Windows Man Summarizes His Self-Imposed 30-Day Ubuntu Immersion
In early June, we took note of Linux newbie Tony Bradley's highly entertaining series of articles about his self-imposed 30-day immersion into Ubuntu. Bradley, long a Windows users, forced himself to spend the month of June with Ubuntu, and now he has posted his day 30 summary of his findings. As was true of the early posts, this summation exposes a lot of the important differences between Linux and other operating systems.
The previously Windows-centric Bradley offers this summary of his month with Ubuntu: "Ubuntu Linux is more than capable of being the primary desktop OS for most users, but the learning curve will have some bumps." Not surprisingly, usability is his biggest criticism of Ubuntu:
"As capable as I found Ubuntu, I also felt like it took more effort than it should. Granted, most of that is just part of that initial learning curve of getting things set up. After a week or two you would reach some sort of equilibrium and not need to swim upstream every day. For users with that 'hacker' mentality, who like to get in under the hood and understand what makes things tick, Linux is a dream OS. But, average users don't want to put that kind of effort in--they just want to hit Start and have things work."
If you followed Bradley's series, you probably noticed that he had a strong tendency to want installation and setup routines for both Ubuntu itself and applications that run on it to work as they do in Windows and on the Mac OS. Windows and Mac users do not understand concepts such as "package management" and they want the same types of graphical tools for managing their file systems that they're used to.
Bradley may have a point that many potential Linux users are steered away by the fact that these setup tasks are not standardized along the lines of Windows and the Mac OS. It's clear that once he did set Ubuntu up, and got his applications running, he liked it. Perhaps his best summary comments come in his citation of the Linux "identity crisis:"
"So, why is the Linux market share so small after two decades? Linux has an identity crisis. It seems that Linux doesn't even really know what Linux wants to be. If you have a debate about operating systems, Windows means Windows, Mac means Mac OS X, and Linux...well, that's a whole firestorm of zealotry to itself. Which is the best Linux? After you choose between the various flavors--Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint, etc.--then you have to choose which version, and which desktop interface to use."
The spread of many Linux distros, in the eyes of many Linux users, is a strength of the platform, but Bradley concludes that there is a fundamental schizophrenia inherent to Linux. He argues that Linux doesn't know what it wants to be.
So did Bradley switch to Ubuntu for good? No, he writes:
"From a purely pragmatic and logical perspective, I need to operate in a Windows world. Why? Because 90 percent of the world does."
Here again, standardization, common practices, and compatibility are top-of-mind for Bradley. They aren't necessarily so for many committed Linux users. If you are a committed Linux user, see if you agree with his summary, or if he's simply calling for constant reversion to the status quo.