This entire conversation feels like something from ten years ago.+Eli Fennell
, your problem with the TV tuner wasn't the fault of the Linux community or the distro you tried. You talk about the average consumer, and yet your most specific hang-up was a piece of specialty hardware that isn't found on the vast majority of consumer systems out there.
Want to talk about "just works" out-of-box functionality? Okay: I nuked the OS X install on my older (2008) Macbook Pro. I could have installed Windows on it, but it would have been a pain in the ass to get working-- have to install the driver pack from the OS X disks (though a few would need updating), have to find the EFI patch to get to the Windows boot loader, and so on. Guess what worked right out of the box, the only thing needed being the install disk? Sure, a few of the distros I tried out for nostalgia were pains getting something like the WiFi working (stupid Broadcom chip). However, Ubuntu not only installed like a dream, but everything worked without any input from me.
Sure, I was able to go into the display settings and beef up my graphics performance by installing the closed-source drivers, but the fact is that there were already graphics drivers that Ubuntu detected and installed during initial setup that worked.
Installing software was easy as well. Granted, this is because Canonical has assembled its own repositories of stuff out there and built the app store that predates the ones on Mac OS and the new Win OS. Also, because I'm very specific about what I want I can bypass the built-in store and install from repositories of my own choosing. But building from source or requiring command-line knowledge to use the OS-- and at least one of those claims were made in this very comment thread-- are out of date accusations that date back to the 1990's. If you're willing to drop to terminal you can certainly install more powerful
software, but only in some cases and if you need
such software you probably have some familiarity with the terminal in the first place.
Now, if you want to talk about key areas where there is no support, you kinda have a point. Why Netflix chooses not to provide a supportable solution for Linux desktops and laptops is beyond me, but such a focal service still relying on dead technology (Silverlight) for their web provider is a bad move for reasons not even getting into the discussion over Linux desktops. Meanwhile, a workable solution for those wanting to watch Netflix on Ubuntu (and Debian-based distros) is available and it's easy to install. Google certainly needs to get their asses in gear and make Drive available for Linux, I'll agree there.
There are still things missing from the desktop experience for Linux, but at this point those things that are missing have nothing to do with average, everyday use cases. They have to do with specific software or support from specific hardware vendors. Daily use scenarios for Linux are pretty much equal to that on Windows and Mac OS. Web, email, and even basic document editing. For the basics, Linux is there
already, and has been for some time. But let's all be honest: the problem isn't the "just works" issue or the typical average user doing low-end activities. The problem is that the majority of "power users" out there who want Linux to work like Windows, so they don't have to learn a new system.
Pound for pound, Linux is worlds
easier than Windows for the power user or admin. If you (the reader) balked at that claim, it's because you likely have very little realization of what's actually happening on your Windows system when you do something. Windows 'power users' are folks who walk through wizards on the OS and tick off checkboxes and make radial selections in lists, expecting a certain outcome. As someone whose professional history includes Windows sysadmin, I'm well aware of how much Windows is not
telling the user at any given time, even when running at the highest privilege settings. Yet even in my most mission-critical instances working as a Win admin, you know what served me the best? The command line. Whether rebuilding user databases or repairing the directory after hardware failure corrupted it, those wizards and walk-throughs all proved useless and impotent at actually solving problems. The exe and msi installer files are all just glorified compressed directories and scripts-- just give me the wrapped-up binaries like in Mac OS or let me decompress where I choose like in Linux. The fact that Windows installers ask the user where to install today is thanks to the influence of installing the old school way using tarballs.
Don't take my criticisms to mean that I dislike Windows. I think Win 7 is probably Microsoft's best OS version to date. It gets a lot of the correct things right, and places where it lacks are excusable for the most part. I'm actually not
a fan of Ubuntu, but that's because I dislike Unity personally-- from a technical assessment and usability perspective I have to grudgingly admit that it works (and works well
despite my feelings). After having to actually do some work to fix the things underneath the pretty to fix Windows, I actually find it more
difficult to effect proper changes and fixes on Windows than on Linux-- provided you know what you are trying to change and why.
For those who haven't a clue what they're actually trying to change and are more comfortable being guided through the process, then certainly Windows is better at obfuscating the system to the sysadmin and power user. For regular web browsing, email, and instant messaging, however, the whole issue has become a Coke/Pepsi, six-of-one/half-dozen-of-the-other type of discussion.