For testing the Linux compatibility of our new YouAtNotes CRM Release 5 I played around with some Linux distributions. Most of the time I spent with Ubuntu 8.10.
And while working with that, I realized that Linux is – from my personal perspective – far, far awayfrom being “Ready For The Desktop”. And with that I mean “ready for the desktop for standard users who are not geeks”.
I compare Ubuntu with Mac OS X and Windows. While we all know how many flaws Windows has, Mac OS X is so far the best and user friendliest OS I’ve seen. It is not perfect, but it is quite good. And Linux in general and Ubuntu as one of the user friendliest distribution in special have a hard time comparing with Mac OS or Windows (from the point of view of a normal user).
You know why?
Because it tells me so much stuff I don’t want to know about!!! For example, I just installed Java. The process itself is simple and good and could be done by any user. But then the installer window shows me all the packages being installed… and they all have very strange and geeky titles. Boy, if I were a normal user, I would get frightened just by seeing all those technical stuff…
Or as I installed OpenOffice.org 3.01… package downloaded and extracted and I get a folder named “OOO300_M15_native_packed-l.de_9379”. As a dummy user, I would have no idea what it is and what I should do with it.
You might ask why I didn’t used the Ubuntu install tool – simple: it offered my only the “Go-OO” and installed an old version 2.4 of OpenOffice.
When I want to install something, I have some icon on the desktop. I doubleclick it and – nothing happens. Simply nothing. I know that it doesn’t work because I’m not root… but the standard user? And I didn’t found any way to run the install with root rights beside opening a terminal and using “sudo”. This is totally out of the question for a standard user.
There are many, many small issues like these in Desktop Linux distributions today. And when I ask myself if I would give my parents a computer with Ubuntu (or some other Linux), Windows or Mac then I would never choose Ubuntu. I might be safe, and if everything is configured it might work reliable and well. But they would have always the feeling that they are working with something strange and very technical.
On the other hand they would see a Mac as their friend, they would really like it. They would not see it as a very, very complicated technical thing but more as a tool which does what they want.
And I guess they would simply use Windows because everyone else does, but they would not like it either.
So, still much work to do for Ubuntu & Co, and I hope they will address those small things in the future because I like Linux and I would like to see our customer’s desktops running Mac or Linux, but not Windows :-).