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A Peek Into Tomorrow's Linux 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the window-of-the-future dept.
jellybeans writes "MadPenguin.org takes a peek into the world of Linux as it looks going forward. "I hear this argument all the time. How companies trying to make Linux more accessible, through any means necessary, so long as they abide by the GPL, are working against the vision of Linux from the beginning. This is asinine. The vision, based on my own interpretation of Linux was always about choice."
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A Peek Into Tomorrow's Linux

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  • Good article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:35PM (#22415042)
    TFA makes a good point: the more desktop-friendly linux becomes, the less it loses its no-nonsense technical power. But I don't care what everex is doing with linux.. I have it configured the way I like it and even if they're putting out some watered down linux I can still get my flavor anytime I want.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sirmonkey (1056544)
      good point. but to add to it, i recently switched distros (after 5+ years with one) just becasue i didn't like how watered down it had become. with that said i've tried some of the newer linux's and like that -on some- i can still get my 'linux' tools, like mc, ifconfig, and a bunch of other console tools.

      guis are nice for tools i'm not fimilar with.... but it takes 3 commands for me to setup a network. and i'd rater add them to a boot script then look for -then figure out- a gui tool.

      however i do like the
      • by sjames (1099)

        The great thing with Linux and all the GUI tools is that people who need or want the GUI can use it and the rest of us can pop open a shell and do it the CLI way. Since the CLI tools are Free, even if a distro is stupid enough to remove them, they can always be put back. There's little reason to remove them since they take a fraction of the space the GUI tools do. It's not only the less resource intensive way, it's the more consistant way and in some cases, the only practical way.

    • by tubapro12 (896596)
      Exactly, Linux is pro-choice.
    • by Kyle (4392)
      Yes, we just have to make sure there are always enough developers for the Slackware's, Debian's and Gentoo's to make sure the power side of the OS is kept as powerful as we need it to be.
      • Yes, we just have to make sure there are always enough developers for the Slackware's, Debian's and Gentoo's to make sure the power side of the OS is kept as powerful as we need it to be.

        I honestly haven't seen a loss of power from Debian to Ubuntu. Really the power side is stable, and good, its the user-friendly part that could use a bit of help. Linux has a stable kernel, stable shells, stable package managers, stable GUIs, a few stable browsers and many stable programs, however to say that from Joe Windows-User's standpoint they aren't really easy to use and until Linux can shed the "free copy of Windows" syndrome that happens when people don't understand there are OSes besides Win

        • by calebt3 (1098475)

          I honestly haven't seen a loss of power from Debian to Ubuntu.
          Power might not have been lost, but it certainly isn't getting any stronger. When WPA2's replacement comes out, I want it to be as easy as possible to set it up from the command line. The presence of Gentoo and Slackware help prevent unnecessary steps in the process.
      • Most of the prettied-up versions of Linux draw on one or the other of the core distributions. They very definitely need to be maintained and have a strong user community. Otherwise the 'core' that the pretty-versions rely on will hollow out. All that shine has to be backed up with something, after all.
    • Summary (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aehgts (972561)
      Choice quotes from TFA that sum it up:

      2008: Year of the Linux Desktop
      and

      Click here to get the latest prices on Linux distributions!
    • I really don't think that any distro has watered down Linux. Sure Ubuntu may be user-friendly but its still Debian and you can do just about anything with it that you can with Debian with more software. Personally, I prefer the user-friendly distros because its not an absolute pain to get wireless networking to work right. I have to work with a wireless card, if Gentoo doesn't detect it, I really don't want to spend the hours compiling everything when Ubuntu works just fine. It also helps with a user-friend
      • by kamatsu (969795)

        Please, show me one distro that has achieved wide popularity that takes Linux and makes it watered down and its not easy to do all the power user stuff.

        Whenever Linux is connected to some form of package management, power-user stuff is available. It's about whether it is encouraged. In ubuntu, it is not. I mean, hell, it doesn't even include build-essentials by default. As far as I'm aware, there aren't any distros that water it down to impossibility, because, for that to occur, you would have to make a linux system incompatible with the power tools, which would require major rework of the operating system. Why bother when you can just put friendly GUIs

      • I really don't think that any distro has watered down Linux.

        You obviously haven't seen the default OS that ships with the Asus Eee [eeeuser.com] notebook -- a dumbed down version of Xandros [eeeuser.com]. You'd better hope that you can find the applications you need in the collection of huge 2" icons, because that's all there is. You don't even get a normal desktop until you install some packages from an added repository.

    • You are right to a point. However, there used to be some stand-alone projects/products that I enjoyed and made good use of (several a looooong ago, admittedly) that got pulled into being part of big conglomerations. A few of them suddenly had a 'k' prepended onto the name of the program and needed KDE to even run. When massive bloated desktop metaphors become the dominant norm, the light duty no-compromise Linux/freenix that we like can get steamrolled.

      As a certain chair-flinging goon is wont to say: 'de
      • When massive bloated desktop metaphors become the dominant norm, the light duty no-compromise Linux/freenix that we like can get steamrolled And if the developers get diverted into projects that make heavy use of shiney-thing widgets, stuff no longer runs on our lean Slackware boxes running fvwm. .


        Yes, there's often a lack of low-dependency alternatives to the newly desktopized applications.

        • by mhall119 (1035984)
          Gnome is actually going the opposite direction in some respects. They are moving gnome-dependencies into GTK packages, I remember printing from a while ago, and now gnome-vfs is being deprecated in favor of a GTK equivalent. Many GTK programs from Gnome already run on non-gnome, even non-linux environments. I have several GTK applications running under Windows (Gimp, Pidgin, Dia, etc.), and hopefully this move will make others available (Evolution would make me very happy).

          I don't know if KDE4 is moving
          • Gnome is actually going the opposite direction in some respects.


            Yes I just encountered this a few days ago. I use Claws-Mail which has a HTML mail rendering plugin that uses gtkhtml. Now last year to compile that I would have needed to actually compile some gnome stuff, but this year, all I needed was a relatively recent GTK (and gail I think) Much better.

            I don't use QT apps because I can't get QT3/4 to compile on this box (mipsel)

    • by hyades1 (1149581)

      Your point is well-taken, but there's an important difference between Windows and Windows-like Linux. The latter is open source, so security holes and bugs are addressed rapidly and efficiently by a huge community that includes some of the best programmers in the world.

      Microsoft, on the other hand, will pretend there's nothing wrong until somebody rubs their nose in the problem. At that point, they'll come up with some patch that only an idiot would install without waiting for a few days to see if the

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MichailS (923773)
      That is ridiculous. If someone takes Linux and puts a simple GUI on it, they aren't depriving the power users of any functionality. You can still pull up xterm and install any application your heart desires.

      Further, if someone makes a simple distro they aren't ripping Slackware from your hands. Rest assured that you will always enjoy the availability of elitist distros.

      If anything, they just add to the pool of choice.

      I wonder if the real gripes about simple Linux isn't about that the 1337 h4X0rZ feel that t
    • by HartDev (1155203)
      It is funny to me cause Linux is so useful and free, I mean Windows is restrictive and not free, honestly at any job I have had they could have easily used linux instead, the only hold back (and I see this as a weak argument) is games, and if Linux was use more widely used game makers would make games for Linux. Oh well...
  • "about choice" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:44PM (#22415128) Homepage Journal
    Uh huh. I thought Linus said it was "just for fun".. and he even penned a book by the same title.

    Were you talking about GNU/Linux? Cause we all know what GNU is about and it isn't "choice".

    • by ricegf (1059658)

      we all know what GNU is about and it isn't "choice".

      Precisely. GNU is about "freedom".

  • by pembo13 (770295) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @10:55PM (#22415298) Homepage
    Others can have it the way they like it as well. The problem I have with other solutions such as Windows is that it makes it more difficult to have things the way I want it.
  • I would show you my latest version of Linux but Im still compiling it.
  • From TFA:

    2008: Year of the Linux Desktop
    Well, I guess if 2008 will see the release of Duke Nukem Forever and Spore then why the hell not?
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @11:27PM (#22415650) Journal
    In the beginning I saw Linux as a kind of 'hey, this will work too' kind of thing.
    Then it was "hey, look... it's like a baby Unix"
    Then "wow, it's actually usable if you don't need tight compatibility with MS.
    Now... there are 5 different ways that I personally can use MY computers as I see fit. I'm only talking about flavors of GNU/Linux here. Each of them has free apps that are all compatible, more or less. Each of them is comparable to Windows. Each of them will work for many users, all save those few who use apps that will ONLY work on Windows or Mac. Each of them is fairly user friendly, and I mean that in the same way that managing an XP install is user friendly for your average user. (I don't care whose coolaid you drink, Windows set a fairly low standard for user friendliness in terms of how many people can actually manage a windows system out of the box... Think I'm wrong? then explain Geek Squad and other businesses like it)

    Right now, it is EASIER to get and install GNU/Linux than MS Windows. The applications work as good or better 90% of the time on a strict is-it-as-good-as-windows scale, which I think is a bogus way to compare them anyway. If you have ever had to teach your parent/uncle/friend how to use e-mail then you KNOW it would not matter what OS they used.

    Being able to say, hey, I want to throw a new motherboard in that case, move it to the upstairs family room, add a video tuner, blah blah blah... you are only dreaming unless you have a licensed but unused copy of Windows hanging around.. UNLESS you are using one of the other choices for OS.

    Personally, based on inconvenience alone, I will never use windows again by choice.
    • by QuantumG (50515)
      It may be about choice to you, and that's fine, but the problem comes when the "about choice" people start weighing in on matters that are more important than choice.. like freedom and the cohesion of the community.
    • Exactly, not to mention the price point. Even though back when the mac was coming out, most people went with the (more primitive) DOS computers because they cost quite a bit less. Linux will be the same way, even though people think that Linux is worse then Windows (those who know nothing about Unix and use Linux like a free copy of Windows) it will achieve popularity via the low price. With an OEM edition of Windows costing $50 thats 25% of the Everex $200 PC and when people realize that, exect Linux to ta
    • by Jaktar (975138)
      I agree with you on all points except...

      Being able to say, hey, I want to throw a new motherboard in that case, move it to the upstairs family room, add a video tuner, blah blah blah... you are only dreaming unless you have a licensed but unused copy of Windows hanging around.

      I'm not sure where you're going with that statement. If you want to throw in a new mobo and add a tuner you can do it, you just have to phone the Microsoft authentication line. I've done it about 4 times now. The only painful part about it was getting past the obvious Indian accent that the reps had. They pretty much only ask you for the Key and how many machines it's installed on and then give you the new activation number.

      Is that easier than a clean install

      • by x2A (858210)
        "If you want to throw in a new mobo and add a tuner you can do it, you just have to phone the Microsoft authentication line"

        Unless the new mb has an incompatable IDE (esp RAID/SATA) controller, in which case it can be a lot more work (often a reinstall) to get windows to work than linux (which usually at most requires adding the driver to the kernel if it's not already there). There can also be ACPI incompatabilities that can require a reinstall or some tricky fiddling (as anyone who's tried to boot their v
        • by Shados (741919)
          If you go with a new motherboard, all you have to do is find one registery key (I obviously don't know which one by heart), delete it, shut down the computer, switch the mobo, and when you boot it up it will redetect it.

          Yeah, we all get caught by the blue screen thing until we figure that one out, happened to me too the first time I had to switch to a totally incompatible board...but thats all there is to it. One tiny key.
          • by x2A (858210)
            If you get that far. If you get "inaccessible boot device", then it doesn't matter what you do to the registry, as that's not even being read yet.

            • by Shados (741919)
              Indeed. Except that by that point, Windows itself hasn't been read either...so I think you have a different problem then :)

              (I've switched motherboards with the most incompatible setups you can imagine, and never had this issue).
          • by robzon (981455)
            And how is that easier and more user-friendly than switching MBs on Linux?
            • by Shados (741919)
              Oh, no no. My point was simply that you didn't have to reinstall the entire thing.
          • by Bert64 (520050)
            Yup, finding and deleting a registry key is real user friendly...
            • by Shados (741919)
              I'll sure as hell have an easier time explaining how to do that to my mom than "adding the driver to the kernel" if its not there already.

              That said, as I mentionned to other people, my point wasn't to say Windows was easy: it was just to say that you would never have to do a reinstall for something like that. Nothing more, nothing less.
              • "I'll sure as hell have an easier time explaining how to do that to my mom than "adding the driver to the kernel" if its not there already."

                I'm sure you are talking out your expectation or directly lying. I know because I literally did they both.

                The registry was first: go start programs, look for execute, write down regedt32 and press enter (it was quite a time ago); look at the left pane (I don't see any pane); expand HKLM (what's that?) expand this branch, then this one then... (heck, I don't remember th
                • by Shados (741919)
                  Im actually not lying. I had to walk through my mom through a manual spyware/virus infestation for which there was no easy anti-virus fix (it was a virus that had just gotten in the wild, as my stepdad literally click on everything, including entering the admin password when he gets a prompt for it in Vista running as a normal user), so I had to get her to search the registery for specific patterns of keys and get her to delete them...keep in mind she can barely boot her computer.

                  I mean, of course if you sa
                  • by Bert64 (520050)
                    Command line is much easier to support over the phone, just so long as the person on the other end can read and write they effectively just act as a proxy for the shell, reading the output aloud and typing what you tell them. Obviously the intermediate proxy makes it a little slower than entering commands by hand, but it's far less error prone. Asking someone to read exactly what they see, rather than having to describe a graphical representation of anything (their description will be their own interpretati
                  • "Im actually not lying."

                    I didn't say you were lying because I didn't believe you managed to get someone through the steps to modify some registry entry. I said you were lying because there's no chance you really directed people over the phone both on a GUI and a text command line and found the former easier.
                    • by Shados (741919)
                      I know its what you meant. And guiding people through command line was much harder. Actually, the easiest platform to support has always been MacOSX IMO (GUI only, even though obviously you could use the command line there too), and I've never even sat down in front of a Mac more than 15 minutes :)
                • by Bert64 (520050)
                  You're right, telephone support of a command line system is much easier than a graphical one, mainly because a textual flow is much closer to a conversation, which is what a telephone is designed to carry. The person you're supporting need only proxy the text back and forth.
  • by Murrquan (1161441)
    But putting it on my Windows PC was like making a Hackintosh. Even with Fedora / Ubuntu's Live CDs, I still had to rely on the community for help in getting everything to work right. And some things just plain won't work, period.

    Don't get me wrong, I think Fedora and Ubuntu are great! I love how they have such friendly communities to turn to for help. But when The Year Of The Linux Desktop comes, it's not going to be like this -- it's going to be from preinstalled systems. And I, for one, think that this t
  • The problem with the Windows entrenchment is that people have adopted the mentality that Windows is a integral part of the computer. Another thing is that there is now clear definition of what "Linux" is. We can all identify a Windows box in a heart beat because they all look the same. On the other hand one machine with a Linux distro may look/feel completely different then another. That hinders adoption because you cant say "Ok in Linux to change setting A, click Start->Control Panel->widget. You ca
    • Don't say "in Linux", say "in Ubuntu" or "in Fedora". Ubuntu itself very rarely mentions the name "Linux" in its stock UI. End-users don't need to know that Ubuntu is Linux any more than they need to know that Windows Vista is Windows NT.

      • by MSDos-486 (779223)
        I helps identify the OS and provide better insurance to the users of compatibility. If you call it Fedora or Ubuntu you create a distinction between the two. Most average users would attribute such a distinction to mean complete system incompatibility. The real problem you run it to is people who know(or think they know) to much, but understand very little.
        • by Haeleth (414428)

          If you call it Fedora or Ubuntu you create a distinction between the two. Most average users would attribute such a distinction to mean complete system incompatibility.
          What, like they assume XP and Vista are completely incompatible?

          Look, people cope with different Windows systems behaving very differently every day. Different Linux distros are more different from one another, but not by all that much. The solution is education, not dumbing down.
      • > Don't say "in Linux", say "in Ubuntu" or "in Fedora". It would be better to mention the WM/DE instead, as Fedora might have Gnome or KDE as the DE which will confuse the shit out of both the support person and the user at the desk. A better solution would be something like remote assistance, which the user can kill at anytime by hitting the ESC key. That tends to be much more educating then just instructions over the phone, the voice communication needs to be there though.
    • Who would be the one to decide what this "LINUX Distro" would be though? "The whole point of Linux is choice" Although that being said out of the box Fedora and Ubuntu look identical to Joe Sixpack as Gnome is used on both. KDE based distros also look very similar. Getting Gome and KDE to merge would be like getting cats and dogs to live together but if that happened the majority of distros would use "Knome". But then it would be as bloated as windows perhaps?
      • by MSDos-486 (779223)

        Exactly. I know most users couldn't give two pennies about the crazy configurability of Linux. Heck most people i know don't even use bookmarks, they resort to scrolling through the recently visited sites in the address bar.

        What would be the point of introducing these types to Linux. None I guess, other then cheaper software. I would more be for us UNIX/Linux guys/gals who don't want to use Windows at all, even thought everyone we work with does.

        You underestimate Joe Sixpack, he could have used Windows f

    • Perhaps it would be better if people would not refer to what you see on the desktop as the "operating system". It's just a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to the OS. The purpose of an operating system is supposed to be to handle low level tasks like managing memory, providing kernel resources, performing I/O operations with peripherals, and executing applications on behalf of the user. It should be up to the application to decide how the information from the operating system is displayed (or not displayed
    • An interesting measure of success for usability would be the ability to remove any terminal emulators from the default install, with no issues.

      Mac OS X doesn't even try a damnfool thing like that.

      Hell, even Windows doesn't try a damnfool thing like that.
    • by mhall119 (1035984)

      That hinders adoption because you cant say "Ok in Linux to change setting A, click Start->Control Panel->widget.

      That is why most of the help you find is along the lines of "Copy the below text into your terminal", because by and large most distros are the same at the terminal level. This has the added benefit of being a single instruction, instead of a series of "Are you there yet? ok, now..." instructions, and it doesn't rely on possibly confusing terms (i.e. "How can I click on your computer?" when you tell someone to "Click on My Computer"). And if you think you can use the same point-and-click instructions fr

    • by Haeleth (414428)

      That hinders adoption because you cant say "Ok in Linux to change setting A, click Start->Control Panel->widget.

      But you can't say "in Windows..." either, because it keeps changing between versions. (You can't even say "in Windows Vista..." or "in Windows XP...", because you don't know which mode the user's control panel is set to display in.)

      The real problem is that people are much more forgiving towards Windows. When they can't get something working in Windows, they shrug resignedly and assume that

  • Related Articles (Score:4, Insightful)

    by twistedcubic (577194) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @05:58AM (#22417984)
    Look at the "Related Articles" at the bottom of the page. They sure do like to pit their subjects against one another. Talk about dramtization...

            * 2008: Year of the Linux Desktop 02/05/08
            * Top 3 Brands That Refuse to Support Linux 01/19/08
            * Linux Users to Blame for Lack of Linux Popularity 01/15/08
            * Linux Time Machine Alternative Reviewed 01/05/08
            * Fedora 8: An Assault On Ubuntu 12/30/07
            * Restricted Codecs Mess in Linux 12/26/07
            * Kernel Developers vs. Mainstream Users Duel 12/20/07
            * KDE 4: The Latest In Linux Improvement 12/18/07
            * KINO Developers Impress With Unconventional UI 12/10/07
            * Ubuntu Gutsy Release Candidate Review 12/02/07
  • asinine? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cas2000 (148703) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @07:19AM (#22418292)
    Matt Hartley writes in his, for want of a better term, "article":

    > I hear this argument all the time. How companies trying to make Linux more accessible,
    > through any means necessary, so long as they abide by the GPL, are working against the
    > vision of Linux from the beginning. This is asinine.


    no, this is a straw-man.

    it's also a bizarre tangential rant. he was writing a (fairly lame and light-on) review of little linux-based desktop/laptop devices - and then suddenly goes off on this weird rant to pre-emptively address an entirely unheard criticism followed by an even more bizarre attack on imaginary "crazy whack-job" linux dudes who happen to be trapped in the 1990s for some unexplained reason.

    Hey Matt, don't look now but your inferiority complex is showing! it must be way past time for your medication.

  • by qoquaq (657652) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @02:26PM (#22423304)
    Linux or GNU/Linux is customizable. Use what works for you. Change what you don't like, support what you do like. These user friendliness discussions are great. Someone is taking the platform forward. Its a good thing. More people are involved. You want to stay away from things which make the software non-free, don't install proprietary software. Not every distro or configuration of Linux is right for you. The beauty is that you have a choice, a large involved development community, several groups which help provide direction, ... its all good! Arguing this type of stuff is purely flamebait.

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