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Linus Says 2004 is the Year for Desktop Linux 727

lca writes "Linuxworld Australia has an interview with Linus Torvalds about the current state of the Linux desktop and where it will go this year among other things. Also discussed are topics such as hardware support, the SCO issue, and whether or not he will be moving to Australia."
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Linus Says 2004 is the Year for Desktop Linux

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:24PM (#7987104)
    Linux breaks desktop barrier in 2004: Torvalds

    Rodney Gedda , Computerworld

    15/01/2004 15:43:16

    This year will see Linux finally crack the lucrative desktop market as more commercial software vendors tool up and cash in on the operating system and kernel developers improve graphical interface integration says cult hero and Linux founder Linus Torvalds. Computerworld's Rodney Gedda cornered the penguin power supremo at the in Adelaide.

    Computerworld: How do you feel Linux on the desktop is progressing?

    Linus Torvalds: Last year was good but I'm seeing a lot more noise about it this year. The server space is easier to tackle first with any operating system as it can be applied to specific tasks such as mail serving; however, the desktop is harder to sell.

    Now, the kernel and other pieces are coming together including office applications, games and Web browsers. This has made the Linux desktop interesting to commercials. Commercials tend to choose one desktop, such as KDE or GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment), and stick with it. There has been some confusion and rivalry that has helped its development. Right now it looks like the two are closing in on each other, for example, with Red Hat's Bluecurve interface.

    I don't think X is going away as it has a powerful infrastructure and throwing it away would be stupid. And its network transparency is good. It's likely that X will be the 2D interface to a lower-level graphics system that is based on OpenGL. The Linux desktop wants to have 3D as the base and X as the interface to 2D.

    The fact that X and kernel development have been separate is good; one could evolve without the other but DRI (Direct Rendering Infrastructure) has made them not completely independent. As a developer, having the two separate is good, because different people are good at developing for each.

    CW: Any plans for 2004?

    LT: I've never had much of a plan for the direction of Linux as I react to outside pressure. This year there will be a lot of desktop users, which will impact kernel developers.

    For now I will be working the stabilisation of kernel 2.6 and in a month or two I expect Fedora (the core of Red Hat Linux) to have a release with 2.6 so I expect to get more bug reports.

    CW: Would adopting an integrated hardware and software system be good for Linux?

    LT: There are pure technical disadvantages of having an operating system that supports a wide range of hardware. The variety of hardware makes it challenging as Linux needs thousands of drivers.

    But having an operating system that is independent of the hardware is powerful for the user as it is basically the same on big and small machines. Another big advantage of a wide hardware base is an operating system that is more flexible. This is why Linux is having a lot of impact in the embedded space. An operating system is a complex beast, so it's nice to have an existing one that can be adapted to the hardware. There are a few problem spots with Linux driver support by hardware companies and wireless is one of them. With hardware getting better this problem is being solved.

    CW: What about Linux in the enterprise?

    LT: The direction Linux takes in the enterprise will depend on what resources enterprise companies put into it. This is the one thing that will push Linux into the high end.

    IBM is the most obvious, and although it is impressive to run Linux on high-end hardware, most of the people who work on Linux don't have access to it. It's the regular desktops that get most of the attention by programmers.

    CW: What about open source code bundling by commercial software companies?

    LT: Quite often that's fine and it is fine with BSD (Berkely Software/Standard Distribution) code. But I like the GPL (General Public Licence), because I want people to give [code] back. If hardware appliance makers don't give back code then that's a problem, but giving it back shouldn't cause any problems. And
  • And I agree. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:24PM (#7987105)
    Look at all the interesting software for linux coming out soon

    KDE 3.2
    Gnome 2.6
    Gimp 2.0
    Mplayer 1.0
    OpenOffice 2.0
    More games than ever
    and hundreds of others.

    Combine this with kernel 2.6, and with many distros going to be version 10.0 this year, this is going to be great.

    KDE 3.2 will be out soon, its so easy to use, no wonder its the most popular desktop environement for Linux.
  • (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:25PM (#7987115)
    no desktop mentions, but cool: []
  • by torpor ( 458 ) <ibisum@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:27PM (#7987146) Homepage Journal
    ... and I'm even willing to propose that not only is it ready for the desktop, but its ready for a lot of other things as well.

    Linux' recent advances in the embedded industry mean that the desktop is really just one place for vmlinuz-xx to succeed. And oddly enough, I also think - as a long-term linux user - that this is an advantage for both fronts, desktop/embedded.

    The cool distro's are doing some interesting work too, I might add. Embedded distro's, or more appropriately "source control", are putting a standard system image in some very interesting places, all at once.

    2004 is gonna rock. And I know its just my opinion, but I had to say it ...
  • by joestar ( 225875 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:50PM (#7987459) Homepage
    >For now I will be working the stabilisation of
    > kernel 2.6 and in a month or two I expect Fedora
    > (the core of Red Hat Linux) to have a release with
    > 2.6 so I expect to get more bug reports.

    For your information, Cooker [] provides Linux 2.6 as kernel default since december. ISO snapshots are available here [] for download, with also a preview of the new KDE.
  • Re:Australia? (Score:2, Informative)

    by jmv ( 93421 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:52PM (#7987498) Homepage
    Whats wrong with Finland?

    Weather. Personally I don't mind the cold (unless it's -30 like today), but Linus doesn't seem to like it that much.
  • Re:Australia? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fulkkari ( 603331 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:01PM (#7987654)
    Whats wrong with Finland?

    I don't know about Linus, but it is damn dark and cold here. The days are in the middle of December only a couple of hours long, and you see the sun only a couple of times a month. It is something like the darkness you see in LOTR. No wonder Tolkien was interested in Finland. :-P

    PS. The bandwidth is pretty expensive here too.

  • Re:Another year... (Score:2, Informative)

    by fred87 ( 720738 ) <mail AT fredemmott DOT co DOT uk> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:10PM (#7987788) Homepage
    True about IM protocols, but "serious gaming" is rather vague... i'm perfectly happy with americas army and several other unreal and quake games :) Fast boot times - on slackware with a 2.4.23 kernel with pre-empt and parralel bootscripts, i'm at the kdm login screen in 3 seconds from pressing the power button (1.4ghz laptop with 314mb ram...)
  • by EinarH ( 583836 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:15PM (#7987865) Journal
    -USA is not a socialist welfare state with 60% income tax.
    It's more like average tax 45% not 60%.
    You're allowed to actually defend yourself and you've got true freedom of speech and thought.
    Ann that comes from an Anonymous Coward...
    There is nothing in the laws that prevents you from speaking out.
    -In the USA winter doesn't last 8 months.
    It's more like 6.
    -In the USA temperatures don't reach -40 (Fahrenheit or Celcius) in the winter.
    It's very rare with sustained temp. below -25 C.
    -USA doesn't have a 1000 mile border with the Russia.
    Have you been living in a cave the last 2.5 years? The risk of something bad happening to you ain't larger in Finland than USA.
    blah blah
    The risk of Russia attackin g Finland is pretty low right now. Okay Putin is the new Tzar; but attacking Finland would only bring misery to the Russian economy.
  • Desktop Linux (Score:5, Informative)

    by Brian Blessed ( 258910 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:25PM (#7988009)
    I find it surprising that more businesses aren't aware of the benefits of switching to Linux desktops that are X thin clients. I use an LTSP-style setup at home and it really works well. There aren't low-cost clients available in the shops though, so I have to make my own using VIA mini-ITX kit for about 150ukp (~$250).
    With the commoditisation of gigabit networking and 64-bit machines (i.e. Opteron), it must be fairly easy for one server to support more than 40 desktops.

    - Brain.
  • Re:Desktop 3D? (Score:4, Informative)

    by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:11PM (#7988643)
    Eh? We're actually ahead of the game. (the most likely sucessor to XFree86) is working on an OpenGL-accelerated XServer as we speak :) They're ripping out the DRI from the X server and making an independent layer out of it. Its *fascinating* work. If a first release comes out early 2005, then we will beat Longhorn to the market by about a year.

    Oh, and OS X isn't already there, contrary to popular belief. It uses OpenGL, but in a very limited way, only for compositing windows together. All 2D is done via the CPU, and its dependence on the PDF model might make it more complex for them to transition Quartz2D to OpenGL.
  • Re:Again? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:20PM (#7988741)
    According to Linus, 2004 is the one.
    Actually, read the article. Linus says no such thing. Whoever wrote the headline at Linuxworld Australia is putting words into his mouth.
  • by bninja_penguin ( 613992 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:06PM (#7991337)
    Linux/Unix will start to make strides on the desktop when its users begin to realize how seriously far behind Microsoft they are in the areas that computers are actually used for and where they deliver the most productivity gains.
    The only place I see Linux being "behind" Microsoft is in games and Autocad. Programming in Linux (using KDevelop) is faster, more intuitive, less confusing, and better laid out than in Visual Studio. KDE and Gnome are both so similar to Windows in their actions and the way they present themselves, that the only thing I can see end-users running into problems would be when they get "Start" and "K" confused.

    However in reality the Windows GUI analogue interface is more powerful because it is easier to learn and therefore easier to manipulate.
    I thinnk what you mean here is you've never seen KDE or Gnome. Dragging an icon around the desktop is the same in KDE, Gnome, or Windows, so learning how to do that is even. When you talk about easier to manipulate, you must mean easier to install WebShots, as changing background images or colors are just as easy to change, and for Damn sure that's about all you can manipulate on Windows, without resorting to "advanced" techniques, which the common enduser would find just as difficult to run on Windows as KDE. If you are talking about true manipulation, hands down any desktop environment for Linux is easier to manipulate than Windows GUI, as you have ready access and permission to modify the source code. Try true manipulation on Windows, and see how far you get.

    The Linux/Unix community needs to discard the entire command line mentality and start paying serious attention to ease-of-use and interface issues before ordinary people will take seriously their claim that they and their computer environment is somehow actually better than Windows.
    Okay, let's take one example, USB thumb drives. The following occurs with a default out of the box install of the OS. I use Mandrake Linux 9.1 and 9.2. I plug a USB drive into a USB port. An Icon appears on my desktop(KDE). I double click the icon, and a window opens, showing me the contents of the USB drive, which I can then do whatever with.
    Now, let's take the same USB drive, and plug it into the USB port of a Windows XP system. After a bit, down by the clock, a pop-up window claims new hardware found, and then proceeds to tell you what it is, if it found drivers for it, and that it's ready to use. The pop-up windows then disappears. To access the drive, you must then click on the "Start" button, move the mouse up to the "My Computer" Icon, single-click, then a window appears showing you the contents of "My Computer". You then move the mouse down, below the listed hard drives, below the listed CDROM drives, and finally come to a section where it lists "Removeable Disk" F:, or whatever letter it got assigned. Now you can finally double-click(Why are there someplaces you must single-click, and other places you must double-click? Remember, these are default installs) that Icon, which then shows you the contents of the USB drive.
    Tell me please, how the Windows way has better "ease-of-use", and what kind of "interface issue" it is to automatically, on the desktop, provide a single step solution to getting to my USB drive, rather than clicking all over the god-damned place, "drilling down" through several menus, to get to the same information?

    Obviously, with my "command-line mentality" I must have missed where all the work to get to the USB drive on Windows is actually easy and intuitive.

    What definition of "illusion" and "powerful" are you using? You say, "When Linux/Unix users complete the process of changing their entire approach to computing to fit this 1970's era approach, they find that they can do many things with command line manipulation that can't be done easily or at all with Window's GUI interface."
    Which you then claim, "This gives them the illusion that their OS is m

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel