Saturday, August 23, 2014

Linux for Light Duty

Since upgrading from Linux to Windows 8.1, I do feel more productive on my workstation. There was long list of "can't do that" when I was using Linux and a lot of little annoyances. Having to enter a password to rename a file is just one example. I bought a remote control and tried to get it to work in Linux. Well, there's something you need in order for that to happen, some odd package that needs to be hunted down, installed, and painstakingly configured--it has about five or six different configuration files with a very long list of settings. I forget what the thing is called, but I tried it, and after about four hours of tinkering with it, I finally succeeded in getting the remote control to work in Linux. Trouble was, there was a lengthy delay when pressing buttons on the remote control, and sometimes Linux would not interpret button presses at all, for whatever reason. Having a remote control that works some of the time, but not all of the time, is not a tenable situation.

At the same time I threw in the towel on Linux, one of my customers did, too. She had been eager and willing to give Xubuntu a try, but there's a huge problem with Linux. Other than Internet surfing, retro video games and basic word processing, there really is not much in the way of cutting-edge apps available to the Linux user. Want to manage your photo collection? Lots of luck with Digikam or Gimp. If you are one of the few that use Linux and you edit or manage photos--and many people do nowadays--welcome to the Land of Suck. Gimp is a turkey. I would never dream of using Gimp, not in a million years. Digikam is almost plausible. Digikam looks like ACDSee might have looked in beta back in the 1990s. The trouble is that ACDSee won't work in Linux. No one really minds paying money for a photo manager, but it needs to be easy to use. Dear mister Developer: People don't want to learn to use your program. You need to program an intuitive creature that adapts to the human user. I don't know where some of these Linux devs learned their design principles. I think if someone set out to make a program completely impossible for the average user to use, then Gimp would be the end result. The first problem is that Gimp will not save to a universal format like .jpg, .gif, or .png by default, and the second problem is that Gimp opens three different windows, and then there are about a thousand other problems. Each new version of Gimp or Digikam offers some useless tweak that I never heard of and would never use in an entire lifetime, when really a complete overhaul of the UI is all that is needed. Improve the UI, and you might get some users. Keep it cryptic and stay small-time.

For the home user, Linux remains useful for two main purposes: htpc (despite certain limitations such as remote controls) and light desktop use such as internet surfing, word processing, and retro games like Dungeon Crawl. My rule of thumb now is Windows for heavy-duty work and Linux for light duty.

No comments:

techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions