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Linux for the Desktop Revisited?

From a slashdot forum about why linux fails on the desktop:

The truth behind it is “ease of use”. MS Visual Studio comes with a bunch of tools in one package, a graphical XML schema editor, a graphical database management system, click-n-paint GUI creation, and to top it off each of those students gets 4 years of excessive training in all of those tools.

Linux on the other hand, has most (if not all) of these things, but students don’t know them. Those that do have knowledge of these tools are often complaining that they ran into problems (again because of lack of training, or googling). Many have spent two days finding out how to install a certain program, and most just give up asking their supervisors for aid (which they often can’t provide).

This is the problem with linux, and this is why the linux desktop will never be as succesful as we hope it will be: our diversity in tools and lack of proper bundling. Distributions do a good job at providing us with defaults, but provide too much goodness. Most linux machines have at least 7 compilers and interpreters installed by default, 6 MP3 players, 10 office suites, and horror of horrors 2 desktop environments. Teaching students all these things is an impossible task, and that’s why they aren’t prepared for the choices they have to make when they are going to actively use linux.

This excellent point echoes Barry Schwartz’s Paradox of Choice argument of giving people too much choice.

Gentoo discussion of best video card for linux. I’m facing a choice of buying/building a linux-only desktop or laptop. HP claims to be releasing a linux laptop soon, and that would be great, but truthfully, I’m not exactly going to be depending on hp for technical support. (More about this linux laptop with SUSE is here). The question is whether to install idiot-proof SUSE on it or try again with gentoo. Gentoo still has marginal market share and their packages often fall behind the others, but I’m guessing that every six months ease of use for the distribution improves exponentially.

Here’s a list of SUSE How-to’s. Is it easy to upgrade things with YAST? And here’s a review of Linux Mandrake

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