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Thread: Harsh but fair criticisms for Linux on the Desktop, 2016 edition

  1. #1
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    Harsh but fair criticisms for Linux on the Desktop, 2016 edition

    http://itvision.altervista.org/why.l...p.current.html

    I just came upon this post, and although it may seem harsh at times, you've gotta admit the guy is being objective and fair, and corrects anything he said wrong (users can comment and have corrected him on a few things, which he has crossed out). I just think it's a good thing to sometimes take a hard look at yourself (as in the Linux community) in the mirror and face the facts.

    Here is his own TL;DR version summary, although I strongly advise reading the whole thing:

    Summary

    • No stability, bugs, regressions, regressions and regressions: There's an incredible amount of regressions(both in the kernel and in user space applications) when things which used to work break inexplicably, some of regressions can even lead to data loss. Basically there is no quality control (QA/QC) and regression testing in mostOpen Source projects (including the kernel) - Microsoft, for instance, reports that Windows 8 received 1,240,000,000 hours of testing whereas new kernel releases get, I guess, under 10,000 hours of testing - and every Linux kernel release is comparable to a new Windows version. Serious bugs which impede normal workflow can take years to be resolved. A lot of crucial hardware (e.g. GPUs, Wi-Fi cards) isn't properly supported. Both Linux 4.1.9/4.1.10, which are considered "stable" (moreover this kernel series is also LTS(!)), crash under any network load. WTF??
    • Hardware issues: Under Linux many devices and devices features are still poorly supported or not supported at all. Some hardware (e.g. Broadcom Wi-Fi adapters) cannot be used unless you already have a working Internet connection. New hardware often becomes supported months after introduction. Specialized software to manage devices like printers, scanners, cameras, webcams, audio players, smartphones, etc. almost always just doesn't exist- so you won't be able to fully control your new iPad and update firmware on your Galaxy SIII. Linux graphics support is a big bloody mess because kernel/X.org APIs/ABIs constantly change and NVIDIA/ATI/Broadcom/etc. companies don't want to allocate extra resources and waste their money just to keep up with an insane rate of changes in the Open Source software.
    • The lack of standardization, fragmentation, unwarranted & excessive variety, as well as no common direction or vision among different distros: Too many Linux distributions with incompatible and dissimilar configurations, packaging systems and incompatible libraries. Different distros employ totally different desktop environments, different graphical and console applications for configuring your computer settings. E.g. Debian based distros oblige you to use the strictly text based `dpkg-reconfigure` utility for certain system related maintenance tasks.
    • The lack of cooperation between open source developers and internal wars: There's no central body to organize the development of different parts of the open source stack which often leads to a situation when one project introduces changes which break other projects (this problem is also reflected in "Unstable APIs/ABIs" below). Even though the Open Source movement lacks manpower, different Linux distros find enough resources to fork projects (Gentoo developers are going to develop a udev alternative; a discord in ffmpeg which led to the emergence of libav; a situation around OpenOffice/LibreOffice; a new X.org/Wayland alternative - Mir) and to use own solutions.
    • A lot of rapid changes: Most Linux distros have very short upgrade/release cycles (as short as six months in some cases, or e.g. Arch which is a rolling distro, or Fedora which gets updated every six months), thus you are constantly bombarded with changes you don't expect or don't want. LTS (long term support) distros are in most cases unsuitablefor the desktop users due to the policy of preserving applications versions (and usually there's no officially approved way to install bleeding edge applications - please, don't remind me of PPAs and backports - these hacks are not officially supported, nor guaranteed to work). Another show-stopping problem for LTS distros is that LTS kernels often do not support new hardware.
    • Unstable APIs/ABIs & the lack of real compatibility: It's very difficult to use old open and closed source software in new distros (in many cases it becomes impossible due to changes in core Linux components like kernel, GCC or glibc). Almost non-existent backwards compatibility makes it incredibly difficult and costly to create closed source applications for Linux distros. Open Source software which doesn't have active developers or maintainers gets simply dropped if its dependencies cannot be satisfied because older libraries have become obsolete and they are no longer available. For this reason for instance a lot of KDE3/Qt3 applications are not available in modern Linux distroseven though alternatives do not exist. Developing drivers out of the main Linux kernel tree is an excruciating and expensive chore. There's no WinSxS equivalent for Linux - thus there's no simple way to install conflicting libraries. In 2015 Debian dropped support for Linux Standard Base (LSB). Viva, incompatibility!
    • Software issues: Not that many games (mostly Indies) and few AAA games (Valve's efforts and collaboration with games developers have resulted in many recent games being released for Linux, however every year thousands of titles are still released for Windows exclusively*. More than 98% of existing and upcoming AAA titles are still unavailable in Linux). No familiar Windows software, no Microsoft Office (LibreOffice still has major troubles opening correctly Microsoft Office produced documents), no native CIFS (simple to configure and use, as well as password protected and encrypted network file sharing) equivalent, no Active Directory or its featurewise equivalent.
    • Money, enthusiasm, motivation and responsibility: I predicted years ago that FOSS developers would start drifting away from the platform as FOSS is no longer a playground, it requires substantial efforts and time, i.e. the fun is over, developers want real money to get the really hard work done. FOSS development, which lacks financial backing, shows its fatigue and disillusionment. The FOSS platform after all requires financially motivated developers as underfunded projects start to wane and critical bugs stay open for years. One could say "Good riddance", but the problem is that oftentimes those dying projects have no alternatives or similarly featured successors.
    • No polish, no consistency and no HIG adherence (even KDE developers admit it).
    Also to be even more fair, he has an article about windows 10, iOS, and Android too. Clearly he isn't a "fanboy" of any OS...seems like he hates them all equally

  2. #2
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    Re: Harsh but fair criticisms for Linux on the Desktop, 2016 edition

    I have to agree that sometimes an update or upgrade can/will break your desktop. I've had it happen recently in a fresh install of Manjaro Gnome where after the update my start button and settings button disappeared from the menu. I've had other similar issues with MATE and Xfce where things will stop working or go missing(bluetooth icon in the panel for example) but for the most part I'd say that as far as the base operating system goes things work pretty well. There is better support for the Broadcom wifi cards now and an easy fix is to simply spend $5-$10 bucks and get an Intel card and the problem is solved once and for all.
    Games are not as much of an issue anymore either because of Steam and Valve as a lot of games that run under Linux now.
    I've actually had more issues with Windows when I ran it because it takes up a tone of hard drive space, needs lots of ram for the desktop and is virus/malware prone more so then either OS-X or Linux so I'd say Windows is at the bottom of the list IMHO.
    No matter where ya' go, there ya' are.

  3. #3
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    Re: Harsh but fair criticisms for Linux on the Desktop, 2016 edition

    He's been updating this annually for a number of years, and it keeps being re-discovered.

    I think his criticisms are usually valid, but the references he uses to substantiate his assertions are often old.

    Personally, I don't think it's valid to talk about the "Linux desktop" because no such thing really exists, What does exist? A variety of desktop environments built on a smaller variety of not-very-compatible tool sets, delivered to users via hundreds of distributions, most of which are repackagings of a few major distribution.

    In other words, while we have a Gnome desktop, or a Unity desktop, or a KDE desktop, etc., no "Linux" desktop exists.

    Elsewhere, in OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android, we see single interfaces on each platform. Ultimately, nothing gets out the door unless the CEO signs off.

    Consistency, polish, etc. are easier to deliver when everyone is focused on a single approach. (In the case of OS X, that approach is well over 10 years old.)

    No one's in charge like that in Linux. Because it's not a single product stovepiped by a single vendor, there's no CEO, no managers, who can say, "Do that, but not this." and enforce that decision across all of Linux.

  4. #4
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    Re: Harsh but fair criticisms for Linux on the Desktop, 2016 edition

    Simple really: If you want a polished Linux Desktop, use KDE and if you want an unpolished one, use anything else. It doesn't matter which distribution you choose, underneath, they are all the same.

  5. #5
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    Re: Harsh but fair criticisms for Linux on the Desktop, 2016 edition

    A lot of those are valid. I've been playing with FreeBSD in a VM lately because it purportedly is better with some of those issues (stability, backwards compatibility, standardization) while being worse with many others (mainly hardware support: even on the best-supported hardware there are still big issues with things like battery usage, suspend/hibernate, wireless networks; also software support like Flash, playing media, etc.). So alas, I think on the VM it will stay. But it is intriguing to me nonetheless.

  6. #6
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    Re: Harsh but fair criticisms for Linux on the Desktop, 2016 edition

    Well, I've been using my Linux engineering laptop exclusive for the past 5 years at work, because IT was unable to fix an Active Directory problem in my Windows Profile. So, people who complain about Linux desktops are simply looking for an excuse while merrily ignoring all the cruft on Windows systems.

  7. #7
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    Re: Harsh but fair criticisms for Linux on the Desktop, 2016 edition

    Quote Originally Posted by buzzingrobot View Post
    He's been updating this annually for a number of years, and it keeps being re-discovered.

    I think his criticisms are usually valid, but the references he uses to substantiate his assertions are often old.

    Personally, I don't think it's valid to talk about the "Linux desktop" because no such thing really exists, What does exist? A variety of desktop environments built on a smaller variety of not-very-compatible tool sets, delivered to users via hundreds of distributions, most of which are repackagings of a few major distribution.

    In other words, while we have a Gnome desktop, or a Unity desktop, or a KDE desktop, etc., no "Linux" desktop exists.

    Elsewhere, in OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android, we see single interfaces on each platform. Ultimately, nothing gets out the door unless the CEO signs off.

    Consistency, polish, etc. are easier to deliver when everyone is focused on a single approach. (In the case of OS X, that approach is well over 10 years old.)

    No one's in charge like that in Linux. Because it's not a single product stovepiped by a single vendor, there's no CEO, no managers, who can say, "Do that, but not this." and enforce that decision across all of Linux.
    You consistently have one of the more intelligent posts within any thread. +10

  8. #8
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    Re: Harsh but fair criticisms for Linux on the Desktop, 2016 edition

    Ditto for BuzzingRobot post . . . a +++.

    Regarding the constructive critique - - - one of the pluses to the Linux ecosphere is the freedom from the "Steve Ballmer" mentalities and methods of governance. Standardization is good IF that standardization designed and managed by an Open Organization . . . (not private, closed companies). That doesn't happen so much in the MS-Apple world. And it shouldn't apply to all variations of a product or service, else you can kill innovation and creativity.
    Last edited by Geoffrey_Arndt; March 25th, 2016 at 05:16 PM. Reason: correction
    Problem installing Ubuntu? . . Just get it "Preinstalled" (like you did for Windows!) . . http://linuxpreloaded.com/

  9. #9
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    Cool Re: Harsh but fair criticisms for Linux on the Desktop, 2016 edition

    Harsh but Fair ! naw. Most of those criticisms are out of date. Personally I got tired of repairing friends Window's systems, A problem a day.
    And of course, there is no "Linux Desktop"
    The complainers and usual lazy suspects would be safer with Linux Mint. A little more trouble free, perhaps not as innovative.
    New recommendations, now I suggest that the average user would be better off with Apple. Many critics are pointing out that Linux is NOT for the average user.
    Apparently, we're a buch of geeks.

    Allen
    Pay now, or pay later, there's no free lunch.

  10. #10
    neu5eeCh is offline Grande Half-n-Half Cinnamon Ubuntu
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    Re: Harsh but fair criticisms for Linux on the Desktop, 2016 edition

    This website has been referenced elsewhere at Ubuntuforums.

    Being that almost all of the critiques are above my pay scale, all I can do is to say: Okay, if you say you.

    That said: My entire family runs Linux (and one Chromebook). We wouldn't use it if it weren't reliable, stable and useful. Windows 10 only gets fired up for taxes. Linux has problems but Linux is fun. First of all, there are dozens of desktop environments to try -- something for everyone. It's a playground for the distro-hopper and the dream of any tweaker and tinkerer. Anyone can go as deep with a Linux Distro as they want. Windows and Apple can't touch it in that respect. They're not even on the same planet. They're a gateway to something else, and that's it. Their OS is theirs and not yours. Period. So yeah, I'd say. Linux has some real limitations (hibernate will never work -- ever), but the trade-off is freedom for the just-plain curious. I'll take the latter.
    Last edited by neu5eeCh; March 26th, 2016 at 12:14 AM.

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