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Linux Shootout: 7 Desktop Distros Compared (InformationWeek)

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Gothic, while I can concede many of your points regarding Linux, I think you sort of miss the point of these "reviews".  While your points are valid (especially w/ regard to package management), that is not what these reviews are for.  These reviews are made to a target audience of Windows users that are considering switching to Linux.  Many/Most of these users are not going to sit there and read MAN pages or reams of wiki pages to learn how to take three hours to install the OS.  They want install/work/forget/play (hopefully in that order).  These publishers are not publishing to Linux die-hards that are willing to dig into the command line to adjust config files just to make their monitor work.  If it doesn't work out of the box, they are changing the system - no matter the virtues of the distro!  Further, they (typically) look for the eye-candy and familiarity to get them working/playing productively with minimal research.  That takes work beyond the work they need done.  It isn't worth their valuable time.  To that end, the UI interface IS the deal-breaker.  They can learn about and switch to distros like Gentoo if and when they run into roadblocks AFTER they have invested in Linux some.  Because of this, you will NEVER see a mainstream, OS agnostic publication extol the virtues of something as complex as Gentoo over these other popular distros - at least not until Linux is more popular than Windows.

You, my friend, are unfortunately sounding too much like a long time Linux Admin and not enough like someone who is considering anyone switching for the first time.  I know when I first played with Linux, RedHat was far and away considered "the best distro" because it actually had decent support.  I still was unable to make heads or tails of it and ignored Linux for years afterwords until Ubuntu became headlines.  It didn't matter that RedHat had the ONLY package manager worth a damn, nor did it matter that it was the easiest to use.  I couldn't figure it out in what I considered a reasonable amount of time, so I dropped it.  For better or worse, that is what most "reviews" consider a better or worse distro.  How long does it take to figure out and get running?  Gentoo is, unfortunately, VERY lacking in this area even for an experienced person.  Enough of my two cents.   :P

It isn't worth their valuable time.  To that end, the UI interface IS the deal-breaker.

--- End quote ---

If they don't have time they shouldn't even consider using GNU/Linux. It is vastly different from Windows in every single way, no matter how hard these distros try to make it familiar/similar.

These people will eventually end up switching back anyway, because once they inevitably stumble on something different, they'll be stuck, get frustrated, and switch back to Windows, and maybe make some silly post on some forum on how Linux sucks.

Use GNU/Linux out of passion, out of interest in technology, out of love for tinkering, or because you like the philosophy, whatever... but whatever you do, do NOT use it if you think you can be productive without learning a completely new way of doing EVERYTHING. 
This is going to take TIME.

I don't care how I 'sound'. I know it's not the 'hip' thing to say. I'm merely being realistic here. If all you've ever used is Windows, and you want to switch but don't have time to relearn everything, forget it. Stick to Windows.

While these reviews may help people gain technological interest in GNU/Linux, they do it in the wrong way IMO. You're not going to gain happy users by pretending everything is 'easy' when making the switch, and misguiding/misinforming people on what makes a 'good' distro.

Yes, well, I am not saying you are completely wrong, but I do know that you are forgetting about the many people that are teetering on the edge.  They are willing to invest some time to save the $$$ MS is charging, but they still need to be able to complete their work.  But there is always a break-even point, and a great many people draw that line at having to learn/relearn command line commands just to setup their PC.  Does that make these distros better than Gentoo (in many people's mind, yes.)  Does that mean Gentoo is a bad distro?  Not at all.

As an example, I know several people that I work with started looking at Linux to cut the cost of changing to Vista when XP support ran dry (for personal use, not business), myself included.  $400 for an OS that provides nothing but eye-candy and a broken platform to pay people oodles of money for rewrites of their programs, no thanks (okay, it isn't quite like that, but it is what my thinking was at the time).  However, I am a VERY knowledgeable Windows worker that uses command line as much as anyone in Windows administrator, yet I still would have had trouble with Gentoo and some of the other more advanced distros when I came back.  I am not sure I would have no trouble now, even with what I have learned. 

If you really want a distro comparison that features the benefits you point out, you really need to stay looking at the Linux-oriented sites rather than the general population sites.  In the end though, the good news regarding Linux is there is pretty much a flavor and entry point for everyone.


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