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Linux On Netbooks — a Complicated Story 833

Posted by Soulskill
from the comfort-zone dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Keir Thomas has responded to the recent raft of news stories pointing out that Linux's share of the netbook market isn't as rosy as it used to be. Thomas thinks the problem boils down to a combination of unfamiliar software and unfamiliar hardware, which can 'push users over the edge.' This accounts for the allegedly high return rates of Linux netbooks. In contrast, although far from superior, Windows provides a more familiar environment, making the hardware issues (irritatingly small keyboard, screen etc.) seem less insurmountable; users are less likely to walk away. 'Once again Microsoft's monopoly means Windows is swallowing up another market.'"
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Linux On Netbooks — a Complicated Story

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  • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Friday April 10, 2009 @10:11PM (#27538627)
    My gf knows that Linux is on her computer, but even so, she can't understand why she can't go to BestBuy and get software. Or why she can't download Silverlight. If you put Linux on a machine and don't explain the difference between it and Windows, then you're just asking for trouble.
  • by microbee (682094) on Friday April 10, 2009 @10:11PM (#27538633)

    I am no fan of Microsoft, but it's not like they are doing anything illegal or unethical here. Even Redhat's CEO commented he didn't believe in Linux's desktop future.

    Frankly, netbook looked like worth a shot for Linux. If it fails, then maybe desktop market is just too hard for Linux to win.

  • by 75th Trombone (581309) on Friday April 10, 2009 @10:13PM (#27538641) Homepage Journal

    Of course the actual reason Linux's share of netbooks has dropped is simply because netbooks have changed from a nerds' thing into a mainstream thing.

    UNIX's marketshare of all computers did the exact same percentage decline over time as netbooks are having now. It's the early adopters, stupid!

  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday April 10, 2009 @10:15PM (#27538655) Homepage
    Oh so true. Linux is good for the geek market where people can truly grasp the difference. But for people who aren't techies, well, most of them would rather spend an extra $50 to get an experience that they are familiar with. These netbooks are pretty cheap to begin with. Not only that, they are kind of a luxury, and used a secondary computer. People who can afford multiple computers don't mind spending a few extra dollars to get the Windows license.
  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Friday April 10, 2009 @10:24PM (#27538715)

    That's "effect", not "cause." 9 months ago, there were tons of Linux netbooks in stores. They've gone away because they're unpopular, and get returned a lot. (Well, I can't speak for Germany, but that's the case in the US.)

  • by Zerth (26112) on Friday April 10, 2009 @10:27PM (#27538737)

    A large percentage of Windows users do not understand what an operating system is and assume if they can buy it in a store, it'll work. Manufacturers need to put giant stickers saying:

    Not a Windows system, does not run Microsoft anything, none of your programs will work on this, Apple* made it.
    *that is a lie, but Mac users won't be on the cheap end of the aisle.

    Not that I think it will help much. I've had too many acquaintances think "ooh, cheap computer", buy one, and then ask me if Microsoft Ubuntu is newer or older than Office 07, and if it will run Vista Excel.

    They usually end up returning it and I buy another bottle of aspirin.

  • by Bill Currie (487) on Friday April 10, 2009 @10:40PM (#27538809) Homepage

    No, it's just that in the long run new hardware won't help Linux exactly because of that comfort zone issue. And these that's, that's really the only problem that Linux has: it's outside of people's comfort zone. The article is right: the combination of new hardware and new software is just too much for people to cope with.

    I can vouch for this, but from the other direction.

    I bought a netbook late last year to replace my dying laptop (I'd dropped once, and put it in its case without putting it to sleep a couple of times: not good). Because I couldn't be bothered fighting to get one with Linux installed (language barriers don't help). With the combination of having been using Linux for 11 years, the cramped conditions, etc, my 10 minute Windows experience (just enough to get hardware information) was a nightmare. Once I got Linux on there with a fairly familiar environment (Gnome, though I usually use blackbox), I could cope with handling the smaller screen and (Japanese) keyboard. I can very easily imagine someone who's never used Linux freaking out trying to use a Linux installed netbook.

    The reason new hardware that locks out Microsoft won't help Linux is that it doesn't exist, and never will (for any meaningful period of time). Look at servers: while Linux isn't yet beating Microsoft, it's doing well enough, and that's on PC based servers.

    It's not hardware that will help Linux, but rather governments and businesses adopting Linux for policy reasons (currently insignificant) and people gaining exposure to Linux through work. The same way Windows became popular.

    The problem comes down to whether enough governments and businesses adopt Linux. Of course, games being produced for Linux will help, but that's a bit of a chicken and egg problem.

    Linux's desktop is pretty good. The problem is, it's unfamiliar. Windows wins not because its desktop is any better, but because people know it. "Better the devil you know."

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Friday April 10, 2009 @10:41PM (#27538811) Journal

    Even Redhat's CEO commented he didn't believe in Linux's desktop future.

    And, IMHO, if he means "Linux in general" (as opposed to Red Hat Enterprise Linux), that is a huge mistake, because MS will use its desktop monopoly and control of protocols to limit the penetration of Linux servers.

  • Critical Mass (Score:3, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Friday April 10, 2009 @10:43PM (#27538827) Homepage

    Windows has something Microsoft once identified as critical mass in the market. It was no accident that they arrived at that point. The choked, cheated and killed IBM's OS/2 making it the only desktop operating system for PCs. Had Linux begun to mature during that era, we would be telling a very different story as Microsoft would never have achieved critical mass.

    What is critical mass? I am probably wrong or incomplete in my understanding of what that means, but to me it means they control enough market share that every software and hardware vendor must heed what Microsoft says and does or face the consequences. It also means that all users have come to expect only one user experience and is cursed to be unaware of other options and what they mean. When they don't get what they expect, they believe something is wrong.

    People are okay when that "something else" is Mac OS X. They know it is different and usually comes on an Apple branded PC. It is a conscious decision that users make and are aware that "It's not Windows."

    Just keep chipping away... keep chipping away. Eventually Linux will begin to mean something to users. It may mean the equivalent to the pictures that come in wallets, purses and picture frames. It may mean something that works, serves its purposes and doesn't get viruses. It may mean something that kinda works, but everything they want isn't quite available yet.

    One thing that changes user perception is "standards compliance." Users don't have a clue what that means, but if it works fine in Windows and not in Mac OS X or Linux, the PERCEPTION is that there is something wrong with Linux and Mac OS X. The more pressure put on Microsoft to comply with standards on the web, the greater the possibility that alternatives could be perceived as viable.

    "Critical Mass" means that people think it's the standard. "Critical Mass" means it is the defacto standard. Toppling a standard is no easy task.

  • Thank Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xzvf (924443) on Friday April 10, 2009 @10:46PM (#27538849)
    One thing you should do is thank Linux for forcing MS to keep XP available for you at $15 instead of the normal OEM of $70. It is better for customers and hardware manufacturers that Linux is available as a viable alternative.
  • by MrNaz (730548) * on Friday April 10, 2009 @10:52PM (#27538897) Homepage

    I don't think it's a case of Linux being unable to win the desktop. I think it's just that, while we may have superiority on the desktop and under the hood, we still need to gain ground in the area of software. This does not necessarily mean that we have to get Photoshop ported, IMHO building a following behind The Gimp, Inkscape, Blender, KinoDV and other open source apps on both Windows and Linux will help the war effort generally.

    While these applications are (to be honest) still far behind their commercial counterparts, a greater user base and higher profile will attract developers and help them catch up, just as higher profile has helped garner support for the Linux kernel itself from developers and companies.

    Projects like Big Buck Bunny [bigbuckbunny.org] and Elephants Dream [elephantsdream.org] have proven that high quality, professional results can be achieved using open source tools, a proposition that more and more companies will find attractive as new talent enters industries that use these tools.

    Give it time. The Linux ecosystem is growing. Growing far faster than the commercial fields. We're already competing toe to toe in areas like web servers (Apache and LigHTTPD) blow away IIS and other web servers, PostgreSQL easily competes on a level field with Oracle and DB2 and Inkscape isn't as far beind Illustrator as Gimp is behind Photoshop. Blender was proved to be a highly capable 3D modeler and animation tool in the BBB and ED projects mentioned above.

    It's only a matter of time.

  • by code65536 (302481) on Friday April 10, 2009 @10:56PM (#27538931) Homepage Journal

    One of the problems that I see in the Linux world is that many of us are quick to cry "monopoly" and blame it on unfair practices.

    So if it's because of Microsoft's dominant market share, why does Apple do so well in the markets that it is in (at least in terms of return rates)?

    Blaming it on Microsoft is a cop-out because it lets people avoid the harsh reality that the fault really lies with Linux. Linux is far, far from passing the Aunt Tillie test. Ubuntu is nice in that it's trying to be more consumer-oriented, but so far, most of its changes are superficial.

    And finally, one person's "superior" is another person's design flaw. Apple is "superior" and "innovative" (that's debatable) mostly because Apple doesn't give a damn about its ecosystem. Microsoft does. It bends over backwards and even consciously duplicates buggy behavior, all in the name of backwards compatibility (given the HUGE diversity of software and hardware in the Windows ecosystem, the (relatively small) amount of breakage between each version of Windows is actually a testament to Microsoft's ecosystem cultivation). Is this technically superior? Probably not from an orthodox perspective. Does it make sense? I think so. THIS is why Microsoft has its monopoly. Until Linux can start cultivating such an ecosystem (no, telling someone that they can just download the source and compile it for their system does not cut it), it will always remain on the sidelines. Period.

  • by gerf (532474) <edtgerf@gmail.com> on Friday April 10, 2009 @10:59PM (#27538949) Journal

    I think people would like Linux more if they were familiar with program names. Notepad, Paint, Wordpad, Calc... whatever. When I boot Linux on occasion, I'm more confused with what program does what than how to use them.

    While I applaud the work of thousands to build such robust amazing programs and give them each their own special name, I'm of the opinion that if you give someone KDE with a few programs labeled generically "email" "internet browser" "calculator" "text editor" "Office Text/Spreadsheet/Presentation" "Network - Wireless" "Printers" and so on and so forth instead of each programs' real name, you'd be a lot closer to the #1 goal of usability: making an intuitive interface.

  • Re:Thank Linux (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RanCossack (1138431) on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:01PM (#27538965)
    I am amazed how many people don't get that. I've seen Microsoft fans cheerfully bash Linux on netbooks and say Linux lost its chance and so on... and I just don't get it. Even if they can't stand Linux, I don't think anyone disputes the fact that the Linux option is why XP is so cheap and Windows 7 was focused on performance.

    Does the thought that someone, somewhere, might be happy without paying the Microsoft tax annoy them that much? Or did they just not... think?
  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:06PM (#27538997)

    My favourite computer still is my 1024x768 screen 12inch iBook.

    It is ONLY acceptable because of the UI feature that quickly shows miniaturized versions of the windows of all my running applications, and lets me pick one and get back into it in one click. That gets rid of most of the need for a large screen.

    And the iphone ui is optimized for its screen size, etc.

    Linux might do better on netbooks if a similar gui optimized for the screen size was available and worked well. I understand a few of these may be available but haven't tried any.

    Have to say I'm holding out for an Apple netbook. UI of MacOSX is too much better.

    I am an extreme comp-sci geek, but I have way better things to do than configure the low-level settings of my laptop.

  • Re:Critical Mass (Score:5, Insightful)

    by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:08PM (#27539009)

    What is critical mass? All of my programs working and not having to pick and choose compatibility like iPhone vs. Android vs. Simian vs WinMo.

    If you switch phones you have to buy all your applications all over again. Some applications are only available on one phone. Some applications run better on one phone than another.

    Hardware and OS shouldn't be a deciding factor in a system. Software should be. Microsoft DOMINATES the software compatibility. That's why I bought Windows 95 over MacOS. All of the programs and games I wanted to play ran on DOS/Windows not Macintosh. Linux application compatibility at the time? HA! I installed linux around when I upgraded to Window 2000. I found it incredibly useful as a boot from floppy router (Coyote Linux). That was it. There were no applications I wanted or open source apps that were similar.

    Fast forward to today and Apple has seen some improvement on the app front. Still no where near PC but if you're willing to spend an extra $100 for Vista you can also run your Windows programs. There isn't a single application which tempts me over to the apple side. Avid/Premiere > FCP. Nuke > Shake. Everything else is cross platform.

    My Windows installation runs pretty much every single application on the planet that I want. I use applications, not operating systems. And Windows is more than good enough as an operating system while offering millions of more programs for me to run. Millions of programs, billions of features and tools. That beats the socks off of a supposedly improved kernel.

  • by Erikderzweite (1146485) on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:09PM (#27539015)

    Bad thing about eees with Xandros is that it sucks. And people who'll see it would think that Linux generally sucks. MSI had a more acceptable pre-installed Linux offering; that's why return rates are about the same with Windows and Linux MSI Winds.

  • The New School... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nubsac (1329063) on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:11PM (#27539029)
    An overwhelming number of computers I've had exposure to since the 2nd grade have had Windows on them.

    Is it any wonder why so many people are used to the rules and non-regulations of a Windows machine?

    That being said, every flavor of Linux I've tried has some different scheme to it, making basic operations unnecessarily complex.

    Standardizing basic ops like install/uninstall, media player/ect. would be a good start, but probably terribly unrealistic among mainstream distros.

  • Re:Reasoning (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MLS100 (1073958) on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:11PM (#27539031)
    Maybe there is a misunderstanding by you of what your companies' needs are. Most of the time more is involved in running a corporate network than hooking computer to router with NAT like at home. Many companies utilize Active Directory to administer their network and switching workstations to Linux makes that somewhere between extremely difficult and impossible.

    Second, companies are averse to changing anything that currently works adequately because there are (usually significant) costs involved in moving to a new platform in the form of testing, rollout, training, and support time.

    Finally, even outside of corporate environments you need to provide a compelling reason to switch to something else from what's been in use for a long period of time. Debatable feature parity simply does not qualify.
  • Linux is for Geeks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GottliebPins (1113707) on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:13PM (#27539039)
    Linux is for Geeks and it always will be. When I built my own mini computer with a micro atx mb some time ago I was curious about how linux would perform on it vs Windows 2000 and Windows XP. XP was a total dog. The processor just couldn't handle it. Win2k ran nicely. But when I tried to install Fedora I quickly realized it was impossible. The Fedora install didn't recognize the hardware and wouldn't even boot. Of course any geek will tell you just reconfigure the discombobulator and invert the thingamajig and then recompile the root and then burn new install discs and then boot from Alt-Shift-Tilde. Which to a non-Geek is the equivalent of performing brain surgery on yourself. What the hell are you talking about? I have to do what?!? I had to hunt around on the web for several hours just to find out what the problem was, then after reading all the various explanations of how to do it and telling myself I am a software engineer and I have no idea what I just read, I finally found someone who wrote a hack to boot the system, then allow the install disk to run. And after all that I found that it ran worse than Windows becuase it wasn't optimized for the cpu. So I went back to win2k and was happy ever since. Which is why Linux will NEVER be ready for laptops or desktops or anything else besides servers. Because only Geeks have the patience to hack around and kludge it up so that it works. I just want to turn it on and have it work so I can get on to more important things like doing my job or searching for pr0n ;) Oh, and I just bought a Dell mini 9 and I didn't hesitate for 1 second between choosing Windows over Linux. It was worth the difference in price. And if want to install another OS it will be OS X and NOT Linux.
  • Pick a distro (Score:2, Insightful)

    by j_zhill (1486041) on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:21PM (#27539087)

    ...and make it ubuntu.

    I've stopped recommending people try linux. Rather, I recommend ubuntu, 'a type of linux'. Trying to explain how each distro is built on the linux kernel and uses a specific desktop environment tends to send people running so instead, I rave about ubuntu - which they can then go and test right away from a live CD.

    On netbooks, the problem of different distributions is amplified by all the custom distros. As much as this is open source in action, it splintered the 'linux' option, especially when XP always comes as the same recognisable package. Hardware manufacturers could have put the effort into ensuring upstream hardware support and supporting key software development (ooo.org, ffox, rhythmbox? mplayer?) rather than developing their own "OS".

    I think we would be seeing a different story if customers were offered ubuntu as the option to XP across the board.

  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:37PM (#27539173) Homepage

    ... if it weren't riddled with fanboyism and aggressive language.

    In contrast, although far from superior, Windows provides [...] Once again Microsoft's monopoly means Windows is swallowing up another market.

    Wrong. Fail. Abort. Windows is swallowing up another market because Linux doesn't belong on the average user's netbook, for the same reasons it doesn't belong on the average user's desktop. It is a usability nightmare, you need to be a network engineer AND programmer to fix it when it breaks, and perhaps most importantly the Linux community is hostile and unhelpful toward non-techies.

    I am a network geek and programmer, and I still get pissed off at Linux on a daily basis because things that should just work, do not. Usability issues never get addressed, no one wants to touch them. "My app is fine, go fuck yourself" is the general attitude I see among app developers/maintainers. Maybe they're sick of replying "RTFM" to every single question, but to me that is a symptom of bad code. Joe Random doesn't read the README, nor should he need to. If you can spend the time to write a long, complicated README, you could spend that same time writing a small script that does all those contrived pre-installation steps for the user.

    The problem is that we programmers are terrible users, because we don't use computers the way non-programmers do. The goofy little apps and utilities I make for myself, they have the most spartan, militaristic interfaces because I write the code first, then wrap buttons and knobs around it. I know how to use my stuff, because I'm the guy who built it. I know which bits of code fire when I click this or type that. Joe Random does not. We need to fix our apps to be so intuitive, even Joe Random's retarded stepchild can use them.

    The netbook does not matter. Other than the size factor, it is hardly different from 3-4 year old laptops, and like any laptop, usability is top priority. If we want Linux to rock netbooks, we need to make it usable.

  • by perryizgr8 (1370173) on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:38PM (#27539175)

    Linux can't win on the desktop until it starts realizing that there's more to Microsoft's monopoly than Evil Tactics.

    that is the biggest hurdle in linux's way. people who think linux is great do not realize that maybe, just maybe, their os is inferior.
    i work on linux too, but lately i've realized that windows is much more stable*, has a much more consistent ui. also, linux has been avoiding/postponing the inevitable transition to complete gui. microsoft have already implemented it. linux geeks keep rambling about the power of cli and that gui is overrated, but the fact is, gui is the most important thing in software.
    users have other things to do than learn to use a computer. they want a button which clearly states its purpose, not a bunch of (almost comically) cryptic commands.
    we recently saw how this approach of blaming others for your problems kicks you back. netbooks were a playing field where both windows and linux had to compete from start, without any external forces. inspite of an early start, linux has now failed. so, instead of accepting its inferiority, linux proponents blame microsoft for a monopoly that was created due to linux's apathy towards end users.

    * vista has never hung up on me. individual apps have but their processes can be easily killed. ubuntu 8.04 (lts?), with its default settings freezes up atleast once a month when changing virtual desktops. and since compiz has crashed, and your mouse pointer is frozen, the keyboard is not recognizing shortcuts, the only way is to pull the plug.

  • by perryizgr8 (1370173) on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:39PM (#27539181)
    no.
  • by coryking (104614) * on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:41PM (#27539193) Homepage Journal

    Linux advocates frequently over promise and vastly undeliverable. Your soon to be 5+ post is a shining example of that.

    If you think Gimp is even close to the same as Photoshop, you are smoking crack. Blender vs the other guys? I dont know, I tried blender for about 30 seconds before giving up and playing around with the student editions of the big-boys stuff. PostgreSQL is awesome (seriously, I love PostgreSQL), but it is not even close to Oracle (DB2, maybe). Apache, Lighttpd and my current favorite nginx are awesome, but they dont have the close integration with their development tools and operating system that IIS does. Speaking of development tools... there is no open source equivalant of Visual Studio and there is no MSDN of open source.

    If you want Linux to gain acceptance, you need to stop with the hyperbole and start accepting the truth. The truth is:

    - There is no common way to install and remove software.
    - There is no stable base to write drivers (thus no hardware support)
    - There are too many distros with too many proprietary ways of doing things. Too many proprietary repositories, too many proprietary package systems, to many proprietary filesystem layouts.
    - Gimp is *not* Photoshop. Sorry. I know I mentioned this, but I'll repeat it again. You insult people who actually use Photoshop by making this claim.
    - Ponies.

    It's only a matter of time.

    Only if Linux advocates and developers take a realistic look at their product offerings and their standing in the market.

  • I think people would like Linux more if they were familiar with program names. Notepad, Paint, Wordpad, Calc... whatever. When I boot Linux on occasion, I'm more confused with what program does what than how to use them.

    Excel, Visio, Quicken, Outlook and Visual Studio aren't exactly self-explanatory.

    While I applaud the work of thousands to build such robust amazing programs and give them each their own special name, I'm of the opinion that if you give someone KDE with a few programs labeled generically "email" "internet browser" "calculator" "text editor" "Office Text/Spreadsheet/Presentation" "Network - Wireless" "Printers" and so on and so forth instead of each programs' real name, you'd be a lot closer to the #1 goal of usability: making an intuitive interface.

    In the Applications -> Internet menu from Ubuntu on my EeePC, I have "Firefox Web Browser", "Mozilla Thunderbird Mail/News", "Pidgin Instant Messenger", "Transmission BitTorrent Client", and several others. Compare with the Windows debacle of Start -> Publisher -> Weird Program Name.

    I agree with your point, and apparently so did the distro maintainers a few years ago that made Linux much better on this count than Windows.

  • by pwizard2 (920421) on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:47PM (#27539241)
    So you gave up on Linux after trying only one distro several years ago? You should give it another try, Linux has gotten a lot better since then.
  • by tnk1 (899206) on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:49PM (#27539243)

    There are many reasons to care, but I can think of two that are general enough that they would apply to most people.

    1. More software, particularly polished software. It doesn't have to be commercial, but the bigger the audience, the more people who will be interested in helping bring that software to Linux.

    2. Better and supported hardware for Linux. This has gotten a little better over the years, but the more people who have Linux in the general population, the more time that vendors will spend on both creating compatible hardware and writing good drivers for it.

    Both of these affect you, the the current linux user.

    Now, it's true, you may be all set with what you are running now and happy with it. The thing is, people in the past had computers that did exactly what they wanted them to do too. The first ones broke codes and created ballistics tables. Eventually, there were enough of them, and enough understanding of them that people had time and experience to do other things with them. Printers, networking, better storage devices, business software, games, the Web.

    The same thing goes for Linux in a more specific way. The more people who use similar things to you, the more potential value your own Linux box has. Someday, you may surprise yourself and find that your Linux box that you were happy with, can now do something else that you never thought possible and it will improve your life. You had nothing to do with it, so someone else had to create it. What allowed for that was the increase in "market share", "penetration", "mind share", or whatever you want to characterize it as.

  • Linux not ready! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by wshwe (687657) on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:54PM (#27539263)

    Linux simply isn't ready for the mainstream consumer market. Few hardware devices and peripherals come with Linux software and drivers. People shouldn't have to search the Internet for drivers. All Linux consumer applications should come with easy to use installers which will work with all of the major Linux distros. People should never have to install drivers and software from a command line unless they want to. I sometimes use Linux, but it's not my primary or secondary operating system.

  • by its_schwim (1247278) on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:54PM (#27539269) Homepage
    Blaming the person using the computer is the reason we still have 12 step processes for codec installs on many distros. Often, these things don't become more intuitive, we just blame a gov't conspiracy or call the end user a lazy moron and tell him to RTFM.

    Blame it on the end user or blame it on MS, it doesn't change the fact that the people that are receiving these netbooks with linux don't want them. If people want linux to be accepted, they need to make it more appealing to the target market.

    Personally, I could care less if it gains in popularity. I use it for what I need it to do. I'm not concerned with what Joe Enduser has on his netbook.
  • by Brandybuck (704397) on Friday April 10, 2009 @11:58PM (#27539291) Homepage Journal

    Linux users get off on bitching about Microsoft. It's genetics, or the radon from the basements where they live. It's an operating system written by geeks and for geeks, and overlaid with a thick varnish of geekiness. And then they cry conspiracy when non-geeks don't rush out and install it. Don't get me wrong, I am a geek as well. But I am not so naive as to think that the lack of market penetration by a hobbyist OS is somehow the result of Microsoft's conspiratorial machinations.

    Did you guys ever stop to think that the reason that Microsoft's products are so popular, is that most people want to run exactly the same software as everyone else? Linux has had incredible success against formidable odds, yet come of you still act like the world owes you for breathing.

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @12:17AM (#27539379) Homepage

    The likes of the big box stores - Best Buy in particular - are not selling the Eee with Linux for a couple of major reasons:

    1) They can't sell support for it because
    a) they don't have anyone who can offer support for Linux
    b) there's precious little to support which can be charged ... and ...

    2) They can't sell software for them, because there isn't any.

    3) Being a lower-priced item, I'd guess there's a lower profit margin.

    So, basically, there's business case impetus to "stick with Windows". I mean, seriously: for the kind of person who shops at Best Buy, which would sell better: that it has XP, so it's familiar, or it has Linux, which is free and secure?

  • by nlawalker (804108) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @12:20AM (#27539399)

    Been saying this for ages. Windows' value is network externality.

    If you want Linux to gain marketshare, stop worrying about how things got to where they are and start thinking about how to compete.

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @12:25AM (#27539427) Homepage

    Why should you care if your neighbor is using Windows, or something else?

    There are thousands of good reasons, literally, but here are the ones which might stick in your maw more readily:

    * Conficker
    * Sasser
    * Bugbear
    * Blaster
    * Melissa
    * Love Bug
    * Code Red
    * (insert next bug here)

    It's not so much a matter of why they should use Linux (or OS X) but why they shouldn't be using Windows. It's bad for them, their data, their friends and family, and their data. And it makes many a professional IT person suffer through cleaning up their messes. (How do you think water sanitation workers would feel if you shoved caustic substances down -your- toilet?)

    Yes, I realize that as Windows/IE loses market share, other software will start being targeted. But as that happens, software variety will increase. A larger software ecosystem not only improves the quality of various competing projects but it results in a much higher cost of doing business/lower return for spam, spyware, and worm writers.

  • by godrik (1287354) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @12:26AM (#27539435)

    how does it help if there are more ex-windows newbs on ubuntu?

    Those guys are going to get angry if a main service does not work on linux. It creates pression groups that tends to get more open interfaces. Internet Explorer specific website tends to die due to other web browsers. Perhaps one day we will no longer need MS office compatibility.

  • by walshy007 (906710) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @12:33AM (#27539467)

    - Gimp is *not* Photoshop. Sorry. I know I mentioned this, but I'll repeat it again. You insult people who actually use Photoshop by making this claim.

    This is true, however how many people actually use the entirety of the features of photoshop? I would daresay that the overwhelming majority of non-professional raster editors would suffice with gimp, simply because they don't need half of the functionality photoshop provides

    - There is no common way to install and remove software.

    Look up packagekit, it hooks into rpm, apt, etc etc, and lets face it, all distros, more or less use apt or yum, two different things with nearly identical uses... yeah, so difficult. which brings us onto our next point

    - There are too many distros with too many proprietary ways of doing things. Too many proprietary repositories, too many proprietary package systems, to many proprietary filesystem layouts.

    This is worse than the hyprebole you were complaining about, 'proprietary package systems' name one used in a common distro, please?, proprietary file system layouts you could be referring to fat patents and ntfs, but both have been supported under linux for a long time now.

    And so far as proprietary repos only really fedora requires the click and install installing of a single rpm to get rpmfusion and all of the patent-encumbered things they won't ship, again, so difficult to look up 'fedora faq' to find out that mp3 etc etc can all be gotten working just by installing one lousy file. The majority of other distros package the proprietary bits with it anyway, so no complication. and finally...

    - There is no stable base to write drivers (thus no hardware support)

    So far as packaging a binary for release, I think nvidia has the best method here, binary blob with compilable source that links it to the kernel, works wonders. But really, if your making device drivers for the linux kernel, why not aim for inclusion in the main kernel tree? having it in there equates to basically free maintenance of your drivers almost indefinitely (so long as people have the hardware). Having the hardware 'just work' when linux boots as a side benefit.

    Funnily enough, one of the biggest problems I find with windows apart from it's lack of usability is it's lack of in-built driver support. I can install linux on a 2-3 year old machine, with various ethernet cards and sound boards etc, and have all the hardware just work. Whereas with windows you have to hunt down exactly what the hardware is, where the drivers are, and hope to god drivers were written for your version of windows.

    there is no open source equivalant of Visual Studio and there is no MSDN of open source.

    So far as MSDN replacement, try devhelp has documentation for most used libraries etc etc. So far as visual studio replacement, people aren't going to make an IDE EXACTLY the same as visual studio, that would be idiotic, however if your after a nice usable ide with similar features, may I suggest looking into eclipse, kdevelop etc.

    Only if Linux advocates and developers take a realistic look at their product offerings and their standing in the market.

    Their product offerings typically aren't a problem... except to those who assume for instance that gimp must be 100% exact clone of photoshop, or eclipse must be exact 100% clone of visual studio. The fact is, people do use these open source products for professional quality work (admittedly fewer of them), and it does work. But you will never make someone happy who expects a clone.

    So far as standing in the market, I agree it's minimal, but it's rising all the time, ten years ago I could tell someone about linux and they'd go 'what?' nowadays most even non-techs I meet know about to to at least some extent, even if they have never used it. But really market standing is irrelevant if they have a piece of software that functions well and does it's desired purpose. Who cares if linux takes over the world or stays as a niche, if it functions well for those of us who choose to use it.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @12:42AM (#27539515)

    Is usability/training/help for non-technical users. Technical issues aside, one of the ways Photoshop kills GIMP is in usability. This doesn't just mean the UI itself, it also means the materials available to help you learn about it. Adobe has some first rate stuff. Their help files are quite helpful and include things like pictures of what to do, they have online video training docs, and their books are awesome. That goes a long way to making it usable for the non-tech type. My mom is an art teacher by profession and while she's not scared of computers, she's not good with them. She needs things spelled out step by step. Well she tells me that Adobe does a good job of doing just that. She's found it easy to use. She knows the art aspect of what she wants to do, and their docs help her figure out how to make the software do it.

    That is something major that much OSS seems to lack. The software itself might be badass, but if it is hard to use, it'll be a geek tool only. Normal users aren't going to read text man pages, Google through newsgroup posts, and try stuff on their own to make things work. They need an easy experience. To them the computer is a tool, not a toy, thus it'd better be easy to use because learning how to use it isn't fun for them.

    So if Linux ever wants a big share on the desktop, that is something that is going to have to happen. All the common tools that people use will have to be nice and easy to use, and nice and easy to learn about.

    However, none of that is going to happen until, as you say, they start taking a more realistic look at their products.

  • by coryking (104614) * on Saturday April 11, 2009 @12:49AM (#27539555) Homepage Journal

    This is true, however how many people actually use the entirety of the features of $PRODUCT_X? I would daresay that the overwhelming majority of $USERS would suffice with $LESSER_PRODUCT, simply because they don't need half of the functionality $PRODUCT_X provides

    The reason these claims are wrong is while they sound true, they are infact very wrong. Sure nobody uses every feature in a product (say, $PRODUCT_X). The thing is, every user has a different subset of features they use.

  • by Malaak (1093915) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @12:51AM (#27539573)
    As you made your Photoshop point pretty clear... For me Gimp IS pretty close to Photoshop. Of course I am not doing professional image editing, but so is the majority of people who use Photoshop as a replacement for MS Paint. They use it because a friend gave them this wonderful editing software where they can use this magic wand and edit contrast and brightness. You are right, Gimp is probably not even close to Photoshop for a professional user, but it is for Joe Sixpack.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @12:56AM (#27539609)

    Also one has to ask is it a bad thing for Linux to be on the sidelines as a desktop OS? Why is it bad for Linux to do what it does well, and not care about what MS does well? There is this assumption by many zealot types that Linux has some divine destiny to take over on the desktop. Why? Who cares?

    The reality is that Linux would have to make some major changes to become a real desktop OS contender. By changes I don't mean doing things better, I mean doing them different. There are many things in the world that aren't a situation where you can do two things well at the same time. You've got to pick one or the other. Linux would have to change some of what it does. Many of those features, however, are things geeks like about it, things that make it so useful in various situations.

    For example one thing that would have to change is Linux couldn't just be a kernel anymore. Users and desktop app developers want an enriched OS experience. Windows or MacOS isn't defined just by the kernel. The file system, the UI, the media layer, the included apps, these are all part of make makes the OS what it is. DirectX is an inherent part of Windows, not an addon.

    Well Linux would have to go that route too. However that really deals a blow to that hackability that so many like about it and use it for.

    I could go on with other things but the point is that Linux needs to make major changes to have a shot at being the dominant desktop OS, and Linux users really need to ask themselves if that's what they want. Are they really interested in making the changes/sacrifices to make Linux the OS for the everyman, or would they rather have their powerful geek toy?

    Personally I don't see what's wrong with Linux being how it is. No, it'll never be the dominant desktop OS, but who cares? Use it for what it's good at, Use Windows for what it's good at. Don't argue that one should have to be the other for no reason.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @01:00AM (#27539619) Homepage Journal

    There are too many distros

    Exactly! The industry will need to settle on maybe 3 desktop distros (light, medium, pro) before there will be enough de-facto standardization for driver writers etc. to bother with.
           

  • by j741 (788258) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @01:09AM (#27539655) Journal

    I had a friend who won an EEE netbook, which came with Linux. He liked it until he tried to use it on a website that contained Flash content. This netbook did not have Flash pre-installed, and he was unable to install it himself by following the links on the website, so he asked me for help. I am not very familiar with Linux (I try a distro each year to see if it is up to my standards yet). I was unable to determine what type of package the Linux distro on this machine supported, and was unable (through trial and error) to get any of Adobe's Flash for Linux packages to install. I ended up having to do it manually from the command line with an APT GET command that I found after a Google search. That is not an acceptable user experience for customers who expect to use this computer the same as they would use any other computer. And that is why you can expect high return rates for Linux Netbooks.

  • by quickOnTheUptake (1450889) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @01:19AM (#27539693)
    While I like the start and finish of your post, I have to disagree with the middle:

    There are some apps from 2 decades ago that are binary-compatible and can run on a modern Windows box. Can the same be said for Linux or Mac?

    1) MS's unwillingness to break backwards compatibility is a major source of problems (we can't fix that bug or that security hole because it will break too many apps).
    2) Binary compatibility doesn't (generally) matter in an open source world because if the program was any good someone has compiled it to the current platform (assuming you can't do it yourself) and the port is available for free.
    The two actually go together. Part of the reason FOSS people push "free as in freedom" is that it means the whole system can be fixed: When you aren't working around fixed binary blobs, you don't get stuck using/supporting something that is insecure if the vendor won't release a fixed version.

  • by TheModelEskimo (968202) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @01:25AM (#27539741)
    I use Photoshop and teach it professionally. *You* should not be insulting people who actually use GIMP by making those ridiculous claims. Sure, I've heard maybe one or two GIMP users say they think it's a perfect replacement for Photoshop - completely out of ignorance. But can I tell you how many Photoshop users I've seen who use their Photoshop license-purchase as a reason to bash GIMP without any real experience backing them up? And MOST of them are laughing a bit, then looking at ME for cues that they should keep laughing!

    That's not professionalism, that's just mindless consumerism. People like me use Linux day in and day out with Photoshop in a VM because we've decided that if our generation won't put things right as a group, we will do it as individuals. THUS your complaint about many different distros, THUS your complaint about no MSDN. You want your MSDN but you probably despise the virii that come with its core experience. >:-)
  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@s[ ]hdot.org ['las' in gap]> on Saturday April 11, 2009 @01:27AM (#27539745)

    If you want Linux to gain acceptance, you need to stop with the hyperbole and start accepting the truth. The truth is:

    Oh god, I love people stating "TEH ABSOLUTE TRUTHORZ". Here it comes...

    - There is no common way to install and remove software.

    Yeah, right. What are you smoking? Windows does not even have a package manager! So if this statement is true for anything, than it is for Windows.

    - There is no stable base to write drivers (thus no hardware support)

    Relevant to the end users how?? The end user either selects the driver in the package manager, like any other software, or it is already autodetected by the kernel, which is the case >90% of time. On Windows, there is no way a freshly installed OS can already use all hardware and hardware features. Most lusers buy the system with everything already installed. So your argument is a strawman argument anyway.

    - There are too many distros with too many proprietary ways of doing things. Too many proprietary repositories, too many proprietary package systems, to many proprietary filesystem layouts.

    Well, that kinda comes with freedom, and not having a monopoly! So you are in fact complaining "But I want my monopoly trap!". Sorry. This is an exception, not the normal case. If Microsoft did not have a monopoly, there would be many many more variants of OSes. And again, it is irrelevant. Because the default luser gets, whatever comes preinstalled with his computer. Which will usually be Ubuntu. Or he switches to Ubuntu later because a friend recommended it.

    - Gimp is *not* Photoshop. Sorry. I know I mentioned this, but I'll repeat it again. You insult people who actually use Photoshop by making this claim.

    What claim? The claim that he said the exact opposite of by stating himself, that Gimp is not Photoshop! Are you actually drunk? Or a troll?
    Sorry, I do not want to insult you, but that is how your "arguments" look like. I don't know if I should laugh, or if you really think you are making serious arguments.

    Ok. Haha. Yeah. I completely fell for your trolling. Well done. But I guess, I'm not the only one who fell for it. And what you said is so close to real arguments used by lazu idiot lusers and pseudo-experts, that I could not tell the difference. So this post is really for all those people out there...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 11, 2009 @01:29AM (#27539755)

    Yeah - but guess what most webservers (LAMP) use? Ignorance can take many forms, but is mostly based at ignoring some part of the story.

    MySQL use is bigger than you try to make us believe. That's the problem with those windows fanboy's. They seem to hate all other OS. Why should you hate something so deep that is given you for free? There seems to be no rationalism behind it other than hating to see things developping for free.

    All windows consumers should embrace Linux, because it keeps Microsoft on his toes. Microsoft HAVE to develop better stuff, otherwise alternatives start growing. Linux is the best thing that could happened to MS-Windows owners. Do you really think Windows 7 (or IE 7/8 etc.) would exist if there was not something like OSS? The only people complaining about it would not be the consumers, but the people making money with MS-Windows.

    Think about that!!!

  • by kklein (900361) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @01:36AM (#27539801)

    Excel, Visio, Quicken, Outlook and Visual Studio aren't exactly self-explanatory.

    They don't need to be; everyone already knows what they are.

    And here we are already, back to the problem pointed to in TFA.

  • by coryking (104614) * on Saturday April 11, 2009 @01:51AM (#27539867) Homepage Journal

    Essentially, I have no sympathy for people who's biggest complaint about gimp is 'it's not photoshop' as opposed to 'it doesn't serve it's purpose', which I believe it does

    Fair enough, but don't expect GIMP to "win" any time soon with that attitude.

  • by Insanity Defense (1232008) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @02:02AM (#27539911)

    I am no fan of Microsoft, but it's not like they are doing anything illegal or unethical here.

    You do know that Microsoft has been convicted of breaking the law many times in many countries? Everything from copyright violations and false advertising to being an abusive monopoly.

    I myself would say that their "Get the facts" campaign was unethical and deceitful. Just my opinion of course.

    Famous phrases from within Microsoft's top ranks. "Knife the baby". "Cut off their air supply". "Whack Dell".

  • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @02:14AM (#27539939)

    Yeah, right. What are you smoking? Windows does not even have a package manager!

    Yes, it does. It's called Windows Installer and has come with Windows since Windows 2000. Even the so called "Installer software" is just a pretty front-end to Windows Installer and a script generator.

    The end user either selects the driver in the package manager, like any other software, or it is already autodetected by the kernel, which is the case >90% of time.

    Except of course for the hundreds of drivers out there that do not come with the kernel and aren't part of the package repository. That's really beside the point. The original author was talking about driver development. There is no common driver binary interface, which makes it very difficult to create a single binary that can be used on all versions of the kernel (or even all versions of a major version).

    On Windows, there is no way a freshly installed OS can already use all hardware and hardware features.

    This is patently untrue. It's called slipstreaming, and corporate IT departments do it all the time. Home users, not so much, but your "there is no way" comment shows ignorance on your part.

    If Microsoft did not have a monopoly, there would be many many more variants of OSes.

    Has it ever occured to you that maybe Microsoft has a monopoly because users don't want more variants of OS's?

    By that, I mean, the market tends to a monopoly because end users don't want confusion.

    I'm sure the very concept that users don't want 500 choices of something is hard for you to comprehend.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 11, 2009 @02:20AM (#27539957)

    The problem with your argument is that everyone already *knows* what Excel, Quicken, Outlook, etc are. Those brands are mainstream. As a result, they can get away with not saying Excel Spreadsheet and Outlook Mail/News and whatever in your start menu. The Linux programs can't, so they should be as self-explanatory as possible. Instead of Firefox Web Browser, it should just say Internet. Instead of Mozilla Thunderbird Mail/News, it should say E-mail. And so forth. The average user doesn't care what clever name you chose for your mail client, they just want to be able to get email working on their newly-bought PC with minimal fuss.

  • by cryptoluddite (658517) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @02:24AM (#27539969)

    Only if Linux advocates and developers take a realistic look at their product offerings and their standing in the market.

    The real problem with Linux is that the last 10% of any software is a real PITA. It's the kind of work that only gets done because you crawled out of bed on Monday so you don't get fired and are bored of staring at your monitor pretending to work. The kind where you reluctantly finish it because you're going on vacation next week and the only thing worse that actually finishing it is coming back to it afterwards.

  • by jedrek (79264) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @02:56AM (#27540077) Homepage

    I love how you managed to talk about other people's ignorance, then wrote something like "Linux is the best thing that could happened to MS-Windows owners.", all in one post.

    Love Linux all you want, but as a desktop OS it's place is pretty much in the statistical margin of error. Vista's competitor on the desktop (servers are something else) isn't Linux, it's first and foremost Windows XP. If anybody is switching away from MS, they're going to Apple.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 11, 2009 @03:10AM (#27540115)

    Because a bigger market share means that more companies provide Linux drivers for their hardware products.

  • by Bert64 (520050) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Saturday April 11, 2009 @03:14AM (#27540135) Homepage

    I'm not sure of the history behind blender, but i seem to remember it was an in-house tool at a company that does graphics work and that a bounty was paid to open source it.

    When it comes to gimp and postgres (and mysql)... Oracle and photoshop occupy relatively small niches, for the average user the free apps are more than adequate and save them a significant amount of money. As an example, for most people photoshop isn't worth the money, piracy rates of photoshop are extremely high and those who don't want to risk it typically buy something cheaper (and inferior) like paint shop pro.

    There are common ways to install and remove software, but these methods are *per distribution* and not global... Once you stop lumping linux together and start thinking of each distribution as a system in it's own right (which they are really, albeit with a lot of shared components) it makes a lot more sense. The installation system on ubuntu for example, is far more consistent and usable than windows or osx.

    Stable base to write drivers - Linux drivers are very stable and included within the kernel, no stable way to write closed source drivers perhaps but open drivers are better, and not having to provide binary compatibility allows the linux kernel to innovate in ways it couldn't otherwise... Conversely, the need for binary compatibility has been a thorn in microsoft's side for years, and whenever they do break compatibility big problems occur, for example:
    Vista - new driver model, drivers need to be rewritten, hardware makers won't write drivers for old hardware thus rendering it useless..
    64bit - 64bit XP was useless in terms of driver support, compare that to 64bit linux which supports 99% of the hardware it's 32bit counterpart did by virtue of being able to recompile the existing drivers with little or no modification.
    Alternative architectures - most of the linux drivers will work on other architectures, if i install linux on a ps3 i can connect virtually any usb device to it that linux supports and use it, if those usb drivers were supplied as binaries for x86 i wouldn't be able to do that... Similarly i could get a PPC, IA64, Alpha or even Sparc based system and use random PCI cards that linux supports.
    No, open source drivers are better, binary drivers have never given me anything but grief.. The current model seems to be working just fine, and the only real holdout is nvidia.

    Too many distros is an issue, and more specifically in the netbook case - too many lousy distros being put on the netbooks.. the few i've seen were using unheard of distros where important things like the package manager were broken or crippled... Ubuntu works really well for the people i've shown it to, but not being able to (easily) install any extra apps on the netbook distros didn't do them any favors.

  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @03:15AM (#27540139)
    There is no common way to install and remove software.

    Who cares? It's not rocket science.

    There is no stable base to write drivers (thus no hardware support)

    Linux supports far many more devices out of the box than Windows or OS X.

    There are too many distros with too many proprietary ways of doing things. Too many proprietary repositories, too many proprietary package systems, to many proprietary filesystem layouts.

    Too many distros for whom? There are different flavours for different purposes and/or different levels of technical ability. And I challenge you to name even ONE proprietary package system used on Linux.

    Gimp is *not* Photoshop. Sorry. I know I mentioned this, but I'll repeat it again. You insult people who actually use Photoshop by making this claim.

    Gimp is indeed not Photoshop. In some ways it's better. I learned to use Gimp before Photoshop, and it does a fine job. Like Photoshop, however, it is a big, powerful tool and needs time to learn how to use it. Which brings me to my next point:

    You freely admit to playing with blender for 30 seconds before giving up and going back to something else. Now whatever the merits or demerits of Blender (I don't know or care about it one way or the other), if you dismiss a piece of software after 30 seconds acquaintance (i.e. without bothering to take the trouble to see how it works) then you are simply telling us you are an ignorant fanboy whose opinion isn't worth our attention.
  • by leenks (906881) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @03:15AM (#27540141)

    I would daresay that the overwhelming majority of non-professional raster editors would suffice with gimp, simply because they don't need half of the functionality photoshop provides.

    No doubt, but the interface is horrible - even with the improvements made recently. It doesn't feel intuitive and, more to the point, it is too different from Photoshop for people to use when they've already got some Photoshop experience.

    Look up packagekit, it hooks into rpm, apt, etc etc, and lets face it, all distros, more or less use apt or yum, two different things with nearly identical uses... yeah, so difficult. which brings us onto our next point

    You just made his point for him. There is no standard package management - there are dozens of tools, and dozens more repositories for them. And yes, it is difficult for the lay person - why do you think phishing and trojans are so common - people really don't understand this stuff, nor do they want to - they just want to use their computer.

    This is worse than the hyprebole you were complaining about, 'proprietary package systems' name one used in a common distro, please?,

    apt, rpm, slackware's tgz. Your definition of proprietry is somewhat flawed (it doesn't mean 'commercial' or 'closed source').

    So far as MSDN replacement, try devhelp has documentation for most used libraries etc etc. So far as visual studio replacement, people aren't going to make an IDE EXACTLY the same as visual studio, that would be idiotic, however if your after a nice usable ide with similar features, may I suggest looking into eclipse, kdevelop etc.

    While I agree with Eclipse (though it is lacking in some areas and has many horrible bugs), KDevelop is nowhere near comparable - maybe to VS from 1996, but it doesnt compete with recent versions and struggles against VS98. DevHelp doesn't really compete with MSDN at all either - have you seen the MSDN docs recently? Have you looked at how well integrated into VS it is ?

    People don't want clones, they want smoothly functioning stuff with big feature sets, and that is intuitive to use. What's so hard about that?

    (FWIW, I'm not a Windows/MS fanboi - in fact, I've actively been getting MS products out of my life for a long time and now work almost exclusively with Linux and OSX, developing in Eclipse amongst other OSS tools.)

  • by DougReed (102865) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @03:46AM (#27540263)

    I am a software developer, and the guy all my friends bring their PCs to. I LOVE the UNIX environment, and HATE the Windoze environment, and I have an 8 port KVM on my desk with Linux, Mac, Solaris, and Windows at my fingertips.

    I always use Linux or Solaris for server stuff if possible. To me putting a database application or a WEB server on a Windows box is just silly.

    But I am typing on a Windoze XP machine. (Vista does not exist in my world) I seldom use the Linux machine because I always need to switch to the Windows machine for something the Linux one cannot do, and there is nothing the Windows one can't do, so I just end up on the Windows machine. The MAC is nice, and I use it occasionally, but it too just cannot do everything I need, or is more frustrating to get it done. When I first got the MAC, I thought it was so cool and used the hell out of it for a while, but simple things can be quite hard to do sometimes because it tries to be so "easy" that it can become hard to do anything the MAC guys did not think of an easy way to handle. So back to the Windows machine... again because I need to do something the MAC has difficulty with. As a desktop, Solaris is useless for most stuff.

    It is like a trap in a way. Once I go to the Windows machine for one application I cannot do easily or at all on whatever other machine I was on, I just start doing stuff on that machine, and soon forget about the others. Cygwin and PuTTY do not help either because with that working, grep, find, and ssh is there, and I'm just done. (The Cygterm hack is my console, cmd.exe is dreadful.)

    I really wish this were not true, but ...

  • by SomeKDEUser (1243392) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @03:55AM (#27540293)

    Yes, you are missing the fact, that him being a windows/photoshop fanboy, he only read want he wanted to read.

    And the amazing thing is that a debate was launched on the merits of a phrase not even written...

  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @04:06AM (#27540325)

    I hate to disappoint you, but the Wine project doesn't even have the goal of being able to run any Win32 program.

    Wine development is driven by the desire to get specific applications to run on it. Nothing more.

  • by perryizgr8 (1370173) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @04:10AM (#27540339)

    Level playing field my ass.

    it was as level as it is ever going to be. netbooks were a new device. people regarded them as different from regular pcs. they were reeady to compromise on unused features just so they could browse for hours on a smallish device. this sort of a fresh opportunity is very rare to come by.
    and i'm sorry, i really can't understand how microsoft can sell people something they don't want? even ms is not that powerful/influential. look at vista. ms put in every ounce of marketing, still only 27% market share. if, in the context of a netbook, linux had been so absolutely better than xp as you suggest, would not have microsoft failed here too, like vista?

  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @04:14AM (#27540355)

    If MS's "monopoly" is really the cause of every "Linux on the desktop" setback then you might as well give up because MS's market share isn't going to go down if Linux can't grow.

    Rather than use the monopoly excuse, Linux fans should figure out the specific reason for the setback and try to address it.

    Or you could just sit on your hands for another 10 years and say it's all MS's fault.

  • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @04:51AM (#27540485)

    Linux distros are typically consistent and the installer has the capability to locate and download the software too

    You mean for sufficiently popular applications. If the app you want, or the version of the app you want isn't in the repository, it's a *LOT* harder than in Windows to get that app working on your system.

    Typically it is only new, beta grade drivers that don't come with the kernel

    Not true at all. There are tons of wireless cards that don't have drivers in the kernel. Even on the server, there are lots of drivers that don't come stock with the kernel, but Distro's like RHEL add those drivers. If you've ever tried to upgrade your RHEL kernel to a newer kernel than currently supported, you have to deal with getting those drivers into the kernel.. i know, i've had to do it.

    I did say that slipstreaming wasn't for the average user. I was simply countering the claim that there was "no way" to do it. "no way" means, "no way".. not "no simple way".

  • Crazy idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by heffrey (229704) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @04:55AM (#27540493)

    Has anyone entertained the thought that people might actually choose windows because it's the best available option?

  • Bad distros (Score:4, Insightful)

    by renrutal (872592) <renrutal@gmail.com> on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:06AM (#27540519)

    Part of the blame are the bug-ridden cheap distros that come with the computer.

    I've seen a whole community trying to help a guy to get his notebook, mainly the wi-fi, to work.

    Days later he gave up and installed Ubuntu. It just worked.

  • by DuncanE (35734) * on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:20AM (#27540553) Homepage

    What the hell has photoshop got to do with Windows vs linux on netbooks?

    I dont want to run photoshop on my netbook regardless if the OS is Windows or Linux. I want email, a web browser, a simple photo tool and an office suite.

  • by Bert64 (520050) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:33AM (#27540599) Homepage

    Yes, binary apps from many years ago will still run on linux, but you do need to install the associated backwards compatibility libs...

    Windows has the equivalent backwards compatibility libs by default because there are far more old binary apps (old open source apps can just be recompiled for a modern linux). 99% of users will never need these libs so they often aren't installed by default, but doesn't mean it's not possible.

    Linux can even run binaries intended for other unixes like SCO... When linux was new, it was common to run foreign binaries for some things because many things (eg netscape) weren't ported to linux yet.

  • by init100 (915886) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:42AM (#27540643)

    You've clearly never used Hypercard or you'd know where that name comes from too.

    You obviously fail to see the point. For someone who never used the software, such a name is not descriptive. Non-descriptive names is something that many people bring up against the names of certain free software applications, but as you can see, it certainly applies to many proprietary applications (including Microsoft applications) as well.

  • Which is why.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mormop (415983) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:59AM (#27540715)

    'Once again Microsoft's monopoly means Windows is swallowing up another market.'"

    Which is why, if the rumours of Microsoft giving XP to netbook manufacturers is true, they are guilty of predatory pricing which is basically summarised as discounting heavily with the intention of forcing a competitor out of the market.

    Open and shut case really although it'll probably take the EU stepping in to do something about it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:23AM (#27540793)

    Only if you've spend ages trying to learn how to use Photoshop first.

    Coming to BOTH new, they use different paradigms and GIMP on Linux beats PS on Linux, whilst GIMP on windows loses to PS on Windows.

    Photoshop SUCKS in usability.

    Once you've learned how to force PS to do what you want, or, more commonly, learned not to do what PS won't let you do, you are not able to determine GIMP's usability. Each think you've learned how to make PS do, GIMP may not do the same way and that's considered bad. There are some things GIMP won't *do* that PS does. That's considered very bad. But you don't try to do things anew and so you don't realise that there are some things GIMP lets you do that PS doesn't. And because you don't TRY (you've learned from PS not to try) you don't see this as very bad for PS.

    So you're not going to see the downsides of PS since you've learned to move around them.

    PS sucks.

    GIMP sucks.

    It's a very sucky problem to solve. They solve it in different ways. But once you've learned PS, you want GIMP to do the same.

    Don't.

    Learn anew. Then you'll find yourself swearing at PS when you want to render that outline as a repeated pattern rather than as one of the selected options of line stroke. You'll wonder why there isn't a good macro language for scripting manipulation of your 10,000 stock images. PS will be shown to be sucky.

  • by perryizgr8 (1370173) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:31AM (#27540823)
    you exhibit the arrogance that many of the people most vocal about linux exhibit. you must realize that users have different priorities. just because me and you can compile kernels doesn't mean that we are superior to some other guy who can't. it just means that we are better at compiling kernels.
    if a piece of software cannot be used by everyone, its not the user's fault. its the software's. anyone, even people who know linux inside out, should not need to compile kernels to do the tasks netbooks are intended for.
  • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:02AM (#27540929) Homepage

    "is market share the goal? If not then don't begrudge windows for providing an end user experience that is preferred. "

    meh. if windows did that i wouldn't begrudge them. In my experience, though, windows market share is not built on direct competition on experience but on:

    -Your data will disappear into a black hole if you use components from any other platform
    -The protocols (i.e. communication *rules) that windows uses are property, and if you try to figure them out you'll go to jail.

  • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross@ ... .ca minus distro> on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:30AM (#27541043)

    I wish you were modded higher... The last sentence is oh so true...

    >If anybody is switching away from MS, they're going to Apple.

    And I know many Linux users on the desktop are switching to Apple.

    While I would be willing to lay my hand in the fire for Linux on the server, I would not touch a fire with a ten foot pole for Linux on the desktop.

    Three years ago I completely gave up on Linux on the Desktop. I decided to focus on Apple, and Microsoft. I have to be frank in that I have not looked back AT ALL...

    Again on the server not the same story...

  • by viralMeme (1461143) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @08:29AM (#27541251)
    "Linux .. is a usability nightmare, you need to be a network engineer AND programmer to fix it when it breaks, and perhaps most importantly the Linux community is hostile and unhelpful toward non-techies"

    You're talking total nonsense. Any modern Linux distro is perfectly usable. And to fix it when it breaks, which is a rarety - is just as easy as the Install-Program option in Windows.

    As for the hostile Linux, you are equally inaccurate in that statement. Join a forum, politely ask a question and get a response else pay for a support contract.

    "I am a network geek and programmer, and I still get pissed off at Linux on a daily basis because things that should just work, do not"

    Maybe you should try an other occupation?
  • by turbidostato (878842) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @09:14AM (#27541463)

    "To be honest, I haven't played with it [postgres] enough to tell you"

    So, in the end, you haven't played with Postgres and tried blender "for about 30 seconds before giving up" but still you feel entitled to give them harsh and hard reports. You are part of the problem.

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Saturday April 11, 2009 @09:41AM (#27541593) Journal

    Yeah - and every user uses "color management devices professional photography". They can't live without it...

    Doesn't have to be every user. Every user has something like that, and it's a different something for every user.

    Linux is 99% of the way there for most users. That last 1% is both different and very necessary for each person who might switch.

    For example, my last 1% is gaming, and I resolve it only by dual-booting -- Nexuiz is cool, and Wine runs a few games, but every now and then, I just need to play some Counter-Strike: Source without sacrificing 20% of my framerate and visual quality to Wine. Yet obviously, some are happy with Nexuiz, or even a few card games.

    For many home users, it might be Quicken, or QuickBooks -- for my needs, Gnucash is fine, as is KMyMoney, but neither is a Quicken or a QuickBooks, and they might not be comfortable trusting financial data to Wine.

    And we could go on down the list, even among developers. Many are fine with Eclipse, even prefer it. Many absolutely cannot live without Visual Studio. Many users are fine renting DVDs and watching YouTube and Hulu; some just have to have Blu-Ray (and can't or won't pirate), and some prefer things like Netflix Watch Now.

    For people who can live without that last 1%, or can actually fill it with dual booting, VMs, or Wine, Linux becomes an option. Even then, it's an uphill battle to make a case that it's a good option. If Linux just did everything Windows did for them, then switching to Linux is a huge learning curve and still plenty of uncertainty for no real gain.

    I post something like this every few months. And I'm a Linux user, and a Linux advocate.

    If Linux is to compete, we have to stop trying to copy everyone, and instead start creating things that others want to copy. OS X is a good example of this.

  • Re:Crazy idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ciggieposeur (715798) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @09:46AM (#27541625)

    Has anyone entertained the thought that people might actually choose windows because it's the best available option?

    I do all the time. There is no way in the world I would teach Linux to my parents or siblings, because for the most part they are rote learners with respect to computers. (The downside is that they periodically need the old wipe-it-clean method of virus/spyware removal every few years.) And for Java development, I actually prefer running Eclipse under Windows than under Linux, but I can't quite say why. Maybe I just don't have a fast enough Linux box for it.

  • by tixxit (1107127) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @09:57AM (#27541697)
    The graphics designer at my workplace came over to my office to tweek a web design we'd been working on. I opened up the GIMP and started editing a bunch of images. He actually said, "wow, that's some nice software... what is it?" This guy, who uses Photoshop non-stop. Yeah, it may not have all the features of Photoshop, but I was still able to do more with the GIMP than he could with Photoshop... I mean, there are a lot of nice features in Photoshop, but 98% of what I do with an image editor is really basic stuff that both support. And, yes, I do use Photoshop on occasion, but our office only has 1 license, and if the GIMP will do just fine, why bother?
  • by tixxit (1107127) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @10:10AM (#27541761)

    My favorite "useless feature" is track changes in Word. Do you have any idea how surprised people get when they send me a Word document and I send them back all my edits with cute little bubble comments next them? Does OO support track changes? Cause if they dont, that is a shame... it is a damn useful feature once somebody drops change-tracked document on your lap and you go "wow, I never knew this existed!". But I can only imagine the number of 37-signals followers who sit around and call it "useless bloat!!! off with its head!!"

    I'd say that is pretty much a required feature for any word editor (OOo has it). Any student who has ever had to do a group report will attest to that.

  • by Static Sky (1439941) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @11:27AM (#27542183)

    You want your MSDN but you probably despise the virii that come with its core experience

    Well, so much for professionalism.

  • by simplerThanPossible (1056682) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @03:47PM (#27544071)

    although far from superior, Windows provides a more familiar environment

    If it's more familiar, it's more usable, and therefore superior for users.

    It's as if linux advocates measure "superiority" as an intrinsic quality, whereas users see superiority in terms of usefulness to them.

  • by Yfrwlf (998822) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:09PM (#27544555)

    "There is no common way to install and remove software."
    Heard of apt or yum? Both are far superior that the "Windows Way".

    You're still locked into a proprietary repository and packaging system. Linux needs to have packaging standards that all the package managers can be made compatible with, so that I can go and install basically any package out there easily to get the software I want if it doesn't happen to be in my repository. I shouldn't be forced to suckle the teat of the company behind my distro, I want real actual freedom. On Windows, you can go most any place and easily download and install whatever software it is in a few clicks. Linux needs this in order to ramp up it's success on the desktop.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:31PM (#27545329)

    A few of the problems with Linux becoming more mainstream is:
    a) Linux doesn't have any ads. People feel that a product that is advertised to them is superior then the one they have either never heard of or barely heard of. It's not unheard of for a company to make a no name product and turn around and make the same identical product for a brand name with only the tags being the difference. When people are looking at the 2 of them they will assume that the brand name that they have heard advertised to them is better then the no name just due to the familiarity even though it really is the same product.
    b) Linux is free, Windows isn't. That effects the perceived value. This is one of the things that hurts Linux and helps other companys like Windows and Apple. People like to assume that the more they pay for a product the better it must be since you get what you pay for. If it's free then it can't be very good is the typical mindset.
    c) Linux isn't Windows. This is the biggest issue people have when they get Linux the first time since a lot of people like to call Linux a Windows alternative. They hear Windows and assume it has to be an exact clone of Windows and freak out and declare its garbage because it isn't a clone of Windows. I find that the best way to help people use Linux is to tell them up front "This isn't Windows, it won't always do the same thing as Windows. It is also a brand new and difference OS then Windows so there is going to be a learning curve since it isn't Windows" I also point out that every problem I've had with Linux (Ubuntu 8.10 in my case) has been solvable by just googling "How to do X on Ubuntu 8.10" (that tends to be the biggest thing to help them relax). Giving these bits of truth from the start are good so they don't come into Linux with false idea's and feel like they were lied to and deceived.

  • by rofthorax (722179) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @11:19PM (#27546139)

    You will fail to use Linux optimally on laptops for these reasons:

    1. hardware is too new, and uses all proprietary hardware that is designed to be "made for vista". Vista was designed with DRM in mind, the hardware is going to be bent in favor of closed source.

    2. hardware sold with linux is designed to be "cheap" or "low power", which is not really the best market for linux, although it can do that. Linux users are no dummies, and the dummies are the ones returning the laptops (or netbooks).

    3. Linux is best at driver minimization and unification. If you can get linux to run on hardware, that means the hardware is popular, is going to be well supported, and is non-proprietary meaning you should be able to find people that are familiar with it enough to fix it. Linux should be the watermark by which to determine if hardware is reliable. If it is "wintel" designed, it is going to make use of memory-sharing hardware that sucks down the CPU to add more features.

    4. Linux is best on used/older laptops, people who pay for new hardware are the fools who pay for the bugs, every linux nerd knows this.. The market analysis data is flawed considering how it determines market adoption, by new laptop sales.

  • by smarch (1529415) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:03AM (#27547757)
    I've learned that many people will move to Linux if the have the right help. In the past year I have helped over a dozen people with their Windows addiction, and now they are happily running Ubuntu 8.10. In the end it really comes down to users having a friend they can goto with their questions.
  • by Jeruvy (1045694) * on Monday April 13, 2009 @12:52PM (#27558455)

    What do you mean 'would be', have you been watching MS for the last year? They are spending and working very hard to get windows 7 out the door because since Vista sales are just not there.

    We forget that netbooks still use XP (not Vista...), which is probably the #1 reason MS is selling so good on this platform, there is no downgrading after a purchase. And I'm sure many folks were unwilling purchasers of linux, or just wanted to try it out and went back to windows. But that doesn't change the fact that many retailers (at MS request) are not stocking netbooks with Linux, nor explain the numbers.

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