No, I Don’t Hate Linux Now
A few questions I’ve gotten privately seem to call for a generalized response to save time.
I don’t hate Linux or BSD. Actually, I still love Linux — on the CLI. Indeed, I’m currently negotiating a trade for an old server box on which to run a Linux CLI installation. No GUI. The one thing about Linux I hate is the X server. It used to be pretty useful, but it has become such a huge mess. So it now auto-configures and all that? Yes, but not if you are using certain common video cards from a major player they haven’t bothered to code for since they came out two years ago. Of if your monitor happens to be just a little unusual. The X server development has gone entirely in the wrong direction, in my experience.
Linux has by far the very best framebuffer display system of any OS I’ve tried. It’s fully mouse-able (with clipboard) and some of the best applications exist for the CLI. Very important tools for things which Windows cannot do, nor be made to do, are what calls for me to keep a Linux terminal somewhere nearby. Insofar as I might be trying to obtain computer hardware in the future, the ability to run Linux as an optional OS will always be a factor in the decision. But I will never give thought to the Linux GUI any longer, because it will not ever meet my needs.
That’s the one major flaw with Linux and anything else Open Source — it’s all about the developer. Sometimes you’ll find a decent guy behind the project, and he’ll accept input on features, etc. Mostly, I find they not only don’t care what users want, but are openly hostile to such input. This is the sort of personality which creates Open Source software; it’s a feature built into the very soul of Linux. If you don’t write code, shut up and stay out of the way. If you dare to want some feature not included, you are evil for daring to want it. Yeah, freedom. Thus saith the Code Gods: “Write your own *&%#$%& code, slime!”
This is why Windows and other proprietary systems will continue ruling the market, and Linux will never find wide adoption on the desktop. The profit seeking motive of corporate software development lives or dies on pleasing the buyer, and there’s only so much you can do with marketing manipulation. Some of the biggest hype was wasted on products which never left the shelves. To the degree you can get that customer seeking ethic insinuated into the development process, you’ll get a product consumers might buy. The problem is keeping the zealous hobbyists from crippling it with insane requests for which the market is truly minuscule. Trust me, the most mundane and unexciting desktop GUI which provides the basic functions would sell better with just a little marketing savvy. All the fancy you can buy means nothing if it doesn’t actually do something useful.
Thus, every OS sucks, if you’ll pardon the crude vernacular. Most of them do something useful, but none of them can cover all the bases. Open Source never actually releases anything; it just dribbles out in a constant stream. To actually release a product implies you plan to support it for awhile as users adopt it and get used to it. No, rolling release is simply proof of the developer-centric nature of things, and users be damned. Unless they happen to be devoted hobbyist fans who never actually use anything, but keep looking for the next fix. And Windows will continue to manipulate, leverage, buyout, destroy and do whatever necessary — including satisfy the customer — to stay dominant until something happens and they have to close the doors. And Mac will continue pretending to be really cool, but only if you are willing to be even more manipulated and harshly controlled by a fascist slavemaster named Jobs. It’s a really good Unix distro, though, and the GUI is vastly superior to anything you’ll ever see on Linux.
I don’t hate any of them, but don’t particularly like any of them. Should something appear which actually tries to serve the customer, keep supporting the product more than two weeks running, and allow the maximum freedom for the user to do what they darned well please with the stuff they bought, support the common applications we all expect to see, I suppose I’ll actually become a fan. Right now, it doesn’t exist.
Update: If I could get CentOS 5 to work, I would use the GUI. For some reason, it has been by far the most reliable at detecting and configuring graphics and display hardware. It seems ATI still makes a proprietary driver for Linux, called “Catalyst”…