Why Linux still 'sucks'

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.