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Mossberg's Ubuntu Linux verdict: Nope

Ubuntu doesn't measure up to Mac OS X or Windows for average users, influential WSJ tech reviewer concludes.

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Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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  • I've been covering the technology industry for 24 years and was a science writer for five years before that. I've got deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and other dee
Stephen Shankland

Walt Mossberg, the influential Wall Street Journal reviewer who strikes fear into the hearts of computing and gadget companies, has weighed in on Ubuntu Linux.

And it's bad news for Linux fans.

Despite Dell's endorsement of the Canonical-sponsored software and its decision to sell PCs with it installed, Mossberg thinks Ubuntu isn't ready for mainstream folks.

His conclusion: "Even in the relatively slick Ubuntu variation, Linux is still too rough around the edges for the vast majority of computer users. While Ubuntu looks a lot like Windows or Mac OS X, it is full of little complications and hassles that will quickly frustrate most people who just want to use their computers, not maintain or tweak them."

Specifically, Mossberg griped about having to download codecs to play ordinary audio and video files, and some codecs were labeled "bad" or "ugly"; an oversensitive but unadjustable touch pad; and a lousy time connecting an iPod.

"Open source is a two-edged sword. While it draws on smart developers from many places, nobody is ultimately responsible for the quality of the product, and open-source developers often have an imperfect feel for how average people use software," Mossberg said.