Consumers hate Linux. Or perhaps they just hate SUSE.

The Linux edition of MSI's Wind is returned four times as often as the Windows version. In an interview with Laptop mag, MSI's director of U.S. sales, Andy Tung, says that buyers just don't want to learn how to use it.
Our internal research has shown that the return of netbooks is higher than regular notebooks, but the main cause of that is Linux. People would love to pay $299 or $399 but they don’t know what they get until they open the box. They start playing around with Linux and start realizing that it’s not what they are used to. They don’t want to spend time to learn it so they bring it back to the store. The return rate is at least four times higher for Linux netbooks than Windows XP netbooks.
They're currently trying to improve the feel of the experience on its Linux models, testing Ubuntu and other "flavors of Linux" other than their current cut of SUSE. Oh, yes, there's good news, too. The Wind's still a big hit, and will be stocked by a "major" U.S. retailer from next week. MSI: Wind Coming to Major Retailer, New Models Coming Soon [Laptopmag via Gizmodo]

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23 Responses to Consumers hate Linux. Or perhaps they just hate SUSE.

  1. strider_mt2k says:

    I have Vista to thank for making me open to trying non-windows OSs but my journey with Linux brought me back to Windows XP.

    Linux is extremely cool.
    The thought of saving otherwise useless computers with a free and capable OS is so right that it makes me proud of ‘em for doing it like they do.

    It’s just not for me.

    I think the same thing might happen when you release a new flavor of ANYTHING.

    Lots of people try it, some don’t like it.
    I hope they learn from this and it helps make Linux better.

    I truly wish it well.

  2. OM says:

    …Kids, if anyone owns one of these mininotes, have you installed either Photoshop, Frontpage or 3DStudio Max on it? I know the latter is probably pushing the damn thing to its limit, but I’d be curious as to whether one of these would suffice for brief touch-up work out in the field.

  3. Clif Marsiglio says:

    I *HATE* GUI Linux…It just eff’n sucks. I know it is non-constructive, but I’ve tried to work with groups doing GUI work before and comments are just ignored or ridiculed as trying to make the OS into a toy (especially when you are pointing out major inconsistencies).

    I run a Mac for 90% of my work these days. My business runs on a mixture of Linux and BSD variants — I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable again with BSD as I spend a lot of time in terminal on my Mac. From the command line, NOTHING can touch the unixes. NOTHING. But I could never see myself recommending a GUI based linux install ever again.

    Heck, friend of mine installed Ubantu on his girlfriends computer after having to reformat it a few times…put Windows back on after realizing he spent far more time teaching her how to do things that he though EVERYONE should know how to do than he ever did reformatting once a month. I set up Ghost for her backup and now she knows how to pop in a disk and recover everything to a state she is comfortable with. I *HATE* Windows, yet it is a far better solution for her…

    So do consumers hate Linux? I’d place betting money on it…

  4. Oren Beck says:

    I suspect a non-trivial percent of these returns could be avoided. do note that my comments are a composite derived from many Linux stupids across many distros. And NOT a directed at any one distro or hardware.

    Beginning with unsubtle details such as single or double click operations. IF those operations were consistent with user’s past experience? Then we move on to complete inexcusable *STUPIDS* such as Typematic delay and repeat. Having default settings that make mere mortals feel childishly fumble fingered will not endear them to Linux. A lovely uncluttered desktop for many folks is beautiful. When it’s lacking any clue as to what can be done with this machine? That’s a good start at deal breaking. Move from there to a mundane task such as drag and drop of files to an external USB device? Sigh.

    We should consider some programmer-hours be put on details such as I mention. That and Distro maintainers might consider a project of sorts. Making a “Windows Transition” mode.
    We start by soliciting from the “Returners” a list of WHY factors!

  5. AahMyEyes says:

    What the F is “GUI Linux”? Was it KDE, Gnome, Fluxbox?

    A “GUI based Linux install”? Installing Linux is easier than installing Windows these days.

    For random just so stories, I installed Kubuntu on my girlfriends laptop. Yes it took getting used to, but she’s definitely not going back to Windows.

  6. Clif Marsiglio says:

    *What the F is “GUI Linux”?*

    It is obvious from my post that I have plenty of experience with Unix OSs, and as such, most likely have used plenty of GUIs. You know what I am talking about and choose to go into nerd mode to prove a point.

    I can safely say, even the best of them pretty much suck compared to even Windows…in the GUI side of things. The last I used was Ubantu because this is what a lot of the school systems are using for a project of mine (and for this project, it was good enough because all they needed was OpenOffice and Firefox). I’m not going to single any one out as being worse, because they all suck. Some less than others, but to a point that it doesn’t matter to a regular user.

    Honestly, I’ve tried to like these. I bought one of those net-laptops (again, not going to single any out) so that I could nerd out on them and was left a bit pissed off.

    As for “Installing Linux is easier than installing Windows these days.” I never said it wasn’t…maybe English isn’t your first language, so I’ll restate this differently. An installed Linux on a machine that I had previously installed the installed operating system that is Linux. Simpler to install? Sure. never said it wasn’t…in this case, I meant it was there…read to use. This is a common parlance of the term.

    Note — the first time I installed a unix on a personal computer was on a 486 back in the early 1990s. Almost 20 years ago. I gotta say, ANYTHING is easier than installing that bastard!

  7. Hyouko says:

    #19 – You need NDISWrapper – it’s a little app that will let you use your Windows wireless drivers under Linux. It’s a touch tricky to set up, but there are tons and tons of tutorials – this one here should help:

  8. AahMyEyes says:

    “It is obvious from my post that I have plenty of experience with Unix OSs”

    Nah, not really.

    “I can safely say, even the best of them pretty much suck compared to even Windows…in the GUI side of things.”

    I have to use Windows XP at work, I use KDE at home. The KDE GUI is far more usable, starting with multiple workspaces, being able to keep *any* application above others. I can safely say Windows user interface is really crappy compared to it’s peers.

  9. AahMyEyes says:

    As to my understanding of English, you said:
    “But I could never see myself recommending a GUI based linux install ever again.”

    So what Linux install would you recommend then?

  10. bcworkz says:

    This all became a problem because MSI failed to properly manage consumer expectations. Then they blame their failure on Linux. They are in denial. Simple.

  11. Scuba SM says:

    The big reason I haven’t been able to switch to Ubuntu like I want is my inability to find drivers for my wireless card. I’ve got a desktop machine, but our entire network is wireless. If I can’t get online, I can’t do jack. After shutting down, restarting in Windows, finding an instruction sheet, copying the file to a USB drive, shutting down, restarting in Linux, trying it, finding that it doesn’t work, shutting down, etc etc etc, I just gave up and stuck with my XP install. Of course, it does mean that I have an unused 500GB drive sitting in my machine at the moment…

    On a laptop machine that already had all of the appropriate drives installed, I’d make the transition much quicker.

  12. Clif Marsiglio says:

    “So what Linux install would you recommend then?”

    Doesn’t matter…whichever supports your hardware best.

    Beyond that…the main feature differences seem to be the GUI…to which I don’t use. So it doesn’t matter. It is really as simple as that.

  13. failrate says:

    Suse? Jesus, why don’t they give their customers SlackWare or Gentoo?

  14. themindfantastic says:

    You can bet this is going to be pounced on by MS PR, if I was working there I certainly would…

  15. Anonymous says:

    Linux not too easy for people? Well, what a concept. We never saw that one… ¬¬

  16. Scuba SM says:

    Thanks HYOUKO, I may give it a second try this weekend.

  17. dimmer says:

    Clif, I think you really hit the nail on the head there: consider me devils advocate but the standard consumer has no freaking clue as to which distribution of Linux will “support their hardware best” (and hey, I don’t think they should have to.)

    You don’t use a GUI, great for you, but consumers will want/require one. That having made their way through the trough loads of Linux distos you’d now like these nice folks to choose one GUI over another?

    And then for application setup… yeesh!

    OS X is by far the best desktop operating system for (non-gamer) people: powerful, consistent, works. XP is probably second best, although I do hanker for AmigaOS and BeOS…

  18. technogeek says:

    Uhm… Sounds like they don’t _hate_ Linux, they just don’t know it, haven’t been appropriately introduced to it, and — especially on a cheap box that’s aimed at consumers — aren’t convinced they want to, or will be able to, learn. (Many people haven’t “learned how to learn”…)

    But… Y’know, given an appropriate graphical shell such that the users never see the command line, the most immediately visible difference between Linux and Windows is the / versus \ in directory paths and the absence of drive letters. I submit that I could teach most folks to fly a Linux system at the get-productive-work-done level pretty quickly. They might grumble about the fact that the keystrokes aren’t exactly what they’re used to, but that happens when moving between apps within a single OS too.

    In other words, I think this is baby-duck phenomenon — people have imprinted on Windows because it’s what they were exposed to first and have trouble believing that they actually have learned enough thereby to quickly come up to speed on the new platform (and will grumble about it for years, just as I do when forced to use non-Emacs editors). Good getting-started tutorials *SHOULD* be able to get them over this hump… but if you toss them in at the deep end of the pool, some of them are gonna complain.

  19. Nawel says:

    I agree with post #3. I recently started to use Kubuntu on my pc and I’m not regretting it in any way. Sure, things might be a little different, but, I’m sure I would face similar difficulties using Vista.

    Plus, a lot of people are really end-users, they don’t use the whole OS, they use programs -MSN Messenger, Office, IE, Winamp, photo editors, etc- and the functions of these programs can be performed with almost any open source/linux program, so… do they really have to learn that much? They don’t know that much about Windows either, so why don’t take the chance?

    At least that’s how I see it. I mean, a lot of folks here pay for getting Vista removed from their new laptops… they could just go Linux and pay zero.

  20. notatoad says:

    the wind isn’t in any major retailers in the states already? staples canada sells it. (or does staples not count as a major retailer?)

  21. Wigwam Jones says:

    I can’t say I’m surprised to hear it, and I run Linux exclusively on own machines. It’s still a chore to learn, it has quirks, and some things are still best done from the command line. Not to mention the still-spotty driver support for things that ‘just work’ in Windows. Let me put it this way – I’m my wife’s primary tech support, so I have Windows XP on her machine. She’s happier and so am I.

    Linux remains the techno-weenies’ best friend. And techies don’t need their OS pre-loaded, we don’t even like it that way. So the idea was a non-starter from dot.

    Again, for the horde of furious penguin-huggers about to descend on me with a fury for daring to suggest that Linux is ‘not intuitive’, let me assert that I love it, use it daily (I’m soaking in it now), and would not use another OS if at all possible. But it just isn’t ready for prime-time, and may never be. Works great on embedded devices, though. Makes a good server. Consumer OS? Maybe not so much.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Looking on the bright side, maybe I’ll be able to get one on “clearance”!

  23. Gaudeamus says:

    I run 2 XP machines, and one machine that dual-boots XP and Linux. If I can help it I will never touch Vista. One of my XP machines is a tablet pc which I run Linux in as a VM. All my Linux is Mint, and while I am quite fond of Mint, it is not nearly as easy to do things in Linux (for me) as it is in XP. Yes, this could be the learning curve, but at the same time, I don’t see why people *need* to learn to use something unfamiliar if they are used to Windows.

    Sure, Linux is very cool, and has a lot of choices, but many consumers don’t want to have too many choices, and they don’t want to have to worry about their wireless not working properly, or figure out what driver to use for their exotic video card, or have to learn sudo and apt-get. To this day between my friends there’s a split in opinion whether I need to reinstall Mint and set up a root password (for some stuff that sudo won’t do, though none of those things is make me a sandwich) or that I am doing it wrong and simply not being able to set up the things that I want. Either way, it’s very confusing and it’s always pleasant to just step away from the desktop and move back to my tablet, where I can be the Administrator or not, and the only time I type sudo is when I am typing into a text entry area to talk about it.

    I think it is much like people who like to buy their PC’s whole, and those who like to build them. There’s a certain joy in finding the perfect Micro ATX power supply and that just-right video card, and then there’s the very simply joy of OOBE. Those are also generally the people who believe tech support is something you pay people to do. I think much is being made of nothing, when in reality one’s choice of OS SHOULD depend of comfort and productivity. There’s no reason to get a machine that you will then spend several weeks trying to learn to use, and then return.

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