Linuxblog Introduction: We took an average windows user, gave her a handful of distributions of Linux, and forced her to use each distro for one week. We gave her alsaconf, email servers, and mounted her windows partition to the fresh install. Then, we faded away and quietly watched her in her new environment. You too can join us by reading on…
Here I am the Average Windows User. I think I’m going to like Linux. That is, if we can work out a few things. I don’t think Mandrake is going to be my favoriteâ€”I hope. I hope because I really want to find an OS that is easier to work with. I am purposely not taking a lot of suggestions because most people would not have that luxury. I’m the person who just happened to hear that there was something out there like Windows, but FREE–or at the least a whole heck of a lot cheaper. I am the person who is curious but very limited in knowledge. Please keep this in mind as you proceed.
1) Look /Feel – I stand by my initial impression, it’s okay. I have no complaints with the look and how it works. I do however have a problem finding program files, in windows it is easy, go to program files on my drive and find the files. I can’t find any map like that in my desktop and believe me I’ve been looking. I think by now I am so tired of looking that I wouldn’t be able to find it if it slapped me in the face. I do like Gnome better than KDE at this point. I can’t really explain why, I just do. (Score – 7)
2) Performance – It seems as fast if not faster than windows, that’s nice. But I have not been able to â€œtax it since I can hardly get anything to work. I like some of the programs, I am using open office right now for my log. It works nicely. (Score – 8 )
3) Hardware/Software – This part was infuriating. I will explain, patience please. See below in My Criteria (Score – 2)
4) Upgradeability/Security – At this point, I’m not exactly worried about security. I would never get that far with this â€œdistro. Upgrading certain things proved too difficult for me, others were simple. (Score – 3)
5) Documentation - There is plenty of it, many websites out there but most of them are not catering to new users. I gave up on most of them before finding anything I could benefit from. Even though the kind people who visit this blog offered many good suggestions for help sites, it would have probably taken me weeks to find them on my own. (Score – 5)
6) Installation – Was not any more difficult than a Windows install, possibly easier. (Score – 8)
Now we talk about MY criteria:
1) Mail – This was a fairly easy setup, basically no different than Outlook. Not bad. (Score – 9)
2) Internet – I need to be able to get news, surf my favorite websites and update my own website. They MUST render properly or they are useless to me. This didn’t happen at all. No java, No flash. I had to get help installing Java. There is NO WAY I could have done this on my own since I know NOTHING about shell scripts (or whatever) and I don’t think the average person would know how to execute a shell script. Java still won’t render, something is wrong and I can’t figure out what. I also need to install flash. Yeah right, that’s gonna happen! If I can’t get Java, I’m sure Flash is just as much out of my reach. After some investigation, it really is. This one gets a big fat 0. (Score – 0)
3) Listen to Music – I tried Amarok first and I didn’t like it because I had a hard time adding files from the windows drive. Then I tried Kaffeine, I liked it much better. I do think that new users would have a hard time adding to their library, it took me a few minutes to figure out. I am disappointed that I can’t figure out how to save my library when I close out the application. The sound quaility is really good, I like that a lot. It’s also nice that I am able to access my music files from my windows hard drive with no problems. I am told that this would not be possible the other way around. But I still had to have my husband set it up for me to do this. (Score – 8 )
4) Download Music/Files – I found out that a lot of people use LimeWire for Linux while searching for information on p2p programs, so I downloaded it. Here was another shell script that I could not execute on my own. If I wanted to learn it would not be very difficult. But the fact is that I don’t want to learn. Remember, I am the average Windows user and I want things to work just like they would in Windows. I want to be able to doubleclick and go. While installing LimeWire it said that we did NOT have Java VM installed. Wow, that’s funny, I thought we just did that. Well, maybe that’s why it’s still not displaying. Regardless, I can’t solve this on my own. So no Java, no LimeWire, no downloads, not happy. Pfft . . . (Score – 0)
5) Burning CDS – I like music a lot. I burn CDs quite often. I did a search for cd burning software; I found a rather nice looking site to download from. The download went smoothly and it AUTOMATICALLY installed, imagine that! But guess what? I don’t know WHERE it installed, so I spend God knows how long searching for it and I eventually give up. Later I was trying out the Gnome desktop (I had been using KDE up to that point) and through dumb luck I ran across K3B, the burning program that I had been searching for. BTW, I found it in the System menu under Archiving. Who thought that one up?? Yes I know, some really smart person who uses their burning software for exactly that archiving. Well what about what about the rest of us no-so-smart people? HELLOOO, most of us don’t know you use your burner for anything other than burning that phat new mix cd!! Well now that I found it, burning is a breeze. I have no qualms with this feature. K3B is easier to use than many other burning programs that I have tried before. (9)
In conclusion, Mandrake has made a dummy out of me and I don’t like it one bit. An experience like this is enough to wound any new user’s pride. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this is a really great OS for someone who knows a lot about Linux or computers in general. It’s probably really good for someone who has a desire to explore and learn more. It would probably be really great (eventually) for me since I have a husband who can magically make everything work the way I like. But right now I am playing the part of the lone windows user trying to make sense of Mandrake and it’s just not going to happen without a WHOLE LOTTA research. I don’t think most people are willing to put forth such an effort. I think the big problem with this OS is that they just expect you to know things that the average user simply would not have a grasp of. I’m not saying it’s really difficult to figure out (some things) on your own, but I am saying that most people would give up before they realized what the benefits were of using it. Consider the saying â€œYou get what you pay forâ€. In this case, I think some people might see it that way unfortunately, â€œIt’s free, I didn’t pay anything for it, this is just too much work, I’m going to give up and take my lazy butt down to Staples and buy that Windows update I’ve been too cheap to shell out for.â€ Sad but true.
Therefore I give Mandrake an overall score of 6 out of 10, slightly above average.
Mandrake Linux Scores: 6 out of 10
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