Hardware and software progress in Linux

“Do not fear difficulty. Hard ground makes strong roots” – Ventari Tablet (Guild Wars 2)

The good thing about Linux is that we were better off than when we first started. Linux has progressed forward, a lot more than I had expected. A good example would be support from browsers. The dominant winner used to only be supported on windows. Not only has Linux been able to run IE with WINE, IE is no longer the preferred browser with almost every website now being Linux compatible. I place this chart from W3 counter for easy reference.

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Chrome is a success story with Linux. Android is based on Linux and Chrome is very friendly when it comes to supporting Linux. I remember the days when IceWeasel was the default browser in many linux distributions and despite being identical, many websites still do not support it simply because it wasn’t firefox.

The problem doesn’t only lie in software, but also hardware. I used to build desktops with windows, and often, I would face hardware issues. The worst period was during the Vista era, when suddenly nothing is vista compatible and old hardware had to be thrown away. It was the start when windows started losing its grip. Instead of trying to satisfy the needs of its customers, I personally feel that buying their product was only more encouraging them to practice in monopolistic ways rather than trying to improve themselves.

After installing Lubuntu on several desktops, I have come to realise why Linux has failed to take over the desktop world. Linux is too flexible, the trade off, is that no one has standardised installation to match every hardware. It is the same for any OS that does not come with OEM installation, even windows.

What Linux needs is enthusiasts, and that is what we are going to move towards. To provide standard hardware with standardised installation. Once all the main features are working, tweaking the OS to individual needs becomes a lot easier. Even amatuers will be able to use computers.

The latest desktop I had installed Lubuntu on had an ATI Radeon Xpress 200. You may wonder, who in the world still uses ATI Radeon Xpress 200. Unfortunately, people still do. The new catalyst drivers have dropped this graphics card and I cannot get propriety support, forcing me to rely on open source drivers, which automatically installs anyway. In Windows 7, the catalyst and legacy drivers from ATI would not work without major tweaking and it is best to use to Vista drivers and run compatibility mode. In fact, the process to install drivers on windows takes almost equal time to install that on Linux and shorter in this case. The problem is, there is no one in the market to do such installation and there is just not enough commercial power for Linux to become more dominant.

However, what matters is community power. No one can beat the power of the community in innovation. Chrome didn’t become number one overnight and Linux will take time to make its mark. Whilst I agree that Chrome is light and powerful, I would always have Firefox with me as a backup. It doesn’t matter who is number one in the game, but who consistently remains relevant.

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