A good thought experiment: is it actually harder to teach someone to use Ubuntu 20.04 than Windows 10 for general computing tasks like web browsing, email, word processing, and light photo editing?

If so - why?

Spoiler alert: yea, it is, but every instance of this is the fault of large tech companies.

Show thread

Yes, installing Linux is a pain - as much of a pain as installing Windows. But users don't usually do that, because Microsoft makes deals with everyone under the sun.

Show thread

Yes, some hardware (especially graphics hardware) is poorly supported under Linux, not because the kernel is technically incapable of supporting it but because Nvidia are a bunch of dickheads.

Show thread

Yes, a lot of games don't run on Linux, but we see right at this moment that all it took to change that was a concerted effort by one medium-sized tech monopoly.

Show thread

Adobe could port the whole CC suite to Linux if they wanted to. They could rewrite the audio plumbing at the same time and sell Adobe Studio OS with all their shit preinstalled and, for the people who run Adobe products, it would probably be awesome!

Show thread

We could have easily configurable desktop experiences that are adaptive, lightweight, and GUI configurable. Imagine the XFCE project with real market penetration and funding!

But we never will because MS won't let them play in their playground.

Show thread

Instead we have ad-ridden garbage _baked into the fucking operating system_, no standardization, an absolute joke of a "package manager" being deployed this week on the most popular platform on the planet.

Show thread

Makes me want to fucking scream. Capitalism ruined computing just like it ruins everything and I'm so fucking tired of it. But at least people could stop pretending that it isn't happening.

Show thread


To be fair, Ubuntu also has a bunch of ad bullshit, it's just far less than windows has.

Thank God other Linux kernels exist though

@VioletHaze > Ubuntu also has a bunch of ad bullshit, it's just far less than windows has.

Afaik it really doesn't anymore, it no longer has the Amazon button and currently only advertises Livepatch in the installer which is now both free and open source

@tindall I don't think it's Microsoft alone. The rest of the commercial PC software and hardware ecosystem is mostly indifferent and sometimes hostile to Linux since they don't make money at it.

But all the laptop vendors are making Chromebooks since Google pretty much told them what to build, and they sell well. This feeds device driver updates to the Linux kernel so I guess that's something.

Basically they want some other big company to lead the way. Looks like we will end up with Linux containers on Windows and Chromebooks since that's what Microsoft and Google are building.

@tindall remember that "interview" from oracle folks in what it took to port their database to Linux?

"typing make"

@tindall Once upon a time rumour had it that Microsoft agreed to keep out of the CAD market if Autodesk dropped support for AutoCAD on Un*x systems (where it originated). Dunno if that's true (of course, very few people would know even if it was) but an ex-Autodesk salesman did acknowledge to me that it wasn't inconsistent with anything he knew.

So, just possibly MS said to Adobe “stay Microsoft-mostly and we won't compete with you”. Very quietly. Maybe.

@tindall is installing Linux a pain? in my experience it's "push enter a few times"

@ben no no. For the vast majority of users, it's

1. Burn or buy an install medium, something they would not have to do otherwise.

2. Disable fast boot to Windows.

3. Boot up into BIOS and select boot medium

4. push enter a few times

This is my point. There's nothing inherently wrong with Linux - big tech has systematically made it a pain in the ass to the extent that few do it.

@ben It used to be just two poorly documented steps. Now it's four. On a lot of cheap machines it's just straight up impossible without a great deal of work, and sometimes not even then.

@tindall what we need is easier PXE boot

that removes steps 1 and 2

@ben what we need is a checkbox on the bestbuy website that says "preinstall (X) windows ( ) ubuntu"

@tindall they could do this

but they'd cost the same amount because of how Microsoft licenses OEM Windows and I absolutely do not trust Best Buy to install an operating system on a computer

@tindall Lenovo ThinkPads will be available with Fedora - announced during Red Hat Summit not log ago 👍

@gytis @tindall Dell has also had computers available with Ubuntu preinstalled (the XPS 15 I think). But go to their website and order one, and you'll see they're not really making it obvious.

@tindall Wouldn't it make more sense to rephrase that to say: Getting Linux on your computer is a much bigger pain than Windows, because Windows comes preinstalled.

This is because installing Windows is a lot harder than installing Linux. Windows requires you to find all sorts of of special drivers and it's not always clear where to get them, while on Linux is generally all preinstalled.

That doesn't matter all though, for the exact reason you highlighted. Microsoft has, since the 80's, relied on ensuring that computers come preinstalled with Windows by default, and have in the past taken to illegal means to keep it that way.

People who argue that Microsoft are good now probably are not fully aware of just how bad they behaved, and the only reason they reduced their amount of bad behaviour was because the Web and Cloud computing was threatening them to become irrelevant.

Once Microsoft has power over a given technology, you can be sure that they will leverage that power to crush competition everywhere possible.

@tindall it's definitely harder if you include "find someone in person who can help you out if you get stuck" as one of the necessary skills. beyond that ... no idea.

@technomancy i would argue that that's one of the few things that's easier, since with Windows you hit a ceiling of ability of a non-MS employee to help quite fast

@tindall I guess my intuition is probably pretty out of date since I haven't paid much attention post-7.

@tindall had this discussion with my boss the other day, and really it all seems to come down to "windows is already on the laptop they bought"

consumers just don't want to do anything to the thing they bought before beginning using it. they have been sold a magic rectangle and learning anything more about it is an unnecessary chore. it seems that microsoft has made damn sure that as many magic rectangles as possible ship with their trash preinstalled

@SpankyWorks @tindall it's not *just* that. apart from ensuring it's on every computer, Microsoft also makes sure that high school IT classes cover their software and their software only.

@tindall funny you should mention that, because just last week i was practically begged to install Ubuntu over win10 by someone whose level of computer literacy is calling the screen contents "website" and the computer "hard disk"

@tindall in my experience: no, and if the user only needs exactly the things you stated, ubuntu is *vastly* simpler

@tindall i can also anecdotally state with confidence that apple users and users who haven't kept up with changes in windows since the early 2000s find going from their preferred os (xp, macos) to ubuntu much less frustrating than going to windows 10

@tindall i would not have said this even five years ago, but i currently genuinely believe that if you are not tech-savvy and only have basic computing needs, ubuntu is a dramatically better option than windows

five years ago i would've said that with a lot more asterisks and conditions (consider that i taught my high school bus driver, who is in his 80s and still on dialup as of last year, how to use slackware linux for all his needs)

My dad was to non tech savvy for Linux. Windows keeps giving him trouble all the time... :blobfacepalm:

@jookia interestingly I've heard both sides on this - screen reader support is poor but support for assistive pointing devices is really advanced and since so much can be done from the command line people who can't use a mouse at all aren't totally boned

but yeah it's definitely an area that needs attention

@tindall @jookia Also, we have emacs, which tbh, is good that as a text editor is an OS since it works with texts and so, it makes easy for text-to-speech applications to read contents from the emacs buffers and so, a lot of emac's applications are available to vision-impaired users. I know two TTS es for emacs, EmacsSpeak and festival.el

@tindall It depends. If they are already familiar with other Windows versions, it is obviously harder - fewer skills will transfer, and they might even need to unlearn some things. Also network effects (more people using Windows means more help and fewer conflicts).

@tindall People are so used to Windows, that they already learned all the convoluted procedures for things that are simpler, and adapted to not being able to do things that are hard because of Windows.

Like installing stuff by downloading setup wizards from untrusted websites and running them with admin privileges. Having the computer randomly restart to install updates. Not having a torrent client installed by default.

@tindall because they probably have used Windows most of their life.

The nipple is the only intuitive user interface. Everything else has to be learned. Familiar things are easier interfaces than unfamiliar things. (Which is why MS needs to stop overthinking the Start Bar, Win 95 was a great UI why run away from it?)

If you found a theoretical person or child with no familiarity with Windows, it wouldn’t be any harder, and since it’s simpler in general, it might be a bit easier

@tindall In my experience? Nah. Once it's working, they click firefox and it's just a thin client. And typically they like shotwell better than microsoft photos or whatever, once it's connected to facebook. The largest barrier to a good user experience is nervous users who won't click around and try stuff because they heard linux was hard so they don't want to break anything.

@tindall No. Well it depends. Web browsers are the same, email is largely the same, and if somebody doesn't have special needs in word processing Libre Office is a good tool. And we have good photo editors.

I could convert my mom's machine from Windows Xp to Linux (various distro) with KDE back in the day. And she was very comfortable with it, rarely complained. She even used both KDE 3 and 4. Never showed her Gnome, because it was (and still is imo) a mess.

@tindall This thread comes at a great time, I just spent the past few days trying to remotely support an advanced CS student through almost bricking his computer trying to install Ubuntu (and I've never tried installing it either). Basic knowledge of things like "what is a partition" and "how to make a clean install" aren't really as commonplace as we'd assume even among tech people, and especially among university taught CS people I know practical knowledge is sometimes very low.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Cybrespace is an instance of Mastodon, a social network based on open web protocols and free, open-source software. It is decentralized like e-mail.