Monday, September 17, 2007

PCLinuxOS - Sharing Some Ecstasy and Agony with Frustrated Linux Users

This post is not for those who don't even know the "L" of Linux and don’t bother to know about it. Also this post is not for those who are very much religious zealots against Windows. But it is for the judicious and normal Desktop/Laptop users who for some reasons find it difficult to have a good time with Linux and shifting back to Windows.

I came from “Windows Old World” (Windows 9x and before). There are two major reasons behind my Windows => Linux shift. First, I was fed up with Windows Blue Screen of Death and bugs. And, second, I had to work on a RedHat thinclient. My first employer was a firm supporter of Linux and OSS. He even did over-expenditure for emulating some Windows based software that he can’t do without for the sake of making a computing environment that rides only on Linux.

Last few years of my tryst with Linux (and recently PCLinuxOS 2007) taught me many lessons on Windows => Linux shift and vice versa.

The apathy towards Linux is created from the preoccupations of Windows Operating Experience. Some of my friends of North-East, who had no access to the software vendors used community sponsored Mandrake, Redhat and Slackware, feel very much at home using any Linux. They don’t complain Linux for being “an OS for geeks”. The inborn Linux users (those who started computing with Linux) don’t have much pain as such. Because they were exposed to Linux World as you frustrated race were exposed to Windows world.

The other most important reason why many find Linux somewhat unmanageable is the geek tag attached with it. Let me dig the topic.

Dear frustrated Linux Users just look at the following contrasting points and make a judicious decision.

  1. Simple - You don’t have to mount your partitions in Windows, they are already mounted.

    Geek Approach - In some Linux flavors, you have to edit /etc/fstab file to change enable automounting.

    Conclusion - Mounting a partition is an extra job. Right. But it adds to your security and disk manageability.

  2. Simple - You don’t have to think which windows manager to use, which desktop environment to log in etc. It feels windows is a tightly integrated desktop.

    Geek Approach - You have a dozen of desktops environments, window managers, bla… bla….

    Conclusion - Diversity in window managers and desktop environments is not a deliberate approach towards complexity. Yes, Linux is not as tightly integrated as Windows is. But it’s a way to make the best of computing in terms of aesthetic sense and the hardware resource. If you have a modern hi-power computer, use KDE, tweak it to beat even Vista Aero look-n-feel. If you love little eye candy, but don’t want to compromise on performance, use Gnome. If performance is the major objective and desktop the least, then use, blackbox, fluxbox, rox, xfce….. And if you are a true geek, use a Linux sans any X-window environment. The choice is your. Choose one and stick to it. Visit and or more information.

  3. Simple - You have a mature set of productivity applications for windows. You don’t even have to read the “READ ME” or “INSTALL NOTES” before installation. They almost always work the way you want it to. No multiplicity in software related terms like: rpm, deb, pkg. tgz, autopackage, bin, sh, apt, synaptic, cnr…. No need to nail the brain in these jargons.

    Geek Approach - You have a still larger no. of software, repositories, package management tools, etc.

    Conclusion - This multiplicity in software installation terminology, diverse number of distributions, frequent updates, betas, RCs etc. lead to a chaotic situation. There is a way out, if you are not a Linux developer, choose only a Desktop Linux distribution, work on its default desktop environment, take pain to load with the required set of software and applications. Then just work on it. People often complain that Linux is not stable, because without having much knowledge of Linux, they start playing around and sometimes mess-up their system. Just work as you worked on your Windows without trying much geek tricks, I guarantee you will enjoy Linux as well. As for application maturity, it is improving very fast in Linux world. Visit for more information.

  4. Simple - Windows does it all for you. But you have to make Linux to do many works for you.

    Geek Approach - Linux can do a lot more than Windows does.

    Conclusion- Imagine the power of a root user and the extent of his freedom. Had windows not been a closed-source OS and had it offered that much power and freedom, I bet windows would have been a more disastrous experience (compared to Linux). Windows has integrated only an X number of applications (giving a chance to the third party to sell their products to its users) to a neat desktop, where as a normal you can’t rush deeper into. Whereas in Linux even the default installation gives you more number of applications. You need not need to do installations every now and then. Besides, there is no trouble in renewal; if your pc is online it receives regular updates.

  5. Simple - Windows is GUI control over it.

    Geek Approach - Linux Command driven.

    Conclusion – Neither is Windows a Fully GUI controlled, nor is Linux Fully Command driven. The GUI control of Windows is only skin deep and the real control lies in regedit and gpedit, both are more difficult than the Linux command line. Also compare Microsoft Windows Control Panel with PCLinuxOS Control Center (just run pcc on your PCLOS), you will definitely find configuration in Linux is much easier and fast in comparison to Windows.

  6. Simple - There are Trojan viruses, Rootkit viruses, spyware programs such as dataminers and keyloggers and 27 hijacks. But there are firewall, antivirus, bla.. bla… bla…

    Geek Approach - You just forget those malicious terms, you are secure in Linux, though for the security freaks, there are antivirus programs and firewalls in Linux world.

    Conclusion - In security world Linux beats Windows from all sides. I have never experienced any attack on my PC from the web or from LAN for last 4 years.

  7. Simple - There is no worry for devices drivers. Vendors supply drivers in the Windows pre-installed PCs.

    Geek approach - Search the web for drivers or configure your system as per the device tech-specs.

    Conclusion - Well, device problem is now a history in Linux World, you will have problem configuring devices if the Linux version you are using is older than your hardware, or if your hardware is so exotic that very few people know it.

Linux is not difficult. But it is different from the one you are used to, i.e, Windows. The frustration is often arises from that different way of working. Had we that intuition and inquisitiveness that we had at the time of learning Windows, it would have been just a child’s play.

Stay with it, never go out of your way for some geek tricks, till you know much about Linux internals. Learning is always a time intensive thing. Stay simple and faithful with Linux as you did with Windows. Use PCLinuxOS 2007, if you are desktop user, you won’t have any more frustration. Put your difficulties related to Linux before the community and before me.

PCLinuxOS computing! Happy computing!


rubin said...

would you send me a judicious list applications that i should add to my pclinuxos?

manmath sahu said...

a judicious list is a relative term across various users. well if you are used to windows and now trying get the comparable or more performance from pclinuxos here is a list apps:

xmms + xmms-wma > mp3 & wma plaback
w32codecs > all windows multimedia playback
libdvdcss > encrypted dvd playback
unrar + rar > archive/unarchive rar files
wordnet > wordweb like dictionary program

Anonymous said...

pclinuxos is rapidly improving... i think all the issues will be resolved 2 to 3 releases down the line.

How about this