A point I’ve been trying to convey about the Linux desktop through my reviews and tutorials is that distribution developers are doing a bad job of giving users all the goodness of what’s available in Linux and GNU software in a manner where the system just works.

So that in most cases, users get a system that, from a broad perspective, looks good, but disappoints when put through the paces. In some cases, in line with the ideology and philosophical stance of the developers, users get a bare-bone system that takes a lot of effort to use.

In Developers: Give us sane and sensible default system and application settings, I pointed out a few of the mistakes that distribution developers are making. And that article followed I quit using Linux because…, which is a direct response to an article by Denis Koryavov, a former GUI Development Lead for ROSA Laboratory, the publisher of the ROSA line of Linux distributions.

In his article, Denis wrote that in terms of usability, “GNU/Linux distros are still not rivals for the MacOS X and Microsoft Windows on desktops and laptops.” My response to that has nothing to do with whether he’s right or wrong, but that he failed to do something about that as the GUI Development Lead for ROSA Laboratory.

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If I criticize something, I don’t do so just to mock or deride, but in a constructive manner. So I not only say that something is bad, or not good, but here’s how to make it better. I also like to listen to people that critique what I do. If they have a valid point, I take that into consideration and make the necessary adjustments. Otherwise, I just ignore them.

That’s why I’m keeping track of what Denis has to say about the Linux desktop and why I encourage others to do the same. Especially distribution developers. If he makes a good point, we should take it into consideration. Else, we just ignore him.

Writing about usability and user-friendliness in his latest article on this subject, Denis wrote that:

This is a difference between “user friendly” and “usability”: “user friendly” it is always “personal” characteristic (how operating system is satisfies to the your requirements) when “usability” is a common word which means how easy people can use an operating system. Please look at this difference.

If you will look at it carefully you will see an obvious corollary: having regard the fact that we have several billions of users it is practically impossible to create an “user friendly” operating system for all of them (maximum that you can do here – to make an OS for some group of people, for example – for system administrators), but we can create an “usable” operating system (operating system which all of them could use).

He makes a somewhat valid point, but he’s attempting to draw a hard boundary between usability and user-friendliness, forgetting that one derives from the other. If you build a “usable” system, people will tend to say that it is “user-friendly,” regardless of the technical capabilities of the users.

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He does make some very valid points. Here’s one of them:

As a result of this politic of KDE Team I can cite one very significant example: some time ago (in 2010) we had experiment in Russian schools – we tried to migrate all schools in one very big Russian town (more than million of people) to a distro based on Plasma Desktop (KDE). The project had to be abandoned because students and teachers were confused by its various settings.

You may read the rest at Why GNU/Linux distros are still not rivals for OS X and Windows on desktops.


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18 Responses

  1. Sorry to open up an older thread, but I had a quick question… I followed these instructions, and my computer (Dell Inspiron 1545) can now dual boot LinuxMint 11 or Windows 7. However, for some reason I can no longer find any wireless networks to connect to in either Linux or Windows 7. I have a Dell Wireless 1397 wlan mini-card. I have tried disabling/enabling, uninstalling/installing/ updating the driver, etc. According to the mini-card, it is working fine. Do you know how to fix this??

    Hopefully my question is clear, if not let me know and I will try to explain it better.

    Thanks for the help!

    1. If “it is working fine,” I see no reason why you can not find any wireless networks to connect to. It definitely has nothing to do with the dual-boot configuration.

      Have you tried using the using it when running Mint Live CD to see if it works in that mode?

      1. I actually got it figured out now. I’m not what sure what the exact problem was, but I ended up uninstalling the software and driver for the mini-card and re-installing it from the CDs that came with the computer when I bought it. After re-booting my computer, I was able to connect to the internet again. So I don’t really know, but thanks for the quick response!

  2. i already follow your tutorial, it seems succes until i choose linux mint.
    it takes vary long time to boot, and it ask name and password while booting.
    can you give me some advice?

    nb: sorry for my english, im not very good on it

    1. At the login window, the name and password it’s asking is the one you created during the installation. Just type those in and you will be good to go.

      Btw, the PC you installed it on, how old is it? How much memory?

      1. this is my notebook spec:

        Processor :
        Intel® Pentium® Dual-Core Processor P6200

        Chipset :
        Mobile Intel® HM55 Express Chipset

        video Graphics & Memory :
        AMD Mobility™ Radeon® HD 6470,DDR3 512MB VRAM

        Hard Drive:

        how is it?
        is the spec doesnt support?

        1. Hardware looks fine. When you type in the username and password, what happens?

          Like I said, the username is the one you created during installation.

  3. Hello, I have my HD which has two partition. My C:/ has Windows7 then i have my partition at d:/ – which is my important files then i have my other partition which is
    f:/ -which is for Linuxmint10 (Julia). Now i have followed
    this tutorial .
    I follow it step by step until i got fulled installed.
    But then when attempt to reboot, i suppose to have an
    option of which of the two OS should i use. Why it loads
    directly to Windows7? Did i miss something? Pls. Help 🙁

    1. You should have no issues if you reinstall using the instructions in this tutorial.

      If you installed Mint last, which is the recommended method, the installer will add Windows 7 to GRUB’s boot menu automatically.

  4. I’m having trouble.. I first install Windows 7. I split the hd into two partitions and put Windows 7 on one of them. The install finishes and Win7 works. Then I install Linux Mint 10 on the other partition. Install finishes and LM 10 works. But when I restart (or just start) the computer, I’m given no choice, LM 10 starts. I can find no sign of Win7 and the machine only starts Linux. I tried to follow the instructions. What should I do?

    1. My guess is you mistakenly installed Mint on the Windows partition. But that’s only a guess. Do you have data on the Windows side that you cannot afford to lose?

      To check if you still have Windows, click on the Computer entry in the menu or on the desktop and see if the Windows partition is there.

  5. I already have Windows 7 and Mint 8 installed on a single harddisk with dual booting governed by Grub. I want to replace Mint 8 with Mint 10. If I follow the directions you give, will I still be able to boot into Windows, or are there special procedures I should follow? Thanks for your hellp.

    Steve Marion

    1. If your partitioning scheme is the Linux Mint 8 default, and you still want GRUB to be responsible for dual-booting, then one approach is to use the Mint 10 installation CD/DVD to perform a “fresh upgrade.” In strict terms, a fresh upgrade is not truly an upgrade, but a new installation, which will overwrite your existing data.

      Performing a fresh upgrade calls for backing up your data and restoring it after the new installation is completed. Whether you backup your date on the Mint side or not, you will be able to boot into Windows. As an insurance policy, it is also a good idea to backup data on the Windows side, too.

      The other approach is to point the package manager to the latest Mint 10 repos and use apt-get to perform an automatic upgrade. This approach can take a long time, comparatively, and has a few shortfalls.

      If you need to set up a dual-boot system on a single disk in the future, the recommended approach is given here and here.

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