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Linux Software

Follow Up to "Linux's Achilles Heel" 533

donheff writes "Fred Langa has posted an Informationweek online followup to his "Linux's Achilles Heel" column that drew a lot of attention on slashdot recently. He responds to several of the most common criticisms and 'posits that high-priced commercial Linux vendors are on a suicidal course, unless they lower prices to accentuate their advantages over Windows.'"
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Follow Up to "Linux's Achilles Heel"

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  • Reverse? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somethinghollow ( 530478 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:05AM (#9182991) Homepage Journal
    "lower prices to accentuate their advantages over Windows"

    So, Microsoft raises it's prices to accentuate it's disadvantages over Linux?

    Commercial distros, last time I checked, are still a hell of alot cheaper than Windows. Employees of Commercial Linux Distros still need to be paid.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:08AM (#9183017)
    It makes me kinda sad that we're heading for this plug-n-play
    easy-to-use point-and-click world with Linux (and BSD, et al).
    One of the (lesser) reasons I use BSD on on my desktop is because
    I feel like a geek/hacker using it. It's enjoyable to use.

    I often get more productivity out of the command line than I would
    with a fancy point-and-click GUI. If I'm in X, I have not much more
    than a dozen xterms open.

    I'm glad that Linux is moving forward and providing an alternative
    for users, but I can't help but feel disheartened at the fact that in a few
    years Linux will probably be as commericialised and consumer-orientated as
    Windows is, and perhaps Linux will (as it currently does to some
    extent, IMO) lose sight of it's goals as a secure and reliably
    operating system, and focus on ease-of-use and user-friendliness(sp?).
  • I think (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phidoux ( 705500 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:09AM (#9183035) Homepage
    It would be good if the Linux community, as a whole, saw these criticisms in a positive light rather than getting our collective backs up and getting on the defensive. If Linux is ever going to replace Windows, we all have to be prepared to listen to criticism and then do something to correct the weaknesses, even if the weaknesses are only perceived, because to the perceiver, perception is reality.
  • Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaveJay ( 133437 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:10AM (#9183048)
    Putting aside the other issues for a moment, is an article that essentially cherry-picks forum posts from random people -- specifically the ones that look the most foolish and are most easily refuted -- anything other than sensationalistic journalism?

    Before you answer, keep in mind I'm going to pick the most foolish replies that are most easily refuted and write an article about it. ;)
  • by YodaToo ( 776221 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:11AM (#9183056)
    Maybe he's just covering his ass in retrospect, but it sounds to me like this poor bastard really got flamed for writing an honest article.

    His points seem valid enough to me and while Linux beats M$ hands down on many points, there are still areas where Linux has to step up before it will be an attractive alternative to Windows across the board.

    Having said that it is attractive in many cases now. I migrated all of my employee workstations to Fedora a few months ago and couldn't be more pleased with the results.

  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:12AM (#9183084)
    Apple has already accomplished this with BSD and OS X. Looking at the Java Desktop System, I think that this is Sun's endgame as well. For now they'll leverage everything Linux, then slowly replace all programs with Java ones, and the Desktop with Java Looking Glass. It's hard to say how it will work out, but I wish them the best.

    I don't.

    It is exactly this sort of shit that nearly killed UNIX in the 1980s and allowed Microsoft the opportunity to supplant technically superior systems with their shoddy software and then leverage that toehold into a desktop monopoly.

    Fragmentation is bad for everyone. Sun, HP, et. al. made this mistake before. If they insist on repeating it (and I believe Sun is perfectly capable of repeating acts of inane stupidity perpetually, as they really do seem to have difficulty learning from past mistakes -- remember sunview, openwindows, etc.) they will meet the same fate as before, this time with no one to rescue them.

    Apple is different, in that they have always had their own OS and their own niche, and have used their underlying BSD system to actually broaden that platform some. What you are describing for Sun et. al. is a narrowing of their (Linux) platform, and undermining one of the great values of Linux ... that it is a defacto standard system that runs the same basic flavor of *NIX on multiple hardware platforms, irrespective of distribution, CPU type, 32-bit vs. 64-bit, 1-way vs. N-way processors, etc.

    Lose that and your right back to the state of UNIX circa 1990, and that wasn't a pretty picture (or a viable state of affairs, with every hardware manufacturer's proprietary system incompatible with everyone elses).

    Fragmentation is bad, and I do not "wish the best" for anyone trying to fragment the free software world in general and Linux in particular. Quite the opposite: I hope any such efforts fail miserably and teach a lesson certain parties seem quite challenged to learn, no matter how often they burn themselves trying.
  • Agree or disagree with the author, there is one thing he shows quite clearly: Many Linux users would rather attack than help. Regardless of whether it's an EBKAC problem or not, don't you people think that you should be using polite language to discuss the issue? A little bit of "Oh, it's all right. You merely did this wrong. Now you're up and going and you know for next time. :-)" would go a long way toward getting Linux a positive review. Instead users are assailed as "stoopid" and "the real problem is that you don't know what you're doing". This is extremely frustrating!

    I myself have years of experience with Linux, *BSD, Solaris, and several other Unixes. When I try to point out a deficiency that I think should be fixed (binary compatibly, PLEASE) I merely get the "you're stupid and don't know anything about Linux", or the "You're using the wrong distro. MY distro doesn't have this problem!" Of course, you can switch, run into some other problem, then be told, "Well this OTHER distro (which you were previously using) doesn't have this issue! You should switch!"

    In all fairness, many people have managed to be polite, as evidenced by many of the replies I received in my Linux reviews []. Unfortunately, one bad apple tends to spoil the bunch. Stop the fighting and name calling! Work together! So much more will be accomplished that way.

  • Settle Down (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WordODD ( 706788 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:15AM (#9183115)
    No matter how Pro-Linux anyone is they have to realize that charging as much for a distro of Linux as a copy of Windows XP is wrong. Constantly I read on Slashdot how MS is overpriced and Windows XP is not worth even half of what the retail price is but when this guy comes out and says that commerical distos need to reduce their prices the pro-Linux slashdotters go wild and a flameware ensues. I think what he said that set everyone off was that the quality was lacking in the Linux distros and that what was made them worth less then the asking price, what he should have said is that the prices are ridiculous for both commerical Linux and Windows because both are in fact priced outrageously. The price points set by Microsoft have made their OS one of the most pirated peices of software on the planet and even with their size and influence they know that there is no way to ever experience complete success against piracy of their product. We do not want the commerical Linuxs to experience the same problem or else it will slow their development because the do not have the resources of a Microsoft or an Adobe to live off of. Commerical Linux needs to lower its prices and start selling itself as what it really is, a MS alternative that may take a bit more effort to get off and running but will pay dividends down the road.
  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:21AM (#9183208)
    From the article:
    "There were a few more posts in the "Fred is lying/hiding" vein, but most of those died out when the participants in the discussion saw that the sound system indeed should have worked."

    How can they see that it "should have worked" when Fred still won't Name That Hardware?

    Once Fred is willing to Name That Hardware, then everyone can progress to the next round!

    Is it a BUG in Linux
    Is it a BUG in the hardware

    But Fred sez:
    "The omission was simple: I had seen no need to burn space in the original article with a list of the hardware specs because the vendor I was dealing with specifically said the system should work with their distribution (I had provided the support techs with a complete hardware rundown); and the sound chipset in question is listed on the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) site as supported."

    It would take Fred less space to Name That Hardware than it took to write that paragraph.

    IBM Thinkpad T40
    (16 characters plus carriage return)
    Fred's reasoning why he shouldn't have to to identify it...
    (approximately 400 characters)

    What was that about not wanting to "burn space"?

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:21AM (#9183212) Homepage
    Langa's criticism sounds fair to me. I've been there, done that so many times. Official spec sheet says product X supports product Y. You have product Y. You buy product X. Product Y doesn't work with it. You complain. Then you hear variations on the following theme

    *Very few of our customers are using product Y.

    *Personally, I would never have recommended product Y.

    *Why are you using product Y? Product Z is so much better.

    *You don't really need to have product Y work with product X.

    *By "support," all we meant is basic functionality. It does allow product Y to frangulate over the standard three-gnorgl raniseft. I know that the main selling point of product Y is that it can frangulate over eight gnorgls more than standard products, but we only support the basic functionality.

    *Anyone knowledgeable could have told you that X's support for Y sucks. It was your dumb fault for believing the spec sheet.

    *We've found that most of our customers LIKE having Product Y hang, freeze, and emit smoke.

    *Oh, we're sorry about that, but it was marketing that put that on the spec sheet, not engineering.

  • by SQLz ( 564901 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:21AM (#9183218) Homepage Journal
    Most of the TCO studies cite that to deploy linux, you need competant admins that cost more because they have pesky unwanted skills like security, programming languages, and generally a lot more experience with more complex software packages than an MSCE.

  • by B'Trey ( 111263 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:22AM (#9183220)
    You're falling prey to the same error as the article writer - viewing Linux as a single operating system.

    Commercial distributions are intended to be polished, consumer-oriented OS's. The writer is correct that they aren't there yet. However, Mandarake, SuSE, Red Hat, etc., are not "Linux." They're a Linux, or a Linux based OS, but not Linux.

    Debian, for one example, is still around and still focused on security and reliability rather than consumer use. Gentoo is another. Linux will not lose its focus. Various distributions will have their own focus, but the focus of that distribution does not affect the focus of "Linux" over all.
  • by Cereal Box ( 4286 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:23AM (#9183229)
    Considering that you can get 5 copies of XP home (yes, that's not the "workstation" version of Windows, but still) for $500, AND considering that XP is going to be more compatible with hardware than SuSE's offering (this was the guy's main gripe), then perhaps you understand where he's coming from when he says that commercial Linux distros are overpriced.
  • The primary problem with hardware drivers for Linux is that hardware vendors (usually) aren't interested in making them. The only reason they are interested in making Windows drivers at all is because the environment is already so popular.

    So it's interesting that you appear to be saying that Linux needs better hardware driver support to become more popular, but the truth of the matter is that most hardware vendors are simply uninterested in supporting a platform that isn't already popular.

    Interesting Catch22, no? Actually, it probably won't matter to anyone who isn't trying to evangelize others to their pet OS.

  • by Teckla ( 630646 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:25AM (#9183245)

    First, I think it would only be fair to point out that the cost of Linux should be compared to the cost of the server version of Windows. XP Home, and even XP Professional, are much more limited than your typical distribution of Linux.

    Second, if you're taking the Linux plunge, it's generally trivial to test drive a free (as in beer) distribution of Linux before making the dive into a commercial distribution of Linux that comes with support contracts and other goodies.

    Third, the fact that Linux lags behind when it comes to drivers can hardly be blamed on Linux. Hardware manufacturers (whether rightly or wrongly) tend to put a low priority on writing Linux drivers, if they write them at all.

    Honestly, I blame this in part on the GNU Public License, since it's somewhat business unfriendly. This is just my honest opinion, please don't flame me for it.


  • by TTL0 ( 546351 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:28AM (#9183267)
    The big difference is that no matter how outwardly "dumb" the system is, you still have access to the internals via the CLI and .conf files.

    In the Windows world the user, (or better the admin who is trying to save/fix a broken system) is locked out of that part of the OS
  • by Cereal Box ( 4286 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:28AM (#9183274)
    But options that Langa didn't seem to explore, like IRC and message boards, are in my view Linux's saving grace.
    <langa> I bought a Linux distribution and my soundcard doesn't work, what can I do?
    <LiNuXRlz> RTFM n00b.
  • by dijjnn ( 227302 ) <bwthomas@cs.[ ] ['uch' in gap]> on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:29AM (#9183281)

    What do you find to be illegitimate about existing TCO studies, except for the fact that the conclusion isn't what you'd like it to be?

    That they're published by organizations with clear conflict of interest issues. Most of ones with published papers are funded by Microsoft directly or indirectly.

    hmm, i wonder what they'll say about the competition of the people paying them... hmmm...

  • I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TwistedSpring ( 594284 ) * on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:29AM (#9183283) Homepage
    Zealots aside, I agree with this article and the former article. It's been a frequent issue for me when installing many different Linux distributions that:

    1. It's not a surprise if my network card works.
    2. It's a mild surprise if my sound card works.
    3. (up until recently) It'd amaze me if my graphics card worked to its full potential.

    Net, sound and graphics are the most important peripherals that should work flawlessly. Sound and graphics especially, as they're the sensory output of your computer, without them you don't know what's going on.

    Linux does not have the same quality of driver database as Microsoft's OSes do. This is merely because Microsoft is dominant. Perhaps a sweet way to handle the problem would be to create some kind of abstraction layer that allowed you to use vendor-supplied Windows drivers under Linux, but that is extremely unrealistic, and it'd be slow and bloated (someone will now pipe up and tell me that it is being worked on).

    Linux has been given a boost by the recent dominance of particular audio chips from Creative (such as the EMU10K1) and graphics chipsets from ATI and nVidia.

    Sadly, Linux drivers are provided mainly by people who have some hardware that doesn't work under Linux. So they start a driver for it, get far enough for the driver to work well enough for their needs, and then leave it to deteriorate over time without any attention paid to it, as they change hardware. End users then get some kind of beta thing that hasnt been worked on for 3 years but still have to use it. This is the hardware manufacturers fault -- Linux devrs dont have the money to buy and reverse-engineer every piece of hardware. They need the specs, and ultimately they need the vendor to make a Linux driver by proxy, as vendors do for Windows.

    Currently though, you don't look bad for not making a Linux driver. People don't open the box and say "wtf is this? No linux driver?!", because they morbidly expect Linux support to be limited. In the domain of onboard sound or graphics, or newer hardware, Linux support is the exception rather than the rule. Vendors need some good reason to add Linux support, and it's not up to me to decide what that reason would be. "Thanks" is not good enough.

    I should also mention that even if most home Linux users do obtain a driver for some hardware, they'd be at pains to find out how to install/compile the damn thing, especially if it involves recompiling the kernel.

    I'm not flaming Linux, I don't need a crock of shit from the zealot crowd telling me I'm an idiot faggot and so on, I'm just being realistic and saying there is work to be done.

    What I'd like to see in the future is a Universal Driver Abstraction Layer, some kind of compile-once-run-many virtual machine that allows the same drivers to work on any OS that supports it, the only problem is that OSes make very different demands of the drivers so this may never come into fruition.
  • by phats garage ( 760661 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:30AM (#9183289) Homepage Journal
    And this is further support for a pragmatic attitude regarding binary only modules. Companies continue to prefer having trade secrets for competitive advantage, and linux advocates should keep a bit of pragmatism available for those companies who at least offer binary drivers for download instead of going all batshit RMS-like.
  • by Malor ( 3658 ) * on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:31AM (#9183295) Journal
    Boy, one thing that really struck a chord here with me was Mr. Langa's observation of the "if we don't have it, you don't need it" syndrome. I've seen that so many times with Linux. If you ask how to do a given thing, and it turns out that thing is hard to do in Linux, inevitably multiple people will suggest that you shouldn't even need to do that. It doesn't matter what it is, if it's not in Linux, someone will tell you that your need is silly.

    A great example is one of my early posts about how I didn't trust Linux filesystems, and that I'd lost files on numerous occasions due to power failures on ext2 systems. I went back and looked through my whole archive, but apparently this thread was before the cutoff date for archiving... lost to history.

    Roughly summarizing, I posted that I didn't trust Linux in a production environment because ext2 was unreliable: you couldn't trust it in a power failure. I didn't get EVEN ONE useful response. What I got, instead, were a mix of (approximately):

    1) "Well, gee, I've lost power 14,232 times and I've never lost a file"; (ie, problem doesn't exist)
    2) "You should always have backups"; (problem is unimportant)
    3) "You're an idiot, you should have copied a backup superblock. Moron. Go play with Windows." (problem is stupid user)
    4) "I lost power to my NT machine and I lost 23,124 files!' (NT is worse so it's okay for Linux to suck.)

    It was really interesting to see how different the posts were when I mentioned that a couple of years later. I can't find that post now, but by that time, Linux had journaled filesystems. We had a fairly interesting commentary back and forth about how NT 4.0 didn't really have journaling, and that it wasn't until 2K that NTFS was truly robust. But everyone agreed that journaling was good, now that Linux had it. Pretty significant shift in stance, eh?

    I've seen this so many times that I'm forced to conclude it's some kind of defense mechanism.... if you really love your pet project, and it has shortcomings, gloss over them or dismiss them as unimportant. I think we would be wise to be more aware of this, and that users in general don't request things for no reason at all. They may just need education. It may be simple ignorance on how to approach the problem in Linux.

    Chewing them out, on the other hand, for not manually repairing their filesystems by copying a backup superblock, well.... that's stupider than their not knowing how.

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdfl[ ]com ['at.' in gap]> on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:31AM (#9183299) Journal
    Right... just like there's no "English Alphabet" corp... yet it seems like there's a lot of people that use that (including the writer of the article).

    But somehow the idea that a lot of people would ever be comfortable using a system that isn't managed by a central organization is unthinkable!

  • Re:Settle Down (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:33AM (#9183330) Homepage
    As long as the "product" can be downloaded legally for FREE, any blatherings about price are mindless babble. Support for $50-$200 software products suck regardless and have always sucked. This is a simple fact of life.

    The cheap entry point is what is really relevant. Those that try to choose Linux will need a local support network just as they do with WinDOS. THAT is where the real "Microsoft support" comes from.
  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:37AM (#9183354)
    Agree or disagree with the author, there is one thing he shows quite clearly: Many Linux users would rather attack than help.

    I disagree (rather strongly) with your use of the word "most." It isn't "most" users, it is the "loudest" users. There is an important difference.

    Any crowd has its bullies, and the RTMFYDMF ("read the fucking articile you dumb mother-fucker") crowd rears its ugly head in almost every community of sufficient size (I've seen variations on that in the MSFT support groups, the FreeBSD groups, and plenty of others).

    Unfortunately, while the RMTFYDMF crowd is a tiny minority, it tends to be the loudest subgroup by far, while other, helpful, normal people tend to be quieter (as they are not looking for the first opportunity to put someone down ... they are too busy leading real lives, be they on-line or in meat-space).

    Most Linux users and enthusiasts can take criticism reasonably well, just as most OS X enthusiasts, *BSD enthusiasts, Blender enthusiasts, etc. can. Those who cannot unfortunately scream the loudest and get the most attention, emberrassing the rest of us (I have been moderated into oblivion and flamed to hell for posting rather mild criticism of Apple on this site a time or two ... and I'm a fan of Apple who owns one of their high-end laptops).

    I disagree with several of the points in the original article (and agree with others), but I shudder to think of the rude flames the guy probably received from the RTFMYDMF crowd.

    It isn't helpful, nor is it an accurate representation of our community. It is, however, the most often seen (or heard) group because of its loud obnoxiousness, and there are certain parties that no doubt would be perfectly happy to enhance that loudness to the detriment of us all (and to their PR advantage).

    While I disagree with the current article's posits (commercial Linux distros remain significantly less expensive than their commercial equivelents, particularly Microsofts) and believe it based on too few data points (RedHat is the glaring exception to the above), the author does seem to have tempered his response to what must have been some aggrivating flamage from the more boistrous, and generally more anti-social, parts of the peanut gallary.

    Hopefully more reasoned and enlightened disagreement (where appropriate) will prevail in response to this article, instead of some of the knee-jerk flamage that so often gets shouted from the rooftops by an undiplomatic few.
  • by Cereal Box ( 4286 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:45AM (#9183459)
    Yes, it is an OEM price. But you don't have to buy new machines to get the OEM price, just "hardware" at many computer retailers. So, you could buy something cheap, like an IDE cable with each copy. Make it $101. So sorry.

    BUT, considering that's the one copy OEM price that any person can get, I have to imagine that the volume prices (5+ copies) are even cheaper. Maybe someone can confirm, as generally finding the price requires calling someone.

    And Advanced Server? For a desktop? How about XP Pro instead...
  • Good for him (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Apostata ( 390629 ) <> on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:51AM (#9183530) Homepage Journal
    As a steady Linux user for the past 4 years, I feel Langa's response to the onslaught of reactions is even-handed and, well, fitting.

    I feel embarrassed for the Linux community when I see people making such asinine remarks (/accusations/insults). In fact, I was *thankful* that someone asked him to 'write his own driver', just so that we could all see just how narrow-minded we can all be.

    Supporting Linux means being fair first, and not simply being sycophants. Langa's points are somewhat salient, and they need to be addressed. Not derided out-of-hand.

  • by Rick Zeman ( 15628 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @10:59AM (#9183624)
    This is Linux FUD week it seems

    How are the Information Week articles FUD*? They looked to me to be well-documented and logical. Plus, he could have flamed the idiots that flamed him in...and didn't. He actually gave them a respect they didn't deserve.

    *by the MS definition, of course.
  • this sort of shit that nearly killed UNIX in the 1980s

    Duh, hello, ignorance.

    The reason that shit 'nearly killed UNIX' in the 80's was because everyone (the vendors) were making their own Unix.

    In this case, its irrelevant: Linux is free, the base technology is out there, you and your competitors all have the same, even, level playing field.

    I see nothing wrong at all with fragmentation and propagation of the Linux kernel into whatever devices can support it. GREAT!

    If UNIX wants to stay UNIX, however, then thats another thing ... but Linux, 'embedded', doesn't have to stay UNIX. At all.

  • Overpriced? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HopeOS ( 74340 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @11:06AM (#9183701)
    XP Home comes with an industry standard web server? XP Home can operate as a full-fledged file server? With unlimited client-licensed connections? XP Home provides a secure, virus-free work environment for the corporate desktop? XP Home comes with a fully functional word processor and spreadsheet? XP Home comes with a complete compiler and development environment?

    Seems to me that XP Home is a bit overpriced.

    All it can do out of the box is play music, watch DVD's, connect to the internet, and download malware while you're trying to get real work done. No, thank you, but I'll pass.

  • Re:Overpriced? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cereal Box ( 4286 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @11:18AM (#9183827)
    XP Home comes with an industry standard web server?

    Irrelevant, as the original poster's link points to what is touted as a "desktop" version of SuSE, not a server version. But, if you really want, you can get Apache.

    XP Home can operate as a full-fledged file server?

    With Windows File Sharing, or an FTP server, or an NFS server, sure. Just download it.

    With unlimited client-licensed connections?

    Nothing stopping you from accepting as many connections with third-party software as you want.

    XP Home provides a secure, virus-free work environment for the corporate desktop?

    Linux doesn't provide you with one either, so this isn't really a good point for you to be making.

    Seems to me that XP Home is a bit overpriced.

    Not when you consider that the author's original concern was not with how many different kinds of FTP servers and word processors ship with his OS, but how compatible the OS is with common hardware. Windows is more compatible than Linux. Windows (the version cited) is cheaper. In his view, Linux is therefore overpriced, considering that it costs more than the listed version of Windows yet can't maintain the same level of hardware compatibility. End of story.

    All it can do out of the box is play music, watch DVD's, connect to the internet, and download malware while you're trying to get real work done.

    Of course, in a corporate environment you would most likely be installing full disk images, complete with all the software you need (and patches) to the client machines, so Windows could "out of the box" do all the things you listed (which no one really cares about on the desktop, except development, depending on the user).
  • by baggins2002 ( 654972 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @11:19AM (#9183846) Journal
    Currently my vendor supplies Windows for $125 per system. Suse is only $25 dollars cheaper per system. Percentage wise the cost differentials for servers is about the same, until you start throwing in the CALs. But in small to mid size business, I haven't seen a cost differential that is large enough to make it a none decision.
    Unless you start looking at unsupported distributions, but then you have to start considering personell to support the systems.
    Usually you have to start thinking future costs and long term before linux and opensource make sense. So far I haven't run into to many PHB's that can or want to think long term about their IT infrastructure in that way.
    The only time I have seen a complete mental shift from MS to opensource was when a project got delayed almost 6 weeks due to patches needing to be applied to systems. I doubt that I'll see this again because MS now only releases patches monthly and project planning usually takes this delay into account.
    Yes, I know this doesn't seem to make sense, because now your spending more resources on something that isn't your project goal. But once it's in the plan it becomes invisible. The only way to counter this is to show that it takes only 2 months to complete a project on opensource, whereas it would take 3 months on MS. This is rarely the case though, because you still have staff that need to be brought up or trained on the opensource equivalent, which in turn increases the time line. And once again it's difficult to get managers to see that this is a training cost that is beneficial long term and is something that is incurred in going from 2000 to 2003 or from 2000 to XP.
    It's a continuos uphill battle and you have to remember that only half the people out there have above average intelligence. Remember Mom and Dad made sure these kids got MBA's, otherwise how the hell would they make a living.
  • by Rick Zeman ( 15628 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @11:21AM (#9183877)
    t was really interesting to see how different the posts were when I mentioned that a couple of years later. I can't find that post now, but by that time, Linux had journaled filesystems. We had a fairly interesting commentary back and forth about how NT 4.0 didn't really have journaling, and that it wasn't until 2K that NTFS was truly robust. But everyone agreed that journaling was good, now that Linux had it. Pretty significant shift in stance, eh?

    Very insightful. Something analogous is the MS press writers' stances of how the previous versions of Windows truly sucked...but while they were current they were being touted by them to the high heavens. It was only when they became obsolete did they admit to (at least in their press) all of the shortcomings that everyone else had pointed out all along. That sort of 1984'ness never ceases to amuse me....that along with "the next version will fix all of the problems" til the next version gets here and then the cycle starts all over.
  • Re:Achilles Heel? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Obasan ( 28761 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @11:31AM (#9183991)
    Heh... joking aside, Troy really wasn't well written or directed (and Brad Pitt's performance was especially wooden and unspectacular) -however- I will contend that he can in fact act when given a halfway good script and director.

    I cite as examples:
    12 Monkeys
    Fight club

    I know there are at least a few more where he gave a pretty good performance but thats off the top of my head. :)

  • by JoeNiner ( 758431 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @11:34AM (#9184020)
    First, I think it would only be fair to point out that the cost of Linux should be compared to the cost of the server version of Windows. XP Home, and even XP Professional, are much more limited than your typical distribution of Linux.
    The fact that every linux distro has the equivalent of a server OS in the box does not change the user's intention to install it as a desktop workstation. If the user doesn't want the extra features, and buys a "desktop" marketed distro, then that is the MS product that he should compare it to, price and all.
    Second, if you're taking the Linux plunge, it's generally trivial to test drive a free (as in beer) distribution of Linux before making the dive into a commercial distribution of Linux that comes with support contracts and other goodies.
    Say you go to a store and buy tax software that has a box which says it does the full 1040 and all the supplemental forms and worksheets. You get home, install the software, start putting in your data, and realize that you can't put it all in. The 1040EZ is the only form you can find. You call tech support, they tell you that it is all there, they take you through menus and configs to get the other forms to work, and they just don't. Then someone on the tech support forum says "You should have tried the demo." Are you pissed off yet? I would be.
    Third, the fact that Linux lags behind when it comes to drivers can hardly be blamed on Linux. Hardware manufacturers (whether rightly or wrongly) tend to put a low priority on writing Linux drivers, if they write them at all.
    The lack of driver support is not really the issue. The distributor saying this hardware is supported out of the box, and then finding out that it doesn't work is the issue. Would you be happy with your new car if your stereo didn't work? You don't really need it...
  • by viktor ( 11866 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @11:38AM (#9184070) Homepage

    You have an interesting definition of FUD, it would seem.

    He bought a Linux distribution for as much money as Windows would have cost. He installed it on his PC. It didn't work as advertised.

    He then wrote an article about this, in which he explained what didn't work. Linux activists told him he was lying, hiding facts, actively working against Linux, that he was an idiot, a technical moron, that it was his fault, and that the part that didn't work wasn't actually needed.

    Those responses were written by people with very strange ideas of how to build a wide acceptance and support for Linux. They seem to have the idea that any and all forms of criticism is written by people actively against Linux, people who should be taunted, haunted and ridiculed, and their articles hidden, removed or just written of as FUD.

    This is inexplicably stupid, and actively working against wide Linux acceptance. Nobody in their right mind switch to a product that is promoted by people who cannot take criticism, people who do not listen to facts, who cannot accept an opinion contrary to their own without ridiculing the other person, people who, for whatever reason, are so paranoid that they think that there could "Never, Ever, Be Anything Wrong With Linux, and therefore anybody who says so is after us".

    He bought a product. It didn't work as advertised. It could not be fixed by the support. He has every right to complain, tell everyone what happened, and not be ridiculed, called an idiot, or accused of spreading FUD for doing so.

    Calling his article FUD is clueless, and actively working against wide Linux acceptance.

    But I guess I am now the person, most likely paid by Microsoft, who should be haunted and taunted for pointing out something as ridiculous (sp?) as that Linux could, in fact, have areas where work needs to be done, and that anybody who has paid for a distribution has every right to write an article about it. Without clueless activists calling him an idiot.

    I want to be a part of the Free Software world. I do not, however, want to be a part of a narrowminded world where you cannot under any circumstance listen to criticism, where customers must be experts and are otherwise called "idiots", and where anything negative written or said is a sure sign of mental disabilities or a covert Microsoft operation.

    If that is the world of Linux, then I will never tell anyone I love it.

  • by ShadowRage ( 678728 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @11:41AM (#9184109) Homepage Journal
    ist he fact commercial distros will overshow the real distros that think of opensource and the user before money. They'll sell their product in stores, but will provide it free of charge also.

    Sadly the way the US economy is, the commercial ones will be the representatives to linux to joe average and mr. common businessman

    and they're not necessarily the best, they offer some good features, but are too narrow in what they provide, much like microsoft.

    MEPIS and Mandrake 10.0 are the best for users IMHO, and if a company has some good techs on hand who want to get down and dirty to make some good low-end servers, use debian, and of course, give a nice donation :P
  • by 13Echo ( 209846 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @11:52AM (#9184258) Homepage Journal
    I don't really get anything of value out of this follow-up article from Langa. Essentially, it's a compilation of the responses that we saw in the forums. Langa, in the forums, did nothing more than *insult* other posters and attempt (but failed) to do an adequate job of backing up his claims.

    It has been mentioned that Langa's sound problems were related to the fact that he was *emulating* a sound device through Virtual PC. I suspect that it was the primary reason for his problems. He did indicate that sound worked at one point in time, through some means, but eventually failed again. It's hard to tell the exact reasons. I could argue all day that there are a number of peices of hardware that work very nicely on Linux but work like shit on WindowsXP (e.g. Aureal Vortex chips, which are still showing up in new soundcards to this very day). I could argue that my UMAX scanner works perfectly on Linux, but requires a paid driver update from UMAX to get it to function on Windows XP. These are points that totally negate his reasoning for feeling that "Linux is not ready".

    Fred seems to be surprised that Linux users get defensive over some types of criticism. Is it really all that surprising? We see all sorts of criticisim from "unbiased" sources almost daily, through "reasearch" that is funded by groups like the recent Alexis de Tocqueville Institution articles. Much of it is without warrant. It's another attempt to steer people away from Linux, so it's hard to tell who is right and who is just cashing in. Regardless, people work hard to make Linux an excellent OS, often without compensation. Criticism isn't a bad thing, but is it not only fair that a critic has his facts in order before hand?

    Langa makes an interesting point regarding the cost of Linux software from commercial vendors. I feel that he is missing some important things though. First, desktop Linux software often *does not* cost anything near the cost of Microsoft Windows. He touted Xandros during his initial review, indicating that he had paid for a copy. Xandros standard edition costs a mere $39, and that includes installation tech support. How much more should they lower the prices?

    Why is it that guys like Langa associate less value with Linux and the included programs, thus indicating that the price should be lower? Is Linux considered less of a value to him, simply because his software emulated sound device will not work through Virtual PC? I fail to see what Langa is trying to indicate.

    Companies like RedHat and Novell are pricing their corporate Linux products because they offer 24x5 technical support for them, at no additional cost, for their Advanced Server and desktop products. High priority 24x7 support is available at an additional cost. They have relatively good response times, and they are covered for a full year over the web (and a shorter time over the phone). This is what you pay for when you buy a Linux distribution. There is a limitation of two incidents with Windows XP home edition before you are subject to the $35 fee for technical support. Windows 2003 Server support is available for a minimum of $99, over email, and phone support is $245.

    See a connection here? If you want support, then you have to pay for it. Otherwise, there are plenty of no-cost Linux solutions for home and corporate users alike. I personally can see more value in giving a donation to Pat Volkerding (of Slackware) than to pay for the latest Microsoft OS. With most commercial Linux distributions, you get a stable and powerful OS, updates for the life of the current version (this even includes updates for most of the included applications), and you don't have to dump tons of money into extra software like antivirus/firewall/adware/spyware tools and the support to implement and operate them. How can one NOT see this as a value in its own right?

    I see Windows as a value that is geared mostly to the following people; musicians and artists, PC game enthusiasts, and office dorks that need
  • Re:Overpriced? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @11:59AM (#9184332)
    This begs the question: Microsoft obviously licenses many patented technologies to implement in their operating system (JPEG, MP3, Zip, etc.) Why the hell don't they license a DeCSS system from someone and include it as a Media Player codec? Even XP Media Center Edition doesn't include DVD playback. Does that make any sense?

    Could it be because, if MS included a software DVD decoder in Windows, people would bitch and whine on Slashdot about how they're exploiting their monopoly to put the makers of PowerDVD, WinDVD, etc. out of business?

    No... surely we wouldn't be that hypocritical...
  • by codepunk ( 167897 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @12:02PM (#9184362)
    A couple of issues he is totally failing to address.

    1. When you install windows it is capable of doing absolutely nothing. Yea you might be able to open a text file with notepad but that is as far as it goes. Now compare the cost of a commercial linux distro with it's software CAPABILITY to that of a comparable windows with the software loaded to match it. By the time you are able to match the functionality of the linux box you will have spent nearly 100,000 dollars on software licensing alone. The only functionality in a freshly loaded windows box is the capability of spreading worms.

    2. As for hardware compatibility he is addressing the enterprise crowd but is talking about desktop hardware. Trust me when I buy my servers preloaded from HP they just plain work with every piece of hardware in that box. In the enterprise we do not have somebodys 20$ cheapo mexican built scanner hooked to our desktop server. We are talking high end fiber channel, san, huge memory etc.

    I will take Windows seriously when it can run on
    Power PC arcitecture. You see that statement really turns the tables around now doesn't it. I would say that windows has poor hardware support becuase it cannot run on PPC.
  • by anti-NAT ( 709310 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @12:12PM (#9184446) Homepage

    Cost Of Ownership is the real cost of an OS, not the initial purchase price.

    Spending an extra couple of hours trying to get Linux to work as well as it should, for working people, instantly makes Linux more expensive than XP, when it comes to desktops.

    Have you maybe forgotten all the hours it takes to patch MS OSes against the various worms that spring up, every couple of months or so ?

    As a 100% exclusive Linux user, the only time I spend on them is when I read about them on Slashdot ...

    I don't want to get into a big debate about Linux vs Windows (I've made my mind up, I suspect you have also), however I don't think you can just ignore the security issues that MS OSes have when making statements about the price comparisons of Linux vs MS OSes.

  • I don't get it (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Paulrothrock ( 685079 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @12:18PM (#9184513) Homepage Journal
    This guy paid for something I can get for free, then complains that he paid too much for it? Does he realize he's actually paying for support and not for the software?

    And sound card support? Is this all he's grading Linux on? Excuse me, but what about stability or available software. And I've installed Linux a bunch of times, even on machines made by no-name hardware assemblers where I didn't know the manufacturers of any of the hardware, and it all still worked. And all that without having to pay for a single distribution.

    So he pays for something he could get for free just so he could have support, and then doesn't use the support when he encounters a problem. Whose fault is that, the distros or his own?

    While I admit that there are a few problems with Linux (mostly due to the fact that not enough people use it), hardware compatibility and price aren't any of them.

    If you're installing Linux in a commercial environment, where it shines, you're dealing with standard hardware configurations. You can use one system to figure out how to configure it, then put that configuration on your own custom install CD, and produce your own version, customized for your use. *This* is the power of Linux that Windows can never touch. Need a customized version of Windows, it'll cost you way more than your own custom version of Linux.

    And he still hasn't told us what brand of sound card he was using. Fancy that.

  • by mjm1231 ( 751545 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @12:24PM (#9184597)
    He bought a Linux distribution for as much money as Windows would have cost.

    No, he did not. Given that his primary argument this time out is that linux distros should lower their prices, this significant.

    The initial article states that "Distro "XYZ" even costs roughly as much as a Windows XP upgrade". That's right, the linux full version cost as much as a Windows upgrade. Further, unless he paid much more than I've seen any linux distro retail for, he is talking about an upgrade to XP Home edition. Now compare what each product is likely to come with, out of the box, in terms of productivity software, games, etc. Which one gave the customer more for their money, and why is the argument that they cost the same misleading?

    The products failure to work correctly is an issue. However, when the linux distro is already priced lower than an equivalent Windows license (or, more likely, set of licenses), then how exactly does lowering the price resolve anything?

    The article's basic premise this time out is that linux is overpriced compared to Windows. This makes it FUD.

  • Who looks bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChaoticCoyote ( 195677 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @12:25PM (#9184620) Homepage

    In my not-so-humble opinion, it's the Linux community that looks bad, not Fred Langa. The virulent, dogmatic reponses look childish, especially when they sound like the folks who preach the virtues of tin-foil hats. There are real conspiracies in the universe -- being unable to get sound working with Linux is not one of them. ;)

    I've been running Linux for a long time, and it's certainly come a long way; seven of nine processors (trekkie pun not intended!) in my office run Linux full-time. And it can be a pain-in-the-rump to install; I've had at least one major hardware problem with every install. Now, once Linux is installed, it offers me many facilities unavailable under Windows -- but then, I'm a developer and engineer, and what I need is quite different than what an office worker or home computist wants.

    It's too bad that certain religious fanatics insist upon screaming at heretics and unbelievers when their energies could do so much more for making Linux better.

  • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Control Group ( 105494 ) * on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @12:38PM (#9184761) Homepage
    WTF? How many times does he have to explain that he called tech support and did everything they told him to do with no success? He chose a distro which actually said it worked with his hardware. He researched online to ensure that the hardware would work. He paid for it to get technical support. He had a problem with the purportedly-compatible hardware, so he called technical support. After doing everything tech support told him to, the hardware still didn't work.

    Bearing all that in mind (since you can't be bothered to actually read the article, apparently), wtf are you talking about?

  • by HopeOS ( 74340 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @02:07PM (#9186279)
    My other comment ("By the way") somehow got attached to the wrong post... look up and over one.

    With respect to what you paid for...

    * an operating system that is no easier to use than any of the competing operating systems including OSX and any recently released Linux distribution.

    * an operating system that has gaping holes in its hardware compatibility for any device older than a few years.

    * an operating system that, despite its "unparalleled commercial software support," still cannot provide a consistent software installation and removal method, avoid rebooting the machine for every other install, prevent applications from writing to the system directory, and not require all users to run as administrator to operate properly.

    * it does run a lot of programs though. I'll give you that.

    With respect to what we paid for...

    * flawless operation on the hardware we use, which includes all major brands and standards. We do not get the same level of compatibility with Windows.

    * the ability to continuously download feature and security updates to every package installed on our network automatically and remotely in piece-wise fashion without requiring a company-wide regression test. We still do not have that with our remaining Windows computers. One simply does not install a service pack company-wide without a lot of testing. It's never been an issue with Linux.

    * the knowledge that if in two years we decide to change vendors based on price, performance, or value, that we have the freedom to do so as there will be no vendor lock-in.

    * the ability to run the same operating system throughout the company, on our desktops, on our servers, on any hardware from Intel to PowerPC to big iron.

    * the list goes on...

    That's about all the time I got... there's a Windows machine on fire at one of our Chicago clients that I have to look into. It's been fun.

  • Re:dumb question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DarkMan ( 32280 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @02:34PM (#9186676) Journal
    If speakers are of an active (powered) kind, then initialising the DAC's without setting the volume to zero results in an audable click or pop on the speaker, if they are on. For a large amp / speaker combo, this can, in principle do some damage to the cones or the hearing of someone listening [0].

    Secondly, if the volume is not set to zero, where should it be set to? That's not answerable. You can take a guess, but it's might well be too high, or too low. Too low is less of a problem than too high, hence leaving it at zero.

    So, the kernel sound drivers leave the system muted, and place the volume setting in the hands of the init scripts, or equivelent. That way, the values can be adjusted without changeing the kernel, which makes much sense.

    I agree that the distro aught to do something sensible with the volume settings - at install time, set the sliders to 0, and unmute, then prompt the user to tweak to the settings they want, or something like that. This, of course, depends on the distro.

    [0] Although anyone playing with such a system who didn't take precautions is pretty stupid. (large, in this context, is around 1-5 kW or bigger)
  • by Red Angel ( 780902 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @03:59PM (#9187883)

    I agree with Fred Langa that Linux does not support as much hardware as Windows does. But I don't think just lowering the price of Linux is the solution to that problem.

    True, some distros of Linux are rediculously priced (like SuSe won't even ship with Apache unless you order the enterprisey version!) but others aren't. And many distros, if you don't want to shell out the money for a boxed copy, you're allowed (and in some cases even encouraged) to download.

    As for the fact that going with Linux restricts your choices as far as hardware is concerned, leaving you with a more limited hardware-compatibility list; this too wouldn't bother me if only one thing were different: if only it were easier and more straightforward to find the stuff that is on this more limited hardware-compatibility list.

    Finding hardware to put together a Linux system can be a very daunting task for many would-be Linux users: and not just because there are fewer things supported. If you go into a store looking for, in this example, a DVD rom for your computer: if you're running a version of either Windows or MacOS, you can look at the box of each piece of hardware, and it will usually tell you if it supports your system. No such luck with Linux. Only once do I recall ever having seen something with a "Works with Linux" sticker on it: and I don't remember for sure what it was, but it sadly was a device that was meant for doing something that I had no use for at the time.

    Let's start with what I will call "Step 1". To find stuff that works with Linux you have to deal with complex Hardware Compatibility Lists. And you will want probably be able to access it while you're in the store. This will require you to either (a) massacre some trees to print out several pages worth of informatioin or (b) access the online copy *somehow* while you're in the store. My CompactFlash memory drive (the only piece of at-the-time Linux compatible hardware I was ever able to find without my dad's help or someone else's) I found because the clerk was able to allow me to use option -b-. Usually, however, unless you're willing to be ruthless to our green-leaved neighbors, you are already out of luck.

    Now to Step 2. Once you're in the store with a means of figuring out what will and will not work with Linux, you have to hope that something on the list is still on the shelves. (You can't guarantee the quality of something you get used - and if you're planning to try to order it new online that can be a whole can-of-worms to some people too - and yes, people whom Linux will have to accomodate in order to gain wide acceptance.)

    Doing this may be possible if you are running the latest version of Linux - which you may have perfectly legitimate reasons not to want to be constrained by such a requirement. For example, I use RedHat Linux 7.3 because I don't know how to fix all those dysfunctional things in Red Hat Linux 9. (I know there is a way to do it - but I don't know how.)

    Of course, in theory, I could download and install the drivers necessary that came out since 7.3, and thereby increas my hardware selection to what's supported by RH 9.0, and beyond even that. But in reality, that option is only availabe to kernel-experts.

    Now, I'm no fool or computer newbie. I'm a heck of a good computer programmer, if I do say so myself. And if finding Linux hardware is above my head at times, then it is probably beyond the look-up-in-the-sky range for the typical user that you'd have to appeal to to get widespread Linux acceptance.

    As for Step 1: I think a database could be put together which contains several bits of information on each piece of hardware, including what major distros the piece of hardware works with, how hard is it to work with the hardware (I mean: is it supported out of the box or do you have do download and install driver?) and channels of availability (What stores is it available in? And if a store has an online version

  • by Edarotag ( 624029 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2004 @08:33PM (#9191234)
    Why is it that just because the sound card works in windows, and does not work in linux, that it is some huge oversight on the part of the developers of linux. Why not ask the manufacturor why it doesn't work in linux. Most of the drivers for windows were written by the company that made the hardware, not windows. Don't be so quick to assume that its some linux developer's duty to make some obscure on board sound card work for you. Go blame the manufacturor.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972