What a surprise: SuSE, Red Hat, and Mandrake all make major
releases and happy shoppers aren't lined up around the block like
parents anxious over Cabbage Patch kids at Christmas. On the other
hand, this article maintains that "the learning curve for Linux no
longer looks like one of those looming Mt Arapiles cliffs that
rock-climbers dangle from."
You no longer have to search through unending volumes
of HOWTO files to install and configure Linux. It has
plug-and-play. It's not quite so broad-reaching as in Windows, but
it is faster and, in four test installations with a wide array of
video cards, sound cards, USB etc, it failed to pick up the drivers
for only one relatively uncommon network card.
Installing a dial-up Internet connection proved to be
breathtakingly simple - just a matter of inserting the ISP's phone
number, user name and password - and the business of hooking up to
a printer, which with early versions of Linux seemed somewhat like
networking a particle accelerator, has become pain-free.
There are cavernous depths with Linux - dark twists and turns,
which you navigate by arcane commands - but only the adventurous
and the initiated need tinker with them. The average user can
choose to live pretty much entirely in the comfortable surrounds of
the desktop, which he or she can set up to duplicate the look and
feel of Windows, the MacOS, BeOS or whatever.