Linux - Customize Your Noose
Posted on 2007-03-22 (Updated on 2019-01-22)
My new year's resolution is to switch to Linux - specifically one of the Ubuntu variants. I'm sick of using Windows and supporting Microsoft in it's efforts to remove the rights of it's users. Linux can (technically) do absolutely anything I need it to do, the trick is getting from here to there.
After much deliberation, I've decided to use Kubuntu flavor. I really like the others (especially Xubuntu), but Kubuntu just seems like the best fit. So, I install the distro on my second hard drive, and most everything works automatically. Being somewhat of a perfectionist, I automatically start yearning for my dual-screen setup and wireless network. This is where the pain begins.
First of all, I must add that none of these problems are limited to Kubuntu. Dual-screens has to do with the underlying X.Org system, and lack of comprehensive wireless support crosses all distributions.
With that said, I completely destroyed X.Org by trying to add a second screen. No warning, no second chance, just a callous-looking command prompt with some errors. After the third install, I figured out that I was really just mucking up the xorg.conf file - I saved a copy of that to my home directory, and in case of nuclear holocaust, I simply restored the configuration file. Not that hard to overcome, but I'll be damned if it didn't take a ton of time and effort. I can also tell you how many normal users would be willing to go to those extremes to keep their system up and running with Linux...
I still have not been able to configure my wireless card. If I was a little more flexible in my requirements, things would not be so difficult - but I have a degree in networking. I am not willing to settle for anything short of WPA security, with my own configuration (AES encryption, pre-shared key, channel 8). The fact that Ubuntu (and I'm guessing it's the same with Xubuntu) does not have a built-in way to do this is unacceptable. By installing a separate application in Kubuntu I can get some of the options I need, but this has not let me get my wireless network up and running. I've tried several fixes on the internet, none of which have worked, most of which have had me configuring a file that is no longer used in Ubuntu. I've been able to run CAT5 cable to my PC for the time being, but it will not last.
While I do appreciate the configurability of Linux, most users will not. The majority of users simply want something that works - which is why Windows is so popular. If you don't work in Windows, you can't compete in computing today. This is also why Macs are gaining popularity: they control the environment their operating system runs in, so everything works. With the growing importance of the Internet (which is cross-platform), Macs are becoming a viable alternative.
The only way Linux is ever going to survive on the Desktop is if it becomes one of the operating systems that "just works" out of the box. The efforts of Ubuntu and other distributions just may make this possible, but it's still a long way off.