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Michael Robertson Interview about Lindows 384

Posted by Hemos
from the making-it-work dept.
unclegus writes "I ran across this article talking about Michael Roberston and Lindows. Says a "Sneak Preview" will be available in a few weeks. Release 1.0 will be $100 for single user ..." Dan Gillmor, the author of it, has said that it appears to be the real thing - I'll be interested in getting my hands on it.
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Michael Robertson Interview about Lindows

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  • by medcalf (68293) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @02:38PM (#2811459) Homepage
    "More choice is always better than less."
  • ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by danielrose (460523) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @02:40PM (#2811483) Homepage Journal
    Mmmm. Seems to me it would be easier to write new versions of these "10 Major programs" for linux rather than reverse engineer every Windows API. It will probably end up flaky as hell.

    That's if this whole thing isn't vapor..
  • by grahamsz (150076) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @02:46PM (#2811527) Homepage Journal
    Home users are unlikely to - most of them stick with the windows that came preinstalled & M$'s oem pricing is sufficiently good that i cant see system manufacturers changing. Not to mention all those clauses that stop them shipping non-ms OS's. After all lindows is unlikely to run games or edutainment software well.

    The business community are unlikely to - why would a sysadmin decide to put his neck on the line switching 5000 systems to lindows. When one critical application doesn't work as it's meant to, it all come crashing down around him. Most sysadmins will just stick to windows even if it does cost more.

    The geek community are unlikely to. For the past five years i've kept a linux machine and a windows machine and will soon be readding a mac to that collection. Bluntly windows rocks for games and multimedia - whilst i'd love to do these on linux the support just isn't there. I'll keep my linux pure and gpl'd thank you very much.

    The education community might. Although schools tend to avoid anything that they dont know since they dont tend to have a dedicated sys admin to set things up (and in the uk most schools pay sooo far over the odds for computers that the price difference wouldn't care).

    Universities and Colleges might jump, since art students will be able to stick with word and it of course gives tech students unix as well. However most uni's at least have some linux workstations, or windows machines with exceed and big linux servers.

    Quite honestly i dont see the market for it. Although if they go bust i really hope they open their code to wine.

    Ultimately microsofts approach to this problem will be obvious:

    Windows costs $W
    Lindows costs $L
    Office costs $O

    Simply create a new bundle which includes Windows and Office at a price less than $O+$L.
  • by futuresheep (531366) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @02:46PM (#2811536) Journal
    I think this is a great idea, but the execution is flawed. I can pay less for VMWare or Win4Lin and get access to all the applications that Lindows allows, plus some that it won't. I also don't care for the fact that not only will the final product cost $100.00, but the 'preview' will as well, at least according to their website.
  • WINE, anyone? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dogas (312359) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @02:47PM (#2811546) Homepage
    I still can't believe that these guys can race ahead of the WINE developers when it comes to running windows apps in linux. It seems to me (and this has been posted before) that they're probably using some sort of wine-related or vmware-related tool to get the job done. It also makes me think of these points:

    for $100, I could get MS windows and run it natively.

    for FREE, I could download mandrake linux and run windows apps through wine or VMware.

    What does lindows have to offer that the above don't? NOTHING.

  • by Geeyzus (99967) <mark_madej.yahoo@com> on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @02:51PM (#2811574)
    So what is the big benefit of using Lindows? (Assuming it is not vaporware.)

    - Not having to dual-boot?
    - Price?
    - Just to screw over Micro$oft?

    You can get Windows cheap [directdeals.com] at several places. At the previous link Windows 2000 and Windows XP (both full version, OEM) are under $150.

    As much as you may hate Windows, chances are good that Windows-based software is going to run better on Windows than Lindows. Why spend $100 on Lindows when you can get the real deal for a few bucks more?
  • Management... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom7 (102298) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @02:51PM (#2811582) Homepage Journal
    > The business community are unlikely to - why would
    > a sysadmin decide to put his neck on the line
    > switching 5000 systems to lindows. When one
    > critical application doesn't work as it's meant
    > to, it all come crashing down around him. Most
    > sysadmins will just stick to windows even if it
    > does cost more.

    I doubt that a sysadmin would switch of his own volition (unless it was a small shop), but often these kinds of decisions are made by management. They do care about the cost of software, and if Lindows.com can market it well, they might go for it.

    I agree that it will be a tough sell, though. Let's hope that the Wine project can get a lot of good code out of it...
  • by starseeker (141897) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @03:01PM (#2811635) Homepage
    This OS, despite the near magical quality of Windows and Linux applications on one system, looks to be a nitch OS even if it succeeds. Here's why.

    In the article itself, the opinion is voiced that there are about 10 major applications that Windows users use. OK, granted. Unfortunately, what we are discussing here is an OS switch, and it's not that simple.

    Linux users are quite accustomed to the notion of things like using 8 different IRC clients as the situation warrants. Windows users, on the other hand, quickly grow accustom to even the tiniest quirk of their default system. AOL can't change anything, even on their website, without causing some of their users to be unhappy about the difference.

    The point is, if Lindows runs Office and a few other major apps well, that's enough for some businesses. But for home users, EVERYTHING must work as they expect from previous experience, or they won't even consider switching. If their bizarre little propritary note keeper doesn't work, no dice. They ain't movin.

    Linux users, who you might think logically would be more interested, will be put off by the commercial nature of the project and are far more likely to wait for/help the wine project. Also, VMware and WinforLin allow people to run Windows programs. There's already compeition out there.

    So the only conceivable mass market for this system is business. Great. Unfortunately, we all know how keen the vast majority of the business world is on switching to something different and untried. Especially if it involves retraining. Linux applications won't intice them much - there are other ways to get those, using cygwin, vnc, remote Xwindows connections, etc. Lindows does most of this, let's say. It does it a little better than the above solutions. But will it do ENOUGH better to justify businesses upgrading? Unlikely.

    Don't get me wrong - I hope it succeeds. It's just going to have a heck of a time doing so.
  • by Denito (196701) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @03:04PM (#2811655) Homepage
    Huh?

    you can write ASP scripts in any old text editor. I use Homesite on the PC, but I'm sure there are very nice text editors on Linux.

    Just cuz your dev SERVER is microsoft, it doesn't mean you have to write your code from interdev!

    -Dennis
  • by Dog and Pony (521538) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @03:09PM (#2811689)
    While $100 isn't much money, seriously, I still would like to try before I buy, hopefully there will be such an option. It should not take more than a week or so to get the feel of the system after all.

    But. Considering that I more or less feel I must purchase another system, because dual-booting is ridicolous when trying to get something done, and I don't feel I have an option of choosing either system, $100 is a bargain. I won't get under $3-400 in parts I lack to put up the minimum system I need to run two, and that is if I use my old 14" monitor or get some kind of switch.

    To be perfectly clear, I can't do without Windows, and I don't want to do without Linux (I don't actually need Linux, but it sure makes life easier to test certain stuff, and it is lots and lots more fun).

    If it is any good, I would definetely try and get a copy at work too, because it would make my life a lot easier there too. Being able to use the corporate-specific applications (yeah, you know the ones) and a few of my own specials alongside with running in a *nix environment would certainly brighten up my day. The applications I use in Windows are few, but extremely necessary, some according to me, and some according to guys that don't know shit, but does pay me cash. Heh.

    And yes, I do love open-source, it has saved the day for me countless times, but I also believe in making money, so I understand the guy. Just possibly, this could add to the flora of open-source programs out there, as more people would possibly be able to write stuff on a *nix environment. I don't feel that whether the OS costs money is that important. Consider it a part of your computer, much like memory chips or the motherboard. It is a natural part of the system, and some prefer Intel, while some prefer AMD or Motorola. What you run on it is more important in my opinion (and in this imperfect world I might add).

    Anyone know what the upgrades will cost if you buy this first version?

  • by SteveX (5640) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @03:20PM (#2811774) Homepage
    > a) Windows is unstable. Period.

    Which Windows? I know everyone loves to beat up the unreliability of the 16 bit Windows kernel, but with Windows 2000 and Windows XP it's a different story.

    In a few years Microsoft won't be selling any of the Win9x series.. then the extra stability of Linux won't be such a novelty to users, and Linux folks will have to come up with a better line than a more stable kernel.

    Or to say it differently, when most Windows users don't find Windows to be unstable, telling them that you've got a more stable OS isn't going to convince them.

    - Steve
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @03:26PM (#2811823) Homepage
    Assuming they are using Wine (which it would be stupid not to... ), then that would be the second closed-source fork of wine (that we know of). While neither bothers me individually, it occurs to me that there are going to be features of both proprietary forks that would benefit the other... But since those changes won't get merged back into main wine, that potential benefit is lost.

    You know... I like the GPL for a reason...
  • by mwa (26272) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @03:57PM (#2812060)
    Once you start receiving Word or Excel docs that you can't open (but are expected to be able to open) from people who don't have a clue as to how to save in a format that WILL open correctly under other versions of the software, you're almost forced to go out and get the new version, whether you want to or not.

    Except that under Lindows, when you can't read a newer version of an office file in your version of Word, Excel, etc., you can open it with StarOffice, OpenOffice, KOffice or whatever else you have that might (and my experience has been that it usually does) work. This breaks the forced upgrade cycle.

    As for me, I'm 3+ Microsoft free years in a Fortune 100 company.

  • by inerte (452992) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @04:29PM (#2812284) Homepage Journal
    Or to say it differently, when most Windows users don't find Windows to be unstable, telling them that you've got a more stable OS isn't going to convince them.

    Exactly. And I would add:

    In a few years (or right now) telling my mom that she can have Linux for free and hack network admin software sources OR pay a couple hundred (or whatever) dollars for an system that she can do what moms do, what do you think she will prefer?

    What Six-pack-Joe-User cares about stability when you can't play the games? Access thousands of websites (badly done, but still...)? Runs multimedia software? (From Adobe to whatever)? Runs the latest app trend? And the list could go on...

    The two most important keys to succed on the desktop is Software That People Want To Use And Good Interface.

    Btw mod me down as a troll if you wish so badly.
  • The Box (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ogerman (136333) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @05:13PM (#2812604)
    These people seem to be thinking inside the box that says "the only way to REALLY make money in software is to sell licenses." WRONG. Software is a service! Until people get that straight, nobody's going to make much money on free software. You can't make a half-hearted attempt and expect it to fly. It's free software or die. GPL everything. Control nothing but your services. And the beauty of the model is that it fits perfectly with the OSS development community. Contributed code allows everyone to provide customers with better service.

    My question is who's gonna buy Lindows. OSS meets all of mine and my organization's needs. We don't need to run expensive MS Office apps or Lotus Notes. And for those who mistakenly think they need such pricey commercial software, why would they spend another $100 to use it in emulation?
  • Re:$100 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ichimunki (194887) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @05:19PM (#2812666)
    You missed nothing. They intend to throw a bunch of proprietary stuff on top of Linux (namely the Windows compatibility stuff and the installers) to make sure that you end up paying a $100/seat license for this. I don't know whether to cheer or jeer myself.

    I guess I'll wait to hear whether they contribute money or code back to all the Free Software and Open Source projects they'll be taking advantage of in the process. I suppose they can't de-GPL anything, so that's a major plus.

    The real question is, why for $100 would anyone switch off Windows for less than 100% compatibility with their Windows software? What guarantee will Lindows make that the next upgrade set from MS won't break Lindows, leaving users in the lurch with applications going stale?
  • by aitor.sm (549660) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @05:43PM (#2812985)
    Well, for an operating system costing as much as MS-Windows and pretending to be a competitor, I see a couple of problems.
    First of all, I don't know which problems can be with the GNU-GPL license of Linux. If they don't include any kind of non-distributable code, then it might be distributed with PC-World or similar (as they do with other Linux distributions). In this case, perhaps they won't earn so much money as they thought (look Corel LinuxOS).
    And second and most important, his argument for catching people to use Lindows instead of Windows is stability to run the 10 most used apps (Word, Excel, etc), which are mostly by Microsoft as well. What will the result be? As happened when a lot of other DOSes appeared, MS will just create new AARDs for Office, so that it only runs on Windows. And that's the end of the story.

    I think they should try and encourage the use of other office suites, as KOffice, or better, StarOffice, as there won't be such problem with this packages.

    A FreeDOS user and developer,
    Aitor
  • Re:$100 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OmegaSphere Networks (262599) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @06:06PM (#2813201)
    Well, what it really does it is illustrate the power of open source. There was a recent study done on Debian Potato based on the amount of lines of code in it. It was estimated that commercially developing it all would have cost approximately 1.9 billion. They really aren't developing the OS, they are simply developing the translation layer.
  • by hbog (463004) <hbog1@hotm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @06:52PM (#2813531)
    ...and last time i checked service is better than no service. And please don't say that my family will be able to get on IRC and get help there. Usability is much more important than $50-100.
  • Re:$100 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Codifex Maximus (639) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @07:17PM (#2813705) Homepage
    > The real question is, why for $100 would anyone
    > switch off Windows for less than 100%
    > compatibility with their Windows software?

    As I understand the article, Lindows(tm) will be targeted at those who want to use a core of 11 commonly used Windows applications yet don't want to upgrade to the latest versions of Windows and/or those core applications.

    In essence, the target group will stand pat with their current applications and still have the ability to cash in, as it were, on the availability of alternative applications in LINUX.

    As for the $100 price tag, there is a little story I would tell you.

    There was a company that made excellent shoes for men out of the very best materials. They priced their shoes very low to generate demand. While they had a loyal clientbase, their profits dropped off so much, they almost went out of business.
    An analysis showed that:
    1. The shoes were an extremely durable product.
    2. The loyal clientbase were ready and willing to pay much more for the product.
    3. Some prospective new clients were put off by the low price - viewing price as a status symbol and the shoes as not a value at the low price.

    The company raised prices on the shoes and immediately saw an increase in clientele and a coresponding jump in profits. The loyal clientbase continued to purchase the product and new clients viewed the product as a durable value item and a status symbol on the foot.

    Now, how does that tie into your $100 dollar question? Well, we are dealing with folk who will probably be willing to foot (heh) the price because they view the product to be a value proposition. (They will eventually be forced to upgrade by Microsoft(tm).) Value in that the price is competitive with Windows, will allow them to continue using the products they already own and likey give them a bargaining chip to use against Microsoft(tm).
  • by Nailer (69468) on Wednesday January 09, 2002 @07:48PM (#2813889)
    As the poster above notes, it might not be for you, but you're not this apps target audience. If you think Tex and Metafont are preferable to StarOffice or MS Office that means you.

    Furthermore, there's no reason why this can't work very well. I have a nifty little program from Codeweavers called Crossover, the 1.01 version of which allows me to run Quicktime, Shockwave, Ipix, QTVR, and a bunch of other Win32 web browser plugins under Galeon (or KDE, or Skipstone, or Moz if you like web browsers to run slowly on your Athlon). The plugins work seamlessly, and running Quicktime on its own works reasonably well (one bug with minimisation seems to be the only real sticking point).

    So yeah, Codeweavers can allow me to run a selection of Windows web browser lugins under Linux.

    Also, Transgaming can allow me to run Alice, Tony Hawk, Return to Castle Wolfenstein (single or Multi), Sacrifice and a much of other selected Windows games under Linux

    If the above two are possible, I see no reason why Lindows won't be able to make MS Office and Quicken run under Wine either. They already work 98% functionality with Wine and a lot of patience. With a cute app to remove the need to patience, and some money into going the last mile of COM and the other missing pieces, I see no reason why Lindows won't be:

    a) Able to deliver what it promises
    b) Worth it. Maybe....

    * When that hundred buncks was *Australian* I thought it was reasonable, but they mean $US - ouch. $40-50 US would be more like it.

    * I already have a Linux distribution. I want Lindows if its good. I am not going to fucking well install another OS to run it. Make Lindows an app for God's sake.

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