Of course, the discussion was between me and another geek, or maybe I should say a die-hard-coder-geek who's only way to interact with a PC is using a console. (means, no UI at all, init3-only state)
After having that discussion for a pretty big amount of time, I decided to ask in a few IRC channels, and see what other people thought about that. And to be honest, I was amazed about how geeks (read as: geeks, coders, net magicians, etc...) think. And I was amazed in a bad way.
There was only one argument about why Linux has so small market share:
- Windows comes pre-installed in 99% of PC's.
And the most used arguments about why people should switch to Linux were:
- Linux is free and Windows isn't.
- Linux is safer and Windows is basically a crap.
- Linux is easier.
- Linux has better support for hardware.
- Linux has more applications, and almost all of them for free.
Linux is free and Windows ins't - That's true, unless you buy one of the few paid distros. And, in fact, those are free too. You're paying for the support service or for helping the creator(s). I can't add anything more to that point, so, I'll accept that as a valid argument.
Linux is safer - That's true too. It's not the safest OS, but it pretty much kick's Windows ass. Nothing more to add on that argument. Yet another valid argument for switching from Windows to Linux.
Linux is easier and has better support for hardware - Wrong. Most Linux installers are as easy as Windows Vista/7 installers. But once installed, Linux just gets a pretty damn thing to control.
By the way, just in case you're reading my blog without knowing who am I or what I do, I'm a software developer and a die-hard Linux user, I have been using Arch for a couple of years, and before that I was on Debian with KDE and Kubuntu. It's worth to mention that I pretty much hate anything Windows related.
So, as I was saying, after finishing the install part, Linux just turns to be a pain in the ass compared to Windows. Let me explain why.
Windows users have all those magic autorun-CD's, part of their computer with a pre-installed Windows, that install pretty much all drivers, codecs, some other important stuff like Adobe Flash, ShockWave and a few crapware/bloatware applications. Just insert the CD and wait for it to finish it's work.
On the other hand, the easier distros, like Ubuntu, make your computer work with some open source drivers without you having to do anything, but they don't install any codecs because of some law/restrictions reasons.
The codecs part is understandable. If you want those, just install them. Some appilcations, like Amarok2, detect missing codecs and install them for you. We could say that that is as easier as installing codecs with an autorun-CD. But what about drivers? Let's be honest, open source drivers just suck. Sure, they let you open your favourite web-browser and check your email, the news and see your photos, but that's all. You can't watch full-screen movies in 1080p (lack of performance), you can't play any 3D-intensive games, you can't work with applications that require 3D (CAD for example). For doing all those things you need to install the proprietary drivers.
NVidia drivers aren't that hard to install, you just have to choose them from your package manager, install them and reboot. But ATI... oh dear, ATI drivers are just a major pain in the ass. 95% of the time you end up with a messed X, or even worse, without X. Also, what about Intel graphics? Those aren't even installable... Of course, not by a normal person that bought a computer a few months ago with the hope to be able to read emails, news and watch movies.
Also, IRC channels, forums and so on aren't a solution for a very high percent of people. They buy a PC to make their life easier, not to be forced to RTFM!
Geeks doesn't seem to understand that the "just open a console and write `sudo apt-aDvFg#$%&gga!!#¿!¡¡'`" is difficult for people.
Linux has more applications, and almost all of them for free - Linux has tons of applications. Tons of useless or duplicated applications. Once again, let's be honest, there are 500 music players for Linux, and none of them is good. You have Amarok2 that feels like it needs 4gb of RAM to work properly, then there are Totem, Kaffeine and Xine that just don't match the concept of 'beautiful user experience', not even skins make them look good. And then there are a few Gnome players that do match the 'beautiful user experience' concept and system integration but they lack some basic features.
Same happens with video players, IM applications (btw, I'm one of the developers of aMSN), mail applications, etc...
Even worse, Linux users don't have any quality nor production ready applications.
CAD applications are totally missing.
Games have less quality graphics than the majority of free games that I can get on my Android phone. Don't go on the "games don't need to have quality graphics to be good" as that argument applies only to puzzle and some platforms games. And even so, gamers don't play those type of games! They want good looking FPS or racing games or... You get my point.
Graphics applications are useless for professionals. There are GIMP and Krita, maybe a few other ones, but they just suck for everything else than resizing images and applying a few filters. They aren't alternatives for Photoshop and Dreamweaver.
The same happens with video editors. There are a few open source projects that are trying it hard, but they won't let you do anything further than applying nice transitions between clips/photos, and applying filter to clips. Have you used Pinnacle or Premiere?
Music editors? That area is so empty that makes me laugh every time I think about it.
I won't go into the discussion about why is that happening or why companies aren't porting their products to Linux as that's a hole other topic.
So, the results are:
- Pro's for switching to Linux: free and safe.
- Con's for switching to Linux: difficult and useless.
The fact is that Linux has a small market share because it's difficult and because it lacks some very important applications. Deal with it.