Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
GUI Google Linux Business Mozilla Linux

Linux Of the Future May Be About Which Environment, Not Which Distribution 214

Posted by timothy
from the mo'-zilla-mo'-zilla dept.
itwbennett writes "In its 2012 roadmap, the Mozilla Foundation highlights plans to create its own soup-to-nuts mobile platform, known as Boot to Gecko. With this move, the Mozilla Foundation 'is finally shaking off its dependence on browser revenues and treading where Google, with ChromeOS; Canonical, with Unity on Ubuntu; and (most recently) the Plasma community's Spark tablet have already started: the creation of standards-based platforms that rely on robust web applications (in varying degrees) more than native-run apps to provide the user experience,' writes blogger Brian Proffitt. 'I very much think that we are heading for a time when Linux flavors will be identified by environments, not distributions.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Linux Of the Future May Be About Which Environment, Not Which Distribution

Comments Filter:
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:30AM (#39032245)

    With Google making up about 90% of the Mozilla revenues these days, I've been worried for a while that they were going to kill off Firefox in the face of Chrome. Nothing against Chrome, but the add-on community for Firefox is by far the best. And it's particularly robust when it comes to add-ons for script-blocking, downloading videos from Youtube, etc. (all of which Google has a vested interest in stopping or trying to suppress in Chrome). Giving up Firefox means going back to an era where only the big corps control the browsers. And I don't like the thought of Google killing off Adblock and other extensions the second there is no alternative (except Opera I guess).

    So here's to hoping that this move isn't a foreshadowing of a time when Mozilla does everything BUT Firefox.

    • by bondsbw (888959) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:45AM (#39032475)

      I just hope they don't abandon good programming languages for the brokenness that is HTML and JavaScript.

      Sorry, but I refuse to believe that the crapload that is and has always been HTML will one day be the only choice.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        "the creation of standards-based platforms that rely on robust web applications (in varying degrees) more than native-run apps to provide the user experience"

        Remember when Steve Jobs came out on stage and told everybody the iPhone was going to have these great web apps you could write and download? And everyone said web apps suck and clamored for a real native API? And they were right?

        • Remember when Steve Jobs came out on stage and told everybody the iPhone was going to have these great web apps you could write and download?

          Under the original plan for web apps under iOS, how would a web-based barcode scanner application have worked? Such an application needs access to the image from the camera in order to extract a UPC or QR matrix from the image. Yet years later, there is still no widely deployed API for a JavaScript program to (ask the user for permission to) read a device's camera and microphone.

        • I think that was more driven by profit-seeking than technical shortcomings...although there are a lot of technical shortcomings still to be solved before an all-web-apps OS would be practical. How would you burn CDs, use a webcam, etc? And don't get me started on "cloud storage." There is not nearly enough bandwidth to make that a practical replacement for local storage, ownership issues aside, and I really wish it were practical.

        • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @10:24AM (#39032977) Homepage Journal

          Remember when Steve Jobs came out on stage and told everybody the iPhone was going to have these great web apps you could write and download? And everyone said web apps suck and clamored for a real native API? And they were right?

          That was Steve Jobs trying to snow people. The API wasn't ready, so he told everybody it wasn't necessary. That was purely a stalling tactic. He did the same thing over and over throughout his career and people actually bought it.

          The Reality Distortion Field can have a powerful effect on the weak minded.

          • The RDS strikes again, the real problems started when people started to beleive all of the BS that came out of that guys mouth. They should have been hearing, buy this, buy that, buffer Apple profit rather than the BS he was broadcasting.

        • by PRMan (959735)

          "the creation of standards-based platforms that rely on robust web applications (in varying degrees) more than native-run apps to provide the user experience"

          Maybe they should start by, instead of rewriting the shiny stuff for the umpteenth time, actually supporting the new, HTML5-standard controls that actual business apps need [miketaylr.com]:

          • input type="datetime"
          • input type="date"
          • input type="month"
          • input type="week"
          • input type="time"
          • input type="number"
          • input type="range"
          • input type="color"

          These aren't even in Mozilla's plan

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        There's nothing wrong with HTML and javascript... for making web pages. Web apps? I don't want any web apps! I like my computers to work with a broken router or modem; I refuse to use any program besides a browser that relies on web access. And I don't want forced upgrades. With the app on my PC I can upgrade or not as I see fit. If the app's on your server I have no choice.

        For simple database-driven apps, javascript in the browser works fine if the heavy lifting is done on the back end. That's your data. I

        • by ifrag (984323)

          I refuse to use any program besides a browser that relies on web access.

          So, how far has your clock drifted?

        • Pfft, we based apps are the quickest way to make a core 2 duo insufficient to run a simple database app. Inefficiency is the new Vogue despite all the optimisations recent browsers have made to compensate for the basterdised scripting language they are trying to pass off as a develepment platform.

    • Mozilla and their "web apps" only platform, they are making a very possible DOA product.

      You know, you can go "web apps" way on iOS too for example, but pretty much no dev would do it for plenty of good reasons. Apple and HP (webOS) has recently tried that approach too, anyone remember?
    • by swillden (191260)

      I've been worried for a while that they were going to kill off Firefox in the face of Chrome

      I don't see how that would make any sense, either to Google or to Mozilla. Google doesn't want Firefox to go away; from Google's perspective more browser diversity and competition is a good thing, as long as it's standards-based competition. From Mozilla's perspective, if they didn't make Firefox, what would they do that would motivate Google and/or Microsoft to pay them hundreds of millions of dollars per year?

    • by couchslug (175151)

      I'm far more worried about Firefox management making Firefox suck than about Google killing it.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:31AM (#39032261) Homepage Journal

    It seems like everyone is wanting to ride a new 'tech wave' again like it was in the 90s, since what we have has become saturated and stale. But arent they exaggerating it, all of them going nutso and mobile in full force ? (does not only include linux - everyone)

    Wont it probably be like pcs ? once they pass a certain hardware strength and software feature set, people will just skip on going on the 'next big thing'. like how endless legions of people has not upgraded their xp, or, how people just skip on upgrading their hardware since what they have is enough.

    • by hal2814 (725639)
      "Mobile" may be like Windows PCs, but the mobile market has a lot more diverse hardware set. We may see something along the lines of a Mac where the entire hardware subsystem is upgraded so at some point staying with the old set of hardware leads to no longer being able to run any newer programs since at some point developers will stop targeting the older hardware. So while your hardware may be technically capable enough to run the latest Angry Birds (or whatever the fad is by that time), the software wil
  • ... stop telling me how I should run my computer by trying to lock me in to their "vision."

    The "vision thing" didn't work out in the dot-com bust, and it's not working out for Unity, or Chromebooks, or anything else. When it gets to the point that Apple and Microsoft are starting to look more open, "Open Source" has a problem.

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Yup. We're getting to a point where to run a popular app you will need to run some crazy vertically-integrated environment devoid of choices. Want to run Gnome? Well, guess what, you're going to run systemd too. Want to run Firefox, well, there's an OS for that. Like Ubuntu's package selection? That's great - hope you like Unity.

      I run Gentoo because it is desktop-environment-neutral and you can swap out just about anything (including linux - you can run Gentoo on FreeBSD if you want to - or even on Wi

      • by Anrego (830717) *

        Even using a different window manager (I use a combination of openbox and xfce), you find software written for either kde or gnome can be a pain, because it expects a certain environment (kde is really bad for this.. ). It's unfortunate because while I dislike kde as a whole, a lot of the kde software is great.. but more and more you try to use it and get "this not running" or worse, a whole bunch of random processes started in the background which then do all kinds of weird stuff (like mess with my audio s

      • I think the breaking of layers is a little bit deliberate.

        I've always explained "Linux" to people as a stack of layers where what's in each layer can be replaced. You can choose which system logger you want, which cron daemon you want, etc. And "distributions" are organizations who make those choices for you. Not all distros will choose the same system logger.

        This flexibility makes almost anything possible, but niche use cases are becoming targets. The way things are looking, if Lennart Pottering doesn'

    • So you haven't heard about iOS or Win8/WinPhone?

  • by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:44AM (#39032441) Homepage

    Shouldn't it be 'Linux *mobile/desktop* of the future'? I certainly don't want a html/css/javascript based set of back end servers, thanks.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      The future will be something else. More like a collective. It comes in a cube shape.

  • ummm....what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:47AM (#39032499)

    how are they shaking off browser revenue dependence? Are they gonna try extracting licensing fees from this platform? If they do, do anyone honestly think companies would bother licensing this? It would be extremely difficult to get companies to adopt this even if it was free. How many countless times has we seen endeavors likes these?

    Some people just don't "get it." It takes alot more then a good platform to get it reasonably adopted. You must have a incentive (in the manufacturers view) over current offerings, the project must has major backing for trust issues, issues of liability and support, etc. Just look at how well firefox phone builds have done. If it does take off, it won't be any time soon so while it's an investment for hte future, it's hardly shaking off dependence from firefox and hence Google. This platform would have to have major benefits for it to be adopted over current offerings as it's hard to compete against android which is most similar but have added benefits like major backing and and established market.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      I interpreted that sentence as they are trying to earn money from one than more source - a diversification of income. If they lose the Google deal that are essentially hosed as a company. They want to be less at the mercy of Google, especially considering the fact that Mozilla's primary benefactor is also one of its primary competitors..

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:51AM (#39032541) Journal
    My impression was that, already, identifying linux-by-distro was largely the domain of geeks and server jockies, while the majority of the world's linux instances toiled silently either in various plastic boxes with a few blinking lights and a web interface or in assorted phones and consumer electronics behind some interface that hides essentially all the guts.

    If anything, public visibility of these 'nontraditional distributions' has increased because of competition in the consumer electronics area. Heck, you can find $50 routers that have their WRT compatibility printed right on the shiny package, and distinguishing between 'devices that will run cyanogenmod' and 'devices that won't' has brought distro-war enthusiasm to the phone geek scene...
  • Bullshit. It is much more than that. It is about how often do you like your updates, how close to the bleeding edge do you want to be, which package management system do you prefer etc.
    • by Skapare (16644)

      ... and other stuff the average person has no clue about.

      • Just because the average person has no clue about something doesn't render it unimportant. The average person probably also has no clue how any number of functions, like updates, of their shiny Windows 7 or OS X machines are actually implemented, but that doesn't mean it's any less important how system tasks are carried out. This article is just sensationalist garbage. For your average person, linux will simply remain one monolithic entity like it has been to most people for ages now, "Linux." For the p
  • I've been reading Slashdot for over 12 years now, and I still don't understand the obsession with Linux being on the desktop.
    • Just wait. Next year will be the year of the Desktop!
    • by hal2814 (725639)
      It's like Dippin Dots. They're the ice cream of the future! Nevermind that they've been the ice cram of the future for about 25 years now. At some point you have to rightly suspect that they'll never be the ice cream of now.
    • Not the nerds (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's not the nerds who bring this up. It's not the real unix programmers and sysadmins. It's not the people who have been unix die-hards for 15 years (me).

      It's the johnny-come-latelys who constantly want to compare linux to consumer desktop operating systems. People from outside the open source community, or even outside the tech industry. Why? Because the consumer desktop is all they know, and they "need" some kind of benchmark comparison. To point out that linux dominates in both the server and embedded m

    • by grumbel (592662)

      I've been reading Slashdot for over 12 years now, and I still don't understand the obsession with Linux being on the desktop.

      Once upon a time, back around 2000'ish, it looked like Linux would be a reasonable alternative on the desktop, people started doing games for it (Loki, id, Epic), it started to get commercial apps (WordPerfect, CorelDraw, ...) and the desktops where imporving bit by bit. There where even some vendors looking to shipping with Linux by default. In the following decade however the situation stagnated, desktop environments switched from improving to reinventing the feel, all those little annoancies and inconsis

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Long story short, it once looked like it might be a free desktop alternative, that however has turned out to be false. Right now it looks like it's going to be doomed to be a niche OS.

        Weird. I haven't used a Windows desktop for more than a few hours in the last three years.

        Of course that was before the 'UI designers' signed a global suicide pact.

        • by grumbel (592662)

          Weird. I haven't used a Windows desktop for more than a few hours in the last three years.

          Personal anecdotes don't really matter, Linux usage has essentially stayed the same since 2007 [heise.de] (Linux visitors of the biggest German IT magazine), so it looks like the year of the Linux desktop isn't coming any closer anytime soon.

      • and users are just as locked in as on any other OS.

        Seriously? How so? It's my experience that most applications that I have on Linux can also run on other OSs due to them being either Open Source, or Proprietary and cross platform.

        • by grumbel (592662)

          Seriously? How so? It's my experience that most applications that I have on Linux can also run on other OSs due to them being either Open Source, or Proprietary and cross platform.

          The apps may be portable, the data formats are however very often proprietary, so switching from one Open Source app to another is exactly the same mess as with proprietary applications (i.e. podcast players that don't allow import/export of podcast list, Gnome3 can't read any Gnome2 configurations or themes,etc.). Open Source apps also generally offer very little configurability, don't like the toolbar in a Gnome app? Bad luck, can't change that. Want to write a quick macro? Not supported either. And on th

    • Because it is a free operating system, and the only one free operating system that has any chance of being on the desktop these days. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, you'd still have to admit that a capable free operating system on the desktop is a good and quite possibly an important thing. For starters, it would promote more open standards and less vendor lock-in.

  • by Flammon (4726)

    I hope they go with Wayland [freedesktop.org].

  • by pkbarbiedoll (851110) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @11:11AM (#39033569)

    But found two deal killers.. in general:

    1) No Power Management application. I see some tutorials on manually editing conf files to tweak power settings, but why not install DOS 6.22 while I'm at it. Ubuntu 10.04 has a Power Management tool that works well, and allows me to choose how I want my system to respond, rather than having someone else dictate power configuration that does not fit my needs.
    2) No way to add application icons to the desktop. At least not easily.
    3) No way to add/configure upper panel (that I can find).

    I tried the Gnome "2" fork MATE, but still no power management tool, however I was able to add shortcuts to the desktop (which were retained when I logged back in under Gnome 3). I couldn't find how to add a top level panel (as I have in Gnome 2), and the menu grid seems like a copy of gnome 3.

    I looked at a few screenshots of Cinnamon but it looked a lot like Gnome 3 as far as the menu grid goes. I don't want to have to type names of applications I may not recall off the top of my head. That is one reason why graphical menus exist in the first place.

    • by arose (644256)

      I tried the Gnome "2" fork MATE, but still no power management tool, however I was able to add shortcuts to the desktop (which were retained when I logged back in under Gnome 3).

      It toggled the switch to let Nautilus render the desktop. No magic there, if you toggle the swtich yourself Gnome 3 will behave the old way and you can scuttle windows out of the way every time you want to launch a program.

  • Just Stop. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @11:13AM (#39033599) Homepage Journal

    Right, Mozilla is going to compete with Google's Android resources.

    I love Firefox, and they have one fabulous engineer working on memory leak problems, but just one (he should be managing a team by now).

    They don't have the resources to compete or out-do Android, so any resources they spend on this project will essentially be wasted.

    Here's a suggestion: allocate these resources into Mobile Firefox (is it still called 'fennec'?). Make that awesome. Make me want to run Mobile Firefox instead of Dolphin HD (a small independent browser).

    Then, and only then, will it be worthwhile to start working down the stack. Replace the runtime next, then the subsystems, then the kernel. It just might wind up being excellent. Meanwhile, Android is OSS and there's no reason to re-invent that wheel at this time.

  • The phrase "soup-to-nuts" sounds like a category of porn based around a genital scalding fetish.
  • The Mozilla people have this strange desire to turn the browser into an operating system. Unfortunately, they're not very good at it. Firefox is still single thread, and the effort to run add-ons in separate processes, a basic part of being an operating system. (the "Electrolysis" project) has been indefinitely postponed. XUL seems to be more trouble than it's worth. As someone who has developed add-ons for both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, I can say that Google Chrome works far better from the add-

    • by arose (644256)
      Try comparing Chrome's addon development to the Firefox SDK [mozilla.org]. Traditional XUL addons are done at a much lower level, this does bring complexity but also power. Though not everyone needs that power, hance the SDK.
  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @01:27PM (#39035377) Journal

    And performance will always matter. C was deliberately left unsafe because that extra 10% or so of performance gained from not checking array bounds mattered. Safety still takes a back seat to performance today, or we'd all be using SELinux or equivalent. Didn't help that MS confused the issue with Vista and Windows Genuine Advantage, mixing "safety for users" with "safety for MS against pirating users". True, many users are saddled with virus checkers that make Windows computers run very slowly for the first 15 minutes, after which the experience improves to slow. And nobody likes that. Nobody likes knowing their computer could be a lot faster if not for that necessary evil. Computers are still for the most part unable to boot up instantly, another source of complaints about the general slowness of computers. The GUI had to offer a lot to compensate users for the massive performance hit-- it's one of the few performance killers that was accepted. For that matter, the OS itself was once suspect. Were the services of an OS worth the speed hit, or was it better to run on bare metal? That's been pretty well settled in favor of the OS, particularly with parallelism and speed increases reducing the OS overhead to nearly nothing.

    So we are to trade "up" from native apps to dog slow, interpreted web based apps? Maybe the cloud will be like the GUI, offering enough compensation to be worth the loss in performance? I doubt it, especially since it's possible to have the advantages of the cloud (primarily data persistence, and more capacity) and the speeds of native apps at the same time.

When I left you, I was but the pupil. Now, I am the master. - Darth Vader

Working...