Welcome to the Unreasonable Stance, a weekly column starting right here, where our ever-popular Vince takes an unpopular opinion and defends it to the death. This week, why Linux isn’t ready for desktops. Enjoy! – Ed.
Linux is great. Really, it is. I used to use it all the time as a teenager when I got into programming. But now that I’ve matured (a little) and fallen into the world of Apple, I can see that Linux on a desktop PC is not a reality.
You see, Linux is not easy to use for the average PC user. Before you call me names and what not, consider for a second my roommate. My roommate is in his early 20s and sets up PCs and networks in schools around NYC. He has to know a decent amount of shit for his job and thus, I consider him computer literate. But if I gave him a copy of Gentoo or Crazy Beaver Muff 6.08 Ubuntu, he wouldn’t be able to install it completely. Here’s why.
First, he’d want to keep some of the files he has on his Windows partition. He’ll probably also want to keep Windows around for programs we need for day-to-day use like Microsoft Office and uTorrent. So now he can’t simply erase and do a clean install on his hard drive, he now has to split partitions up and a bunch of other crap. Linux’s partition tools usually leave much to be desired, so unless he sits there dangerously tinkering with fdisk, I don’t see an install coming out of this.
Also, keep in mind that once you get Linux installed, you have to config it. Want the fancy OS X-esque Beryl Compsci-1.102.2 cube FX? Of course you do. With a Mac, the cool effects come right out of the box, they smack you in your face. With Linux, you have a command prompt. Get the GUI working, install some more shit and sooner or later you may be greeted with something that looks reminiscent of a Solaris 4 install. You’re the man, bro.
Know something else? All the good apps are for OS X and Windows, especially games. So don’t tell me Linux is a desktop replacement, when in reality, it’s just a powerful OS for geeks and closet dorks.
What happens when your girlfriend goes to log on to her bank’s website, only to discover Internet Explorer is the only browser that works properly? Bet that whole “Desktop Linux” speech you gave her 3 weeks back is sounding real stupid right about now.
Lastly, the iPhone. You need iTunes for the iPhone to be used to its full potential. Windows or Mac OS X required. Looks like your Buzzy Badger isn’t going to help you anytime soon.
So is Linux a desktop replacement? No. Maybe one day? Sure.