Why out of the box Linux performance is still important
I'm not going back on my conclusion of Mint but I am going to explain why I now believe "out of the box" performance to be very important to the growth of Linux.
While out of the box performance is excellent; meaning you can install a new distro and have full media support and office packages from the offset, it's not really necessary now that packages can be downloaded on demand and the use of Synaptic Package Manager means that preloaded software is almost defunct. You can easily browse the catologue and cherry pick the application that suits you.
However, what happens if you don't have an Internet connection? Does this mean Linux is beyond your grasp?
Linux needs the Internet - let's face it. You can't go to the shops to pick up new software for it and Synaptic has made it unlikely that your friends will be able to download "installers" for you to take away on a CD/DVD/USB drive. So what do you do if you want to use Linux without the Internet in this modern age? You need a distro that has everything you need straight out of the box.
You want codecs and full office software as a bare minimum to keep going. You also need the interface to be as intuitive as possible because Linux may have a strong and supportive community but that's no comfort to you if you're without the Internet.
Out of the box functionality is somewhere that is starting to improve and should help give Linux the opportunity to support non-connected users more. It's questionable how many people don't have the Internet but have heard of Linux (and consider it a viable solution) but ultimately I think this is another thing that needs to be done correctly to be taken seriously. But conversely, it's not like Windows comes with codecs preloaded does it?
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