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Linux Business

Linux on the Desktop 444

Posted by michael
from the amor dept.
webmaven writes "Mitch Kapor's Open Source Application Foundation just released a 34 page report on the Desktop Linux market, written by Bart Decrem, who has discussed desktop Linux previously. The OSAF is working on Chandler, which the press have generally described as an 'Outlook Killer', but it's really intended to be in a completely new application category, more similar to Lotus Agenda in some ways than what currently consider a PIM (email + contacts + appointments). The report goes into some detail about the current state of desktop Linux, trends, and various limiting factors, and concludes that while a revolution is not immediately in the wings, a trend can definitely already be discerned, and they expect adoption of desktop Linux to increase over the next few years, and identifies leverage points to accelerate the process."
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Linux on the Desktop

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  • by Frothy Walrus (534163) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:10PM (#6409328)
    Look at workalike apps that run on Windows. They can't even make it. You expect users to adopt a new OS *AND* utilities? Get real.
  • SP (Score:3, Insightful)

    by usotsuki (530037) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:10PM (#6409336) Homepage
    Unfortunately you're right.

    We need a revolution in usability.

    -uso.
  • Leverage (Score:0, Insightful)

    by poptones (653660) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:17PM (#6409386) Journal
    Innovation like this would be fantastic, but if "they" really want to leverage linux into the desktop they need to come up with a fucking desktop that doesn't feel like a clunky imitation of a real computer. Even the goddamn 33MHz IRIX workstation I used nearly ten years ago had a better desktop than any linux distro I have tried.

    I'd love to fully embrace linux, but when the only way to do that is by accepting yet another proprietary OS along with it just to get a desktop that doesn't feel like I'm driving a fucking Edsel, I might as well stay with windows.

  • Allow me to ask.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xtermz (234073) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:17PM (#6409392) Homepage Journal
    ...a question which sounds like "flamebait", but it seriously isnt.

    Are there any real objective 3rd parties who investigate and report on the different aspects of linux ( ie TOC, benchmarks, etc ) who truly are impartial to either OS. It seems that anybody writing 'reports' are either slanted towards windows, or linux. I dont think i've ever read a report that says "well, linux sucks at x, and windows sucks at y as well. in summary, they both suck ( or they both rock, or whatever, etc. ) . "

    Where does one find unbiased reviews and benchmarks of OS's ?
  • So..? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by frodo from middle ea (602941) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:19PM (#6409406) Homepage
    Predicting that Linux trend will continue to grow doesn't exactly take a genious , does it ?
    I mean even windows is continuing to grow ? So what's the point here ?
    If linux is replacing the desktop *nix market, albeit very small (solaris, irix etc.) whats the big deal in that ?
    How much M$ boxes are being replaced by linux ?
    Currently linux and windows on desktop are growing at their own pace, as they don't share a common user base. And what ever common userbase they have , use dual-boot option.
  • Re:Leverage (Score:4, Insightful)

    by garcia (6573) * on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:21PM (#6409420) Homepage
    Stop trolling.

    Linux isn't ready for the desktop but there are people out there willing to attempt to get it as close as they can.

    "An Outlook Killer" is something that apparently people feel is necessary but what I feel is necessary is an IE browser (no, no matter what anyone says Mozilla doesn't perform anything close to how IE does, and yes, I have used both (Mozilla in Windows and Linux, and IE on Windows)).

    No IRIX workstation was ready for the desktop as what we consider it today, believe me.

    Windows and apparently MacOSX are ruling the desktop and will most likely continue to do so.

    We are seeing movement towards Linux on the desktop but it's still got a LONG way to go. I guess as people become more and more concerned with getting it there, the timeframe will continue to shrink.

    Just my worthless .02
  • Re:Leverage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Night Watchman (170430) <smarotta&gmail,com> on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:23PM (#6409432)
    I don't know, I find the latest versions of KDE and Gnome to be quite nice to use, and very pleasing to the eye. Granted, their actual functionality is very close to that of Windows, but as a standard desktop environment is concerned, KDE/Gnome are pretty nice. Of course, if you're talking about revolutionizing the Windows, Icons, Mouse, and Pointer model of desktop use, that's another story. I'm all for using a gesture-based system like in Minority Report, myself...

  • Re:Leverage (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the_2nd_coming (444906) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:24PM (#6409443) Homepage
    umm.....dude....People Don't give a shit about the browser they have. they use the one that came with the damn system.

    if you mean a single browser then yes...Mozilla 1.5 will be that....it is called firebird.
  • by npietraniec (519210) <npietran@EULERre ... t minus math_god> on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:25PM (#6409444) Homepage
    The biggest converts will be businesses who can save mucho bucks on a few hundred workstations. Joe homeuser won't switch for the helluvit.
  • by AnyoneEB (574727) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:26PM (#6409451)
    True, homeusers will probably switch to Linux for the same reason they use Windows now: it's what they use at work.
  • by curtlewis (662976) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:26PM (#6409453)
    "they expect adoption of desktop Linux to increase over the next few years"

    That's what they said a few years ago. And that's probably what they'll be saying a few years from now. Don't get me wrong, I like Linux. But it's just not for mom and pop and I doubt it ever will be given who is working on it and what they've been doing.

    Linux innovates very little except in technological areas. It's GUIs even today fall short of Windows and Mac GUIs, and several years from now I don't expect Linux will catch up. I don't see MS or Apple kicking back sipping pina coladas at the poolside.

    I think alot of great work has been done in Linux and I'm a Linux user myself, but not as my primary desktop. Linux is an OS made for geeks by geeks that love to push the geek envelope. That's great stuff in and of itself, but it's not going to put Linux in the mainstream.

    And does it want to be mainstream? Do Linux users want it to be mainstream? For the most part, I think not. When asking a technical question in Linux circles, the responses you get range from apathetic to offensive. RTFM! NEWB! It's pretty rare you actually get someone with a little compassion that has felt your pain and is willing to help you out.

    Everything about Linux (and Unix in general) seems to be as if it is some kind of rite of passage. You must fight the bear without weapons, then you must walk the fire barefooted and then you must master Unix! It is that final task at which the brave warrior often stumbles...

  • My beef (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stalus (646102) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:26PM (#6409455)

    Really my main beef with linux is how hard it is to set the thing up when you haven't gone through the process in the last six months. I generally forget what the config file is named that I'm interested in, or where it happens to be located. Frankly, any setting that most users will have to change at some point in their life should be easily accessible through the GUI menu system.

    I will admit that it is a heck of a lot better than it used to be, but I still have to do a bit of googling to get my linux system usable. Windows on the other hand, you can go to the control panel and what you want to change will likely be in there somewhere, unless it's application specific, and you don't have to read any manuals or docs to figure out how to configure your system - it's intuitive.

  • Re:Clippie (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Osty (16825) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:27PM (#6409457)

    I don't even know if it's an option anymore, although if it is, I must have deselected last time I installed Office XP.

    You can still choose to install the Office Assistants, but you've always been able to choose not to install them. I've never had to deal with Clippy, from Office 97 through Office XP. Of course, most people prefer to just bitch and moan rather than do something about the problem, so it's not surprising that people are still complaining about Office Assistants.

  • Re:PDF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thoguth (203384) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:31PM (#6409489) Homepage
    If people are already using Linux on the desktop, they don't need to read a report about Linux on the desktop, do they?

    (not to mention that every "desktop" distro in the past two or three years has come with a pdf viewer by default ...)
  • Re:Clippie (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Khakionion (544166) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:31PM (#6409490)
    I am forced to agree with you. As much as the clip annoys me, the cat makes working easier.

    I think it's his personality. Instead of just doing a stoopid "trick" animation every now and then, he just goes to sleep. Or something else less invasive than "I'M A CLIP!!!1 IT'S SO COOL!!!1"
  • by nagora (177841) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:31PM (#6409492)
    Are there any real objective 3rd parties

    You'd have to find people that don't use computers but then, of course, their opinions probably won't be insightful.

    The next best thing is to stick to people with an open bias and compare their arguments. It's a bit like reading newspapers.

    TWW

  • Re:Sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by el-spectre (668104) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:32PM (#6409495) Journal
    It would be nice, however, if someone would put out a goddamn program that isn't called 'kApp', 'kBrowser' or 'kCoolgame'.

    Cuteness has its place, but it's a real pain finding the right app most of the time.
  • Re:Leverage (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slux (632202) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:32PM (#6409498)
    Would you mind also telling us what exactly makes GNOME/KDE feel like "a fucking Edsel"? And why exactly was whatever was on that IRIX (maybe CDE?) so much better?

    For me it's the exact opposite. WinXP seems like an utter mess that is coated with "eyecandy" that I can't imagine anyone enjoying or tolerating longer than a week willingly. Mac OS X with aqua looks nice for a while but no thanks, I just want a nice and clean desktop. I think GNOME does a very good job at this and KDE ain't bad either.

    Seems to me like you're just trolling.
  • by cbowland (205263) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:37PM (#6409532)
    Mac OS X certainly refutes your claim that "*nix is for servers and hackers, not Joe Sixpack...."

    I do agree with your analysis of the state of the Linux UI, but Apple has demostrated that you can put an effective and attractive GUI on a unix machine.
  • Re:PDF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doobian Coedifier (316239) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:42PM (#6409571)
    What's wrong with xpdf [foolabs.com]? or GGV [gnome.org]?
  • by krb (15012) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:44PM (#6409579) Homepage
    i don't think your post was flame bait at all. it brings up a good point, but i think the real question is :

    are there any real objective and impartial 3rd parties that review or report on anything, ever?

    it's a fact of life that most people competent to review items in a product class are going to be experts of some sort with products of that class, with all the built up preferences and biases that come with being an expert.

    i've come to the point where i no longer look for objectivity, because it doesn't exist -- just add new information into a corpus of prior knowledge, along with whatever inherent slant it has, and base personal reasoning on that. objectivity and impartiality are best simulated with aggregation. i don't fell i can assume someone else is even capable of impartiality.

    it's like the news media. i could watch cnn, or fox news, or local news, and adjust whatever they say to normalize what whichever one says based on what i know of their inherent proclivities. I could watch all of them, but that's not feasible from a time standpoint, so i take the digest form : news.google.com. Not because it's new and flashy, but because it provides aggregation. I can scan the headlines and merge them into a global sense of the prevailing attitude towards a story. I can see which outlets are sensationalizing (or alternatively, downplaying) a story, or who's not covering it at all, with a quick scan. I can then choose to read the stories from any perspective i choose (which is often not necessarily my own) because i can trivially determine which sources have what perspectives.

    To me, it's the best possible feature of the www -- true impartiality of reporting because the web crawler doesn't give a shit what the inherent slant is, just what words are in the document.

    as for benchmarks, they're often only marginally above statistics on the scale of truth (i.e. somewhere south of 'damn lies'), so they're *really* only useful taken as a broad average of many, many different testers and conditions.
  • Re:SP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pxtl (151020) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:44PM (#6409584) Homepage
    No - we need an OS/windowing system that forces coders to make things usable automatically. Command line and graphical launch should be the same thing from a developer standpoint - instead of having to pop-over to the command line, the user should be able to pop-open a constext menu for the run-parameters of a program, and see limited options, not just an ambiguous text-passing system. It should be more convenient to write a configuration system through a graphical widget window then through a text editor. Basically, I think code should move away from the simple text config file, and more into a database-style concept of a header that defines widgets. So, the configuration simply becomes an onscreen list of widgets - with no text file to get confused by. Sure, if the coder leaves out the doctext then this thing is confusing - but at least widgets will give you a vague idea what the control does.

    The problem is that all major OS's are gradually evolutionary growths from the 80's. None are actually "designed".
  • by yppiz (574466) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:45PM (#6409587) Homepage
    Mod parent as insightful, not flamebait. The poster is saying the following:

    If Windows users don't switch to competing apps on their current OS, then how can we expect them to switch both applications and operating systems?

    --Pat / zippy@cs.brandeis.edu

  • by knightPhlight (173012) <{nate} {at} {nottingham-tech.com}> on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:49PM (#6409610) Homepage
    You actually detail some of Linux's problems quite well. Let's see:

    "I don't run Windows anymore unless I want to play Carmageddon II at home". I don't recall ever walking into Wal-Mart and buying a Linux game. Consumers want to be told what to buy. Such as: Get Armagetron [sourceforge.net] here! 3D! Multiplayer! New, new, new! (No, really check it out). Windows has better games because Windows games have better advertising because Windows has a bigger market share. It'll be a long time until you hear some ten-year-old say, "I had to install Linux so I could play Doom 6.66. It just isn't the same on Windows."

    "at work I only get into Windows if I need to use the custom workorder system that ties into Novell and MS Access." Legacy software, hardware, and geeks will eventually fade into /dev/null. Until then continuing to use the same old crap will be cheaper in man hours and dollars. And as always management can almost always be convinced to keep using the same old thing if it worked well enough that they didn't get blamed.

    "We need to start new-to-computers people with non-MS operating systems." Great idea. But have you ever looked at the books or web sites these people try to learn from? You know the ones where there is a chapter on the mouse complete with blow-by-blow steps for double clicking? Try finding something like that for any distro. Your standard Linux distro has hundreds of powerful, Ghz using, bandwidth blasting apps that new-to-computers" people can live their entire lives without using. The community is great as long as you know that hard drive storage is different than system memory. If your knowledge isn't that advanced (like 90% of users) you'll be lucky to get any help at all.

    With all the incredible advances the community has contributed to Linux sometimes Windows is still necessary.

    Counter point away...
  • Re:PDF? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by David Hume (200499) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:50PM (#6409614) Homepage

    If people are already using Linux on the desktop, they don't need to read a report about Linux on the desktop, do they?


    Yes, they do if they want to know: (a) what to do to improve Linux so others to use it on the desktop; and/or (b) how to promote Linux on the desktop.

  • Slow stuff sucks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by togofspookware (464119) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:52PM (#6409632) Homepage
    Actually, in my Cisco networking class that I took back in 11th grade, the thing took so long to load (first start Windows, then start Novell client, then log into the network, then start IE, then load up Cisco's crappy all-flash web site) that I actually did 'doze' off a few times :-/

    Good grief. We often spent half the class time starting the computers.

    And while I'm on the topic of slow, I tried out Knoppix 3.2 the other day. It was slow and bloated and couldn't keep up when it was playing some MP3s (I got skips and crap). Win2k on the same machine works beautifully.

    One of the great things about Linux is that it's FAST. I run it on my old 586 here as a server and I can download files off of it faster than my 1.6 GHz Win2k machine can download files from itself (but then maybe that's just somethng to do with Ruby's IO being optimised better on Linux..).

    Anyway, when you come out with these big, bloated GUIs that are less responsive and suck up more memory and CPU time than Windows, Linux loses some of its appeal...

    And then there's the issues with dependency problems, blah, blah, blah. So, yeah. I think it'd have a better chance as a desktop OS if it got *cleaned up* at a low level (not just write GUIs to do the dirty work for you, but eliminate the mess completely).
  • by BigGerman (541312) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @05:03PM (#6409751)
    There seem to be an almost critical mass of ideas, tools, code, etc. surrounding "the Linux desktop thing" right now. It feels like something is about to happen.
    What if someone comes up with new OS where encryption and strong auth are built-in, X is thrown out or reworked to some kind of networked XUL thing, file system is more like Reisers namespaces, DRM is builtin as well (to satisfy future Palladium sharks), all configuration files are XML, etc?
    Seems like with consolidation of Intel hardware and availability of huge number of Linux device drivers to look at, this is not a remote possibility.
    Would not that be nice?
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @05:04PM (#6409757) Homepage

    I mean, he can get a bit annoying with the whole GNU/lunix thing, but even the most resolutely ignorant commentator should be able to distinguish between KDE/GNOME, and the linux kernel running under it. Normally it wouldn't bother me, but they are primarily talking about the desktops here.

    If you think this is splitting hairs, how many reviewers do you think would know how to tell the difference between KDE 3.1.0 running on top of linux and the same desktop running on top of BSD?

  • What is missing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chrisgeleven (514645) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @05:04PM (#6409759) Homepage
    You know what I hate about Linux?

    - The lack of any common GUI among apps. Hell sometimes you can't even cut and paste between apps. At least with Windows and MacOSX there is enough similarity between apps that once you figure out how to use one you are well off to figure out the rest. Linux there is no comparison.
    - Application names...yeah, XMMS really screams to me that it is an audio player when I see it on KDE's equivelant of a start menu. Might as well call it asdkasdf@#3rafsdfa, there isn't a difference.
    - Software on store shelves...oh wait, what software on store shelves other then maybe one Linux distribution.
    - Forget support, doesn't do much good if my mom can't get a phone number for that replacement of her beloved Quicken.
    - Sure there is games, but call me when Battlefield 1942, High Heat Baseball, etc. are available instead of just FreeCiv. Get games like those and just about every young male in the world will switch.
    - Oh yeah, can I mention dependicies?
  • Re:Leverage (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cgibbard (657142) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @05:10PM (#6409799)
    I've been using Galeon (based on Gecko) for a while, and it now actually pains me to have to use IE if I ever sit down at a Windows machine. Even the development releases (e.g. 1.3.5) which have had many features removed for rewriting have more nice features than IE. For example, the ability to add nice textbox widgets to your toolbar for search engines, and not just some limited set of search engines, but anything at all (I use the Google one constantly, but I also have one for PlanetMath, for example). Of course, there's also tabbed browsing, which is so useful and obvious that it's ridiculous that IE doesn't have it. Galeon is also quite fast. I've never had any performance issues with it.

    I've also tried Konqueror, and thought that it was pretty nice (though it lacked some things like tabbed browsing, but hey, it's a filemanager too). I don't use KDE however, so it takes too long to init all the KDE stuff the first time Konqueror loads. If you don't mind KDE though, it's probably worth looking at. It'll probably load as fast as IE does in Windows if you're running KDE (as it won't have to do anything to initialise).

    There are plenty of "IE Killers" already available for Linux - why not try these two?
  • by IdleTime (561841) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @05:15PM (#6409838) Journal
    The switch to Linux on the Desktop will not start at home, just for the very same reasons you point out.

    Linux on the Desktop will start in the corporate world, just like Windows did. After adoption in the corp world, the adoption at home will follow.

    I have heard for years that Linux is not ready for the Desktop, the apps suck etc and every time I look at my PC and think: I wonder what their needs are?
    I have used Linux exclusively on the desktop for years, currently running Gentoo, but that is not a point. My point is that most people, both at work and at home will have more then adequate number of apps available and with features that covers their use. Remember the good old 80/20 rule? 80% of the users only use 20% of the feature in any given app. This still holds water, so there is really no need for an Outlook killer, most people will have more than enough functionality with already existing apps.
    I also fail to see the so called "un-polished" look or lack of interoperability, it's there, both in Gnome and KDE, and getting even more polsihed for each release. What you use is based on your perception of the available DE and Wm environments. I work for a huge company, 40000+ employees and have so far not found one single task that I or my coworkers need to perfom that could not be done under Linux, not one single!

    I would really love to see the list of programs needed for Linux in order to be a valid alternative to Windows on the Desktop. As far as I know, there are none!
  • by tabdelgawad (590061) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @05:17PM (#6409853) Homepage
    I've been using Wintel for over 15 years and have just recently installed Red Hat 9 on an older K6-2 550. Here are a couple of points I think are worth mentioning (ubergeeks can exclude themselves from the classifications below):

    1. Linux is ready for *some* desktops only, namely ones where users won't be constantly tweaking and installing new software and hardware. You want a computer for grandma to browse the web, send email and view a few grandkid photos? Linux is great! You want to roll out corporate desktops where employees don't really need to be able to download and install the latest version of KaZaA? Linux is a godsend (provided the business software you need is supported).

    2. Linux is *not* ready for the average user desktop. The average user wants to do everything grandma wants to do, but they also want to be able to install or upgrade software and hardware *easily*. In addition, they want a fully functional GUI, with no *necessity* of dropping to a CLI for everyday tasks. They want to be able to go to a third party software/driver website, follow the 'click here for Linux version' hyperlink, download the file, then double-click to install it.

    Needless to say, as long as Linux distributions and desktop managers continue to proliferate, the average user's requirements will never be met. I say this as a *fact* not a *prescription*, so spare me the Linux-strength-in-diversity comments. I just think you can't have your cake (freedom/diversity) and eat it too (Linux on average desktop).
  • actually.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tuber (678236) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @05:18PM (#6409868)
    I tend to agree with him. Starting everything with a k or a g is annoying as hell. Everytime I used to boot up the 'konqueror', I started thinking about how much I hate the Mortal 'Kombat' where you use 'Koins' to unlock 'Koffins' in the 'Krypt'. IT'S FUCKING ANNOYING TO HAVE EVERY PROGRAM START WITH THE SAME LETTER. The g's in gnome are still annoying, but as much to me because i dont get reminded of the whole 'kombat' thing. I mean, say what you will about microsoft, at least it isn't Microsoft mOffice that comes with mExcel and mOutlook and mWord. That's why I use enlightenment, no omnipresent prefixes there, no-siree. Now let me go fire up ETerm..... Oh dear god no, what have they done???? And in the new version, E17, they have about ten more built in apps on the way that all begin with E. Jesus christ it felt good to get that rant out though....
  • Re:Clippie (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EverDense (575518) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @05:21PM (#6409886) Homepage
    You can still choose to install the Office Assistants, but you've always been able to
    choose not to install them. I've never had to deal with Clippy, from Office 97 through
    Office XP. Of course, most people prefer to just bitch and moan rather than do something about
    the problem, so it's not surprising that people are still complaining about Office Assistants.

    Most people working in an office environment DO NOT install their own software.
    Nor, initially, do they understand how to change configurations.

    So your argument is moot.
  • by geomon (78680) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @05:22PM (#6409896) Homepage Journal
    If any company has even a thought of entering the desktop market, they have to focus on their commitment to sales. Sounds easy, right? But that commitment means showing up for sales meetings and making sure the customer is happy not only with your product, but with your company as well.

    Microsoft didn't get to market dominance by ignoring their customers. The problem they have had in the past has been a pit bull aggression toward their competitors. This often left the customer with half finished products, but their early focus was to move the product closer to what the customer wanted at all times. Their focus has changed now that they dominate the market, but their competitive drive still remains on steroids.

    Compare that to a Linux vendor who was supposed to speak at our company today. They set up two consecutive meetings with our company and a LUG to show how their software would not only provide a good user experience, but would also convince skeptical IT personnel that their product was a ready replacement or alternative to Windows.

    They decided to 'no-show'. And they did it without providing adequate notice. Through their actions, they have told both organizations they scheduled meetings with that the customer is not important.

    I know that things go afoul and that sometimes a scheduled event must be cancelled. But if Microsoft had scheduled the meeting where they thought they could have an opportunity to get to a competitors customer, they would have shipped a sales representative with a 102 degree Fahrenheit fever rather than 'no-show'.

    That is why they dominate the desktop market, and probably will for years to come.

  • by yppiz (574466) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @05:24PM (#6409906) Homepage
    IdleTime writes:
    I would really love to see the list of programs needed for Linux in order to be a valid alternative to Windows on the Desktop. As far as I know, there are none!

    You're right. It's not the apps that are the problem. It's that most PCs come with Windows pre-installed.

    Walmart selling Lindows PCs is the biggest threat to Microsoft's home market. If other stores join in, millions of ordinary users will enter the Linux world - without really knowing or caring (or needing to).

    --Pat

  • by Soko (17987) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @05:24PM (#6409909) Homepage
    I'm giving up modpoints on this article to respond to this. Here goes...

    "they expect adoption of desktop Linux to increase over the next few years"

    That's what they said a few years ago. And that's probably what they'll be saying a few years from now. Don't get me wrong, I like Linux. But it's just not for mom and pop and I doubt it ever will be given who is working on it and what they've been doing.


    Have you ever heard of the term "Strategic Advantage"? When we get Mom and Pop to use Lindows, we get one more reason for more people/companies/organisations to develop products for Free Software - like drivers for web-cams etc., which attracts yet more usrs, who attract more devs, snowballing support for OSS. This process will ingrain OSS into the normal lives of all people, making it very difficult to remove. Going after Mom and Pop isn't for $ or anyting, it's a stategic move to protect the future of OSS.

    Linux innovates very little except in technological areas. It's GUIs even today fall short of Windows and Mac GUIs, and several years from now I don't expect Linux will catch up. I don't see MS or Apple kicking back sipping pina coladas at the poolside.

    I disagree with your future looking statement, especially when Linux is now at the point of being very useable for most of the populace. Yes, MS and Apple will continue to innovate, and OSS devs will continue to integrate those technologies in the name of interoperability. Once Linux catches up to them, though, thier lives will be made miserable.

    I think alot of great work has been done in Linux and I'm a Linux user myself, but not as my primary desktop. Linux is an OS made for geeks by geeks that love to push the geek envelope. That's great stuff in and of itself, but it's not going to put Linux in the mainstream.

    Linux is being installed in more places everyday, by people who *gasp* aren't even geeks. I just set up a Linux server for a non-techie type, and he's quite at home in GNOME. Gracious, I even have him able to generate a report from the CLI! Again, I don't know if Linux will be "mainstream", but I think bringing it to the masses is a viable target , and would be beneficial to the OSS community at large. Most Linux advocates agree, too. BTW, with linux, you can have your cake (Debian for ubergeeks) and eat it too (the aforementioned Lindows).

    And does it want to be mainstream? Do Linux users want it to be mainstream? For the most part, I think not. When asking a technical question in Linux circles, the responses you get range from apathetic to offensive. RTFM! NEWB! It's pretty rare you actually get someone with a little compassion that has felt your pain and is willing to help you out.

    Try #linux on irc.arstechnica.com. Very n00b friendly - most of the people there were once n00bs too and remember what it was like. Actually, where most of the flamage comes from is people who are unwilling to learn or think they're owed something - "Help me set up my printer, dammit!" usually engenders the "RTFM" response. Once they learn the "share and share alike" mentality of the OSS community, all of the hostility usually fades quickly. 4 years ago I'd of agreed with you, but today with so many people learning *NIX through OSS, things are much, much different. At present, that statement is nothing but FUD, pure and simple. (Unless you're an unfortunate luser who happens by alt.sysadmin.recovery. *Clickety-Click*)

    Everything about Linux (and Unix in general) seems to be as if it is some kind of rite of passage. You must fight the bear without weapons, then you must walk the fire barefooted and then you must master Unix! It is that final task at which the brave warrior often stumbles...

    Counterpoint: Ask a regular Windows user to open the registry on your XP machine and edit it, with no help or backup. A task for a Brave Windows Warrior to do before they master Windows. As someone who's mastered Windows, it would be no trouble at al
  • by eniu!uine (317250) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @05:34PM (#6409979)
    Why are we using this arbitrary word 'ready' anyway? This clearly depends on who's using it and what they're using it for. People say that their mom can't run it, but forget that their mom can't run Windows either. It's a pointless argument anyway.. people wondering whether or not linux will 'succeed'. This isn't a commercial product, it's a bunch of open source projects. Look at how much developement was done before anyone knew about it or was interested in using it. It can't really fail. The real question is will Linux ever occupy the majority position on desktops the way that Windows does now. I think the answer is obvious. If Microsoft doesn't come up with some serious innovations then EVENTUALLY they will lose the desktop, where eventually could be a matter of a few decades.

  • Re:My beef (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stalus (646102) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @05:40PM (#6410011)
    Yes, I know linux is a kernel, but for the typical desktop user (the subject at hand), a kernel is useless without a good associated GUI. And yes, I've edited the windows registry.. and thank god I don't have to touch it unless I did something incredibly stupid in the first place. If you're going to compare config files to the windows registry, you've proved my point completely.
  • by bfree (113420) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @05:56PM (#6410112)
    Another VERY good reason why home users will use Linux rather than Windows is that DRM realted technologies will be abhorent to Linux so when they buy their CD and it won't play on their PC they'll just bring it back and tell the store to go to hell and download the tracks from XXX. Likewise when they pick up a few DVDs over in the US (or Europe) and come back home they will be able to just play them and not discover that they have locked themselves out from playing the rest of their collection. Now I know that Windows does not preclude them doing these things, but you have to venture into a seedier underworld of crackers where on Linux the hacking will be done out of the box (or else they will just have to get any DVD to play and then be able to play any other DVD without fear).
  • Re:Clippie (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Osty (16825) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @05:59PM (#6410152)
    Most people working in an office environment DO NOT install their own software.

    So your argument is moot.


    No it's not. It just means that the IT department who is doing the installation should better understand what they're installing. The people you're referring to are the same people that wouldn't use the help functionality anyway, so it doesn't matter whether they have the hand-holding Office Assistant or the standard HTML help to work with. In either case, they're going to call IT.


  • by grolschie (610666) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @09:56PM (#6411805)
    That's not really about Linux at all (or X even). It more about whether the installer for a particular software package will place icons and shortcuts in the correct places - if at all. That is up to whoever packaged the software, and to a large entention the distribution being used (and their policies). There are default directorys to place shortcuts and menu items, whether you use KDE, Gnome or whatever.

    Installers in Linux can easily set up shortcuts, menu items, or display a message during the install process. If you install via .rpm or .deb, you can also do this. With many Windows applications, some installers don't install or uninstall properly. Bits get left behind, or shortcuts point to nowhere. Some stick shortcuts everywhere and create annoying start-up daemons for your taskbar (RealPlayer anyone?). In the same way, that is a fault of the software also.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 10, 2003 @10:23PM (#6411943)
    - OpenOffice.org
    - The GIMP
  • by cfuse (657523) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @10:25PM (#6411954)

    I can't believe that no one has mentioned games!

    If I can't run Office I don't give a damn, but if I can't run games, well that's a different story.

    If linux can run doom III faster than windows on equivalent hardware straight out of the box then I think it might have a future, otherwise don't bother.

  • OH please... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 10, 2003 @10:57PM (#6412103)
    As another poster points out, OpenOffice and GIMP.
    Unless you're a professional artist, face it, you don't need photoshop.
    But, OK, let's say that you absolutely HAVE to have those two apps (and I'm sure you're oh-so-willing to pay retail price for those apps, no?).
    Get Crossover Office and run both those apps through that. They both run quite well under Crossover Office.
  • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday July 11, 2003 @01:04AM (#6412670)
    "they expect adoption of desktop Linux to increase over the next few years"

    That's what they said a few years ago. And that's probably what they'll be saying a few years from now. Don't get me wrong, I like Linux. But it's just not for mom and pop and I doubt it ever will be given who is working on it and what they've been doing.


    You've nailed it here. It's not that Linux can't compete with Windows in areas like ease of use and prettiness. It's that the people doing the grunt work on the OS don't care (or at least haven't cared until recently) about those things. This has been a real problem.

    Fortunately (for me, if nobody else), I am a bit more optimistic than you are. Even 3 years ago I would have never even considered running Linux on my home machine - I would have literally laughed if you'd suggested it. Not because I thought Linux was a bad OS, but because I saw it as kludgy, crotchety, cranky, geeky, difficult to use, difficult to look at, impossible to set up, and a bear to run. Today, I am running that same Linux on two PC's in my home and I am looking forward to the day that I can ditch Windows completely.

    Linux has come a long way in the past few years in the desktop area. Yes, I still had to buy my Linux for Dummies to get everything working right, and I've read more than my share of how-to's, usenet postings and other helpful articles around the net to get me out of jams. This is very different from Windows XP, which more or less works right and looks nice out of the box for 99% of people, with no configuration whatsoever. But it's at least at the point now that I can do it, which, as someone with very little technical knowledge (software-wise) and an attention span of a gnat, is a major milestone to me. It will only continue to get better, especially now that the focus is clearly shifting to desktop users (the server stuff seems pretty well in hand).

    Install apt-get (which is an application whose importance I don't think has been fully realized yet) and Linux is nearly as easy to use as Windows. In fact, with apt-get in some ways it's easier - download and setup wrapped into one, no worries about missing dependencies, and if you want an app you just pick it from the list (in Synaptic, if you have it installed) and apt-get goes out and gets everything you need. apt-get with the Synaptic graphical interface really needs to be installed and configured by default in every Linux distro. This is the kind of thing desktop users need and expect, and it's the kind of thing Linux developers are finally picking up on.

    Aesthetically, I think you pick your poison, really, and at this point it's up to the distro makers how aesthetically pleasing they can/want to make their interface. Red Hat, I think, is doing a really good job of it - everything in RH9 looks consistent and professional, at least to the level of Windows 2000. No, it's not at the eye candy level of XP or the insane Mac OSX (which I honestly find distracting after an hour or so of use - it's too much), but it's fine, and it's not far behind. Other distro makers are making a go of it, but I haven't seen anyone else really integrate the look as well as Red Hat yet. They will all get there eventually, though.

    I'm not worried, and in fact I'm confident that with all this attention now being paid to desktop Linux, it'll catch up fast. The developers just need to give desktop ease of use and interface issues some attention, and they are.

    What Linux does need is more professional graphic designers and interface designers donating their time - development is still dominated by programmers and programmers alone are not going to build a desktop OS to truly compete with Windows. Real attention is going to need to be paid to integrating the interface both functionally and visually, and it's going to need to be paid by those that know what they're doing in those areas. But we're getting there... KDE and Gnome have both come a long way recently along with Linux itself, and hairy but important issues like font rendering are in the process of being worked out as well. All of these are things that need to be done to attract desktop users, and they are now finally getting done.

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