I am really shocked to see someone, who shall remain nameless, be pedantic and point out that "Linux" technically only refers to the kernel and not a complete OS. While it's true that "Linux" only literally refers to the kernel that Linus wrote, in the decades that have followed the term has come to apply to any open source OS that uses said kernel.
Not sure if that was directed at me or someone else (I don't recall bringing up the kernel, but I can see how my statements could possibly be interpreted that way), but if it was, you missed my point by a mile.
Your anecdote about your mom asking you to put "Windows" back onto the PC when it was already running Windows is a great example of the "average user" and the level of knowledge most people have about operating systems. Imagine that confusion multiplied by 40 or so distros with 8 different UIs. Which is why my point is: "Linux" is not an operating system. There are plenty of operating systems are based on the Linux architecture - kernel, display server, etc, etc - but if an average user doesn't understand the differences between Windows 7 and Windows 10, how do you expect them to know that there's 40 different types of Linux but stuff that works on one might not work on another?
Are you going to sit there and explain the difference between yum, apt-get, zypper, .rpms and .debs, snappy, and whatever else, just so someone understands that when they want to install software on their Linux they need to know what kind of install package they need? Because "in windows I just download this and double click on it to install".
(also, it's funny, because the windows 10 user interface is basically the windows 7 user interface, all prettied up with some animations and 3D rendering. but then, way back in the day, I had a user insist she didn't know how to use Office 97 because she was only trained on Office 95, despite them having the exact same user interfaces. For some people it just takes a change in the name for them to lose all sense.)
Um, what?!? What distro are you trying to install? Linux distros have far superior install processes to Windows, not even close. Distros like Manjaro, Ubuntu variants and any other that has a live-usb version (which is most distros), allow you to be running a live OS while installing the OS on the hard drive, meaning you can always go online and get help DURING the install, try that with Windows sans a separate pc. And OpenSuse's installer has so much thorough documentation it's not even funny.
If anything makes installing Linux "difficult" it's that many distros offer lots of initial configuration options for a user, which may put off someone that not technical, but once you get used to the ability to customize your setup anyway you want, you will realize how pathetic Windows actually is.
So, your "totally unhelpful and not contributing to the conversation" attitude aside, I guess you haven't installed Windows 10 on a PC before. The process goes like this:
1) insert install media
2) boot PC to install media
3) click next a few times
4) reboot into the "welcome" screen
5) answer a few questions about settings
6) create a user or enter your microsoft login
And you're done.
A "far superior" install process shouldn't require you to have reams of documentation. It shouldn't need to be an option that you can go online to troubleshoot the install while you are installing. Once you've gotten to that point you've already failed at creating an easy-to-use installer.
That said, the Ubuntu install process is... basically the exact same. So I would make the argument that they're both easy to install. More to the point, though: how many "average users" ever install Windows on their PC in the first place?
I used Windows 10 a bit when I looking at one of my friends laptop. Talk about awkward to use.
Did you use it? What did you find awkward? The ability to search for everything on your system after pressing the super key, like you can in most of the modern linux UIs? The way it obscures a lot of highly detailed settings away from the user, unless you are specifically looking for it, like most of the modern linux UIs? Was it the lack of the Windows 95-style menus-within-menus start menu (that so many Linux UI designers just can't let go, despite it being based on a design that has its roots in Windows 3.1), like most of the modern linux UIs? Or was it the way that the search function returns useful data even if you're not searching for a specific program, like most of the modern linux UIs? Maybe it was automatic installation of drivers for the hardware installed in the PC, to include graphics drivers and network printers, like most of the modern linux distros? Perhaps the native hidpi support that works (which, let's face it, is not so good on the Linux)?
This sort of statement is really bizarre. If Windows 10 is awkward to use, then any modern operating system must be awkward to use. The same design principles at work for the Windows UI are being used for the UI in (some) modern desktop environments. This is a huge step up from UI design prior to roughly 10 years ago, when it was basically just whatever a bunch of developers thought worked (hence menus-with-more-submenus-with-more-submenus).
"Limiting" means in terms of configuration, the ability to set it up just the way I want, with Linux let's assume I start with Ubuntu Mate, I can theme it to my hearts content, fonts are displayed much better (way more choices of types and size), I can swap in a real time kernel if I want to, I can even switch to a Linux Kernel fork if I want to, I can swap out desktops if I get bored so it's almost like using a new computer, I can custom compile optimized version of the software i use, once you really get into using Linux you realize just how much freedom you give up using Windows.
What you call "limiting" the rest of the world calls "I don't care I just want to look at pictures of my grandkids on the facebook". You're really missing the whole "easier to use" part of this conversation.
This is that same insular self-perpetuating thing I was talking about earlier. You get so deep down into the weeds of whatever Linux you like that you forget that not everyone actually knows what you're on about. We all know the strengths of Linux. What some of you guys seem to forget is that you 1) wanted to learn Linux and 2) had to spend all that time learning it. Stuff that you know now, that you can do easily, or that might be of big benefit to you, like switching to a different fork of the kernel or compile your own software? "average users" have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, and would see no benefit from it. They're just watching cat videos on youtube. None of us are saying Windows is more flexible, more customizable, more "free" than Linux. But those capabilities do not make it easier to use
. They make it more flexible, more customizable, and possibly more useful to your specific use case, but that isn't the question being discussed.
Listen, if you guys want to use it, free country, knock yourselves out, I use it at work because I don't have a choice, but I won't sully my hardware with it.
We're all linux nerds here (see: name of forum). Your "sully my hardware" attitude and "linux is so much better because I can install a kernel fork and compile my own optimizations into my software" type of statements have absolutely zero bearing on this discussion, and are seriously the exact sort of thing that will keep the "average user" from wanting to hear more about it. You come across as an elitist snob, and this is the attitude that makes so many Linux user communities such a chore. It's like trying to play a game online while a bunch of kids berate you because you suck and don't know what you're doing. It's not a welcoming attitude and a lot of people will just stop at that first impression.
Do you really think your mom is interested in installing a real-time kernel? Do you think she would bother with it if you told her she just had to do it because it might decrease latency in some audio playback by a few ms while she watches Daily Show clips on youtube? Or do you think she just wants to surf the internet and doesn't care?