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When is Linux good enough March 28, 2006

Posted by rjdohnert in Software reviews.

People say with my comments on SLED and my seemingly negative responses to Linux I often get the question 'When does Linux work?"  Linux has many advantages, it has many disadvantages.  Linux does make an awesome server platform.  Many sites use it.  I have used Linux on the desktop, at one time it was my mainstream desktop.  Right now I have 1 FreeBSD machine, 1 Solaris machine and 1 Linux distribution installed that I try, like the flavor of the month.  This month its SLED.  When I evauate a Linux distribution I always look at the 'mom" factor.  Is this distribution good enough to install for my mother without me having to be Tech support 24/7 365.  So far the only one I have found that can come close to being ready is Yellowdog Linux.  Yellowdog runs on the PowerPC and is my prefferred PowerPC distribution.  Yellowdog has an advantage over x86 distributions of Linux.  It runs on a specific hardware architecture and the guys over at Terrasoft hammer the hell out of it until its ready.  I know when I get Yellowdog its going to work out of the box, its going to work as it should and very rarely if ever am I going to have to track down and fix failing application software.  In contrast with x86 distributions, those distributions either dont offer enough flexibility in the system or they bundle so much beta and Alpha software its just a mountain of crap thats left for the user to have to manually sift through.  Linspire and Xandros, both popular distributions have the office and home user in mind, not the tech savvy user so for me to make those systems usable to myself I have to go to the web and download the stacks I need to make it feel like my own.  When I use Linspire and Xandros I dont feel like the system is my system.  Gentoo, Slackware and Arch Linux go with the cutting edge they keep pace with the Open Source community so you get every beta and alpha that any user can stomach only for a certain amount of time.  Now if I pay for support on Linux from Red Hat and/or Novell I expect a stable product.  I dont want to pay for support for the beta software included and the incremental fixes and then when the final version is released if I upgrade to the final version Im also sacrificing support.  Both Red Hat and Novell need to stabilize their releases, especially in terms of their commercial business offerings.  If I owned my own business right now there would be no x86 Linux distribution I would consider deploying in my data center , if I had PowerPC machines I would deploy Yellowdog.  As a tech enthusiast there are plenty of great choices.  So when is Linux good enough?  When the Commercial Linux distributers can provide the level of support that I need, a decent desktop experience and a superior or as good as out of box experience.

   If you already have Linux deployed thats great for you.  Im not knocking you or saying you made a bad decision.  If it works for you great.  But in my opinion, Red Hat and especially Novell need to quit focusing on what Microsoft is doing and not release a product just for the sake of releasing. They need to put quality in their work and hammer at it until I can have the same out of box experience I have come to expect from using my Windows or Mac PC's



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