If it’s not there yet, where exactly is there?

The last thing I’ll mention today is oddly framed, yet again, against the backdrop of Apple for some reason. This time it’s a mad-dash article left by Rich Jaroslovsky for BusinessWeek on the day after the 10.04 release, that closes by saying Ubuntu “just isn’t there yet,” and implying that Ubuntu needs some sort of figurehead to focus the attention of the masses upon.

I’ve heard some strange reasons not to use Linux (there is a hilarious list of them somewhere on the Ubuntu forums), but lacking a figurehead was not one of them. If we must condense the experience of hero worship and distill its essence into our computer software, then it may be a while before we get “there” with Linux.

At the same time I have to ponder the sense of suggesting Ubuntu “isn’t there yet” because people get confused and make mistakes. Everyone gets confused and makes mistakes, but expecting the rest of the world to bend over backwards to make sure the least-capable of users doesn’t become unhappy with a program … well, I have my doubts.

There are plenty of non-technical people who use Ubuntu on a daily basis, and some of them have been doing it for a long, long time. I suppose there will always be someone who isn’t satisfied with an Ubuntu release. I have a track record of critiquing it rather harshly, and even some of its strongest devotees can be put off by a less-than-stellar experience.

I only have to wonder, if Ubuntu “isn’t there yet,” what’s left to be done to get us “there” … and where in the heck is “there” in the first place? 😕


11 thoughts on “If it’s not there yet, where exactly is there?

  1. A.Y. Siu

    We don’t live in a meritocracy. There is no “there.” It’s about as silly as when Linux zealots ask if Windows is “ready for the desktop.” Readiness is wholly irrelevant. You could make a good case, depending on how you define the word ready that Windows isn’t ready. Ready or not, people use it. It’s all over the place.

    If people think once Ubuntu gets “there” that all of a sudden people will start using it in droves, then they’re wrong. There is no “there.” Consumer-oriented ecosystems, brand-name recognition, sleek design, and in-person test models matter more than error messages or so-called user-friendliness.

    1. Armor Nick

      exactly! I know a lot of people who don’t understand how to do things in Windows. Yet that’s not an issue because windows is the computer (they say 😉 ). I firmly believe that Linux and Windows have since long become equals but Windows has its marketing ahead.

  2. YankeeDDL

    I am convinced that one of the main reasons why “Ubuntu” (or Linux – not that the two terms are exchangeable) is not there yet, is because we have reviews like that.
    Self-portrayed techies that publish an evaluation of Ubuntu and state “we’re not there yet” continues to convey the message of a “work in progress – not yet ready for the masses” which, frankly, it’s just wrong.
    I don’t need to rumble about the advantages of Linux over Windows in this blog: it would be only fair to expect that most of these “reviews” would point out those advantages as well.

  3. cianoconnor

    But you get messages like that on a Mac all the time. Obscure codec problems, Windows Media not working (hardly easy to get working either). And while you can get NTFS drives to connect to a Mac, its far from trivial. Whereas with Ubuntu, just plug that baby in.

    And could he not have pointed out that Ubuntu is the only one of these distributions to have an App store.

    I mean I don’t even like Ubuntu, but come on…

  4. road

    two words: hardware compatibility.

    i’ve never had a problem with Windows being incompatible with a particular graphics card or not being able to handle two monitors or something. and since Apple makes its own hardware that’s certainly not an issue. but in my humble opinion this is still one of the major weaknesses of Linux. not Ubuntu, specifically, but the linux kernel in particular.

    anyone that doesn’t know what I’m talking about should try to install 10.04 on a laptop with an intel 82852/855GM graphics card (they’re not uncommon).

    i’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really know what I’m talking about, but I’ve always assumed that part of the reason that Windows is so bloated is because it maintains support for a HUGE number of hardware variations. be that as it may, it doesn’t take any hacking at all to install Windows on most x86 hardware — in fact I’ve never encountered a major compatibility problem in ~15 years. my experience with linux is MUCH shorter but in that time i’ve encountered some hardware incompatibilities that were beyond my ability to solve.

    rant over.

    1. Bryan

      You’re partially right – but you neglect to mention why the hardware issues for Linux are occurring in the first place. The problem is largely corporate for Linux as a platform. I can probably count on both hands the number of sizable corporations that provide support for Linux at an acceptable level. Coming to mind now is only Intel. Sure – Intel’s had a slip up or two (I’m looking at you, Poulsbo/GMA500), but the fact still stands that they’ve made major contributions in both their video drivers as well as the code they’ve given back to the FOSS world.

      If more companies would realize that they can support a business model that encompasses open source, Linux would be leaps and bounds above where it is now in terms of desktop usage. Nvidia and ATI both seem to be afraid to release drivers for Linux users on our terms. They seem to believe that their drivers are a source of revenue and tremble at the idea that they can make money off of the hardware and open source the drivers.

      I think it boils down to the idea that, because Linux isn’t corporately backed on a large enough scale, they can’t get one up on the competition or a sizable user base (comparatively, that is). To get corporate backing though, they’d have to prove that they have a sizable user base. Catch-22 if you ask me.

      1. road


        Thanks for the reply. Your point is well taken, and I should’ve mentioned it in my rant. I realize that it’s not the fault of the linux community but of hardware vendors (and, at the same time you can’t really blame them for neglecting what is only 1% of the market, as you pointed out). Still, the fact remains that in many cases linux “isn’t there yet” and in my humble opinion this is one of the major reasons. The last thing most computer-users (even advanced ones) want to deal with is drivers and hardware incompatibilities…

    2. cianoconnor

      No, it has nothing to do with the drivers. Windows is bloated because it has a lot of *stuff*.

      I’d add to the drivers, the problems with sleep/hibernate – but then that’s pretty flaky on Windows as well. Probably the only good thing about OSX – rock solid hibernate.

      Things may change. You have two major players now pushing Linux for specific hardware (Intel with Moblin, Google with Android and ChromeOS), while the Chinese government is very keen for Linux to be the dominant OS in China. And China’s where most of the world’s hardware comes from these days…

  5. Rick Hough

    I so badly want to use Linux in anger but for the past decade and then some it’s been a hobby OS (on the client that is!) and I’m afraid it still is despite the shiny new interfaces.

    I’ve earned my living from writing and testing software for over 20 years and I’ve installed and used many distros but for the world at large Linux, even in the really friendly Ubuntu 10 form, is not a viable option.

    Having just spent the best part of three hours trying to get it to run a decent screen resoultion on a Fujitsu laptop I have surrendered and put the disc to one side. I don’t have the time to dedicate to that sort of activity and run my businesses.

    Crack compatibility or make it simple to install drivers and Linux is going to get my vote “going forard” (horrible term) as I would rather pay a maintenance/support fee to a bunch of dedicated programmers than buy licenses to swell the corporate coffers at Microsoft.

  6. Pingback: Progress on the screen shutdown script « Motho ke motho ka botho

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