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Red Hat CEO Questions Relevance of Desktop Linux 615

Posted by Soulskill
from the year-of-something-on-the-something dept.
snydeq writes "Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst questioned the relevance of Linux on the desktop, citing several financial and interoperability hurdles to business adoption at a panel on end-users and Linux last night at the OSBC. 'First of all, I don't know how to make money on it,' Whitehurst said, adding that he was uncertain how relevant the desktop itself will be in five years given advances in cloud-based and smartphone computing, as well as VDI. 'The concept of a desktop is kind of ridiculous in this day and age. I'd rather think about skating to where the puck is going to be than where it is now.' Despite increasing awareness that desktop Linux is ready for widespread mainstream adoption, fellow panelists questioned the practicality of switching to Linux, noting that even some Linux developers prefer Macs to Linux. 'There's a desire [to use desktop Linux],' one panelist said, 'but practicality sets in. There are significant barriers to switching.'"
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Red Hat CEO Questions Relevance of Desktop Linux

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:33PM (#27331097)

    I don't want to give up control of 'MY' unit to the cloud...ever!

  • Oh Yeah?! (Score:5, Funny)

    by oldhack (1037484) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:33PM (#27331103)
    How about laptops, huh?!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DesertBlade (741219)
      Running Ubuntu on my HP/Compaq 8710 laptop with no issues.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Pecisk (688001)

      Huh, better tell me how about grapes?!

      (For those who didn't get...yeah, that story about fox)

    • Re:Oh Yeah?! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RMingin (985478) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:16PM (#27331879) Homepage

      Lenovo 3000 N500 - Ubuntu 8.10 - 0 issues
      Lenovo 3000 N500 #2 - Gentoo 2008.1 - some issues (WTF, IT'S GENTOO)
      Dell Inspiron e1505 - Ubuntu 8.10 - 0 issues
      Acer Extensa 4220 - Ubuntu 8.10 - 0 issues
      Acer Extensa 4620 - Ubuntu 8.10 - 0 issues
      HP 6710b - Ubuntu 8.10 - 0 issues
      HP 6730b - Ubuntu 8.10 - 0 issues
      IBM Thinkpad X41 Tablet - Ubuntu 8.10 - Some issues, mostly related to the tablet functionality.

      Did you have a point, or were you just assuming that your (or your "friend's") one experience made a trend?

  • He's just angry... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thelasko (1196535) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:34PM (#27331117) Journal
    that Canonical is doing what he's been trying to do for years.
    • by IpSo_ (21711) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:44PM (#27331317) Homepage Journal

      Uhh, last I checked Canonical hasn't actually turned a profit yet. Its just being funded by someone who has very deep pockets. It could be years before he recovers his investment, if it ever happens.

    • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:33PM (#27332153) Homepage

      that Canonical is doing what he's been trying to do for years.

      What would that be, bring Linux to a <1% [hitslink.com] market share? I'd say Canonical is doing pretty much exactly the same as Red Hat. Back in its day RHL was pretty much *the* desktop distro (sorry, debian), building a name for themselves, getting certifications and so on. The only reason RHEL got anywhere is because half the geeks had already played with RHL. When they finally had enough legs to stand on in the business world alone, they dropped RHL and went with RHEL exclusive. Canonical definately wouldn't mind breaking into that known profitable market along with RHEL and SLES, and Ubuntu is the promotion package. If they carve out a market for Ubuntu LTS and drop Ubuntu in favor of a Fedora "testbed", the likeness would be complete. I hope things will be different this time around, but there's been a few too many "Year of the Linux desktop" for me to be very convinced.

    • by Jerry (6400) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @02:46PM (#27333357)

      And probably frustrated.

      His statements not withstanding, Red Hat announced a short while ago that they were "re-entering" the Desktop market. It's beginning to look like RH has a leadership problem where the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing or saying.

      Novell's Hovsepian said he made "the deal" with Microsoft because HE could not sell SUSE Linux against XP Pro. Will RH sign a similar "deal" with Microsoft for the same reason? Is a trend being established where Linux companies hire big name CEOs with WINDOWS experience only to learn they have NO knowledge of Linux or how to sell it against Windows, and soon give up?

      His statement about "usability" is laughable and ludicrous. Millions of Linux Desktops around the world are giving their users a fast, stable, functional AND secure environment.

      This Sony VAIO VGN-FW140E/H laptop is running Kubuntu 9.04 ALPHA 6 (that's right - ALPHA, and it is rock solid stable for me) with KDE 4.2.1 like a silk glove. It used to run VISTA Home Premium but Jaunty Jackalope is better looking and works better than VISTA. There is nothing I want to do that Jaunty can't do, and do better than any version of Windows I've ever used. I also like the fact that it doesn't tell me what I can and can't do, and it is NOT calling home with my personal info and demographics.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Put it on the shelf, and sell it for $50. Use the $50 to pay for 1) 24-hour tech support phone line and 2) Licensing for MPEG, MP3, etc so that DVD and music playback Just Works, out of the box. I'll buy half a dozen copies and GIVE them to all my relatives. Please, somebody do this already.

    • by Frankie70 (803801) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:42PM (#27331271)

      Put it on the shelf, and sell it for $50. Use the $50 to pay for 1) 24-hour tech support phone line

      One support call by each buyer will exhaust the 50$.
      And people who buy rather than download will be kind of people who will need support.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I bought Ubuntu for $20 at BestBuy sometime last year shortly after 8.04 came out. Haven't seen it since then, but I assume free OS's don't sell too well when obscurely placed in the PC software section instead of directly next to all the shiny Windows Vusta boxes.

      But thats really irrelevant, the thing I take issue to is that Mac OSX is NOT a better developer environment than Ubuntu. I've been using Ubuntu for over 2 years now at work and the only thing I can't do with it is Netmeeting, which is becoming
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PotatoFarmer (1250696)

        That bit aside, equipping a programmer with a MacPro desktop or laptop is just far too expensive to justify anyway.

        Unless you're developing for multiple platforms, in which case it's actually pretty cost effective to be a reboot away from Linux/Windows/OSX rather than purchasing separate machines.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Runaway1956 (1322357)
          People are still using multiple boot desktops? Even here in Backwoods, Nowhere, we have had Virtual Machines working for quite some time. No need to reboot, when I can network Mac, Ubuntu, WinXP, Win7, and Debian machines ALL ON ONE DESKTOP MACHINE! Phhht! Multi-boot is so, what? 1999?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I decided to take the plunge and finally learn C with the ultimate goal of moving on to Objective C to build apps for my MacBook. Mac users seem to actually pay for this little app or that little app... that's not as much the case for Windows, and absolutely not the case for *nix.

        It may not be a better dev environment, but people will actually pay a couple bucks for what I write if it works well. That alone's enough incentive for me.

      • Anecdotes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:20PM (#27331931)

        But thats really irrelevant, the thing I take issue to is that Mac OSX is NOT a better developer environment than Ubuntu. I've been using Ubuntu for over 2 years now at work and the only thing I can't do with it is Netmeeting, which is becoming less relevant since Lotus e-meeting works in linux for sharing desktops. I own a MacMini at home and I just can't bring myself to develop on it. That bit aside, equipping a programmer with a MacPro desktop or laptop is just far too expensive to justify anyway.

        I used to work at a software development shop that created high end Linux-based servers and appliances (I think our cheapest offering was $20K) in the security market. Employees were given the choice of workstations, laptop or desktop. Our pre-approved vendors were IBM/Lenovo and Apple. When I started working there, three or four people were running OS X. A few years later when I left the vast majority of the engineers were using it. During that whole time only one employee switched back from OS X, and it was because he did Linux on the desktop development as a hobby and it made his hobby easier. These were not casual users or casual developers. We regularly submitted code to Linux and BSD and Apache and numerous other projects. One hold out developer who was an OpenBSD fanatic only switched after he wrote some kernel modules for OS X to provide the level of security auditing he felt was lacking.

        The reason people gave for sticking with OS X was that it saved them time and effort managing configurations that were not necessary to their tasks. One manager proposed a standardized Linux desktop for his group and the engineers raised hell until the idea was dropped. His proposal was not helped by the fact that he couldn't get more than two Linux fans to agree on a vision as to what that standard should look like. The cost of Apple machines over IBM was negligible and the new employee configuration time as measured by IT was about 20 hours less. They also had a lower hardware failure rate.

        My point is, at least in my experience, Linux on the desktop was replaced primarily because it was not as good of a development workstation as OS X.

        I've been using Ubuntu for over 2 years now at work and the only thing I can't do with it is Netmeeting, which is becoming less relevant since Lotus e-meeting works in linux for sharing desktops.

        I've been running Ubuntu longer than that and Kubuntu before that. There are numerous software packages I use that won't run on Linux, even in WINE. There are numerous tasks where Ubuntu is simply a lot more cumbersome. In general, all things being equal, I will run the same application in OS X instead of Ubuntu (assuming native versions for each). This is because

        That bit aside, equipping a programmer with a MacPro desktop or laptop is just far too expensive to justify anyway.

        Wow, you must work at some lousy places with weird costing. The cost of an Apple laptop versus another laptop with similar specs is pretty negligible. It probably cost companies I worked at less than filling the fridge with snacks. Just a little bit of time saved, is worth a lot of money when you're talking about the salary of a software engineer or even a QA guy. Heck, the cost of my time migrating to a new laptop using OS X's nifty auto-migrate feature versus installing Ubuntu again, re-downloading all the software, reconfiguring the software, and migrating my home directory and data probably more than makes up for the cost difference and that's just one task.

        Obviously there is a lot of room for variation. Different people perform different tasks and get paid different amounts. That said, you blanket statements were certainly not true when we tried them. We saved money.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bjourne (1034822)

          The reason people gave for sticking with OS X was that it saved them time and effort managing configurations that were not necessary to their tasks. One manager proposed a standardized Linux desktop for his group and the engineers raised hell until the idea was dropped. His proposal was not helped by the fact that he couldn't get more than two Linux fans to agree on a vision as to what that standard should look like. The cost of Apple machines over IBM was negligible and the new employee configuration time as measured by IT was about 20 hours less. They also had a lower hardware failure rate.

          What weird company did this occur on? It makes no sense. First you say that OS X saved people effort in managing configurations, then you say that the IT department configured users computers. I also find it very hard to believe that OS X saved IT 20 hours in configuration time. That's 2 and a half full working day and not even Windows takes that long to configure. So how the hell could OS X SAVE them 20 hours compared to Linux?

          At a previous job all engineers used SLED10, with machines remotely ghost-insta

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            What weird company did this occur on?

            I'd rather not say for reasons of anonymity.

            It makes no sense. First you say that OS X saved people effort in managing configurations, then you say that the IT department configured users computers.

            No, I said it saved them time managing configurations, as measured by the IT department.

            I also find it very hard to believe that OS X saved IT 20 hours in configuration time.

            That's the amount of time less it took the average, new user to install and configure software during the first two weeks, based upon reported hours. Given that we were in startup mode at the time and reporting "read Slashdot" or "shot QA engineers with Nerf gun" for an hour was considered perfectly acceptable, I don't see they had a lot of reason to lie.

            So how the hell could OS X SAVE them 20 hours compared to Linux?

            There were several theo

    • by upside (574799) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:54PM (#27331483) Journal

      This is one of the interesting things you constantly hear about Desktop Linux: vendors must provide support.

      Have you EVER heard of an end user calling Microsoft for support? I'm sure people do, but I've never heard of such a thing.

      People just assume they should know, else they ask me or other geeks for help. Corporation hire experts who are trained or self taught. Even THEY don't call Microsoft for help.

      • by Rycross (836649) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:59PM (#27331567)

        I worked on a team that paid Microsoft for support. I actually used it, and had them fix a problem (that I couldn't figure out via google and newsgroups). Of course, my boss commented that it was the first time Microsoft support had actually managed to fix a problem, so YMMV.

        We also paid a premium for the privilege. But this was a product that generated enough revenue that the higher-ups paid a huge premium to have a Microsoft engineer come out and sit around while we were deploying certain SQL Server replication changes, just in case something went wrong.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      Use the $50 to pay for 1) 24-hour tech support phone line

      Why??? Windows does not have that. I cant call any magical Microsoft tech support number and get free tech support. I have to pay them.

      Why is it that Linux must have free support with it?

  • perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by B5_geek (638928) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:36PM (#27331149)

    It might not be ready for his desktop be it has been on my desktop for 7+ years.
    His main problem is that he doesn't know how to make money off of Desktop Linux.

    • Re:perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Andr T. (1006215) <andretaff@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:42PM (#27331279)
      This makes me think that... if I don't know how to make money from orange juice, should I tell people that drinking it is stupid?
      • Re:perspective (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Tetsujin (103070) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:03PM (#27331647) Homepage Journal

        This makes me think that... if I don't know how to make money from orange juice, should I tell people that drinking it is stupid?

        Well, no - but maybe it means you tell people you don't think it's worth being in the orange juice business...

        As for preferring Macs over Linux - I've been down that road and I came back. In the end OS X just didn't make me happy. Replacing my Mac laptop with a Linux one has been delightful. It just feels right.

    • Re:perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

      by langelgjm (860756) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:44PM (#27331307) Journal

      Also, what's with the assumption that the desktop won't be relevant in 5 years? That seems highly unlikely.

      It's already been around and mainstream for maybe 15 years, and I don't see it going away any time soon. Sure, mobile devices are going to play an increasing role, but I get the feeling that people are still going to be heading into an office five days a week five years from now.

      • Re:perspective (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Penguin Follower (576525) <TuxTheBurninator&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:52PM (#27331457) Journal
        Let me know when a mobile phone can serve as a CAD workstation, video editing workstation, or other high performance need. We have plenty of those around here where I work. Also need to mention dual wide screen monitors in imaging departments like radiology (they rotate them vertically for x-rays, etc.) It's more likely that thin clients will become the norm again before mobile devices replace desktops. We have a lot of Citrix thin clients here and that number is growing steadily...
        • Re:perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:26PM (#27332041) Journal

          To hell with CAD, let me know when a mobile phone can act as a functional word processor.

        • Re:perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Rary (566291) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @02:18PM (#27332883)

          Let me know when a mobile phone can serve as a CAD workstation, video editing workstation, or other high performance need. We have plenty of those around here where I work. Also need to mention dual wide screen monitors in imaging departments like radiology (they rotate them vertically for x-rays, etc.) It's more likely that thin clients will become the norm again before mobile devices replace desktops. We have a lot of Citrix thin clients here and that number is growing steadily...

          Whitehurst is a CEO. He thinks that all anyone uses a computer for is sending and receiving email.

      • Re:perspective (Score:5, Interesting)

        by eln (21727) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:12PM (#27331807) Homepage

        People have been predicting the death of the desktop computer almost since it was invented. Thin clients attached to powerful servers (or the newest buzzword "the cloud") have been touted as the future of computing for decades.

        The simple fact is that even if these things worked flawlessly and without latency (they don't), the consumer just doesn't want to give up that kind of control to a central entity. We like to have our own applications on our own box, and we don't trust some big company to keep our stuff safe and private. The desktop hardware may continue to shrink, but it will still be the desktop. The death of the desktop has been 5 years away for the past 30 years, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

    • Re:perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

      by anaesthetica (596507) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:46PM (#27331355) Homepage Journal

      doesn't know how to make money off of Desktop Linux

      This is exactly why Microsoft is afraid of Desktop Linux – no money to be made.

      • by cenc (1310167) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:37PM (#27332223) Homepage

        First, I am not in the IT industry. I run small law firm.

        My entire buisness, two offices, 30 computers, routers, servers, all Linux (PClos 2009 is my flavor). Not a single copy of anything else in my office, all running free or open source software legally. I save over $250,000 a year and climbing over what I would have needed to pay for the equivalent (and most is not equivalent). Since I started my biz about 4 years ago, that could be seen as something around $1 million dollars. In real money, that is something likly closer to $400,000 in cash, because I likly simply would have had to do without most of the stuff I take for granted (e.g. loading up a backup mail server on an old computer, rather than forking out $2,000+ for new one ). Thus, my buisness likly would be much smaller.

        The savings is even greater on the desktop. Somewhere in neighborhood of $1,000 per seat or more. Hardware alone, as I live in a country with expensive outdated hardware, is 50% over walking in to a store to buy a new computer because I run Linux.

        I would likly not be able to afford to be in biz without Linux.

        Making money comes in two basic forms. You either raise the price, or reduce your cost. I am making more money using linux and OS, because I reduced my cost. I can afford not to raise prices on clients, I get more clients, and make more money.

        Not my problem the old guard IT industry can not figure out how to make money with Linux, because I am sure I am not the only small buisness out there that is making money on Open Source.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Well it isn't really all that clear to me that anyone has to make money off of desktop Linux distributions. At least at the moment, Linux distros seem to be making pretty good progress as it is.

      But also I think the summary may be misleading. From the article, it seems like he's pointing out the problems with switching to Linux on the desktop right now, and then going on to say that he isn't very interested in trying to push Linux on the desktop because he's questioning the relevance of desktop computing

  • Oh golly... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Murpster (1274988) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:36PM (#27331153)
    Yes I think I'm going to take this sage wisdom from some ignant suit... "I dunno how to make money off it, so it must be irrelevant." Maybe loosen that tie a little and let some oxygen up in that ol' brain there, buddy? Perhaps then RedHat and Fedora will stop getting declining in quality with each new release.
  • Flip flop (Score:5, Interesting)

    by C_Kode (102755) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:36PM (#27331157) Journal

    Didn't I just read something about Redhat moving back into the desktop?

    http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/02/24/1721248 [slashdot.org]

  • Really? Again? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:36PM (#27331163)
    Simply because some CEO can't sell his product in a market flooded with free (and equally good) alternatives (like ubuntu, debian, puppy linux, soon android, and other), the desktop distro is going to disappear? Really?

    Or is he talking about the desktop computer? Well, I'll put his name on the pile of people proclaiming the doom of the desktop. While laptops are almost everywhere, they haven't replaced the desktop in the workplace. In fact, at the firm i used to work for, they bought everyone laptops for a round of buys, but then switched back to towers.

    Also, I shudder to imagine how slow and botched a thin client rollout would have been. It seemed like every day one server or another was going down for something. I know that's not how you run your shop, but I can't imagine my old 150 person firm was unique.
  • by magisterx (865326) <TimothyAWiseman@nOsPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:39PM (#27331209)
    Cloud computing and the client-server architecture in general is definitely decreasing the significance of the desktop and will continue to do so, but there will likely remain some niches where it makes sense to have significant desktop performance.

    One example that comes to mind is doing development work, including both traditional programming and CAD work as well as graphics design. To be responsive to the user it seems those would want to keep most of the processing near the end user. Similarly, anything dealing with sensitive information must tread lightly when dealing with the cloud or any other server which is not under direct and immediate control.
    • I don't know about you, but I don't think a Smartphone or sub-netbook could really qualify for many folks as a full-time portal to the Net. Desktops and notebooks will still be part of the show for many years to come, if for no other reason than typing speeds of 12 words a minute don't really cut it in a lot of fields.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by beerbellyswan (741954)
      More importantly is privacy. I would much rather have my personal data stored locally on my own machine than some Google data center. The desktop will always have a place for those concerned with their private things - even if a significant portion of their personal data is sent through the networks via online banking, taxes, etc...
  • Desktop irrelevant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:39PM (#27331213)

    You're right, in 5 years the hundreds of millions of desktop computers running various OS's will all go away because of massive investments by companies in huge single points of failu^H^H^H cloud computing facilities. And with this booming economy, those billion dollar future tech gambles will be coming along any day now...

  • Dumbest. CEO. Ever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fodder69 (701416) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:40PM (#27331243)

    How many times have we heard the 'Death of the Desktop'. Just because he can't figure out how to make money on it does not mean it is going away.

  • by kabloom (755503) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:43PM (#27331291) Homepage

    Of course the desktop will be relevant in 5 years, because it's still the most convenient way to get serious crative work done (writing, coding, school work, artistic projects). I'd hate to see what would happen to the quality of kids' school reports if they wrote them on smartphones.

  • This just in (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jorenko (238937) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:44PM (#27331303)

    Millions of Ubuntu users question the relevance of Red Hat on the desktop.

    • Re:This just in (Score:4, Insightful)

      by StormReaver (59959) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:51PM (#27332465)

      > Millions of Ubuntu users question the relevance of Red Hat on the desktop.

      That's the key point. Though Red Hat's server systems are exceptionally good, its desktop operating systems are of very low quality. Add to that Red Hat's schizophrenic commitment (or lack thereof) to a desktop system, and there's little wonder Red Hat can't do a damn thing in the desktop space.

      In came Canonical with a focus on the desktop and increasingly high quality with every release, and Red Hat became completely irrelevant as a desktop player. At this point, most of the barriers to widespread Linux desktop adoption are more imagined than real.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:50PM (#27331431)

    Anyone old enough here to remember that? Bill Gates responded to Ellison's claim that the PC was dead, by saying, "I like my PC."

    I think a lot of folks still like the freedom of being able to install what *they* want, not what is available in some cloud, or what their company's IT folks claim to be "the standard application set" that is more than anyone else might need.

    Now, whether Jim Whitehurst can make money off how *I* like to handle my computing needs, well, that's his problem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MightyMartian (840721)

      No kidding. Every couple of weeks, there's some sort of submission on Slashdot about some limitation in what Apple will let people install on the iPhone. I can install not just a huge number of software applications on my PC, I can even install different operating systems. There's no one telling me that I can't run Java on my box, or forcing me to only use one messaging client.

      I realize that some folks need to be on the bleeding edge, but giving Apple your money so they can tell you what you can run on y

  • by Keith Russell (4440) <keith.russell@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:51PM (#27331441) Journal

    I'd rather think about skating to where the puck is going to be than where it is now.

    We've just learned two things about Jim Whitehurst:

    1. Fedora is going to bail his ass out when "cloud computing" goes out of vogue.
    2. On any given night, he is the most knowledgeable hockey fan in the Carolina Hurricanes' luxury boxes.
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:56PM (#27331527) Journal

    I don't understand all this obsession with "cloud" computing, where the programs are run by some central server instead of at home. As someone who lived through the 70s and 80s, it sounds like the old "dumb terminal" and "smart central computer" model, and we abandoned that because it sucked. I can't envision a rebirth being any better.

    Plus there's the drawback of not owning anything. I bought Word back in 98, and yes it was pricey, but I've been able to use it over a decade now, at a cost of ~$10 per year. I also have the option to sell it and recoup some of my cost (around $25). I don't want to switch to a "software lease" model that sucks $50 out of my wallet year-after-year-after-year. That adds-up to $500 a decade which is plain nuts.

    I want ownership.

  • by melted (227442) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:04PM (#27331665) Homepage

    I use Linux on my laptop, but even I have to agree.

    What I want is a $50 add-on that will:

    1. Fully and legally support bytecode interpreter and hinting for fonts. Bonus points for including decent fonts as well.
    2. Support all major audio and video codecs. I shouldn't have to break any laws to get support for my digital media. Bonus points for not having to buy another codec pack when I upgrade my OS.
    3. Support multi-monitor automatically when I connect a monitor (like Mac or Windows).
    4. Work well on laptops. I should not see error messages about my hard drive failing to soft-reset every time I wake my laptop up from sleep.

  • by jabjoe (1042100) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:11PM (#27331791)
    Wasn't the desktop never meant to happen? Won't we all meant to be using thin clients?

    This never happened, and may never happen because the bandwidth speed isn't going up faster than computers speed. Maybe we will reach a point where all the user input and computer output can be piped about and the latency isn't a problem, but even then I'm not sure people will want it. The freedom implications seams sinister to me, and I'm untrusting of storing stuff only online as I've had data lost for me before (ok, ten years ago, but still).

    I think things will continue as today, fat clients. I can do whatever I want the limits being only myself, time and my machine specs.
    Scales nicely too.
  • by Brandybuck (704397) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @02:00PM (#27332599) Homepage Journal

    Just because he can't make a profit on the desktop, doesn't mean the desktop is irrelevant. Just because no one else can either, doesn't make desktops valueless. They're part of the computing infrastructure, and without them we can't get to certain other profits. Stores don't make any money on their parking lots, yet they still use them so that their customer can park. Same with desktops. Commercial distros might not make any money on GNOME or KDE, but they should still consider funding them because it expands the distros' market.

    p.s. Oh, and if you're going to base your business decisions on trends, you need to look at ALL trends. Mobile devices are indeed booming, but so are large monitors. More and more people are going dual-screen and/or 20+" monitors. The desktop isn't dying, it's getting breathing room!

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