Who do newcomers give up on Linux?

As the linux desktop share rises we will have more and more treads like “MOVIE PROBLEM!!!1” “MY something DON’T WURKKKK!!!112418748” “HEEEEEEEEEEELP” and etc. Most of the people are just stupid or uninterested to learn. Look at the windows help forums. Full of such non sence- he installed 13 codec packs and now he can’t whatch movies. Can’t imagine why! And that’s just windows. When this brainpower reaches linux it gets confused. Even the DE has more options than the Control Panel (or whatever it’s called in Vista\7).
Maybe the rise of linux share won’t give such benefits as some think. There will be not more contributors, just more whines with the same “problems”.:\

Yast is one of the strong elements of openSUSE. In fact, that was the first thing that impressed me when I tried it out (SUSE 8 or so) several years back. Before that I was a Redhat user. In Redhat, I had to run different tools to get various admin stuff and it was difficult to train not-so-intelligent guys on all those tools. Redhat changed several of their tools (especially the network configuration tool) in every version those days. Also, their tool was not at all good to setup dial-up networking. I switched to SUSE and never looked back. (Sometimes I tried out Fedora inside a VirtualBox for academic reasons.)

As caf4926 mentioned, post-11.2 is going to be a great experience. (KDE4 created some confusion but all may be for a very good future).

I can see that some of the senior members are specialized in their areas of expertise and concentrating more on related queries from users. My expertise is sort of varying - more on core Java etc. - but I tried to involve in others too if I can answer.

@siminin: It would be great if those dump users start using Linux, M$ tries to get them back to Windo$, they go to Winodo$ forums and say “Why can’t it work in Winod$? In Linux, it just works!”.

They will come don’t worry lol! but they won’t make the quality of linux higher. Just will flood where they shouldn’t. Probably they will go to the developer irc channel or forum to post problems with their video rotfl!The only thing that will be good is that the game industry will pay more attention and OpenGL and video drivers will be better.
And another reason to whine is why it is nessesary so often to update to new version. They are used to 3-4-5 year waiting for new windows version and here it’s sooo fast:P
There is a bigger chance linux distros to change in a way that will please those useres making the things more windows-y than changing the way they think (I can’t be wrong it’s the OS fault).

It’s interesting that you have overlooked “Documentation” as one of the reasons. Why interesting? It is often one of the criticisms made against linux distros generally. As a generalization Windows’ help and documentation is said to be better, and a lot of money is probably invested in that. Of course there will be exceptions to this general observation.

However, in the case of linux there are applications where there is no help - click on it and you find just a skeleton or just an error message. Where there is help, the quality can be a problem given the international development. However good the authors language skills are, documentation produced by developers is often not written in a style that is easily read by users, particularly for help texts and user manuals. I expect corporations pay professional writers to polish the text and reduce complexity where possible certainly for end-user documents.

I haven’t looked at many Windows documents since the days of Win95. I still have a couple of those apps under wine, and the documentation is excellent. Anyone who doesn’t work in IT, absolutely needs decent help and documentation.

Yes, we get by. The Windows user new to linux may get frustrated by the extra time needed to find the right explanation if it doesn’t exist locally. The extra time, often not anticipated, gets in the way of getting the job done, and they fire off a query, probably into the wrong forum. Many will give up. It’s not always ignorance, just frustration, pressure, and lack of time in a busy working environment.

As a newbie I’d like to give some first impressions on this.

I have 11.1 on 3 of our 5 systems. one is just 11.1, one is a dual boot Vista/11.1(as netflix doesn’t support Linux for it’s Watch Instantly streaming) and on my main system tri-boot: XP/Vistax64/11.1x64. I am somewhat of a computer geek, my fiancée, while no IT person, does take care of the computers in her office and running mobile wireless networks when they run mobile clinics (WIC).

Now she would have taken one look at #1 on the above list if she was going to try to install 11.1 and just say “this is over my head” and openSUSE would have never been tried. I guess because I have experience with multiple boot setups, I didn’t find it as daunting plus I have the desire to really see if Linux is a viable, practicable solution for our home use as Vista and Win 7 don’t support a lot of our older hardware.
I was willing to go thru the forums here, search my questions on the net, have just bought a couple books on openSUSE and take some time to get some hardware issues (sound, video, wireless net card) solved. Still have a TV tuner card not working right but I’m working on it. Still have the task of getting a openSUSE/Windows home network w/file sharing going.Installing applications/programs still seems foreign compared to what I’m used to.Guess I got lazy/spoiled with download & click on setup.

But I want to learn how to do it so the effort is worth it for me. Will the average Windows user be willing to go thru all that? My guess- probably not. My fiancée will use openSUSE if I install and maintain it for her, not sure if she’d do it on her own.

One poster mentioned it was like learning a new language. It is. I started playing with computers 20 years ago. I remember spending hours upon hours learning MSDOS 3 commands. Seeing all the Linux commands IS to me a foreign language.

Unfortunately anything to be used by the masses does seem to have to be “dumbed down” to be successful.


And as confused posted- documentation is a big part of it as well. I, as a want-to-know-about-it user, will make the effort to search out info/solutions. The average Windows user trying Linux? Again I use my fiancée as an example- she more than likely wouldn’t and give up.


Well I’m a newbie who installed 11.1 about a week ago. Fortunately, my install went pretty much ok and all my hardware seemed to work out of the box on my thinkpad. I did do some reading up before hand to make sure I was familiar with the install process, especially as I was dual booting with XP. I also took the time to install 11.1 on a vitrual machine just to get a bit of a feel for it so I was probably a bit more prepared than your average newbie who may just download the ISO and try to install it.

My biggest frustration has been finding reliable information of how to fix problems when they do arrise. I found many of the wiki articles to be out of date or the information related to a different distro so it isn’t always easy to apply to Suse. I do think documentation (whether officially released by suse or the wikis) need to be inproved so newbies can find the correct relevant information quickly.

Another problem is the number of competing solutions to fix or reslove a problem and not all of them are good or correct for the particular kernel version. It’s not always easy to identify the “correct” or most suitable method to follow. An example is trying to reduce to power consumption while running on battery for my laptop. I still don’t really know how to do this effectively as there are so many articles and posts with differing methods that it get very confusng. Many refer to utlities which aren’t available for suse - well at least not if you don’t compile it specifically.

There are some other quirks which will throw a newbie and that is the way updates or the installation of new applications is handled with YAST. An example is, I have the PAE kernel installed (it’s what got installed by default). When I installed Virtualbox I suddenly had another Kernel (default) installed and a new boot option in grub. The same sort of thing happened when I installed something from suse’s software site via the “one click”. I ended up with a new kernel (zen). What’s that all about? This is confusing and may seem logical to an expert or there may be a good explanation but to a newbie it’s confusing.

OpenSuse seems to have done a good job of creating a good desktop version of Linux but it’s all the peripheral aspects of running Linux that now needs to be tidied up before I think the average user will take to it.

I myself have decided to stick with it and work through the pain barrier and will eventually migrate all three of our home computers to Opensuse. It’s just taking me a lot longer than I anticipated to get things set up and running the way I require in order for me to carry out my daily work using it.

These forums are a great resource and so far everyone’s been helpful to me and my questions.

If there was one thing that I think could be done that will help users; then that would be to set up a comprehensive and fully maintained wiki of all commands, problem solving articles and configuration articles. These will need to be maintained and updated as each new version of Opensuse is released. It’s a huge task but no matter how good and easy you make your install process and how nice and flashy your desktop and update utilities are, it all falls down when you do hit a problem and you cannot easily find a solution to fix it.

One last thing. Linux being free and opensource seems to give all newbies an impression that all software for it should be free and opensource too. They complain way to easily when a piece of software or app they install doesn’t work properly but they forget that didn’t pay anything for it and most of it is developed by hobbiests.

The PAE kernel, address memory over 3GB in 32 bit machines. So if you are _64, you should use default kernel.
Xen is for the virtualization software of the same name. I have seen it dragged in before with other users. And to be honest, Xen is only any use if you have a PhD in that very subject. Beyond me I am affraid. I just use Virtual Box, even a dumb ass like me can manage that.

You make some good points though.

#1 reason…It’s not Windows.

  1. Partitioning
    is something confusing and frightening and all the warnings confusing techno-babble doesn’t help. Most people probably don’t know what NTFS is, let alone how to mount a drive so you can read/write to it.
  2. Selection of Desktop and applications
    . Some types of applications are not well supported in Linux; AutoCAD, Flash (development), etc.
  3. Any/All hardware that isn’t detected
    . For example my son just got a (cheap) digital camera for his birthday and it comes with an installation CD, but Linux does not recognize it at all, so I can’t download his pictures/video clips and he’s been patient… so far.
    Or when he got a Chess games software, CrossOver Games only works partially and he doesn’t get the cool 3D feature.
  4. Multimedia and codecs
    . Most people, I suspect, do not even realize that there is a royalty paid for the MP3 codec or that some companies still don’t allow anybody else to use their technology. I remember how frustrating it was when Windows Media Player did not automatically include MP3 codecs!
  5. Applications that aren’t “up to snuff”
    with their favorite applications, or is missing a feature, or they don’t quite understand how it work, such as changing settings for KDE apps under Configure > Configure k… , and not under Tools > Options
  6. They feel strange when their friends aren’t using it
    , and in order to “co-exist” they need to learn even more, putting pressure for them to learn it quickly and makes it all more stressful!

I mean, let’s admit it; most people get a new computer with Windows already installed for better or worse. So most users don’t know about installing Windows, or think it is so easy because they have a CD that came with the machine that includes the drivers! “Installing their system” means installing Office, iTunes and whatever and having to gasp configure it!

Meanwhile, most of us Linux users have done installation and know what a pain it is if you have to hunt down drivers, installing first Windows then applications, having to activate/authenticate systems, reboot-after-reboot, etc. That’s ignoring the licensing factor too. Linux is soooo much easier most of the time!

This may have been correct 10 years ago, today a lot of the development is being paid work, even in FLOSS.

To give you an impression considering “core” development stuff of what we call “linux”:

Hmmmm … Are you saying there are not sufficient chess programs for Linux that frustrates users (like your son) ? or are you saying that “neat” MS-Windows software won’t run on Linux ?

If you want “neat” MS-Windows software to run on Linux, then IMHO a user should stay with MS-Windows, which I suspect is your point.

Linux has its own neat programs and Linux should be evaluated on Linux programs, not on its ability to play MS-Windows programs.

But if it is about chess programs, then there are lots of chess programs for Linux. I spent a bit of time sometime back putting this URL together: Games/Chess - openSUSE

In truth, there appears to be an excellent 3D front end for chess engines such as phalanx and crafty: Slibo homepage … but it requires knowledge on compiling with QT and my success in compiling applications that require QT knowledge is big ZERO. BIG ZERO. My success is also a BIG ZERO. If someone is really keen on this, they could go to to IRC freenode #packman and try and get one of the packman packagers to package this for KDE.


Crafty is available for openSUSE 11.X:

webpin -u crafty
   3 results (3 packages) found for "crafty" in openSUSE_111
* crafty: A Chess Program
   - 22.1 [BS::Education]
     @ http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/Education/openSUSE_11.1
* crafty-debuginfo: Debug information for package crafty
   - 22.1 [BS::Education]
     @ http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/Education/openSUSE_11.1
* crafty-debugsource: Debug sources for package crafty
   - 22.1 [BS::Education]
     @ http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/Education/openSUSE_11.1

I appreciate the information on Linux chess games, thank you.

I’m just using the Chess game as an example of how somebody may receive something, some software, that does not work in Linux and may cause some people to give up on Linux.

That can also be added to the list as

  1. Windows users expecting Linux to operate and act the same as Windows and not realizing or giving the time to learn how Linux does things differently.

I’ll have to check on the other Chess applications and see if he likes any of them. Otherwise I may have to give him a Windows partition or Virtual Machine before he turns 8 next year!

Researching that further suggests development for it died around 2003, and it has not compiled under KDE-3.5 and that likely means it also would never be developed for KDE4.

I note a 3D gui front end for gnomechess for gnome users (comes with gnome-games), but the 3D gui never worked for me under KDE: glChess - GNOME Live!

Having stated that, I’ve used 3D gui’s (for chess games) in MS-Windows, and I prefer the 2D chess layout, which is why I’ve never spent much time pursuing this.

On Mon, 01 Jun 2009 19:06:01 +0000, dragonbite wrote:

> For example my son just got
> a (cheap) digital camera for his birthday and it comes with an
> installation CD, but Linux does not recognize it at all, so I can’t
> download his pictures/video clips and he’s been patient…

Does the camera’s information claim it works with Linux?

This is something that bothers me a lot - people who go out and buy
things without doing their homework (maybe you/your son did and the
camera is supposed to work with Linux but doesn’t - that’s a different
matter if that’s the case) and then complain that Linux isn’t supported -
and somehow that’s the kernel developer’s fault rather than placing the
blame squarely where it belongs:

  1. The product manufacturer, maybe for not releasing specs so an open-
    source driver could be developed, maybe for not doing the driver
    development work themselves.

  2. The buyer themselves. Whatever happened to buyers actually
    researching products before they make a purchase? If I buy a peripheral,
    I’m going to do my best to make sure it’s supported by my OS of choice.
    And if it isn’t, I’m not going to buy it. Or if I do the research and
    the information I find suggests it might work, I’m not going to rail
    against the kernel developers because it isn’t supported and I didn’t do
    the proper research (as is the case with the USB DVR device I purchased
    recently - thought it was supported, turns out it isn’t).

Would you go out and buy, say, an aftermarket car stereo for your car
without researching whether or not it could be mounted in a way that
looked good in the dash of your car? Would you just go and buy a random
set of tires for your car without checking to make sure they were the
right size?

Seriously, this drives me crazy.


On Mon, 01 Jun 2009 20:16:01 +0000, dragonbite wrote:

> I’m just using the Chess game as an example of how somebody may receive
> something, some software, that does not work in Linux and may cause some
> people to give up on Linux.

Yeah, and my mom might decide to buy me a cool program and not realise
it’s for a Macintosh. That’s not the Linux developer’s fault. That’s
the buyer’s fault for not checking compatibility.


In both instances it was my parents that bought them (chess software and digital camera).

On Mon, 01 Jun 2009 21:36:01 +0000, dragonbite wrote:

> In both instances it was my parents that bought them (chess software and
> digital camera).

Seems like a perfect opportunity to educate them, then, that Linux !=

If they were to buy something that was only compatible with a Mac, what
would you say to them?

Why would you say anything different to them because it’s software/
hardware designed for Windows and not Linux?


that main problem i find newcommers get to other os’s is the whole familiar / better argument. a windows user would get confused about thing like the linux file structure and permissions and the package management system on linux and say they suck because there used to every partition having it’s own file structure and downloading .exe installer for applications. but if they take the time to figure out how the file system and package system works on a linux os they will see that it is much better and once they become familiar with will never want to turn back to the windows way of doing this.