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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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  • I think he's right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DenDave (700621) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:51AM (#12232474)
    In the sense that GNU/Linux is not a platform.
  • Long term impact (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:52AM (#12232490) Homepage
    I didn't read the article.

    But history has shown that the short term impact of most new things tend to be over-estimated, whereas the long term impact tends to be under-estimated.

    Who knows where Linux will be in 20 years? I sure as hell don't, but I have a rather optimistic view.
  • Huh? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Quixote (154172) * on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:53AM (#12232492) Homepage Journal
    Show me charts and stats and benchmarks that prove Linux superior to Windows in every measure and I'll not argue with you.

    Show me charts and stats and benchmarks that prove Windows superior to Linux in every measure and I'll agree with you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:53AM (#12232493)
    I've never ben so early in a thread before, but I agree. There's too little standardization for Linux to become an OS.
  • Mindset (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CypherXero (798440) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:53AM (#12232495) Homepage
    It's the mindset of most people that keep them from using Linux. They've been using DOS and Windows for YEARS, and they're so familar with how things are, that changing that even slightly is very confusing for most people. If Linux had been in Windows place, and had 90% of the market, people would LOVE Linux and HATE Windows. Simple as that.

    For example, my dad is a Windows person, and his SO has a Mac with OS X. He can't seem to understand how OS X works, so he dissmisses it and claims that Windows is better (on the fact that he knows how to use Windows).

    It's not that Windows is "special", it's just that that's all most people know. And half those people don't know much, if anything, about Windows anyway, so it's no wonder Linux has a difficult time trying to enter the mainstream market.
  • by Ckwop (707653) * <Simon.Johnson@gmail.com> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:53AM (#12232498) Homepage
    Will the /. editors stop posting flamebait articles?

    Simon.
  • I disagree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:53AM (#12232499)
    "But you can't turn Linux into a platform even if you brand it, box it, and put a pricey sticker on it."

    What does branding it, boxing it and putting on a price tag, have to do with a tool doing a job?
  • Vaguest article... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:53AM (#12232500)
    ...of all time? I could barely extract a single coherent, definite statement out of that. I'm not even sure why I'm typing out this post; the only justified response would be a post consisting of the single word:

    what

    Very poor indeed.

  • by DenDave (700621) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:54AM (#12232512)
    If GNU/Linux was a platform, in the sense that MacOSX or Windows 2003 was a platform then how come you need to recompile software depending on your distro or hardware ?
  • by zoobab (201383) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:55AM (#12232515)
    A way to fight network effect is to have platform independent applications.

    The web is a first step.

    XUL and other technologies like thsi is one step is the right direction.

    Open and RF standards are also a key in this process.
  • Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by metlin (258108) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:55AM (#12232516) Journal
    What kinda trollish article is that?

    Linux is a very broad platform - in fact, if you looked at Windows, what's common between Windows 3.1, 95/98, ME and XP?

    Hell, most programs can't even inter-operate. How the hell is this different from the variety in Linux?

    Linux is a VERY broad platform and that will be the reason why it WILL become THE platform, not just A platform.

    -2, Troll, Flamebait.
  • What an asshole. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:55AM (#12232517)
    Mod me insightful..
  • Opinions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lemnik (835774) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:57AM (#12232541)

    Linux cannot make a dent??? I'd say it already has, else why is M$ running "Get the facts"?

    That said, there is an important point here: Linux probably won't "kill" windows, it will be RedHat, or Mandrake, or Debian, or even Linspire :/

    Linux at it's heart is nothing more than a Kernel, it's a GNU/Linux distro that people ultimatly install (mostly anyway).

  • by ites (600337) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:57AM (#12232542) Journal
    Linux as a brand cannot compete with Windows, because Linux is not a brand, not a product. There is not even a single definition of what "Linux" is, except a bunch of software running on top of a specific kernel.

    Even the concept of "competition" is a straw man.

    Linux represents a total, brutal, and unstoppable commoditization of technology that follows the same rules which drive "Moore's Law". When you remove the costs of improving a technology, its marginal cost will fall to zero as people compete to be the key suppliers.

    Software is basically becoming free, and this is what will kill Windows, whether or not it's something called "Linux" that takes over.

    Most likely, "Linux" will never become more than a niche OS, excellent for servers but rare for desktops. But what it represents - unlimited and perfect software at no cost - will, inevitably, rule the desktop as it will rule every single computing platform, for the simple reason that no amount of lock-in or marketing is going to get people to keep paying more than the going rate for a commodity.

    Apple's strategy - where the OS and a bunch of software is basically thrown in for free - is the trend of the future.

    I hate to say it, because I truly love using Microsoft's well-engineered products, but between the commoditization of their core markets and the parasites eating their way in from the internets, they are dead, Linux or no Linux.
  • Re:Mindset (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:58AM (#12232557)
    That is funny. I work in technical support. I would argue with your assumption people like windows because they know how to use it. Most people have no clue how to use windows.
  • Re:I disagree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bradhannah (858646) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:02AM (#12232599)
    This problem is that Linux is still largely a text interface if you want to tap into any of its power.

    Go a week without using a shell. Easier said than done. I am a Windows/*Nix developer and I assure you Linux may be easier than Solaris, but it still has nothing on usability of Windows.

    For example, when I started using Linux back with Mandrake 6.0, I remember how friggin hard it was to change the screen resoltion in my xwindows session. Mandrake 10 is only mildly better.

    Apps like KDE should be largely the focus of the believers that Linux "is" the solution for home users. There are assumptions that Windows users make about where they should find widgets and configuration items. Unfortunately KDE (maybe gnome, but it is junk anyway :> ) just doesn't put them where they are used to seeing them.

    Brad
  • by eturro (804858) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:02AM (#12232601)
    Many GNU/Linux users don't compile their own binaries anymore. There are almost always precompiled binaries for GNU/Linux, that mainly depend on which hardware architecture you use (e.g. SPARC, x86, PPC). This would happen with Windows (x86) and Mac OS X (PPC) also if they supported multiple hardware platforms! It's just that GNU/Linux allows you to choose your own architecture if you so wish. It's an advantage.
  • Re:Mindset (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harley_frog (650488) <harley_frog@NosPam.yahoo.com> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:04AM (#12232618) Journal
    It's not that Windows is "special", it's just that that's all most people know. And half those people don't know much, if anything, about Windows anyway, so it's no wonder Linux has a difficult time trying to enter the mainstream market.

    Excellent point. Any OS is "difficult to learn" to a complete newbie. Someone familiar with only one OS will think that OS is the greatest and everything else is "subpar". While those users who know two or more OSes well can more easily transition from one to another, even to a totally new and unfamiliar OS. Therefore, in order for Linux or OSX to really make a major dent in the desktop arena, users need to be exposed and educated about them. That, of course, requires that the in-fighting between the various Linux distro fanboys needs to be put aside and join forces to make this happen. And that is a huge hurdle to overcome.

  • by Dr. Evil (3501) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:05AM (#12232634)

    Yeah, a moving platform. With countless widget sets, multiple clipboards, different directory structures, an infinite number of combinations and permutations of shared libraries, and just as many sources of outdated, incorrect, misleading or utterly superb documentation, and crap vendors like Redhat which drop version support in a third the time of Microsoft.

    One place where GNU/Linux is relatively stable is in POSIX and a vague semblence of commonly accepted extensions to the standard. That makes it a nice platform for server software, but does nothing on the desktop.

    Windows was never an OS. It contains an OS, they changed OSes in the product lifetime, but the product has always been a desktop environment and a consistent, well documented, and long-supported API.

  • Re:Mindset (Score:3, Insightful)

    by P-Nuts (592605) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:06AM (#12232644)
    It's not that Windows is "special", it's just that that's all most people know. And half those people don't know much, if anything, about Windows anyway, so it's no wonder Linux has a difficult time trying to enter the mainstream market.

    Why is everyone so worried about whether Linux gains market share over Windows anyway. The people who do use it find it works for them, and are a large enough base that it will continue to improve.

    Regular desktop users (non power users, non programmers) are unlikely to do much in the way of submitting patches, or writing new software.

    As long as we can all still use Linux or other open-source software, what does it matter what the rest of the world does?

  • by dynamol (867859) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:09AM (#12232678) Homepage
    Well if you are right then I hope linux never competes. Conversly I believe that people are becoming more and more educated about their computers...while linux is becoming easier and easier to use. Linux..maybe...but OSX...the coolness factor alone is about to put Apple back on the map for real...through in better processors for good luck and you have a winning solution for Joe six pack. Just my worthless two cents
  • Re:I'm sorry (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:09AM (#12232685)
    "If you look at for example the server market, or the governments sector, linux is already beating up windows."

    And if you look at the public users, you'll see that Windows is beating up Linux.

    If The People don't use Linux, it won't matter how much The Government uses it. People are happy with Windows, they don't know of any alternatives to Windows other than Macs. And who wants to buy a whole new computer just to have a different OS?

    Give users a REASON to go to Linux, and they will come. Sure, Linux has everything that Windows has program wise, but how many Average Joes and Janes want to use a command line tool just to boot up?

    And how would they convert all of their .doc files to something that could be read by a Linux distro? They don't have the time to convert every file to a txt or a pdf or any other format out there.

    Windows is so entrenched, that people won't switch over just becuase it is free. They don't want to have to put up with 'partition images' and the thought of getting all of their pictures and documents from one OS to another.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:11AM (#12232700)
    errrrr

    speaking as someone who learned solaris before learning windows, I would have to say that windows is for magicians who know the magic words and where the bodies are burried while unix is clear and simple to understand
  • Re:I'm sorry (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sellin'papes (875203) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:18AM (#12232765) Homepage
    I would agree that linux is beating up Windows. Every time I open a new forum in /. I get an add from Windows saying how much better (and cheaper?) they are than Linux. This is an indication that they are threatened.
  • by archen (447353) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:21AM (#12232788)
    You will always have people who are for the "rebel" cause and against the norm. Some of us like going against the grain with something like Linux because we enjoy using it or messing with it for some reason. But many in society have this opinion that in order for them to "win" someone else has to "lose". With computer technology it's sort of tricky because market share really is important. If web browser market share is 99% IE, then Mozilla becomes literally irrelevent. If Mozilla has 50% market share, then it needs to be supported. Same with Linux to some extent, so Linux gaining market share is important. However some people have the rather misguided view that Linux must destroy Windows for them to "win".

    As a BSD person I can't say I'm overly concerned with where Linux goes, but we're all in the same boat more or less. Seriously I don't care as long as the OS continues to improve, and KDE continues to make gains.
  • by adesm (684216) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:21AM (#12232789)

    For pity's sake - this 'article' has also been plugged on OSNews. Users there have sensibly concluded that this thing is either straight FUD or a complete troll.

    The writer uses no statistics, data or representative sampling. He cannot point to a single concrete example of his central thesis. He seems incapable of understanding the developmental changes which have enabled Linux in the past few years to 'fill the gap' between a user's desire and results. In short, the article bearly passes muster as opinion piece, never mind journalism. Many would say that all of the above marks it as a Troll, with timeshare rights under the FUD-Bridge.

    Dupes are bad enough, misleading headlines are even worse. Putting this type of troll-crud onto the front page is a serious dereliction of editorial control by /.

  • by Xerp (768138) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:22AM (#12232800) Journal
    Indeed.

    On top a being that, it is FUD in a candy casing, this time advocating Mac OS X and Solaris.

    Wait a moment. I don't have a problem with that ;)

    But seriously, this is just word soup. A collection of marketing words and phrases neatly packaged together with little or no glue.

    Here is what my poor old brain thinks about choice components of the article:

    You can quit proclaiming Linux the Windows killer.

    I don't think many people really to proclaim that anyway. Linux is an alernative to Windows, as are many other operating systems.

    ...you can't turn Linux into a platform even if you brand it, box it, and put a pricey sticker on it.

    This struck me as really dumb because he makes this statement without first giving his definition of "platform". A full 4 paragraphs later, he does finally give his definition:

    An operating system is a rack into which device drivers and APIs are inserted. A platform is a rack into which applications are inserted.

    Hm. Hang on. Back in paragraph two he states:

    Linux is an operating system, a way -- and probably the best way -- to make system hardware do what it's told

    I'm not even going to bother. You can vaguely see what he is attempting to say, but it is done is such a way it makes you think the guy is nuts and doesn't know what he is talking about.

    Wait a moment ;)
  • Re:Mindset (Score:3, Insightful)

    by howlinmonkey (548055) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:22AM (#12232801)

    I am comfortable with Linux, Windows and BSD. I have done a little dabbling with the AS400, and worked on a mainframe in college. I have no fear of the command line, or learning a new OS. The reason I still use Windows as my desktop is STABILITY.

    I know it is hard to believe that stability is an issue, but I have tried a number of Linux distros, only to have the OS go nova when I tried to install some new software, or update the base install. I am a geek, but I also have a buisness. I need my computers to work so I can bill hours. I need to be able to install new software quickly and easily without crossing my fingers and praying to $deity that my system and necessary apps will work when I am finished. In spite of all the horror stories about Windows, I have comparatively few problems with it on a daily basis.

    I will continue to try updated distros, and new package systems, because I really do think Linux is an awesome concept. But until it is as reliable on the desktop as Windows, I can't make the leap.

  • Re:I disagree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:22AM (#12232805) Homepage
    90% of the people here that pan linux as too hard or driver limited are working from information that is so out of date it is not funny or blatent FUD.

    I have YET to find a desktop machine that mandrake 10.1 will not install onto and have everything configured after 1st reboot. (external scanners and cameras not included.)

    and yes, I have personally tried it on 12 different dell, 11 different compaq (including proliant servers), about 20 different generic, and about 6 different laptops. we had an installfest not long ago, and I had a 78% sucess rate.... we install linux on 100 machines and 78 were ready to go without trouble. the 45 I touched, 43 were no problem, I had 2 laptops give me fits (Toshiba SUCKS!)

    I have NEVER had that good of luck with any version of windows...

    Anyone that want's to pan linux as hard to install or incompatable had better have just tried the latest distro on their computer and are talking about that experience... otherwise they do not know what they are talking about and are spreading misinformation.
  • by Coolmoe (416032) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:23AM (#12232811)
    "The problem is, I have yet to see an interface for *nix that does as good as job as windows does of 'packing everything under the hood' and making an operating system that (as a friend of mine, the chief sysadmin for Connectiv would say) "protects users from their own stupidity"."

    Yes because Joe and Jane six pack (ive always wanted to make them a couple like Ken and Barbie) have always been really well protected from themselves. Downloading and installing every piece of shareware crap that they can find then install with a few clicks with administrative access to the machine. Then repeat this process till the system tray meats the quick launch bar. And it isint windows until icons cover 3/4 of your desktop at 1024 x 768 at least! Yea sure windows really protects it's users from itself. In a boxed unix solution nobody goes out to fetch tons of crappy software they couldent install anyway. Windows keeps people from being intimidated by advanced hardware that a PC really is. This is where windows got it right with the patented "plug and pay" interface. MS ought to drop that "where do you want to go today" crap and say Windows so easy to install even a snot nosed kid can do it. Ok im done writing my version of the trollish crap that article was.
  • Re:I disagree (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:25AM (#12232838)
    Absolutely. The first time I heard a friend say he was switching to gnu+linux my reaction was: "does it have graphics?". After being assured that it did have windows and the interface worked basicly the same as Windows my second question was: "why switch?".

    I read a statistic once that said that most gnu+linux users were male, educated and have broadband. I guess yakking about it online only hits a certain demographic. If we want to reach further we need to try something else, like getting it in schools.
  • Re:I'm sorry (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:26AM (#12232846)
    "And if you look at the public users, you'll see that Windows is beating up Linux.

    If The People don't use Linux, it won't matter how much The Government uses it. People are happy with Windows, they don't know of any alternatives to Windows other than Macs. And who wants to buy a whole new computer just to have a different OS?

    Give users a REASON to go to Linux, and they will come. Sure, Linux has everything that Windows has program wise, but how many Average Joes and Janes want to use a command line tool just to boot up?

    And how would they convert all of their .doc files to something that could be read by a Linux distro? They don't have the time to convert every file to a txt or a pdf or any other format out there.

    Windows is so entrenched, that people won't switch over just becuase it is free. They don't want to have to put up with 'partition images' and the thought of getting all of their pictures and documents from one OS to another."

    I guess you are just trolling or don't know what you are talking about. You don't boot linux from a command line. In fact on most distro's you can go from the initial install all the way to a working desktop without touching the command line. yet the power of the command line is still there. Unlike windows where the command line is almost useless.

    Converting txt, wtf? Txt is text other than linebreaks, which Linux has no problems with dealing with Mac or Windows linebreaks. PDF is clearly viewable on any platform. With Openoffice dealing with even Word 2003 .docs is no problem. I've never had to put up with 'partition images', BTW.

    You realize it's not 1993 anymore right?
  • by ISoldMyLowIdOnEbay (802697) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:26AM (#12232848)
    You've obviously never done remote desktop application maintenance then... I remember a few thousand call centre desktops being killed (BSOD) because someone used the wrong version of a system DLL that came with an application install. Fair enough, they should have tested properly, but differences between DLL version 4.0.3.1924 and 4.1.0.2001 (or whatever) do have severe consequences on occasion! This was NT though, to be fair.
  • Re:Mindset (Score:3, Insightful)

    by saha (615847) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:29AM (#12232860)
    I believe what CypherXero was saying when his father says he knows Windows, his father isn't claiming to be knowledgeable just that he's familiar with the OS and it remains in his comfort zone. The biggest resistance to change is due to people who are nervous and unsure about compatibility issues with Windows and the anticipatory frustration of learning a new system.
  • by geoffrobinson (109879) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:29AM (#12232866) Homepage
    or to have a good alternative? The author misses the point. Those of us who choose to, don't have to be forced to use Windows. And that's the point.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:31AM (#12232881) Journal
    Games are a special case in that they have very few dependencies. Usually, a game will depend on OpenGL, OpenAL, and some form of input, perhaps SDL. SDL can be statically linked - people don't notice adding a few MB to the executable size when it is accompanied by a GB or two of data.

    General purpose programs are different. Look at the standard libraries on OS X or Windows. You have a complete windowing toolkit or two (Win32 / Avalon, Carbon / Cocoa), a media plaing framework (DirectShow, QuickTime), an HTML rendering engine (MSHTML, WebKit) and a whole host of other things which a guaranteed to be there. You can build your app expecting them to be there.

    On Linux (or *BSD for that matter), alternatives to most of these things exist. In some cases, several alternatives exist. The problem is that you can't guarantee that they will be there. You can statically link everything, but then you have to update your entire app whenever small updates to dependant libraries are released. Alternatively you can just release the app dynamically linked, and hope that people have all of the required libraries (where you expect to find them), and hope that the distribution will package your app in such a way that it will work. The only way to really make sure it will work it to package it complete with dependencies for every distribution you plan on supporting, which generally limits things to Red Hat and maybe SuSE, even though the code would work with no modifications on a large number of other platforms.

  • by pvera (250260) <pedro.vera@gmail.com> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:37AM (#12232923) Homepage Journal
    Is the real goal to come out with a great OS? Or is it to kill Microsoft?

    Ever heard that BSD is for geeks that love Unix, while Linux is for geeks that hate Microsoft?
  • by RailGunner (554645) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:44AM (#12233000) Journal
    I hate to say it, because I truly love using Microsoft's well-engineered products

    Me too, I really like their optical mice. They feel more comfortable in my hands than a Logitech or generic brand.

    Oh, wait, you were talking about Windows? Well Engineered? To quote Dan Akroyd: Jane, you ignorant slut.... ;)

  • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:47AM (#12233036) Homepage
    Yeah, a moving platform. With countless widget sets, multiple clipboards, different directory structures, an infinite number of combinations and permutations of shared libraries, and just as many sources of outdated, incorrect, misleading or utterly superb documentation, and crap vendors like Redhat which drop version support in a third the time of Microsoft.

    To take the points in order:

    countless widget sets
    A few major widget sets. If you're going to include every kit, you might as well include the buttons here in Opera, which are completely non-standard as far as Windows is concerned.

    multiple clipboards
    Yes, annoying and stupid.

    different directory structures, an infinite number of combinations and permutations of shared libraries
    Uusually well managed by your distribution. A cross-distro way to create a standalone installer would be nice though, LSB doesn't quite cut it.

    just as many sources of outdated, incorrect, misleading or utterly superb documentation
    Most projects have a homepage. That is the source of the most up-to-date information. Though most of the time, the docs in the package is enough.

    crap vendors like Redhat which drop version support in a third the time of Microsoft
    And Debian gets scolded each time they're mentioned for actually supporting something for a while.

    Windows was never an OS. It contains an OS, they changed OSes in the product lifetime, but the product has always been a desktop environment and a consistent, well documented, and long-supported API.

    Linux does that. But you should really mention a long-supported ABI. Linux does definately not have that.

    In short, I see all of this as signs that Linux is moving too fast for people to consolidate and work out standards. Being more bazaar than cathedral, that is natural. But that is like a brake on a streamroller already in motion.

    We're in a transition period where people are held back by old systems, but seek cross-platform compatibility on new systems. It's like watching pressure build for a switchover. Just because there's been no mass exodus you still see them untangle themselves from Windows strangleholds.
  • by delire (809063) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:47AM (#12233039)
    To some extent he has a point, though it was never the intent of Linux (if one can name it as an entity) to 'Kill' Windows. Linux's performance offerings are known and overtly apparent to the computer consuming world, but the "Windows came with the PC" | "I don't like changes" renders adopting Linux as difficult as a name change for many; even when a distribution like Mepis proves that installing Linux is several degrees easier than Windows itself.

    Regardless, performance enhancements pull few punters other than power-users and those responsible for large mission critical deployments. The curious are simply an exception (myself included). This of course is statistically proven to be changing, but will happen most largely at the enterprise level, where people just simply find themselves working with Linux one day, and perhaps even decide they like it enough for home use.

    Perhaps another thing worth mentioning, on the level of branding is the Repitition-Produces-Comfort factor - people see WinXP at the boot promp and thus can project their workflow as a continuation of work done on another machine. I see that alot here at the university, which has both Fedora and XP on all machines. With Linux comes a strange kind of noise, for many; a class of noise called 'Choice'. Linux, as a self-defying entity (in the public imagination) cannot be summarised in the mind.

    Linux has a poor image precisely because it doesn't have one.

    It also needs to be said that Linux is fairly young, and so attempts at branding are even younger. Perhaps the weight of Novell can change that with a little constructive meme production. I disagree however OSX will have any real foothold, sitting at about 2.9% in desktop share it's as 'niche', or even more niche than that of Linux. OSX has a thick glass ceiling that Linux doesn't have, a brutal dependency: OSX requires not only a certain build, but a certain vendor of hardware. There is a reason we aren't seeing an uptake of OSX in offices and enterprise operations. This is one area Linux is making great headway.

    What will pull people over to Linux are Linux exclusive third party applications that lead people by the nose of their own creative and productive ambitions. And yes, I wouldn't discredit the possibility that proprietary apps could seed the swell of change in this regard. Imagine what a Final Cut Pro or powerful multi-track hard disk recorder (perhaps ) could do for the adoption of Linux in Universities for instance. It certainly worked for Linux in Hollywood. Naturally this requires alot of development capital ultimately justified against an isolated, and quantifiable target market. Linux users as it stands are certainly far from that. Chickens and eggs perhaps.
  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:49AM (#12233060) Journal
    if you looked at Windows, what's common between Windows 3.1, 95/98, ME and XP?

    A set of APIs and an ABI for writing graphical programs which is still supported now in spite of being over 10 years old and can be guaranteed to be available on 100% of Windows systems?

  • by hacker (14635) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:49AM (#12233061)
    Why is it that every time someone hears Linux, they immediately think "Hey, its an alternative OS, so their competition is Microsoft (or Apple), so they must be competing for the same space..."

    Linux does not exist to compete with Microsoft Windows . Repeat that to yourself 10 times over please.

    Many vendors who package Linux in various flavors are attempting to gain a larger userbase by making their version of the Linux operating system packaged with their components work better for end-users, but Linux was not created to supplant Microsoft Windows.

    I would venture to guess that a good 80% (a rectal approximation) of Linux developers and many users don't care how many Microsoft Windows machines Linux can replace. That's not the point. The point is to provide a Unix-like operating system for inexpensive hardware. It just so happens that Linux runs on something like 32 architectures, from embedded targets to PDA to 128-way (or more) CPU machines.

    Can Microsoft Windows run hardware in a 2-meg footprint? Linux can (and does, happily).

    Linux has already beaten Microsoft Windows if that is the metric that we're measuring it by.

    If you're measuring "sales" of Linux vs. sales of Microsoft Windows, of course Linux will not compare, because more people download Linux (and burn copies to give to dozens of their friends or hand out at LUGs) than those that purchase it in a boxed-copy with a printed manual.

    Linux will succeed, and already has far surpassed Windows in hardware, driver, and application numbers. Linux supports more chipsets, more peripherals, and more applications than Microsoft Windows itself. Sure, many of the applications aren't "pretty" or polished, but put a million dollars behind each project, and you'll see some major improvements.

    Does Microsoft Windows support that 10 year old video card in Windows 2003? Linux does.

    Since most developers aren't getting paid or funded (or supported by the vendor) for their applications, it evolves at the speed of their free time and motivation to improve it. "Pretty" interfaces are the last thing on a developer's mind. Fixing the last bug or adding the next feature are much more important than a graphical installer and a pretty icon.

    So we've already won, despite how the media likes to contort the matter.

  • by nathanh (1214) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:49AM (#12233063) Homepage
    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).

    It wasn't important to Windows 3.1 users.

    Hell, it still isn't important to Windows XP users.

    If people cared about something that "works right out of the box" or a "consistent look and feel" then Windows wouldn't be a significant player at all.

    People care about *price* first and *effort* second. Some people will crawl through mud to save a nickel. We call those people "the majority".

    Any idiot who thinks Windows works "right out of the box" has obviously never tried to use Windows "right out of the box". It's a disaster of epic proportions. Drivers and viruses and stupid configuration dialogs you need a masters degree[1] to decipher. The unpaid labour that any tech geek bestows on his family and friends, supporting and fixing their effing bleeding blinding crappy Windows boxes, is the only reason that Windows is used at all by the general population.

    And consistency? What the hell is consistent about the Windows interface? WMP9 looks nothing like Notepad looks nothing like Office XP looks nothing like Symantec anything looks nothing like Adobe anything. They're all freaking different. Even worse are these new schizoid applications that think they're the offspring of Shockwave and an acid trip. They look nothing like ANY version of Windows that has ever existed.

    So don't give me that shit about "consistent look and feel" or "works right out of the box". I laugh at the mere suggestion.

    /grumble

    [1] in Dumbfuckingdialogology

  • by hacker (14635) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:57AM (#12233165)
    "Yeah, a moving platform. With countless widget sets, multiple clipboards, different directory structures, an infinite number of combinations and permutations of shared libraries, and just as many sources of outdated, incorrect, misleading or utterly superb documentation, and crap vendors like Redhat which drop version support in a third the time of Microsoft."

    Many of us call that CHOICE .

    I can pick the Linux distribution that best fits my needs, be they toolkit-driven, tool-driven, UI driven or otherwise.

    With Windows, you get... well, Windows. You have to shim other things onto it to get it to be useful. For example, I don't use icons, toolbars, window frames or titlebars. Show me how I can configure Windows to provide that interface, in an easy way... you can't. Not without 10 different third-party products.

    Its all about choice.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:07AM (#12233260)
    Hey, I personally agree with you, but you have to admit it's exaggerated on both sides. I don't think Windows is a bad OS at all in terms of software, and Microsoft have shown that they're very serious about security nowadays.

    I use GNU/Linux for philosophical reasons (and I love using it as a development platform), it's not a matter of using whatever is "superior" for me. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with whatever you choose to use, I'm just exercising the freedom of choice and enjoying it all the way. :)

    /Parent AC poster

  • by Elminst (53259) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:15AM (#12233329) Homepage
    Any idiot who thinks Windows works "right out of the box" has obviously never tried to use Windows "right out of the box".

    Here is where you miss the point of "out of the box".
    When your average idiot buys a computer from Dell, Gateway, HP, $RESELLER. He gets it home, opens the box, plugs it in, and lo and behold it WORKS. That is what the phrase means. All Joe Luser knows about Windows is that he buys a computer and turns it on and it WORKS.

    Currently, you cannot do this with Linux. Mainly because almost no one sells preconfigured Linux boxes that you can just plug in and work. Lindows barely scratches the surface.

    Installing Windows from scratch is a totally different story. It is, as you say, fraught with perils. But this is the same no matter what OS you try.

    Joe Luser doesn't care about installing windows or any other OS. He wants a computer that he plugs in and it WORKS. He gets this from all major distributors.

    Until a major reseller can offer a Linux PC that does the exact same thing CONSISTENTLY, Joe Luser will not use Linux.
  • Re:Mindset (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) <john...oyler@@@comcast...net> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:15AM (#12233340) Journal
    But you're also the kind of person who manages to make windows work. You've probably been working on the same install of 2k for 18 months or more, never a problem. This has more to do with your computing practices, than it does with windows. An identical installation (be it XP or 2k, or whatever) on an identical machine for Joe User, and it wouldn't last 2 days. Not even 2 hours, if on broadband.

    This does not excuse windows in the least. Of course I expect even a junkbeater car to drive down the road every day with no problems, assuming the driver is a mechanic, the passenger is an auto engineer, and the 2 guys in the backseat are car technicians.

    Try slackware, and forget packages. Download tarballs, and do ./configure && make && make install.
  • by DenDave (700621) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:17AM (#12233369)
    Don't get me wrong, I am linux user myself, my post merely said I agree with the author on that point. I do see it as an advantage to be able to "roll your own" and optimize, however I think that it is tricky to say that the combination of a linux kernel and GNU constitutes a platform. Not a single distro out there is just that. There is always a mish mash of other things, which may or may not work like a charm, my point is just that making an application work on system X doesn't mean it will work on system Y. This in contrary to platforms like MacOSX and Windows where the application will (most likely) work as expected on different installations of the platform.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:23AM (#12233427)
    Are you joking? The fact that ReactOS is taking forever to make progress is proof that it will never take over windows.

    Especially when the goal is to copy windows, Microsoft can just pull the strings and ruin the compatibility that took years to develop in a very short matter of time if they felt threatened.

    What a big joke.

    Open Source will never compete with Windows on the desktop unless they can get their acts together and put out code faster and better than Microsoft does.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:26AM (#12233458)
    I regularly use three platforms; Windows, Linux (Fedora) and OSX. Conclusion? I cringe at having to use Windows. I find that once you learn UNIX it is faster to get anything done.

    That's your conclusion. My conclusion is that you just don't know Windows.

    For example, how many of your regular tasks have you offloaded onto the Windows Scripting host? Unix users all have their favourite scripting language, and Apple users are always blathering about how wonderful AppleScript is, but Windows has just the same functionality, except it can control native GUI applications well (unlike Perl/Python on Linux, which are great for munging text files but not so great for hooking a word processor and a spreadsheet together) and you can choose what language to use (unlike AppleScript, which forces you to use Apple's horrible proprietary COBOL clone).

    Windows sucks in direct proportion to the ignorance of its administrator. Badly-administered Windows sucks more than anything in the world, but for most purposes, well-administered Windows can hold its own with any Unix you care to name.

    If you have to use it a lot, I really suggest you learn how to use it properly. It will make your life a lot more pleasant.
  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Beolach (518512) <beolachNO@SPAMjuno.com> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:28AM (#12233473) Homepage Journal
    You know, I honestly don't care if this is true or not. So what if Linux can't kill Windows? Windows can't kill Linux, that I'm positive of. And that's really all I care about. Sure it'd be nice if enough people abandoned Windows in favor of Linux to "kill" Windows, but whether that happens or not, I can still use Linux to my hearts content. If other people continue to use & support Microsoft, that's up to them, and while it will have some effect on me, I doubt it will be a significant enough effect for me to really care.
  • by H0ek (86256) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:29AM (#12233493) Homepage Journal
    1991 : Linux? A plaything for college students. It'll never work like *real* Unix.
    1996 : Linux? So it makes a simple web server. It'll never scale as an enterprise server.
    2001 : Linux? Yeah, it's nice for my enterprise servers, but it'll never give end-users any satisfaction.
    2005 : Linux? So hackers have pretty desktop. Didja see the effort they had to go to make it work? It'll never be easy enough for our secretary Jane Typist.

    Nope, Linux will never compete. Not even that Novell Linux Desktop that has proliferated our workplace and made every desktop look the same (but secure). It'll never happen.
  • by barbarac (857456) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:30AM (#12233496) Homepage
    Completely right. As much as I like the idea of open source software, the truth is that MS delivers a suite of products that have massive market penetration and integrate well.
  • by lurch_mojoff (867210) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:34AM (#12233540)
    The problem is, I have yet to see an interface for *nix that does as good as job as windows does of 'packing everything under the hood' and making an operating system that (as a friend of mine, the chief sysadmin for Connectiv would say) "protects users from their own stupidity".
    Apple's Aqua for Mac OS X does a fairly good job in that respect. It is not for Linux, nor it does the same job as Windows, but it's for *nix (BSD) and is pretty "user-friendly" (i.e. you do not have to get your hands dirty if you don't want to).
  • by radarsat1 (786772) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:34AM (#12233547) Homepage
    I think what's needed is a good bridge between the two operating systems. You can get people to walk over to the dark side (mouahahaha) without giving them a bridge. The bridge between Windows and Linux is cross-platform apps, like Firefox and OpenOffice. Get everyone using these apps, and then point out to them that "hey, you could actually use the exact same apps on linux, why are you paying for windows?"

    You have to take things one step at a time. First the apps, then the operating system. Change everything at once and it won't work.

    I've gotten a couple of people using Firefox, and .. like... ONE person using OpenOffice. Since everything's working fine they have no need to switch OS, but if their Windows installations ever got totally bunged, I might suggest Linux.. and since they're already using these apps, I think they might be more open to it. Of course, they're using Firefox now so spyware isn't much of a problem for them... so the chances of them needed to switch OS is down about 90%... ah the irony..
  • This is certainly true. However, we must also look at the fact that in any market, it's rarely the best (whatever we define that to mean) product that ends up the most dominant. Just look at motor vehicles, food, music and entertainment for examples. In some cases there is a price issue to look at, in others not.

    Microsoft have designed a system that the mass market is comfortable with (whether those of us use other systems like it or not). People are now starting to see that there are alternatives, whether from the Open Sector or from places like Apple. Their behaviour may change over time, but if any change happens it will not do so overnight.

    Windows is the white sliced bread of computing: adequate but not wonderful; filling but not necessarily the most nutritious of choices. We also have to accept that in some cases, that is all people want. I think that is perhaps what the orignal author's thrust was, judging by the article, even though he could have been a little less peevish in saying so.

    PS: I'm a heavy user of XP, Mac OS X and Fedora

  • Please RTFA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ngyahloon (655557) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:40AM (#12233601) Homepage
    At first I thought it was some guy who just wanted to spread some FUD about Linux but check out the last paragraph:

    Linux and Windows don't compete. Sun Microsystems 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.

    Now this guy is making sense.
  • by Atreide (16473) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:43AM (#12233636)
    10 years ago IT was only beginning to look at Windows and did not seriously thought of Windows for most of their server infrastructure.
    Now people say the same thing but about Linux.

    Why did Microsoft succeeded ?
    1/ network integration with personnal computers
    2/ marketing
    3/ ease of use
    4/ price compared to Unix systems
    5/ drivers & software

    Points 1 and 2 are Linux weakness.
    Point 3 had a lot of improvements.
    Point 4 : Linux is at advantage (until you dont buy Red Hat Server that costs more than W2003 SRV).
    Point 5 is improving for linux.

    Some experiment in our corp. We wanted to use Linux to host antivirus repositories & Windows Update Service & hardware+software inventory tools. None of the tools we selected work with Linux. Therefore we have to pay a W2003 for each box... hardware : 1300 euros, system : 700 euros, software : free or licenced per user. We plan to have tens of such computers.
    The lack of software compatible with Linux costs a lot of money. And slows down the propagation of Linux.
  • by n0-0p (325773) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:45AM (#12233661)
    The big reasons beta lost were shorter play/recording time and the fact that manufacturers had to pay licensing fees to Sony to use it. VHS was the free and open standard that won. Also, as the above poster pointed out, beta came first.

    I understand the point you're trying to make, but the analogy was the wrong choice.
  • by n0d3 (708403) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:51AM (#12233731)
    I belive the main two reason people use Windows are:

    1) It came that way.

    People buy or order a PC and what do they get, a PC with Windows Pre-installed. They don't know how to install anything else, they don't want to know how to install anything else. And I don't blame them. The majority of people shouldn't need to worry about that. That's what we have resellers for. They should offer PC's that are ready to be used out of the box.

    2) Availability of Software.

    Linux is a great OS. Software for this OS is somewhat laking behind.
    In coorperate enviroments, people need(ed!) Word. Thus they need windows. Also a lot of intranet pages need IE and thus again Windows is needed. Or what about Photoshop and etc etc.
    Then the homeuser needs/wants to be able to just click and run (pun intended) whatever they get their hands on. With or without spyware. (Actually, they wouln't need anything if the reseller has 'almost' everything they could ever need on there)

    I read an article once, about Linux working for MS wasn't such a bad idea at all. Linux as the OS. Windows as the 'majorities' desktop. Kinda almost like what Apple is doing in a way. Apple's are great for the majority of people out there, that just want to 'use' their Computer.

    Other then that the articel also attacks linux in general unrightfully. They claim that linux isn't ready for the desktop, that you don't have all the api's you might expect etc etc. This has nothing to do with linux. But with the distro's. They package the OS with Applications and create the whole enviroment. And I'm not saying they are doing a bad job at all. Comparing apples with apples. Not OS with the 'Windows enviroment'.
  • by runderwo (609077) * <runderwo@mailRAB ... minus herbivore> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:54AM (#12233772)
    WINE has been in a perpetual state of "almost there" for over a decade. They'll never be suitable for end-users because Microsoft keep moving the goalposts.
    You assume that Windows developers will continue to follow whatever new path Microsoft lays out for them. This is doubtful, because it takes time (money) to learn all the new gadgets and work through the inevitable bugs and misdesigns. All WINE has to cover is the APIs used by the majority of existing and in-development programs. Once it gets "close enough", then developers will use it as a compatibility testing target just like they do with Win98.
  • by ninji (703783) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:59AM (#12233828)
    to quote "it will never put a dent in Windows' mind share or market share"

    Hasnt linux already largly DENTED windows mind and market share, how many governments moved to open source and nix from windows systems, those XX,000 Systems dont count as market share?

    Linux wont ever replace windows but, your a fool to think windows will remain uneffected.
  • by markhb (11721) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:12AM (#12233964) Journal
    You have particular, personal requirements for which this level of choice is useful. However, for the proverbial Vast Majority of users (i.e., all those people who simply want to get out from in front of the monitor as quickly as possible while devoting the minimal amount of brainpower to the appliance they have to use), all of that gets in the way.

    Put it another way: it is not an upgrade to ask users to make choices among things about which they should not have to care at all.
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:16AM (#12234009)
    Not to mention the large number of corporate desktops that have been switched to Linux.

    I think too many people only look at what OS people buy with their Dell or Best Buy computers, and assume that's the way all computer are.
  • by infinii (27811) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:19AM (#12234037) Homepage
    look around you when you are at work. Count how many people have even the most basic computer hardware knowledge. Then count how many have the free time to spend to reinstall a whole operating system and update all of the patches.

    Here is where you make your most important point and the one that the Linux community fails to grasp.

    97% of the world's users do not have the comprehension required to do a
    emerge
    make buildworld
    apt-get update
    etc
    and deal with broken dependencies, etc that inevitably happen.

    OTOH, OS X System Update works flawlessly. And Apple doesn't put barriers to updating your machine with incessant checks on your serial/cdkey/license/etc. MSFT should realize that it's in their best interest to patch ALL Windows installations and not just legally licenced ones.
  • by sean.peters (568334) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:20AM (#12234045) Homepage
    People care about *price* first and *effort* second. Some people will crawl through mud to save a nickel. We call those people "the majority".

    If this was true, a majority of computer users would ALREADY be using Linux, since for the individual home user, it's free. You might argue that most people get Windows "free", because it's pre-installed. But in fact, it's already possible to buy computers (at least from your local white box outfit) that have Linux or no operating system installed. Without the MS tax, they go for significantly less money than those with XP pre-installed... but most people don't buy them.

    People will take the path of least resistance, even if it costs them money.

    I have no problem with the rest of your post.

    Sean

  • by monkeyGrease (806424) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:25AM (#12234098)
    There is this small gap between a program and a product that Open Source software seems to be unable to bridge, this final, annoying, painful step of really _finishing_ it so that it _could_ be sold. That small gap is the last 10%. But that 10% is the infamous part of the 90/10 rule.
  • by vmaxxxed (734128) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:30AM (#12234165)
    Hello, Im sorry to disagree.

    For a minority of application developers and other more esoteric developers, the ability to run the same OS against different platforms is very important, and it simplifies things.

    But, here, we are comparing linux, not from the professional developer point of view, but from the point of view of the 99% other computer users in regular businesses and at home. What is the advantage for them ?

    I can agree with the article that, given the current advancements in computer technology, regular users dont need to fiddle with Solaris, Linux or whatever to get any important return on investment. For them, design stability, consistency and suppport are way more important. Windows gives them that.

    From this point of view, an OS that wants to be so universal will never be the best on any single platform. Therefore, Linux will never be better than windows, if we are talking about Inteles alone.

    -Ale
  • by 0racle (667029) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:32AM (#12234198)
    Linus creates a kernel, nothing more. Package management is the responsibility of the distro.
  • Re:I'm sorry (Score:2, Insightful)

    by omb (759389) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:32AM (#12234202)
    And we all know who paid IDC to say this!
  • by ezavada (91752) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:37AM (#12234266)
    It has killed the main thing that made Windows immortal. It destroyed the perception widely held in the early 90s that everything would eventually move to Windows. As a result, people are willing to consider alternate platforms, and those who take them up are more often than not finding advantages.

    I love the work Apple has done with OS X, but without Linux having broken the "Windows everywhere" mindset, OS X wouldn't be getting much attention.

    Increasingly, computer experts are seeing a OS monoculture as a bad thing, which is a huge change from the early 90s. And it was Linux that made that possible.
  • by smcdow (114828) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:41AM (#12234309) Homepage
    ... I'd be a lot more worried about GoogleOS than Linux.

    But I'm not Microsoft, so instead I'm looking forward to both GoogleOS and future versions of Linux.
  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:47AM (#12234378)
    > So when Joe Luser gets home with his computer and plugs it in he's ready to:
    > Open Excel and do some work?

    I have a cheapo e-machine I bought to run Windows games on (at which it has done surprisingly well, I might add). It came with Windows Works, which is not unusual. Joe Luser gets home, plugs it in, and he's got a spreadsheet. Not a terribly good one, but Joe doesn't know the difference.

    > Watch some DVD's?

    It also came with PowerDVD 5, which is even more common than getting Works. Actually, it plays DVDs better than any of my Linux boxes, and did so right out of the box.

    > Browse the internet risk free?

    No, but Joe doesn't know this and can't see it. He double clicks on Internet Explorer, and it's teh Intarweb! Works right out of the box!

    > No, he can't do any of those things "out of the box".

    Actually, yes, as far as Joe can see, he *can* do all those things right out of the box He doesn't see how poorly or brokenly they may be done. All he sees is that he can't buy a Linux box that he can just plug in and have do these things with no requirement that he do things he doesn't understand.

    Chris Mattern
  • by hunterx11 (778171) <`hunterx11' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:50AM (#12234409) Homepage Journal
    Even with a restricted set of architectures you don't really need to compile. MacOS pretty successfully supported 68k and PPC at the same time with fat binaries. I think the difference is that most users neither knew nor cared what that meant, and Apple made it so that for the most part they didn't have to.
  • by default luser (529332) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:53AM (#12234445) Journal
    Does he not realize that OS X is simply a packaged up pretty version of BSD, which is almost identical besides licensing to Linux.

    False analogy.

    Let me make it clearer to you by making the following two statements:

    1. Linux revolves around the kernel. Every time you muck with the kernel to bring about yet another set of "gee whiz bang" features, dozens of things are broken.

    2. Mac OS X and Windows revolve around the interface. On the library level, new interfaces are added, but older ones are still supported for a surprisingly long time (see Carbon / Classic Runtime Environment for Mac OS X, or Win9x Compatibility Mode / Application Compatibility Toolkit for Windows 2000 / XP). Certainly, support is eventually dropped, but the pace is normally quite slow for popular APIs.

    On a visual interface level, both Apple and MS try to keep consistency in the interface. Sure, you'll see major changes in interface every 5-10 years (Windows 95, Windows XP, Mac OS X), but that's a pace most people can cope with, and they try not to change EVERYTHING in the process. Linux, on the other hand: for any random distro, you can't be assurred GUI consistency.

    Tell me, how many people really know if there were major kernel revisions between all the Mac OX X releases? I imagine not many, because programmers don't have to care. That's the beauty of revolving around interfaces.

    Until Linux stops revolving around the kernel, it will never break out of the server niche.
  • by Tassach (137772) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:57AM (#12234479)
    My conclusion: Linux needs commercial(-grade) software
    It's already there, at least on the server side. For instance, every major database vendor except Microsoft officially supports Linux. Apache is the de-facto standard web server for every non-Microsoft development shop. Samba is a viable replacement for a windows file/print server and is an adequate replacement for a Windows domain controller in many environments. And so on...

    The real killer app for widespread acceptance of desktop Linux would be Microsoft Office (or a 100% work-alike). Openoffice.org and Evolution have come a long way, but they're only (IMHO) about 85% there in terms of replacing MS-Office.

    The other thing which would drive acceptance of desktop linux would be the availability of games. If Joe User could walk in to Best Buy and see that all the popular games are available in Windows and Linux versions, he might consider switching. As it is now, even hard-core Linux geeks usually have a Windows partition for gaming.

    As an aside, Given the success of live CD distros like Knoppix, I'm suprised that game makers haven't considered releasing their products under a custom bootable Linux distro.

  • Never say never (Score:2, Insightful)

    by humungusfungus (81155) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @12:11PM (#12234611)
    I'm sorry, am I the only one who sees the words "never" and "no matter what" in a article about technology trends and just passes it by?

    Will someone please tell such authors that to say "never" gives them away as having:

    a) no sense of history, tech-related or otherwise
    b) no imagination
    c) no clue
    d) all of the above

    Yeah, we'll never need more than 640k either, right? Riiight.
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @12:26PM (#12234800)
    I could come up with more examples,

    What OS do you have running in that nifty engine management system in your car?

    What's running on those firmware chips inside that neat little broadband router you just bought?

    What's driving that new VoIP PBX system in your office?

    Why does an OS that is free to use need to tell you what its name is?

  • by EvilTwinSkippy (112490) <yoda@etoyEULERoc.com minus math_god> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @12:30PM (#12234853) Homepage Journal
    No, what is really needed is marketing.

    Right now all marketing for Linux paints it as a server OS. Ask any John Q. Random about Linux and the first thing they think is either "Tree Hugging Unix Guy" or "Server."

    You can develop software till the cows come home, but John Q. Random doesn't buy it until he a) knows about it, and b) can find it in the store.

    And it better be in a shiny, colorful, shrinkwrap package.

    You have to remember, Apple and Microsoft started off with some pretty humble products. What got them where they are today is not technical prowess. It was knowing how to get their products into the retail channel.

  • by retro128 (318602) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:04PM (#12235343)
    I think the one thing that's really slowing Linux on the desktop uptake are all the dependency nightmares and package inconsistencies. Yeah, things like yum, apt-get, emerge, et al have made things a lot easier, but they are not perfect. Last night I was trying to apt-get (I hate yum with a passion) proftpd on my FC3 box and no matter what I tried in the config, users could not authenticate - I kept getting "bad password" in the logs. I ended up compiling from source and guess what, it started working. Apparently the binary package had something funky going on with its UNIX auth module.

    And then there's this thing that happened yesterday. I'm experimenting with groupware and picked up Conflux. My boss walks in and sees me looking at the demo site they have, and says "that looks cool, install it". It was winding down to the end of the day, and I say "Eh, I'll do it tomorrow", to which he says "You just can't click on the "Install" icon?"

    That's when I told him the tale of how I had to get the following operational on the system first: apache2, python, mod_python, postgres, and a smattering of other libraries. Then I had to write the config files to make it all work together. And I've never worked with postgres, so I don't even know how to define users or a database in it yet.

    The moral of this story is that installing software on any flavor of Linux is still a royal pain that Joe user won't tolerate. Without a unified base distro and a universal package management system, that will never change.
  • by nnappe (610767) <nnappe@gmaMOSCOWil.com minus city> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:32PM (#12235706)
    First: Exactly what things break up when you do anything to your kernel (except binary drivers, but then the problem is binary drivers).
    Second: Do you really think that it could do so well in the "server niche" if any modification in the kernel broke things?
    Third: What has gui consistency to do with the kernel?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:36PM (#12235760)
    ... is that Linux is no enterprise that depends on success. It is just running and running and running and running... no matter what its market share is. Linux' growth depends on a few enthusiasts. And it is growing steadily. Right now, I barely see any need for any major improvement. There are even some great games available under the GPL (asc, wesnoth, crafty, lbreakout2, ...)! I can control my mobile phone through Linux, I have a complete desktop, more than one complete office suite, multiple browsers (incl. firefox for which there are a lot of excellent addons, eg. a scrapbook), half a dozen or even more excellent mail clients, a lot of nifty tools incl. compiler-compilers like yacc for parsing of formal languages, graphics processing, scripting, lots of programming languages, LaTeX, vector drawing programs, desktop publishing, rendering, video, sound, sip, skype, icq clients, desktop search, Google mail checker, advanced security implementations, a working and secure multiuser environment, a great printing support that does not need any configuration, access to windows file shares, access to UNIX file shares over ssh, kerberos, lvm, software raid, hibernation, and endless more...

    And the best of it: all of these utilities are usually installable in a default way. On Gentoo Linux, for example, just enter "emerge skype" and Skype is installed. Under Windows you will get all sorts of spyware and each utility must be fetched from the net by hand.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:53PM (#12236004)
    While everyone is making technical arguments why Windows can't be killed, there is a probably even more important reason which has got nothing to do with technology.

    It's all about society. Namely: Microsoft is seen as one of the greatest corporations ever, Bill Gates as a rock star among upper management decision makers around the world.

    These CEOs, CFOs truly believe that Microsoft is the most advanced IT company in the universe.

    If a Microsoft product fails, well - that's what technlogy can do at this time. If Microsoft can't make it better - noone else can.

    Most IT Directors will not argue with this. Not only because they know that they will never be able to convince their bosses otherwise. Windows for upper management in IT is like life insurance.
    Noone ever was fired to deploy Microsoft products in the corporate world. If you run your shop with Microsoft, you will never have to face suspicion from the CEO, that you may have made a big mistake and you are ruining the company. If in the corporate world something goes wrong on the Microsoft platform, you can always explain it. And upper management will understand.

    If for nothing else, because an often used corporate weapon against any other third party supplier does not apply to Microsoft: noone can afford to sue them for demages, lost productivity.

    Try that with Linux or any other open source software. If anything goes wrong, the very first question will be to argue with your judgement about not using Microsoft.

    IT directors are the least likely persons to change this. They are simply managers, not IT guys anymore. If their primary focus was in technology, they probably would not have become IT directors.
  • by Henk Poley (308046) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:32PM (#12236561) Homepage
    For example, how many of your regular tasks have you offloaded onto the Windows Scripting host? Unix users all have their favourite scripting language, and Apple users are always blathering about how wonderful AppleScript is, but Windows has just the same functionality,..

    You know, maybe that's the case because Microsoft doesn't really push WSH? I mean, on my Linux systems Perl, Python and Bash scripts are everywhere, on my Windows systems I haven't seen a single usefull script. When you go exploring a UNIX system you will quickly find them.

    If you browse Linux and Mac sites you will hit scripting guides eventually, probably within minutes if you are in the need for something that can be automated. For Windows I never hit such things, well.. sometimes on some MVP site (kudos to them!).

    On Mac and Linux systems the script language documentation is installed together with the interpreter/JIT-compiler, so it's available at any time. On windows, I need to navigate through the webbased MSDN Knowledge Base, which is quite challenging most of the time due to the (per page changing) non standard website conform way of displaying info; Or the docs are just being written in a way that's it incomprehensible if you don't know the onderlying Windows API (and no links to API walkthoughs).

    Just my 0.02 EUR.
  • by alexfromspace (876144) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:18PM (#12237195) Homepage Journal
    I think that the idea that GNU/Linux should replace Windows, or anything else for that matter, is faulty from the start. The driving force before GNU and much of open source is people who want to write software for themselves, and share it will all those who are willing to share. The motivation for using GNU/Linux is that it fits your needs, not that it is Not Windows, or something else for that matter. Pressing requests for features, and complaints of lacking technical or customer support are outright ridiculous and should be laughed at. Why? Because no one is forcing anyone to use GNU/Linux. If anything, one should be thankful to those who put forth the effort to get it done on their own time. But the developers should not care anyhow, because they do it for themselves and those who share.

    The war between open-source proponents and windows proponents does not fit in with GNU/Linux ideology, it is a totally foreign concept for it in fact. The war was started by Microsoft because they could not buy open-source, and was picked up by people who already disliked Microsoft and by those who thought it was 'cool' to participate (myself included).

    But anyhow, to answer your original question of what drives debian development, here is my take on it. Developers want features for themselves, their clients, customers. Developers want neat solutions to show off to potential employers and graduate school admissions too. And something like that. Don't try to find in the list something like "Users Bob and Carloine want a button that whereupon thrice clicked will take her...".
  • by AvantLegion (595806) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:36PM (#12237430) Journal
    Pepsi Can't Kill Coke
    NBC Can't Kill ABC
    AMD Can't Kill Intel

    The question, of course, is, "so?"

    A product doesn't have to kill its competition in order to be successful. In fact, they have a word for that...

  • by cabraverde (648652) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:54PM (#12237637)
    If those who are as technically literate as this don't get Linux, how will the "average consumer" ever get it?

    Easier than you might think, precicely because the average consumer doesn't have the preconceptions of someone who considers themselves "technically literate" based on a limited world view. It's better to be ignorant and humble than half-smart and prejudiced.

ASHes to ASHes, DOS to DOS.

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