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2009, Year of the Linux Delusion 696

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the feed-the-trolls dept.
gadgetopia writes "An article has come out claiming (yet again) that 2009 will be the year of Linux, and bases this prediction on the fact that low-power ARM processors will be in netbooks which won't have enough power to run Windows, but then says these new netbooks will be geared to 'web only' applications which suits Linux perfectly. And, oh yeah, Palm might save Linux, too." The article goes on to skewer the year of Linux thing that seems to show up on pretty much every tech news site throughout December and January as lazy editors round out their year with softball trolling stories and "Year End Lists." We should compile a year-end list about this :)
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2009, Year of the Linux Delusion

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  • Think Different! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alain94040 (785132) * on Thursday December 18, 2008 @12:56PM (#26161477) Homepage

    ARM-based netbooks won't be powerful enough, therefore Linux will shine on them? That doesn't sound very convincing. First of all, with Moore's law this means that a few months later, netbooks *will* be powerful enough. Will that then be the end of Linux? Nonsense.

    I'm a Linux fan. The main reason why "the year of Linux" never happens is that the press (and analysts) keep comparing Linux to what they know: a Windows desktop.

    If we keep copying whatever Microsoft implemented 3 years ago, we'll never pass them. What we need are real killer applications in completely new spaces. For instance, look at web applications: that's hurting Microsoft 10 times more than any 3D effect in KDE ever will. The Web made a lot of Microsoft software irrelevant. Linux needs to do the same, by doing something *different*.

    --
    Application iPhone [applicationiphone.com] Les Meilleurs Jeux et Utilitaires pour iPhone et iPod Touch

  • Humm good title (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Erie Ed (1254426) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:01PM (#26161531)
    "Year of delusion" sounds about right. Don't get me wrong I love linux to death, but this year just won't be different from the other years. If people really want linux to become mainstream then it needs to be more user friendly, and the elitiest attitude will need to be droped...just my two cents.
  • Re:Well well.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by salarelv (1314017) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:04PM (#26161557) Journal
    80% of people doesn't need Windows. When people acknowledge that then this year will be the year of Linux.
  • Re:Well well.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@@@gmail...com> on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:06PM (#26161583) Homepage Journal

    95% of people doesn't need Windows. When people acknowledge that then this year will be the year of the Macintosh.

    Fixed that for you. Linux will take over on the desktop when it becomes competitive and user friendly on the desktop. Ubuntu has been doing a good job in moving that direction, but the system still needs to be (ironically) more open to users installing software and performing tasks outside of the sandbox offered by the package manager.

  • Criterions? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nicolas.kassis (875270) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:07PM (#26161589)
    What are the criterions for it to be the year of Linux? Frankly, every year has been good to Linux lately. I'm glad to be sporting a Dell Mini 9 with Ubuntu on it. Buying a laptop with Linux on it wouldn't have been possible a year or two ago from a large vendor. Now every big vendor has a Linux laptop for sale. So, what needs to be accomplished for it to be the year of Linux on the desktop?
  • Save Linux? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:08PM (#26161601)

    And, oh yeah, Palm might save Linux, too

    I didn't realize that Linux was in need of being saved.

    Its future might have been a bit less clear five years ago, but now it's pretty obvious that Linux is here to stay.

  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:08PM (#26161615) Homepage Journal

    Not as in "it replaces Windows and Mac OS X" but as in "more and more people are buying Linux computers", which are those small netbooks.

    The general public started buying Linux machines without really being aware of it. They don't need to know about Linux, all they need is a web browser, email, IM, etc.

  • by AndGodSed (968378) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:10PM (#26161635) Homepage Journal

    I think the year of the Linux Desktop has passed already.

    Everybody thinks that the "Year of the Linux Desktop" will be some huge event where Microsoft goes bankrupt, MacOS is hit by a MalWare storm and Linux desktops are sold more commonly than Windows Desktops.

    A single event like this is a pipe-dream. The year of the Linux desktop was the start of the revolution. There was no huge event to mark it, but we have now what "Year of the Linux Desktop" pundits predicted years ago.

    Linux desktop machines sold alongside Windows Machines, Linux Laptops sold by at least one top 3 Online vendor, an area where Linux competes on an equal footing with Windows products (netbooks) and common adoption of Linux desktops by large corporations and government agencies.

    In fact, we have more - MANDATED adoption of Linux or other OSS desktops.

    The thing is, now the real work starts. We are out of the shadows, having stepped from relative obscurity into the public eye - and now we are being watched closely. The OSS community needs to provide more than a killer desktop OS, we have several to choose from. We now need to provide the finer things that our competition has a leg up on:

    1. Good Marketing. Say what you will, the Microsoft Marketing machine is one of the best there is, OSS needs to match that somehow.

    2. Good service. Things will go wrong with any Operating System, who is there to assist our clients? Do we have a "0860 CA LL MS" number that the user of his chosen environment can contact in time of need?

    There are obviously more, but that is all I want to do as far as ranting goes...

  • by Xabraxas (654195) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:14PM (#26161687)
    The article is deceiving on many fronts. The author states that it is "inconceivable" that the Windows 7 release date will slip past mid 2009. Why is it inconceivable when Microsoft regulary misses its release dates? In addition to that no one is really going to know how well Windows 7 actually performs on netbooks until it is released. XP is getting old and developers are slowly moving away from it while Linux will always have the latest and greatest whether it is on a netbook or a supercomputer. I think netbooks and Android phones will improve the visibility of Linux to consumers in 2009 but it will still be a long way to garner a significant desktop share from an entrenched Microsoft.
  • Year of the what? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by socrplayr813 (1372733) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:16PM (#26161707)
    I'll probably get modded down for this, but I'll say it anyway... Linux on the desktop as it stands today will most likely never have its year.

    The general population wants what they know and until a Linux distribution is pulled together in a nice, neat, familiar (to mainstream users, meaning Windows) package, they will not buy it. It will also need to be packaged with their shiny new HP/Dell/Gateway/whatever. The only way I see it happening at this stage is if Microsoft continues to stumble with Windows. One potential back door I see for Linux is through business. If businesses adopt Linux, people will have that familiarity and won't be afraid of it anymore. For that to happen, of course, there needs to be much improved support for those systems, which is not happening yet.

    Unfortunately, I think Microsoft is doing okay for the moment. They stumbled a bit with Vista, but the incompatibilities of Vista were a necessary step for them to improve the security and stability of Windows. If they can improve the performance of Windows 7, mainstream users will have little reason to switch.
  • Re:Humm good title (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:18PM (#26161731) Homepage Journal

    If people really want linux to become mainstream then it needs to be more user friendly

    I don't want my OS to be friendly. I want it to be obedient.

    MS has a reputation of being easy to use, but I can't figure out where that rep came from. Every time I get a new version of Windows or Office at work my productivy goes through the floor because I have to learn to use the damned thing all over again, as it's more different from its earlier counterpart than from its competetion.

    IE has has had its preferences screen in every menu slot on the browser. Why in the hell do they insist on playing "musical menu items?"

    I don't know of a single other software company or OSS program that does this.

    OTOH I've never had a problem with KDE, and neither have any of the computer noobs whose computers I installed Linux on. Linux is only hard to use for people who are used to doing things the ass-backwards Microsoft way.

  • by kwabbles (259554) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:20PM (#26161755)

    From TFA:
    An article has come out claiming (yet again) that 2009 will be the year of Linux, and bases this prediction on the fact that low power ARM processors will be in netbooks which won't have enough power to run Windows, but then says these new netbooks will be geared to "web only" applications which suits Linux perfectly. And, oh yeah, Palm might save Linux, too.

    In a year that saw Linux netbooks appear, and fail to excite consumers, thus handing Microsoft victory in the netbook operating system space, yet another pundit has come out claiming 2009 will be a revolutionary year for Linux.

    The "year of Linux"?
    Palm "might save Linux"?
    A "revolutionary year for Linux"?

    Does this asshat even know what Linux is? Does he even know what what he's trying to talk about is Linux on the desktop? He goes on talking as if he thinks that if Linux doesn't succeed on the desktop, that it is a failure and that something will need to come along to "save it".

    People need to get it through their thick skulls that Linux is a kernel for a unix-like operating system. The primary purpose of Linux is not to become a replacement for the Windows desktop, or to become the latest gadget PDA system. It's purpose is not to be a fancy, shiny, eyecandy competitor for OSX. Its purpose is to be an extremely versatile, scalable, and portable kernel for a unix-like operating system - and when coupled with GNU it becomes a very powerful unix-like operating system capable of pretty much anything.

    Linux has succeeded as the number 1 OS of choice for HPC and supercomputing applications.
    Linux has succeeded as being a very popular OS for Internet-connected servers.
    Linux has succeeded as being the OS of choice for many embedded systems, home entertainment applications and DVR systems.
    Linux has succeeded as a powerful development environment.

    Linux has succeeded in so many areas that it would be tedious to list them. Primarily, though - Linux has succeeded far beyond anyone's wildest dreams in its original goal: to be a viable monolithic kernel for x86 systems, so that x86 users can enjoy unix.

    Linux is not going away, it hasn't "failed", and it certainly doesn't need to be "saved". In fact, since the day GNU/Linux has been available, it has done nothing but grow and increase in usage. And not only has it grown, it's grown wildly... from hacker OS, to mainstream OS, to a laughable nuisance to Microsoft, to a downright huge challenge to Microsoft's vitality in the server market. From where I stand, I've never even seen a dip in its growth. It's only growing more, and it will continue to grow. Linux has succeeded, and will continue to succeed. Just watch.

  • by StCredZero (169093) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:20PM (#26161757)

    People don't realize that you don't need to *replace* yesterday's technology to succeed. There's still tons of COBOL running out there. Java, Python, Ruby do not act as *replacements*. They are layers of something new and different. If you replace something obsolete, you're just slotting yourself into a role that makes you obsolete!

  • Re:Well well.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:22PM (#26161795) Homepage Journal

    I haven't had any problem with wireless network cards, but I assume you mean drivers are hard for some cards, which actually is true of Windows too.

    As far as "download a program and install it", I'm flabbergasted anyone would compare the Ubuntu experience (for supported apps, use Applications->Add/Remove, for unsupported download a .deb and double click on it) negatively to the Windows experience.

    The only time it's hard is if the third party software doesn't bundle a .deb, preferring to distribute as source or something similar. But the same is a PITA under Windows, more of one indeed because Windows doesn't ship with a development environment.

    Software installation is one area where the major free GNU/Linux distributions are eating Window's lunch. I'm almost inclined, given the clean uninstall they generally give you, to suggest that they're slightly better than Mac OS X, although some Mac OS X applications literally just need dragging to the Applications folder to install them, and deleting to uninstall them, which is better.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:23PM (#26161801) Homepage Journal

    People kept predicting the year of the network. It never came or it came and we didn't know it.
    Networks went from being very rare to being pretty common in companies then they started selling the stuff in Walmart.
    It is the ever growing creep. Linux will just keep creeping into our life.

    Of course I have my list of things that are slowing it down and most of them are religious issues.
    Lack of a stable binary driver interface and the difficulty in selling software are two big ones.
    But full support from Adobe for for Linux for Flash, Air, and PDF Reader are a big sign that the slow march of Desktop Linux is on track.

  • by omar.sahal (687649) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:23PM (#26161803) Homepage Journal
    Here here
    I suppose that in the early nineteen 60s's only techies would be interested in mini computers. What would a business do with them, PDP 1 etc weren't powerful enough to run proper usefull applications like payroll at a large organisation. Programmers liked mini computers (because they could get access to them) But no one else did, they then went on to find new applications for computers, to scratch their own itch. These new applications then became must haves. The same pattern can be seen in Microcomputers as well, the best thing is the incumbent never sees it coming, to busy with their own market. But its still good for Linux to provide a desktop.
    New types of computers (computing devices) should be a spur to entrepreneurs, this is where they will make the most money (and have the most fun coding original stuff).
  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:25PM (#26161843) Homepage

    If we keep copying whatever Microsoft implemented 3 years ago, we'll never pass them... What we need are real killer applications in completely new spaces.

    Yeah, yeah, people keep saying that. In every thread that in any message board where anyone had declared "the year of Linux on the deskop", someone has tried to argue that "the problem with Linux" is that Linux developers are just trying to copy Windows. And the people making that argument always fail to include the same thing: a single idea on what different/new thing Linux developers are supposed to include.

    The whole thing hasn't shown itself to be particularly relevant anyhow. We've hit a bit of a dead-end. No one is coming up with any UI that doesn't amount to spacial metaphors and "windows" being navigated by a keyboard and mouse. No one has come up with the "database driven file systems" we were all promised years ago, and no one has made the word processor obsolete. While we're at it, we may as well complain about our lack of flying cars and self-washing kitchens.

    I think 2008 already was the year of the Linux desktop. It wasn't as big and flashy as everyone hoped, but for the first time I've seen a non-computer geek running Linux on their laptop-- not for any political or ideological issues, but because it was cheap and easy and did everything they needed. There are distributions that are polished enough that I'm feeling like I could install Linux on my mother's machine and she'd have less trouble than running Windows XP.

    But the fact is, it's never that easy to come up with a revolutionary idea, and it's often not necessary. What most people use their computers for is still web surfing, email, the word processor, and maybe storing music and pictures. If Linux is enabling people to do those things easily, reliably, and without frustration, then it has already "passed" Windows.

  • Just dump. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:27PM (#26161849) Homepage Journal

    The reason that ARM based notebooks can't run Windows has nothing to do with the "power" of the chip.
    There isn't an ARM version of WindowsXP or Vista! And even if their was there is no software that would run on it!

  • by AnalPerfume (1356177) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:28PM (#26161863)

    "Of course, Windows XP has shown that it handles netbooks with aplomb, and works with the web best of all, thanks to having all the browsers, plug-ins, downloads and more you could ever want, something you just can't claim with good old Linux."

    Really??? You have to laugh really.

    "As for Windows 7, Microsoft is specifically ensuring it will work on netbooks, and if it needs to sell the software at cheaper rates to compete with free Linux, it will do so - just as it has done with Windows XP today."

    If XP works "with aplomb" why would there be any specific need to tweak Windows 7 for the purpose? Surely it's a case of "just keep swimming", since the path they'd be on would be the correct one.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:29PM (#26161881)

    ...start marching to the tune of the large businesses that design these killer apps...But the community won't, because those companies have already made it clear what their terms and conditions are and we won't compromise.

    And that's great! Otherwise Linux would be the same shitty mess that Windows is! Pursuit of profit is not what made Linux what it is. Pursuit of profit makers in order to gain the popularity that Windows has will destroy Linux.

  • by gillbates (106458) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:38PM (#26162017) Homepage Journal

    The Linux desktop arrived in 1998 with RedHat 6.0. (Yes, this was before all that RHEL stuff...) With that release, the GUI looked better than Windows and the system was usable by the general public. Installing it still required a fair bit of expertise, but even the Windows 95/98 setup program couldn't/wouldn't repartition or reformat your drive for you. A newbie end user with a blank, non-formatted HD couldn't install either Windows or Linux.

    Some years later, Mandrake came out. It was so easy to install that my non-technical brother managed to install it on his machine by himself. I didn't like the lack of build tools, but hey, it was Linux and very user friendly.

    And then Ubuntu took its place. It may sound odd, but Windows is now more difficult to install than Linux. I've never had a Linux user ask me "how do I get the activation number"...

    Let's face facts: journalists have been hyping, "This is the year of Linux on the ${DEVICE}" for the past decade.

    What has really changed? Nothing. Journalists are just as clueless today as they've always been.

    I've been using Linux for the past decade, and I've seen the distros go from "Here's some hints on configuring X, good luck!" to "Do you want fancy GUI effects or not?". It has been a mature, solid platform for about ten years now. It has been adopted primarily by people who make informed decisions about their choice of operating system.

    The reason why this will never be "The year of Linux on ${DEVICE}" is simply because Linux is already widely used where appropriate. Sure, the desktop might be a lost cause, but this demographic almost never makes a decision about their operating system. The overwhelming majority of desktop users want something which is:

    • Compatible with everything else, and
    • Doesn't need to be installed, and
    • Comes with anti-virus software, or something like that.

    To make Linux popular with the Joe-sixpack crowd, you'd have to turn it into something as brain-dead as Windows. You would have to sacrifice the security of the operating system for the sake of providing a familiar idiom - "I want to execute this code automatically when the page loads..." And you'd have to adopt some brain-dead, fischer-price lookalike interface. Is that really what people want Linux to be?

    I don't think so. I don't want Linux to sacrifice its good qualities for the sake of being popular. Right now, I have an OS which is secure, stable, easy to use, free, and I'd like to keep it that way.

  • Not likely (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:53PM (#26162249)

    Every year we here this same prediction. I expect Linux to the same place one year from now where it is now.

    The simple fact is that Windows is simply eisier for users to use. Not because it has a dumbed down user interface, but because things just work on it. Installing, loading and unloading device drivers isnt a huge hassle. Installing third party software is not a huge hassle. You are able to run down to the store and buy a software and not worry about if it will work, you just install it and it works. Hardware devices work out of box. Everything is supported.

    The attitude of Linux people i not helpful. We have kernel developers who refused to add a stable device driver ABI, despite the fact to get increased adoption of Linux binary drivers is an evil we will have to live with, but will actually have long term benefits since Linux will expand its user base, and we could eventually write open source versions of those drivers. Being able to have binary device drivers and making it easy for users to load them and companies to provide them, actually would give programmers an opportunity to be able to document the hardware protocols used by these drivers and make an open source driver from that.

    Another thing is the assumption that a user can live with installing all programs entirely from the distros package manager. The reality is companies will want to use their own installers and these will have to run on different distros. Binary compatability is very important and a Stable binary program API.

    I think WINE is very important and that when that becomes to a point where it can run 100% of Windows software, and that if even some way was found to allow Windows drivers to run on Linux, then maybe Linux might gain more market share.

    Otherwise, given the fact that there is so much hardware, software lockin on Windows, and that everything Gnome does tends to make the GUI on Linux even worse and mroe unuseable and its developers seem at a loss how to make a flexible and useable GUI, i think linux will remain mainly a botique operating system with some penetration into the server market.

    Ive watched people use Ubuntu and the are absolutely baffled. Its not because its a new system, its because the development philosophy (of dumbed down, rigid, inflexible GUIs rather than high levels of flexibility and good layout) is all wrong and the system is simply junk. The more user friendly they try to make it the worse it gets. Somehow Ubuntu has LESS configurability and flexibility, and options than Windows, at the same time it manages to be MORE user unfriendly than windows. This is because the dumbed down GUIs of Ubuntu does NOT make software easy to use. Its layout that does. Software needs to have lots of customizability and allow users to grow into it, as they become experts they can customize more of it. With the default GUI of Ubuntu there is little to grow into.

    Many of my users were even scared by the default desktop background that looks like a coffee stain or a dangerous animal. Its the ugliest thing ive seen. What the hell are these people thinking?

    Despite the CD being 600 MB it seems there are only a dozen programs avialable on the menu and half of them didnt load properly.

    Its good to have a user friendly GUI, but this does not mean dumbed down. This is the mistake that Gnome has made to equate the two. Everything Gnome has done has made the system simply worse, more inflexible, unuseable, and so on. Its layout that matters in a GUI, not scarcity of features. A GUI can have the most features, customizabiliy and tons and tons of extra options for experts, and still be user friendly, if it is well laid out and advanced options are placed in advanced screens. Gnome developers try to push their own tastes on everyone and preferences, instead of letting users decide how to use their computer, and that will not work. The idea should be to make it easy for the user control everything on the computer, not hard. And make it so users can configure as little or as muc

  • ... on the desktop.
    There was a time when Windows had USB support, and Linux panicked within 5 minutes of inserting one of those fancy new 512k USB keys. That was a whiiiile ago.

    There was a time when Windows had antialiased fonts but not Linux.

    When Windows had Media Player and I struggled to play a DVD or the odd .avi in mplayer without it crashing.

    When the only decent graphical browser that didn't crash was konqueror, and then it crashed quite a bit.

    That was the time when IE was the best browser, although not by much. And that was a long fucking time ago.

    Not so long ago, there was a time when you seriously use Linux on a laptop. Couldn't suspend, hibernate, or what have you. Wireless drivers? There was that ONE orinoco thingie or something, and if you could get lucky enough to find one ...

    So that was at least 5 years ago.

    Today Linux's USB support is vastly superior to any Windows, performance was and so on. Linux doesn't require dodgy third-party drivers. Suspend/hibernate/energy saving features work on 99% of laptops. Wifi works out of the box on most distribs, or at worst requires the DLL compatibility thingie because some vendors still suck (proprietary) cock. We have the best built-in full disk encryption, built-in virtualization, and there's SELinux, which is much better than what Windows has to offer.

    Soo, hm yeah, there is this applications thing, or the lack thereof. Really? Most apps now run in a browser window. And what is the situation today, in the browser war? Internet Explorer 8 BETA sucks as much, compared to modern browsers, as early, crashy Mozilla sucked compared to IE 5. And here at the office today, someone had to watch a video sent by the communications dept. Windows couldn't play it. They ended up downloading VLC with Firefox, and it worked great.

    So in the end, what's left is games. I'll give you that.

    "Yeah, Windows; gotta admit it's better for videogames."

  • by Locklin (1074657) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:56PM (#26162291) Homepage

    No thanks. I will always prefer to spend 8+ hours a day on my workstation than using an iPhone. All these "iPhone-is-the-future" comments seem to neglect the fact that most people use their computers for work. Sure, eventually you will be able to "dock" your iPhone into a monitor and keyboard, but that won't gain me much (I already have a portable phone, and my files follow me with network access or a thumbdrive).

    btw (GP), (La)TeX made word processors obsolete before there were word processors.

  • by snl2587 (1177409) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @01:57PM (#26162321)

    Then again, we have a slew of helpful people willing to answer just about any question, no matter how trivial it may seem, over at places like LinuxQuestions.org [linuxquestions.org] or the Ubuntu Forums [ubuntuforums.org]. What I'm really looking forward to is the "Year of the Helpful Experts", where new users can get all the help they need with using Linux without being insulted.

  • by gzipped_tar (1151931) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @02:00PM (#26162379) Journal

    I find you post interesting because it contradicts my (and I guess most other's) experience with today's Linux distros. A decade ago, maybe, I don't know so I can't really comment. But today? I think your situation would really be rare.

    I never wrote a kernel patch myself. I suppose less than 1% of the Linux-using masses have ever done so. I don't even need to recompile a kernel unless it's strictly necessary or strictly fun. Today's distro maintainers do that patching jobs pretty well and that's partly the reason why "distros" exist.

    It's good for you to be able to write your own kernel patches and solve the problem yourself. I know sometimes you may have to do it because of unsupported hardware or special needs. I'm not saying patching your kernel is unnecessary these days. I'm saying it's not an obstacle for ppl to adope Linux these days.

  • Re:Humm good title (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday December 18, 2008 @02:05PM (#26162471)

    MS has a reputation of being easy to use, but I can't figure out where that rep came from. Every time I get a new version of Windows or Office at work my productivy goes through the floor because I have to learn to use the damned thing all over again, as it's more different from its earlier counterpart than from its competetion.

    Bullshit.

    There are two examples of having to "learn to use the damned thing all over again" for Windows and Office in the last 20 years: Windows 95 and Office 2007.

  • by WebCowboy (196209) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @02:30PM (#26162847)

    ...but not because of the reasons you think.

    It will be because "the desktop" all the prognosticators refer to will go extinct before MSFT will even come close to losing its market dominance in that area. Like the typewriter, it will never go away totally, but it will be a niche. More and more, I notice people doing computing tasks on non-traditional hardware. I know facebook junkies who continually keep their status up-to-date and people who reply to emails in seconds, yet don't turn on their home PC for days (and are blocked on their work PCs). I know people with NAS devices in their basements that play music on various receivers in the house...and they aren't even nerds...and not one of the gadgets runs Windows (nor do they care). People visit internet services on their game consoles..most of which don't run Windows. My television has a network port and can connect to the 'net all on its own...and it doesn't run Windows.

    Who needs a "year of the desktop" when the desktop has peaked and is facing eventual decline?

    The general population wants what they know and until a Linux distribution is pulled together in a nice, neat, familiar (to mainstream users, meaning Windows) package, they will not buy it.

    How come personal computing seems to be the only place where people make this argument? It's not like there is one company that makes 90 percent of all vehicles and it is justified because peole want a "familiar driving experience". Sure, cars all have 4 wheels, a steering wheel and some other basic common elements but every different model puts the wiper controls in a different place, have completely different climate control layouts, some put the shifter on the floor and others on the steering column, they all have different wheel sizes and so on.

    Same goes for restaurants. McDonalds is big and successful, and their dining experience is certainly familiar, but it is FAR from being dominant in its industry like MSFT is. In fact, in much of the world McDo is not even the leader in the market (for example, in Canada Tim Horton's is more than double the size of McDonalds). Nobody argues that no other company will succeed anywhere in the world against McDo because people want a "familiar dining experience" and it needs to be the closest restaurant to any given residence.

    People are fundamentally the same regarding behaviour and tastes across industries. Familiarity is indeed a competitive advantage, but there are other concerns consumers have. In fact, the argument that Windows is familiar is not even really valid anymore. Vista and Office 2007 are different enough that people have to adjust to them just as much as if they did in switching to a Mac or to Linux. It's like buying a new car--they all have mice, icons, windows, menus and such, and people can adjust. In fact, that unfamiliarity was probably a GOOD thing, because people sometimes DO want a change, if it s a good change.

    Notably, performance and reliability are proving to be the challenge to MSFT. Vista was a step backwards on both fronts. XP was honed and tuned for years, and Vista comes out and for all its flashy features, you need twice the computer to do the same basic tasks, and some very fundamental operations were next to useless until SP1 was released. Linux and MacOS offer a modernized experience and in the case of Linux it can be had on inexpensive hardware, as I can attest to in running some pretty Compiz effects on a Sempron PC with 512M of system RAM (a configuration that is just barely practical with Vista Basic and no aero glass interface). Hey...Jaguar autos have always been very pretty but were extremely poor sellers in N America as they were unreliable and didn't preform any better than some less costly alternatives.

    It will also need to be packaged with their shiny new HP/Dell/Gateway/whatever.

    Well, HP and Dell and Lenovo have made factory installed Linux relatively easy to get. MSFT seems to have lost its tight gr

  • by cjonslashdot (904508) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @02:31PM (#26162873)
    I agree. I am sick and tired of hearing that certain systems are not powerful enough. Seven or eight years ago I owned an 800Mhz system that ran Windows ME, and I ran Photoshop 3 on it to see how fast it would run: the program started in about a half a second - including loading of plugins. I compared that with a 20+ second startup for the current version of Photoshop at that time (5?). Photoshop 3 was a full-featured program with support for layers. So why did the new version run so slowly, when version 3 started in a fraction of a second? And I would conclude that Photoshop 3 would start in a fraction of a second on any netbook - and Photoshop 3 was designed to run on systems with 1-4Mb of RAM!!! And it was routinely used for full-page image production work! So no one can tell me that powerful programs will not run on netbooks. The problem is that the programs are not being designed to run that way and the OSs are bloated.
  • by starfishsystems (834319) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @02:54PM (#26163183) Homepage
    Oh, and by the way, Linux does function as an eminently acceptable desktop.

    For me, 2001 was the Year of the Linux Desktop. That's when I switched from Solaris. And why was I running Solaris? Because it had been my desktop for the previous fifteen years.

    From my point of view as a working computer scientist, Microsoft was perennially late to the game, perennially full of hot air, and has never - certainly not architecturally - caught up to stuff we were routinely using decades ago.

    This year I've had to work at two client sites where the desktops were running Windows XP, arguably the most stable and complete desktop OS that Microsoft has ever produced. I'm familiar with it, but I find it a constant source of frustration. It's basically a toy. Are you kidding, drive letters? Shortcuts?
  • Re:Humm good title (Score:3, Insightful)

    by roggg (1184871) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @02:55PM (#26163209)

    I reject this logic. I can't believe that, given the same amount of time and familiarity, that users will find Gnome or KDE less user friendly than Windows.

    And I in turn reject yours. So I'm a naive Windows user installing linux for the first time. What the hell is a Gnome or a KDE? Which one do I want? In fact, which distro do I want? This is a whole layer of confusion that Windows and OSX don't have.

    In fact diversity might just be one of Linux's biggest problems in the desktop market. Too many distros. Too many desktop/window managers. Too many package formats and package managers. (Not enough vendor support).

  • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @03:03PM (#26163333)

    yet still no interoperable IM client that can use a Web cam worth a damn. I keep seeing those netbooks, with a camera, running linux, and wonder what people do with them? I've used Ubuntu as my main desktop for years now, but I still hop on my wife's Vista Laptop to do video chats over MSN Messenger. Its quick and painless. I got one program to show video (amsn) but no sound, and the video was choppy as hell. People have been begging for video support for ever... Now that I moved 2000 miles from my family, I can understand why.

  • by Computershack (1143409) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @03:04PM (#26163347)
    So in order to run at the same speed as XP on low RAM, you've got to use a DE that is pushed to match Win95 in functionality?
  • by fprintf (82740) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @03:04PM (#26163349) Journal

    Hey, Ubuntu, you haven't quite figured out a way sensibly handle legacy software that requires root permissions. Your "Cancel or Allow"esque abomination works ok for GUI stuff that is built to incorperate it, but it breaks so many apps that I have already learned to hate it.

    This handling of "legacy" applications is exactly what has both a) held Windows back to 1990 and b) enabled Windows to retain its hold on the large corporate radar. Here's a clue - not everything you can get off the 'Net is valuable, maintained or needs to run on a modern system. Typically if you find a piece of software that breaks on Ubuntu, you can find a replacement with a quick google search that will work properly.

    BTW, I have been working on my current Ubuntu laptop for 12 months. I have yet to encounter a single piece of software that has asked me to "Cancel, Allow". For those applications that I prefer to run as root, like Gediting a system file, I simply run them from a terminal window as "sudo applicationexec &" and it runs fine.

    What applications are you running that "so many" of them are broken to be pissing you off this much?

  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday December 18, 2008 @03:05PM (#26163355) Homepage

    That's a particular use, but are you just talking about using the iPhone as a secure USB key (external storage device)?

    What I'd like to see eventually is a all-in-one device that can be used for everything. Like you take your phone, and drop it into a docking station that attached a keyboard/mouse/monitor, and the UI changes to work as a normal OSX desktop machine. Yank the iPhone from the dock, and you retain the same functions, same access to the same documents, and scaled-back GUIs for your applications (but you're running the same applications). That sort of thing would be fantastic.

    Two problems with the idea:

    1. Everyone writing an application would have to create two different UIs, one for the phone mode and one for desktop mode. (not insurmountable)
    2. The iPhone isn't powerful enough to handle this. Give it a few years, and it may be.

    One of the advantages is that you could have your computer with all your settings and all your files in your pocket all day long, every day.

    But that's not an issue of innovation. The idea has been around for a while. The problem is having something small enough and energy efficient enough to be a phone, while powerful enough to be a desktop machine. Right now, the technology can't meet both of those purposes to a level that would satisfy most consumers.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @03:09PM (#26163403)
    That was when the 2.4 kernels came out. They were the first ones with SMP, the last major improvement to the kernel and the linu architecture. Since then, releases have basically had minor tweaks, a few new features, bug-fixes and support for newer processors - but nothing as game-changing as the work done 6 or 7 years ago.

    This leads me to the conclusion that linux is basically a mature product, which has reached the top of it's development cycle and is, for all intents and purposes, in its maintenance mode and therefore in decline.

    However, it's not alone: Windows peaked with XP and it too, is suffering from bloat, lack of innovation and decline, also.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @03:10PM (#26163429)
    Not if it is used sparingly and with Firefox. I don't even know which version of IE is installed. I can tell you it's not IE 7 and tha's about it. ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 18, 2008 @04:07PM (#26164219)

    1. Pick a distro unlike your favorite. For example, if you use Ubuntu, choose Mandriva.

    2. Install the new-to-you distro in VirtualBox.

    3. Now, using the command line, try to change the new-to-you distro's configuration, or set up a server or something like that.

    4. Experience the frustration of missing familiar commands, bizarre distro-specific ways of doing things, weird file locations, funky startup scripts.

    5. Rinse and repeat.

    6. Now imagine the experience if you were not a Slashdot uber-geek.

    It's not that any distro's way of doing things is wrong, it's just that it is sometimes so different it's confusing and discouraging. And it's mostly different for 'religious' reasons rather than practical ones.

    See? No wonder we have an annual "Year of Linux".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 18, 2008 @04:23PM (#26164449)

    This is correct. Linux is slowly spreading as the collective UI's become easier to use.

    However, I think this "copying Windows" argument is bogus. Linux does not need to look and feel just like Window to spread its way to the masses. But it does need to follow Window's example in ONE area to really take off: Relegate the Terminal to the same infrequent usage that the command prompt has in Windows.

    I'm definitely a Linux n00b. However installing and getting Ubuntu up and running out the box is a piece of cake. If the configuration beyond that would be as simple, no one would fear it anymore. Unfortunately, spending 4 hours trying to find Terminal instructions to get a dual display setup working properly is not going to fly with the general public. The UI options are there, they just don't work without config in Terminal.

    MAKE THE UI DO THE WORK, AND THE PEOPLE WILL COME!

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @04:50PM (#26164891) Homepage

    For what I paid for my last 1.83Ghz mini, I recently
    acquired myself a Quad core 2.83Gz "regular PC" with 8G
    of RAM, a VDPAU enabled video card, 8 SATA ports and 10
    drive bays.

    Apple needs to update it's lineup. It's starting to get dated.

    If you're listening Jobs: A 9400 based atv would be the bomb.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @04:55PM (#26164979) Homepage

    The fact that I can walk over to my neighborhood department
    store and see Linux boxes on sale is a milestone enough by itself.
    Increasingly, "the year of Linux" seems less and less important as
    I see fewer and fewer reasons to care.

  • by blueZ3 (744446) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @05:00PM (#26165101) Homepage

    Just a quick comment on usability: most (MS) programs are written for what you might call the "perpetual beginner."

    For instance, studies have shown that people who are long-term users of menu-based interfaces memorize the "location" of menu items, rather than reading them when the menu opens. For instance, if the "Font" menu item is the third one down in the "Format" menu, which is second from the left, experienced users find it by going two over and three down, not reading the menu tree: 1) file 2) format, then 1) borders 2) numbers 3) font Oh there it is! But Microsoft's flagship products (Windows and Office) ship by default with "custom menus" turned on, which irritatingly moves menu items based on usage.

    This is one of the greatest difficulties with good UI design--making an interface that is simple and intuitive enough for beginners to learn and become comfortable with, but that still is efficient for those who have mastered the basics and are becoming "power users"

    In other words, there is no "normal" user--each individual's use of software changes over time. Designing for this is what makes UI work so tough.

  • Re:Well well.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jonaskoelker (922170) <.jonaskoelker. .at. .gnu.org.> on Thursday December 18, 2008 @05:06PM (#26165175) Homepage

    Last I checked (admittedly a while ago), on OS X, if you're the kind of person who knows what a library is and why it might have security vulnerabilities, if you want to patch the library you're using, you have to do it for every application. [actually you have to do that no matter whether you know or not, it's just that in the other case you won't be doing it.]

    How do you go about that? Manual labor? I'm sure that's going to be great fun on your fifth security fix, with yet a new unique yet somewhat slightly overlapping set of apps this time.

    Script it? Why are you doing the computer's work for it---shouldn't it be the other way around?

    Has my knowledge gone stale on me? Then I withdraw what I said.

    The scenario you're describing sounds like it scores high on usability. What's given up in return? One of [security, time]. Also, if one app equals one folder, you don't have the option of network-mounting all the big files in /usr/share from the (only!) one copy on your network. Point being: usability is great, but consider what is being given up by it, and why people might not want to give it up.

    slash me gets off his soap box.

  • by lennier (44736) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @06:25PM (#26166279) Homepage

    "Linux could clean Windows' clock if the GUI were more dependable. Right now it's pretty good, but occasionally falls flat on its face."

    And please, please, PLEASE can we get (on Gnome) a DECENT replacement for Nautilus.

    Nautilus just makes me wince. It's like it's taken half a squint at Windows Explorer circa 1998, on a very bad day, upside down, in a mist, and then looked at Mac Finder and did its best to forget all the good things in Explorer.

    Whoever did the original Win95 Explorer design needs a medal: it's still the best feature of Windows. It's simple, intuitive, and it doesn't penalise advanced users. This is what Nautilus should be, but isn't even trying.

    (Vista has also done its best to go the same route, and throw out all the things that made Win95's Explorer work.)

    These are the silly things that Nautilus does:

    1. Half-implemented 'web view' pane. It's useless. If I want to view something as a web page, I'll use Firefox or the browser of my choice (please not Epiphany).

    2. No decent tree view. It's tacked on in the side pane, but feels ugly, horrible, restricted. It's not as easy or flexible to use as Explorer's. It's an afterthought.

    3. No simple TEXT BOX view of the current location - or if it's available, it's hidden. OSX and Vista have both abandoned this but that's no reason for Linux to. The location needs to be a text box so you can Copy/Paste. That's important for advanced users, because locations are not opaque things that you can 'discover' through a conversation process, but are things you need to *communicate* to other programs and to humans. Text is the only reliable way of communicating, icons don't cut it (you can't cut and paste an icon into an email or IM or config file).

    4. 'Emblems'. Sort of cute idea, but implementing anything like this at the gui file-browser level is the Wrong Place to do it. Again, because you can't communicate the presence of emblems - it's metadata that only exists in an interactive browsing session. So you can't share emblems, you can't copy/paste them, then don't exist for anyone but you and only when you're using Nautilus. So useless.

    5. No decent 'detail view'. Zoomable thumbnails are sort of okay (though it's very slow to process thumbnails when you're copying a bunch of photographs), but sometimes you really do need to do some serious forensics on a directory and instead of having to drop into command-line, it would be nice to have a somewhat pleasant GUI view of the real files that are there without trying to talk down to you. Nautilus keeps trying to belittle the user and hide them from information 'for their own good'. It's a bad Apple habit, and Windows (pre-Vista) learned not to do it. Stop it.

    6. 'Spatial mode'. Nuff said. No, it wasn't innovative, nor was it pleasant. Win95's Explorer had this - as one of two modes that you could select, and advanced users quickly found 'open in same window' much more usable.

    Thank goodness Ubuntu hacked it off and made Nautilus nearly usable, but the Gnome folks' response still leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.

  • by lennier (44736) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @06:35PM (#26166427) Homepage

    Oh, and probably the most annoying:

    7. Modes rather than options.

    What makes Windows Explorer, from Win95 to XP, great is that it is customisable, on a per-user and/or per-directory basis. It has a number of orthogonal options which can be switched, and it then remembers that view. Such as: toolbars, show/hide status bar, major mode (thumbnails, list, detail etc), arrange-by, side pane (which remembers its size and is dismissable with one quick X), 'up', 'back'.

    These options are great. You don't need to mess with them when your view looks ok, but since you 'live' in a file browser so much, you need to be able to tweak it when things grate.

    Nautilus doesn't do this. Instead of options, it has modes. You can't pick and choose the view options *you* want for each folder, you can only pick from a tiny subset of ones the *developers* thought you *should* want.

    It's little things like not being to turn off the status bar unless you're in spatial mode, not being able to adjust the size of the side pane, not being able to dismiss the side pane without hitting the menu (because usually you bring up the pane to navigate, then once you're there you need more screen real estate in a hurry) - these little, pointless restrictions just chafe.

    There's no reason why the user experience needs to be restricted like this. The 'spatial' argument was where it showed the most. 'The user is using it wrong'. No. That's never the right answer.

    It's a design philosophy which needs to be changed.

  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @07:06PM (#26166797) Homepage
    The GUIs work, mostly, but they aren't nearly as stable as Windows Vista, and they don't add any real value that Vista doesn't have.

    You are joking, aren't you? I use Fedora 9, with Gnome on my home computer. I never log out unless I'm rebooting, and I only reboot when there's a kernel update. Several times, I've had uptimes of over three weeks. If I weren't so interested in keeping my box up to date, I'd probably never need to reboot. I don't know how good Vista is at things like that, because I've never used it and, God willing, never will, but saying that the Linux GUI isn't as stable as Vista is Just Plain Wrong.

    Oh, and before I forget, there's that little thing about not adding any value that Vista doesn't have. Right now, I'm using Compiz-Fusion, with four separate desktops. That means, for those of you who've never seen it, my effective screen real estate is four times as wide as my monitor and, each desktop has a complete set of icons, so that I don't have to scroll around from one to the other to find the one I need. Can Vista do that?

  • by khellendros1984 (792761) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @08:44PM (#26167811) Journal
    Heh. I'll take editing a few config files over stupid registry hacks to get stuff working. It took me 6 hours to figure out how to get Windows to accept a swapped motherboard. There was a lot of command-line and registry work, and a temporary swap back to the old hardware.
    In the same situation under Linux, I updated the drive locations in the grub config file, and it "just worked".
    Making the command-line harder to get to and use makes the computer "friendlier", perhaps, but you'll never get any real work done without it.
  • Culture Exudes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Thursday December 18, 2008 @09:06PM (#26168009) Journal

    I got two fascinating and almost-helpful replies to my post, yet between them lies the culture change that makes my point.

    You remark that Drake (From June 2006 per Ubuntu wiki) is no longer supported!? Over in Windows land we're coming up on the 8th anniversary of Win XP and still lamenting the failings of "New Kid Vista".

    The other reply said I should not look for Firefox ... but instead look for "web browsers that might be interesting". Uh... I'm interested in Firefox. If they have a package updater that figures out the weird dependencies, I'll try for that.

    Why can't I have a distro that "just works" for 5 years and when I grab an app produced the following year it behaves?

  • by Risen888 (306092) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @11:18PM (#26168813)

    The GUIs work, mostly, but they aren't nearly as stable as Windows Vista, and they don't add any real value that Vista doesn't have.

    I completely disagree. A few examples from the top of my head:

    Tabbing of windows (Fluxbox)
    Tagging of windows (Awesome)
    Desktop activities (KDE)
    D-bus (open standard)
    Theming (everybody)
    Multiple workspaces (everybody, for at least ten years)
    User actions/Nautilus scripts/etc. (several implementations)

    To my knowledge neither the Windows nor the OSX desktop can do any of these things (third-party hacks don't count).

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Friday December 19, 2008 @02:02AM (#26169753)
    i'd say the failure of open source is that you HAVE to modify it....

"Just Say No." - Nancy Reagan "No." - Ronald Reagan

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