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An Open Source Tipping Point? 261

Posted by michael
from the one-can-hope dept.
jg21 writes "Over at LinuxWorld there's an article arguing that open source will be propelled to market predominance by the same disruptive mechanism that brought Sony, Microsoft, and others to be market leaders at the moment. 'The improbable is possible - leaders have been dethroned in the past,' writes the author, who is also apparently the producer of an upcoming documentary entitled, 'The Digital Tipping Point' to be released in September 2005. The story refers to a corroborating article from South Africa and to Clayton Christensen's Seeing What's Next which backs up this general idea."
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An Open Source Tipping Point?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29, 2004 @10:02PM (#10669490)
    From http://www.linuxworld.com/story/46891.htm?DE=1 There's an article in there somewhere. Here it is:

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    Rumors of Microsoft's Demise Are Premature...But Not Unthinkable
    "The improbable is possible - leaders have been dethroned in the past"
    October 29, 2004

    Summary
    Penguinistas have long loved to ruminate over a beer about the potential reversal of market share between Microsoft and companies offering open source solutions. But such ruminations were often left to discussions at the pub or the local LUG meeting because in a corporate business setting, even the most die-hard Penguinistas might be cautious about being thought of as wacko - at least in North American and European business settings.

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    Penguinistas have long loved to ruminate over a beer about the potential reversal of market share between Microsoft and companies offering open source solutions. But such ruminations were often left to discussions at the pub or the local LUG meeting because in a corporate business setting, even the most die-hard Penguinistas might be cautious about being thought of as wacko - at least in North American and European business settings.

    Software market watchers are now taking more serious assessments of the penguin versus butterfly competition, as Microsoft matures and Linux continues to put large growth numbers on the board.

    The more vocal observers' voices in this choir are typically located outside the United States. For example, Tectonic, an online open source magazine based in South Africa, recently quoted Novell SA systems engineer and business manager Allison Singh as going on record that Microsoft's Windows juggernaut will become an operating system for niche tasks while Linux takes over the mainstream desktop and server roles. According to Tectonic, Singh forecast that users who need specific applications written for Windows only will stick with the OS, but for most other users, the rapidly evolving Linux desktop will become the standard operating system. Here's the link for that story: www.tectonic.co.za/view.php?id=324.

    But wait! Tectonic calls itself "Africa's Source for Open Source
  • by pipingguy (566974) on Friday October 29, 2004 @10:07PM (#10669516) Homepage

    If the sleeping giant that is America's small business community goes for Linux (possibly as a result of being introduced to the open source concept by Firefox), Bill has a really big problem on his hands.
    • If the sleeping giant that is America's small business community goes for Linux (possibly as a result of being introduced to the open source concept by Firefox), Bill has a really big problem on his hands.

      Why? You don't think Microsoft can adapt? It seems to me that Microsoft is the master of adaption. Why can't Microsoft go the IBM route?

      • It might just be that Microsoft has seen this coming. It is a natural progression after all. MS could adapt but they'd have to compete or cooperate with disparate, individual Linux developers worldwide. That doesn't fit well with their current way of doing business.

        But what do I know?
      • by Jason Earl (1894) on Friday October 29, 2004 @11:52PM (#10669978) Homepage Journal

        Microsoft will adapt, but no matter what they do their glory days are done. Heck, Microsoft routinely posts profit margins of over 80% on its MS Office and Windows businesses, and as the market moves more and more towards commodity software those profit margins are going to evaporate.

        Microsoft's real problem is its own success. Microsoft is crawling towards single digit growth, MSFT has a Price/Earnings ratio over over 30, and everywhere you look Linux is taking the profit margins out of potential Microsoft markets. Eventually the analysts aren't going to be able to spin Microsoft's lack of growth into a scenario that justifies MSFT's stock price and things at Microsoft are going to get truly ugly. Bill Gates and his cronies have structured Microsoft around the idea that the stock price always heads up. They have made stocks a huge part of their incentive plan, and everyone at Microsoft has a huge percentage of their personal wealth wrapped up in MSFT. When the stock price corrects itself then Microsoft is going to look vulnerable, and Linux will be waiting in the wings looking for wins. Every time Microsoft wants to push another upgrade on the public Free Software will be there to pick up stragglers. In the past Microsoft has been able to adapt because they had ridiculously lucrative businesses to back up their crazy plans. Microsoft has lost billions on the XBox (they lost over a billion last year alone). Instead of throwing in the towel Microsoft is instead rushing their next gen hardware so that they can throw more money down a hole. In a world where Microsoft has to lower prices on Windows and MS Office to compete with Free Software it is going to be much harder to convince investors that the billions wasted on the "next big thing" is truly a good idea. Investors are going to demand growth, and Microsoft simply hasn't delivered in recent years, and things are getting steadily worse.

        Don't get me wrong, Microsoft isn't going to disappear in a puff of smoke, but for a high flyer like Microsoft being relegated to one solution of many turning a 10% profit margin is a long step down.

        • Microsoft is crawling towards single digit growth.

          kinda hard to see in a company whose quarterly revenues are up 12%, to $9.2 billion dollars, a company which has a profit margin of 22%, no debt, and $64 billion in cash. MSFT: Profile for Microsoft [yahoo.com]

          • Yes, Microsoft and the analysts that cover Microsoft have done an excellent job of spinning the fact that Microsoft's profit growth was the smallest it has been since the company went public. Yes, it is true that Microsoft has a fat pile of cash (although about $30 billion of that cash is going to be distributed via dividends over the next several years). Microsoft is an excellent company, in every senses of the term, but all of the numbers that you talked about have been priced in to MSFT (and then some)

    • Business goes wherever the business press tells it to go -- think "Buy internet stocks now! Will this gravy train ever end?" -- and, I don't know if you've ever read any, but is pretty well analogized to Teen Beat and its fellow travellers: dumb, marketing is job #1, idiotic hysteria, herd behavior, PR-whoring if not outright shilling for the moneyed interests. What you read in any business publication is mostly adapted from press releases. What solution is actually better from a technical point of view nev

      • They've always known it, and that's how they've gotten as far as they have

        Microsoft got to where they are by providing easy-to-use and inexpensive (relatively speaking) software for business. This was a revolution.

        The next revolution is about to happen as people (not you or me, we're ahead on the curve) become disillusioned and want alternatives. It's starting now with Firefox and the general public is becoming more familiar with the internet.
    • Will take some time (Score:5, Informative)

      by einhverfr (238914) <chris.traversNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday October 29, 2004 @10:51PM (#10669740) Homepage Journal
      I am a consultant with many small business customers. A few are pondering the use of Linux (I charge more for monthly maintenance of Windows systems because they take more of my time). But there are a few obstacles which completely prevent a few of them from using Linux (these are sufficiently small businesses not to have any dedicated servers).

      The largest obstacle is that many of these businesses depend on vertically targetted web sites and programs which may not work on Linux. Yes, we could get many of these to work probable with Win4Lin or Crossover. However, the uncertainty and supportability is an issue.

      But other clients of mine are already committing to Linux. In one case, we saved $20,000 for a customer in license fees alone, not to mention the support costs in network simplification by using Linux-based VPN appliances rather than an equivalent on Windows. In another case, we have a very successful Linux desktop deployment. In another case, we have a customer thinking about switching so he doesn't have to pay me to swing by every month to run a spyware/virus scan.

      It will happen, but slowly.
      • ...doesn't have to pay me to swing by every month to run a spyware/virus scan.

        Of course, as some would tell it, if and when significant migration to Linux occurs, so will viruses and other malware migrate to Linux, though this doesn't diminish the other reasons for migration.

        • Of course, as some would tell it, if and when significant migration to Linux occurs, so will viruses and other malware migrate to Linux, though this doesn't diminish the other reasons for migration.

          My customer who is looking at moving at the moment has this assumption, but I am not so sure.

          Windows spyware/viruses come in three major flavors.
          1) ActiveX exploits
          2) Mass mailers
          3) Worms.

          All three are unlikely to be the problem on Linux that they are on Windows. ActiveX is a particularly bad technology t
      • Question (Score:3, Funny)

        by HangingChad (677530)
        In one case, we saved $20,000 for a customer in license fees alone...

        Was that OS and productivity software, or just the OS? I've had customers save considerably more just on the productivity software.

        But I think we'll get the whole package when it comes upgrade time. When staff are already using OSS productivity and browser software replacing the OS isn't all that hard.

        This may sound strange but one customer was all hot over Linux when he found out his employees couldn't install Weather Bug. I supp

        • Was that OS and productivity software, or just the OS? I've had customers save considerably more just on the productivity software.

          It was a fairly complex setup. I got a subcontract on this one because the main contractor looked at it and said "to do what you are asking, it will cost $20000 in software license fees" but we were able to consolidate the Windows servers down to one server in one location and then set up some VPN appliances which were able to obviate the need for servers at every branch offi
    • by vwjeff (709903) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @01:04AM (#10670350)
      I work for my local school district as a PC tech. We have 12 primary, 2 secondary, 1 high school, and a central office. All network traffic from the primary and secondary schools plus the central office is routed to the high school over ISDN lines to the high school. There we have 4 T1s.

      All of our schools except for the high school have always had slow internet connections due to the ISDN line. We don't have the budget to install T1s for all of our buildings. In the past I had suggested using a Squid proxy at each remote building to save on traffic going to the High School. He said he had never hear of this "Squid" thing and asked me about it. I told him it was a free proxy web cache server that runs on Linux. He sounded interested until I mentioned the words free and Linux. Instead my boss, after I warned him many times, decided to buy an underpowered 3com webcache appliance and put it at the high school. The appliance was rated for a medium sized business (100-500 computers) Our district has over 3000 computers, 1000 of which are at the high school. Even at the high school this device is not adequate. As a result, network performance has not improved anywhere and has decreased at the high school due to the bottleneck. Did I mention the cost of this device was $11,500.

      After one of the computer labs of the high school was upgraded we had a surplus of 30 350 Mhz computers. During the summer we are usually installing new labs and installing new servers because all of the childeren are gone. Since all of the labs and servers and been installed there wasn't much more for me to do. My boss asked me to strip down the 30 computers and save any usable parts. I was to then recycle the parts that were not needed. I asked my boss if I could use 14 computers to test software on. Without questioning me he said yes.

      For the next week I installed Trustix Linux on the 14 computers along with Squid, configured as transparent, and Sarg. Originally each computer had 128 MB RAM and a 6 GB hard drive. I decided to up the memory to 256 and install a second hard drive in each computer. One drive has the OS installed on it and the other drive is for the cached content.

      After testing each machine I installed them at the schools. School started and the proxies worked great. My boss got a call from a Principal at one of the secondary schools. He asked how our department came up with the money to upgrade our network. My boss told him we hadn't upgraded anything as far as the network goes. He told me about this call during lunch that day and I told him it was because of the Squid proxy servers I had installed over the summer. He said to me with a confused look on his face, "Oh, ok. Well next time you want to install something let me know first." After lunch I showed him Sarg. He was impressed with all of the information available. I think in the future he may be more open to open source software. (Firefox will be my next project!)

      If you have read to this point I thank you. The lesson I learned from this situation was that free open source software is looked down upon by some IT managers or those who make the final decisions. The common wisdom by some is since it's free it must not be good. This concept is hard for a Linux user like myself to grasp. I knew all along that a free and scalable alternative was available but my boss still decided to buy the 3com because it was expensive. It must be good if you have to pay for it right?

  • does MS care (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cinnamon colbert (732724) on Friday October 29, 2004 @10:07PM (#10669519) Journal
    Maybe MS has already recognized that the OS is a commodity product, and they don't care if linux succeeds. MAybe MS has already put the OS on a low priority, recognizing better ROI from office or integration of entertainment. In the long run, all technology becomes a commodity, and only monopolies (att ) or truly exceptional companies (ibm) who can reinvent themselves. can command high prices for more then a few years. So, in that sense,the demise of MS is inevitable. My dad always used to talk about the linotypers union: in the 40s and 50s, they were gods: nothing got printed without thier ok. today ?
    • Re:does MS care (Score:3, Informative)

      by agent oranje (169160)

      Maybe MS has already put the OS on a low priority, recognizing better ROI from office or integration of entertainment.

      This is what I hope for. I don't think that Microsoft software is particularly a Bad Thing(tm), but the operating systems are complete crap. I'd much rather use Microsoft Office than OpenOffice or an open-source equivalent... It may be "bloated," but it's still gobs faster, and much more polished. For that matter, the best version of Microsoft Office is for OSX... which shows that Mic

    • MS Does care (Score:5, Insightful)

      by einhverfr (238914) <chris.traversNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday October 29, 2004 @11:06PM (#10669799) Homepage Journal
      MS is faced with a problem. Their major money makers are Windows and Office, both of which are facing rapidly maturing competition from open source alternatives. They can continue to try to grow their market, but it will not be easy (must combat piracy in the third world, and expand the markets for those two products elsewhere). Their other products and services are two small to deliver the revenue that Microsoft and their stockholders expect.

      So what happens as Linux and OpenOffice expand? The cost of bringing Windows and Office to market is astronomical, and the cost to produce each unit is very small, so each sale lost hits Microsoft surprisingly hard.

      This quest to expand the market shows up in Media Center and Automotive editions of Windows, and in the new services which come as a part of office.

      There is a problem. I have learned that if you "innovate" for the sake of innovation, your ideas will be only useful to a few, and the good enough solution takes over. I don;t see a unifying strategy for Microsoft anymore. Disclaimer: I am a former Microsoftie.

      I see Microsoft as going down surprisingly quickly. It won't take long once the tipping point is actually reached (maybe with Linux hitting 10 or 20 percent of the desktop).
      • There is a problem. I have learned that if you "innovate" for the sake of innovation, your ideas will be only useful to a few, and the good enough solution takes over.

        You may want to read Worse is Better [mit.edu], by Richard Gabriel, a prominent Lisp hacker. It discusses this phenomenon with two examples: ITS (better) vs Unix (worse), and Scheme (better) vs Common Lisp (worse). It's part of a paper about Lisp's future (at the time; it's over 11 years old).

        One of my favorite quotes from the paper: The good news

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I had whiterock networks and luminous networks reps in last week. They were demoing their new oc-48 gear. I made comments with both groups asking why an open source browser with a java plugin was not certified with their webgui. I asked the other vendor why they did not have a client server software for linux or freebsd.

    I told them windows was unacceptable and solaris is not what we use. (Although the soft switch uses dual sol servers for the db.)

    anyway. complain loudly to these vendors that they
    need to s
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I remember around 1997 some LabVIEW reps from National Instruments came in to our lab. They were showing a new version of their product. I asked when they'd have a Linux version... [blank stare] and one finally said something to the effect: It isn't cost effective to make a Linux version because no one will use it.

      Well, look at what we have from National Instruments today: http://www.ni.com/linux/lin_lv.htm/ [ni.com]

      Never say never
  • by coupland (160334) * <dchaseNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Friday October 29, 2004 @10:10PM (#10669534) Journal
    I've seen many articles like this in the past that suggested there was some "boiling point" at which Linux / OSS / Free Software would be unstoppable and would take off like wildfire. They are fun to read and dream about, but they don't reflect a realistic view of the software scene. Linus has often said that Linux on the desktop would be a long, tiring battle. I agree. We will never hit a point where Windows will suddenly be rejected and open solutions will become the de facto standard. I think we need to fight for every % of market share we get. It won't be easy but -- to be honest -- I find the challenge pretty damn fun. :)
    • Maybe they hope that if they say it enough, one year they might be right and they can hold themselves up as visionaries or something.
    • The "boiling point" idea makes more sense between applications than with the first application. Once everyone uses at least one OSS program, they'll be much more likely to use more, just because the licenses and process will be familiar.
    • by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Friday October 29, 2004 @10:44PM (#10669713) Homepage
      The tipping point exists in many things. Once you get over a certain % then you're no longer the also-ran and people start taking you seriously.

      The tipping point for voters in this country (UK) for example, means that the 3rd party (Liberal Democrats) only has to get around 25% of the votes before their number of seats climbs considerably... that's a statistical anomaly that comes out of the quirky way we do our elections here (eg. in a pure 2 party race it would be theoretically possible to get 49% of the vote and zero seats. You can get 74% of the vote and lose, by the same measure... real world statistics of course aren't that clean).

      If Linux got to 20% market share for example, would there be games for it? You bet - who's going to turn down that kind of cash. Would there be preinstalled machines on the high-street? Very likely.

      Windows went through the same thing - for long time everyone wrote for DOS because nobody had Windows... then a point was reached where it became economically viable to write for Windows, and DOS went into decline quite rapidly.
    • I've been thinking frequently that what would help spread linux like wildfire is network delivered applications that make the platform irrelevant.

      Simple web based apps are nice, but there are many limitations such as not having a framework for interface, making developers write their own widgets or integrate other software after researching available solutions.

      I've just started using XUL (pronounced 'zool') for an application that will load simply by visiting a url with mozilla/firefox. You can install lo
    • by grcumb (781340) on Friday October 29, 2004 @11:19PM (#10669850) Homepage Journal

      "Linus has often said that Linux on the desktop would be a long, tiring battle."

      I agree with Linus' assessment, inasmuch as making Linux an ideal desktop environment is concerned. But I don't think it has any bearing on the tipping point argument.

      The longest, most tiring battle of my 15 year career in IT has been supporting Windows under increasingly difficult conditions. I now refuse to recommend or administer Windows servers, and I provide my customers with compelling reasons for this stance. The vast majority of them are receptive to my reasoning and discover for themselves that Linux servers are more cost-effective.

      The huge upsurge in Windows exploits and the daily onslaught of malware and spam gives consultants like me all the fodder we need to argue for FOSS on the desktop too. Note that I'm not saying 'Linux on the desktop'. This is a transitional game we're playing, and conversion to Linux-based desktop systems won't be immediate. It will happen, though, unless something comes along that's got more momentum and greater robustness than Linux.

      It's critical to note that Microsoft has never written robust, secure software. Pronouncements to the contrary notwithstanding, it doesn't know how to do it. As software security becomes a dominant criterion for product selection, Microsoft's appeal diminishes. More and more frequently, organisations are willing to compromise on polish and integration in exchange for lower overall running costs.

      This is precisely the wedge that Linux - and FOSS in general - need to break into the market. There will be a tipping point past which it becomes easier to move to FOSS than to remain with MS. The real question is when this will occur. You seem to be suggesting that this will be a long time in coming. I believe that rampant security problems will bring about the change much sooner than many suspect.

  • by nels_tomlinson (106413) on Friday October 29, 2004 @10:14PM (#10669548) Homepage
    It's a nice thought, but I think that the evidence is a little weak: we have a Linuxworld article, a Novell engineer's blog, and a Harvard academic blathering about disruptive technologies.

    It could happen that MS will become a niche player, but if I had to bet money, I'd bet on MS surviving with a large market share. There's jsut too many people who have budgets to justify, and the one thing that Libre software can't help you do is squander money.

    • the one thing that Libre software can't help you do is squander money

      Of course it can. On a bespoke software project, the licencing for off the shelf stuff (the OS, server app(s), etc) is generally a fraction of the overall cost. A week of my time will buy you the server hardware and a Windows Server licence - that's not going to change just because we switch to Apache on RedHat (which is in fact what we generally use).

      The money will still be spent, it'll just go to a different cost line on the invoice.
  • by Fnkmaster (89084) * on Friday October 29, 2004 @10:15PM (#10669554)
    After the last LinuxWorld debacle [slashdot.org] I now refuse to click on LinuxWorld links. For once, I am not reading the article, and for a principled reason. Until LinuxWorld terminates Ms. O'Gara and denounces her page-view-whoring troll tactics, they will get no ad impressions from me.


    This is almost as bad as posting Roland Piquepaille submissions.

    • by dtfinch (661405) * on Friday October 29, 2004 @11:47PM (#10669946) Journal
      I don't expect they'll publish any more of Ms. O'Gara's articles. But all the other sites owned by their parent will continue to do so. So the ad revenue will flow.

      The LinuxWorld editors tried to apologize, blaming it on the LinuxBusinessWeek editors and mentioning that several LinuxWorld editors threatened to resign in protest. Since they're both owned by SYS-CON, both infact running basically the same site, they're expected to cross publish certain articles.

      http://www.linuxworld.com/story/46821.htm [linuxworld.com]

      The LinuxBusinessWeek editors on the other hand say they disagree with the LinuxWorld editors about the quality of the article, and that LinuxBusinessWeek stands by that article and look forward to publishing more of Maureen's works. But "We will no longer provide news content to LinuxWorld Magazine's accompanying Web site."

      http://www.linuxbusinessweek.com/story/46854.htm [linuxbusinessweek.com]

      So the ad revenue will still flow to the FUD flingers (parent company), but if the LinuxWorld editors have their way the FUD will stop appearing on LinuxWorld, or they'll resign, or they'll get raises.
  • by airjrdn (681898) on Friday October 29, 2004 @10:17PM (#10669573) Homepage
    It happened not too long ago in the video card arena....Voodoo anyone?

    I don't doubt open source will dominate in many areas, but I doubt it will overtake Microsoft anytime soon unless there's a major shift torward software compatibility and enhanced intuitiveness for Windows users.

    For instance, I'd switch my Mother to Linux just to degrade her chances of a virus, but 3 or 4 little games she plays; Kyodai Mahjongg (this isn't normal mahjongg) Bubble Shooter (There's a similiar one, but it's got a ways to go to catch up to Bubble Shooter), Bookworm, etc. aren't available on Linux that I know of.

    The other issue is that, people are comfortable with where to go & what to do when there's trouble brewing in Windows. In Linux, even veteran Windows users are often at a loss.

    If you do something wrong installing video drivers in Windows, you get a smack on the hand by the OS forcing you to 640x480, where you have to deal with what you did. Make that same mistake in Linux, and without knowing what file to edit in a command line editor, most Linux newbies are looking at an OS reinstall. That's way too harsh and unfortunately, drives users right back into the open arms of Microsoft.

    Heh a blunder [thisoldgarage.com]

    • What one has to realize is that the cost of the software itself often is marginal for the total cost of using a computer. Most people are more productive with Windows than they are with Linux. That is however not as easy to measure as the dollars spent on the software.

      I used to be a hard core Linux advocate. I still love Linux and run it when I have the chance (I happen to be a Debian-head but thinking about trying Gentoo).

      But as a software engineer, I have to be honest with myself and admit that it is ea
      • Most people are more productive with Windows than they are with Linux. That is however not as easy to measure as the dollars spent on the software.

        Strange. I have generally foudn that once people are comfortable with the system they are more likely to be more productive on Linux. There is a learning curve, but after a short time, this is more than made up for.

        But as a software engineer, I have to be honest with myself and admit that it is easier and cheaper to develop applications for Windows than for
    • For instance, I'd switch my Mother to Linux just to degrade her chances of a virus, but 3 or 4 little games she plays; Kyodai Mahjongg (this isn't normal mahjongg) Bubble Shooter (There's a similiar one, but it's got a ways to go to catch up to Bubble Shooter), Bookworm, etc. aren't available on Linux that I know of.

      I upgraded my mother to Linux a few years ago (RedHat 8.0), and she's been exceedingly happy with it. Indeed, Bubble Shooter is one of her favorite games as well, and its developer (Absolutist) does indeed have a Linux version, which is identical to its Windows counterpart [absolutist.com].

      Mom-On-Linux (MOL) has had some major advantages. If her system needs maintenence, I can easily do it remotely through SSH, can can even export X apps (it helps that we're both on the same broadband network, mind you). Plus, as she doesn't have root access, she can't mess anything up. And wheras I had to watse a few days the last time my brother got a major virus infestation on his Windows laptop, Mom's machine is completely immune.

      Mom's happy because she gets to run the games she likes, run Mozilla, and check her e-mail. I'm happy because the machine hums along problem-free without my constantly receiving calls from her asking for assistance or for routine maintanence.

      (Mind you, since I bought myself my Apple PowerBook, and shoed her a picture of the new iMac G5, I think she's wanting an "upgrade" :) ).

      Yaz.

      • Awesome, I didn't know there was a Linux version as I hadn't looked in a while. Thanks for posting that.

        Heh a blunder [thisoldgarage.com]

      • I migrated my mom from Windows 95 to Red Hat 6.1. True she didn't play any games but she was calling my for tech support every two weeks because something would break or she couldn't figure something out. So I gave her a new computer with Red Hat on it and set up a network connection between the two computers. Shortly she stopped using Windows 95 and switched entirely to Linux.

        7.2 was a great help

        8.0 was even better.

        Now she would never dream of going back. I even set up SQL-Ledger for her to run her
        • I migrated my mom from Windows 95 to Red Hat 6.1.

          Well, for many years my mom was running different versions of OS/2 on her system, because it was what I was running. There was, unfortunately, a short time period where she had a Windows-only scanner where she was dual-booting between OS/2 and Windows 98. She always hated Windows, and spent as little time in it as possible.

          It got to the point where IBM's lack of OS/2 support and software was turning into a liability for her. At the same time, she found

      • Mom-On-Linux (MOL) (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The only example I know, is my friend's mom, she's someone that is medical program cdrom install happy. That women aquired so many different apps, looking at here windows program menu was going to make my head spin. It all looks like generic software packs offered at a clearance discount from places like SAMs or the TV.

        I guess where I'm going is that, MOL doesn't work here, because all this crap she bought is for Windows, and I don't need to continue this paragraph...

        OTOH, a lot of these resources and cra

    • I don't doubt open source will dominate in many areas, but I doubt it will overtake Microsoft anytime soon unless there's a major shift torward software compatibility and enhanced intuitiveness for Windows users.

      The only company that could realisically challenge Microsoft is Google. MS has the war chest but Google has the hearts and minds. They won't be making any rash moves, they'll be slowly improving.

      Goodwill-wise, MS scores about a 4 while Google is approximately 9. People really respect honesty a
    • f you do something wrong installing video drivers in Windows, you get a smack on the hand by the OS forcing you to 640x480, where you have to deal with what you did. Make that same mistake in Linux, and without knowing what file to edit in a command line editor, most Linux newbies are looking at an OS reinstall.

      I have not found that to be the case. As far as installing drivers in linux, if I make a mistake clicking on the "install nvidia drivers" checkbox, at the very worst I would still be without hardwa
    • For instance, I'd switch my Mother to Linux just to degrade her chances of a virus, but 3 or 4 little games she plays; Kyodai Mahjongg (this isn't normal mahjongg) Bubble Shooter (There's a similiar one, but it's got a ways to go to catch up to Bubble Shooter), Bookworm, etc. aren't available on Linux that I know of.

      Bubble Shooter looks an awfully lot like Frozen Bubble (which in turn is a revision of some really old game). I admit that Frozen Bubble's game areas look more cramped. As for Kyodai, I fail

  • Interesting but.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29, 2004 @10:20PM (#10669591)
    Call me ambivilant, but so what? I find it irrelevant to wonder whether Linux or open source software in general will perhaps have the greatest market share at some vague point in the future.

    The fact is there's a lot open source software available that solves problems now and solves them well. I use it exclusively at home and at work because I like the general philosophy and more importantly because it gets the stuff I need to do done.

    Whether or not Microsoft lives or dies or becomes a smaller company is (for me at least) not important. This may not be true if your business relies heavily on Microsoft products and/or apis.
    • Call me ambivilant, but so what? I find it irrelevant to wonder whether Linux or open source software in general will perhaps have the greatest market share at some vague point in the future.

      It is not irrelevant to me becuase I make my living supporting software and I need to know what to learn and follow.

      Trends are important to any of us in the IT industry, but aside from the flexibility advantages, not so important for others initially.
  • by at_slashdot (674436) on Friday October 29, 2004 @10:27PM (#10669628)
    Desktop Linux has just published this article: The Best Free Desktop Linux . . . and how to make it better [desktoplinux.com]

    This is a great article that shows what a Desktop Linux could do. It's a great piece for Linux advocates to forward to people who'd like to switch but think that "Linux is way too hard to install and use".

    0$ price it's very hard to beat, I expect that the forces of the economy will swipe MS away as soon that people realize that they could do with Linux the same things they do with Windows (only more secure and cheaper) . Good times ahead :)
    • 0$ price it's very hard to beat, I expect that the forces of the economy will swipe MS away as soon that people realize that they could do with Linux the same things they do with Windows (only more secure and cheaper) . Good times ahead :)

      Microsoft's revenues from OEM sales alone are up 10% from last year.

      Walmart, with it's enormous purchasing power, can't undercut Windows XP by more than $20 at the very bottom of the market. Don't expect free home shipping, a monitor and printer to be part of the deal.

  • Brazil (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LordMyren (15499) on Friday October 29, 2004 @10:27PM (#10669629) Homepage
    its going to be brought about by Brazil, India and Germany when they hire a couple guys to sit down and hack some software to deploy linux to their COUNTRY.

    linux remains a very difficult thing to deploy. there are going to have to be better tools for centralized system management before linux can roll out and roll over microsoft. corporations arent the place to foot the development of these rollout-configurators, countries could concievably be. in the end, everyone will benefit.

    i'd say when a country doesnt have much difficulty doing installing linux, microsoft is going to have a hard time justifying themselves. thats a long way to go though; we're talking automagic kerberos+ldap /w unified userdb for nfs, samba, ftp, web, shell and a powerful web admin system. good outward scalability. i mean, hell, dragonfly bsd might have a better chance than linux when you think of how far there is to go. ;)

    Myren
    • Re:Brazil (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816)
      Strongly disagree. Linux is much easier to deploy than windows. With windows NT, if you make a system image, you can't deploy it on (typically) even a slightly different system or you will get an INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE error at boot time. I've heard people say that you can use the generic IDE drivers but that doesn't work with all systems, and you will then have to go manually change the ide drivers to suit the new system. With Linux, you can either compile in support for everything, or use a big initrd a
      • Nobody deploys Windows with images any more. Not the static type anyway. Usually there's a boot disk that will load the base files on to the machine, and then an automated install will be performed of the system and apps, ensuring the right drives get installed for the hardware.

        But anyway, I still think it's a pain in the ass. Having developed some of these images for the company I work for right now, there's just so many quirks in individual app installations, and settings in Windows are set in all sorts
    • I run our entire manufacturing floor on kde desktops and I spend a total of about 5 minutes a week or less maintaining those systems. Thin client is where it is at when it comes to maintenance in a corporate environment. The problem is all of the wanna be linux admins going and loading linux on the client machines, hell that is just plain stupid, it is the windows sell tons of licenses model of deployment. Install a server and fire up remote x, sit back and enjoy.
  • by kafka47 (801886) on Friday October 29, 2004 @10:34PM (#10669672) Homepage
    Microsoft has helped the Open source revolution happen.

    Look at the UI. Look at the applications. The basic look and feel hasn't changed significantly since 1995. Almost every new technology "innovation" has been either bought or copied (poorly) by Microsoft.

    OSS' growth has been more viral, more grassroots, more innovative than the top-down "we know better than you" approach that Microsoft has successfully imposed on its users in the last 5 years. It is with this suppression of innovation that Microsoft has directly spawned and contributed to the open-source revolution!

    On another note, after 10 years on Wintel, I switched to Macintosh recently. After 5 minutes inside of OSX, I experienced more innovation and creativity than I had on Windows for as long as I can recall.

    Thank-you Microsoft for helping me switch to truly useable applications.

    • Not to bash Max OS X (I have a Powerbook and I love it). But if you move to a different operating system altogether than it would be very surprising if you didn't see features that wasn't availalble in Windows and appear new to you.

      If you had used Mac OS X since 95 and just had moved to Windows you would have marvelled over all the innovations there.
      • If you had used Mac OS X since 95 and just had moved to Windows you would have marvelled over all the innovations there.

        Like the speed that it can spread virueses!

        Jokes aside, I think the only real innovative thing MS has done in Windows is...I honestly can't think of anything...solitare maybe?
  • This phrase comes from a book by Malcolm Gladwell. [amazon.com] The basic point is that a new idea with the help of a few influential people can suddenly become the latest trend.

    Linux is still used by a very small percentage of people and this is also it's main disadvantage. Once the percentage of users creeps up to a more visible level (15%-20%?) then that disadvantage falls away and suddenly it's popularity will explode.
  • FF (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Southpaw018 (793465) *
    Just look at Firefox - it's currently the subject of an enourmous grassroots movement. SFX just signed up over 10,000 people in 8 days for their New York Times ad. FF has been downloaded over 6.8 million times now. People are taking notice; there have been discussions here on /. estimating the "geek" usage at 90%. And I wouldn't doubt it.
  • Bla bla bla (Score:2, Informative)

    by sn0wflake (592745)
    I'm sorry to say that Linux will not win over Windows as long as you can't play new games like The Sims 2 or do simple things without opening a console. Yes, I know that DirectX is closed-source and I know that Linux is a very smart OS. But Linux is way to hard to learn and configure. I've tried many times to convert to Linux and everytime I'm missing a game or simply don't want to read the telephone sized FAQ's. Doing simple tasks like changing screen resolution should not involve opening a console and typ
    • In GNOME 2.8 (not sure about earlier versions, I'm a new user) changing the screen resolution is just Computer>System Configuration>Screen Resolution. Combined with debian handling all the details for me with X (or maybe X did it) I never once had to open a console to change my resolution.
    • Re:Bla bla bla (Score:3, Interesting)

      by toddestan (632714)
      The Console is one of the things that's holding Linux back. Right now Linux is good for either geeks who are comfortable with the command line, or people like my Mom who just uses the system and is content with the preinstalled packages and default settings (provided they "just work").

      The kind of user who doesn't really know as much as we do about computers, but still wants to install some software or tweak some options is the type that really gets turned off of Linux. They don't want to use the command
  • I thought it was going to be about an Open Source IDS/IDP [tippingpoint.com] (think snort or tripwire but more embedded-hardware-based and more adaptive).

    That said, I think the real tipping point w/r/t OSS software getting mindshare and being a Big Thing is going to be via either simple devices running linux (mythTV setups sold cheaper than linux, for e.g.,) or when linux/freebsd gets a UI that is more MacOSX-like (by this I mean that you can do everything via GUI; current linux GUIs are getting closer to the simplicity and a

  • Hate to disagree but (Score:3, Informative)

    by ewe2 (47163) <ewetooNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday October 29, 2004 @11:50PM (#10669969) Homepage Journal

    Most of this article just extrapolated corporate WishThink. The "inevitability" of the end of MS blissfully ignores the dependence of hardware manufacturers at one end, and the GUI-dependence of users at the other. Nor is the OS a done deal, and most of the "commoditization" of office apps is still Microsoft OS-based, whatever the attractions of OpenOffice/StarOffice.

    I can't hammer this point enough: MS has a gatekeeper mentality because it IS the gatekeeper. That is what needs to change. If MS could shoot down the GPL, it would not hesitate to sell an MS shell over a linux core, if it can justify dumping the NT asset. Okay, that's two if's but they're realistic if's. Otherwise, MS will stay put and strong-arm everyone.

    What linux needs is shrink-wrapped POS systems. Shrink-wrapped accounting/stock-management. Take out those dependencies and you'll get a huge slice of market share.

    • by Dan Farina (711066) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @01:40AM (#10670505)
      I disagree. They could ALREADY sell a MS shell over a *BSD core, just as Apple has. Linux is not their only option, the BSDs are incredibly robust and advanced operating systems and MS wouldn't have to fight the GPL. I would argue that it would be even be an easier transition than using Linux since it's developed by a smaller and more centralized authority rather than total bazaar style development.

      I would suspect the reason is applications; Microsoft is making money hand over fist on the current 9x/NT based systems, so why try to fix a system that's already pulling in more dough than the corporation knows what to do with?

      Secondly an adoption of a core that was once open source means that without serious overhauling that current *NIX-compatable sources will be (relatively) easy to modify applications to run on "Windows POSIX Edition" That means more applications will be available to your competitors.

      Apple had something to gain from this: they have small market share and were switching to a new kernel in OS X, losing their old applications, but started out with a significant boost because *NIX sources were not terribly difficult (relative to *NIXwindows ports) to coax to run on OS X. Microsoft would be doing the opposite, it would be opening a bunch of vital applications to "alternative" operating systems, making them far better competitors and far more lethal to their dominance.
  • Open source has two main strengths:
    1. quality
    2. easy fixes/improvements

    The minor successes so far I think are clearly due to quality: Even mainstream technology enthusiasts can recognize that Apache, Firefox, and a few other tools are super-solid and finely-tuned applications.

    But appreciation for a specific application does not translate into success for open-source as a whole, because it does not engage the user in the paradigm of open source.

    But someday, the second strength of open sour
  • lilo loading (Score:4, Interesting)

    by codepunk (167897) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @12:08AM (#10670048)
    While watching american casino on discovery last week I seen a tech converting a slot machine to take coins instead of dollars. He started up the machine and the camera panned to the screen. The first thing that appeard on the screen was?

    lilo loading ....

    The slide has already begun!
  • Is that the most obnoxiously formatted news site on the planet, or what? Their "hunt for the content" approach is truly awful.

    The story is weak, too. No hard news there.

  • My prediction (Score:4, Interesting)

    by crazyphilman (609923) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @01:49AM (#10670537) Journal
    Individual people are starting to get really annoyed about Windows. You hear them kvetching all the time, "My computer screwed up again", "My email's all messed up", "I think I've got a virus or something, my PC's acting funny"... You hear it at work, you hear it on the web. It's a much bigger deal than all these "business pundit" types imagine. People will change the way they do things to avoid aggravation, no matter WHAT they're told to do by Microsoft or the tech pundit of the week.

    Prediction Number One:

    The people who will adopt Linux first are actually the home users everyone thinks will go last. The reasons are easy enough:

    1. It's free.
    2. It's easy enough to install and the UI is familiar enough for them to use it comfortably, especially with KDE. Plus, it does everything a home user typically does (word processing, web browsing, email) much better than Windows would.
    3. It's free.
    4. There is a LOT of info online about how to do Linux-related things, and people are getting used to Googling for information. This is true despite the constant assertion by techno-snobs that Joe Sixpack is too stupid or lazy to do this. Maybe they forgot to tell Joe.
    5. It's free.
    6. Unlike a business, there's no boss to tell you that you can't switch to Linux.
    7. It's free.
    8. Home users will feel cool and hackerish using Linux -- they'll feel they're clued in to something, hip and different. People DO care about this. It turns 'em on, and makes them look cool to their friends. Social capital -- don't underestimate it.
    9. It's free.

    People are going to say this is bullshit. But look how many people are picking up Firefox. It's clear they have the initiative to try new things when they're annoyed enough. And they're definitely annoyed.

    Prediction Number Two:

    People with enough money to buy a Mac are going to switch to Mac OS/X in larger numbers, faster, than the x86 crowd, because of the "cool" factor. Most artists, writers, etc, already use Macs. They're very trendy computers. And the more rich/popular people use Macs, the more regular people will see changing to something different as an attractive thing. So Mac use will foster eventual Linux use among people who can't afford Macs.

    Prediction Number Three:

    The holdouts will be organizations which are averse to change, which move glacially. Governments, for example. Individual departments might switch over, but as a whole, it'll be slow going. I know MY shop will be among the last to change over. There's a whole cultural pro-Windows bias there. I see any transition happening on the server-side first, because we're already running some unix boxen and that transition would be the easiest. We're talking far backend, not middleware or frontend, here.

    Some private companies might be slow to switch over, too, because of their investment in custom software, and their lack of Linux-related expertise. THIS transition is going to be very painful.

    So, here it is in a nutshell:

    Rich/affluent people: Mac OS/X on fast machines.

    Regular people: Mostly switching to some form of Linux, whichever gets buzz for being easiest to install and manage.

    Techies: Linux or OS/X depending on relative wealth. Maybe both in lots of cases.

    Small, fast companies: Linux or *BSD.

    Large, cautious companies: Windows for many years.

    Government: Mixed bag.
    • I predict the reverse.

      The early adopters have been techies and ordinary users and small busineses supported by them (e.g. my mother).

      The slowest users to switch the Linux will be the non-technie power users - there are too may games and specialist applications not yet available. Some of these power users may drift to MacOS, but I don't think a huge Windows->Mac shift is going to happen.

      In the business world, the early large-scale desktop Linux deployments will come from POS and other specialised s

    • >2. It's easy enough to install

      *Cough* I spent three hours trying to understand how XKB work to be able to make accent with a QWERTY keyboard.. The KDE control window and help weren't helpful so I had to look on the web.

      "Easy enough" right!
  • by marktaw.com (816752) on Saturday October 30, 2004 @02:14AM (#10670619) Homepage
    ... is that one day they'll be right, and everyone that said it in the past will suddenly be thought of as prophets. If you back enough new trends, eventually you'll pick one that hits the big time.
  • eesy peesy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sonictheboom (546359)
    Run a small business, just got a couple of P3 Compaqs quite cheap.
    Decided thats its time to push Linux to the great unwashed masses, so installed Mepis on the P3s - took about 20 minutes (maybe 10 clicks of the mouse , did the user name thing, didn't really have to think about it).

    Handed over to the sales guys. Told them - this is your userid, password; this is for web, this is for text documents (you know, Word). Leave.

    An hour later the guys show up on MSN, doing their stuff. No complaints. No questions
  • I think the most important aspect of Linux growth is that it does not seem to have ever gone down. Linux has gradually grown year after year. Now that it is much more mature, it should continue to do the same. Even if it maintains it's present rate, it seems likely that Linux will achieve at least significant market share, if not dominance, in many of our lifetimes.

    Also, the article does not mention that growth rates are almost always exponential. If Linux continues to grow market share like it is, i
  • This conservation of integration continues to drive the sales growth of Linux wrap-arounds.

    Why can't they just say "encapsulation works"?

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