Linux, Not for Granny

First a Caveat

This hub is a repost of something I wrote and posted at a different site where I sometimes blog. I am reposting it here to let a new audience have a chance to read and comment on it. One last thing before we get on with this, This post for the most part does not apply to Ubuntu Linux, I have used Ubuntu very little and therefore can not say how this post relates to that Linux distro (as was pointed out to me time and again in the comments of my original posting of this piece).

Why not Linux

I love Linux. Now, that being said, I have to say that without some major work it will never become a "mainstream" OS.

I can hear the arguments now: It's free!!, Mac is based on it, it's gotten much easier to use, it is much more secure than windows and, of course, no BSOD.

Now, much as it pains me, I will list why each of those reasons for getting Linux will not (and should not) convince anyone but the computer savvy to switch.

1. Linux is Free!! Yes Linux is free, unless your time is too valuable to sit downloading a copy of the distro of your choice. Face it most computer users can barely get their favorite games to play or their favorite music burned much less download and burn an entire linux distro which can run up to 6 CDs. By the time the average user can figure all of this out and then accomplish it the next version of windows will be out (and if you believe in time is money axiom that means the "free" Linux they just downloaded cost them a bundle). Also you need to consider the need that many of these people will have for actual tech support. Yes, there are forums that can help but your average user will not be comfortable without a techie they can call, and while they can get that with some distros, that costs money, not as much as Windows but it is no longer the touted "free" OS either.

2. Macs are based on it. Yeah, true, sorta. In the real world, trying to compare owning and running a mac to owning and running a Linux pc is similar to saying a housecat and a lion are both cats so a lion would make a great pet. While the comparison holds up technically, realistically it just doesn't wash unless you are going to hire someone to tame the beast for you.

3. It's gotten much easier to use. Ok, that statement right there should tell you something. To me it is saying that while it has been beyond the abilities of average users in the past, it is not "as bad" now. While this statement is true, what an average user defines as bad and what a Linux maven describes as "easy" are definitely two different animals. (see the above analogy involving housecats and lions if still unclear)

4. It is more secure than Windows. Again on the surface this is a basically true statement. However, when you are talking about a user who barely understands how to work a firewall or antivirus in Windows much less exactly what these things actually do, well you are just setting that person up to be eaten alive by any Linux user out there that wants to "own" them.

5. No BSOD. Having used Linux off and on for a number of years now I must admit this is entirely true. That is not however, saying that Linux does not crash, it is only saying Linux (and Macs) just crash differently, for crash they do!! I run a Windows XP machine alongside my Linux box (currently loaded with Zenwalk and in the past I have used Fedora Core, Redhat, and Mandriva among others) and I have actually had fewer crashes with the XP machine than the Linux.

6. BONUS. This is a bonus problem for actually converting Windows users to Linux. Think about trying to explain to Grandma Ethel how to get Java or Macromedia software running on her Linux!

So while I do love my Linux, it's price and flexibility I do not believe it is for everyone.

Comments 15 comments

MrMarmalade profile image

MrMarmalade 8 years ago from Sydney

I like your line about the cat and the lion


uglydawg profile image

uglydawg 8 years ago from Vancouver, WA Author

Hi MrM...and thanks for taking the time....


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Nice comparisons...I have yet to try Linux but i have only ever heard good reviews..


uglydawg profile image

uglydawg 8 years ago from Vancouver, WA Author

Compu- thanks for reading... I run zenwalk linux and I love it though any one who is totally honest will tell you there are issues with almost every linux distro. some (like ubuntu from what I have heard) are more stable than others. most issues I have are related to hardware (sound not working all the time... special video settings that must be implemented before I can get into a graphic desktop) with the occasional firefox problem tossed in as well (firefox will suddenly shut down on me) Other distros I have tried also had some issues that I found to be more trouble than they were worth.

I enjoy all of the linux distros I have run but as the above hub suggests that comes with a caveat... I just don't think the average user is ready for linux... they want their comp. to just work... for example follow the link and read what you have to do to install java on an average linux machine

http://www.java.com/en/download/help/5000010500.xm...


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Hey dawg,

thanks for that additional information. i just loaded java on a friends PC yesterday in a couple of clicks!!. the biggest problem facing me and many users changing to something new is the compatibility with existing hardware and software and the ease of use.. I want to load Linux on one of my PCs,..Which Linux version would you recommend?


uglydawg profile image

uglydawg 8 years ago from Vancouver, WA Author

Most user friendly from all I have seen and read is Ubuntu. http://www.ubuntu.com/

I personally like zenwalk as it is a bit smaller and fairly friendly to the older hardware I use it on. http://www.zenwalk.org/

A friend of mine uses Fedora (formerly known as Fedora Core) because he finds it more friendly to the hardware he uses. http://fedoraproject.org/

For an easier test run you can always download a copy of a "Live CD" (Basically a live CD is one you boot and run an Os from without changing your hard drive) there are quite a few "Live CD" distros out there as well ranging from Puppy Linux (Very small and simple) to Knoppix STD (Takes the full CD and comes with "Security Tools") to check out these and many others go to http://www.linux.org/dist/


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Wow dawg, thanks for your quick response and additional info, i will certainly check them all out.

that was most kind of you..


uglydawg profile image

uglydawg 8 years ago from Vancouver, WA Author

not a problem


arthritiscare profile image

arthritiscare 8 years ago

Thanks for the warning :)


uglydawg profile image

uglydawg 8 years ago from Vancouver, WA Author

always happy when someone finds my hub usefull


Shannon Matteson profile image

Shannon Matteson 8 years ago from Florida

I have to say that I am disappointed. Your hub suggests that you know a bit less about Linux than you think you do. (And OS-X.)

Point 1 - it's free! No, it's not. Time is money. It can come at no monetary cost. And there are distributions that come on a single CD and those that come on six or more, or a DVD. If downloading is a problem, choose a smaller distribution, or don't install 23,000 programs during installation! I suggest PCLinuxOS for this, but there are others worth looking at. PCLinuxOS comes on one single live CD, and installing what you want afterwards is very simple.

2. Macs are based on it. False. Mac OS-X is partially based on the FreeBSD kernel. Anyone who knows anything about Linux knows that Linux is not BSD. Macs are actually based on a more stable, more mature, more robust OS than Linux.

3. It's gotten much easier. True - if you're talking about the right distro. Again I point to PCLinuxOS (because that's what I know) but there are others as well. It would probably take less learning effort to switch to PCLinuxOS from Windows than it would to switch to Mac OS-X.

4. It's more secure. This is true. And your point about a linux user who wants to "own" them is fairly ridiculous. The average user is going to surf the web, watch movies, share files, play music and write. Any decent Linux distribution that is intended for this group of people is going to be plenty secure enough out of the box, and if you want more, it's a couple of clicks to raise the secure level. My mother, girlfriend, roommate and ex girlfriend all use Linux and they never changed their secure levels from out of the box... and they never got "owned" in five years.

5. No BSOD - In my experience, Linux crashes on me about once a year or less, and it's almost always caused by a hardware fault. Bad power supply, bad RAM, etc. This depends heavily on which distro you're using. There are some that are more interested in being cool, or current, than being stable. But also don't make the mistake of blaming Linux for crashing when it was a program that crashed.

6. Bonus - use a decent distribution for the intended purpose, and you don't have this problem! Yet again, I point to PCLinuxOS. My mother never had to install Java or Flash. Neither did my girlfriend. Or my ex. Or my roommate. Or her friend.

Your article seems to be a series of complaints that are based on problems you brought on yourself because you didn't do your homework.


uglydawg profile image

uglydawg 8 years ago from Vancouver, WA Author

Shannon - First of all thanks for reading and commenting. As for your complaints I will try to address them here.

Point 1) You said "it's free! No, it's not. Time is money. It can come at no monetary cost. And there are distributions that come on a single CD and those that come on six or more, or a DVD. If downloading is a problem, choose a smaller distribution, or don't install 23,000 programs during installation! I suggest PCLinuxOS for this, but there are others worth looking at. PCLinuxOS comes on one single live CD, and installing what you want afterwards is very simple." My Reply: Ok, let's say you are an average computer user (no offense intended to those who fit this category) and you have found PCLinuxOS. Yep, only one CD, easier and faster to download, Now let's say you are one of the poor souls who has some piece of incompatible hardware, let's say your comp. has a SIS 630/730 graphics card (just your luck huh?). Now let's say you were able to find a computer to use to go online and access the forums for PCLinuxOS. Here is a link to the workaround to print out and take back to your machine. http://www.pclinuxos.com/index.php?option=com_smf&... For me at least this brings us back to the "time is money" problem, not to mention that most average users would be quite overwhelmed by these instructions. (There were other hardware helps and work arounds but the reason I chose this problem as my example is it is similar to a problem I have had with my graphics card and other linux OSes) OK we could go on here but enough time spent on this..... Next

Point 2) You said "Macs are based on it. False. Mac OS-X is partially based on the FreeBSD kernel. Anyone who knows anything about Linux knows that Linux is not BSD. Macs are actually based on a more stable, more mature, more robust OS than Linux." My Reply: Actually this is semantics, MAC OS X is based on a unix derivative called NeXT. Sorry if I simplified things a bit but I just wanted to reply to an argument that is tossed at me from time to time and I didn't feel like explaining all the connections here. Either way what I said in reply still stands up, to try comparing linux to MAC OS X is silly, they are two different animals

Point 3) You said "It's gotten much easier. True - if you're talking about the right distro. Again I point to PCLinuxOS (because that's what I know) but there are others as well. It would probably take less learning effort to switch to PCLinuxOS from Windows than it would to switch to Mac OS-X." My reply: I tend to disagree here (big surprise huh??) You are ignoring any hardware conflicts in setting up the linux not to mention the fact that average users would have to be confident enough and willing to take the time to download and setup their Linux as opposed to buying a pre-set Win or Mac computer. (Also I have used MAC OS X a few times and it is fairly intuitive and was an easy adjustment for me how it would be for someone else I guess I just can't know)

Point 4) Your arguement: "It's more secure. This is true. And your point about a linux user who wants to "own" them is fairly ridiculous. The average user is going to surf the web, watch movies, share files, play music and write. Any decent Linux distribution that is intended for this group of people is going to be plenty secure enough out of the box, and if you want more, it's a couple of clicks to raise the secure level. My mother, girlfriend, roommate and ex girlfriend all use Linux and they never changed their secure levels from out of the box... and they never got "owned" in five years." My Reply: OK, you've got me on this one. Your average user with a little precaution will never get "owned" but the same could be said for Windows users and MAC users, however few people bother figuring out the "extra precautions" even on Windows machines and end up being unwitting partners in botnets, completely "owned" by spy/adware, and hosting a virus or two. These things are most definately less likely on Linux however not impossible. As for your mom, GF, ex-GF, roommate, and whoever else. congrats to you, I still can't get my mom to figure out which email address to use when she wants to send me something.

Point 5) You said: "No BSOD - In my experience, Linux crashes on me about once a year or less, and it's almost always caused by a hardware fault. Bad power supply, bad RAM, etc. This depends heavily on which distro you're using. There are some that are more interested in being cool, or current, than being stable. But also don't make the mistake of blaming Linux for crashing when it was a program that crashed." My Reply: My point exactly, my XP machine hasn't had a crash for any reason in well over a year and before that probably longer (also a hardware issue so if those don't count then I really can't think of a time when it did crash). My linux (and apparently yours as well) has crashed more often than that not to mention the various programs within linux that crash (Firefox as one example) yet never seem to have a problem on a windows machine.

Point 6) You said: "Bonus - use a decent distribution for the intended purpose, and you don't have this problem! Yet again, I point to PCLinuxOS. My mother never had to install Java or Flash. Neither did my girlfriend. Or my ex. Or my roommate. Or her friend." My Reply: Wow, and in five years none of them had to do an update?

Finally in closing you said: " Your article seems to be a series of complaints that are based on problems you brought on yourself because you didn't do your homework." My Reply: This is not based on complaints so much as experience. This list came about based on things said to me about why people should switch to linux and what my actual experience has taught me about it. As for doing my homework, well after running 8 or 9 distros (including 3 live CDs) and having worked for a college supporting Windows, Macs, a Vax system, and various forms of linux on students machines I would have thought myself fairly well versed but there is always something new to learn isn't there?


maidmercy 8 years ago

Seems you have had a bad experience with PClinux or other distro's. But that's not to say that all Linux Distros are bad. I have been running Ubuntu for about 4 years now . I have never had to reformat it. I haven't had any problems related to the O.S . Never had it crash .Never been "owned" lol As Ubuntu has the ssh turned off when you install it. I spend less time doing maintenance on my linux box then I ever did with windows. I click the update button , and I'm done. No anti virus crap to deal with , no spyware , or updating every other day to keep from getting infected by some imperfection in windows. Just to let you know II have converted 5 people this year from Windows. The only question I have ever gotten was "how do I download a mp3?" lol

If linux isn't for granny , then why is my mom useing it that has grand kids ? lol Why would Dell preinstall Linux on new computers if they thought that even granny couldn't use it ? I think you should have done more research on the subject before insulting the average user , and bashing Linux based on what you have experienced. But aside from all that , nice hub. :)


uglydawg profile image

uglydawg 8 years ago from Vancouver, WA Author

maid,

no I have never used Ubuntu for more than a day so this is not aimed at that one distro it is, however, aimed more generally at all the other distros out there that claim to be user friendly and safer than windows... I could go on but for further info see, and read my entire reply to "Shannon" above

uglydawg


michael 5 years ago

awww, i was going to get a pet lion for my freind as a 'unique' pet ):>

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