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Linux Can't Kill Windows 1054

nberardi writes "Infoworld is running an article in which the author claims 'Linux is established and has a niche that, as various pendulums swing, will grow and shrink. Show me charts and stats and benchmarks that prove Linux superior to Windows in every measure and I'll not argue with you. But no matter how much money and dedication is poured into Linux, it will never put a dent in Windows' mind share or market share because Linux is an operating system, a way -- and probably the best way -- to make system hardware do what it's told. But you can't turn Linux into a platform even if you brand it, box it, and put a pricey sticker on it.'"
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Linux Can't Kill Windows

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  • I'm sorry (Score:5, Interesting)

    by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:53AM (#12232497)
    This is just sensationalism. If you look at for example the server market, or the governments sector, linux is already beating up windows.

    My long term projection would be, that Linux will push Windows into a third of the market, something like 1/3 linux, 1/3 windows and 1/3 else.
  • I disagree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by suso ( 153703 ) * on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:54AM (#12232505) Homepage Journal
    Last week I gave a class [] about Linux to 4 people who haven't used it yet. They were blown away because they didn't realize it had a desktop and all the fancy programs that Windows has. I think what really is hurting Linux is just myth. That myth is that Linux is just a text interface for servers or something like that.
  • by Jearil ( 154455 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:55AM (#12232522) Homepage
    Linux isn't really about killing Windows off.. whoever thought that the primary idea behind Linux when it was created was to make MS go bankrupt and for no one in the world to ever use Windows is a bit dilusional. Linux is an alternative. It's a choice. The same thing could be said in reverse: Windows Can't Kill Linux.

    There's too many people who are interested with tinkering.. with having something being totally customizable if they take their time. With being free and able to run their computer the way they want. Is this the majority of people? Not even close! But it's enough that Linux will sustain itself in spite of any FUD MS and crew would throw at it.

    Who cares if Linux never overtakes Windows? I know before I discovered it in '98, I thought I was doomed to the endless update/virus/adware world that everyone else was in (except those crazy mac people.. which now due to the mac mini I am one as well.. side tracking....)

    Anyway, the point being.. Linux is strong due to it's following, and has great potential to do quite a few things Windows has troubles with. The choice is there for anyone to pick up that option if they so choose. What's the big deal?
  • Wrong wrong wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:56AM (#12232529)

    From the article:

    Businesses and organizations of all sizes need consistent, predictable, scalable, self-contained platforms for server solutions.

    I thought Windows was winning on the desktop? Isn't that what we're always hearing?

    Linux and Windows don't compete.

    Ok, so the whole "Get The Facts" campaign was done just for grins?

    Open source Unix, in which category I place Linux, BSD, and Darwin (the OS layer of Apple's OS X), is a 500,000-piece bag of Legos that comes with some drawings and a few models you can use, build on, or tap into as references for your own creations.

    Also wrong. There are distros that are like that, but there are distros that aren't. Linux offers choice, and not just the "bag of Legos" kind.

    And, just in case the article author reads this...ever hear of Wine? As soon as Wine gets DCOM working correctly and Installshield working right, it won't matter to Joe User if the OS is Linux or Windows, just so long as he can install TurboTax and Doom3. Check back in a few years, and we'll see if you're singing a different tune.

  • by E IS mC(Square) ( 721736 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:57AM (#12232537) Journal
    Linux has a geekey feeling to it. Probably, Joe sixpack will never have means to replace his PC with a Dell packaged linux, either due to his lack of geek-ness, or due to penetration of windows in his (and everybody else's) mind (unknowinlgy).

    Its upto Windows now to kill itself - by exposing itself to hacks, viruses, trojans. If the situation reaches to a point where windows is *completely* f*cked-up, then may be linux will see more and more interest - being the only cheap alternate to ship somehting to Joe.
  • Re:Long term impact (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:57AM (#12232538)
    History has also shown that advertising/marketing is key.

    This requires a brand, a singular brand.

    Will the various distros of Linux actually be its downfall?
  • by Raul654 ( 453029 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:57AM (#12232543) Homepage
    His first sentence is right on the money - "Linux is established and has a niche". So the question is - what is holding it back? And here, he misses the bleeding obvious - every single one of his points (from TFA - the reasons to keep unix or windows around, the cost analysis, etc) is flatly wrong or misses the mark. The answer is, I think, obvious --- Linux is the OS designed by geeks, for geeks. It's the classic example of overengineering the wheel. The problem is, I have yet to see an interface for *nix that does as good as job as windows does of 'packing everything under the hood' and making an operating system that (as a friend of mine, the chief sysadmin for Connectiv would say) "protects users from their own stupidity". When someone can come up with an interface that is as intuitive and user-friendly as windows, then (and only then) can linux hope to compete in the desktop market.
  • by ehack ( 115197 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:06AM (#12232643) Journal
    Platform is the new brand buzzword. Windows is a Platform. Anything that does not have rock-firm foundations is a platform - ie what used to be called middleware before. By that standard, the GNU utilities are a platform, Linux is not.

  • by ssj_195 ( 827847 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:06AM (#12232647)
    Way back last year, I installed UT04 on my Mandrake 10 (lol) Linux machine (finding the installer hidden away on the first CD was an unexpected delight; finding that it was just as slick as the Windows installer, even more so). I installed it on its own partition, as was the style at the time.

    Flash forward to now: I have worked my way through the following distros, by doing a full wipe-and-reinstall each time:

    Mandrake 10 (as mentioned);

    Mandrake 10.1;


    Each time, as soon as the nVidia binary driver was installed, UT04 would start and run without a single tweak being made to the UT04 install.

    The lesson to learn is this: although the majority of open-source Linux software is not self-contained (and this is by conscious design) and has dependencies that need to be tracked-down and installed first, there is no reason at all why a company can't just package up everything it needs in one big self-contained lump, eliminating the need for dependencies or the need to run on a specific distro entirely. As for the comment that you need to recompile for different hardware: I have no idea what you're talking about. Clearly, if you have a x86 app, it will need to be re-compiled to run at full speed on a PPC system - a difficulty not encountered in the Windows world for the sole reason that Windows is only capable of running on x86, and similary for MacOSX.

    I suspect I've just been feeding a troll, but oh well - who cares? :)

  • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:07AM (#12232653)
    I regularly use three platforms; Windows, Linux (Fedora) and OSX. Conclusion? I cringe at having to use Windows. I find that once you learn UNIX it is faster to get anything done. Albeit you have to learn UNIX.

    Now having said that, what I see more off are peacock articles. All fluff and very little facts because the three operating systems are TOO similar. Compare it to cars. These days all of the cars are good enough! They will last four years without too many problems. So then how do you distinguish yourself? Write articles like a peacock struts its feathers, all emotional.

    The easiest way to illustrate this peacock argument is to take a bushman from the jungle and get them to figure out what a computer does. Without helping them. My guess is that the bushman will have a hard time figuring out what the mouse is for. Most likely they will use the mouse as a slingshot and head back into the jungle. I am not saying that bushmen are dumb. I am saying that computers require some upfront learning time regardless of the OS used.
  • by foxtrot ( 14140 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:09AM (#12232684)
    He believes Linux isn't a "whole platform", and I can see where he gets that idea-- Linux isn't very unified (Do have KDE or Gnome? [0]) and anyone who hasn't dealt with a modern package manglement system has dealt with Dependency Hell.

    So let's imagine some company, we'll call them Red Hat, to pull a bogus name out of thin air, and let's say they were to take this Linux thing, and make a nice standardized platform out of it. People ship you an application, you take your server, we'll call it a "Red Hat Enterprise Server" or something like that, and you can simply load the app on it and run it. They wouldn't say their app runs on Linux. They'd say their app runs on Red Hat.

    To him, _that_ would be a platform, and that would have a chance at taking on Windows. It would be Linux behind the scenes, but it's more that just Linux.

    Too bad nobody's ever going to do something like that.


    [0] Thankfully, even if you generally only see one of these, you can still have the other behind the scenes and run stuff intended for either...
  • Re:Mindset (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zate ( 687440 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:17AM (#12232747) Homepage
    Definately agree. 2 cases I have seen recently where someone who hasnt really "used" any OS wanted to try Linux. First person was a friend of mine who decided he wanted to get into IT, just on whim. He'd heard us discussing this Linux stuff so bought himself a PC (hadnt had one before) and downloaded FC3. With in 3 months he is Linux+ certified (not a big deal) and can use the OS to do anything he wants. He thinks its amazing, so simple, so easy. I got him to try Windows XP, last time he used a computer for anything major was Win95. He hated XP and is happy as can be with his Gnome/FC3. He's now looking around at other distros and learning stuff at an incredible rate. But my point is for someone who isnt familiar with either OS, either OS will do what they want just fine. Its when your set in your XP lazyness that Linux becomes difficult or confusing.

    Second point is i got my wife using tools for her everyday tasks that exist on both OS's. She isnt a power user either, most of what she does is her mommies gorups, emails, web pages, gaim and little photo editing etc etc. All of which she used open source packages to do on windows. I decided to rebuild her downstairs PC with Gentoo. Took her a day to get used to KDE, and where to find her programs. Now she just does what she used too. She doesnt miss Win XP and couldnt care less that she is using Gentoo.

    Kinda sad that I'm the tech guy and I'm the only XP user left in the house. Damn EQ2 and its inability to run on Linux.. hehe.
  • by m4c north ( 816240 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:19AM (#12232771)
    The answer is, I think, obvious --- Linux is the OS designed by geeks, for geeks. It's the classic example of overengineering the wheel.

    Yes, precisely. As 'easy' as apt and rpm are, installing things in Linux is still a mystery for many people. The idea of "there is no C:\ drive, Neo," usually brings out the glossed-over eyes as their mind crashes and displays the native blue screen of d3th.

    Many Windows dependents are so jacked in that permissions and the file hierarchy of *nix are more than they will ever understand about computers. (people are still on the fence about switching to Firefox!)

    But I like it that way! It keeps us enthusiasts shrowded in mystery. And what Americans (wait, I mean people in general) don't understand, they fear. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, he's only writing a shell script.

  • Re:I disagree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Noksagt ( 69097 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:21AM (#12232790) Homepage
    They were blown away because they didn't realize it had a desktop and all the fancy programs that Windows has.
    I use Linux on the desktop. I'm in the sciences, so many peers do the same. A long-time colleague in an adjacent office walked in, glanced at my desktop, and said "I thought you ran Linux."

    All I had displayed was the fluxbox window manager with firefox, gvim, and a matplotlib window from a python session.

    I had to switch vterms to convince him, as I was running Linux, as he also assumed Linux was all CLI.

    He should've known better too: He wasn't some PHB, but someone who used X11 and fink under OS X! If those who are as technically literate as this don't get Linux, how will the "average consumer" ever get it?
  • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kolisar ( 665024 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:25AM (#12232835)
    Show me charts and stats and benchmarks that prove Windows superior to Linux in every measure and I'll agree with you.

    I do not believe that proving that Windows is superior to Linux is the issue. As the result of marketing, timing, and a possible deal with Satan, Windows has 90+% of the market and people, like energy, tend to take the path of least resistance. Until you can walk into your local consumer electronics store and find shelves of Linux software and computers with Linux pre-installed people will continue to use Windows.

    As a user of OS X I make the special effort to locate stores that sell software and peripherals for my Macs, and usually have to travel about 45 minutes to get there. Most people (not /. readers, the rest of the world) will not. For my Windows machines I can drive ten minutes down the road and find almost anything I could possibly need (including compilers). This is why Linux may never displace Windows.

    What someone needs to do is produce a bunch of those $5-$10 CDs in the software section containing Ubuntu, Knoppix or any of the other live versions containing OpenOffice or something similar and a bunch of other stuff ready to go from the disc. Then someone needs to create some more of the $5-$10 CDs with a bunch of Linux software that can't fit on the live CDs so the general public can try it without risk (minimal financial, no risk of destroying their computer) and make up their minds. Keep in mind that most people stick with Windows because it came with the computer and they could not install most versions of Linux themselves and, even if the install is bullet-proof, they would not believe that they could install an OS. It has to be made as easy as possible or they will not even try.

  • by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:37AM (#12232927) Journal
    Hold on, yes I did not RTFA, but either way from what I've seen he states that.
    1. No matter how to package and pretty up Linux it will never be a contender.
    2. OS X could possibly be a contender.

    Does he not realize that OS X is simply a packaged up pretty version of BSD, which is almost identical besides licensing to Linux. Now given Apple does have the ability to give OSX a boost that no distrubution could match, but thats more about corperate backing, something of which IBM could potentially do with Linux, if it decided to.

    Wow, that would be interesting, to see IBM come out with an operating system marketed towards buisnesses, but based on Linux! Linux use would explode. What is that you say? They are already doing that? Oh nevermind

    PS: Yes I know IBM isn't marketing as hard as apple, but the future potential for them to do that is definatly there.
  • Windows, a Lego OS (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:46AM (#12233029)
    Open source Unix, in which category I place Linux, BSD, and Darwin (the OS layer of Apple's OS X), is a 500,000-piece bag of Legos that comes with some drawings and a few models you can use, build on, or tap into as references for your own creations.

    Actually, it is Windows the Lego OS. Let me explain. I install XP on my box. OK. I reboot. First, I need to find and install drivers for my graphics card. Reboot. Then for my sound card. Reboot. Then I buy a printer, I need to look for the correct drivers and install them. Reboot. I buy a scanner -> need to look for the drivers (sometimes they don't even exist for XP). I buy a USB key (mass storage) -> drivers.
    ever done the driver hunting on, ATI or ?

    Under Linux : I buy a distribution -> it detects my hardware and installs the drivers automatically. A printer or a scanner ? I go to a Config center, which installs for me the correct packages. I buy a USB mass storage device ? I plug, an icon appears. I buy a device that has a kernel module ? I plug it, then hotplug/udev loads the correct driver. No hassle, no reboot, this is done transparently.

    I am sorry, but Windows is not less a Lego when it comes to hardware support.
  • by thinkfat ( 789883 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:54AM (#12233115)
    Yeah, 'cause there's so many of them :-)

    Debian would be a platform, or Novell/SUSE, or RedHat - if they finally committed themselves to being one.

    A platform is a platform only if its stable, and I don't mean "stable" as in "does not crash". I mean "stable" as in "does not change significantly every 6 months". So Debian would be an ideal choice.

    However, Debian itself has zero commercial drive. I wonder what drives Debian at all, and other people wonder, too, given the admirable rise of Ubuntu.

    But people want pretty software, and Debian stable features GNOME and a stone-aged KDE. And while GNOME on Debian seems to be more advanced than KDE, forgive me, I would not chose it for fancy software. It looks so painfully dull :-(

    KDE on the other hand looks nice and lively, but is it a platform? I wonder.

    Obviously there has to be a balance between the drive forward, the wish to leave behind all that old cruft (fsck compatibility!) and the conservative approach to not chance anything to not break compatibility.

    Still, what drives the PC market is cool software, not cool licensing.

    Just to give you an example: mplayer is technically cool. But its complexity scares people away. It's only cool because it's free. You won't be able to sell it to anybody, because as a software _product_ it sucks. badly. Even with gmplayer.

    Or take GIMP. It's cool 'cause it's free. But it's just an aggregation of image manipulation tools. It's not a _product_.

    There is this small gap between a program and a product that Open Source software seems to be unable to bridge, this final, annoying, painful step of really _finishing_ it so that it _could_ be sold.

    My conclusion: Linux needs commercial(-grade) software. Firefox is not enough. Instead of scaring commercial software vendors away with stupid fundamentalism we should be fair with them.
  • by ajs ( 35943 ) < minus berry> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:24AM (#12233443) Homepage Journal
    "I will give it to him that across distributions linux is not consistent but businesses use RHEL or Novell against which all major applications like Oracle are certified.Within these distributions things are largely consistent."

    You're correct, but let me hone that point a bit: Linux is NOT a platform. Linux is an operating system kernel, and the term loosly applied to a variety of platforms. Saying that Linux is not consistent is like saying that cars are not consistent. It's a correct statement, but also largely ignorable. Linux-based products like TiVo and RHEL can be market winners without any interest in what Linux looks like elsewhere.

    As for Linux vs. Windows: I don't think anyone who knows anything about how the OS market works is thinking Windows will be gone tomorrow or even in 10 years. However, it could well be the case that 5-10 years down the road continued pressure from Linux on the desktop and the obvious inroads that were made on the server-side will force Microsoft to assume an offensive enough stance that MacOS will have an edge, and that MacOS will then focus Microsoft's attention to the extent that certain Linux products will have an edge.

    MacOS+Linux+misc could quite realistically have a market share approaching that of Windows in 5-10 years, and that would effectively remove Microsoft's ability to make and succesfully enforce their cart-blanche demands on hardware vendors and OEMs.
  • by Rudeboy777 ( 214749 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:32AM (#12233522)
    Well, he was doing OK until ending it off with "long supported API". Some VB6 developers might disagree.
  • by ChibiOne ( 716763 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:40AM (#12233602)
    I think the concept of "working right out of the box", applied to GUIs, means you don't have to worry about the GUI crashing for no apparent reason. Now, I know this happens in Windows too. And granted, on Linux you can kill Gnome/KDE/whatever without actually having to kill the whole OS (like Windows), but you can' deny that, although there's been some improvements on that front, the window managers used in Linux distribution stil don't "feel" as "stable" or "consistent" as Windows'.
  • it's like combat (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:40AM (#12233610) Homepage
    It's like combat: the force with the superior size and resources is going to be unbeatable until they make a major tactical or technical mistake. Use the Iraqi War if you want an analogy: the US is cleaning shop, and it's because of superior technology, tactics, and sheer size (of the establishment, not the deployment). Training, too: Windows (say, all the futuristic military tech) is damn easy to set up and install, and everyone knows how to use it, so anyone can use it. Linux, on the other hand (say, a trial-and-error mortar system) is difficult to use for someone unfamiliar with it than Windows is, and it's not always as straightforward to get a system up and running.

    The Vietnam War would be a good example of how the superior force (size and resources) can still lose. Shitty M-16 rifles, poor coordination, and the disadvantage of not being on home ground (ie, the other side had "home team" advantage) all made things difficult for them. If Linux were to get a wide corporate install base, I think things would slowly start to get away from Microsoft.

    Also, I think RedHat (the company) is a big problem for Linux adoption. Their support is pretty bad, and they tend to still have a very "non-corporate" software attitude. Bug in your kernel? "Here, try this beta kernel." It's not a very corporate-friendly attitude, in my opinion. Are there any other good corporate options out there? No, not really, unfortunately.
  • by __aamcgs2220 ( 792986 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:49AM (#12233706)
    I think you're on the right track here, but look forward a little further. Where has Linux been? It's been a hobby OS with a single programmer, then a complicated but efficient hobbyist server with hundreds of developers, then a reasonably solid but still overly complicated server and desktop OS with thousands of developers, now an enterprise-class OS with big corporate development and support and millions of other developers. It's evolving, and at a much faster pace than Windows. The community has to play catch up for a while just to get to the same level as the marketing folks in Redmond and to be able to say to the world "Hey look at us, the transition is easy and we're getting better all the time." We're still in catch-up mode, but we're not far behind, and the momentum is still building steadily. Once we get to that point, the innovation will continue because critical mass has been reached, and then you'll see things heading in the direction you're hoping to see. Interfaces will be improved, services will evolve, and Linux will hit its heyday. Don't give up! Join the fight. The best is yet to come. Seventy or eighty years ago, the author of this article would probably have said something like "There will never be a need for more than 11 computers in the world." His statement is inflammatory because it makes people click on the link and increases advertising dollars. Don't equate fame with insightfulness or intelligence because you won't find either from that guy.
  • Re:Mindset (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:57AM (#12233802) Homepage Journal

    I know it is hard to believe that stability is an issue, but I have tried a number of Linux distros, only to have the OS go nova when I tried to install some new software, or update the base install.

    I've only ever had one distribution blow up on me when I installed new software, and that was SuSe Enterprise 8 sp1. I installed the development tools, and the system stopped working properly.

    Upgrades are a bad idea at best, unless you have an upgrade-in-place system like a *BSD (they often get it wrong too) or gentoo. Gentoo in particular is easy to update from version to version, and what's more it tends to work, especially if you sync soon enough after a new version announcement. :)

    You want it to be as reliable on the desktop as Windows? If installing programs blows up the OS, and upgrades don't work right, it sounds like Linux is already there. Those are "features" that Windows has had as long as there's been Windows!

  • Re:I'm sorry (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NutscrapeSucks ( 446616 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:01AM (#12233854)
    If you look at for example the server market, or the governments sector, linux is already beating up windows.

    And did you look? According to IDC, Windows has a larger server marketshare than Linux, and that trend will continue with Windows dominating 60% of the market by 2008.

    Even if the numbers are arguable, the idea that Linux "beats up" the server market is nothing more than a little fib the Linux advocates tell themselves to feel better. MS is doing quite well on servers.

    Linux has done very very well in traditional Unix segments (webhosting, Oracle, financial systems). But I haven't seen any serious penetration of Linux into file&print, groupware, and internal app servers, and don't expect MS is too worried about their core server markets.
  • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @12:03PM (#12234538) Homepage
    Win2k+ won't allow an application to overwrite a DLL. It will detect it and restore it. NT3.5x and 4 would, but the OS would usually crash right then and there.

    DLL hell is not unique to either Linux or Windows. It has been a serious problem from the moment the first person updated a shared library on the first system to support them.

    The logical symbols mechanism in VMS allowed many problems to be avoided, instead of loading a filename the program would load a logical symbol. It was easy to run a system with different versions of the same shared library in use simultaneously. UNIX and Windows never used symbols in quite the same way.

    I think that folk need to look at what they get from a shared library. At one time it made great sense to save memory by having multiple processes share an in memor image of an executable. It makes particular sense if you are running something like Apache where child processes are being spawned off from the parent and share resources with it. I don't think it makes a lot of sense as a general approach when memory cost $50 per gigabyte.

    We could probably do much better than shared memory if we went back to static libraries and instead used more intelligent linker technology. When I link to stdio I pull in maybe 500K of code and use at most 40% of the code paths. When I link to more recent libraries the library is much larger and the fraction I use much, much less. A shared library is an all or nothing affair, every part of the library has to be loaded in case another image might need it. Even if the code page is never touched the memory has to be allocated.

    As for the question of user interfaces, I think that the way they are designed today is worse than sub-optimal. I would prefer to go back to an architecture similar to the one that the NextStation had. Instead of having the program implement the user interface as code it should send a description of the user interface to the windows manager and have it perform all the necessary animation.

    This approach is similar to what we did in the early HTML days but the idea is to take the approach much further. I really dislike the fact that most programs are single threaded and the UI goes to sleep every time it is asked to do anything computationally intensive of requiring the network. The architecture I just described allows the window manager to keep the user interface alive even though the program logic is 'thinking' and the programmer does not have to do any work to achieve this.

    The other advantage of this approach is a bit more controvertial, it limits the scope of the UI designer. This is a bad thing if you really, really love to foist a bizaro UI onto the user. On the other hand it means that every application can be skinned so implementing the bizarro UI is simply a matter of telling the program manager how to do it for every program on the machine.

  • Too many distros... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by badzilla ( 50355 ) <> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @12:12PM (#12234629)
    Windows has the advantage that there is lots of it. My wife doesn't really like computers but has learnt to use Windows so she can do stuff she wants, e-mail her friends and so on. When she visits her sister she can leverage those same skills to use her sister's computer, since that also runs Windows.

    The same situation would be unlikely in a Linux world - if my wife had Ubuntu with Gnome and her sister had SuSE with KDE I just don't think things would work out.
  • /rant (Score:2, Interesting)

    by coolGuyZak ( 844482 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @12:28PM (#12234832)
    "guaranteed to be available on 100% of Windows systems (sic)"

    1) Win 3.1 is not supported by WinXP.
    2) Just because it is available, doesn't mean it will work /correctly/. Win 9x and ME are emulated within XP, so parts of their functionality don't work. Also, there must be a reason why the "application compatibility wizard" exists.

    Note: Linux does have problems with things working properly, too.

    "A set of APIs and an ABI for writing graphical programs"

    You got me here, I must say. Linux doesn't have any stable graphical APIs and ABIs.

    Oh, wait. I forgot. There are several that run on it though. GNUStep, Qt & KDE Libs, Gtk/2, and (if you are insane) you can even use raw X11. (And the spec for that hasn't changed, and is still supported, for over 15 years).

    Now, it is true that there have been several changes within many of the APIs listed above. However, whenever they break binary compatibility, the major release number is changed. And -- get this -- you can run several versions of the same libraries on the same system. And you don't have to go through DLL HELL to locate the right one. Imagine that. So, yeah, the support is there...

    I'm not saying that Linux is perfect; I'm not even saying it's better. I am saying that you really should know what you are talking about before speaking.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:53PM (#12236008)
    The reason linux will never penetrate the desktop market beyond single digit percentages is that the Linux system model is fundamentally flawed.

    Under linux, the operating system is the commodity. It's free, and comes in a wide variety of distributions tuned to different purposes. You can take linux, and do anything you want to it.

    The problem is that under linux, not all hardware is created equal. Some network cards, particularly wireless, take more effort to get working than others. To unleash the full power of an NVidia or ATI video card, you have to compile new modules, etc.

    In other words, under Linux, hardware is not a commodity. So to get a linux box working, you have to shop for specific models and revisions of the hardware device you want.

    Under windows, all of the hardware is commodity hardware, but the OS is not a commodity. The OS is a rather expensive part of the machine, but this cost is easily absorbed byt the fact that you can build a perfectly functioning windows machine buying the cheapest of every part you need without having to worry about whether it will work - if the hardware didn't work under windows, they wouldn't sell it.

    Interestingly, Apple has avoided this problem by selling you the OS with the hardware. But this tends to make Macs more expensive than PCs, which means they can't compete in certain segments of the market.

    I think the future of linux is jeopardized by competition from Macs, not Windows. If you want to see desktop unix, forget linux, check out OSX.

  • by electroniceric ( 468976 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:18PM (#12236350)
    You, and the article make a bunch of good points, but you miss one key one that will keep things in play: cost.

    The article, although apparently from the POV of the purchaser (business, in this case), it actually speaks from the point of view of the software industry. End purchasers care about continuity, proper performance, and price, in roughly that order. All the article's arguments are valid when the end user interacts directly with the software producer. If they have to screw around with Linux kernel changes themselves, yes they get pissed. But when there's an intermediary (packager, vendor, consultant, etc.) who can provide continuity and performance, there's a nice opportunity to capitalize on the massive bag of Legos which those intermediaries obtain for $100 to several thousand less per copy than Microsoftware. If the intermediary/alternate vendor can figure out a way to split that $100 + between themselves and the consumer, there's an incentive for the consumer to _consider_ change. That's precisely the niche that IBM's in. I wouldn't be surprised to see IBM start opening up more of their core products, if and when:
    a) transition that revenue to services (services is always the top of the stack)
    b) address the platform/continuity issues the article brings up
    c) doing so would represent a kick in the teeth to a competitor

    This is not to be a OSS triumphalist, but I think there's a decent enough balance in there that it might be just a wee bit early to call the OS market sewn up by Microsoft.
  • by namekuseijin ( 604504 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:40PM (#12237472)
    "What is the advantage for them ?"

    It's the Freedom advantage: the user has the freedom to use, share and modify (or pay others to do it) free software.

    It's not like they actually will _use_ such freedoms, but they actually have it.

    Let me just ilustrate this discussion with a single recent example: old time VB developers are annoyed to hell with Microsoft for dooming the old development tool and forcing VB.Net complexities down their throats. The same happened to many tools in the past: they became obsolete once the manufacturer halted development.

    This simply doesn't happen in the Free Software world, where enough interest can keep the software going on well past their glorious days...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:28PM (#12238034)
    Only problem with this theory is that a lot of commercial software only looks better than open source. It's just as buggy, and has the same problems. It's got a slick package and a paper manual with it, so it must be better. LOL

    I still can't play movies with windows media player for very long (10 minutes or so) before it locks up and I need to pull up task manager and kill it. This is on a PIV 2.53 Ghz, 768MB memory, and a 128MB video card. I have a fully patched windows xp system with the latest and greatest.

    I have similar issues on my AMD64 3200+ with 1GB of memory.

    Windows media player sucks ass.

    I was attempting to have a media computer hooked up to the tv. 4 weeks later my wife came home with a dvd player and requested that I move the box out of the living room.

    I've watched complete movies through mplayer on my linux laptop, many, many times. To me being able to watch a movie without endtasking the player every 10 minutes indicates vastly superior software. If Windows Media Player is commercial grade, I hope that linux and oss never, ever, get there.

  • by dominion ( 3153 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:36PM (#12238132) Homepage
    Maybe. Or maybe Linux is the ownership of the means of production and distribution being put into the hands of the producers themselves.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll