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How Apple Killed the Linux Desktop 933

Posted by Soulskill
from the linux-mobile-seeking-vengeance dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Klint Finley discusses Miguel de Icaza's thoughts on how OS X killed Linux on the desktop: 'de Icaza says the desktop wars were already lost to OS X by the time the latest shakeups started happening. And he thinks the real reason Linux lost is that developers started defecting to OS X because the developers behind the toolkits used to build graphical Linux applications didn’t do a good enough job ensuring backward compatibility between different versions of their APIs. "For many years, we broke people’s code," he says. "OS X did a much better job of ensuring backward compatibility."' This, he says, led developers to use OS X as a desktop for server programming. It didn't help that development was 'shifting to the web,' with the need for native applications on the decline."
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How Apple Killed the Linux Desktop

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  • It's too bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gravyface (592485) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:15AM (#41164561)
    Because nothing beats Linux for package management. Miss not having a repo of open source at my disposal; the App Store will never touch it.
    • Re:It's too bad (Score:5, Informative)

      by OzPeter (195038) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:18AM (#41164589)

      Because nothing beats Linux for package management. Miss not having a repo of open source at my disposal; the App Store will never touch it.

      You mean you miss something like MacPorts [macports.org]?

      • by wisty (1335733)

        I've always found getting the right version of gcc to be a little ... difficult.

      • Re:It's too bad (Score:5, Informative)

        by StuartHankins (1020819) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @08:49AM (#41165781)
        I used either Fink or MacPorts (I've used both in the past and both caused issues) to install a package which resulted in a lot of new issues; things not working, crashes and lockups. XCode stopped working shortly after that; I was just beginning to learn that tool and the combination of new things and broken things was beyond my ability to resolve. I eventually did an in-place reinstall of Snow Leopard. XCode never worked right again; I'm getting a new laptop soon and you can bet MacPorts / Fink will be on my short list of software to avoid.

        To give you some perspective, I work with RHEL systems for a living (and have been using Red Hat since 5.2 -- not Fedora Core, but way back when you bought "Red Hat Linux" at places such as CompUSA). I am very familiar with yum and rpm, and I can only think of one time I've ever screwed up a Red Hat system using those tools. Apparently either that knowledge didn't transfer to using and working with Fink / MacPorts or there is something wrong with them.

        I'm sure Fink and MacPorts work for someone, but in my case installing a2ps and FrozenBubble2 was enough to cause havoc.
        • Re:It's too bad (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @10:56AM (#41167905)

          . I eventually did an in-place reinstall of Snow Leopard. XCode never worked right again; I'm getting a new laptop soon and you can bet MacPorts / Fink will be on my short list of software to avoid.

          Well, you fucked up, didn't you? Rest assured, it wasn't MacPorts that hurt your install, it was you. MacPorts installs all it's ports in the /opt directory... and touches nothing else. You can't just reinstall the OS over top of XCode and expect things to still work... you blew away XCode frameworks when you did that. XCode comes with an excellent and comprehensive uninstall script, you should have used that first, and then tried reinstalling XCode. Reinstalling the OS just proves to everyone you had no idea what you were doing. If you do reinstall, a clean install is always preferred, and, it goes without saying, a reinstall of XCode is par for the course.

    • Re:It's too bad (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kergan (780543) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:22AM (#41164655)

      You can use macports or homebrew on OS X. Both have all of the key OSS packages, and the latter additionally allows to manage your own private packages. What else would you need? OS X is FreeBSD with a fancy UI (and Obj-C)... You can shell script the daylights out of your box all you want if that's your thing.

    • Re:It's too bad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gagol (583737) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:27AM (#41164703)

      ^ This

      Running on Linux fulltime for 3 years and counting... I find it funny how in so many people's measure the non-commercial linux offering with commercial metrics. Linux fills my niche pretty well, employees at Google would agree with me too. The desktop is a viable alternative, I say it suceeded where it counts, to computer literate people like me and many many other slashdotters.

      Market domination is not the only way to succeed.

      • Re:It's too bad (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jacknifetoaswan (2618987) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:44AM (#41164877)

        Agreed. I've been begging my IT department to let me run Linux on my laptop, and run our corporate Windows image in a desktop VM, but they won't let me. When I had more direct admin rights, I was running a dual boot system on my laptop, and was using the Linux side for about 80% of my work. The only time I'd head over to the Windows side was when I needed to get into Sharepoint or something like that.

        • Re:It's too bad (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @08:09AM (#41165173) Homepage

          "Agreed. I've been begging my IT department to let me run Linux on my laptop, and run our corporate Windows image in a desktop VM, but they won't let me."

          You just pointed out the only real problem with Linux in a desktop environment: Incompetent IT Departments.

        • I consider myself lucky. I'm the only guy at work who gets to (or wants to) run Linux, everyone else gets a standardized Windows 7 deployment. I run that in my VM.
      • Re:It's too bad (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Alan Shutko (5101) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @08:05AM (#41165111) Homepage

        FWIW, I ran Linux full-time from 1994 through 2008. What finally did it for me was power management and the hassle it took to get laptops to work well under Linux. Linux worked well if you picked up a 1-2 year old laptop, because by then you could find support for most of the hardware, but you were in for a world of hurt if you wanted anything new.

        Anecdotally, I know a bunch of people who switched to Mac for the same reason. Get a MacBook, and you had a laptop that could suspend and resume reliably... And you had your shell underneath.

      • by Shavano (2541114)

        Market domination isn't a goal of FOSS at all, ir shouldnt be. Software freedom is for those who want it and are willing to trade their own time and effort for it.

        It's no surprise at all that a commercial UI would be more stable and maintain backward compatibility better than a free and open development project. Apple was always concerned with an easy user experience as a primary goal, and their management could and did exercise rigid control of the UI model. How can you do that when anyone can con

        • Re:It's too bad (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Kergan (780543) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @08:40AM (#41165635)

          Market domination isn't a goal of FOSS at all, ir shouldnt be. Software freedom is for those who want it and are willing to trade their own time and effort for it.

          Funny how mindsets have changed over the years...

          Back in the heydays, the rage was all about how and when FOSS would eventually wipe out commercial alternatives. Pundits, flame warriors [hutman.net] and trolls all joined forces in predicting that it was going to be a tsunami. Because Free and Open always wins.

          (Some still do, mind you... eg Noyes [macworld.com].)

        • Re:It's too bad (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @09:05AM (#41166089) Homepage

          Market domination isn't a goal of FOSS at all, ir shouldnt be. Software freedom is for those who want it and are willing to trade their own time and effort for it.

          I think you will find a lot of people in the open source community who think Linux should be used by everyone because open source software is superior and not just FLOSSies who'll take substandard software because it's GNU/free. I doubt for example that 99.9% of the Android users care about the that aspect of their phone - which is often locked down anyway.

          How can you do that when anyone can contribute? In FOSS land there is no way to enforce regression testing and when contributes give you whatever they want to make instead of that somebody tells them to make?

          Reject the patches? If Linus doesn't like your code, it doesn't go into the Linux kernel period. Maybe the would be contributer gives up, maybe it goes into some kind of test branch or even try for a full fork, but every project is responsible for their own quality. You can't let crap through then complain it's full of shit.

          Of course if you are hardline about that, the community might turn on you and turn the fork into the more popular version but all that'd show is that people care more about the new features than any stability and compatibility. And you can't stop people from aiming the gun at their feet and pulling the trigger.

      • Re:It's too bad (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @08:14AM (#41165245) Homepage Journal

        I say it suceeded where it counts, to computer literate people like me and many many other slashdotters.

        If my last in-office job is any indication, that's just not true. For our job laptops, everybody had their choice of Thinkpad/Ubuntu or Mac. My aging brain has never adapted to the idiosyncrasies of Macs, so I chose Ubuntu. But most of the younger workers — the development engineers, the QA people, tech support — had Macs. And they were all masterfully adept at working with them. The fancy desktop idioms of the Mac platform seem to have been polished to a fine gleam. Ubuntu is still a work in progress; its main merit is that it was closer to what I was used to.

        • Re:It's too bad (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gagol (583737) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @08:27AM (#41165453)
          The point here is freedom of choice. Some prefer Ubuntu, some prefer Macs, some dont have a clue and use whatever is on the machine. The young engineers may one day choose differently, but now our youth is attarcted to bling, a real blasphemy to the whole performance per watt. Many people are superficial anyway and mostly want peer recognition and blending in, if owning a bligny apple product help them with their self-esteem, good for them. I have evolve beyond that need and prefer something I can run in anyway I see fit.
          • Re:It's too bad (Score:4, Interesting)

            by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @09:02AM (#41166031) Homepage Journal

            When you respond to a post, you should actually read it. The situation I described was about usability, not bling.

            Yes, Apple products are notorious for the bling factor and other silly branding gimmicks. But Macs also have a solid record for usability. For you to credit the choice of serious developers to "peer recognition and blending in" is superficial and arrogant.

      • Re:It's too bad (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @08:25AM (#41165421)

        The most important question to ask is "Does it work for me?". If you answered yes, then why should you care what someone else use?

        I use Linux on the server and OS X on the desktop. I like both.

        I don't know why the Linux fanbois are getting all riled up.

        1) We are talking about Miguel de Icaza's opinion.

        2) Truth is much worse. Linux had its own desktops fucked up by their respective projects. Just look at all the bitching and moaning on Slashdot when someone brings up Unity (the default on Ubuntu), Gnome 3, or even KDE 4. (I think KDE is the least offensive).

        Personally I think the reason this topic raises the noise level on Slashdot is the posers that like to boaster their "credentials" by making derogatory remarks about something they don't understand.

      • Re:It's too bad (Score:5, Insightful)

        by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @09:45AM (#41166813) Homepage Journal

        ^ This

        Running on Linux fulltime for 3 years and counting... I find it funny how in so many people's measure the non-commercial linux offering with commercial metrics. Linux fills my niche pretty well, employees at Google would agree with me too. The desktop is a viable alternative, I say it suceeded where it counts, to computer literate people like me and many many other slashdotters.

        Market domination is not the only way to succeed.

        Linux has been my desktop/laptop OS since 1999, until about a year and a half ago when I got a MacBook from my employer. OS X has been quite decent, and it's actually been nice to be able to get more commercial software for it, but I find I miss many things from Linux as well. I'm still using Linux as my desktop OS.

        My irritation with Apple's courtroom antics reached a threshold last week, though, and I've decided that when my two-year laptop refresh cycle is up I'm going to switch back to a ThinkPad running Linux. I'll miss some aspects of OS X, but it'll be a relief to get back to a proper window manager with usable virtual desktops, focus-follows-mouse, etc., and a machine which doesn't hide so much of its operation from me.

        The excursion into OS X land was pleasant, but it won't bother me in the slightest to go back.

    • Linux desktop wasn't, and isn't killed by Mac. An article with quotes by Miguel should be treated as the same category as an article with quotes from Florian. aka assumed to be false and misleading.
      Why haven't people realized this? Miguel changed his colors once he started with mono, and it never ended. Just like how Florian says that just because he's paid by microsoft/oracle doesnt' mean it influences his writings.

    • Re:It's too bad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @09:10AM (#41166155) Homepage Journal

      But it doesn't discount the fact that TFS (I didn't RTFA, because the premise seems stupid) is just wrong. Apple didn't kill Linux on the desktop. If anything, Linux took a small slice of market share away from Apple by being a second alternative to Windows. Without Linux, anyone who gets disgusted with Windows has no other choice but Apple.

      Secondly, Linux on the desktop is far from dead. Linux is thriving. Nobody killed it.

      Linux was never destined to be the dominant OS desktop no matter how badly many of us wish it were. It's actually cheaper for an OEM tio use Windows instead of Linux because of all the added crapware the OEM is paid to install (AV trials, toolbars, and the other gunk a computer buyer has to clean off). Windows is mostly useable, and has millions in advertising, while few non-nerds have ever heard of Linux. Nobody is going to install Linux until they're just fed up with Windows' behavior or are building a system from scratch.

      Considering that, it's a testament to Linux developers competence and Windows designers and programmers incompetence that Linux has any traction at all. If Linux weren't more stable, hardware fault tolerant, less buggy, has more features and better useability, nobody would bother switching.

      Now, If Apple brought their PC prices down to what a Windows PC cost, that could possibly kill Linux on the desktop, but they haven't and aren't going to.

  • In other Words (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:16AM (#41164563)

    Linux killed Linux on the Desktop. "I would be on the Desktop, if it wasn't for those pesky Operating Systems with their fancy backward compatibility!"

  • by iCEBaLM (34905) <icebalm@@@icebalm...com> on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:18AM (#41164593)

    Windows 7 was the nail in the coffin, if Windows 7 wasn't as good as it is, and another Vista stinker was pooped out of Redmond then Linux possibly may have had a chance.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:25AM (#41164685)

      Don't speak too soon, Windows 8 is a-comin'.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why didn't Linux Desktop take off when Vista hit the market? The fact is that there's no big company pushing Linux desktop and running expensive ads for it on American TV. It will never be more than a niche player.

    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:43AM (#41164871)
      For consumers, Linux has never been an option because OEMs don't push it. Enterprises have now accepted Linux as servers and in some cases prefer it over Windows and Unix. Win 8 may or may bot change things. Unlike Vista, OEMs can offer Win 7 as a viable alternative as it is not near EOL that XP was. But MS didn't compete against the partners with Vista as they will with Win 8.
    • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:50AM (#41164933)
      I doubt that. As bad as Vista was, it drove approximately no one to Linux. If anything, OSX would be the one to pick up the exodus, not Linux. But neither really benefited that much from Vista's blunders, because most users just stayed where they were: on XP, and if Windows 7 turned out to suck, they'd probably still be there today.
      • by lilfields (961485)
        The failure of Vista is still being felt today, there are still millions of PCs with XP running on them at businesses across the globe. Windows 7 came out right around the economic downturn, and still the economy is fragile...so most people still haven't upgraded. This really gives Microsoft a lot of breathing room in the future, but for now it is a massive headache to any tech support person. I do think OSX benefits from that though, because for some reason, I see people constantly comparing OSX to Windows
    • by petes_PoV (912422) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @08:08AM (#41165147)

      For the average user, not the technical wizz-kid: the average user, Linux was never an option. Id didn't come on their store-bought PC. If didn't "just work" (ever!) and it didn't support most of the peripherals or USB devices that they had or wanted. Blaming Linux's failure to penetrate the average household on anything but it's own lack of marketing, polish, self-discipline, ease of use, support, brand (i.e. not having a million different distros: all the same, but different) or integration is simply an exercise in self-deception.

      OS-X is what Linux could have been if it hadn't fragmented, if it had been properly packaged and supported, if the developers had put some emphasis on ease-of-use instead of "cool features" and obscure options and if it had worked with all the printers, cameras, phones, webcams and scanners that the average user just wants to plug in and have work - immediately and fully.

      If Linux teaches us anything, it's that users will pick integration, polish and design over "free" any day of the week.

      • by leftover (210560) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @09:20AM (#41166329) Homepage

        OS-X is what Linux could have been if it hadn't fragmented, if it had been properly packaged and supported, if the developers had put some emphasis on ease-of-use instead of "cool features" and obscure options and if it had worked with all the printers, cameras, phones, webcams and scanners that the average user just wants to plug in and have work - immediately and fully.

        If Linux teaches us anything, it's that users will pick integration, polish and design over "free" any day of the week.

        This is the most concise statement of the problem I have seen to date. Slashdotters deride the Apple way: 1 choice, hardware and software and it just works. Also the Microsoft way: 1 choice in software, many in hardware and it mostly just works. Then there is the Linux desktop way: many software options all about 80% complete, any hardware as long as you can write your own drivers and kernel modules. The total amount of effort represented by all the Linux options is more than enough to have completed several options fully equivalent to OSX if that effort had been focused into several efforts instead of being fragmented into dozens. Why does the fragmentation occur? Because too much of the rewards for an OSS project (feel-good stuff like having fun, seeing your own name on a project) come from the first 10% of the work. Something needs to encourage people to complete the next 90%: the hard parts like actually making everything work right, accommodating all the variety in machines and peripherals. Then there is the next 1800% of the job: maintenance. These are the weak links in OSS.

        Projects that work, such as the kernel and Python, have a single person who maintains the vision. This person is able to enlist the help of others to implement the vision. Notice that both of these traits parallel commercial startups. Worker bees in commercial startups are rewarded with wages and stock. What are the rewards for worker bees in OSS projects?

      • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @01:46PM (#41170163) Homepage Journal

        For the average user, not the technical wizz-kid: the average user, Linux was never an option. Id didn't come on their store-bought PC.

        So far so good.

        If didn't "just work" (ever!) and it didn't support most of the peripherals or USB devices that they had or wanted.

        Fail. Linux does "just work" and it supports every perepheral and USB device I've plugged into it. Take my Bluetooth USB dongle: drivers and install program for Windows and Mac, but nothing for Linux. Surprise, plug it in and it works. No programs to install, no drivers to install, no reboots, just plug it in and shoot pics to it from your camera or phone. Windows? Install program, reboot, install drivers, reboot, fiddle with it... and it sorta kinda works.

        Blaming Linux's failure to penetrate the average household on anything but it's own lack of marketing

        Indeed, that's the kicker. Most non-nerds haven't ever even heard of it.

        polish

        If you mean "pretty" you have a point. If you mean "well written and well behaved" you're wrong. For example, hardware fault-tolerance. Linux will work on flaky hardware when Windows won't even boot. And it seems that there are bug fix notifications almost every day on my W7 box, seldom on my Linux box.

        self-discipline

        I have no idea what you're discussing here. Whose self-discipline?

        ease of use

        Wrong again. Linux is far easier to use (unless you're using the wrong distro for the job, don't expect to play MP3s from a server distro). In Windows, almost every update, bug fix, driver fix, and every single software install requires at least one reboot and often more. Linux? No boots needed unless you're replacing the kernel or hardware. Shut your two computers down for the night, the next morning your turn them both on. In the Windows box, you have to log on (unless you stupidly left it without a password), then open each and every program and document you had open when you shut it down. Meanwhile, all you had to do with the Linux box is press the on button, it's sitting there like it was when you shut it off.

        Installing a new program? In Linux, open package manager, enter sudo password, find app, click, done. Windows? Search for it on the web, download, double click the install exe, click "yes" to half a dozen UACs, then reboot... and probably reboot again, which of course means opening all your apps and documents all over again. How in the hell is that more user-friendly?

        How is Windows more useable in any way whatever? Remember, I've been using Windows for over fifteen years and Linux for ten; I know the strengths and weaknesses of both. No way is Windows even close to Linux in useability. What Windows takes ten clicks for, Linux usually takes two.

        support

        True, the Geek Squad doesn't work on Linux computers. But a Linux computer, not having much of a malware threat, and lacking that god damned registry, seldom needs any support at all. It just works.

        brand (i.e. not having a million different distros: all the same, but different)

        That's only detrimental to someone too stupid to eat at any reataraunt but fast food, because OMFG THAEAR IS TOO MANY CHOICES!!!! You would rather Ford only carried Fusions, because having to choose between an F110 or an F150 or any one of the many sedans, or any of the many SUVs is just too much for your tiny little mind? This is the stupidest argument you Windows apologists use, and it's embarrasing on a supposed nerd site.

        or integration

        I prefer interoperability and industry standards to vendor lock-in. Again, that's a stupid argument.

        If your comment teaches us anything, it's that Wndows is only for the learning impaired.

        Now go tell Steve to throw another chair, I'm sure his office is only a few floors from yours.

        Sheesh.

  • De Icasa, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BanHammor (2587175) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:19AM (#41164603)
    I can't manage to notice that Ubuntu or Mageia or Fedora stopped shipping because bam, Linux Desktop is killed by MacOS X. Can you tell us why exactly is Linux dead? (And why would we trust Icasa anyway? It's not like he actually did anything of note or made the right choices in the last 4 years or so.)
  • by captainpanic (1173915) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:20AM (#41164615)

    So, the way I see it, there are 3 competing families of OSs. That is Windows, Linux and Apple. With Linux traditionally installed on about 1% of desktops, I would think that Windows is the big loser here. If OS X is nowadays installed on 6 -7% of desktops (see: TFA), then it's Windows that lost marketshare.

    Sure, it could have been Linux to steal that marketshare. Linux might still benefit from it though... once the market realizes that you can switch without turning your PC into a smoking pile of rubble, they also might try Linux. I still think that Ubuntu is a very decent option.

    • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:40AM (#41164831)

      Windows is losing marketshare, not Linux. Go to a college campus or local coffee shop and look around at those using their computers to do work. Count how many PCs you see and how many Macs you see. I was honestly shocked to see Macs beating PCs every time at many different study locations I was using.

      Those people using laptops are probably not going to be using Linux to do their work and are either going to choose Mac or Windows. While I continue to use Linux on the server and have solely for the last 10 years (I used it on the desktop prior to 2002), I chose Mac over Windows for my laptop and I know many others who went that direction as well.

      In another thread someone said if Win7 wasn't as good as it is, Linux may have had a chance. I disagree. In fact, using Win7 on my work desktop and hating the quirks it has was what really helped push me to the Mac.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Not at my institution. They are largely premed and pharmacy students, and I barely ever see an apple machine. I see more of those funky laptops with the swivel touch display than I see macbooks or ipads.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @08:05AM (#41165113)

        I work at a university and what I see nearly universally is that people who get Macs get VMWare or Parallels and Windows. They aren't getting a Mac because it does everything they need, they are getting a Mac because it is fashionable, and they can get Windows on it as well. While Dell may not like that, it doesn't hurt MS as long as Windows keeps getting sold.

    • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:46AM (#41164895)

      Except that OSX "stole" a large part of Linux' target audience (on the desktop side of things) and has thus stunted its potential growth. Mac laptops are quite popular in the developer and sysadmin world.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @08:04AM (#41165103)

        There's a reason that Mac laptops are popular with developers. In a business setting, one may need commercial software like Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop. it can't be done on Linux unless one thinks foolishly a user would depend on WINE for this. A Mac is a great platform for web development with Java, PHP, Python, Ruby, etc.

        Macs give you a UNIX OS with commercial and open source apps. Macs also just work. There's no screwing with changing settings so you can actually see your display because the new kernel decided that ACPI video should have the backlight turned off on your POS Toshiba laptop. The sound card works. Crazy stuff like hardware just works on a Mac. Linux could be great and it could get real marketshare if people could only learn to work together. There's so much competition and reinventing ideas in the Linux community. By the time a sound system or video drivers are polished, a new API is out to replace it. It's often not even the kernel that's the problem. There is a benefit to the Linux model, but also a cost. Compatibility isn't all bad. That's why I use BSD and Mac OS X.

        There are some really good, mature Linux developers, but there's also some immature folks working on key projects like Gnome, Ubuntu, etc. that think they can change everything overnight and everyone will follow. It doesn't work like that.

    • by rsmith-mac (639075) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:54AM (#41164971)

      With Linux traditionally installed on about 1% of desktops, I would think that Windows is the big loser here. If OS X is nowadays installed on 6 -7% of desktops (see: TFA), then it's Windows that lost marketshare.

      On that you are correct. It's not that Linux has lost much in the way of market share - it's kind of difficult to lose what you don't have much of in the first place - but rather it's Mac OS X that has been eating up Microsoft's market share.

      However the story isn't really about who lost market share, but rather who gained it and why. Linux could have been; it could have been right up to the point in time where Apple introduced the x86 version of Mac OS X. Once they did that many geeks lost their desire to run Linux. Mac OS X could bring all the wonderful things about *nix to the desktop in a far more refined form while offering the kind of retail software and media ecosystem that most desktop users take for granted.

      Desktop Linux is still important as a new technology testbed, and of course as the only true free OS (both as in speech and as in beer), but that's about all it has going for it. I for one stopped keeping a desktop Linux installation around after 2008 once I realized that Mac OS X did all of the things I needed (or liked) Linux for. And that's the story TFA is telling: why Mac OS X has drawn away many desktop *nix users, and how the rise of OS-agnostic Web applications has drawn away a lot of the rest.

  • Actually Miguel... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Onymous Hero (910664) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:20AM (#41164617)

    Gnome3 has killed the Linux Desktop. Thanks.

  • Not so (Score:5, Informative)

    by Smivs (1197859) <smivs@smivsonline.co.uk> on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:21AM (#41164635) Homepage Journal
    Linux is still alive and well on my desktop, thank you!
  • Switched to OS X (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:21AM (#41164637)

    I recently switched to OS X for software development. After installing X-Code (a 10 minute fully automated process), I can run and compile all major programming/script languages from the command-line. I also get all the other cool stuff like diff, MD5, vim.

    On Windows, I'll have to go through hell and back to get my development environment operating as smoothly as that. On Linux, it's about as easy as configuring it as OS X, but I hate having to deal with the inconsistent desktop environment and the constant driver trouble.

  • by mapkinase (958129) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:21AM (#41164641) Homepage Journal

    ...so why does this matter?

    At my work I do not care what desktop I am using, since I do all my development on a Linux server anyway.

  • My Linux Desktop (Score:3, Informative)

    by pscottdv (676889) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:24AM (#41164673)

    Is not dead yet!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:24AM (#41164675)

    I agree with the statement that "OS X killed Linux on the desktop", but it's not because Linux developers "defected" to using Mac OS X instead.

    Rather, I think it's quite the opposite that actually happened. Designers (not developers!) infatuated with the Mac OS X ideology tried to bring that mindset over to Linux desktop environment projects like GNOME, Unity, and to a lesser extent KDE. Even other applications, like Firefox and Chrome, have been stricken by this problem.

    Basically, these designers have done everything in their power to dumb down and otherwise molest the Linux desktop experience. GNOME 3 is the ultimate example of this. While GNOME 2 wasn't perfect by any means (and no software ever is), at least it was usable and predictable. People could use it to get some real work done. Then GNOME 3 came along. It was quickly co-opted and infused with the crap that's commonplace within the Mac OS X and iOS way of doing things.

    Anyone who has tried to seriously use GNOME 3 knows what I'm talking about. Put politely, it's a heaping pile of shit. Usability was completely thrown out the window. The emphasis was put on making it look "pretty" and "trendy", rather than making it into a useful tool. This is, of course, a big reason why it fell flat on its face. It's now going down in history as one of the biggest open source disasters of all time.

    The same has happened to the Firefox UI. It was once sensible, with the traditional menus and toolbars, and a useful status bar. Then Mac OS X started to become popular among the design community, and things went to hell within Firefox's UI. Like with GNOME 3, usability was again thrown out the window in the name of "aesthetics". Now Firefox's UI is quite awful, and requires much reconfiguration and the use of numerous plugins to restore the usability that the Mac OS X-inspired designers decided to throw out for no good reason.

    The Mac OS X and iOS mentality has its place, and that's in low-end (although perhaps unnecessarily expensive), consumer-grade devices meant mainly for consuming pointless social media "content". It does not belong on Linux workstations, especially ones where usability is extremely important, and productivity is a must. But now that it has infected what were once usable desktop environments, many within the Linux community are beginning to really feel the pain of this terrible design ideology.

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:27AM (#41164699)
    Microsoft did a similar thing with DirectX for graphics: They kept bringing out new versions which were incompatible with old versions, and it kept demanding rewrites. Yes, some of the new stuff is cool, but even the object names have the version numbers embedded in them e.g. LPDIRECT3DINDEXBUFFER9 === That 9 is for DirectX version 9! Sometimes you want to write code and leave it without having to spend the rest of your life rewriting it, just because some dweeb in Microsoft gets an itch. In the end we gave up and switched to OpenGL.
  • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:27AM (#41164707)

    Like many other geeks I think I looked at Linux desktops back in the Gnome 1 days and thought "Hey, this thing will be really nice in a couple of years when it's finished." Fast forward a coupe of years, a lot of infighting and a rewrite later and I was still thinking that or would have I hadn't lost all faith that these guys could ever produce anything to rival commercial GUI's. So now I'm a mac user and I get all that UNIX-y goodness and none of the open source drama queen bullshit.

  • Yes, it did help. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neoshroom (324937) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:35AM (#41164769)

    It didn't help that development was 'shifting to the web,' with the need for native applications on the decline.

    Yes, it did help. Web applications definately make switching easier (to Mac or to Linux). He's wrong about the web emphasis hurting Linux.

    I'm also not sold on the idea that it was backward compatibility that was the problem either. Of all the options, Microsoft has the OS with the best backward compatibility.

    First, Mac's consistently break things with each new version, unlike de Icaza states. However, what is brilliant about Apple is every time before they introduce a new feature or break an old feature they have a huge marketing push for it. That marketing push makes the users become interested in that new feature. The developers, who want more users and who may also themselves be excited about the feature, then implement it. This is why we see apps bragging about their Retina graphics on the App Store before Retina machines are even widespread or their notifications or, back in the day, their dashboard widgets. Mountain Lion broke lots. Lion broke lots, but the Mac developers always fix this fast because they are very aware of new software versions due to marketing efforts. Linux has nobody marketing each new feature and edition and focusing both the users and developers in this way.

    Secondly, Linux is too difficult for non-computer-literate users to use. It doesn't have to be and indeed strides have been made, but until you will literally never have to use the terminal and you can put a Windows software disk into your Linux CD-ROM drive (while those still exist) and have it install and automatically use Wine with the correct settings and work on the first try without tweaks, it is too hard for grandma.

    That said, Ubuntu with Cairo-Dock is a dream to run compared to any version of Windows out there and I have no idea why people don't use it more. I love it. It's not my main OS though. That would be OS X. I'm one of those people using OS X as a desktop for programming that de Icaza talks about, but I can tell you it wasn't backward-compatibility that made me choose it.

  • by NynexNinja (379583) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:35AM (#41164779)
    Not sure why they give this guy a voice, but whose code got broken? Xlib has been around for decades. GTK has been around for decades. KDE has been around for decades. QT has been around for decades.
  • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:53AM (#41164967) Homepage

    it's real, real simple. the successful OSes have, at their heart, a highly effective "Common Object Model" of some description, which provides a) fully-compliant backwards compatibility across APIs, dating back even 20 years b) interoperability between applications and application components *regardless* of the language they're written in.

    every f*****g time i raise this successful strategy - deployed by both microsoft (DCE/RPC and then DCOM) *and* apple (Objective-C has an Object Model built-in to the language) - on free software mailing lists, i get shouted down. i get told "that stuff is a piece of shit, why are you even bothering to mentioning it?"

    now, the linux distros are paying the price of that arrogance, why is anyone even surprised?

    firefox. firefox has a "COM-like" system which was "inspired" by microsoft's COM. it's called XPCOM. what XPCOM does *not* have is the ability to merge interfaces (they're called "coclasses"). that has two implications:

    1) whenever there's a change to an interface, all backwards compatibility is lost. with coclasses you can have *both* the "old" interface as well as the "new" one, supported by the *same* application.

    2) if you want to have "default values"... you can't. what XPCOM has to have instead is a highly-dubious modification which adds as an *extra* explicit argument into the actual function saying how many arguments are actually used! imagine if the people who wrote the ANSI-C++ standard said "oh yes, if you want the last arguments of any function call to be optional then the very first argument has to be an integer saying how many parameters there are", there would be people laughing at them for decades.

    i've raised this with the mozilla foundation core developers at least twice. the first time i was told by one of the key subcontractors that coclasses were "too complicated" for the mozilla developers to understand. the second time, that person wasn't there: i raised it directly with the mozilla foundation core developers; they didn't understand, took it as personal criticism and then later on enacted very fascist censorship onto the mozilla mailing lists, preventing any further discussion.

    so, that subcontractor was indeed right: the concept of coclasses *is* too complicated for the mozilla core developers to comprehend. .... but it's not just the mozilla foundation developers.

    the KDE team had an opportunity to replace DCOP with something more substantial, as part of the $10m E.U-grant-sponsored KDE4 redesign: i recommended that they start with FreeDCE and go from there.... and they didn't.

    the Gnome team make extensive use of GObject, but GObject is a very very poor substitute for COM. only now with the GObject "Introspection" is it *beginning* to approach the capabilities of COM, but because GObject has no concept of co-classes, *again*, there is no way to have backwards-compatibility for APIs.

    i won't even get into what happened with the webkit developers.

    the bottom line is that time and time again, in every major engineering team behind each of the major projects which make up "a linux desktop" as we see it, there has been a fundamental failure to comprehend the power of having a strong base on which to create good successful software.

    that success - stability of APIs and interoperability between components regardless of programming language - can *only* be achieved by using something like COM, with language bindings for every known major programming language, and support for "co-classes" that are then actually *used* - properly - by the developers.

    this takes discipline, and i don't see any of the major free software projects getting this, any time soon.

    miguel: i've raised FreeDCE with you, before. i know it was 10 years ago :) however, since then, i've learned that the WINE team have actually gone and made pretty much a complete implementation of both MSRPC *and* COM, including, i believe, a complete server implementation (albeit a basic one). they no longer require the installation of DCOM98.EXE for example which is a good sign. also i heard of a guy who managed to "extract" all that client-server code into a separate project: he called it "TangramCOM".

  • by Robert Zenz (1680268) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:54AM (#41164979) Homepage
    It's the sound of progress, my friend! Do you know who else is great at keeping backwards compatibility? Microsoft Windows...and that system is fucked up right from the ground. Keeping backwards compatibility just to keep software alive is like keeping dirt roads in New York City...so that these people with the horse-wagons still feel comfortable about their horses feet.
  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @08:02AM (#41165069)

    There was more to it than that. OSX was a serious problem. The Linux community was so wrapped up in competing with Windows for survival that we didn't see OSX coming.

    Linux's core APIs don't change as violently as most people say. SDL 1.2 is still SDL, OpenGL is still OpenGL. At the Kernel level, there is resistance to inter-Kernel compatibility to try and prevent unscrupulous vendors from tainting hardware level code. I don't think I have seen a glibc double free error that was not caused by a real bug in the program since 2005/2006.

    Package Management boils down to RPM and DEB. And those should be the only two possibilities.

    So the core of Linux is like the core of the Earth. It runs, and if you have drivers for it, it's fine. The Surface of Linux is like the surface of the Earth. Utter Pandemonium. KDE and Gnome and it's various tool kits and it's extensions created a situation where endless pandemonium abound. Honestly, they acted like a bunch of 13 year olds playing with Windows 3.1. (If you were 12, or 13, you constantly wanted to re-arrange icons, change the colors, on and on and on. And people got so frustrated such that they didn't want to do it anymore. And moved to OSX.

    There needs to be some iron and steel level discipline (with a lower case d) in desktop development. We need to stop creating a situation where everything on the surface is totally different every other version and nobody can find anything.

    Another problem is the networking and communication issues with various networking protocols and whatnot. At the command line level, Linux is completely network transparent, even with X.org itself. But the moment you try and utilize desktop level CalDAV Calenders, or Samba shares, it takes a bunch of trial and error to get things working. An example.

    Lets say that I have a file on one machine, and I want to get it on another machine via the network. I can of course use Secure shell (SSH) to do that. But what if I want to use Samba to do that. (One Linux box to another Linux box.). because Samba is supported as an overlay by Gnome and KDE. Will it work? Well if I use the command line smbclient yes it will. Under Gnome and KDE, it's a bit more complex. If the Samba Overlay was not installed in Nautilus (Gnome) or Dolphin (KDE), either one of those will throw an error. Additionally, if specific credentials are required to do such a thing, it would require they be setup in KDE or Gnome System Settings before hand. I garuntee you won't know where that Samba mount point is as an ordinary user even if it DOES work.

    Another example. This one not involving LibreOffice, KDE, and evolution. We use KDE as the desktop, LibreOffice as the Office Suite and Evolution as E-mail. Why? Well, LibreOffice for obvious reasons is the most compatible Office Suite. Evolution for some rather odd reasons.

    1. Evolution is the only Linux Mail and Groupware client that can be autoconfigured from our Open Directory Infrastructure. (LDAP). Only Evolution can get user information from LDAP with reguard to WebDAV, CalDAV, GroupDAV, and IMAP without having to edit it by hand.(like AD does with Microsoft Office and Outlook.)

    2. Evolution is the only Groupware Client that can interoperate with eGroupware's iCal based services. in addition to Offsite Outlook Web Services. Thunderbird Lightning, and Kontact technically work, but not as bug free as Evolution does.

    So, this creates the following simple problem:

    I have users that are used to being able to "edit attachments" under Outlook with real Outlook Servers. (This is a functionality microsoft is getting ready to remove due to numerous security holes in doing this.) but using "Save As" is time consuming, sometimes my users don't know what directory they saved it in etc. So I introduced them to LibreOffice's "Send as E-mail feature." guess what. If you don't go into LibreOffice and over ride the defaults, it launches ThunderBird of Kontact.

  • by Xenious (24845) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @08:03AM (#41165077)

    I promise I'm not trolling. I was very pro Linux as cool new UIs like Enlightenment started coming out. Shortly thereafter OS X really started taking off (albeit fueled by cool hardware design too) and I found that where the Linux UIs were rough and undependable the OS X UI (+look and feel) was sleek, smooth and very polished. On top of that you had all the functionality of the Linux OS underneath it. Aside from a higher cost, it couldn't compete. Temper this with the fact that I'm focusing on client use and not as much on server use.

    Where I see the real value of Linux (and Android) is in embedded systems where GUI design may not be as critical.

  • by kenh (9056) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @08:14AM (#41165251) Homepage Journal

    So if I'm reading this right, the way Apple "killed" Linux on the desktop is by offering a quality product, with backward compatability, on solid hardware with just enough *nix plumbing to make most casual shell hackers happy?

    Those bastards!

    Don't they know that, given enough time, the Linux folks could have offered a similar desktop experience if they wanted to but it was more important to create dozens of competing distributions with slight incompatibilities and sublte differences between them for no earthly reason other than the whims of the distribution packagers.

  • KDE vs. Gnome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kurisuto (165784) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @08:15AM (#41165263) Homepage

    In the 1990s, I wanted to get into developing GUI apps for Linux. The single biggest reason why I gave up on it was that the Linux GUI effort fractured into KDE and Gnome camps.

    At the time, I figured that one of the two would win out over the other. There was no telling which might win, and I was reluctant to back what might be the losing horse. This was a serious demotivator. Of course, 15 years later, we've ended up with the worst of both worlds: many Linux installations take up the disk space for both, and we've got two unharmonized APIs continuing to fight for a following.

    With MacOS, there is no question what API you should use. Apple offers a very clear path. For that reason, I feel more confident developing for that platform.

  • by tpstigers (1075021) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @08:42AM (#41165661)

    Gnome 3. Unity.

    The Linux desktop committed suicide.

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