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Linux Can't Kill Windows 1054

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-his-opinion-he-could-be-wrong dept.
nberardi writes "Infoworld is running an article in which the author claims 'Linux is established and has a niche that, as various pendulums swing, will grow and shrink. Show me charts and stats and benchmarks that prove Linux superior to Windows in every measure and I'll not argue with you. But no matter how much money and dedication is poured into Linux, it will never put a dent in Windows' mind share or market share because Linux is an operating system, a way -- and probably the best way -- to make system hardware do what it's told. But you can't turn Linux into a platform even if you brand it, box it, and put a pricey sticker on it.'"
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Linux Can't Kill Windows

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:52AM (#12232484)
    No...GNU/Linux *is* a platform, Linux is just a kernel.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:55AM (#12232518)
    Linux Can't Kill Windows
    One fundamental difference guarantees that Windows will continue to dominate

    By Tom Yager
    April 13, 2005

    You can quit proclaiming Linux the Windows killer.

    ADVERTISEMENT

    Linux is established and has a niche that, as various pendulums swing, will grow and shrink. Show me charts and stats and benchmarks that prove Linux superior to Windows in every measure and I'll not argue with you. But no matter how much money and dedication is poured into Linux, it will never put a dent in Windows' mind share or market share because Linux is an operating system, a way -- and probably the best way -- to make system hardware do what it's told. But you can't turn Linux into a platform even if you brand it, box it, and put a pricey sticker on it.

    Businesses and organizations of all sizes need consistent, predictable, scalable, self-contained platforms for server solutions. Windows wins. Linux doesn't lose, because it can continue the legacy of another nonplatform, namely Unix, that needs to be refreshed and extended.

    The practical need to keep Unix around isn't rooted in nostalgia or misguided conviction. There may be times when you're convinced that the solution you need doesn't exist as a whole. The total solutions that exist might be too confining or expensive, or -- as is sometimes the showstopper for me -- simply closed. Open source Unix, in which category I place Linux, BSD, and Darwin (the OS layer of Apple's OS X), is a 500,000-piece bag of Legos that comes with some drawings and a few models you can use, build on, or tap into as references for your own creations. On paper, an OS is an ideal place to start building, because you get to choose everything that sits above it and presumably you know just what belongs in each of those gaps between your hardware and your application. You see, while developers can write to an operating system's default API, they'll spend most of their time encapsulating and abstracting low-level system calls to create what is, in effect, an application platform.

    No one is so foolish as to make what can be acquired cheaply or free; it's wiser to pick one from among hundreds of platforms and modules that fill in the holes between open source Unix and your applications.

    In contrast, Windows fills in all the blocks between the hardware and your apps. It does it in ways that you can't alter, but which you can use in different ways. You can code with the tools of your choice and in the programming language of your choice, and unless you stray too far from the rule book, everything you create will interoperate with everything others write for Windows. An operating system is a rack into which device drivers and APIs are inserted. A platform is a rack into which applications are inserted.

    Linux and Windows don't compete. Sun Microsystems (Profile, Products, Articles) sees this as an opportunity and has struggled mightily to position the combination of Solaris and Java as a platform. It almost makes it. I'd choose J2EE and Solaris over Linux for nonuser-facing server applications in shops that have expert administrators. But, similar to Linux and other flavors of Unix, Solaris is a nonstarter on clients, and that's enough to hurt its capability of competing with Windows. There is only one platform that can stand toe-to-toe with Windows, and that's the combination of OS X and Java.

    Stay tuned; I'll tell you all about it.

  • by mallumax (712655) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:06AM (#12232638) Homepage
    "Businesses and organizations of all sizes need consistent, predictable, scalable, self-contained platforms for server solutions. Windows wins. Linux doesn't lose, because it can continue the legacy of another nonplatform, namely Unix, that needs to be refreshed and extended."

    Linux isn't scalable ? It runs on everything from ARM to huge supercomputer clusters.

    Consistent ? I will give it to him that across distributions linux is not consistent but businesses use RHEL or Novell against which all major applications like Oracle are certified.Within these distributions things are largely consistent.

    Predictable ? What is unpredictable about Linux ?

    What does self-contained mean ?

    Doesn't this article give the feeling the author has no clue about what he is talking about and has just put together some buzzwords like scalable, self-contained to create a controversial article?

  • The article speaks a lot of rubbish, but it raises one valid point as well.

    To most end users, a consistent look and feel, that works right out of the box, is really important. So it's a very good thing that Linux distributions are improving in this area (which the article conveniently forgets to mention).

    For the same reason, I also think it's good to see Open Source applications adopting user interfaces that are more similar to their Windows counterparts. It may annoy some old-time Unix or Linux users to find "Options" under "Tools" rather than under "Edit" in the Firefox browser.

    But for Windows users that are looking for a safer alternative to their present browser, the chance that they'll make the switch increases with every item that works as expected when they first try it out.

    And it's only by convincing today's Windows users to switch, that Linux can avoid the fate that the article spells out.

  • by blane.bramble (133160) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:22AM (#12232802) Homepage
    Windows applications usually have two choices when using shared libraries - use a system library and hope that in the event of it being upgraded the new version doesn't break apps that were coded to an older one, or install a private copy just for it's own use (thereby removing the point of a shared library). Add to this the fact that older version of windows cannot load two DLL's or EXE's with the same registered name, and you have the potential for many copies of potentially clashing DLL's and apps that can't be run at the same time because they need different versions of the same DLL.
  • by nurd68 (235535) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:27AM (#12232849) Homepage
    I did have one problem with commercial binaries for linux: basically, SimCity 3000 has issues running on newer kernels because of the dynamic linker. Basically, it segfaults. A guick google revealed the solution:
    'LD_ASSUME_KERNEL=2.2.4 /usr/local/games/SC3U/sc3u'
    And it works.

    This is no worse than the problems I've had running old (circa 1998) games on Windows XP (such as the Windows port of the old DOS game XCOM. Which, if you like XCOM, check out UFO Aftermatch [ufo-aftermath.com]. A completely new game, but really has that XCOM feel to it.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:59AM (#12233180)
    Look up "DLL hell" on google and tell me Windows has no such problems.

    I work at a large college where I admin Windows machines for a living and I have never had any of these "DLL hell" problems that people speak of. This is not a flame or a troll, just my experience.

    I would love it if we could switch all of our machines over to Linux (or even just half of them!). But to be honest the only problem that our Win2K boxes ever give us comes in the form of spyware, adware, etc. In my experience windows is not nearly as bad as so many slashdotters make it out to be.
  • by aonaran (15651) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:10AM (#12233277) Homepage
    Down-time isn't predictable in Linux. ...in case anyone missed how that was dripping with sarcasm....

    Sure it is, I predict that the next down-time for my linux webserver will be when I take it offline and bring the new machine online. After that there should be another downtime when new hardware needs to be added, other than hard drives which will no longer cause downtime thanks to my raid controller in the new machine which I was able to afford by not having to pay $300 for an OS and another $1000 for the software to run on top of that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:31AM (#12233504)
    You aren't too swift are you... almost every windows app has the same menubar, click/right click context menu interface. Everybody can figure out how to save a file or do simple tasks even if they've never seen the app before because they generally have the same basic UI.
  • Re:Mindset (Score:2, Informative)

    by drakken33 (859280) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:32AM (#12233523)

    The first trap you fell into was focusing on installation problems with Linux but made no mention of actually installing XP, only using it. Could your 80yo Grandmother install XP? If she could then fair play to her. Most of the Windows users I know have some problem or other (usually confusion over partitioning the HDD).

    The second trap you fell into was ignoring the original point: people can have problems learning their second OS because they're stuck in the mindset of their first OS. You demonstrated this point when you said:

    On the other hand, I need to get over to some Linux forum to find out how to install the sonypi drivers, since double clicking an .rpm doesn't do anything. For some reason, I expected it to behave like a .exe.
    You expected an RPM file to behave in a certain way based on your experiences with Windows. It could be argued that someone who has only ever used Linux would have to go to a Windows forum to install a Windows app because they can't find the package manager. That might sound ridiculous to you but it's no more ridiculous than expecting an RPM to behave in the same way as a Windows .exe.

    Because of my own mindset I had a panic attack two days before my Mac was delivered because I realised I didn't have the first idea how to install and uninstall software with OS X and had already downloaded several freeware apps that I wanted to use. I could only think that there would be an equivalent to setup.exe or a package manager but until I researched it it was a little daunting. That would make a seasoned Mac user laugh in the same way that seasoned Linux users would find it odd that Windows and Mac users might have problems with a concept as logical (to us) as a package manager.

  • by Decaff (42676) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:37AM (#12233574)
    You aren't too swift are you... almost every windows app has the same menubar, click/right click context menu interface.

    And that is not true for Linux/KDE or Linux/GNOME?
  • Re:Mindset (Score:3, Informative)

    by drooling-dog (189103) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:41AM (#12233618)
    Funny, I had the opposite experience, and I was more than merely "comfortable" with both sides of the fence. I used to dual-boot my desktop with Linux and WinNT, and my laptop with Linux and WinME. Then one day a couple of years ago I realized that my utilization of Windows on both platforms had dwindled to nothing; I hadn't booted it at all in 5 or 6 months. So, I reclaimed the disk space and have never regretted it one bit. And I do a lot with both machines.
  • by Simonetta (207550) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:01AM (#12233849)
    Linux is the manifestation of Ayn Rand's 'rebellion of the intellect' projected in Atlas Shrugged. Computer professionals were constantly being knocked back to square one whenever management decided to change the company IT structure. Since the early 1950's it was normal to expect programmers to master a dozen languages and systems, all theoretically similar but with arbitrarily different structures. It was the modern equivalent of the Greek myth of Sisyphus, who was condemned to push a boulder to the top of a hill, only to have it roll down again, forever.
    Linux changed that. Computer professionals are telling management that they will work with one standard OS. Their OS. Designing and building it themselves and distributing it freely is a brilliant strategy to counter management's claim that some other OS was cheaper.
    All this happened concurrently with the widespread introduction of powerful inexpensive desktop computers into the workspace. Office computing adopted the Windows OS in order to maximize the productivity gains that could only be achieved by having the entire world adopt a single standard. An incredible stroke of luck for the company selling that standard. The price went to the company that was the most relentless and focused on forcing the world to adopt their standard. That company was also flexible and intelligent enough to integrate huge positive feedback loops into the process of getting the world to adopt its product. The astonishing success of the company in selling a product that the world was desperate to buy doesnt mean that they can do it again with another type of product.
    The widespread introduction of powerful inexpensive desktop computers was predicated on the condition that the performance/price ratio of the PCs would double every few years.
    The current problems that result from the conversion of all other Operating Systems to Linux are temporary. They are being addressed; they will be solved. The widespread introduction of powerful inexpensive desktop computers was predicated on the condition that the performance/price ratio of the PCs would double every few years. The entire next generation of desktop computers may find their doubling of power completely dedicated to transition from Windows to Linux. In other words, it may take a doubling of computer power to make Windows applications run on Linux with the same speed and efficiency that they currently run on Windows OS. This will be denounced as a complete waste by IT professionals. Theyre correct, but it will be a necessary step anyway.
  • by rokzy (687636) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:26AM (#12234112)
    >This one really bugs me: in all the main OS X browsers (Safari, Firefox, Camino) you cannot Tab to a checkbox or...

    3. there's an option in Keyboard & Mouse->Keyboard shortcuts to "turn on full access". tried that?

    4. tried clicking the down arrow to the right of the save name?
  • business lingo (Score:3, Informative)

    by pikine (771084) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:26PM (#12235634) Journal

    Many comments so far criticise the article with a technologician's understanding of the words "scalability", "consistency", "predictability", and "self-contained." However, we have to realize that this article is targeted to businesspersons. These words have a different understanding in a business sense. I try to point out the "business meaning" here and reassess Linux on those merits.

    If you don't care about businesses using Linux, then what I say here is a waste of time for you, and you can skip the rest.

    1. Scalability does not mean excatly if a computing cluster can scale from a few nodes to a huge number of nodes. But rather, in a more general sense, can I scale the system from one solution to another solution? In particular, if I change my business model, can my solutions scale with me?

      This also includes scalability in size as one factor. As the business grows, the solution must also scale in size, therefore the underlying platform must also scale.

      The problem with Linux here is that there is a high initial cost of deployment in labor, though justified by the software being free and low maintenance thereafter. However, the high cost of labor in deployment must be paid again whenever a new solution is deployed. So Linux is not scalable for new deployments. The fact that many businesses, especially those migrating from Windows, need a pilot program already says that Linux costs too much.

      Windows by itself also has a similar cost of labor for deployment, but asset management solutions exist that lower that cost. (OpenCountry is selling software for Linux asset management though, but don't accuse me of putting a plug here. You did not read this text inside the parentheses.)

    2. Consistency, in the sense that if I learn one thing about an application, then it also applies to another application. People in business do not have time to learn everything over and over. Training only makes sense because supposedly you learn everything you need to know.

      The difference in distributions is only one minor factor to inconsistency in Linux. The problem is that user experiences are different for applications like OpenOffice.org, Firefox, GNOME desktop environment, KDE, etc. A trick or two that you learn to do is not "portable" to another application.

      There is no hope for consistency if open source developers only care about programming for their own itches. Fortunately, many developers are willing to stick to a certain guideline if it means more people can benefit from the program.

    3. Predictability is the ability to answer for "what if" scenarios. Although systems crash unpredictably, but it has become a general expectation that all systems fail at some point. One must be able to tell "what if that happens?" Who do you turn to in order to get help? For commercial products, including commercialized Linux distributions, you turn to the vendor from whom you bought support. If you reaped a free version of Linux distribution, all you can do is search the web for an answer. It is unpredictable where you get your answers, how much time it takes to get it, or if you'd even get your answers at all.

    4. Self-containedness, if you take that to mean all-in-one packaging, then Linux distributions are much more feature rich than a Windows installation CD. However, it should be taken to mean "what solutions can I buy for $10,000?" You may say "infinite" because "Linux is free." But that also means you can't buy a free Linux solution with money. An ideal business is that you invest in some money, you get profit from it, then you reinvest the money for growth, which earns you more money more quickly. Money is self-contained; Linux is not contained in money.

      Again, commercial Linux distributions come close by pulling Linux into the circle of money. Linux vendors should go further to sell prepackaged solution to business. Heck, they should even sell a business model if they know how. Notice that Microsoft actually

  • by Some Random Username (873177) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:21PM (#12236396) Journal
    Actually, plenty of computer professionals don't really care much for linux. I use it when I need to, and I use other systems when I need to, I have no linux hardon making me use linux for things it doesn't do well. Using several OSs really isn't that hard, and I get the benefits of always getting the best tool for the job.
  • by Amiasian (157604) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:45PM (#12236764)
    1) This can be solved by holding down the Command Key and M. It's OS X's standard stroke for minimizing.
    2) Not sure what you mean by this. Command-Tab shifts apps and Command-` shifts windows. Albeit, the later is more obscure, but it is used consistently. Therefore, on OS X, it is standardized. In addition, you can use Expose to that purpose as well.
    3) Sure you can. Open up System Preferences, Keyboard and Mouse, Keyboard Shortcuts Tab and check "Turn on Full Keyboard Access".
    4) You can. Just click the arrow to the left of the save dialog. You'll see your hierarchy. It's sort of like "simple" save vs. "advanced" save.
    5) Au contraire. In the Finder (first off, set the thing to Column view, if you're really into efficient directory browsing) you can Command Click the window title to see the directory tree leading to your current location. In addition, there's the "back" button, which is more a list of previous directory locations browsed, but if you tunneled in to get to where you are, it'd work as you want. In addition, you can drag any directory from the Finder onto the save dialog and have it instantly jump to that location.
    6) There is. It's called "TinkerTool" and it's a free download. However, this one's a valid point. The option should be included as part of the Finder's preferences.
    7) Since 1984, the Mac's used Command-C for copy, Command-V for Paste and Command - X for cut. I'd say that's pretty consistent. Apple's really been strict about functional consistency and I think if an app is built against Cocoa, the copy-paste functionality is included by the library, functioning as described. You'd have to name the manners in which you see it as inconsistent, since it's never been a problem for me.

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