21 Responses

  1. Prateek
    Prateek at |

    Thanks for that. I am going to direct my friends to this post now whenever they ask me what are the good and the bad things about linux.

  2. Gunnar
    Gunnar at |

    I’d definitely stick to Linux as well. Thanks for reinforcing my beliefs..

  3. Stuart
    Stuart at |

    I am definitely sticking to Linux as well, and agree with you on all your thoughts, my one other irk is game makers not making native Linux clients. Now this is starting to get better but sometimes trying to run a game through wine just isn’t feasible.

    Great article

  4. Richard Bacchetta
    Richard Bacchetta at |

    First let me say I am in agreement with all of your points. I think you have nailed it for most of us using Linux.

    One of the likes, you did not specifically mention, although intermixed in your lists, is the maintenance required on a Windows Box that does not exist on a Linux Box.

    Windows updates and security suite updates seemingly run forever whenever I log into my Vista partition which has become increasingly rare. Before the system is ready for any reasonable use a long period of downloading, installing, and rebooting occurs. This makes the computer experience unpleasant to say the least. In Linux I am ready to go as soon as the desktop appears.

  5. Shawn
    Shawn at |

    “sudo apt-get install ”

    That’s so 2007! In GNOME, you can load applications by selecting Applications -> Add/Remove… from the top panel. The most popular of the applications come up, sorted by category, and rated with 1 to 5 stars. There is a brief description of what each does and almost all have a web site listed that you can use to get more info.

  6. Robert3353
    Robert3353 at |

    I agree with all that you have said but also have another gripe that I think needs to be added to the list of dislikes, and it also is not enough to stop me from using Linux. The one thing I cannot understand about Linux or rather the various developers that put the various distros together is that they all seem to insist on reinventing the wheel with their own distro. Usually this involves hardware issues, a lot of the time when something will not work with one distro it works out of the box with a different distro but something that worked with the first distro now does not work with the new one. This seems to happen a lot and seems to be a random thing with no rime or reason as to what is going to work and what is not. Also one of my major gripes about Ubuntu and is the reason I no longer use it is that it seems that what worked with one release becomes broken with a newer release, go figure. When everything is open source I don’t understand why the developers do not use the various utilities, scripts etc that one distro has that makes something work well in their own distro. If they what to do their own thing then just change the Gui so that it fits with their look and feel.
    This used to really bother me but now have decided not to complain anymore but instead to make the effort to learn more about Linux so I understand what is really going on. So to that end even knowing that it will require more work and effort on my part I am going to install Gentoo on my systems. That way if something will work with Linux I will know how to get it set up so that it does instead of hoping that a particular distro will include all the drivers etc for my hardware to work.

  7. Den
    Den at |

    “with Nvidia and ATi taking the lead (When will Creative listen?).”

    Creative already released their open-source drivers on November 6, 2008. Nvidia still not.

  8. mcinsand
    mcinsand at |

    Luckily for me, my experiences have been better than yours. For my hardware support experiences, the only issue was the ever-discussed wireless card that took about 15 minutes to fix with a driver wrapper… and that was only when I was starting out. Aside from that, my hardware experiences would have me rate Fedora as flawless and XP as pathetic; for me, Fedora does ‘just work,’ and XP is ‘just temperamental.’ Now, with Atheros support built in, I don’t have to give hardware a second thought, and I’m using current hardware rather than old stuff. What distro are you using that doesn’t have GUI’s for common, uncommon, and a lot of rare activities? This remark looks to be about 5 years out of date, from my experiences. I still use a CLI for installs, but that’s mainly a personal OCD issue (grin). At the same time, I have used the simple clicky installs and GUI repository browsers just to satisfy my own curiousity, and they worked without an issue. Maybe I’m just lucky, but, after several hardware changes and 5 years on Linux, I’ve only seen it as a relief from the headaches and frustrations of Windows. And, prior to that I’ve had decades in MS environments, including a good bit of time with XP.

    The need to manually configure browser plugins can be troublesome, especially with a new user; I remember that it was intimidating to me. Once they’re done, though, I can’t see any advantage of Windows. Although there are sites that are standards noncompliant so that they favor IE, I’ve only run into one or two. And, as far as 64 bit support, the MS world hasn’t exactly led that front;>)

  9. stolennomenclature
    stolennomenclature at |

    One of the biggest problems with free software is that whether or not software exists for any particular function is down to the whim of random individuals. If none of the geeks out there wants to do what you want to do, then thats just bad luck. Or perhaps to put it another way, free software is written to please the writers, not the end users – since as far as the writers go there are no end users as such.
    Greed is not a particluarly laudible motivation but at least with proprietary software the greed for money motivates the companies to consider the needs of the end user to some extent (not much) and so there is more useable functionality in the commercial systems by and large. Of course there are exceptions, but most of the bigger and more useful, well rounded free software projects are those backed up by or linked somehow to commercial interests (Mozilla, Ubuntu, Red Hat, etc).
    The other big negative about Linux is the idiotic software installation mechanism. Again this is one that is designed to suit the distro developers and not the end users.
    The last big disadvantage of Linux would have to be the rediculous proliferation of distros, which again exist to provide work and fun for the distro developers, and do nothing but harm to the free software movement overall.

  10. chenn0
    chenn0 at |

    If you’re writing about Ubuntu (or at least debian based distributions) then please do so explicitly. “Linux” is not “Ubuntu”. That being said, I still like your article, it’s a balanced view of the state of said “Linux” for the average user.

    But I also agree with Robert3353. The popular distributions try to hide the inherent complexity of the software they distribute behind yet another layer complexity, sold as “newbie-friendliness” or “simplicity”. This works well until trouble strikes, and when it does, you’re stuck with the decisions that your distribution has made for you. While all the “support” you can get might solve your problem, it will often teach you nothing about the underlying problems. You’ll gather bits and pieces of half-understood, often vodoo-like recipes that are specific to your distribution.

    Getting an RTFM *where appropriate* is not a bad thing at all: It merely states that the problem is known and solvable by consulting the documentation. In fact, I view it as an encouragement, and I have never had one thrown at me for no reason. Because once I had read the manuals, I had learned something, and I realized that my initial question *was* stupid and that i “deserved” an RTFM. Hell, I remember the good old days when you’d not even get that, but were simply ignored, which forced you into figuring out and understanding stuff yourself.

    Popular distributions do not, in my opinion, encourage users to make a fundamental change in their mindset, a thing that is required to develop a thorough understanding of the underlying technologies. This is ok, since their goal is to make Linux usable for “the common guy”, and it’s a legitimate goal. But I remember a time when it was not considered strange to use a commandline, or even having to program your computer to do things for you. My dad was happily hacking away on batch scripts in dos… what happened to that mindset? I’d love to see a newbie-friendly distribution that, at the same time, encourages and educates users to the point where they can dump all the shiny extra layers and learn to tinker under the hood.

    The bottom line: if you really mean it, use a distribution that is true to the sense of the word, that is a mere *means of distribution*, and nothing more. (Slackware or Archlinux come to mind here) Then the “problem” of “having” to compile software that’s no longer supported or backported by you specific distribution, the “troubles” with wifi not working out of the box will simply cease to be problems any more: it’s just everyday business to deal with the inherent complexity. I for one like software that’s honest, and passes its complexity down to me, along with all the possibilities and power it gives me.

    (Aware of the danger of sounding like an old fart, complaining about those kids that take everything for granted nowadays 😉

  11. BrownieBoy
    BrownieBoy at |

    A good article overall, but I don’t get why you have “Getting Software” as your first dislike. Getting software in Linux is heaps easier than Windows (or Mac). You just go to your package manager – Synaptic in Ubuntu – or the Add/Remove Programs tool, as the other poster pointed out.

    How is that not better than the Windows world, where you generally have to go trawling through the ‘net to try and find a program you might want, and which you’ll probably have to pay for too? You end up with five versions of every type of program, before you find one that you want to keep. You then have to remember to uninstall the other four, and that’s if you can remember what they’re called, and where they appear on your rapidly mushrooming Start menu; and if they even have an uninstaller that cleans up after itself properly. I used to do a clean reinstall of Windows at least once a year. Because after a year of my doing this, it would get slower and slower, and each piece of crap program left unneeded entries in the registry.

    There’s a major security issue here too. Every virus that I’ve ever had in Windows can be traced to my downloading some .exe installer, which turned out to have a hidden payload. The package manager approach avoids this because as long as you’re using a kosher repository – e.g. Canonical’s own repositories for Ubuntu – you can be pretty sure that somebody else has verified the software that’s in there.

  12. Richard
    Richard at |


    You are obviously not talking about Linux for the masses. Most people neither have the time or inclination to mess around. they just want to get things done.

    Having said that there are any number of Debian Linux derivatives designed for user friendliness that also allow one to get under the hood using the command line or editing configuration files as root. Appealing to these two types of people is not mutually exclusive.

  13. Amit Agarwal
    Amit Agarwal at |

    Definately Linux rocks and am on for using it all the time with having to struggle too much.

  14. Amit Agarwal » Blog Archive » 5-reasons-i-like-linux-and-5-why-i-dislike-it

    […] about it. And since someone has already done that, I will link to them. The first one for today is 5-reasons-i-like-linux-and-5-why-i-dislike-it. This was not in the list that I was planning to write but some thing similar in line was pending […]

  15. zaine_ridling
    zaine_ridling at |

    Great post, Shantanu! I agree with most. One thing that has perplexed me is that even though one can distro-hop as I’ve done, distros are often quite distinct entities, and at times, that famous Linux diversity shows its downside. For example, learning the Ubuntu family is one thing, but while openSUSE is similar in many ways thanks to a shared desktop environment (such as KDE), maintaining openSUSE requires new skills and commands than Ubuntu. Same for Fedora or something like ZenWalk.

    This is particularly painful when a new version of Ubuntu no longer works with my hardware. I either have to revert or hop to another distro again.

  16. Adrian
    Adrian at |

    Uhm .. 64bit JRE plugin has been around for a bit. Look up OpenJDK or IcedTea projects. Now with 64bit Flash coming to Linux .. 64bit browsing on Linux is the only “full-experience” platform around. Personally, I think 64bit browsing under Linux truly rocks now.

  17. Vivek
    Vivek at |

    A really good comparison of the opposites, by the way What I personally feel is that if you wish to be productive and efficient , then Windows is the Best, only reason being availability of GUI enabled softwares for each and every tasks you can imagine, also drivers etc. are not an issue with it. Whereas linux feels extremely cool with all that flexibility and configurability it provides but I have many a times wasted lots of my time just doing some very basic things , but yes when I complete them the satisfaction is simply great !!

  18. lolbuntu
    lolbuntu at |

    ubuntu tastes like cheese!!

  19. HtH
    HtH at |

    Lots of the software projects done by individuals invite user input and actually act on it. My favorite is Gnome-Do, in this regard. Also Mozilla is a non-profit that received part of its funding from many sources, including Google, but still relies on code contribution from regular ole’ hackers. With regards to developers aims, you’re right, but keep in mind that alot of times, most perhaps, they write something that they as a user wanted. So take that developer project times 10,000 and you have alot of interesting things happening(and don’t think that smaller projects don’t get noticed by developers who might be working/interested in the same area).
    The Linux repos, BTW, are a huge strength. You like the app store, right? Well, repos are similar except things are free. Also, if you go with a rolling distro, you don’t have to worry about not getting the latest prog backported.
    Lastly, the distros make things a BIT confusing, but, not too much since they are mostly spinoffs of Debian or Fedora(thus once a person realizes this, the whole landscape is alot clearer). As for harming the F/OSS movement, I’m not sure why it would. Ideas are put forward in some of these pet distros that later get taken by the larger ones(Mint’s menu being the first thing to come to mind).

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    CPA Power Blast at |

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