A friend of mine fell victim to a computing curse today. Most folks run Windows or Macintosh systems because they don’t want to have to screw around so much to get them running. The ultra-configurable Linux system, while very powerful and nice to have for some reasons, is just generally too tricky for most folks to handle on a daily basis, let alone to install and use.

Then along came the Linux distro called Ubuntu. “We’ll make it easy!” they cried. “It will be user friendly and perfect for everyone!” Obviously such a task takes time. But fans of Linux, eager to convince the huddled masses that it’s time to switch, seem to take a moment with every Ubuntu release to cry “It’s ready! It’s finally perfected for the masses! Throw off the chains of the closed source OS (not that an average user knows what this means) and join us in the promised land!”

And invariably it won’t be ready.

My friend, though he’s generally even more technically adept than I am, fell for the hype. He thought it was worth switching his desktop to run Ubuntu 8.10. And he regrets it, within one day.

So I shall set out proper criteria for when everyone is next allowed to pronounce it ready. It will NOT be ready until:

  • I can search for “<hardware manufacturer> linux drivers” and find one FULLY WORKING driver within the first three results on Google, plus I have to know without a moment’s hesitation that it’s the right damn driver.
  • I can pick a software package and not have to manually install 20 other small items to get it running, beyond the OS itself.
  • I don’t have to rely on Wine or other Windows emulators to make Linux run games, or limit myself to the current selection of crappy open source Linux games.
  • I don’t have to spend upwards of an hour on a random Wiki site searching for resolutions to obscure bugs specific to certain hardware.

Once we’ve got those four down we can talk. But Linux, Ubuntu, whatever, it’s just not set to go to the masses yet.