Linux on the desktop

PC World has reignited the debate about desktop Linux, arguing that it’s dead. They are careful to point out that this doesn’t mean Linux as a whole is dead – we have Android phones and servers to thank for that.

Over the years I’ve tried desktop Linux a few times. The first time was in 1996 and it was torturous. In 2003 I gave Fedora a go and that was much better but the lack of software options proved an issue at the time. In the last year I’ve installed Ubuntu on a dual-core laptop and tried to live with it. The laptop install was made necessary because it was given to me with Windows XP pre-installed. When I ran Windows Update it installed SP3 which broke wifi networking. After digging around it turns out updated drivers are required for SP3 and the manufacturer (Broadcom) hasn’t released any.

So Ubuntu 9 (later 10) was installed in an attempt to get a usable machine for surfing the web and some occasional gaming – without having to shell out for a Windows license. First impressions were excellent. The UI could be tweaked to suit my preferences – I don’t like the dual bars across the top and bottom of the screen you often get with Gnome – and the Package Manager worked like an app store – only free! It really is impressive how close the OS comes to being a viable modern desktop OS. Only one issue ruined the experience but it proved to be a show stopper. When resuming from sleep, the display was corrupted forcing a reboot. In my attempts to fix this I had to try and use Grub 2 to set kernel parameters. After hours of wasted time trying to understand how Grub 2 worked I gave up, this insane boot manager ruins what was becoming a usable desktop OS.

Maybe it’s best to stick with Windows and OS X for the time being. Disappointing as Linux looks on the verge of a breakthrough.

One comment

  1. Chris Barker says:

    Great article, it's nice to know that there are some people out there who are just sitting on the fence waiting for it to happen, (rather than it be Marmite, love it or hate it thing). Only concern I have, would the immanent arrival of Chrome OS. With the cloud that is Google, will it be long before they will be supporting 3rd party applications???


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