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Linus Says 2004 is the Year for Desktop Linux 727

Posted by michael
from the huddled-masses-yearning-to-breathe-free dept.
lca writes "Linuxworld Australia has an interview with Linus Torvalds about the current state of the Linux desktop and where it will go this year among other things. Also discussed are topics such as hardware support, the SCO issue, and whether or not he will be moving to Australia."
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Linus Says 2004 is the Year for Desktop Linux

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:20PM (#7987056) Homepage Journal

    They didn't ask Linus if he paid his $699 licensing fee to SCO. It'd be a shame for him to have to stop working on their OS..
  • Australia? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by probbka (308168) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:22PM (#7987073) Journal
    Why would any computer-savvy person want to move to Australia? They've got some of the toughest Internet censorship laws in the free world, IIRC...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...and all the Linux geeks in the world would follow and worship him like deciples.

    Can you say "Bill Gates as Pontious Pilate"?

    "Look, I'm Linus Christ. I can serve 5000 webpages using 5 analog phone lines and 3 Amigas!"

    Yes, I'm making vauge references comparing the Son of God to the Open Source movement. I'm bored and my mind is wandering.

    akedia
  • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte@dr u n k snipers.com> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:23PM (#7987084) Homepage
    640kb is more than we'll ever need
    • by micromoog (206608) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:28PM (#7987152)
      Iraq has weapons of mass destruction
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:31PM (#7987193)
        I've got weapons of math instruction!

        At New York's Kennedy airport today, an individual later
        discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying
        to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a
        protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule, and a calculator.

        At a morning press conference, Attorney general John Ashcroft
        said he believes the man is a member of the notorious
        al-gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with
        carrying weapons of math instruction.

        "Al-gebra is a fearsome cult,", Ashcroft said. "They desire
        average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off
        on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret
        code names like "x" and "y" and refer to themselves as
        "unknowns", but we have determined they belong to a common
        denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.

        "As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, there are 3
        sides to every triangle," Ashcroft declared.

        When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If
        God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction,
        He would have given us more fingers and toes.

        "I am gratified that our government has given us a sine that
        it is intent on protracting us from these math-dogs who are
        willing to disintegrate us with calculus disregard. Murky
        statisticians love to inflict plane on every sphere of
        influence," the President said, adding: "Under the
        circumferences, we must differentiate their root, make our
        point, and draw the line."

        President Bush warned, "These weapons of math instruction
        have the potential to decimal everything in their math on a
        scalene never before seen unless we become exponents of a
        Higher Power and begin to factor-in random facts of vertex."

        Attorney General Ashcroft said, "As our Great Leader would
        say, read my ellipse. Here is one principle he is uncertainty
        of: though they continue to multiply, their days are numbered
        as the hypotenuse tightens around their necks."
      • I am a uniter, not a divider
      • hmm..a url with a .cx domain. how bad could it be?
      • by happyfrogcow (708359) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:56PM (#7987562)
        Slashdot... Stuff that Matters ;)

        (kidding!)
    • by TimoP (551026) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:09PM (#7987774) Homepage
      Windows is about choice.
  • by drizst 'n drat (725458) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:23PM (#7987086)
    "The server space is easier to tackle first with any operating system as it can be applied to specific tasks such as mail serving; however, the desktop is harder to sell." This may be true but it sure isn't impossible. It will just take some time. Can't run until you can first crawl.
  • No offense, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by conner_bw (120497) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:23PM (#7987087) Homepage Journal
    Doesn't Linus work on the kernel? How is his input vital for desktops which are KDE/GNOME dominated now, projects he is not involved with...

    --
    Vegan World Order [veganworldorder.com] - Shut up and eat.
    • Re:No offense, (Score:2, Interesting)

      by thebagel (650109)
      Everything is based on the kernel. Maybe he's looking for better optimization for certain routines that, say, OpenGL might utilize.

      Or perhaps he's urging the XFree86 team to make some progress with OpenGL performance or card support (like nVidia support without the nVidia drivers). (THAT WASN'T FLAMEBAIT.)

      Or perhaps he's urging, say, the GNOME team to make the desktop a tad bit more user friendly.

      He could be doing a lot of things; just because he's a kernel dude doesn't mean that his input isn't import
    • Re:No offense, (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ainsoph (2216)
      cos the kernel is what all that stuff lays on top of.
    • by DenOfEarth (162699) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:29PM (#7987160) Homepage

      I was wondering similar things myself on reading the headline. I haven't yet installed 2.6 on my machine yet, but I have heard that it is a bit 'snappier', which I believe goes a long way towards making the desktop seem like you are controlling it, rather than having it control you. The KDE / gnome work, is also very important, but a solid fast user-responsive kernel is a boon to anyone trying to sell anyone else on linux on the desktop.

    • Re:No offense, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mydigitalself (472203) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:34PM (#7987235)
      contrary to some of the other responses to your post - i agree with you wholeheartedly. success and penetration of the desktop will have very little to do with performance from 2.6 kernel - but rather with good usability practices within the community.
      • Re:No offense, (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gl4ss (559668)
        among other things hardware support(for CURRENT hardware) is vital for desktop success(which 2.6 may or may not have impact on later on, or whatever he plans to do).

        the page isn't loading for me so I can't really comment on if his commenting it somehow.
        -
    • Re:No offense, (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pyros (61399) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:37PM (#7987268) Journal
      Doesn't Linus work on the kernel? How is his input vital for desktops which are KDE/GNOME dominated now, projects he is not involved with...


      Don't underestimate the importance of a good kernel for the desktop. You need good multitasking support (low-latency context switching, an efficient scheduler, a good VM system) for the GUI environment to be responsive and zippy. You need a good infrastructure and API for device drivers to get the most out of your peripherals. People hate buying a fancy video card only to find that half the I/O ports aren't supported.

    • Re:No offense, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by enjo13 (444114) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:49PM (#7987443) Homepage
      He's more than a kernel hacker, he's an open source leader. Part of his role in the community is to set direction, identify problem areas, and do all of those other things that leaders do.

      By Linus coming out and focusing on the desktop (even if just in words) he's effectively pointing the collective effort of the open source community more and more to that end.

    • How is his input vital for desktops which are KDE/GNOME dominated now, projects he is not involved with...

      I'm sure you can say the opposite when it comes to hardware support "To get Linux on the desktop, it needs to work with every two-bit gizmo Joe Average has. The kernel needs to do that, not us".

      And then someone will come along and say "Kernel, KDE/Gnome that's all nice. But it's our *applications* that make people come to Linux. Without applications, Linux is nothing".

      Who is right? A little bit of e
  • by MoOsEb0y (2177) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:24PM (#7987097)
    With the advent of the 2.6 series kernel, along with the efforts for compatability between KDE and GNOME, I think linux is getting very close for the desktop. I already use it as a desktop OS on my laptop with few problems. With a little bit more effort, even so -called "dummies" will be able to work with it as well.
    • by aheath (628369) * <adam.heath@[ ]cast.net ['com' in gap]> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:35PM (#7987254)
      "With a little bit more effort, even so -called "dummies" will be able to work with it as well."

      The so called 'dummies" really don't care much about the operating system that they are using. They care much more about the applications that they are running. They also care about the availability of training and support for the operating system and applications.

      The computer using world can be reoughly divided into two categories:

      (1) People who want to think about the work their doing, but don't want to think about the computer technology they are using.

      (2) People who want to think about the work they are doing and who like to think about how the computer is doing the work.

      The first group wants reliability, stability, and transparency. They d not want to spend a lot of time fixing or upgrading their computer. They do not want to spend a lot of time working on a computer that crashes. They do not want to spend a lot of time thinking about how to do their work. Their main interest is in what works, not necessarily what works best.

      They won't switch to Linux from something that is good enough to allow them to do their work. They may switch to Linux if they are upgrading a computer and it is clear that Linux will allow them to do their work without giving much thought to how the computer works.

    • by ticklemeozmo (595926) <justin.j.novack@acm . o rg> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:01PM (#7987652) Homepage Journal
      I already use it as a desktop OS on my laptop with few problems.

      As much I don't feel like burning Karma here with Flamebait, this is exactly the reason it's not ready. It runs on a laptop with "few problems". Few problems is a reason enough not to switch.

      Will my USB Camera work? Can 1-touch scanning be setup without the use of a complex script? Joe Dialup doesn't want to go to Sourceforge to find a piece of software called gkehjg2 just to get his device to install and compile (compile? what's that!)

      The install for Linux is CLOSE, I believe Fedora(/Redhat) needs to handle their package selection better (why install isdn-tools defaultly??) and file systems scare all but people who use it daily.

      Where are you files? "My Documents". How do you move it to another harddrive? "". How do you open it? "Double click it." How do you open that same file in a different program? "You can do that?"

      For anyone on Linux, Windows seems like a "toy OS" because everything is hidden. Well, that's what most computer beginners want! They don't have time/don't care about a dependancy, they want it to work, NOW!

      I like being the different person on the block, make it just a lil easier so people other than hobbists can use it, but not so secretaries of CEOs can and I'll be happy.
      • by IANAAC (692242) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @04:54PM (#7990246)
        It runs on a laptop with "few problems". Few problems is a reason enough not to switch.

        I've said this before, but I'll repeat it. This is really an old argument. If you were to install Windows XP on the same laptop from scratch, you would run into the same (possibly more) problems. Here's a little experiment I recently did:

        I bought an emachine laptop (M5310) not too long ago. It came with XP Home installed. I wiped it clean. Installed Suse 9 on it. I had to change a line in /etc/XF86Config to get the proper screen resolution (1280x800). Hot-plug devices (PC cards and USB) worked properly. ACPI worked fine, although I had to futz with the power-management settings a bit (/etc/sysconfig/powermanagement) to get proper CPU throttling. Other than that, SUSE loaded fine.
        Now I decided to load XP Professional. Why professional instead of Home? Well, I had a full copy of XP PRO and didn't have a full Home copy. That's right. The laptop did not ship with the full media. It came with a Ghost image.
        Let me tell you... XP Pro barfed all over the place. Could not get wireless working. Screen resolution was 1280-768 stretched (I probably could have found a way to fix this, admittedly). Somehow, after the initial install, the CD/DVD drive was gone. Couldn't get it back. Only one USB port worked - how XP managed that I don't know.

        My point is that there will always be problems with getting any machine working properly after a fresh install - Linux, XP, BSD. The real key to desktop acceptance by Joe Camera/Scanner/Dialup is for manufacturers to ship boxes with Linux loaded and a generous set of drivers/modules installed - they're out there. All it takes is for one major computer maker to do the quality testing of everything for their hardware.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:24PM (#7987104)
    Linux breaks desktop barrier in 2004: Torvalds

    Rodney Gedda , Computerworld

    15/01/2004 15:43:16

    This year will see Linux finally crack the lucrative desktop market as more commercial software vendors tool up and cash in on the operating system and kernel developers improve graphical interface integration says cult hero and Linux founder Linus Torvalds. Computerworld's Rodney Gedda cornered the penguin power supremo at the Linux.Conf.au in Adelaide.

    Computerworld: How do you feel Linux on the desktop is progressing?

    Linus Torvalds: Last year was good but I'm seeing a lot more noise about it this year. The server space is easier to tackle first with any operating system as it can be applied to specific tasks such as mail serving; however, the desktop is harder to sell.

    Now, the kernel and other pieces are coming together including office applications, games and Web browsers. This has made the Linux desktop interesting to commercials. Commercials tend to choose one desktop, such as KDE or GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment), and stick with it. There has been some confusion and rivalry that has helped its development. Right now it looks like the two are closing in on each other, for example, with Red Hat's Bluecurve interface.

    I don't think X is going away as it has a powerful infrastructure and throwing it away would be stupid. And its network transparency is good. It's likely that X will be the 2D interface to a lower-level graphics system that is based on OpenGL. The Linux desktop wants to have 3D as the base and X as the interface to 2D.

    The fact that X and kernel development have been separate is good; one could evolve without the other but DRI (Direct Rendering Infrastructure) has made them not completely independent. As a developer, having the two separate is good, because different people are good at developing for each.

    CW: Any plans for 2004?

    LT: I've never had much of a plan for the direction of Linux as I react to outside pressure. This year there will be a lot of desktop users, which will impact kernel developers.

    For now I will be working the stabilisation of kernel 2.6 and in a month or two I expect Fedora (the core of Red Hat Linux) to have a release with 2.6 so I expect to get more bug reports.

    CW: Would adopting an integrated hardware and software system be good for Linux?

    LT: There are pure technical disadvantages of having an operating system that supports a wide range of hardware. The variety of hardware makes it challenging as Linux needs thousands of drivers.

    But having an operating system that is independent of the hardware is powerful for the user as it is basically the same on big and small machines. Another big advantage of a wide hardware base is an operating system that is more flexible. This is why Linux is having a lot of impact in the embedded space. An operating system is a complex beast, so it's nice to have an existing one that can be adapted to the hardware. There are a few problem spots with Linux driver support by hardware companies and wireless is one of them. With hardware getting better this problem is being solved.

    CW: What about Linux in the enterprise?

    LT: The direction Linux takes in the enterprise will depend on what resources enterprise companies put into it. This is the one thing that will push Linux into the high end.

    IBM is the most obvious, and although it is impressive to run Linux on high-end hardware, most of the people who work on Linux don't have access to it. It's the regular desktops that get most of the attention by programmers.

    CW: What about open source code bundling by commercial software companies?

    LT: Quite often that's fine and it is fine with BSD (Berkely Software/Standard Distribution) code. But I like the GPL (General Public Licence), because I want people to give [code] back. If hardware appliance makers don't give back code then that's a problem, but giving it back shouldn't cause any problems. And
    • >For now I will be working the stabilisation of
      > kernel 2.6 and in a month or two I expect Fedora
      > (the core of Red Hat Linux) to have a release with
      > 2.6 so I expect to get more bug reports.

      For your information, Cooker [mandrakelinux.com] provides Linux 2.6 as kernel default since december. ISO snapshots are available here [mandrakelinux.com] for download, with also a preview of the new KDE.
  • And I agree. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:24PM (#7987105)
    Look at all the interesting software for linux coming out soon

    KDE 3.2
    Gnome 2.6
    Gimp 2.0
    Mplayer 1.0
    OpenOffice 2.0
    More games than ever
    and hundreds of others.

    Combine this with kernel 2.6, and with many distros going to be version 10.0 this year, this is going to be great.

    KDE 3.2 will be out soon, its so easy to use, no wonder its the most popular desktop environement for Linux.
    • Re:And I agree. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by grahamlee (522375) <iamleeg@g m a i l .com> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:55PM (#7987554) Homepage Journal
      None of KDE, GNOME, Gimp, mplayer or OpenOffice come out for Linux. They just come out. They'll be available in BSD ports systems, for Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, SCO UnixWare, and in the case of KDE, mplayer and Gimp, native Mac OS X. Yes, this software is available for Linux. But it's not Linux software. A "Linux PC", such as this one, contains a whole mishmash of software, which is running atop a Linux kernel. That could so easily be a FreeBSD kernel, a Darwin kernel, a SunOS 5 kernel, Windows running SFU, WIndows running Cygwin, whatever. The source is available and people will build it on their own platforms.
  • Agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bryansj (89051) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:24PM (#7987106)
    I'd have to agree with it being close to having a real viable desktop solution. Having LiveCD's in place, such as Knoppix, showing off the ease of running Linux will help bring it to the masses. It's much easier to try Linux if you just have to boot from CD and then "play" instead of having to commit to the install process. My Knoppix installed Debian feels solid compared to the "feel" of Mandrake and Suse which makes me more likely to recommend it to others that I see as borderline tech savy.
  • by burgburgburg (574866) <splisken06@emai3.14l.com minus pi> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:25PM (#7987111)
    I definitely won't be moving back to Finland though.

    Or is it "Can't move back to Finland"? Has he crossed the Finnish mafia once too often? Did he wake up to find smelt heads in his bed? What's the REAL story here?

  • linux.dell.com (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    no desktop mentions, but cool: linux.dell.com [dell.com]
  • Who will win ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Krapangor (533950) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:26PM (#7987124) Homepage
    If Linux get Desktop world domination then this raises the question which desktop will rule them all. It's relatively unlikely that two desktops will be supported to the same extend by the OSS community.
    So, what do you think KDE or Gnome ?

    My bet goes on Gnome because it has better backing by Debian, Novell and Redhat.

    • Re:Who will win ? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AlXtreme (223728)
      Neither, there are large companies supporting KDE as well. Foss is also about being able to choose: Don't like Linux, try a BSD. Don't like Gnome, try KDE.

      Lack of choice, lack of options tend to lead to a lack of innovation and improvement (XFree86? Industry in Sovjet Russia?), whereas competition tends to lead to (great) improvements (US/Sovjet space race? Browser war?), so I sincerly hope no single desktop will ever rule.

      In our battles we will have our finest hours.

  • Also discussed are topics such as hardware support, the SCO issue, and whether or not he will be moving to Australia.

    If he is moving to Australia, maybe he can bring LinuxWorld a new webserver.
  • Right... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IntergalacticWalrus (720648) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:29PM (#7987159)
    Future slashdot headline:
    "Linus says 2034 really, really is the Year for Desktop Linux, honest! I'm pretty damn sure this time! I swear!"

    Seriously, we hear that every goddamn year since 2002. It's an annual thing, like those stupid so-called analysts saying "Apple is dying this year".

    It's not that I'm against it, in fact I am a desktop Linux user, but this is just ridiculous.
  • by smallpaul (65919) <paulNO@SPAMprescod.net> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:29PM (#7987161)

    Linus says: I do work from home so I could work anywhere. I definitely won't be moving back to Finland though.

    The last half of that sentence was a total non-sequiter. Maybe he is trying to get his mother off his back.

  • by Curious__George (167596) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:29PM (#7987169)
    It's kind of like declaring this is the year that an asteroid will strike the earth. Keep declearing that this is the year and eventually you will be proved right. (not that Linux on the desktop would mean devastation of life on earth, as we know it).
  • Desktop 3D? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ZiZ (564727) * on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:32PM (#7987205) Homepage
    (Linus says:) I don't think X is going away as it has a powerful infrastructure and throwing it away would be stupid. And its network transparency is good. It's likely that X will be the 2D interface to a lower-level graphics system that is based on OpenGL. The Linux desktop wants to have 3D as the base and X as the interface to 2D.

    Um...Why do we want a 3D desktop? It seems to me that first of all, 3D is always going to be slower to manage and display than 2D; monitors (even the newer ones with the spiffy multi-layer technology) don't really handle 3D displays well. Yes, I want my 3D displays, such as they are, for gaming; I don't see any real need or use for it in a business desktop, though.

    Feel free to correct me here, but I don't read text on a slanted pane very well...:)

    • Re:Desktop 3D? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by be-fan (61476) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:43PM (#7987359)
      Its not being to be a 3D desktop. Its going to use 3D hardware on current graphics cards to allow for really rich 2D artwork. Current-gen 3D hardware can do Quartz-style anti-aliased, transparent 2D without breaking a sweat, and that's what developers want to take advantage of.

    • Um...Why do we want a 3D desktop?

      So we can all wear those cool red/blue glasses at work!

      Duh!
    • Re:Desktop 3D? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JohnLi (85427) *
      Did you not see that sun 3d java desktop demo that was posted here a while back? It was used in a cool, meaningful way. The windows flipped around so that you could write notes or attach other files to particular instances of a browser or application.

      I agree that most of the 3d implementations floating around lack a bit of practicality, but just because it has sucked in the past doesnt mean that it is doomed to suck. We just need a few people with some inovative ideas to make it work.

      I personaly believ
  • by Silicon Knight (15308) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:34PM (#7987231)
    This year will see Linux finally crack the lucrative desktop market as more commercial software vendors tool up and cash in on the operating system and kernel developers improve graphical interface integration says cult hero and Linux founder Linus Torvalds.

    Yes, Linux is a suitable desktop replacement. I still don't see a significant number of people making the switch. What is the motivation for the average user who has invested time in learning Windows to switch?

    Aside from impoverished goverments in third world countries (California anyone?) are the masses going to bother learning something new when what they have tends to meet their needs?
    • by Hugh George Asm (708019) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:58PM (#7987589)
      Yes, Linux is a suitable desktop replacement. I still don't see a significant number of people making the switch. What is the motivation for the average user who has invested time in learning Windows to switch?

      Well, I have some experience here. My mom ran windows for the last 3 years. She doesn't know computers, but that's what her DELL had on it. She has been it with virii and recently some adware that prominently displayed itself on her desktop.

      Her computer runs slower and she doesn't know why. Probably unknown background processes chewing up CPU. All she does is email and surf the web, but the computer crashes and she is annoyed beyond belief with it. She is begging me to put something better on her machine, and she SPECIFICALLY asked for linux. She knows about linux as an alternative because I've mentioned that it's what I run on my machines. Her problems with windows have led her to conclude that she'd rather try something--anything--than continue running what she has. Oh yeah, she has paid "her guru" to come over and fix problems several times, and is tired of hiring someone to fix things that shouldn't be broken. So, an unstable, unreliable, virus-ridden, expensive operating system is its own incentive to switch. At least for MY mom.

  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:34PM (#7987239) Homepage Journal
    According to this old interview [varbusiness.com] with Linus covered in this old Slashdot story [slashdot.org], Linus uses a Linux-Windows dual-boot:

    What's his latest toy?

    A Sony Electronics Inc. Vaio, Japanese edition. It's a handheld PC that has a 4-GB hard disk, 64 MB of RAM and a Pentium MMX 266-MHz processor. It weighs in at just 2.6 pounds and runs both Linux and Windows. "It's cute as hell." Oh, and it has a built-in camera.

    Now imagine Billy-boy using Linux (maybe just to give it a test-run) and talking publicly about it. That would never happen because of the expected PR backlash.

    Linus, on the other hand can be as frank as he wants to, without an axe hanging over his head.

    Interesting, though nothing earth-shattering. Open-source also supports Freedom.

  • by 1iar_parad0x (676662) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:43PM (#7987356)
    I'm a programmer, and I don't mind having to google/read a book/scour the newsgroups to find out how to install XYZ software. However, the average user wants to just point and click. They like having Microsoft/Apple update their software for them. Look how popular Norton is. I just don't see how the open source movement will ever be motivated to work on usability issues related to Linux.

    Think about this. How many times have you heard the terms "usability" and "open source" in the same sentence. Now how many times have you heard these same terms without the word "NOT". Have you ever heard of "yet another user interface"? No, instead we have software with names like yacc, Bison, and ANTLR (all of these programs are used in compiler design).

    Look, I like Linux too, but as a server. It's just not ready for the desktop.
    • I just don't see how the open source movement will ever be motivated to work on usability issues related to Linux. ...
      How many times have you heard the terms "usability" and "open source" in the same sentence.


      Many times. Anyone who pays the slightest bit of attention to the development of KDE, GNOME and almost all good Qt/Gtk applications will see those terms put together a lot. KDE and GNOME both have dedicated usability teams, and have commissioned or made use of usability studies on their work.

      Look,
  • by Schlemphfer (556732) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:46PM (#7987414) Homepage
    I've been reading Slashdot for years, but have only started playing around with Linux in the past month. It's great to hear Linus say that the desktop is almost ready for prime time. But I think no matter how good the desktop experience is, quality alone won't win over users.

    What finally got me to try Linux is when I read a post on Slashdot about Mepis [mepis.org], which, like Knoppix [knoppix.org], is a Linux distribution on a bootable CD. While I'd been aching to give Linux a try for years, I never had a spare box to run it, and I wasn't about to wipe XP and all my stuff off my main computer. If you haven't heard about it, Mepis is a full linux install and suite of software that you can boot off a CD and play with, without wiping your existing operating system from your hard drive.

    After trying Mepis for just a couple hours, I fell in love. Everything from my optical mouse to my Nvidia drivers to my keychain drive worked without any installation. I'm going to go on using XP on my current box, but I now know that the Linux desktop is indeed ready for prime time. When I upgrade to a new system next year, Microsoft won't get a penny. I'm going to buy a whitebox system, and get myself a good Linux distribution.

    I don't care how polished Linux gets; I think the only way it's ever going to get exposure to general users is on Mepis/Knoppix style CD ROMs that let people take the OS for a test drive. I really think that the best way to bring Linux to the general public is to distribute as many ten-cent CD ROMs as you can to friends and family, so they can see for themselves that there's no need to pay the Microsoft tax on their next PC purchase.

    The way I see it, overcoming Microsoft's hegemony requires working on two fronts. The first is building quality distributions that work plug-and-play with everything from printers to wireless cards. And the second front is the creation of full-featured bootable CD's that let people see -- on their own machine -- how great Linux has become.

    • Bootable CDs (Score:3, Insightful)

      by truthsearch (249536)
      I agree that bootable CDs make a huge difference. There is one problem, though. I've given bootable CDs to a few people. When they reboot with the CD in the drive nothing happens but Windows loading. Many (most?) users need to set their BIOS to try booting from CD because it's not set by default. When I explain that it's an immediate turn-off, no matter how easy it is. They sigh and think using Linux means work. They've all been happy in the end, but unfortunately it may not be as easy as handing out
  • Again? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom7 (102298) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:47PM (#7987425) Homepage Journal
    Not that I'm complaining, but wasn't 2003 supposed to be the [shortfamilyonline.com] year [slashdot.org] of [linux-mag.com] desktop [desktoplinux.com] linux [findarticles.com]?
  • by theantix (466036) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:50PM (#7987469) Journal
    ... because many important peripherals do not work by default. For example, getting 802.11x is still a pita in linux unless you plan ahead by making certain that your hardware works with it. And most people won't care about saving a few hundred bucks if they can't get a scanner or camera or mp3 player or PDA or $whatever to interface with their PC. I could not pretend that an average user should use Linux at this point, unless they are interesting in having PC maintenance as a new hobby.

    This is not a problem with the linux kernel, but instead a typical problem of market share in a marketplace dominated by a player with a high degree of monopoly power. Put more simply, the problem is not that Linux sucks, it just needs to have larger market share before hardware manufacturers pay attention and bother with the hassle of trying to deal with Linux (multiple distros, multiple DEs, etc).

    However, 2004 will probably be the year where corporations start to move some of their enterprise desktops to Linux. With Novell and Sun both pushing Linux/GNOME solutions, and the less varied peripheral requirements of Linux in the corporate environment... things seem to be pointing in that direction. I would predict that "Year of the Desktop" makes more sense for 2005, when Linux will be building market share thanks to the corps, and hardware manufacturers start to pay more attention to getting things to work.

    Though, for knowledgeable people who are willing to go through the hassle of getting devices to work with Linux, the Year of the Desktop was really 2003... at least for me it was. DVD, ALSA, OOo, MozillaFirebird.... these things help make the Linux desktop possible and they are here long before 2004 started.
    • by RatBastard (949)
      ...it just needs to have larger market share before hardware manufacturers pay attention and bother with the hassle of trying to deal with Linux (multiple distros, multiple DEs, etc).

      And those are the real problems with Linux. There are too many choices that developers and users have to deal with.

      Lots of choice is what makes Linux popular with the tech-head crowd, but it drives Joe User away like having rabid weasels shoved down your trousers. Joe User doesn't want to give a damn what distrobution of L

    • ... because many important peripherals do not work by default. For example, getting 802.11x is still a pita in linux unless you plan ahead by making certain that your hardware works with it.

      Amazingly enough, on my Dell Latitude C610, I have given up - after hours of effort - on ever getting my built-in Orinoco wireless to work under Win XP or Win 2K. It is a dual boot system, and in Linux it was a piece of cake, but even with Dell support files, flashing the bios, everything I could throw at it, it just d

  • What about Munich (Score:5, Interesting)

    by YU Nicks NE Way (129084) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:51PM (#7987491)
    According to The Register [theregister.co.uk], Munich is finding that trying to get Linux on the city's desktop is not yet possible -- even with direct help from IBM and SuSE. They're finding that what Microsoft has said about Word is true in general: it isn't just the big things that everybody uses which are a problem, but also the little things which a very small number of people can't do without. In that case of Word, it turns out that almost everybody has a few small, exotic features that they really need, and that those small features, taken together, add up to a much greater barrier than all the big features which everybody needs.

    This isn't going to be the year of Linux on the desktop if that holds true generally.
  • by mydigitalself (472203) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:52PM (#7987496)
    ok, so maybe linux itself is nearing readyness to take on windows. gnome/kde have come a long way as have the kernel and indeed linux PR in general.

    however, i still do not feel that 2004 is "year of the linux desktop" because the market will not be ready for it. i will come back to my regular example - my mother. not only is she an occasional home user, but my mother runs a business of about 40 people strong who do medical aid claims processing. like many companies her size, she runs:
    * Windows on Desktop
    * Windows on Server
    * Office on Desktop
    * Exchange on Server
    * ACCESS APPLICATION THAT WAS WRITTEN FOR HER

    ok. so the first 3 you can pretty much wipe out with linux. the exchange thing, i still believe is a problem. i have been babblin on about good groupware capabilities in Linux for years and quite frankly i'm still shocked at the lack of a good alternative to exchange. although i am impressed by ximian's exchange connector - how ironic is running MS Exchange for your server and Linux on the desktop...

    anyway. lets get back to the BIG PROBLEM - her access database package. in fact, when i go to my dentist - they've got some custom built access application. as does my physio. as do many small sized businesses.

    the thing that will make it the year for the linux desktop will be a big "SWITCH"-like campaign. although all the pieces of the puzzle (ximian, 2.6 kernel, KDE, GNOME, CrossOver etc...) are available - they still need to be assembled to create the correct picture - and this will continue to take time. but i feel that a big assistant to this could come from some clever people like VMWare or Citrix. "ok, so you have this, this and that running on Windows - and there is no Linux version. ok, lets just run them in a thin-client/emulator". that will need a lot more knowledge from the small outsourced IT company my mother currently uses, and a bit more technical innovation. the long and the short: still more time.

  • 2004? Doubtful. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zgwortz962 (641208) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:04PM (#7987692)
    While I think Linux's desktop is mostly ready for prime time (both KDE and Gnome could still use a lot of polish, though...), it's driver architecture is not. 2.6 is still suffering from a lot of old and poor architectural choices, making it difficult to develop drivers for new hardware quickly. I saw some discussion of changes which could go into 2.7/2.8 which might make it easier to correct this. But until the driver architecture is fixed, you're going to have installation problems on newer machines. And until you have really smooth installation on newer machines, people aren't going to adopt Linux on the desktop. It has to be trivial to install or it won't fly.
  • by i)ave (716746) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:08PM (#7987760)
    the year of the linux-desktop is not going to happen until Linux creates some standards and conformity among distros. I know, I know, "the beauty of linux is its ability to be any flavor you want". Well, I don't agree. KDE, GNOME should merge, having 2 competing desktop environments is not productive. There are WAY TOO MANY DISTROS. Confuses the hell out of newbies. The mainstream demands conformity and wants 1 desktop and 1 distro to be dominant. Hardware detection needs to get a lot better, too. Someone on here mentioned that the linux office suites are as good or better than those of Windows... That's complete hogwash, not even close. The latest OOo is much better than before, but still a 2nd tier solution to MS office. Staroffice is still 2nd tier, too.

    I'm amazed that someone pointed out that Linus uses a laptop that has Windows on it, as well as linux, and used that as an example of what an honest guy Linus is (because he was willing to tell everyone, since presumeably, Gates would never be that honest if his laptop had linux). The fact that Linus has Windows loaded on his laptop along with Linux is a blatant example of the fact that LINUX IS NOT COMPLETELY READY FOR MAINSTREAM. Maybe, Linus should be using his laptop without Windows before he declares 2004 the "year of the linux desktop".

    Okay, now everyone go ahead and flame away, I've set myself up here I suppose, but just keep in mind I'm very much PRO-LINUX. I want nothing more than 2004 to be the year of the linux-desktop... I'm just a realist and there are a lot of people in the Linux community who are realists, too, who understand that linux is headed in too many different directions to be mainstream. Organize, combine, simplify: 1 distro, 1 desktop, solid hardware detection, simple upgrades.

    • The fact that Linus has Windows loaded on his laptop along with Linux is a blatant example of the fact that LINUX IS NOT COMPLETELY READY FOR MAINSTREAM. Maybe, Linus should be using his laptop without Windows before he declares 2004 the "year of the linux desktop".

      I think that, as an OS, Linux is completely ready for the desktop and even has enough consumer ready applications to satisfy the average desktop user who does things like email, surf the web, a few file transfers, etc. But the main problems w

  • by msimm (580077) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:22PM (#7987963) Homepage
    The really cool thing about Linus is he really is like the number one fan of Linux. 2004, the year of Linux on the desktop? Probably not really, but you can tell he is really enjoying this, and I really appreciate that.
  • Desktop Linux (Score:5, Informative)

    by Brian Blessed (258910) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:25PM (#7988009)
    I find it surprising that more businesses aren't aware of the benefits of switching to Linux desktops that are X thin clients. I use an LTSP-style setup at home and it really works well. There aren't low-cost clients available in the shops though, so I have to make my own using VIA mini-ITX kit for about 150ukp (~$250).
    With the commoditisation of gigabit networking and 64-bit machines (i.e. Opteron), it must be fairly easy for one server to support more than 40 desktops.

    - Brain.
  • by caudron (466327) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:13PM (#7988660) Homepage
    What does it mean to say that this will be the Year of the Linux Desktop?

    Does it mean that he thinks this is the year it will be a viable choice for the mythical Joe Sixpack or that it will gain popularity with said Mr. Sixpack? I never really understood what that meant, exactly.

    I've been using Linux on my desktop exclusively for 2 or 3 years. Does that mean that, for me, 2000 was the Year of the Linux Desktop?

    I think without knowing what he means by the statement we can't really evaluate it.

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