The one thing I really like about Linux is that there is always something to write about and sometimes articles just seem to fall out of the sky and land on your head like a large dollop of stuff seagulls like to drop.
This week I was browsing the latest Linux Youtube videos and I stumbled on one called “5 Reasons Not To Use Linux“.
The video is about 10 minutes long and I was hoping it was going to be a useful insight as to why someone wouldn’t use Linux. Unfortunately it would have been a useful insight into why somebody wouldn’t have used Linux maybe 15 years ago.
This article is intended as a rebuttal to that particular video and not to Tim himself because there are some good videos on his feed at www.timmytechtv.com and he comes across as a likeable guy. This time however I think he got it wrong.
As in the video I will be going back from 5 to 1.
5. Too Many Distros
I can’t believe we are back here again. The too many Linux distributions debate is one that will run and run and quite often it is an argument that is used inside the Linux community as well as by outsiders looking in.
The way I like to think of it is this. There are hundreds of different flavours of crisps but most people stick to the same few flavours. Everyone tends to like “Salt and Vinegar”, not many people are so on “Quails Egg and Lemongrass”.
The point is that yes there are hundreds of Linux distributions but most people stick to the main 5 or 6 with the rest of the distributions getting a much smaller share of the users and people helping towards them.
One argument that Tim makes that kind of makes sense is that if everyone pooled together to make one or two distributions you would end up with something better. You have to question that if this is the case why are we all using Linux and not Windows. Windows has loads of developers but it still isn’t perfect.
The big distributions all have lots of people working on their projects. What the other distributions do which I think makes them relevant and what ultimately contributes to the greater cause is provide innovation.
Smaller distributions can afford to take chances and develop new pieces of software and try new things out. Innovative ideas soon make their way up the chain if they are any good.
Number 4 on Tim’s list is the lack of drivers available for hardware that you might want to run on Linux.
To be fair, Tim admits that things have got better but the main argument is that because the market share of Linux is so small the hardware vendors will always consider Linux support as an afterthought to the Windows market.
Ok, I get the point and it is a reasonable one. Let me think about all the hardware that I have in my possession.
I have a 10 year old Samsung laptop, all the hardware works on it including wi-fi, video drivers, audio drivers, bluetooth and webcam.
I have a 3 year old Toshiba laptop (this one in fact). I am running Bodhi Linux and all my hardware works perfectly well.
I have a 2 year old Dell laptop which again has fully working hardware under Linux. That laptop gets hammered as it is the one that I do most of my reviews on.
I bought a wireless Epson printer which was easier to set up under Linux than it was with Windows 8.1 although I will confess that everything seems to be easier to set up on my phone now than it does on traditional hardware.
Talking of which. I have a western digital my cloud device. Fully works under Linux using Samba. My HP headset works perfectly, my Samsung Galaxy phone works perfectly, my Sony Walkman works perfectly (not the cassette player from the 80s).
I can’t think of a single thing that I have bought in the past few years that hasn’t worked straight away with Linux.
To quote the video:
“WHAT THE HELL LINUX, THERE ARE NO GOOD UI’S”
This is the bit where Tim shows that he isn’t really a Linux user and probably never really has been. The other clue is that during his point about the number of distributions he mentions that he can name a dozen distros but his own personal favourite is “Red Hat”.
“Red Hat Linux” isn’t really the sort of distribution most people would run from home especially when there are free alternatives such as Fedora or CentOS.
So back to the point. Apparently there aren’t any good user interfaces within Linux and it is ugly. The one that Tim has always used is “XWindows”.
Now I am going to give Tim the benefit of the doubt and hope that by saying “XWindows” he maybe meant “XFCE” but it is likely he really did mean XWindows which is the graphical server that most window managers and then desktop environments are built on top of.
To answer the point however. There are no good user interfaces in Linux? If you are looking for beauty then take a look at these:
This all goes back to the choice argument. There are so many different desktop environments to choose from that you are bound to find one which you think works for you better than anything else.
The ridiculous thing about this argument is that Windows 8 can never go down as having a better GUI than either Unity, GNOME, KDE, Pantheon, Cinnamon, XFCE, MATE, Enlightenment or even LXDE,
If we are talking about usability then what about the mess that is Microsoft Office. Those ribbon bars are truly horrific.
There seems to be this impression that Microsoft does software well. Has anybody tried using Reporting Services to get a consistent report to Excel? The columns generally end up all over the place. Visual Studio 13 seems to be crashing a lot more now than it used to as well.
This is the point where Tim brings out his ace in the pack. “I want Adobe. I can’t run Adobe on Linux, I’m not using Linux”.
The same argument can be said of a few different packages including the Microsoft Office suite. I’m not going to try and argue with this point.
If you really need to use Photoshop, then use Windows or OSX and use Photoshop. In the video Tim says that somebody will say but you can use this other graphics package but he doesn’t want to, he wants to use Adobe. Full stop.
So here are my feelings on this. As I said before if you are a heavy Photoshop user and you can’t get over that then use Windows. Nobody is forcing anyone to use Linux.
How much does Photoshop cost by the way? According to the Adobe website it is £17.15 per month for a subscription of Photoshop CC.
If you aren’t a professional image editor and you aren’t using it for business you could save yourself a fair bit of cash by trying something new.
The same goes for Microsoft Office. An Office 365 subscription costs £5.99 a month. Do you really use £5.99 a month worth of features that don’t exist in either Google Docs or LibreOffice?
If you upgrade to Windows 10 by the way you also have to pay for the media player and the games are ad-supported.
I know lots of people that are using Windows but who use mainly packages which are also available for Linux. For example LibreOffice, VLC media player and Thunderbird Email.
Your decision about Windows or Linux doesn’t have to be a choice of one or the other. Many households have multiple devices and so you can use different computers for different tasks.
Let me ask you a question,which of these would you prefer to use to surf the web:
1. A Windows PC packed to the hilt with Antivirus software which is only about 70% effective. The same Windows PC which when booting will say “Installing update 1 of 364”. When you finally boot up every other package wants to update itself and the machine is running at half capacity because the antivirus software is eating up most of the CPU and memory
2. A Linux PC which boots in seconds and is straight online with a much reduced risk to your security.
Everything has its good points and everything has its bad points.
1. Ease Of Use
I can’t believe ease of use is the number 1 reason not to use Linux.
I bet if I gave my eldest child who is 13 a Windows DVD and a Linux DVD and asked him to install one on one computer and one on the other he would find it easier to install Linux.
My wife who is not particularly computer literate quite often borrows one of my laptops running Linux and she can navigate her way around without any hassle.
How can anyone level ease of use being a problem for Linux when you now have to compare it against Windows 8 and above?
Is Unity and GNOME any harder than using the tiled Windows 8 interface? Is Cinnamon any harder to use than the Windows 7 interface?
What about software? Is Evolution any more difficult than Microsoft Outlook and can anybody honestly say that it is harder to use LibreOffice than it is Microsoft Office with the dreaded ribbons?
I mentioned earlier that it was easier to set up my printer using Linux than Windows. Using Mint, Bodhi and Ubuntu I simply had to click “Add Printer” and it found my printer and installed the driver. Within Mageia I had to download and install the driver. When I used Windows I had to insert a CD, install the driver and software and then download an update, finally followed by the obligatory reboot.
2000+ people have already watched Tim’s video and that is potentially 2000 people that might not use Linux based on invalid arguments.
Hopefully a few more people will read this article and therefore redress the balance somewhat.
Before I go I wanted to mention that Tim has produced his own counter argument called “5 Reasons To Use Linux“. The points in that video state that Linux is multikernel, is open source, has support for many different hardware devices such as the Raspberry PI, has lots of distros (which kind of counters against point 5 in the reasons not to use Linux) and finally it is free.
If you have read this article and you are looking for a distribution why not read this guide which highlights the “5 easiest to use modern distros“. It is a year old and I plan to update it but might still be good for an indication.
Thanks for reading.