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Rasterman Says Desktop Linux is Dead 776

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the popular-view-these-days dept.
anguished writes "The future of Linux, its best hopes for blowing past everything else on an x86 machine, once was located in a little Austrailai website, with a window manager called Enlightenment, which we all hoped to be good enough to build and configure. In an interview with Linux and Main, the recently silent Rasterman talks about GNOME, KDE, E, and his view that the future of Linux requires new playing fields."
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Rasterman Says Desktop Linux is Dead

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  • by dowobeha (581813) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @10:26AM (#3922240)
    I posted this in another thread, but it got buried, so here goes...

    For you and me, KDE and GNOME, along with any of the good standard distros makes GNU/Linux a great, pretty-easy-to-use choice.

    But that's not good enough.

    What I'd like to put together is Linux for Technophobes. The machine that Joe Schmoe, who has never used a computer, can walk in to Wal-mart, take home his new box, and be able to use it for email, web browsing, and word processing with zero assistance from anyone else.

    He should open the box and find a simple (a la iMac) one-page sheet that shows him how to connect the mouse and keyboard.

    A simple wizard sets up the net connection with him.

    I'm picturing a very simple interface for the Basic mode. One big button that says Email and has a picture of a mailbox. Another for the web browser. Maybe a couple more apps, but not many.

    And, if you click on the Advanced mode button in the corner, you get switched to KDE or GNOME.

    Let me know what you think, and maybe we can put something like this together.
    • by JanneM (7445) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @11:12AM (#3922440) Homepage
      What I'd like to put together is Linux for Technophobes. The machine that Joe Schmoe, who has never used a computer, can walk in to Wal-mart, take home his new box, and be able to use it for email, web browsing, and word processing with zero assistance from anyone else.

      The basic problem is that a computer is wrong for technophobes. It is a do-it-all machine, not an appliance. Trying to limit the thing to those common functions have been tried repeatedly without success; people still know they got a computer and expects it to be as versatile as one. Look at the expensive failures of Audrey and other such machines.

      On the other hand, devices like mobile phones, Palms and so on have been successes. At heart, they too are specialized computers, but they do not look like or act like computers, and the buyers do not expect them to. There is where Linux for non-technical users has a future.

      And, if you click on the Advanced mode button in the corner, you get switched to KDE or GNOME.

      "My thingy is broken! I did something and now it's all wrong!"

      /Janne

      • Well to be honest, it looks like Uncle Bill and the MS crew have managed on some fronts to not only convince people that computers are important components to have in their home, but that they indeed should be out online getting their info and playing games, etc.

        The problem is with the attitude. There are definately ways to wrap up the geek bliss that is Linux and make it simple for someone like Uncle Jim Bob. The problem is that the people who are involved with the projects just don't seem to care.

        Microsoft isn't the best from a technical point of view, but in the eyes of the average Joe, they do a great job of customer service and helping people out. This of course isn't always the case, but way the hell more than the RTFM cries of the irc channels....

        The Linux community is it's own worst enemy.
    • How about OEone HomeBase [oeone.com]. It's Linux based, but has it's own GUI made in XUL. The software comes preloaded on an iMac-like box. Basically, it's supposed to be a computer for people who think iMacs are too difficult to use.

      I haven't tried it though, so I can't say if it's any good.

    • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @11:41PM (#3924958) Journal
      What I'd like to put together is Linux for Technophobes

      This is a long-standing want. However, not only is Technophobe Linux not there, it isn't even accessable to most IT people.

      I spent a few hours last week explaining to a corporate IT guy that does Windows how to set up networking on a RH 7.2 box (some option had gotten misconfigured somehow so that the routing tables were routing everything back through loopback.) Now I have to tell him how to set up CD burning on another Linux workstation he's putting in (and explain to him why he's using SCSI drivers on his ATA burner). And you know what? I can guarantee that he doesn't think that Linux is a better desktop OS than Windows. He has to go through hell to get basic stuff working, since he hasn't spent few years eating and breathing Linux.

      Now, you can say that that's because the distro manufacturers haven't decided on a common front end with a standard way of setting up networking (or heck, CD burning). You can claim that this "isn't a Linux kernel issue", or that "Mandrake 9.0 *will* fix things" or that "you could write up a couple of perl scripts in a few hours that would do all this for you". But it comes down to the fact that this guy can sit down and reasonably quickly set up things on a Windows box, and can't even come close to doing that on Linux. He's willing to learn, from a professional standpoint, Linux as a second OS -- spend some hours reading documentation or so. But he isn't going to eat, breathe, and sleep with Linux. He's willing to read a HOWTO, but when I tell him that the HOWTO is out of date and doesn't cover his specific distro and is way more complicated than necessary, he's got pretty good reason to be upset. He's a professional that "wants to get the job done". He isn't a Linux hobbyist or a revolutionary, and he wants to support Linux users at the company better...but he won't sacrifice ridiculous amounts of time to do it.

      When it comes right down to it, Linux, besides being a nice server platform, makes a *lot* of sense as a computer hobbyist's desktop, or a programmer's desktop. If you're willing to put in some time, you can make Linux do great things. There's a lot of functionality present that a programmer can unlock. I'm typing this from my only computer -- a Linux desktop. I wouldn't trade it for a Windows box, ever. But I also put in huge amounts of time to understand what's going on, why something doesn't work, and whatnot. And most people are simply not willing to put in that much time.

      Furthermore, most people writing software for Linux fall in the same boat -- techies writing software for techies. It's okay to ship software without a graphical config util or documentation that someone can use without *really* understanding what's going on. Out of date documentation is okay (say...how to set something up in a non-devfs environment, because surely the end user will know how to do the translation to his devfs stuff).

      When I say "Linux is better than Windows", there's an understood appended "for me". I'd hate to be deprived of my stability and performance, my flexibility and customization of my environment, my freedom to eke performance out of my computer and easily get at its guts. But for most users, computing comes down to light use. Even most IT people just want to get a machine working -- they don't love dicking around with the thing to see how it works. And for them, there is a very high price to pay for Linux -- huge quantities of learning time. Once you're through that...well, you can fix *anything* that goes wrong. But in the meantime, you may not have mail or sound or something else working properly. Maybe you don't have fonts, or don't understand how to secure your system, or how to set up modules to auto-load.

      The distro manufacturers have attempted, with some degree of success, to slap front ends on all this, to hide the stuff designed for techies to work with. But, you know...it hasn't worked that well. Front ends have a constraint that they have to work well with hand-editing. They should expose all they're doing, not change every distro version, and very preferably not change from distro to distro. I know how to set up a mail server at a "low level" on the system, through the config files. I've also done so through RH's front end on RH 5.2 or 6.0 or sometime around there. But I have no idea what the "accepted graphical way of doing things" is for Debian, or Caldera, or even SuSE. Because there's no standard simple way of doing things, documentation is restricted to going least-common-denominator for everything, and explaining how to set up things through config files. No fun for new users.

      Let's look at printing. I started using RH at 5.2. Back then, IIRC, you used lpr and had a utility called "control panel" from which you could launch a Tk front end called "printtool" which could edit a few config files to set up printing. Over a few years, in that time alone, we've moved to LPRng/CUPS, gone through a linuxconf front end, changed print filter systems, and haven't remained "user compatible" (i.e. user skills do not transfer) across distros.

      The same thing happens with sound -- I've personally tried and set up four different sound driver systems on my computer (native Linux kernel, OSS/Free modules, ALSA .5, ALSA .9). The "right one" to be using changes over time, and learning another requires throwing away what you learned about the last. I have fun learning the new stuff...but it's fairly understandable that a lot of people don't.

      Now, this sort of thing makes Linux not particularly approachable to the non-hobbyist. They can plonk down $90 and avoid at least *weeks* of learning material that they aren't particularly interested in. For your average sysadmin, MS products require learning a *lot* less to get up and running than Linux does. It's only to the hobbyist that *wants* to play around with the system that Linux makes much sense.

      Maybe that's a good thing. I like Linux quite a bit. If it changed a lot to serve the newbies and non-hobbyists out there, I'm not sure I'd like it as much. And to be honest, there's not a lot of incentive for me to "fight for Linux world domination". I like coding for Linux much more than for the Win32 API, so I'd like there to be a healthy Linux coding job market. I'd also prefer that my box have reasonable hardware support, which requires vendor support, which requires a threshhold number of users. I worry that MS will always try (and manage) to make life miserable for me as long as they have market domination. They'll make me interact with .doc and hit me with tons of Code Red scans. However, aside from that, I'm not too broken up about people using Windows. If they'd just leave Linux and Linux-using folks in peace, most of us wouldn't care nearly so much. I don't like MS much, but I'm not going to go after them if they don't go after me, and I'm not going to try to "liberate" their customer base -- writing code to be used by other hobbyists is good enough. There's just a lot of techies out there that would prefer to run their platform of choice in peace and be left to it.

      Finally, I'd like to point out that the only person I know that works at Microsoft is an avid Linux fan and does all dev work possible on Linux. I asked a few other people that I was doing some coding work with, and found that the three other people that they knew that work at Microsoft all run and code on Linux at home. The fifth person was the only exception -- he didn't know anything about Linux, but on the other hand he was the "scrub" of the group, knowing little about systems, and instead of working in the DirectX or Office teams, was relegated to writing some QA code in VB. Most hard core techies appear to really like messing around with Linux.

      I've come to start to wish that there was a way for MS and Linux to coexist. I'm willing to let MS have the regular users as long as they don't keep harassing the Linux hobbyists. If Linux had decent hardware support, no constant attacks from Microsoft in the form of "compatibility issues", and didn't have to put up with so much FUD...well, that'd be fine with me. RH and MS can go beat their heads over who gets the regular users. I'm not all that interested in fighting a war for them, just for my ability to do what I want on Linux.

      I think there are a few people that disagree. Stallman, obviously, is a revolutionary, and will probably fight against any form of non-free software...but people like him, talented and extremist activist coders, are few and far between. The KDE folks seem to be willing to do an enormous amount of work to pander to Windows folks, and seem to want to really attack MS (frankly, I personally prefer the more unique flavor of GNOME, but as a pull for Windows users, KDE does a better job). But that's about it. The rest of us seem to mostly enjoy coding, playing with Linux, writing bug reports to and talking with other computer enthusiasts, and if a non-techie user can benefit...well, that's icing on the cake, but there's no reason to waste tons of effort to try to support them.

      Maybe some people here can identify. I volunteer to do Linux tech support sometimes on #linpeople. It feels really rewarding when you help someone out who's really interested in learning the system, and who loves messing around with computers. You've taught them something that they can build on. But users that "just want their problem fixed" and don't really care much about what's wrong or learning how to be able to handle problems in the future...well, helping them just doesn't have nearly as much draw to me.

      Well, this comment ended up a lot longer than I intended...:-)
  • it's not entirely healthy either.

    I must say, though, that my recent installation of SuSE 8.0 professional has renewed my enthusiasm for a first-rate desktop distribution that's also a great server environment.

    From the animated startup icons, to the look and feel of the default K desktop, it's really the closest thing to the perfect distro that i've come across.

    And the installation is easier and faster (despite the 7 CD's) than Mandrake's!

    I think a lot of other distro's can take a lot of lessons from such a clean, smooth, stable distribution as SuSE has pumped out.

    I can't wait for more!
    • I have been using Linux for seven years now, and from my experience, there are only a couple of major hurdles to overcome before it can be called "Desktop Ready". Linux does handle most hardware very easily. Soundcards are almost always working out of the box, as well as most graphics cards. The things that are missing are the smaller items, like easy printer configuration. Suse and Yast2 do an excellent job for printers (and most hardware) but there is still a large margin of error.
      ActiveX (shudder) is another stumbling block. I hate to say it, but even though my belief is that ActiveX is the typhoid Mary of the Internet, I still believe that it is important to have. I can skin Mozilla to look like IE, but I can't get it to work like it. Although in many cases this is a good thing, people will only react to when this is a bad thing.
      Lastly is an office package that will integrate easily with Office 2000/XP etc. Office has become the de facto for the majority of businesses, and we need to be able to open Office files without having to do any re-formatting of data. This is especially true for connection with Exchange Servers. Ximian has done a good job on this, but a completely freeware/GNU solution is needed, especially for KDE.

      AWG
  • Linux is dead... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xpilot (117961) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @10:35AM (#3922274) Homepage
    What, again?

    How many times has Linux died this year? I've lost count :)

    • by feldsteins (313201) <<scott> <at> <scottfeldstein.net>> on Saturday July 20, 2002 @10:59AM (#3922377) Homepage
      Apple has you beat by a mile. It's been dying twice a year since the mid-80's.
    • Linux is alive (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Subcarrier (262294) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @11:06AM (#3922417)
      What, again?

      Exactly what I thought. People are so busy planning grand futures for Linux, and so disappointed when the software evolution fails to take us there, that they forget to enjoy the present.

      Linux will have a future. Just take my word for it. The journey, however, is more important than the destination.
      • Linux is doing fine thank you.

        Oh sure, it is a bit slow selling on desktops but that will change as more and more consumers find out that Microsoft can more than double the cost of every PC you need.

        The Microsoft office suite is $400 or so a seat. And, they are getting nasty about blocking the install on home, laptop and second or third systems by the same person. For $76, StarOffice suggests 5 personal installs. And, if $76 is too stiff, use OpenOffice.

        Once the white box boys figure out that they can deliver all PCs with a free copy of OpenOffice and simply charge $15 or so to have it preinstalled, the casual market for the Microsoft Suite could dry up completely. And, the same may be true with large organizations such as corporations, governments, etc. Why spend $300-600 more per PC when you can go with linux, OpenOffice or StarOffice and double the number of new machines you buy?

        Money is money.

        And, right now money favors linux hands down.

        Plus, that does not take into account the progress that Xandros, Lindows and others are making to expand the number of viable desktop systems under the linux banner.

        The absence of QuickBooks, TurboTax and a few other key applications is a problem right now. GNUCash is fine. And, other software does substitute for much of what people think they need Microsoft for. But, it takes time for that information to filter out. But, it will filter out. Those who sell PCs (not the big OEMs) will be taking the lead packaging complete systems including software for a whole lot less than the Microsoft burden. Then customers can decide if the extra money is really worth it. It is not if you can make the choice.

        And, if you write custom applications anyway, Java or Delphi/Kylix is right there to give you the same powerful GUI based RAD development systems you expect on Microsoft stuff.

        The more machines you need the bigger the price benefit helps linux.

        And, if you think that consumer PC buyers really want to pay twice the price for a system just because it has some Microsoft software on it that they rarely use, you are crasy. The typical consumer simply is unaware of what they can buy and use. That will change.

        • Exactly.

          The *ONLY* thing that keeps Windows and Office on OEM's machines is dirty tactics (either sell 100% preinstalled or pay a premium)

          However, Microsoft does not control the whole OEM market. There are companies which do not have contracts with Microsoft or do not love Microsoft.

          Walmart is the first big one. Others will follow, maybe even Sony.

        • by feldsteins (313201) <<scott> <at> <scottfeldstein.net>> on Saturday July 20, 2002 @12:43PM (#3922818) Homepage
          Once the white box boys figure out...Money is money.

          I'dl ike to suggest that the "white box boys" know their own business better than anyone. If it were really true that they could make more money by pre-installing RH 7.3 and OpenOffice then you can rest assured that some enterprising company would be doing it and eating everyone elses lunch. The fact that this is not happening leads me to believe that your assessment of the "readiness" of Linux isn't quite where you think it is. You subscribe to the "peole don't yet realize we're ready" theory while I subscribe to the "you're in denial about the fact that you're not ready" theory.

          Perhaps it's the edge of consumer-friendliness that Windows has over Linux at present that kills it. I mean how much money are these "white box boys" - or anyone else for that matter! - really making on one unit? $50? $30? Less?? You get two support calls and suddenly you have made $0.

          I think there is no reason to claim that Linux will save these guys money until you have an example to point to that's convincing enough to make others follow. When/if that happens you won't have to claim it - we'll all be watching the OEMs trip over themselves to sell Linux-based computers.
          • Computer retailers can configure two systems and offer them both, right?

            The one with Microsoft costs $1,500 each including office suites.

            The linux one costs $850 each including office suites.

            Then let customers decide what they want to pay, right?

            The thing is that neither you nor I need to decide for a customer that is not even identified in our discussion.

            It could be a student. It could be an individual. It could be a small company. It could be a large company.

            Regardless, no one can predetermine what is best for customer sight unseen.

            Any consultant that decides what the advise will be before talking to a customer is not a consultant at all. That is a salesman.

        • It's not just a matter of money, it's a huge matter of convenience- that's what drives a large part of the consumer market. Make it easy, transparent, no thought required, and you'll have a chance.

          On one hand, it really sucks to see people throw up their hands and say "We've LOST, let's go home." I don't see this as a "war" between M$$ and Linux, I see it as a process that involves building alternatives, and educating consumers about their availability. Some processes take time...

          Also, consider this- there's not too much more that M$ can pack into upgrades of Excel and Word. For all practical purposes, each successive upgrade (from a consumer perspective) will offer diminishing returns. This is the reason that a company like M$ would want to turn the whole notion of a software "purchase" into a software "rental." Change it from a tangible commodity into a service, and you've got yourself a nice fat, predictable revenue stream. And you don't have to resort to extortion to get people to upgrade.

          There are two things I think the Linux camp can do to continue with this process: focus on the little things that make it suck, and do what it takes to provide seamless interchange between apps on Linux, and apps on Doze. Consumers are generally lazy, so CONVENIENCE is the key.
    • by ahfoo (223186)
      My thoughts exactly. I was like, whoa it's the video game syndrome. You died, press start to continue.
      I think KDE3 is great and the inclusion of Xine in RH 7.3 install was very impressive even if I was a bit disappointed with the perfomance. I was floored by what I saw. I assume 8.0 will be a real bitch for Redmond. And as far as bloat, it was still quite nimble on my ol' Cyrix233, albeit with a fat stack of RAM, but these days even cheap bastards can have lots of RAM.
      And as far as apps, well people who say things like that obviously haven't installed Wine correctly. It's not that hard. There's thousands of Win9X apps that run fine under Wine already and that includes lots of the high end stuff.
      This dude may be the rad hacker, but his opinions on the progress of linux seem tainted by some personal distaste for certain people in the open source community.
  • by PhysicsGenius (565228) <physics_seeker@yahooELIOT.com minus poet> on Saturday July 20, 2002 @10:36AM (#3922278)
    It's all about the servers, baby.

    Nobody is using Linux as a desktop system--it just doesn't have the intuitive point-n-click of a Mac or the games offerings of Windows. People are using Linux for the server-side. That's where the real power is. The one who controls the server controls the desktop, Microsoft has been saying that for years.

    I've been saying for years that E was eye-candy and that development efforts were better focused on the shortcomings Linux has on high-end server machines such as quality NFS support, a standardized email package and high uptimes. Too bad it took Rasterman, boy genius, 5 years to figure it out as well.

    • Nobody is using Linux as a desktop system

      I know you're exaggerating, but I'm using my Debian-running laptop right now to type this message. I dual-boot between Win2k Pro and Linux, if you can call it a dual-boot; I can't remember the last time I booted to Windows. My Windows partition is only 4GB - just enough to make it usable for short periods of time, which is what I use it for (a handful of times per year).

      it just doesn't have the intuitive point-n-click of a Mac or the games offerings of Windows.

      First I'll say that I'm not a gamer, so that issue doesn't bother me.

      Maybe my computer isn't intuitive to my Windows and Mac-using friends, but it sure is to me. Is there a learning curve? Hell yes. Is it worth it? In my opinion, yes. Most computer users will go through their lives never knowing what a regular expression is. And that kind of stuff takes time to learn. But part of the fun of Linux (and other non-mainstream OSes) is getting that extra functionality out of the system.

      I've been saying for years that E was eye-candy and that development efforts were better focused on the shortcomings Linux has on high-end server machines such as quality NFS support, a standardized email package and high uptimes.

      1. What's wrong with NFS? I use it daily, and it just works.

      2. Why do we need a standardized email package? I think it's important to note the difference between "good" and "standardized" here. If a Linux user wants to use Evolution that's fine, but why should it inherently be a problem that I use mutt?

      3. Does Linux have a problem with uptimes that I'm not aware of? How often do your Linux machines go down, other than for hardware or kernel upgrades, or for a power outage?

      I see what you're saying about the power of Linux on server applications, and I agree. But to dismiss it as impractical on the desktop doesn't do it justice.
    • If there is only windows on the desktop there will only be windows on the servers. And on the PDA's. And on the watches. Without desktop competition there's nothing to stop Microsoft from wiping the other markets from competitors. The one who controls the desktop can make damn sure there isnt a thing in the world which will connect to the server. And how useful is that server when there's nothing to display its data because no desktop will talk to it? Whoever controls the desktop controls the server controls the desktop. It goes both ways and if you control one you can control the other.

      And who needs NFS if there arent any clients that use NFS?
    • Seems like I'm nobody.

  • Well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mindstrm (20013) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @10:36AM (#3922279)
    Of course the desktop is dead.

    If we want a desktop that works,that will compete, there are two things that have to happen.

    We need a single distribution. That's right. We need totally focused efforts.
    We need a single desktop. No more of this "I can choose 10 window managers." I'm not saying take away the choice, but we need to pick one system and say "THIS IS IT" and the community can code for THAT.

    Until we have focused, unified efforts towards bringing out a rock solid desktop, it won't happen. There is too much choice for the consumer.
    • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 1010011010 (53039) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @10:56AM (#3922364) Homepage

      Exactly. Adboce, for instance, will keep shipping their ugly Motif-baed Reader, in the absence of a standard. With Windows, there's a standard. With Apple, there's a standard. There can be deviation, and even themability, but they know that if they code in certain way, it will fit in with the rest of the system in a harmonious manner. Preferences are all stored the same way, etc.

      With Unix, it's "whatever you want to do," and not much matches. If Adobe could code for Gnome/Gtk/GConf, for instance, it would fit in well with the rest of the gnome desktop, which Sun and HP will be shipping soon. As it is, do they choose Motif? Gtk? Qt? FLTK? Eh? And if they choose an alternate toolkit, how do they query the perferences for the "native" desktop? At least on Window and Mac, they can make their MDI widgets look Windowsy and Macy because they know what's expected, and can look up preferences in an standard way.

      • Re:Well.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by psavo (162634)
        Exactly. Adboce, for instance, will keep shipping their ugly Motif-baed Reader, in the absence of a standard.

        In the case of adobe, it's all about 'history'. once upon a time they bought some kit which allowed them to develop apps simultaneously for Win16/Unix. That kit used Motif. ATM, company which made the kit, is probably dead. If They would switch over to something like wxWindows [wxwindows.org], they could use any kit on unix side. AFAIK adobe apps always come statically compiled anyways.
    • You missed one

      We need a simpler system, from user interfaces to system design. Of course, this would piss off all the 'power' users.
    • Re:Well.. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tyreth (523822)
      Fuck that, I love being able to choose browsers and window managers. Some people love KDE and GNOME - I can't stand it! Enlightenment has been my favourite window manager almost since I started using Linux - Afterstep was my first.

      Everyone should drive the same car with the same features. Everyone should wear the same clothes. Everyone should have the same house so plumbers and electricians know where to find everything, and kitchen solutions can be optimised for that house. Everyone can have the same pet so vets only need knowledge for that particular breed. Everyone can listen to the same music so that bands know what will be popular and what won't. And so on. You know all this to be rubbish because people love choice. I love choice. Don't you dare take away from me the choice that Linux has given me.
    • Re:Well.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Khazunga (176423)
      We need a single distribution. That's right. We need totally focused efforts.
      No - we - don't

      Competition is essential to pressure evolution. Even MS knows this, and promotes internal competition, to compensate for its monopoly status. Trying to mimic MS, however is not feasible. Linux doesn't have the slack MS's bank account provides. External competition is then the only viable option - and let the market filter out inefficient companies.

      We need *standards* - for stuff that can be standardized. Filesystem hierarchies, file formats, etc.

      Having dozens of interoperable distributions is really our best scenario, and linux is headed that way.

      We need a single desktop.
      Nope. We need a desktop standard API, for the basic stuff. Adding menu options et al. Forcing people to one desktop (directly or indirectly) is not an option. I though this was obvious...
      • by Raul654 (453029) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @11:46AM (#3922595) Homepage
        Programmer man-hours are a limited resource, whether you work for Microsoft or Linux. Linux has a larger talent pool, but that effort is divided into dozens of differnet desktop enviroments, all of which, IMHO, are inferior to windows (and I haven't seen whole lot of improvement here, either). Konq is a terrible way of browsing the file system, not to mention slow. You can't even copy/cut/paste reliably between applications. So forget about coding for them. Linux is wonderful for programming and remote access, speed and reliability, but when it comes to the UI, it stinks.
        • ...but we don't. If the goal is known specifically, then a single project (or at least, a fewer number of projects) would probably be a good idea.

          The future is not known, though, so it must be evolved. Evolution requires variation, and multiple, competing projects are a good way to get that variation.

          (Lack of variation is one of the reasons Microsoft is so stagnant. It's also a prime reason why they buy technology from others. It's not so much that they can't write code--their problem is that they can't generate variation, so they import it.)

          --Mike

    • And who gets to decide what that 'IT' is? Linus? Alan Cox? Raster? And how would you be able to forbid developers to work on something else?

      Say someone stated that 'OK. We Shall All do Our Work on Redhat and Gnome' - or Madrake and KDE or Debian and XFCe or whatever. Do you really, well and truly, expect the other distributions to throw up their hands in defeat and quietly disappear or just rebrand The Chosen Distribution? And whichever desktop environment you choose, would you fully expect all the developers on all other environments and window managers to show up, hat in hand, and ask to please join The Chosen Effort?

      What would happen is that all people not involved in The Chosen Endeavour would shrug and get back to working on their stuff, concluding that those responsible for The Choice are morons.

      If you want united, focused development, you need to write your own OS, complete with a license forbidding people from deviating from your ideas. Of course, I don't imagine too many other people will join you...

      /Janne

      • If you want united, focused development, you need to write your own OS, complete with a license forbidding people from deviating from your ideas. Of course, I don't imagine too many other people will join you...

        I dont know, a lot of people use winders
    • Every time a subject like this comes up on Slashdot, I try to promote a project that we think has the solution for Linux on the desktop. It's not about have a single distribution, it's about having a single standard that people can get comfortable with using.

      Simpleface.org [simpleface.org] is a collaborative website (a wiki) created to work on the the "Simpleface Usability Guidelines for Open Source Software." In a nutshell, what we're trying to do is create a set of Graphical User Interface Design Patterns which will encapsulate the best practices of current GUI design and roll them into a guideline unbiased towards technical implementation to be used by OSS projects. Those OSS projects that comply with the guidelines get to use the Simpleface logo to promote their software as usable.

      The focus of the effort, which only started a couple months ago, is education of the OSS community in usability, UI design and Human-computer interaction (HCI). Once there is a standard way to use OSS software, many of the problems with Linux on the desktop will go away.

      If you have a chance, check out the site and add your two cents...

      -Russ
    • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by isorox (205688) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @11:21AM (#3922481) Homepage Journal
      To be honest, I couldnt care less what you think. I use enlightenment - nice pretty effects, virtual desktop (ctrl-shift-left/right/up/down). Laptop used wmaker as e is too slow. My girlfriend likes kde. I use afterstep at uni as it makes a change.

      We dont need one desktop. We dont need one distro. We dont need one operating system. You use BSD? I dont care. Use windows? Fine. use a mac? Great.

      What we do need is open API's and file formats. Then when you install acrobat, it calls WindowManager.AddProgram("Acrobat", INSTALL_DIR, "acrobrat");. Then your window manager can choose what to do with that.

      We need standard api's, so if you like GTK, acrobat calls a function - drawToolbar() - you get a GTK toolbar.
      If you switch to QT, then acrobat calls drawToolbar(), QT draws a toolbar.

      standards API's with many implementations. Hell you could set up different programs to run in different toolkits using different apis. As a user.

      I'd also have it that commercial companies can implement the standard API's in a closed api. As long as the interface is available, who cares, you arent forced to use it.

      Forcing everyone run OfficialLinux v1.0 is no better then forcing everyone to run windows.
    • Whatever. Who died and made you Linus?

      I'm seeing more and more of these "We need to do this..." posts, and its evil twin "Joe user wants this..."

      Where do all of these Linux prophets come from? Why are they so sure that they know what "we" need to do, and what "Joe User" wants? Who the fsck is Joe User wrt Linux anyway? IMHO, Joe Linux User is (and should be) a penguinista who knows his shit. If people are uncomfortable with computers, let them use Windows or better yet OSX. Why should I have my choices stripped away to appease some ill-defined "market"?

      These kind of posts just make you look foolish, because it shows plainly that you simply don't understand Free/Open Software at all.

      "We" are not a company. "We" have no unified goal vis a vis "marketshare", or "Joe User"'s OS preference. "Huh?!!! WTF??!", I hear you saying, "if you don't care about this stuff, then Linux will *never* overtake MS!!!"

      Some (maynbe most) of "We" simply don't care about such things. We hack the kernel, GNOME, KDE, X, E, whatever else, because we like to. "You" Joe Users get to enjoy the result. Don't take that as a license to tell us what we need to do with our hobby, however.

      Let's suppose you get to implement your grand plan, and proclaim from on high that henceforth, all Linux devs will work on Redhat and Gnome. Development on other desktops is outlawed, since they are superfluous and counter-productive to "Our" goals. Do you *really* think that people who were volunteer hackers on other projects that they care deeply about are just going to shrug their shoulders and switch to a new project that they couldn't care less about?
    • Since you didn't bother to explain the first time, how are choice and competition bad? They're normally considered the core drives behind evolution and healthy capitalism.
  • What a coincidence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 20, 2002 @10:37AM (#3922283)
    Linux is dead everywhere but in the area where Rasterman is currently working. Imagine that!
  • by mtngrown (24296) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @10:38AM (#3922284)

    was raising the bar far higher than anyone ever before imagined.

    Before e, wm's were not very interesting.

  • Why doesn't Sues and Mandrake make a 1 CD distro, with Openoffice, KDE, Cups, The gimp, mozilla, and the best version of wine etc and a few games, and maybe apache?

    I like to have 10 different databases loads of servers and evrything anyone could ever want in a distro.

    My Mum wouldn't use it and doesn't need it

    • Maybe not just one CD full of binary, but, suse *personnal* edition is just 3 CDs.

      If you consider that sources are provided, that's just 1,5 CDs (very roughly).

      And, if you choose default office install (= linux desktop), you just need one single CD (IIRC)

    • Why don't you do it. Almost every Linux person goes around saying the same thing, but few tries to do anything about it.

      The simple desktop distro excist, for the people already in the Linux community.

      For ordinary people the problem does not lie in the software you put in, but the software your users can put in. Try make people understand rpm or - haha - apt. It's near impossible. (Simple solutions can be made through scripts (with guis) and databases with software info.) People don't like to see, should I solve dependency ... bla, bla, bla. They'd freak out. It is not so simple designing a system that ordinary people find simple.

      By the way, when you make this distro remember to include wine. Or try explaining that they can't download that and that program because it is a windows binary. (Should be explained like this: bla, bla, bla, bla, not, bla, bla, bla, windows, bla, bla, bla.)
  • Frankly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fnkmaster (89084) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @10:44AM (#3922309)
    Raster isn't wrong - it is the apps that matter to end users. I think we always knew that. He's also not wrong about the GPL, though I think it's not for the reasons he states (technically the license of the OS/desktop environment shouldn't matter as long as commercial entities can develop apps for it, but in marketing/PR/perception terms, it does matter).

    However, I find his defeatist attitude annoying. I think the reason for it is simple: he seems to be a pure technologist, and therefore upon observing that the technically superior OS loses on the desktop, he gives up hope, embracing the idea that making the coolest, whiz-bangest WM for the ultra-31337 geeks is the best course of action (and while at it, take pot shots at the KDE and GNOME dudes).

    What we need is more people who know how to market Linux to software companies so that the damned applications will get developed. This is not a technical problem, it's a business problem: there are too few desktop Linux users, thus a relatively small business imperative for software companies to incur the overhead of porting applications. Furthermore, the fear of free clones of your application and the culture of imitation in the Free Software world scare companies aware from producing commercial products for Linux (note that I think this fear is unfounded: a sufficiently complex, powerful application takes an awful lot of effort to clone. Your work should stand on its own quality).

    The reality is that we need to find more ways to entice companies to develop commercial, closed source software for Linux if we want it to succeed on the desktop, for the masses. Don't say it's already there, we all know it's not. And we need to remember that the solutions to business problems are usually not found by technical means.

    • by mughi (32874)
      What we need is more people who know how to market Linux to software companies so that the damned applications will get developed. This is not a technical problem, it's a business problem: there are too few desktop Linux users, thus a relatively small business imperative for software companies to incur the overhead of porting applications.

      Well, for some things, but not others. On the 3D front, most of the heavy-hitters are there now (SOFTIMAGE, Maya, etc). And Mac OS X is getting support too. That's where things might have changed. The now oft-heard argument where porting from Windows to Linux is costly for a company and buys little market, but where porting to OS X can share much of a port effort with Linux. Suddenly it changes to "port from Windows to Unix" instead and starts to look better.

    • Re:Frankly... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AvitarX (172628)
      Not only do I think the fear of immatation is silly, but by not releasing on Linux it is more likly to happen. If there was photoshop Linux would we have the Gimp?, if there was MS Office for Linux would we have Koffice?, maybe or maybe not, but I think deffinatly companies are taking a far bigger risk on the immatation factor by not releasing Linux releases.
  • by omnirealm (244599) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @10:48AM (#3922326) Homepage

    At the start of each new school year, Microsoft hits our campus hard. They hang big banners, set up booths in the student center, and get the managers to make the on-campus computer store employees wear Microsoft t-shirts.

    The BYU Unix Users Group gives its own response. This year, we're going to have a booth in the student center too. We're inviting students to bring their machines, and a group of volunteers will install Linux on their machines on the spot, for free.

    We're making up flyers that read, ``Thrusday and Friday only! Get a FREE COPY of OpenOffice Suite version 1.0 (must have student ID or employee ID). Save HUNDREDS of dollars on your computer software this year!''

    We're not just going to be pushing Linux, but Free Software in general. For those who are queasy about jumping full-force into Linux, we will offer to install Mozilla and OpenOffice on their Windows partitions, so they have some familiar ground to refer to when they boot into Linux.

    The biggest debate in the group at the moment is which distributions to recommend to the newbies who bring their computers to the booth. I argue that since we're installing it for them, those who live on-campus and are on the university's network should use Debian because of the ease of maintenance. Others claim that Mandrake/RedHat/SuSE are more user friendly in general, and so they should be advocated instead.

    In any case, we're doing what we can to let starving students know that they don't have to shell out hundreds of dollars to feed an addiction to proprietary software, when perfectly usable and functional Open Source alternatives exist for them. KDE+Mozilla+OpenOffice+Evolution is a powerful combination that makes Linux very much a viable desktop operating system.

    Plus, anyone who switches over has the best support team around: the campus Unix Users Group! A perusal of our mailing list shows that we don't sleep at night until your problem is solved. :-)

  • I Missed the Obit (Score:2, Informative)

    by Brown Line (542536)
    Last night, I just turned off Windows 98 at home.
    It's replaced with the newest Red Hat. My two teen-agers love it (with the sole reservation that they can't run Final Fantasy any more). Our local parochial school is switching to Linux in its computer teaching lab. At work, we're a Fenster-frei environment: we route telephone calls, all done under BSD and SCO.

    So Linux on the desktop is dead, eh? Guess a lot of people like me just missed the obituary.
    • "with the sole reservation that they can't run Final Fantasy any more"

      Let them have reservations no more! Just plop down a couple bucks for the Playstation version and download epsxe [epsxe.com]. FF7,8 and 9 all run like a dream on my Gentoo box (Tactics runs very well with some weird map oddities, but doesn't bother me). Need to play the SNES versions? They run picture perfect on ZSNES [zsnes.com] or SNES9x [snes9x.com] which both have excellent Linux ports and it's trivial to find the roms for FF2 - 6. NES emulators for Linux can get you the first one. After all, the PC versions of FF are just ports. :)
    • Yeah... If Linux on the desktop is dead, then I'm a necrophiliac!

      ...errr, that didn't really come out right, did it? =)

  • Oh boy, here are some thoughts.

    1. MS had the Linux "Myths page", eventually even they didn't believe it and have changed their campaign.
    2. Not so long ago "experts" were saying that Linux would never enter the mainstream.
    3. More recently other experts suggest that Linux is an operating system "for web servers only"
    4. Other experts say that Linux will only ever run on low end hardware and never get into the "Lucrative high end server" market. (IBM big Iron, DEC/Compaq/HP Alpha anyone?)

    Will Linux succeed on the desktop? That depends on your definition, but considering what the "experts" have predicted over the years, I'd have to say that my money is on success. Experts, industrial leaders and their opinions don't mean much to me, simply because they are so often wrong about Linux.

    Why do we call them "experts" again?

    cluge
  • Linux on the desktop is both dead and alive. Linux is never going to have the market share that MS has. But, for the first time ever since I began toying with Linux back in '96, I have every one of my computers including my laptop running full time Linux setups with every piece of software that I need to be productive (OpenOffice 1.0, Evolution, Galleon/Mozilla, and some other scientific software). The user interface is now mature and elegant and is far superior to any that MS has conjured (particularly through customizability). Even my technophobic girlfriend doesn't mind using it, as long as she can boot into windows to run the occasional game that doesn't work in linux and even the Sims is working now!
  • Up the irons....can't kill a dead man...I'm going in.

    But really...Raster has a point. What is more successful? Linux with all the fancy desktop environments and no commercial apps to speak of. OR TWM and FVWM running all the commercial apps that the Mac gets? Now that would be a deflating question to anyone who spent the most of the last few years making Linux "Look" good.
  • by Tyreth (523822) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @10:52AM (#3922348)
    In the experience of people I talk to about computers, roughly:
    * 40% seem open to hearing about Linux - they just want something easy to use, cheap, etc
    * 20% are skeptical at first then very impressed when they see it ("If I set up a new business I'd definately use Linux")
    * 30% would use it if it had the games they wanted
    * 10% adamantly support Microsoft without knowing anything about it - perhaps just for the fun of opposing me

    So in my experience, Linux has a very bright future for the desktop, at least for those people I encounter daily.

    But I think the desktop is dead anyway. Rasterman says that embedded is the future - the level ground. This is true, but there is another path.

    Do you think 10 years from now we are going to be using desktops too? I doubt it very much. Minority report perhaps gives us a snippet of the future. Computer "desktops" will go 3D. Maybe we will control our computer with virtual reality gloves and speak commands, or perhaps even use our mind for some simple tasks.

    The future of computers will hopefully be power covered by simplicity. The way we think and use computers will change over time. We won't think "I need to use the computer to check e-mail". E-mail will become a daily part of life. Perhaps your house will say to you "You have 3 new messages". And then you respond "bring them up", and in front of you is projected an image of the e-mail, which could possibly be video rather than text. This kind of interface has no desktop. It is a simple and human way of interacting with computers. Desktops are cludgy things that expose people to some of the power of a comptuer that they don't need to see. What we need is a solution that has the simplest possible interface (like the e-mail scenario I gave) but has the potential for the user to hack it at it's base level (open source philosophy). That way the simplicity makes computers a powerful part of everyday life, but also gives the power to those who want/need to fiddle with the settings.

    I think the desktop is dead. It's like having 4 remotes with 20 buttons each. In a house you hide your electricy cables, and you hide your water pipes. With computers however we expose people to desktops - which I believe are a patchwork solution. Eventually there will be no "computer" that people fight to use. There will be no monitor or keyboard. The interface will be more natural and human, integrated into the house or building.

    Basically, desktops are getting close to their highest potential. The next phase will be something different, something that won't be solved by a new Windows release or by KDE 6.2 - it will require a shift in thought about how computers work, which will start off ugly at first and then progress into something beautiful looking. But as long as we have the desktop, our way of thinking will be constrained to 2 dimensions, which doesn't allow for the vast potential of computers in the near future.

    (3dwm plug [3dwm.org])

    • 3d (Score:2, Insightful)

      by oliverthered (187439)
      Most of the things your talking about came, saw the light of a few TV programmes and went, just like internet video phones.

      They seem nice, but there more of a gimic than anything else, I talk to my computer all the time and I'm glad it can't understand!

      2D Desktops generally provide the best interface to the information normally displayed on a computer and there the easyest for most people to understand., humans are geered up to think in 2d space there are a hell of a lot of people who cant think in 3d, 4d or 1d space, or do mental folding etc...
    • Desktop is dead! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Stiletto (12066) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @12:10PM (#3922696)

      I couldn't agree more with the parent poster. It's not "Linux on the Desktop" that's dead, but the DESKTOP itself that's dead (or dying).

      Normal people don't want to use computers, in general. They want to do tasks that they consider worthwhile. They want to communicate with others asynchronously. CURRENTLY, this is done through email, and CURRENTLY it requires a computer. Who says email NEEDS to require a computer? What if your email could be read to you automatically when you walked into your apartment? Most people would see this as a usability improvement over:

      1. Sit down
      2. Turn computer on
      3. Wait
      4. Double-click
      5. Wait while phone dials
      6. Click
      7. Click
      8. Scroll
      9. Click
      10. Click
      11. Stand up

      People don't want to use computers. They want to get things done. They want to create letters and presentations. Currently this requires a computer , a printer, and a lot of typing. Does it have to be this way? No! A lot of research has gone into voice recognition and computer vision. In the future we'll just describe a document or presentation in basic terms, using a natural interface like voice or gestures, and a device will spit out what was requested.

      I predict computing's next "killer app" will be something that allows people to get rid of their computers.

      • by mickwd (196449) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @02:11PM (#3923242)
        "What if your email could be read to you automatically when you walked into your apartment?"

        When I eventually get the girl of my dreams to come back to my apartment, the last thing I want to hear is:

        "MickWd, get that larger penis you always wanted"

        "Hey, MickWd, this is Naughty Nancy. I'm horny and waiting for your call"

        "MickWd, having problems getting it up ? Try our new Viagra"
  • by Sleepy (4551) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @10:53AM (#3922350) Homepage
    A lot of people run Linux. A lot MORE have "tried" it, and then say to themselves "then what"?

    Linux just doesn't have any good, free software, and that's what's needed to run a desktop.

    At my last company, when I complained about Office attachments on the email and intraweb (against agreed-upon policy), the IT guy just gives me an Office CD and winks. When I state I run Linux at home, I get the "it's not my fault is it" (with the look of "you know, if it hurts when you slam the door on your head don't do it" look).

    Linux will not even BEGIN to be appealing until people can "take their work home" (Office warez CD). As cool as CodeWeavers Crossover is - I've used it - it isn't "free" with the OS.

    That's not a slam - I encourage commercial software on Linux, but the office-worker-at-home and the AOL user -- the majority of Windows users -- just want everything for free. They don't believe in Free Software or the GPL, and they don't believe installing MS Project on every computer is really stealing.

    Eleet coder wanna-bees is another group -- slightly more technical than Mom -- that Linux won't win over. These people download the ISO's as soon as their released, burn em, but only try every 3rd release and then on a spare computer. Since Linux won't run his pirated games (or at least not full speed), Linux sucks. Besides, you can't run MS Visual Basic on Linux, which is an industry standard. Everyone knows you gotta program Linux in Assembly, or sometimes C. ;-)

    For Linux to become more appealing to the masses, it doesn't need a lot of polish -- it's "good enough" right now. What's needed is for Microsoft needs to get tougher on licensing, which they won't do UNTIL they are SURE they have locked out the threats (by extending the Internet, apparently)

    • You said, "At my last company, when I complained about Office attachments on the email and intraweb (against agreed-upon policy), the IT guy just gives me an Office CD and winks. When I state I run Linux at home, I get the "it's not my fault is it" (with the look of "you know, if it hurts when you slam the door on your head don't do it" look)."

      It sounds like that winky IT guy was just handing you a CD of office, I'm left to believe that this office CD wasn't properly registered so that you could take it home, instead it was probably what he just installed on his own machine at work.

      I honestly don't know all of the details of that company's licensing agreement, but it sounds like that something the BSA would be interested in. Perhaps if people started calling the BSA over things like that all of a sudden software that doesn't require you to have paid for the licenses will be look much more attractive.

      I'm not saying that I like the BSA in any way, actually I think that they are relatively threatening and intiminating, but this could be used as a good argument for free software.

      I'm quite certain that after the onslaught of the BSA, your smug winky IT guy would turn into a twitchy IT guy that doesn't know up from down.
    • > Linux just doesn't have any good, free
      > software, and that's what's needed to run a
      > desktop.

      OpenOffice.

      I use it. It's good. It has features that Office97 didn't have (last MSOffice I used) --- styles for graphic objects, a standalone drawing tool, decent snap in the drawing tool, intelligent scaling of groups of graphic objects, copy and paste in the spreadsheet that actually works right, bibliography support in the word processor, non-sucking equation editor. Probably a lot more, I haven't used it a whole lot yet. Hasn't crashed yet. Handles simple Word documents OK. Haven't tried complex ones yet.
  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @10:59AM (#3922381) Journal


    Desktop Linux is far from dead. It's NOT dead.

    Just that it's not heading in the right direction.

    Lots of things have been said about the ease of use thingy, but that's just scratching the surface.

    What's important, looking at the larger picture, is that Linux is filled with programmers wearing beany caps.

    Translation : Linux programs are wonderful, but it's just NOT the world needs.

    Look at Windows. Lots of clumpsy and over bloated programs, but at least, they do what the world wants, and buys !

    We have put too much emphasis on SOURCE CODE, because we wear beany caps - that is, we are the people who almost always CHANGE THE PROGRAM BEHAVIOR OURSELVES, that's why we demand the source code to the program.

    But the world outside of us is that people do NOT want or need or know how to change the program's behavior, all they want is that the program does what they want - whatever they want.

    That's why we have NORTON UTILITIES for Windows, and there's none of Linux.

    That's why we have so much MUSIC, MP3, STREAMING, VIDEO, MULTIMEDIA utilities for Windows ... many of them are buggy like hell, but at least they ARE available.

    On the other hand, what do we have here ?

    KDE, GNOME, ENLIGHTENMENT, yeah, big deal !

    The users need MORE THAN WINDOWING ENVIRONMENTS, they need UTILITIES that do stuffs for them !

    That's what we fall short on.

    That's what we need to double and tripple our efforts on.

    Not that we do not have the knowhow to do it, nor that we don't have the programmer-aid to do it.

    We have Kylix from Borland (FREE !) and how many of us are using Kylix to develop USEFUL UTILITIES for the users ?

    Do something about this problem and we will see the Desktop Linux comes alive.

  • But not much more. He said what we all know, commercial apps are not so plentiful under linux and many users are scared off.

    However, to say there is no future on anything but embedded and headless servers is extremely stupid. Maybe not for the common user, but among professional users who *do* care about the stability of the underlying OS and who *know* where to go to get the apps, linux is great. And not just computer professionals, I know people from various science disciplines using it as well, and also friends of mine run linux even if non-techinical, because they can ask me for help and I can usually give it quickly. The desktop is alive and well, but not for Joe Schmoe, but among professionals it is gaining considerable share... The move to an NT based kernel has appeased some, but not all Windows users sick of the underlying instability. MacOSX has a great thing going, but the price is too high. I'm sure MacOSX could stamp out linux desktops, as they offer all that does and more as far as desktop use is concerned, but the price is too high and they couldn't care less about winning anything but the Windows market...

    Frankly, I think his stance is more influenced by the decline of enlightenment's popularity (and his resultant decline in fame) and potentially some business interest in his coding with regards to embedded applications. I would dare say there are just as many disadvantages in the embedded arena for linux as the desktop, since systems like QNX are much more adapted to the environment than linux...
  • not dead at all (Score:3, Insightful)

    by g4dget (579145) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @11:05AM (#3922409)
    Linux on the desktop is fine, really. I have seen quite a number of non-technical users use it, and they do OK. It is a bit disappointing to me that Linux on the desktop isn't any better than commercial desktops--it uses the same stale metaphors and the same cumbersome paradigms--but it isn't any worse either.

    I think the biggest obstacle for more widespread adoption of Linux right now is the kernel. Unlike userland, where you have thousands of independently developed programs available on the same machine, the kernel is one big, monolithic chunk. While drivers could in principle be developed and distributed separately, in practice, few are. Most Linux installs that I do involve recompiling the kernel. Whether it's merely packaging or architecture, something isn't working there.

  • by maynard (3337) <j,maynard,gelinas&gmail,com> on Saturday July 20, 2002 @11:09AM (#3922430) Journal
    Desktop Linux (and BSD, excepting MaxOS X) is really only appropriate at large installations where the environment is completely controlled and administered by professionals. While it's fine for a power user to install on their home computer, it really isn't appropriate for mom and pop. For that matter, neither is Windows. This means that desktop Linux is most likely to be found supporting scientific applications, Software development houses, Health care support, corporate desktops, data entry and call centers, and cash registers. It may become a viable home desktop system in the third world, should countries like China, Korea, Peru, etc decide to invest the money necessary to create localized infrastructure to support a wide scale Linux deployment for it's citizens similar to the old teletext systems used in Europe.

    To proclaim that desktop linux is dead is foolish though. I've seen some very large scale desktop Linux deployments Boston area genomics companies, universities, and software houses. These are often commercial Unix to Linux migrations, so I'm not arguing that it's hitting the Windows desktop market hard. But if you know your stuff there's definitely work to be had in this market. As long as I'm paid well for this stuff, I'd hardly call it dead! --M

    • While it's fine for a power user to install on their home computer, it really isn't appropriate for mom and pop. For that matter, neither is Windows.
      I would beg to differ ... hehe

      I gave my parents their current computer back in '98; it's been running the same applications since then. They haven't installed anything on it themselvs, they don't want to and they don't need to. The only stuff that's been installed since then is an onslaught of security updates and the like, and I did that for them.

      Right now I'm trying out Mandrake Linux ... my first "Desktop Linux" install ever. My 3rd unix install (the other two were FreeBSD), and the first one I've done by myself. Right now it almost fulfills all my needs:

      * Office program (OpenOffice.org)
      * E-mail (Evolution - kickass)
      * Calendar (Evolution - kickass)
      * Contacts (Evolution - kickass)
      * Browser (Opera)
      * ICQ (Okay, flakey I think; I miss Miranda ICQ)
      * Java (Installed Suns SDK almost without a hitch)
      * Java IDE (Haven't found NetBeans.org's java-download. I know it's there somewhere, but I can't find it ... ARGH!!!)
      * TV-Card - just works, which is more than I can say for the Windows support

      I'm still trying to figure out how to prevent Xine from dying when I try to play a dvd, and I haven't had the guts to install nVidias driver, so I can get my TV-out to work.

      Would I have a problem installing this on my parents computer? Apart from hardware-constraints, no - I'd love to install this on their computer, as they've had more vira than I'd like to remember ...

      I think Linux is ready for the desktop, because the only things I need are games, but I hardly ever play any games, so that's not a big deal. All people need is a preinstalled OS - and hey - that's what Walmart is starting to do.

      But - should we aim to put Linux on the desktop? In my oppinion, no. Aim to get something like OpenBeOS on the desktop. It doesn't have the "server vs desktop" problem, that "plagues" linux; it's aimed squarely at the desktop (though I'd love to use it as a file-server due to its cool filesystem), and the only "problem" I can see in that is multi-user support. Oh - and applications ... but that's always a problem.
  • by jsse (254124) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @11:10AM (#3922432) Homepage Journal
    Has it? Has the battle ended already? Do we have a closing date in this battle?

    Or you just feel tired and rest behind the lane, yell at the runners "We lost! Face it! Do you hear me? We lost, dudes!"
    • This is assuming that Linux was ever in competition with windoze. I think that's the first question you have to ask. Yes, there are some ppl that would prefer to have Linux on every desktop. Yes, a few of us with the know-how can get along without ever dealing with the BSOD. But, the fact remains, M$ is firmly entrenched in mainstream culture.

      So, I ask again, when did this ever start? I think M$ likes the idea, because they want the server market. If M$ can skew "Linux not a good desktop OS" to "Linux is not a good OS", then they win big time. Well, I think it's painfully obvious that Linux is a good server OS and windoze is a desktop OS (good or not). In the end, there are specific functionalities of both that emphasize their own strengths and thus bring them further apart from the other.
  • Why switch? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by be-fan (61476) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @11:11AM (#3922435)
    I think the main issue that's preventing most people from switching is that it isn't worth it. Linux, on the desktop, is not that much better than Windows XP on the desktop. Its not noticibly more stable, its not noticibly faster, but there are noticible downsides (application support and ease-of-use) to using it. I've been running Linux on a desktop machine for years now, and have recently settled in pretty well with KDE 3.0 and Gentoo. I use it not because it really gains me any technical merit I don't get in Windows XP, but because I hate Microsoft, the windows-style command line interface, and that blasted tooltip that keeps popping up in the corner of my screen in XP. Still, whenever I boot back into XP (to run Photoshop or the occasional game) I have to admit that Linux really isn't technically superior anymore, at least not in ways that a desktop user would notice. XP is reasonably fast, reasonably stable, and reasonably easy to use. For those less rabid then me, then, its an easy choice. They can endure the pain of switching to Linux, for a dubious set of benifets, or they can stay with Windows. This has been the situation forever. Why did MacOS never manage to take back its market share from Windows? Its been superior (from an average desktop user's point of view) for a very long time. Simply because people didn't percieve enough benifet from doing it. Windows was *good enough* compared to what MacOS was at the time. Now, if the timing had been different, had a Linux 2.4/KDE 3.0-style desktop been available around the introduction of Windows 95, would Linux have taken off? Hell ya. People would have seen a significant benifet in moving to Linux. Thus, if Linux ever wants to beat Microsoft on the desktop, it can't settle for being a "better Windows." It has to be *more*. Not just different, but a generation ahead technically. Now, this is what Microsoft does best. When they're not designing stuff like Palladium, MS engineers come up with genuinely cool stuff. A lot of it may be ripped of from other sources, and the first implementations may be less than perfect, but overall, they keep advancing the desktop. If Linux wants to be the next Windows, it has to beat Microsoft at its own game. It has to think up the next generation of user inteface and implement it before Microsoft can.
    • Because you do not like security updates that change the EULA. Because you want to own your data. Simply said Freedom and Privacy.

      It is a real shame that most people (Read Sheep) do not care about freedom or privacy.

  • OS X (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Megane (129182) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @11:16AM (#3922460) Homepage
    Mod me down as a troll if you must, and it's sort of off-topic because the article here is talking about Linux on x86, but I've thought of "Linux on the Desktop" as total ass myself for a couple of years now. Now we get two articles in two weeks saying as much. Which is exactly why I've been working hard (and finally succeeded) to get OS X running on my old Power Mac instead of putting Yellow Dog or Debian on it.

    First, XFree was a pain in the ass to get set up. I haven't tried it since 4.x, but 3.x sucked because all the setup programs wanted to compute "optimum" modelines for your monitor and display card, which inevitably never worked for me. This instead of what I wanted: resolution and refresh, from the list of VESA standard modes. Oh, but I can just edit this annoying config file, commenting out a bunch of lines for modes I don't want. If it's a pain in the ass for me, it's impossible for mom 'n' pop. Before I gave up two years ago, I think only TurboLinux 4.x had a config program with resolution/refresh selection.

    Then there's getting the desktop environments running themselves. I didn't get very far on them, but in my experience, if you didn't pick the window manager favored by the distro, the others simply weren't configured to do anything useful. The only way to get menus to contain anything useful seemed to be by editing config files, and by this time I wasn't in any mood to search for more damn config files to edit.

    So I decided to stay with Slackware as a lean server-only OS on my cheap x86 boxen, and wait for OS X, which at the time was just around the corner. I've had it running on a laptop since pre-release, and this week it's put new life into a creaky old Power Computing clone box. And I've got it running on the iMac my mom got a few months back. It just works, without a bunch of tweaking, partly because Macs have nowhere near the hardware nightmare that exists in the x86 world. And it's full of that unix-y goodness which let me kill a frozen AOL client on her machine remotely.

    • Mod me down as a troll if you must, and it's sort of off-topic because the article here is talking about Linux on x86, but I've thought of "Linux on the Desktop" as total ass myself for a couple of years now. Now we get two articles in two weeks saying as much. Which is exactly why I've been working hard (and finally succeeded) to get OS X running on my old Power Mac instead of putting Yellow Dog or Debian on it.

      LOL! Like you'd get modded down for praising the Mac around here.

      First, XFree was a pain in the ass to get set up. I haven't tried it since 4.x, but 3.x sucked because all the setup programs wanted to compute "optimum" modelines for your monitor and display card, which inevitably never worked for me. This instead of what I wanted: resolution and refresh, from the list of VESA standard modes.

      What, you mean like this? [ximian.com]

      Then there's getting the desktop environments running themselves. I didn't get very far on them, but in my experience, if you didn't pick the window manager favored by the distro, the others simply weren't configured to do anything useful. The only way to get menus to contain anything useful seemed to be by editing config files, and by this time I wasn't in any mood to search for more damn config files to edit.

      a) You're wrong. I don't know which distros you tried, but I've never had to edit config files to edit menus (this is SuSE 7.3)

      b) You're right. Desktops don't share applinks currently, so if you install a KDE app, it may not play nice with the GNOME menu and vice-versa. There is currently a standardisation effort underway to fix this (and it'll provide a far more advanced menu system than any other OS to boot). Check out freedesktop.org for more info.

      It just works, without a bunch of tweaking, partly because Macs have nowhere near the hardware nightmare that exists in the x86 world.

      Yes yes, we know. "It just works" - what a good slogan. People seem to miss the point about Linux: IT IS FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT. It relies on people creating things themselves, them on users liking it and adopting it, then on people forming standards etc. There is no "Steve says we do this, so we do this" policy. That has the advantage of the fact that it scales reliably as seen in other industries, however there is no overall guiding vision other than what people agree on collectively.

      I don't see why people have trouble understanding this. Everything else works in this way, for instance the car market. You have choice, standards, competition. Why do people bitch when governments don't protect them from monopolies in real life, but run straight into the arms of proprietary systems in computing?

      And it's full of that unix-y goodness which let me kill a frozen AOL client on her machine remotely.

      Hmm, but from what I remember, you can't start Mac apps from the command line (because they are directories). So you can kill AOL from SSH, but not start it. Great. Please, stop with the Mac shills.

      Finally, I can't believe people still stay things like "Linux lost, Windows won". Or something. I must have missed the point at which Linux started competing on level ground with Windows. Because right now, as far as I'm concerned, it's not there yet in terms of ease of use (software management etc, but it's being worked on). Linux hasn't lost - au contraire, it hasn't started the race yet. But it will soon - once awareness of Linux is high, and normal (read non geeks) are trying it on the desktop THAT is when the race will have begun. Not before.

  • by pigeonhk (42292)
    I don't think Linux is competing against Windows or anything. It doesn't have to. It doesn't need to. Even though competitions do bring better products. Even though somehow you think it has to, that will not be the job of Linux to compete, it will be GNOME or KDE.

    People use whatever they want to use and they need to use. As long as something is doing what it is supposed to do and user can make use of it, it wins.

    I actually know some people who use Windows and they think *computers* are just like that. From time to time, it will not work, blue screen, has to reboot. Big deal.

    Same theory. Some people live in the Matrix and they enjoy it even they know it. Others however might prefer to free their minds.

    Windows blinds you from the truth, the truth that your computer should do more than just giving you blue screen. :)

  • And its not worth much, but here goes. I've found, from searching and testing, and trying, that most of the linux desktop/window managers have one thing in common. They tend to focus on eyecandy without as much effort on the useability. I tend to pride myself on the fact that most applications I can sit down and tinker with for 5 minutes and have all figured out. It took me longer than that to figure out how to maximise a window in E the first time. Of course, once I know HOW to do it, its not a problem, but Linux will never make the desktop if the average user has as much trouble as I did. The desktop should not be the most difficult application to figure out. Yes, I know RTMF, and yes, all those helpful popup help windows were there to guide me.

    Indeed quite a few window managers are as easy to figure out as Windows, primarily because they look just like it. For better or worse it seems to be a rather intuitive interface. Either that, or everyone's gotten so used to it over the years that its become second nature.

    Effort with the intent to spur the Linux desktop should be placed in developing an interface more intuitive than the standard. One that any joe user with half a brain can sit down at for the first time and figure out with a minimum of frustration. At the same time, keep it configurable enough to not be completely ignored by the more advanced crowd.

    -Restil
  • by DevilsEngine (581977) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @11:49AM (#3922604)
    It's quit tempting to look on Windows as the Nazis, or the Mongol Horde -- a force that must be crushed if civilization is to be saved. If this is your working analogy, then there is only total victory or inglorious death.

    However, much as we might like it, the world is not populated by dragons and operating systems are not the tools of St. George.

    Linux is not dead. Not now, nor is that a likely event any time in the near future. It's equally unlikely that Linux will soon drive Windows into the sea.

    Windows will continue to be dominant on the consumer desktop for the immediate future. Windows has the applications, the games, and the thousands of developers grinding out the product. Could they do better work on Linux? Possibly, but it's not going to happen. Not with a relatively tiny marketplace further divided by flavors of installation and interface.

    Linux will continue to drive servers and as the desktop of enthusiasts. It's a niche operating system, now, and likely forever.

    For those that gnash their teeth over the evil empire, fear not! All empires crumble with time. But when something comes to push back the dark forces of Mordor, it will almost certainly NOT be Linux. It will be something clean and new, something that has a Vision (upper case "V") of computer interaction that goes past the creaky, cranky interfaces we have now and gives us a new way to relate to our machines. When it happens, Windows will go into the C/PM bin before Bill Gates can debug his digital living room.

    And Linux will still be there, clanking along, doing it's job.

    There is some space between death and triumph. Kind of like Switzerland.
  • I think Rasterman has a credibility problem. When he left redhat there were many rumours that part of the reason was that enlightenment's code was not maintainable, scalable, and flexible enough to go in the desktop direction redhat wanted.

    Now jump forward to the present, with XF86 4.2, Gnome 2.0, Galeon, Mozilla 1.0, Evolution 1.0, Abiword 1.0, OggVorbis 1.0, KDE 3.0, hell, even nautilus is improved. The reality is that RedHat's (and other distos') desktop environment *is* significantly better than it was then.

    The only thing that hasn't gone anywhere is rasterman's enlightnenment. Now, I used enlightenment back in the day, and I give it a lot of respect for being the first eye-candy for linux that attracted casual desktop users, but the world has moved on.

    It looks like Linux on the desktop is everywhere but dead, and rasterman is a hypocrite for saying differently.
  • by DrXym (126579) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @12:10PM (#3922698)
    I really don't understand why Linux is dominated by the head-up-the-ass attitude that users are lusers. A good, well designed desktop helps everyone. OS X is very easy to use whether you're a newbie or an expert. Apple took the time to create a simple UI, one which is intuitive, where the settings are in one place and where there aren't a zillion advanced settings cluttering up things.

    As a power user on OS X I don't feel constricted by this. I still run X and various Unix tools thanks to fink and I find the UI to be straightforward and easy to use. In other words, the simplicity helps me get on with stuff rather than wasting hours reading through FAQs or HOWTOs just trying to figure how to share a folder or whatnot.

    The same cannot be said for a Linux desktop. I'm constantly wasting my time trying to find some stupid option in the zillion control panels KDE/GNOME puts up for me, or swearing at the stupid help system that doesn't integrate distro help with KDE/GNOME help with manpage help etc., or scratching my head trying to figure out to get my scanner to be recognized, or grinding my teeth because the distro fills its multiple menus of apps with cryptic apps with names starting with g or k.

    It doesn't have to be that way. Unless Linux becomes usable for everyone, not just experts it will never get on the deskop. Besides, the more users there are, the more jobs there are for admins and developers to meet demand. I would have thought it's in everyone's interest to see it succeed.

  • by wytcld (179112) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @12:13PM (#3922709) Homepage
    There's this great thing that's been happening in Western culture over the last century, which consists in bringing visual intelligence to parity in media with verbal. But there's also this childish notion many tend towards in our culture (in most cultures) that if we valued A over B before, and now we learn that B has special value which had been overlooked in favor of A, then the revaluing of B should also demote A. Thus for instance there are many examples from "feminism" and "culture theory" of the equation of the written word with "linear" thinking and even "patriarchial" ideology, with some notion that this A should be overthrown by B. Well, we don't need the antithesis to triumph, we need the synthesis.

    Visually, despite all the new visual media from photography forward, we're still a pretty stupid culture. Most of our smarts are still in texts, from books to the ASCII files that make up most all the code and configuration of *NIX systems. And the main use of computers in business is in preparing, exchanging, storing and searching texts. It's going to be this way for a long time, because text is a place where human beings have established a foundation of collective brilliance that goes far beyond the world's best video collection. It's not going to be replaced by a Matrix-like collective video game anytime soon. And the moves in that direction will likely be rendered by text-based *NIX systems.

    Linux is just about there for handling text. AbiWord and OpenOffice will, within the year, have parity with anything else, and price advantage. XFree is anti-aliased. The major thing missing is the equivalent of Quark or PageMaker, and maybe a font front-end that's as simple as Adobe, so that Linux becomes backward compatible with print production.

    Computer games aren't anything most offices want to see their employees playing anyhow. What they care about is systems that allow workers to transparently produce and interact with texts. And that's what most independent knowledge workers care about too - even most programmers. Code is text, "higher level" tools that let you draw connections between objects in visual space will continue to suck for all but the most brain-dead programming.

    And the only part of the workforce that doesn't need to be literate any more is the unemployed.
    ___
  • AOL Machine (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rajafarian (49150)
    Hey, I was thinking that perhaps an AOL machine would succeed. What is an AOL Machine? Well such machine would be sold at K-Mart, er Walmart, with a full-blown AOL browser (based on Mozilla?) and OpenOffice in a (KDE?) Linux-based system. The intended customer is Gramma or Grampa who all they really want the computer for is to type letters and do "AOL" type stuff. AOL could also sell services like tax preparation services via their AOL interface. Not EVERYONE knows what Windows is, anyway. This would be based on a current package management system and kept up to date by AOL. Maybe they could send you quarterly upgrade CD's.

    yes, no, maybe?

  • Slashdot once again gives us a most unfair slant on an insightful interview. It's important to ACTUALLY RED THE INTERVIEW before getting your panties in a wad. But no, that's to much to ask of Anguished or CmdrTaco.
    LaM: Where do you think the future lies for desktop Linux?

    Rasterman: Not on the desktop. Not on the PC. Not on anything that resembles what you call the desktop. Windows has won. Face it. The market is not driven by a technically superior kernel, or an OS that avoids its crashes a few times a day. Users don't (mostly) care. They just reboot and get on with it. They want apps. If the apps they want and like aren't there, it's a lose-lose. Windows has the apps. Linux does not. Its life on the desktop is limited to nice areas (video production, though Mac is very strong and with a UNIX core now will probably end up ruling the roost). The only place you are likely to see Linux is the embedded space. Purpose-built devices to do a few things well. There is no encumbent app space to catch up with as a lot of the apps are custom written. It's still a mostly level playing field. This is where the strengths of Linux can help make it shine.
    Rasterman isn't saying anything that doesn't get said on /. about a thousand times a day. VHS won over Beta. Sometimes the better product doesn't earn public mindshare.

    Rasterman continues to develop e. You can compile and run e wherever, on a desktop, handheld, knock yourself out. He's done nothing more than size up where Linux is at a market sector. And at the moment he is right. Where he is wrong is in assuming the market will not change.

    He is also correct in saying the apps are the thing. Apps need to become easier to install for a normal computer user, and need to be better integrated with each other. Apps also need to talk to the Windows and Mac world. Flame all you want, but Miguel de Icaza is on of the few Linux people who are looking at the consumer and attempting to give them what they want in Linux.
  • Rasterman (Score:3, Funny)

    by haroldhunt (199966) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @12:41PM (#3922809) Homepage
    Rasterman: Desktop Linux is Dead

    10 years later...

    Desktop Linux: Rasterman is Dead
  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @12:41PM (#3922811) Homepage
    Linux is strongest as a server.

    It's easier to enter that market and to build a reputation. That part of Linux is working very well for the community. With all the news about various companies using Linux for processing vastly significant amounts of data for vastly significant purposes, in some aspects, Linux is leaving all others in the dust.

    It's Linux's reputation that will eventually bring it to the desktop, however. It's not the eye-candy of elightenment. It's not all the cool object-oriented inner-workings of GNOME. The reputation of Linux's reliability, availability and affordability that will eventually pull it onto desktops of home and corporate users.

    First and foremost, if a more agressive push to the desktop is to happen any time soon, is to more completely and accurately emulate the Windows look and feel. It doesn't matter that it's "inferior." The "inferior" argument hasn't held since day-1. It needs to be familiar to the people who want to use it. If they expect "Network Neighborhood" then give'm Network Neighborhood.

    It is not yet time to strengthen the weaknesses at the expense of existing stengths. Linux has a lot of strong points that are not being put to full use.

    The demand for the desktop will come in time but there should be no major push for it. If there were to be a huge push for it, it would mean a radical series of changes such as a more well-defined "LSB" and strict adherance to it. We would need to come up with a "Linux Standard Desktop" definition that GNOME and KDE and any other players should target themselves to. Graphics and multimedia standards will have to be rigidly defined and adhered to.

    These changes would have to happen very quickly and abruptly. It would cause a great deal of stress and confusion across the board. I say let it happen gradually and take the pressure off the desktop developers. There is no rush... not yet anyway. (Maybe after Win2k is pulled from the shelves.)

    In the mean time, keep "Linux" in the public's eye and make them want it more and more by focusing on it's existing and growing strengths. Showing the public a weak, buggy and kludgey desktop will only sour public opinion regardless of how much work and pride it represents the developers. The "first impression" will stick regardless of what changes happen after the fact.

    Linux on the desktop is not ready for prime-time. Let's not put it out there until it's ready. For now, let it remain the domain of the "L337" and let the public have Windows + Samba.
  • Rasterman is dead (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jerry (6400) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @01:25PM (#3923017)
    He, or actually his ego, died when the number of KDE installs eclipsed the number of Enlightenment installs, which happened when most Linux distros made KDE the default Desktop.

    The Linux desktop success does not depend on how many "Grandmas and Grandpas" adopt it! Linux on the desktop is succeeding, and increasingly so, because corporations are switching to it enmass. And, as the stockmarket continues to tank, they'll be avoiding the unnecessary expense of License 6 and hardware upgrades by increasing their use of Linux through out their entire corporate structure. OpenOffice has been the catalyst that triggered the decisions around the globe to make the switch.

    The paradigm shift is NOW in high gear! IT departments that were once staunch MS shops now openly criticize Microsoft and its various schemes to make money off their backs and at the expense of their security and privacy, and have begun deploying Linux in more than just server rooms.

    While Microsoft's illegal monopoly activities, along with their theft of software and demographic data, continue unchecked because of a compliant Bush DOJ, so does their corporate greed and arrogance. People have had enough. They've seen through the PR and FUD. They've connected the dots leading from abusive EULAs to loss of supposedly 'unalienable' rights, and they don't like it.

    The only thing remaining for the people to see is that the accounting principles used by Enron and WorldCom CEOs were not invented by Enron but borrowed from Microsoft. The NASDAQ will show even bigger losses when Microsoft is forced to subtract programmer payrolls from their profits and not hide them as future stock options. The following URL contains a prophetic analysis, made in 1999, of today's stockmarket situation.

    http://www.billparish.com/msftfraudfacts.html

    "Microsoft is granting excessive amounts of stock options that are allowing the company to understate its costs. You might ask yourself, what would happen to Microsoft's stock price if the public suddenly realized that they lost $10 billion in 1999 rather than earning the reported $7.8 billion? If 80 percent of its stock value or roughly $400 billion is the result of a pyramid scheme, one might also ask what kind of effect this could have on the retirement system. It is also important to note that this is a relatively new situation that did not occur before 1995. Microsoft has always been a highly valued stock and that might have been justified prior to 1995.

    This situation is not about stock valuation, product quality or whether or not Microsoft has monopoly power in its markets. Nor is it part of a pro or anti-Microsoft movement. This situation is instead a shining example of financial fraud and corruption enabled by bad government policy. If not quickly and aggressively addressed, we will all be losers as credibility in our financial markets is destroyed.

    Bill Gates has quitely been unloading MS stock at the rate of $500 million per month for several months, begining just before the Enron debacle became public -- talk about your insiders trading! Other MS executivers are probably doing the same.

    Truely, the end of Microsoft is near, and the stockmarket decline will certainly hasten it!

  • Typical Rasterman (Score:3, Interesting)

    by philovivero (321158) on Saturday July 20, 2002 @04:44PM (#3923840) Homepage Journal
    Probably not many of you have been in one-on-one conversations with Rasterman. I have.

    Back in the day, when FVWM'95 was the state-of-the-art, I got into contact with him because he was doing something new and cool.

    I recommended that he not just create a WM, but a desktop environment. I was willing to help him do it. He obviously was good at making the widgets and all, but didn't have anything to help apps communicate with one another.

    He was uninterested. The future, he figured, was in the WM.

    It doesn't surprise me that since not too many are very interested in his WM (Sawfish and KWM are far more oft-used) -- that he thinks Linux desktop is dead and has no future.

    He still doesn't get it.

    But never mind. He's a techie. His genius doesn't lie in predicting the future of Linux, it lies in creating cool assembly-tweaked embedded whatsit solutions (as you can tell, where my genius *DOESN'T* lie). Let him be, but for god's sake, don't ask him the future of Linux.

    You'll get the same drivel I got from him back in the 90's.

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