The idea that Linux is only for people who love the command line, who know how to program, who are IT specialists, really annoys the hell out of me. It really does.
If you've tried Linux and had a bad experience, let me ask you this: Have you tried it in the past five years? Or the past three?
I first tried Linux back in 2003, with Red Hat 9, Mandrake 9/10, and Debian. It was a very bad experience. Back then, RPMs, which was used in Red Hat and Mandrake, didn't have a central repository. And Fedora, Red Hat's replacement, was already released. So finding Red Hat 9 packages was a nightmare. Plus, you had to find all the dependencies yourself, which was a huge mess. Mandrake wasn't much better, and had the exact same issues. Then I tried Debian, but I couldn't configure a GUI.
Three years later I decided to try Linux again. I got a Kubuntu disc, I popped it in my machine, and it just worked. So in December 2006, I made the full switch. I did have a severe bug or two for the first couple years. But those bugs were eventually sorted out. I haven't had any major issue in at least three years, if not longer. Probably more like four years.
I don't like using the command line unless I really have to. I know a little C#, but no other programming language. And while I guess I'm pretty good with computers, I'm not an expert. I still turn to Linux help forums whenever I have a problem.
My mom has been using Linux for a few years. She knows how to do email, web browsing, and word documents without any problem, but that's about it. She's about as casual of a computer user as you can get. And she says Linux is easier than Windows. She never touches the command line and wouldn't know how to program Hello World even if given a tutorial. But she can use Linux.
My problem with those statements mentioned at the start is that they can often scare away people who are curious about Linux. They help perpetuate a negative image of Linux. And to be completely honest, they just aren't true anymore. Linux has made big strides in the last five years in terms of usability. No, it isn't for everyone. You still need to come into it with enough enthusiasm and patience to get past all the differences from Windows, as well as any problems that may come up. For newbies, stick with Ubuntu, its different flavors, or its derivatives (like Mint). Stay away from Slackware, Gentoo, or Debian.
Most distributions allow you to run their install disc in LiveCD mode, which creates a usable environment in which you can test the distro. This lets you know if everything is working. If it works in LiveCD mode, it will almost certainly work when installed. While Linux will just work on most desktops, laptops are a lot trickier. And yes, I said that Linux will usually just work. For a majority of people, you won't have to dive into config files, the command prompt, or any of that hardcore stuff people had to deal with ten years ago.
For some reason people have in their minds that Linux is for the hardcore group and has never and will never get any easier or any more accessible to the casual desktop market. They assume that what they hear about Linux is absolute truth without trying it themselves. They assume that any negative experience they had in the past holds true no matter how many years have passed. And it just isn't fair. It's not fair to Linux users, it's not fair to Linux itself, and it's not fair to people who are curious to try it.
5 years, 7 months ago
21 Mar 2013 05:33 CET