Linux is not ready for prime time. It may never be.

As if I actually had spare time, I tried, as I did twice before in my life, to install and run Linux on one of my machines. I am very pro open-source, pro windows alternative and all of that, but once again I am forced to admit that Linux is yet very far from prime time.

Two things are different between this time I installed Linux and the preceding times. 1) I will actually keep the Linux machine and not go back to Windows. 2) I will stop pretending that Linux is somewhat close to going prime time, or that it is close to being "consumer-friendly".

Why will I keep it? Simple. The computer it is on now has a very limited responsibility on my network. It needs to serve files and printers, to scan documents, and to download bittorrent and edonkey files. And I believe I will be able to manage that.

Now the meat of this entry. Why do I feel that Linux is further away from prime time as I did the last times I installed it? The answer is that Linux doesn't seem to have much will at all to move towards being a more user-friendly platform. Last system I installed was Ubuntu Breezy Badger, and the current one is Ubuntu Dapper Drake. I still believe Ubuntu is the most user-friendly Linux OS out there. Still, there are absolute no-nos that need to be addressed, but aren't. Here's a pretty generic problem and the solution.

1) I install a secondary hard drive, format it ext3, mount it under my home drive. But I can't do crap with it. It says I don't have permission. It says that drive doesn't belong to me. This is emblematic of what Linux stands for : protecting you against non-existent threats.

I have a pretty decent security system that prevents people from accessing my data. It's called a door with a lock. Most apartments and houses come with those. It means that if someone crashes the door or picks the lock, my data is theirs. If they can't, then it's not. I'm pretty happy with that system. Worked so far. My point is, how dare a stupid OS tells ME I don't own the drive. Did I steal it and not know about it? I still have the invoice for it. I even scanned the invoice, figuring if the OS reads it , it will recognize me as the owner of the drive. But no. I still don't own it.

Permission for this, permission for that. Every time I want to sneeze on this machine now I have to beg for the permission to do it. I keep whining that Micro$oft is stealing control away from the users. Well it still has a long way to go before it reaches the level of Linux.

2) The problem I've mentioned above certainly have a simple solution. One I will find out by searching a few keyphrases on Google. On some forum, some guy who has enough heart to share his infinite knowledge will have detailed out the solution. It usually takes the following form : Open up the console and write "sudo some bullshit /etc/home/whocares gedit right /user +crapme -r -b hde1". Of course! How could I not figure this out by myself? This is why Linux is not ready for prime time. With windows, even if I don't KNOW how to do something, I can just dive-in with my trusty mouse and eventually I'll stumble upon the solution. There's just a few places, all relatively obvious, to look at. The Control Panel, Program Files/System Tools. You don't know? Just search until you find. With Linux the answer is always a complexly written unintelligible sentence which brings back the nightmarish era of MS-DOS. I should need a command prompt console to install a new hard drive as much as I should need a cave wall and some cow blood to paint something.

Could it get better? Of course. But somehow it doesn't look like a priority. The enigmatic stoneage-worthy concept of the command line seems to be admired, even revered by the Linux community, rather than shunned and hated as it should. Such archaic concept should be driven out of mainstream operations and kept only for the most obscure, advanced usage of the OS (installing a new hard drive and getting it to work doesn't count).

There was a time, starting with Corel Linux and up to Ubuntu Breezy Badger, when I saw tangible steps taken towards reducing the reliance upon the command line. But since then it is as though a ceiling has been reached. Can giving myself permission to access my own hard drive be too complex to implement into the GUI? It sure seems that way.

I'm sorry to declare that as a consumer-ready OS, Linux is still trailing way behind Windows, and will for the foreseeable future.

No comments: