if you had asked me a half-dozen years ago what i thought about setting up printers and media playing on linux i would've said that it was in a miserable state and the future looked rather bleak.
well, yesterday i had the opportunity to use a closed source operating system for a bit and discovered that kde and linux have progressed to the point where we are kicking some ass when it comes to these two tasks.
sure, we need to install binary codecs post-install to get media playing working, but once that happens ... holy crap!
apparently windows media player isn't on its own able to shift the audio or video streams in case of a clip where the two streams are out of sync. while it seems you can get 3rd party tools to help with this, i like how the media players i have installed for kde support this out of the box thanks to xine and mplayer. huzzah. windows media player also does a craptastic job of scaling video from a usability perspective; it's far more intuitive with the kde players: just resize the window.
it also reminded me of a situation at a lecture i attended last year where the presenter wanted to show a video clip on the overhead from their laptop and ended up struggling with windows media player for a good 15 minutes to get it working properly. would've been quicker for me to have driven home, grabbed my laptop running linux, drove back and hooked it up ...
as for setting up printing, it's no contest. setting up a network printer under microsoft windows is the most unintuitive thing i've seen in a while. our printing system in kde, thanks to the kde-print hackers (hey michael!), are simple and easy to use. the scanning feature in particular is a winner. a recent kde convert remarked how straight forward it was to set up printing compared to windows, and i have to agree. printing to pdf is also pretty sweet. all that's really needed at this point is some polish to some of the dialogs (e.g. the setup dialog for scanning starts out too small by default, resulting in a line edit that's too short to hold a network address) and more hardware vendor (IHV) support in the form of quality drivers and q/a testing.
side note to jim gettys: next time you decide to comment on printing support (or any other desktop sub-system) in public as you did in december, try catching up with the state of the art. printing guis on linux are pretty damn good at this point.
of course, this begs the question why people seem to have so many problems with these things still. the answer, i think, is pretty obvious: right now everyone plays the part of their own systems integrator. given a properly installed kde on linux or bsd system there just aren't that many problems left that aren't IHV related.