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A year ago with my first install of Redhat 7.2 there were many problems to work through to make the box productive. Font rendering was terrible (almost unreadable), printing and scanner issues and several apps that were not quite ready for prime time.
Currently with a fresh Redhat 8.0 install its amazing how far its come. The Font's, icon crispness and overall look is light years from where it was. Scanner and printing problems are not an issue at all.
From a apps standpoint almost every one is better then it was. Two apps that were unusabe (for me) a year ago have just become staples for me, gnucash and bluefish gtk2. I have also installed Mozilla 1.3a using the Redhat xft rpms and the fonts are excelent. The Gimp, Open Office and Sane are a few more that keep getting better.
At this pace it makes you wonder what a linux box will be like a year from now.
I normaly use linux for development purposes, but find tht I am gradualy using it a lot more for general web work such as surfing, and email.
The main reason I went for linux was as you mentioned for running a server and testing sites before uploading to their intended web server. It just went from there. KDE has made linux a lot more user friendly and once you learn the basics of the consols it is simply amazing how much more productive you will become. The main benefit i find is being able to customize scripts whilst they are in location as oposed to edit and upload. Simply being able to browse and edit on the server is a blessing.
I think as minux evolves yet further it is only a matter of time befoire we find it going mainstream as the default OS on some computers. I know lindows and kmart have touched on this market, but im sure the best is yet to come.
One thing I have noticed here and otherwhere is that when people have learned to use the command line well, they experience a marked increase in productivity. Exactly why I don't know, but maybe the steep learning curve to get there means they know their OS better and therefore use it more efficiently.
One thing that is much faster with a command line is file handling. Moving files around, changing names and permissions, making little changes are done so much faster than with a graphical file manager, at least with the ones I have tried.
KDE has done an incredible job, check out the screenshots of KDE 3.1 [promo.kde.org]. Though I hardly ever use KDE, I believe it is THE killer app that converts users over to Linux desktop. KDE3+ is what is going to suck in the newbies and keep them using Linux.
Gnome2 is also looking quite nice.
Here's a silly analogy, but this is how I see using Linux:
computer == horse
desktop/window manager == how you ride the horse
KDE/Microsoft Desktop/Mac's Aqua == a plush carriage
Gnome2 == a bit lighter, a but less plush carriage
Enlightenment == Chariot
IceWM == work wagon
Fluxbox/Blackbox/PWM and such == saddled riding
Pure command line == riding bare back and hanging onto the mane (okay that one doesn't work that well)
Non geeks are use to riding in a carriage. A lot of geeks like the control and speed of riding saddle, though some of us get lazy and like riding in carriages every once in a while.
Back on topic...
Yeah, it is going to keep getting better and better. GNU/Linux is becoming an unstoppable force.
Still it is probably less than 1% of the desktops that run Linux.
I have for a long time put my faith in the third world (is there a better term?) A less established user base and less financial means might give Linux an edge here. Obvious MS is aware of this, since Gates is roaming those countries donating money every time some country talks about deploying Linux on a large scale (think India and Peru).
I think the really big show stopper is document and browser compatibility. The problem is not Linux specific. Apple has the same problems, even though they have native MS applications on their platform.
I am afraid there is still a long road ahead before Linux is a serious player on the desktop, which means at least a 15-20% market share.
Re: MS vs. Linux, we avoid that topic in the particular forum.
It doesn't matter if Linux becomes dominant on the desktop anyway, what is more relevant to me (and probably most Linux desktop users) is that Linux is here to stay, and that it is only going to get better in time.
Another very good thing for Linux user's is that hardware manufacturers are starting to offer computers with Linux pre-installed or OS free computers. Rumor has it that HP and Dell are about to fallow Walmart's.
it is honestly easier to install than windows
almost every year somebody has been predicting that Linux was about to take over the desktop.
As for Dell shipping pre-installed Linux, well, I'll believe it once I (a) see it and (b) look again in three months and it's still there. Since HP hasn't previously announced that they were doing so and then changed their minds, I might take seeing it from them.
(Of course, if I have the money on hand at the time (a) might be enough to get me to buy a laptop.)
A interesting thing caught my eye under "News and information" and that is "Dell Announces Factory Installation of Red Hat Linux 8.0". That has no link to it, maybe they are not ready for the big announcement just yet?
If I remember right, a few years ago Dell tried selling RH on the desktop but it did not last long because they said nobody was buying it. If they are going to sell it on the desktop, hopefully it will sell like hot cakes. I'd also like to see them offer desktops without a os.
From what I have read Linux has come a very long way and I'm very happy that it has. With the exception of going though Nvidia hell with RH 8 I'm still amazed at how easy RH is to use.
I'd also like to see them offer desktops without a os.
I seem to recall seeing a story about M$ forcing maufacturers not to sell machines without OSes on them, and Dell getting around it by shipping with FreeDOS installed to clients who really wanted bare machines. It was a while ago, though, so I'm not certain.
Nvidia hell - yeah, I strictly avoid hardware with binary-only drivers. I'm a happy ATI customer, and expect to be again with my next computer.
The situation has become quite a bit better in the later years, with several hardware manufacturers supplying drivers themselves or at least giving the necessary specifications to independent driver developers, but there are still manufacturers who haven't "seen the light" or try to resist its call. They are best avoided.
The very best is to send them an email explaining that their lack of full support for OS drivers for the hardware was the decisive factor in not chosing them. In that way we can all apply a little pressure to change things to the better.
My rough recollection of the progression is:
One by one these objections have been addressed well enough to attract new kinds of users over time.
No one knows how far this process will go, but it's fun to watch.
And: Linux puts price, feature, and standards-compliance pressure on Microsoft. That's a benefit everyone can enjoy. :)
"you can't work with Microsoft Office files"
It wasn't Free at the time, but it was free. And though it didn't save a Free software zealot from the impossibility of manipulating Office files without proprietary software, it did at least offer a way to do so without an entirely proprietary operating environment.
'fraid I'm too much of a kid to recall the "unstable" argument. I started switching my primary desktop into Linux when I noticed that my computer never crashed when I was in Linux instead of Windows :)
Steps to install Linux
1) Put cd in cd-rom drive
2) Follow on screen instructions
3) Select what you want
4) Wander off and do stuff
I can remember installing (Redhat) Linux and Win98 side-by-side. Windows98 managed to reboot four times...
I tend to see Linux as an O/S to get stuff done. Windows is nice and pretty but I tend want to get stuff done and then go out with friends, rather than wasting time indoors with computers.
Also my machine at home has things it should be doing. Downloading email. Burning cds. Collating information for downloading onto my Palm. Then I can walk into my flat, pick up my Palm and go.
The first time I ever heard about Linux, the story went, "it's cool, but it can hose your hard drive."
That information may have been outdated even then, but it's the basis for my including instability in the list.
I personally have never lost data to an OS-related problem under Linux or FreeBSD, both of which I've used intensively in various jobs and projects over the last five years. :)
I used to have trouble round-tripping Microsoft Office files between StarOffice 5.2 and my colleagues' Windows 2K/Office 97 machines. Usually small formatting issues like font sizes--nothing that would bother a geek, but enough to make a document less-than-presentable in a business situation.
I haven't tried StarOffice 6.0/OpenOffice.org 1.0; I use Microsoft Office v.X under Mac OS X, which a good combination when it doesn't come out of your own pocket.