Linux, is it ready?

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So I’m trying out Linux for the first time in over 5 years. Mainly to get back on board with Enlightenment development, partly due to frustrations with Mac OSX and also because every software engineer should be up to speed with how it’s progressing. This leads me to the question if is it ready…

Ready for what? Wide stream adoption? Frustration free desktop? A better alternative to what’s out there? “Yes” and “It depends” get thrown in there as answers – it depends on your requirements and the ability to pick the right distro. Ubuntu offers a seamless install and gets you booted to a complete system with all the typical user software pre-installed, their software manager akin to Apple’s Mac App Store is essentially a recommendations engine on top of the apt-get package manager and works well. Of course as a geek it’s cheerful light grey rounded-ness and hiding of details quickly missed the point – Mac does that well and I don’t see Canonical beating Apple at the user experience game. Arch Linux is a widely used engineers choice – it offers close to the wire control without the pain and ricer obsessiveness over customised packages of Gentoo. There is no installation UI or default desktop but it does offer great control, a solid base for development (1 package sets up a full C/C++/autofoo environment) and it has a command line package manager called “pacman” ;).

So should I switch? Well as you’re already reading this then you should probably give it a shot, yes. Don’t ditch your current system and move completely – compatibility is still an issue and multimedia has a couple of issues (mostly due to closed source licenses, patents and no silverlight plugins) but it really does seem ready. Don’t recommend it to your Gran though – as much as I hate software monopolies they do enable people to easily discuss simple tasks or basic problem fixes with their non-techie friends. You do not want even more “help fix my computer” calls right?

So, given that it’s ready for use, will you like it? Is it really something that Microsoft and Apple should be worried about? I’ll cover that in a future post in my return to enlightenment series.

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10 thoughts on “Linux, is it ready?

  1. fassil

    Hi,
    With Manjaro, Arch’s “easy daughter”, E runs like a thunderbolt & in a real spirit of KISS your Gran 😉

  2. I, for one, am convinced that Unity is not ready for primetime/the-masses, I try it again with every Ubuntu release, and it’s just chock full of bugs and seems rather slow. The only DE’s I would recommend to a beginner are Gnome 3 (for the adventurous user who doesn’t need to make customizations), XFCE, and LXDE. All are boring, though. For desktop tinkerers, though, Linux is the only OS ready for the desktop. Every desktop shell has its weaknesses. Enlightenenment’s the closest I’ve come, but I miss window-scaling in e18 and multi-monitor set ups where you regularly plug or unplug a new monitor are rather buggy, among other things.

    • Good comments. I think multi monitor is getting much better – we hot swap hardware a lot more than we used to and Linux has always been behind on the hardware support – until very recently at least

  3. As a desktop OS I don’t think it’ll ever be ready for the primetime, even matching windows 8 level of cohesion is hard to do, let alone apple’s. I’ve run it myself for about 12 years now, but hardly recommend it to anyone else unless they already know how to run a linux machine.

  4. cippp

    i hope you will switch and patch e with what you miss from osx 🙂
    debian jessie work ok , i think is the longest “rolling with not big break” distro for me

    • Cheers, that’s what I hope to do. Working on improving first use experience a little. Debian is solid but I was looking for something a little more exotic for my current playing.

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