a linux ready for simple users ? (Re: issues with warty final

Eamonn Sullivan eamonn.sullivan at gmail.com
Wed Oct 27 09:57:41 UTC 2004

>  > I see lots of great things happening for Ubuntu, but to be honest, I
>  > wouldn't consider this (or any other distribution I've used so far)
>  > truly usable for non-geeks.
> that is my experience too, unfortunately.

I've been using, writing about and reviewing operating systems since
around 1990 and I have to say the latest Gnome is the closest I've
seen it get to being usable for average folk. My wife still refuses to
use Linux, but the kids (five, ranging from 8 to 15) are starting to
use it regularly -- especially Gimp, believe it or not (since it isn't
the friendliest Gnome app). KDE is still too overwhelming.

I've used and liked a lot of operating systems, but in my experience
the biggest obstacle for wider adoption of any contender is the
*existing users.* They tend to be early adopters and technical. They
like things like infinite configurability. They gasp at the thought of
changes such as hiding "kernel messages" during boot. They actually
like editing text-based configuration files because it allows them to
script things. Well, yes, but that doesn't mean it has to be the
*only* way.  Getting over that first 5 percent of the market means
offending a lot of your initial friends. The Gnome developers seem to
have more guts in that regard.

The biggest problem I'm having now, and what would still stop me from
recommending Linux as a first operating system to less-geeky friends
(and still assuming a first visit to set up multimedia and show them
around, and then very occassional visits thereafter) is Palm/PDA
support. It's *still* flaky, after years.

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