Users are right when they say linux is not ready for desktop. And they are right when they point to some rough edges of linux for it, such as: lack of device drivers, lack of good application software, problem to sync many portable devices, problem in wireless configuration, slow startup and shutdown, problem in installation/uninstallation of software, vast number of distributions and lack of uniformity among them, lack of a better desktop environment, etc...
I would like to add a small point that many others have missed out, and that is non-critical user annoyances. These annoyances actually don’t hamper computing in Linux but they do drive users away from Linux. I would request readers here that I am no way making a rant here. This blog only tries to make aware linux developers to take care of these things before pushing one release after another...
1. Windows XP is almost 7 years old but it still installs on any pc or notebook. The installation is almost smooth. After installation the users start hunting for device drivers and they always get them on the web and the job is done. Desktop Linux Distros despite improving rapidly after every release, sometimes don’t install on some PCs and Notebooks. It dies with a black screen! Of course, there are many way to land on a text terminal or change the boot options and resume installation, but why should a user care about it?
2. If you are a power user of Windows XP, you are probably aware of its event logs. After every session it dumps something to the event log, but very few general users are aware of it. Whereas in Linux most probably you will see a nautilus-debug-log.txt or xyz.core file in the /home/user directory. Some users really get scared about this. May be even after so many years linux lacks a good desktop environment or even if there are KDE and Gnome (and dozen others) they are never better integrated.
3. In Windows the situation is "either it works or it doesn’t". It’s straight forward. But Linux is full of workarounds. A user after facing some problem googles it and most probably lands on a forum. There if he/she is lucky gets a perfect solution, else a workaround. For example, if a user searches for a solution to get his/her xyz driver he gets some suggestions – do this and that and the driver will work, but it won’t deliver certain features, and so on... Who will love a workaround?
4. Desktop Linux comes with many unnecessary blots. Install Fedora 8 or 9 and you will know the situation. Make a default installation and you will see you are no way related to many those default applications. Sometimes many are just duplicates of others. But if you try to remove them you will know that you are loosing some applications that you really need. What an annoyance! Some of you know that it is because of modularity of linux packagement, but again why should a lay user care?
5. The worst annoyance of all in Linux is "rapid change". Before a component is stabilized another release comes up with another unstable version.