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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 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 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.

  • 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:Oh Yeah?! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Computershack (1143409) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:08PM (#27331727)
    You might want to check the hard drive load cycle count [theinquirer.net] as my Compaq went through the roof with Ubuntu on it, increasing by 3 counts every few seconds.
  • by Amazing Quantum Man (458715) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:08PM (#27331737) Homepage

    We had an MSDN Universal subscription. We had a case where an app needed to access Card & Socket services to determine what actually was in the PCMCIA slot (This was under NT4).

    Nothing in MSDN. Called support and got an answer from them. Of course, they said "This is undocumented, and is not guaranteed to work on any other release.".

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:25PM (#27332013) Homepage

    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?

  • by gbarules2999 (1440265) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:42PM (#27332297)
    Dear, Anonymous (if that is your real name), your computer is not the only goddamn computer in existence. Love, Slashdot.
  • Shuttleworth has stated before that he was able to start Thawte due directly to F/OSS.

  • Re:Oh Yeah?! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Nursie (632944) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:49PM (#27332421)

    "It's hard as hell to make it your only desktop; you'll spend all your time wrangling with WINE."

    I would dispute that, I've been using it as sole desktop for a couple of years now.

    I'm not a (PC) gamer, which probably helps, but I've yet to find anything I want to do that I need windows-only programs for. Of course I'm not one of these seemingly billions of users that absolutely must have Photoshop, and pirate it.

  • by story645 (1278106) <story645@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:52PM (#27332485) Journal

    \No idea how they are making a revenue other than with t-shirts and bags, but apparently they do make a profit. It's not just one person or fund. Or the fund is large enough for sufficient interest.

    Training [canonical.com] and support [canonical.com]?

  • Re:Oh Yeah?! (Score:2, Informative)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:58PM (#27332577) Homepage Journal

    That's a hard one. Did you look on the Linux Laptop Wiki [linlap.com]? Apparently the Elitebook 8730W does work with Intrepid Ibex (8.10), but getting it running is decidedly not straightfoward. The Elitebook has some fairly exotic hardware, especially the graphics adapter (either an nVidia Quadro FX 2700/3700M or an ATI Mobility FireGL V5725). Despite being nVidia and ATI cards, these are not gamers toy cards, these for serious 3D workstation-level graphics.

    Anyway there are step-by-step instructions for installing 8.10 on your Elitebook if you follow my link.

  • Re:Oh Yeah?! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Knuckles (8964) <knuckles@dan t i a n . org> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:59PM (#27332591)

    Fixed in Ubuntu in 8.10 IIRC, and I'd guess a patch also went out to 8.04.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @02:01PM (#27332613)

    With regards to the quality fonts, if you google "Microsoft core fonts" you should be able to find them. It's legal, because they released them on some weird license when they were trying to make IE the de facto browser.

  • Last you checked... (Score:3, Informative)

    by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @02:12PM (#27332773)

    He won't need to wait that much. In fact, according to Shuttleworth [nytimes.com], Canonicalâ(TM)s annual revenue is creeping toward $30 million.

  • Re:RedHate (Score:3, Informative)

    by TobascoKid (82629) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @02:45PM (#27333329) Homepage

    And yum is every bit as usable as apt

    Does yum still do the apt equivalent of an update before it does an install? I remember years ago yum taking forever to install software over a slow link. I eventually installed debian (I was using yellowdog) and I never looked back at the RPM world.

  • I disagree (Score:4, Informative)

    by natxo asenjo (1458739) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @03:02PM (#27333589)

    And the reason why you could not virtualize windows xp inside linux is ...?

    I mean, if you want your developpers to have a mac mini, by all ways, do it. Do no try to bullshit us saying that your guys are happier now because they run xp on parallels, you know xp can easily run virtualized under linux. O, you didn't? Well, now you know ;-)

    By the way: it has been ages since I have had to recompile a kernel. Are you using gentoo or something like that? You know, some people just install ubuntu or fedora or debian and get on with their lives. Stuff just works nowadays (I re-read your post and see that your experiences are 8 years old. Maybe you should not be so fast to prejudge what you obviously do no longer know so well).

    I am a sysadmin at a citrix/vmware shop. My desktop is fedora, I quite like seeing how linux improves every 6 months. Every 6 months I download the iso, install it and in 20 minutes am ready (2 monitors, citrix client, openoffice, flash, java, ready for action in our network). 20 minutes, that's all it takes. No fiddling around with drivers, no kernel recompiling. Nothing. I spent much more time helping our webmaster configure his brandnew mac box, go figure.

    It gets even boring, actually. Installing printers is just a matter of point, klik, point, klik, enter ip address of network printer, wait, yes, this is a sharp or a hp or a brother, it detects the right driver and installs it. It no longer is funny :-), it just works. And for outlook, I just launch a citrix session and use it in citrix. This will probably change in the next Fedora, because it comes with the first free mapi client integrated into Evolution. We will see how that works.

  • Re:Oh Yeah?! (Score:4, Informative)

    by theCoder (23772) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @03:20PM (#27333821) Homepage Journal

    I assume you're talking about winmail.dat files? Try the LookOut [mozilla.org] addon for Thunderbird. I think this is what I have installed at home to deal with those occasional annoyances.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @03:53PM (#27334281)

    1. There are some beautiful open source fonts that work well with the auto-hinter. For some reason (limited Unicode range?) they are not included in most distributions and unfortunately I've recently lost my list so I can't give you any links, but they do exist.

    2. I have not tried this, but at least it exist:
    http://shop.canonical.com/product_info.php?products_id=244&osCsid=36c4d2d8e1d32e74b51c6cc841dddc70 [canonical.com]

    3 & 4. Works for me.

  • Re:Wow, nice troll (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ant P. (974313) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @04:33PM (#27334785) Homepage

    I can answer those for Linux, but not OS X since I don't feel like walking a flight of stairs just to answer a post fully.

    How many window managers are there?

    Is that window managers in use, window managers installed, or window managers to choose from? My answer to all three is "enough".

    How many different window manager STYLES are there?

    Should I only count jarringly different appearances like a brushed metal background as different? In either case, the answer is one since both my GTK and Qt apps use the same theme.

    How many desktop environments are there?

    I have two installed - one with a bunch of eye candy, and a lightweight one when I want to get work done without distractions. Since this is responding to pedantic assholery, I probably have to point out I only run one at a time.

    How many applications are there that use their own UI widgets (think Xine)?

    I don't use Microsoft apps, Apple apps or Google Chrome, and for video I just use a bare mplayer window, so I guess zero.

  • Re:Anecdotes (Score:3, Informative)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:44PM (#27335575)

    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 theories, but most of them had to do with getting the system configured to use all our servers and get the dev tools and productivity software up and running. I know it took me a good 45 minutes to get the network printers working properly in Linux, whereas they were auto-discovered in OS X. Aside from that, I'm not sure what people spent their time doing.

    At a previous job all engineers used SLED10, with machines remotely ghost-installed by the IT department. The whole process from start to ready-configured machine took less than an hour.

    Our engineers were all given considerable leeway in choosing and configuring what they wanted. We had a standard Linux install archived, but very few new users chose to use it rather than install their favorite distro or alternative OS. The basic idea was that a little time lost up front was more than made up for by the users being happy and having their chosen development environment, where they were familiar. Since we relied almost entirely on standard services that were OS agnostic, it didn't really matter what OS they used and we had remotely accessible machines running a variety of OS's for compatability testing Web interfaces and the like.

    It can't have been that long, Kubuntu was released in 2005. Kubuntu is a derivate of Ubuntu, not the other way around.

    Yeah, it came out that spring and I made it my distro of choice that summer (having been partial to KDE previous to that). I later switched to regular Ubuntu, which is still my preferred distro. I'm fully aware that Kubuntu is a fork.

  • by cenc (1310167) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @07:41PM (#27336681) Homepage

    No way I can give you a full accounting here, but just and idea.

    Again, where I operate in Latin America either it simply does not exist or it will cost 2 to 10 times what it does in the States. I am sure there is a lot of the developing World in a similar situation. Thus, all the screaming about all the pirated software in the developing World (they can't afford it).

    Most of the savings is in deploying servers and office infrastructure mostly. Web server (3 servers), PBX phone system (asterisks), mail servers (3), databases (not even sure how many), a bunch of other stuff I am sure I overlooked. FOSS web sites and databases are a big one as I run about a dozen different sites for promotion. If I had to run those on say a .NET framework, each would likly cost me $5,000 US a pop on the low end. Likely more around $10,000 a year or more with hiring people to build and maintain them.

    The per desktop cost is big here. Stock windows vista home edition computers (just about all that is sold) will start at around $1000 to $1200 US, with no software (add office, adobe, etc). Hardware will be at least 12 to 24 months behind what is sold in the States, single core processors are still common. I am not even sure where I would find a licensed copy of windows server, let alone any other common advanced server apps. I even have PIII IBM T21 I just took out of service in my office. Cost $600 three years ago factory recertified with win98, and it was already 8 years old. Got Three years out of it with Linux, and I still could use it if needed.

    This is all aside from labor cost (competent IT labor also does not exist). The real savings is in my time, if you are looking for an easy way to justify that number. One competent full time IT person to do all the above (chances I would need way more) if I could find them, would run me an easy $80,000 US to start per year.

    Don't forget total virus infections in my company ever: 0.00000000

    Just now I am starting to really cash in, because the big upfront cost are done (especially in terms of my time to do homework). I can cheaply scale from 30 to 300 employees in IT terms with very little new investment and likly well beyond. Someday, with a little luck, I really will need to hire someone like Red Hat. That is how they will make their money off of me.

    You can run the numbers in a bunch of different ways, depending on where you shop for prices; but there is still a big savings over going all closed source equivalents. There is simply no way to recalculate all that in a way that closed source equivalent functionality / capabilities comes out cheaper, without using pirated software.

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.

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