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2004: Year of the Penguin? 427

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the we've-heard-that-before dept.
houseofmore writes "The Toronto star suggests that things are looking good for the Linux desktop this year as more heavy weight commercial vendors get behind it, including HP, Novell, IBM, Sun and... Walmart. It also mentions Red Hat's plan to offer a new corporate desktop edition of their enterprise desktop sometime this year. The article states that more and more companies are considering (and) switching to Linux for their desktop due to expensive Windows licensing fees and high-profile security vulnerabilities."
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2004: Year of the Penguin?

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  • Maybe when... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spungo (729241) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:15AM (#8848354)
    - one of the big vendors decide to publicly ship a consumer desktop machine with a GNU/Linux install (or even a dual install), will I start to think that the challenge is on.
    • Re:Maybe when... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman (238306)
      Agreed. OEM support is a big issue. Many of the problems I ran into when testing various distros [slashdot.org] wouldn't happen on an OEM machine.

    • Laptops (Score:4, Insightful)

      by b0r0din (304712) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:30AM (#8848562)
      I'm waiting for a huge backing for a laptop that Linux supports fully, including things like wifi support, full driver support, etc. When I can get a fairly affordable laptop with Linux installed, or a base driver system maybe built for IBM or HP parts, then I'll begin to think Linux starting to make heavy inrows.
    • Re:Maybe when... (Score:4, Informative)

      by newell_nicosia (234410) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:59AM (#8849004) Homepage
      I have to agree. I am a big Linux fan for server apps and writing code. But when it comes to desktop integration and cool little games and utilities, I still have to choose evil MS Windows. The day my mother (who is a total technophobe) can turn on a linux machine and not feel any discomfort is the day when I know Linux has a fair fight with Windows. Unfortunately, that day has not yet arrived. Let's face it, there are a vast majority of computer users out there who do not know what the word "compile" means.
  • Seriously... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:16AM (#8848357)
    Don't we hear this every year?
    • Re:Seriously... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DrCode (95839) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @01:40PM (#8850311)
      Yes, and now it's time for everyone with a specialized need to proclaim how "Linux will never catch on because the software my company uses to layout dovetails for antique desk reproductions only runs on Windows."
  • by FreemanPatrickHenry (317847) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:16AM (#8848358)
    Previous headlines in the Toronto Star:

    4/2003: "2003: The Year of the Penguin?"
    4/2002: "2002: The Year of the Penguin?"
    4/2001: "2001: The Year of the Penguin?"
    4/2000: "2000: The Year of the Penguin?"
    4/1999: "1999: The Year of the Penguin?"
  • by bsharitt (580506) * <brandon@sDALIharitt.com minus painter> on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:17AM (#8848376) Homepage Journal
    Okay, we were wrong in 2001, 2002, and 2003, but we really mean it this time.

    I hope it does happen this year though.
    • Re:Sounds Familiar (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:29AM (#8848550) Homepage Journal
      From what I've seen so far [slashdot.org], there are only two possible desktops for the average user:

      1. SuSE
      2. Java Desktop System (SuSE based)

      I haven't had a chance to try Xandros, so that may be a competitor as well. The biggest problem is that the Linux developers have to get off their high horse and make binary distribution as easy as source distribution. SuSE, RedHat, Mandrake, etc. are all Linux, but all need different RPM files. And then some RPMs may not match the version of libc/glibc you use.

      What's the standard solution? "Just recompile it."

      That is *not* acceptable for the average end user. Take a look at Mac OS X. They got it right. You download the DMG, it mounts as a folder, you copy the "program" (really a folder that the OS makes look like a file) to your Applications directory. Done.

      Linux OTOH, goes like this: Find the RPM you want. Try to install and get a list of dependencies. Go track down every dependency you need (because you should already have libart_gpl and libtheora, right?!) and then install the dependencies. After spending and hour or two just to install one piece of software, log out and log back in so the menus update. Then try to run the software and hope that you didn't accidently install an incompatible binary. ARRRGGGHHH!!!
      • Re:Sounds Familiar (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Overt Coward (19347) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:45AM (#8848774) Homepage
        Exactly. The state of Linux right now is still similar to a car designed by auto enthusiasts -- if you know what you're doing (and enjoy doing it, to boot), it's relatively easy to use and maintain.

        But the average person doesn't tinker under the hood of their car much, or at all. (Heck, most people don't even change their own oil these days.) They just want a product that works with little to no detailed knowledge of what's actually going on, and rely on support (mechanics, JiffyLube, whatever) for keeping the thing working properly.

        Same for operating systems -- most users aren't going to want to spend the time or energy learning how to maintain their own system. Linux "for the masses" will require a system that can be maintained with a minimum amount of effort from the end user. In a corporate setting, this is less important because those machines would be administered by IT specialists, but in a personal/home setting, self-maintaining systems are a must.

  • "The power of innovation in the open-source community is unparalleled," says Chris Pratt, manager of IBM Canada's Internet server business. "You've got thousands of people working on this thing for no other reason than to produce the best quality product. If you look at what they've been able to produce up until now, imagine how it's going to go forward."

    This guy couldn't have put it any better. It's the reason Linux will continue to grow and have deeper market pennetration over the next few years.

    It's
    • Mr. Pratt actually completely missed the boat with that comment. Those thousands of people aren't "working on this thing" to "produce the best quality product" (half of them would probably revolt at it being called "product"), they're working on it because:
      a) They're allowed to
      b) They wanted something to exist that didn't before, or they wanted the same function to be performed with a different interface, options, etc...

      Quality is not an overriding goal, as witnessed by the fact that Linux has generally
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There's been a lot of interest in Linux at my place of employ over the past 12 months. Not just wishful thinking kind of interest - - - but the kind of interest that leads to full testing environments to see if it's feasible to support linux in our environment, over multiple hardware platforms. What's most interesting is that my organization is both large, and also very very conservative.
  • I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that '05 will be a penguin year as well
  • We're On Board (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:19AM (#8848416)
    Recently upgraded all of our workstations to Linux. Fully wiped about 15 machines and added a custom install of Fedora Core 1 in less than six hours. We use a single Windows 2003 Server via rdesktop for a handful of legacy applications. The amazing thing is that everything worked flawlessly. We've had a handful of interface questions and a few printer hiccups and that's it.

    Other small companies can do this and do it now.

    • "Other small companies can do this and do it now."

      Correction: Other small companies that don't have technophobes that need to be able to work seamlessly with other companies can do this and do it now. And if you're the administrator, be prepared to take full responsibility and be able to tackle every roadblock. There is no Linux Corp. with 4 hour response times for business down situations.

      -Lucas

      • Re:We're On Board (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rah1420 (234198)
        . There is no Linux Corp. with 4 hour response times for business down situations.

        And I'm sure that you have that kind of service level agreement with the MSFT Channel Partner that you used to deploy your current desktop solution, right? Riiiiiiiiight.
    • gaaah. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Moderation abuser (184013) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:52AM (#8848906)
      I can just see the rollouts now. Linux on every local desktop, local passwd, group, apps, complexity rising exponentially, security, performance and reliability decreasing in response.

      While Windows can be an insecure mess, it's nothing compared to just how messy Unix systems can become.

      With Unix, the least efficient use of the hardware is to put a single instance of many different applications on to lots of different machines.

      Say a Unix app consumes 20Mb of RAM, 80% -> 90% of that memory is shareable; shared libraries, program text and the like. So *conservatively* 2 people can run the application on a machine and it only takes 24Mb of RAM, not 40Mb of RAM, 3 people it uses 28Mb, not 60Mb and so on. On top of this, the application is already loaded, it doesn't have to be read from disk again each time it's started. The filesystem buffers are already pre-loaded, the CPU caches have a significantly better hit rate than if there are a dozen different apps running.

      Unix(and Linux) is *not* Windows, there's an entirely different system architecture which should really be considered before just wiping Windows on each desktop and replacing it with Linux.

      Of course there's a great opportunity for people who know.
      • Re:gaaah. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by codepunk (167897)
        Well said, linux is not windows and should not be deployed in the same manner. The Windows deployment model is based on selling licenses and does nothing for efficiency. If you are deploying linux and not doing it thin client you are doing it wrong.
      • LTSP (Score:4, Interesting)

        by scarolan (644274) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @04:15PM (#8852205) Homepage
        Here at Medical Resource USA, myself and our webmaster were tired of troubleshooting 12-14 windows machines everyday. Nearly every single day there was a virus, or software problem, or some sort of problem with someone's computer. So I consulted with my boss, and we decided to switch to Linux. (Maybe linux should have some switch commercials like apple did? beepbeepbeepbeepbeep)

        We are just finishing off switching over our computer network to Linux - but we didn't need to wipe windows off anyone's hard drive. Here's how we did it:

        • Built a small server and installed Fedora Core 1.
        • Installed LTSP [ltsp.org] (Linux Terminal Server Project) and configured it for our system.
        • Created boot disks for each computer that did not have a 'boot from network' option. I used Rom-O-Matic [www.rom-o-matic] for this part.
        • We also purchased some thin clients from NeoWare [neoware.com] for new employees. These have a stripped down Linux distro on them and connect by opening a remote X connection. As our company grows, and the old pentium II and III boxes gradually die off, we will replace all of them with thin clients.

        Here are the specs on the server. I have a better one being delivered soon, but this is the 'proof of concept' version:

        • Emachine with 1ghz Intel celery processor
        • 512MB RAM
        • 80GB hard drive
        • Nightly backup of home directories to external USB hard drive

        The network currently supports 10 users, with usually 6-7 people signed on at any given time. We use Evolution as an outlook replacement, Open Office instead of MS office, and Mozilla for web browsing.

        We have a pretty login screen with our company logo, and the face browser so you can click your picture to log in. Redhat's bluecurve desktop is great, and is a snap for any windows user to learn. The terminals start up WAY faster than windows ever did, and all the apps pop right up even on a pokey Pentium II machine. IN fact, my thin clients only have 64mb of memory and they work great too.

        There were a few minor glitches or complaints about the UI, but in almost every case I was able to show the sales reps and employees how to get what they needed to do done.

        So switching to linux CAN be done. The only drawback is when you've got windows apps that you have to use when there's no linux alternative. In our case, the accounting department makes extensive use of Quickbooks to handle our finances. We tried to emulate, use wine, crossover office, etc. but none of these solutions were either stable or robust enough to meet our needs. So I had to leave three boxes running windows so accounting can continue to use Quickbooks.

        We also use our linux box as a Quake 2 server for lan parties after our weekly sales meetings! My boss is an older guy but he loves FPS shooters. The employees enjoy getting a chance to frag the pointy-haired guy every week :P

  • Training Costs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LaNMaN2000 (173615) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:21AM (#8848435) Homepage
    One of the things few Linux desktop advocates consider is the cost of retraining users to use the new software and any loss of productivity that would result from incompatibilities between OSS Office packages (OpenOffice,StarOffice,etc.) and Microsoft's offering. If 90% of business users create their documents in word then even subtle incompatibilities or limitations of the import functionality could make it very difficult to share information across and between organizations.

    It is the chicken and the egg problem. The value in MS Software is certainly not any features of the packages, themselves; it is the network effect of being able to easily share data with all other users of the software.
    • Re:Training Costs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pe1rxq (141710) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:29AM (#8848536) Homepage Journal
      Training guy: Remember that white plane Word had were you typed your text?

      Luser: Yeah...

      Training guy: Your new word processor also has it...

      Luser: ........

      Training guy: You know how you used 'open' and 'save' and 'print' in that 'file' menu in the top of the window?

      Luser: Yeah....

      Training guy: Good, keep doing that.

      Luser: Ok....

      Training guy: Remember how above the white plane you could select the font and its size? And whit those funny buttons with italic and bold text you could make the text in the white plane turn to italic and bold?

      Luser: Uhuh...

      Training guy: Great! NEXT!
      • Re:Training Costs (Score:4, Insightful)

        by kahei (466208) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @12:32PM (#8849393) Homepage

        Luser: I want to embed my graphs in it now. And when Accounting change the graph, it should email me. Some of the graphs are generated from this old DLL. And when you click here, it should bring up foo.xls with sheet 3 selected.

        Training guy: ...

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Training guy: That's interesting, because OpenOffice.org can do all those things, and users on different platforms and different versions can use those features together. And, since OpenOffice.org uses well-documented open file standards, you can expect that these features will continue to work well on future versions, too. Oh, and if there are any other features you can imagine, you can add them.

          Luser: I want to suck your dick.

    • Re:Training Costs (Score:2, Interesting)

      by robertjw (728654)
      Huh, few Linux desktop advocates consider retraining? Interesting since every Linux desktop article I've seen in the last 2 years mentioned the cost of retraining.

      My perception could be completely wrong, but most Microsoft Office users I know don't have a clue how to do anything but the most rudimentary document creation in Word, or the most basic spreadsheet creation in Excel. Couple that with the incompatibility problems we run into because we aren't willing to shell out $300/year/user to upgrade to
  • ...please no more of these, Slashdot! It seems you post two a month now. They're always the same, everyone makes fun of them, and they don't offer anything new or insightful other than "things are looking good."

    Stop!
  • I kid you not, I've installed 3 different flavors of linux on 6 different computers at home with 6 different soundcards for the past 7 years. Linux has NEVER worked with any of my sound cards. The latest attempt was knoppix, with a sound blaster audigy. Anyone ever have any luck with it?

    Until the linux desktop has the ease of use windows, or OSX when things go wrong I don't think it will be ready for primetime on the desktop. I wish it was, because neither of the other two OS's are that appealing to
    • Were you using ALSA or OSS? OSS is pretty much dead and I haven't used it in years. That said, I've never NOT been able to get a soundcard working with ALSA. I'm not saying full functionality 100% of the time, but basic sound has never been a problem. I'm not sure which distros you used but I can almost guarantee that SuSE 9.0 would have picked up and configured that card for you. SB Audigy support has been in ALSA since the 0.9 series which I know is included in SuSE 9.0.
    • Yeah, I know at least two or three people who have the Audigy working under Knoppix. I know I have 3 different machines with Audigies in them. Two of the three run Linux.

      In my 9 years of running Linux, I've never had a sound card not work. Of course, I only ever use Creative Labs branded equipment, or onboard sound because I'm too cheap to go buy a separate sound card.

      The only Audigy I have that you can't run Linux on is an "Audigy LS", that isn't based on the EMU10K chipset (it's the third Audigy I

  • What's so duck-like about a penguin? That it's a bird.. that messes around in the water? Maybe ducks are actually penguin like..
  • Wait a moment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by frodo from middle ea (602941) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:23AM (#8848456) Homepage
    Unless, somehow , all those copies of Windows 95/98/ME/2K/XP installed on 90% of the PCs of home users some how , misteriously disappear over a period of one year and magically they have Redhat./Suse/Mandrake/Debain/Slack/Gentoo installed .

    And then all those ex-windows users, some how magically learn how to use linux (not that it is hard, but it still has to be learnt, just as they did learn (?) to use windows)., I don't see this happening. Same holds for all the corporate desktops

    I am tired of people claiming "This is the year of linux", year after year after year. There is never going to be one single year of linux, It will have to slowly and steadly erode in to M$ territory. But it will take a much longer time than a mear year, or even a decade, unless ofcourse M$ decides to do something very stupid, like I don't know, Make the wallpaper with setve ballmer and make it unchangable.

    • The catalyst is the business desktop. People like what they're familiar with. They'll become familiar with Linux if the business they work in switches over to Linux for whatever reason. So they'll be more inclined to try it at home. Many people get software "upgrades" from work. May as well give them one that's legal and an actual upgrade :)
    • Re:Wait a moment (Score:5, Insightful)

      by telbij (465356) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:41AM (#8848719)
      There is never going to be one single year of linux, It will have to slowly and steadly erode in to M$ territory.

      Funny that you never see articles about this, but it's the truth. I would go so far as to say that growing Linux marketshare is inevitable going down the line. Why? Because Linux is not subject to the same market forces that cause Microsoft to ignore bugs while building ridiculous and ill-advised features that simply look good in a power point. While Microsoft struggles to please shareholders, Linux is plodding along fixing bugs and steadily increasing the value of the platform.

      Tech news is dominated by financials, and Linux has oodles of economic potential, but to look at Linux in those terms is so shortsighted. Linux is true progress in the sense that its advances can never be expunged as we have seen happen time and time again with proprietary software. Once Linux reaches a critical point, there will be no financial incentive to develop a separate OS. At most, companies will customize Linux, but in general commercial development will shift to the application layer where it belongs, and we can look forward to renewed competition in the software industry, only this time on a much more solid base.

      Of course there's no telling how long all this could take...
  • You can always... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tuxedo Jack (648130) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:23AM (#8848457) Homepage
    Drop a few hints to your local MS vendor that you're thinking about switching to Linux to make them drop their costs on licensing fees.

    Trust me, it's so wonderful to take an MS vendor to lunch, sing the praises of Linux the whole time, then take them to a room near your computer room and point out the two shiny new mailservers that are blank and say you're debating about the TCO of Linux versus Exchange.
  • by caluml (551744) <slashdot&spamgoeshere,calum,org> on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:23AM (#8848460) Homepage
    Another month, another prediction. And yet, most people on Slashdot run IE (and hence Windows).

    Linux womble 2.6.4 #1 Tue Mar 16 10:52:42 GMT 2004 i686 Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 1.80GHz GenuineIntel GNU/Linux
  • Just loaded up a walmart box with fedora for my sister last night. Got to work this morning and ordered up a bunch of HP linux workstations. So yes the time has long since come.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:24AM (#8848482)
    "Maybe we'll get 'em next year." - Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, Sacramento Kings, and Linux.
  • by ArbitraryConstant (763964) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:25AM (#8848485) Homepage
    Seriously. Every year major stuff happens that no one thought we'd ever see.
  • If I switched an mp3 server to linux, would I have to worry about spaces in the mp3 files? Can they be 64 characters long?

    I_dont_want_to_change_them_all_to_them.

    • Linux itself is happy with files named that way. All of the filesystems that are suitable to be the root filesystem support it. The only issues may come with apps built around shell scripts to stream the files or something. Some shellcode may throw a hissy over the spaces. That said there will be plethora of alternatives if the particular helper app you had in mind doesn't like it.

      If you are just going to set up a Samba fileshare or something then no real issues are going to come up. Just chuck 'em in
    • Yes, they can be 64 char. long.

      The only thing is the " "(space), problem .

      Most GUI applications I have used, have no problems with spaces, but with CLI, it gets tricky.

      e.g. on most shells you need to escape the space with a \, e.g. This\ is\ a\ file.txt . Also for some shell or CL applications, you need to put the whole thing in quotes e.g. "like\ this" .

      Further annoying is the fact that, commands which parse the inputs, often have space as a dilimeter , and even escaping with a \ and putting in quotes w

  • IBM + Laptops (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ibm5_25 (713547) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:26AM (#8848504)
    If IBM is doing so much for Linux (inc. their ad campagin with the little dude a while back) why can't you buy one of their laptops with Linux preinstalled?
  • Every Year (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrRuslan (767128) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:29AM (#8848549)
    For me because evry year I look back and say ...wow look how much progress was made this year...i mean it just grows and there is no stopping it no matter what anyone says.
  • The walmart advertisement are a bit like the PC advertisements some time ago (before the linux era), which stated something like: "With PC-DOS7, the alternative OS..."... which was more or less only an invitation to replace it with a MS windows installation, i.e. "here's something to play with, you can always replace it with Win XP if you want to start your real work" alternative.

    IMHO, if the end user feels that Linux is only a toy OS to replaced by "something more professional", this may also hurt the ima
  • Personally, having tried Xandros/1.0 and now using Xandros/2.0 it's clear that Windows has real competition.

    No doubt this comment will be targetted by the increasing number of moderators who appear to be Windows admirers, but I have enough karma for a whole barbeque, so here goes with a list of the ten reasons why Linux is destined to overtake Windows in 2004 (or 2005, or 2006, etc.)

    - Windows is expensive, Linux is free
    - Distros like Xandros "just work"
    - Linux is secure from worms, trojans, viruses
    - Linux runs on modest hardware
    - Linux is less complex and thus more stable
    - Linux has a "cool" factor missing from Windows
    - The IT world's view of Microsoft as "evil" is percolating down to the general public
    - Linux now comes with a sufficient set of applications for most common purposes
    - Linux applications are more stable and simpler than Windows' ones

    And lastly: more and more institutions will choose Linux as they discover the advantages of it, leading to consumer uptake as people "stay compatible" with their work PCs.

    From a 3% marketshare this seems unbelievable. And yet this is how markets work: the "tipping" often happens way before the 20% mark, but once it starts, it's unstoppable.

    At the very least, 2004 was the year in which people seriously started to wonder "when" and not "whether" Linux would become the de-facto OS standard for all computing, including the desktop.
    • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:45AM (#8848771)
      well, sorry to nitpick, but your Linux isnt free if you use a non-free Linux distro as an example.

      It's cheaper, yes, but not free as in warez.

      Just cuz you keep repeating it doesnt make it so, otherwise, money would be growing on trees, too.

    • Although I like Linux, I'm not as enthusiastic as you. Linux has evolved quickly, but the people haven't changed. You see...

      > - Distros like Xandros "just work"

      But it is not well known yet.

      > - Linux is secure from worms, trojans, viruses

      True, but sadly the average Windows users seems unaware of the fact at all. Even sadder is that some of them can treat a system filled with spywares, viri, crashing and stop working as normal now.

      It is as if they've been force fed 10 years of shit, and now they
  • Results 1 - 10 of about 1,720 for "year of the penguin". (0.07 seconds)

  • by AndroidCat (229562) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:33AM (#8848607) Homepage
    The Toronto Star's @Biz section stories were all-but-one about Linux yesterday. [thestar.com] (The Tux with sling was big across the front.)
  • I just saw and add for Windows Server [microsoft.com] on top of slashdot. It said

    Windows server offers a savings of 11%-22% over Linux in 4 out of 5 workload scenarios.

    How can this happen?
  • by hotspotbloc (767418) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:36AM (#8848638) Homepage Journal
    And why it's not a bad thing.

    GNU/Linux is in it for the long haul. MS Windows flashes on the media's screen with a new release and fades away. GNU/Linux is growing bigger and stronger everyday. As that happens more and more companies will port their wares, more hardware venders will supply GNU/Linux instead of MS Windows, more users will leave MS Windows (most likely because they're tired of the upgrade costs for both hard and software related to the upgrade), and someday MS Windows will be a "niche" OS.

    Think about it like Apple. They make an excellent OS which includes some great apps, overall better than average desktop and small server hardware, is clearly better than MS Windows but still isn't "number one". Is this a bad thing: no. Apple will be around for a long time building their stuff reguardless of their marketshare. IMO this is the fate for MS Windows (except for the quality part of course).

    Forget about this "Year of the Penguin" stuff because no one year will be it's "year". GNU/Linux is here to stay, grow and get better.

  • Corporate vs. Home (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PretzelBat (770907) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:36AM (#8848641)
    The article states "Fortune 1000 companies are already dabbling." While this may be true, Linux becoming dominant on the home desktop is still unlikely, IMHO. There are still too many usability issues for the average computer user to perform configuration in Linux (e.g. installation of programs). Once KDE is up and running, I suppose everyone will be okay until the purchase of a new printer, etc., but until system changes are as simple to handle in Linux as they are in Windows, there is not much chance of Aunt Tillie feeling comforatable with Linux.

    In a corporate environment, where configuration is taken care of by IT, this is a completely different issue, and I can see that Linux is liable to make some important inroads here in the next few years. Perhaps once Linux becomes more widespread in corporate America (and has polished up some of the persistant usability issues), it will begin to make more of an impact on the home desktop market.
    • by FooBarWidget (556006) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @01:11PM (#8849961)
      But corporate desktops is where desktop domination begins. You don't begin targeting home users - you begin targeting corporate users. Once you have a good piece of market share on the corporate desktops, it'll be easier to extend to the home desktop.

      Yes Linux has issues. These issues are constantly being worked on and are improving. Installing a printer for example is as simple as starting the printer configuration tool and have your printer autodetected. I don't have a digital camera but I heard that on desktop distros like Mandrake, the camera is automounted and an icon will automatically appear on the desktop.
      My parents for example don't install software or hardware. They just use the computer to get on the Internet, that's it. Linux is a perfectly fine option for them - they're already using it.

      But there are also other *huge* issues which are something Linux can't really do something about: the chicken & egg issues. Hardware support for example - hardware manufacturers won't support Linux until there are lots of users, and users won't use Linux until hardware manufacturers support it. Same thing for games and commercial apps.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Linux on the desktop won't succeed until the applications can be installed and run by Joe User. I'm a Linux newbie with RH 9 on a home server. If I didn't remember a little UNIX from mumbledy-mumble years ago I'd be completely lost.

    It's running great as a server, but as a desktop it's not there. I've downloaded plenty of software and getting any of it running has been a struggle. Documentation is terrible, if it's there at all it says high level things like "run the makefile", which doesn't work half t
  • by adzoox (615327) * on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:38AM (#8848667) Journal
    Linux has the "obscurity factor" amongst the psyche.

    Mac OS has the "obscurity factor" BUT (and it's a big but) - it is commercially available and known for a very high quality/zero virus/low maintenance - hardware and software - Linux doesn't yet have a SINGLE company that has a commercially successful hardware line AND software line.

    + Macs can run Linux too - even better in some cases - which means one could potentially have a QUASI QUAD BOOT system

    Virtual PC = Windows Variants
    Linux = Linux PPC or YellowDog
    Mac OS X
    Mac OS 9

    Heck older Macs even boot BEOS well.

    **TROLLS - please don't put Intego's FUD trojan alert
  • by grassy_knoll (412409) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:41AM (#8848704) Homepage
    With XP calling home to register itself, word about the holes that come with the XP firewall, etc. I can see where Linux looks much more attractive ( hell, some home users might have to BUY it ;) ).

    Similarly, the increasing cost of XP/Office XP with little or no percieved increase in value *cough*software assurance*cough* has got to be grating the nerves of even a few PHB's.

    Either way, it's good to see Linux making some inroads into corporate desktops.
  • Games (Score:5, Interesting)

    by w42w42 (538630) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:41AM (#8848712)

    I use Linux full time as my desktop, except for the two/three times a week I decide to play a game with some friends. Then I have no choice (winex doesn't work) to boot into Windows.

    As a work desktop, it more than satisfies my requirements. Honestly though, as much as I'd rather not have to, I have to keep the Windows partition to play those occasional games.

    I think that the 'year of the penguin' will come around whenever game companies really start shipping titles for Linux. I think it's ironic though that if a couple of the larger PC manufacturers actually started shipping Linux, that games would be available in short order, I'm sure. Of course, neither industry wants to make the first leap.

  • Already happened (Score:5, Informative)

    by arvindn (542080) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:45AM (#8848770) Homepage Journal
    Listen all cynical American naysayers:

    In India, where I live, 2003 was the year of linux on the desktop. Yup. Last year. Already happened.

    Starting around last August, the avalanche started. Linux desktops crossed a threshold minimum level of usability, and the price of Windows became an unacceptable fraction of the price of the PC in this cost conscious market. I think it was IBM that ran the first ad for Linux PCs. Soon the taboo was broken. OEMs switched in droves. Today there is hardly anyone that only sells windows boxen. This year two companies have entered the market specializing in linux PCs.

    I can feel the pulse at the grassroots level as well. While the percentage of linux users is surely nowhere near two figures, it has probably doubled since a year or two ago. Banks and other enterprises switching all employees to linux happens every day.

    Billy Gates shot himself in the foot. Major anti-piracy ad campaigns and policing action by NASCOMM (BSA equivalent in India) contributed to awareness about alternatives and fueled linux growth. Today the ads directing the reader to microsoft.com/piracy/howtotell/ are conspicuous by their absence, but the damage has been done. What linux has won is mindshare. PC geek mags regularly carry linux distros and other linux software these days, and have as many articles about linux as windows. It looks like an exponential growth curve is assured.

    If you're thinking of moving to Bangalore, there's at least one thing you can look forward to :-)

  • A recent study published by the highly regarded Laura Kidio and her Yankee finding the TCO of desktop is much higher than of Windows XP Pro.

    In a very serious study with no sillyness whatsoever, once factoring in the high cost of download and installing Debian Linux, the TCO is actually 327$, compared to Microsoft's low low $199 price tag.
  • I work for a large public school district. We use Win 2000 server quite a bit(that may be changing with the movement of Novell to Linux). The place where the district lags behind quite a bit is on the desktop-we still have _thousands_ of Windows 98 machines out there because there simply isn't funding to upgrade the hardware/OS's. What would be really compelling in our case is a really nice desktop version that had Wine that worked seemlessly _and would use existing Win98 DLL's and libraries if available. Basically, I'd see that as an alternative to a Win 2K or Win XP upgrade that would breath some new life into these old machines. We'd get a lot more functionality with Linux _but_ short of doing a dual boot, I haven't seen a way to keep the functionality that Win98 has--and the district has what is for it quite a substantial investment in Windows software--and training in Windows applications for its staff.

    What I'm saying here is that part of the logical niche for a free OS is as an alternative upgrade path for folks that are finding that Windows simply doesn't give them an economically viable upgrade path. Microsoft is ceasing support of Win98. Now, to put this in perspective, even among folks outside of the district that hit our web page, over 20% are using older versions of Windows(ME,98,95) compared to less than 1% for Linux-and 4-5% for Macintosh.

    Its always seemed to me that folks pushing desktop Linux generally assume that folks will ditch many of their windows applications(I know Wine works, but last I checked it was still a bit limited in what applications it would support) or at least substantially retrain themselves to use Linux.
    I tend to think that just being the viable upgrade path for older hardware is the type of thing that will take Linux clearly past Macintosh in terms of numbers.
  • by iCharles (242580) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @12:13PM (#8849182) Homepage
    No...wait...it was 2002. I'm sorry--I mean 2001. One of these years Linix will dominate...
  • More like 2005 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @12:23PM (#8849292) Journal
    One of the issues with "new" technology is that there is a learning AND testing curve for the faint of heart. Just about every CIO fits in the faint of heart category, as they typically pick what others run, so that they can hide in "nobody go fired for using X".

    Back in the 80's,early 90's X was IBM. But even in early 90's, Windows was good enough to replace much of the character screens. The issue was CIO's were afraid so they would allow bean counters and others to slowly bring them in before they stuck their neck out.

    We have been in the learning phase for the last year. Now, it is moving to testing for these folks. In early 2005 (one year before Windows big one), we will see mass replacements as part of the 2005 budget.
  • by wehe (135130) <wehe AT tuxmobil DOT org> on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @12:26PM (#8849332) Homepage Journal
    For laptops almost any major manufacturer has announced the availability of Linux on their machines during the last years. Almost all off them have dropped these plans silently. For details see the Laptop Manufacturers - Linux Status Survey [tuxmobil.org].
  • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @12:42PM (#8849529)
    It's more secure in some ways. We know. But let's put that aside.

    As I see it, there's no clear reason why anyone should bother switching to Linux. Seriously. It's open, yes, but that doesn't matter except to very small minority of people (remember, Windows software can also be Open Source, even though the kernel is closed). Other than that...not much. Both Linux and Windows are equally complex and confusing. People who argue that Linux is a beautiful gem either (a) don't really know what they're talking about, or (b) are talking about the raw kernel and not the 10x more stuff that needs to stack on top of it to make a Windows-equivalent system.

    If an alternative operating system had some huge and obvious benefits to the user, then I'd be all over it. Linux and Windows are more similar than different.
  • DRM Counter Attack (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @12:56PM (#8849721) Homepage Journal

    switching to Linux for their desktop due to expensive Windows licensing fees and high-profile security vulnerabilities.

    It's a good question how much Linux desktop deployment will occur before the first pre-installed Microsoft OS's on PCs with built-in hardware-level DRM (TCPA, etc.) begin to appear.

    That OS will be trumpeted as being "more secure" and "lets you watch videos, listen to music", which will help to sell it to the virus-weary public and to the content paranoid **AA members.

    And it's questionable whether people will even care if their PC is not "free" as in freedom as long as they're getting enough perceived benefit for not too much perceived cost.

  • by usurper_ii (306966) <eyes0nly.quest4@org> on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @01:17PM (#8850023) Homepage
    And this time people, this is a joke and not a troll!!!

    This is a friendly note from the law office of Bezos & McBride (no relation, really) in representation of the SCO Corporation. SCO would like to inform you that it holds the trademark to the term "Year of Linux." Please cease and desist the use of the term without acknowledgement of the trademark. If you wish to continue using this term, please contact SCO to discuss licensing terms.

    Thanks you,

    Law Office of Bezos & McBride
    D. McBride
    J. Bezos

  • by V_drive (522339) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @01:18PM (#8850039)
    With all the confusion about whether or not a particular year is "The Year of the Penguin," I thought I'd volunteer a simple method you can apply to decide for yourself.

    If it is January through May: this year
    If it is June through December: next year

    Try it for yourself and you too may become an industry expert and visionary.

    [warning: this post contains high degrees of sarcasm and may not be suitable for all readers]

Byte your tongue.

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