5 Things I Dislike and Love About GNU/Linux

First off, I recognize that the original content of this article caused a significant debate as can be seen in the comment section at the bottom of the old article at:

5 Reasons Why I Hate GNU/Linux – Do You Hate or Love Linux?

For that reason, I have chosen to NOT use the word hate here which I do not feel entirely comfortable with and have decided to replace it with dislike instead.

Things I Dislike About Linux

5 Things I Dislike About Linux

That said, please keep in mind that the opinions in this article are entirely mine and are based on my personal experience, which may or may not be similar to other people’s.

In addition, I am aware that when these so-called dislikes are considered in the light of experience, they become the actual strengths of Linux. However, these facts often discourage new users as they make the transition.

As before, feel free to comment and expand on these or any other points you see fit to mention.

Dislike #1: A steep learning curve for those coming from Windows

If you have been using Microsoft Windows for the good part of your life, you will need to get used to, and understand, concepts such as repositories, dependencies, packages, and package managers before being able to install new software into your computer.

It won’t be long until you learn that you will seldom be able to install a program just by pointing and clicking an executable file. If you don’t have access to the Internet for some reason, installing a desired tool may then become a burdensome task.

Dislike #2: Some difficulty to learn on your own

Closely related with #1 is the fact that learning Linux on your own may seem at least at first a daunting challenge. While there are thousands of tutorials and great books out there, for a new user it can be confusing to pick on his / her own one to start with.

Additionally, there are countless discussion forums (example: linuxsay.com) where experienced users provide the best help they can offer for free (as a hobby), which sometimes unfortunately is not guaranteed to be totally reliable, or to match the level of experience or knowledge of the new user.

This fact, along with the broad availability of several distribution families and derivatives, makes it necessary to rely on a paid third party to guide you in your first steps in the world of Linux and to learn the differences and similarities between those families.

Dislike #3: Migration from old systems / software to new ones

Once you have taken the decision to start using Linux whether at home or at the office, on a personal or enterprise level you will have to migrate old systems to new ones and use replacement software for programs you’ve known and used for years.

This often leads to conflicts, especially if you’re faced with the decision to choose between several programs of the same type (i.e. text processors, relational database management systems, graphic suites, to name a few examples) and do not have expert guidance and training readily available.

Having too much options to choose from can lead to mistakes in software implementations unless tutored by respectable experienced users or training firms.

Dislike #4: Less driver support from hardware manufacturers

No one can deny the fact that Linux has come a LONG way since it was first made available more than 20 years ago. With more and more device drivers being built into the kernel with each stable release, and more and more companies supporting the research and development of compatible drivers for Linux, you are not likely to run into many devices that cannot function properly in Linux, but it’s still a possibility.

And if your personal computing needs or business require a specific device for which there is no available support for Linux, you will still get stuck with Windows or whatever operating system the drivers of such device were targeted for.

While you can still repeat to yourself, “Closed source software is evil“, it’s a fact that it exists and sometimes unfortunately we are bound mostly by business needs to use it.

Dislike #5: The power of Linux is still mainly on the servers

I could say the main reason I was attracted to Linux a few years ago was the perspective of bringing an old computer back to life and giving it some use. After going through and spending some time dealing with dislikes #1 and #2, I was SO happy after having set up a home file – print – web server using a computer with a 566 MHz Celeron processor, a 10 GB IDE hard drive, and only 256 MB of RAM running Debian Squeeze.

I was very pleasantly surprised when I realized that even under heavy use loads, htop tool showed that barely half of the system resources were being utilized.

You may be well asking yourself, why bring this up if I’m talking about dislikes here? The answer is simple. I still have to see a decent Linux desktop distribution running on a relatively old system. Of course I am not expecting to find one that will run on a machine with the characteristics mentioned above, but I haven’t found a nice looking, customizable desktop on a machine with less than 1 GB and if it works, it will be as slow as a slug.

I would like to emphasize the wording here: when I say “I haven’t found“, I am NOT saying, “IT DOESN’T EXIST“. Maybe someday I will find a decent Linux desktop distribution that I can use on a old laptop that I have in my room gathering dust. If that day comes, I will be the first one to cross out this dislike and replace it with a big thumbs up.

Summary

In this article I’ve tried to put into words the areas where Linux can still use some improvement. I am a happy Linux user and am thankful for the outstanding community that surrounds the operating system, its components and features. I repeat what I said at the beginning of this article – these apparent disadvantages may actually become strengths when viewed from the proper perspective or will soon be.

Until then, let’s keep supporting each other as we learn and help Linux grow and spread. Feel free to leave your comments or questions using the form below – we look forward to hearing from you!

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Gabriel Cánepa

Gabriel Cánepa is a GNU/Linux sysadmin and web developer from Villa Mercedes, San Luis, Argentina. He works for a worldwide leading consumer product company and takes great pleasure in using FOSS tools to increase productivity in all areas of his daily work.

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26 Responses

  1. Eddie OConnor says:

    I’ve read all the comments on this article, and I am overwhelmed by the amount of people who state that Linux has an ugly interface or some of the other points. I guess I’ll say my bit and then move on:

    First off? In regards to Linux NOT being “user friendly”? I would say it all depends on your level of technical prowess. I started my career in IT in 1999 and I found Linux in 2002, and At first? I will admit, it WAS a bit of a struggle, but what in Life isn’t? did anyone here hop on a bike with no training wheels and was immediately able to perform BMX tricks? what about the first time you got behind the wheel of a car? did you instantly turn into Mario Andretti? Anything you want to do in Life from sailing a boat to skydiving from fishing on the lake to rock climbing, involves some “trial & error”.

    Its called learning, and you do it from your birth until your death. Its not the fault of a developer that builds and designs their distro, that you are either unable to or unwilling to learn something new. That is called complacency, and the only person to “blame” for a person not being able (or WILLING!) to learn how to use something? is that person.

    Regarding the subject of “choice” (aka “there’s too many distros and I’m so confused” syndrome) This is not a negative but a positive. If all you had to choose from when you went to the ice cream shop was chocolate or vanilla exactly how many times would you visit there before you figured out that its bland, and boring and a waste of money. If all you had to choose from was a pickup truck or a beach buggy when you went shopping for a car, how soon before you started complaining about not having enough “options”? having choice is NEVER a negative, it is ALWAYS a positive because it allows you to MAKE UP YOUR MIND, and to FOLLOW THROUGH with your decision.

    Its called “being an adult”. I would hate to live in a world where I was only given TWO options (kind of like how it is when it comes to Windows and Apple no?) you either use Windows and risk all manner of infections and mal-ware, and bloat-ware, and ad-ware, and Trojans, and viruses, and hacks etc. or else you refinance your mortgage so that you can spend money on Apple’s sub-par, ridiculously-priced hardware and HOPE and PRAY it NEVER BREAKS or stops working because you’ll be forced to spend more to either get it fixed, replaced, or even WORSE to “upgrade”. So Linux is the ray of light in all that darkness.

    In regards to Linux being “ugly”? are you serious? so let me get this straight you buy a Windows laptop (which people always seem to say they get in order to “work”) for the way the OS LOOKS!? I thought you were more concerned with work? why should it matter if Chrome or Firefox or Word or Notepad LOOKS good? as long as you’re able to WORK what’s the issue? I call B.S. (bull sh*t) on that one. You’re not using an OS for the way it LOOKS, you either need to get things done? or else you’re just goofing off. Stop being childish and grow up.

    Now on to the matter of driver support / hardware support. Understand, this operating system is maintained and supported by ORDINARY, EVERYDAY PEOPLE. People who have lives, wives, kids, (possibly) health issues, a sick grandmother, an overdue mortgage payment, a delinquent student loan, or a high-stress-level job, and they dabble in their Linux development when they have a chance. Or even if they’re NOT someone with those kinds of issues, even if they devote all of their time to developing and maintaining the distro, they are not OBLIGATED to ANYONE, and they are free to make the distro LOOK, ACT, and SUPPORT what THEY want.

    Now having said that? there are some developers who actually DO get “paid” by a distro Red Hat or SLES comes to mind [S-use L-inux E-nterprise S-erver] and they do all they can to ensure their distro works with as much hardware as possible, but not all, and its not THEIR fault if you approach a hardware manufacturer, and he denies you access to his information, then you are forced to reverse-engineer as much as you can the drivers and other components that will make it work with your distro.

    Not all hardware manufacturers are like that HP is one of those that give lots of support to Linux and you’d be hard pressed to find an HP printer that DOESN’T work with Linux (keeping in mind that a printer from say 1987 will NOT work with Linux today then again maybe it WILL!?) The bottom line is some people are of the mind that these developers are refusing to write the drivers for certain hardware, this is not the case at all and the true blame should be pointed in the right direction.

    And to all those who have this “cult-like” attitude towards their favorite distro? Your fervor is appreciated by the devs, but? its not needed. We don’t need bible-thumping, screaming-from-the-corner advocates for Linux, instead just show someone who’s complaining about Windows or Mac the distro you use, don’t force it down their throats, but just show them. And leave it there. Some people won’t “bite” and they’ll just continue using what they’re “used to” and will forever be in misery.

    BUT

    There WILL be that one person who constantly badgers you asking you about this program or about that application or why it seems that your machine is so fast, even though its two years older than theirs, or about finding a way to do something with a picture, a document, a file, that they just can’t seem to get done with Windows or Mac. THOSE are the people you take under your wing, and guide them don’t coerce, don’t preach, just point them in the right direction.

    Don’t try to force them to use the distro you use the packages and apps you use let them explore show them how to burn a distro’s .iso file to USB, show them how to boot from it then point them to some place like DistroWatch.com and let them see for themselves just how free and open Linux can be. I have helped a huge amount of people make the switch to Linux, and I didn’t hit ’em hard with it. I eased them into it one person? insisted they “needed” Windows and would only experiment with Virtualbox they stayed like that for four years, then one day they emailed me to tell me they got rid of the Linux VM and blew away their Windows OS and installed Linux all the way.

    THIS is how you get people to make the switch not by screaming in their ear “USE (distro of choice) OR ELSE!” This is not a competition, this is not a rally or a race, this is just you helping someone else to not be “trapped” anymore by Microsoft or Apple.

    And finally…?

    Linux IS the “best” operating system out there in existence. No its not perfect not by a long shot. but compared to the other two choices (there’s that word again!..”choice!…LoL!) its the best. When you look at Windows its not a company that can be trusted. When they were confronted with questions about spying? they swore on their very lives that it WAS NOT HAPPENING only to later have to confess that it was when a hacker or two found out. I would never again trust ANY of my data with a company like that.

    Now add all the mal-ware, ad-ware, bloat-ware seriously Microsoft? I can uninstall Candy Crush Saga do an update and find that its BEEN INSTALLED AGAIN!?…wtf!?) and the scales tip in favor of Linux again now toss in the fact that you don’t get an office suite with the operating system you just paid $199.00 for and the scales tip yet again, on top of that? add the fact that when you have updates? there’s no way to ignore them (not that you SHOULD mind you!) but if you’re in the middle of a conference call with work and this pop-up keeps nagging you about an update you’re not going to be very productive.
    (sometimes the pop-up blocks out everything else and you have no CHOICE..LoL!…that word keeps popping up around here…LoL!). and once again the scales tip in favor of Linux and finally? toss in the whole “Microsoft Loves Linux” slogan from a few years back why is it that you don’t see that slogan much anymore? well its because that to this very day there are STILL lawsuits about b.s. patents that Microsoft is trying to have passed AGAINST Open Source Software.!. the scale? just toppled over.

    On the other side of the street? you have Apple, a company that bills itself as being the innovative company of the future, and yet? they design products with LESS ports every time they release something! I saw an Apple Macbook with just TWO PORTS (USB-C on wither side of it) and ONE of those is for CHARGING it! No REAL “content creator” would use such a device and the scale starts to tip in favor of Linux.

    Then you throw in the fact that unless you’re in the Apple ecosystem? you don’t get access to a lot of apps so the scale tips even more now throw in the fact that to BUY a “high end” MacBook or (God forbid!) an iMac (saw that they have one for almost $13,000!!! he price of a COMPACT CAR!?) and once again the scale falls to the floor. So its not that I’m a fan-boy, its not that Linux is a religion its that compared to the two choices on either side of the street my most logical choice is Linux, because of ALL the reasons stated above:

    • Its free to use, share, alter, and edit
    • Its highly configurable
    • Its not impervious to viruses, but because of its small target footprint? there’s less chance of getting hit with anything
    • It comes in over 300 “flavors” (to hell with just “Chocolate & Vanilla”!….LoL).

    You can do anything and everything with it. IF you’re willing to “learn” a new way of doing things (for example I fancy myself a writer and have been writing a book using LibreOffice since LibreOffice was at version 3.x!).

    Its not hard to understand once you “learn” the basics (what a .deb / .rpm package is – how to install it. etc)

    You can’t break it unless you really…really…REALLY try!)

    And that’s just my viewpoint on things….

  2. 01101001b says:

    Point #1 is unavoidable for the simplest of the reasons: Linux is not a Windows-clone, it’s a Unix-clone. And a little research may show you how many Unix haters there are, for this very reason: Unix is not easy for everyone at all to master. Suffice to say, there’s also a book called “The Unix Haters Handbook” XD

  3. PAN says:

    I felt confused by this writing. The reason why GNU/Linux is so great today is precisely it’s friendliness. Repository system is far easier to learn than to train intuition which bit of crap is ok to install. Learning vim and basic configuration skills, plus some man-jidsu, is far easier than learning every hidden important feature of any guified server, and then learn some more of network of obsure changes created by pressing something seamingly not related to the description. It’s hell to administer, even as a workstation. Furthermore, I acn change any parameter of any computer on any Un*x os (except OS X) within seconds. That’s easiness.
    I think that there are two “easy” words confused. It’s quite easy to learn an advanced operation of UN*X. It is easy to administer UN*X. It’s easy for Windows to work like windows, but it’s a difficult task on UN*X. Does it make it difficult?
    The parameters of the commenter’s machines are perfectly sufficient for Linux. They are not sufficient for some heavy DEs. I don’t expect my Toyotaa Corolla to go over 90 MPH neither.
    Who cares how popular Linux is on desktop? The less people expect Linux to be Windows, the better direction it will take. By the way, total amount of devices supported by Linux kernel is greater than windows.

  4. Diego says:

    Hi Gabriel, I have an old desktop computer also with 256MB of RAM running Vector Linux (http://vectorlinux.com/products), It works for me, maybe you can try it.

  5. Clark Leach says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with #5. Even on a relatively new machine with 4G RAM, Debian Jessie, and MATE, I still sometimes experience weird lags and pauses. I have tried several desktop environments (XFCE, LXDE, MATE, Cinnamon) and they all lack the polish to make them really shine. I still find myself turning to my Windoze (8.1) machine when I really need to actually get something done, because… it just works.

  6. Baagad Billa says:

    I have seen and/or met more Linux fans who are LinTards or fanbois than Windows. Too much attitude and a superiority complex.
    Seems as if Linus Torvalds has personally learnt programming from them !!

    I would rather stick to the world of real humans using Windows than LinTards and subject myself to the mental torture of working alongside LinTards who think they have higher intelligence or knowledge than me because they know more Linux than me.. pathetic !

    • JIm says:

      Look at your post and self reflect. Who thinks they are more intelligent? Who is a fanboi? Who has an attitude? Who has a superiority complex? Who thinks they have more knowledge? Maybe the pot should not be calling the kettle black? One can voice a personal preference without insulting others. You might want to try that.

  7. dreis911 says:

    I really hate when someone is so narrow minded that recurs to insults to prove his point.
    Anyway, I’ll post here what I’ve posted before about this subject (my point of view):
    I’m tired of the “new” Windows editions (or ‘mafia’).
    I understand everyone’s feelings for Linux and for Windows… I have my opinions on both too but…
    I think we’re forgetting 2 things:
    Windows is mainly “a business” (that’s why we can’t make some things with it, as cloning)! – not good for us (lovers of FOSS)!
    Linux is mainly volunteer work (read different opinions and tastes) to reach a perfect OS! – impossible task!
    So, what have we?
    On one hand we have an “universal” SO which has many problems (that generate money: anti virus, technical assistance, PC manufacturers that want to profit from the sale of the OS too, etc.) but has the approval of every HW manufacturer with drivers, guides, etc. and every gadget comes with a Windows SW, so we’re forced to use it, whether we like it or not.
    On the other hand we have an unfinished OS that doesn’t crash or fail and seems to be virus proof, but lacks the “user friendliness” and easiness of operation. The core is wonderful!!! A marvelous piece of the best software there is.
    I like the command line (I used to work with MS-DOS) but 90% of the people that work with a PC don’t!
    It’s an excellent OS to be behind a POS SW.
    It’s an excellent OS to be controlling a server and feeding web pages, or managing databases, or whatever that doesn’t get in touch with people.
    It’s an excellent OS to be inside the computers of ISS.
    It’s an excellent OS to be behind the curtains!
    … but the environment (when there is one) is made by a manufacturer of the gadget with one purpose!
    Why? Why is Linux failing on desktops? (the statistics say it!)
    Because of the environment. There are so many flavors that everyone gets confused… and they’re so different that most people think they almost need to start learning everything from the beginning.
    And then, there’s the compatibility: my Vaio’s bluetooth is rarely recognized for an example (except for Zorin).
    And my wireless pen must be reconfigured every time there’s a ditro-upgrade, so I have to make a long wire LAN connection to get to the repository.
    Now, you ask me if I hate Linux and I answer:
    No, I love Linux! It’s so steady, so dependable, so unbreakable when is well configured! … but to get there… ufff! (I’m sweating)
    So, when is Linux the best?
    When it’s compiled by someone (not me) who really understands what he’s doing! and does it to his taste! and does it with his best configuration!… that’s when Linux is perfect… for that guy.
    And when we’re talking about a HW manufacturer that is going to use an OS inside the gadget: what are they going to use?
    Linux! … Because it’s free, and they can trim it for that product they’re building. And they give it an environment of their own, built for THAT product. Then, we have another perfect Linux.
    That’s why Android gained such boom…. it’s soooo user friendly! (and has only one distro)
    Different from many of Linux adepts I don’t like to have hundreds of distros to choose from (I don’t have time nor resources to do it).
    Instead of having so many different Linux programmer “religions”, they should all be together with one single direction (or maybe a dozen).
    (Just for the record: I have a few PCs with Linux and a few with Windows (I have to))

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