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Operating Systems Software Linux

The Linux Desktop and ISVs/OEMs 195

Posted by Soulskill
from the mixing-freedom-and-business dept.
olau writes "Michael Meeks, who's worked on GNOME and LibreOffice integration for many years, now for SuSE, has some really interesting thoughts on the recent Linux desktop debate and suggestions for possible strategies. He points out that regarding independent software vendors (ISVs), the real issue isn't actually the quality of the tools but the size and attractiveness of the market, and perhaps that a solution could be lower barriers for paying or donating. Regarding OEMs selling hardware with software preinstalled, he points out that while a free OS + software sounds good for consumers, it's actually a problem for OEMs on razor-thin margins, since they lose the cut they get from the preinstallations. A possible countermove could be nailing robustness and hardware diagnostics for good, lowering OEM support costs."
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The Linux Desktop and ISVs/OEMs

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  • Fall in line (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pellik (193063) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:04PM (#41304681)
    At the end of the day, it's a lot easier if Grandma has an OS that other family members can help her with.

    No matter how much I like my Linux Desktop, I don't want to be responsible for bringing non-tech-savvy people along. The rest of the family is fully capable of troubleshooting basic windows problems, more or less.
  • Re:Fall in line (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vurian (645456) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:05PM (#41304695) Homepage
    It was one, good, reason for moving to Linux. The perfect excuse to decline helping people with their Windows problems.
  • Re:Fall in line (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:08PM (#41304729)

    I view that the other way round - One way or another I will be tech support for my mother. It would be easier for me, as someone that doesn't use windows any more, to support her using linux.

    But frankly at this point I don't want the hassle of moving her from one OS that she knows how to use badly to another she doesn't know at all.

  • by Tim Ward (514198) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:28PM (#41304979) Homepage

    ... when you have children to feed and a mortgage to pay ... ... and the users expect all their software to be free?

    Better off spending one's time addressing a market where people expect to have to pay for stuff, no?

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:31PM (#41305015)

    It is 2012 everyone is using some kind of virtualization. Linux servers are as such free. They are just another vm your fire up, and the biggest savings are not having to hassle with licensing.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:33PM (#41305033)

    What linux users expect all software to be free?

    I guess I did not pay for all these steam games.

    Where did you get that idea?

  • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:47PM (#41305255)

    Ah, Slashdot. You've entered a new age when anti-FOSS/anti-Linux trolling is marked as "Insightful."

  • ABI, QA and API (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:57PM (#41305351)

    Those are the 3 biggest issues for Linux desktop. So many distributions, some a little different, some very, very different. LSB is dead. The QA nightmare is significant. As a side note, games that find their way onto Linux from Windows, often enough have a number of .so's in their install directories.

    The Linux GUI desktop libs suck. GTK sucks to use and rely upon. Qt is a mess. KDE(which relies on Qt) is the stuff of flame wars... too many choices and too many of them just plain suck. Even something that should be reliable as font query is a total mess under Linux. Fontconfig is JUNK. The config file is nasty-insanity and the API just plain sucks. Nothing for merging of fonts, etc.. it sucks so bad that Qt bypasses FontConfig, it only uses it to get a list of all fonts installed. Makes you wonder you know.

    Linux desktop sound is painful. Atleast we are mostly past the growing pains of PulseAudio, but I cannot name any applications for money that write for PA, 99% time it's SDL dude.. which has a suck ass audio API. OpenAL is better, but lets not forget that OpenAL can be configured to pipe to SDL, PA, whatever. This happens often enough: OpenAL --> SDL --> PA.

    Reliability of GL is another issue. Not so long ago, it basically was NVIDIA or bust, that is no longer true.. but with so many distros making Nouveau the default, what a failure. Comparing the closed source GL implementations from NVIDIA and AMD to the open source ones is shooting fish in a barrel, with a canon. In contrast, even the crapiest GPUs, i.e. Intel GPUs, have okay-ish DirectX drivers.... Mesa's infrastructure has a long ways to go before it can support all the features of OpenGL _3_ which is like a million years old. So yeh, open source GL implementations have so many cards stacked against them. The Linux DRM for the graphics stack is a bad joke.

    Ironically, making games is more insulated from most of this crap except for the GL pain (and to a lesser extent the sound pain)... but when Steam comes to Linux, I'd bet they will simply say "Dude we only supporting Ubuntu"... not too sure what they will say on the GL drivers though.. but their Source engine is DX9 really which is OpenGL 2. Though I shudder to think what will happen when there are distros with X11 and distros with Wayland out at the same time... that will be ugly. If anyone says Wayland can exist with X11 (or even essentially rely upon it) you have no idea the nightmare waiting about GL in that situation is.

    It is not that Linux is bad commercially (Android demonstrates it can be great), it is that Linux desktop for consumer is a fail-train.

  • Re:Fall in line (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Urza9814 (883915) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:06PM (#41305475)

    On the other hand...

    My mother has a Linux netbook. Other than getting her email set up with Thunderbird when she got it (she couldn't do that herself in Outlook Express either,) I haven't ever touched the thing. It's just never had an issue.

    Her Windows desktop, on the other hand, seems to need some kind of repair every time I visit.....

  • Re:Fall in line (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `8691tsaebssab'> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:10PM (#41305521) Journal

    Watch me get hate for saying this, but fuck it I got karma...its the updates!

    I can take a copy of XP RTM with NO service packs, slap it on any old bog standard P4 or other PC I have laying around, make sure all the drivers are working and then patch it to current. That is THREE service packs and probably a couple of thousand updates on top of that, what do I get at the end? It is ALL still working. The WiFi is working, the video is working, the sound, the NIC, its ALL still working.

    Now compare to Linux: I can take any distro that was released the same quarter as Vista, which is supposed to be the shittiest MSFT OS since WinME which I agree with, place it and Vista RTM side by side, patch them both to current...what do I get? All the hardware on the Vista machine still works, the hardware on the Linux box is fucked.

    What does this have to do with system builders like me and OEMs? Simple as a wise man once said "Linux is free if your time is worthless" and every damned one of those broken drivers cost me money and at $40 for Win 8 pro, $80 for Win 7 Home and $140 for Win 7 Pro frankly it don't take more than one forum hunt to make Linux cost me more money than a system builder or OEM copy of Windows.

    Believe me I wish it weren't so, for the customers that don't game frankly they live on the web so Linux SHOULD be just the perfect fit for them, but until you can get those God damned system devs to give us an ABI and quit shitting all over the damned internals so drivers that work in foo is broken in foo+1 then OEMs like me aren't gonna touch it with a 50 foot pole. The simple fact is unless you set up as an Internet only business, where you don't offer dick for after sale support, then Linux will bankrupt you.

  • by Alef (605149) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:27PM (#41305697)

    and the users expect all their software to be free?

    Interesting contradictory fact. [] Scroll down and look at the payment statistics. Linux users evidently pay about twice as much as Windows users when given the choice. I have bought two bundles before, and both times the pattern was the same as with the latest bundle.

  • by Yfrwlf (998822) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:37PM (#41305817)
    Artificial scarcity. It is the backbone of the American economy as well as many other corporatist nations. Since you can't make money off free stuff, stores won't carry it. Even when selling hardware, if they can make more money selling restricted software along with it, they will. Before if you got a discount from buying a pre-built computer with crapware on it, at least you could wipe it all and install whatever you wanted. Now with “secure boot”, they can push control onto the software level and control the entire software stack if the wanted to. Don't like that Windows 8 Crapware Edition on there? Too bad, you're stuck with it, and the Crapware Edition won't allow you to remove the crapware on it either, plus it comes with adware and spyware (when you purchased this computer, you automatically opted-in to provide us with “information for marketing purposes”) pre-loaded which you also can't remove. I can also see this entire system pushing out build-it-yourself computers since the pre-built one offers more money. Even if some semblance of DIY hardware is still available, at the very least the pre-built systems will ultimately cost less because the hardware vendors will get a cut of the marketing and data mining profits.

    I just figured I would share the future in advance with everyone so that the reality would set in sooner: Start supporting vendors which sell pre-built computers that aren't locked down as well as standardized DIY hardware. Also, start supporting home fabrication projects which will soon be able to create primitive computers, because ultimately unregulated capitalism will always find some way to fuck you otherwise. DIY hardware is already horribly unstandardized and consumer-raping. If you live in a country which is regulated so you feel you don't have to worry - just wait, you will. There is meaning behind the saying with the roots and the evil. No, not the recipe for making evil root beer.
  • by tlambert (566799) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:38PM (#41305841)

    Linux desktop, with browser, backed by web applications.

    Five OEM systems and counting.

  • Re:Fall in line (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:56PM (#41306065)

    Watch me get hate for saying this, but fuck it I got karma...its the updates!

    Well, is it hate because people disagree with you or is it hate because you're wrong and being deliberately inflammatory?

    can take a copy of XP RTM with NO service packs, slap it on any old bog standard P4 or other PC I have laying around, make sure all the drivers are working and then patch it to current. That is THREE service packs and probably a couple of thousand updates on top of that, what do I get at the end? It is ALL still working. The WiFi is working, the video is working, the sound, the NIC, its ALL still working.

    Lucky you! I've seen one or more driver packs and updates in sequence for Windows XP cause it to be left in a shitty state that works (maybe) but is broken in some manner.

    Now compare to Linux: I can take any distro that was released the same quarter as Vista, which is supposed to be the shittiest MSFT OS since WinME which I agree with, place it and Vista RTM side by side, patch them both to current...what do I get? All the hardware on the Vista machine still works, the hardware on the Linux box is fucked.

    Really? How so? Oh wait, you won't give an example. Just a "Linux leaves systems fucked after updates! Linux sucks!" and we're supposed to believe you blindly. Got it.

  • Re:Fall in line (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `8691tsaebssab'> on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @01:40AM (#41309411) Journal

    And isn't it funny how every single post other than yours is simply a "works for me!" followed by "U must be a shill!" Wow, really?

    Linux drivers sucking balls is God damned legendary, even long time Linux admins admit the wireless is deep fried ass and didn't De Icaza have an article here not even a damned week ago talking about how he had fucking gave up on sound because of Pulse? Is the community THAT filled with religious zealotry that even pointing out the damned obvious is impossible?

    Do all those that bitched want a list? How about a list of over 200 show stoppers [] damned near all of them in part or whole dealing with shitty drivers and updates crapping on said drivers? Here is the same list from three years ago [] so they can all see how many HAVE NOT BEEN FIXED IN THREE YEARS...but of course that can't be true! Why it works perfectly because RMS waves his magic pixie wand! Why having devs constantly crapping all over internals can't be a BAD thing, because they are just being free!

    So its a hell of a lot more than "If it works OOTB then you're okay" because what works OOTB this week may be completely wiped out next week because some dev decided he thought some critical system file would be better if he changed some crucial element, fuck it if they can't take a joke.

    The ONLY reason that Linux works in servers is companies spend millions of dollars on full time admins and fixes dealing with the broken shit and that is as completely opposite from the desktop market as one could possibly get! Because whether they like it or not we will NOT hire a team of full time devs to sit around maintaining our own repos because the devs can't quit breaking shit, which just FYI is the only way Dell can get Linux to work [] and we will NOT give away free lifetime support contracts or give away days of our time every 6 damned months when the devs have their annual crapping on the system.

    If you think its perfectly fine to waste your time fixing what they break every 6 months, or are one of the VERY few who are using some system old enough nobody is futzing up the drivers? Well I'm glad, some people collect stamps, everyone needs a hobby. We do this FOR A LIVING and every time you crap all over the system it COSTS US MONEY, money that frankly works out to MORE than WIndows costs.

    Quit taking crap sandwiches from the devs, bring some real stability and at least 7 years of ACTUAL support, not that crap like Ubuntu LTS which stands for "don't backport shit" (which just FYI but having software so damned tied to the system that it won't fucking run unless you have kernel foo is totally shitty coding, okay?) and we'll be happy to sell and support your product. But quit living on fantasy island where we have nothing better to do with our weekends than fix fucked up drivers and deal with angry users because some of us? Actually have lives.

  • Re:Fall in line (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @04:07AM (#41310059)

    Linux is better on the desktop than Windows for everyone, not just "computer geeks".

    Disagree. Linux works great for those who are computer illiterate, at least as long as you don't tell them it's Linux until they are already using it (otherwise they'll probably balk at it being too hard to use before even turning the system on). And it works great for those of us who know our way around a computer.

    But in between, you have the hardcore Windows geeks. The ones who know exactly which malware removal tool that works for which malware, and have reinstalled Windows so many times they couldn't count it with a calculator (they tend to also be the ones fixing Windows for their friends, which does increase the count). Give them a Linux machine, and they will find it completely useless, everything is text files, which is way too complicated compared to finding the correct GUID in a nice GUI tool like REGEDIT, none of their malware scanners work, and every time they reinstall, they end up with exactly the same results.

    For them, Linux will not be an option.

  • by IBitOBear (410965) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @04:58AM (#41310231) Homepage Journal

    I get paid major bank to work on software for Linux. That some of it goes out to be free is no skin off my teeth.

    See free software isn't "I'm gonna write some POS and hope someone buys it" development model. Those days are dead mostly anyway. Its "Some guy wants these features put on that 'free' bit because he actually has a use case, and he's gonna pay me to meet his needs then give it away so neither of us get stuck paying upkeep and he can have me do something newer and better".

    Who want's to spend 40 years doing maintenance on a some accounting or word processing software anyway. There are people who are writing better gear because they need to process words and account for money. And since they really make their money counting money and processing words, giving the bycatch code out as the "whole cost" of getting the whole pre-mod app is a huge win.

    It just won't lead to "another microsoft"

    That closed source model was a fluke anyway, the preceding 40 years were open source. The next twenty five or so was a grand experiment that largely failed except for a few really unexpected cutthroat operators, and now its back to the more natural state of only paying for what you need.

    In a current version of word I don't use 90% of it, and I'm a technical writer and novelist, but I paid for it all back when I was that foolish. Same can be said for any person or company that has ever bought that slag. So now there is this free stuff that was made by someone who actually needed it, so it's not so much slag, and given away to others who _might_ need it, and then gotten back greatly improved by the supporters and the adders on.

    That's lots of money feeding lots of people, and nobody is wasting their time or money playing the "trade secret" and "big P.R." games.

    What's not to love?

  • Re:Fall in line (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Raenex (947668) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @07:16AM (#41310765)

    When I ask them if their TV is slower, they look at me if _I_ am stoopid.

    Because they know a TV is a dumb appliance that just sits there without getting software installed on a regular basis, so your analogy is stupid. Give them a little credit. Operating systems with all the assorted application software are complex, and any number of things can go wrong.

"Text processing has made it possible to right-justify any idea, even one which cannot be justified on any other grounds." -- J. Finnegan, USC.