I find you quite harsh on your conclusion. I dare you to find a generic Windows XP CD that would allow you to run more of the computer's functionalities out of the box - even better, try to find the function keys' drivers on little-known or not well-maintained laptops of which you have no driver CD - and install it to dual boot with an OS from another editor.
You'll find out that:
- you have little to no help given to you on how to partition your hard disk (XP's installer requires one to know what a primary or secondary partiton is, and what FAT32 and NTFS stand for),
- several graphics cards will only work in VESA,
- you need at least 2 reboots to have a BASIC, non-updated system running,
- CPU power saving functionalities are missing (speedstep, powernow...),
- Wifi won't work - period,
- function keys will be almost impossible to map,
- most audio drivers will be missing,
- as will several NIC adapters,
- many card readers,
- most webcams...
A complete Windows XP install, with all functionalities used, provided the laptop's maker's website is well made and provides all drivers, will take you about 3 hours. The same thing on Linux will require 45 minutes.
Frankly, have you ever installed XP on a recent laptop, then tried a recent Linux distro? I have.
I kind of have to agree with you. Keeping up with Windows drivers, and service packs constantly is a chore.
even slipstreaming the fixes and service packs and building OEM style Windows disks with your drivers built in is usually beyond the capabilities of the average person.
The other thing is that the Linux community is so stinking helpful. It's like they are all in it together and just by trying to have Linux on your system , you are automatically one of them.
I love what Linux stands for and what they are trying to do.
I think if I was in charge of spearheading Linux acceptance I would take a look at one of Microstiff's biggest fears... there Office Suite falling from grace.
Start small, I wouldn't try to go for the O.S. market wholesale, I would really pump up their Open Office 2.0 software as an alternative to MS Office.
First with a national Ad campaign just like MAC has done that points out that Sun Open Office 2.0 is 100% compatible with MS Office. My tag line would be, “Free - This makes sense!” or “Free... Simple and Indestructible.”
Taking a page out of Apple's book I would hit all the schools and start it at a grassroots level and get this software in the schools.
Simultaneously I would go for the corporate marketplace and hammer them with how much it costs to license MS Office. Weasel into corporate at the desktop level and you have laid a very treacherous minefield for MS. This needs to be supported by corporate training classes in Sun Open Office. This is where they can recoup some of the "free" software costs. Businesses have training budgets completely independent from software budgets in most cases. If they need Office training it is budgeted no matter who's suite it is.
Then look at the gamers, who tend to be the early innovators and least resistant to change. Linux HAS to be a viable gaming platform... period. They have to get these developers writing for Linux. Without it, it just just isn't going to happen.
With a 3 pronged approach to the “problem” of Microsoft being in control of every cotton picken' part of your computing life (and the future) headway can be made. To just have them talk about it as an “alternative” does little to entice anyone. Do you get more chicks in an alternative fuel vehicle or a Lambo? To be a Lamborghini they need to have the flash for the gamers and the BASE of the schools and corporate. The rest will take care of itself.
Imagine a kid that comes home from school and says, “[Parent], I learned this on the computer today. Can we do it here?” and the first things that come to that parents mind are:
3.Time it will take them to do it
Then that kid has a business card (distributed by the thousands with the software to the school) with a download site and it's FREE with the instructions of
Time to install - 7 minutes
Technical proficiency level required: LOW
Now imagine that same child's parent has come home from work and after installing Open Office says, “Hey, this is the same thing we have at work.”
What just happened? We had a very simple strategy implemented that just cost MS 2 licenses and 3 people. More importantly the future generation “Doesn't NEED Microstiff.”
well, the kid could simply get a LiveCD burnt at school, and bring it home...
- no setup: automatic hardware detection is done at boot time on any recent kernel and X system (I've installed a basic system on a hard disk, and put it to use on several completely different systems: more often than not I would boot in an at least 2D accelerated X directly)
- no risk (no virii, no files copied to HD, no registry to f**k up)
- little complexity (boot computer, put CD, boot CD).
What you didn't consider though, is that GNU/Linux is an OS category; a distribution basically describes the application set provided with the 'core' OS, while Openoffice.org is a software compiled off the same code base for win32, linux/86, linux/PPC, MacOS X, xBSD and Solaris - and not maintained by the same programmers that do 'Linux'. It thus has a different strategy than Linux systems... You can run it on Windows INSTEAD of MS Office; on Linux, you can run OOo, or Koffice (which is neat too) or Gnome Office (which is not too shabby).
Linux (and free 'libre' softwares in general) just give you choice.
What I appreciate most with Linux though, is that due to the code being kept as simple and efficient as possible, a small kernel module (a few hundred kbytes) will be able to drive all devices based off a chip family under all the same applications using standard protocols, while you'd need several hundred megabytes of drivers to support the same hardware range under Windows, and they wouldn't work under the same apps.
Example: spca5xx driver is able to drive 212 (version 0.60) different webcams. It is freely available under the form of a tarball containing the source code (and an auto-install script) which is... 188 Kb. Compile and install is shorter than installing Logitec drivers (not including download time for the 60 Mb software package). It is also provided pre-compiled on most distributions, requiring a package download and install, then - if you don't want to reboot - a modprobe spca5xx as root to work instantly (no need for 2 computer restarts as Windows requires).
The question is not only Linux is not user friendly, but no OS is friendly. I work in small computer shop and you should see the number of idiots that cannot simply install audio drivers.
What about Hibernating? Does that work on these laptops?
I recently installed Ubuntu 6.06 on my older HP zd7000 laptop, and I cannot get hibernate to work properly out of the box. That's a pretty annoying bug, and appears to be common to Linux these days.
Don't get me wrong - I really am starting to love Ubuntu now... but without Hibernate, it's a real issue. (That, and the fact that I need to reinstall the wireless drivers with NDISWrapper upon any kernel update.) Both of these issues make Linux on the laptop less than ideal for Joe 6-pack. That being said, it's pretty darned close.
Successful hibernation depends on the peripherals themselves: if the driver/kernel module can't bear to suspend and resume, then hibernate may fail. On my old laptop, for example, the sound chip doesn't resume correctly. Some time ago, I had to manually unload the kernel module to enter hibernation. Now I merely have to unload then reload the kernel module to have it recover ('service alsa restart' does the trick).
What I appreciate most with Linux' hibernation theme is that it will not require as much disk space as you have RAM: it will tidy and clean RAM first then convert the swap file into a RAM image - and when you have 2 Gb of RAM, it's damn faster to enter hibernation.
So you may want to unload some drivers (NDISwrapper especially) and try hibernation again. Typically, sound chips don't like suspend/resume; some graphics drivers either.
instead of waiting for the next Ubuntu release, you could just get the latest 'vanilla' kernel source, compile and install it; Ubuntu is able to boot with different kernels, as are most other distros.
Compiling a kernel isn't too hard: you need gcc and ncurses-devel in command line mode (user still); once untarred, you just do
inside the unpacked directory (say, linux-220.127.116.11); it will read your existing kernel configuration to define its default options. There, you can adapt the kernel to your laptop (selecting Pentium-III or Athlon compared to i586, provided you run it on a P-III or K7, will boost the system by 10%) and check if your wi-fi chip is known natively by the kernel.
Once out of the interface - and having saved the changes in the source's .config file - you do
Once compilation is over (be patient), switch to root :
[code:1:f0f90b87b7]make modules_install && make install[/code:1:f0f90b87b7]
The script will install the modules in /lib/modules/linux-2.6.xx.xx/*, the kernel image in /boot and update either lilo or grub, adding a choice for the new kernel.
I've got to take issue with you, KN, on this question of "...gamers [being] the early innovators and least resistant to change." It seems that most of the game-players here at Tom's carry on like a bunch of rickety old men when the prospect of using Linux arises, old dogs who will not (or maybe cannot) learn the new tricks. Businesses are already migrating to open source operating systems: What rational businessman would willingly conduct all of his operations and maintain all of his records within a secret code to which he can have no access and over which he can exercise no control? Governments are migrating to the Open Document Format for much the same reason: Records must be accessable and readable tens or even hundreds of years from now, long after Microsoft might tire of patching the bugs of its software or even have gone out of business. Then there are the game developers whose lives would be simplified and whose products would be enhanced if they didn't have to beg permission to peek at portions of the operating system for which they are trying to write their products. The world is moving to Linux, and in doing so it is passing by a good number of the game-players who are so resistant to changing their ways that they refuse even to burn Knoppix discs as tools for maintaining their XP systems.