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Linux on the Tipping Point 466

Reader stormcoder wrote to mention an article on Enterprise Linux I.T. in which the author posits that even though Linux is built on a legend, the reality of Linux outstrips even the myth. From the article: "..the fact that Linux has traditionally been compared to Microsoft's Windows brand products and not the other Unix variants will most likely lead the general public to perceive all this as Linux sailing on to new horizons while Microsoft stalls out. This perceptual shift should totally reverse the previous mainstream view that Microsoft and Intel were somehow at the forefront of high technology computing -- thereby pushing Linux over the magic edge of a social tipping point."
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Linux on the Tipping Point

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 06, 2005 @03:42PM (#11859962)
    All people want to know is if it can run their word processor, their games, and their stupid movies their friend send them.
    • by bcmm ( 768152 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @04:10PM (#11860152)
      Games are an issue. There is a real chicken and egg problem there, i.e. good games could be written for Linux, and Linux would dominate, but until if dominates there is no reason to write games for it...

      Word processing: MS office can run on it; I find Oo.o better for basic paragraphs and formatting, and who actually using the drawing tools in word?

      Movies? No problem! Even MS formats that have been only for WMP (even on win32) in the past play ok now. Maybe players could use better GUIs, but that is being worked on with stuff like kmplayer. Besides, most email-forward-type stupid movies are actually flash or Powerpoint. Flash is fine; every Powerpoint feature that I've tried works in Oo.o Impress, with, IMHO, smoother animation.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 06, 2005 @04:35PM (#11860317)
        Jenna Jameson will show us the way.

        I converted one of my workstations over to linux as a means to broaden my horizions. Not too long after that I got a call to finx one of my friends computers. After 3 hours of cleaning up malware of all kinds I learned that 1) He had a fetish for hot asian teens, and 2) I would only get this call again, since he didn't want to learn to use a newsreader.

        So I floated the idea of him getting a mobile rack and putting linux on a cheap 40 GB HD. I selected Mandrake since I had grown to loath Redhat.

        6 months or so later he uses linux almost exclusively. I don't have to say why. And he's bragging to his friends as work how awesome it is to surf for porn on linux, and how him computer isn't crippled by shit.

        But the masses, they don't hear the kind of cloistered evangelism taking place on Slashdot. It doesn't even exist in their world. But the dream of malware free porn does. It might not be the high road, but the way is there. And it has nothing to do with the rambeling delusions offered up in groupthinkgeek pieces.
      • Games are an issue. There is a real chicken and egg problem there, i.e. good games could be written for Linux, and Linux would dominate, but until if dominates there is no reason to write games for it...
        That's not really the problem. It has more to do with Linux as a game development environment totally lacking any good tools and debugging. Game developers don't want to have to make these tools themselves, that only hinders development times.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 06, 2005 @08:24PM (#11861729)
          That's not really the problem. It has more to do with Linux as a game development environment totally lacking any good tools and debugging. Game developers don't want to have to make these tools themselves, that only hinders development times.

          I have to disagree. The lack is not in code or tools to produce code. Linux does not really lack for game code -- it is at least as rich as the Windows world in available game libraries, and vastly richer in codebases to crib from. Some very extensive projects have been conducted, and very little has been built on them (Crystal Space is a great example).

          The lack is in content -- audio, video, graphics, and even well-written English text. Almost every Linux game project I can think of has a severe lack of content.

          On the Linux Game Tome today, if I search for top-rated games [happypenguin.org], the top-rated is Battle For Wesnoth. That game at one point used cribbed graphics from a commercial game, currently has a very limited 2d sprite set that would have been par-for-the-course in the Super Nintendo's heyday, and has character facial portraits that are atrocious (one more comment about the prince looking awfully fruity, and I think everyone will go insane). And this project is known for having rather good graphics for the Linux gaming world. I don't mean to bash the Wesnoth people (hell, I've hacked on the codebase), as they have a fun game. But the limiting factor is very definitely graphics.

          Another game I've enjoyed is lincity. Good game, all open-source and not just a clone of a closed-source game -- but the graphics are reminicent of bad MSDOS game graphics.

          After Wesnoth on the "top rated Linux games" list is Freeciv. Freeciv has graphics that are reasonable...for a decade-old game. It does not improve on the game it is cloning.

          Next is BZflag, possibly the most popular 3d-accelerated multiplayer Linux game. It has incredibly simple graphics (note that 2.0 has improved things a bit). DOOM is really more graphically complex than BZflag. Again, fun, but it's simply not remotely able to compete with modern 3d games when it comes to texturing and modelling.

          Next is Neverball. While this game has decent-looking textures, it also has no more than a handful of textures all told, perhaps a tenth or a hundredth of what a commercial, closed-source 3d game would probably have.

          Next on the list is NetHack. NetHack is a terminal-based game (not that I think that this inhibits gameplay, as I just finished a four-hour stint playing Tales of Middle Earth), with extremely simplistic tile-based graphics. There have been a few attempts to improve things -- Falcon's Eye is a notable NetHack fork, with music and alpha-blended graphics -- but still nowhere near modern commercial-quality graphics. Now, as the NetHack aficionados among you know, NetHack can be a lot of fun, and while long-term replayability depends more on game logic than graphics, anyone who thinks that graphics and sound don't play a key role in making a game enjoyable is simply not being honest with themselves (and I would suggest that they try watching a horror movie with the sound off).

          I am not demanding that open source developers do differently. I hack on games for the fun of it, and would not be interested in producing graphics, because I am not a good artist, or someone that finds creating game graphics fun. Good coders like donating their time -- perhaps because they are in a position that currently pays well and lacks enough employees that they do not need to compete as hard, and can afford to give away work as gifts for the sheer enjoyment. Artists work in a rather more competitive world (there are simply more people that want to be artists than there can be funded artists), and do not seem to be able to enjoy the same gift-based culture.

          Another consideration is degree of work commitment. Code is largely opaque to the user, and differences between programmers large
    • by Anonymous Coward
      All people want to know is if it can run their word processor, their games, and their stupid movies their friend send them

      IT managers could give a flying fuck about games and movies. The main problem with corporate Linux is that it doesn't run the 15 years worth of special-purpose Windows applications that exist.

      Then you see "Wine" focusing on running Half-life, while it's totally useless for VB6 and Access applications. Get your fucking priorities straight!
    • by Jameth ( 664111 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @06:06PM (#11860831)
      But Linux doesn't need them for Linux to succeed. Linux is succeeding in the router, the PVR, the supercomputer, the cellphone, everything. The desktop can come last, or even not at all, and Linux will be a success anyway.
    • by spitzak ( 4019 )
      If Linux reaches a "tipping point" there will be tons of programs and movies for it. Everybody, even Microsoft, will start writing for it.

      Too many people keep asking where the open-source free version of their Barbie Fashion Designer is. Hey, Microsoft is not writing that and including it with Windows, you know. How in the world, then, does Windows survive without that being written and included by Microsoft? It's because other people write it.

      The fact that people have put so much hard work and time into
  • Ironic (Score:5, Funny)

    by caustiq ( 826139 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @03:45PM (#11859976) Homepage
    That page was riddled with Microsoft Windows advertisements...
    • When and where does MS advert most? At their own place, where the "sales" are slightly less than 100% (interesting, in that)? Or do you advertise at the enemies place in hopes of casting doubt on the opposition?
    • Re:Ironic (Score:3, Funny)

      by bcmm ( 768152 )
      That's pretty cool. Most people will laugh, few will believe the ads, and meanwhile MS is paying them for each person who reads an article about Linux's superiority.

      I wonder if any /.ers believe the "TCO" ads on /.?
      (Only here could you get meaning from a string like "/.?")
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 06, 2005 @03:45PM (#11859977)
    Really! It is!

    No, really!

    *cough*

  • Most basic home or small business MS systems ship with XP home edition, and you are in for a rude surprise the instant you try to connect it up to a home or office LAN.
    • Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the only things missing from XP Home the ability to join a Domain, and connect via Remote Desktop without it being part of a support request over MSNM? Plus maybe some management snap-ins or something.
      • This correct, but I have seen strange issues on a LAN with more than say 5 computers. Such never occurs on XP Pro.

        But the larger issue is that Windows is intentionally crippled in order to extract larger licensing fees. With Linux in general, you don't have to worry about this.
        • by Thing 1 ( 178996 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @05:37PM (#11860664) Journal
          This correct, but I have seen strange issues on a LAN with more than say 5 computers. Such never occurs on XP Pro.

          No, not until you get to 10 computers with XP Pro. (There's a 5-network-connection limit on XP Home, 10-network-connection limit on XP Pro.)

          Back in NT 3.51, Server and Workstation differed only by a couple settings which you could make and then have a Server. Microsoft got smarter about that as the years went on, and now you can't make the low-cost version look/act like the high-cost. And you're right, Linux is the way to go here because you get full functionality from the get-go (for Free as well).

      • Yes, I run Home edition at home where I've set up a LAN with 5 computers and a wireless router, I've not experienced a single problem using Home compared to Professional apart from Remote Desktop (which I really do not use that much).
    • Well, I thought the Home edition was fixed at using DCHP, and most home routers nowdays (the wired or wireless variety) have DHCP servers. Certainly a lot of businesses do. So... what's the problem?
    • I'm no fan of Microsoft (posting this with Firefox on Gentoo Linux), but to be fair, that's not quite true. Few home LANs use a domain server. Simple LANs should work at least as well as they did in Win98, which was fine for me.
    • Most homes and small offices are just fine with XP home. Plug in, DHCP from router and you're done.
      Heck, to add a network printer, just browse the network and double click - the drivers generally install themselves. WAY better than Windows 98 and W2K.
      IMHO, at $100 for OEM, Windows XP Home is a pretty good deal for the average home user and small business. IE and MS Office on the other hand can be replaced quite well by free OSS alternatives.
  • Who cares? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Enjoi ( 857482 )
    People have a preference, I'm not bothered if more people use linux. It's good for me because of what I do, I'm not desperate to get everyone else using it.
    • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by einhverfr ( 238914 )
      That is fine for you, but I am an IT consultant and part of my job is to help customers use technology to the best of their ability.

      I have on careful analysis decided that the future is Linux. As usual, I am way ahead of the curve (beyond bleeding edge, I would say), and so I have invested quite heavily in learning Linux.

      So it is important to me whether Linux catches on. Linux is easier to learn than Windows in terms of any complex task, and I don't want to go back and learn all the ins and outs of SQL
    • I Care Because... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bilbo ( 7015 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @08:43PM (#11861812) Homepage
      I care because, as Linux gains traction in the market,
      1. Manufacturers start releasing Linux drivers for their hardware along side of the Windows and MAC drivers
      2. Web sites stop building their sites to only work with IE on Windows
      3. PC manufacturers sell more systems with Linux pre-installed for the average user (which makes my job of playing everyone's Professional Geek easier).
      4. PC manufacturers reject the idea of hardware which *ONLY* works on Windows (read: winmodem, Windows only printers, etc.)
      5. It becomes easier to convince average users that yes, your little home PC really does work better (fewer viruses, spyware, etc.) with Linux
      6. Budget ISPs (like WalMart, BlueFrog, Nescape, NetZero, etc.) release dialers and connection utilities for Linux, so I don't have to custom configure a system if a friend wants to use a dial-up provider instead of spending $45/month for a Cable or DSL service he or she only uses once in a while
      7. At work, I don't have to fight with the IT group every time they try to re-image my workstation with the latest "Standard" XP image, or explain yet again why I really *DON'T* need to update my anti-virus software on a daily basis in order to keep their network free of virus threats.
      I could go on, but these are a few reasons off the top of my head why I think it really does matter that Linux is continuing to gain traction on the desktop. There really are advantages to gaining momentum. Linux was my primary OS long before it was "Popular" or "Politically Correct", but I can see plenty of advances that have come about because Linux is now on everybody's radar screen.

      Do I think that 2005 will be the magical "Tipping Point" for Linux? I don't really think we are going to see a mad rush for Linux on computers sold at stores like CompUSA, Best Buy and WalMart, or even online stores like Dell, but there is certainly a smell of change in the air...

  • by man_of_mr_e ( 217855 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @03:47PM (#11859999)
    Oh yeah, every year for the last several years. Examples follow"

    March 2003 [forrester.com]

    July 2003 [pcmag.com]

    November 2004 [linuxworld.com]

    December 2003 [linux.com]

    • Well, if people keep on guessing, eventually someone's going to be right. Right?
    • I should add, I just think it's turning into a "boy that called wolf" kind of situation. Eventually it will happen, but not because you keep saying "this is the year".
    • Actually, they started back in 99.
    • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @04:06PM (#11860120) Journal

      This was exactly the same way for servers back in 1999, 2000, 2001. In fact, the only ones to get it right was IDG and Gartner, when they proclaimed that Linux would have less than 1% of servers on the internet by 2005. And we all know that Linux on the servers have not gone well. Right? Oh wait....

      I suspect that we have allready gone over the tipping point. It is now just a matter of companies such as IDG/Gartner to point out that they were wrong on this as well. Of course, their own income will plummet.

      • And we all know that Linux on the servers have not gone well. Right? Oh wait...

        I have no idea what #s you are referring to, but Linux already had a pretty strong server marketshare by 1999-2001.

        But ... the old line was *nix rules in the server world, but the new numbers coming out show Windows with over 50% server marketshare and going up.* Now, "50%" certainly seems like a "tipping point" number to me.

        So while Linux is doing well in the Unix Server space, it's not clear if it competing effectively with
    • You might want to read those carefully. Several of them were quite correct. One seemd to be looking at server deployment, for which, indeed, Linux has passed a tipping point. Another was about the tipping point for Linux over Windows when migrating off old UNIX systems which, again, is quite a valid assertion: Linux is doing well in that market. The last one is simply about Open Source not Linux and cites things likes Apache reaching the tipping point. Nor is it predicting an imminent switch over the O
    • Deja vu (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HangingChad ( 677530 )
      All over again. I remember when MSFT was just starting to get into networking back when Novell cast a shadow over all that market. People would say that MSFT would not displace Novell on the network for "years and years". The perception changed before the actual numbers shifted very much. Novell was a big company that treated their customers with distain and contempt, much like MSFT treats you today. You can't treat people like MSFT treats their customers and expect them not to look at alternatives.

      M

    • But still (Score:3, Insightful)

      Every year number of users grows for more than double.

      I call that year of Linux. "Year of linux" term is not defined by M$ still being biggest (or how big share it has), but with increase number of linux users and servers (and in last years with profit that companies make with linux).

      p.s. if new users would keep comming with this rate, people would have to increase their sex activity just to provide new linux users in about 20 years.
  • Perception - although cosmetic - is the foundation of ideas. Ideas rule - not politicians. They are the office-boys of government. This change of ideas is where the world changes. Isn't it great to be there while IT is happening and be aware of it! Matt
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 06, 2005 @03:48PM (#11860004)
    <!-- slashdot front page, here we come -->
  • by ABeowulfCluster ( 854634 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @03:48PM (#11860007)
    Kickass 3d shooter games and support for devices.
    • You already have Doom 3, and Half-life 2 with wrapper software. Dont know what else you are looking for?
    • But I thought... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bonch ( 38532 )
      I read comments on Slashdot telling me that Linux has better support for devices than any other OS, and already has all the kick-ass 3D shooters. Doom 3, UT2004, and so on. Now you're saying it needs both.

      What Linux needs to dominate the desktop is one single unified desktop environment, based on a single universal API akin to .NET or Cocoa, that replaces the kludgery that is X11 and focus on the best usability we've ever seen. Get rid of that crappy start menu and taskbar Windows rip-off. Get rid of a
  • What? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Adam Avangelist ( 808947 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @03:52PM (#11860034)
    It consists of a Linux kernel developed by Torvalds and his colleagues by radically improving an earlier open-source Unix released by Andrew Tannenbaum in 1987 If he is implying Linux was is based on Minix, he is incorrect, albeit, extreamly early versions of Linux did use the minix filesystem and minix to bootstrap. In design, though, Linux and minix are fundementally different. Also I am sure Tanenbaum would disagree that Linux is a radically improved version of Minix -- as he is an advocate of microkernels.
    • Linux was certainly based on Minix as a concept, a unix clone for 386 PCs, as well as FS and bootstrapping. I'm more bothered with the "open source" label. Originally the source code for Minix was available only as part of Tannenbaum's (copyrighted) book on operating systems. What made linux great was the "free software" concept, not the technology behind it. I also think Tannenbaum has been quite humbled since the microkerneled "Amoeba" failed to catch on, along with Hurd, but the OS he did openly critic
  • by philovivero ( 321158 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @03:55PM (#11860057) Homepage Journal
    There are many varied reasons that Slashdotters hate Microsoft. But this brings up one of my pet peeves about the corporation, the perception that it's on the forefront of computing technology.

    I remember as a young lad downloading a copy of Slackware on 12 diskettes, installing it, and having a revelation as I realised that there was something better than DOS on top of which we could build a GUI and desktop system.

    It was a thing of beauty, to see this brand new thing called Linux which came with source code (gasp) and made DOS and Win3.11 look like the crap it was.

    Imagine my devastation when I started reading history and found out that Linux was just continuing a then 20-year tradition of open source, stability, and multiprocessing. Then I had to watch the slow decline and shittification (to coin a word) of the industry as Microsoft became more and more powerful.

    It was depressing to me to watch as person after person suffered through BSODs, memory mismanagement, corrupted data, etc. whilst I knew that sitting right there on my HDD, with no marketing clout, sat the answer.

    Microsoft is navigated by some brilliant captains. But they're brilliant sociopaths, consistently destroying everything that is Right and Good about our industry.

    I found myself apologising to users for the lameness of the software they were using, and unable to really provide them with any alternative.

    It makes me a really happy person to look at Linux these days. Thanks to RMS, IBM, Novell, SuSE, RedHat, and others (the non-sociopathic brilliant people (fuck you, SCO)), Linux is looking really, really good today.

    I'm actually finally considering migrating my wife off of Win32 (she types Chinese, and Chinese input under Linux was pretty useless up until this month) and onto Mandrake 10.2b3! Milestone.

    Linux rightfully deserves the title of being on the forefront of technology. Microsoft? They were holding us back.
    • Why is it then that you never migrated your wife to OS X then? It has all the same mystic/mythic qualities as Linux, and has the same roots and even a stronger history (BSD->NeXT->OS X) and it doesn't have the crippling UI or software.
    • I'm surprised you can sit there with a straight face and say "Windows has held the world back" and in the next statement say "Thank god Linux finally allows to world to type in their native language".

      It seems to me like Microsoft HAS been farther along in many technologies than Linux, such as native language input and localization for years. It seems to me Linux is still playing catchup to many of MS's supposedly inferior technologies.

      Not that I disagree that MS hasn't, on some levels held technology bac
      • Not that I disagree that [GNU] hasn't, on some levels held technology back, but frankly the [Microsoft] community hasn't done much to push it either, though things are starting to change on that front. [Microsoft] is begining to stop copying everyone else and start doing some of it's own thinking for a change. That's a good thing.

        I think it's interesting that we can exchange the two in this paragraph, and it makes just as much sense. There are cases to be made against both. Saying that GNU copies things i

    • I'm actually finally considering migrating my wife off of Win32

      I had the wifey use Debian Linux for a while before her place of employment required us to use Windows again on the home PC. It was actually satisfying to hear her ask, "can't we have multiple virtual desktops in Windows like we did in Linux?" My experience just confirms your position -- Windows is "the man" who's bringing us down!
    • I'm sorry, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bonch ( 38532 )
      As much as I dislike Microsoft, if it wasn't for them, I think over two-thirds of Slashdotters reading this wouldn't even be into computers like they are now.

      Hate the business practices, but don't hate the technology. Microsoft is a great software company; they were just stuck with the problem of DOS backwards-compatibility for ten years. I haven't seen a BSOD since late 1999 when they released Windows 2000 and began unifying all their Windows products onto that codebase.

      And another thing for Microsoft-
  • Myths (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 06, 2005 @03:56PM (#11860067)
    Furthermore, the Linux operating system itself is neither a new invention nor a stand-alone product. It consists of a Linux kernel developed by Torvalds and his colleagues by radically improving an earlier open-source Unix released by Andrew Tannenbaum in 1987, the Gnu utilities developed by the free software foundation, several graphical user interfaces akin to Microsoft's Windows brand products and a slew of third-party applications.
    What? Minix was Open Source, despite the term not existing at the time? Gnu is a proper noun instead of an acronym? Why the hell isn't Free Software Foundation capitalized, if you going to mention the people who did most of the "Linux operating system" just in passing by at least capitalize their organization! RMS isn't mentioned at all... No wonder he believes that:
    In reality, the facts around which this myth evolved were generally right [..]
    • I would add (Score:3, Informative)

      by einhverfr ( 238914 )
      Also note the idea that Linux is derived from Minix. Of course anyone who knows anything about kernel architecture knows that it may have *inspired* Linux but certainly did not provide a codebase which was "improved" in Linux.

      Furthermore, the only technical advantage I can find for Solaris is that it is closely tied to Sun's hardware, and so runs quite well on expensive systems. Having used Solaris X86, I have concluded that the OS is featureless and difficult to use in comparison to Linux. Similarly wi
  • Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Adam Avangelist ( 808947 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @03:57PM (#11860070)
    Linux is well ahead of the latest Microsoft products and so shines in such comparisons. It is not, however, remotely a leading edge system in the same class with the BSD family of Unix products and Sun's Solaris.

    The BSD family of Unix is very large some may say it also includes HP-UX. Though if you include the open-source BSD's: Free, Open, and Net BSD. I would disagree that it is not even in the same class as them; as Linux has far more commercial support and technical features.

    Also some may consider Windows NT based systems to be part of the BSD family, or atleast its TCP/IP stack.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 06, 2005 @03:57PM (#11860071)
    ...the fact that Linux has traditionally been compared to Microsoft's Windows brand product...

    Either Windows is the standard and its emulation the ultimate goal or Windows is junk to be ignored. Which is it Linux? The only people who have satisfactorily answered that question are the fine folks over at Apple. They've forged their own path while Linux strives to be "more like Windows".

    • Re:Yes, you can (Score:3, Insightful)

      by symbolic ( 11752 )

      Linux has it right. Apple will forever be relegated to a niche market, and if that works for them, that's fine. However, the prospect of Linux is much greater. In order for something to appeal to the masses, who have been spoon-fed one particular operating system, you have to learn to speak their language. Once you do that, you can gradually coax them into your camp, but I don't think you'll get many takers if you insist that they speak your language. People are generally lazy - they'll take the path of lea
    • Linux desktop environments strive to look more like Windows. There's a huge difference between that, and actually being built like Windows.
    • Either Windows is the standard and its emulation the ultimate goal or Windows is junk to be ignored. Which is it Linux? The only people who have satisfactorily answered that question are the fine folks over at Apple. They've forged their own path while Linux strives to be "more like Windows".

      You think that Linux, a kernel, strives to be "more like Windows"? Ignore your zeroth order error in anthropormorphizing a computer program, and your first order error in suggesting that the Linux kernel wants to be
    • Why is that so many people here assume all /. or Linux users (other than themselves) must share the same goals and viewpoints?

      I mean appart from the AC, from which I expect no better, at least four other people thought the comment was "insightful". Or did they simply choose ignsightful because there is no "+1, pro Apple" modifier?

      Anyway, for those who still not get it. Linux has no goals. It is a piece of software. Each person who work Linux has his own goals. Sometimes these goals are similar, and o
  • outta left field... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gov_coder ( 602374 )
    as the article states - is the effect of the new powercell chip from IBM. I, too, am eager to get my hands on a workstation that will be up to 10 times faster than anything from intel. Apparently linux is the only major OS with support for the chip at this time. No support is mentioned by microsoft for the chip - and I wonder, had MS ever successfully supported a non-x86 architecture for any real length of time?
    • No support is mentioned by microsoft for the chip - and I wonder, had MS ever successfully supported a non-x86 architecture for any real length of time?

      The answer is yes. They've supported PPC, ARM, and Mips for years with Windows and Windows CE.

      You should try to get out more.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @03:58PM (#11860078)
    Linux acceptance has been driven by its perceived political correctness in the mass media, itself an artifact of the legend of Torvalds

    Linux is politically correct now (outside /. that is)?

    Fundamentally, everybody likes to be leading edge,

    Geeks do. Businesses don't give a toss.

    most of those who did replace a few Windows servers with Linux soon found that the software's quality led to much bigger benefits in terms of operational stability, support staffing and the overall integrity of their information systems.

    Well gee, that's new. The fact is, small companies install and run Windows, and put up with the problems, because they just can't afford a "linux guy".

    Most people agree that products like Sun's Java Latest News about Java desktop don't have as many features as Microsoft's integrated office suites, but people willing to give up some bells and whistles are finding the open-source products fully functional and free of the proprietary limitations built into Microsoft's products.

    Because Java isn't proprietary?

    As a result, the fact that Linux has traditionally been compared to Microsoft's Windows brand products and not the other Unix variants will most likely lead the general public to perceive all this as Linux sailing on to new horizons while Microsoft stalls out.

    No, the general perception is that Linux is arcane, and Windows is kind of annoying but "easy". I'm talking about moms and pops' perception...
    • Are you kidding? Pretty much every company I've ever seen is always jumping on the latest management or IT fad. Java, XML, Extreme Programming, Six Sigma, CMM, you name it. What programmer hasn't been told by their management that they want to XMLify everything or convert all the in-house applications to jsp webapps, whether it made sense or not? Companies are even more bleeding edge than your average geek is.
  • My view of things. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr_Icon ( 124425 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @04:02PM (#11860098) Homepage
    I think the best possible situation would be if Linux is used on office machines, since it's so much easier to lockdown and centrally administrate than other mainstream OSes. At home, people would use Mac OS X, because it's much better at providing peripheral support and simple means for end-user administration. Either that, or Windows.

    That's a world I could happily live in. :)
  • I knew it! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Ralph Yarro ( 704772 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @04:03PM (#11860107) Homepage
    "Linux is built on a Legend [unidos.com]" - Slashdot.

    That will be $5 billion please. Unmarked, and no funny business.
    • Most of what is on that page is provided by FOSS projects and some of them are GPLed. Gawd but those people are flaming idiots. Wasn't it SCO that wanted everyone to know that FOSS is out to destroy UNIX and that the GPL is unconstitutional?
  • by buckhead_buddy ( 186384 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @04:05PM (#11860116)
    If users who get their computer knowledge from fashion magazines see a change, it will be from Windows to a marketed, hip, device. The Mac being currently marketed to such segments almost as an "internet attachment" to your iPod makes it the most likely candidate for the fashionistas who are tech-clueless.

    The class of managers and marketers who are tech-clueless and perceive the PC as a fancy addition to their typewriter or calculator may very well perceive Linux as the new and better upgrade to the PC.

    One thing that's frequently downplayed is that Linux will run on both Mac and PC hardware. Showing off Linux running on these two hardware platforms will go a long way toward telling the tech-clueless that Linux goes well beyond traditional personal computers: both in abilities and in their lack of turf wars and platform exclusive tricks. (And if it helps enlighten a few politicians, judges, or patent attorneys about what an OS is, all the better)

    Linux is the tech of tomorrow that can replace the dodgier tech that's being pushed today.
    • The article is bizarre, because it seems to be talking about the perceptions of tech-ignorant people (he gives examples like his grandma, and people who have lots of misconceptions about Linux), but then he freely mixes in things like "A code development system [for Windows] adds $529 [to the price]," which are only of interest to programmers.

      If the article is supposed to be about the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, well, sorry, but it just ain't gonna happen soon. It's not that Linux is inherent

  • A social or economic tipping point is characterized by a sudden burst of mass sanity as mainstream public opinion abandons an unsustainable mythology in favor of something closer to reality.

    It can also be a sudden burst of mass insanity as mainstream public opinion gets caught up in a new myth like the "new economy" of the dot-bomb era. Such a one-sided definition totally misses the point of how or why such change (for which "paradigm shift" was the previous buzzword) occurs.

  • One Hand? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Delta2.0 ( 846278 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @04:09PM (#11860146)
    Mr. Torvalds, a poor graduate student in Finland, single-handedly invented a computer operating system called Linux

    Doesn't it take two hands to type?

  • by nnnneedles ( 216864 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @04:11PM (#11860161)
    I predict the following: Linux will never threaten windows on the desktop.

    People want windows because:

    1) They want everything to just work instantly. Windows does this, as far as the average user can tell.

    2) They want access to all programs out there, just in case they ever need them. Just having web, email, and a word processor is not enough, because there is always a small chance that they might need to install something exotic two years down the road.

    3) They want to be able to play games. Even my mother wants this, and she has only played two games in the last 10 years.

    Sorry, but something really extraordinary is needed to even threaten Microsofts dominance, much less overtake it. Linux can hope to become as popular as Macintosh, but even that is very hard. Apple stuff is easy, remember?

    It is very likely, however, that Linux becomes as dominant as Windows is on the desktop for everything that isn't a desktop (or has a gui). And this in itself is pretty awesome.
    • In my experience no operating system does everything I want it to do out of the box, and Microsoft Windows and MacOS X only come close when I install a bunch of third-party software that didn't come with the system. Also, this entire framing of the debate ignores the far more important issue of software freedom (and many would, no doubt, cite the circular argument that this lack of debate on software freedom is proper and right because the mass audience doesn't know about software freedom).

      People's choice
    • by Theatetus ( 521747 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @06:53PM (#11861135) Journal
      1) They want everything to just work instantly. Windows does this, as far as the average user can tell.

      ROTFLMAO. The last two times I installed Windows XP it wouldn't load the driver for a simple RealTek NIC. The Device Manager would just say "Ethernet Device" and not say what type it was. If I manually specified the driver for it, it would say "Error 0: Device refuses to start".

      In contrast, SuSE loaded the correct module without any input on my part, DHCP'd from the router, and I didn't have to think about it.

      Same thing with sound cards. I had a Vortex soundcard that Windows simply wouldn't load a driver for. I grovelled through newsgroups and vendor websites for weeks looking for a workable driver. None of them worked. The sound card works fine in Linux.

      Windows apologists can say til Kingdom Come that Windows is better with hardware, but the simple fact is that if that were true I would never have switched to Linux. I switched to Linux because it supported hardware without a headache, and Windows wouldn't.

      Windows is less user friendly on the install than most Linux distros -- but most users don't install Windows. Give them a pre-installed Linux and they'll be just as happy. Happier, in fact, if they ever need to change hardware.

  • by Mad Ogre ( 564694 ) <ogreNO@SPAMmadogre.com> on Sunday March 06, 2005 @04:12PM (#11860164) Homepage
    I work in a rural Utah computer shop, and every day, I'm seeing Linux make inroads.
    I've got about a dozen customers fully converted to it for desktop use. The downside is that these customers are no longer coming in every couple months for spyware and virus removal or other Windows fixes. Go figure.

    • I've got about a dozen customers fully converted to it for desktop use.

      How exciting.
      But I'd still like to see the numbers for Windows system sales at your shop and the Wal-Mart down the road.

  • by Tavor ( 845700 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @04:19PM (#11860204)
    Linux is close to the tipping point, but isn't there yet. What needs to happen before it can:

    User friendliness.

    Cleaning up the kernel some.

    Device manufacturer acceptance. (Too many manufacturers don't make drivers available like they do for Windows and Mac. Downloading them is okay in the short term, but this needs to change.)

    • You actually have the driver problem in reverse...
      Windows users have to find the manufacturer website and download the drivers, or else use the old ones that came with the hardware (if any).
      Linux distributions typically come with a good set of drivers which will support all the hardware in most modern machines, infact a modern linux distribution like mandrake actually supports MORE hardware out of the box than windows does, such as SATA.. If you have SATA drives then windows won't install without third part
  • by Andrew Cady ( 115471 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @04:26PM (#11860250)
    The trouble with operating systems is that in order to be useful they have to be popular, or at least compatible with other popular operating systems. An OS, or anyway an OS interface, is a natural monopoly. Microsoft was founded on the notion that natural monopolies are great ways to make loads of money without actually doing anything productive, and they have been very successful exploiting this fact, even as they have been incredibly detrimental to computing generally.

    Linux is in exactly the same position, and the free software world needs to recognize this. Unlike Windows, Linux's monopoly was not created to exploit its users; unlike Windows, Linux's monopoly is not -really- exclusive (it is just Unix). But Linux's chief selling point is still mere compatibility -- with both hardware and software -- and because of the power of this inertia, Linux can succeed without actually being better. This is what makes Linux the next Windows.

    Unix was a great system in 1970. It was a far, far better way to manage a computer than the most popular approaches at the time, and became successful because of this. It was a great contribution to computing.

    Today, however, by all rational measures it should be obsolete. Nobody designing an operating system today would make it anything like Unix, unless they wanted it to be compatible with Unix. I don't want to get into specific critiques -- if you disagree on this point, then just ignore me. If, however, you see the myriad outdated approaches in the design of Unix, then you will realize the problem here.

    Systems like Plan9 or EROS use designs obviously superior to Unix, and are destined to fail because of this, not in spite of it. If we do not figure out the problem here and fix it, we will be stuck with Unix for as long as it took to get rid of Microsoft -- maybe longer.

    Ken Thompson said it thusly:

    You can have the best and most beautiful interface in the world and the most extensible operating system that ports to anything and then you have to port on top of it a thousand staff-years worth of applications that you can't obtain the source for. You have two choices: Go to Microsoft and ask for the source to Office to port to your operating system and they'll laugh at you; or get a user's manual and re-engineer the code and they'll sue you anyway. Basically, it'll never happen because the entry fee is too high.

    Anything new will have to come along with the type of revolution that came along with Unix. Nothing was going to topple IBM until something came along that made them irrelevant. I'm sure they have the mainframe market locked up, but that's just irrelevant. And the same thing with Microsoft: Until something comes along that makes them irrelevant, the entry fee is too difficult and they won't be displaced.

  • by xtermin8 ( 719661 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @04:35PM (#11860315)
    I don't know of anyone who considered linux a significant technological breakthrough. Its claim to fame has always been how it was "free." (even by people who don't understand the issues behind software freedom.) The only thing this article contributes is a tie-in with the latest jargon of the day "Tipping point." BTW I agree that BSDs should deserve more attention than linux, but I don't think articles like this will help achieve that.
  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Sunday March 06, 2005 @04:37PM (#11860323)
    Linux will reach critical mass in germany within the next 12 months. Everybody with more than 2 braincells and some IT knowledge has predicted this for years. For more and more partners I work with it isn't a question of wether or not one should use Linux, but how to apply it. It's actually a thing I bet my business on two years ago and to date I haven't regreted it.
    MS Windows is done with. People allways call me insane when I say this, but even the most notorious Windows users here say they will migrate to Linux when Win2K support ceases.
    It could very well be that MS will pull a publicity stunt and start releasing their own Linux Distro, with DX9, NTFS and all. They'd have to admit having done a big mistake, they'd be 3 years late, but I guess with 40 billion on the bank it's not such a big problem taking hold of the 15% growth FOSS IT services market in something like 6 months flat.
    Anyway you look at it, the next years are going to be interessting and probably lot's of fun aswell. :-)
  • "Tipping point" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @04:43PM (#11860351) Homepage
    I think we just found the ideal antonym for "beleagured".
  • No... not yet (Score:3, Informative)

    by MicroBerto ( 91055 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @06:36PM (#11861017)
    I've posted this link tons of times on slashdot, and I'm not going to stop now.

    READ THIS BOOK: Crossing The Chasm: Marketing High-Tech Products to Mainstream Consumers [amazon.com]

    Every one of you who reads this site regularly should read it. Linux is not yet at the "tipping point" of crossing the chasm. The past year has been enormous though. I give it 2 more years, personally. IBM and Novell are huge and will make it happen.

  • by Eric Damron ( 553630 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @06:51PM (#11861124)
    From the article: " It consists of a Linux kernel developed by Torvalds and his colleagues by radically improving an earlier open-source Unix released by Andrew Tannenbaum in 1987"

    No, no, no... How many times do we have to tell these people that Linus DID NOT ALTER MINIX to produce the Linux kernel!!! When will these people get it right before blathering on?
  • Old news (Score:3, Funny)

    by appleLaserWriter ( 91994 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @08:58PM (#11861923)
    1996 called, they want their tipping point back.
  • by Digital Pizza ( 855175 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @10:08PM (#11862268)
    Here's my own experience; maybe yours varies:

    Non-computer people see the computer as a single entity - it's not quite Windows that crashes, it's "the computer" (but they do seem to know that Microsoft is to blame). They really don't give a crap about the distinction between the OS and the computer, so they may see it as more reasonable to get a whole new computer rather than perform what they perceive as "brain surgury" to put Linux on it (and which Linux should it be? Red Hat, Linspire, Gentoo, etc... kind of confusing for someone who doesn't follow this stuff and isn't quite sure what role Linux plays on their computer).

    So here's the logic as I see it: now that a Macintosh can be had for a reasonable $500, and getting a new, "different kind" of computer seems like the best solution, the Mac Mini seems more likely to replace Windows on the average desktop than Linux. Everyone's heard of the Apple Macintosh, and Mac software does sometimes appear in retail stores (besides Apple stores). It seems to be selling well enough. [newratings.com]

    Now, we know that it's cheaper to install Linux on your existing hardware, but just try to put yourself in the shoes of average, don't-care-about-computers-they're-just-a-tool person and imagine how they see things.

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