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A Linux advocacy question.

Here is my draft reply to someone from the UK Government's Driving Standards Agency (DSA) website who says they don't test their website on Linux.

Can you improve on it, make it more persuasive for this team which "does not have any equipment which has Linux installed" ?


Thank you for your reply.

I'm surprised to hear that you do not test the website on Linux. Roughly 70 million people use Linux, and it accounts for 5% of web traffic. How many users does your website have? Take 5% of that, I bet it's still a lot. All those people may be encountering bugs, errors and frustration with the website, generating untold amounts of bad will. As you stated you have not tested the website using Linux, you don't know whether it works as desired or not on Linux.

When you say the problem might be unique to my system setup you may well be correct, however you don't know how many other users of your website use the same or similar enough system setup to encounter the same problem. The answer may surprise you. Check your website logs.

The fact that no-one else has reported the problem does not mean it does not exist. I'm sure you would feel happier and more confident in your website if you attempted to reproduce the problem using Ubuntu Linux and Chrome, two pieces of software which are freely available and in use daily by millions of people across the country.

Thank you






On 05/02/14 15:51, XXXXXXXXXXX wrote: >


Thank you for your email of 23 January about the internet booking system.

I should explain that the operating system and browser that you are using is not a combination that is supported as we do not have any equipment which has Linux installed.

We will however run test against the equipment that we do have to see if this problem occurs.

Might I also explain that we have received no other reports from customers who have stated that pages do not load after clicking continue. It therefore maybe a fault that is unique to your system setup.

Yours sincerely


Customer Support Correspondence

Customer Operations


Date: 23 January 2014 15:46

Subject: Website buttons do not work 100% correctly

To: XXXXXXXXXXX@dsa.gsi.gov.uk

Please forward this onto the technical website team who can try to reproduce it on Linux.

I tried to book a practical test today and the big green "continue" buttons did not work correctly. Half the time I clicked one with the mouse, nothing would happen. And by that I mean that no new page would load. Even after I clicked it, waited several seconds to see if a page was loading (the browser said it wasn't), and tried again. I can tell in my web browser whether or not a new page is loading, because when a page is loading, the status bar tells me it's waiting for the page to load, and the page icon at the top change to a rotating circle, and then the page loads. None of that happened.

Then I clicked it one more time, and the next page did load.

This happened many times on different pages. Eventually I got through to the end of the process and booked the driving test successfully.

Operating System: Ubuntu 12.04.04 (Linux) Browser: Chrome, version 31.0.1650.63 Ubuntu 12.04 (31.0.1650.63-0ubuntu0.12.04.1~20131204.1)

I'm a software developer by profession and I would be happy to provide any more detailed technical information you require to investigate this problem.

Thank you.

share|improve this question
Have you tried it in Chrome on Windows? As far as a web developer is concerned, the differences should be in layout engines and JavaScript engines, not in operating system. If it's broken on Chrome for Windows, you have a stronger argument. – bonsaiviking Feb 5 '14 at 16:58
Where do you get the 70M from? Last I checked Android alone was around 1G. The majority of computing devices with a web browser (beware that includes TVs and smart phones/tablets) is running Linux nowadays, but I agree with @bonsaiviking, the operating system kernel has little to do with web rendering issues. – Stéphane Chazelas Feb 5 '14 at 17:55
70 million sounds high for desktop/workstation end users. This is how I would interpret the vague term "use Linux". Linux is a kernel, not an operating system. A more precise term would be "used Linux-based operating systems (distributions) as a desktop or workstation", though this is verbose. Your count is however low if one includes such things as Android, which is a Linux fork. Also, you write "using Ubuntu Linux and Chrome, two pieces of software which are freely available". Ubuntu Linux is not a piece of software, it is an operating system. – Faheem Mitha Feb 6 '14 at 6:42
If by Chrome you mean the browser, I guess that one could refer to that as a piece of software. – Faheem Mitha Feb 6 '14 at 6:42

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