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Friedman on Linux Desktop Expectations 347

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the they-can-only-go-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes "SearchEnterpriseLinux.com is featuring an interview with Novell/Ximian's Nat Friedman on the increasing interest about the Linux desktop. Quote from the interview - "A day doesn't go by when I don't talk to a Fortune 1000 customer from the financial services market, automotives or others that are not looking at dipping their feet into the Linux desktop." And by the way, both Nat Friedman and Miguel de Icaza's April 12th blog entry have a picture of Miguel and Nat dancing with David Vaskevitch, CTO of Microsoft. Now that's something you don't get to see everyday!"
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Friedman on Linux Desktop Expectations

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  • by Trogre (513942) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @11:47PM (#8865941) Homepage
    "A day doesn't go by when I don't talk to a Fortune 1000 customer from the financial services market, automotives or others that are not looking at dipping their feet into the Linux desktop"

    No no, not more triple negatives!
  • David who? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @11:47PM (#8865944)
    a picture of Miguel and Nat dancing with David Vaskevitch, CTO of Microsoft.
    What? Was Steve Ballmer unavailable? Just wait until he hears about this. He's gonna flip. (literally)
  • by kcbrown (7426) <slashdot@sysexperts.com> on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @11:47PM (#8865945)
    I sent this in response to this [slashdot.org], but I think it's quite relevant here, too, because it addresses the problem of desktop consistency:

    Btw, if you have been following my posts on my blog and on the desktop-devel-list, you will know that my feeling is that all of the existing toolkits today (Gtk, Qt, XUL and VCL) will become obsolete and we need to start looking at the next generation toolkit system.

    If you're going to do a next generation toolkit system, then do it right: start by creating a network protocol for it.

    You heard me right. The right way to do a toolkit is to make it networkable in a client/server fashion. There are a few reasons for doing so:

    1. Speed over the network. Instead of having to transmit low-level graphics primitives, you now only have to transmit higher-level widget information. This should represent an order of magnitude reduction in the amount of network traffic required. It also means the bandwidth between the code that draws the widget and the code that renders it will likely be as high as possible (a local socket or some such).

    2. Consistency. With a client/server widget architecture, all applications running anywhere will have the same look and feel when they're displaying through your widget server. Additionally, changing the theme in use will change the look and feel of all the applications using the widget server (which, ideally, should be all of them).

    3. Abstraction. Because the widgets are implemented on top of a protocol, widget libraries simply have to all talk the same protocol. This means that it doesn't matter what the widget library itself looks like, what language it's implemented in, what object paradigm it uses, or anything else: the look and feel will still be the same. This is markedly different from the current situation with GTK, QT, and all other Unix widget sets, each of which implements its own look and feel. A client/server architecture can, and should, abstract out the look and feel of the widget set.

    Do it that way and I think it's likely that you'll finally eliminate the one big problem on the Unix desktop: the disparity in look and feel between applications written for different widget toolkits.

    • by Jameth (664111) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:01AM (#8866032)
      I quite agree. However, there is an unfortunate problem with making a new toolkit: Cross-Platform.

      Qt is great because it is cross-platform. GTK has that too. The amount of things that will run native cross-platform are fewer than those that will run on a single platform.

      Also, you are arguing for a widget server, which will work best when it is the dominant/only widget set. Windows can do this. Linux is still too diverse.

      Still, I think you're right. Completely right. I just was noting a few things.
      • by be-fan (61476) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:31AM (#8866231)
        Windows cannot do this. It is way to diverse as well. Hell, Microsoft itself uses 3 different toolkits for its major app lines!
      • I quite agree. However, there is an unfortunate problem with making a new toolkit: Cross-Platform.

        But the beauty of separating out the look and feel of the toolkit from the implementation of the toolkit via a network protocol is that porting the widget set to a new platform is now much more straightforward: you simply have to write a widget server on the target platform, which will take widget requests and display them through the native widget set.

        Where you'll have to write some code is when the

    • by phok (704836) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:10AM (#8866102)
      If you're going to do a next generation toolkit system, then do it right: start by creating a network protocol for it.

      *cough*Y-Windows [y-windows.org]*cough*

      They seem to be working on a widget set to go with their protocol. I agree that this is the way to go. Someone will hack $WIDGET_LIBRARY to use the protocol, and we can unify the look and feel. This is a lot more elegant than hacks like GTK-QT [kde-look.org] because they must all interface to the one widget set to rule them all.

      Abstraction. Because the widgets are implemented on top of a protocol, widget libraries simply have to all talk the same protocol. This means that it doesn't matter what the widget library itself looks like, what language it's implemented in, what object paradigm it uses, or anything else: the look and feel will still be the same. This is markedly different from the current situation with GTK, QT, and all other Unix widget sets, each of which implements its own look and feel. A client/server architecture can, and should, abstract out the look and feel of the widget set.

      You're right, it is a significantly different approach, but as I said above, this is not completely incompatible with current widgets.

    • by Tyler Eaves (344284) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:12AM (#8866113)
      I agree, but here's what I want:

      EASE OF PROGRAMMING.

      All the existing toolkits have APIs that are daunting to say the least.
    • by codepunk (167897) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:19AM (#8866162)
      I dont seem to be having much in the way of bandwidth problems running 150 desktops off of a single server. It takes about 150 k sustained bandwidth to suppor that. Now come back when you know what you are talking about.
      • by buttahead (266220) <tscanlan&sosaith,org> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:31AM (#8866228) Homepage
        I'd like to see some examples of the use on those 150 desktops. In my experience 10kbps is not enough to have a smooth desktop experience. I'd alos like to see the latency you have. Say, at 200ms mozilla takes about 1 minute or more to load, and vnc is just barly usable.
        • by codepunk (167897) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @01:15AM (#8866420)
          Actually I would never deploy straight mozilla we always use firebird for thin client deployments. I cannot say I have been on a even marginal network with 200ms latency. Hell I get better than that off of a cable modem across the internet to nearly any site.

          A couple of hints

          No screensavers all of them have been removed

          No fancy background they have a straight color background to keep refresh rates down.

          We currently use kde but are switching to bluecurve because of it's polish.

          20 of those clients are wireless and that works
          fine as well.
        • And I will give you another hint, use TIGHT VNC works great even over a modem. I know I remote machines in china with it every day.
        • by idiot900 (166952) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @01:37AM (#8866502)
          In my experience 10kbps is not enough to have a smooth desktop experience.

          Of course not. The 150K/s is probably an mean over time of all clients' usage, not a sustained transfer - if it were, Ethernet would been designed to be circuit switched like the PSTN and not packet switched ;) I'd expect any individual client to have spikes of high bandwidth usage separated by long periods of low bandwidth usage, consistent with pointing and clicking. When you combine a bunch of clients, the spikes combine too and even out to the quoted 150K/s.
      • Really? Try running an X app over dial-up, or even DSL. MS's RDP can do it, and do it well. How come X can't? Because X is bandwidth hungry. For a LAN it's okay, I guess. Add to this the other problems the grandparent post mentions, and you'll quickly realise its time has come.

        If there are other ways to do the same job better, shouldn't they be explored? Assuming that X is some perfect protocol is just stupid.
        • by codepunk (167897) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @01:09AM (#8866392)
          No for dialup and dsl users you pay yes I said pay for a copy of nomachine (go look it up) it makes x efficient even across a modem.
        • by harikiri (211017) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @01:10AM (#8866396)
          I agree with the post above. My mum has recently started work as a regional manager of a company based in the US, working from a home office. How does she access her corporate email? Via MS remote desktop.

          Due to stupid ISP issues, to get her up and running quickly, we had to get her a pre-paid dialup account. I was seriously worried about whether or not she'd be able to do any work, based on my own experiences running X tunneled over SSH from my work system to my home boxes (and VNC across local networks).

          However, I was pleasantly suprised - despite being only on a 33.6k connection, she is able to do all of her correspondence, through outlook, over RDP to a server in the US. Looking back at the latency issues in running X across local networks and over the internet, the Xwindows protocol needs some serious work to be even close to accomplishing the same smoothness.

          And all this is coming from a hardened Unix geek like myself. :-P
      • I dont seem to be having much in the way of bandwidth problems running 150 desktops off of a single server. It takes about 150 k sustained bandwidth to suppor that. Now come back when you know what you are talking about.

        Yeah, but the reason you can get away with that is that you almost certainly have a much higher burst rate than just 150k, and even if 150k were your burst rate limit, that's far better than 5k per second, which is what you'll be getting over a modem connection.

        X is fine until your

        • The perception of the performance of any GUI depends on the *latency* of the GUI. If you compare X with RDP, X has a significantly better latency response than RDP does so when there is sufficient bandwidth it is a faster option than RDP.

          The bandwidth required to run X is cheap. It was designed for shared 10Mbps local area networks and on today's 100mbps switched networks it absolutely flies. I run several hundred engineers using full screen Gnome (yes, that was a mistake) X sessions on a couple of login s
      • I agree that the networking demands of X are often overblown, but I don't understand what you mean by running 150 desktops off a single server. The X server is what runs on the desktop machine; it's what draws the graphics and gets the raw keyboard & mouse events. Do you mean you have 150 desktops running X servers that all use a single server box to run applications (i.e., X clients) on?

        (Yeah, the X terminology can be confusing since in X-speak the server runs on the desktop, not in the back room, but
    • by demachina (71715) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:37AM (#8866258)
      "Do it that way and I think it's likely that you'll finally eliminate the one big problem on the Unix desktop: the disparity in look and feel between applications written for different widget toolkits."

      Actually, I think you will just pile another GUI toolkit on to an already large pile, and create a new set of applications with a whole new look and feel. In particular you seem to be understating the major effort you are proposing either intentionally or unintentionally.

      First off it takes a lot of work to develop a complete GUI toolkit from scratch. Once you do it then you have to migrate a large body of applications to it which is probably a larger effort than developing the toolkit in the first place. Are you planning to rewrite all the applications in GNOME and/or KDE, OpenOffice, Mozilla etc. How long do you figure that will take. It would take a long time and it would be time spent not developing the capabilities of the applications. In many respects it would be hitting a master reset on the Linux desktop and starting over, which isn't likely to lead to world domination for at least a few years.

      Chances are you wont even get a majority of the developers on some of these major projects to buy in to your new toolkit, though some probably will so you will probably end up with a bunch of new splinters.

      I'm just not sure what it is about GUI toolkits and window managers that exert this constant allure on geeks, compelling them to constantly develop new ones, the vast majority of which never develop critical mass.

      But hey, maybe through superior uber geekness you will develop a new superior uber geek toolkit and you will be able to migrate a complete set of applications to it, and all others will be abandoned in the face of its superiority. Its just seems like something of a long shot. One thing positive I can say about this plan is it might be the only way to end the death match between GNOME and KDE.

      Exactly how much time were you estimating to achieve this grand unified GUI?
      • > I'm just not sure what it is about GUI toolkits and window
        > managers that exert this constant allure on geeks, compelling them to constantly develop
        > new ones, the vast majority of which never develop critical mass.

        Personally I'm glad they do.

        Otherwise we'd be stuck with the visual appeal of Athena and the efficiency of Motif.

        Today's QT is yesterdays Tk.

        Yes the cost of rapid improvement seems to be UI inconsistency. To me that's worth the price.

        - MugginsM
    • by pdamoc (771461) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @02:18AM (#8866686) Homepage
      we don't need another hero (toolkit)!
      It is not the toolkit that is needed but a shift in programmers mentality. We should stop wasting time and use the wisdom of people whom are way better than us at this. We should use PATTERNS. Like MVC for example. When applications will have all the code separated in Models, Views and Controllers toolkits will become irrelevant because as long as you can access the model you can create your own Views and Controllers. The use of higher level languages should be encouraged. The higher the language the easier is to understand the program and so more people can get involved. The cross-platform issue will fade due to the fact that there are already a lot of great cross-platform toolkits in which the View-Controller part can be implemented (scripted.
      The separation of the Model will have yet another benefit, no more reinvention of the wheel, at least in some parts. It could be highly optimized due to the fact that such an approach will encourage only one instance of the model per functionality. No more complex compiling schemes: script the interface (View-Controller) in python and compile only the model or provide it as a binary: .so, .dll, whatever.
  • quite simply ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Neuropol (665537) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @11:47PM (#8865946) Homepage
    people will expect things to 'just work'. email, spreadsheet, document editing, and other office functions are all well covered on the desktop.

    it's the little things that will get people turned off fast: like browser plugin integration, javascript issues, etc. even though MozillaFirebird(rip), and the like, are great for allowing instant plugin installation, there is yet a large hole for media plugin usage considering all of the formats that microsoft and mac have floating around. this is a current limitation, imo. not necessarily a negative on the linux part, but an obstacle created by microsoft and other companies that continues get in the way of total success. that's potentially a major issue and a lot to overcome. i think it's possible to break the stigma regarding linux on teh desktop. it's come miles in the last few years. on the path it follows now, it will over come the general fear that it just doesn't do what windows can. because it can. time has brough a lot of things closer to completion. hardware compatibilty is no longer an issue if you are running current distributions and licensing is an age old argument but if you're in to function for a small fee then why not?

    personally, i'm waiting for the linux desktop that comes loaded with enlightenment (absolutely manadatory!), and all things audio editing, and every funky/odd thing that was available in the rh7.3 stage of development. then i will be satisfied.
    • Re:quite simply ... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dbIII (701233)

      it's the little things that will get people turned off fast: like browser plugin integration, javascript issues, etc. even though MozillaFirebird(rip), and the like, are great for allowing instant plugin installation, there is yet a large hole for media plugin usage considering all of the formats that microsoft and mac have floating around.

      Win4lin still has a place. All those old win98 licences are now worth something for all those little things that linux and breeds of NT will not run.

      personally, i'm wai

    • I would be happy enough if most linux distros would do a good job of installing drivers correctly.

      I install mandrake, try to do something with OpenGL, it starts using software drivers. The amount of time I've already spent trying to fix it amounts to about 2 hours. I'm guessing most people won't have the patiences to even get to the point where I am now.

      Why isn't there something like an OpenUsability group that does nothing but focus on the usability of GNU software? Where aren't there any open yet CONSIS
  • by mattdm (1931) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @11:49PM (#8865951) Homepage
    "A day doesn't go by when I don't talk to a Fortune 1000 customer from the financial services market, automotives or others that are not looking at dipping their feet into the Linux desktop."

    So, to rephrase with the first part in the positive: "Every day, I talk to a Fortune 1000 customer who has no interest at all in Linux."

    Is that really what he meant to say? It may be true, but y'know, I talk to people who have no interest in various things all the time....

  • Young (Score:2, Funny)

    by agm (467017) *
    Is it just me or is the world of developers getting younger? No offense to Nat but it looks like he'd have trouble getting into an R16 movie.
  • by zymurgyboy (532799) <[zymurgyboy] [at] [yahoo.com]> on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @11:50PM (#8865958)
    Friedman: The No. 1 misconception is that usability is a major barrier to adoption and that's not true. It used to be. There was a study done recently with a group of 20 users who had never used a computer before. Ten were put at a Windows PC, 10 at a Linux PC and they were given a list of simple tasks like sending an e-mail, surfing to a Web page and the usability results were pretty much the same.

    Yes! This is so true. A lot of users I've had to support over the years have trouble doing the very basic tasks Mr. Friedman describes. Why would it make any difference which desktop OS they get minimal training on to do these tasks with?

    If serious inroads are ever made in the US the argument for staying with Windows for compatibilty with clients or customers would fade pretty quick, weather this happens with Linux- or OS X- or whatever-on-the-desktop.

    Even more likely to take off if more people start using Apple's at home. They're less afraid of this when things they make with their computer are as useful at work as they are in their livingrooms.

    • This just shows that Microsoft Windows and Linux .* are as unusable as each other. Put a Mac into the mix and you'll see a dramatic different in usability.
      • Maybe. The type of luser I was describing would be just as lost in front of a Mac as anything else. Although "Mail" for an app name makes e-mail boneless enough for them even. Simplicity has it's advantages, for certain.
      • by Jason Earl (1894) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:33AM (#8866244) Homepage Journal

        If anything this just goes to show how much the average consumer cares about usability. Most consumers don't really care how usable their software is. Usability and $0.50 will get you a Snickers bar. Don't get me wrong. I think that Apple really does have the edge when it comes to making usable systems. Especially if you don't have to share documents and files with Windows users. However, when push comes to shove, consumers want "usable enough" at the lowest price, and that's not Apple.

        • Windows users pull their hair out. Many of them say "damn it, this is just too hard" and go buy a Mac. Many Windows users say "good riddance".
          • Just as many of them can't when the descision is out of their hands. I wish Apple would get into a niche market besides music management and graphic design.

            Until Linux has some credibility in the desktop arena it's hard to wish for that even.

          • by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @02:19AM (#8866688) Homepage
            > Windows users pull their hair out. Many of them
            > ay "damn it, this is just too hard" and go buy a
            > Mac. Many Windows users say "good riddance".

            Windows users try Linux and pull their hair out. Many of them say, "Damn it, this is just too hard" and go back to Windows. Many Linux users say "good riddance."

            Many first-time Windows (in Asia, Latin America, etc.) try Windows and pull their hair our. Many of them say, "Damn it, this is just too expensive" and switch to Linux. Bill Gates does NOT say "good riddance."

            There are people who should not be allowed to touch a computer (or a firearm, or much of anything else as well). You cannot judge an operating system's usability by these people.

            The other issue is training and habit. People trained in and used to running one OS will ALWAYS have trouble using one that is not what they are used to. I am used to Windows 98 and to a lesser degree Windows 2000 Explorer - I find Windows XP Explorer to be confusing with its moving screens and whatnot. In fact, I'm used to using PowerDesk on Windows 98 and 2000 - not Explorer at all, so I find Explorer confusing to use on any version of Windows.

            But I CAN learn to use any OS given a certain amount of time playing with it. So can any reasonably intelligent user. And that does not necessarily translate into training expense, either - especially since most corporate "training" is a fucking joke. You don't want to spend money training people to use Linux? Don't bother training them. Just give them the product and tell them to learn to use it. Maybe give them just enough training to point out the differences. Then sit back and stop worrying about a couple months of 15% less productivity - you'll get it back later when you don't need to pay the Microsoft licenses and retrain everyone every X years for a new version of Windows that screws with the eye candy just to be an "upgrade".

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Ten were put at a Windows PC, 10 at a Linux PC and they were given a list of simple tasks like sending an e-mail, surfing to a Web page and the usability results were pretty much the same.

      That doesn't make any sense at all! Sending email and surfing a web page are tasks one does through an application. You don't send an email using Windows or Linux, you send it using Outlook, Mozilla, Eudora, etc. Whoever tries to judge the usability of an entire OS by throwing around test results for unnamed applications

      • Nobody "uses a total OS" - you use applications that are built on top of an OS.

        Only when you have to CONFIGURE the OS - for hardware or software installation or user maintenance or some other ADMINISTRATIVE task - or when the OS PERFORMANCE is an issue - do you need to worry about an OS's "usability".

        Since UNIX still runs most of the world's servers, I'd say it's still an open issue as to which OS is more usable FOR ADMINISTRATORS.

    • It will happen with OS X before it will ever happen with Linux. Why? People who know nothing know what Apple is all about. Dependable, useable, pretty.

      Linux has something of an image problem to overcome. Not to say Linux can't be made to be all of these things as well, but it doens't seem that it has this perception about it with anyone I've ever talked to with anti-Linux on the desktop leanings.

      Software offerings for certain niche markets are still one of the biggest shortcoming for OS X. Windows

  • No mention of Mono (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GnuVince (623231) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @11:52PM (#8865962)
    He doesn't talk about how Fortune 1000 see the Mono initiative, that would be interesting.
  • Ximian Bails Out (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geomon (78680) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @11:52PM (#8865966) Homepage Journal
    "A day doesn't go by when I don't talk to a Fortune 1000 customer..."

    Not *exactly* true.

    We had Nat scheduled to show up and he blew us off. I was left standing in a conference room for nearly 1/2 hour telling participants that I was sorry that Ximian bailed on us.

    I had to apologize for their no-show. Not a great feeling.

    Guess a national laboratory isn't the market segment Ximian was interested in.
    • by flacco (324089) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:17AM (#8866154)
      We had Nat scheduled to show up and he blew us off.


      based on his picture, i'd guess your meeting was scheduled past his beddy-bye sleepy-time.

    • Re:Ximian Bails Out (Score:3, Informative)

      by miguel (7116)
      I remember that particular case, because I had the
      marketing people calling me on the office.

      What happened is that someone had scheduled Nat
      without letting Nat or his assistant know about
      this particular trip, someone forgot to follow
      up and Nat was in Boston when that happened.

      Miguel.
  • "We're developing a Windows migration program to make it easier to move to the Linux desktop with training and documentation and migration tools that automate tasks"

    Migration Tool #1: fdisk - delete Windowz partition.

    Sinicism aside, it would expedite things if Linux had an emulation package that supported a greater number of Windowz appz. Wine and Win4Lin just don't seem to cut it.

    Novell is being very smart by aligning its business model with Linux.
    Although, I hope they don't UnixWare it to SCO this tim
    • It's spelled "Microsoft." HTH.
    • Applications may start to take the Web route also. Accounting for example. I'd love to pair up with some geeks on here to start up a company to develop a full web based accounting system in LAMP, seriously lacking in the Linux community.

      it's written in perl, but - have a look at sql-ledger [sql-ledger.org]... i think a consulting crew who customized SQL-Ledger for businesses could make some bucks. you could partner with general-practice linux consulting companies who need a subcontractor to take care of their clients' ac

    • Well DirectX is not something I see on Linux in the near future.
      While not perfect, WineX is basically DirectX for Linux. You can run several hundred recent windows games on linux.
    • Sinicism aside, it would expedite things if Linux had an emulation package that supported a greater number of Windowz appz. Wine and Win4Lin just don't seem to cut it

      The problem is, if you just go halfway there you may never get any furthur. People will be confused by the little changes as well anyway, and if you are going to have a linux desktop that behaves exactly like windows you may as well be using windows. There are more advantages than just cost.

      Otherwise, we are going to have to wait for all tho

  • by nmoog (701216) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @11:54PM (#8865981) Homepage Journal
    ..or others that are not looking at dipping their feet into the Linux desktop
    I understand their feelings. If I can't get python running on my slackware machine by this afternoon, I am going to dip my foot so hard into the linux desktop it's going to wish Linus never invented it...
    • I am about to say something that has never been said on /.

      (Getting in bunker for fallout)

      Linus runs Windows.

      On a serious note, the only way that Fortune 1000 companies will adopt Linux on the desktop is if a respected company is actively supporting Linux. We are seeing the beginnings of this with IBM and Novell. I am glad to see IBM and Novell investing so much into Linux.
  • What will it take? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by brutus_007 (769774) <slashdot@cod e - j e d i .com> on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @11:56PM (#8865997)
    "A day doesn't go by when I don't talk to a Fortune 1000 customer from the financial services market, automotives or others that are not looking at dipping their feet into the Linux desktop." With all the tools, utilities and applications currently available, why isn't Linux on the desktop happening already, or why aren't they jumping in rather than just "dipping their feet"? Is there something missing? Do we need THE killer app to be created which would run solely on Linux (which would basically require it to be closed source to stay on top, and difficult/involved enough to duplicate it on Windows to wait around for a port/clone)? Is it perhaps that larger companies are contractually obligated to fulfill order quotas for equipment or application licenses (MS Licensing v6 anyone?) that breaching the contract would be too financially devastating to make a conversion worthwhile or financially sound?
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @11:57PM (#8866002)
    One of the key problems that "desktop Linux" seems to be facing is that it's hard to make money as a distro maker. Unless you build your distro to be tied to your mothership for patches, what other models are there?

    - Pay-per-seat? No way, the GPL lets you get undercut by "Free" if you do that.
    - Pay-for-support? Double edged sword. Means your user interface has to suck, otherwise they'll keep using it without the needing to pay for the contract.
    - Selling-add-ons? That's a risky play, not likely to cash-in.

    And without the money... just where is the business-friendly distro going to come from? GPL projects have a bad habit of going programmer-friendly instead of user-friendly when left unpaid...

    • One of the key problems that "desktop Linux" seems to be facing is that it's hard to make money as a distro maker. Unless you build your distro to be tied to your mothership for patches, what other models are there?

      Oddly enough, you seem to be describing the exact same methods and challenges facing proprietary software. Let's compare....


      - Pay-per-seat? No way, the GPL lets you get undercut by "Free" if you do that.

      Some elements of proprietary software certainly uses "per-seat" licensing. Ni

  • by MrChuck (14227) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:14AM (#8866130)
    I work at a Fortune 500 corporation.

    They have some Linux around. Little utility type functions.

    At a company > 10,000 people, there is a difference between "interested" & "using" and in "we are using it for critical systems and rely on it and recommend it and tell our partners to use it."

    But then, lots of large fortune 100 wall st companies have had "the future" of desktop unix years ago. They just forget the part where I could fix problems around the world without moving my chair. When admins cost more, but you needed half as many.

  • by huchida (764848) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:18AM (#8866157)
    Linux can and should be known as the web developer's platform, in the same way Apple is known for video, publishing, and graphic design.

    Adobe's probably a lost cause, but Macromedia would do well to port its projects over. Dreamweaver, Flash, Freehand, Fireworks...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:19AM (#8866163)
    ...about Miguel and Nat dancing with a MS CTO? Aren't they MS employees?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Funny but true!
      Miguel and Nat both met at Microsoft for the first time. Nat was an intern working on IIS and Miguel was interviewing for a job.

      See here on Miguels own site: http://primates.ximian.com/~miguel/ and check the Ximian history page
  • by soundsop (228890)

    A day doesn't go by when I don't talk to a Fortune 1000 customer ... that are not looking at dipping their feet into the Linux desktop.

    If only I didn't have a nickel for every time someone didn't tell me the exact same thing, then I would definitely never be not rich, no?

  • Why the interest? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bladernr (683269) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:27AM (#8866205)
    Nat Friedman on the increasing interest about the Linux desktop.

    In a vacum, this is not impressive. Is the interest in Desktop Linux due to quality of the platform, available technologies, developer friendly environment, ease of integration, or is it simply based on cost.

    If its simply cost then, well, where is the pride in that? As a true propeller-head, I find winning on price, well, cheap.

  • Nat Friedman: Part of that question is about our expectations around the next 12 months. Linux on the desktop is in an early, very early stage. I've lived in this world for six or seven years . . .

    Yeah, that sounds about right.

  • In a lot of well set up places you have desktops set up to follow guidelines - like everyone has a dozen different icons that launch ssh on a dozen different machines, then the icon to mozilla next to that etc. One place desktops like gnome and KDE could be improved is if there was a simple way to copy the configuration of one user on one machine to another user on another machine. For instance on gnome, if you copy the files over you don't get anything useful, and the documentaion the subject is dismal.
  • Interest or hope? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LenE (29922) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:52AM (#8866326) Homepage
    With ever increasing Windows problems, it may be more of a hope for Linux Desktops to finally be useable enough for enterprise users, rather than genuine interest. How many non-geeks even know what the various linux desktop systems are, besides not Windows. Linux geeks know that Linux is the kernel, and nothing more, so what desktop is the Linux Desktop?

    Today's Linux desktops fall over themselves trying to act similar to Windows, while having the unfortunate problem of not being even as consistent as Windows. This problem is rooted in the whole X11+Gnome+GTK+KDE+Qt+Ximian+Lestif+kitchen sink quagmire that is required to supply the pieces of this quite disjointed user experience.

    In my not so humble opinion, the interest for the Linux desktop is the hope of Microsoft liberation, without scrapping existing hardware. This is quite silly, as the cost of the disruption in retraining all of the users, will far outweigh the cost of either switching to a useable, coherent UNIX desktop like Mac OS X, or staying on the MS Treadmill. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix here, as the bazaar is not willing to collaborate on a unified, coherent Linux Desktop.

    -- Len
    • Ya ya same ole argument, I can show you some fairly large linux desktop installations and the users are just tripping all over them selves trying to figure it out. Clicking on a desktop icon takes a butt load of training now doesn't it. Hell I even know one city govt running it and the users never even mention a computer it is finally just something they use to get work done. Choice of desktop is the key thing, I made the mistake of deploying kde and we had to go back and change it. We no only user redhat s
  • by bigberk (547360)
    Please remind me, what major benefit does it bring us (the Linux community) if there are big companies involved with Linux? Seems to me we did a pretty good job with hobby programmers and academics for a long time... of course IBM did help, oops but then there's that SCO crap... but what I'm getting at is, why do we need to impress anyone?
    • by da cog (531643)
      Two words: network effect. One of the main reasons that most people use Windows is because most people use Windows, since as a result most (Desktop) hardware and software is made for Windows machines, with Linux etc. maybe, maybe supported as an after-thought.

      It would be really nice if I could just get rid of the copy of Windows I have on my hard drive, but the fact is that I cannot because there are many programs and some pieces of hardware I have that will only work in Windows. The only way to escape

    • Please remind me, what major benefit does it bring us (the Linux community) if there are big companies involved with Linux?

      Today I came home from work and relaxed with a bit of Neverwinter Nights and Enemy Territory. Sometimes I'll play Unreal Tournament 2004 but I cut my goofing-off short. I connected to my work's employee VPN server, downloaded some documents I've been working on, and began hashing out some work that's been sneaking up on me this week. Did some system configuration at work. Upl

  • His main point being that if an application doesn't exist on linux, a company can't switch over. This guy should get a +5 Insightful.

    Please don't mod me down, I'm not being sarcastic
  • That picture of the three doing an impression of a vegas show together gives me the willies. It is just too reminiscent of Daryl coming out and "hangin' wit da boyz" picketing SCO -- that almost a year ago too.
  • by harikiri (211017) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @01:26AM (#8866456)
    I had a workmate come up today and start explaining what his issues were with Linux. This guy is a network engineer, who recognises the usefulness of having a free unix system to use on his spare pc's.

    His beef was that he had installed Mandrake 9.2 on his system, and went to setup NTP. NTP was not installed. So he started looking for an RPM (he knew what they were!) for NTP for Mandrake. He said that he found one (probably from rpmsearch), but that when he downloaded it - it had additional dependencies that he couldn't find.

    Now if it was me, I would've first tried rpmdrake (the distribution's own package management tool), and failing that, built it from source. But this guy was looking at Linux like a tool to be used. He wanted to do something simple (setup NTP), and the software wasn't installed. He found the software package for NTP online. This however required additional packages that were not immediately available. In the end he threw up his hands in disgust and stopped working on his new Linux box.

    I ended up showing him a freebsd box I had here, and the ports mechanism for software installation. I then also discussed apt and the problem of too many ways of managing software installations, and none (that he could find) that accomplished the job for him.

    So I'm going to bring in a copy of Mandrake 10 community edition for him to try out. In the meantime, I'm waiting for him to wander over one day and say "gosh Linux is great, I installed it and setup NTP in a few button clicks..."
    • > In the end he threw up his hands in disgust and
      > stopped working on his new Linux box.

      I've done that too several times on my Red Hat 7.3 system. Tried installing K3b because the version of KonCD on 7.3 was crap. Couldn't install K3b due to various issues.

      Well, I can easily upgrade to a more recent distro - I HAVE Mandrake 9.2, Fedora Core I, etc. But I want to upgrade my 7.3 slowly to current so I get the experience doing it.

      So while I was booting one of my various live CD's the other day, I u
  • by markan18 (718118) <sm@bigserver.hopto.org> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @01:27AM (#8866457)
    Hmmm, 2 open source guys dancing with the microsoft cto, am i the only one afraid? IIRC, they are the ones working on the mono project, i won't be surprised if microsoft crushes them if they finally catch up.

    Please, prove me pessemistic
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @06:02AM (#8867355)
    My predictions for Linux reaching critical mass in germany haven't changed. Right now it'd be roughly another 12 months for it to happen. And I still _do_ expect germany to be the first. I'm starting to meet more people somehow involved in Linux than I can count.
    Once Linux is rolling in that direction I also expect things to go very fast. Remember how fast Windows95 gained critical mass when all of us were saying 'Who the heck needs an OS that uses 50 MB of diskspace?' and 'Gee, look at Geos on PTS DOS, this is the future of PC operating systems'.

"Don't discount flying pigs before you have good air defense." -- jvh@clinet.FI

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