Is Linux Usable?

By Xah Lee. Date:

Linux as Desktop is such a joke. Those comparing Linux as desktop on sites or forums are just lying thru their teeth, or so brainwashed they don't know what they are talking about.

my first Linux install is MkLinux on iMac 1999, then in 2000 installed Debian for a company i worked at. But i never actually used Linux as desktop.

Until this year. Now i've been on Linux, 16 hours a day, for half a year.

I've always been curious, what Linux desktop is like, how good it must have become for the past decade. Sometimes you hear friends say it's totally usable, good, that i should try it.

well, now i have. As desktop, it's far worse than Mac or Microsoft Windows. Here's some simple examples:

today i realized the audio problem (no sound) is caused by a kernel issue with Logitech webcams. you can see detail here Linux: Fix Audio Problem, PulseAudio. if you web search that error message, it's all over the web. It's logged as bug in several places, among which is the Linux kernel. Started at least as early as 2010.

quite amazing. Note that basically all Logitech webcam will cause this problem. Either no sound, or even interfering with system boot. And Logitch webcam is the most popular brand of webcam out there.

imagine, mom and pop buys a webcam, plug in, then the machine stops having sound or stops booting.

ain't that incredible? yet, if you haven't used Linux, you sometimes hear the fanatics on how it's usable, etc.

Oh, also, you know there's Dropbox? well, Linux also have one, called UbuntuOne. It's absolutely unusable.

the point of this post, apart from my usual rant, is the cult problem. It lives in lisp too, like the lisper idiots would totally claim, with straight face, that nested parenthesis is as readable as normal syntax [see Lisp Syntax Cult Problem], or the emacs fanatics, would claim that emacs keys isn't a problem and is well designed. [see emacs users with RSI]

again, now i can say i know the Linux desktop experience. How it compares to Mac or Windows? Surprisingly or not surprisingly, it's same as a decade ago. Mac, best, expensive. Windows, usable, but lots annoying things and you have to worry about virus. Linux? Pain in the ass, but free, and if all you do is command line, yeah, great.

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