Originally Published: Monday, 18 October 1999 Author: Matt Michie
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Slam Linux

Does Linux suck? Lately, I've noticed an increased amount of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) directed at Linux. Microsoft released a page relating "Linux Myths," and the Gartner Group recently called our little OS nothing more than the "hype du jour."...

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Does Linux suck? Lately, I've noticed an increased amount of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) directed at Linux. Microsoft released a page relating "Linux Myths," and the Gartner Group recently called our little OS nothing more than the "hype du jour."

The Linux community always reacts quite strongly against these attacks. It doesn't take long before long flame wars are breaking out and vitriolic e-mails start flying at the heretics. Usually, this adds nothing constructive and ends up painting the Linux community as extremists.

However, for the most part these flame wars don't affect the development of Linux. Any genuine technical criticisms get fixed quickly. This can be seen in the the reaction of the kernel coders after the Mindcraft benchmarks were validated. The assessment and the subsequent fixes of the problems in the kernel are chronicled in Mindcraft Redux.

So, after all the flaming against Mindcraft, Microsoft and anyone even remotely involved in the tests, the developers cooly assessed the flaws in the code and quietly fixed it.

What concerns me most about the knee-jerk flaming against any Linux critics is that genuine problems will get swept under the rug as invalid. Mindcraft nearly happened this way. Most of us dismissed a benchmark showing Windows NT to be several times faster than Linux in web serving to be absurd. It wasn't until the subsequent re-tests, that the problems revealed were even taken seriously.

Even as the Linux community focuses more on making Linux accessible to new users their criticisms are in danger of being drowned out or considered irrelevant. Linux is still largely perceived as being difficult and arcane to use. Often, anytime ease of use is brought up the poster is ridiculed as being a Microsoft shill.

I would like to hear some of your concerns and criticisms of Linux. What roadblocks have you stumbled upon? What is completely broken? What could be done better? Are valid criticisms being overlooked? Are newbie concerns being addressed? E-mail me or post your criticisms in the comments. I'd like to hear especially from users just getting started in Linux. Many of us long time users, have just learned to work around the problems, or have grown used to them.

Next week I'll comment on some of the trends that I see and some of the ways that we can fix them.

Matt Michie is a student of computer science living in New Mexico. He maintains a small web site at http://web.nmsu.edu/~mmichie.




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