Desktop Linux less stable than OSX,.. and Windows?!

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Desktop Linux less stable than OSX,.. and Windows?!

Postby v1nce on Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:48 am

Preface: I am not trolling! I have been using Linux daily at home for 10 years now averaging maybe 2 hours a day during that whole time period. Before that a LOT of windows. I work as an editor for a few months now and as helpdesk guy so during working hours i work a lot with OSX and Win. I love Linux and all the ideas behind it with a passion yet lately some questions have occurred to me. Perhaps you can answer them?

1. Could it be that us Linux users confuse Kernel Uptime with Desktop stability? Despite having used 50 distros (Mint is mainstay but have used everything from Tinycore to Ultimate edition) i don't find them stable when you engage in (de)installing a not so considerable amount of software, when you tweak your desktop, upgrade or play media daily. A few examples: odd error messages during boot, Firefox crashing a lot! Docky crashing/dissappearing, icons suddenly deciding to change theme, Media players crashing etc etc. With OSX these type of things are a very rare occurrence indeed and i must admit that even with Win they seem to happen a lot less. True, Win has the "blue screen" but in my experience that happens ten times less frequently than the things i mention. Apps, even much freeware, tends to be rather stable on Win by comparison. I have almost never had any stability problems with any of the Win "pricelessware" i have used, i can't say the same for a lot of the 'Open Source' ware i have used in Linux.

I would posit that indeed the Linux !Kernel! is stable as a rock with ridiculous uptime.. but anytime you move into 'Desktop territory', i.e. having a windows manager and all desktop software an average user employs on a Win or OSX machine Linux is just a lot less stable by comparison. You are not likely to crash your whole Linux OS (though i do get that) but applications die all the time...
An example: Winamp 2.* is what,.. ten years old or more...? Still i have found it more stable than any Linux Mp3 player i have used, and i tried about thirty, from minimalist to bloatware. Anytime i try to import a large collection, skip around a sound file a lot, drag playlists into my player, multitask etc. any Linux player is rather likely to freeze or crash annoyingly often.

2. What is at the root of this 'Desktop instability'?

3. What is the solution?

I have been thinking about my next laptop. I am giving serious consideration to buying one that is 'Hackingtosh' capable. That way i can run whatever OS(ses) i please. I have a feeling that i might end up with OSX as my main OS. I don't like Mac's prices, business model, vendor lock in and philosophy but their OS is very good. However If i do the Hackingtosh thing i can avoid almost all of those downsides.

Would BSD be a solution? I guess a big part of me just wants a very stable desktop system that doesn't require endless tweaking or time investment. Sometimes i love messing with my OS, sometimes i just want to get some work done..! Yet i love Open Source and all it stands for.. It's a dilemma.

My whole experience argument ties in with the whole "Linux is not Ready for the desktop" thing a little,.. http://linuxfonts.narod.ru/why.linux.is ... rrent.html
The two things are related but distinct. Most stuff in that list is not much of an issue for a user like myself, but desktop instability is!

Any insights are very welcome!
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Re: Desktop Linux less stable than OSX,.. and Windows?!

Postby Roken on Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:13 am

Whilst I can't comment on OSx (having only had a fleeting experience of it) much of the crticism leveled in the article that you have posted can also be applied to Windows, and much of it is simply not relevant as a comparison between the three operating systems:

"Incomplete or unstable drivers for some hardware. Problems setting up some hardware (like sound cards or TV tuners/Web Cameras/Wi-Fi cards)." - now I note the use of the word "some" in this sentence, and I can honestly say that all my hardware works just fine using Linux. However, some hardware is equally difficult to get working on Windows (especially older hardware on newer Windows OS)

"Under some circumstances GUI becomes slow and unresponsive" - as does Windows

"Many distros' repositories do not contain all available open source software. User should never be bothered with using ./configure && make && make installer. It should be possible to install any software by downloading a package and double clicking it (yes, like in Windows, but probably prompting for user/administrator password)." - I love this. Windows does not have a central software repository at all, so how this can be seen as a comparitive criticism I fail to see. Equally, if you want the latest and greatest, or cutting edge OS on Windows you can pop along to sourceforge, download the source and compile yourself, exactly the same as Linux. For installing pre-built binaries on Linux there is always gdebi, which is equivalent to the double click method on Windows (the only difference being that WIndows calls Windows Installer and Linux uses gdebi). This is simply an example.

"Few software titles, inability to run familiar Windows software (some applications which don't work in Wine have zero Linux equivalents)." - because Windows and Linux are different beasts. It should be considered a bonus that Windows apps run at all on Linux. The reverse cannot be said to be true.

I could go on.

I guess a big part of me just wants a very stable desktop system that doesn't require endless tweaking or time investment.


Then don't tweak. SImply install the OS and get on with the work at hand. Most mainstream distros are mature enough that they will work quite happily out of the box. Again, since your focus is on the comparisons with other OS, if you want to customise Windows beyond changing a few colours then you need to install something such as WindowBlinds, which would constitute tweaking and which brings it's own level of complexity and instability to the table. As I understand it, such customisation options on MacOS are virtually non-existant.

So it's just as easy to break other OSes as it is to break LInux. The problem may be that because Linux is free it's more tempting to tweak than it would be on the other OSes, where the closed nature makes it more difficult to experiment or tweak. This, however, is not a fault of the OS but of the user.

And generally such comparisons will fail to mention that, certainly in WIndows, a rogue application can bring down the entire system, perhaps costing hours of work in the process. In Linux I have never seen this happen, and even if one application crashes to the point of no return it is usually possible to save other data before a reboot.

And "no", I'm not a Linux evangelist. I use both Windows and Linux and can see strength in Windows in certain areas, but for day to day desktop use I prefer Linux because it reflects my personality and is altogether more fun.
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Re: Desktop Linux less stable than OSX,.. and Windows?!

Postby v1nce on Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:34 am

I agree on that list not being very 'true', helpfull and rather one sided. As i stated before, the things in the list are not really my problem, just a somehwhat related discussion.

As for 'Tweak' perhaps i should clarify, i am talking about Minor GUI based (not even any CLI stuff) with the menus or adding apllications like docky. Actually i remove far more than i add, about 15 programmes that Mint comes with for instance, i never use them so they go. I don't even use or like Compiz or anything like that. Linux prides itself on being an OS that the user can mold to look like he wants. And it is true,.. but in my case it doesn't seem to help desktop stability, perhaps even the reverse.
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Re: Desktop Linux less stable than OSX,.. and Windows?!

Postby monkeyboy on Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:51 am

3. What is the solution?

Simple, use what you want to and don't sweat the small stuff.
If you don't like it, make something better
If you can't make something better, adapt
If you can't do either ball your panties up and cry.

Complaining is like masticating most anyone can do it.
However doing it in public is really hardcore.
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Re: Desktop Linux less stable than OSX,.. and Windows?!

Postby lmintnewb on Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:18 pm

Just a linux newbs opinion ( so probably wrong, lol.)

But think much of it could stem from ignorance of linux. All the people I know who are tech guru's love linux and hate M$. Perhaps some of your issues could be with having too limited resources installed on the systems you are running high resource progs with under linux ?

Or as somebody else mentioned. Micro$oft spent a lot of money trying to suppress and sabotage linux. Making sure proprietary drivers wouldn't be made available to linux developers. Pretty much an endless A to Z sleazy corporate maneuvers list to try to keep linux out of the personal computing market.

So maybe many of those stability problems stem from windows friendly hardware installed on the computers you're using. Vs choosing components that are linux friendly as well. OSX from what I've seen, you do at least get what you pay for so to speak. But you PAY ALOT ... If you have your choice of building a system from the ground up and take the time to research your choice of hardware.

I'd think linux would be more than able to hold it's own with any OS in the world. Just my opinions on it, I should be doing something productive. Not jacking off time on a linux forum ... sighs. So I could be wrong no doubt.

(edit) Not to mention regardless of what OS a person is using. Backing up any important data is supposed to go without saying. So whatever you're running, not like it would have to be 100% to 110% sure to never fail or have problems. Cause if that were the criteria, doubt any out of the box OS known to humanity could guarantee you that.
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Re: Desktop Linux less stable than OSX,.. and Windows?!

Postby geographyhorse on Mon Jun 20, 2011 2:16 pm

I have been using Linux for a little less than a year, so I am still a newb. However, I have noticed that GUI instability occurs much less frequently if one does not stick with bleeding-edge software. Most bleeding edge distributions still require a bit of time to iron out all the kinks, so it is better to stick with LTS releases (in the case of Ubuntu), or perhaps even switch to Debian testing, which is usually backdated a bit, but tends to be much more stable. The idea is to get actual WORK done, not necessarily to be playing the NEWEST software, although I admit that is fun as well.
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Re: Desktop Linux less stable than OSX,.. and Windows?!

Postby AdamS on Mon Jun 20, 2011 2:52 pm

From what I have seen.

Most try and use Linux as is and expect it to be stable. Cant blame them, I reckon I would to if I didn't know better.

OSX and windows are turn key polished OS , BUT are NOT without there issues as well.

To use linux takes work. Just how it is, learned much about this over the last several months.

Wish I would have understood this before I started offering some distro's to clients. Now I am FIXING issues that could have been fixed from the start.

Pick your distro - fix all issues and put in the time and work to gain flawless stability. Then make your own ISO of the distro so you don't have to go threw all that again lol.

Remember people, it is free. The least you can do is put in some time to get it right.

Once done, I have been able to surpass my windows and mac stability 10 fold with linux. But it honestly didn't come with out effort, nothing in life comes free statement remains true.

p.s. I am talking general here and not to all. Some can use linux fine as is out of the box, some cant. Just how it is.
Last edited by AdamS on Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Desktop Linux less stable than OSX,.. and Windows?!

Postby AlbertP on Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:04 pm

I have had zero crashes since I'm using Linux. And that on 3 computers (1 with Mint 10 and 2 with Mint 11). And on all of them, Windows has had some crashes but on Linux I haven't had real problems outside the SiS graphics driver (anyway, I'll replace that with an ATI soon).
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Re: Desktop Linux less stable than OSX,.. and Windows?!

Postby Hawkeye_52 on Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:15 pm

Isn't this like the old bar room (or living room...) arguments about Chevy being better than Ford or Babe Ruth being better than Mickey Mantle? There isn't a true answer here, but it makes for an interesting philosophical discussion.

I pretty much fall into the 'Guru's' camp on this topic: 1> none of them are perfect, and 2> Linux is a) free and b) far less restrictive in it's demands on the end user. End of story. Pass me a beer (or is it a lemonade) and let's watch some Nascar (or is it ballet).

That's my story and I'm sticking to it...

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Re: Desktop Linux less stable than OSX,.. and Windows?!

Postby Nexus on Sun Jun 26, 2011 6:47 am

v1nce wrote:I have been thinking about my next laptop. I am giving serious consideration to buying one that is 'Hackingtosh' capable. That way i can run whatever OS(ses) i please. I have a feeling that i might end up with OSX as my main OS. I don't like Mac's prices, business model, vendor lock in and philosophy but their OS is very good. However If i do the Hackingtosh thing i can avoid almost all of those downsides.


My advice on this, Avoid OSX like the plague, it's less secure than Windows, and their support folks, as has recently been show, are instructed not to assist and deny issues that show up like the recent mac defender incident.

Don't believe me as Charlie Miller, he won the Pwn2Own competition 2 years in a row by breaking into fully patched OSX machines using the same vulnerability. This is why I say OSX is less secure, because not only does it have vulnerabilities, even when they are known Apple does little to correct them as long as long as knowledge of them isn't making international headlines .
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Re: Desktop Linux less stable than OSX,.. and Windows?!

Postby inyeni on Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:24 am

I got inspired to reply because because right now there a lot of people who are not interested in deeper computer skills, but need an alternative to the maze of licensed / pirated software out there in windows-world. Go to a third world country where every single computer is a Windows-bot-slave-virus-magnet. We need the alternative to be more stable to catch on!

People who want to insist that Linux desktop is stabe and the problem is between keyboard and chair should read about why this kernel contributor Con Kilivas quit. Basically, this guy saw and documented underlying instability on desktop OS and coded to try to solve it. He thinks perhaps that the end-user might have gotten thrown under the bus to meet the different stability needs of enterprise server companies.
http://apcmag.com/why_i_quit_kernel_dev ... olivas.htm

Anyway, I found this article and the one on Kolvias while cursing my own system. I've had several Linux desktop systems with intermittent problems such as freezing on wake from sleep and being unable to force quit from a hung GUI without brutally powering down. This type of problem is unacceptable for an end-user product. If you really want vaster acceptance of Linux, you'd give a sympathetic ear to the people experiencing them.

I agree with the other posters that say putting some time to capture desired minor tweaks into a new distro or ISO sounds like a good idea. I realize that some of the media stuff that doesn't work out of the box is because of various licensing problems. Often we try to turn on someone to Linux, but they get discouraged on these type of issues. It's come a long way, but lets take it further.
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Re: Desktop Linux less stable than OSX,.. and Windows?!

Postby Enthy on Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:42 pm

@v1nce

> 1. Could it be that us Linux users confuse Kernel Uptime with Desktop stability?

Yes.


> 2. What is at the root of this 'Desktop instability'?

Untested interactions among the many parts of a complex setup. Novel software is more affected by this.

> 3. What is the solution?

Going for a distribution with a large community that values stability over novelty. A large community means lot of "monkey testing" for corner cases. Novelty means less time in the wild, hence less testing.

Linux Mint is built on top of Ubuntu, which is less stable than Ubuntu LTS. Linux Mint Debian Distribution is built on top of Debian Testing, where - guess what! - "Testing" means that it is not as well-tested as Debian Stable. I run Debian Stable, and I've experienced very few issues.

Don't tinker too much with programs. The more you tinker, the more you are likely to hit a corner case which will give you trouble. Firefox is stable until you install an addon too many, then it morphs into a crash party.

> Would BSD be a solution?

Not at all. In "BSD land", desktop users are a minority, so desktop distributions are less tested and very rough around the edges. Been there, done that.

Try Debian Stable, and stick with it. The more you are acquainted with a distro, the faster you'll fix issues that may come along. This, coupled with the intrinsic stability of a distribution, will give you the almost hassle-free system you are looking for.
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