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Linux to Become #2 on the Desktop? 778

Posted by michael
from the tell-me-something-i-don't-know dept.
DiZASTiX writes "An article from Zdnet says Linux on the desktop has become a reality. It is now possible, for example, to buy a Linux-based PC (running LindowsOS) from Evesham. In the United States, Wal-Mart sells machines based on Lindows, Mandrake Linux and others. But though Linux may have its foot in the door, taking the next step to becoming a mainstream success is proving a more difficult proposition."
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Linux to Become #2 on the Desktop?

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  • by airrage (514164) on Friday January 03, 2003 @08:53PM (#5011228) Homepage Journal
    I'm not a huge advocate of Linux on the desktop (yet), but the server side, while HP-UX rules my world currently, a SIMILAR product without the cost is attractive. Of corporation's want 24-7 support framed like HP, EDS, or IBM.
    • by RazzleDazzle (442937) on Friday January 03, 2003 @08:59PM (#5011278) Journal
      Are people (besides the Distros) actually pushing for Linux on the desktop? I know if it becomes mainstream the distros will have huge revenue streams but does everyone else think it is so critical? I am just saying that I have noticed a lot of media attention bringing this up, not so much by regular people though. I should mention I don't use windows on any of the machines I own; I use Linux and OpenBSD.

      Careless aggression of marketing put Microsoft where there are today.
      • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Saturday January 04, 2003 @12:23AM (#5012433) Journal
        Are people (besides the Distros) actually pushing for Linux on the desktop?

        I'm coming to not care whether the public decides that Linux is a "desktop OS" or not. It's working wonderfully as a desktop OS for me. :-)
        • by Tim C (15259) on Saturday January 04, 2003 @08:21AM (#5013705)
          I don't mean to sound sanctimonious or patronising, but I have to say that my immediate thought on reading this was "You're learning".

          I really fail to see why so many people seem to care so much about whether or not "mainstream users" are using Linux on their PCs. As long as it works for you, and you can get done what you need to get done, why worry?

          I use Linux (curently Mandrake 9) exclusively at work. I do have XP installed under VMWare, but hardly ever use it. I'm a Java programmer, writing server-side code for websites, and so have no need for Windows; Linux does everything I need. For those few doc files that OpenOffice can't handle, I have VMWare & XP.

          At home, I recently bought (yes, bought) a copy of XP Pro. That's because I play a lot of games, and until I can walk into a shop and buy any game I want knowing that it'll work under Linux, I "need" Windows.

          I used to care deeply about getting people to use Linux, especially my fellow programmers (I was the first non-sysadmin at my company to install Linux on their PC, having finally gotten the go-ahead from management). Over time, though, I came to realise that it really doesn't matter.

          There are enough people passionate enough about Linux that I need not worry about it dying out any time soon. All the hardware I need to use is supported, and I can get development tools for most languages for it (even C# is being worked on!). Why should I care how many people I've never met and never will have any contact with are using it?

          The right tool for the right job, but also, the right tool for the right person.
      • by Trolling4Dollars (627073) on Saturday January 04, 2003 @02:23AM (#5012938) Journal
        This is a good point. I am a huge fan of Linux since it's saved me a lot of money at home and allowed me to spend money where it counts: hardware. But I have to say that the number of people who actually know about Linux or are using it seems to be very small in my area (Cleveland Ohio).

        It's actually surprised me how little interest there seems to be among the more knowlegable of my IT peers. The lack of interest ranges from "It's not as secure/robust/logical as OpenVMS, Windows NT, real Unix, etc..." to "Yeah, it's cool and all... but I just don't have the time to learn everything you need to know".

        As far as my non-IT computer literate friends, their interest ranges from "Linux? What's that? Does it run under Windows XP?" to "I've heard about it, but if it doesn't run KillerApp 8.0, it doesn't do me much good".

        To be honest I don't really have any friends that are interested in Linux since I don't really know anyone who is as "into computers" as I am. I think it really comes down to the kind of person you are. I admit, my friends and family have experience with using Linux, but only through me. If they didn't know me, they wouldn't know anything about Linux.

        The thing that I fear the most is that a lot of the publicity to "Joe User" could actually backfire. Imagine if Linux is touted in newspapers and magazines as the "Next Great Thing" and people go out and get machines with Linux that are poorly configured, insecure and on poor/cheap hardware. Then these people get pissed off and start spreading horror stories about their experience with Linux. It could happen no matter how well the systems are configured since Joe User tends to gravitate towards the "latest and greatest" hardware which isn't always well supported in Linux. When he plugs in his digital camera and nothing happens, it's going to make a bad impression.

        Keep in mind that I am not saying that Linux is bad for the desktop, but I am saying that it's probably about the same as non-OEM Windows 2000 Pro installation for a generic user. It requires more knowledge than the average user has. At the moment, that could make Linux look bad to the average user. Something like Lindows on a Wal-Mart PC along with some caveats about what might NOT work would be OK. But, Joe Average might be more likely to go to Circuit City and buy a RedHat 8 CD-ROM and then get pissed off when they don't get it to work.

        RedHat 8 has a great look, very well laid out menu system, task oriented/integrated interface and is very nice in general, but it has a lot of problems for some systems too: Lockups with certain IDE chipsets, memory leaks in the gnome-panel and gnome-terminal, problems with the Package Manager, etc... In fact CD-ROM 2 has failed for almost everyone I know when trying to install certain programs. Any average user who gives this a first try as an install is going to be very angry and this would be bad for Linux on the desktop in general.

        What to do? Sorry... but I don't have an answer. It still seems to me that one of the problems in making a "Linux for the desktop" distro is that a lot of us (Linux users/developers) are so far removed from the average user that we can't see all of the things that could be stumbling blocks. It's hard to sit back and remember the days when you didn't know what formatting a disk was. But that might be what's required. Maybe a sit down with your friends and family to find out what they might not like about computers in general (to know what to alleviate in Linux) might help too.
    • by Surak (18578) <surak.mailblocks@com> on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:05PM (#5011325) Homepage Journal
      Both EDS and IBM provide 24x7 support for Linux machines sold by them. When are people going to get a clue about this?
    • by BigBlockMopar (191202) on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:54PM (#5012320) Homepage

      I'm not a huge advocate of Linux on the desktop (yet)

      I want to be, but I can't (yet). [grin]

      Here's the problem:

      To put Linux on the desktop, we're asking them to give up the comfort, familiarity and applications of Windows. For what benefits?

      • A user interface which is slow, designed by computer geeks for what *we* like, rather than designed by marketing departments for what *the public* likes, and usually ships, by default, with color schemes which are somehow even more garish and offensive than Windows XP.
      • Inconsistent support. If Joe Sixpack were to look for support on a Linux program, usually there's no 1-900 number. If he were to dig up the mailing list info and send in a question, how long would it be before someone says "RTFM!"? What's he gonna do when TFM is half-written or poorly translated from some strange Tibetan dialect?
      • Poor applications. Quoting an e-mail I received: "But a lot of it - and mainly the GUI stuff - is still lagging behind, being a slower and buggier version of a half-decent program on Windows. And priorities are wonderful - when we build a GUI application, the most important thing is that it's skinnable. Bugs? Features? Competition? Who cares?! It's skinnable!"

        The same writer continues... "And for the biggest question: Mr. Rupert wants a financial software for Linux (his son installed it for him). So he calls his son over to install a simple financial software - just something which can calculate his loan repayments. His son opens google (or freshmeat), and finds 31 financial programs. Each has a different set of features, of course. He downloads and compiles each of them (ah, yes, the rpm was compiled using an ancient glibc version, and no, Mr. Rupert doesn't know what glibc is). The only two candidates which could actually be compiled (and didn't require libobscure.so.2) and actually have this option in their ugly programmer-designed-GUI menus die as soon as you choose the option. That's right - the operating system is stable as a rock, but the programs die immediately. What's Mr. Rupert going to use? hmm.... Maybe a respectable program from a respectable company (on Windows, of course).

        But wait! John Rupert (the little 15 year old) can program - he's got some C tutorials, and he's written a few small programs. Why can't he write the program for his father? And the 32nd version is on its way."

      • Good stability and core networking and filesystems. (Joe Sixpack really seems to care about this, after all, he's still running Windows 98 with FAT32. But he's happy, 'cause it's 98SE.)
      • Free to download, cheap to buy. Ahh, but if you're in business, you're paying people to use computers. You're paying people to surf the 'Net and try to figure out why OpenOffice Calc won't do the polynomial regression that Excel 95 and up will do in two mouseclicks. You're paying people to punch Ignore/Ignore/Ignore as KMail chews through an e-mail with the names of people it doesn't recognize, rather than quietly underlining them so that you may passively ignore them. You're paying people to wait 1/2 hour as KDE parses a directory full of JPG images of the latest marketing brochures. Suddenly, the $200 or whatever Microsoft is currently charging for Windows is pretty unimportant.
      • An ordeal every time someone sends you a Microsoft Office file. These are basically standard in the business world, and while you expect this to be a problem with an alternative desktop, it's incredible how pervasive the damned things are. Are you gonna tell a potential employer to re-send his offer of employment in HTML because you can't read a Word file properly? Wouldn't it be even worse if you were a large company dealing with clients who sent you stuff in XLS, PPT, DOC?

      We need to work on this stuff. Linux still isn't ready for the desktop [glowingplate.com].

      • by loginx (586174) <xavier@@@wuug...org> on Saturday January 04, 2003 @01:46AM (#5012801) Homepage
        I'm actually an advocate of linux on the desktop (yes I am) and it seems those points you mentionned don't make much sense, here's why.

        - Linux GUIs are faster and faster at each version. Gnome2 for example was totally re-coded with performance in mind and behaves much better now, KDE 3.1 (still a release candidate but still) on this box is working SO much faster than XP did on the SAME box !
        - Since I've been running linux on my desktop, I have not yet had one problem reading any PPT, DOC, etc... documents... not once... sorry. And I get a lot of ppt and doc files sent to me daily
        - I have had problems with some applications, contacted the mailing list, and the solution was sent to me a few minutes later... no RTFM.
        - I use Evolution for my email/calendar/tasklist/contact management stuff, it has everything I could ever use and more... I have used kmail in the past, I've never had any real problem with it.
        - Recent linux distributions based on more recent and less backward-compatible glibc usually have some kind of package management system that will not only save you from searching on freshmeat, but also install directly the application for you.
        emerge gnucash
        apt-get install gnucash
        synaptic->gnucash
        and so on... You have now installed the latest version of an excellent financial software, which, may I add, will read files from other windows software like Quickbook or Quicken without a glitch
        - I use daily applications for all my needs, none of them are poorly written at all. licq is stable as a rock, xmms plays music just perfectly, evolution still handles my emails (without a virus or worm or anything like that infesting my computer), mozilla works like a charm and KDE 3.1 is just a dream. Although all those applications work in a much superior fashion than equivalent applications on windows, they ARE skinnable indeed :)
        - Companies such as the Kompany, RedHat, Suse, etc... actually DO have some marketing people that make your desktop look just like you want it to look like as a user and to behave.
        My desktop right now looks simply amazing, yet is really fast and everything is at hand. My girlfriend uses it every time she comes, all my friends really love the way it's set up and even my mom used it and didn't have a problem doing everything she needed to do.
        - and for the support thing, companies like Suse, RedHat, Mandrake, etc... DO offer commercial (cheap) support for pretty much all the applications shipped with their distributions, in fact, and I speak from experience, these companies go way beyond that by helping out users with applications not "officially" supported, and also collect bug-reports and offer patches to the original developer of the software to fix the problem for them (http://www.redhat.com/bugzilla) for example.
        - Whoever wrote that has NO idea of how much a business license for Microsoft Windows costs... it's not even close to $200. Tell this person to add many zeros to that number.

        I think linux is still very young on the desktop OS market but it's doing a great job and I'm very impressed by how fast it's moving forward... KDE, Gnome, Evolution, OpenOffice, etc... all these software are working on a new development version right now that's purely amazing... I can't wait to see what it will be like by the end of the year 2003 !

        • I'm actually an advocate of linux on the desktop (yes I am) and it seems those points you mentionned don't make much sense, here's why.

          I'm an advocate of Linux on the desktop, too. I can't wait to see it. But from the perspective of an *average user*, I'm still convinced that it isn't ready. We *need* the average user to feel *more* comfortable working at a Linux desktop than a Windows machine, especially since he's gonna have to deal with a Windows world trying to suck him back into its comfortable embrace... at least until we've finished the takeover of the desktop.

          - Linux GUIs are faster and faster at each version. Gnome2 for example was totally re-coded with performance in mind and behaves much better now, KDE 3.1 (still a release candidate but still) on this box is working SO much faster than XP did on the SAME box!

          This is good. I cannot corroborate it using a pre-compiled distro. Why am I using a pre-compiled distro? Because that's what Joe Sixpack is gonna be using. More optimization is needed, and more carefully made binaries are required from the major distros; especially Red Hat in the current #1 off-the-shelf position.

          I think part of the problem is that we need developers to try actually using the pre-compiled binaries of their works which end up being shipped with the Red Hats and the Mandrakes of the world.

          - Since I've been running linux on my desktop, I have not yet had one problem reading any PPT, DOC, etc... documents... not once... sorry. And I get a lot of ppt and doc files sent to me daily

          Most of them have formatting problems, cannot handle inline images (properly or at all). Table support from Word 2000 is lacking. I know this is a serious pain in the ass to reverse engineer, but it merely frustrates end-users who are already gonna be pissed off about having to learn something new when their company moves to Linux.

          - I have had problems with some applications, contacted the mailing list, and the solution was sent to me a few minutes later... no RTFM.

          You're not Joe Sixpack. "How come it says I cannot save my file in /bin? Huh? I didn't log in as root, whoever that is." Screams of RTFM or "Get a life" would abound on mailing lists or IRC, whereas a 1-900-DRONE would calmly answer, explain, and the user would be supported. Sure, the example I cited is an operating system issue instead of an application issue, but it's a problem every bit as simple, stupid and pervasive.

          - I use Evolution for my email/calendar/tasklist/contact management stuff, it has everything I could ever use and more... I have used kmail in the past, I've never had any real problem with it.

          KMail is great, the only programming complaint I've had with it is that it silently dies if it runs out of disk space. But the spellchecker is right out of 1995. We have to match feature-for-feature to be adopted. You're not going to sell Linux/KDE (or Linux/Gnome or OpenBSD/AfterStep or whatever) by screaming from the hilltops, "ALL THE FEATURES OF WINDOWS 3.1!" in a Windows XP world.

          Evolution was too slow to be usable on my PIII-500. That's insane. It's just an e-mail client, not a genome sequencer, for Gawd's sake!

          - Recent linux distributions based on more recent and less backward-compatible glibc usually have some kind of package management system that will not only save you from searching on freshmeat, but also install directly the application for you. emerge gnucash apt-get install gnucash synaptic->gnucash and so on... You have now installed the latest version of an excellent financial software, which, may I add, will read files from other windows software like Quickbook or Quicken without a glitch

          It's a good start, yes.

          But the biggest problem is that if a feature which an Excel user would take for granted is lacking, it's a negative perception. Most users will already resist the change to something new and "strange".

          We've grown up with the idea of piping the output from one program to another; it's the Unix way. But it's *not* acceptable on a desktop system. You don't do your spreadsheet in OpenOffice Calc, then save it in some format that Gnumeric handles so that you can use the point-and-click data analysis tools, then open int up in OpenOffice again. If you're paying a secretary $20/hr to do this, it doesn't take more that a few months to make back what you would have spent to install Windows on the machine.

          - I use daily applications for all my needs, none of them are poorly written at all. licq is stable as a rock, xmms plays music just perfectly, evolution still handles my emails (without a virus or worm or anything like that infesting my computer), mozilla works like a charm and KDE 3.1 is just a dream. Although all those applications work in a much superior fashion than equivalent applications on windows, they ARE skinnable indeed :)

          I don't know how well Evolution handles e-mail. My main machine is over the hill, but easily captures video from my TV card in real-time. I find it hard to believe that responding to e-mail in Evolution should require such a fast computer as to be unusable on a machine which will capture NTSC video at 29.97FPS with 16 bit stereo sound with 0 dropped frames... (unless I open Evolution while I'm capturing video).

          Mozilla is great. It's fast, attractive, and it works well. The only problems I have with it are fault tolerance (delete your JRE without telling Mozilla, then try to use a website infected with applets; it crashes with no warning), lack of ability to send a mailto: link to anything other than Mozilla's mail client, and the inability to tailor the browser string to be whatever I want without recompiling (at least one website I *have* to use will ban you if your browser doesn't say "MSIE" in its string).

          - Companies such as the Kompany, RedHat, Suse, etc... actually DO have some marketing people that make your desktop look just like you want it to look like as a user and to behave. My desktop right now looks simply amazing, yet is really fast and everything is at hand. My girlfriend uses it every time she comes, all my friends really love the way it's set up and even my mom used it and didn't have a problem doing everything she needed to do.

          For sure. This is a good step. But part of the problem is with the overall look of it. Red Hat 7.3, for example, with probably the biggest marketing department in the Linux world, comes with a highly saturated eye-straining blue background [kde.org].

          Contrast this to the relatively neutral backgrounds of Windows and Mac environments, and it looks more like we're trying to sell a product than design something useful out of the box.

          Even XP's default meadow is less eye-straining.

          If some Joe Sixpacks can't figure out how to move the Windows taskbar to someplace they like better, do you really think they'll change the backgrounds and skins to something less displeasing? The desktop's defaults must be *neutral*, *inoffensive* and *non-eyestrain-inducing* out of the box with *every* distribution.

          - and for the support thing, companies like Suse, RedHat, Mandrake, etc... DO offer commercial (cheap) support for pretty much all the applications shipped with their distributions, in fact, and I speak from experience, these companies go way beyond that by helping out users with applications not "officially" supported, and also collect bug-reports and offer patches to the original developer of the software to fix the problem for them (http://www.redhat.com/bugzilla) for example.

          Who do you call when you need support with OpenOffice or xine? I haven't tried either; I've got the luxury of being able to pursue the source code.

          I do know that at one of my former employers - a huge defense contractor staffed by engineers and computer scientists - we spent a lot of our IT budget on calls to Microsoft looking for support on how to create PowerPoint slides with embedded video and other dead-easy things like that.

          Sucky as that may be, it's reality for lots of organizations. We have to address that.

          - Whoever wrote that has NO idea of how much a business license for Microsoft Windows costs... it's not even close to $200. Tell this person to add many zeros to that number.

          Sorry. $299, according to the Microsoft website, for Windows XP Professional, in single units, as a standalone operating system instead of an upgrade.

          It remains that the purchase price is a very, very small part of the total cost of ownership.

          I think linux is still very young on the desktop OS market but it's doing a great job and I'm very impressed by how fast it's moving forward...

          This is true, but let's stop kidding ourselves about it being ready. It's not ready for the desktop yet [glowingplate.com].

          Linux has made amazing strides since its inception a mere 10 years ago. It's already a secure and stable server operating system, with mature tools for sysadmins.

          But it's still at workstation space. We can take heart; it's more usable on the desktop than a $30,000 Sun workstation, but it's still not ready to supplant Windows yet.

          The biggest obstacles are not the Linux kernel, or even Linux itself, of course. The obstacles are a fast, feature-filled and stable desktop metaphore (be it KDE or Gnome or whatever) with good *USER* applications readily available. (Don't even bother sending me flames telling me that vi is the greatest word processor ever made because Joe Sixpack isn't gonna even gonna figure out how to bring up the help screen.)

          KDE, Gnome, Evolution, OpenOffice, etc... all these software are working on a new development version right now that's purely amazing... I can't wait to see what it will be like by the end of the year 2003!

          I can't wait to see what it's like 20 years from now.

          I've been waiting 15 years to see the end of Windows.

      • libobscure.so.2

        hahahaha! Damn. If I was drinking milk I would have spit it out all over my screen. That was funny.

        Seriously, though, I think your statements may be colored by simply being used to Windows and paying the price that using it demands. I've been using Linux as a desktop at home and at work for some months now, and reboots and reinstalls are now alien to me. (Also, I have no problem with MS documents in Open Office).

        Certainly, some features are annoying, and Linux has some drawbacks (FONTS!). I find you may be omitting some benefits to using Linux, such as OO's bullets/numbers toolbar. Also, once you've solved a problem in Linux, it stays solved. Windows' seemingly random crashes cannot be mitigated by any means, including calling Microsoft tech support. On the whole, Linux is easier to use, allows me to be more productive, and is infinitely more flexible.

      • by Eric Damron (553630) on Saturday January 04, 2003 @03:51AM (#5013233)
        I wish I could say that you're flippin' wrong and write a nasty flame but the truth is that Linux is almost ready for the desktop. I feel that if the Linux community continues to push and improve we could have Linux ready in a few years.

        However, when we say it's not ready for the desktop let's be clear about who are our target users. Are we talking about business or home use? Both have very different needs.

        There are office packages for Linux that will do everything that a business needs and there are mail clients and web browsers and various financial packages both open source and proprietary that will do nicely.

        No, I think that we are VERY close to being business desktop ready. It's the home user that I think will be harder to please. Mostly in the area of games. Linux has proven to be a vary capable gaming platform. Quake 3 is still very popular and has a native Linux port that has better frame rates than does the Windows version (See Tom's Hardware for benchmarks.) My point being that the lack of gaming support is not a technical issue but rather a financial issue. We are kind of in a catch 22. We need users (who are willing to pay for programs) to draw large software shops to write popular applications but we need large software shops to write popular applications to draw users who are willing to pay for applications.

        I know that Linux has a ton of applications and a lot of them are very high quality. However without these application getting any publicity no one but us geeks know about them.

        Microsoft is doing it's best to stop the spread of Linux and open source software but they will lose the battle eventually. With their enormous resources they may be dead and still twitching for a long, long time. If they were smart they would see the writing on the wall and adapt. But there are too many egos at stake and they are too entrench in the old style of control to do so. It would be better for them to bend like the reed instead to trying to stand like the oak. Oh well, it is for them to sort out.

        Anyway, look for Linux to start taking the desktop within three to five years. Maybe not in the United States first but security issues will start to move other governments away from Redmond's OS and to open source. There is no other way that they can be sure that the software does not include backdoors mandated by the US for spying purposes. Any foreign leader who knows about the presidential jet that we sold to China knows that the US government will order companies to install spying devices. It would be foolish to believe that we would order these devices put on a jet but not order Microsoft to put spying abilities into the versions of their OS that gets sold out of country. (Or maybe even within the US also.)

  • too late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Glory of Witty (636939) on Friday January 03, 2003 @08:56PM (#5011254)
    There already is a Unix variant in the number two slot, and its called Mac OS.
  • by saskboy (600063) on Friday January 03, 2003 @08:58PM (#5011266) Homepage Journal
    What else would be number 2 on the desktop? It is hard to install OS X on "desktop" computers, and we already know what is number 1.
    • by kaosrain (543532) <rootNO@SPAMkaosrain.com> on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:03PM (#5011311) Homepage
      What else would be number 2 on the desktop? It is hard to install OS X on "desktop" computers, and we already know what is number 1.

      Riiight..because Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X are the only Operating Systems in existance [google.com].
      • Well did you think BeOS, or FreeDOS is the next big thing?
    • What else would be number 2 on the desktop? It is hard to install OS X on "desktop" computers, and we already know what is number 1.

      Am I the only one who read the title and initially thought they were saying Linux on the desktop is crap now?
    • by outsider007 (115534) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:51PM (#5011628)
      You said it buddy.

      not even mentioning that the average lindows installation lasts about 15 minutes before it's replaced with a pirated version of XP.

      you can't get accurate numbers from sales. maybe from browser stats.
    • What else would be number 2 on the desktop?

      I don't know, it's been a long time since I ran an M$ O$. Here is a good run down of Number Two:

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have been comparing Linux to #2 for years.
  • by BadlandZ (1725) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:01PM (#5011288) Journal
    Look, Linux being number 2 is nothing.

    Number 1 is everything, there IS NO SECOND PLACE. Just ask Mac Users. It has to be MS Word, Excel spread sheets, etc.

    The fact is #2 is a far distant second, and any user of a PC doesn't want "second rate" suite" on his desktop.

    You have to give FULL COMPATABLE options, and until people want something other than .doc or .xls like .a general format that is open, there is no second.

    The ONLY chance you have is to make pdf (yet another commercial format, not acceptable) or .rtf, or something... Until that gets to be number 1, there is no second place.

    You have to win the generic formats before you can win freedom from Microsoft.

    • by Arcturax (454188) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:21PM (#5011428)
      You're kidding right? Most of us Mac users really don't care too badly about being second, or I guess now it's third depending on who ran the poll.

      But seriously, we are pretty well off, fast machines, better OS, Mac versions of Office and the like are better than on the PC.

      As for office formats, I have two open source office progs downloaded here which read .doc's and .xls with no problems.

      So yeah, my machine could be Microsoft free right this instant. Office Mac is that only thing I have right now from M$ (ditched IE for Chimera months ago).

      Plenty of Games on the Mac, I think more big titles have come out in the last two years than in the history of the Mac itself. So no trouble there either.

      For everything else, there is some software that can handle it on the Mac and most of it is better than equivalent PC software and with OS X, a lot of great open source projects have come into the Mac world as well.

      So yeah, you can be M$ free and more than happy with it. You can also be #2 or even #3 and happy as well. The bottom line is, it matters what you do with your machine, not how popular it is.
    • Eventhough you said #2 is nothing, yet it is an *important* milestone for Linux. Look... in order to beat #1 from essentially nothing, being #2 is an achievement of its place.

      Being #2, companies *will* consider making drivers in Linux and thus will further propel Linux popularity.

      Being #2, people will *at least* linger at Linux and study whether it is a truly viable alternatives as vaunted by many.

      Being #2, world governments *will* consider adoptions wishing to be free from Microsoft's shackles.

      In short, there are *lots* of possibilities of being #2. Don't vanquish it, but keep the zeal burning -- lest the true goal of being #1 won't be reachable.

    • I'm sorry, but I'd have to disagree.

      Lets compare computers to cars for a second. Do you think Porsches are the most sold cars in the world? Probably not. And yet, I haven't seen Porsche complain that their sales are disgraceful.

      Being the most used product in the world doesn't make it the best product in the world.

      Until recently, Apple has thrived on innovating great technology (Luxury), and not making affordable quick'n'dirty computers that sell.

      I use Linux on my desktop at home and it works fine for all my needs. Maybe Linux doesn't need to be #1 on the desktop.

      Linux shouldn't be about being #1 on the Desktop, Linux should be about being the first to introduce a UI even better than the Desktop that both Apple and M$ have to copy just to keep up.

  • BSD on the Desktop (Score:4, Insightful)

    by intrico (100334) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:01PM (#5011291) Homepage
    Apple successfully brought BSD to the desktop, therefore proving that it is indeed feasible to base a mainstream OS on an open-source *NIX distribution as they have done with OS X.
    • by glenstar (569572)
      Apple successfully brought BSD to the desktop

      Caveat: Apple brought a BSD-core, with a pretty Aqua GUI on top to the desktop. Not to be pedantic (although I am going to be), but OS X's desktop has little to do with BSD.

  • by mikep.maine (585648) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:05PM (#5011330) Homepage
    Microsoft copied Mac's GUI in 1984, but it wasn't until Windows 3.1 (in 1992 ?) that it was able to move users to it and own teh desktop. Back then, Lotus essentially owned it -- although they blew their strategic lead. Microsoft captured the desktop my making GUI, desktop manager, and desktop apps MSWord, Excel, ...
  • Tiny change (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Joe Tie. (567096) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:09PM (#5011349)
    Wal-Mart sells machines based on Lindows, Mandrake Linux and others.

    I havn't much kept up with the current situation, but don't they still only sell them on their website? This make it sound like you'll walk into any walmart and see them lined up right next to the windows machines. I think it's nonetheless a big step, but not as big as if they were being sold in store.
  • i will reflect my own comletely honest experiences. I use linux and nothing else at home as the OS of choice for our 3 computers. It takes about as long time to learn as Windows did for someone who jumped into computers from 95 and forward. There arent one single app that i lack in linux. This is from someone who does everything on his computer. Tv, video, bills,music, drawing, developing, chatting, surfing, burning cds, and all the normal tasks to. If i can use it after having learned it so can everyone else with half a brain. I dont consider myself a genious on computers but still i havent any difficulties using linux. And i use a "hard" dist as gentoo. With Mandrake, Redhat and Lindows etc i dont even have to think, they makes most things by themselves.

    Linux is most definately ready to bay the power users and people with more IQ than your average white trash this very moment. The clueless ones that holds their paper infront of the monitor and searches the [fax] button are nothing to sthrive for at this moment since they demand to much and returns nothing.
  • A Long Way To Go (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MalleusEBHC (597600) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:10PM (#5011365)
    Linux has big strides to take before you can think about it surpassing Macs as the #2 desktop OS. I don't want to disparage Linux because if I weren't using a Mac I would most likely run Linux, but I see no way Linux will compete as a mass desktop OS until it becomes far easier for the average user. For a geek who loves to mess with his system it is great, but for Joe Blow who wants to check his email, browse the web, an do a little word processing, it is not a very interesting offering. Why spend time in emacs messing with config files just to make stuff work. Instead, you can have all the power of unix and the ease of use of a Mac with OS X.

    Linux is great for some people, but OS X has something for pretty much everyone. I'll take my Mac any day of the week.
    • Your assuming to be #2 has to gained by moving Mac users off the Mac.

      about 20% of the people I know use Linux all the time. There demographic is varied, from homemakers to software engineers, to people who use computer only from email.

      I can count the number of people I know who use a Mac on one hand, with no fingers.

      "Why spend time in emacs messing with config files just to make stuff work."If this were 1998, that would be a true statement.

      You like using your appliance, please go right ahead.
    • Im really not taking a shot at you....but....

      It must have been a while since you had a look at linux based desktops and were having to "mess with emacs config files". Things have come quite a way since then: hopefully if you choose to check back and run a linux box you will be pleasantly surprised. :)

      BTW; I have 2 Linux Desktops, 2 Macs here, 2 Amigas, 1 Acorn and a few Sinclairs here - I love diversity! :)) - Oh wait, I don't have a Windows box :P
  • ..since 1998. So, I may ask - is this really any news? I personally feel that Enlightenment (be it 16.5 or E17) fits me perfectly. Something between a regular desktop and a shell. I don't need anything else. Why should I?
    ---
  • by Dthoma (593797) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:14PM (#5011387) Journal
    As has been said many times before, Linux is not easier to use than Windows (I don't care what you say, it isn't), it doesn't run all of the latest games, and it's not compatible with as much hardware as Windows XP. It really is that simple.

    I don't mean for this to come across as trollish; it's just that so many people here seem to want to dance around the issue of Linux's usability. I love Linux and it has many advantages over Windows, but its ease of use does leave a bit to be desired.
    • Hooray for sense!

      It's unfortunate, but true. I also use linux - and love it. I use it enough to know very well I could (with minor sacrifices) dump my Mac and use nothing but Linux.

      I also know that I'm not in the majority, and the people who are not into using-computers-for-the-sake-of-using-computers have a completely different set of priorities than I do. My clients, relatives, friends who aren't geeks, workmates - don't want to "use an OSS system" or "use a free OS" or "use an elegant solution" or "use what is technically brilliant". They want to click and type and send emails. They want to press a button and have their digital pics up. they want to "download the internet".

      Any OS can do that, but only one has the absolute mass to continuously carry itself through mindshare of people who spend 99.99% of their lives NOT computing.
    • Easier to who? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mao che minh (611166)
      A secretary, accountant, or pointy haired manager doesn't know how to use Windows - rather, they know where to click in what application to make something happen. This analogy is important, because a huge amount of an operating system making company's income comes from corporate settings where such things occur. What operating system running doesn't matter to anyone but IT and the people spending money on it. If you worked IT you would know this.

      As for how easy the operating system is to use for the standard home user, that can be debated rather easily, and again, if you worked IT and actually dealt with this stuff, then you would already know everything that I was about to say. It isn't easier, it is more famailar. You're stupid, congrats.

  • Unrealized Potential (Score:4, Interesting)

    by core plexus (599119) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:18PM (#5011414) Homepage
    There is something, obviously neither I nor the corporate Linux companies, are getting, and that is why Linux is not more prevalent on the desktop. Yes, we all know the same old arguments about lack of compatible apps, user fear, etc. etc. which are countered by those organizations (including governments) that have switched to linux from microsoft. It's something else. Linux is relatively new, and many people haven't even heard of it (I know-I worked as an instructor for introductory users of computers), but that's not it either. I use linux and love it, and people have used my machines and didn't notice that they weren't using microsoft until I pointed it out.

    So what is it? Microsoft knows it's coming. What's missing?

  • by wideBlueSkies (618979) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:19PM (#5011419) Journal
    Not just for LINUX advocates and users, but I think for the tech community in general.

    Seeing those Lindows boxes at WaLMart kinda reminds me of the computing scene in the 80's. There were all kinds of different technologies coming out, and competing with each other. You could walk into any electronics store and find some brand of computer, peripherals and software for sale.

    IMO It was a period of excitement and innovation. It felt good to me personally. There were so many choices to be made.

    Open source, has that feeling of goodness about it. Change, innovation, choice.

    What I'm trying to say is that this is the first time since the late 80's/early 90's that I feel good about consumer options for software.

    It's only 1 OS on sale at 1 store, but it is a start. Hopefully other vendors will be brave enough to put together solutions, and stores will be brave enough to put them on the shelves.

    I think it's time everyone stands up to the evil empire.

    Sure, standardization was good. But monopolistic practices, forced licenses, security holes, bloated OS code, and applications is starting to suck. It's time to shake up the industry a little folks.

  • not enough apps? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zogger (617870) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:21PM (#5011433) Homepage Journal
    --man, I just don't get zdnet saying this about the apps. Tell ya, first time I installed a linux distro I was blown away by all the stuff came with it. Just sitting there medium mesmerised watching the progress seeing app after app getting installed from the cds. It's WAY more than you get from a full install from borg or artsy OS. I'm still finding "new stuff" in my last kitchen sink RH install and I'm still only using ONE of the two major sets of apps, ie, gnome and kde, so I still got more than 50% of the way to go to even play with all the jazz on here. I mean, sheesh orama what d'ya want?.

    Linux just needs ONE major box shipper like dell to even offer it as an option-that's it, it'll "take" just swell. Have the same exact box, one has borg, the other has a penguin, with 100$ (whatever) cheaper price tag for the penguin, see what happens. Walmart is "cute" but it's not on the shelf, it's only on their website,and people shopping for computers on the web just ain't that likely to think of "walmart", nor is 100 buck a year lindows gonna cut it for noobs seeking a deal. At 20 or 30$ a year for a version "update" folks will goto AFTER they get it first right on their new shiny box and get to take it home and play with it. The command line is there for the 10% power users and geeks, and for 90% of the people it just ain't needed anymore, the gui works perfectly allright and there's tons of computing 'stuff' to do. Can't beat it with a stick, just need for one of them big guys to try it again in the mass produced boxes. The borg lawsuit is settled, they can "do this" now with little risk. the borg got warned off, if they try it again, they can get sued right outta their 40 billion in the bank, just needs one of those big companies to give it a whack again. The linux omellette is DONE now, you can take it outta the pan. From now on it's just "spice to taste".
    • Linux just needs ONE major box shipper like dell to even offer it as an option-that's it, it'll "take" just swell. Have the same exact box, one has borg, the other has a penguin, with 100$ (whatever) cheaper price tag for the penguin, see what happens.

      It already happened. Gateway and Dell. It was a flop. The programs were discontinued, as far as I know.
  • by hillct (230132) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:25PM (#5011462) Homepage Journal
    The article mentions in it's simplistic way that the 1.7% of machines sold with Linux preinstalled is not representitive of the true number of desktop computers running Linux, but there must be a reasonable method for determining the number of desktops running Linux in a non-invasive way.

    Microsoft is able to at least count if not gather demographics for every desktop machine running Windows95 or above, regardless of whether it is licensed or not, through WindowsUpdate. Redhat is able to track usage of their distribution through their UpToDate software (which is becoming more invasive with every release) and other distributions include similar mechanisms, but there must be a reasonable way to gather overall usage statistics for Linux based desktops. It would be a worthwhile endevour, from a PR standpoint similar to the automobile manufacturers who take a loss on every sale of certain models in an effort to have that model garner the title of "Most popular car" of a certain class, for the simple PR benefit of being able to say that toy are the manufacturer of the most popular product in the marketplace.

    Likewise, for Linuux, it is important to demonstrate increases in marketshare quarter over quarter in order to firmly demonstrate that the product (such as it is) remains a force to be reconed with.

    For this reason it is important to be able to accurately measure the Linux desktop userbase. Systems like that of redhat, which require registration in order for the user to gain some other benefit (in this case convenient updates) seems somewhat draconiaf for the Linux crowd, but a system must be devised to allow for reasonable, varibiable notification of installation of a linux system (regardless of distribution) so that centralized statistics can be maintained for the simple purpose of combating the massive Microsoft PR juggernaut.

    --CTH
  • by landley (9786) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:25PM (#5011463) Homepage
    Linux won't get widespread third part software support (games, educational software, bundled device drivers, turbotax, etc) until it becomes #2. Why? Simple: There's Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and everybody else. Name the #3 cola. Anybody?

    Most people look at the computer world the same way. You support the #1 platform, and maybe the #2 "to be diverse", and everybody else can go hang. It's _hard_ to make a business case to support anybody else, it's a case of diminishing returns with each new platform and the slope is STEEP.

    The macintosh has been #2 since the mid 80's. Platforms like the amiga and OS/2 learned this. Pure java only got attention because it ran on Windows too. Even when the macintosh wasn't particularly significant (just before Steve Jobs came back), people were used to THINKING of it as #2, and targetting their retail software developent and hardware driver support that way. It will come as a surprise to a lot of people when it loses that spot. Confirming it will be news, and not just in the geek world but magazine covers and television evening news.

    Now these days, the macintosh is a unix platform. If the mac loses its #2 position on the desktop, Jobs will just claim "we're unix, #2 is unix and that's us". Okay. Jobs does NOT want to give up the marketing advantage of being the "designated alternative", but WHEN the macintosh loses the #2 spot, he may be graceful about it since he does have a fallback marketing position. (You may have notice that on the tech side, he's trying to diversify into the server space.)

    But right now, porting to linux without first porting to the macintosh is a really hard sell in a corporate environment, and after the mac port you have to sell linux AGAIN. (P.S. Try doing that sort of thing in the gaming environment, where windows as #2 to the playstation.)

    Rob

    (P.S. The "desktop" niche is dying, the laptop niche is what everybody should be worrying about. And apple's still doing REALLY nicely there...)
    • by kfg (145172) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:53PM (#5011639)
      RC. I also rather enjoy Adirondack, Polar and Stewarts is ok in a pinch. Jolt is universally known even though it sells nearly several cans of the stuff a year.

      I can get "support" for these brands at any of my local stores. In fact, I have to walk farther to get a Coke than a Polar.

      See, there's plenty of room for everyone.

      Of course it isn't your fault you picked a bad analogy. ANY other field will be a bad analogy because the software "industry" works to its own peculiar set of rules.

      Those rules are wearing thin and starting to break down though. It's Free Software that actually makes software *more* like cola, where anyone can come up with a recipe and join the game.

      KFG
  • Slashdot--straight lines for scatological humor, stuff that splatters.

    Why, just the other night I fired up Mozilla, X froze, and waddya know--Linux did #2 on my desktop.

    Come on, join in. It's easy.

  • by RatBastard (949) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:26PM (#5011471) Homepage
    Kinux has come a long way since I first used it in 1993. But it still has a long way to go before it can be considered more than an also-ran in the desktop arena. There are a lot of things that need to be done. Some things the Open Source/Linux Community are going to be loathe to do:
    • Move Away From X-Windows.
      The simple fact is that X-Windows was never intended to do what we expect it to do these days. It was not designed to be an end-user desktop. While it does have neat abilities, like being able to access workstations across a network, end users don't care about those. End users care about the desktop being fast and responsive. Two things that X-Windows is not. X-Windows also knocks the claim that Linux needs less processor power and RAM than MS Windows right into the dirt.
    • The Adoption Of A Single, Standardized Interface Design.
      Before Joe Sixpack will use Linux there needs to be a standardization of the UI. A standard that ALL graphical programs adhere to. No if ands or buts. One standard. While the myriad of widgets and environments give power users and geeks the freedom to tweak their systems or programs enay way they want, all of this "choice" just confuses the hell out of the end user. While MS Windows might not be completely consistant, it is enough that the average user can get used to it. Almost every Windows program (save for those nightmares with skins) look and act like Windows, in a manner that most users expect.

      Yes, this means that either KDE or Gnome will have to die. End users don't want to have to chose what UI they use. They want one interface they can learn and be done with it.
    • Make Graphical Setup "Wizards" For Everything.
      No end user wants to edit text files. Nor should they EVER have to. This is 2003, not 1975. The days of rooting through a confusing mess of directories for boot scripts is (or should be) over.
    • Binary Distributions For Everything.
      No end user wants to compile anything. Ever. Sure, power users and old-hand Linux users might enjoy it, but they are not the people we are concerned with. Until a MS Windows user can effortlessly install ANY program with just a few mouse clicks they are going to stay away.
    • Workstation Configurations With Dangerous Deamons (ftpd, httpd, etc...) Turned Off By Default.
      End Users do not care about running FTP servers and web serves from their desktops. Why bog down a system with all these useless processes they are not ever going to use, and that leave these system more vulnerable than a Windows 2000 system?
    • Linux Evangelists Stop Insulting MS And Its Users.
      Nothing, but nothing turns off a potential Linux convert than having to dig through piles of posts, to Usenet or forums like /., calling them M$ Luzors! If all they see is a comunity filled with abrasive and insulting children they are going to stay away.
    • I think you have some good, valid points. However, some of the "problems" you've mentioned are already solved, or are in the process of being solved.
      • Move Away From X-Windows

        I continue to waffle on this one. Yes, X (BTW, it is X, X11, or the X Window System, never XWindows or X-Windows) has a lot of legacy code & features, and its network-centric model does affect its performance, but I think a lot of people are making a much bigger fuss over X than it really deserves. The XFree86 people have been doing an incredible amount of work lately, and things like fonts are finally getting fixed, while the performance issues were mostly fixed long ago. At this point, I'm not aware of any viable replacement for the X11 protocol (things like fb still need an X11 emulator for compatibility, since 99.999% of all *nix apps use X), so doesn't seem logical to throw X away -- and I haven't even begun to talk about the usefulness of the network transparency features...

      • The Adoption Of A Single, Standardized Interface Design

        I agree that this is important if Linux is to really succeed on the desktop. As much as I like having GTK and Qt apps side by side in Fluxbox, the average user would be completely bewildered by my desktop, and I don't begrudge average users their WIMP interfaces. However, the solution is not to "kill" either KDE or Gnome (fat chance of that happening, anyway) but to do what Red Hat has done with 8.0: re-theme KDE and Gnome with common widget sets, so that even if they're different under the hood, the apps look and feel the same. And it works... although I don't use it on my box, I think Bluecurve is a great idea for Joe User.

      • Make Graphical Setup "Wizards" For Everything

        At this point, the only time you have to touch config files on a Red Hat system is if you're going to be using some obscure settings for some server. Really. Red Hat has created an amazing array of GUI config tools for every administration task under the sun, and they're remarkably easy to use. Need to share files with Windows boxes? Piece of cake -- configure Samba with SWAT. Don't like XF86Config? Use redhat-config-xfree86. Can't figure out named.conf? You can use redhat-config-bind for that! The advantage of doing it this way is that the config files are still there for people like me who actually find using them to be more efficient.

      • Binary Distributions For Everything

        Done. RPM, DEB, heck, even Gentoo has support for binary packages! These days practically every app vendor supplies RPMs. Again, the only time you're going to have to compile anything from source is if you're using some really obscure app. Even then, it's not exactly hard: ./configure; make; make install. Someone who's taken the time to search out that rare program that they just can't live without will be patient enough to learn three simple commands.

      • Workstation Configurations With Dangerous Deamons (ftpd, httpd, etc...) Turned Off By Default

        Done. I don't know about all the other distributions, but Red Hat doesn't install or turn on any servers by default, especially if you choose the "Personal Desktop" or "Workstation" installs. With more advanced distributions, like my favorite, Gentoo, you generally have to know what you're doing in order to turn on a dangerous daemon, so you're unlikely to do it by mistake.

      • Linux Evangelists Stop Insulting MS And Its Users

        But they make it so easy! Just kidding. I agree with you here... as long as the open source community is seen as a bunch of squabbiling stoners and teenagers, it's going to have trouble being seen as a serious alternative. However, I think a lot of progress has been made and continues to be made, especially in the public eye. Of course, you can get a very different impression if you read Slashdot. Thank goodness Joe CEO doesn't...

    • by Kunta Kinte (323399) on Friday January 03, 2003 @10:40PM (#5011907) Journal
      I noticed that X Windows critics never give any solid proof to their claims. there is no 'my app runs x fast on framebuffer but yx fast under X'

      Those posts are getting tired. There should be a faq somewhere.

      X is not a memory hog. The protocol is lean, think of when it was designed. It couldn't afford to be a memory hog. X can be 'fast'. X is very modular. X runs on embedded systems that have very little resources, and I mean *very* little.

      Comparing the X network transparency to RDP is like comparing apples to oranges. Frambuffer based transparency eg. RDP work well on low bandwidth situations but push all the load on the server since the entire application and all the rendering is done on the server. This is a terrible design in thin client networks, and why citrix et. all take so much resources to deploy. I've seen Solaris boxes push a ridiculus amount of concurrent sessions while MS terminal services halt at a fraction of that load. It's not that MS did a bad job, it's just that the two approaches have their strong suits.

      The bottom line is learn X before you diss it ( someone else said that ).

      ...cause X rocks!!!

    • Move Away From X-Windows.

      XFree86 evolved together with Linux. Today it's fast and stable. Choose FVWM2 or other simple environment to see. KDE and GNOME are still young, but litterally tomorrow (GNOME 2.2 and KDE 3.1) they promise to become adult. So, the problem is almost solved. OpenGL is probabaly the rest to solve.

      The Adoption Of A Single, Standardized Interface Design.

      Typically you choose you desktop at the installation time (each commercial leading distro have one by default for you ) and you have it consistent untill you change your opinion. So, the choice is not a bad thing, once you have a choice to do not choose :) Make Graphical Setup "Wizards" For Everything.

      Working on it. Compare most of commercial leading distros with what they had two years ago. Today we've got Webmin and several ncurses-based, gnome-based and kde-based configuration wizards/dialogs. Not bad.

      Binary Distributions For Everything.

      I didn't recompile kernel after installation RH and YDL in their last releases. All modules has been pre-installed and ready for being configured to start. Seems the problem is solved at least in leading commercial distros.

      Workstation Configurations With Dangerous Deamons (ftpd, httpd, etc...) Turned Off By Default.

      Check latest RH. Solved.

      Linux Evangelists Stop Insulting MS And Its Users.

      Solved. Linux evangelists now mod-up good criticism about Linux and good feedbacks about Windowz, when it's construcive, logical, proved.

      Now ./ has another problem:

      MacOSX Evangelists Should Stop Insulting Linux And Its Users.

      Seriously, try just to ask "why OSX?" and you will be immediately mod-down without even any attempt to answer for your question. In best case you'll get several similar to each other comments like "OSX is cool!" without any explanation of it.

  • Good enough for me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by digitalhermit (113459) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:27PM (#5011472) Homepage
    I've always felt uncomfortable about the reports of Linux' demise on the desktop. At this moment I'm typing this on a RedHat 8.0 machine, using Mozilla. Three days ago I wrote a bunch of holiday letters in OpenOffice and read my mail in Evolution (though I normally use pine). Though I have no problems using a shell for any task, I was surprised to see that I rarely needed an Xterm.

    The counter-argument is that I'm aware of the console utilities and don't represent the typical desktop user. OK, but I have my senior citizen parents, non-technical wife, and lots of kids using Linux without a second thought. For the most part, all of their computing needs for school and work are fulfilled by the RedHat system. The other thing that cannot be ignored is the price of this machine: ECS K7S5A MB + Athlon 1800XP, 40G HD, DVDROM, case, 256M memory all came to less than $400. This cost wouldn't be possible with a $190 Microsoft XP Home license.

    DVDs play fine after a visit to freshrpms.net. MP3's work wonderfully and they sure seem to sound better than under Windows (largely because there are no pauses under Linux when the system does other stuff). OpenOffice's speed was an issue on my AMD K62/500. It's not noticeable on this 1.53g Athlon. The typical computer user spends the majority of their time on the web, checking email, and word processing. Secondary uses are usually games, and music (burning and listening). Hmm.. Except for the games, this system does all that perfectly well.
  • wild guesses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:28PM (#5011479) Homepage
    The predictions and data in the article seem like a lot of wild guesses to me. How in the world can they predict what Linux's market share will be in the future?

    I also don't see any good way to determine Linux's market share.

    • IDC says that Linux's share of paid shipments of the worldwide client operating-system market rose from 1.5 percent in 2000 to 1.7 in 2001,

    But paid shipments tell us absolutely nothing. It's possible that Linux's share of the desktop is much higher, because it's still pretty hard to find intel boxes without Windows on them, so people buy Windows boxes, erase Windows, and install Linux. It's possible that Linux's share is much lower, as well; some people probably buy a low-end intel machine with Linux preinstalled from Walmart or Fry's, then erase Linux and put a bootleg copy of Windows on it (or install a copy of Windows they bought before for a different machine).

    And finally, we don't know what's the percentage of dual-boot users. That means Windows' market share plus Linux's market share could easily add up to more than 100%

  • by Herr_Nightingale (556106) on Friday January 03, 2003 @09:33PM (#5011520) Homepage
    as a frequent beta tester for Linux on the desktop, it is painfully obvious that there is no chance that the MS empire will crumble based on the desktop efforts of KDE and GNOME. Latency is still high, thanks to single-threaded Xfree86, and performance is still low (thanks to resource-hogging KDE/GNOME pigs) while in all other areas, Linux will remain irrelevant due to a lack of excellent GUI applications. Sorry guys, Koffice doesn't cut it.. people don't use WordPad either, and there's a reason. OpenOffice takes a third of a minute to load on my laptop still, and shows no sign of lessening - it seems that the OO people still don't understand the cost of loading massive binary files all at once. The API's are still changing with every kernel revision (check out 2.6! woohoo!) and soon may reach stability.. but dependency nightmare-inducing libraries aren't going away yet, so I've got to keep three versions of Glibc and practically everything else. RPM still doesn't work properly. Mandrake never quite makes it out of beta stage, but the package manager urpmi thingy seemed to almost work in the last Mandrake I tried (8.2? no wait, it was broken.. never mind).

    One small observation, in fact, has led me to reconsider the whole Open Sores development model. Why do the developers always assume that I've got nothing better to do than compiling a kernel just so my sound will work, or tweaking directory names just so my libraries won't clobber each other, or other stupid things that are a complete waste of time for anybody besides a developer??? Don't they know ANYthing about releasing "gold code" by now? I wonder if anybody in the crowd (besides the sound driver authors) even have working speakers attached to their machines. If it weren't for Mandrake, nobody would have working sound without a non-trivial amount of tweaks. Speaking of tweaks.....
    Most of all, though, I just want automount to work right. Windows has had that feature for - oh, about 8 years now. Is this so much to ask?????

    I suspect that if people really wanted Linux on the desktop then we'd have USB support that rivals Win95 OSR2 by now.

    Case in point: Linux is a pain. Linux is a server OS. Forget about dethroning MS, it ain't gonna happen.
    • You're completely right that Joe Average wants nothing to do with recompiling kernels. But since you seem willing to tweak directory names when necessary, why not try Gentoo [gentoo.org]? The Portage system they have developed is pure genius, as far as I can tell. It does all the directory tweaking for you!

      Ian
    • Holy FUD.

      I can't comment on everything you said (I don't run mandrake). However:

      • Automounting seems to work fine under RH 8. Annoyingly well, in fact, for someone like me, who's not used to it.
      • I didn't have to recompile the kernel for sound under Debian. That's right, Debian. In fact, I don't think I've compiled a kernel since woody was released (as stable). Certainly no recompiling necessary under RH 8.
      • USB. Heh. Why is it that RH 8 can see my Nomad Muvo just fine every time I plug it in, but Win XP recognizes it 1/5 of the time (seriously... it just doesn't show up under windows... It's quite irritating, really)?

      Your arguments were relevant 5 or 6 years ago. And OO.o boots in about 5-6 seconds for me.

      So seriously. At least try a distribution that tries to meet your standards before you condemn all things linux.

    • OpenOffice takes a third of a minute to load on my laptop still, and shows no sign of lessening - it seems that the OO people still don't understand the cost of loading massive binary files all at once.

      So does MS Office--they just hide the fact by doing it at boot time and eating up lots of your memory.

      The API's are still changing with every kernel revision (check out 2.6! woohoo!) and soon may reach stability..

      The Linux APIs have been stable since before Linux even was created. That's one of the big advantages of Linux.

      Why do the developers always assume that I've got nothing better to do than compiling a kernel just so my sound will work,

      Sound works just fine out of the box with Debian and RedHat. Just like with Windows, you need to make sure that the hardware you buy is supported by the OS you run. Don't blame Linux if you buy the wrong sound card.

      Case in point: Linux is a pain.

      Linux is a pain, but it's less of a pain than Windows in many circumstances. Windows is fine for home use and individual installations. But it's much cheaper to maintain a large network of Linux (or Sun, for that matter) desktops than a large network of Windows desktops. That's where Linux will dethrone Microsoft pretty soon. Home users come last--consumers are always the hardest nut to crack.

  • "I suspose I'm your number 1 suspect?"
    "In my book, you'll always be number 2."

    Great movie.
  • by codepunk (167897) on Friday January 03, 2003 @10:21PM (#5011810)
    Linux is not going to get the consumer market right away, first will be the corporate desktop. You hear alot of people bitching about X windows be let me be the first to tell you that because it is a networkable solution it was easy to sell in the company. The corporate lan is the perfect place to roll out the desktop first. It allows for single point administration and tremendously reduces costs. The fall out of this is that people are going to migrate those home systems because linux is what they will know.
  • by RedWolves2 (84305) on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:17PM (#5012135) Homepage Journal
    A co-worker showed me this earlier today. My take on this is how can they track all Linux installs. I mean most Linux installs are done after the computer is purchased from the store. And most Linux installs are done from the same set of CD's. So my question is how do they get an accurate count? You can't count downloads because that will come in low. You can't count machines that were sent out with Linux installed because that will also come out lower then the actual number.

    I think that linux is already the number 2 desktop and just may be closer to Windows then anyone thinks.
  • by dasunt (249686) on Saturday January 04, 2003 @12:01AM (#5012351)

    If you want to see the success of alternative OSes, don't push for linux on the desktop - push for open standards and cross platform programs. Right now, I can sit down at a linux machine or a windows machine, and use Open Office, Mozilla, the Gimp, Blender, and a ton of other programs. That is good.

    I don't want to be tied to Microsoft. That doesn't mean I want to be tied to Linux either. (Although Linux would be a gentler master then windows). I prefer to have applications divorced from the data files which are divorced from the underlying OS. I don't want YetAnotherAudioApp that has its own enhanced file format that isn't cross platform. I want mp3s, I want oggs. I don't want to save my work in the unknown Microsoft Office whatever .doc format. Hell, I don't really like saving it in Open Office's .sxw really, but I know if its in .sxw, I could figure out the file format without too much difficulty, and at least Open Office is cross platform.

    If you don't keep data in proprietary formats, its harder to get screwed in the long run.

  • by toupsie (88295) on Saturday January 04, 2003 @01:42AM (#5012780) Homepage
    I figure Google is a good filter to judge OS popularity. The last stats for OSes used to search Google are here [google.com]. At least MacOS beats Windows 95. Linux was 1%. I am sure most Linux users are like me, its a Server Operating System not our choice for a Desktop. MacOS X and even Windows XP have a better User Experience than GNOME or KDE -- RedHat 8.0 w/ Bluecurve almost has the idea -- close but no cigar.
  • Lame, lame, lame. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by brettlbecker (596407) on Saturday January 04, 2003 @02:43AM (#5012998) Homepage
    The goal of GNU/Linux is not to become the #2 desktop OS, or the #1. The goal of GNU/Linux is not to destroy M$. The goal of GNU/Linux is not to gain a world-wide user base and dominate the market.

    These never were the goals, and they will never be the goals. Posting articles like this makes it look like this is some kind of war, which it is not. Who the hell cares if M$ owns the desktop? The point is not to be #1, it is to make good, free (as in speech) software, for the sake of making it. It is an artistic endeavor, not a business endeavor, or haven't you all even looked at gnu.org [gnu.org]? As long as there are artists, there will be an audience that wants to see what is being created. And, beyond that, there is the joy of creating. All of this talk of an OS battle completely misses the point.

    B

  • by defile (1059) on Saturday January 04, 2003 @03:23AM (#5013147) Homepage Journal

    Your users are computer illiterate and need basic functionality and you want to make administration of these machines as easy as possible (both technically and politically).

    Automatically boot to a window manager that has a "web" and "log out" feature. And maybe an xmms which runs against the company music fileshare. And maybe GAIM to keep in touch with other employees.

    Fits the bill better than Windows, especially if your "killer app" is entirely web based, such as phpGroupware or heck, SQL-Ledger.

    Also good for grandma who wants to get on the world wide intarweb but doesn't want the hassle of managing an actual computer.

    Linux is good for the uber-technical and the totally illiterate. The in-betweens are more troublesome. They want more functionality but have already taken the time to learn Windows and don't want to relearn anything.

  • by PotatoHead (12771) <doug@openge[ ]org ['ek.' in gap]> on Saturday January 04, 2003 @04:27AM (#5013326) Homepage Journal
    What I do today with no complaints.

    Rip and encode CD's with Grip. Burn CD's with Gcombust! Default file format is ogg.

    Edit web graphics and pictures I am sent with Gimp.

    Open Office handles any basic data processing tasks I need. Documents, spreadsheets and other related things are handled just fine. Once in a while a document comes in a little mangled, but I can always read them. I make sure and let others know how they can send documents without worrying about translation issues. When they realize not everyone uses Microsoft Word, they wonder why. When they understand the cost of Open Office, they will begin to ask how. I am not ashamed to say I want to cut down on my basic computing costs in these down times.

    Evolution for mail. I actually prefer this to almost any other GUI mail client. Evolution competes easily with the best of the win32 mail clients.

    Ogle is a great DVD player. Simple keystroke commands let you forget you are using a computer to watch the movie once you are in full screen mode. Bonus feature is that you can basically play anything and skip the annoyances. Win32 players need to play catch-up here actually. I have shown this to people who ask if they can run it under windows!

    Gaming is a little weak, but reasonable right now. The kind of games I like to play on computers are avaliable for the most part. Not all titles, but enough that I can find something to play. For the rest, there is always PS2!

    I do remote support for both win32 and UNIX systems. SSH and VNC perform very nicely here.

    For all of those complaining about X --get over it. X rules if you get hardware that is well supported. This is not much different from the win32 world actually. Consider I have a Matrox G400 in the machine right now. Under win32 this card is a dog. Guess what? Linux and X bring out all the performance this card can offer. Nice deal! The best part is this will only continue to get better.

    Mozilla and crossover to handle internet content.

    Xmms for music.

    My family makes use of this machine and does not always treat it well. So, XFS journaling filesystem handles this. There are others, but I know SGI and XFS, so that was my choice. 4 kids and a wife that will all switch it off once in a while without me looking and I have had zero problems.

    Acrobat reader for pdf.

    Programming works just fine using gcc and OpenGL. If you consider all that one can do right now for nothing, this is really hard to beat. Anyone getting into programming as a hobby or perhaps career change is a fool not to explore this.

    Learning how to compile software is one of the smartest things I have ever done. It is not hard generally and the benefits are huge.

    I have two areas that are not very well addressed in terms of how I work. Authoring HTML content can be done easily enough, but I want to use Dreamweaver. So that happens under Wine. I also work with MCAD products. Some of those run on another UNIX, so that can happen on my desktop because of X. Others are win32 only so there are times I need to use another machine. (I hate dual booting. --Easier to just use another box and run VNC, or use VMware.)

    I do run Maya for some parts of my MCAD work and it works just fine under Linux. This is another interesting case with regard to X window support. Under win32, that older Matrox will not run Maya well at all. Under Linux that card works very well considering its limitations. Hmmm...

    Sure I am a technical guy, so I took the time to learn how things get done. If you are willing to work the way Linux does, there is a lot there for the taking. Before you all say that it's too hard for the masses, consider this:

    You know about 10 years ago, I distinctly remember dealing with win95 and DOS program installation and configuration issues. I was paid many times to 'just fix it'. Hardware problems, driver problems, and other problems made things very hard for the new user. Things are a little different today, but not too different. Installing windows on a new machine can be quite the chore. Updating it and hardening it for the connected home user of today takes time as well. Is this really any different than what we expect people to do with Linux?

    Linux can compete today. It competes on cost, flexibility and stability and capability. It does not do everything well, but it does many things well enough that a growing number of users can make use of it with a little help. Guess what? That is exactly how Win95 got started too. Took quite a few years of thrashing by everyone to get it all done.

    The sad part? Most of us here bitching on /. helped get it there. Why not do the same with Linux? I am because I like it. Thrashing on Linux is fun. Doing the same under win32 is annoying.

    Lots of people want a computer that just works. They want to write stuff, read e-mail and use the Internet. Some of them want to enjoy DVD and CD media as well.

    For many of these people, a well configured Linux install will do the task with little or no hassle. All they need is someone to set one up for them. Same as they do using a win32 varient now.

    All this really means is we are a hell of a lot closer than we were just two years ago.

    Going forward is simple. The community will continue to provide creative options which the distributions will eventually figure out how to best package. The big commercial applications are starting to show. (PTC, Alias WaveFront, MSC Analysis and others) Cost will remain low for good systems.

    What do we need to do?

    Simple, just know what Linux can do today and make sure you can make it perform. Show others what you are doing and let them know why.

    Every day, another class of user will be able to realistically make use of Linux if they are willing to make some choices. New operating systems are hard, but that does not mean they are not worth learning --even for fairly average users. After all many of them went through this with win95.

    We need to eat our own dog food with regard to Linux. Two years ago, I saw strong potential, but was not ready to use it full-time myself. Today that has changed. Now I can actually begin doing the real learning and from that teaching --same as it was with win95...

    It is only a matter of time at this point --or lawyers.

"It is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try, but the result's the same." - Mike Dennison

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