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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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  • Australia? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by probbka ( 308168 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:22PM (#7987073) Journal
    Why would any computer-savvy person want to move to Australia? They've got some of the toughest Internet censorship laws in the free world, IIRC...
  • No offense, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:23PM (#7987087) Journal
    Doesn't Linus work on the kernel? How is his input vital for desktops which are KDE/GNOME dominated now, projects he is not involved with...

    Vegan World Order [] - Shut up and eat.
  • Agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bryansj ( 89051 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:24PM (#7987106)
    I'd have to agree with it being close to having a real viable desktop solution. Having LiveCD's in place, such as Knoppix, showing off the ease of running Linux will help bring it to the masses. It's much easier to try Linux if you just have to boot from CD and then "play" instead of having to commit to the install process. My Knoppix installed Debian feels solid compared to the "feel" of Mandrake and Suse which makes me more likely to recommend it to others that I see as borderline tech savy.
  • Who will win ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Krapangor ( 533950 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:26PM (#7987124) Homepage
    If Linux get Desktop world domination then this raises the question which desktop will rule them all. It's relatively unlikely that two desktops will be supported to the same extend by the OSS community.
    So, what do you think KDE or Gnome ?

    My bet goes on Gnome because it has better backing by Debian, Novell and Redhat.

  • Re:No offense, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ainsoph ( 2216 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:28PM (#7987151) Homepage
    cos the kernel is what all that stuff lays on top of.
  • by gounthar ( 212393 ) * on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:28PM (#7987157) Homepage
    2004 will definitely be the linux desktop year.
    And IMHO it takes the right direction with Bruce Perens' UserLinux [] initiative, if he succeeds at convincing linux users/developpers to switch to/work on this new DIY operating system.
    It's mission statement would be : Provide businesses with freely available, high quality Linux operating systems accompanied by certifications, service, and support options designed to encourage productivity and security while reducing overall costs.
  • by DenOfEarth ( 162699 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:29PM (#7987160) Homepage

    I was wondering similar things myself on reading the headline. I haven't yet installed 2.6 on my machine yet, but I have heard that it is a bit 'snappier', which I believe goes a long way towards making the desktop seem like you are controlling it, rather than having it control you. The KDE / gnome work, is also very important, but a solid fast user-responsive kernel is a boon to anyone trying to sell anyone else on linux on the desktop.

  • by Curious__George ( 167596 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:29PM (#7987169)
    It's kind of like declaring this is the year that an asteroid will strike the earth. Keep declearing that this is the year and eventually you will be proved right. (not that Linux on the desktop would mean devastation of life on earth, as we know it).
  • Desktop 3D? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ZiZ ( 564727 ) * on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:32PM (#7987205) Homepage
    (Linus says:) 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.

    Um...Why do we want a 3D desktop? It seems to me that first of all, 3D is always going to be slower to manage and display than 2D; monitors (even the newer ones with the spiffy multi-layer technology) don't really handle 3D displays well. Yes, I want my 3D displays, such as they are, for gaming; I don't see any real need or use for it in a business desktop, though.

    Feel free to correct me here, but I don't read text on a slanted pane very well...:)

  • by xankar ( 710025 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:34PM (#7987230) Journal
    Linux is ready for the desktop market, concerning speed, power, and(almost) ease of use.

    The major obstacle is that people stick with what they're comfortable with.
    Linux's office programs are just as good(if not better) than their windows equivalents, but everyone I know who uses Word will stick with it till they die, because they know it backwards and forwards(I got my friend, an author, running linux, and he loves it, but he made me get word to work on it via Wine).

    I use openoffice(I dual boot and use openoffice in both XP and Linux), but only because I didnt want to shell out for word when i got my new computer.

    People are comfortable with what they've been using in the past. Until the layperson can understand the massive advantages of using linux, they will stick to windows.
  • by Silicon Knight ( 15308 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:34PM (#7987231)
    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.

    Yes, Linux is a suitable desktop replacement. I still don't see a significant number of people making the switch. What is the motivation for the average user who has invested time in learning Windows to switch?

    Aside from impoverished goverments in third world countries (California anyone?) are the masses going to bother learning something new when what they have tends to meet their needs?
  • Re:No offense, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mydigitalself ( 472203 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:34PM (#7987235)
    contrary to some of the other responses to your post - i agree with you wholeheartedly. success and penetration of the desktop will have very little to do with performance from 2.6 kernel - but rather with good usability practices within the community.
  • by aheath ( 628369 ) * <> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:35PM (#7987254)
    "With a little bit more effort, even so -called "dummies" will be able to work with it as well."

    The so called 'dummies" really don't care much about the operating system that they are using. They care much more about the applications that they are running. They also care about the availability of training and support for the operating system and applications.

    The computer using world can be reoughly divided into two categories:

    (1) People who want to think about the work their doing, but don't want to think about the computer technology they are using.

    (2) People who want to think about the work they are doing and who like to think about how the computer is doing the work.

    The first group wants reliability, stability, and transparency. They d not want to spend a lot of time fixing or upgrading their computer. They do not want to spend a lot of time working on a computer that crashes. They do not want to spend a lot of time thinking about how to do their work. Their main interest is in what works, not necessarily what works best.

    They won't switch to Linux from something that is good enough to allow them to do their work. They may switch to Linux if they are upgrading a computer and it is clear that Linux will allow them to do their work without giving much thought to how the computer works.

  • Re:No offense, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pyros ( 61399 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:37PM (#7987268) Journal
    Doesn't Linus work on the kernel? How is his input vital for desktops which are KDE/GNOME dominated now, projects he is not involved with...

    Don't underestimate the importance of a good kernel for the desktop. You need good multitasking support (low-latency context switching, an efficient scheduler, a good VM system) for the GUI environment to be responsive and zippy. You need a good infrastructure and API for device drivers to get the most out of your peripherals. People hate buying a fancy video card only to find that half the I/O ports aren't supported.

  • by twocents ( 310492 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:37PM (#7987278)
    Why would any year for Linux be make or break? That makes no sense at all when one considers the strides that have been made in just the last few years.

    I personally think Linux is popular because of X,OpenOffice,Gimp,Apache,TuxRacer, etc etc, and ETC and there is nothing but more software coming out for the OS. I cannot imagine everyone throwing in the towel after 2004 if Linux doesn't take over the desktop: "Oh hell, forget it, this was to be THE year, but wasn't so let's shut the doors."

    Also, a lot of people are already using Linux as a desktop and feel the "make" much more than the "break" already. If mass appeal picks up, great, but considering the effort that goes into the OS and the software that runs on Linux, to simplify one year as THE defining year for an operating system misses the point.
  • Re:No offense, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:39PM (#7987296) Homepage Journal
    among other things hardware support(for CURRENT hardware) is vital for desktop success(which 2.6 may or may not have impact on later on, or whatever he plans to do).

    the page isn't loading for me so I can't really comment on if his commenting it somehow.
  • Re:Australia? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by somethinghollow ( 530478 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:41PM (#7987320) Homepage Journal
    I'm under the impression that Linus can afford a decent connection. Not to mention Austrailia's dollar is worth less than the US dollar.

    Austrailia is a nice country with alot of nice people. I just got back a few weeks ago from there. I hope to go back sooner than later.

    The only thing I would change is the flies. That is, I wish they would have not been so bothersome.
  • by 1iar_parad0x ( 676662 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:43PM (#7987356)
    I'm a programmer, and I don't mind having to google/read a book/scour the newsgroups to find out how to install XYZ software. However, the average user wants to just point and click. They like having Microsoft/Apple update their software for them. Look how popular Norton is. I just don't see how the open source movement will ever be motivated to work on usability issues related to Linux.

    Think about this. How many times have you heard the terms "usability" and "open source" in the same sentence. Now how many times have you heard these same terms without the word "NOT". Have you ever heard of "yet another user interface"? No, instead we have software with names like yacc, Bison, and ANTLR (all of these programs are used in compiler design).

    Look, I like Linux too, but as a server. It's just not ready for the desktop.
  • Again? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom7 ( 102298 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:47PM (#7987425) Homepage Journal
    Not that I'm complaining, but wasn't 2003 supposed to be the [] year [] of [] desktop [] linux []?
  • by TrollBridge ( 550878 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:48PM (#7987429) Homepage Journal
    "Linus, on the other hand can be as frank as he wants to, without an axe hanging over his head.

    Interesting, though nothing earth-shattering. Open-source also supports Freedom."


    I'd venture it's because the Slashdot community holds their villians to a higher standard than their heroes.

  • Re:Australia? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kaisyain ( 15013 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:48PM (#7987436)
    Even computer-savvy people have other (and possibly higher) priorities in life than Internet censorship laws. Why is that so hard to understand?
  • Re:No offense, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by enjo13 ( 444114 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:49PM (#7987443) Homepage
    He's more than a kernel hacker, he's an open source leader. Part of his role in the community is to set direction, identify problem areas, and do all of those other things that leaders do.

    By Linus coming out and focusing on the desktop (even if just in words) he's effectively pointing the collective effort of the open source community more and more to that end.

  • by kisak ( 524062 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:49PM (#7987448) Homepage Journal
    I am a uniter, not a divider
  • by theantix ( 466036 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:50PM (#7987469) Journal
    ... because many important peripherals do not work by default. For example, getting 802.11x is still a pita in linux unless you plan ahead by making certain that your hardware works with it. And most people won't care about saving a few hundred bucks if they can't get a scanner or camera or mp3 player or PDA or $whatever to interface with their PC. I could not pretend that an average user should use Linux at this point, unless they are interesting in having PC maintenance as a new hobby.

    This is not a problem with the linux kernel, but instead a typical problem of market share in a marketplace dominated by a player with a high degree of monopoly power. Put more simply, the problem is not that Linux sucks, it just needs to have larger market share before hardware manufacturers pay attention and bother with the hassle of trying to deal with Linux (multiple distros, multiple DEs, etc).

    However, 2004 will probably be the year where corporations start to move some of their enterprise desktops to Linux. With Novell and Sun both pushing Linux/GNOME solutions, and the less varied peripheral requirements of Linux in the corporate environment... things seem to be pointing in that direction. I would predict that "Year of the Desktop" makes more sense for 2005, when Linux will be building market share thanks to the corps, and hardware manufacturers start to pay more attention to getting things to work.

    Though, for knowledgeable people who are willing to go through the hassle of getting devices to work with Linux, the Year of the Desktop was really 2003... at least for me it was. DVD, ALSA, OOo, MozillaFirebird.... these things help make the Linux desktop possible and they are here long before 2004 started.
  • by tentimestwenty ( 693290 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:51PM (#7987481)
    Being a Mac user, I've learned to take these kind of prognostications with a grain of salt over the years. Linux has a good foundation and it's nearly free but that's no where near enough to win the hearts and minds of the average computer user. Obviously it has to do what they need, with the minimum amount of hassle and the maximum amount of pleasure. Linux has too many loose ends, too much variability, and a really substandard user interface at this point. It's going to have to be at least as polished as Windows and probably closer to OS X level before it really starts swaying people. I'm eager to use Linux and I check out all the distributions when they have notable releases, but nothing has shown me a reason to switch, not even for a bare bones e-mail/web machine.
  • by EllF ( 205050 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:52PM (#7987502) Homepage
    Shame that those buttons and functions frequently use proprietary drivers that the companies making the laptops won't open up. Why is the burden on "Linux" -- which is a kernel, essentially -- to make a bunch of closed-source companies' crap work? If the NVIDIA drivers are breaking, are you certain that the onus is on Linus and friends to fix it?
  • Re:Who will win ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AlXtreme ( 223728 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:52PM (#7987506) Homepage Journal
    Neither, there are large companies supporting KDE as well. Foss is also about being able to choose: Don't like Linux, try a BSD. Don't like Gnome, try KDE.

    Lack of choice, lack of options tend to lead to a lack of innovation and improvement (XFree86? Industry in Sovjet Russia?), whereas competition tends to lead to (great) improvements (US/Sovjet space race? Browser war?), so I sincerly hope no single desktop will ever rule.

    In our battles we will have our finest hours.

  • Re:No offense, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pyros ( 61399 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:55PM (#7987552) Journal
    If you could build a Linux system that a KDE or Gnome theme that made the system seem exactly like XP, coupled with applications that behaved exactly like the ones people are used to, you'd have a winner.

    You know, I hear that argument quite a bit. But Windows 9x -> XP had a learning curve. Mac OS 9 -> Mac OS X had a learning curve. The same goes for applications. Every now and then the interface changes, and users learn how to use it. With OS, the vast majority just go with what's already installed when they buy it. Once Gnome and KDE are deemed useable enough to ship pre-installed on consumer PC lines by the likes of Dell, Sony, and HP, people will buy them as long as they can access all their files. They don't need to know that every widget will look the same. When people buy a new replacement computer, they say "Will I be able to view all my photos and listen to all my songs? Will I be able to access all my favorite web sites? Will I be able access my documents and spreadsheets?" If applications have full file compatibility, and the system mime types are set correctly, they won't care. They'll see right away that it's a little different, and they'll take the time to learn it, as long as the files open and the data is still correct.

  • Re:And I agree. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grahamlee ( 522375 ) <{iamleeg} {at} {}> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:55PM (#7987554) Homepage Journal
    None of KDE, GNOME, Gimp, mplayer or OpenOffice come out for Linux. They just come out. They'll be available in BSD ports systems, for Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, SCO UnixWare, and in the case of KDE, mplayer and Gimp, native Mac OS X. Yes, this software is available for Linux. But it's not Linux software. A "Linux PC", such as this one, contains a whole mishmash of software, which is running atop a Linux kernel. That could so easily be a FreeBSD kernel, a Darwin kernel, a SunOS 5 kernel, Windows running SFU, WIndows running Cygwin, whatever. The source is available and people will build it on their own platforms.
  • Re:Australia? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iota ( 527 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:56PM (#7987569) Homepage
    "Why would any computer-savvy person want to move to Australia? They've got some of the toughest Internet censorship laws in the free world, IIRC..."

    Maybe he likes the people...
    Or the countryside...
    Or the beaches...
    Or perhaps he's found a great school for his daughter...
    Or maybe his wife fell in love with a house there...
    Or maybe he's concerned with the political unrest in The States...

    Who knows? But I'll bet he's got reasons a lot more important than the state of his internet access.
  • by adrianbaugh ( 696007 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:59PM (#7987611) Homepage Journal
    You don't remember the enormous amount of bitching that went on when he told the kernel list to use BitKeeper, do you?
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:00PM (#7987622) Homepage
    How is his input vital for desktops which are KDE/GNOME dominated now, projects he is not involved with...

    I'm sure you can say the opposite when it comes to hardware support "To get Linux on the desktop, it needs to work with every two-bit gizmo Joe Average has. The kernel needs to do that, not us".

    And then someone will come along and say "Kernel, KDE/Gnome that's all nice. But it's our *applications* that make people come to Linux. Without applications, Linux is nothing".

    Who is right? A little bit of everybody. And Linus is leading one of the trinity, so I'd say he's pretty damn important.

  • Desktop Wish List (Score:2, Insightful)

    by donweel ( 304991 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:00PM (#7987634)
    For me to switch more toward my Unix style installation instead of XP I would like to see more multimedia. I see a trend toward using the PC as a multimedia entertainment centre. Hook up a projector and you have TV, PVR, timeshifing live TV, Radio Games, mail and Internet on a big screen. I don't see a whole lot of support for the All in Wonder Radeon in Linux or BSD. Also more games would be nice. Otherwise Linux would be a nice stable platform for a Multimedia PC. How about mabey a Multimedia Linux Version, hey Linus, pretty please.
  • by ticklemeozmo ( 595926 ) <> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:01PM (#7987652) Homepage Journal
    I already use it as a desktop OS on my laptop with few problems.

    As much I don't feel like burning Karma here with Flamebait, this is exactly the reason it's not ready. It runs on a laptop with "few problems". Few problems is a reason enough not to switch.

    Will my USB Camera work? Can 1-touch scanning be setup without the use of a complex script? Joe Dialup doesn't want to go to Sourceforge to find a piece of software called gkehjg2 just to get his device to install and compile (compile? what's that!)

    The install for Linux is CLOSE, I believe Fedora(/Redhat) needs to handle their package selection better (why install isdn-tools defaultly??) and file systems scare all but people who use it daily.

    Where are you files? "My Documents". How do you move it to another harddrive? "". How do you open it? "Double click it." How do you open that same file in a different program? "You can do that?"

    For anyone on Linux, Windows seems like a "toy OS" because everything is hidden. Well, that's what most computer beginners want! They don't have time/don't care about a dependancy, they want it to work, NOW!

    I like being the different person on the block, make it just a lil easier so people other than hobbists can use it, but not so secretaries of CEOs can and I'll be happy.
  • 2004? Doubtful. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zgwortz962 ( 641208 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:04PM (#7987692)
    While I think Linux's desktop is mostly ready for prime time (both KDE and Gnome could still use a lot of polish, though...), it's driver architecture is not. 2.6 is still suffering from a lot of old and poor architectural choices, making it difficult to develop drivers for new hardware quickly. I saw some discussion of changes which could go into 2.7/2.8 which might make it easier to correct this. But until the driver architecture is fixed, you're going to have installation problems on newer machines. And until you have really smooth installation on newer machines, people aren't going to adopt Linux on the desktop. It has to be trivial to install or it won't fly.
  • by i)ave ( 716746 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:08PM (#7987760)
    the year of the linux-desktop is not going to happen until Linux creates some standards and conformity among distros. I know, I know, "the beauty of linux is its ability to be any flavor you want". Well, I don't agree. KDE, GNOME should merge, having 2 competing desktop environments is not productive. There are WAY TOO MANY DISTROS. Confuses the hell out of newbies. The mainstream demands conformity and wants 1 desktop and 1 distro to be dominant. Hardware detection needs to get a lot better, too. Someone on here mentioned that the linux office suites are as good or better than those of Windows... That's complete hogwash, not even close. The latest OOo is much better than before, but still a 2nd tier solution to MS office. Staroffice is still 2nd tier, too.

    I'm amazed that someone pointed out that Linus uses a laptop that has Windows on it, as well as linux, and used that as an example of what an honest guy Linus is (because he was willing to tell everyone, since presumeably, Gates would never be that honest if his laptop had linux). The fact that Linus has Windows loaded on his laptop along with Linux is a blatant example of the fact that LINUX IS NOT COMPLETELY READY FOR MAINSTREAM. Maybe, Linus should be using his laptop without Windows before he declares 2004 the "year of the linux desktop".

    Okay, now everyone go ahead and flame away, I've set myself up here I suppose, but just keep in mind I'm very much PRO-LINUX. I want nothing more than 2004 to be the year of the linux-desktop... I'm just a realist and there are a lot of people in the Linux community who are realists, too, who understand that linux is headed in too many different directions to be mainstream. Organize, combine, simplify: 1 distro, 1 desktop, solid hardware detection, simple upgrades.

  • by inode_buddha ( 576844 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:19PM (#7987919) Journal
    I think that's what he was hinting at in TFA. Generally speaking he notes that things are "consolidating". I just thought it was interesting how he considers "...some confusion and rivalry that has helped its development." to be helpful.
    At least he has the patience to let the community work out standards for itself; I sure don't want to be told what to think.
  • by forevermore ( 582201 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:21PM (#7987958) Homepage
    the average user wants to just point and click [to install software]

    And how is this different from Ximian's Red Carpet, or the Redhat Update agent that comes with fedora (and now points to free repositories)? It tells you when there are updates, and even has options to auto-update for you. A more knowledgeable user can easily add more apt/yum repositories for 3rd-party software. This blows away anything that OSX or Windows has - not only do you get updates for core packages, but for your favorite applications, too.

  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:24PM (#7987998)
    We need something we can't have. And if you ask for it you get flamed for asking: device drivers for YOUR hardware. As an alternative, we could make do with real hardware compatability lists, but they would have to really say what to buy, and they'd have to be current.

    2.6.1 was a step backwards for me; framebuffer console support has broken for the two drivers that I need; radeonfb and tridentfb. Reponses to my bug reports have ranged from "fix it yourself", to "you don't need that feature". It does not appear that very many people know what framebuffer consoles are, and the kernel was released with these broken drivers not even tagged as "experimental." That's poor quality. Don't flame *me*. I understand the issues. But we're trying to break into a market where people don't take excuses.

    What else doesn't work on your system? Quick, tell me what PCI 802.11g card to buy. I need a thousand of them fed-exed from my vendor to deploy on my linux desktops.

    Does the SD card reader work on my Toshiba notebooks? Why not? Again, I know the reason is that it's "obscure hardware". The business folks that you need to impress in order to get your system on their desktops don't care, and don't listen to your excuses.

    How about multimedia playback? Without really trying hard, can the desktop users deal with all the media formats that they're going to encoounter? Don't make the excuse that "recreational use" requires multimedia and "professional use" does not. The people who you need to sell the product to don't take excuses.

    It's a tough situation, because a whole lot of these problems aren't going to be fixed, and least not in 2004, the "year of the desktop". Not unless Microsoft stops selling office products and stops supporting Exchange. Not unless all the hardware companies were getting on the ball last year and are going to suddenly release specs for all the broken hardware. To the layman, the linux system is going to appear as a defective product, if you try to market it as a true alternative to Windows or MacOS.

    PLEASE don't flame me. I KNOW the deal. I LOVE linux. I use it on *my* desktop. I work for a company that has a huge deployment of linux on developer desktops and servers. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Unix advocate from the beginning, and I've been all about linux since my first exposure to the 0.99 kernel. I know we can "get on the desktop" and we're actually already there in some situations. But climbing over the Great Wall of Hardware Compatability, and then breaking through the Singularity of Software Targets? Maybe the hardware thing will happen as more Asian computer manufacturers are forced by Asian customers to support universal systems. Maybe the software thing will happen after the hardware thing does, and the demand increases.

    But just saying that "this is the year of the desktop" isn't going to create the market demand.
    Buying controlling stock in a few hardware manufacturers might just do it. Start with Toshiba and Dell. Nobody who could afford that, has the balls to actually say "this company sells Linux systems and does not support Windows"
    It's only corporate-suicide if you don't believe in the strategy, provided you have enough cash to weather the early years of the plan... :-)
  • Yet another... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:27PM (#7988019)
    This is yet another article on "the state of Linux on the desktop," and yet again, we're told this year will be "the year."

    I've been hear that since at least 1998, every year.
  • Re:Desktop 3D? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JohnLi ( 85427 ) * on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:36PM (#7988142) Homepage
    Did you not see that sun 3d java desktop demo that was posted here a while back? It was used in a cool, meaningful way. The windows flipped around so that you could write notes or attach other files to particular instances of a browser or application.

    I agree that most of the 3d implementations floating around lack a bit of practicality, but just because it has sucked in the past doesnt mean that it is doomed to suck. We just need a few people with some inovative ideas to make it work.

    I personaly believe that it will mostly be used for asthetics and not functionality, but you never know. I also think voice activation will be better realized way before an emersive 3d folder browser becomes usefull.

    Ive wondered a few times why no one has attempted to port the quake engine to a window manager.
  • by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:41PM (#7988193) Journal
    Linus is the maintainer of the experimental Linux kernal, he realy doesn't care about
    1. package managers,
    2. Window managers,

    He seems to like Xwindows, but he isn't saying we have to use it.
    He wants to let us all fight among ourselves concerning standards and now Linux is the most fragmented OS in existence.
    Well he does try to keep the fight fair which lends itself to the survival of the fittest and ultimately the best overall system.
  • Re:MERGE! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:42PM (#7988216)
    Please Please Please! Will people shut up about merging GNOME and KDE. It's won't happen, can't happen, shouldn't happen. IT'S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.

    You want reasons? OK.

    - One is C, the other C++. Many programmers of each project would find it difficult to switch over. I write C++ almost exclusively - switching to pure C is a wrench for me and I don't enjoy it so much. I can't imagine what a complex C++ class hierachy like KDE would look like after a bunch of C programmers 'maintained' it.
    - Doubling the number of programmers even on a commercial project where everyone is paid to work doesn't double output. On projects where most of the work is on a volunteer basis, so people have to *really want* to work, the ratio would be even worse. Factor in the arguments caused by all those developers with different ideas, and you could end up actually lowering productivity.
    - You can't tell volunteer developers what to do. If you shut down GNOME and said "now work on KDE", I guarantee that most of the GNOME developers would start up their own DWARF project within a week.
    - Choice is GOOD. I don't like GNOME. Others don't like KDE. Who is right? Neither of us - it's a personal judgement.

    What is a good thing is the increasing agreement on standard protocols for exchange between the two. "Desktop Linux" is not a product produced by development teams. They just make the components - distro makers take the projects and make an integrated desktop from them.

  • Bootable CDs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:45PM (#7988270) Homepage Journal
    I agree that bootable CDs make a huge difference. There is one problem, though. I've given bootable CDs to a few people. When they reboot with the CD in the drive nothing happens but Windows loading. Many (most?) users need to set their BIOS to try booting from CD because it's not set by default. When I explain that it's an immediate turn-off, no matter how easy it is. They sigh and think using Linux means work. They've all been happy in the end, but unfortunately it may not be as easy as handing out CDs and saying, "Put this in and turn on your computer." Plus if this becomes common I'm sure a certain big software company will strongly suggest to desktop hardware manufacturers that booting from CD not be on by default.
  • Re:Yet another... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Geek of Tech ( 678002 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:16PM (#7988706) Homepage Journal
    Well, compared to the previous year, every year has been "the year" for Linux.

  • Re:Yet another... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:21PM (#7988751)
    I've been hear that since at least 1998, every year.

    From Linus? Because the fact that he specifically is saying this, and not the geek masses who've been chanting it for six years, is pretty much the entire point of the blurb.
  • Re:No offense, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:28PM (#7988849) Journal
    You know, I never had any problem watching a divx, browsing the web, emerging the world, running bittorrent, and burning a cd simultaneously on a 2.4 kernel. The mouse cursor might get a little choppy, but 2.6 has fixed this right up. This is on a relatively moderate system. 1800xp, 512mb ram, kt266a chipset. I never had any problem playing music and web browsing simultaneously on my old p200 either. I don't know what your problem is. Buggy audio drivers? Forget to turn dma on with hdparm?

    As for apple, the reason it went with the mach kernel was undoubtedly the more liberal license.
  • Re:Yet another... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zurab ( 188064 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:43PM (#7989112)
    This is yet another article on "the state of Linux on the desktop," and yet again, we're told this year will be "the year."

    I've been hear that since at least 1998, every year.

    That may be as far as /., but it's not true for Linus. In fact, when he started working on 2.4, Linus said it would be geared mostly towards server-based systems and functionality.

    When 2.4 was stable and he started working on 2.6, Linus said he wanted to put in more features for desktop. Now, I don't know if you noticed, but Linux on servers has been working out pretty well during that time period. Now, it's desktop's turn (according to Linus) and we'll see what happens; even Linus admits that it's harder on the desktop:

    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.
  • by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:53PM (#7989249) Homepage
    I think the thing is, Linus, despite being the Godfather of Linux, has not been expressing this sort of sentiment. In fact he's for years seemed to mostly be saying "yeah the Desktop isn't really my concern, maybe something will happen."

    This would indicate the fact that he's turned around and is now saying "yeah, Linux is probably ready for the desktop" means something, or at least indicates that this opinion comes from careful thought and not just blind promotion. My guess is that he is mostly making this statement now because his part of Linux-- the kernel-- has, with 2.6 and the new preemption and scheduling system, recieved a very considerable amount of improvement in the way it performs in desktop situations.
  • by Atzanteol ( 99067 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @04:19PM (#7989711) Homepage
    "Unix on the other hand, demands that its users master a highly symbolic computing environment based primarily on the motif of arbitrary symbols linearly placed on a command line."

    That must be why 'books' never took off. They're just too damn difficult to use! Who wants to spend all that time learning 'grammars' and 'spelling' with arbitrary symbols linearly placed on a page.

    I know IHBT, but I'm responding anyway. I believe that the best reason for *both* the CLI and GUI to exist is that they represent the difference between the 'language' and 'visual' parts of the brain (respectively).

    With the CLI you are 'telling' the computer what to do. As I would tell you where to go and how to get there. Very effective for many tasks.

    With a GUI you are presented with options, and you 'point and click' at them. I show you a map in the real world, and ask you to point at where you want to go.

    Some people want to 'drag' a file from one folder to another (these people probably point to objects in a store and grunt to get them). Others would rather 'explain' to the computer what files to move, where, and how.

    *nix/*BSD have a nice mixture of both. The CLI was first, but the GUI's are catching up. It would be 'wrong' to forsake one for the other. Even Apple kept the *nix command line for Mac OSX!
  • Re:Yet another... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gherald ( 682277 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @04:28PM (#7989830) Journal
    Yes but remember back in the day when he first started working on the Linux network code, he bumped the kernel version up to .90 thinking he was almost done. And then there were like 200 kernel releases between Linux .9 and 1.0?

    My point is that he's been wrong before, and he could be wrong now. He's not as omniscient as some OSS jocks try to make him out to be.

    I do not consider Linus an expert on desktop systems. He is first and foremost a kernel hacker.

    Now, don't get me wrong, I am very pleased with my kernel 2.6/Gentoo/Gnome desktop. But I do not think it is ready for prime time. Much work remains to be done to simplify configuration and installation, both for the distros themselves, adding applications, and new hardware.
  • by gaijin99 ( 143693 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @04:51PM (#7990187) Journal
    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.
    Um. No, I think you're completely wrong here. While it is definately true that Linux needs better GUI tools (Mandrake has a very nice, but not yet finished set, as does Redhat) the idea of giving up the command line is preposterous.

    I certainly expect to see the day (maybe this year) when the average Linux user never sees a CLI, or even knows what one is. BUT, the CLI will remain an essential and critical part of Linux (and all Unixes) forever due to its inherent utility and power. In Windows the config files are hard to find, written in a format that is only machine readable, and if the GUI doesn't have an option for doing what you want, you're screwed. Compare to Linux where the config files are easy to find, human readable, and if the GUI doesn't have an option for doing what you want it isn't really much of a hassle. We need better GUIs, yes, absolutely. Joe User needs to be able to do pretty much everything from a GUI. But the CLI is indespensable to those who need to do real work, and will not dissapear.

  • by IANAAC ( 692242 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @04:54PM (#7990246)
    It runs on a laptop with "few problems". Few problems is a reason enough not to switch.

    I've said this before, but I'll repeat it. This is really an old argument. If you were to install Windows XP on the same laptop from scratch, you would run into the same (possibly more) problems. Here's a little experiment I recently did:

    I bought an emachine laptop (M5310) not too long ago. It came with XP Home installed. I wiped it clean. Installed Suse 9 on it. I had to change a line in /etc/XF86Config to get the proper screen resolution (1280x800). Hot-plug devices (PC cards and USB) worked properly. ACPI worked fine, although I had to futz with the power-management settings a bit (/etc/sysconfig/powermanagement) to get proper CPU throttling. Other than that, SUSE loaded fine.
    Now I decided to load XP Professional. Why professional instead of Home? Well, I had a full copy of XP PRO and didn't have a full Home copy. That's right. The laptop did not ship with the full media. It came with a Ghost image.
    Let me tell you... XP Pro barfed all over the place. Could not get wireless working. Screen resolution was 1280-768 stretched (I probably could have found a way to fix this, admittedly). Somehow, after the initial install, the CD/DVD drive was gone. Couldn't get it back. Only one USB port worked - how XP managed that I don't know.

    My point is that there will always be problems with getting any machine working properly after a fresh install - Linux, XP, BSD. The real key to desktop acceptance by Joe Camera/Scanner/Dialup is for manufacturers to ship boxes with Linux loaded and a generous set of drivers/modules installed - they're out there. All it takes is for one major computer maker to do the quality testing of everything for their hardware.

  • by Rysc ( 136391 ) <> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @05:40PM (#7990948) Homepage Journal
    There is no need to discard the command line. There is a need to improve the GUI. Ideally both should be able to do everything. We CAN have both.

    There's no need to Windowsify Linux, there's no need to drop the command line. There's also no need to teach people to use the command line, though that would be my preference if it came to it.

    Repeat: The GUI can exist to make remembering those arcane sequences easy in a way that is functionally identical to windows, but whicha ctually leveregaes the power of the command line, and enhances it, thus not alienating the core user base.
  • by nathanh ( 1214 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @05:49PM (#7991062) Homepage
    Being a Mac user, I've learned to take these kind of prognostications with a grain of salt over the years. Linux has a good foundation and it's nearly free but that's no where near enough to win the hearts and minds of the average computer user. Obviously it has to do what they need, with the minimum amount of hassle and the maximum amount of pleasure. Linux has too many loose ends, too much variability, and a really substandard user interface at this point. It's going to have to be at least as polished as Windows and probably closer to OS X level before it really starts swaying people. I'm eager to use Linux and I check out all the distributions when they have notable releases, but nothing has shown me a reason to switch, not even for a bare bones e-mail/web machine.

    I've been a Linux user for the past 12 years and it has been my primary desktop for most of those (as in, no dual-boot, just Linux). I've lived through TWM and FVWM. I've hand-editted Modelines with the aide of a calculator. I've suffered through the growing pains of Linux on the desktop. I say all this to show that I know that the Linux desktop has big hairy warts.

    Recently I bought an Apple iBook G4 and it came with all the latest MacOSX software. I toyed with MacOSX for about an hour before reformatting and installing Linux. I honestly prefer Linux as my desktop. It does exactly what I want with no fuss or effort. I haven't needed to edit a config file in more than two years. XFree86 doesn't even need Modelines anymore; they're all autodiscovered with DDC and EDID. Even traditional UNIX applications are configured with debconf; I just click on the little GUI buttons that appear after selecting my package updates in the GUI software manager. The Linux desktop has all the applications I want (ie, email, browser, word processor). All the features I want (ie, MP3, DVD). And all the games I want (ie, chess). It's a perfect setup for me.

    Does the Linux desktop still have warts? Sure, but from my experiences at work, so does Windows. And I've owned various Macintoshes including more than one PowerPC model, so I know MacOS has warts too (at least Classic did, I don't know a lot about MacOSX)! I think Linux as a desktop is great. It's my preference. I don't care if you don't use it; your usage or non-usage of Linux doesn't affect me either way. But I think you're mistaken if you think there's no compelling reason to use Linux on the desktop. The fact that many of us do use Linux on the desktop should be your first hint that it offers something, even if you can't see what that something is.

  • by nathanh ( 1214 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @07:25PM (#7992215) Homepage
    I'm not saying it doesn't offer anything or that no one is using it now, just that in the grand scheme of things, Linux is not a quality desktop product. Heck, Windows is completely horrible too and OS X has some major flaws, but they both have things pretty sorted out in terms of their direction. My point mostly is that Linux has to get a UI plan which doesn't just address "good enough" but actually tries to take the whole computing experience forward.

    I really do disagree and for one very simple reason: Windows 3.0. It was a horrible interface. It was kludgy and undirected. Applications all looked different. Cut and paste did not work properly. You had to edit CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT from the command line. It had memory leaks and was unstable. Drivers were a nightmare, especially for networking.

    But it won. It beat out the obviously better alternatives. The majority of users didn't really care about unified interfaces or simplicity. They're only interested in "good enough" and "costs less". And part of the "costs less" component was the hardware that it ran on.

    The entire American culture demonstrates that I'm right. McDonalds is more popular than decent restaurants. StarBucks is more popular than decent cafes. Walmart is more popular than speciality stores. People are happy with good enough if it costs less. They very fact that people buy Palsonic is enough proof for me.

    I think you're right that Linux isn't as cohesive, unified, directed, etc as alternatives like Windows and MacOSX. I just don't agree with you that it matters. People will buy the cheapest option and that cheapest option is Linux[1]. It just needs to be good enough and then it wins.

    [1] And they won't consider TCO. If they did then they would never have lumbered themselves with Windows in the first place. Upfront cost is the only cost that people really care about.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser