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Linux vs. Windows 667

An anonymous reader writes "Technology Review has a great article discussing how pretty, user-friendly Linux desktops, cheap machines sold at stores such as Wal-Mart, and the growth of useful free software like Open Office have made Linux a 'key business risk' for our friends in Redmond. The story notes that Linux's market share for desktop computers has already surpassed Apple's. Says the Open Source Initiative's Eric Raymond, 'The sinister plan for world domination is right on schedule.' All right!"
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Linux vs. Windows

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  • by a3217055 ( 768293 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:33AM (#9948356)
    Funny how Linux from Walmart which itself is a large corporation may help fight the software giant Microsoft is. How ironic where the revolution comes from.
    • by darien ( 180561 ) <> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:39AM (#9948462)
      I'm afraid Wal*Mart doesn't give a fuck about the revolution - it's pursuing its own agenda, and it doesn't much care if MS prospers or dies except insofar as that might affect its own bottom line.

      But there is, I have to admit, something of the invisible hand about it.
      • by Cro Magnon ( 467622 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:00PM (#9948761) Homepage Journal
        That makes it even better! Wal*mart DOESN'T give a flying fuck about Linux or Open Source or Free (tm) Software! They're "supporting" Linux because it's better for them (ie cheaper).
        • "The average /. reader is an idiot. Half of /. readers are below average. Are you scared yet?"

          Consider the average man. Now realize that half of the population understands statistics even worse than he.
      • That's the beauty (Score:4, Insightful)

        by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `srevart.sirhc'> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:29PM (#9949162) Homepage Journal
        The Open Source revolution is a complex economic revolution at least as much as it is a social phenominon. IBM doesn't care about the revolution either so much as it cares about its own bottom line too.

        And the road to open source, like the road from feudalism or communism to capitalism is a one-way road. Once open source becomes established in a market, the trend cannot be reversed.

        Stay tuned for more.
        (also you might find my blog interesting: as this is right on topic)
        • Re:That's the beauty (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Slime-dogg ( 120473 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @01:44PM (#9950219) Journal

          What's amusing about your post, is that you depict the road to open source as being like the road from communism to capitalism. If you really look at the organization of the open source community, you'll see that it follows a more communal approach than a capitalistic one.

          Sure, there is the label of "hacker" that people want, that is... ESR's "hacker," and not Time-Life's "hacker," but there's more of a "you have your job, I have mine, we make this work together" feel instead of "I pay you for this, I pay you more for this specialized thing." The "capitalistic" approach is more of the MS way of doing things, where they promote severe competition even amongst their own employees.

          I'm not really promoting communism as a governmental type, though. It's an ideal system that will never work in this un-ideal world.

          • What's amusing about your post, is that you depict the road to open source as being like the road from communism to capitalism. If you really look at the organization of the open source community, you'll see that it follows a more communal approach than a capitalistic one.

            When I look at Soviet Communism, what I see is a monolithic culture where the state, in almost feudal fashion, ran everything. Communism, I think, *has* worked for limited times in limited places for the same reason that other dictatorial state-control based systems have worked, particularly for certain types of unpopular but necessary infrastructure development. However, at a certain point, state control breaks down. I think that this is to a large extent what Marx was talking about in the progression from Feudalism to Capitalism. So Soviet Communism is merely Feudalism backed by Marxist propaganda. Socialism is of course just capitalism with some additional wealth redistribution.

            The move to capitalism from either of these state-controled systems involves the decentralization of control. This decentralization allows for greater economic agility, provided that the required infrastructure is available.

            So to, when you move from corporate control to ad-hoc social network control (even if at the center is a corporation or foundation, the network as a whole is still the primary influence on the development of the project), we should see the same trend-- the movement from a concrete control structure toward one which is more abstract and agile.

            This approach to production more closely resembles (Marxist) psychologist Wilhelm Reich's concept or "Work Democracy" than it does Soviet Communism. But what exists today to make this possible (but did not exist in Reich's day) is the existance of inexpensive, ripid worldwide communication. This is what fundamentally makes this possible.
            • by Slime-dogg ( 120473 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @02:21PM (#9950692) Journal

              The other thing that makes this work is the fact that it is voluntary. If I don't want to write code for OSS, I don't have to. The code is written in a distributed manner by people who wish to write the code.

              This can't really apply to a governmental system, because it would require the willingness to participate by all governed individuals. There is always going to be people who procrastinate, or those who just flat out refuse to participate.

              De-centralized control only works amongst the willing, the ones who have made the choice to contribute.

            • You sure? (Score:3, Insightful)

              by beakburke ( 550627 )
              " Socialism is of course just capitalism with some additional wealth redistribution."

              You sure? I always thought of socialism as the ideal, but communism is the logical implementation. What you call socialism is more like quasi-socialism, or in professional speak, it's referred to as a "mixed economy". Which is what every realworld economy is, it's just as question of the level of the mix.

          • I'm not really promoting communism as a governmental type, though. It's an ideal system that will never work in this un-ideal world.

            Replace the word "communism" with "slavery" and the meaning of your paragraph remains unchanged.

          • If you really look at the organization of the open source community, you'll see that it follows a more communal approach than a capitalistic one.

            Well, not quite. In communism, people basically have to work for nothing their whole lives as they see the irreplacable fruit of their labor consumed endlessly by everyone around them, but, in Open Source, the programmer can work for a while and simply post the results on the Internet. Perfect digital copies to software communism is like a Star Trek food replic
        • Re:That's the beauty (Score:3, Interesting)

          by danila ( 69889 )
          That's the beauty of conditioning - of how the citizens of the United States have been thoroughly brainwashed into believing that communism is inferior to capitalism. Funny how you speak about the road from communism to capitalism being one-way, when in reality, it's completely opposite. Linux (open source) is a brilliant example of something, which by its very nature is communism not capitalism, even though at the moment it is possible to integrate Linux with capitalism. But in the very immediate future (s
          • Brainwashing has nothing to do with it. For people who claim to be driven by reason and evidence, you sure turn a blind eye when you don't like what you see.

            Communism has NEVER in it's history increased individual liberty or prosperity. Communism has ALWAYS reducded individual liberty and prosperity.

            Communism: It fails every time it's tried.

            Capitalism: It succeeds every time it's tried.

            These are truisms. Read some history and some newspapers.
    • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:49AM (#9948609) Homepage Journal
      Ironic? One giant, low-cost corporation seeks a market opportunity left open by a giant, high-cost corporation. Sounds like everyday business to me...
      • by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:10PM (#9948901) Homepage Journal

        Exactly. Linux is going to win for economic reasons. Microsoft's ridiculous profit margins are drawing competition like moths to a flame. Wal-Mart has made a living out of low margin retailing, and they obviously see an opportunity to undercut the rest of the hardware OEMs by offering computers without Windows. The fact of the matter is that removing "the Microsoft tax" from the price of PCs is good for the entire computer industry (except for Microsoft, of course). Non-natural monopolies are very hard to maintain over time. The invisible hand of the market is simply working overtime to route around Microsoft.

    • Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:59AM (#9948752)
      Funny how Linux from Walmart which itself is a large corporation may help fight the software giant Microsoft is. How ironic where the revolution comes from.

      How ironic that the same people who preached that quantity != quality, and that linux was better despite less marketshare, are now hooting about how they've surpassed Apple's marketshare. Why does it matter? I thought it wasn't important...

      How ironic that the same people who have moaned and bitched about monopolies are now making jokes about an ultimate goal of "world domination".

      I don't want to live in a world where everyone uses Linux. I don't want to live in a world where everyone uses Macs. I don't want to live in a world where everyone uses Windows. I want to live in a world where people are not locked into one platform, and are free to choose the tool that suits them best. My only objection to MS, really, was their strong-arm tactics to keep Linux, BSD, etc from even getting their foot in the door with PC manufacturers. There has been quite a bit of progress in that department ("secure" PC collusion between MS and BIOS companies notwithstanding) which is why the Linux-specific server vendors are now struggling; there's no market for them, because you can buy a Gateway, Dell, HP, or IBM certified to run at least one distribution of Linux, complete with hardware tools for monitoring and whatnot.

      • Re:Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 16K Ram Pack ( 690082 ) <[tim.almond] [at] []> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:07PM (#9948855) Homepage
        I agree. Personally, I don't even mind paying for software, and I don't mind that much if I don't get the source code.

        My number 1 priority is open protocols.

        In business, I want to be able to get data from point a to point b. I don't want to have to buy something to do it, or rely on someone else to do it.

        I also want the option to read the data from anywhere, and replace someone's tool with someone else's tool when it suits me, or write my own to use said data.

        However, only two things will aid this - open source, or a well distributed market (like half a dozen word processor makers).

      • Re:Irony (Score:5, Interesting)

        by An Onerous Coward ( 222037 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:17PM (#9948984) Homepage
        World domination by Microsoft is a terrifying thought. World domination by Linux and Open Source is just self-depreciating humor. A world where Linux dominates is a world where nobody dominates, because everyone who thinks there is a market for something different can just take everything that's been done so far and run with it.

        Marketshare is important, even to those who rightfully say that it's not an indicator of quality. It means that hardware manufacturers are more likely to write drivers, that applications are more likely to get Linux ports and interoperate with open file formats. It's all good.
      • Re:Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:18PM (#9948990) Homepage
        I want to live in a world where people are not locked into one platform, and are free to choose the tool that suits them best.

        How exactly could you be locked into the Linux platform? You may create your own FooBarix derivate, or interface perfectly with it (since all the code is public) using any other system.

        If Linux can gain world domination by simply being *that much better than all the rest*, then I don't see the problem. Do you?
      • everyone will be forced to use CP/M with a 64K memory limitation and all other OSes will be outlawed! I'd bring Wordstar back into business as well as Visicalc. I'll force Mac, Linux, and Windows users to use CP/M. Then I'll laugh as they try to figure out what PIP does and why it was named that and not something user friendly like copy. Muahahahhaahahahahaahah! Plus the two offical languages will be FORTRAN and COBOL, everything else will be banned. Bwaahahaahahahahahahahha!

        Only then will CP/M have 100% m
        • I for one would welcome our new CP/M overlords, and in their native tongue, no less! I learned 8080/Z-80 assembly language by disassembling the CP/M BIOS on my Osborne 1 back in the day. Customizing WordStar, Modem7, and all that happy stuff using DDT. Playing Adventure. Working on ZCPR. Wow, that's starting to be a long time ago - thanks for the memories!

          - Steve

      • Re:Irony (Score:3, Funny)

        by ccp ( 127147 )

        I don't want to live in a world where everyone uses Linux.

        I hope you're doing well in your astronaut courses, because in a few years...

    • by misleb ( 129952 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:09PM (#9948890)
      It is a sign that the "revolution" is just as corrupt as Microsoft itself. I'm not proud to have Walmart on my "side." Walmart is just as evil as Microsoft... just in a different industry.

      I my opinion all this Linux vs. Microsoft stuff is stupid. I mean, it is useful to make a technical comparison to decide which is the best or preferable tool for the job, but do we really need to turn this into a war? I use Linux almost exclusively at work and at home because it works for me, not because it might be a thorn in Microsoft's side.

    • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:14PM (#9948938)
      You don't defeat one enemy by siding with another, worse one. MS may be gunning for software domination, but WalMart is gunning for complete retail domination.

      Believe me, WalMart cares nothing for your "revolution". It's seen a way to make a bit more profit, and it's going for it. It doesn't care who or what gets squashed in the process - MS, you, me, open source, anything, as long as it can maximise its profits.

      Just like any other business, it's doing what currently best serves its own interests. Right now they happen to coincide with your wishes; be ready to move out of the way should that change.
    • What revolution? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by westlake ( 615356 )
      Do you see Wal-Mart advertising Linux systems in print, on tv? Nope. It is all Windows. In our metro Sunday papers, thick with back-to-school promotions, not a single add for Linux.
  • by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:33AM (#9948358) Homepage
    "Linux vs. Windows"? Now the editors are just getting lazy. That could be the title for ~50% of the articles ever posted on Slashdot. Geez.
  • Wal-Mart (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spungo ( 729241 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:33AM (#9948360)
    Yeah, well, this wonderful service they provide (cheap GNU/Linux boxes) may be great for all you Americans - but it ain't gonna take off in the same way throughout the rest of the World without a similar rock-bottom outlet doing the same. ( /me mourns living in rip-off UK)
    • Re:Wal-Mart (Score:3, Interesting)

      by a3217055 ( 768293 )
      Walmart is more evil tham Microsoft. Be grateful that you are not living in the land of shoppers of Satan. :) But yes there has to be a good distribution model for releasing these Linux boxes to the masses. I think there will be a day when people will not have real computers at home but some dumb client or ... piece of hardware like a sun ray box at home where they log on and watch movies go on the interent, read email. All this through very fast networks, and so you don't have to buy a computer every 3 ye
      • Re:Wal-Mart (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Trolling4Dollars ( 627073 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:53AM (#9948656) Journal
        BZZZT!!! That day already came and went. It's called a TV. It's a dumb terminal that they spoon feed content to you with. Add WebTV and there you go... Of course you still need to buy a box every three years because they only guarantee them for 90 days unless you pay for the extended warranty. But that's another rant for another time.
    • Re:Wal-Mart (Score:3, Interesting)

      by torpor ( 458 )
      hey, its happening here in germany ... it'll happen in england soon enough...
  • by Osrin ( 599427 ) * on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:33AM (#9948366) Homepage
    ... the projected 6% desktop share is Linux helping new users reach out to computing, or if it is biting into Microsoft's market share. It will obviously be a little of both, but I wonder what the breakdown is.
  • by torpor ( 458 ) <ibisum@gm a i l . com> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:34AM (#9948375) Homepage Journal
    that humble little vmlinuz can run on tons of things. sure, desktops got everyones eyeballs and twitchy middle finger all wrapped up, but linux computers don't need an interface. at all. in order to do Real Work.

    no, i'm not just talking about beouwulfs and the like, i mean things like vending machines, HVAC control, ticketing systems, etc...

    (embedded linux is where microsoft is going to have fight our lead...)
  • Wal star Mart (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Swamii ( 594522 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:34AM (#9948380) Homepage
    Wal * Mart is the Devil's Own Store. That is until it sells Linux machines and it becomes a acceptable part of the Linux 'world domination'
    • Hehehe... this sounds just as silly as the "The Terrorists endorse Farenheit 9/11 movie. Michael Moore is a terrorist!!!!" statement from the hateful right wing. BTW, i'm not taking sides here. I hate Walmart and everything they stand for. I wouldn't buy anything from them. They represent the destruction of the American economy and exploitation of all the people who work for them. All the way from the sweatshops they operate in less developed countries to the soccer mom who works there afternoons duri
  • Lindows? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Davak ( 526912 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:34AM (#9948386) Homepage
    Is lindows (aka linspire) the real salvation of linux? A pretty graphical interface? High processor requirements? A prioritary installation process?

    How is this better than windows again?

    What is we really just teach people how to do unix correctly? []

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

      by TheQwe ( 795209 )
      I agree; however, the primary opposition to the Linux movement is the fact that it's hard to learn. So, as much as I'd like to see people use unix correctly, as you say, I think there is also a need for a user-friendlier version for the casual user, without the weight that lindows throws around.
    • Re:Lindows? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by alienw ( 585907 ) <alienw DOT slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:41AM (#9948493)
      You don't have a clue, do you? Linspire is a COMPETITOR to Windows. Therefore, they need to offer the same kind of features. Do you really think MS would have made WinXP half as good as it is if not for Linux? If Linux didn't exist, we would still be using WinME and complaining about BSODs.
      • Re:Lindows? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by polyp2000 ( 444682 )
        I agree, Microsoft may publically say that Linux is no threat, but the truth is that if they didnt take it as seriously as they do Linux adoption would probably be happening at a faster pace than it already is. In reality linux will continue to grow exponentially until no amount of fud will be good enough. In short sooner or later Microsoft wont be able to conteract its momentum any more. That will be the time we will see some shifts in their policies towards Linux and Open Source.. As the old saying goes .
    • Re:Lindows? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:46AM (#9948567)
      Is lindows (aka linspire) the real salvation of linux? A pretty graphical interface? High processor requirements? A prioritary installation process?

      It depends on your definition of "salvation". Personally I don't think Linux needs to be saved from anything. It's doing what it does well already.

      People seriously believe that Linux is ready for the desktop and should compete side by side with Windows. By bundling a proprietary installer, rip-off applications and accessories we aren't "saving" Linux we are feeding it straight to the devil.

      How about we teach people to use what is right for their particular needs? Unix does what Unix does best. Windows does what Windows does best. Yes, you can make either one do what you want after tweaking, fooling, etc, but on the face they both do their intended purposes best out of the box. That's my HO and I am sticking to it.
    • Re:Lindows? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drewmca ( 611245 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:49AM (#9948618)
      I think that kind of asinine tech elitism is exactly what has held linux back. 90% of the people in the world don't care about using unix "correctly". They want a computer to work the way they want it to work, which means it shouldn't get in the way. You don't need to be a plumber to use a toilet, why should you need to be a unix guru to use a computer? While happily churning away at vi or emacs or whatever your poison is may make you feel very proud of what you've learned and superior to the masses, you're actually stuck in interfaces and computing paradigms that are dictated more by technical limitations than the "proper" way to do things.
      • Re:Lindows? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Davak ( 526912 )
        Held linux back? Is the goal of linux to beat windows?

        When somebody learns about linux do you want to introduce them to a buggy GUI interface that requires them to spend more and more money to install lindows-blessed programs?

        I would rather walk them into my work's (hospital's) server room... or pull-up their uptime stats. Stuff like that is impressive.

        Your average joe that buys a computer a wal-mart wants to know how to run Doom 3... it's futile.

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

        by DunbarTheInept ( 764 )

        You don't need to be a plumber to use a toilet, why should you need to be a unix guru to use a computer?

        Would you like to have a toilet that was built under the false assumption it would never need a plumber, and therefore has no user-servicable parts inside, and thus when it backs up you are stuck with no recourse?

        Just like all toilets should be capable of being plumber-servicable even if you personally don't want to be that plumber, all computers should be capable of being programmer-servicable even i
    • SNAP SNAP.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      Got graphics cart performance or support problems, well you should be using SNAP.... []

      startup problems, well used a desent SysVInit replecement that runs init's in parralle instead of serial.

      Want to run windows games, well WineX (Cedera) runns shit loads, and out of the last 4 games I brought 2 had native Linux support 1 had Mac support (and I didn't check the box before hand).
  • So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:35AM (#9948389)
    ...finally an article asserting what many, many people have been saying for quite some time.

    Now all that "we" need to do is to go through and find things that need to be improved upon. Don't get me wrong, I still configure most of my stuff at the command line, and I believe that everything should be configurable from the command line, but it might not be a good idea to get GUI configuration to work for all user-level functions (including hotplug USB and firewire) so that Joe Schmoe or Grandma doesn't have to try to use a command line to plug in and get pictures off of a digital camera, or access a USB memory device, or hook up the new printer.
  • by lukewarmfusion ( 726141 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:35AM (#9948395) Homepage Journal
    "Preaching to the choir"

    This article is basically just - pardon the expression - a circle jerk. Or, at best, inviting flamebait. What is there to discuss - that Linux is improving in the marketplace? Or that it's becoming more of a threat to Microsoft?

    Mod the article -1, Redundant.
    • by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:41AM (#9948488)
      Ah, come on. If they didn't post these articles every day or two, nobody would ever get their karma up to "Excellent."
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:04PM (#9948812) Homepage
      Not really, most of the "choir" here are repeating the same FUD over and over, or are basing opinions of linux on their experience with redhat 3.1 or Slackware 2.5 back in the early 90's.

      Mandrake 10.0 surpasses windows XP massively on the ease of install. I just did a demonstration of this to a group of techs here we are training to roll out our linux support at the help desk.

      I showed them a bare install of Mandrake 10.0 and then did a bare install of XP on identical hardware.

      Mandrake was ready to use and on the net at first reboot. XP I needed to go and download ATI radeon drivers, sound drivers for the on-board sound chipset, Drivers for the ethernet chipset, and Drivers for the IDE chipset before it was useable.

      It completely floored every tech there, (These are tier 3 techs) By the end of the class we were asked by over 60% of the attendees if they could get a copy of Mandrake.

      Linux is making insane inroads, is getting easier and better every single day. Windows has had no changes to it for over 2 years now.

      It's more of a "wake up and look" kind of article. linux is starting to overtake faster, but very quietly... and because of that a large number of people, even people that are "in the know" are getting caught off-guard.

      hell the local College IT classes we held a broadband talk for, the Professor told his class, "ignore the linux part of the talk, as linux is not in seroius use anywhere."

      needless to say, I changed our speech to start with, "linux is used in many fortune 500 corperations today, some completely rely on it like Chrysler, AutoZone and IBM......." It really pissed off the un-informed professor.

      but this is what is reality today, the "professionals" do not know what is happening... therefore this "circle jerk" as you put it is very important.
      • Not really, most of the "choir" here are repeating the same FUD over and over, or are basing opinions of linux on their experience with redhat 3.1 or Slackware 2.5 back in the early 90's.

        It's worth pointing out that most of the "choir" here still also assume that the world is still using Windows 95 and think that BSOD jokes occur 10 times a day and find them funny.

        Actually the two "choir"'s here are just as guilty as each other of ignoring things they don't want to see or hear.

        I have my own opinion on

    • Why is it so hard to understand that the more press Linux gets the better chance casual users are going to pick it up and give it a try? Yes the article is redundant from our point of view but what about the users out there that have been afraid to try linux or don't know much about it yet? At some point they are going to read so many articles like this they are going to give it a try or buy a computer with linux pre-installed.

      So yes, the article is redundant for elitist that can't see other viewpoints.

  • i knew it! (Score:3, Funny)

    by bwthomas ( 796211 ) <> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:36AM (#9948400)

    The sinister plan for world domination is right on schedule. --ESR

    i knew it; ESR's support of open source was just a bid to allow the NRA to control the government.

    Personally, I never trusted that gun-toting bastard.

  • by MarkEst1973 ( 769601 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:36AM (#9948413)
    Once someone learns to use a computer with {Win/Mac/Linux OS}, they will likely never change.

    Selling ridiculously cheap machines that automagically do everything (connect to the internet, read pics from your digital camera, etc.) will capture a large share of newbies that do not yet own a computer. If these people never change their OS too, then we will see an increase in Linux desktops.

    Easy is the key. Price is secondary but extremely important.

    MS has no where to go but down. That's one of the disadvantages of having a monoply.

  • Software giant! (a la Crocodile Dundee). As I have pointed out 21.6 times, Wal-Mart will kill any and all competitors because of their immense size, discount ability, and general acceptance by the population. Microsoft may be a big software company, but Wal-Mart is #1 on the Fortune 500 for a reason!
  • Linux is real (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:38AM (#9948448) Homepage Journal
    As much as the 'softies love to downplay the significance of the Linux desktop, and dismiss it publicly as insignificant, irrelevant, and unfeasible ... inside the walls of Redmond, they absolutely take it seriously. They know it is a serious long-term threat to their core sources of revenue, and being the financially wealthy but morally bankrupt bunch of criminals that they are, will stop at nothing to kill it.

    And here's why. In 1998, anyone running a Linux desktop was a true geek. But every year brings changes, improvements, leaps in usability and application availability. Ask a marketing weasel what this means and they'll tell you that the value proposition of desktop Linux is slowly but continuously improving. Add in the economics and they'll tell you that eventually that value proposition will become too high to ignore.

    Remember: there was a time when the PC itself was considered unfeasible. There was just too much momentum behind IBM's mainframes to ever unseat the venerable 3270 terminal from the business desktops of the world. How many of you are viewing Slashdot from a 3270 right now?
    • Re:Linux is real (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      In 1998, anyone running a Linux desktop was a true geek.

      what about us that were running linux to power our business in 1995?

      I relied on linux for my business's life in 1995.. I was able to start an ISP in a small town for 1/10th the cost of using a SUN or microsoft solution and do it with "cast-off" hardware. I made money in the first 24 months, UNHEARD-OF in small businesses. I was at 12 dial in lines in 4 communities by the time I was purchased by a larger company for an amount that I could not refus
  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:38AM (#9948449) Homepage Journal
    AOL is marketing a $299 computer to those who don't currently have PCs. This market is mainly seniors, blacks, and hispanics.

    Yes AOL is a royal pain, but it is in a unique position to market low cost internet access machines.

    Properly configured Linux boxes would reduce the risk that many of their users already present the web and rest of us. It would also fill the needs of the majority of their users. Most never leave the AOL installed programs (my grandmother is a great example of that).

    If not AOL then attempting bundling with an internet provider would still provide benefits. It could also be used as the basis to market to schools.
  • compatibility (Score:4, Insightful)

    by giampy ( 592646 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:38AM (#9948454) Homepage
    To put it very shortly, i think interoperability with the windows world (e.g samba & wine) is still the key to gain more users especially in offices.

    If i buy one of these PCs, and i put it in my win2k based office, i should be able to print and share files without any RTFM ...
  • by grunt107 ( 739510 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:41AM (#9948483)
    Will it always be a Microsoft Windows world?
    The answer is: No - and Yes MS is like the 80s IBM - big kid on the block.
    IBM gave up on DOS and had a pissing contest w/OS2 (and lost). But did not go away.
    MS will eventually lose market share but will not go away

    Testimonial: I have purchased a Walmart Microtel/JDS system (the cheapo). Only real problem was the winmodem which was not sensed from the factory or repeated re-installs. The RJ45 connection works fine.
  • Apple is still ahead (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dixie_Flatline ( 5077 ) * <vincent DOT jan DOT goh AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:42AM (#9948506) Homepage
    Once again, rumours of Apple's demise are greatly exaggerated.

    This story [] from Wired basically claims that the PCs that are sold with Linux that are driving up the percentage are immediately being wiped and reinstalled with a pirated version of Windows. According to Google's stats, only about 1% of searches are done from Linux machines, compared with about 3% for Macs.
    • It may be that google searches from linux boxes only account for 1% of their hits... however, how many times do you log into your server to search google? especially your server that doesn't have a gui on it?

      I have 10 desktop boxes that are running as servers (linux is so nice and versatile like that), these sales counted as adding to the *desktop* market share, but I never search google with any of them. You can buy a whole heap of cheap desktop machines with linux, cluster them and have a nice load bala
  • So they're at 1.5% of installed desktops now?
  • by otisg ( 92803 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:43AM (#9948526) Homepage Journal
    Rearding this:

    Says the Open Source Initiative's Eric Raymond, 'The sinister plan for world domination is right on schedule.' All right!" ... there is a bit of truth in every joke. He is not fully joking here.
  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:44AM (#9948537) Homepage
    People keep saying that Linux isn't ready for the desktop, and they use examples of various ages of housebound women as examples of why.

    Well, since Red Hat 8, the first distro where I called and encouraged all of the people (including women) in my life to try Linux, the following people have installed and begun to use Linux instead of Windows, and they all did it without my handholding, in all but one case surprising me with a "guess what I just installed!" phone call:

    - My three sisters
    - My mother
    - My father
    - My best friend
    - His girlfriend
    - My cousin

    None of them are computer professionals. Most of them weren't even computer "geeks" at all and had just complained enough to me about Windows 95/98/ME/2000 (none of them had XP, it's true, AFAIK) that I thought they might like a change. The first time I had seen Red Hat 8, I pretty much decided it was time for Linux+desktop. A couple of them are still running Red Hat 8, but my mom and sisters have actually run the "upgrades" (i.e. downloading and burning the next version, then running the "upgrade" install on it).

    Red Hat 8-9 and Fedora Core 1-2 have very nice, clean, graphical, "click Next a lot" installers/updaters and autodetect pretty much every piece of hardware. Nearly all of the system services can be configured using their desktop tools in the GNOME menu, including things like print queues, wireless cards, modems, and other things that desktop users might want. These aren't IBM or Compaq PCs for the most part either, they're just white box PCs (there is one thinkpad in the group). One of my sisters even uses her Olympus digital camera with gphoto or some such application (I'm not even familiar with gphoto, I just mount a CF card in a card reader, but she found something in the menu that said "Digital Camera" or something like that and away she went...) to sell stuff on eBay.

    With the state of the Linux desktop right now, they can listen to and burn CDs without needing to read anything or even launch an application, they can browse the Web, use OpenOffice to write stuff (they all set up their own printers, with one exception). The couple that have installed software from RPMs haven't had any trouble, they just downloaded the software to their home directories and double-clicked on it.

    Linux isn't ready for the desktop? Maybe for some values of desktop. But for peope who just want:

    - Web/Email
    - Word Processing/Spreadsheet/Presentations
    - Printing
    - Music
    - Burning CDs
    - Solitaire

    it's there and it's been there for a long time already.

    Oh, there has been one question, and it is a place where Red Hat's GNOME desktop falls over: every one of these people did end up calling me at some point and asking how to access their floppy. I don't know why Red Hat ships a KDE desktop that has a floppy drive icon, but doesn't do the same with their GNOME desktop?!
  • by esac17 ( 201752 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:45AM (#9948550)
    Linux, despite all of its wonderful benefits still has a long way to go to be used by grandma and grandpa who have never touched a computer. Sure, I always hear how some linux guru has set one such setup up, but they are always forced to maintain it.

    What i'd like to see is a comparison of sitting 1000 people down in front of a windows box and a linux box and see how easy it is to do simple common tasks:

    Write a short 1 page summmary on your life and print it (no printer setup yet)
    Listen to an mp3
    Check the news on CNN
    Rip a CDROM
    Burn a CDROM
    Change your wallpaper
    Download and install a list of programs that people might commonly install (ie; gaim/aim, a game written for both windows and linux)

    And then some more advanced tasks
    Setup a website (IIS or apache preinstalled)
    Change your screen resolution
    Find a file somewhere on your computer

    Then compare the success/failure ratio and the average time it takes to do each task between windows and linux.

    I'd bet that at this point in time and probably for quite a while windows will be far ahead in this competition. Im not saying it will always but I think there is still a long way to go.
  • by Ridgelift ( 228977 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:46AM (#9948562)
    Over the last three years, the fraction of home and office PCs powered by Linux has roughly doubled, to almost 3 percent, and it's set to double again before the end of 2005, according to market research firm IDC.

    I don't think Linux can compete directly with Microsoft. Their mindshare and marketing is too powerful. Where I see the opportunity to win is through the second PC.

    Many households are starting to buy more than one computer. If Linux came pre-installed and configured with Samba (to share and store files for the entire house) and streaming software to stream audio and video, then Joe Consumer could start relying on Linux to hold what's most important - their data.

    Maybe consumers won't see Linux as a front-line PC for awhile, but the super-reliable machine in the background storing all their save game data, their music collections and their work files will sneak its way into homes just like Linux snuck in to the datacenter. When Jane Doe is pulling her hair out because Windows needs 14 hours of download time to get it OS updates, anti-virus and anti-Spam signatures after being rendered unusable from the latest virus, the realization that reliability is ultimately more important than compatibility will finally dawn. "Hey, this Linux computer is still working. I'll get my report done on that machine"

    Of course once that happens, then more people will buy Linux machines. Then there will be a growing demand for native software. Linux compatibility will finally be addressed, because there will now be a market to sell games, applications and other stuff for Linux.

    Hopefully Billy Gates and his cohorts have a good supply of Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride. They're going to be losing a lot of sleep in the next few years.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:46AM (#9948565) Journal
    Hmmm, if I get this straight then these machines are like the iMac. Well apart from the looks and price of course. Do they come with a monitor?

    So what sold the iMac? Was it the looks and people didn't care about the price? Or was it that you turned the iMac on and you had a working pc that you never touched the insides of and rarely installed new software on?

    These walmart PC's are cheap and all and perhaps Linspire is good at providing a Mac like, no hazzles, experience. Linux can be hard when you are installing it on unknown hardware but that is not the case here, Walmart does the install and they decide the hardware.

    Anyone wanting to do something "extra" like gaming with these PC's is going to be in for a rude suprise. Even the few commercial linux games that exist won't run to well on this. Then gain XP won't run on this. 128mb? HAHA. Linux can do that, windows? 3.1 maybe.

    So is there a market for this kinda cheap PC? You can use it to download music and movies and watch them. Mplayer is far superior to anything MS ever developed (install mplayer and you will never even need to know about divx xvid or any codec) and properly installed users could have a very easy time. IF all they want is a working desktop for "light" work/entertainment.

    This may be real inroad for linux. Don't sell linux. Sell a working internet PC.

    Now all that remains is to find out sales figures AND more importantly update figures. How many machines remain linux and how many get a windows install on them?

  • Story was debunked (Score:5, Informative)

    by fname ( 199759 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:48AM (#9948607) Journal
    Well, not debunked so much as it far overstated Linux's market share vs the Mac. They were counting sales, so many PCs are sold with Linux but a pirated version of Windows quickly replaces it, etc. Looking at Google Zeitgeist shows that the Mac is still well into the lead for desktop usage(for now). Yes, I'm wearing my flame-resistant suit. Yes, I know there are other important measures. Yes, many people have dual installations of Windows/Linux. But the best, most unbiased measure of desktop usage I can think of is Google Zeitgeist. Anyone have other suggestions?

    I suggest you read the one true site for Mac news, As The Apple Turns []for a more well-reasoned analysis of the article. Scroll to the 3rd story.
    • by Coryoth ( 254751 )
      Well, not debunked so much as it far overstated Linux's market share vs the Mac. They were counting sales, so many PCs are sold with Linux but a pirated version of Windows quickly replaces it, etc. Looking at Google Zeitgeist shows that the Mac is still well into the lead for desktop usage(for now)

      True, I think they overstated. I think the presumption that most PCs sold with Linux get a pirated version of Windows on it is guesswork though. Equally, there are a lot of PCs sold with Windows that have a le
    • so many PCs are sold with Linux but a pirated version of Windows quickly replaces it, etc.

      And of course the opposite and more common thing to see is how many PCs are bought with a horked up Windows that is immediately replaced with a nice (legal) copy of Linux.

      [obligatory "flame"]
      But you probably don't want to talk about that half, eh? ;)
      [/obligatory "flame"]

      Not to mention the number of OSX machines that are purchased for the HW; the OSX is immediately wiped and replaced with Yellow Dog. Or the dual boo
    • by fname ( 199759 )
      I'll address since it seems to be such a strong claim here. Yes, there is 5% other. But that is not exclusive to desktop share. This includes mobile phones, handheld PCs, many servers which conduct proxy searches, the odd Win 3.1, BSD, and, maybe the biggest of all, desktop apps that search Google and probably don't provide that info.

      Yes, many Linux users change their agent string. But in order to reach 5%, that would suggest that 80% of Linux users have done this, and Google is not smart enough to figure
  • by News for nerds ( 448130 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:49AM (#9948610) Homepage
    When Joe Average buys a Linux PC at Wal-Mart, he may be conned into it by a clerk who is happy to kill dead stock PCs, then back at home he notices it doesn't run MSN Messenger without hack and can't send message to his friends, so only goes back for refund. It won't propagate good impression of Linux, IMHO. Linux should aim at Mac status instead, by securing small but valuable market niche.
  • Funny pattern. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sporty ( 27564 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:57AM (#9948718) Homepage
    I'm an OSS fan in general. Linux, FreeBSD, OO, KOffice and all... but if Linux is so successful on the desktop, why do we keep reporting it? How come we never report on the mac desktop or windows desktops being successful?

    Just playing devil's advocate.
  • by Spencerian ( 465343 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:06PM (#9948849) Homepage Journal
    Not to take anything away from the Linux camp, but celebrations may be premature in thinking that they exceed the Mac base in home or business.

    This article claims that Linux marketshare has overtaken Apple's Mac OS marketshare, but without proof or source. Like the presidential campaigns, you should never simply take something as fact just because someone has stated it. Just because I say, "John Kerry secretly played Lurch in the 'Addams Family'" doesn't make it true (although the image is rather funny to me).

    Frequently here and elsewhere pundits confuse marketshare (the percentage of a company's computers sold in relation to the total sum of all computers sold) with installed base (the percentage of a particular company's computers in use in comparison to their competition).

    I do believe that Apple has as marketshare between 3% and 6% for its Macintosh line. (Let's not get into the iPods, where they enjoy a 75%+ marketshare--reminiscent of the company's similar marketshare in the late 70's computer heyday). However, the installed base of Macintosh systems must reside around 15 to 25%. In other words, 1 out of 6 or 1 out of 5 computers IN USE are likely Macintosh systems.

    My proof? The Macintosh software industry. Do you think these companies, from Apple itself, to game distributors such as Aspyr, from Microsoft and their Office software, to graphic software companies like Adobe and Quark, could survive from the sales of software to only 3% of the total marketshare? No. Would they survive on the sales of a larger installed base? Likely.

    My estimate is simplistic, of course, and does not fully account for systems that are older than 5 years and cannot run Mac OS X, of which most software made now requires to operate. Also, the 3% marketshare that Apple sells is stil a HUGE market of over 800,000 computers per quarter (their numbers).

    Linux can't easily be compared in this instance. For one, Linux is a commodity, but not to any one company, so you cannot fix its sales or lack thereof to any one entity. Two, because of the lack of a single source of sales and the availability of the software to anyone who can download it, determining an installed base, much less a marketshare, is difficult.

    In my couple of decades in working in businesses with Windows domains in the publishing and engineering worlds, I have counted a handful (I could count them on my fingers) of Linux systems in a business or professional environment. Hopefully there is a way to determine a true number of deployments, but I don't believe it from this article based on my personal experience of not seeing more boxen in the workplace.
  • by Reteo Varala ( 743 ) <> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:20PM (#9949031) Homepage
    "I just saved a lot of money by switching to Linux..."
  • MS Conundrum (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OYAHHH ( 322809 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:21PM (#9949047) Homepage

    Thought of this one.

    First MS argues that Linux has a higher TCO than Windows.

    But, doesn't that by definition mean there is more money being spent on services, etc.

    So therefore. how can they then argue that a business cannot make money selling Linux?
  • by micron ( 164661 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @02:34PM (#9950894)
    I am not trying to start a flame here, just want to state issues that I have with Linux from a small business owner standpoint.

    Keep in mind, there are a lot of small business owners out there running machines. It is a huge market.

    Also, a small business owner has a business to run, and does not have time to mess with keeping computers operational.

    Here are the issues:

    1) Linux is no cheaper than Windows for my size of operation. I am not going to mess with building my OS, I want it off the shelf.
    2) There are fewer Linux support folks out there. They cost me more. Simple economics.
    3) When I want to buy new hardware, how the heck do I know if I can get driver support from Linux? Any hardware I look at tells me on the box if it will work with Windows or not. In all fairness, this is getting better with the large name vendors like HP and IBM.
    4) Application software. Just about any accountant that I can find knows plenty of accounting packages that run on Windows. The Linux options are a lot fewer and far between. Finding a local accountant that knows them is even harder. Personally, I don't want to change accountants just to change accounting software.
    5) The GOOD news is that applications like OpenOffice are good enough. I don't like them as much as Office, but they are good enough to get the job done. However, the temps you can hire usually know Office, they don't know OpenOffice. I am sure that time will fix this one.

    In a nutshell, Linux handles the technical issues well. It has a LONG way to go on the usabilty and integration fronts.

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all different.