Why Linux still 'sucks'

Why Linux still 'sucks'

Summary: Over the past few months I've been getting increasing amounts of feedback from people who have expressed an interest in Linux, taken the operating system for a test drive, but who then decided that it's not for them. Here I'm going to share with you some of that feedback.


Over the past few months I've been getting increasing amounts of feedback from people who have expressed an interest in Linux, taken the operating system for a test drive, but who then decided that it's not for them. Here I'm going to share with you some of that feedback.

How times have changed. Wind the clock back a few years and people who were willing to take a Linux distro for a spin were few and far between. Nowadays, partly down to how easy it is to try a Linux distro (download the ISO file, burn a disc and boot up off of it) and partly thanks to the recession, people do seem to be taking the time to try out this operating system.

As someone who writes a fair bit about Linux, I get a lot of feedback from users. I also seem to get more than my fair share of people venting their frustrations at me, partly in hope that I'll help them, and partly because they just feel they want to vent at someone.

So, what I've done here is gone through the Linux-related emails I've received over the past few months and distilled the feedback down into the most common reasons why people end up feeling that Linux sucks.

  • No gaming support This is the number one complaint. Here people are usually talking about their existing library of Windows games, but a related complaint is that new games don't support the OS.
  • Little/no OEM support Second most popular reason why people think Linux 'sucks.' How many Windows users are there who would have trouble setting up their PC if it arrived at their home totally blank? A lot. Being able to buy a computer that's pre set up with Windows (or Mac) is a massively strong selling point that simply shouldn't be overlooked. The hurdle of having to set up Linux on a system is too much for many to handle.
  • No iPod support This is changing, but for now, it's a big sticking point.
  • No migration tool For most people, there's nothing scarier than starting from a blank slate.
  • Driver/hardware confusion Upgrading to a free OS like Linux is great, but if you have to buy new hardware, or run into problems getting your existing hardware to work, it's better to stick with what you know. Also, the fact that there's no such thing as a "works with Linux" logo for new hardware means that people who might like to upgrade feel totally in the dark as to what future hardware they could buy.
  • Free tech support dries up There are a lot of people out there who are only able to keep their PCs running thanks to the kindness (and tech know-how) of others. Switching from an OS that has +90% dominance to one that has a 1% usage share means that much of those support avenues dry up. Note: This used to be an issue for people wanting to switch to Mac too.
  • Confusion about distro differences What makes one distro different to another? Since price isn't there to help people decide (as it is with different editions of Windows), it's difficult for people to understand the why there are so many distros, and what the differences between them actually are.

The good news is that people are increasingly aware and interested in Linux. The bad news is that there are still a number of big obstacles preventing people from being able to switch to the OS.

Side note: Recently I've started pointing people to Linux Mint rather than Ubuntu, and I'm getting the overwhelming impression that newbies are happier with this distro than they are with Ubuntu. Desipte this switch though, most of the issues that people have raised apply across the board, no matter what the distro.

Topics: Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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  • As always, right on Adrian!! Those are exactly the problems.

    My experience is getting better every single year,
    while the Microsoft experience has stagnated, but,
    still, every point you made is very valid!!

    I think that the final release of Chrome OS will
    generate a lot more interest in Linux, and result
    in a number of OEM systems with Linux installed
    from the factory. Also, there will be a wave of
    Android and Chrome OS tablets hitting the market,
    where Windows is not really appropriate, and the
    device to beat (iPad) does not run Window either.
    • Sure, DB

      [i]You're[/i] a believable source ;)

      [i]My experience is getting better every single year, while the Microsoft experience has stagnated[/i]

      Which is why Windows7 sales have surpassed even that of all OS X versions, and Linux versions combined?

      You rest your hopes on Chrome OS, but no matter what they put out, it won't generate the massive interest and change over you claim it will.
      John Zern
      • Well, the color scheme for Win7 is better than XP, but, otherwise, it is

        just a more stable, more secure version of XP.
        • And don't forget...

          In addition to being a more secure & more stable version of XP it is also a more user-friendly, efficient, feature-rich, robust, version of XP.
          • No, just better choice of colors, people still prefer XP, there are no

            significant new features.
          • They prefer it until...

            they use Win7. x64 is MUCH faster than XP.
            Especially with business apps.
          • Win7 is faster because you typically run it on newer hardware, that has

            nothing to do with the operating system. If you
            upgrade to Win7 on your old XP hardware, it will
            just bog down.
          • @DonnieBoy: No, you're wrong here

            More people have upgraded from XP/Vista to Win7 than upgraded from XP to Vista. The VAST majority of Vista sales were generated by customers buying new PC's. Perhaps because of the economy, as well as the much publicized ability of Win7 to run on less powerful hardware, more people are upgrading to Win7 on existing hardware than ever before.

            I have personally installed Win7 on over 40 family/friend's machines from a wide variety of manufacturers and of wildly differing ages - the oldest machine was manufactured in 2001.

            All installed pretty flawlessly. The main hardware driver culprit was TI's SD/MMC card reader driver which, for some reason, OEM's refuse to update and hand off to Microsoft for inclusion on Windows Update. In this case, I have to point Windows' driver installer at a copy of this driver.

            EVERY SINGLE ONE of these machines is performing AT LEAST as well as XP and many are performing better than when they ran XP. Sometimes this is merely due to the fact that the machines are no longer running the mountains of crapware that the user installed on the machine, but generally, Win7 is just as fast as XP but performs better in several crucial areas including disk IO, networking and graphics.
          • @DonnieBoy

            This [b]If you upgrade to Win7 on your old XP hardware, it will just bog down. [/b] is false! Nothing more than FUD! I have personally upgraded 2 computers running XP - one of them being a 4 year old computer - to Windows 7 and neither one has "bogged down"... Nor have there been any reports of this issue. Nice try though.
          • DB, Why do you resort to lies and saying things you have no clue about?

            You are an ABM shill who is totally clueless.
            Have you done benchmarks on XP vs. Windows 7 on the same machine? Do you have a link to reliable benchmarks?

            If not, why would you post lies?
          • Its true, not much more an OS needs

            There aren't a whole lot of differences between
            XP and Win7, its mostly visual from what you
            can see (makes obvious sense) but what you
            CAN'T see is significantly more important. A
            more optimized code base and many new
            technologies are prevalent. But it doesn't run
            slower than XP primarily because there is no
            need for new features that slow things down.
            Aero which WOULD slow things down, won't run
            unless you have the hardware to run it, and you
            can just turn it off. There are a lot of
            features you can take advantage of in Win7, but
            if you don't take advantage of them, the experience is basically the same. The choice is
          • No significant new features in Windows 7?


            Please tell me which of these features are in Windows XP.
          • Still, stop the average user on the street that has switched to Win7, ask

            them to name the new features. You will get a
            blank look. For the average user, Win7 has
            nothing new other than the color scheme, and
            messed up menus so they don't know where
            everything is right off any more. First and
            foremost, Windows runs a browser, then Win32
            applications. That is it.

            I rest my case.
          • @Donnie

            So, isn't it an OS's job to run apps? No different than Linux, or MacOSX
            The one and only, Cylon Centurion
          • NStalnecker-YES Win7 runs Win32 applications quite well, and for many,

            that is still important. There is an XP mode
            available for a more perfect compatibility if
            you need it, but, you might as run XP if you
            need that.

            But, Joe Sixpack just uses web browsing, email,
            social networking, simple word processing,
            simple spreadsheets. That can all be done from a
          • @Donnie

            How do you know what people do with their machines? I have plenty of friends that use there machines for much more, geeks and non geeks alike.

            What about Quick Books?
            Educational software?
            Music? (Try uploading a few GBs worth online. See how long it takes on a standard connection.)

            What happens to music editing software?
            I also have friends who have classes at school that require specialized software - For Windows or MacOSX. Sorry, no Linux support.

            Not to mention, judging by my fellow students at school, not very many people are buying netbooks. I've only seen a few off hand. All are running Windows.
            The one and only, Cylon Centurion
          • @Donnie I disagree with your assumption about

            people on the street. I think your very strong bias against everything not Linux/Google is blinding. But that is OK it's your opinion, but I know several people that like the new features and are common everyday folk, unlike yourself. So I think your wrong - but that is my opinion now isn't it.
          • @DonnieBoy

            [b]First and
            foremost, Windows runs a browser, then Win32
            applications. That is it.[/b]

            And Linux runs WHAT exactly that is so much different from Windows? And WHY would there be something in Linux to run Windows apps - WINE I believe it's called - if Windows runs a browser and then Win32 apps?
          • Donnie, I thought you rested your case? But there you go again...

            New color scheme? You mean transparency is a color? Aero graphics were available with XP?
            Win7 Aero tools...Aero snap, great tool to compare two files exactly side by side. Aero peek and all the other tools that make people more productive are not on XP.
            People tell me every day they can't believe how stable Windows 7 is compared to *any* other OS they've used, including Ubuntoo.

            I regularly ask people on the street how they feel about Windows 7 compared to XP and they all, without exception have said it's 100 times better and they love it.
            Even though many of the changes are "under the hood", like a new car, they can feel that power and ease of control and stability that their last model did not have and they absolutely love it.
            What people are you talking about? Do you live in a group home and ride the short bus?
          • Could 90,000,000 copies of Win7 be wrong?

            Seeing as how Windows 7 is the fastest selling OS in history I find it hard to believe your statement that people 'prefer' WinXP. Is Windows 7 not selling fast enough for you? Or are you confusing the terms 'prefer' and 'necessity'?

            Not everyone 'needs' Windows 7 right at this very moment but the current record breaking sales figures proves to any rational thinker that people 'prefer' Windows 7.