Open Source

Linux installation standardisation: yes please, do something about it!

After some two years of being a full-time Linux desktop user, I think I can eligibly say this: “Please, do something about the installation of software on Linux, and soon!” You already lost me!

Now at the upcoming annual Desktop Linux Summit (San Diego, US), the Free Standards Group plans to bring up the Linux Standard Base, “a standard that dictates how the software and configuration files for Linux distributions are organized. ..Linspire, Novell, Red Hat, and
Ubuntu are already on board to support the new version, according to the FSG.” This means that installing new software on your Linux would actually become possible for most of us, too, who do not know how to use the command line, let alone what it is. For those who are not familiar with Linux, there is nothing like easy installation wizards that we know from MS and Mac.

Just about time. To my experience this is the biggest hindrance for an every-day user wanting to switch using Linux. Facing the installation process of a new software application is a definite “no-go” sign that leaves any potential user shaking her head and humbly mumble something like “yeah, so what’s wrong with Windows anyway?” and keep on running it.

And this is a real pity, do you know why? Because all the Linux distros geared toward desktop usage have spent a lot of time and effort to develop something that actually looks good and has pretty reasonable user logic (like you don’t shut down the system by going to the “start” menu). The Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) are pretty flexible to adapt to your desires, you can easily make customised menu-bars, run pre-installed applications smoothly, and they actually don’t crash that often. I’ve enjoyed using the latest Open Office, learned to change from PhotoShop to GIMP, managed to use Skype, etc. in my various Linux distros that I run on my IBM laptop.

But, what was a killer and a constant reminder about my no-nerdiness, was the fact that I never managed to install anything on my Linux. Forget about computers empowering users, here I was dependant on my Linux-savy boyfriend to instal a browser update! How degrading. And don’t tell me that I could easily just learn a few commands to do it myself. I refuse, I want developers who think about doing it for me. To drive a car I don’t need to dirty my hands with oil, so be it also with computers!

This is my message to Linux developers: as long as you keep developing to yourselves and your geeky-buddies, Linux desktop distributions will never become a real alternative for Windows! Developers developing only for themselves never think about the other user-groups like me and my mom, who have no clue of terminal and command line to execute some obscure commands.

So, typing this using my new MacBook Pro (which, by the way, doesn not always work well), I can only wish best of luck and courage for this effort in San Diego. And for those who want to keep the installation process as it is, so be it, but only for you. Check out this Flash catoon about Steve, the super Vilan, I love the way he describes the installation process. He really gets it right, it makes me laugh.

Flash animation origianlly from the Ubergeek website

InfoWorld about Desktop Linux Summit

2 replies on “Linux installation standardisation: yes please, do something about it!”

I agree – the bridge between geeky-world and not-geeky world is the fundamental junction people in IT overlook. I've never used Linux though, always thought it was cool but too difficult to be really productive with it, without becoming a system expert. How about the Ubuntu distribution? Should work on old-macs as well..


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