Please stop pretending any operating system “just works”

Ubun­tu­cat » Blog Archive » Please stop pre­tend­ing Win­dows “just works”

As a mat­ter of fact, com­put­er prob­lems exist­ing has lit­tle to do with what OS you use. I’ve seen Mac own­ers com­plain about var­i­ous Mac prob­lems and Lin­ux users com­plain about var­i­ous Lin­ux prob­lems. There is no such thing as “just works.” Win­dows does not just work. Mac OS X does not just work. Lin­ux does not just work.

The only way around this I can see is a rede­f­i­n­i­tion of the phrase just works. Here’s my new work­ing def­i­n­i­tion:

Fill-in-the-blank oper­at­ing sys­tem has caused me per­son­al­ly (and no one else nec­es­sar­i­ly) few­er prob­lems than oth­er oper­at­ing sys­tems I have used, and when I do encounter prob­lems, they are ones I can tol­er­ate and not big enough for me to aban­don this plat­form for anoth­er one.

As some­one who works in tech sup­port, I can say that this is def­i­nite­ly true. It’s pret­ty much a lev­el play­ing field with regards to the prob­lems you will encounter.

For me, GNU/Linux is free, has a more con­sis­tent user expe­ri­ence, and has a great com­mu­ni­ty in which to play a part (e.g. seek­ing the inevitable sup­port, learn­ing more, con­tribut­ing your­self). That’s what gives it the advan­tage over Windows/OS X in my book.

2 thoughts on “Please stop pretending any operating system “just works”

  1. Not to start a flame war, but I think that Mac users refer to some­thing very spe­cif­ic when they talk about Macs “just work­ing.” It is that you can take a Mac out of the box, turn it on, and with­in min­utes you are work­ing. There’s no crap­ware to turn off/remove, few, if any, dri­vers to install, no track­ing down soft­ware in repos, no hard­ware incom­pat­i­bil­i­ties, no ter­mi­nal. It is work­ing. It’s not that Macs are prob­lem free. The “just works” refers to the begin­ning, less than over­all user expe­ri­ence.

  2. That’s fair. Though I’d argue that for the most part Ubun­tu suc­ceeds with that same out-of-the-box (well, “fresh­ly installed”) expe­ri­ence. And half the prob­lem you’ll see are because Ubun­tu (and Lin­ux) have a much lofti­er goal: con­sis­ten­cy on all hard­ware. Apple does­n’t care about non-Apple hard­ware. (And while the expe­ri­ence is bet­ter, I don’t appre­ci­ate the nar­row-mind­ed goal.)

    But that reminds me of that arti­cle I read a while ago about the dock: Top Ten Nine Rea­sons the Apple Dock Still Sucks. “It makes for a great demo, but not a great prod­uct.” In gen­er­al, that’s how I feel about OS X: it’s a great out-of-the-box OS, and inte­grates with Apple things (iPods/iPhones, iTunes, iLife/iWork, etc.) very well. But over­all the expe­ri­ence feels lim­it­ing. A lot of times, I can’t do in OS X what I can in GNOME. Obvi­ous­ly that’s not the case for every­one, and I won’t try to con­vince them (for the most part ;)).

    The thing I appre­ci­ate about this quote is that it almost com­plete­ly nul­li­fies any argu­ment of this OS over that one.

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