In 2014, I installed Xubuntu on four of my friends’ laptops. At least one of them is using it actively, for day-to-day tasks.
Impressed by the performance, Sud avoids booting into his Windows 7 installation, unless absolutely necessary. However, I’m not sure if he’d be able to utilize GNU/Linux to the fullest without me around.
Observing Sud’s case, I notice three areas which have been holding back the fabled Year of the Linux Desktop.
India is a place where people believe in sharing. And that extends to software as well. It is common to find Android users sharing APKs with friends. That means GNU/Linux, which encourages the idea of sharing, should be quite popular in here, right?
With the current situation of the ecosystem, sharing of GNU/Linux applications is overly difficult. Let’s see. How would you go around sharing a copy of an application with Sud, when he’s running low on his Internet pack?
- Say you get it from the Ubuntu repo. What next? The files are scattered across the scores of directories in the file system. Would you run around fetching each one of them?
- Another way: you might download the .deb file from the APT repo. Next thing you know, it has 38 dependencies. Nope, sorry.
- Building from source? What a drag!
- Fetch a binary from the website. In most cases, all they would give you is an executable file. It won’t show up in the menu and you won’t see update notifications. Few applications are available directly as .deb or .rpm, so that the repos are added automatically.
Now let’s say you want to do something similar on Windows: all you have to do is share the setup.exe and you’re good to go. End of story.
(Before you ask, no, I’m never going back to Windows.)
The installation of most distros seems to as easy as it can get. But is it easy enough for a noob?
Turns out, if you want to install a distro, you need someone with at least rudimentary experience at installing it (or enough curiosity to rummage the Web and find out for yourself).
There’s not much that we as a community can do in this direction. The only way out of this, is that OEMs sell more machines with GNU/Linux preinstalled.
Necessary proprietary evil
Quick question: Sud just booted up his freshly installed copy of Xubuntu, only to find that movies won’t play. What is the first thing that comes to his mind?
Option a: “Whoa! No codecs! I should immediately do a
sudo apt-get update and install the
Option b: “That sucks. I’ll just go Windows for now.”
Again, there’s not much we can do here, other than sulking and waiting for the download.
These are some of my observations on what has been putting off the Year of the Linux Desktop. Would you rather have had a longer list? Or perhaps shorter? Do comment about it.