The Linux operating system might have created a revolution, thanks to the ‘open’ way of building software. However as a consumer desktop operating system, it has to go a long way. Even today it fails to provide a seamless experience for users. I have been associated with Linux (both as a user and programmer) for the past 10 years and love it as a engineer. However on the user experience side it sucks big time even today. Let me list out my painful personal experience at various times.
Year 2000 – It was the time when I bought my first assembled desktop. Having Linux was definitely a need, mainly to do assignments and projects. It was also the time when the concept of ‘X windows’ (Linux version of Windows) became popular where many of my geeky classmates started tinkering to get it to work in assembled computer with all different vendor-device combinations. Having a Windows kind of interface (in form of GNOME) was really cool, as all we knew was boring black and white SCO UNIX terminals. When anyone got it to work, it was a matter of pride. In spite of multiple attempts and taking help from friends, I failed to get it to work. It was so annoying to see the ‘startx’ command miserably failing every time.
Year 2006 – Having graduated to a Acer entry level laptop, it was time to try out Linux again. Ubuntu (v4.0) was becoming famous by then and my geek community (with different set of people) were boasting how easy to install Linux and the way Ubuntu has revolutionized installation process with ‘live CD’. After getting free CDs (after all who wants to miss out on freebee), tried it out again.Phew! This time around the X windows problem is solved, felt really good to have it working. The happiness lasted hardly for couple of days when the ‘grub’ got corrupted (god only knows why) during normal boot-up process. It not only ruined the Linux, but my Windows partition also got wiped out.
Year 2011 – Another 5 years passed by and who can save peevish me! Again its to experiment with Linux (with Ubutu v10.0) , this time in my new Toshiba laptop. Aahah! One week after installation Ubuntu Linux is still up and running with no issues. This time I thought of really taking baby steps for using it for normal purpose and immediately found the wireless card is not getting detected. Running Ethernet cable for connecting to Internet is not a possibility, given the fact that I have a naughty 2.5 year old, who will use it for playing tug of war! After going thro’ multiple forums I understood v10.0 doesn’t support my Broadcom 802.11n adapter. Thanks to the way Linux is built, downloaded multiple *.rpm and fixed a bunch of dependencies associated with it. No luck! The wireless card was not getting detected at all. In the mean time v10.10 got released and thought an upgrade will solve the wireless issue. After all who can save me after determined to get screwed up! After following same-simple-steps and v10.10 faithfully deleted my Windows partition, in-spite of me choosing the proper option of dual-boot. Along with my Windows partition I lost about 20 articles I have written just before hosting jwritings.com.
I don’t know if I am unlucky or something wrong between Linux and me. In spite of trying for 10 years I am still not able to get it to work for day-to-day usage. Definitely installation process improved over the past decade but far from helping a novice to get it up and running. In an era where customer experience is far more valued than a technological advancement, not sure where Linux is heading in terms of consumer desktop operating system.
What is the point in getting something for free, but not usable?