Improving The Linux Desktop: 20 Needed Fixes: Page 2

Posted November 1, 2010

Matt Hartley

Matt Hartley

(Page 2 of 3)

8) Mall kiosks and trade show events. I've never been a huge fan of the "county fair scene." Same old booths, same old livestock and same, tired-looking vendors selling junk no one really wants or needs in the first place.

Now imagine happening across the same event with a booth showing off MythTV or even better, Fedora on a new laptop using mobile broadband! VGA connect that computer to a big screen TV and, I promise you, people will be doing double-takes left and right. Questions will come up and inquiries will begin to build before you know it.

Now imagine that this is done by the local Linux User Groups (LUGs) instead of investing 100% of their club resource into Linux Festivals. As nice as "LinuxFests" may be, you’ll likely gain more ground faster, expanding the reach of the Linux community farther, by leaving that comfort zone and hitting the streets with real desktop Linux demos.

9) Finding a way to monetize. I hate to say it, but the "donate now" buttons offer a poor presentation. If it's a hobby software project where these buttons show up, fine. But for those who really need the money to compensate them for their development efforts, something else needs to be explored instead.

Software as service (SaaS) is still a viable option for many open source projects. Other projects would do very well with up-to-date how-to guides for sale. The problem with the latter however, is the issue of software updates and changes. Then again, this also presents a fantastic opportunity for a subscription to assistance in a paid format.

However it's implemented, the key factor is that we need to find a way to help open source developers pay their bills while doing what they love. A PayPal donate button is simply not a sustainable solution.

10) Documentation. Some Linux distributions are better than others in this area. And perhaps the solution falls back to number #9 above.

Yet whatever the fix is, we need to find a way to get documentation on track for today's Linux distributions. As it stands, the quality of documentation for select popular distros (which will remain nameless) is a sad state of affairs. Some simply need to be set ablaze and rewritten.

11) A serious approach to wi-fi. We're creeping up on 2011 and people are still fighting with Linux wireless. The really funny part: this is completely avoidable.

The fact is, not every internal wireless chipset is going to work easily. Yes, sorry to break it to those fans of NDISWrapper, but there are some wireless devices that just need to be replaced. The solution I've been begging for is for Linux enthusiasts to stop supporting those who don't support us. Hit the wireless vendors in the pocket book!

In the meantime, there are indeed USB chipsets for 802.11n that work great, from both the Ralink and Atheros product lines. I've spoken with Ralink devices vendors such as Edimax in the past and they're not against the idea of a branded Linux dongle. They simply need someone of means to step up and get this rolling. I use a number of their dongles. They all work pretty darn well.

12) Embracing Windows repair techs. Contrary to popular belief in FoSS circles, repair techs who use Windows are not evil incarnate. Most Windows techs are simply trying to earn a living doing what they love. For us to not embrace them and try to get them to see the value of adding Linux to their list of offerings for potential clients is a really big missed opportunity.

When these individuals see their client for the eighth time in a month to remove the same malware all over again, wouldn’t they look better if they offered up Linux as an alternative? While it might appear to lessen their earnings at first, I bet they could make up for it in new referrals.

13) Dedicated home partitions. For experienced users, nothing could be easier or be more valuable than a dedicated home partition wizard as a part of the initial Linux install. A default option to create a suggested home partition size based on available hard drive space would be a huge selling point for any OS.

Surely this isn't too much to ask? And yes, dedicated home partitions mean less data loss as an added bonus.

14) Roll back to previous distro release. With the possible exception of creating dedicated partitions for the home directory out of the box, the other most needed missing feature is a "roll-back to previous distro release" option.

I cannot even begin to express just how badly needed this option is. I mean, bundle this with the dedicated home partition, and any user would feel bullet proof with their Linux box. Not having this as a default option limits the power of the Linux desktop compared with other alternatives.

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Tags: Linux, Ubuntu, Linux desktop, Linux downloads, Wi-Fi

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