A recent video by Matt Hartley from Freedom Penguin posed the question about possible problems with Linux keeping it from mainstream popularity.
I have been using Linux for almost 10 years yet on a knowledge scale, I still consider myself closer to the beginner end of the scale rather than the expert end. Since I am not an expert, able to solve any problem that occurs in Linux without help from Google search, I feel that puts me in a better position to review Linux distributions because my review will be more closely to what a new user will think when using the distribution for the first time.
The one benefit I feel is great regarding most Linux distributions is the live session, allowing possible converts to try before install, however, I do wish there was an option to bypass the live session and jump right in to the installation for those who do not require nor wish to try the live session.
Now on to the problems I have found across all distributions I have tested myself over the years. Note that 99% of the various distributions I have tried have been Debian based with one time being Fedora and one time Mandriva.
When you look at every Windows release since at least Windows XP, the default theme has always been quite polished and even having vibrant colours. In Linux though, the default themes are, well, boring and doesn’t feel polished at all.
Now some, like myself, would say that Microsoft programmers spend too much time making their desktop theme rather than focusing on making a great operating system that won’t take 3+ hours just to install a small handful of system updates. A more polished default theme would help make a better impression to a newcomer.
I know there are a few websites that offer desktop themes for Linux but with so many versions like GTK2, GTK3, Metacity, GDM, and so on. For someone, even myself, find this all so confusing. One thing that would make this so much better if having just one main site for all desktop themes which all Linux distributions can connect to, only accessing the section devoted to the desktop environment being used.
Matt and his guests mentioned they have no problems with hooking up printers and using them right away but in my case, I have to visit the Brother website and download the appropriate driver for my HL-2140 laser printer. The default driver that gets installed does nothing but instruct the printer to spit out blank pages continuously non-stop until I turn off the printer.
My Samsung CLX-2160 colour laser w/scanner is usable right away but not the Brother.
This is another thing I believe to be wrong with the Linux desktop. I understand to want by the distribution creators to include a set of default software, after all Microsoft and Apple both do it for their desktop operating systems but if you are trying to attract those users over to Linux, you need to make sure the software is as close to what THEY are used to using.
I have always felt Linux installers needs to include the question of which operating system they are coming from/used to using then install the proper software and desktop theme that closely matches. Take ElementaryOS default theme for example. That theme is perfect for those coming from the MacOS environment while Linux Mint Cinnamon is more for Windows users.
LibreOffice closely resembles MS Office, albeit and older version but never the less, it is the closest office suite that I know of.
When it comes to browser, e-mail and video/music players, a selection screen during install would be nice listing the top software that closely resemble what is found on the OS they claim they are used to using. Offering this option allows the end user to end up with an OS much better suited to what they’re coming from. Linux distribution creators need to keep in mind that most home desktop users don’t like change and learning new things which is why they MUST make their OS as close to Windows or Mac if they plan to target those users. Until that happens, Linux will not gain mainstream popularity.
I know, I know, lack of AAA games on Linux is not the fault of Linux itself but rather the narrow mindedness of game developer CEO’s like Mike Morhaime & Bobby Kotick from Activision Blizzard, Tim Sweeney from Epic Games and Andrew Wilson from Electronic Arts just to name a few. None of them want to accept the fact that their games need to come in order for market share to get where they would like to see it.
Although not the fault of Linux, desktop users who also use their PC for gaming will place the blame on Linux itself for this. It would be great to see pod casters like Bryan Lunduke and others get these CEO’s on their show to discuss supporting Linux. As I stated at the beginning of this blog, I am no expert therefore it is hard for me and other non-experts of the Linux operating system to counteract their reasons for not supporting Linux.
Too Many Choices:
Yes, having choices can be a good thing but too many choices will turn the good in to bad and that is where I believe the Linux ecosystem resides. The only way to turn that bad back in to good is if the community comes together and focus on just two main distributions, one made for Windows users switching to Linux and one for Mac users switching to Linux.