User perks

My brother just tried Ubuntu 7.04 and he already uninstalled it because it doesn’t do what he wants to: support the SkyStarII PCMCIA card to watch satellite TV. Now, of course, there is support for it after you do all this (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) work, but no newbie in his right mind would do all that. It’s not a matter of double-clicking an app so it’s out of the question for him.

This is why Linux, or any other alternative OS for that matter, will never catch on. Because people have perks. Every user has one niche application or feature that they need and other OSes don’t provide in the same manner. Speaking for myself, the reason I still use WinXP as my main OS is the fact that (except that it works near-perfectly for me) it is the only OS that I can run many mobile phone emulators.

In other words, less than 10% of the world’s computer users are actually true average Joe Users. Even if they only do one single non-standard thing more than just let’s say, emailing and web browsing, that’s enough to not be cataloged as Average Joes. While in the traditional sense of the word my brother would be an average Joe User, in reality, he is not. And this is why Linux is more successful as a server and the Mac as an AV platform instead of desktop platforms: because they fill a niche in a way that it’s better than Windows’. If you have moved to an alternative OS, no matter how geek you try to look like by doing so, you did so because you either are in fact part of that 10% of the ‘True Average Joe Userbase’ or because you have the technical knowledge to overcome migration obstacles.

4 Comments »

Tom Dison wrote on May 23rd, 2007 at 9:51 AM PST:

Occasionally it works the other way. I bought a USB TV Card the other day. XP was specifically supported. Thing is, it wouldn’t work under windows. It kept hard-locking the computer, or it would create a black screen, etc. I installed, un=installed driver (including video, etc) until I was blue in the face. Finally I got it to worky, but it was extermely jerky – maybe 2 fps! Under Linux, it worked perfectly EXCEPT the sound. The problem under Linux was that it operated as a USB sound card also. I couldn’t figure out how to get the output of the sound from the new USB card (which did show up as a separate mixer) card to the input of the internal card. So I never got sound working under Linux. I finally just had to take the card back to Best Buy.

I know a true hacker would have gotten the sound working, but it was over my head. Under Windows, it was a total loss.

I know what you mean though. I have to keep XP around for gaming and some development I do at home. I’d like to wean myself, or at least not have to dual-boot. I have Parallels, but Games don’t cut it, and some USB devices don’t work. Also, Feisty’s switch to using Dash instead of Bash (what is up with that, anyway?) trashed Parallels. I can’t use “parallels-config’ to compile the kernel module. I am aware of hacks to fix this (symlinking bash, etc), but I haven’t felt liking doing it yet.


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Eugenia wrote on May 23rd, 2007 at 9:58 AM PST:

Thing is, average people don’t install a new OS just so they can use a peripheral they just bought. They return it to the store and they get another one. :)


blag wrote on May 24th, 2007 at 1:36 AM PST:

“Feisty’s switch to using Dash instead of Bash”

That cuts boot time down by 30 seconds compared to using Bash. Combined with new upstart-specific scripts to will hopefully be in Gutsy, startup should be very good.

For hardware support, it’s like any OS as you stated: barriers to entry. It’s not like kernel hackers don’t beg for device manufacturers to let them make drivers, and why Mark Shuttleworth thinks the Dell thing could help out in that regard. I’m with Tom and have also had both better and worse experiences in Linux vs Windows with drivers.


blag wrote on May 24th, 2007 at 1:39 AM PST:

wanted to add that for these alternative OS’s, you currently do need to do research before installing then trashing them. Eg., *never* use an ATI based tuner card (or Broadcom wireless), whereas Hauppauge is great. Anyways I think there’s a joelonsoftware article about that little niche feature that everyone needs that I’ll have to re-read in light of this. It’s amazing how prescient that article is.


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