The Myth of "Working Out of the Box"

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The Myth of "Working Out of the Box"

Postby lagagnon on Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:25 pm

I would like to vent a bit about the outrageous expectations of many newbies and even veteran Linux users concerning this concept that Linux should somehow "just all work", "out of the box". The Linux forums around the world are littered with this huge misconception and expectation.

The basic fact many seem to forget is that 99% of computer users have never installed an operating system and that same 99% generally purchase a computer pre-loaded with an operating system. The manufacturer/distributor of that computer model may well have spent many, many hours setting up the OS for that machine beforehand and then once everything is working perfectly will simply clone the tailored OS (and probably a hidden restore partition) onto the hard drives for those machines and add a license number for each machine. So of course, everything will work out of the box, or that manufacturer would not gain too great a reputation with the consumer. These manufacturers do not simply load Windows Vista or Windows 7 (or whatever) on each machine - it is a highly tailored cloned system for each model of computer they sell. This is absolutely necessary because of the open architecture of the venerable IBM PC for which thousands of manufacturers build various CPU's motherboards, PCI cards, video cards and peripherals. It is simply impossible that any operating system can be made to run every piece of hardware perfectly without some tuning.

Apple on the other hand have a much easier job. Their hardware is closed architecture - so they only have to write drivers for a very limited set of hardware, which they themselves manufacture.

So when we as Linux users load our wonderful operating system onto our personal computers - all of which vary considerably with respect to hardware, we simply cannot expect all the bits and pieces to function perfectly. Sometimes they do, which is pretty amazing when you come to think of it. But most of the time not everything will work as expected. For the most part almost every piece of hardware can be made to function under Linux - there are a few minor exceptions - again I find that pretty amazing considering the variety of hardware out there. So take a moment to ponder this next time you complain about something not working after loading Linux. Especially when you say that it worked under pre-tailored clone of Windows on a computer which you purchased from your local computer store! It is also something the distro-hoppers should consider before they jump to the next distro on their list which they insist must just "work out of the box"...

As adventurous computer users who have decided to load an operating system we need to take responsibility for this task ourselves and for the potential little bumps in the road we will face to get it all working to our liking, rather than blaming the distro itself.
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Re: The Myth of "Working Out of the Box"

Postby exploder on Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:38 pm

That pretty much sums up the hardware situation. Unfortunately, we suffer from regressions every now and then though....
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Re: The Myth of "Working Out of the Box"

Postby DrHu on Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:30 pm

lagagnon wrote:I would like to vent a bit about the outrageous expectations of many newbies and even veteran Linux users concerning this concept that Linux should somehow "just all work", "out of the box". The Linux forums around the world are littered with this huge misconception and expectation
...
So when we as Linux users load our wonderful operating system onto our personal computers - all of which vary considerably with respect to hardware, we simply cannot expect all the bits and pieces to function perfectly. Sometimes they do, which is pretty amazing when you come to think of it

...Sometimes they do, which is pretty amazing when you come to think of it
Absolutely correct!
--this is often a hangover from Windows users just trying out Linux, aka the newbies

And sometimes, despite their best efforts, the manufacturers get it wrong, and the out-of the box experience, that it just works doesn't pan out in reality.
--it might fail as soon as the user tries to add their newest gadget to their system, even windows itself, despite being fixed for that hardware combination, might not be perfect
http://forums.techarena.in/vista-hardwa ... 859186.htm

They have shaken out the problems in Vista, so maybe when next version win7 is released, it just works, might be more in line with reality, who knows for sure ?
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Re: The Myth of "Working Out of the Box"

Postby Fred on Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:04 am

lagagnon,

I will frame your statement a little differently, just so I can disagree with you. :-)

Linux does indeed work out of the box. It can be made into anything you have the knowledge and skill to make of it. It is like a piece of clay that can be molded to fit your own idea of what an OS should be, unlike some other OSs that come to mind. :-)

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Re: The Myth of "Working Out of the Box"

Postby lexon on Thu Jul 23, 2009 10:01 am

I have installed Windows 98SE and XP to a new hard drives and they have never worked out of the box. Vista might be different. Mint 6 and Mint 7 pretty much worked out of the box. I was using applications and on the 'Net in about thirty minutes. Ubuntu had a couple issues. My advantage is I have always used low end, integrated mobo PCs. No special video or audio options. I do not partition or dual boot.I let the OS do the formatting. One OS, one hard drive. The hardware can be a big issue.
Another issue can be, did the newbie do something incorrect while trying to install a Linux OS?

When I was using 98SE, I spent quite a few hours reading Linux forums before I ever tried installing a Linux OS.

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Re: The Myth of "Working Out of the Box"

Postby markcynt on Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:18 pm

I have had problems in the past, with my printer and wireless when I used it. It was quite frustrating, especially the wireless because I was new and had no way to connect otherwise.

I have had some distros work out of the box for my printer though, Mint and Mint KDE included. As for my wireless card, that couldn't work without Ndiswrapper since there are no Linux drivers for it and even then on some distros there were a few things to do after installing the driver to keep it connected, not a lot more than Windows though.
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Re: The Myth of "Working Out of the Box"

Postby lexon on Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:38 pm

I recently purchased a nearly new Acer standard laptop that originally came from Walmart. I installed Mint 7 and it worked right out of the box. Did not need to partition or format. Mint did it all. Wireless, DVD player, USB, audio just fine. Maybe I am just lucky. Who knows.

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Re: The Myth of "Working Out of the Box"

Postby vrkalak on Sat Jul 25, 2009 4:12 pm

I am a Registered Architect, so I am on the computer (a good computer) daily, and for long periods of time. Like most of America, I have used MSWindows OS, for many many years, because that's what the computer came with. Didn't know any better. I bought my first PC from Radio Shack in 1984. I now have a custom built comp with 4 Gb of RAM and 1 Tb of HHD. Architectural rendering takes up a lot of memory. I can now put an entire set of building plans on a thumb-drive. Amazing.

On the encouragement of friends,I installed a Linux distro - Ubuntu 9.04. I had been a user of Ubuntu for about a month. It was a good OS, but . . . I wasn't totally happy. I had ordered a LiveCD to install Ubuntu and most things worked well, from the start. I knew that I would have to customise some things and fix a few others. My wireless internet USB didn't work and I had no sound, at all. I fixed these problems myself, with help from Ubuntu Forums.

After reading some more about Linux Distros . . . I switched to LinuxMint-7 (Gloria) a few days ago . . .
The ease of a Direct Download of the ISO Files, to a very easy install. And an effortless package menu and an easy install of an Open Source CAD program; even better than AutoCAD.

Everything worked right out of the box, so to say. I mean everything. I am sold on Gloria (LinuxMint OS). . . it works, for what I need

Think back, to when you first decided to change from the pre-installed OS to what your using now; you have to consider why you switched to a Linux distro in the first place and if it still works for you. If not, then find one that will. If you are satisfied with MSWindows OS, then stay there.

Thankfully, there are computer users and programmers (the Linux team and founders) that have vision of . . . more.
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Re: The Myth of "Working Out of the Box"

Postby subversiveasset2.0 on Thu Aug 06, 2009 1:27 am

While I agree with this topic, I would point out that all the OSes aren't on the same grounds.

Most people don't install Windows because they don't have to. Most people don't install Mac OS because they don't have to. The computers on the market come with these on there. But if one wants to try linux, one generally must install it. So, when the choice might be, "Stick with Windows" or "Move to Linux," the easier choice is to stick with Windows.

(This all comes back to haunt people in case they DO have to install Windows from scratch. *That* is painful.)

In the end, despite the uphill expectations, I think linux (and in particular Mint with each upcoming edition) performs outstandingly. I am REALLY impressed. Perhaps it's because I have had to install Windows after a format, and perhaps it's because when I first dabbled into linux, a friend convinced/tricked me to try Gentoo (-_-), but I'm impressed that I pop in Mint, get compiz working automatically. I have the right resolution. I've spent hours in the past with these kinds of issues, but now, across a few computers, they just work.

Now, wireless is basically the only thing that frustrates me -- dealing with pesky broadcom drivers as well as kernel modules that prevent ndiswrapper from working unless they are blacklisted has been a bane in the past. When I recently installed Gloria, I was disheartened to find the same would be true (especially since linux distros generally *need* an internet connection to troubleshoot...yet it's hard to download when the thing that doesn't work is the internet). I didn't want to go to the other room to hook by ethernet, so I tried (on a whim) to tether. NetworkManager already had the settings for tethering, and so I was able to easily do it, easily get the restricted drivers, etc.,

Amazing!

The incredible things I see linux developers doing kinda makes me frustrated with Microsoft or others...I mean, many linux devs are doing this as a labor of love. Microsoft does this for a job, and yet its products are not as impressive. So, I come to appreciate linux more and more.
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Re: The Myth of "Working Out of the Box"

Postby Fred on Thu Aug 06, 2009 2:07 am

subversiveasset2.0 wrote"
The incredible things I see linux developers doing kinda makes me frustrated with Microsoft or others...I mean, many linux devs are doing this as a labor of love. Microsoft does this for a job, and yet its products are not as impressive. So, I come to appreciate linux more and more.

Why would this surprise you? Things that are done by true craftsmen as a labor of love are always of higher quality than mass produced, deadline oriented products. I have a dinner table and 6 chairs that my Dad made for his family when he was a young man. It is now over a 100 years old. It's still serviceable and sits in my dinning room. The workmanship is flawless and both the table and chairs are still solid as a rock. When was the last time you bought something at Wal-Mart or a local furniture store that you had an expectation of that kind of longevity or serviceability? :-)

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Re: The Myth of "Working Out of the Box"

Postby oboedad55 on Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:59 am

DrHu wrote:
lagagnon wrote:I would like to vent a bit about the outrageous expectations of many newbies and even veteran Linux users concerning this concept that Linux should somehow "just all work", "out of the box". The Linux forums around the world are littered with this huge misconception and expectation
...
So when we as Linux users load our wonderful operating system onto our personal computers - all of which vary considerably with respect to hardware, we simply cannot expect all the bits and pieces to function perfectly. Sometimes they do, which is pretty amazing when you come to think of it

...Sometimes they do, which is pretty amazing when you come to think of it
Absolutely correct!
--this is often a hangover from Windows users just trying out Linux, aka the newbies

And sometimes, despite their best efforts, the manufacturers get it wrong, and the out-of the box experience, that it just works doesn't pan out in reality.
--it might fail as soon as the user tries to add their newest gadget to their system, even windows itself, despite being fixed for that hardware combination, might not be perfect
http://forums.techarena.in/vista-hardwa ... 859186.htm

Man, I just checked out that link. It gave me the shivers. Before I discovered Linux this was a way of life! Talking to an endless line of "support" people all over the world just to get a printer working. That brings back memories. Nothing is perfect, but from a support standpoint Linux has everything else beat. I've run Windows, Mac OSX, etc. The Mac is the worst. There's no support out there except from Apple and their only solution for me was to reinstall everything! Man, I can do that on a Linux box in 20 minutes and if I've been smart and backed things up I can have the whole shebang up and running in 90 minutes.

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Re: The Myth of "Working Out of the Box"

Postby marcdilnutt on Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:34 am

vrkalak wrote:... an easy install of an Open Source CAD program; even better than AutoCAD.


I am a land surveyor and use AutoCAD daily, I am trying to make the switch to Linux and need a substitute program that can open and save in either .dwg or .dxf format so I can be compatible with clients and other professionals that I deal with. Which program are you using in place of AutoCAD?
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Re: The Myth of "Working Out of the Box"

Postby Alexio on Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:03 pm

marcdilnutt wrote:Which program are you using in place of AutoCAD?


See http://www.osalt.com/autocad for open source AutoCAD alternatives.
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