I am a newish Linux user. I say newish because I have spent over a year messing about with MANY different distros, all of which failed miserably to do or be what I needed. And this is the problem where Linux will never succeed as a valid operating system for most people. It's just too bloody complicated. If it wasn't free, very few people would even bother.
People in general do not want to have to look up and figure out how to type cryptic inane commands in a terminal because they can't find what they're looking for in synaptic (because the repositories are unavailable) just to get what they need, and the fact that all "out of the box" distros are a minefield of stuff that doesn't work automatically without installing libraries and repositories and getting error messages and searching for DAYS for a certain lib files to install (if they even exist in a package your particular version of Linux recognizes without you needing to spend ages trying to figure out how to COMPILE things when you don't even know what that means) only to discover that Audacity or something won't recognize the damned lib file anyway because of some small point that nobody can explain in normal human language. It's a nightmare that will put anybody off who isn't a computer nerd, and most people aren't.
Now before you start firing off angry replies let me just explain that I am a user of Ubuntu. I'm uncertain as to whether any of the versions after 6.06 have actually been worth the effort to burn a CD of but I have pretty much decided that of all Linux distros Ubuntu is the best choice I have at the moment. I do still rely on Slax 5 when I need to get into the system past the security to save, change, or retrieve files from a hard drive when another operating system starts screwing up. Mepis Spartacus is highly useful as well for such things.
The problems arise when you want to do anything ELSE to your Ubuntu that doesn't come pre-packaged with it, like install and run music or video editors. You will have a 95% failure rate right from the start and searching for help just leads to unintelligible waffle from computer nerds who seem to think everyone knows what they're talking about, and most online manuals (if they even exist) seem to be hugely overcomplicated and lengthy. It can test anyone's patience when you spend DAYS or WEEKS trying to find a solution to some small problem, like simply watching a DVD. Yes, Linux is good at recognizing all my hardware, but if it doesn't allow me to USE that hardware then what's the point?
Why do we have to search for "restricted" repositories and whatnot from "unofficial" (read sometimes dodgy) sources for so many things? They ARE out there, and if you look hard and long enough you might eventually find them, but why do we have to be put through all the bother? Oh well a certain thingy might be illegal to watch DVDs on in America, but do we who actually USE Linux really give a damn? NO! We just want to use our computers without having to use Windows to do it, and we couldn't care less if it pisses somebody like Microsoft off or not. Personally I don't care how my system works or who doesn't like it as long as it WORKS. And that's what Linux often doesn't do. Do you actually think anybody ever CARES about that blurb they never read that pops up before they can download a program? Of course not. You just scroll to the bottom and click "yes" or whatever. Nobody in the entire universe actually gives a rat's *** what that "legal" mumbo-jumbo says, they just want to watch a frigging DVD or record some music or something. So what place does it possibly have in a "free" operating system? Either include the relelvant files whether they are "legal" or not or just forget about people using it because people don't want to have to trawl through the miles and miles of crud and click on "accept" buttons. We just want something that installs and works, with as little hassle as possible, and we couldn't give a damn HOW it does it. That's why we try open source stuff. It was supposed to be an alternative, not just a clone. What good is a free operating system that doesn't bloody well operate?
Ubuntu, like so many others now, is just becoming another bloated collection of stuff about half of which nobody has a use for. We don't WANT three different media players that don't work, we want ONE that DOES, and who said I wanted those games anyway? Maybe I don't WANT Firefox by default, and maybe I prefer Abbiword to Open Office for what I use it for. How come there's not a minimal Ubuntu that allows the individual user to choose what they want? Debian have a net install thing that in theory is a brilliant idea. It supposedly installs a minimal system and you can detail it out to suit your needs. But does it work? Hell no, if you want anything NOT included in the set. I tried for weeks to get Debian to do what I wanted and was forever lost in a Hell of constant searching, downloading, discovering that what I had searched for and downloaded didn't work for some reason, and got completely lost in the rocket science of compiling packages for something I was led to believe already existed anyway only to find out that after several hour's work the thing still wouldn't run. It was a miserable experience, and it's unfortunately an experience that many people have when they are trying Linux for the first time. That just won't do. Linux is doomed to be a nerd specialist hobby until somebody comes up with a version that WORKS without all the hassle.
I do a lot of sound recording some some video work and had become so irritated with trying to use various programs that I downloaded and set up piece at a time (only to find they wouldn't work) that I eventually downloaded Ubuntustudio since many people had been making a big noise about how wonderful it was. I didn't really want to have to do that as I didn't want ALL the programs associated with it, but I figured that maybe it would at least work better if I downloaded the whole thing as one instead of trying to piece together my own. Here's what I have discovered so far:
I click on Applications, then Sound And Video, then Audio Production, and I see a whacking great list of all sorts of stuff. So I go down the list. First we have Aconnectgui, which I haven't got a use for or even know what it does. Then I click on Aeolus and absolutely nothing happens. Then there's Ardour, which for the life of me I have never been able to figure out especially with all the "help" available online (face it, it's just too complicated), and then we have Audacity, a dinosaur that actually does work but hardly worth downloading the whole Ubuntu studio for, and the latest version doesn't export to mp3 anyway so you've got to remove it and install an old version that actually does what it's supposed to do. Then there's Beast, Bitscope, Creox, and Freebirth that for one reason or another either have very limited help available online (in human language anyway) or don't work at all. And it just goes on from there. I've been up and down the list and most of it doesn't work. It seems to me that the majority of Ubuntustudio is just MORE BLOATWARE that I don't want, can't use, and would never need on my system. This is not what we (us real folks out here by the millions who would otherwise embrace an alternative operating system were it to offer a legitimate working alternative) are willing to put up with. Unless Linux pulls it's collective fingers out then crap like Windows will still be the norm.
So that's my rant, and don't bother posting nasty jibes as I won't read them or respond. It's just my view, and as a person who is fundamentally in favor of open source software I have a right and even a duty to air it. Linux is still, unfortunately, a specialist computer nerd market and unless things change and it becomes more user friendly it will never even come close to replacing Windows or anything else. It is slow, complicated, and frustrating for most new users, and THAT is where the real work needs to be done and where the people who actually know how to build Linux need to concentrate instead of regurgitating old ideas in new wrappers. We don't need yet another version of another media player that doesn't play any bloody media we're trying to use.