__/ [ Kelsey Bjarnason ] on Saturday 04 March 2006 18:03 \__
> On Sat, 04 Mar 2006 05:49:07 -0800, Larry Qualig wrote:
>> Thanks Roy. COLA would be better IMO if there were less hyperbole and
>> more discussion of the facts. I don't like these sorts of posts any
>> more than the flatfish style "I installed Linux and it burned down my
>> house" crap. There are occasional moments of realism here but
>> unfortunately many people have extreme bias towards one OS or the
>> other. For many (but certainly not all) it's either Linux is perfect
>> and Windows "burnded down my house" or the opposite. The reality is
>> nowhere near this extreme and both OS's could benefit with lessons
>> learned from the other yet manage to keep their own unique identity.
> The reality is, nothing is perfect. Not Linux, not Windows, not OSX. The
> real issue becomes not which is perfect, nor even better, but, rather,
> which is better for a given use or user.
> Take desktop use for Joe Sixpack. Ignoring pricing considerations, Macs
> are, on the whole, probably easier to use than Windows boxes. Now that
> OSX is moving to x86, if it becomes a commodity OS like Windows, I fully
> expect it to take a *huge* chunk of the Windows market over the next
> several years.
> That said, for Joe Sixpack, Linux is actually pretty freakin' easy to use
> as well. It is not identical, to be sure, but set him up with a stock KDE
> system, he should be almost as at home with it as with Windows in very
> short time - and face it, he did, at some point, have to learn Windows,
> and Windows keeps changing the bloody interface every other week in any
> case, simply adding to the confusion.
> For servers, Linux beats Windows hands down, between cost of deployment,
> ease of doing things such as cloning servers and the like.
> What really irks me about Windows, especially in the all-too-frequent
> "ease of use" discussions, is that the Windows folks persist in comparing
> apples to apples. Is Windows easy to use? Compare something _equivalent_
> if you want the comparison to be meaningful.
> For example, I run my Linux desktop as a non-privileged user. So set up
> Joe Sixpack in an equivalent configuration. Now let's compare. He wants
> to install, oh, say, mIRC. He has to find it, first. Then download it.
> Then run it. The installer launches and... hrm. On most of the systems
> here at work, which are locked down, he'd simply get an error message, to
> the effect that he's not allowed to do this, contact the administrator.
> Except Joe Sixpack *is* the administrator. He's just not running as an
> admin. So, let's compare his experience, in a locked-down machine, to
> mine. We'll go from a bare-bones GUI system to a "usable" system. We'll
> install a few odds and ends, shall we?
> - MS Office and, on the Linux box, Open Office.
> - mIRC and, say, xchat.
> - Yahoo messenger and, say, Kopete.
> - Winamp and xmms.
> - Nero and K3B.
> For MS Office and Nero, we can assume he has CDs. The others need to be
> downloaded. Which means finding them. So let's compare, shall we?
> He pops in the Office CD, the installer launches and... and what? As I
> said, here he'd just get an error message. Does the Office installer he's
> running prompt him for the administrator password? Does he even remember
> it? Or does he have to figure out how to run the installer as admin?
> Of course, once he's got the installer running, he now has to wade through
> the wizards. Having watched Gramps, among others, do this, this is a very
> painful procedure. They end up reading *every* line on *every* dialog.
> Takes forever, for one thing, and it adds nothing whatsoever to the
> Of course, the installer is quite likely to also ask questions such as
> where to install. Does it offer a default? Sure. Does he know whether
> this is a correct choice? No. He simply guesses that this is the right
> thing to do, since it's the default, so he does it.
> About this point, chances are he'll get a list of components to install.
> Does he want X and Y and Z? Or just X? Again, chances are he hasn't got
> a clue, so he'll likely stick with the defaults... which means offering
> him the dialog has not, in actuality, offered him *any* benefit.
> Click, read, click, read. Major wasted time and effort, for no particular
> benefit to the user.
> Repeat for Nero. And mIRC. And Yaoo. And Winamp.
> Contrast that to a typical Linux desktop. Run the installer - the package
> manager. It asks for the admin password (or, in Ubuntu, the actual user's
> password - one less thing for him to remember). He enters it, selects the
> applications from the list, clicks "install", clicks a button to confirm
> the action, then walk away, have a coffee, come back in 10 or 15 minutes,
> voila, all done.
> One password. Clicking check boxes. Clicking two buttons. Walking away.
> This is, according to the trolls, *harder* to do?
> Of course, we've completely ignored other important issues. AV, for
> example. Simply not necessary in Linux, but for Windows, you have to go
> through the hoops again.
> 'Course, updating is also fun. How does the user get updated versions of
> his software? Bug fixes, security updates, etc?
> Right. Except for Windows itself, and a few apps (av tools, notably)
> which self-update, he has to go through the whole process of finding the
> app, downloading it, running the installer - as admin - possibly manually
> uninstalling the previous version, then wading through more pointless
> steps and wasted effort.
> On the Linux box, he goes back to the package manager - synaptic,
> say - enters the admin pass (or his own, in Ubuntu), clicks "reload" (a
> poor choice of name, IMO, but it does have balloon help which tells you
> what it does), clicks "installed (upgradeable)" to see what's available to
> be updated, marks the ones he wants, then click, click, walk away and it's
> Two packages? Twenty? Two hundred? Doesn't matter. It's one consistent
> interface, and requires about a tenth the effort to upgrade them *all* as
> to upgrade *one* app in Windows.
> Yet Windows is "easy to use" and Linux isn't.
> This sort of thing is *really* telling when I get called to client sites
> to work on their computers. Almost every one I work on has at least one
> virus, despite most of them having AV tools installed. Many of them have
> other exploits and bits of malware, as a result of security holes in
> various application which have long since been patched, but *getting* the
> updates is such a PITA that the user simply can't be arsed to do it - and
> this despite the fact most of them are running as admin, so don't even
> have to go through the extra steps of switching contexts.
> If Windows is so easy to use, why are so many users *not* updating their
> software when they should be? Right, because Windows makes doing it a
> complete and total pain in the proverbials, whereas Linux makes it a
> simple point-and-click, select-from-a-list operation.
> Here's another one I ran into not too long back. Client just bought a new
> computer. Came with XP and some version of MS Office. They got a
> "Windows-savvy friend" to copy their documents, etc, over for them.
> So they sit down, go to edit their web sites (they use FrontPage) and...
> no FP installed. Huh? We installed Office, came with the machine. Sure,
> but FP wasn't included with their version of Office.
> So I install the previous version of Office. IIRC, it detected the
> existing newer version and refused to install, until I uninstalled the
> newer version. In any case, I installed the older version, which did
> have FP. Now they can't access their emails, since the message store (pst
> file) is in the newer version's format.
> Now I install the newer version of Office, but tell it only to upgrade the
> selected components, leave the rest alone. Voila, now they have both FP
> and a working email setup.
> No way in hell they'd be able to do that themselves; in fact, the whole
> reason I was there was precisely because they couldn't do it themselves.
> And why did the problem arise in the first place? Because they "bought MS
> Office", which to them means getting the newer version of FP, which "is
> part of Office, isn't it?", only to find out that what they paid for had
> no relevance to what they were trying to buy.
> Exactly how is this "easy"? How is it easier than Linux? Right, it's
> Here's another I ran into. An XP-based laptop. Would not boot. The boot
> process either locked up or spewed an error, don't recall which.
> No prob, they have the XP boot CD, which lets you get to a recovery
> console - which, when you tell it what you're trying to do, merrily tries
> to read all the configuration data or whatever it does from the
> non-bootable system, then *fails*. The recovery console dies, for
> presumably the same reason that the installed version of XP dies.
> Since you can't get your data back, can't fix the system, can't do
> anything but repartition, reformat and reinstall, the recovery CD is
> functionally a useless concept.
> I popped in a Knoppix Live CD, booted off it, copied their data off the
> NTFS drive, over the network, deleted the XP partitions, reinstalled,
> copied the data back, no problem.
> Explain to me how Windows was "easier". It wasn't, it simply *did not
> work*. Even in its supposed recovery mode. Completely useless. Linux,
> on the other hand, worked fine, even to recover the *other* OS's files.
> Try recovering reiserfs data with a Windows box. Maybe you can do it..
> but I recovered the NTFS data without having to even hunt for additional
> There are only three cases offhand I can think of where Windows is
> "easier" than Linux.
> The first is when installing new hardware. The only reason Windows is
> "easier" here is because the vendors have provided driver disks. However,
> note my recent experience setting up an HP Laserjet 2300 printer in the
> office - in Linux, it was set the ip address, the port, and select the
> driver; in Windows, it was find the driver, download it, install it on
> each desktop, *then* set the IP address, port, and printer type. Even
> this is often easier in Linux... especially for NICs. I can't count the
> number of times I've had to boot Linux in order to download a Windows NIC
> driver, because Linux *does* support the NIC, Windows doesn't, and until
> you get the driver, you can't connect to go download the driver - classic
> catch 22.
> The second is with playing certain media formats. Encrypted DVDs, for
> example. This is a purely legal issue, not a technological one; some
> asinine law says, in essence, you can't include the code to access data
> you've already paid to access, unless you get the code in some closed
> format, controlled system. The code is readily available for Linux
> systems, but you have to jump through a couple extra hoops, simply
> because of a stupid law which should never have existed in the first
> place. The same sort of thing happens with a few others - the company who
> licences the player may even provide a Linux version, but you can't bundle
> it with a non-commercial distro. Stupid.
> The third is accessing poorly-designed documentation, whether it's web
> pages which aren't smart enough to use standard HTML, or compound
> documents where some goober has embedded a spreadsheet into a word
> processing document, instead of embedding the *data* in the document.
> That said, virtually nobody outside an office environment is likely to
> encounter this sort of document embedding, and even in an office
> environment, it seems to be a relatively rare thing. The bogus
> IE-specific HTML is a little more common, but that, too, is getting
> better, especially as FireFox and the like gain popularity with Windows
> users - kinda forces the page writers to to things at least sort of right,
> for a change.
> Oh, sorry, a fourth. Gaming. Yeah, Windows remains the better gaming
> platform. Actually, Linux would be the better choice from a technology
> standpoint, but there are more Windows boxes, so game developers are going
> to target it first, and Linux later if at all. That said, I'd tend to
> think that getting a console might be the best approach to this, if only
> because the console is going to do a better job than a Linux or a Windows
> PC will, unless you're willing to really fork over the dough.
> So yeah, nothing's perfect. However, let's compare apples and apples.
> Let's see how the systems really stack up, when used in *equivalent*
> configurations - eg user running as a user, not an admin. When installing
> or upgrading software. When installing supported hardware. When trying
> to do recovery.
> There's simply no contest; Linux beats Windows, hands down, in virtually
> every category, *unless* you go out of your way to tip things in Window's
> favour - say by picking a device you know is supported in Windows but not
> in Linux, then saying how wonderful Windows is, how bad Linux is.
Good post, Kelsey. I'll keep an eye on your future writings. *smile*
When Larry returns from his skiing tri *rolls eyes*, perhaps he'll have a
word or two to add. I doubt anyone can confute your argument, which are all
so familiar to me being a support staff, usually needing to mend Broken