sketchy, the users would have abandoned them and they would have died.

    • Joel Lee
      December 30, 2015 at 3:02 am

      I agree with you wholeheartedly, buzzrobot. There's just "too much" going on with Linux and there's no central source of guidance, so it scares away the average user. And since everything evolves so fast, any guidance that does exist is likely to be outdated within a year. In that sense, OS X is great -- a single ecosystem where everything just works together.

  58. DanielH
    December 24, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    I ran a Win7 Pro - Mandriva dual boot on my main workstation from approx 2009 to 2012 and tended to use Mandriva most of the time actually. But alas Mandriva faded into the ether and I couldn't find a distro to match it's ease of use, esp networking with Windows Workgroups so took a break from Linux.

    I recently tried out several KDE based distros on this new (to me) Dell Workstation and none of them cut it. Boot-up issues, desktop freezeups, file mgr misbehavior etc etc. Finally said OK - I'll get Linux Mint KDE for chissake since this computer is called a WORKstation, not a Fool-around-all-day-with-hobby-OS Station.

    I repair laptops down to mobo - screen replacement level, set up networked media centers,have no fear of command line etc but I've developed a very short fuse when it comes to buggy software and Mint 17.2 is buggy as a roach motel. My rekindled Linux enthusiasm quickly began to sour.

    Then earlier this morning booting into Mint got this "Fatal! Inconsistent data read from (0x83)" error. Tried again, same that's it - back full time to Win 7(which btw shares the same boot ssd with Mint and has no boot issues). I'll check out 17.3 whenever it's out just for kicks, might be pleasantly surprised.

    • Anonymous
      December 24, 2015 at 10:54 pm

      Try either Mageia, which is a community version of Mandriva, or ROSA which is based on Mandriva. They both should work similar to Mandriva.

    • buzzrobot
      December 25, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      Distrowatch isn't a retail outlet. Many, many people simply do not trust the safety of unknown downloads from unknown sites with, from their POV, unknown track records. The put their trust, rightly or wrongly, in vendors lik MS and Apple. And Distrowatch very likely only known to people who have already decided to consider Linux and, hence, no longer represent mainstream consumers.

      It doesn't matter if a site is or is not actually "sketchy". It's the perception of people who have lived in a Windows culture all their lives that counts.

      Likewise, whether or not a Linux distribution's site scares away its users has no bearing at all on attracting new users.

      Plus, once someone gets a Linux install image, then what? The path from getting an install image to burning correctly, installing it correctly, and using it is entirely unfamiliar territory. If the new user wants to dual boot, it is even more risky, as they are immediately tossed into the quagmire of partitions, bootloaders, etc. These are not things any normal user ever has any reason to know anything about.

      Did you miss the part that said I've used Linux for 20 years? That would be since 1995.

      No OS platform is perfect, including Linux. It would be better served by fewer purposely ignorant fanboys who see acknowledge of its faults as blasphemy.

      • Anonymous
        December 25, 2015 at 4:56 pm

        "Distrowatch isn’t a retail outlet. "
        You're right, it is a matter of perception and trust and the perception of Linux is that "you get what you pay for." People have been conditioned that since they have to pay for MS and/or Apple software, Linux being free is crap.

        As far as downloads go, I would sooner trust Distrowatch than MS or most of the Windows software download sites.

        "Plus, once someone gets a Linux install image, then what?"
        Did you miss the part that said that all of the popular distros’ sites have download, burning and install instructions? Plus there is Google and Linux Documentation Project. But, as 20 year Linux veteran, you would know that.

        "Did you miss the part that said I’ve used Linux for 20 years?"
        Does that mean you know all there is to know about Linux? Or that we are supposed to accept anything you say as The Gospel Truth?

        "No OS platform is perfect, including Linux. "
        Nobody says it is.

        "It would be better served by fewer purposely ignorant fanboys who see acknowledge of its faults as blasphemy."
        Are you speaking of Windows and its fanboys?

  59. rwd
    December 24, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    I am a long time Windows user. I am fairly proficient with Windows, above average user. I am also a long time Linux attempter. I have downloded and burned more Linux distros than I could even come close to counting, starting 15 - 20 years ago (yeah, dial-up). I currently have an old PC with two hard drives. I am attempting to run four different distros by partitioning the hard drives. I want to try different variants (Mandrake, Debian, Suse, etc) to determine which one I like. The most difficult thing for me is the lack of good solid support, without the technical crap, for a newbie. No two installations are the same some things need to be more automated, some need user input), Firefox may or may not run on a particular distro, Flash may or may not work. And grub is a nightmare, works for two distros on one hard drive, but not for 4 distros on two harddrives (at least I haven't figured it out yet). How do I increase the amount of time to select which distro I boot into? And then you throw UEFI bios into the mix, some distros support it, some don't. As a noob, a little more than TOTAL noob, I struggle. I can only imagine the frustration of the total noob . Yes, this is a rant.

    • Anonymous
      December 24, 2015 at 10:50 pm

      " As a noob, a little more than TOTAL noob, I struggle."
      In that case I would suggest that you try to install only one distro at a time rather than multi-boot from multiple drives. Multi-booting from multiple drives while trying to reconcile UEFI and Linux is an ambitious project. I would suggest you workout the kinks with UEFI and one distro first.

    • Joel Lee
      December 30, 2015 at 2:59 am

      "No two installations are the same"

      It's kinda funny how true this is. I tried installing Ubuntu MATE on three laptops, and each one presented its own errors and quirks. A few weeks later, I tried to reinstall the same Ubuntu MATE on one of the laptops, and ran into other issues. It must be hard for Linux developers to make sure an install is smooth 100% of the time so I don't necessarily blame them, but I wish it wasn't so frustrating.

  60. Anonymous
    December 24, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    There was a time when I was tempted to switch from crash-prone Windows to Linux. But that was many years ago. Windows started becoming stable with XP and then downright stable with Win 7. I also like how my desktop Windows generally plays nice with my phone and tablet Android. So absolutely no desire to switch over to Linux anymore.

    I've never been interested in walling myself within Apple's garden. Is Microsoft going that route -- trying to build its own garden? That would be a big negative for me.

    So, even as a non-Linux user, I am still hoping that Ubuntu (or somebody else) will succeed in expanding the desktop OS to encompass phones, tablets, IOT's, etc. Doing so will give us all a third option - and hopefully one that remains open sourced or relatively so. No walled gardens, please.

    Some people like to drone on about how Android is Linux. Yeah, but Android is controlled by Google, which uses it for massive user habit surveillance. Not at all the same thing as an open-source, no-spying-for-pure-profit software.

    • Anonymous
      December 24, 2015 at 10:40 pm

      "Is Microsoft going that route — trying to build its own garden?"
      From day one, Microsoft has tried to create and maintain a user lock-in.

      "I am still hoping that Ubuntu (or somebody else) will succeed in expanding the desktop OS to encompass phones, tablets, IOT’s, etc."
      A one-size-fits-all O/S by definition has to be a compromise and as such will not perform well on any device. Even Apple has realized that and released OS/X for PCs and iOS for mobile devices.

    • Joel Lee
      December 30, 2015 at 2:56 am

      Yeah, Microsoft definitely seems to be going that route. I guess it's always been something of a garden ecosystem, but Windows 10 is the most "gardeny" version yet. I wish it weren't so, but oh well. Doesn't seem like Microsoft will back off any time soon.

  61. Franco
    December 24, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    I'm an university student, I study information technology, so I've used Linux (Ubuntu) for a very big part of my time. I'm really enthusiastic of it, I like very much its approach to be a free OS available for everyone. However, now I use only Windows (10). The biggest problem I've found using Ubuntu was about drivers: they weren't available. Since the first installation, this Linux's OS was able to recognize most of my PC hardware, but not all of its components. I like OSs in which the hardware works perfectly and in which I have the power to upgrade them when upgrades are available. Linux is a very interesting choice, but still young. It has to grow up!

    • Joel Lee
      December 30, 2015 at 2:55 am

      Proprietary drivers used to be a HUGE problem with Linux. It's gotten much better now, but as your experiences can attest, it's far from a solved issue. I remember just a few weeks ago, I upgraded from Ubuntu 15.04 to 15.10 and ended up with a laptop that wouldn't boot because of buggy drivers.

      It's not exactly the same problem you had, but it does highlight that third-party manufacturers definitely put more focus towards Windows than Linux.

      • Franco
        January 2, 2016 at 9:23 pm

        I'm very sorry for this. I hope programmers and companies will solve this defect. Linux is a very interesting choice for those who want to try something different, especially new programmers, which will find in it a basilar resource for their code operations.

  62. Anonymous
    December 24, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    My main problem with linux is that windows has so many more features. Sure, your distribution may ship with a text editor, but windows has so many more default apps. (eg. there are two text editors, an antimalware suite, two browsers, several media players, maps, a stopwatch/alarm app, a task manager...) Besides, if you go to settings on linux there isn´t a lot to choose from, very much unlike windows.

    • Anonymous
      December 24, 2015 at 10:33 pm

      "Sure, your distribution may ship with a text editor"
      When you install Windows all you get is the O/S and some utilities. The system is not usable until you install all the applications. OTOH, once you install a Linux distro, you have a turnkey system.

      "if you go to settings on linux there isn´t a lot to choose from, very much unlike windows."
      I have Linux out of the box to be much more customizable than Windows.

      • Anonymous
        December 25, 2015 at 12:34 am

        Im afraid I have to disagree with you:
        Firstly I consider windows to be a turnkey system, and it is very much usable without additional software, especially since a lot of time is being in the browser anyway nowadays.
        While there may be a lot of customization options in the linux command line, there are only very few in the settings app.
        Lastly, you said windows comes with a few utilities. Well windows comes with quite a lot of utilities actually. (windows 7 even had an included video editor)

    • Moem
      December 25, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      Which Linux distro are you talking about? You can't really say that 'Linux' comes with this or that. Without knowing which distro you tried, that's meaningless. But apparently it had a text editor. The thing is, they all do.

      Mine came with a text editor, a full-featured office suite (I've never seen any Windows OS that came with that!), a browser, a messenger program, IRC-software, an image viewer, two image editors, a task manager (of course), several media players, a PDF viewer, mail client... need I go on?

      • Anonymous
        December 25, 2015 at 4:18 pm

        "You can’t really say that ‘Linux’ comes with this or that."
        The only distros that come without any apps are the Core versions, such as antiX or Tiny, and build-it-yourself ones such as Arch, Gentoo, Linux From Scratch or Source Mage. AFAIK, the other 250 or so distros in the Distrowatch database come with a full set of apps.

    • Tom
      September 6, 2016 at 1:03 pm

      And just WHY does Win NEED an antimalware program?
      Somehow, on my computers, no program (malware or not) can just "install itself".
      To do a program install you need admin (root) privileges.
      And unlike Win, system(s) that I use don't just give that level of access to anyone and anything.

      So here you are: praising Microcough for using your resources to keep an eye on problem THEY created in first place!

      Maybe... Only maybe.. If Redmond product was:
      Stable(long term)
      And safer

      I would consider. But as it is: mine-ubuntu mate, wife's- Linux mint, daughters(6yold) Ubuntu + edubuntu package, work- Ubuntu mate(to be changed soon for more network management oriented stuff)
      Not forgetting that all below uses some flavour of *nix, too: Sam**ng smart TV, sky sat receiver, NAS unit, sonos player...

      Not mainstream? My a*ss.

  63. Anonymous
    December 24, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Thanks for a very insightful post, written from the point of view of a Windows cum Linux user. You'll probably get a lot of negative comments from avid Linux users, but this article is very useful for me as a potential Linux user.

    • Fred Barclay
      December 25, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      Just make sure you try Linux (may I recommend Linux Mint?) before taking anyone's word for it. No one else's experience will be the same as your's!

      • Fred Barclay
        December 25, 2015 at 2:09 pm


    • Lazza
      December 26, 2015 at 7:31 pm

      I honestly doubt it would be useful to you, since most of the claims are false.

      • Anonymous
        December 27, 2015 at 11:14 am

        You say most of the claims are false, and there people who have posted above who agree. But there are also people who have posted above who disagree, i.e. who agree with the author. As far as I am concerned, there is too much uncertainty as to how it will work out on my PC. Also, I am not convinced the apps that run on Windows will give me the same rich user experience as those that run on Windows. Just the prospect of encountering more hassles than I currently have (and there aren't that many) turns me off.

        • Lazza
          December 27, 2015 at 12:15 pm

          Peter, yours are legitimate questions but in no way they are properly answered by this article. The essence of this post is "OMG I tried to screw up the system configuration by changing the desktop environment and other stuff I am not really sure about and then it didn't work perfectly, hence Linux is not stable". Er... no, that's not how it works.

          > there are also people who have posted above who disagree, i.e. who agree with the author

          Yes but, to be honest, if I were you I would trust more the people who actually did try Linux before leaving the usual FUD comments like "it's for nerds, there is no GUI, oh good grief"... ;)

          > there is too much uncertainty as to how it will work out on my PC

          This is a very good point which holds for ANY OS and that's why I agree with you it's not a choice to be done "randomly". You should test before choosing any Linux distro, granted. The positive side is that you can test most of the popular distros either via DVD or via USB thumb drive, without installing it on your computer ("live environment"). This way you can have a quick overview at how it works, including testing your peripherals like the webcam and the printer.

          Please note that it will be slower than the "real thing", i.e. when you get it installed on your PC.

          > I am not convinced the apps that run on Windows [Linux, I guess] will give me the same rich user experience as those that run on Windows

          This greatly depends on which apps you are used to on Windows. There are some utilities which I really miss when I am forced for some reason to be on Windows. Once I had a friend asking me how to make some modifications to PDF files. I had in mind some great GUI tools that allowed to do them with a click of a button, they all are available for Linux. But my friend was using Windows, so I had either to tell her "buy Acrobat Pro" or find some alternatives. For some of the tasks there were some options, but it took a great deal of time to find them and they were suboptimal.

          But that moment once every 2 years I want to upgrade the maps in my TomTom GPS device I know I have to boot Windows, for example by grabbing a free 30-days virtual machine from Microsoft (thanks to the "Modern IE" project) or installing the free Windows 10 beta testing version.

          If you could share some more details about your typical computer usage I would be glad to give you some suggestions regarding apps.

          > the prospect of encountering more hassles than I currently have (and there aren’t that many) turns me off

          I understand, but when you leave Windows you know what you are leaving behind: slowness, lags, security issues, adwares, the need of an antivirus, the fact that new Windows versions don't even have drivers for peripherals which are more than 2-3 years old. These are also aspects to consider.

          Ah, of course you can keep Windows and install Linux alongside it on a different partition.

          For any other question, feel free to ask.

        • Anonymous
          December 28, 2015 at 6:11 pm

          Thanks for your extensive reply Lazza. I know there is an alternative for MS Office, I tried LibreOffice but was not impressed, so I tried the WPS Kingsoft suite. That was better but the UX of MSO is still better. My major issue here is OneNote: I am heavily into it, think it is fantastic, especially compared to Evernote, which I moved away from 6 months ago. I am not prepared to make such a move again to another app if there were a comparable one, but I don't think there is one that comes even close to 1N.

          Don't understand your remark about anti-virus app: surely you need that on a Linux system too, especially since there have been reports of late that Linux systems are also starting to be targeted.

        • Lazza
          December 29, 2015 at 12:57 pm

          > That was better but the UX of MSO is still better

          I think this is heavily opinion-based. I neither like nor dislike the ribbon UI. It's quite nice looking. Productive? I don't think so. But I know people who went crazy when it started to be around and jumped straight to OpenOffice as a result.

          > My major issue here is OneNote: I am heavily into it, think it is fantastic, especially compared to Evernote

          I might not be the right person to answer this, because I adore Evernote. However, I can assure you that also Evernote has some "Linux" problems, namely the fact that most people at Evernote are Apple fanboys, so they don't support Linux that much. The Web UI works, though.

          Nevertheless, we discussed this topic on AskUbuntu, the title of the question being «Does Libre Office have an equivalent of one note, or is there another alternative?». My answer is the accepted one, which should show up first if you search for it.

          In particular, Microsoft offers an official One Note web application that runs on any browser. You should check it out.

          > surely you need that on a Linux system too

          No, you don't. Proper behavior is sufficient (i.e. don't run software downloaded from random places) plus the architecture of the system.

          > especially since there have been reports of late that Linux systems are also starting to be targeted

          Yes, the problem is that most of these reports have been FUD, to say the least, if not really FAKE news. I mean, recently some attacks *targeted* Linux systems. Yes but... how?

          I'll tell you. All these attacks on Linux systems, INCLUDING the Ashley Madison case, have been reported to be performed with password bruteforcing. What does that mean? That NO vulnerability was exploited, but the users choose super stupid passwords. The attackers simply started a software that tried many different password from a list of common words. End of story.

          This approach works on any operating system and BTW no anti-virus can protect your computer if someone logs in using the *correct* credentials.

          I can write a "virus" that performs such attack, too. As a matter of fact, any script kiddie who is at least 11 years old might do the same and this has nothing to do with supposed weaknesses of Linux nor the need of AV software.

        • Anonymous
          December 30, 2015 at 9:48 am

          The UX of MSO: yes it is subjective. When I was 1st confronted with the Ribbon I hated it, but I persisted, and am used to it now. I have noticed that when an app developed introduces a new feature, particularly when it is "revolutionary" (like the Ribbon), users invariably hate it & will not make the effort to get to know it in depth.
          In 2008 I bought a laptop with Vista: I thought it was a good OS & could not associate with the negative comments.
          Last year I bought a laptop with Win 8.1: similar experience. I think 8.1 is a damn good OS, and bashing has become a popular "sport".

          On my Vista PC there was OneNote 2007. I looked at it & could not figure out what to use it for. In 2013 I embraced Evernote enthousiastically, got into it & started using it heavily. I looked at other note-taking apps, but did not go for it. But earlier this year I looked at OneNote 2013, and with my evolved EN experience I realised that OneNote was far superior to EN, at least for me. I saw your AskUbuntu answer, but it does not apply to me.

          The one app I do like is Thunderbird: I use it as my default app on Windows.

          I don't understand your comments about anti-virus apps on Linux. Why would it be necessary for Linux. Anyway, I find that a minor issue: not having to use an anti-virus (if that is correct) is not a huge advantage from my point of view.

          I tried Ubuntu via but have not

          I realise the best, if not only way, to judge something is to try it out, rather than be a vicarious user. Still, OneNote is something I cannot overcome, cannot find a suitable alternative for. And OneNote 2013 cannot be used on Linux via Wine.

        • Lazza
          December 30, 2015 at 1:38 pm

          > I saw your AskUbuntu answer, but it does not apply to me.

          Ok. But I think you should try to use the official One Note web app for a while and see if you like it. This is also the official OneNote app for Chromebook users.

          > not having to use an anti-virus (if that is correct) is not a huge advantage from my point of view.

          It is correct, but it's only one point about a broader aspect: security and stability. You want your computer to work reliably and quickly, without worrying about security threats. Well, I guess this is what everyone wants... So one should avoid Windows and OS X (unless used without any browser plugin, since those are heavily used to break into OS X systems).

          > I realise the best, if not only way, to judge something is to try it out

          Yes, it is. :)

          > OneNote 2013 cannot be used on Linux via Wine

          Apparently it can't be installed. People have not reported results about copying an installed OneNote from a Windows partition into a Wine drive, though. If that can help, there are people who got version 2010 to run fine.

        • Anonymous
          December 30, 2015 at 2:11 pm

          OneNote via the web: no way! Because that means having to put all my notes in OneDrive which gives MS uncontrolled access. That is 1 thing I refuse to do.
          Using !N 2010: that means using a 6-year old version, which might be OK for the short term, but is not teneable long term.

          Security: you seem to suggest I sacrifice security for stability, which is probably a misunderstanding from my side. But, having said that, you still have not explained why a Linux distro does not need an anti-virus app.

        • Lazza
          December 30, 2015 at 2:30 pm

          > Because that means having to put all my notes in OneDrive

          I am sorry, I didn't realize you were talking about using OneNote and Evernote... in offline mode. Then what kind of advantage do you gain? The only advantage of these apps compared to other solutions is that you can sync your notes across devices and use storage space in the cloud (+ all other apps integration with the corresponding cloud service). Otherwise we would all be using Zim or similar tools which are also free (freedom, not price) and open source.

          > you seem to suggest I sacrifice security for stability

          No, I suggest you try the secure and stable side of computing. ;)

          > you still have not explained why a Linux distro does not need an anti-virus

          To sum up my previous comments:

          1. privilege separation
          2. inherently secure UNIX architecture
          3. installation of software from trusted repositories
          4. the so called "Linux viruses" in the media in recent months were actually only bruteforcing passwords, no security exploit was used
          5. extensive peer review of the whole code of the OS, starting from the bootloader and the kernel, going up to end-user applications

          For additional details you may check out the website "whylinuxisbetter DOT net".

          We may spend a great deal of time exchanging opinions about the GUI options, the usability, the quality of the interface themes or anything else between Linux and Windows or OS X... but the better security of Linux OSes is based on facts, not opinions. :)

        • Anonymous
          December 30, 2015 at 3:01 pm

          1N offline advantage: there are many, notably (but not limited to) its organisation, ability to incorporate many different types of file formats, text editor capabilities, OCR. I use 1N privately & am not interested in synching across devices. I told you I looked @ other apps, and even tried out Zim. It has none of the 1N capabilities listed above so it falls short of my requirements. The only one that comes close is Evernote, but even that is, as stated above, inferior to 1N as far as I am concerned.

          Security: yes facts count, not opinions, so I won't bug (no pun intended) you about it. But whilst the 5 points you mention above are valid, you overlook the fact that one can pick up a virus from a website too. I do not visit questionable websites, not knowingly anyway, but that does not guarantee a virus-free life. Reputable websites can become infected inadvertently. I am aware there is never a 100% guarantee, but just being careful is not enough either, it is just 1 layer of a security system.

        • Lazza
          December 30, 2015 at 3:18 pm

          > you overlook the fact that one can pick up a virus from a website too

          You might encounter a virus file on a website, sure. Let's make the very unlikely assumption that this is actually a virus for Linux and not a rogue EXE file for Windows (this, by itself, is kinda similar to finding a unicorn but it might happen). Then is the user going to voluntarily download it AND run it?

          We come back to my previous point: do not run random files downloaded from the net, i.e. the user should behave well. No AV is needed as there is no concept of "automatic execution" of software on a webpage, on Linux. There is on Windows and OS X, but we are not touched. :P The only exception being JS, but this is out of the scope of AVs and it could only target other web attack vectors, such as XSS or CSRF, for which major browser already implement proper protection. AVs do not protect from this kind of web based attacks since it's the browsers business and they are not related to viruses.

          As a matter of fact, when you download an executable on Linux, before running it you need also to set it "executable bit" to 1, which by default is 0. Otherwise it won't run.

          If you arrive to the point of INTENTIONALLY running a virus, then it will ask you for your password before being able to modify any system setting. If you don't input the password, the worst harm it can do is deleting your personal files of the current user you are running. But you are not going to arrive to that point, right?

        • Anonymous
          December 30, 2015 at 3:23 pm


        • Anonymous
          December 30, 2015 at 1:50 pm

          The biggest problem keeping Linux from becoming mainstream is that it is not Windows. If the situation was reversed and Windows was trying to catch up to Linux, this article would be about "5 Things Windows Needs to Fix to Become Mainstream". Windows did not get to be wide-spread because it was the BEST O/S around, it got there because it was, for all intents and purposes, the ONLY O/S around. Appple DOS, ProDOS and Mac OS were not considered by the business community to be "serious" O/Ss.

          The "five shortcomings" Joel writes about do not come from any inherent problems with Linux. They arise when users must unlearn the habits acquired while using one O/S (Windows) and learn new habits of another O/S ( Linux). Long time Linux users have as much trouble switching to Windows as Windows users have switching to Linux.

        • Anonymous
          December 30, 2015 at 2:21 pm

          I am not sure Apple DOS was not considered serious enough. I believe Bill Gates tactics to monopolise desktop computing was ruthless & probably even unethical, but it won him the day.

          You write about Joel's comments as if they are coming from a Linux novice. He clearly states
          "I’ve been an on-and-off dual-boot Linux user for several years, and there have been periods when I’ve gone using nothing but Linux for weeks at a time".
          So if this experience did not teach him enough to write some sensible comments about Linux, then I conclude that the learning curve is very very steep indeed & therefore more troublesome than you, Lazza or some of the other commentors here would have us believe.

        • Anonymous
          December 31, 2015 at 12:33 am

          "I am not sure Apple DOS was not considered serious enough."
          Until IBM came out with their Personal Computer, brands like IMSAI, Altair, Apple, Amiga, Radio Shack, Commodore and others were considered either hobbyist machines or toys. Interestingly Commodore's CBM (Commodore Business Machines) 3000 series were intended for business use and were released 2 years before IBM's PC.

          "You write about Joel’s comments as if they are coming from a Linux novice."
          I'm sorry you got an impression I was not trying to convey.

          "some sensible comments "
          Quite often when people call comments 'sensible' they mean the comments support their point of view. :-)

          "the learning curve is very very steep indeed"
          After having to learn several operating systems over my life time, I can tell you that all of them had pretty much the same learning curve. It's only hard or 'troublesome' when you don't know it. If you spent as many years with Linux as you spent with Windows, Linux would also seem easy.

          There is a misperception in the Windows vs Linux debate. Because the vast majority of PC users had to learn Windows for various reasons (work, for a long time PCs came only with Windows, etc) and very few PC users had/have to learn Linux, the perception arose that Windows MUST BE easier. After all, if it wasn't easier, there would not be so many Windows users. That's like saying that Mandarin is easier to learn than English or Spanish because more people speak it than English and Spanish combined.

  64. Jean-Francois Messier
    December 24, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    This article talks about Linux as a desktop operating system. If we consider that most of the major web services and hosting companies run under Linux, that all Android phones run Linux, that most of the stock market servers are running Linux, that many of the routers that are at home run some version of embedded Linux, Linux is present muchmore than we may think. Too often, computers are synonym of the desktop/laptop devices we see around. I am using Linux all the time at home, and I have to admit, I'm a geek, who prefers the command line to the mouse. OK. But everyone wants everything immediate, easy and effortlessly.

    • Joel Lee
      December 30, 2015 at 2:51 am

      Hey Jean-Francois, you're absolutely right. There was a small disclaimer at the start of the article that said what you said: Linux in a non-desktop context is pretty much conquering the world. This is one area where it has a lot of room left for improvement, though!

  65. Areteo
    December 24, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    For me, it's something different. As badly as I want to use Linux and as much as I dislike Windows, Linux just doesn't offer the average user enough to get excited about. I want features and design that make me MORE productive, more efficient, more satisfied with my interaction with the computer. Not something that just appears to be a watered down version of Windows. Give me something new! Something compelling! Something that makes me feel like I'm in the 21st century. The robustness under the hood is great (and should be extended), but it's not what affects me every day in my use of the computer.

    • Joel Lee
      December 30, 2015 at 2:50 am

      That's actually an interesting perspective. For me, the "tinkerability" of Linux has always been a big draw. As far as user interaction, I guess that comes down to whichever desktop environment you use, but you're right, there isn't really THAT innovative about Linux now that Windows and Mac have co-opted some of its features.