As for wireless dongles, you're going to find yourself presented with the following choices. Option one, the wireless dongle is simply working out of the box. Option two, the dongle is causing the restricted driver manager to nag you about installing a restricted driver. Option three, it simply doesn't work.
With option three, the included driver disc is of no use for Linux users. While some lesser known companies offer an exception to this rule, it's rare.
So what is the best solution then? Sadly, even in 2012, we still are presented with two basic options when it comes to peripheral support. Option one is to try random devices. Thankfully, as stated previously, this generally works fine. The second option is to rely on dated hardware compatibility lists for specific distributions. I usually opt for option one myself, as most stuff works fine out of the box.
The smarter fix is to see Linux distributions such as Ubuntu doing a better job at making supported peripherals easier to find. Instead of linking to useless fluff like backpacks and messenger bags, how refreshing would it be to see shop.canonical.com pointing to a store filled with affiliate links for supported devices.
Canonical's not in the hardware business? Too bad, they need to at least make sure newer users can find devices that will indeed work.
Because running to the local big box store and asking about Ubuntu compatibility is only feeding the Microsoft FUD machine. There is zero excuse for this. Paste a simple disclaimer at the bottom of the site, along with the statement that all compatibility is based on Linux, not just Ubuntu, and they'd be good to go.
Sadly, I know this will never happen. After all, it's not a 'service' to be sold, so Canonical can't be bothered with such an obvious concept. It's a shame, really.
Offline Software Availability
The last issue I wanted to address in this article is about offline software availability. For those people who come from a Windows background, the idea of using a stack of discs to reinstall software has been programmed into their brain. While for most Linux enthusiasts, this is handled by calling up software repositories for their favorite software titles.
So how does a new Linux user adapt to this need for physical media? Especially if they're not in an area where broadband Internet is readily available? Well, for Ubuntu users, I would recommend APTonCD.
Even though it needs to be installed over the Internet itself, one could grab the deb package from the developer's website and take it to an offline PC. From there, you can use APTonCD as a way to get all the goodness of APT _ without an Internet connection. Use this software to transport or backup software from one PC to another. Using APTonCD is a great alternative for those who are used to keeping their software on physical media, like they did on Windows.
Missing or Not Missing
Are we Linux users really missing anything that Windows users enjoy? While there may be some challenges presented, with select peripherals or legacy software, distributions such as Ubuntu provide a very satisfying experience.
Overall, I may find that there are some painfully obvious areas for improvement. However, I would sooner stop using a computer than fall back into using a proprietary operating system full time. Ubuntu, and other distributions like it, make using the computer both fun and functional.