Desktop Linux. Still Don't Get It.

I use Linux at work, at home, and had been Linux administrator for a couple of years. I love it, I really do. When someone says its no good, I feel like my child’s been told he’s ugly. I was even accused of being a Linux bigot.

But I still don’t think Linux is ready for mainstream desktop usage. By mainstream, I mean adoption. Not technically ready or not. Adoption in the future? Yes (please!). Now? No. And so, I’m quite sad to see this article and what’s more surprising is that Dvorak recommended it so highly:

"This is hands down the best article I’ve read in the past year."

Really? Now, I think I’m probably more sad that that’s the best article Linux desktop argument can go.

I like the article’s observation that it is unfair for Linux that John-Doe-type users jumps to Linux without knowing anything only to leave with a disgusted experience. Good start. I can also agree to his comments on "Filesystems, C:, D:, etc" being a non-issue.

But don’t be ridicolous tellimg me that typing "emerge gaim" is difficult, please. The fact the user has no training for typing "emerge foo" IS WRONG, not the package manager. Users need to learn, THEN to use the system. Would you click on an executable installer, if no one ever told you that’s the way to install software?

Yahh… but before I gathered my own thoughts properly, he moved on to describe how to deal with non-packaged applications… and compiling. That’s it.

Yes, given a 2-lab-rat scenario I’d agree (almost, see next para). I would even argue that the lab-rat typing "emerge foo" will find it smoother to do. Usability.

But gravity pulls down and Windows is double-click install. These are facts even lab tests should adhere to. The Linux way may be more elegant, manageable. But without a bridge from Windows-land it’ll not work. Assuming that new users has no background is really quite a stretch. Even the then-new-comer Microsoft Excel had to bend to Lotus 123’s rules before winning their market.
[Update: I figure this Joel article is a better example.]

But.. Linux has double-click installers too! All of them? Most of them? Some this, some that… but that’s not a fault of Linux in itself - its a diverse, vibrant community - but when it comes to adoption and learnability, that’s a glaring hole. How do you tell a your restaurant customer, with a straight face, "Tell the waitress your order she’ll bring to your table.. meat only. Veges you gotta get yourself from there - its free flow! Drinks are available from the vending machines outside. Hot drinks, we only have 3-in-1… yes everything is in the pantry you can make them yourself."

One face. Macintosh has it. John Doe users switch to Macs doesn’t seem to have such hoohas. Even though Macs are different too. In fact they think different (corny). Filesystem’s different too. Heck, OS X is even a Unix! I used to think Redhat was the company to do it for Linux. But apparently they’re not interested in John Doe. Until Linux presents itself a single face (not necessarily only 1 company) and learn to play by the defacto rules (Windows)… Linux will remain supreme, but not for the mainstream desktop.

Yes, I think I’m more sad that its the best punch Linux can pull off, than with the article’s content itself.