jpk wrote:bigjeff5 - no offense, but you're really not familiar with linux, are you? I mean, yes, there are some problems with installing linux on some machines (it took me a few tries to work out the wireless on a Sony netbook that a friend gave me), but you're talking about problems that haven't been problems on standard machines for about five years.
I have used Linux off and on for the last 15 years or so, most recently I switched from Vista to Linux when Vista was having "issues" - I'm quite familiar with its progression over the years, and I don't think in the two years (having used Linux for about a year as my desktop machine) since I switched back to Windows Linux has changed all that radically. I could, of course, be wrong. Anything is possible.
I'm also well aware that the problems stay pretty much the same, they just change faces as the OS progresses (just like most OS's, actually).
The wireless problem was just an example that I thought people would be familiar with (and hey you were!), it was actually the Atheros driver issue I was talking about, because it was an extremely common wireless card, especially for laptops, with any number of kludge fixes until a driver actually made it into the kernel (I think it's still done post-install on most distros, actually, because it's still legally questionable and they won't officially bundle it, but the problem is essentially well solved). After that was a shoddy GUI for the wireless, which was still horrible two years ago and hadn't gotten any better in the year that I'd been using Linux. It was not the problem that turned me off Linux the last time I used it (which, as I said, was about two years ago).
The problem that finally turned me off Linux most recently was an audio problem - something that had been "fixed" and "just worked" for a long time. Except that a program I installed from the repository broke it, and no amount of tweaking could fix it. After several days of troubleshooting and attempting various fixes from the net, I finally got audio to work. I was never able to get it back to full functionality, though, and at that point I just thought "what exactly am I getting out of this?" In almost 20 years of using Windows (started with 3.1, which sucked monkey balls, but was apparently way better than 3.0) I've never had a problem as bad as that* (I did skip ME, so that may have helped), and the wireless problem a few years before was almost as bad. And this was caused by software in the official Ubuntu repository - the stuff that is supposed to "just work".
I have to admit that I've never seen a non-repository Linux program that had the auto-installers (I remember one group trying to standardize an installer, but it was going nowhere) so that particular problem may have been largely dealt with in the last couple years. But then, I didn't install a whole lot of that kind of software, most came from repositories (which is a brilliant way to install software - absolutely no complaints with that!). The stuff I did install, though, was a pain in the ass.
In any case the reason I've quit using Linux every time I've quit using Linux has always been the pretty much the same - too much work when all I want is a desktop.
The point is not that there are problems. Every OS has problems. The point is that when
there is a problem in Linux, it is almost always an absolute nightmare
to fix. These kinds of nightmarish problems may become rarer as the OS progresses, but there always seem to be a lot more of them than in Windows. Windows tends to have smaller problems more often that are a lot easier to fix (though these too becomes less common as the OS progresses). These issues are rarely, if ever, show stoppers, and less savvy users can deal with them. It just makes Windows easier to use as a desktop machine.
So yeah, your friend may be just fine on a Linux install, as long as she doesn't mess with things too much she probably won't run into the issues I have. However, she probably would have been even happier if you'd just given her a clean Windows install instead.
Like I said, I've got nothing against Linux. I think it's great that Linux is a viable alternative, and I do cheer for it whenever I can. However, I find myself wasting more time fixing problems than I am comfortable with when I use it as a desktop machine, so I don't use it as a desktop machine. If I wouldn't use it myself, I can't in good conscience recommend it to someone who wouldn't have the slightest clue what to do when it breaks. With a Windows or Mac machine, if all else fails at the very least they can call someone local and get real, hands on support. With Linux you're pretty much on your own unless you have a personal friend who is an expert, and that's just not acceptable for most people. If you are willing to make yourself available to help your friend get past the hard problems so she can enjoy Linux, then I think that's admirable, and more power to you. That doesn't really scale up to the general population, though, as most people don't have access to a Linux expert, while they do have access to a Windows expert (even if it is just Geek Squad *cringe*).
If someone needs to build a server for just about any reason and they don't have money to burn, I wholeheartedly recommend Linux every time - the OS excels at server stuff, anything from super tiny to ridiculously huge, and frankly, commercial server licensing is stupid expensive. That's a use that, to me, would be worth the trouble you can run into with Linux, because it is otherwise cheap and it's GOOD at it. As a desktop, though, not so much.
This is completely OT by now though.
In a lame attempt to tie this post in with the topic, +1 for thumbdrives and sneakernet, and fed-ex'ing a 2TB drive overnight beats any other cross-country/international distribution method I'm aware of in both time and cost. Encrypt the drive and it wins (or at least ties) for security too.
*Edited to explain exactly why I went from Vista to Linux a few years ago in the first place:
I bought a brand new laptop a few years ago came with Vista. On the very first boot I got a BSOD - not a good sign, but not necessarily Vista's fault as shoddy work by the OEM can cause something like this too. No BSOD's after that first one, so life was good. Except that Vista didn't automatically recognize my USB mouse. There was nothing special about this mouse, I've used it on a friggin Windows 98 machine and it was plug-and-play. Ugh. Easy to fix, but it's an incredibly stupid problem to have on a modern machine. So ok, whatever, dealt with it. Then about a month into using my laptop the keyboard and trackpad simply stop working. Reboot - still not working. Give plenty of time for the drivers to load up, as this is occasionally an issue with USB devices, but rarely those you've used before and never a PS2 device, which the internal keyboard and trackpad were - just covering the bases there in case the OEM had done something funky in the design of the machine. Nothing. I was done
. It was obviously some kind of stupid driver problem, as the keyboard and trackpad both worked fine pre-windows boot. Again, probably not hard to fix, it might have taken up a half hour of my time to get things working right. However these problems were, in my opinion, simply not acceptable for a modern OS. Stuff that worked automatically in the previous OS should not suddenly stop working in the new OS. So I switched back to Linux instead of going back to XP and generally enjoyed it, except for the occasional nightmarish issue that cropped up once in a blue moon. When it got to the audio problem I was like "Why am I doing this? I never had this much trouble with Windows." I reasoned they had probably fixed the problems that had so thoroughly pissed me off before, and sure enough, they had. Though the USB mouse problem still cropped up in Vista on rare occasions. I use 7 now and haven't see that particular problem since.