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Torvalds On Desktop Linux's Slow Uptake 450

Posted by kdawson
from the dare-not-to-be-different dept.
javipas notes a Wired piece summarizing a two-part interview with Linus Torvalds that's up at linux-foundation.org (part 1, part 2). In the second part the creator of the Linux kernel gives his view on the limited success of Linux on the desktop. "I have never, ever cared about really anything but the Linux desktop... The desktop is also the thing where people get really upset if something changes, so it's really hard to enter the desktop market because people are used to whatever they used before, mostly Windows... better is worse if it's different."
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Torvalds On Desktop Linux's Slow Uptake

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  • by fbjon (692006) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:07AM (#22347816) Homepage Journal
    Meh, people don't like chance, so change will happen slowly. That's all.
    • by ProppaT (557551) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:27AM (#22348032) Homepage

      People also don't like crappy UI's, programs with really absurd/dorky names that make no sense to anyone but nerds who get the inside joke (if there even is one), and O/S's that don't support their favorite software. Honestly, I'd say it's about 100x's more likely that OSX gains significant ground to the point where it makes sense for apple to source out OSX to third party system builders than it would that Linux gains any significant headground. You know, unless the Linux community understands and finally makes strides to make Linux a) look like a program you would actually go out and spend your hard earned money on and b) make the UI and naming convention on the included software logical.
      • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:35AM (#22348132)

        programs with really absurd/dorky names that make no sense to anyone but nerds

        If stupid names are such a user turn-off, then why is Microsoft willing to spend $44B to buy "Yahoo!" so that it can compete with "Google"?

        • by Hognoxious (631665) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:49AM (#22348328) Homepage Journal
          And why is their security product (as advertised on this very site) called foreskin?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bynary (827120)
          Because "Yahoo!" and "Google" aren't stupid; they're clever marketing as opposed to some dork's hamster's name or favorite line from an RPG session (yes, I've played games using Exalted, GURPS, AD&D, Silver Age Sentinels, BESM, D20 Star Wars, yada yada yada).

          I think he's referring to things like "The Gimp," everything that starts with a lower-case "g" or "k" (why call it "gedit" instead of just edit? Yes, I know, to point out that it runs under Gnome, but most people outside the Linux community don'
      • by LWATCDR (28044)
        "People also don't like crappy UI's, programs with really absurd/dorky names that make no sense to anyone but nerds who get the inside joke (if there even is one), and O/S's that don't support their favorite software."
        First of all I have to say that I just installed the latest version of Ubuntu. The list of OS's I have used is.
        CP/M, TRS-DOS,MS-DOS, MVS , AmigaOS , Windows 2 ,Windows 3.11 ,OS/2 ,WindowsNT ,Windows 95,98 ,Windows 2000 ,Windows XP ,OS/X
        and a few versions of Linux. I would say I am pretty expe
      • by cp.tar (871488) <cp.tar.bz2@gmail.com> on Friday February 08, 2008 @11:54AM (#22349250) Journal

        People also don't like crappy UI's,

        Luckily, KDE's Kickoff menu is lightyears ahead of Vista's Start menu, and Linux UIs in general are of pretty high quality.

        programs with really absurd/dorky names that make no sense to anyone but nerds who get the inside joke (if there even is one),

        Actually, they don't care much about names either way. As long as they can make the program do what they want it to with as little hassle as possible, they couldn't care less about its name.
        Besides, KDE, for one, shows a short description of the program right in the menu, so you don't even have to memorize it.

        and O/S's that don't support their favorite software.

        Actually, it's the other way round: application vendors do not support certain operating systems.
        There is little Linux people could do to support Photoshop, except create an emulation layer or something like that...

        I'm truly fascinated with the way things are reversed in the computer world, and how natural it seems to most people... operating system developers should support applications, web designers should support browser rendering bugs... Get a grip on reality, will you, people?

        Honestly, I'd say it's about 100x's more likely that OSX gains significant ground to the point where it makes sense for apple to source out OSX to third party system builders than it would that Linux gains any significant headground. You know, unless the Linux community understands and finally makes strides to make Linux a) look like a program you would actually go out and spend your hard earned money on and b) make the UI and naming convention on the included software logical.

        I, for one, find a bit more logic in the Dapper Drake --> Edgy Eft --> Feisty Fawn progression then in the Panther --> Tiger --> Leopard one.
        I'd even go so far to say that Windows seems to have the most inane naming policy, yet it still dominates the market.
        Not that I find that naming really matters. At all.

        As far as the way Linux looks — have you seen Compiz Fusion?
        Do you know how many people not only considered, but actually started using Linux based on the Compiz bling factor alone?

        And get this: you don't even have to spend your hard-earned money on it.
        I can get you a pirate version really cheap. ;)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by PinkyDead (862370)
        Everyone uses humor in their names: Linux uses inside-jokes and Microsoft uses irony. Where's the problem?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 10Ghz (453478)
        Disclaimer: I'm a Mac-user, and mostly ex Linux-user who still, deep down, roots for Linux.

        There has been a bunch of reports recently that show OS X gaining market-share. And that's a great thing! Anything that erodes the mediocrity of Windows is a good thing. One of the tools used to track the trends in OS-usage is the Netapplications survey, which monitors which OS'es website-users are using. While that tool might not be perfect for determining the actual market-share, it's a good tool to show trends wher
      • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Friday February 08, 2008 @03:48PM (#22352906) Homepage
        None of those issues are the real obstacle to the mainstream adoption of Linux, at least not directly.

        These are the main obstacles:

        1. a lack of unity of experience. The unix way is great for system admins and people who like "a lot of little tools doing well-defined small things well". That is exactly what a desktop user, generally, doesn't want. An end-user is interested in their work, not the computer's work: they (and since I left IT, that includes me) want my components to integrate smoothly. This means an address book that intelligently talks to my mail client, which is aware of my calendar. It means not only that the menu navigations are both consistent across applications and let me do what I want to do with information that is only one or two clicks away from being revealed to me, but that default settings generally work and that any customizations I do are unlikely to be harmful.

        2. "the Linux community" is not a unified development team. There is no final decision maker. There is no unifying vision. This make Linux a great place to a. learn stuff, b. experiment, c. scratch unusual and idiosyncratic itches. There are, of course, distributions that try to introduce more discipline and restraint, but then they run afoul of the fact that 3rd parties are developing for "Linux," not so much for this or that flavor of Ubuntu or what-have-you. In short, distros are small neighborhoods.

        3. Advertised and guaranteed hardware support. I have a MacBook. While not every peripheral in the world supports Mac, I can look at the packaging of a peripheral and see a "Mac" logo on it, and buy it without breaking a sweat. In Linux, not only do I need to Google, but I should probably check SKUs, versions, warnings, etc.
    • different bugs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bcrowell (177657) on Friday February 08, 2008 @01:21PM (#22350690) Homepage

      This is the argument Linus makes in the article. I agree with it to some extent, but I also think the way he presents it is a little misleading. He makes it sound like Windows and Linux are just different, so there's absolutely nothing the Linux community can do to encourage adoption of Linux on the desktop -- it's all a matter of users' ingrained prejudices. But Windows and Linux aren't just different by design, they're also different in terms of their bugs. If you use Windows as your desktop, you encounter bugs. If you use Linux as your desktop, you encounter bugs. For instance, I've just spent half an hour this morning dealing with an issue in CUPS where every time I boot my Linux box, it starts spewing page after page of raw postscript. (Deleting the job from the queue didn't help. It just reappared the next time I booted the machine.) Well, this is a bug that I know about now, and I have workarounds for it. (Delete the printer and then reinstall it in CUPS's web interface.) Bugs in the Windows desktop aren't a strong motivation for Windows users to switch to Linux, because they're used to those bugs, never really think about them much. But if they were to try Linux, they'd say, "Oh my god, this OS is a total piece of crap. Look at the printer spewing page after page of garbage, and it starts again every time I reboot. This is pathetic. I'm sticking with Windows." They notice the Linux bugs more because they're unfamiliar and mysterious, and also when you switch OSes, you get hit with lots of these new and unfamiliar bugs all at once.

      So it's not just a matter of user preference, and it's not something that's outside the control of developers in Linux's OSS ecosystem. The quality of the Linux desktop sucks -- sometimes I think it sucks almost as much as the quality of the Windows desktop -- and it needs to be improved. If that happens, it will increase adoption of Linux on the desktop.

  • I disagrrree (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheMeuge (645043) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:10AM (#22347840)
    I suppose it's time for a drive-by argument.

    While many here on Slashdot seem rather cynical when it comes to adoption of Linux on the desktop, I am not nearly so jaded. Not only am I an example of a non-programmer-type who switched from Windows to Linux, but in the past 12 months, I have seen countless other examples, culminating in a large number of people switching during the early days of the Vista fiasco. They were convinced that if they had to re-learn how to use an operating system, they might as well just switch to Linux.

    On a number of non-computer oriented websites I visit, including ones where the majority of the members are over 30 years old, the adoption of Linux has been phenomenal... skyrocketing to >10% within one year.

    I think the times for "year of linux on the desktop" jokes is past. There is no reason for the sarcasm. With almost every OEM selling Linux PCs, and AMD/ATI adopting a more pro-Linux approach, I think that there is no reason for sarcasm. This IS the year of Linux on the desktop. We're living it.
    • by Malevolent Tester (1201209) * on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:14AM (#22347888) Journal

      This IS the year of Linux on the desktop. We're living it
      Duke Nukem Forever is going to be out in 2008 as well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by elrous0 (869638) *
        But will it run on Linux?
      • That would be an awesome reason for people to try Linux, if they released it on Linux first. The guys at 3D Realms have the moral fortitude and dedication to try and make the game as good as possible, piling huge amounts of cash into it and constantly trying to implement new ideas. It's maybe not the best that we have to wait so long, but hey if they've got that kind of motivation, it shows good character, so I'm guessing they also are fans of Linux ;) Would be cool if they released a Linux version first, t
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm with you on this one. The year of Linux on *my* desktop was 2007.
      I switched to Kubuntu for 2 reasons:
      1. I finally got broadband.
      2. I took a C++ class so I needed a compiler. (So obviously I'm not one of you professional "software engineers")
      This was in January. I told my (non-techie) wife what I was up to, but didn't try to evangelize or anything.
      Around May she asked me to install Kubuntu on her laptop, citing fear of Microsoft lock-in.
      Both of our setups are dual-boot, but we boot Window
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Otter (3800)
        I'm with you on this one. The year of Linux on *my* desktop was 2007.

        I wish you luck, but you probably don't understand why those of us for whom The Year Of Linux On My Desktop had a "199" in it laugh when we read comments like the original one here. Replace "Vista" with "Windows 98" and we've been reading that exact pronouncement for the last decade.

    • Re:I disagrrree (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2008 @11:38AM (#22348958)
      I agree. Linux on the desktop over the past 2 years has taken spectacular leaps forward, and the next couple of years are going to be just as bold as Linux starts maturing.

      It's been a combination of several factors:
      * The rise of FireFox and, to a lesser extent, Safari means that the web doesn't require, nor mean, Internet Explorer.
      * The release of Vista and the negativity surrounding it has been key - people are pondering alternative OSes, including both Linux-based OSes and Mac OS X.
      * The rise of Ubuntu as a 'standard' has helped solve the confusion of multiple competing desktops to new users and driven increased users. It's also improved support - UbuntuForums is a fantastic resource - and increasingly made GNOME as the "de facto" desktop environment.
      * Improved driver support, which is going to keep improving. It's still far from perfect, sadly, but it is most definitely getting there - when Intel and ATI are both releasing open source specifications to get proper open source drivers written, it's a good sign.
      * Eye-candy. It sounds silly, but people like eye-candy and Compiz Fusion delivers it.
      * Vendor support. Big names like Dell are now taking steps towards Linux presumably as there is some demand. Hardware manufacturers are going to have to soon start touting Linux support for many OEMs to go onboard.

      It's still not perfect, but neither is XP, Vista nor Mac OS X and I'm looking forward to a Linux-using future.
      • Re:I disagrrree (Score:4, Interesting)

        by YaroMan86 (1180585) on Friday February 08, 2008 @01:31PM (#22350828) Journal

        I agree. Linux on the desktop over the past 2 years has taken spectacular leaps forward, and the next couple of years are going to be just as bold as Linux starts maturing.

        Very true. Though "Linux maturing" can and has been relative. It may not have been ready for desktop, but it has been right on the money for such things as server side applications. And, as far as I have seen, I've seen Linux as the most commonly embedded system over anything else that tried to do the same things. The open source model is what brought it that far, one can easily customize it completely for their needs, which is why for some more "hardcore" Linux users, things like Linux from scratch are a wonderful thing. Its also the only operating system family I can think off that you can install on a thumb drive if you wanted to. However, I must agree, it is 'not yet there' though it has been shown to be easily used by non-technical users in the case of such Linux distros as Ubuntu or Mint.

        * The rise of FireFox and, to a lesser extent, Safari means that the web doesn't require, nor mean, Internet Explorer.

        An interesting point. Though, to be nitpicky: Use of the web never required Internet Explorer. However, for most users, and I'm talking Average Joe Shmuck here, it did "mean" Internet Explorer. This was more about Microsoft's highly unethical and illegal practice of dominating markets. Proof of this was when FireFox started seeing higher adoption, we finally got Internet Explorer 7 after a long, long time. I still agree, though that we're finally seeing some other browsers out there getting decent market share after the Netscape fiasco.

        * The rise of Ubuntu as a 'standard' has helped solve the confusion of multiple competing desktops to new users and driven increased users. It's also improved support - UbuntuForums is a fantastic resource - and increasingly made GNOME as the "de facto" desktop environment.

        Ubuntu is, in my opinion, the most important step toward Linux becoming an operating system Average Joe Shmuck would actually use or even care about. I remember a day where Linux was considered nothing but a "geeky hobbyists tool." Usually by those who never realized that Linux had been rather widesperead in many other markets aside from the desktop. Ubuntu has been helping Linux out a great deal with adoption, especially within the past couple years. I theorize it has been with the veritable flop that is Vista.

        * Improved driver support, which is going to keep improving. It's still far from perfect, sadly, but it is most definitely getting there - when Intel and ATI are both releasing open source specifications to get proper open source drivers written, it's a good sign.

        I've had firsthand experience with this. After getting fed up with Vista, which was, sadly, pre-installed on my beloved PC, I installed Ubuntu on my machine. Everything worked, no configuration whatsoever. Downgrading my Windows down to XP was a fiasco, however, with almost all of my hardware not working or in "standard mode." (By standard mode I mean the very default settings Windows foists on my hardware so that it will work, but at a bare minimum.) Took me the better part of two days to research my hardware to get XP working. Finally, only about a week ago, I reformatted my entire HDD and made Ubuntu my *only* solution and in the extremely rare instance I need Windows for anything, launch it in a virtual machine. Drivers, on my computer, were just available and worked readily on Ubuntu. Am I saying it will always work. No, I have a good friend who couldn't get a certain tablet to work correctly, another with limited webcam support, and of course, there's always the dreaded wifi network driver/widescreen display driver availability that Linux had lacked. From what I read in the 2.6.24 changelog, this had been addressed and improved on, but, not using the 2.6.24 kernel, I really can't say.

        * Eye-can

    • by El Lobo (994537) on Friday February 08, 2008 @11:42AM (#22349042)
      Go to the wayback machine. The VERY first cached slashdot page (from 1998) there has this interesting article conviniently titled Linux Affecting MS Sales? " ( http://web.archive.org/web/19980113193017/slashdot.org/slashdot.cgi?mode=article&artnum=419 [archive.org] [archive.org] ): From the article: "Could 98 really be the year Linux breaks into the main stream corporate world in a big way?". Really, it's not funny anymore.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bombula (670389)
      I can attest to being one of those recent adopters. I've dual-booted various Linux desktop distros over the years, but have never stuck with them. But I recently fired up Ubuntu 7.10 on my laptop, and it really did 'just work' - and I have to rig it to boot and install off a key drive as well.

      So far I'm quite impressed with Ubuntu. The Gnome GUI works just fine for me - a nice blend(ish) of Windows and Mac OS look and feel. It lacks some of the polish of XP and certainly of OSX - I have compiz running a

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192)
        with the exception of importing a list of urls from a file into a download manager - for whatever reason, the most popular Ubuntu DM out there just couldn't handle this task, so I used XP and Free DM for the job instead.

        Did you try d4x [krasu.ru]? There's also: wget -i urllist.txt

        There's really no need to switch to windows just to download something.
  • Simple reason enough (Score:4, Interesting)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:11AM (#22347842)
    People invest a lot of time learning a certain UI, the way it does things and the interface. For technical people like us, it's not that difficult to learn a new UI (since we have an appreciation of the underlying works). But for non-techies, learning a new UI (particularly one that makes as much use of the terminal/command line as most Linux distros do) can be a major hassle. It's just not worth it for most people, just for some nominal security benefits and to save the $100 or so that Windows adds to the typical computer.

    Ubuntu is making some inroads, with a more user-friendly GUI. But most people just don't see the value.

    • by eneville (745111) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:19AM (#22347924) Homepage

      People invest a lot of time learning a certain UI, the way it does things and the interface. For technical people like us, it's not that difficult to learn a new UI (since we have an appreciation of the underlying works). But for non-techies, learning a new UI (particularly one that makes as much use of the terminal/command line as most Linux distros do) can be a major hassle. It's just not worth it for most people, just for some nominal security benefits and to save the $100 or so that Windows adds to the typical computer.
      but going from xp -> vista is also quite a "learning" investment.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:53AM (#22348380)
        Maybe if you're configuring hardware, or setting up firewall rules, but for the average user, I just don't buy it. You click on the start menu, select the program you want, and it works the same (besides the transparent window decoration). Just because it's a pain in the ass for the /. crowd to learn the new control panels doesn't mean there's a massive leap for most end-users...
        • Downloading and installing software can be significantly more intimidating on Linux for the average user, as can getting many peripherals to work. It's getting better all the time, but I would still rank Linux just slightly better than Windows NT in terms of user friendliness in these areas.

          On XP, to install software you download an .msi and run it. To add a peripheral, you plug it in and perhaps load a manufacturer-supplied CD-ROM and click Next a few times. If I had to guess, the year of the Linux Desktop
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Dragonslicer (991472)

            On XP, to install software you download an .msi and run it.
            Personally, I think using your distribution's repository is easier than that. Typing in a search word in Adept is easier than trying to find the correct website and its downloads page. If you need to install something that isn't in the repositories, you download a .deb (or whatever package system your distribution uses) and run it.
          • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@x[ ].net ['oxy' in gap]> on Friday February 08, 2008 @12:15PM (#22349590) Homepage Journal

            Downloading and installing software can be significantly more intimidating on Linux for the average user, as can getting many peripherals to work.
            You might have an argument about some peripherals (scanners in particular are a PITA in Linux; I've never gotten one to work under SANE and I don't consider myself exactly clueless), but I think you're wrong about the software. In fact a modern Linux distro is enough to really, really spoil a person.

            You want software? Open up Synaptic, scroll through the list, click on what you want, hit Install. Done. No discs, no installers, nothing. Just one place for all your software. Changing repos is even very simple, and done entirely through checkboxes and a GUI. And of course, none of it costs anything and the dependencies are all managed automagically.

            Mac OS X's installation / package management is nice (and I would argue nicer than Windows, although it's kind of six of one, half a dozen of the other) but Synaptic/apt-get are head and shoulders above either.

            It wouldn't be impossible to create something like the Debian repository for commercial software (really, it's not dissimilar with what most video game systems use for their pay-to-download games), but I don't think that even Microsoft has the clout that would be required to force developers to give up their current distribution networks and switch to one that was managed front-to-back by Microsoft. It's really only something that can work if it's evolved with the OS.

            When I've shown people Debian over the years, the software installation procedure is almost always one of its most impressive points. You only need one piece of installation media, ever, and you have access to an entire ecosystem of software, covering almost every conceivable task. That's not an insignificant advantage.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by C10H14N2 (640033)
        When I show people Ubuntu, the response is generally very receptive. When I tell people "you should look at Linux" they come back from their first Google search bleary-eyed asking what's the difference between the three to five versions each of Ubuntu, SuSE, Redhat/Fedora, BSD (yes, I know, I know) and a half dozen other variations.

        I pause and try to make it recognizable by saying "hey, Ubuntu looks and feels a lot like OS/X, which is itself essentially BSD with eye candy."

        They invariably blink, sigh and as
    • by gsslay (807818) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:32AM (#22348094)

      But for non-techies, learning a new UI (particularly one that makes as much use of the terminal/command line as most Linux distros do) can be a major hassle.
      For non-techies, the UI is the computer. So if techies want to understand what an upheaval it can be; imagine learning a new operating system that works to three state bits, stores its configuration in jpegs, uses venn diagrams and tonal whistles instead of WIMP and communicates with hardware not by interrupts, but by a "alphabetical sort queue" principle.

      Scared? Now you're getting the idea.
      • That's one of the best analogies I've heard in these discussions.

        It's also probably a good example of why I so enjoyed switching to linux - I really want to get my hands on the OS you just described so I could see how all that actually works...and so I can start playing with the application of image filters to config files :)
      • by mikeee (137160)
        new operating system that works to three state bits, stores its configuration in jpegs, uses venn diagrams and tonal whistles instead of WIMP and communicates with hardware not by interrupts, but by a "alphabetical sort queue" principle

        Wait, is that Vista or .Net?
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      So how do you explain MacOS then.
    • by at_slashdot (674436) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:41AM (#22348218)
      Sorry, but UI is a red herring, it's hardware compatibility and software availability (AKA "lock in") nothing else. KDE and Gnome are pretty much Windows like point an click interfaces.
    • by samkass (174571)
      I don't really buy the "better is worse if it's different" argument. The fastest growing desktop OS by far is MacOS, which is growing at twice the industry growth rate. It's very different from Windows (in some ways more different than some linux window managers), but still seems to attract many converts.

    • by sckeener (137243)
      I'm a techie and I would love to switch to Ubuntu.

      So far my major issue on making the switch is a media server. I have Dlink DSM-520s and they connect into my computer to play my media files. I tried Linuxmce and like normal from Linux installations ran into driver issues. I've avoided Mythtv because of all the horror stories I've heard with installs. [linuxmce.com]

      Still I'd love to make the switch to Ubuntu...but if I can't easily make the switch, how is Joe average computer guy going to make it?
      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday February 08, 2008 @11:05AM (#22348544)
        I'm a techie too and I have both a Linux PC and Windows PC at home. The Linux PC uses the latest version of Ubuntu. Frankly, Linux has been a huge pain in the ass to install and setup for what I need it for. But it is getting better. On my previous install (Ubuntu 7.04), I finally just threw my hands up in frustration. I couldn't even change the screen resolution without doing it manually in the xorg config file and most of the programs I needed simply weren't available for it (or, if they were available, were either buggy as hell or didn't even have a basic GUI for linux). More recently it has gotten better. The newest version of Ubuntu has better GUI (including the "about fucking time" ability to change screen resolutions without having to go into the terminal). And a lot of programs like TrueCrypt are finally releasing GUI's for linux.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      Which is why when we were ready to switch to the new Office release I convinced management to give OO.o a try, waving huge $$$ in savings and no added costs in retraining as office 2007 is DRASTICALLY different than office 2003.

      They bit it, that was 8 months ago. we are STILL using OO.o and not going to switch back to MS office. We still use outlook 2003 for email, and I am investigating the number of people that actually use the groupware aspects of outlook/exchange to make a run for replacing it with so
    • by houghi (78078)
      People do NOT learn to use the GUI. They barely are able to use what buttons to press when. The problem comes from the fact that what is explained is just that: what buttons to press.

      This starts in school where people learn to work with a specific program in a specific way. This continues at the workplace. Most of the people I come in contact with have absolutely no idea as to what is the idea behind it.

      I often ask what the numbers are for something specific. The people can answer me almost immidiatly. Howe
  • by xzvf (924443) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:19AM (#22347926)
    I put an XO in front of 5-15 year old kids and the younger they are the more receptive they are to the experience. Sugar is a unique desktop experience and it throws people off. Kids with PSP and DS systems are the worst. It might be why reviews by adults are so negative. My experience (and probably many of yours) is starting with a computer from the Apple II, Atari, Commodore era. Wrote high school term papers on a typewriter. In college I did amber screen work and wrote papers with a dot matrix printer. My first technical job was help desk for a huge Win95 environment. A godsend gave me the opportunity, with no experience, to move to a Solaris support gig. It was heaven to see the command line again. The rise of the Linux desktop feels comfortable to me. Put Linux systems in every school and its desktop will be popular in twenty years.
    • Perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kenshin (43036) <kenshin&lunarworks,ca> on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:44AM (#22348254) Homepage
      My experience (and probably many of yours) is starting with a computer from the Apple II, Atari, Commodore era. Wrote high school term papers on a typewriter. In college I did amber screen work and wrote papers with a dot matrix printer... The rise of the Linux desktop feels comfortable to me.

      This middle-aged woman at the office listens to the "E-Z Rock" radio station. That's because it feels comfortable to her. She grew up with stuff like that.

      Me? I turn that shit off the moment I get the chance.
  • Read the article ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by cbart387 (1192883) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:21AM (#22347940)
    I read these interviews before and of course the summary is misleading yet again ;) The interview(s) is/are (not sure if it's two or they just split it to get more stories out of one) covers a much broader range of topics. It's not solely about Linux on the destkop, also it discusses Linus's views on the open source, his experience working with the kernel etc. The desktop question is one (or two) questions out of many and is not a major focus in the interview. I wonder if the submitter even read the article ...

    I'd suggest reading the interview (yeah right!), there's a lot of interesting insight from him. He's much more palatable then RMS. I particularly found his thoughts on getting involved interesting.

    I get the question of "Where should I start?" fairly often and my advice is just don't even ask that question. It's more like if you're not interested enough in one particular area that you already know what you want to try to do, don't do it. Just let it go and then when you hit something where you say, "I could do this better" and you actually feel motivated enough that you go from saying that to doing that, you will have answered that question yourself.
  • As usual: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crhylove (205956) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:23AM (#22347974) Homepage Journal
    Linus makes cogent and valid points. However, despite the fact that this will start a holy flame war, I would go one further:

    The main problem most early adopters have (that I see) IS in the difference to Windows or OS X. And that first difference is a feature: Security.

    If there was a distro that was identical to XP, and booted straight to the desktop with root privileges, incorporating wine automatically, and having gimpshop, firefox, open office, urban terror, an identical winamp clone, et al configured as near as possible to the hegemonic forces of today's markets, it would gain a lot of traction very quickly.

    Ditto for an OS X clone.

    Many people do not want a password, do not want security, and do not want variety or choice. They want what has always worked for them, and they want it for free. I've seen more spam, viruses, trojans, rootkits, and other problems in the Windows world than anywhere else (obviously), but people keep going back there, because (sort of) IT JUST WORKS, and they are used to it. I've seen computers with virii and Mcafee that took 20 minutes to boot, but the user didn't care! Once it was up it had the stuff they were used to: Photoshop, Windows, Microsoft Office, and Outlook. There are pretty seamless replacements for all these, but they are generally not bundled by default in any distro, and are not 100% compatible across the board with the hegemonic software competitors.

    *i* like the enhanced security of not logging in automagically as root, but grandma doesn't. Grandma says "fuck it" and goes and drops $500 on a dell, or maybe a mac.

    Just give the people what they want (right or wrong!) and the masses will come. Now is the chance, since vista sucks balls, and sp1 doesn't fix it at all!

    It all falls under the category of "Keep it simple, stupid", really. I'm still waiting for a distro that during install gives you two choices:

    Super Secure
    Just Like Windows

    That will be the distro that finally takes huge chunks out of the windows market. Ubuntu is close, but still pretty far away.
    • She should be ashamed. Or adjust her meds.
    • by bursch-X (458146)
      you have so totally no plan it's not even funny. OS X has never ever been running as root (unless you boot into single user mode, duh). Login as root has been disabled on OS X from day one.

      The Administrator in OS X is a normal user with the one difference that he's in the sudoers list. That's it. You can setup OS X that it will login automatically straight to your desktop, but most OS X users don't do that anymore. Even if you choose to do autologins, if you want to install stuff in important places you'll
    • If there was a distro that was identical to XP, and booted straight to the desktop
      I haven't used it myself, but I believe I've seen an option in Kubuntu that will automatically login as a specific user when kdm starts.
  • Totally wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101&gmail,com> on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:24AM (#22347980) Homepage Journal

    Why is this so hard for so many people to understand? The reason Linux doesn't get adopted has nothing to do with how the desktop works. I have news for you: Linux, Windows and the Mac are effectively identical when it comes to operating them.

    I shout this from the rooftops everytime this comes up: PEOPLE USE APPLICATIONS, NOT OPERATING SYSTEMS.

    Applications are EVERYTHING. Microsoft has long understood this. Why are people so upset at Vista? It's not because of the popups... it's because of the compatability problems. People want absolute, "it just works" compatability. People want to be able to walk into Best Buy, grab a box off the shelf (software OR hardware), and install it. No muss, no fuss. That's why the Mac has long had single digit adoption rates. People don't to figure anything out, they just want to buy a damn box and load it on.

    Linux will be adopted with a) it has nearly perfect Windows compatibility, or b) the major companies start producing Linux version of their commercial software.

    And yes, I understand that there are typically free versions of various commercial software. But again, people don't want to figure anything out. They want to know that if they see a box, it will work. If they buy that fancy computerized sewing machine (such as my mother-in-law), it will work.

    • Re:Totally wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

      by junglee_iitk (651040) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:40AM (#22348190)
      Thanks for saying this.

      I have korean project partners who are angry with me because I won't install Office 2007 and make them save it in some older format. They are even playing games, claiming that they are using some essential parts (read Microsoft Equation Editor) which they cannot convert to old format.

      I have given up on explaining the morality behind not using pirated copies... I have given up the rational that Office 2007 adds no new mission crucial functionality. I simply say that I don't have a computer and I work in my office. I don't even tell them that in my office I use OpenOffice, on Linux.

      People are not masters in this area. There is a very simple thinking behind all this:
      1) Expensive is good, more expensive is better, even when it is pirated.
      2) I use bla/I _like_ bla, can you do it? (Until we can do it by clicking here and there, we are argument-less in their eyes.
    • Re:Totally wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Friday February 08, 2008 @11:08AM (#22348568)

      I shout this from the rooftops everytime this comes up: PEOPLE USE APPLICATIONS, NOT OPERATING SYSTEMS.

      The other side of that is that while people use applications, the operating system can break that experience. I think more people are starting to get sick of the spyware and virus slowdowns, and your average person doesn't know how to fix that so they buy a new computer when it 'gets slow'.

      Also...most of those applications are web browsers, document editors, and the like. Good versions of these exist for Linux. So at the point where the applications are pretty much the same, even a non-technical user can see value in going with the system that's not going to crap out on them.

      People don't to figure anything out, they just want to buy a damn box and load it on.

      That was true 10 years ago. Now people don't want to buy the box. They want their computer to come with all the useful stuff they want. That's why Mac adoption rates are skyrocketing. And Linux distros are getting far better about including stuff people want to use, with native apps that are, in most cases, better than what ships with Windows.

      See, that's the funny part now - people are getting so lazy and expect so much from the computer that software compatibility is becoming less and less of an issue. So there really is a significant opportunity for Linux to be used by 'regular people.' Only caveat is it needs to come pre-installed on their computer.

    • by Inda (580031)
      Compatability problems? Where are these problems you speak of?

      All my old software has installed and worked flawlessly since I've been on Vista. Some of it dates back to when I used W98.

      All my old games work. Ah, except CIV4, which needed DX9 if I remember correctly. What? Need to install DX to play a certain game? Hardly a new experience for PC gamers.

      All my old cracks work. Key Gens work.

      All my old cameras, scanner, mp3 player, printer, USB mass storage devices just work.

      I'll admit Vista is not perfect but
    • by QuantumG (50515)
      And what has made Linux so easy to switch to in recent years is graphical package managers.. when you can select what software you want to install, for free, from a list of thousands and thousands of apps, you don't need proprietary software.
  • by jkrise (535370) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:24AM (#22347988) Journal
    " it's really hard to enter the desktop market because people are used to whatever they used before, mostly Windows... better is worse if it's different. "

    If Linux is trying to ape the Windows look and feel, or its rubbish ever-changing architecture or dll hell... then it is doomed to failure in the long term. With Vista, Windows has reached saturation point - even long time users are reluctant to take on Vista or for that matter, IE7 or Office 2007.

    Firefox isn't slow in its uptake because it is different from IE7; people use it bcos it is better. Linux trying to mock Windows would be a 10-year backward step, and doomed to failure.

    RMS was right... Torvalds is just an engineer; he isn't great at predicting the future or reading people's minds.
    • by pizzach (1011925)

      Firefox isn't slow in its uptake because it is different from IE7; people use it bcos it is better. Linux trying to mock Windows would be a 10-year backward step, and doomed to failure.

      I tried putting your trig function in my calculator but it didn't work. But I am betting that bcos() outputs a value very similar to cos and sin. This would mean you get values from 1 (true) .5 (sorta true) 0 (not true) to -1 (you are an ass.)

      Naturally there is no false return on jusbcos which is asymtotic for those inputs. Only true and "you are an ass" are viable answers to this function.

  • by uptownguy (215934) <UptownGuyEmail@gmail.com> on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:24AM (#22347990)
    Here's the thing -- I've been working in the IT field for over 15 years now. I'm no systems administrator but I certainly know my way around a computer.

    I want Linux to be ready for the desktop.

    I want Linux to provide a decent end user experience.

    But it doesn't. It doesn't even come close. I've tried different flavors over the years. Most recently, I tried (and failed!) to install Ubuntu on my laptop and desktop at home. And here is what I've found...

    Between driver issues, chicken and egg problems (my network isn't working, how can I can my network working if my network isn't working), absolutely atrocious user-friendliness, what still feels to this "power user" like a very steep learning curve (I just want to get wireless to work, what is a "NDIS wrapper"? I have to do WHAT?) , nothing built in to the OS to help with this and online forums that are full of extremely helpful people who give convoluted, conflicting and overly complicated advice...

    It just isn't a good end user experience. Linux seems all about feature sets and me-too-ism. cleverly titled software packages that are a little embarrassing to run or talk about. But very little thought is given to getting something up and running so a regular person can hit the ground running. If you don't happen to have a family member or friend ready to walk you through the transition, you will end up spending tens/hundreds of hours to get to a point where you can do the same things you could with your Windows machine. The closest I ever came was the Knoppix Live CD about three years ago... but even that ended up being more work than what I got out of it.

    Again -- I want Linux to be ready for the desktop. I understand as an IT professional that you can get a much leaner, more secure, stable configuration for a fraction of the price. At the enterprise level that makes sense. But for a regular person looking to take the plunge... documentation, easy of use, drivers that "just work" -- SIMPLE, NON TECHIE ways to get things working once they don't work without needing to learn something new -- all of these might be things that geeks scoff at. But until they are addressed, Linux will forever be a tiny slice on that pie chart.

    Come on geeks. Microsoft is ripe for the picking. Macs will grow in market share. People will continue down the MS upgrade path and you'll keep talking about how 20__ is the year of desktop Linux...
    • by at_slashdot (674436) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:45AM (#22348272)
      Linux is ready for desktop, hardware and software vendors are not ready for Linux. The are few reason beside hardware and software lock in for which people would not switch to Linux. "Oh My God, do you mean that I have to click only once!!!!11!!1!!"
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770)

      Between driver issues, chicken and egg problems (my network isn't working, how can I can my network working if my network isn't working), absolutely atrocious user-friendliness, what still feels to this "power user" like a very steep learning curve (I just want to get wireless to work, what is a "NDIS wrapper"? I have to do WHAT?) , nothing built in to the OS to help with this and online forums that are full of extremely helpful people who give convoluted, conflicting and overly complicated advice...

      In the closed source world, there typically is a solution or there isn't. Linux is full of all these shades of gray, and NDISwrapper is a good example. It's just in the nature of Linux that people hack around and sometimes get things to work that aren't "supposed" to work - sorta, using some obscure recompiles and configuration hacks and binary blobs and whatnot. Let me introduce you to the newbie's guide to Linux compatibility:

      Kernel tree driver (+ATI/nVidia): YES
      Anything else: NO - no matter what you mig

    • by debest (471937) on Friday February 08, 2008 @11:35AM (#22348928)

      I want Linux to be ready for the desktop. I want Linux to provide a decent end user experience. But it doesn't.

      You're not wrong. For me (and for a good number of other /.ers), part of the "fun" of Linux is the hacking around, getting things working and feeling a strange sense of accomplishment when you unearth some strange tidbit of wisdom that permits everything to work the way its supposed to. And, yes, that includes purchasing hardware that supports Linux natively (unlike wireless cards that require ndiswrapper to work properly).

      For those who want a computer that isn't Windows, but "works", you're right in talking about a Mac, 'cause for now that's your alternate (and a damned good one, too). Linux as a desktop OS still not for the faint of heart, even Ubuntu (which I use daily). As a Windows "power user", you are in the worst position to switch: you have a lot invested in customization, apps, and comfort level, and you need to see a truly superlative offering to make switching worth it to you. As you've correctly found out, Linux isn't it, for you. Heck, most Windows power users would probably load XP if someone dropped a brand new iMac on their desk, and never boot back to OS X again!

      You decry that Microsoft is ripe for the picking, if only geeks would make things that "just work". Well, I'm not a developer, and even I know this: making things that "just work" is very, very HARD WORK! The developers of Linux desktop environments, applications, and the like do an amazing job, given that many are pure volunteers, and those that are paid don't have the same resources behind them. Making GUI interfaces slick and bug free, and testing them against myriad combinations of hardware platforms and software combinations, is just not fun! Microsoft (and Apple) pay good money to many, many people to perform the unsexy, boring, yet necessary work of trying to do this, stuff that geeks have no interest in doing if they could do "their own thing" instead.

      I'm afraid that I don't see what you desire happening. Linux will always be the "geek" OS. People who use it will have to be ready for an experience which is somewhat more "down and dirty" than Windows. If that's not good enough for you, sorry man! You have to weigh which is more painful to you: Microsoft's forced upgrades, security risks, and ever-increasing hostility to its customers; or learning to deal with a less "friendly" OS and applications. Because until you feel greater pain from the former, it really makes no sense to switch to the latter.
    • oh come on, the linux kernel has run much better on my desktop and laptop machines for the last 5 years than windows has.

      if you try to install aix on an ultrasparc you won't get very far either.

      just pick hardware which works with the operating system you want to use.
    • by McDutchie (151611)

      Why in the hell do people keep using ease of installation as a measure of how "ready" Linux is for the desktop? That's such an incredibly dumb argument. Windows is far harder to install than a user-friendly distribution such a Ubuntu, let alone something like Knoppix. Windows has a really sucky text-based installer, and contrary to popular belief, Windows lacks far more drivers than Linux does -- to get any modern hardware to work under Windows, you have to install third-party drivers separately, where Linu

    • by rickb928 (945187)
      Wireless is THE issue that keeps me from using Linux at home for everything.

      My old laptop (Mitac 6120) took Fiesty just fine, but my 3Crwe154G72 shows WEP only. The steps to get WPA running are both confusing and contradictory. Do I do the wpa_supplicant thing, or try an updated driver, or ndiswrapper? And when I get ndiswrapper, and it fails install, who do I turn to? The ever-helpful Linux community?

      I tried Fedora 6. It persisted in installing IPv6, despite docs saying it does not. This killed routin
  • by delire (809063) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:25AM (#22347998)
    Linux is doing just fine if you consider growth rate. These statistics [w3schools.com] - and those of several other sites I've encountered (including my own) indicate it's adoption rate is as fast as that of Apple's, in some cases moreso. However, adoption looks very poor if you look to 'market share', a figure based on sale count, and by far the most popular guage.

    Recently, however, the wide success of the EeePC (and apparent solid sales of Dell's M1330 w/Ubuntu) shows that Linux can work very well in the hands of the uninterested or uninitiated if it comes preinstalled. At a conference I recently attended I met an art curator using an EeePC. She said she doesn't like computers but prefers the EeePC because "it's easier than my MacBook and has better internet". For the casual and highly mobile computer user I think Linux is very much claiming market share.

    At the other end, the workstation market, Linux is also making very strong ground (3D animation, film compositing/editing, engineering).
    • by Nemilar (173603)
      You're completely right about it depending on "which lens you use," as you put it. But to use the w3c stats, or stats from websites you frequent, or your own website, will give a highly distorted view. These are (I'm assuming) mostly technical sites, with technically-minded people.

      If you want to know how Linux is really doing on the desktop, look at the stats from ESPN.com. I'm betting not so good.
    • by British (51765)
      Doesn't TiVO run on Linux? That seems to be a widespread success, even though it's moreso in the living room than on the desktop. Of course, nobody knows it's linux underneath since it has a nice interface up-front. No kernel recompiles, etc that would scare non-techies away.
  • Sounds like jealousy to me.
  • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:28AM (#22348050)

    The desktop is also the thing where people get really upset if something changes
    I thought that was IT departmens. Considering that a significant number of former Windows users are switching to Apple, and many, many more are at least considering Apple for their next computer, I don't think desktop users are as adverse to change as Linus makes them out to be.
  • by stormguard2099 (1177733) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:30AM (#22348066)
    I would wager that many people think it's just an inferior OS that can't run what they want. In my experience working tech support at my university, a lot of people don't think that macs can run what they need. They have this concept that all of the good programs run on windows and people just don't use other OSs to do the stuff that they do on windows. Yes, I know I'm talking about macs instead of linux but if people have such doubt in macs, it doesn't take much to see how these same people would view linux (which most haven't even heard of). Mind you this is at a university so I was dealing with a young crowd which is commonly thought of to be more tech savy. To me it seems like these kinds of misconceptions are the biggest problem for linux
  • I was already wondering where the yearly Linus Torvalds talk would be about how Linux will break through to the desktop Real Soon Now(tm). This has been a pipe dream for how many years now?

    Seriously, you cannot keep taking this seriously. Apple should how Unix can be made interesting to Joe Average to get a good uptake on the desktop, but neither Linux nor the BSDs will cut it for Joe and Jane Average, it's simple as that.
    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      Apple should how Unix can be made interesting to Joe Average to get a good uptake on the desktop
      Are you speaking in spam or something or did you make this post with Babblefish?
  • by edmicman (830206) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:38AM (#22348162) Homepage Journal
    One thing I don't understand is that there seems to be a consensus that Apple got it right, UI-wise. Unix underpinnings, but an elegant interface (from what I hear, anyway....I haven't used a Mac since ~1994). The knock against linux seems to be that the frameworks are there, it's just sort of a kludgey interface a lot of the time. "Too much command line needed". In my experience, things like Ubuntu have made it a lot better, but it still seems like a bastardized version of Windows. Sure somethings are prettier sometimes, but a lot of times other parts aren't remotely close. So my question is....

    Why not rip off the other guys? Rather than chase Windows, chase freakin' OS X. If Apple can make a glamorous OS based on Unix, why can't anyone make a glamorous OS based on Linux? Is it because Apple has those magical UI fairies? FOSS vs commercial shouldn't matter - people are ultimately the ones that make the stuff. Are you telling me there are no more best and brightest out there working in the FOSS world, that they're all snatched up and locked down for commercial project?

    I love a lot of the aspects of the Linux desktop, but it just seems like the vast majority of FOSS projects' tagline should be "almost as good as the commercial counterpart, but it's free!". IMHO there are only a few major projects that have actually *improved* on their commercial counterparts and made a *better* product. And those projects are the ones that succeed. For Linux On The Desktop to actually work, it needs to stop trying to be the "free alternative to Windows or Mac" and actually be a *better* alternative, for more reasons than just not having to pay for the software.
    • Mod me down. But the single best thing that the Linux community can do is to develop a free IDE for wxPython development (the only sane environment so far for cross-platform development). Imagine the number of applications you would have when you have a single IDE which can provide you with installers for n-number of operating systems without any additional effort other than learning python. Also since the next generation .NET applications (WPF and the like) cannot run without a huge runtime (since .NET doe
    • by minniger (32861)
      > Why not rip off the other guys? Rather than chase Windows, chase freakin' OS X. If Apple can make a glamorous OS based on Unix,
      > why can't anyone make a glamorous OS based on Linux? Is it because Apple has those magical UI fairies? FOSS vs commercial
      > shouldn't matter - people are ultimately the ones that make the stuff. Are you telling me there are no more best and brightest
      > out there working in the FOSS world, that they're all snatched up and locked down for commercial project?

      This is exact
    • What's funny is that with a little bit of work (and the right vid card) a linux desktop can be a better looking, more functional desktop than osx. The problem is that it takes work to get it setup :( I know it's hard, but when people can get that desktop out of the gate without having to do anything more it'll start to take hold in the eye candy crowd.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MrNemesis (587188)
      Personally, I think the trick is not to chase the so-called "best" option (typically XP or OSX or but to make a desktop that's a) simple and reasonably intuitive off the bat and b) easily configurable to get to where the user wants (if the user doesn't want to "go" anywhere with the UI they don'g get past (a) anyway so it's of little concern).

      Personally, I think that the "big four" (Windows, OSX, KDE* and GNOME) both come very close to fulfilling (a) and some way to fulfilling (b), with KDE IMHO being the
  • As an offset (Score:3, Informative)

    by pembo13 (770295) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:39AM (#22348176) Homepage
    I know there are going to be tons of posts saying the tried Linux on the desktop, etc etc. But I would just like to add my voice as one who has been using Fedora on my desktop for the past few years, quite happily, and not for lack of legal copies of WindowsXP, but because it I prefer the experience. It may not be ready for "the desktop" (which seems subjective) but it is, and has been ready for my desktop.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pandrijeczko (588093)
      This is why I hate the meaninless term "desktop".

      It's been usable on my desktop for almost a decade but I don't own (or have any intention of owning) an iPod, I don't do video editing and find the GIMP does enough image editing that I'm ever likely to need. Other than that, on my Linux desktop I can play (and emulate) enough games for my need, surf the web happily, write documents and spreadsheets, and rip CDs. Therefore its fine for my "desktop" use.

      But there are people who do want the equivalent of Ad

  • by FleshMuppet (544521) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:40AM (#22348184)
    I think we are already seeing where the success of desktop linux will come from, and its affordability. Those cheap Wallmart PCs, the EEEPC, the XO, all point the way to where success will come for linux. Right now, from a hardware perspective, there isn't much driving the need for beefier hardware from a consumer perspective besides memory-hungry OSs. The average user wants to surf the web, watch video, and do some word processing. That's about it, and they don't need eight cores and sixteen gigs of RAM to do it. I'm old enough to remember the days when the Commodore 64 DESTROYED the (then hardly ubiquitous) IBM in sales by creating a $250 computer that you could take home and just plug in and go. The fact that you can build a very usable, snappy system with linux on a quarter of the hardware that you need to just make Vista run is going to be very attractive to a certain segment of the consumer world that are not already linux users. And, this, in turn is going to provide a user base that can propell the system forward. System manufacturers seem to be figuring this out, with more and more of these systems, like the new Shuttle KPC, targeting this market.
  • by EarthandAllStars (1214536) on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:42AM (#22348226)
    The slow uptake has little to do with the quality of Linux/Unix/Apple as compared to Windows. It has everything to do with industry specific applications only being available in Windows. When the average consumer can walk into Best Buy or Wal-mart, easily find the Linux software, purchase it, and get it to work on their specific distro, then Linux will come to the desktop. Until that time, it WILL remain in second place. For businesses the old legacy apps will need to be ported over, and billion spent retraining employees and IT workers. This is why it is slow on the uptake, and I am an Ubuntu user BTW.
  • I like his part about the final decision on design lays on the person who steps up and actually does the code. Also it is important to know that if you code that you should keep up to date with new versions of stuff in case it breaks your old code because releases are the time they're prepared for that stuff, not years later.
  • Dual boot Ubuntu (Score:2, Insightful)

    by matsuva (1042924)
    I don't know a lot about computers but am quite interested in them (that's why i read slashdot). Two years ago i tried an ubuntu-only system and it was disaster, crashes all the time, controls i didn't understand and very little info to be found on the net for absolute beginners. A few weeks ago i got a computer-savvy friend to install a dual boot system for me, i now have XP pro and Ubuntu, i have logged on to windows twice since then. The ubuntu system does everything i want it to do, it's faster, all sof
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pandrijeczko (588093)
      I've been a UNIX geek for some 20 years (though I always have one PC somewhere with the latest iteration of Windows on it - well, apart from that Vista trash but that's another story) and I started off with Linux some ten years ago - firstly with Slackware, then Red Hat, then SuSE, back to Red Hat for a while, then Linux From Scratch.

      About four years ago I settled on Gentoo Linux and I'm still with it - as an experienced Linux person, I truly believe that the only way of having a fully optimal and stable

  • Linux is becoming a more viable and user friendly desktop solution with every release. I am absolutely amazed with the progress in the last five years. The major roadblock of widespread adaptation of Linux as a desktop has been and always will be lack of hardware drivers. I can't tell you how many times a certain network card, printer, tv capture card, or other device that is critical to my productivity is either not supported at all under Linux, or supported poorly with missing functionality. This is no
    • To be honest, hardware problems on Linux can be pretty much erased from your life forever provided that you do a bit of research and choose your hardware carefully.

      I've not done it recently but a couple of years ago, one of the best ways of proving whether or not your hardware would ever work with Linux was to just boot the PC from a bootable Knoppix disk, as Knoppix had the reputation of being able to find just about any piece of hardware that the Linux kernel could support.

      If it didn't work in Knoppix

  • by ProteusQ (665382) <dontbother@nowhe r e . c om> on Friday February 08, 2008 @11:22AM (#22348722) Journal
    1. Will it play my games? As in _all_ of them?
    2. Will it work with my iPod?
    3. Does it run Office?

    Want to grab customers? Then Wine must play Win95 games better than Vista as well as _all_ of the latest releases, automagically.

    Linux must also interact with an iPod and be capable of running Office _at the time of installation_. No extra stuff to download -- it needs to 'just work'.

    Forget "free as in free beer" -- if that were going to attract Joe User, it would have happened already. Instead, Mac has the buzz, despite its higher price.

    Free downloads of Kubuntu forever, but my father-in-law had better have the chance to buy the above at Wal-Mart or Linux will never capture the desktop market.
  • by Cytlid (95255)
    I had an epiphany lately. You see, I've been into technology for around 20 years or so. I really like Unix and how it works, and I have to say I was really excited when Linux came into my playground.

    I have Mac friends, I have Linux friends and I have PC friends (even have a PC wife). But we're all geeks. We love computers and technology.

    Now at my last job, I really enjoyed it. It was an ISP and over the years I worked there as a system admin, I enjoyed helping to convert it from a sol
  • AutoCAD. That's the showstopper for me.
  • The real reason is pre-installation

    If all PC's had Linux pre-installed and Windows would be something that people would need to download and install, I am sure the percentage of Windows users would be much less then the percentage of Linux users is now.

    And I do mean pre-instalation on each and every PC that leaves the factory.
  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Friday February 08, 2008 @12:14PM (#22349560)
    I started with Slackware 2, compile your own drivers, and all that jazz. It was great when I was a kid and landed me some early jobs while I was in college just as Linux in the server room was starting to be used because I knew what it was. But as time went on, I found my personal time became worth something and was tired of nothing ever fully working. Yeah, Linux on the desktop was useable, but my modem didn't work. (Had to use an old 33.6 with jumpers) My sound card never worked either.)

    What really soured me was when I worked for a company porting their Irix Applications to Linux. We ported the software and said specifically "Will only work with Red Hat 5" (this was a few years ago). That application made up less than 5% of sales and almost 40% of tech support inquiries because "OMG, it won't work on my custom hacked slackware/debian install why not!". Tell them, "Sorry, we only support RH" and then we'd get blogged on how bad we were on not being "Open".

    Well, OSX came along, we ported to mac and dropped Linux support all together. Personally, at OS 10.2 is when I switched to OSX and never looked back. Most of those "switchers" I knew back then were Linux users who jumped to Mac OSX.

    When my time became worth something to me personally, the fact that I could have MS Office, Photoshop, a complete Unix-based development environment all on one machine. Including use of tools like Quickbooks, when I started out as a consultant, and all the ProTools.

    When my clients give me the choice, I deploy on BSD. When I don't get the choice I still stratch my head at how simple things like the MySQL start command are located in different locations depending on the distro. It's this lack of standardization that was annoying back then and while better, is still annoying now.

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"

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