After having tried my hand at setting up Linux on my personal PC, something has dawned on me.

I don't think Linux should be used as a desktop experience. I absolutely love the idea and concept of Linux, and of course use it for servers and the like, but with the current state of most distros, I don't think it's a suitable replacement for Windows/MacOS.

Any good arguments against this?

  • 7
    well to start with I do not see any arguments of your own :)
  • 7
    A replacement? depends on what is it you expect from the OS. For me Linux is not a replacement of Windows -- it's something SO much more than Windows could ever be.

    For gamers Linux is a no-go.

    For a granny who's only using a desktop PC for web Linux is a perfect replacement (as an OS that can run a GUI browser)

    It all depends on one's needs and expectations
  • 7
    Meh, it depends. Of course, distros like Arch or Gentoo aren’t for everyone.
    Pure Debian, OpenSUSE, CentOS neither.
    But Ubuntu, Linux Mint and the likes have become pretty valid alternatives for a desktop usage. This comes from an arch user.

    But of course, to each their own. Don’t like Linux on your desktop, don’t use it. It’s as simple as that.
  • 2
    @netikras Well talk about a glaring flaw... Okay so here are some reasons behind my thoughts :)

    Yes, in the 'extreme' case that a person just browses the web, Linux is fine. However I thought my dad was one of those people, as did he himself, so he allowed me to install ElementaryOS on his old laptop. Then he remembered that he also uses Dropbox. And oh where was his outlook mail now.

    Even with those two cases, I ran into trouble about different things missing, making it so dropbox for example couldn't even launch.

    I guess what I'm saying is; Linux can definitely work as a 'replacement', but in no way out of the box. There are so many little things that need to be tweaked, in order to have the same smooth experience as you would have even on Windows. And don't get me started on how you have to find alternatives for all your favorite programs.
  • 1
    @netikras Of course this isn't to say that I dislike Linux. I will only ever use Linux when setting up a server for example, and I'll happily spend a long time configuring it just to my liking.

    However when it comes to using it as a desktop experience, I think things should work out of the box, with the opportunity to configure it to ones personal liking.
  • 0
    @RantSomeWhere I don't disagree with the 'Don't like it don't use it', and this isn't something I want to get into heated arguments about or anything. I just think it's a really interesting discussion to have.

    Especially now that Windows are stepping up their game, in relation to shipping a full-fledged Linux Kernel with newer versions, I see people worrying that the traditional Linux desktop experience will die off. And honestly, I don't think that's such a bad thing. Leaves more room for focusing on using it as a server, which is where I personally think Linux has it's strength
  • 3
    @KasperNS ah yes, the “real Linux kernel” that will be shipped with WSL2. It’s just a VM. Nothing big to be hyped about. I don’t think that Desktop Linux will die off just because they’ll ship a preconfigured VM with Windows. There’s also a lot of ethical reasons to not use Windows that many will hold on to (including me).
    Linux has conquered servers, embedded devices, networking equipment, phones, etc, but it missed its initial target: to dominate the desktop market. Desktop Linux usage has seen an increase over the last couple of years, by the way.
  • 5
    @KasperNS I see your concerns. However if you are installing a Linux for a general purpose use - why go w/ elementary OS? Why not choose something as mainstream as possible, like ubuntu?

    The amount of tweaking required depends entirely on whether you choose a good distro for the job. I for one always go with Linux Mint w/ Cinnamon UI. The UI is as intuitive as it gets, the toolset preinstalled already covers most of the use cases.

    The problem comes when a user raises questions "where is <insert software name>" rather than "how do I <insert use-case title>". If user cannot live w/o "outlook" - well that's gonna be a problem on Linux, since Outlook does not run there. But if user more open-minded and his question is "how do I access my emails" -- then there is no problem at all, as there is no demand for a proprietary sw.

    As for Dropbox -- what's the problem? There is a Linux client. I am using it. Didn't you find it?
  • 0
    @RantSomeWhere Apart from the obvious 'Microsoft is spying on me', could you list some of those ethical reasons?

    Not trying to disregard the other things you said, I just don't have anything to counter it.
  • 3
    @KasperNS I believe it also depends on how much is the user tied to concrete software implementations. If he requires some particular software that doesn't run on Linux (games, Outlook, AutoCAD, etc.), then Linux is not the right fit for him.

    If user has/wants a liberty to choose his tools for the job, OSS is surely the way.

    Claiming that Linux is unfit for desktops in general is unfair, misleading, and only is based on particular cases where particular users couldn't find their favourite apps. It depends on users' needs and the right choice of Linux distro.

    As I've already mentioned, Linux can be either a replacement for Windows, something entirely different than Windows, providing possibilities Windows is lacking, or a complete no-go for some users. Depending on use-cases.

    If Linux is so unfit for desktops, how come there are so many users using it on their personal devices? :)
  • 1
    @netikras I chose ElementaryOS because a colleague recommended it, as he had set it up for his girlfriend without problems.

    I personally have tried Mint as you're saying, and started off with audio issues. When that got fixed, I ran into some graphics issues. That actually happened with multiple distros. And no, I haven't only tried Linux on one PC.

    And you're absolutely right, being more open-minded you can of course find alternatives, but that brings me back to problems of having to find alternatives. Because of the size of Win/Mac, you know that you can get exactly what you are used to. I don't want to research alternatives to check my mail, I just want to check my mail.

    And I did find the Linux client for Dropbox, but when I tried to launch it, it complained about how some specific libraries weren't installed, which I couldn't find a solution for anywhere.

    I'm not arguing that you can't get to a smooth Linux experience, I just dislike the amount of work it takes to get there.
  • 2
    @netikras Okay I think there's something fairly important I've failed to mention. I do not think Win/Mac are perfect OS'es. In no way. However they do provide a better out-of-the-box experience, which I personally think is absolute key to a good OS. I'd love to drive a lamborghini, but not if I have to build it myself (okay maybe a stretch, but hopefully you get the gist of it).

    I think Linux is so popular, because people are tired of the other two. Can you honestly say, that for someone who spends a fair amount of time on their computer, that Linux is a smoother experience? I think it's more that people who choose Linux, or more lenient towards fiddling with things to get them to work.

    Of course all this boils down to personal opinion, and I'm not trying to start a crusade against Linux as a DE or anything :) I simply think it's a valid discussion to have, whether or not Linux actually provides a better experience, or if people are just tired of Win/Mac
  • 2
    @KasperNS no offense taken, I appreciate civil discussions.

    Well, it largely boils down to the “Microsoft is spying on me”, but not only. I’ll try to explain my line of thought.
    A) Their software is closed, so nobody can verify what it’s doing.
    B) Their Software spies on you. Not only do they willingly give away data to various governmental agencies of various countries (PRISM), but they also sell personal data to advertisers. They actively record telemetry data, app usage, file contents, metadata and user habits.
    C) They use their platform for advertising. When software is free of charge, it is totally understandable that ads help fund the development, but shameless advertising on a paid operating system takes it to a next level of cheek.

    For me, that ticks all boxes for textbook malware.
  • 2
    @KasperNS that's odd. Are you by chance using NVidia or AMD GPU? That'd explain lack of graphics support. Intel GPU works flawlessly w/o any configurations at all.

    "I don't want to research alternatives to check my mail, I just want to check my mail" <-- well how do you do that? :) Do you telnet to your mail server's SMTP port and issue raw SMTP commands? Or do you already use an alternative to that, say Outlook or Thunderbird? :) Oh, you use Outlook? That's a very nice alternative to telnet! *ALTERNATIVE*.

    Every piece of software is already an alternative to raw socket calls. In some cases you might need to switch to another alt ;)

    Even better, Thunderbird comes preinstalled with ubuntu/LMint/other mainstreams. So you don't have to hunt them down ;) In fact, most of the daily drivers come with your distro, so you wouldn't have to waste time searching for "how the f* do I get SW to do my thing on Linux".

    Open-mindedness ;)
  • 1
    @RantSomeWhere Yeah okay that's fair. I guess I'm kind of person who prefers comfort over privacy in cases like that. But yeah I see why many people don't have the same line of thought.

    But to that end, there are many people, myself included, who see Microsoft actually moving towards OSS for the past few years, so there's possibly light ahead. But yes, right now I have no ground to stand on, if I try to argue against you on that point.
  • 2
    @KasperNS I hate to sound like a broken record, but it depends on users' use-cases :) You cannot simply say that "this software is good for all the people and that one is not". We are all different. Our needs are different.

    I for one am using Linux as my daily driver for ~10 years now. All my devices are running Linux: personal laptop, work laptop, personal PC, raspberries, etc. I can honestly say that Linux *DOES* provide me INCREDIBLY BETTER experience than Windows or OSx (which I hated from the first try.. why is it so backwards?). I can't even to begin to compare how Linux is better, easier and smoother for me than Windows. I mean I could try, but this rant's comments are too limited :)

    But that's me.

    Oh, and lately all the devices I install LMint on are running perfectly out of the box. No tweaking/drivers/wtv required whatsoever.

    BTW, you say that windows provides better XP OTB.. Does it have Office OTB? Outlook? Is OTB Edge better xp than non-otb FF or chrome? :)
  • 1
    @netikras Okay I can only appreciate the tounge in cheek answer ;) However what I MEANT, was that there are certain programs, like Outlook, that are simply mainstays of everyday life for most people. To most something like Word isn't an alternative to opening vim or notepad, it's the only thing there is.

    And yes, I've used both NVidia and AMD GPUs when having graphics issues on Linux. But are you telling me that I have to use onboard graphics in order to use Linux..? ;)

    While it's admittedly getting better, the support just isn't great for Linux, especially in terms of drivers. I love how I can just download a tool that'll detect my OS/GPU, download the drivers and install them. And yes you have every right to call me lazy, but again, I don't want to HAVE to fiddle with configurations when it's my desktop. I just want it to work.
  • 1
    @KasperNS yes, they have radically changed their direction in the recent years. It’s an intriguing development, honestly, and frankly they have contributed to open source software a lot.
  • 1
    @netikras Fair enough. You have nailed down all my factual arguments. I guess it all boils down to my personal opinion. Although I can't say that I have ever installed a Linux DE, and just have it working on the first try. That simply has not happened to me.

    However at work I frequently set up Windows computers, and while there are things that annoy me about how Windows has been structured, I can't say I run into many issues with it not working.

    Also I think it's fair to say that we're probably both pretty biased. Sounds like you've mainly had good experiences, whereas I haven't...
  • 1
    @KasperNS I'm not calling you anything. People are different, remember? :)

    nay, Linux works best OTB w/ Intel, since Intel is wiring their drivers into the very Linux kernel's codebase. Other vendors, like AMD and nVidia, are doing no such thing. That's why after installing Linux your device runs in graphics fallback mode (graphics works, just not the best way possible). To add nVidia/AMD support go ahead and install additional nvidia or AMD drivers. All of them are available in repos, so they are all a single command away :) Moreover, after/during installation ubuntu/LMins asks you (via GUI) whether you'd like to install proprietary graphics drivers to support your hardware or you'd like to stick w/ opensource ones (reverse-engineered, because those proprietary vendors are not willing to contribute to OSS). Since OSS versions are rev-engg'ed you might have some issues.
  • 1
    @RantSomeWhere Exactly. If you're into podcasts, there's a great one called Screaming in the Cloud, and episode 61 is with someone working on Azure. He makes some really great points about how Microsoft has changed, and where they are headed.
  • 1
    @netikras I think you just hit the nail on its head, regarding my problems with a Linux DE. The missing support. Definitely not something that Linux's fault, but exactly because how vendors like NVidia and AMD don't want to support Linux as a first-class citizen, gives me problems.

    I don't think I'll ever consider myself an opponent of Linux, it's simply that many manufacturers consider Linux as a secondary thought, making it that much harder to have a smooth experience.

    But hey if you haven't had problems, I won't argue that you should switch to Windows or anything. It just doesn't seem to me that that's the case of the majority
  • 0
    for me windows is a no go, using linux on personal laptop, never been happier, using macOS on work laptop! Also i play games on linux, no problems there!
  • 1
    @netikras I disagree with the gaming part. I like to play game sometimes and almost every game I wish to play I can either use with WINE or a native port.

    Rust for example runs like a charm.
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