I have been hearing this lately, an age old argument or myth that Linux is so much harder to use then windows that only computer geeks can use it or understand it. This is simply not true. The Linux environment’s we know today, are much different then the Linux environments we used in the 90’s. Sure graphical desktops were available, but the installs and user experience didn’t lean towards the average person.
This has changed and there are many different desktop environments available for Linux. A few would include Unity, the GNOME 2.x series was used by default on Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, and most other big Linux distributions, However, GNOME 3 now supports extensions that can add many missing desktop features, including a taskbar. GNOME 3 is a slick desktop that takes advantage of the graphical effects available on multiple computers. It works similarly to Unity in some ways, with a full-screen application launcher.
KDE and GNOME were the two most popular Linux desktop environments. KDE has always been more complex than GNOME, packing in many more configuration options and features. It’s a bit more Windows-like than the other desktop environments here, coming with a single taskbar on the bottom of the screen that includes a menu, quick launch-type icons, a taskbar, a notification area, and a clock. The typical layout of a Windows taskbar before Windows 7.
Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment. It was once very similar to GNOME, but with GNOME 3 striking out in a different direction, Xfce now has its own identity, a more traditional Linux desktop environment that’s similar to GNOME 2.
Cinnamon was developed for Linux Mint. It’s based on GNOME 3, so it uses up-to-date libraries and other software. It takes that software and tries to create a more traditional-looking desktop with it.
MATE is a fork of the original GNOME 2 that aims to preserve GNOME 2, continually updating it so it will work on modern Linux distributions. MATE has also seen some new features, but the main purpose of MATE is to give people who like GNOME 2 the opportunity to install it on new Linux distributions. It’s officially supported along with Cinnamon in Linux Mint, where it’s given a place as a default choice.
If you don’t think Xfce was lightweight enough, try LXDE. It’s focused on being as lightweight as possible and is designed for older computers, netbooks, and other systems with low hardware resources. It includes all the standard desktop features.
With the software available today, Linux can be used as an alternative to Microsoft Windows. There is OpenOffice if you need those applications locally available on your desktop, or you can still use MS Office on-line.
Games can still be played, even 3d Games. Many of them require configuration using WINE or Cedega, even Play-On-Linux which has pre-set configurations for games running on Linux. By installing Google for Linux, you can still use all your favourite internet games, facebook, and all your other favourite sites.
There are many software alternatives to programs like Photoshop, Linux has Gimp which is freely available. For video editing there is Open-Shot which also supports Chroma Key, or “green screens” if you prefer. For 3D software applications, there is Ogre3D and many more….
As for updating, Linux seems to be easier for every person I setup with it. In Windows you click windows update or set it up automatically, which you can do for Linux as well, however, rarely requires a reboot. Also with the Software Center, or Synaptics Package Manager not only can you do updates with them, but you can browse for other software applications that are freely available.
All of the feedback I have received from my clients, has always included that their computers haven’t crashed, and they haven’t seen any blue screens since they switched. They speak of how their computers don’t slow down like they used to, and have never been happier with their computers. It has also saved them money, because they have had less service calls, to fix their issues.
Does this answer that age old question? Does this solve the myth? I’m not sure, but from where I sit, it seems that both options are valid, and it is purely based on the perception of the individual user.