Windows Man Summarizes His Self-Imposed 30-Day Ubuntu Immersion

by Sam Dean - Jul. 01, 2011Comments (8)

In early June, we took note of Linux newbie Tony Bradley's highly entertaining series of articles about his self-imposed 30-day immersion into Ubuntu. Bradley, long a Windows users, forced himself to spend the month of June with Ubuntu, and now he has posted his day 30 summary of his findings. As was true of the early posts, this summation exposes a lot of the important differences between Linux and other operating systems.

The previously Windows-centric Bradley offers this summary of his month with Ubuntu: "Ubuntu Linux is more than capable of being the primary desktop OS for most users, but the learning curve will have some bumps." Not surprisingly, usability is his biggest criticism of Ubuntu:

"As capable as I found Ubuntu, I also felt like it took more effort than it should. Granted, most of that is just part of that initial learning curve of getting things set up. After a week or two you would reach some sort of equilibrium and not need to swim upstream every day. For users with that 'hacker' mentality, who like to get in under the hood and understand what makes things tick, Linux is a dream OS. But, average users don't want to put that kind of effort in--they just want to hit Start and have things work."

If you followed Bradley's series, you probably noticed that he had a strong tendency to want installation and setup routines for both Ubuntu itself and applications that run on it to work as they do in Windows and on the Mac OS. Windows and Mac users do not understand concepts such as "package management" and they want the same types of graphical tools for managing their file systems that they're used to.

Bradley may have a point that many potential Linux users are steered away by the fact that these setup tasks are not standardized along the lines of Windows and the Mac OS. It's clear that once he did set Ubuntu up, and got his applications running, he liked it. Perhaps his best summary comments come in his citation of the Linux "identity crisis:"

"So, why is the Linux market share so small after two decades? Linux has an identity crisis. It seems that Linux doesn't even really know what Linux wants to be. If you have a debate about operating systems, Windows means Windows, Mac means Mac OS X, and Linux...well, that's a whole firestorm of zealotry to itself. Which is the best Linux? After you choose between the various flavors--Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint, etc.--then you have to choose which version, and which desktop interface to use."

The spread of many Linux distros, in the eyes of many Linux users, is a strength of the platform, but Bradley concludes that there is a fundamental schizophrenia inherent to Linux. He argues that Linux doesn't know what it wants to be.

So did Bradley switch to Ubuntu for good? No, he writes:

"From a purely pragmatic and logical perspective, I need to operate in a Windows world. Why? Because 90 percent of the world does."

Here again, standardization, common practices, and compatibility are top-of-mind for Bradley. They aren't necessarily so for many committed Linux users. If you are a committed Linux user, see if you agree with his summary, or if he's simply calling for constant reversion to the status quo.


Abhijit Prabhudan uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


I say the same, but in opposition to Tony:

From a purely pragmatic and logical perspective, I DO NOT need to operate in a Windows world. Why? Because 90 percent of the world does.

And the final sarcastic - who needs a wife, because whenever you have sex you can go to prostitutes and just pay for it. That's the opinion about Linux, and M$.

But Tony has seen one big, and fundamental, thing - Linux identity crisis. Yes, that's right, but Linux deteskop is really fresh idea, and that will change. Any proof - a Firefox or Chrome browsers. Look at statistics.

That's all.

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The problem with Linux is that there is way too many versions of it. Vendors can not nor should not have to provide support for all these versions. Ubuntu changes versions every six months, even though they don't need to. And they had a great suite in OpenOffice, but in a power struggle where Shuttleworth wanted more control, they decide to invent "LibreOffice", thus confusing the world even more. As far as Windows, the guy who tested Ubuntu admits that Windows does everything he wants. And to the majority of the world, Windows does everything that they want. Sorry, but businesses can't afford to be constantly upgrading OS (that's why XP is still so popular). What linux needs is consistency and not come out with new stuff every six months. And please, one version.

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what we need and the world is that all linux developers come together and make one unique os that will be called for example LINUX OS . No more diversity no more hundreds and hundreds of distros ... that ruin linux world! yes a i know somebody will say that is the beauty of Linux but it is its doom ... But for a start you could just all switch to Ubuntu b'cos that is the most popular distro , leave all and join canonical that is the only hope we can see some major movement in linux popularity...

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Ubuntu users do not have to upgrade every six months, if they choose the LTS (currently 10.0.4) theycan then just upgrade every 3 or so years.

1 Votes

I spend my time mostly on an Ubuntu PC (am a software developer by profession) when at home - while at work it is Windows workstations and a mix of Windows and Linux servers.

Yet the rest of my family uses a Mac - and I do to for iTunes.

We're needing to upgrade as that Mac is now fairly old. I'll go and pay the premium for yet another Mac to replace it, though.

The software suite for a home user - the iLife stuff, et al - is a better experience than what can be cobbled together on Linux. A Linux PC is not something I'd relish having to support in respect to the rest of my family - it's fine for me as it directly appeals to my programmer mentality.

The support headaches is why a dumped a Windows home PC for a Mac - can't see any reason to do anything different now.

For folks that want to use computers as a means to an end in a consumer context, Linux would simply be a formula for frustration and disappointment.

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I have been working around computers for 35 years, back to the old mainframe days, not as a computer scientist but as someone who used them as a tool.

In the partial defense of some things that Bradley said...

Over the passage of time I more and more "just want things to work" myself. Sure I can figure out a bunch of stuff if I have to, but I really don't want to. I just want things to work. Personally, I think MS has done a pretty good job with Windows in that it just works. It is, to a large degree, self-repairing, finds drivers by itself, etc. I wish it was better yet. I wish it was what Chrome OS claims to be but without the desperate need of an internet connection.

There are things I don't like about Windows. It's fat. It's bloated. I hate all the icons. I wish it made more use of simple text like on the menu bar of a given window. I wish it gobbled less of the CPU. Etc.

But the machines are now incredible. And if the OS gives me half of that, well, that's a lot. And if that's the cost of not having to know a bunch of complicated stuff that I really don't have time or the interest to learn - that's OK with me.

I think most of us Windows users are like that. The machines are so cheap that it doesn't matter really that they could be tweaked a bit if one really knew what one was doing. For example, I wrote this on a tower I got from Geeks with a Quad Core Phenom chip and 4GB of RAM and 500 GB of disk for $239 almost 2 years ago. Complete with Windows.

Somehow Linux needs to gain the user friendliness of Windows or even Mac. Most people don't live to learn about the OS. We want the OS to work like the automatic transmission works on a car. We just want it to work.

Linux might be perfect for those who love learning things about the OS as a hobby or work function. I think this is what has already happened.

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I used windows for a fair amount of time as well...but this is what I like about linux

1) pretty much NO viruses. I can't tell you how long I had to scan and wait..and wait..and wait. Even at work..we're talking hours of wasted time.

2) I can rebuilding the OS without needing a long as I can go online and repair I'm fine

3) I don't have to buy apps..I have most of what I need when I install the OS. I don't have to install countless other apps to make it worth something.

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This article and the 30 day Ubuntu trial seem pretty fair. It's true that there are some fundamental differences between Windows and Linux for the user. But there are several things to keep in mind when considering which is better for you.

1) Linux is free. - The only reason this article exists is that any person who wants to can go to and download their operating system for free. If that's not something you feel comfortable with, you can buy a CD or DVD with the OS on it for the cost of a Starbucks coffee.

2) Windows is only easy if it's already installed. - Has anyone ever gotten a Windows computer where the operating system isn't all set up yet? Or worse yet, had to recover a crashed computer by reinstalling Windows? That's the same basic process that Ubuntu (or Mint or Fedora for that matter) leads you through to install Linux. And the Linux version can actually be a little easier, depending on your system. It's not really that big of a deal, but it does take a little time.

3) Compatibility is a problem of the past. - Another commenter mentioned Libre Office and Open Office. These are practically identical Office Suites that can completely take the place of Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. They're free, and they work on Linux, Windows, and Mac. In fact, I recommend to everyone I know to skip the extra cost of Microsoft Office when buying a new Windows machine and just go for the open source. Open Office has had a couple of bugs in the past on Windows, but Libre seems to work perfectly. Another problem software in the past has been Flash (youtube videos, for example). But there are some great alternatives that work practically out of the box now. And RogerV said he feels more comfortable with Mac software, but the alternatives I've tried in Linux all work great. From GIMP (Photoshop) to Inkscape (Illustrator) to Kdenlive (After Effects), there's an open source alternative to just about everything. The website is a great reference to find what you need.

4) Linux is easier for Windows users than Mac. - I'll admit it: I enjoy playing around with computers, tweaking operating systems, trying out the newest hardware, and (gasp!) even a little programming. So Linux doesn't give me any heartburn. I enjoy helping out friends and family with their computer questions too, but Macs can sometimes leave me scratching my head. In Windows, if you want to create a desktop shortcut to a hard-to-find file, you right-click, "create shortcut", and.. that's pretty much it. Maybe some icon dragging. In Linux: same thing. In Mac? Good question. You have to know Macs. For one thing, there's often not a right mouse button to click. And if you do eventually figure that part out, it turns out they don't even use the same lingo. There is no "shortcut", only "alias". And that is truly just the beginning. The fact is, Linux is often set up as a semi-Windows clone, and it shows in the usability.

Linux isn't without its faults. I'm still going to be a partial Windows user unless Netflix decides to recognize Linux users for online streaming one day. But Windows consistently has unforgivable security problems. (Even PC World was hit recently by the horrible FakeAV virus that's been going around:

And Mac, while it's more secure, is only user friendly if you don't ask much of it (Your mom may be happy with just email and solitaire.) or if you switch every system you own to their slightly-to-very-much-more expensive branded versions.

It's fair that companies aren't turning over their systems to Linux overnight, but it is worth giving it a fair chance on your home system. And you don't even have to leave the comfort of Windows. Ubuntu has a trial version you can open in a Windows window, and when you decide to install it, it's just as easy to set up a "duel boot" with the choice of Ubuntu or Windows every time you start your computer.

Of course, if you're happy with Windows, why change? All of this probably only applies to those of us who have gotten tired of typical Windows problems and lost one too many week-long research papers. Hope this was helpful!

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